My Most Embarrassing Moment and a Lesson About Priorities

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Have you ever been asked about your most embarrassing moment?  Mine is ingrained in my mind like a freeze-framed DVD on the computer screen.  It happened like this –

Our four year-old daughter, Whitney, was attending pre-school at the Christian school in our area.  Ministry was busy and finances were tough.  Then out of the clear blue I got a phone call from the principal where our daughter was attending pre-school.  It seems they were in dire need of a second grade school teacher because the current teacher had quit.  He asked if I would pray about teaching the class for the year.  The whole year?  How could I swing that with all my other responsibilities as a wife, mom and pastor’s wife?   As my husband and I talked and prayed about it, we felt that perhaps this was the Lord providing for our needs.

As we prayed, I also consulted with my parents for their advice.  I clearly remember having a phone conversation with my dad where he discouraged me from taking the position because of the age of my little girl and her needs.  She would be home in the afternoon when I would still be at school.  I regretted later not heeding his warning!  But we reasoned that she would have time with her daddy while I was gone.  We failed to consider the many ministry responsibilities that would call for his time.

So, yes, I took the teaching job.  From the very first afternoon when I saw my husband pull out of the school parking lot with our daughter in tow, I regretted signing my name on the dotted line of that teaching contract!  But now it was too late.  We got into a routine – Whitney rode to school with me in the morning where she went to pre-school and I headed to the second grade classroom.  Her daddy picked her up at noon when her class was finished and they would visit church members together in the afternoon or she would play while he studied.  Some days, due to the need to visit the hospital or attend a funeral, she would spend the afternoon with a friend and fellow-pastor’s wife.  When I would hear that they had made cookies, played house or beauty shop, it would tear my heart in two!

Along with school, of course, were my ministry responsibilities.  I tried to keep up with activities and the people of our congregation.  One evening, desiring to show my concern, I approached a woman whose mother had been very ill.

“Mae, how is your mother doing?” I asked.  Her expression turned to disbelief, and she said in a somber tone, “Denise, my mother died two weeks ago.”

At that moment I wished could die!  How embarrassing!  I apologized for my blunder and somehow found my way to my seat where my face slowly returned to its natural color.

That’s what happened as a result of having too many plates spinning in the air and trying to keep them all going.  Now one had crashed to the floor – and in church of all places – the place where I should have been demonstrating care and concern!  I realized at that moment that I was doing too much, and that I wasn’t giving ample time or attention to the things that were most important.

Though that year was difficult, I learned the greatest lesson from that experience.   I learned what my priorities were, and working outside my home while I had children to raise was not one of them!   Hence, that was my first and last job, not because I was too lazy to work; I had just learned the hard way that the best (and most fulfilling) job for me was raising my girls and being a help-meet to my husband.  Nothing else in the world really mattered.  There were still times when I’ve felt I was spinning plates, but I had learned through my embarrassing moment not to allow those plates to be the ones that were closest to my heart.

How do you balance all the busy things going on in your world?  Is there something you feel the Lord would have you to give up? 

Family Friday – Ten Things This Mom Would Do Again

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My mommy days are behind me now, and as I’m watching others in this special, yet demanding role, I have done some reminiscing over the years when my girls were young.  I have plenty of regrets, as all moms do, but I’m not going to dwell on those, because I can’t change them, and because doing so would not fall under the Philippians 4:8 things I should think about!  It’s in the past. But there are things that were so good about those days.  As I think back, I remember things that we did that I would definitely do again, if I had the chance.

Here they are:

  1. Be a stay-at-home mom.  I’m so thankful that I was there for all but 9 months of both of my girls’ lives.  The nine months I worked were the longest months of my life!  I hated being taken away from my family and my home.  I was under a teaching contract, and I kept my word to the prinicple, but when the school year was done, so was I!  My husband and I decided that it was best for me to pour into our own children, rather than someone else’s!
  2. Be relatively poor.  Does that sound strange?  I would have never anticipated saying that!  Our churches did the best they could to care for us, but when the girls were young, things were tight.  Very tight. As I stated above, I was a stay-at-home mom, so we lived on my husband’s salary alone.  We homeschooled, so we had book fees and satellite costs, which were a large chunk of money every year that we never had on hand.  We were in ministry all those years, and we needed time away – times to rest and refresh as a family and recharge our spiritual batteries and physical bodies.  We had growing girls and we entertained missionaries and guest speakers, so groceries were another cost that stretched us.  Where did we get the money for these things?  We prayed.  Our inefficiencies ran us to our all-sufficient God.  He provided for us in amazing, life-changing ways!  Had we had all the money we wanted or needed, it wouldn’t have taught us to depend on Him so greatly.  Being needy turned into a great blessing.
  3. Read aloud to my girls.  One way we entertained ourselves at bedtime, around the kitchen table, in the car, or on a blanket in the backyard was through books.  We read a varied kind of books, and they were carefully chosen, and opened a whole world to us, even while we stayed home.
  4. Use God’s Word in discipline.  We always sat down and talked with our girls in their bedrooms at discipline times.  We explained from the Scriptures what they had done wrong that God considered sin.  This kept us from acting quickly out of anger (we sent them to their room and we’d cool off before addressing the issue!).  They knew it wasn’t just that mommy and daddy didn’t like what they did, but they saw it in God’s Word, and it guided their thinking and changed their behavior.
  5. Laugh and have fun.  We had lots of laughs as a family.  I should have laughed at myself more, but we shared many fun times around games, out in the snow, in the car playing the alphabet game, baking in the kitchen, or building a fire in the backyard.
  6. Be faithful to Sunday school and church.  It’s not just because we’re a ministry family that we went to church.  We love being in God’s house and with God’s people!  Worshiping, singing, reading Scripture, giving our tithes, and fellowshipping with other believers helped all of us to grow!
  7. Show outward affection and say, “I love you.”  We’re a “touchy” family, in that we hug and love on one another.  Using words to express love between parents and children is so important.  Our children learn how to love by watching us.  The first place they should feel acceptance and unconditional love is at home.
  8. Leave the girls once in a while to go on a date with their dad.  We were making a stronger home for them, and they lived through the trauma of it all!  A parent can feel really guilty leaving a crying child, even though they’re in great hands with grandparents or other caring adults, but without those times away, your relationship will get stagnant, and you’ll only discuss things like empty milk jugs and unfinished homework!
  9. Spend time alone with God every day.  When the girls were small, this time was limited, but I would read what I could and pray over each of my family.  Sometimes it came a verse at a time, with interruptions in between.  Sometimes my prayers were while I was ironing their clothes.  It was then that I’d pray for the one whose clothes I was pressing.  I often left verses on cards around the house so I could meditate on that passage.  Those “little moments” fed my soul and kept my heart right with God so I could parent them and point my girls to Christ.
  10. Marry my girls dad.  I let them know often how much I loved their daddy and how God brought us together.  He had to be my first priority because that’s God’s order.  Why?  Because God knew that I’d be where I am today – an Empty nester, and He wanted my home to be just as fulfilling now as it was when our daughters were here.

And you know what?

It is.

What are you doing right now that you know you’ll be glad you’re doing as a mom?  Keep doing it!  What are you regretting?  Ask God how to change it and watch for how He steps in!  

Refresh your children by being the mom God will enable you to be by His grace.

With love,

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