"An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels."
I was finishing up my freshman year of college at the University of Arkansas when Warren and I found out our sweet, wild Tyler was in our future plans at this time of the year, 18 years ago. Warren was graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in English. We had been married for almost a year and we had spent the two years before marriage dreaming of what we wanted together in life. We both agreed that it would be good and okay for me to stay home with the kids God would give us. I also wanted some Holstein cows and a house with a front porch in the country. We would dream of traveling and where we would live.
"The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord."
We made a decision to move south of Fort Smith where Warren would take a full time position with 40/29 TV and I would stay at home with Tyler. I am sure there were some people who thought it was a bad choice for me to "quit" school but I was never more confident about this decision. Over the course of the next 3 years we would move to Denison, Texas for a television job and eventually surrender to full time ministry and moving to Waldron, Arkansas to serve. God would add another set of pitter patter feet to our home as well.
"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord...."
During those years I would serve with all my being in the local church teaching and organizing the children's ministry. Tyler, Ethan, and eventually Elise would spend hours with me painting Sunday School rooms, putting up bulletin boards, organizing puppets, decorating for VBS, and preparing weekly AWANA and children's church lessons. Those were very sweet and precious days.
"Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it."
During those years I would occasionally substitute for a little extra income while my mom would babysit my kids or I would paint for friends in their home. I did struggle inside my heart with only having one year of college under my belt. There is something about me that loves education and always growing. It was during those days at home with the kids that I decided to go back to school online and get my associate's degree. This was done when Elise was a toddler.
"Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;"
During those years I would see my children's first footsteps, I would never worry about juggling days off to rock a sick baby, we would play in the sand, watch the Wiggles, I would sit for hours watching Tyler play trains at Learning Oasis, read books upon books (of course skipping a page or two to get through), and do all I could to make sure they were ready for kindergarten. One car (a maroon Mitsibushi Galant) was what our family had in return for those years of only one income, but never would I trade the days of naps together (which I am still having withdraws from), songs we sung down the quiet,early morning aisles of Wal-Mart, rise and shine appearances at school, and shopping days with my mom. I would never trade having three young children squished in a back seat and heading to the park to ride the "choo-choo" on a beautiful spring morning. It was on those drives we would practice Cubbie and Sparkie verses, talk about Jesus, practice our ABC's and learn how to get along with each other. Especially your siblings.
"...So are My ways higher than your ways..."
But once the kids were all in school during the day, God gave me a new season of life. A season where I would work outside the home. It was good for the whole family. It enlarged our ministry circles. My first job was working with a coalition to coordinate a $600,000 grant. I am forever grateful to the board and community members for allowing me to learn to be director of that coalition and grant. Looking back I stand in awe of God's grace and goodness to let me learn so much, so fast. Our whole family was blessed by the years I worked for that grant.
"God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us-
That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among the nations."
A move to El Dorado would mean a resignation from the coalition. I went to El Dorado thinking I would just try the stay at home and go to a ladies Bible Study. Some coffee and lunch dates with friends seemed fitting as well. But the Lord had other plans and stirred a desire in my heart to seek a job. God basically sat a job at a local elementary school in my lap. Those 3 and half years were some of the best. I was able to be with Elise at the elementary for all but half a year of that time . I learned so much during those years. It was also during those years that I decided to go back to school to become a teacher. I worked during the day and attended school at night for 2 and half years. At times it was tough, but God carried me through. I mean really carried me through.
"A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance."
Interruption. Yes, a move to Vilonia with one semester left of school. But as always, He was faithful. I was able to student teach at the school near our home. I was placed with a teacher and class that made me feel so welcome in the community and in the classroom. And finally I graduated! G5 was so very happy! We did it! I guess that's one of my favorite things about my family, whatever we do in life, we celebrate as a family.
"God is faithful..."
I Corithians 1:9
I pulled out my old Bible, the one that was stolen in St Louis and returned. I had put it on the shelf in our new home because of its fragile condition. I pulled it out yesterday and buried my head in it because I needed the peace that God had been faithful in the past and would continue to be even now. I had interviewed for a job at a school I student taught at and fell in love with. A place I felt I could teach the very best. Now I would have to pray and wait. I waited for the call that I would be a real teacher, in a real classroom. It seemed like eternity! Finally at 10:00 last night it came! We all jumped up and down! I even tackled Ethan! What laughing, joy, and thankfulness in our hearts!
"He fills our years with good things...."
18 years ago, I didn't understand the seasons of life that would come. I had no idea that God continuously changes our circumstances in order to bring glory to Himself through our lives. . And today I still don't understand it all. Seasons are beautiful and sometimes tough. I love life, yet dread when death comes. I love joy, but despise the mourning. I love when the Lord gives, but heartbroken when He takes away. But as I think over the seasons of G5's life, mine as "mom" in particular, I am able to see His work. I realize that what I saw our life to look like when I was 18 years old, is not His design. And what the world thought my life should look like, is not His design. It's not that I missed His timing or did life wrong. Instead I am reminded that I am not, nor anyone else, a "cookie cutter" design. So humbled and thankful for the life He has given me through the seasons. I am also glad my dreams are not His. (I am not sure I could milk cows everyday!) I am looking forward to this new season in 1st grade at VPS. I got the job! I am blessed!
"And we know that God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose."