Life Changed Your Plans:: Finding Contentment
How many times do we let circumstances get the best of us? We all know life is unpredictable and does not function according to our plan. For Denny Slaton, this couldn’t be more true. Now, when Denny reflects on where God has brought her, she sees the lessons in the trials. This week, Denny shares with us her career path and the domestic challenges she faced along the way.
4word: Can you begin by telling us about your career- what led you to what you do now?
Denny: In 2007, I was working in development at a university, not actually asking for money, but researching and scheduling appointments for the President and Vice President, getting them in the door to ask for major gifts. We were in the process of raising $1M for a fountain on campus when I went on my first mission trip to Zambia, to work with AIDs orphans. These children had lost one, and many had lost both parents to HIV/AIDS. The group with which we were working was trying to raise $65K to build a house for 12 of the orphans. I was struck at the disparity between these two fundraising goals- these children didn’t have a place to live and we were raising funds for a fountain. The contrast was profound. I came home, compelled to use the fundraising experiences God had allowed me to experience here to be a voice for those who had no voice.
I now work with a small non-profit whose mission is to plant the seeds that overcome spiritual and physical poverty, by providing access to micro-loans, education and spiritual discipleship in marginalized communities in South Sudan, where the majority of our clients are women.
4word: What skills were you able to apply from your years of being at home?
Denny: Raising three children, you learn many great organizational skills, and I was able to apply those. I have always loved people, and built relationships easily, so that was something that propelled me from a lower level job to the office of the Vice President in a pretty short period of time.
4word: When you went back to work, that wasn’t the only transition in your life at the time. How did you handle the challenges of going back to work and becoming a single mom at the same time?
Denny: Yes, not long after I re-entered the work force, my marriage ended. I had one child in college and 2 in high school, so our household expenses were at their highest, and I was not assured that I’d receive consistent child support. Because I had some great friends who loved and prayed for and with me through this season, I was able to trust God as my provider. When I would get overwhelmed (by looking at the circumstances), I could share with these friends, and they continually pointed me back to the Lord. He never failed me during that time. He was faithful to provide and remind me of His love for me. I cannot stress enough the importance of strong community.
4word: What was your goal in going back to work? Did you ever picture yourself working for a nonprofit?
Denny: My goal in going back to work was to help put our kids through college. I never dreamed I’d be supporting myself. Had I not been in this position, as a single woman, I wouldn’t have been available to go on a mission trip to Africa and see how my life could be radically changed. I had never considered working for a nonprofit, much less one that works in Africa!
Although life does not look anything like I had imagined it would, it is actually infinitely better than I ever could have dreamed. I get to work every day on behalf of others who don’t have a voice, on the other side of the world. To empower them to overcome poverty–spiritual and economic. And I get to devote my life to having conversations about what matters most–loving others with the grace-filled love with which we have been loved by God–all people, regardless of their viewpoints and how they may differ from mine. My life looks nothing like I thought it would. And I am so grateful. This is real life. The road that brought me here is one I would not have chosen, but I would not trade it!
4word: What piece of advice do you have for single, professional moms?
Denny: Surround yourself with friends who will remind you of truth and walk with you in the hard times. Be willing to be vulnerable and completely real with a few people who know everything and will hold you up in prayer as well as walk with you and encourage you in the hard times. Friends who will love your kids and help you out in a pinch with them are crucial, as well. Be willing to get in the trenches with others as they walk through their own journeys. God doesn’t waste our suffering. Whatever you have experienced can be used by Him to comfort, encourage and support one another (2 Corinthians 1:4). Let Him use you to bless others, as you have been blessed!
How has your job been affected by your life? Has your life been affected by your job? Share your stories with us!
Denny Slaton serves as the Stewardship Advisor for Seed Effect, a non-profit that seeks to empower the poor in South Sudan to overcome poverty through micro-loans, education and discipleship. Prior to joining Seed Effect, she was the Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Developments and External Affairs at Southern Methodist University for over 13 years.