The Faithful Fork
With shoulders slumped and a downcast look, my daughter Alex plopped down on the couch, crushed that she wasn’t cast the lead role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. She was thirteen and her life was over (always a flare for the dramatic). “Alex, Honey, it’s not the end of the world. There will be other plays,” I encouraged. “Right, but I’m a fork in the Be My Guest ensemble. I mean, couldn’t I at least have gotten Babette the feather duster or Chip the teacup? I’m nothing more than flatware, Mom!” she complained.
Wanting to encourage her with Scripture, we talked about Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” To help her understand how this truth might apply to her situation, I said, “God honors our faithfulness with little things, by entrusting us with bigger things. So I believe if you’ll be a faithful fork, one day you’ll be a beautiful Belle.”
There is power when we personally testify to how God’s truth has played out in our lives. Alex was familiar with my ministry of speaking and writing, but I’d never shared with her how it all came about, and how the truth of this verse became real to me in a personal way. As I explained to her how my being faithful in a small local ministry led to the amazing opportunity to minister to people across the country and beyond, she became excited. Allow me to share that testimony with you.
My ministry began with leading a small group of twenty or thirty moms where I, along with a few others, took turns teaching on the high calling of motherhood. This led me to creating a Wise Words for Moms chart, which was basically a practical application of the biblical principles I had learned from my favorite parenting book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp.
I found an address for Tedd Tripp and mailed a copy of the finished product with a “thank you” note explaining how his work had inspired the content. I didn’t expect to receive a response, except maybe something along the lines of an autographed postcard with Tedd’s picture. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from his son who runs Shepherd Press, the publisher of Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I remember his words like it was yesterday, “Ginger, this is Aaron Tripp at Shepherd Press. We would like to publish Wise Words for Moms.” Drop the phone. Gulp. Resuscitate.
Just before the chart went to print, I had an idea. At our mom’s group, my presentations were recorded on cassette tapes (yes, I am that old) for the moms who missed the meetings. I requested that Shepherd Press list the topics on which I had spoken along with my home, landline phone number (yes, I am that old) in hopes that moms might like to purchase tapes of my presentations for encouragement. I grinned from ear to ear as I made five copies of each presentation on my little double cassette recorder, stacked them neatly on the table by the telephone, and waited for it to ring. You know that verse that says God will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine? Well, he did. Rather than moms calling requesting tapes, event planners from churches and home school conventions began to call, requesting that I come speak. A national speaking ministry was launched.
Fast forward three years. I had been speaking at parenting conferences and home school conventions all over the country and entertaining the idea of adapting the material into a book. Tedd Tripp was scheduled to keynote at a home school convention in Montgomery, Alabama, which is not far from where I live. Tedd Tripp, my hero, my mentor, the one and only, the parenting guru of all time. The. Tedd. Tripp… was going to be fifty miles from my home town. With shaking hands and a quivering voice, I called his son Aaron at Shepherd Press and requested to meet with Tedd over lunch while he was in Alabama. Aaron said he would pass on the message, but couldn’t make any promises.
During the weeks leading up to the convention, I waited with anticipation, jumping every time the phone rang, but I never heard from Tedd. No response at all. Not even an autographed postcard. I had lost all hope of a face to face meeting, which was totally embarrassing as I had told everyone south of the equator that I might be having lunch with Tedd Tripp. Then, my phone rang the morning Tedd was scheduled to keynote. The voice on the other end said, “Hi, this is Tedd Tripp. I am available to meet with you today for lunch if that’s still an option.” My first thought was that it was a prank from one of my friends who knew how worked up I’d been over the possibility. I literally rolled my eyes and came very close to saying, “Whatever, Tim” and hanging up the phone. I’m so glad I didn’t, because after a few exchanges, I realized it really was Tedd Tripp. Drop the phone. Gulp. Resuscitate.
As Tedd sat across the table from me eating a cheeseburger and fries, I presented my idea for compiling my presentation outline into a parenting book. Determined for him to hear every word of my well-rehearsed speech which I had practiced all the way to Montgomery, I talked nonstop the entire time he ate. Finally I paused and took a breath. That’s when the moment I’d been waiting for took a turn for the worse. He slowly slid the outline for my book back across the table and said, “It’s a good idea, but I think you’re too young to write a parenting book. Contact me again in ten years.”
Now, you don’t know me, but suffice it to say, I don’t easily take no for an answer, especially when it is something I am passionate about. Someone once told me I could sell a Bible to the devil if I set my mind to it. With my heart hammering in my chest, I lifted my chin, raised my right eyebrow like Scarlett O’Hara, slid the outline back across the table, and with all the courage I could muster, replied, “I’m thirty three which is around the same age Jesus began his ministry, and remember what Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 about teaching the things of God? He told him to not be intimidated because of his age.” To my relief, a huge grin stretched across Tedd’s face. He picked up my outline, stuck it in his bag, thanked me for lunch, and told me he would look it over. Two years later, Don’t Make Me Count to Three was released, further expanding a national ministry into an international ministry.
Never in a million years would I have thought that faithfulness in leading a small moms group would lead to an international ministry. Faithfulness in the little things, leads to trust with bigger things.
Alex was the happiest little fork to ever grace the stage of a Beauty and the Best presentation. And years later, she would reap the rewards of her faithfulness in performing many more fork-type roles by landing several Belle-type roles, just as her momma testified.