(A note from Marty: back when I regularly blogged, I asked Erin if she would like to guest post on my site. She said yes, and honestly, those became some of my favorite posts from that site. So, when I said I was going to start writing again, she asked if she could join in, and naturally, I said yes. So, Wifey Wednesday was born. I hope you enjoy her wisdom and insight as much as I do!)
Before I was married I was Chuck and Debbie Foley’s daughter, after that I was Marty’s wife or that youth pastor’s wife. I’m ok with both of those things, because I’m proud of those people who help to identify me.
I have always believed that I can do anything I put my mind to, and that if I can’t do something it’s because I haven’t put any effort in to it. I might not be able to do it well, but I can do it. So it’s no surprise that in 4th grade my aspirations were to be a school teacher, teach piano after school, and cut hair on the weekends. When I explained this to my mother, she didn’t laugh in my face as maybe she wanted to do. She did, however, question how I was going to have time for all that and if I was going to have a family. I replied in the affirmative and that surely I could make it work.
As I grew older I learned piano playing was not going to be my forte, and while I honestly have considered cosmetology school, I settled on education when I went to college. I was going to be a high school history teacher. When my mother gently pointed out that I wasn’t a man (what?!?) and I didn’t coach, she explained that in this area I was going to have a hard time finding a job. So, I struggled for a minute until my roommate introduced me to Social Work. Prior to 1998 I had never heard the term social worker, I didn’t have any in my life, had never come in contact with one, and I wasn’t quite sure how that whole thing worked. But, I decided then that was going to be my mission: to rip babies from unloving families homes.
Gosh, that sounds heartless. I learned sooooo much from that major.
My first job was working as a Children and Youth Case Manager in a mental health field, and again, I learned sooooooo much from that job! After Marty and I married, I got a job closer to where we were ministering, again, working with children.
But, what I learned from living a ministry life with my husband was that, as his wife, I better be just as called to this ministry as he was for it to work for us. And I was: I grew up the daughter of a lay youth director, a deacon in the church. I saw a lot of the administrative stuff from behind the scenes from early childhood. A lot of times, I was the one making the room lists for camps and conferences or making the calls to remind people of meetings. The Lord began preparing me at 10 for the life he was calling me to live! Honestly, because of my social work major and my youth ministry background, I was more prepared for the behind the scenes of ministry than Marty was in those early months even though his degree said “Youth Ministry!”
We learned and we grew together in those early days of marriage and ministry, they happened simultaneously, and they were good years.
But, I was doing it, I was working, I was a wife, and I was in ministry. I had it all, according to the world. I wasn’t making a ton of money: I became a teacher’s aide so that my summer’s would be free to be in ministry. However, I was contributing, I was keeping the house and cooking, and I was teaching and leading, and at the church almost as much as Marty a lot of weeks!
Then, we got pregnant with our first child. I began to research childcare, I was going to be spending my whole paycheck to put my child in daycare. During that summer after he was born I began to see that I couldn’t do it all. I could not go back to work, be a wife and mom, well, the kind I wanted to be anyway, and be as involved in the ministry as I felt called to be. So, I began to talk with Marty about me staying home. He resisted at first, wondering how we would afford it, but ultimately we understood that staying home would be best for all of us.
I assumed that when my kids were school age I would go back to work. My mom worked when I was a kid, and I turned out fine, and my sisters turned out even better! So, we were trucking along with that plan, when kid #2 turned 5 and started Kindergarten I was going back to work, even if it was just subbing regularly. Honestly, at that point, I was ready. Stay at home parenting is lonely. I don’t make friends easily, and I didn’t have close friends where we were living, even after 7-8 years of being there. I felt alone a lot of days.
But, then we felt God calling us to homeschool, we started looking at our lives and the reason that I stayed home was so that I could be involved in ministry and not feel guilty when I had to be gone on the weekends or if we carted the kids to ANOTHER ball game or band concert. We realized if we homeschooled our kids we would be free to do ministry the way we always had. We love our public schools, we try to be as available to them as we would if we had kids in them. We buy the overpriced candies and wrapping paper, we go to as many ball games and concerts and plays as we can. Honestly, I love going to those, I wish more of our parents would let us know about their kids’ special things. If I had kids in public school, I’d be super involved at their school, but may miss out on things going on at the 7-8 other schools we serve. For us, it just works. It’s not better, it’s just different. I didn’t want to do it, I struggle with it still, but for now, we know it IS what God has called us to.
Moms and Dads, we can’t do it all. We can’t. That’s why God created us for marriage and community. That’s why it takes two of us. I need Marty. He pays the bills. He needs me. He needs me to manage our home and help with ministry. I was created to be his helpmeet, not his head, his partner side by side. He is to love me like Christ loves the Church and He gave his life for her. I am to love him like the church loves Christ, giving my life for him. Are we perfect? NO! Do we screw it up? YES! But we love each other and know that we cannot do it without the other. Love is all about sacrifice.
I sacrificed my job and, sometimes I feel like my sanity, to do what is best for my family. I’ve struggled with being just a mom. Marty sacrificed an extra income for my sanity. Because, I would have tried to do it all, and we all would have suffered. My kids have sacrificed travel dance, doing more than one sport at a time, and clothes that weren’t bought on sale or at goodwill for the ministry God has called us to, we don’t have the time or the money for a lot of that.
As families we have to have time together. Not just in the car running from one event to the next. Time at the dinner table talking to each other. Time playing games together. Time serving together. Time at church together. I promise whatever you sacrifice to get that, will be worth it.
Why am I here, on this blog? When Marty started talking about blogging again, I knew that I had things to say. I’m a verbal processor. When I verbally process, sometimes good stuff comes out. I have discovered in the past year, after pulling out of a lot of ministries at church, that God has gifted me for some of those things that I was shaking off. I have discovered I have a passion for teaching God’s word, like Jeremiah said, “his word burns in my heart like a fire.” I have a passion for the ministry that God has called Marty and I to, and for me not to do it was killing my soul. We can’t do it all, but we better do what He has called us to do!
This is just another place for me to verbally process what the Lord is teaching me. Some of these things, I just have to get out. I was composing them in my head as I lay in bed at night anyway. I hope you’ll join me on Wifey Wednesdays as we process together what the Lord is teaching.