I am excited to share my friend Martha Merritt with you this week, as talks about how she moved toward the mess by serving at her local Pregnancy Resources Center. I love that her story highlights how the intricacies of our creation clue us in to our calling.
Called to Motherhood
I spent more years in college earning my teaching degree than I ever actually used my teaching degree.
Teaching English to high schoolers filled the first two years of my marriage, especially during the year my husband was deployed to Iraq. I was never overly passionate about literature or sentence structure or documenting sources. My college roommate and I joke that I was the Worst English Major Ever. I physically sneer when questioned about Shakespeare. To me, teaching went into the category of “Things I’ll Do Until I Do What I Really Want to Do”….along with customer service at Hy-Vee grocery store, the jewelry department at Kohl’s, and being a barista at Mr. Crum’s Bakery.
I was waiting to be a mama.
I have memories, as young as five, of playing mom. I’d stuff pillows under my shirt and drag around baby dolls. At the time, “playing mom” included wearing a snagged pair of pantyhose and my mom’s old, scuffed high heels. What was I thinking?? But after 27 long years, I finally had a real baby of my own.
Jackson was born, and I put teaching aside to fulfill my long-awaited dream of being a full-time mama. Two years later, Lydia joined our family, and my life became 100% mom mode.
Yes, it’s challenging.
Yes, it’s selfless.
Yes, it’s an incredible amount of work.
And, yes, it is all I ever wanted.
An Emptying Nest
However, when both of my “babies” went to school, I was left wondering, “Now what?” Of course, parenting is never done, but I suddenly found myself with solitary hours every day. And while every mother longs for time to herself, I was faced with my own internal conflict of who I was if I wasn’t changing diapers and doling out snacks.
My heart for children let my mind wander to mission work. I could picture myself caring for a village of children in a third world country. Giving them love and teaching them about Jesus. But with two children of my own, suddenly packing up and living mission life seemed far-fetched. I saw an article of a woman brave enough to go minister to children in Iraq. Her bravery in the face of a country who persecutes Christians seemed so….important. I had my own husband and children to care for at home. I was hardly in the position to go risk my life in a war zone.
Mission work seemed “out there” and not here in Midwestern Illinois.
I wrestled with what to do with my desire to serve. God placed mothering and nurturing in my heart, I’m certain, before my birth.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.
But what was I to do with an often disregarded calling in our current society?
Pregnancy Resources Center
My prayers led me to Pregnancy Resources. The mission of Pregnancy Resources is to provide life-affirming biblically-based resources to encourage informed decisions regarding pregnancy and biblical sexual purity. They also provide parenting classes during and after pregnancy. What better place to bring together kindness, mentoring, parenting, and Jesus?
James 1:27 tells us to care for widows and orphans in their distress. And while the days of Oliver Twist orphans are mostly over (See? English major!), we have a new interpretation of those widows and orphans:
- Those experiencing unplanned pregnancies.
- Those having babies alone.
- Those who thought they could count on the father’s help but are naively proven wrong.
- Those choosing life for their child despite lack of support from family or friends!
These are our widows and orphans.
I now spend one day a week bringing encouragement, parenting advice, and Christian love to the women in my very own community. Some come in desperate situations, feeling scared, confused, and alone. Some are just looking for guidance before beginning a journey they have never taken before. Some need to be reminded that they can do it and that they are strong. And through this time with these ladies, I am able to take the mother’s heart that God has given me and use it to His glory. Guiding mothers to, and through, Christ, and praying that they will, in turn, raise their children in the love of Christ, as well.
Ministry is fully capable of happening from home…no trip to Iraq necessary.
In what ways has God uniquely wired you from the womb? What clues does this give you about the mess He is calling you to moved toward?
Move Toward the Mess Posts:
Prison Ministry with Carmen Horne
Racial Reconciliation with Kathie Harris
Martha is a school-trained teacher, who has recently returned to the classroom (this time, in preschool!) after an eight year break during which she lived her truest passion – stay at home mom. She has been married to Army veteran, Clinton, for 12 years. They live in Illinois with their two children- Jackson, age 8 and Lydia, age 6. In her free moments, she enjoys pinning crafts that she might get to some day, roaming the aisles of Goodwill, and having free reign of the remote control once the kids are in bed.
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.