Today we are speaking with Marita Thelander...
a fun and feisty lady who is serious about chocolate, friends, coffee, and most importantly... following God's will!
Shirley: Tell us about who you are, Marita. Basic facts,
Marita: Basic facts, huh? I guess I could start with the fact that I am married to a minister, hence the title of pastor's wife. Just in case anyone
missed that little tidbit. I have three adult children, two of which are married
and have blessed me with grand-babies. Five in total!
Shirley: Awww.. I know you love being a grandma! And I know there has been a lot of stretching for you in the last few years. What were you doing previously and why did that
Marita:We have been in ministry for twenty-four years, sixteen of those years as Senior Pastors of several small churches. Honestly, we were burned out pretty bad. I hit rock bottom emotionally and had been diagnosed with PTSD (Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder.) I look back on those days and I don’t even recognize
that woman anymore.
We took a break from being pastors for two and a half years and went on
the road as evangelists. The economy had a large role in directing us back to pastoral ministry, but we know ultimately, God directed us.
Currently we've accepted a new pastorate in Randle, Washington. It's a small mountain community situated in the middle of three volcanoes, Mt.Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens. The people are awesome and we sense great things to come.
Shirley: Last year you went through some very hard things and saw
God do some amazing stuff. Do tell!
Marita:Oh boy, where do I begin? We put our home on the market when we hit the road as evangelists. Two months later the housing market fell through the bottom. We fell
behind in our payments and in order to save our house, we found someone who
agreed to rent it with the hope of purchasing it in six to twelve months. This economy calls for creative measures. We are still waiting to see God’s hand in this
We put all our things in storage, moved our bus/RV to a
campground, and settled in for the winter.. waiting to see what God had planned
for us. While my bus is nice, it was still a very depressing time for me.
Shirley: I'm so glad you have a new home and ministry. You are back in the role of pastor's wife... what do you see as some of the difficulties of this position?
Marita:If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be expectations. You
may not realize it, but churches expect a lot from their pastor’s wives. And
many of us feel very inadequate to meet the standard that is quietly forced upon us. If not inadequate, we feel overwhelmed. Another difficulty would be loneliness. For some reason it's difficult for ministry wives to reach out for help. We don’t want to appear needy all the time, so over the years I had learned to put on the smile and
pretend that everything is all right. I know this is part of what pushed me to
my end and started the whole PTSD thing.In December of '07 I found an outlet in writing. Through an on-line site called Faithwriters.com. I began to write and see a great release. It became therapeutic. I also met some very godly friends there. I
credit those friends, my writing companions, to pulling me out of PTSD.
Shirley: Yeah! So glad God used us to help! How can all of us help and encourage women that we know in ministry... like our own pastor's wives?
Marita:Oh wow, What a blessing this question is, Shirley. Thanks for asking!
Allow your pastor's wife be herself. Let her have faults and
failures and love her anyway. She's a woman just like you. She is lonely at
times and probably doesn't feel she can turn to someone in her congregation.
Pray for her... and I mean really pray for her. Most of all, love her like you
want to be loved by her. Oh... and give her chocolate. I have a quote that I
like: "Money talks, but chocolate sings." Let your pastor's wife hear your heart's music.
Shirley: I love that quote! Chocolate does indeed sing... way too loudly at times! I also love the next thing you said... "Let your pastor's wife hear your heart sing." Poetic! You are a writer as well... where can we find your
writings and do you plan to write a book?
Marita:I have written for the weekly challenges on Faithwriters.com for
over a year now. I also have posted a few other stories, devotions and poems.
Although I wouldn’t really call myself a poet. Here is the link for my Faithwriters profile...
As far as a book goes, I would love to write a book. I have a
pretty good start on one and a couple others in the files as well. I am so ADD,
scatterbrained, menopausal, over 45 or whatever you want to call it… so I have
several things started and nothing completed. I do have one project that interests me.
It was started by a friend, Laury Hubrich, at my request...Laury is a fellow Faithwriter and you can find her FW profile here. She has agreed to write
a fictional story of a pastor’s wife... the good, the bad, and the ugly. We hope to
co-author it and have chosen the title: Free to Be.
Shirley: I can't wait till you finish it! Besides writing, what are your other hobbies and interests?
Marita:I love to sing. I especially enjoy leading worship. I am a
chocoholic and I also love lattes. I adore my grand-kids! It is so fun to do whatever it takes to make
them laugh. I’m sort of a goober that way, but their laughter brings me such
joy. I call it baby therapy. Did I mention I love chocolate?
Shirley: Yup... but that's one of those things that is never said too often! Marita... you've been through so much that we can learn from. What encouragement can you give to others who are
struggling in ministry positions?
Marita:It is important to remember that you will never make everyone
happy. Stay in the Word and stay in tune with God. If you do that, God will
bless the works of your hands.
Even though I had some great personal pain in ministry, I look at
those I had in my Sunday School classes or children's church... the different
women, teens, and kids... and I praise God for His faithfulness. So many are not
only serving God, but in ministry as well. God will be faithful to use your
gifts for His glory.
Shirley: That's some powerful advice! And what would you say to those who are struggling with trusting God in seemingly impossible situation?
Marita:There are so many clichés that could be said right here, but I
don’t want to leave on that note.
I guess I would say: I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but
when you have submitted your life to God, He will see you through. You may think
of 100 ways God could get you through your situation right now, but God will
choose the 101st. He is faithful. Hold on to that and don’t let go.
He is faithful.
Oh, and dip it in chocolate, it'll be fine.
Shirley: On that note...I understand you are also a speaker (who uses chocolate, incidentally!) How can someone
contact you to speak at their get-together?
Marita:I am always in awe when God sees fit to use me in this area. I do
love to speak. I enjoy sharing with women, teens and even girls lessons learned
in my life journey. That is one perk for being older…you get to speak into the
lives of those who come behind you. Sort of like leaving a colorful trail of
M&M’s for them to follow.
If anyone would like to consider me for a speaking
engagement they can contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at
(360)469-8993.Our ministry website isR.E.generation.
Shirley: Thanks for taking the time to share with us, Marita. This was amazing encouragement for me and I know others will be inspired as well.