“Through the last year and a half I have found myself in deep waters, overwhelmed with life and forgetting how to swim or tread through the deep waters I was/am drowning in. Nothing specific or tragic happened, but just my busy life. You see, my home is filled with four alpha males and one alpha female…and a husband! Not one of my children is mellow, or naturally compliant, or eager to be “mommy’s helper.” Inspiring Women: Life With Emily
Emily has been a friend of our family for many years. She was also Vance’s sister, Beverly’s, good friend. The two of them were attached at the hip and even went to Bible school in Austria together. One thing that stood out to me about Emily was she was very creative and was excellent at making things with her hands. Here she is with a family of her own and also in full-time ministry with her husband. Emily was always very capable, and I have no doubt she is a wonderful mother and wife.
Inspiring Women: Life with Emily
This may feel like we are meeting up at a coffee shop. And, much like a visit with friends, a wide variety of topics get covered, so here goes! (by the way, I write like I talk to people…so get ready for a lot of exclamation points!!!)
A little About Me
When I was in high school, my friend and I used to say that we were going to have four boys when we got older and married…why four boys? No idea, but that was what we joked about.
Well, God certainly has a sense of humour because that’s exactly what I have! Yup, for 13 years all the baby and kids clothes that went through my washing machine were blue, denim, throw a bit of red in there, more blue, more denim…until some pink arrived in our home! Our little firecracker of a girl came six years after our last boy, and our house has not been the same since!
Backing up a bit, I should mention that my best friend and I met twenty years ago, and have been married for nineteen of them.
Our boys are 17, 16, 13, 11 and girly is 4. Our house is filled continuously with NOISE and CHAOS! Most of the time I feel like I’m going to lose my mind (try eating at our supper table.)
But the Lord reminds me daily that this too shall pass, and the season I’m in will vanish so quickly, just like the last seventeen years, since I was pregnant with my first baby!
I still remember when my boys were small, my husband went back to school for his master’s and I was on my own for a few months. One day I decided to time it – it took me at least 30-45 minutes to make a decent meal, but those monkeys would eat supper AND dessert, clear the table and be done, and playing in less than 12 minutes! Those days seemed to hang on forever, but now they seem like a blink.
All of my boys are very athletic, so I go out of my ever-loving mind driving them around and sitting in gym after gym, field after field! (not to mention going out of my ever-loving mind figuring out how to feed them without a few heads of cattle to butcher!) I absolutely love to watch them play, using their God-given talents and skills to become great athletes, teammates and leaders. I pray that the Lord uses them in mighty ways through what they love to do – but often feel the weight of my responsibility to nurture all that energy (and testosterone!!) into being kind, respectful, God-fearing humans.
My daughter…well she’s a whole different creature! I really could write a whole blog just on her and her antics.
Oh boy, the things that come out of the mouth of a 4-year-old girl with four older brothers.
I’m convinced one day she’ll get hemorrhoids from the farting contests with her big brothers! And they just laugh til they cry! I’m not sure she’ll ever get married! Why? Well, because, no boy will be good enough for her brothers, and also because no boy will want to put up with her bad manners and bossiness. She does make best friends wherever she goes and the boys have already told me she’s “so dramatic mom!” – Sheesh, I cannot wait until she’s a teenager!! She really is the apple of every one of her brother’s eyes (not to mention her dad’s!).
A Typical Day
The truth is, there really is nothing typical about our family, so I never have a typical day.
I have 4-5 part-time jobs, so most days I have something going on besides my very full time, 24 hr/day, always on call job of wife and mother. Most of my outside jobs are cleaning…which means every week I clean upwards of 12 toilets and 6-8 urinals (among many other things), it’s not too exciting and at times pretty gross. It’s physically demanding, and I am always less than thrilled to come home to clean my own house. Let’s just say that cleaning the bathrooms is always top of the priority list to be delegated to some deserving child!
A few years ago I had to come to terms that these cleaning jobs really were the best suited for our family situation. If I wanted to help bring in some needed cash and not have my family in upheaval or have to pay for childcare, then I needed to take on this glamorous position that was flexible enough to work for us.
Before kids or part-time jobs though, since two months after I married him, my husband, Dave, has been a pastor.
He pours his heart into his studies and has a heart for preaching God’s Word. But this does add a whole other dimension to our life. It really is more of a lifestyle than it is just his job. It has been challenging for me, almost daily (for a variety of reasons that could be a separate post), but most often the challenge lies in the way of parenting. Because of the nature of what he does, I do a fair bit of single parenting. For us, it is the only way of life we’ve known, but that life changes now and again so we are continually re-evaluating things…hence the “non-typical” family life!
I have often heard that I am a “typical” pastor’s wife – playing piano, teaching in children’s ministry, helping in ladies ministry, in the kitchen, etc. I’ve really never thought of myself as that.
In fact, I often feel like I should never be in this role at all. I’m just a Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-loving momma who’s husband happens to pastor a church.
I support my husband and fill in where I’m needed, and it seems like that need is different in each church we’ve been in!
Looking back, there have been so many different seasons and stages of our life the last 19 years. Mountains and hills, valleys and gorges, and lots of years just coasting on the flat plains. I can honestly say that God has richly blessed each and every one of those seasons, even if at the time we didn’t see it.
We needed to go through the suffering to find the joy…lately though, I’ve struggled to see past the fog to get a glimpse of the joy.
Let me explain –
My Daily Struggles
The Struggle is Real
Have you heard that term everywhere lately? “The struggle is real.” I used to laugh when I’d read it or hear someone say it (insert eye roll), but the other day, as I was pouring out my tired, exhausted heart to my husband, I found those exact words coming out of my mouth.
My struggles are real, I cried to him! Really…real!
Through the last year and a half I have found myself in deep waters, overwhelmed with life and forgetting how to swim or tread through the deep waters I was/am drowning in. Nothing specific or tragic happened, but just my busy life. You see, my home is filled with four alpha males and one alpha female…and a husband! Not one of my children is mellow, or naturally compliant, or eager to be “mommy’s helper,” lol.
Early on in motherhood, I started recognizing that I had to remain in control and win the battles or I would get eaten alive by my boys (survival of the fittest around these parts).
So guess what I’ve become now? THE queen alpha female! This is all great when I am giving them their jobs for the day, or laying down the law, or disciplining bad behaviour…but not so great when I need to be a loving wife, or a fun loving, nurturing mom.
So my struggle to take that alpha female hat off is real! My struggle to find more paying jobs to help feed my small army is real! The struggle to find some quiet time is real! My struggle to read my Bible and have meaningful time with God is real! The struggle of feeling invisible to the five men in my life is real! My struggle to raise up respectful, God-fearing men is real! The struggle to raise children in such a sexualized culture is real! My struggle knowing what to say no to is real! I could really go on, and on, and on, and on…you get the point!
Because of the struggles, little things can bring me joy these days.
Honestly, here are the three things (besides my family), that brings me great joy: Quiet…Time…and Accomplishing.
1. Yes, some days I crave quiet like people crave their morning coffee, except it’s WAY harder to obtain than a simple brew. So I try to take little moments throughout my days just to “be still and know that He is God” – most days it’s when I’m in the van driving between things.
2. Time? Time is never on my side with six other people and schedules to work around. Through the school year I try to book one block of time each week, a 4-6 hour block that is just for me to accomplish something (other than the dishes or laundry!), or have a visit with a friend.
3. Which leads me to my last thing – Accomplishing. Sounds funny, I realize. But I’m very task-oriented, so if I don’t “accomplish” in my day, I can get down on myself. But, sorry, regular everyday tasks don’t count…so I also love my lists! Just to give you a glimpse of my
drive OCD to accomplish – I have been known to be using my chop saw and sander well past 11pm…in the basement (this had to stop when my two oldest, who have rooms in the basement, complained that I was keeping them from their beauty sleep!)
Ugh, who has time to dream? I guess I do find myself thinking about my future…what’s in it?
My hubby and I laugh about having motorcycles and touring around the country when our kids are gone (which won’t be in, like, FOREVER!) It sounds like so much fun and I really do hope that one day we can at least slow down to enjoy a road trip or two!
One thing I dream about even more often though is to have a workshop. We don’t have a garage so it would be lovely to have a bigger space (than my small, unfinished basement) where I can keep all my tools and projects, as well as have a place to create wood art, signs, furniture, and handsewn items to sell! I would love to have a space to house the furniture I could re-purpose, as well as build with my hubs! A few months ago we built single over double bunk beds and we both really enjoyed it! It’s great marriage counselling and therapy, as you really do learn a lot about each other!
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what my dreams are – I know that God has plans for me that are even bigger, better and sweeter than anything I can dream up on my own!
Moments With God
When I get overwhelmed, I tend to look at earthly things, or people, to throw me a life preserver. When those earthly people and things don’t see that I’m drowning, I sink even further.
Just recently I came upon this Scripture, twice in two days – Isaiah 43:1b-3a:
What a saving grace to my tired and weary soul!
Notice how it doesn’t say that IF you pass through the waters, or IF you pass through the rivers, or IF you walk through the fire? Every time, it reads WHEN…that was an eye-opening reminder to me that the Lord never says that He will save me from going through hard times and struggles. The Lord never says that He will make those hard times stop because I am His child. Instead, He tells me that WHEN I do go through those times He will be with me. The waters will not overtake me, the fire will not burn me because HE IS WITH ME! I absolutely WILL go through fire and swim in deep waters, at times sinking below the surface, and at times feeling a bit charred by the flames.
BUT, what a great comfort! What relief! He, the Holy One, the Saviour of the world, will walk/swim along with me.
John 16:33 reminds us,
Yes, my struggles are real, but my God is even more real, and bigger than my struggles! He has overcome the world! And, as an added bonus, the icing on the cake, He has given us PEACE. And no ordinary, run of the mill peace. No, He has given us peace that passes all understanding.
Remembering these truths help me when I am faced with teenagers that make dumb decisions. They help me face my oldest going to University this year (sniff, sniff). They help me to have a tough conversation with a friend. Or face my ugly words that ripped through my husband when I was irritated. These truths help me to move forward with hope and confidence!
I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring. Believe me, I try to make it a habit NOT to borrow trouble from tomorrow,
I. WILL. FACE. TROUBLE. There’s no ifs, and’s, or buts about it. But there’s a happy ending for all who repent and believe in Christ — eternity with Him, the happiest of endings!
So take heart, friends! Bathe in God’s grace! Face those struggles and overwhelming days with hope and confidence that God is on the throne and has overcome the world!
**PS, Sometimes the cutest troubles I face, is in the form of a little blonde hair, blue eyed, sassy-pants!
Motherhood is a tremendous growing and stretching period for every woman, as you can see from Emily’s feature. Would you like to read about another mother who had to take her frustrations to God, on a day she felt she really blew it with her kids? Read Laura’s story click: HERE
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Thank you for a glimpse into your life Emily x. We too have 4 boys and one girl, although she is in the middle of the pack. My husband doesn’t pastor but has a very demanding job and I too struggled with the whole alpha female thing when I did a lot of the parenting when he was busy.
Ours are now grown up and starting families of their own. Your post has made me a bit nostalgic for those crazy times (although I do remember also feeling like I was drowning many a time)
It is a crazy life, isn’t it? I’m glad you are on the “other side” of it now and can look back with fondness!