My Beginnings with God
It is a blessing to be studying for my degree in ministry at the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about online Bible classes, Click Here). I am a lover of God, wife, mom, and grandma. Growing up in a Christian home, I have been a believer and follower of Christ my entire life. I was baptized Catholic, confirmed Lutheran, and married Methodist. Growing up, I lived for Wednesday nights. I loved my youth group and believe that this group of people and my leaders truly helped develop who I am today. They poured into me and showed what it was like to live and love like Jesus. Some of my closest friends are from this youth group. We still (although many of us live in different parts of the world) pray for and with each other, do virtual Bible studies, and journey together in our faith walk.
My Life Through Love, Loss, and Hope
I got married to a man who turned out not to be particularly good right out of high school. In hindsight, I can say I never loved him. I fell in love with his two boys and felt bad because they did not have a mom. When I was 20, I married him and divorced him by the time I was 24. I met my now-husband, the man I know God designed just for me, while he was volunteering with a program through his parents’ church.
When I met him, I told him I was not interested because of my past with my ex. However, he did not stop. We have been together now for 15 years and married for 13. In our marriage’s first year, we lost twin girls, Olivia Pearl and Nevaeh Jean, and a son, Hue Martin. We found out that I had cervical cancer, and I had to have a hysterectomy. Then 6 months later, I lost my dad to cancer. Six months after that, my husband lost his dad to cancer. A month later, I lost my mom to cancer. To say our first 18 months of marriage was a trial is an understatement.
We believed God was strengthening and “firming up the foundation” for our marriage through it all. That is not to say we do not have problems. Everyone does. However, we have a marriage that is rooted in God. God is at the center of our marriage and life. Together, we do daily devotionals and Bible studies and with our children as a family.
Blessed With Children
Furthermore, we have been blessed with 7 beautiful, adopted children, ages 8-31, and 3 beautiful granddaughters, ages 1 month to 4 years. Our youngest child is the only one we have had since birth. The rest we received at different ages and stages. Our youngest 4 have the same mom. Adoption itself is such a journey and a blessing. Now we volunteer with our local agency to help the families who are going through the process. We love them through the hard days and rejoice with them at their adoption ceremonies.
My Work With Children
I have worked with children in some capacity for my entire adult life. I will be 40 in July. In my eyes, the most beautiful thing in the world is watching when a child gives their life to Christ. I am the Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries in Minnesota. I started in January of 2020, right before the pandemic hit. So the ministry has been different this past year. Before returning to ministry, I took about 5 years off to fight and currently winning against cancer. I am originally from Wisconsin and a true Midwesterner. For a short time of 3 years, I served in Florida, and after I got sick, we moved home.
I always look for the good in everything. I know that even though it may not always be clear, God’s plan is far greater than mine. If we had not lost our angel babies, God would not have blessed us with the crazy, amazing family He did. Although cancer has been a battle more than once, if I had not gotten sick, I would not have gotten almost 5 years at home with my kiddos while the youngest 4 were still little. I guess I am sharing these stories with you to tell you that there is always a light on the other side, no matter what you are going through. We may not always understand. However, if we remain faithful, God will bless us abundantly.
What’s Next? A Degree in Ministry
I do not know what God’s plan is for my life. And, after the way He has changed my life multiple times, I am not trying to figure it out but simply waiting and listening for His guidance. I am excited to be furthering my education here at the Christian Leaders Institute. I look forward to getting to know many of you in the CLI family. Ultimately, I hope to earn my degree in ministry. Although I do not desire or feel called to be a lead pastor at a church, it has always been my goal to earn my Master of Divinity one day.
I feel called to minister to children and teens, and I love what I do. I love the church that God brought me to last year. Even during a pandemic, I got to bring a few new teens to Christ, and that has been beautiful. I cannot wait to see what He has planned for the ministry I serve after the pandemic. I know it’s going to be great.
With my past student debt and due to medical issues, I could not complete my degree. Therefore, this option for free ministry training through CLI is a huge bonus for me. First, I will get my associate degree and then my bachelor’s degree in ministry. I plan to transfer to Ohio Christian University for my Masters. I will be praying for my classmates, teachers, and staff here at CLI.