Whether you are in the season of singleness or married, raising family, some women have to work. It looks different. This economy is not very kind to us right now. The women have to work for their families. They feel guilty in that. Some women stay home and they feel guilty in that, but doing what God has called you to do for your family. It looks different for everyone. —Jennifer C.
[00:00:38] Tope Keku: Hello there. Welcome to Treasures and Truth with Tucker. I’m your host, Dr. Tope Keku. Everyone wants to feel happy, but it’s easy to lose hope and feel defeated in this. Chaotic world, so full of problems. Well, this podcast is about helping you to find treasures in your trials so you can be encouraged to have hope and renew your confidence and know that you are not alone on this journey called life. So before we begin, let me ask you if favor, if this podcast inspires you or encourages you in any way, please subscribe. Leave a rating, a review, and share with your friends to help spread the word. Thank you.
So now let’s move on to the show today, on the show today with me. I have a special guest who is a Christian and a licensed clinical mental health counselor. She has seven years of experience as a counselor and she’s worked with children, adolescents, young adults, women, and women from a variety of backgrounds. And many of these come with different challenges. She’s an expert in community mental health. Crisis intervention, depression, anxiety, trauma, and family dynamics. She helps her clients to integrate the spiritual, their spiritual concerns as part of the holistic approach to healing and health. But in this season, she’s doing something exciting. She is a wife to her sweetheart, Robert, and she’s also a mom to a beautiful little girl. So so sh she’ll share with you her journey from being a professional counselor to being a wife and a mom to a little beautiful girl today. So you don’t wanna miss this exciting conversation. So please join me in welcoming Mrs. Jennifer to the show. Jennifer, welcome. It’s a pleasure to have you here today.
Jennifer C: Oh, thank you for having me.
[00:02:56] Tope Keku: So to start off, I would, I would just, I mean, you have a really fascinating background as a counselor. And you’ve got, you know, a variety of experiences. But, what intrigues me the most is the fact that you’re a Christian, you’re a professional woman, you’re a Christian, a wife, a mom and, and in this season you’ve transitioned and laid some, some parts aside to focus on another part of your life and so I would like to us to start with you just sharing your God’s story. Maybe your brief testimony of your faith in God.
[00:03:27] Jennifer C: Yeah. I grew up in a Christ Center home. Both my parents were in ministry. Specifically, my father was a pastor. Pretty much throughout my whole childhood, I accepted Christ into my heart at an early age. I believe I was about six years old. Mm-hmm. And through that journey through adolescence transitioning to college, my faith has always grown and deepened. And I’m definitely thankful that I’ve been able to maintain my relationship with Christ. Not bragging on myself by any means. I never strayed away. I never. Left my faith, but it’s grown as I’ve grown from childhood adolescence to adulthood. So, Christ has been the sinner and the core of pretty much my existence.
[00:04:12] Tope Keku: Oh wow. That is beautiful. So you grew up in their home. And so your faith’s been really grounded. And because, you know, you’ve accepted Christ as a young child you’ve kind of kept that path of faith. That’s, that’s interesting. So, let me ask you this. Now you are a counselor. How did you transition from childhood into adulthood and, and becoming a counselor? What was that process like?
[00:04:55] Jennifer C: I think going back to my childhood ministry, I think it was most, have to say it was a calling Seeing so many different challenges that ministry presents as it relates to ministering the families, communities, and crisis. As a child, seeing my parents go through a lot, helping a lot of people, getting phone calls in the middle of the night, so I have to say, that’s probably most likely in my DNA. So I view the counseling that I did as a part of ministry. After high school I went to college, I went to Liberty University, and studied Psychology. I have my undergrad degree in psychology. And after that I transitioned to grad school. I have my professional license in counseling. So that took a while to finish. So in total it took about nine years to complete. My total education educational background.
[00:05:45] Tope Keku: So you’re talking about writing a lot of papers, doing a lot of research, reading a lot of stuff. But it’s great because Liberty was grounded in, you’re rooted in the gospel.
[00:06:01] Jennifer C: And for Jesus Christ, and you’re also rooted in a lot of theory. You’re competent in your foundation, but you’re also competent in how to use therapy skills. That was something I would never trade as it relates to counseling.
[00:06:16] Tope Keku: If I’m hearing you, you were fortunate enough to attend a Christian university. And then being trained as a counselor you were able to sort of combine your faith with the psychological aspect as well. And so that’s a really unique skill set. And so how have you seen that? Have you used that working with people?
[00:06:48] Jennifer C: The transition in working with people was, was very interesting. When you’re in grad school, you have to do your practicum, your internship, but I always prayed for God to gimme wisdom. Before I did any internships or anything like that, I was able to volunteer at crisis centers. Mm-hmm. Crisis pregnancy centers. I did that for four years while I was in grad school, getting some of those skills as well as serving the community. This is one thing I’m always doing is trying to serve somewhere, doing something. After grad school, you know, you have to complete your internship, and your practicum, but before you leave grad school, you have to take an exam. You have exams in total. You had to take one to get outta grad school and one to get your clinical license. Before I got outta grad school, I had to take a four-hour long test on theory, on everything. I don’t test well, I do not test. Well never have. But going back to, you know, you talk about your God thing, God gave me wisdom on how to prepare for my test. For me, everybody is different. You’re gonna hear me say that throughout this podcast.
The Lord gave me wisdom to start practicing and planning for that test two years before I took it. And it costs a lot of money to take it. So, if you fail it one time, you have three times to take it. You have to pay $250 each time. And the Lord knows I’m very frugal, so I don’t wanna take it many times. And I don’t test well. So before getting outta grad school, I took my first exam, and I passed it the first time. And that was a miracle.
All of this’s behind me. So now I’m working on getting my clinical license. Transitioning to get my clinical license, I had to take another test and that was a little bit harder, and it’s for the state of North Carolina. I took it about three to five months later, and I passed that the first time. That was a miracle. That was a miracle.
I got through those two exams, so I got my at that time we were called licensed professional counselors associates. In order to become a fully, fully licensed counselor, you had to do 3000 hours of face-to-face counseling. And at that time, a lot of the doors were shut for you to do private practice in a group. So you had to do community mental health. Community mental health. And that’s interesting because I felt the Lord was calling me to do it anyway. While doing the community mental health setting, my focus and goal was to go to this one practice, which was a Christian place, a Christian practice here in the area where you can, just, like at liberty, you use, the foundation of your faith as well as theory.
I did community mental health for four years and what community mental health is, I was working in school settings, I was working at homeless shelters. I was meeting people sometimes on the street in people’s homes. I’m driving about 125 miles a day. I was grinding, I was getting my hours, but I was getting experience as well, getting that clinical experience. Now, while I couldn’t share a lot of my faith in that, I definitely saw God’s hand work in a whole lot of tough situations and tough client situations.
Before every session, before every session, I always pray God. You know, protect my mind, Lord, protect my mind. But give me words to say, give me your wisdom. Because while, yes, I have my education and I, I have every credential, every qualification needed as a Christian, I can’t do it on my own, and I’m not willing to do it on my own.
I always pray, God gimme wisdom in this. So I completed all 3000 of my hours. This is about 2020. The year 2020 during the pandemic, when everything was shut down, I completed all my hours, and I was able to transition from the community mental health setting because mental health at that time, I don’t know if anyone, you know, during the pandemic mental health was flooded. It almost broke the system.
[00:11:26] Tope Keku: Yes, I think it did break the system. It did break the system. It’s still breaking the system.
[00:11:33] Jennifer C: But community mental health was different because everything was shut down so you couldn’t go out and meet with people. So I had to transition. So I was, and had planned on transitioning, and of course me, and my husband prayed about this, but going back a little bit, a little bit before we get to 2020 and 2018 during my time in the mental health field of community mental health. I met my husband, and we got married in 2019. I met him in 2018. We were married in 2019 and that was a whole God story in itself.
But one thing I prayed the Lord would give me and the husband, you know, outside of foundational things, a Christian and everything, I wanted someone who had some kind of background or understood mental health because you can go out and see, I can see 10 clients a day, but when I go home, I have to do paperwork on those clients. So sometimes I’m up to two o’clock in the morning doing paperwork. And then I still have to wake up at six o’clock in the morning to finish the paperwork before I go to see clients. And that’s the, you know, the grind of community mental health. It’s not easy. And during the first year of marriage, that’s not ideal. Yes. It’s not ideal when I come home or he comes home and, you know, you wanna connect. I’m up here on the computer, I gotta eat my lunch here at my dinner here, and I’m here all night. And then I gotta wake up early, that was challenging. But, you know, my husband Robert was definitely supportive in that, and he was even more supportive of me getting out of that.
[00:13:10] Tope Keku: Oh, wow. So you, you’ve shared a lot and I, I think there’s a lot to unpack right there. So I’m glad that you actually explained more about the community mental health because I was gonna ask a follow up for you to clarify, what does that look like? You know, what’s involved in that. And so I can see you had a variety of, of people that you met from homeless people to schools and to just a variety of people in the community. And so you, you had all of these experiences, but then you had to still come home and complete all of that paperwork. I love what you said., that for you, God is central. And you are always tuning in. Even as you’re working with people, you are always tuning in and asking the Lord for wisdom, for guidance because you don’t want it to be about you.
And I can tell you that you and I share that in common. I’m always doing the same thing, asking the Lord as I’m speaking to various people, meeting various people, Lord, help me to know where you are at working this.Yeah. It’s not about me, so mm-hmm. Help me out of the way. Just show me where you’re at work. Give me the words, show me how you wanna encourage them. I resonate with that and I’m so thankful for a young woman. Our guest can’t see you, but you are, I mean, to me, you’re a young woman. You’re solid. I’m so thankful that you’ve had all these experiences and the lives that you’ve impacted through this community mental health. Yeah. And that you were doing, now then we fast forward into you got married. I imagine that first year was challenging.
[00:15:07] Jennifer C: Yeah. It’s very challenging because, you know, I shared, I was driving a lot. About 125 miles a day. And that’s tiring. And I could work with clients all day. That was not, the challenge was mostly driving and paperwork. The driving and paperwork and the compensation was not great. So, when you’re trying to get your license, you have to do well. It’s a lot better now, but a lot of times, you can, these are the positions open and I’m not knocking it as a lower grade position because it was, it was not. I definitely wouldn’t give anything for my experience doing that community mental health. So in 2020, during the pandemic, I finished all my hours. I was fully licensed, so I felt a little calling me. Now is the time. I felt that it was time to go ahead and apply for that position with a Christian practice and talked to my husband about it, and I was hired at a Christian practice. That was what I wanted to do for at least 10 years, work at this place because these people are solid in their approach, to mental health and the gospel. So I was working. I started officially in December, 2020. And I started seeing clients January 2021. It was great. The paperwork was not as much, you still had to do it. But not as much because it was a private practice. And in April of 2021, I found out I was pregnant.
[00:16:47] Tope Keku: So that’s a plot twist. Were you expecting that to happen that soon?
[00:16:57] Jennifer C: No, not at all. We weren’t planning or anything, but no, we didn’t decide. We didn’t think it would happen that soon. And when it happened, it was instant. It was like an instant shift in my brain, and I’m not lying to you. I found out that morning, and it was an instant shift. I felt it was like something like, you know, a twist from work to home. From focus on work to focusing on home.
[00:17:25] Tope Keku: Describe that a little bit for someone who was trying to understand that, that shift, what did that look like?
[00:17:34] Jennifer C: For me, it was almost as if the Lord was saying, your focus is on work. And I when I say I was focused on work I was gonna do, I did it. With everything. I put my everything into working with clients, completing paperwork. I was intense on a rigorous schedule, so I felt like, okay, so this has been your focus, the career aspects, so now we’re going to shift to focusing on home. I couldn’t understand it at the time and now looking back, I think it was more like, you don’t have to choose cuz I’ve chosen for you. So throughout the pregnancy was very challenging. I was able to. Throughout the pregnancy, they helped. They let me come home and work from home, which was good. So that was part of the shift that I wasn’t able to go to the office. I was able to go to the office every day. So that was wonderful. God used them to help me in that. But yeah, the Lord was calling me home. I think so many women struggle with whether or not to come home if they have children or to keep working.
Specifically, you know, focus on, on the Christian woman because for so many years, for me at least, we hear about the Proverbs 31 woman and what she did and all these wonderful things about the Proverbs 31 woman. And I think I was sharing in our, you know, the Lord gave me this revelation this week as I was preparing my notes for us today, and the Proverbs 31 woman, and they say, oh, she worked, and she did all these things.
But I think it’s interesting for us to note that a Proverbs 31 woman is not one woman. [00:19:30] The, author of this particular passage is a woman who is. Sharing with her son some of the characteristics you wanna find in a woman. And I literally just looked at this passage this week, and a lot of the things that she’s talking about, you know, when she says Who can find the virtuals woman? And under it, you see a lot of what she’s doing, her works. These different characteristics of a woman who is preparing meals for her house, planting vineyards. and making her own clothes. She’s working. She’s working outside the home. She’s working inside the home. She’s taking care of her family. But the main ingredient is not what she’s doing. But if you look at verse 30, Proverbs 31, it says a woman who fears the Lord. That’s the main ingredient. Fearing the Lord, doing what God has called you to do, whether if you are in the season of singleness or raising a family.
Some women have to work. It looks different. This economy is not, you know, very kind to us right now. Some women have to work for their families. They feel guilty about that. Some women stay home, and they feel guilty in that, but doing what God has called you to do for your family, and it looks different for everyone.
[00:20:59] Tope Keku: Wow. So, Jennifer, thank you for sharing that transition, and what that looked like for you. And I like that you touch the Proverbs 31 woman as a way to help many of us who struggle with guilt and shame when we are not, when we feel like we’re not doing enough. You know we should be here. We like the keyword here is should we, should in ourselves.
But, what you share just now is freedom to know that it’s not ours, it’s not necessarily what we are doing. For how we are being, what’s our heart’s posture towards the Lord. And that it’s the, it’s the fear of the Lord. It’s the reverence of the Lord. It’s the honor for the Lord. And if our heart, everything we’re doing and being and is all about that. Where we’re operating out of that central place of. It’s all about the Lord and honoring him, then everything else falls right in place and I hear you say guilt and shame, then don’t have a place
[00:22:02] Jennifer C: It’s a daily reminder. I know for me; I feel I was feeling guilty. And thank God that my husband has been able to, Robert, he’s been able to continue to maintain his position. He has had to get three or four jobs. But a lot of our conversations have been, is it right for me to be home when I could be out?
You know, probably making a little bit more money. And then we have to look at it. If I was to go out and work. And I’m not making excuses to be home. But if I was to go out and work, and this is, you know, how many families have to navigate today, I would be right back into the high paperwork because I have to see a lot of clients. I would have to work way more hours than before. So I would be going all day, come home, maybe eat an hour, have to do paperwork, because I have to see more volume of clients. So we’ll be right back where we were before community mental health, but it wouldn’t just be us. It would be us and a baby. And for me, a lot of this you know, people, you have to juggle things and find harmony and balance. But in some professions you don’t have that sort of leeway.
[00:23:13] Tope Keku: Yeah, that makes sense. Some, some. Mm-hmm. Some, some. I mean, if you’re a doctor in the hospital, there’s not a lot of give, you can’t just say, oh, sorry, I can’t see my patients today because, Or whatever. Because, you know, a lot’s riding on that. Yeah. So some professions are not as, as giving in diary regards. And so each person, I think, has to look at their situation and circumstances and do what is best. Again, operate out of that central place of the fear of the Lord. You talked about guilt and shame a little bit. What helped you to cope with that?
[00:23:56] Jennifer C: Well, like I shared before, my husband Robert. Crunching the number saying, okay, if I go back to work, I have to work five days a week. These are the hours I would have to work, but half of my paycheck would be going to childcare. And I used to when I was in grad school for, because you don’t get paid when you’re in grad school. So I was working as a nanny. I was working in, in people’s homes, taking care of their children. It’s a lot of work. But, so that was my goal, was to get a nanny, but nannies now where you could pay. When I was working at Nanny, it was about $15 an hour. Now you start a nanny off at $23 an hour. A daycare center, a good one, you know, a good daycare center minimum is about $1,300 an hour. So half of what I’m making would go to childcare. So it almost cancels it out.
[00:24:57] Tope Keku: Okay. And so what I’m hearing you say is that you have to really be intentional. You have to have these conversations, mm-hmm, with your significant other. And just look at the facts. So not let the emotions drive the activity or the actions, but rather put the facts to paper.
Prayerfully look at it and then ask, you know, How is this dealing with our family? How is this working with our situation? How is this, how is this going to help us moving forward? Again, centering back to the Lord. Bringing those conversations again in alignment with him. I like what I’m hearing that you and your husband had that conversation that helps you to get clarity on what do we want for our family. Mm-hmm. What’s in the best interest of our family giving. You know, who we are, how we operate, what, what would be the best for us. And then you guys made that decision going forward. That, that is, that is super, super, super cool.
So, Listeners, if you’re out there and you are in this same scenario where you are transitioning maybe out of, for this season out of, of full-time employment to be at home with, with your children, I hope this conversation with Jennifer helps you and, and that you hopefully take away some tips about having honest conversations, heart to heart conversations with those around you to come up with a good solution and to ask the question, what do we want as a family? What’s in the best, what’s in the best interest of our family? And basing your decisions on those facts and also involving God in that process.
Does that summarize what you, what you just said?
[00:26:55] Jennifer C: Yes, it does. And I’m still licensed. I’m still an active counselor. I still have my license, and I will always have my license up to date. And I still keep up with the mental health field. But this is just where I feel the Lord has us right now, and yes.
If anyone has ever taken care of a child, they will definitely tell you that, you know, you are not just sitting at home. Watching TV all day. You don’t get time to do that. So I’m definitely just with the intensity that I was doing with counseling, that’s how I’m bringing what I’m bringing to as I focus on my family right now was that same intensity and work ethic.
[00:27:41] Tope Keku: So, with that, as we round up, I would like to ask you, what’s one treasure that you could live with our listeners to encourage them if they’re going through a similar scenario or they’re facing some challenges in their lives.
[00:27:59] Jennifer C: I will say, you know, it’s just the nature of being a woman. This is something that is not inevitable, like something you can escape. So it is, if you are married and want to start a family, this is part of it. Do you work? Do you stay home? What is that gonna look like? I will say it definitely looks different for everyone. You might have to go back and look at the numbers multiple times to confirm what you need to do. The number one thing, as I was talking about the Proverbs 31 woman, oh my God, she’s used all the time where people say, go home, stay home, or woman’s place is, listen, do what God has called you to do. That doesn’t mean we’re disobeying scripture; we’re not disobeying scripture. We’re doing what God has called us to do in this time. So do what God has called you to do. Guilt and shame will come up because that’s how the devil works, and the guilt and shame will come up, stay rooted and grounded. Continue to remind yourself what God has called you and your family to do.
And one other thing, outside forces. People will say, well, you need to do, you still have a lot in you. You can go do this. There’s so much you can be doing. You have a degree. You know, you are a scientist, you are a teacher, you are a therapist, you have all this education and you are at home. No. You do what God told you to do. The outside noises will come probably more than what you ever thought. Stay rooted. You shared before saying rooted and grounded and what God has called you to do for your family is going to look different. I know a lot of women that are counselors.
A lot and they work and they have husbands and children. That’s what God has called them to do. It looks different for each one. And it works for their family. Mm-hmm. That’s not gonna work for my family at this time. And that’s okay. Because it’s not supposed to, because everybody is different.
[00:30:12] Tope Keku: Wow. So thank you. So, Jennifer, you just said stay rooted. Stay grounded in what God has called you to do. Shame and shame and guilt will rear its their ugly heads. Every now and then. Go back. Always go back to that truth. This is where God has me in this season. And the key word here, the key phrase here is in this season.
Seasons change, right? They do in this current season. Where he has God placed you, what has God told you to do? Stick with that. Another thing that you said, and, and that’s a great, great reminder, is there will be outside forces who will come and say, but you have all this, you could be doing X, you could be doing Y, you could be. Well, are you gonna listen to the outside forces? Are you gonna listen to what God has called you to do? So stick with what God has called you to do. And you can go wrong in that. Stay connected with God, stay grounded with him, and allow him to shape and guide your season. Whether it’s to stay, be a, stay-at-home mom right now, whether it’s to work part-time and, and also be stay-at-home, whether it is to work full-time. Whatever that looks like for you. Stay rooted and grounded in God and allow him to shape. Your current season. And you can’t go wrong with that.
Thank you so much, Jennifer, for the insights that you shared with us today. Thank you for coming on the show. I really, really appreciate you. And so let me ask you this. How can people connect with you?
[00:32:02] Jennifer C: You could connect with me on LinkedIn right now. Okay. And it’s actually still under my maiden name, so that’s Jennifer Tanker.
[00:32:09] Jennifer C: Okay.
[00:32:10] Tope Keku: So I will have that in the show notes. Okay. So people can connect with you on LinkedIn and I will have that in, in the show notes. Okay. Again, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. Mm-hmm. And your current season with us.
I hope Jennifer’s story of her current season in motherhood empowers you to tap into the treasures in your own trials.