Congratulations Sem Wives Graduates!

I believe that this evening, in a town far far away (Adelaide), this years Sem Wives are 'graduating'. The Sem Wives (Sem - as in Luther Seminary, even though now it's call Australian Lutheran College no-one really calls it that) are the group of women whose husbands are study for the pastoral ministry. And each year as the husbands graduate and are ordained into the pastorate their wives are acknowledged for their part in supporting their husbands and as valued friends in the Sem community. For the past 30 or more years (with the exception of a few 'off' years) the wives have received a PHT - Putting Hubby Through - certificate as well as other tokens of love.

I feel honoured to be a part of the shift in thinking for the Sem Wives Graduation evening. When I arrived on campus the evening consisted of the husbands making presentations to their wives to thank them for their support during their studies. Myself and a number of other women felt a few different things about that but mainly that a) Sem Wives is about the women and the graduation should be about the women thanking and farewelling the women and b) the men should have been thanking their wives every day not just once at the end of 5 years!

So with some hard working, likeminded women we made the change to a family celebration where the graduating women are honoured for all that they have been and become and given encouragement for the next phase of their lives. Each women has a friend give a speech specially for her and a gift is given. It is a precious event.

Two years ago I had the honour of giving the speech for a very dear friend. We both cried. Last year as I stood next to the gorgeous group of girls I was graduating with another of my most incredible friends said the few words she could get out before we both started crying. This year, as a first year graduate, I was asked to share some thoughts/experience/encouragement/wisdom with the graduates. Since it has been a major year of learning I felt I at least had some thoughts to share.

Tonight, as the ladies say their formal farewells, as they are lifted up and honoured for the time and life that they have invested in people, and as I reflect on my own Sem Wives graduation 1 year ago (yesterday) I want to share with you what was read out on my behalf for them. Perhaps you might find some encouragement in there for yourself.

Be blessed tonight Sem Wives Graduates. You made it here. You will make it to the next place - because our Lord is with you.

"The lesson I'd like to share with this years graduate wives comes from Queen Esther. Just like Esther we don't get a lot of say in where we live but we can take her example in the way she conducts herself:

~ Firstly, she draws near to God with daily and constant prayer.
~ She seeks advice from those she loves and trusts as wiser and more experienced than she is.
~ She doesn't moan and complain about her circumstances but makes the most of them, seeing the best wherever she can.
~ She is in love with her husband!! Instead of complaining when he leaves for war, or doesn't call her to him for weeks, she gets on with work that she has and eagerly anticipates the next time they will have together so that it is enjoyable not a nag-fest. (Graduate pastors work hard! They are starting a career they have studied 5 years for. Be supportive, understanding of their changing life too, and make your home a place your husband wants to spend time in rather than a place he gets told he's working too hard!!)
~ She knows it's not really about her but about about God's big picture plan.

Mordecai's encouragement applies to each of us: "Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Wherever you are God is there with you and he has some plan for you. Delight in his word, be faithful, honest, seek comfort and advice from those who have gone before you, cultivate an attitude of joy, love your husband and know that God is for you and wants to bless you beyond your imagination - and he can do that in any old town!"

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