Tag Archives: motherhood

Mommy Ministers Get a Shout Out In USA Today

This article isn’t much for substance, because it doesn’t really differentiate anything that’s more complicated for mommy ministers than for regular working moms.   I do, however, find it interesting that there are enough mommy ministers out there that USA Today decided to highlight them pre-Mom’s day.   You can read about it here.  (h/t Youth Specialties)

On Solitude

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the coffee shop where I meet with my friend and coworker weekly for coffee and ministry discussions.  We’re both at a similar place in life — married and in ministry in the same small town, working with both our local churches and our para-church youth ministry.  We both look forward to this time to connect and talk and be encouraged by having a friend looking at life from a similar vantage point.  She happened to be running late due to her previous meeting running long, and I was presented, for the first time in a long time, with an empty spot of time in a coffee shop, Jack Johnson singing overhead…just me, a fresh cup of coffee, an empty journal page, and a stack of books.  All the while, my baby boy is rolling around in my belly, elbowing and kicking (ever-so-gently…thank you 21 weeks!)  reminding me that life as I know it is about to change in a drastic way.

I often get nostalgic when I’m alone in this particular coffee shop, because 7 1/2 years ago, when I interviewed for my ministry position in small-town Washington, I spent an afternoon alone, journalling at this same coffee shop, trying to discern if I would move to this town.  Over the years, the coffee shop has changed from a country-western theme to a more normal contemporary coffee shop, but the barrista and the coffee are still the same.  And 7 1/2 years later, it’s still me in the coffee shop, but it’s not the 22-year-old, recent college grad looking for the adventure of real life, it’s a 30-year-old, married, homeowning, mom-to-be.

Sitting in the same coffee shop, journal and pen in hand, feels grounding.  I suddenly feel centered and able to look at my life from a bird’s eye view, with a wide scape of understanding of where I’ve come from and been over the last 8 years.  I pull out Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms, which I’ve been reading slowly over the last 8 months with a spiritual mentor.  This month’s chapter is on discernment, which Barton describes a spiritual practice we use in combination with a self-examination, in which we take a bird’s eye view of our lives to assess where we are in regards to God’s will.

In the midst of this time and space, I’m aware of how much my soul longs for this kind of solitude, and how lately, I’ve not made it a priority.  In the course of just 45 minutes, my soul is refreshed, my heart inspired, and my spirit renewed with hope.  Again, baby boy kicks me, and I write in my journal, “4-5 more months, and then everything changes.”

I begin to wonder how a mom can have a morning alone in a coffee shop when there’s a baby to care for.  I wonder how a mom can make it to yoga class a few nights a week for physical rejuvenation.  I wonder how a mom can pursue motherhood, solitude, and a healthy marriage all at once.

The Lord doesn’t necessarily respond with a road map for these questions, but He does remind me that nothing can ever or will ever be able to replace time alone with Him.  And in the refreshing of my true self, I realize there’s nothing like the blessing of time in solitude with Him.  In my journal, I commit the next 4-6 weeks to actively pursuing the disciplines I’ve been reading about in Barton, through Solitude, Lectio Divina, Breath Prayer, Yoga and Self-Examination…all of which is a part of the process of transformation the Lord’s been calling me to this year: towards a deeper intimacy in relationship with Him which will hopefully lead to a deeper awareness of and discernment of His will.  This morning, Barton said that being open to God’s will means honestly being willing to be open to the Lord’s leading to anything–absolutely anything…and that solitude is the most important discipline in honing our understanding of His voice.

What does it look like for a mommy minister with young kids to pursue solitude?  I don’t know yet…but this morning I was wooed again to time alone with the Lord and firmly reminded that no matter how full life gets, solitude must still be a part of it.

Who’s Afraid of the Mommy Minister?

“You can lead a ministry, you can have babies, and you can take them to work. You can run an organization and still be a good wife and mother.”

No one had ever really told me that before. I mean, I think I’ve always believed it, but there honestly just aren’t that many women out there demonstrating that it’s possible. As my mentor, in her 50’s, shared this with me, my heart immediately responded, resting in the reassurance and confirmation that my desires are not misplaced and may actually be plausible.

For me, these desires include pursuing wifehood and motherhood while serving in roles of leadership of a church or non-profit. Also entangled in that is a desire and calling to be an ordained pastor, a role still only open to woman evangelicals in a small number of churches.

In the back of my mind, I always assumed that once I start having babies, I’d need to step down away from pursuing leadership. In my deep longings, I’d always hoped that being a mommy and a leader in a ministry was possible, but because of the influence of evangelical culture, I figured it’d be too hard or unhealthy. There’d be rejection and too many battles, and maybe I wouldn’t want to fight that hard. Maybe my kids would resent me.

My mentor was speaking to me from her experience, however, and so her words carried weight. She had been there, and she had taken her baby son to work while leading a successful ministry. The Lord had blessed it, and through it, she grew into a place of deep intimacy with Him. And she has a great relationship with her son. God made a way, and her influence grew, and she managed and led adult male leaders in a compassionate and humble way while raising a family.

She told me I could do it too, and she could see it for me…it wouldn’t be easy, but God could certainly make a way for me too.

So, delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37:4). Wifehood. Motherhood. Ministry. A Wife and Mommy leading the church? A Wife and Mommy shepherding leaders with a pack-and-play in her office? Is that something the evangelical church of America is ready for? Is that something I’m ready for?