Reader Profile.
Nicole Farley

Welcome to the second in a series of profiles on unique and interesting Art of Doing Stuff readers.  

If you missed it, the first in the series was a profile on K.J. Konick who lives in a bus!


Nicole Profile Pic


What is a pastor? Is it different from a minister for instance?

A pastor is a minister is a reverend and sometimes a priest. Different denominations and cultures use different words for the same role – in my denomination, we also use teaching elder.

What religion is that?

I am a Presbyterian pastor. (“Presbyter,” from Greek, means “elder” in English, thus the teaching elder title.)

How did you become a pastor? Do you go to school like a decorator would? If so, for how long.

Every denomination is different in what they require for someone to enter ordained ministry.  As part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – there are other “flavors” of Presbyterians.

The region where I am required a minimum of  three years of seminary.  It’s considered graduate school because the degree conferred is a master’s degree – Master of Divinity.  I was also required to do a year of field education working in a church in an intern-like capacity.  We also spend time in Clinical Pastoral Education.  This means spending time as a hospital or nursing home chaplain for instance.

And finally I was required to pass five Ordination Exams: Bible Content, Worship and Sacraments, Theology, Exegesis (largely reading the Bible in its original languages and using your understanding of the translation to develop some form of teaching – a sermon, a Bible study lesson, etc.), and Polity (government of the PC(USA) in this circumstance).

I attended seminary part-time for the first year and then full-time for two-and-a-half years. I did my field education work during seminary  and my chaplaincy right after so, all told, the education process for me was four years.


Did you choose the religion you’re a pastor of or were you born into it?

Excellent question. I was born into a Roman Catholic family, was raised (actively) in that church, and was married in a Roman Catholic church. I knew by that point that there were things / beliefs / policies with which I disagreed and, when my husband and I attended a friend’s out-of-state wedding at a Presbyterian church, we thought it might be a better fit for us. Once we (eventually) checked out the church near us, we knew it was right.


Is being a pastor all you’ve ever done or did you become a pastor after you weren’t satisfied with what you were doing before?

The process moving from my previous work to this work was more of an evolution than a change of heart. I wouldn’t exactly say I had a career, although people who go to seminary after time in the workforce are considered second-career seminarians, but I spent ten years working a variety of customer service-oriented jobs. I was at my last company for six-and-a-half years and spent three-and-a-half of those years volunteering as an advisor with my church’s high school youth group.

I loved doing that and thought I would be content doing that on weekends and working during the week indefinitely. However, I began to feel an urgency to do more and began seminary part-time. Even then I figured I could continue working full-time and complete my degree in a part-time manner. Again a sense of urgency crept in and I was fortunately able to stop working and attend school full-time.

Do you have time for hobbies or is all your time spent, you know, reading the bible and stuff?

In the last few years, I’ve begun gardening. I began mostly with pumpkins and a tomato plant or two and some apple trees. Last Christmas (insert Wham! lyrics here) my brother and his girlfriend gave me “Gaia’s Garden,” about permaculture and the symbiosis of plants and I’ve become a bit obsessed so, as I can, I’m adding a bunch of complementary plants and things to attract more birds and bees.


Nicole’s garden put to bed for the winter.



The pumpkin haul.



Nicole’s asparagus bed.

Asparagus Bed


I’m a small-scale DIY-er – the biggest project has been an 8’ x 12’ treehouse, although having recently demo’d the soffit in our kitchen in an effort to try to figure out what to do with that room, I’m considering tackling building cabinets and floating shelves.

I love to sew…Halloween costumes – nothing that requires great precision or fancy serged edges. And the occasional Jimmy Buffett concert costume. I don’t make enough time for it but I really enjoy crafting with paper. I also loved to bake before gluten and I became mortal enemies.

What would others be shocked to find out about you?

Many know it, including in my congregation, but people who first meet me would be surprised, I think, to learn I have ten tattoos. That and the fact that I could listen to George Michael sing a grocery list. And I could watch / listen to (actor) Tom Hiddleston do anything. (If you’re a reader, Tom, sorry to be creepy.) And I have a pair of black cherry Doc Martens that don’t get nearly enough wearing. And I’m part of a pub trivia team called Captain McThunderstruck.


Some of Nicole’s tattoos.



(note from Karen … reading about “Captain McThunderstruck genuinely made me laugh out loud)


Of the topics I cover on The Art of Doing Stuff which are your favourites?

I’d say the posts I store away in my brain most are the decorating ones but I always enjoy ones that make me laugh – which are the great majority.


Nicole’s bedroom.


Your take on opening the wine bottle with a shoe remains a favorite. Of the decorating ones, there are too many favorites to name but I love what you’ve done with your Ikea Expedit, I have been yearning for antlers since I first saw yours, I always love what you do with the dining room, and I was inspired to make handmade tags for Christmas gifts last year (and will be doing so again this year – using one of the circus fonts).

Describe a typical day for you.

Wake up.

See the kid off to school (less than a year left to do that).

Check Facebook.

Read The Art of Doing Stuff (unless I was up after 11:00 PM Central Time, in which case I would have likely read it when it posted).

Get ready.

Drive an hour-and-ten minutes to the church, listening to young adult audio books or satellite radio.

Once I get to work it’s time for pastor duties!

As for the  pastor duties, every day is different, especially because I am a solo pastor – meaning, if someone is looking for the pastor at the church, it’s me. Today is monthly church newsletter day. Other days include leading a lunch-time Bible study; other days preparing for said Bible study. Yesterday I bought t-shirts for the kids to wear as part of their costumes for the Christmas pageant. Last month I took the youth to a haunted house. Some nights I have meetings. Some days I have coffee with colleagues. Some days I meet congregants for lunch or coffee or just a visit in senior housing.

The worship plans have to be figured out – prayers, sermons, songs. The list is much longer but that’s a sampling.

Drive home.

Have dinner with my family.

Watch TV / hang out on Pinterest / do work stuff, usually in some combination.

Go to bed and get ready to do it all again.


And that ladies and gentlemen is Nicole.  Pastor, mother, DIYer, gardener, Art of Doing Stuff reader.  If you want to find out if she’s a swearer, you’ll have to browse the comment section in this post.

Read the first reader profile on K.J. Konick here.