1. Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
When I was 18, I traded the scenery of my hometown cornfields in Indiana for the palm trees of Southern California. I’m the oldest of three children, and made the big move to the West Coast out of high school to pursue a degree in Television & Broadcast Journalism at Chapman University. I became heavily involved as a titleholder in the Miss America Organization while in college, and at the age of 24 the door that had opened for me to compete at the Miss America Pageant abruptly shut. I was defenseless in the center of a media storm that ensued, and through that experience I began to sense the world of journalism may not be what I thought it was – or right for me. In the years I had spent working in the television industry, I had a nagging sense of wanting to engage in work that would change people’s lives. After a year of wading through the broken dreams and disappointments of my early twenties, I decided to enroll in one class at Fuller Theological Seminary. Years later, I earned my Masters in Theology & Ministry, met my husband in class, and became what I never imagined I’d be – a pastor.
2. What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? Most challenging?
The lens through which I view motherhood has been completely colored through the premature loss of my first baby. Honestly, I had always viewed motherhood as just another step in the progression of life: go to college, get married, have kids – and I completely underestimated the beauty and power that comes with the season of motherhood. I felt a shift in my motherhood paradigm soon after my miscarriage. Having a child was no longer simply a box to check in my life trajectory – but a miracle to behold. An absolute, utter miracle. In essence, the most fulfilling part about being a mother to me is simply the fact that I now am a mother; the fact that God worked a miracle to produce a child that my husband and I have the incredible honor to raise. If not for experiencing the deep pain of motherhood first in my journey, I’m not sure I’d value this season as much as I do now.
The biggest challenge to motherhood? That it’s not about me. I got married later in my twenties – which meant extra years of independence – living life on my schedule, based upon my needs and desires. The beautiful, refining aspect of motherhood is that the needs of a life that can’t survive without you are placed first. Being a parent is like holding a mirror to your heart: it slowly, often painfully, reveals your selfishness and offers the invitation to invest your days around someone else.
3. What does motherhood look like for you right now? What do you love about where you are? What would you change?
Currently, being a mom for me looks like a mess of toys on the floor next to my home office desk. I work full time for a ministry in a position that is completely remote, which has been a huge blessing. However, working from home with a 10-month-old boy has its own fun challenges (including his frequent guest appearances in my video conference calls). Our family recently moved to a new cityand my husband took a new job as a lead pastor when our son, Parker, was 6 months old. Parker’s birth began a season marked by transitions. I love how we’re learning to adapt and grow into new opportunities as a family. It stretches me and constantly makes me realize how few things I’m actually in control of to begin with. If I could change one thing about this season, I wish I could press pause on all the other needs competing for my attention, and be solely focused on Parker.
4. How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
This is something I’m still working through. There have been many days, especially in the first months, where I would never pause to do something for myself. I’d jokingly feel like I had lost my own hobbies, interests, and dreams. Motherhood doesn’t compete with my identity and dreams – it enhances them. I’m just still figuring out what that means practically, and how to have a healthy rhythm of self-care/personal development time with balancing the other hats I wear each week.
5. What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that motherhood is a gift – and a gift that is not mine to give, nor can I control the timing and specifics of it. I’m sensitive to the reality that many women experience pain with motherhood – it is a gift they do not or cannot receive for a number of reasons, and if that is your story, my hope is that your sense of identity and purpose as a woman would not be diminished, but that your story would be told. Other women need to hear your story. If being a mother is a desire that is in your heart and a gift you get to experience in your life, my advice is to treasure it – even the mundane, routine tasks like sterilizing bottles and emptying the diaper pail. To me, nothing can compare with being a carrier for a newly created life – and nurturingthat little life into a big life that carries immense potential into our world.