Back to School
by Rachel Oliver
Three moms with different stories and a variety of motivations have one thing in common: All were inspired by their MOPS experience to hit the books and head back to school.
Mandy Lyons (pictured left with husband Eddie, and three children: Mahkenzie, Austin and Taylor) is enjoying her first year in MOPS at Sumner Presbyterian Church in Washington.
With a husband suffering from multiple medical conditions, Mandy Lyons’ choice to return to school is a practical one.
“I need to increase my income,” the mother to two and stepmother to one shares as she explains that her love for working with numbers (most recently as an accounts receivable associate) prompted her to return to school for a Medical Billing Specialist certificate.
“MOPS has opened a new door in helping me find other moms who struggle and yet find happiness in the small things in life,” says Mandy. In MOPS, Mandy felt inspired to return to school. She hopes to complete her certification with an internship this summer and be back in the workforce by fall when she looks forward to starting her new career!
Christa Raitz (pictured here on graduation day) was the first Coordinator of her MOPS group at Emmanuel Baptist Church in West Virginia and continues to serve as the MOPS Mentor.
Being on the Leadership team for her MOPS group helped develop a new level of empathy and compassion in Christa Raitz. “I found myself wanting to be equipped to do this better with a counseling degree,” she shares. As the mother of two young children, beginning a master’s degree program wasn’t easy. One of the most challenging aspects she faced was a three-hour commute to school once a week with an overnight stay.
She credits her husband of 18 years for his support and encouragement during that time. She also is thankful for her MOPS group. “My MOPS friends were a constant encouragement to me when I was stressed out from exams and papers and trying to balance family and school. They reminded me of why I was working so hard to get the degree.”
When asked how she got through the rough times, Christa explains that she knew she was following God’s plan. “He was giving me the strength to do what I could not have accomplished on my own.”
Christa graduated in March 2010 with her master’s degree in clinical pastoral counseling and now works at the local community mental health center as a counselor.
Rebecca Vinyard (pictured with three of her four children: Kierston, Ryne and Kayleigh) attended the Mayport Naval Station Chapel Military MOPS group in Florida before moving to the Bethel Baptist Church MOPS group in Virginia.
“I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was in 1st grade and finally I can see that dream coming true,” says military wife and mother to four Rebecca Vinyard. While attending Military MOPS, Rebecca saw other moms who inspired and encouraged her to return to school. “They showed me it is possible to have multiple children, a deployed husband and still further my education.”
Through her time in MOPS, Rebecca gained the confidence she needed to take the leap. “I learned to go for my dreams and to step out of my comfort zone,” she explains. She moved from a MOPS attendee to a Discussion Group Leader and then led the Steering Team Bible study. She hopes to inspire her own children to achieve their dreams.
Rebecca will graduate in May 2013 with her bachelor’s degree and certification in elementary education and hopes to begin teaching right away.
Are you a mom who’s thinking about returning to school? “Go for it!” says each of these moms, encouraging any mom who wants to continue her education to set a goal and create a solid support system to sustain her through the ups and downs of school days.
Rachel Oliver, Associate Director of Mom Community & Resources at MOPS International, lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, James, and Rottweiler/Poodle mix, Bella.