A Family is a Ministry
About the Guest
We all dream of what life will be like once we're married. But the reality doesn't always match the dream. Tracey Eyster, author of "Be the Mom," talks frankly about the early years of her marriage as she and her husband, Bill, were climbing the corporate ladder. A season of infertility, followed by the joyous birth of their daughter, showed her that her focus now had truly changed, and she longed to be home. Tracey tells Dennis Rainey how she supported Bill while he earned accolades as a rising up-and-comer.
We all dream of what life will be like once we’re married. But the reality doesn’t always match the dream.
A Family is a Ministry
Bob: Tracey Eyster was a young wife, finding that two things in her life were not going as expected. First, her husband Bill was proving to be a workaholic; and second, she and Bill found themselves battling with infertility.
Tracey: A lot of people said, “Just go on with your life, and wait and see what happens.” So, for a while, we did. I just dove more into my career, and it was a great career. I had a dream job, working at a country club; but it sort of felt like a promise that I thought was made to me had been broken because I always thought I would be a mom. So, suddenly this, “Well, it will be okay. It will all work out,” —it didn’t feel okay.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 23rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Tracey Eyster joins us today to talk about how she dealt with disappointment as a disillusioned young wife. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I have come to a settled conclusion, here, that I would like to share with our listeners; if that’s all right.
Dennis: Is this a confession or a conclusion?
Bob: A conclusion.
Bob: The conclusion is that moms never stop being moms. I was just with my 91-year-old mother this morning.
Dennis: And it took you that long with your mom for you to figure that out?
Bob: Just a fresh illustration of this; okay? [Laughter] I’m with her this morning. She’s about to have some furniture moved. I said to her, “Mom, I can get some friends and we can move the furniture.” She said, “No, I’m going to get some professionals to come move it.” I said—
Dennis: You’re not competent.
Bob: I said, “Mom, it would be easy.”
Dennis: She couldn’t trust you to move—
Bob: “It would be easy for me to get some guys and we can move it.” She looked at me sternly, “I’m going to get some professionals to move it.” I said, “Yes, Mommy,” and that was about all—
Dennis: Did you ask her how you’d earned this reputation for destroying her furniture?
Bob: No. She just wants to make sure that it’s in the hands of skilled professionals as opposed to me, apparently.
Dennis: My mom would point out a ring I left on one of her tables, and that carried all the way through into my adult years.
Bob: That’s why you could not be trusted with furniture.
Dennis: I could not be trusted with furniture and with a Coke® to go into the living room, certainly.
Well, we have the author of a brand-new book called Be the Mom. Tracey Eyster joins us on FamilyLife Today. Tracey, I’ve been looking forward to having you across the table and having you be a cheerleader for moms. Welcome to the broadcast.
Tracey: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Dennis: Tracey is the creator and editor of MomLifeToday.com. That is a mom blog, and we’ll talk more about that a little bit later on. She loves horseback riding. I did not know this—hiking and kayaking. She’s been married to Bill, her husband, for 25 years, which I did know; and they have two children. Bill works here at FamilyLife. He is the EVP and COO of FamilyLife.
Bob: Some people might not know what that means. What does that mean he does?
Dennis: It means that he basically runs the show because I’m usually in here with you, and somebody has got to pay attention to the details.
Bob: [Laughing] That is right.
Dennis: I want to start, not with you being a mom, because there’s a story, even of how that occurred in your marriage—but I want to go all the way back because I know there’s a real story here with you and Bill. How did you meet Bill in the first place?
Tracey: Bill and I actually are from the same hometown. It’s a small town in Kentucky. We knew of each other, but we really didn’t meet each other until we were—I was in college and he had just graduated. He moved away because his parents divorced. He moved away when he was nine. So, I’d always heard that name, Bill Eyster. He was sort of infamous. He’s a pastor’s kid. He sort of wreaked havoc in the town—I guess, the typical P.K.
Bob: Trouble-making pastor’s kid.
Tracey: I think he was! We met when I was about to be a senior in college, and he had just graduated. We were on a double date, but we were not with each other. [Laughter] Yes, so we did one of those, “Oooh, I think that one looks a little more interesting!”
Dennis: And so you both ditched one another’s dates that night? Or was it later?
Tracey: No, we just—we had a fondness for each other. I remember I kept telling my friend, “Boy, he’s great. You should go after him. He’s a really great guy.” She said, “Well, he’s like a brother. I just go out with him when he’s in town just because he’s a nice guy.”
Bob: That was all you needed. The door was open, right there.
Tracey: The door was open, there you go.
Dennis: Well, you guys were able to connect permanently and start out your marriage together. You were on a pretty good track yourself, professionally, as was Bill; right?
Tracey: Right. I had a career as a paralegal. I worked for a law firm in south Florida, and it was very specialized. We did equity country club conversions. I ended up, actually, being hired to work for a country club as a membership and marketing director.
I had an amazing career, but there was one part of our life where things weren’t going as we planned because we always thought we would be parents. We had been married for about five years, and I just kept not getting pregnant. We explored with physicians what was going on. I was told that because I had polycystic ovaries, and several tests later, that I didn’t ovulate, I was told that we’d probably never have children.
Dennis: Well, I want to come back to that story, in just a moment; but there was something else taking place in your marriage, even after you had children, that put you in a difficult spot because Bill moved on to become an executive with Pratt & Whitney and was on a fast-track with that company, which meant long, long hours and hard work. He kind of left you in the dust; right?
Tracey: At times, he did. He was very driven and focused on his career. He always has been a great husband, but what I would say is there were seasons that were probably longer than they should have been, where he was focused primarily on work. I know that a lot of women have that problem—that they have to learn to deal with, “How am I still a loving, supportive, involved wife and mom, and not get frustrated by the hours and understand that sometimes at work there are things going on where just a lot is demanded of your husband?”
I just made the decision that the world was really hard on Bill, and he needed a soft place. I just made the decision, with God’s help, to just always be his soft place. I never wanted home to be someplace he didn’t want to come because I was complaining or nagging.
Bob: So you didn’t try to raise the flag and say, “Hang on here! I’m here and need a little attention.”
Tracey: We would have discussions; but yet, when there were times it was really hard at work, I felt like it was counter-productive if it was really hard at home, too. I can remember crying and praying, “God, this isn’t fair,” and, “This isn’t what I want. I don’t want it this way,” and, “God, he needs to do this, this, this and this.” God kept telling me, “That’s not your job. You have enough of your own issues to work out. You work on you; I’ll take care of Bill. You just need to be the soft place for him to come home to.”
That’s what I tried to do. I wasn’t perfect. I mean, I had my moments. We used to call them Tracey’s Meetings because, every now and then, I’d say, “Babe, we have to have a meeting!” He’d sit across from me, and I’d sit across from him. There was a lot of crying, but I couldn’t do that every week because then he’d be miserable.
Dennis: Yes, but you were watching a driven businessman, whose work was probably, truth be known, a little too important to him.
Tracey: Mm hmm.
Dennis: A little off-center in terms of balance in his life. You were watching it cost him, not only in his relationship with you, but also your children.
Dennis: And you began to pray and ask God to do a work in Bill’s life.
Tracey: Yes. I kept praying that God would turn his heart towards home. I had been doing a Beth Moore Bible study, and it was Believing Him. I remember that I would just pray over and over, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God. If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” I just kept praying that and I kept saying, “Okay, God. I don’t know when. I don’t know how, but I know that I’m going to see Your glory through this somehow, somewhere.”
Then, also, some of those conversations—I found specific ways to help us pull apart as a family. Bill had never been a camper. I said, “You know, if we could go camping once a month, just once a month, where we could pull away from the world and be together as just a family.” He’d never been camping. He’s 6’5” and weighs 220 pounds. The last thing he wanted to do was go camping; but we explored that opportunity, and we did. Again, that’s part of that intentional—we pull away, once a month, no matter what, and we would go camping. It kind of cemented us back together as a family.
And then, the Friday night date nights—he was exhausted by the time Friday got there. So, I lowered my expectations of, “I don’t need to go out somewhere.” I thought I was lowering my expectations but it became so much sweeter because he would stop and get something on the way home, and we would have date night at home. The kids would eat pizza and watch a movie. To this day—it was less than a month ago, the kids were talking about that and laughing about how they used to remember that they’d sneak up the stairs from the basement and peek out the window and watch us having our date night. They’d see us talking and the candles. I can recall times when they would giggle, “Are you kissing yet?” [Laughter]
Even that little intentionality—I don’t know, it showed that he cared and he was trying. He probably couldn’t do it as much as I wanted to, but there were enough times of intentional togetherness that I guess it got us over the rough spots.
Dennis: And God finally did show you His glory.
Dennis: How did that happen?
Tracey: Well, oddly enough, as I was praying about—hoping that God would turn Bill’s heart towards home—there was a lot going on in Bill’s life, and in his spiritual walk, and in his time with the Lord. We had gone to camp that summer. We go to Pine Cove, which is a Christian camp. We’ve done that every summer for years. God just laid on Bill’s heart that he was abiding in his job, not in Christ. Bill came and told me that—that summer at camp. That was the summer of 2005. Then, it was that winter when I was having a conversation with Samara—
Dennis: That’s your daughter.
Tracey: That’s my daughter.
Bob: And how old was she at the time?
Tracey: At the time, she would have been in the eighth grade—so, that’s 13?
Tracey: We told her about the conversations that Bill and I had been having. I said, “We realize, now, that maybe we could have done some things a bit differently; but we’re going to figure out what God’s future is for us. We’re hoping, maybe in about five years, we can be more intentional in the way we live our lives for God.” I said, “Samara, you know, I just hope and pray that you and Wesley,” her brother,” will figure out sooner than we did that you really do need to figure out what God wants with your life, and not have your own agenda.”
Samara looked at me and she said, “What do you mean?” She said, “Mom, you all are like 40. Your life’s not even half over. If there’s something you’re supposed to do for God, why don’t you and Dad just go do it?” [Laughter] Yes, out of the mouth of babes.
Tracey: It was in January that we got a phone call from FamilyLife. Though my husband and I had put together a five-year exit strategy, on how to leave corporate America five years later to figure out what it is God might want of us, the five years became five months. Five months later, we came to work for FamilyLife. We stepped away from corporate America and all of that stuff, and lives changed. Samara looked at me and said, “Well, of course!”
Dennis: Yes, of course!
Tracey: Of course!
Bob: He still works pretty hard up here. Let’s just—[Laughter] I’ve tracked him, and there’s usually a light on in his office when I’m leaving to go home.
Tracey: Well, imagine that times a thousand. I’m telling you, the man used to get maybe four hours of sleep a night. He will openly now say, “I’m a recovering workaholic. I have to work at this. Help me.” I know you all keep him accountable. I know he gets sent home at times if he’s here a little too long.
Dennis: Well, I know that your book is about being a mom; but that relationship of being a mom comes from the marriage relationship that a mom has with her husband. I just know that you hung in there and did a great job of praying for Bill and making home that which you described as “a soft landing place”. The credibility that gives you, as it comes to the subject of being a mom, is really, I think, much greater than just someone who is solely focused around children. You’re really talking about a marriage that is vibrant, not perfect, but two people who are in the midst of raising the next generation.
I want to go back, now, to the story when you and Bill were finding it difficult for you to get pregnant. You received all kinds of advice. What happened?
Tracey: Well, a lot of people said, “Just go on with your life. Wait and see what happens.” So, for a while, we did. I just dove more into my career, and it was a great career. I had ended up with a dream job, working at a country club that had four golf courses. We were in the middle of a membership drive. We had all these wonderful things going on for me at work—but it sort of felt like a promise I thought was made to me had been broken because I always thought I’d be a mom. Suddenly, this, “Well it will be okay. It will all work out,” —it didn’t feel okay.
I went to my grandmother. My grandmother—I always referred to her—she was my Jesus with skin on. She always had her Bible open, and she’s the one that always taught me to love people the way Jesus loved people. She had always told me that love was what was most important. So, that’s how I tried to live my life. I remember just calling her and saying, “Grandma, you know I don’t understand! This is part of what I thought my life was going to be, and now it looks like I’m not going to have children.” I just wept and I said, “What am I supposed to do?”
She said, “Tracey, God will either give you the desires of your heart or He’ll make you content.” She just told me that I needed to keep trusting God—that God was good and that I just needed to trust Him. I realized I had a choice to make. So, that was the choice that I decided, “I don’t know what God’s up to. Maybe someday I’m supposed to adopt.” I remember thinking, and reading, and trying to study a little bit about surrogate parenting and how that worked; but then, I also listened to the world. I just thought, “Well, I’ll dive into work. I guess that’s what I should do—just dive into work.” And then, out of the goodness of God—I still don’t understand it—and I still weep for women who have felt those same feelings that I felt, that are not still able to have children—but I was blessed with a pregnancy.
I just remember the day that I found out. I went in for one of the normal tests because they were testing me to see if my temperature would go up—all the things they do about ovulating. They just kept telling me, “You just don’t ovulate. It’s not going to happen.” I’ll never forget it because I remember where she was standing. I remember I was sitting on the little bench, and she was holding in her hand this little round object that she always did because I had peed in a cup. She was looking at it and she said, “Tracey, come here!” I stood up and I walked over there. She just held it out in front of me. I looked down; and instead of just one dot, there were two dots. I looked and I said, “Oh! Does that mean I’m ovulating?” I remember getting really excited. She looked at me and she said, “No; that means you’re pregnant.”
Tracey: Wow. A big wow! The first thing I wanted to do was just scream, and yell, and tell the world; but that was the morning of a day at work. I remember just feeling I had this secret. On my lunch hour, I went alone out to the Intracoastal Waterway—that’s when we lived in Florida. I just remember praying and thanking God. I remember pretty much begging Him, “Please don’t let anything bad happen,” because I guess that’s the first thing you think of, “Something bad is going to happen.” Just, “Please God, please God,” and, “Thank you, God,” and, “You’re good,” and, “No matter what, this is going to be good,” and, “I’m going to trust You.”
All day long, I kept that secret. Then, I went to the mall; and I bought a tie. That weekend was Father’s Day. Bill came home from work, and the box was laying there on the counter. He looked down and he said, “What’s that?” I said, “Well, I got you a gift.” He opened it, and it was a tie. He goes, “A tie? You got me a tie. Why would you get me a tie?” He goes, “This is a nice tie.” He looked at me real weird. I smiled and I said, “Well, every father needs a tie for Father’s Day.” His face—it just lit up. He grabbed me, and spun me around in a circle, and was so excited, and we were laughing!
I remember him kind of plunking me on the floor and looking at me, wide-eyed and so excited. Then, his face kind of changed a little bit. He goes, “Oh, no, what are we going to do?” [Laughter] Because, at that point, we were DINKs—dual-income; no kids. We had built this gi-normous house on a golf course—
Dennis: With a size mortgage—
Tracey: Ooh, yes.
Dennis: —that was the same; right?
Tracey: Yes. It just—because our lives—we thought—were going in a different direction. So yes, then there was the reality of, “Uh-oh. Now what do we do?”
Dennis: And you went to work and told your boss. He went, “Oh, my goodness. We had this drive going on, and now—”
Tracey: Yes; the gentleman—when I was pregnant—that was my boss—he had five kids. He looked at me and he said, “There is no way you’re coming back.” I said, “Yes, there is.” He goes, “There is no way.” I kind of pretty much knew I had to, based on our life circumstances, and I loved my job—but once she was born, I remember calling and saying, “I need a few extra weeks.” “You’re not coming back.” “Yes, I am! I just need a few extra weeks.”
But the more Bill and I talked about it, we just realized, for me—I’m sort of a go-getter. I knew I couldn’t do both well. I didn’t want to sacrifice either, so I felt like I had to make a choice. Bill and I agreed, and we talked about it. Everything changed. Sold the house, bought a tiny little house, had one heck-of-a-yard sale. I’m sorry to all of my parents’ friends who got me really cool wedding gifts because most of them got sold at a garage sale. [Laughter]
Dennis: But you did the courageous thing at that point. You downsized.
Tracey: We downsized, yep. We changed our lifestyle.
Dennis: You agreed on what you needed to do. Tracey, as I was thinking about you coming in to talk with us, here on FamilyLife Today, I just read Second Corinthians, Chapter 4. I know I’ve read this, who knows how many times, because it’s really a good verse, no matter where you are in life, to read and just be encouraged because that’s what it’s talking about here.
But I thought about you, and I thought about what your book is about—kind of you, as a person, and who you are, as a woman, a wife, and a mom. It reads in Second Corinthians, Chapter 4, verse 1, “Therefore, having this ministry, by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” I don’t know that I had ever consciously had the thought that a child is a ministry.
Tracey: Oh, yes.
Dennis: Now, that may sound kind of like Bob’s comment, at the beginning of the program, when he was talking about—
Bob: A mom is always a mom.
Dennis: —a mom is always a mom. But you know, I sat there and I thought about that. Being a mother is a ministry, straight from God.
Tracey: It is.
Dennis: And He gives a great privilege of doing that. Paul says, “Therefore, having this ministry, by the mercy of God,” —His goodness— “we do not lose heart.”
Dennis: That’s really what your book is about. It’s what you’re about. You’re about cheering on moms, encouraging them not to lose heart because I think there—
Bob: Because there are days; right?
Tracey: Oh, buddy, are there days!
Dennis: Well, we’ll talk more about that later on.
Bob: I think so often, in those moments when you’re in one of those days, just to know that you’re not the first person to ever experience that. You’re not alone. There are other people, right now, who are experiencing what you’re experiencing. It just helps to know that you’re not isolated. Tracey, your book, Be the Mom, and then the MomLife Today™ blog—they both have that same goal. That is to provide moms with the encouragement, and the hope, and the help that they need day in and day out because the job of being a mom is often tireless and thankless.
You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about Tracey Eyster’s book, Be the Mom. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call us, toll-free, at 800-358-6329; that’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”. If you want to check out the MomLife Today blog, again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link you find there for MomLife Today. It will take you right to the blog.
Now, we want to say a quick word of thanks to some of our listeners who, this month, have heard us talking about a goal that we set. We are hoping to hear from what amounts to two families in every city where FamilyLife Today is heard—two families who have been listening to FamilyLife Today for a while. The husband, or the wife, or even the kids—you’ve been listening, but you’ve never gotten in touch with us to let us know that you’re listening and to support the ministry with a donation of any kind.
We’ve asked you, “Would you consider here, during the month of August, to be one of the two families in your town—if that fits you—would you consider making a first-time donation, whatever amount you can afford? Just go online or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “This is my first donation.” Make your donation over the phone or make it online. If you’ll do that, we’ll say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of the DVD, October Baby—the movie that was out in theaters a few months ago. We’ll send you a copy of that DVD as our way of saying, “Thank you for stepping forward, and identifying yourself, and for helping us reach our goal of 2,500 new first-time donors to FamilyLife Today during this month.”
If you’re able to make a donation of $100 or more, and again, it’s a first-time donation to FamilyLife Today, we’ll say, “Thank you,” to you by sending you a certificate so that you and your spouse can attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember®marriage getaway, as our guests. Again, all you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation online; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. If you’ve never made a donation before, we’ll send the DVD out to you. If your donation is $100 or more and it’s a first-time donation, we’ll send you the certificate for the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Both items come with our thanks for listening. Thanks for being a part of what God is doing through this ministry, and thanks for helping to support FamilyLife Today—to keep us on the air on this station and on our network of stations, all across the country.
And we want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. Tracey Eyster is going to be here again. We’re going to talk about some of the traps that moms can easily fall into. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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