Tish Housley made an impact on me. In March, Neal and I walked into her home in Montgomery, AL, for a meal. Her cozy kitchen and warm smile instantly relaxed us. In one weekend, she had us over for a home cooked meal three different times! She is an excellent cook and sweet conversationalist. What struck me the most about Tish, however, is how much her church family loves her. I watched her interact with members of all ages. Their faces would light up as she hugged and talked with them. The members talked about her behind her back but it was all complimentary. Even though I didn’t ask, they told me about her sincerity and loving heart. Here’s the amazing part–Tish isn’t adored because she is new. Steve and Tish have been serving with the Eastern Meadows congregation for almost 30 years! If we lived closer, I know I’d want to spend as much time as possible learning from this delightful Christian woman. Tish graciously agreed to let me interview her. I love her answers and I know you will, too.
Tish, tell us a little about yourself, please.
“I grew up on a dairy farm near West Plains, Missouri. Yes, I know how to milk a cow, with an electric milker. I attended Freed-Hardeman University, and there I met my best friend, Steve Housley. We married in May of 1980 after we both graduated. In the summer of 1980, Steve and I worked with the Central congregation in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Steve had the pleasure of working alongside James Meadows as the assistant minister. In the fall, Steve continued his education at Harding Graduate School, and I taught fifth grade at Harding Academy. After only a year, we moved to Lucedale, Mississippi, where we worked with the Rocky Creek congregation. During the six years we were blessed to be at Rocky Creek, Beth and Brooks were born. In November of 1987, we moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and continue to be at this wonderful church. During this time, I stayed at home with my children for ten years. Beth and Brooks attended Alabama Christian Academy, and I would help out at school when needed. Gradually, I found myself at school more and more frequently substituting, and before I knew it, I was teaching full time. I taught there for nineteen and a half years. I loved being there with my children. My father’s and father-in-law’s health began to decline so I retired to help out with them.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a preacher’s wife more loved by her church family. How have you been able to get into the hearts of your Christian brothers and sisters?
“First of all, I try to simply be a part of the congregation. I really think they are in my heart more than I am in theirs. I love them; they are my family! I don’t want it to be an “us and them.” I want it to be a “we.” Try not to hold back. Jump in and help no matter what the job is. Find ways to encourage but not take over.”
What advice can you offer other preachers’ wives who are trying to build good relationships?
“Be careful to be friendly to everyone. We all have our close friends, and we need that. Get with those special friends at another time other than before and after the worship service. Try to get around to everyone especially those that seem to be isolated.
Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and work. I will never forget meeting Sister Howard, V.E. Howard’s wife. I was twenty years old on a campaign in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We girls always did the dishes after lunch before going out door knocking. Sister Howard had eaten lunch with us that day. After eating, she didn’t just sit there. She stood up, walked over to the sink, and began washing dishes. That impressed me. I thought she was royalty, but yet, she did not think of herself that way. She was one of us. I loved that!”
What do you love most about being a preacher’s wife?
“I love being able to serve, but anyone can and should do that. I do think we have a unique way to serve in that we are closer to the preacher than anyone. I feel like I am his number one assistant. I want to make home special, a little vacation place for him. We might only have an hour in the evening to spend together, but I want that hour to be like a mini vacation.
I don’t want him to nervous about being able to invite people into our home. I try to keep it presentable.
I don’t think of being a preacher as his job; we are a team! I love that!”
You are very hospitable, Tish! What is your favorite company meal?
“The easiest meal is a roast. I can put it in the oven and go on with other things. I will put onions and carrots in the roast. Every once in a while I’ll put potatoes but Steve really likes yellow rice. I cook different vegetables to go along with the roast, but most of the time, green beans will be a side dish and also a salad. I love the Chinese chicken salad. For dessert, I will make an apple pie or red velvet cake.”
Would you mind sharing one of your favorite recipes with us?
“I will have to share two. (You can pick the one you want to keep.)”
I’m going to share both (see below). I’ve had your Tomato Pie and it’s delicious! Thank you, Tish, for your time and for your wise insight. I thank God for you!
- 4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
- 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped (I use dried about 1 ½ teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion (You can also use a regular onion)
- 1 (9-inch) prebaked deep dish pie shell
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1 cup grated cheddar
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.
3. Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
4. To serve, cut into slices and serve warm.
PORTABLE CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 (16 ounce) package coleslaw mix
- 2 (3 ounce) packages chicken flavored ramen noodles, crushed, seasoning packet reserved
- 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds (I brown them in a skillet with the ramen noodles)
- 1/2 cup corn oil
- 1/2 cup rice garlic vinegar or regular vinegar
- 1 packet artificial sweetener or regular sugar
1. Sauté chicken in a large skillet until well browned or boil in water and drain (cool chicken). Place coleslaw in a large bowl, add chicken and set aside (or refrigerate if not serving soon).
2. Break up ramen noodles into a small bowl; add almonds. I brown in a skillet with oil.
3. In a small bowl combine the corn oil, vinegar, ramen seasoning packets and artificial sweetener or sugar. Mix well and set aside until ready to serve.
4. When you arrive at your destination, add noodle mixture and dressing mixture to large chicken/coleslaw bowl and stir together.