Each Next Small Step

Dec 6, 2017

Steph Duff

She was just not born to be a mom. 

I remember the first time I heard the words spoken. I couldn’t have known then just how much they would build up walls between my life and God’s plan. In that moment, I simply felt hurt, but it was only the beginning of spiritual attack.

I became a mother at nineteen and insecurity has followed on and off since then. At twenty-one I had two babies, and I was doing the best I could, but I always felt like I was falling short. Those nine words spoken by another person slowly took life over my motherhood – feelings of inadequacy constantly had me feeling as if I had to prove to everyone, and myself; I was a decent mother and was capable. I needed healing from the lie that I couldn’t possibly be a good mother – a healing I wasn’t able to offer to myself.

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The first time I volunteered at Salvation Army Children’s Home was because of our daughter, Ale. She had been going once a week to help serve. I went to the home to pick her up when the Captain of the home, Matt Metzger, said, “Thank you so much for offering to volunteer tomorrow!” Ale had volunteered my husband and I to help at a Christmas party for the home being thrown by Samaritan’s Purse. After my first time there, I began going every week to help with tutoring. A couple of the girls living at the home at the time didn’t have families to go home and visit on weekends, so my husband, Jorge, and I began inviting them to spend time with us, watching movies, eating tacos, bringing them into the fold of our family story.

At this time, I was involved in several other ministries in Mazatlán. Shortly after I began tutoring at the children’s home, I felt God clearly asking me to leave all other serving opportunities.

“I need your hands open, Gennie.” His command was clear; I began to serve solely at Salvation Army Children’s Home and waited for His next call.

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We were sitting at church when Back2Back representatives stood up and shared the vision for a Hope Program in Mazatlán. “Please pray for a loving, married couple to be called to serve as Hope Parents to students.” Jorge leaned over and asked me, “What about the girls?” The two teens who had been spending time with us on weekends would eventually be in the Hope Program. What I realize now is Jorge was whispering his yes, but I committed only to pray over “that” couple who would eventually be Hope Program parents.

In the season before our involvement with Salvation Army, God did a mighty work of healing in my and Jorge’s marriage. Where fractures of a union once lay, we were seeing redemption and growth. As we leaned into God more and continually sought healing together and as individuals, He taught me that He is in control, He will provide, and He will heal. I began to understand I would never be the world’s greatest mother, but with God’s guidance, I would be the mother He’s called me to be.

As I continued to pray for the couple who would be called to serve as house parents, Jorge felt the Lord calling he and I into the role.  Again, I felt familiar fears of motherhood creep into my thoughts and beliefs. Questions raced through my mind.

How can we afford this? Will I be sacrificing my own kids? How can I be a mother to children who aren’t mine?

I remember asking the Lord, why are you asking me to step back into this? You helped me overcome the doubts and lies of being a bad mother, why does it feel like You’re asking me to move backward?

But God, as He always does, stayed consistent in the pull on our hearts and with that, we boarded a plane to Monterrey.

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Traveling to Back2Back Monterrey was two-fold; we were observing the current Hope Program and also testing to see if we would be a good fit as house parents. I spent most of the flight to Monterrey hoping this is an Abraham (Genesis 22) moment. We said yes in obedience, but perhaps God, upon our arrival, would say, “Thank you for your obedience, but now is not the time.” I felt confident God would offer us another avenue; what He offered instead was grace. I will never be the perfect mom, but His grace is sufficient. Jorge and I will never be able to do it all well, but His grace is sufficient.

With this assurance from God and renewed trust in His plans, we began to say yes to the next small step, trusting He would tell us when to stop when He saw fit. We have yet to hear no.

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In May of 2015, we welcomed six girls into our home and we have spent the last two years becoming family. We have learned grace-giving and grace-receiving is a lifestyle. We have learned we cannot possibly mess up so much we’re outside the bounds of resurrection. We have learned we serve a God who will heal the lives of each girl and it is a privilege for Him to want to use us with each next small step for His story.

Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dachshund, Addy. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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