Defining Moments

Have you wondered what you would say if you were invited to speak in your hometown? That’s what happened to me last fall when the LaMoure Chamber of Commerce asked me to speak at its annual awards banquet.

During the weeks before the banquet, I marveled at the invitation. My husband and I had moved away so very long ago. I was eager to go, but pondered over what to say. It seemed to me that the audience deserved a dose of hope and humor, and some meat for the soul.

This past year, the understanding of “Defining Moments” has caused me to look at the world in a new way. And so that became my topic.

You may not be familiar with the term “Defining Moments” but you’ve certainly had a few crises or turning points in your life. They can be something that happens to you, or something you make happen.

Sidney Evans wrote in a Forbes online article, “A defining moment is a point in your life when you’re urged to make a pivotal decision, or when you experience something that fundamentally changes you.”

Defining moments force us to change, recalibrate our thinking and build resilience.

I’ve had a number of defining moments, and that evening I decided to share one that happened at LaMoure when I was nine. When my parents and I moved from the farm to town, I was sick about it. I’d miss my country friends, prairie views, and the wonder of the big night sky. And, I worried about who would take care of my beloved barn cats.

Yet, after we moved, I embraced being a town girl. I no longer had ride the school bus for two hours a day. Instead of being alone on the farm with my cats, there were lots of kids to play with. I was also able to join after-school activities. (And my brother cared for the cats.)

The change that I dreaded was not the end, it was a new beginning. 

Often we let fear overcome us in stressful times instead of viewing them as opportunities. Or, as Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser said, “Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.”

Also, often crisis forces us to settle what we believe about spiritual matters. Is there a God? Is there a heaven? What happens when we die? Why do people suffer?

I asked these questions as a young woman as my father neared death. He had heart disease, cancer and a broken hip. Watching him suffer was almost more than I could bear, and it motivated me to seek God. In time, I embraced Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Knowing there is a God in heaven, and He knows my name, has helped me recalibrate my thinking and better navigate life. It’s so simple and yet so hard to just trust God to direct our lives. However, that is the best way to become an overcomer with hope and resilience.

It’s so important to notice when others go through troubling moments and offer encouragement. Sometimes people just need to know someone sees and cares when they take on a new challenge or wade through a difficulty.

Because nothing is more draining than indecision, it’s important that we embrace the problem and deal with it. Creating an action plan and moving forward will help bring joy back into our lives.

A welcoming sign

We drove into LaMoure the day of the banquet and were delighted by an electronic sign announcing the event. For a few seconds each minute, it read, “Guest Speaker Gayle Larson Schuck.”

The Chamber of Commerce awards banquet was held at the local mall in a lovely room with beautifully decorated tables. The food was five-star. Each of the award nominees was more than deserving of recognition.

And how did my talk go? Hmm, you’d have to ask the audience. However, I came away satisfied because they laughed at the right times, a few tears were shed, and I knew the message was meat for the soul.

So, what are some of your defining moments? Whether they were funny or tragic, they are worth remembering. Tell them to your children, grandchildren or anyone who will listen. By telling your story, you may give someone the hope and inspiration to go on.

And take it one step further. A runner thinks everyone should be out jogging. And a quilter thinks everyone should be in love with fabric stores. A mechanic can’t understand if you don’t enjoy looking under the hood of a car. Well, I’m a writer, and I think everyone should write down their defining moments.


Have a blessed and happy New Year!