There are have been many amazing incredible women who have been a huge part of my faith journey and have influenced me as a leader in the church. There is the campus ministry director at my beloved college. There are the women who I worked with at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp and went off to seminary to become leaders. There are my dear friends; old and new, who have or are daily showing me God’s love. There are those “triple A” adult women who have helped equipped me in my faith. All of these women are amazing blessings in my life, but I always come back to one very special individual; my momma!
Now, my faithful readers, many of you know our story, but for those that are new to this blog, our journey has been one of mental illness. Shortly after my sister was born (I was three years old at the time), my mom had a nervous breakdown. Throughout my life, I haven’t known different, yet my momma is one of the most faith-filled women in my life. She would totally give the shirt of her back for someone in need. She would let everyone else go first in line even if it meant all of her favorites would be gone by the time she got through the line. My mom embodies what it means to live with a servant heart. And my mom has done this even though her life hasn’t been easy at all.
Growing up, Mom was in the hospital quite a bit. Yet she always made sure that my sister and I attended church and Sunday School. Dad often was busy farming, but Mom made sure that our faith was nurtured. Even after my parent’s divorce, she took us to church. Faith had been modeled by her by her parents and now it was important to her to model that faith to her girls. (To this day, I am incredibly thankful for this gift)
Two days after graduating high school, I went to work at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp. It was the first place I truly opened up about my mom’s illness and our journey with mental illness. It truly was a freeing moment for me; to be able to share about this incredible women and her own journey. After working at camp for seven summers, I suddenly was urged by my uncle to attend seminary. I thought he was crazy, but the minute I walked onto that campus, I knew that God wanted me there.
I started at the Castle that next fall. I knew going in that I didn’t want to be an ordained pastor, so I was going to get my master of arts degree in youth ministry. I knew hardly anything about the other rosters; Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers, and Deacons/Deaconesses. But after starting to read the book “Word to Sacrament (The History of the Diaconate)” words started to jump off the page at me. “Bridging church and world,” “Picking up basin and towel” and “Word and Service.”
For me, “Picking up Basin and Towel” was the phrase that literally smacked me upside the face. Here I was a daughter of a women who lives and daily struggles with a mental illness and here were these words proclaiming to me that I could do something about the stigma. I could pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of ALL GOD’S PEOPLE especially those like my momma who daily struggle. Because of my mom’s faith and her ultimate examples of that faith, I knew that this was exactly where God was calling me! Mom’s journey; our journey opened up this door for me to be a leader in the church; a leader who could and would try to embody “diakonia” like my Mom has always taught me.
Mom has her good days and her bad days, yet I know that for her, faith is core to who she is as a child of God. She never lets her illness get in the way, but rather shares her faith daily in her words and actions. I am so very thankful for all she has taught me over my 35 years of life. Thank you momma for being the ultimate example of a Godly woman!