“You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!”
(Psalm 139:16, TLB)
Twenty-seventeen is in the rear view mirror. Everything that happened, that I had hoped for or planned for is history. It was a year of tremendous, difficult transition.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I have spent the past fifteen years obediently following the Lord’s call to minister to parents raising children with disabilities, chronic illnesses, rare diseases, and special needs. When my son was only two-years-old, his severe hemophilia left me wrestling spiritually and emotionally as a young mother. I wanted to be served by anyone with more wisdom and experience within the Church. Instead, God gave me a clear and distinct mandate to serve other struggling parents in similar circumstances. I have maintained all these years that I was exactly who God wanted so I wouldn’t get in His way. Because I was clueless, it had to be all God and really none of me.
I watched this ministry evolve over the years. What began as monthly gatherings for parents to connect to people and resources, grew into a national reach. A number of years ago, one of the members of our board of directors had the wisdom and experience to help our team define our most effective areas of ministry. At that time we began to play to our strengths and core competency — parent caregivers. Everything we did was focused on drawing mothers, fathers, and even grandparents closer to Jesus so that they could pass on the blessing — After all, when we face any sort of challenge in our lives, Jesus is the only source of hope and victory. We believed that the spiritual health of the family began with parents. Once they were edified they could pour into their children as well as other parents.
This past year, I heard God telling me He was doing a new thing. With a daughter heading to Japan for a year, still no conclusive diagnosis on her heart issues, and a son with severe hemophilia heading into his senior year of high school, it was evident my family would have to supersede any other ministry priorities. Despite the fact that other parents weren’t rising to the call to serve, the Lord was drawing me out of my ministry role. My attempts at growing a succession plan over the previous years had failed. At the same time, I was unraveling from the stress of carrying the vast majority of ministry responsibility on my own shoulders. The Lord impressed upon me that while He had imbued me with the traits of empathy, compassion, and connectedness, He was the Minister to these families, not me. He pushed back my fretfulness assuring me that I was not the only one, the only way, to reach out to parent caregivers.
Thankfully, I had just a board members who wholeheartedly supported my exploration of a new direction. The could see the heavy toll life was taking on me. I approached my long-time colleague and friend, Dr. Steve Grcevich to see if he might be interested in a ministry merger. He welcomed the idea after several discussions. And January 1st of 2018 became the date of our ministry amalgamation.
While it is a terrific, synergistic union where I get to use what God has taught me over the years, this journey has left me in a nexus of self-examination and forward motion, wondering who I really am.
Who am I if I am not the foundress and executive director of a ministry to parents raising exceptional kids?
I went through a bit of this type of identity crisis when my eldest went off to college her first year. I wondered who I was if not a mother still raising children. Frankly, an unexpected panic attack ensued the night before she left.
Still, if I believe what I profess to the parents I train and mentor…
My identity is not in what I do, but in the One who gives me infinite worth.
It’s rather laughable that a person serving Christ has their personal value derailed by that service. Serving in ministry doesn’t exempt us from our flawed humanity. When we are passionate about a calling, a group of people that God has made us tender towards, it is all too easy to place a disproportionate amount of our individual worth on that calling.
I need to recalibrate. This is a pivotal season of my life that hasn’t been this transitional since I first became a mother. I am wrestling in my own mind.
Who am I? What makes me my unique self? Will the world be any better because I was here? How will I be remembered, if I am remembered at all?
Some might call this a midlife crisis. I am framing this as a time of rediscovery. Just as Mary was described pondering all that had happened in her heart (Luke 2:19), so I am reflecting on where I have been and where God may be directing me. I am still deeply involved in loving other parents just like me through my new role as Director of Education for Key Ministry. I am also trying to grow my business educating others on the benefits of essential oils. And there is no doubt that I love my children and husband with every fiber of my being. But I don’t have the slightest idea where the convergence of all of that is leading. It’s a bit frightening.
Even so, I know the One who has been with me through every moment of my life. None of this catches Him by surprise. He already knows how the story ends as well as every detail leading up to it. I can trust God through every mysterious and uncertain step as I rediscover who I am in Him.