Today’s post is written by Tami Stevenson. Tami is the wife of Jason and mommy to Emma and Claire. In addition to various church ministries, she also does freelance work for Awana and is an adjunct faculty member for Moody Distance Learning.
Being a mom of two toddlers is a privilege. True, it often drives me to drink inordinate amounts of caffeine and makes me question my sanity, but when one of those precious faces looks up at me and says, “I love you mama,” the sleep deprivation and fact that I haven’t showered in three days is unimportant.
Before my current days of exhausted exhilaration, I was a single gal who, after graduating from college, threw myself into service because I found great fulfillment in being very active in ministry. I did it all: music, youth group, missions trips, preschool coordinator, etc. I loved being busy and using my ministry degree in church service. Seven years after I graduated, I married my wonderful husband and we continued serving together. Fast forward eight years and now we have two beautiful girls, ages 3 and 17 months. After our first daughter was born, I should have stepped back to reevaluate my involvement in ministry outside our home. But I didn’t.
Here’s the deal: I want to serve and do ministry. I know my gifts and strengths and get very excited when I see an opportunity to use them. But here’s the other part of the deal: I love my babies and after all we went through to have them (including three miscarriages in a year), you would think I would want to drop everything and focus solely on them.
For me it’s come down to being choosy. (Think “Choosy moms chose Jif.”) As a mom, it’s my responsibility to be choosy in how much I serve outside my home. My first ministry is to my family, and then I choose where and how to serve based on my family’s current status. Right now when my girls are little, I’ve finally figured out that I must choose to look for ministry opportunities that are flexible. We all know that when it comes to being a mom of toddlers, flexibility is a must – a difficult lesson for someone like me who likes routine and schedules.
So what does flexible ministry look like for me? One example is when I served on the committee that rewrote our church’s constitution. It was a one-year commitment and we met once or twice a month in the evenings. I knew there was a definitive end to the committee and it didn’t disrupt family time because the girls were in bed when I left for the meetings.
Another concept that worked well was when my sister and I job-shared in teaching preschool. She has three kiddos and I have two. Moms, you’ll get this – it’s inevitable that the day we are scheduled to teach, that’s the day one of the kids gets sick. It happened a lot. But my sister and I were each other’s sub. We were scheduled to teach on different Sundays so I always knew that if something came up, she would either watch the sick kiddo or teach for me and I would take her week.
So I’ve finally found ways to serve that allow me to be choosy and flexible while still making an impact on the Kingdom. When I know the beginning and end of a ministry or have a counterpart to trade with when kids get sick, my mind and heart are free to serve with joy. I can get even more involved when the girls get older. But right now, it’s really the best of both worlds. While they’re reaching up to me with sticky fingers and wiping their noses on my sleeve, I can continue to make them my primary ministry while still serving and using my gifts.