Kelly Russell Shares Why She’s More Than Mom

By Leigh Harper, August 4, 2017

Seminary grad Kelly Russell loved her job as director of volunteer development in outreach at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Tasked with recruiting, equipping and managing volunteers at the church (with an average weekly attendance of 11,000), in the community and abroad, she thrived.

During her first pregnancy, Russell never considered staying home. She even worried her 12-week maternity leave would be too much time away from the job she adored. Once her daughter was born, she was ill frequently, which threw Russell for a loop. Eventually she and her husband decided that her being a full-time mom was the best option for their family. While she was confident she was making the right decision, Russell was heartbroken to push pause on her career.

“It was really hard to give up my job,” says Russell. “I loved it, but I knew I couldn’t do it full time anymore.”

Once she’d left Mariners, Russell says she felt restless. She missed her job every day and was discouraged to no longer be growing her skillset or engaging in ministry beyond her family.

“Those days of staying at home with my daughter were busy yet boring, lonely while never alone, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time,” she says.

Eventually her husband’s job prompted the family to move to Ventura, California, where they began attending Mission Church of Ventura—at the time, a church plant of 200 people. The urge to jump back in was strong, so Russell offered up her skills and experience as a volunteer.

“Three months in, I told [the leadership] I’d love to help with whatever needs they had,” she says. Grateful for her help, they gave Russell responsibilities immediately. But it became tricky to balance these once again and she struggled to be fully present at home and at the church. She had two children, plus a husband in the medical field with a demanding schedule of his own. Despite the needs behind her own front door, Russell says she was so happy to be involved in this kind of ministry again that she nearly ran over her family.

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