When I decided to enroll in seminary, it was with some trepidation. I wasn’t concerned so much about the academic requirements, or how I would manage biblical languages and exegesis. I was concerned for my ability to manage seminary with kids.

My husband and I have three children, ages six, four, and two. I reminded God as I moved through the application process at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond of the three little ones counting on my kisses and love, my presence. Could I really add seminary, even part time, into the mix?

I have encouraging news: Moms can not only survive, but thrive in seminary. Here are three reasons women with children should not wait for an empty nest to pursue a seminary education:

1.) Multi-tasking is already second nature. When the syllabus is distributed in class, I know that I will juggle it alongside a full life. In my first semester of seminary, my youngest battled prolonged stomach woes, my middle child broke her arm, and my oldest ventured into first grade and had homework that required my attention. It was tough! I’ve learned to start early on my own assignments, so that I am assured of finishing on time no matter what comes my way. Seminary isn’t my whole life, it is one part of my life, and ultimately that brings a healthy balance.

2.) Moms appreciate seminary as an opportunity to pursue a personal passion. Let’s face it, moms spend hours pursuing the things that are important to their children, from ballet to basketball. Moms are there because their children are important to them, and so they purposefully enter their children’s world. For me, seminary is an opportunity to enter a world that is mine. Because it is a passion, learning gives me great joy. In turn, I am a better mother.

3.) A mother’s presence will challenge, and even change, peer perceptions. My laptop screen saver rotates through pictures of my kids. Occasionally, the pictures scroll at seminary. It never fails that I am approached by someone following the class who asks, “How many kids do you have again?” and then, “And you’re here, doing this?” I have become aware through these conversations that my presence in the classroom is shifting the paradigm of many soon-to-be-ministers.  I am helping to shape the way they will relate to moms in ministry. It motivates me not only to continue, but to bring my best every day.

So to all the moms out there, let me encourage you to follow God’s call, wherever God leads. I’ve heard it said, “God calls us in spite of our circumstances.” I would tweak that a bit: God calls us because of our circumstances. God is well aware of our situation and demands. If God calls you to seminary, God will sustain you there. What a promise!

Christy Foldenauer is a speaker for retreats and services and a student at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. Learn about her ministry and read her blog.