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Is Ministry Over after You Leave Staff

June 25, 2018

As a sophomore at the University of Arkansas, I never thought that a conversation with a fraternity boy would change my life forever.
But because the topic of that conversation was Jesus, it most definitely did!
Growing up in a church-going home, I didn’t know there was more than believing in God and being moderately moral.
Then, this guy was kind enough to share the truth of the gospel with me. The blinders came off, and soon I was studying the Bible for the first time.
Excited about Jesus, I attended a Bible study for Greeks on campus. The leader was a guy who brought the book of 2 Timothy alive. That leader…Steve Shadrach in his late 20s!

From there, I jumped into everything I could that would help me get to know Jesus better.
I joined a Cru discovery group which gave me a great foundation.
Then I worked at Kanakuk Kamp and found out that Christians can be fun and spiritually deep at the same time.
The following school year, I joined a StuMo discipleship group.
I started memorizing scripture, learning about multiplication and becoming a world christian.
I’m so very grateful for those foundational years at U of A and the community that nurtured my spiritual life from the beginning.

After graduation I joined StuMo staff, working with sorority girls at U of A.
What a privilege it was to share the gospel and disciple women full time!
Those were the early days of StuMo, and I had the honor of being discipled by some amazing women, then imparting “these things” to faithful women who taught others also (2 Timothy 2:2). Leading small groups, meeting one-on-one, hanging with nonbelievers, recruiting to summer projects and retreats – God was blessing our ministry, even before social media!
But after 4 years, I was feeling burned out and wondered if I still loved Jesus.
Ministry had become a job, not an outflow of my love for Him.
(Tip: Selfishly guard your personal time with the Lord!)

I left staff and moved to Austin, TX where I worked in advertising, found a solid church and enjoyed my time with Jesus.
Eventually, I began to volunteer with, you guessed it…college students.
Having come to faith in college, I have always been drawn to this age group.
And guess what…Longhorn students are no different than Razorbacks, in that they all need Jesus!
Eventually going on staff with my church, I was again, loving Jesus and enjoying the privilege of full-time college ministry.

During those sweet years of ministry, God brought me the love of my life, Taylor.
We married and soon had our first child.
I left staff and became a mom at 35.
I truly have loved being mom to our 4 children, but I had an identity crisis in the beginning.
After years of having an eternal impact almost daily, suddenly all of my days were spent caring for one small person.
Changing diapers, doing laundry, feeding, and bathing didn’t seem very significant when compared to my previous work!
Of course, I grew into my new role, but it took time.
I continued to lead a group of college women out of my home, which helped greatly.
And I soon realized that my children’s spiritual development was my new primary ministry.

Jesus had an “as you go” type ministry when He walked the earth.
He healed the sick while His disciples were there watching.
He fed the 5000 with their help.
As a mom I met young women in our home.
Discipleship happened while folding laundry or picking up carpool.
It was never more necessary than when we had our second child, Riley Jane.
Born with multiple medical and developmental needs, our little girl was in and out of doctors’ offices and hospitals.
It was a difficult time for our family, and we learned how to care for her many needs.
I pulled out of all ministry commitments for several months after she was born.
When Riley Jane was 5 months old, a dear friend challenged me to lead a group of new Christians in my home.
I was broken and exhausted, but I was about being with new believers.
It was so refreshing to be in God’s Word with these girls, and they ended up ministering to me in that difficult time.
In fact, one of them was a special education major and immediately started helping with my new daughter.
She eventually became part of our family in a sense – truly life-on-life discipleship – as she was in the trenches with me almost daily!
She and her now-family are still very dear to us, and she has a beautiful ministry to women.

Riley Jane was with us for 10 years and taught us so much through her sweet spirit and radiant smile.
Her fragile body couldn’t hold out, and now she is free with Jesus.
But a year after Riley Jane went Home, God in His mysterious ways, decided that we needed another little girl.
Yes, I had a baby in my late 40’s!
What a surprise!
Bailey, our fourth child has the gift of Down Syndrome.

With Bailey, God has given me a natural “in” with a beautiful community of mothers (Christian and non-Christian), all striving to raise our children with Down Syndrome well.
They teach me so much, and I am striving to love them with the love of Christ.
Who knew He would plant me in the Down Syndrome community to bring His hope to young mothers and preschool teachers?
We share struggles.
We share our kids’ tiny successes along the way.
And I’m having spiritual conversations with several of these dear women.
God is good.

I have continued to lead and disciple women over the 18 years since becoming a mom and leaving “full-time ministry.”
The form has varied from college women, to career women, to young mothers, to peers.
Sometimes ministry happened in a formal Bible study, and other times in a conversation over a pile of laundry on a couch.
God allows us to love people “as we go;” to bloom where we are planted.
The venue may change, but the message is the same; the gospel changes lives.
Follow Jesus and help lead others to do the same.