HANDS DOWN! My Most Challenging Moment In Ministry!
Shortly after Scott took his first position as a Worship Pastor, we welcomed Talia, our third child into our family! At that time, Tara was 9 and Nate was 6. We were a busy homeschooling family, involved in community activities and serving constantly at church!
Overwhelmed with schooling, schedules, appointments, music lessons, ministry responsibilities, and bottomless piles of laundry, I remember feeling like I was losing myself. One day, as I folded the mountainous pile of socks and underwear in the laundry room, I cried out to God,
“Is this all that there is for me? Is this all that I am good for?”
I was sure that no wife or mother had ever felt like me. How could anyone else understand? I was haunted by voices from past friends, teachers and lecturers throughout my years of schooling that in essence were saying,
“You aren’t worth anything if you are a stay at home wife and mom. A career is the only way that you will be satisfied and be able to contribute to your family in a way that matters.”
In my own personal search for significance and affirmation, it was so easy to gloss over the obvious, dismiss the value and importance of the mundane, and get caught up in my pity party! As I stood there sobbing, loving my family but feeling trapped, there was a gentle voice that spoke to my heart,
“Whose feet will those socks go on? Where will they go? What will they do? How are you taking care of them? How will you pray for them?”
I stopped to ponder those questions and realized that my husband and my children were a gift from God to me, and I wanted them to have what they needed to be able to go and do the things that He had for them to do. I began to understand that I have a part in all of that by taking care of their needs and praying for them to follow God's plan for their lives with love, devotion and zeal! My focus had been on ME and what I could do to meet MY need to feel important and valued, instead of what God could do through me for the people that mean the most to me!
At that moment, I knew that I needed to back out of everything at church and any other place outside of my home to make my husband and my children my primary ministry. I didn’t know how long it would be. One year? Five years? Twenty years?
When I told Scott, it didn’t go well at first. He was NOT happy but eventually he began to see the fruitfulness and value of that decision not only in our children, but in our marriage too.
INVESTING SACRIFICIALLY in my marriage, and the way that I treat, teach, and train our children for a later return on that investment had to become my PRIMARY MINISTRY!
You have heard the phrase, “The road to good intentions doesn’t lead anywhere.”
Well let me expand on that a bit! “Good intentions without investment equals nothing!"
My PRIMARY MINISTRY is rooted and established in MY investment in the COVENANT relationships in my life. Promises that I have made to love, honor, and cherish, grow up, teach, and train up in the Lord! These were the new priorities that became my guide for decision-making:
My ministry to the Lord. I committed to meeting with Him at the same time early each morning, before the kids would get up. I would study His word, journal my prayers, and enjoy those peaceful moments during the sunrise, as I waited for Him to help me to prioritize the day as a blessing to my family. I would pray throughout the day as needs arose, inviting Him to work in and through me to bless Him and others.
My marriage to Scott. We began to compare our calendars as the first part of our date night so that we would protect family commitments. We agreed that when one of us was asked to do something, we would tell them that we would let them know after we checked with each other and the family calendar. (That saved a lot of arguments!) Wednesdays were his day and night to minister as needed. I had to learn to stop expecting him to be home after rehearsals and support him as he reached out to members of the Praise Team. On the weekends, the demands of serving four services challenged me. I had to learn to hold him with an open hand understanding that many times I would feel like a single parent.
For the kids, I began each day with devotions at the breakfast table, created chore charts, a list of family values, and a family calendar. I planned school lessons in advance to help them to be able to work ahead if they wanted to. Rainy days were game days and bedtime was reserved for recap conversations about their day, reading Bible stories, and prayers while soft praise music played throughout the house. Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings were set aside for their ministry opportunities and Scott and I would take turns spending special one on one time with each of them throughout the month.
As I began to map this out and try to put it to work, it became very clear that I am not in covenant with a job, co-workers, friends, ministries, or a church. That is not to say that they don’t matter, but my COVENANT relationships are the ones that I am most accountable to God for. This became the guide for future commitments because I learned to protect our family calendar above things that I wanted to do.
A stay at home wife and mom was what God had for me during this season of my life! A call to a self-sacrificing investment to those that believed my promises. I look back now with gratitude for so many things! Just for the record, there were many nights spent lying on my face on the living room floor praying for my family and crying out to God for them, knowing their struggles or those of the people they cared about! It was both the most difficult AND rewarding work and ministry that I have ever done! I look back now and can tell you that I honestly have no regrets in these investments:
-I obeyed God by investing in the greater things that He had put into my life! He is still the Lord of my life and faithfully teaches, guides, and blesses me with answers to prayers that were prayed so long ago!
-I loved my husband by being his prayer warrior in all that God had called him to do as he built the Worship Arts Ministry at our Church and served in our region in many different ways. Through it all there were date nights, sleepless nights, sick kids, challenges, gut-wrenching losses, and opportunities to grow through it all together as we served God and raised our children! I can tell you that we have been happily married for nearly forty years and now we love that we get to do ministry together!
-I valued our children by taking care of their needs, teaching and training them that God loves them and is trustworthy for all their days! By His grace, they are all walking faithfully with the Lord and are now my best friends!
There is only one thing left to say to the voices from my past that I chose NOT to listen to:
IT WAS WORTH IT AND I WOULD DO IT ALL AGAIN!