Amy Terpstra: A Modern-Day Pastor’s Wife
Posted on: 03/21/2008
by Charlsy Panzino
Amy Terpstra met her husband, Dave, at the Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center in Santa Cruz, Calif., the summer after she graduated high school. Even though Amy attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and Dave was at Wheaton College in Illinois, they continued their relationship long-distance. They married in 1998, two weeks after Amy’s graduation.
“We moved to Denver right after that so Dave could attend Denver Seminary,” Amy says. “We had every intention to return to California the second Dave was done with seminary, but alas, God is in charge and we are still in Colorado – and loving it.”
In Dave’s first year at seminary, he worked as a youth pastor, with Amy helping out as her schedule allowed. After a tough year, they were drawn to The Next Level Church in Englewood, Colo. Dave started out as an intern, then joined the staff as director of leadership and now serves as teaching pastor.
While Dave is at work, Amy takes care of their three children: 4-year-old Abigail, 3-year-old Jake and almost-2-year-old Alyson. She also does consulting at their children’s preschool, where Dave helps when he can. Amy’s other main focus is supporting her husband’s work at church, which meets for service Tuesday nights at 7 p.m.
“On Tuesdays, I am usually ‘on call’ for Dave, making sure he has what he needs for his talks, taking him things he forgot at home, getting him food or other errands,” she shares.
Amy says they never miss church on Tuesday nights, unless one of the kids is sick. “We have always gone, and our children love it,” she adds. “People in the church know they can count on us being there each week.”
The Terpstras also have a Bible study at their home every other Sunday night, and they attend the church’s annual retreat. In addition, Amy is currently trying to start a Mothers of Preschoolers group to reach Gen-X mothers. “Our church is very unique in the population we reach and the activities we provide,” she comments.
Due to the amount of prime time Dave is needed at the church, he is not always able to spend a lot of quality time at home. Therefore, the Terpstras figure out ways to spend time together while keeping Dave’s schedule in mind. “Being a pastor means you don’t really have a day off, so being a pastor’s wife means you get creative with family time and ‘together time,’” Amy says.
When Dave isn’t able to be at home due to church activities, the family will sometimes meet him that day for lunch or dinner. “Or he might go in [to work] late, and we spend the morning together at the zoo or museum,” she adds.
One aspect of the Terpstras’ success is staying mindful of healthy boundaries. There have been times when Dave’s schedule became overwhelming, and he let his co-workers know that he couldn’t take on any extra activities. This allowed him to continue spending much-needed time with his family, even though his job had the potential to consume all his energy. Ironically, even in those breaks, Dave needs a certain amount of downtime while Amy thrives on being busy, preferably doing activities with Dave and the family.
“We had some hard times in the beginning, trying to figure out how to take care of many other people as well as ourselves,” Amy reveals. “And we are still a work in progress, but I am thankful for my husband and look forward to him coming home every day.”
When Dave is home, the couple is very intentional about finding ways to spend time together. “We had a ‘date night’ before the children were born, but now we have one night a week where we watch our favorite TV show together,” she says. “We have to be spontaneous – we do most things at home after the kids go to bed. Sometimes we just watch a movie at home, or one of us will go get ice cream that we will eat together.”
When they’re not together, Amy and Dave stay connected with frequent phone calls. One of the qualities Amy cherishes most about her husband is that he ends every single call by saying, “I love you.”
Being a pastor’s wife creates unique encounters. Amy believes many pastors’ wives have an unspoken sense of approachability because of their husbands’ positions. For her, this means complete strangers often approach her for advice with their life’s problems. “[They think I] can fix everything magically,” she says.
Dealing with people who are hurting provides many challenges, but Amy handles it with grace. “I love that I get to share in many people’s joys and not just the struggles,” she admits.
Although many people share their problems with Amy, that doesn’t mean she can let down her guard. As church leaders, she and Dave both have to be very mindful of their circle of trust. “Besides my husband, I only have a few people that know everything about me, that I can call anytime for anything,” she says. “You really have to hold onto your personal life and your children’s lives and protect them like a mother bear protects her young.”
In addition to her inherent role as community counselor, Amy says she also tends to be the “fallback” person at church. “If something needs to get done and no one else will do it, it finds its way into my lap – usually the day it needs to happen,”
While she’s happy to help meet needs, she also has to be mindful of her personal and family priorities. “I love my church and my life, but I have to make sure that I am growing in my walk, too,” she says.
One thing Amy misses about the early days of her relationship with Dave is when they were able to drive to and attend church together. Now she corrals the kids while he’s already at church preparing for service. They’re fortunate if they even get to sit in the same pew. But as the Terpstras continue serving the Lord, He provides the fellowship and connection they need. For instance, Next Level has four married pastors on staff, which allows these families to share and relate to each other’s life experiences. Not only does Amy have friends in the “business,” but she has family, as well.
“My grandmother was a pastor’s wife and understands my life,” she acknowledges.
Even though her life can be a whirlwind, Amy is still able to find some time for herself. She tries to take time every day to read, pray or talk to friends. “I occasionally go and scrapbook at the local scrapbook store, or go shopping by myself, or go out with one of my close friends,” she says.
But no matter how hectic Amy’s life becomes, she wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. “I love my life and I love my husband, and I feel fortunate to have the life that we do,” she says. “It is tiring and a lot of work, but fulfilling as well.”
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