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Women of Faith conference speaker Pat Smith is often referred to as NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith's wife, or as a Miss Virginia crown holder (1993). Though these labels are accurate, they hardly define all she is or has dealt with in her lifetime. TCW asked Pat how the loss of her mother at age 22 has affected her parenting, and what led her to start Treasure You, a nonprofit ministry dedicated to inspiring women to pursue their dreams.
You lost your mom at a young age. How has that loss affected your parenting?
PAT: I was only 17 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was devastated. My mother provided direction and support, and when she died that was all taken away. But I also realized that I, in an innocent way, had made her my god. As parents, we've got to stop being God to our children, and start leading them to Jesus. Emmitt and I are raising five children, including a 16 year old who leans on me big time. I have to keep redirecting her to God. I say, "Okay, baby, get your Bible out." I know a day will come when I won't know what she's going through, but she always has access to God. I don't want them to see me in the position of God, because my mother was that to me, and when I lost her, I felt like I'd lost everything. That's not healthy.
What inspired you to start Treasure You?
Watching Emmitt on Dancing with the Stars! He was so passionate about it, stepping out to take a risk, and I was frustrated because I felt I didn't have something I was passionate about. Even though I had an amazing husband, beautiful children, and a wonderful life, something was missing. So I prayed about it, and I felt God speak to me about gathering women to share, grow, and connect in a safe environment.
And that became your passion?
Yes. As I talked with women, the biggest problem I saw was that we don't often see our value through God's eyes. As I read the Bible, I realized how treasured we are to God, and I knew I wanted to start a ministry called Treasure You. We get together and connect heart to heart without any acknowledgment of who we are, where we came from, or what we have. At the end of the day, if every woman can truly grasp how treasured they are, then I've made a difference.
Allison J. Althoff is Today's Christian Woman's online editor. Follow her on Twitter @ajalthoff.