Profiles of moms making a difference
Back in 2009, I was pregnant with my daughter and joined a message board on Baby Center’s site for women expecting babies in October 2009.
Through the years, I’ve gotten to know a few of the moms from that group very well and consider them good friends. One of these mamas is Kathleen Brooker. When we first “met,” she lived in California. Since then she’s followed her husband’s calling as an Anglican priest to New York and now to Anchorage, Alaska.
As a pastor’s wife of a growing church, Kathleen often jumps in teaching Sunday School, serving in the nursery, co-leading the teen group and more.
Kathleen, who is a former mental health counselor, has chosen to be at home with her five children (ages 2 to 10). She homeschools her oldest three and does her best to keep the younger two entertained at the same time. She’s got such a heart for God and has blessed and encouraged me many times throughout the years.
Just reading Kathleen’s responses to my questions encouraged me, and I know they will you, too!
Families with Grace: What is your God-given mission or passion?
Kathleen Brooker: This is such a hard question for me to answer! It’s hard to zero in on the one thing I feel called to. I think that might mean that I haven’t figured that out yet. So many things draw me. I love to serve alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever we happen to be needed.
Right now, my service is mostly with the youth in our church: I homeschool our kids, teach Sunday school, and help lead our teen group. I have a heart for young moms and women experiencing crisis pregnancies. I long to be a kind and loving voice speaking the truth of the gospel into the hearts of those needing to hear it.
FWG: How do you work to live out that mission right now?
KB: I always thought the counseling profession was where I was supposed to really minister, but after over a decade I’ve come to the conclusion that a counseling office just isn’t where God wants me to serve.
So I serve at home by teaching our kids, by guiding their hearts to love Jesus. I serve by helping our teens at church learn to talk about their faith and share it with others. I serve by being a pastor’s wife.
I love watching my husband share Jesus with people, whether it’s through a worship service, a sermon, a conversation or a prayer with a stranger who calls at 3 a.m. God has blessed him with a personality and heart to love His people, but that’s not always an easy job. That’s where I come in: I get to be his support as he lives out his mission.
God has set our family on a very interesting course — one I never would have imagined when I started dating my husband! We’ve been married for 13 years and have made three major moves (and two minor ones) in that time.
We crossed the country to serve in California, crossed back to serve in New York, then packed up our family again four years ago to serve a small church in Alaska. We’ve had some painful experiences and some times of beautiful peace and healing. Through all of it, we’ve been a team and God has grown us through our ministry together.
FWG: What are some of your biggest challenges in living out your mission?
KB: I think my biggest struggle is that my calling doesn’t feel like a calling sometimes. It just feels like tagging along where God calls my husband! So often, I feel like whatever I can offer is so small that it just has to be insignificant.
There are so many outreach ministries I would love to be involved in, but I’m just so busy with home stuff that it seems like I don’t have time to actually minister to anyone. That’s when I have to remind myself that this is where God has put me now, right here in this house, right in the middle of all this chaos. And He knows I’m here and what’s going on.
He’s blessed my husband and me with five little hearts that are so open to Jesus and long to know and love Him. That’s my mission right now: my kids. It doesn’t mean I can’t do other things outside the home or that I don’t want to, but my focus these days is on guiding them.
FWG: What have been some of your biggest blessings in living out your mission?
KB: It’s got to be learning to trust that God really does know what He’s doing. It’s easy to say that God is in control when things are going well, but it becomes so much harder when we run into complications in life. It feels strange to say that the times we’ve struggled most have also blessed us the most, but they have.
We had one particularly rough situation where my husband had lost his job. We were living thousands of miles away from family and friends. We were suddenly cut off from the little support and friendship we’d had, and we just didn’t know what we were going to do. I was eight months pregnant with no health insurance and things just seemed awful.
It wasn’t an easy time, but even in the middle of it, we could see God moving. It was amazing to see how He worked things out and provided for us. I love looking back at a situation and realizing, “Oh, THAT’S what you were doing, God!” It’s amazing to see.
I think my favorite example of this is always going to be the birth of our fifth child. I was so done at four children. I even told God that. Apparently He didn’t agree because shortly after we’d moved to Alaska and settled into our new life here, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant.
I had such a hard time accepting that I was really going to have another baby and I struggled with it right up until the moment she was born and I saw her little face. The moment I held her and looked in her eyes, I heard God whispering in my heart, telling me to just trust Him. He was telling me that He knows my heart so much better than I ever could. He knows what I need and what is best, even when I think I’ve got a better plan.
During that whole pregnancy, I fought against trusting that God’s plan was better than mine. But the second I saw my daughter’s beautiful little face, all my resistance melted away and I was just in awe of Him. He was teaching me a mighty lesson, but He was doing it in such a gentle, loving way. At that moment I had just a glimpse of His amazing patience, love and grace.
I’d love to say that I’ve changed every aspect of my life and that I never worry and always trust wholly in Him…but that just wouldn’t be honest. Every single time I look at my daughter, though, He reminds me that His plans are best. I still struggle to trust Him completely, but I hope that I’m at least taking some tiny steps in the right direction, following where He’s so lovingly and patiently leading me.
FWG: What’s the best advice you have for other moms who are following their passions?
KB: I think my advice would be to remember that God has you where you are for a reason. It doesn’t always seem like we’re making any kind of difference or actually doing anything to serve Him, but we are.
I know I always catch myself comparing myself with other women who seem to be more accomplished than I am, feeling that if they are doing something I’m not, then I must be failing. But that’s not the way this works.
We are all here to serve Him in different ways. For some of us, that may never be a spotlight-type of ministry, and that’s OK. It’s more than OK; it’s what He has planned for us. I think we’re just supposed to follow Him faithfully, serving wherever we are with our whole heart and sharing the love of Jesus where we are.