From the time that I was in junior high school, I knew that I only wanted to be a youth minister. When the time came, I attended Benedictine College to get my double major in theology and youth ministry studies. At a small Catholic college most girls are looking for a good Catholic husband, so the idea of getting married and having children right off the bat was not foreign to me. However, it was certainly not the path I thought I was called to. My plan was to graduate, attend the Notre Dame school of ministry, and really kick off with the ministry work. I saw myself as a speaker and traveling the world with my college friends. All this changed when I fell in love and got engaged during my senior year.
Jake and I married two months after our college graduation. We moved back to Dallas, and I started working part time in ministry while continuing my studies for ministry certification at the University of Dallas. I was married but could still make this work right? Wrong. The first weekend in September I had a positive pregnancy test. I was a little scared and taken aback at how quickly I had become pregnant, but I had nine months before the baby came. Unfortunately, one unpleasant thing I inherited from my mother was severe nausea with pregnancies. The nine months dragged on with hours spent in the bathroom tending to the not-only-morning sickness. I continued my church work, but it was often interrupted by me running to the bathroom because the smell of Domino’s pizza at youth group meetings made me feel so sick.
Fast-forward five years.
Now our family has grown to include three children: ages four, three, and nine months. I ceased my ministry work with the church when our oldest turned three. Because of a long commute, I realized that I could not give the time to the ministry that it deserved. I felt at that time like I was throwing my degree into the trash heap. The dreams of having my own podcasts and speaking at Steubenville conferences are no more. My calling now is talking toddlers into eating their vegetables and cleaning up poop off the bathroom floor.
There are still times of regret like when I uncovered my box of unfinished ministry certification homework. I found myself wishing briefly for what I thought my life was going to be. When one of the kids has a stomach bug and is throwing up all night, I can’t believe that God gave me three children. What was he thinking? I often still have to repeat to myself that God knows best what he is doing with my life. This is a life I am still working to figure out, but I do know deep down that this is where I’m supposed to be. This crazy life is teaching me more than I ever learned in all my years of studying theology and ministry, because through my vocation I am seeing and living out God’s work rather than just learning about it. And not surprisingly, the more fully I embrace his plan, the more joy I discover in living this life.