The Ministry Mama’s Life Story in a Nutshell

For those of you who have not heard my life story before, I just wanted to share it in a different way…in a nutshell. In light of the current events for a woman’s right to choose, I challenge that thinking with the question, “What if I had never been born?” I celebrated my 34th birthday this week and my birthday always reminds me of why I love what God has done in my life.

My mom was a Christian and although single when she found out she was pregnant with me, she decided that instead of abortion or adoption she needed to keep me. She decided that in her realm of influence she had the assurance I would be growing up in church, listening to the Bible and being told about Jesus Christ and His salvation. I was born on a blizzardy Sunday in Texas.

life-story-testimony

Because I was in a Christian home and in church at an early age, my heart was tender toward God. At four years old the He began speaking to me about my sin and my need to accept Him as my Saviour. On one evening as my mom cooked spaghetti on the stove for dinner I asked her what I needed to do to be saved. She took time to talk to me about it and it was then that I accepted Christ as my Savior…Almost 30 years ago! We went through some hard times in my teens as she was divorced and then lived as a busy single mom. One comfort I always had was in knowing God was with me all along the way. He never left me or forsook me.

At twelve years old God spoke to me at summer camp about becoming a missionary and I surrendered to full-time service then. It was probably my junior or senior year of high school when I began to realize that saying you’re going to be a missionary when everyone else is choosing their ideas of what they wanted to be for their vocation was not the popular answer. I began to doubt my choice and stray away from the Lord in my heart and actions.

Despite some bumps in the road and some special miracles the Lord did on my behalf, I became a student at Bible College in the fall of ’01. The Lord began teaching and growing me in new ways although we were faithful church attenders all the way through my childhood. I studied missions and church education for 3 years before I was distracted enough by my husband in 2004 to quit school and go get married in a whirlwind of a weekend. It was 3 years (while I was having our boys) before we completed college in 2009 together. Those years were hard years on our marriage but we always had enough hope to keep on going.

A photo of my husband and I at a church event in 2010.

In the fall of 2009 the Lord led my husband to his first full-time ministry position and we served there for 5 1/2 years. Now we are serving in a new church plant while my husband works a secular job and does the same thing of leading music and teaching Sunday School as he did before.

I never became a missionary to little children in a foreign country like I expected to when I surrendered at 12, but God has allowed me to minister to not only our children but to hundreds of children through the years, as well as women, and families.

When I was 30 years old I met my father for the first time, you can read about it here. He and I have been able to build a good relationship together in the past few years when we had spent most of my life apart. I never expected that would have ever been true, but God has blessed us both despite having missed out on years of relationship time.

You know I’m not perfect and I can truly say after 34 years, the hardships and the things that I didn’t understand when I was a little girl or a troubled teen really have been situations where God took those broken pieces and circumstances and has turned them around for good, just like He did in the Bible story of Joseph.

I don’t know where this year is taking me but I hope that I can be as faithful to God as He has been to me.  Trusting Christ was the best gift I ever received because it has been the gift that has kept on giving in my life. Anything and everything I am is not only because my mom chose life, but because Christ has given me eternal life. Being a Christian is as much a part of me as taking my husband’s last name has been to me for the past 12 years. Having a relationship with Christ has made me who I am and who you know me as, The Ministry Mama, today. I hope that as you read this blog you see glimpses of Him.

Thank you for taking the time to read this as it just felt necessary to share why my birthday and my life is so important to me. It causes me to ask questions like this, “Who is the world missing out on?” an”d, “Who would God have used to do His work out of the millions who have been aborted? Only God knows. I hope and pray that if a mother who is expecting a baby and is unsure of whether or not to keep that baby that you will see my life was not easy but it has been blessed. It has been God who given strength, direction, and purpose to my life just as He has for yours. Choose life, it’s the best gift you could give to your child!

The Ministry Mama’s Goals for 2017

The New Year is a unique time to reflect on the past and create dreams and goals for the next year. Our family was in a transitional year the past year while living with my in-laws and helping in a new church plant. Only six weeks ago we moved into our own house again. God has taught me many things this year through the journey and processes of our waiting for Him to work things out for us to be a one-family household again. After learning those lessons I am wanting to continue, Lord willing, in changing some things in my own personal life.

These are not in any particular order, just a list. Nothing to analyze too critically, I just wanted to share with you what’s been on my heart and mind.

Becoming More of a Minimalist 

We lived for one year in two bedrooms, one closet, one section of a storage shed at my in-law’s house, and the rest of our belongings in a storage unit with the large furniture in front so we could not access even our extra winter clothes last year. We learned to live with less. We regularly went through our things and rotated them into the smaller storage tubs and back around again when we needed them. I learned to have a capsule wardrobe and remained sane by sending the kids to go play outside.

The house we’re living in now is about 600 square feet smaller than our previous home and all of our boxes filled our garage to the max when we first moved in- talk about looking like a hoarder! Going through the boxes has been an overwhelming feat for me to make a decision of getting rid of things or keeping them.

(I just read this article today, what a help and motivation to keep going!)

God showed me in the past year that I do not need things to live and be happy, while they may make things convenient, all the items I had (and still have) are not necessary. Materialism has been a weight upon my shoulders and although it’s taking time and effort, including letting go, it has freed me to have a place for everything. It has given me more time to focus on the home we have without the guilt of knowing I always have unfinished business cleaning something somewhere. Our garage is still a work in progress but with dedication I believe this is a goal that can be realized within the next six months.

Focusing on Exercise and Healthy Living

Five kids later my body has given me those aches and pains and I have struggled with losing too much weight (yes, some people actually have that problem!). God is helping me learn more about a good diet and the kind of exercise I need to strengthen my body. Our family has been wanting to grow some type of garden this year of organic herbs and vegetables. You know, I believe in helping our bodies be healthy so we can serve the Lord longer!

Growing in the Lord 

They say if you’re not growing in the Lord you’re backsliding. My Bible reading and prayer life must improve and has some areas to grow. I cannot pour out to others what has not been first done in my heart. This is a necessity! It is the most important item in this list.

Reading Books to Encourage 

Reading books helps you gain wisdom and understanding about life and ministering to others. I want to read more this year than I did this past year… with our situation I’m not sure if I finished any books in 2016 but rather dabbled here and there and was highly distracted like a metal ball in a pinball machine. I’m also planning on reading books aloud with our children during our homeschooling, which always has helped us grow together in heart and experience.

Writing More Articles for The Ministry Mama

We moved into my in-law’s home in November of 2015 with a six-week old baby and our other four children. My husband began a secular job and does his ministry work in his “free” weeknights and Saturday time. The burden was on me to make sure that our kids were living and doing right in someone else’s home as well as nurturing our baby and homeschooling, cleaning and making meals, etc. My time was devoted to keep the peace so that we were still welcome at my in-laws during the duration of God’s allowing us to live there, that is why my writing articles was very slim in 2016.

Lord willing, (it seems every time I make plans for doing more here other things intervene or something crazy happens) I will be back to writing regular weekly posts in 2017.

Making Friends and Extending Hospitality

We are still in a “new” to me city, my husband grew up here, but all of our married life we lived elsewhere so besides a couple of friends we do not have a large group of people our age that we know and spend time with. All around us are ministry families in different churches in this city and the suburbs surrounding us and it’s time we make new friends and grow some relationships! Hospitality helps you grow in servitude and friendships build you up when you find faithful friends, and this is an area I need to improve upon. It may be difficult at times because my husband does not always have a lot of free time now but when we do open our home and have good theological conversations and even laugh with people then we are always doubly blessed.

I hope you’re thinking of those things you want to do, it’s good to dream and plan, have goals and want to create. If you’re not sure of what you want to do, then simply ask the Lord to help you. I believe He will show you or put a desire in your heart to accomplish some special things in 2017 if you’ll let Him.

The Police Chaplain’s Wife

 

Relaxed and sitting in the living room waiting for Cuatro, our youngest daughter, to fall asleep because she had her own special “camp out” in the living room for doing a good job at cleaning her room a few days earlier, when suddenly the call came.

He quickly approached me where I was standing in our bathroom and said “One of our officers has been shot.” He was making a phone call to the head chaplain and notifying him that he would be on his way within the next 5-10 minutes.

I grabbed his uniform pants, his dress shoes, black belt, and he grabbed his navy long-sleeved shirt with the yellow letters “chaplain” written on the back. He began to get dressed and I grabbed his wallet, badge, and keys. He was ready within minutes. I handed him a quick snack and some water, he kissed me and he was out the door.

Only a week before this incident we had honored our local department in a special service. We shook their hands and gave personal words of thanks, gave them gifts, presented them with the gospel, and fed them a steak dinner in a tent in the church parking lot. We prayed for this man’s life to be spared.

Police Chaplain's Wife

The Difference between Officers’ Families and Chaplains’ Families

When an officer leaves for the day they leave their family members with a blank day ahead of them that will be filled with the call-outs and happenings as the day unfolds. Their family hugs them good-bye never knowing the outcome of how things will go. When my husband is called out on a chaplain call, we already know the outcome. Typically death has occurred and the majority of them last fall were suicides. We knew when he left that the people at the scene were either distraught or there were people yet to be notified of their loved one’s death and it would cause turmoil in not only their day, but their life.

This particular night the suspect that had shot the officer was not in custody. When I hugged my husband good-bye I wished he was wearing a Kevlar vest for protection. Yellow “chaplain” lettering on the back of a shirt would not keep a criminal from firing shots.

Naturally the greatest question is “who was shot?” Was is an officer that we knew? Was it an officer that came to our police service? Was it an officer who heard the gospel and accepted it at some point in their life? or not? How will my husband do if it was one of his friends and he has to try to comfort the other officers amidst his own inner sadness? The questions quickly outnumbered any chance of immediate answers.

The text came to me two hours after he left, “It looks like it’s going to be a long night. Go to bed whenever.” My mind would not shut off and I began having Braxton-Hicks contractions from the stress of worry. He returned in the wee hours of the morning exhausted but determined to get up at 5:45 am and be at the debriefing at the police headquarters to be able to minister if needed. He spent the next 48 hours with little sleep, helping deliver meals, being available for meetings, and listening to angry and broken hearts of the men and women in blue.

Reality Hit

The officer that did die was a friend of my husband and the weight did compound itself on his shoulders. When the autopsy was complete, the answer concluded nothing could have been done to save his life. The injuries from the shots were fatal. For my husband, past conversations became meaninful and the fun and good interactions they shared became valuable memories now treasured.

He ministered what he could all during his last week of working in our church – I admired him for his commitment to make a difference. I pitied him for his torn heart between the loss of his friend and the end of his “ministry” in our current church. The end for both was certain, two chapters closed in his life at one time. A week later he attended the officer’s funeral and completed his last official chaplain duties. The tune of the bagpipes that played in honor of his friend filled his mind for weeks following.

The Value of the Chaplaincy

At first I did not want him to be a police chaplain, selfishly I wanted his time to be mine. In time the Lord showed me that my “sacrifice” was really a gift to my husband. The chaplain training classes he received were so closely related to being able to be applied to ministry situations, it was invaluable. Learning to make death notifications, comforting hurting family members, and the importance of confidentiality (and more!) all will help him in other future situations with ministering to others.

The one-on-one contact he received from men and women in law enforcement gave him friends and contacts in the community who were outside our church family. When you move to a city not knowing anyone besides those you are going to church with and are very heavily scheduled in ministry activities sometimes getting out into the community as much as you would like to may not be possible… even if you are regularly going out door-to-door and making visits. Going on ride-a-longs and visiting the precinct was a good thing for him. As we ministered to them yearly in our specific church police ministries, it became a good thing for our family. His officer friends became regular topics of conversation as well as specific people we were praying for – not just their safety, but their salvation and spiritual growth.

The desire my husband had to become a chaplain became a burden on my heart over time and became an extension of our current ministry and allowed us to serve together toward loving a group of people in their own unique mission field. I only hope chaplain work will be in my husband’s life again in the future because it showed us a glimpse of the officers’ and their families’ lives. Police work and ministry work have a lot in common, which is a whole other blog post in itself! I hope someday I can be a police chaplain’s wife again.