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Every have one of “those” days?  Of course you have.  We all have.  Well, last year on this day, I had one of those days.  One of the days where the morning starts out on the wrong foot and from that point, recovery seems impossible.  On that day, I wrote this:

My daughter made Honors Chorus (yay) and today is their big day.

She didn’t lay out any of the things I told her to the night before. When I saw her outfit…oh my… she was wearing a fancy red shirt that was way too small, black pants that were too small and blue tennis shoes.
I told her there was “no way” she was leaving the house like that and to “go change” into her nicer shoes and clothes that fit. That led to a bout of complaining about how she can’t find her shoes, she lost the belt to the other pants, and oh, she couldn’t have her lunch in a regular lunch box (it had to be a paper bag) and her water bottle had to be something she could throw away (not the water bottle I had ready for her) and we needed to be at the school at by 7:45 not 8 am like I’d been told and her coat was missing and… you get the picture.
With no time to spare, we threw on a another shirt (that at least matched the tennis shoes), dumped her lunch into Walmart bag, gave her one of my old coats (which was way too big but whatever), poured the water into used empty water bottles (don’t judge.. I am ashamed), ran to the car and drove at speeds above the limits as I lectured her on why it’s important to keep her room clean and obey me so mornings like this don’t happen, etc, etc, etc.
We got to the school, tore out of the car, raced inside to find her teacher and then… for the first time that morning I really looked at my daughter.
Lord, forgive me (yes, I was crying as I wrote this). I saw before me a scared, nervous, fearful baby girl fifth grader about to leave me for the first time on an all day trip hours from our house to sing with 100 strangers for thousands more strangers (and she’s trying out for a solo) and as she walked away with her teacher looking back at me, my heart broke.
Why, oh why, didn’t I pray with her on the ride to school? Why didn’t I tell her how proud I was and how much I loved her and that everything was going to be all right? Why didn’t I hug her close and bless her like I do EVERY OTHER morning? Why didn’t I really see her until it was too late?
I sat in my office at work, tears streaming down my face. My mommy heart was breaking. Oh, I knew she’d be fine. She’s amazing. She was gonna rock. And I knew I’d see her that night, and hold her and tell her how sorry I was and how much I love her and how I know I messed up. And I knew we would both learn from this experience. But for the moment, all I could see is her big brown eyes, filled with trepidation and fear, screaming, “Mommy, don’t leave me! I need you!” and I walked away. And my heart was screaming, “What did I do? What did I do?”
So, have you ever had one of those days?

IMG_9602I felt broken… like a total failure at mommyhood.  And a family minister at a church?  Forget about it.  I cried through the morning.  I prayed through the day.  I waited for 8:30 pm when the concert would be over and I could wrap my arms around my precious child and say, “I’m so sorry!”  Imagine my relief when the young woman that met me that night was anything but sad. In fact, she was downright giddy.

She’d had a great day.  She was nervous yes, but she faced it and had fun.  She hung out with old friends and made some new friends.  She sang with 200 other kids from all over Kentucky and she beamed from the top row in her too short pants and her blue tennis shoes wearing the hot pink tee-shirt she’d been given by the school (she hates pink).
When I finally got a word in edgewise to say, “Hey, I’m sorry about this morning.  I messed up.  I should have prayed with you,”  her response was, “No, you were right.  I should have obeyed you and cleaned my room.”  Um, what?  Parenting win?  Lord, I’m confused.
And He said, “Do you truly think that your failure would keep me from doing My work in your daughter’s life or that her lack of obedience to you would keep me from doing My work in yours?  You both have room to grow and I will use you both to do My work.  Trust me.  I’m bigger than your mistakes.
Let Me do My thing in the middle of your mess because my best work comes in the form of redemption.”

As you know, if you’ve read this blog for any time at all, I have a genuine heart and I believe, call from God to serve in encouraging family ministry and discipleship in the home.  Over the past few years, I’ve watched the area of family ministry grow in popularity as studies have bolstered the need for the home to be the primary place of discipleship.  I have also seen fellow ministers and churches attempt to start family ministry and have it seemingly “not work” in their environment.

Because I firmly believe that the ideas that fuel family ministry are ordained by God, I also believe that family ministry not only can but absolutely should “work” in any church.  It is my hope that this blog will provide a place of support, equipping, resources and encouragement for churches who are embarking on the transitional journey from traditional age-segregated ministry to intergenerational family ministry.  I go into this knowing I will make mistakes.  I will fail at times.  But I am also learning that my God is bigger than my failures.  And my prayer is that He will use this blog/ministry as a place for others to come, to rest, to find hope and to keep moving forward in their own faith journey with Jesus.

As for my daughter.. a year later, we don’t really have the whole cleaning of the bedroom figured out yet and we’ve got fun new areas that we are growing in together, but God is with us…even on the days we are broken.  Beauty isn’t always found when everything is put together and perfect; beauty is often found in the everyday moments of normal life, in our imperfection and in our brokenness.

Join the conversation on Facebook at ReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry.

For more information about practical discipleship in the home or transitioning to a more home-focused, intergenerational ministry at your church, go to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page.

About the author

familyChristina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partneringsmallbadge with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at and is a contributing blogger at, Seedbed, and D6 Family.

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