My life is turned a little bit upside down right now.
After several years of being unsure about whether or not my husband and I were able to conceive a child, God surprised us with the sweetest miracle.
I think we are both still in a state of shock, and I am already halfway through my pregnancy.
After a very difficult first trimester, I am beginning to feel like myself; however, I am also beginning to contemplate the life changes that are soon coming.
What an adjustment.
When our baby arrives, we will be just one month shy of 36 and 38 years old. As I type these numbers, I realize that we have likely lived almost half of our lives … yet we are just beginning.
Quite honestly, the thought is a little overwhelming.
Though we have guidance through God’s word and abundant wisdom from friends and family who have walked this road ahead of us, we still are bracing ourselves for the transition.
As you might imagine, we are pretty set in our ways and quite accustomed to our freedom and independence.
We have full lives. We both work, enjoy ministry, and then recharge with “alone time” or time together.
But, life as we know it is about to come to an end … and though we are thrilled about our special blessing, we are also aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
Having counseled numerous families, I have seen many of these challenges firsthand and I am not walking into parenthood blindly.
Therefore, because of what I’ve seen, I am willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be the best mother I can be for our child.
Over the years, I have witnessed the demise of many families because one or both parents was either physically or emotionally unavailable for their children.
As kids cry out for attention, security and approval, parents absolutely must be available to meet these very important needs … especially early in development.
The long-term ramifications for having just one emotionally or physically absent parent is astounding. Even having a parent who is physically present but constantly distracted by work, hobbies, internet or television can be detrimental to a child’s emotional development.
Thus, I am choosing to make some life changes that will allow me to be consistently available for our baby.
Instead of working away from the home, I am beginning an e-counseling ministry that will allow me to counsel from our home office and set my own hours based on the time my husband is available to spend time with our child.
Second, I am relinquishing my current vehicle for something that is more baby budget-friendly. Although our current vehicle is definitely not a luxury ride, I am willing to take a step down in price to prepare for upcoming expenses.
Finally, my husband and I will likely be moving to another home so that I am able to stay home with our child (or children). As we crunched numbers, we found that we could stay where we are and subsist, but we want extra money to be available for ministry, benevolence and unforeseen needs.
In the days ahead, we also want to have money set aside for our children’s educational needs, parental support and some fun, family adventures.
Therefore, we believe it will be worth sacrificing the home we adore to have a comfortable cushion and a little peace of mind.
After all, material possessions are nice for a time but they will never be worth the sacrifice of our family’s financial security or emotional/physical availability.
All of this said, we are in the process of praying through our priorities and asking the Lord where he would have us to invest our time and money.
As we seek direction through his word, we are challenged in Matthew 6:19 not to lay up our treasures on earth where moth and dust can destroy.
And, as a Christian woman, I am personally challenged in Titus 2:4-5 to love my husband and children and to be a good homemaker.
How do I do these things well if I am so busy working to support our family and our financial obligations that I do not have enough of me left at the end of the day to take care of the precious gifts God has given me?
I know for a fact that I will never regret the decision to invest myself in my family; but, I am quite certain that I could easily regret the choice to maintain a certain standard of living instead of choosing to be available for those I love.
Please know that I as write this I am not judging mothers who choose to work outside of the home; neither am I judging single moms who have no other option. I have known some parents in both situations who have done their very best to be available for their families and have amazing children.
However, I am encouraging both moms and dads to reconsider your financial priorities if your current schedule or budget is keeping you from spending consistent, quality time with your family.
Having counseled children whose parents have been distracted or unavailable, I can promise this — we will never, ever despise the sacrifices we make to show our children that they have our hearts.
My prayer is that when we look back on our lives, we are pleased, knowing that we chose to invest in what is most important … both temporally and eternally.
Misty Shultz holds master’s degrees in marriage and family counseling and Christian education. She can be reached at email@example.com.