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Despite her busy schedule tending to family matters, Musgrave became involved in the community. She always found time to extravagantly decorate their church sanctuary during Easter and Christmas, according to Ben Baughman, pastor of The Sanctuary, the Assemblies of God church in Fort Morgan, a community of 11,000 people.

She led a county right-to-life group, encouraging women with unplanned pregnancies to keep their babies rather than abort.

Her first taste of political involvement resulted from her election to the Fort Morgan school board in 1990. She had been active as a homeroom volunteer mother and earlier as a substitute teacher. The lack of classroom discipline, declining academic standards and lack of values in the sex-education curriculum led to her decision to seek the board seat.

Four years later, social and cultural issues also spurred her to seek state office. She served four years in the Colorado House and four in the Senate. Musgrave led a successful drive to prohibit same-sex marriage and co-sponsored bills restricting partial-birth abortion and requiring parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion.

Musgrave didn’t run for the state legislature until her younger son turned 14. Although still able to drive home from the statehouse every night, her stint as a Colorado lawmaker 120 days a year meant a childrearing shift. Steve took over the primary parenting role.

Steve says he encouraged his wife to pursue a career once the children began to mature. “She supported me in my occupation,” he says. “It’s my responsibility to help her follow what God’s purpose is for her life.”

The nest at the Musgrave home slowly emptied, with each child moving out to pursue higher education. Musgrave remembers with a tinge of sadness going into her older son’s room as he packed his bags for college.

“As I walked down that hallway I thought, Whoa, I didn’t do enough. I wish I’d been a better mom,” Musgrave says. “The realization hit me that my parenting of my son was over.”

Pastor Baughman has known Musgrave as a politician, friend and congregant for the past dozen years. Baughman and his wife, Brenda, have prayed for and with Musgrave since her school board election days.

“Marilyn has always sought God on the moves she’s made,” says Baughman, 54. “Our church supports her in prayer because she’s family.”

The Musgraves themselves remain a close-knit family. The children actively campaigned for her U.S. congressional election, and continue to be at her side on occasion during public appearances.

Grandparenting has afforded Musgrave the opportunity to create precious memories again. She has five grandchildren, all age 5 or under. She already has an array of fond experiences with the grandchildren: seeing facial expressions that remind her of her own children; listening to their prayers when blessing the food; worshiping along with a Michael W. Smith compact disc; hearing them call upon the name of the Lord when in trouble.

These days Steve is an insurance agent, unbothered that his wife is the frequent focus of media attention. It does perturb him that Marilyn is the frequent target of vitriolic e-mails. While consoling her, he helps put it in perspective.

“Christians for centuries have been the recipients of a lot of hate for standing up for what’s right,” Steve says. “Why should we be any different?”

Musgrave takes being the center of attention in a high-stakes culture war in stride. She finds the best way to keep a balance is to talk to and play with her grandchildren.

Women need to enjoy whatever stage of life they are in, according to Musgrave.

“The Lord wants us to be fulfilled and to use our talents and abilities,” she says. “As Christians we have the responsibility to impact our culture. Politics is something I was drawn to, although it’s not for everyone.”

Once parenting responsibilities are finished, she says, it doesn’t mean it’s time to relax.

“Women who are reaching middle age need to find what will give meaning to their lives and make a contribution to society in accordance with their spiritual gifts,” Musgrave says. “While many women in their 40s and 50s may shed tears for kids who have gone out on their own, it’s also the time when the Lord can provide incredible years of ministry. What a great thing it is for adult children to see their mother pursue a new dream and fulfill a new role.”

Meanwhile, Musgrave is daily making the point that biblical marriage is important for the sake of raising godly children.

The Federal Marriage Amendment is gradually gaining support. When Musgrave introduced the measure a year ago it had only five other backers. The Assemblies of God Executive Presbytery endorsed the amendment last September. President Bush backed her amendment in February, and now the proposal has garnered 117 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

When Musgrave is able to return to Fort Morgan during legislative recesses, her pastor doesn’t sense that she is consumed with politics.

“Mothering and grandmothering are what she loves more than anything in life,” Baughman says. “Her grandchildren adore her.”

Musgrave wouldn’t mind if her grown children still lived under her roof, but it’s a consolation that three of them live in the area and visit frequently (her younger son is in the U.S. Navy). The most joyful times in her life continue to be at family gatherings.

“The best job I’ve ever had was being a full-time wife and mother,” Musgrave told Today’s Pentecostal Evangel. “I cherish the years I had raising my kids and enjoying their lives. If I had to do it all over again, I would try to be a better mother by cherishing each moment even more.”

John W. Kennedy is news editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

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