When Gabrielle saw her moms’ group in Virginia finally flourishing after a year of hard work, planning, and jumping through red tape, the last thing she wanted to hear was that she was moving. Three months after her Mothering with Mary group finally got off the ground, Gabrielle and her family packed up everything and moved to Wyoming. That’s what happens when your husband is on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. 

“I had this little, beautiful project that I felt was like the Lord saying, ‘Yes, Gabrielle, do this,’ and the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Yay!’ and then it felt like, ‘Just kidding, we’re going to move you.’”

But if Gabrielle has learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s how to follow God’s lead.

It started when Gabrielle and another woman realized they needed community with people who shared their particular set of identities: moms in military life who were also Catholic. But Gabrielle didn’t know where to begin. That’s when the Holy Spirit started making things happen.

The newly installed priest on base invited Gabrielle and her husband to attend a young adult symposium in D.C. It was no small feat to pack up their four kids for the weekend, but with childcare provided, Gabrielle and her husband decided to head to D.C.

They attended an event filled with the sort of people Gabrielle wanted closer relationships with: Catholic moms connected to the military. Yet, she faced an internal obstacle. “At that time in my life, I felt so socially awkward. There were many times when I would leave a conversation thinking, ‘Oh, no, what did I just do? That was terrible!’” Despite sharing a military and Catholic connection—what Gabrielle called two of her most profound and unique life experiences—with everyone in the room, she felt tongue-tied and struggled to make even basic conversation.

What Gabrielle didn’t yet know was that God had a design to use her weakness to open up beautiful new growth in her life. At the event, a coordinator announced an opportunity to learn skills for evangelization and meeting new people. Gabrielle, feeling all too aware of her need in these areas, walked over to the table and signed up for what she assumed would be a packet of resources.

What she got instead was an invitation to the twelve-week Mission Training from the Evangelical Catholic. “I pulled up my calendar and thought, ‘That is a long time…’ But I had already given the coordinator my email address and said that I was interested, so what was I going to do?’” Before Gabrielle had lost her nerve, she responded and joined the cohort starting that week.

Looking back, Gabrielle realizes that if she had known what she was signing up for, she would have gotten in the Holy Spirit’s way. She had two kids at home, two kids in school, and was solo parenting while her husband was on a temporary assignment elsewhere, but she doesn’t regret her decision one bit.

“I had no idea what I had signed up for, but it was incredible in the end. It was so transformative for every aspect of my life. Personally, I grew exponentially. It shifted my journey with my husband, in our Sacrament of Marriage, and it helped me walk with my kids.”

Using what she learned in the Mission Training group, Gabrielle taught her kids how to pray for one another, teaching each child how to intercede for siblings during bedtime prayers. “It helped them hone in on, ‘What’s going on with my sibling and what are they asking me to pray for them for?’ Seeing that was so beautiful. Seeing these transformations on my homefront, in my home apostolate, was so incredible.”  

Now, since her move to Wyoming, Gabrielle continues to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead to overcome obstacles and connect with other women in ways unique to her life situation and personal strengths. For instance, she realized that attending the Mission Training group over Zoom relieved some of her social anxiety and childcare obstacles. “No one can see your sweaty hands over Zoom!” So when Gabrielle started a new small group in Wyoming, she opted to host it on Zoom.

Her efforts are already bearing fruit. Gabrielle can see that the women in her group are learning how to pray out loud with more confidence and authenticity. And they are bringing these tools into their families, blessing their spouses and children with a deeper connection to Christ, too. In a further effort to help moms deepen their relationship with Jesus, Gabrielle convinced the local parish to offer Holy Hours of Adoration specifically geared towards families. With kids allowed to wiggle and roam, parents are relieved from some of the anxieties that would keep them from bringing their kids to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

And what happened to Gabrielle’s initial Mothering with Mary group? Despite her disappointment at leaving what she had started, she happily reports that other women took it over. “It is still rocking and rolling, almost a whole year later. It’s bringing more moms and families into the community.”

By following God’s lead and faithfully saying “yes” to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, Gabrielle is renewing the Church one assignment at a time.