Mother’s Day HERoes

Many women in the Christian community work faithfully in the shadows of their high profile husbands. In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to shed some light on a few outstanding women who are making a difference through their own ministries, acting as mentors to other women and serving their families well. They share some challenges and rewards of mothering along with a few words of advice. 

The Barnes family from left to right: Pastor Robey Barnes, Mrs. Rebekah Barnes, Mrs. Rosemary Barnes, Dr. Bob Barnes, Mrs. Torrey Roberts and Mr. Adam Roberts

Rosemary Barnes

Rosemary Barnes has been teaching the word of God to women at Sheridan House Family Ministries and at several South Florida churches for more than 40 years. She leads a weekly Women’s Bible Study attended by hundreds of women from a wide variety of denominations and churches and has been a mentor and friend to many pastor’s wives and women involved in Christian ministry. Rosemary is also a teacher and leader in the Single Mom’s Ministry at Sheridan House.

The Single Mom Program at Sheridan House gives a hand up to single moms in South Florida, training and equipping them to attain economic independence. On a short-term basis, Sheridan House supports moms with financial assistance, daily groceries and clothing. Long term benefits include intensive training classes on budgeting and financial skills, parenting strategies, resume preparation, interview skills and more. Sheridan House has also opened six apartments as transitional housing for single moms who are working, often multiple jobs, earning low and moderate incomes yet still unable to make ends meet.

“The Bible study opens the door for a lot of personal relationships with the women who attend, and whatever their areas of need, I am available for that,” said Rosemary. “They really get deeply into the word and get so excited!”

Rosemary Barnes and Dr. Bob Barnes, CEO of Sheridan House Family Ministries, have been married for 49 years. They have two adult children and five grandchildren.


What has been your goal for the Women’s Bible Study?

Rosemary: First and foremost a deeper walk and understanding of who the Lord is and just seeing how God not only loves us, but He does not love us from a far; He loves us very personally and addresses the issues we have in our lives. Secondarily is bonding and building community with women. As our world gets crazier with technology, we desperately need that connection. 


What Bible verse encourages you?

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV).


What is your most challenging time as a mother?

Rosemary: There are so many things on our plates and so many demands. I particularly think of the middle and high school years when there is so much going on, just keeping everything in order and prioritized in a way that would honor the Lord. Just the business of ministry life, trying to balance that – balance, balance, balance – because we can easily get caught up with things that are not as important.


What is your most rewarding time as a mother?

Rosemary: Rewarding at this stage of my life is seeing my children flourishing in their own marriages and families, seeing them not only married to believers, but raising their children, now my grandchildren, in the awe of the Lord.


What advice can you offer women who find mother’s day difficult?

Rosemary: God has a plan for each of us, and sometimes we don’t understand. Why wouldn’t I be able to have children? Why wouldn’t I be able to have a spouse when that’s what I’ve wanted all my life? But we just have to trust the Lord, and when we get to heaven some day we can ask those questions. It’s just learning to help each other and are we going to trust God in this?

Suzanne Sauder 

Sauder family from left to right: top row – Jackson Sauder, Kaden Sauder, Kennedy Sauder; front row: Suzanne Sauder and Pastor Doug Sauder

Suzanne Sauder serves in ministry with her husband Doug Sauder, lead pastor at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. “I get the pleasure to help minister and plan all kinds of women’s events and studies at the church alongside some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met, but I personally love working with women outside of the four walls. I love going on a women’s mission team or spending time teaching the word of God to women who are incarcerated through our prison ministry. I also love spending time with other women leaders involved in the joys and challenges of ministry life, but I’d say the biggest joy is just sharing real life conversations with women one-to-one over cups of coffee.”

The Sauders have four boys. “One has already gone to be with the Lord. Jordon, our first born, was born with a genetic disorder (Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome) and passed away when he was nine months old. Then we adopted Jackson (through private adoption). We had a biological son Kaden, then we got, through the foster system, our youngest, Kennedy. We’ve done it all: biological, private, foster.”


Do you have a goal or mission statement for your family?

Suzanne: For me it’s teach my children to love God, love people. Simple. I want my sons to love God not just with their mind but with their heart and their life and to know that no matter what they’re never alone. I would also say family is so important. We always want our home to be a place where they want to come back to.


What Bible verse encourages you as a mother?

Suzanne: “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God” (Psalm 84:3 NIV).


What has been your most challenging time as a mother?

Suzanne: Honestly for me the most challenging thing is watching my kids make mistakes, choices that aren’t the best. It’s the daily realization that I can’t control the choices my kids make. I can’t make them love Jesus more. I can’t make them be healthy when they’re sick. I don’t have control, and for me the most challenging thing of motherhood is letting go and trusting God that he’s got them.


What is your most rewarding time as a mother?

Suzanne: It’s a whole bunch of little moments, and it’s usually when I get glimpses of my kids loving Jesus and loving people. It usually happens when I’m not around, but I get such joy when I hear about something one of my sons has done from other people. Like when someone stops me in the hall or sends me a note that says – in a good way – “I just need to tell you what your son did.”


What advice or insight would you offer other women?

Suzanne: I would say parenting is an act of God’s grace. In the moments when you feel inadequate, whether raising your kids or just loving the people around you, I like to remember the story of the feeding of the 5000. The little boy just showed up with the little he had and offered it. It was only five loaves, two fish, but when we give our little to the Lord , he makes it more than enough. 

Also, when you lose a child, it really impacts you more than ever. Each day you get with the people you love is a gift. Live it with that realization that you never know when that last day may be.

Finally, love hard and love long. It’s all about perseverance. As Dory says, just keep swimming! 

Lisa Tchividjian

Tchividjian family from Left to right: Back row: Zeke Tchividjian, Stetson Tchividjian, Steve Saliba, Leon Saliba, Caden Saliba, Hope Saliba, Jacob Sherry, Charlee Sherry, Matt Sherry, Levi Sherry; Front Row: Zooey Tchividjian, Stephan Tchividjian, Mia Tchividjian, Lisa Tchividjian, Blesi Tchividjian

Lisa Tchividjian is actively involved in her home church, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, with her husband of 34 years, Stephan Tchividjian, president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. “I encourage women through the Word of God to seek all that God may have for them with love and grace,” said Lisa.

She also works for an organization called Every Mother’s Advocate (EMA), which was founded by her daughter Charlee Tchividjian. “Our mission statement is advocating for every mother in crisis to achieve lasting stability for their family. We work with women who live below the poverty line that are at risk for having their children placed in the child welfare system or are striving to be reunified with children already in care. We have methodically designed our programs for mothers in crisis to have equal, easy, and free access to immediate support. Every element of the program is built to empower mothers to increase resilience, overcome risk factors, and achieve lasting stability.”

Lisa and Stephan Tchividjian have five children and seven grandchildren. They’ve also fostered seven children, adopting their fifth child, Zooey, from foster care. 


Do you have a goal or mission statement for your family?

Lisa: Our priority as parents has always been to encourage our children to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


What Bible verse encourages you as a mother?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)


What has been your most challenging time as a mother?

Lisa: Teenagers/Young Adults – Trying to give them the space to find their way in the world and pray they don’t make too many mistakes along the way.

Charlee’s short story is that she was my rebel teen, not the least bit interested in God or doing anything that she was supposed to do. We said she could drop out of high school on the condition that she look into doing some kind of mission work. She went to Africa for six months with OneHope, and it changed her life. She met the Lord. She found what she wanted to do with her life. Somebody put a newborn baby in her arms that the mother had delivered then disappeared, and the Lord just pricked her heart. She thought what if someone could have helped this mom? Would this child know her mother? She came back, got her GED, went to Liberty University, and she went from a failing student all through high school to an A student all through college, got her degree, and started the ministry of EMA as a college student.

For Charlee, I think for a lot of kids, the Christianese doesn’t work. It’s not enough. They need to see it, feel it, sleep it, eat it. They have to own it, so I think that’s why the rest of my answers are give your kids grace. Give them time. Let them find their way. It’s not up to me to save my kid. That’s God’s job. I’ve just got to love them regardless of the choices they make and pray that they’re not too big a mistake along the way.


What is your most rewarding time as a mother?

Lisa: Seeing your children become parents.


What advice or insight would you offer other women?

Lisa: Let grace be your guide. Children will challenge you, disappoint you and be the greatest gift God has ever given you. But grace will make the journey full of joy. No family is perfect, no person is perfect, no life is perfect. But with Jesus it can be an adventure of love and joy.

Beth Brookins

Brookins family from left to right: Chase Jackson, SarahAnne Jackson, Jacob Brookins, David Brookins, Joshua Brookins, Pastor Brian Brookins, Beth Brookins, Mariel Brookins, Daniel Brookins, Caleb Brookins

Beth Brookins serves alongside her husband Pastor Brian Brookins at Riverside Church in North Lauderdale. The Brookins have six children and two grandsons, including two sons adopted from Accra Ghana in West Africa, where their church assisted an orphanage. Beth is founder and executive director of Classical Education Day at Riverside (CEDAR), a program to support home educating parents with academically challenging courses. Now in its 15th year of operation, CEDAR enrolls 160 students in 4th through 12th grades, and is accredited with Palm Beach Atlantic University and Ohio Christian University to offer dual enrollment courses.

After home educating all six of her children, Beth continues to operate CEDAR because she said, “I am so passionate about home education. I want to encourage parents to do it because they can take their kids so much farther, and they are the best peer influence on their child, not the system.”

Beth and Brian also breed golden retriever puppies, filling their home with activity again when their children headed off to college.


Do you have a goal or mission statement for your family?

Beth: Our mission statement was to love God, to love one another and to love learning. Brian always said, “If we get to the end of the journey and we’ve succeeded in academics but we’ve failed in character, we’ve truly failed.”


Bible verse

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).


What was your most challenging time as a mother?

Beth: I would say 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. was always the witching hour – just the end of the day. As a home educating mom, you’re thinking about the lessons plans for the next day, getting dinner ready, but also making myself presentable for my husband when he’s going to walk in the door. I feel like my role was to keep the house in order and a peaceful place for him to come home to after a really stressful day. I wanted home to be a place of refreshment and blessing to him. I can’t say that I always succeeded in it, but that was my goal.


What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

Beth: Every day. Every day that they were home. And now seeing them soar and living their dreams.


What advice would you offer mothers?

Beth: Every day, as hard as it is, is a gift. When they are little, they tie up your feet. When they are older, they tie up your heart. I think parenting older, adult children is almost more difficult. But every day with them in the house when the kitchen table is filled is a gift and then one-by-one they all start going. Now I say Lord, those years went by so fast; I loved it. I would tell moms enjoy. Don’t wish it away. Don’t wish for them to be in high school. Don’t wish for summer break to be over. Don’t wish for winter break to be over.

Jennifer Pacienza

Pacienza family from left to right: Lydia (lily of the valley bouquet in remembrance of Lilianne), Jen, Rob, and Preston Pacienza

Jennifer Pacienza is a gifted Bible teacher, writer and ministry leader with her husband Rob Pacienza, lead pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Jen has taught classes with Rosemary Barnes at Sheridan House Family Ministries and was formerly on staff at Rio Vista Church, where she led middle school, high school and college age girls. Having attended seminary alongside her husband Rob, Jennifer said her greatest passion is studying God’s word and it’s redemptive history. “What the Lord has really impressed on my heart in this season is I’m to be a helper in ministry to Rob. We’ve always loved studying God’s word together and we are in the text together… Ministry at different times has been doing Bible studies and speaking at different gatherings, but especially with COVID, I’ve also devoted more of my attention to our staff wives.”

Jen and Rob have been married for 18 years and have three children, including “one who lives in heaven” after their three-year-old daughter Lilianne “Lily” Pacienza died suddenly in her sleep four years ago.


Do you have a goal for your family?

Jennifer: I think as a family it would be that they would have a biblical worldview. After Lily died, God put a little secret desire in our hearts that we wanted to read through the Bible with our kids before they leave our home, and so that requires a plan. We have realized our schedule works best for us in the mornings. That wasn’t any easy start, but it is becoming a rhythm. We’re working through this book right now called The Long Story Short by Marty Machowski. He helps parents in a very simple way see how the old testament scripture points to Christ. 


What Bible verse encourages you as a mother?

You have led in your steadfast love the people who you have redeemed. You have guided them with your strength to your holy abode” (Exodus 15:13).


What was your most challenging time as a mother?

Jennifer: Definitely the challenging time has been the death of our child and walking our child to heaven. But God brought so much grace in that valley that I almost hate saying it was the most challenging time. What has become the most challenging of that experience is walking through all the different life events and siblings and trusting God to work in the soul of our children.


What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

Jennifer: The most rewarding time is when I see glimpses of grace in their hearts. It’s just such joy when he’s pulling the curtain back and letting me see his hand in their life in a little way. But my favorite time I think too, as messy as Sunday morning is and as difficult as it is, it is so much joy to worship with my kids… They bring their Bibles and they’re journaling and we’re trying to teach them what that looks like. I love it that my girls scribbled all over my pages and their handprints are there and holding them on my lap. I feel like it’s a picture of heaven in so many ways.


What advice would you offer mothers?

Jennifer: There’s been a handful of spiritual mothers that God has put along my path and I think of one woman who led me to the Lord. She never had children. She never married. Every mother’s day she gets real excited. She looks at my children and she says you’re my spiritual children, and I really try to affirm her – that she was willing to share the gospel with me. I was in middle school at 6th grade and she led me to the Lord. And how different my life would be and our family would be if she hadn’t done that. And there have been others…

Mother’s Day can be a little emotional for people, but I think being able to realize that you can have an influence as a mother in so many ways, to pray about that and ask the Lord, “What would that look like?” Then serve or love those people God put before you.

Jennifer Forman

John and Sarah Forman with Zeke, Daniel Forman, Amanda Forman, Jennifer and Collins Forman, Alyssa Forman, Tim and Becky Forman, Carmen Cargill (Jen’s mom), Nathaniel and Robin Forman with Hamilton

Jennifer Forman and her husband H. Collins Forman, Jr., Esq., have home educated their six children, travelling with them extensively as a living classroom. As a couple they served in youth ministry at their local church, First Christian Church of Fort Lauderdale, where Collins has been an elder for 30 years and participated in the worship ministry for 35 years with several of their children. However, their ministry extends into their home where they have hosted a Bible Study since 2008.

“I would say my ministry is more in hospitality,” said Jennifer. “There are a lot of people who come through our home. We have a Friday night Bible study that is age integrated from different churches. Parents can come with their kids, and that’s how it started. Our heart is to disciple and to encourage people to grow in faith. That’s a focus for us, so there are a lot of people that come in and out of our home.”

Our family – they all have different ministries they support, but the one I’m involved in personally is teaching a parenting class at Teen Challenge in Davie, or we will go as a family and do chapel for them and get to know them. It’s a women’s program (for those struggling with drug addiction) and I just love to see the transformation.


Why did you choose to homeschool your children?

Jennifer: We wanted to rear children who really knew and loved the Lord, and it was our responsibility to disciple them, not anybody else’s. It was our responsibility to parent them, so homeschooling became the vehicle with which we could do that. It allowed us to have the freedom to pick curriculum but also to make Bible time a focus for us and to give us the flexibility to travel and do things and not be at the speed of others. 


What Bible verse encourages you as a mother?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and learn not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).


Did you have a goal as a family?

Jennifer: I remember Dr. Raymond Moore (author of Better Late than Early, the book that launched the modern homeschooling movement),saying there were three parts to healthy homeschooling. It was learning to work, learning to serve and then academics. So when the kids were little, we always looked for ways we could serve as a family. At church when my husband went to pray for somebody, he’d say, “they need to learn to pray,” so we would all go, little ones and children. Or when we would go caroling, it would be a family affair. We did things that the whole family could serve in. It was part of our culture and still is.

But our goal for our children – we would tell it to them – our goal for you is not for you to be nice kids or to just be good adults, but we want you to be mighty in God’s spirit.


What was your most challenging time as a mother?

Jennifer: My most challenging time as a mother was when I had four children age six and under. John was born and I think I had gotten sick. He cried a lot as a baby and I couldn’t take him anywhere because I couldn’t nurse him anywhere because he would scream. I felt like I was in quarantine the whole time. And now he’s such a joy!


What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

Jennifer: I heard someone say you never really know how much your children really have learned and what they will choose until they are out of your home. Seeing our kids that are out of our home – and in our home too – I think the rewarding things is seeing the choices they’re making. Seeing them serve the Lord wherever they are.


What advice would you offer mothers?

Jennifer: We need to know Jesus. We need his presence in our lives. We need his direction. We need to take the time one-on-one with him with our Bible in hand and ask his presence to come in – His spirit to move – and to just learn his presence. 

Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” So it really does not matter what we do in our lives, we need to take the time with him so that He can bear fruit in our lives.

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