Adventures in the Life of a Southern Gospel Wife ~ September 2009 ~

“Jeremiah, God’s prophecy foretold. He stood alone and faced many trials. He had nothing by this world’s account. But when God saw his faithfulness, He must have smiled. In God’s eyes I want to be seen as faithful, serving him willingly. It doesn’t matter what the world may see as long as I measure up to the standard in God’s eyes.” – Sharona Stone Carter (“In God’s Eyes,” Jay Stone Singers)

Just this week, I received an email from another southern gospel singer/businessman who is helping my husband with some booking and branching out. In the email, this very kind and successful person wrote to me, “I have some ideas about Rod’s ministry (HIS AND YOURS).”

I am sure to this man, that was a simple, perhaps instinctive addition to the sentence. To me, though, it was a generous affirmation. And when I wrote back to him, I myself was enlightened a bit:

“Thank you…” I wrote. “It is ‘ours,’ and the more I have stood by Rod, the more great opportunities have been afforded to me, personally, too.”

This is so true.

As Rod and I prepare to return for only the third time to National Quartet Convention, I am reflecting back on the last two years with no small amount of awe.

Getting ready for our first NQC, in 2007, was like being blindfolded on our way to an amusement park. I obsessed over what our booth would look like. I also obsessed over being able to manage our then-10-month-old daughter, my pregnant self, and our then-8th-grade daughter who was missing a week of school. I wanted it to be a great time of networking for Rod. I wanted to make an impressive booth display as well as a supportive structure for him. I worked on business cards and brochures and a backdrop. I had recently resigned my teaching position to stay at home with the kids, and I was having some doubts, and the work helped me feel validated, some.

And then, at the last minute, I was contacted by a promoter that Rod had worked with occasionally through the years to help him with a two day showcase. I made flyers for him and put up a simple website. No big deal, just kind of fun. Rod was going to emcee the showcase, so again, it was a way to help him.

Being at NQC for the first time was a whirlwind. Really, the experience is indescribable and trying to share it with my friends at home was nearly impossible. It’s big, yet small. It’s business, yet fellowship. It’s music, but manning a booth means not hearing so much of it. And the ice cream is out of this world.

Fast forward one year. I have organized the entire, now 4-day, showcase for the same promoter, managing 60 artist registrations and logistics and now two children under the age of two. I loved it! Rod was still going to emcee for the event, plus he had been placed on an NQC regional showcase and a showcase for the publicity company he’d affiliated with. We had a busy week ahead of us, a sudden “place” and “role” in this massive event. The friends who’d been there to show us the ropes during year one were not in attendance during year two, but suddenly we were making new friends who were new to NQC, who wanted us to show them the ropes. We laughed about it then. We even laughed when we discovered (while he was singing) that I’d burned the wrong track for Rod’s one song regional showcase performance (well, I cried at first). We still felt like newbies, little guppies in an ocean.

Year 3. Ah. I can barely wrap my mind around what the NQC experience of 2009 will be like. I can sum it up for myself by looking at my ‘dance card.’ While sadly, there won’t be an Angelic Showcase to work and promote this year, I do have a list of appointments that keeps growing. We have meetings, reunions, and interviews for Branson Gospel Music Convention. Rod has additional appointments regarding his personal ministry. I’ve just been informed by my publisher (more on that later) that I have a few “meet-and-greet” events to attend.

Wow. What? We’re just a couple of nobodies from the Heights (Rod is really from Harlan, Kentucky and won’t let anyone forget that, but still..). I should be at our booth trying to fashion a table covering with liquid stitches and keeping the kids from stealing everyone’s candy. I am a Southern Gospel Wife.. a support person, a food fetcher, a lint brusher, a prop (albeit a charming one with cute shoes).

I say all this not to brag. In the grand scheme of an event like NQC, I will still know a miniscule percentage of people, and even fewer people will know me. But I am reminded as I glance at my calendar and to-do list and inbox that my Father in Heaven, the One, you know, for Whom we do all this, knows me. He knows my heart and its desires so well.

See, I spent my twenties (let’s face it, my teen years) talking about how much I wanted “just” to be a wife and mother. I tried to force the issue on several occasions. I grieved for it until I got it. And then, as it goes with neurotic type-A people such as me, I quickly discovered that it’s never enough! I missed having a career. I missed having a project to manage. I missed writing and editing and networking. I looked at friends who had babies and envied their seemingly perfect part-time jobs, their seemingly easily successful work at home opportunities, or their peace with where they were.

And then I shut up and started going with the flow.

Not much later, I had gaps filling in floods: a moms’ groups that began to teach me about what motherhood really is (a ministry, a calling, a privilege, and if we choose, a full time job that trumps all others), a project that became not only a labor of love but a life change (the Branson GMC), and now, a chance to fulfill the one dream of mine that was left to come true: a job in publishing. I was recently offered the opportunity to be editor-in-chief of an established webzine/online magazine. I get to be creative, to write, to edit, to market, to WRITE, for SGN Scoops Digital (and still write for this site!). I could not be more excited.

I’ve written in the past about what a full plate of “life” often means. Like a full plate of nachos (is there anything tastier?), there is a sacrifice (such as, ahem, those smaller jeans in the back of the closet). For many of us, the sacrifice is sleep, spare time, pristine houses. I’m making peace with that. Those are good trade-offs for rewards from Heaven. I never looked at supporting my husband and caring for my family as an act of obedience. It just seemed like the path to take, a no-brainer, part of being in love and in a marriage. But now I see clearly that God was testing me, my need to be in control, my need to have my hands on everything. It was only with effort and His grace that I was able to sit back and wait for my role to fit, for my dance card to be full of desirable appointments. And now, He has called our family together into full time service for Him and given me tasks in that calling that fit my gifts and passions.

Take a chance on learning what obedience means. The next lesson is a fun one: it’s about what God’s favor is!