“A pearl starts with a tiny grain of sand that morphs through many changes and emerges as something strong and beautiful. It symbolizes wisdom acquired through experience. They are treasured and have persevered through changes.” These words that describe a precious pearl remind me of my life in many ways.
Seven years ago, I joined Mary & Martha because I loved the products, had been looking for a new way to serve the Lord, felt a push from God, and because my husband of six months at the time, Cole, said, “Why not, Cait? What do you have to lose?”
Cole and I began our marriage abundantly blessed by the Lord. He had landed his dream job teaching high school P.E. in a town close to where we grew up. Not only were we close to our family, but God put the most amazing group of friends into our lives through a small group at church. Only God could have answered all of these prayers of mine so perfectly. So when Cole told me to give Mary & Martha a try, it was one more abundant blessing. He was right — I had nothing to lose!
I hold those words he said to me so dear to my heart because it was just four months later that I lost Cole himself very unexpectedly.
After spending two weeks in three different hospitals trying to figure out why Cole’s anomia levels were high and having many medications put into his body to stop the seizures he had experienced, I received the doctor’s words, “Your husband has been determined brain dead from the damage done by the seizures.” He was twenty-four years old. He didn’t get to finish his first year teaching at his dream job or start leading the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at our school — something he had recently been asked to do.
A pearl symbolizes wisdom acquired through experience. At the age of twenty-four, you don’t expect to acquire wisdom through the experience of being a widow. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ. To die is gain.” On May 14th, 2014, Cole gained. He gained what all of our souls long for — being with Christ forevermore. As my heart grieved, my soul had peace — peace knowing that he was with Jesus and that Jesus was with me.
A pearl starts with a tiny grain of sand that begins to morph. Just a few months later, the Mary & Martha National Conference was happening. I’d registered before Cole passed away, and there was something in my gut saying, “Just go.” Little did I know that I, like a tiny grain of sand, would begin to morph after attending it. During the conference, I could see that this company was something special. Women prayed over me, we worshiped our Lord and Savior, and the beautiful products personally impacted my heart. After that conference, I began hosting gatherings in women’s homes where I shared the truth that God is good, no matter our circumstances.
A pearl is treasured. The last seven years with Mary & Martha have been a treasure — one that I thank God for so often. The relationships I get to have with such amazing women are what I love the most. Mary & Martha is a community of women who love Jesus and desire to make His name known. I love that long before I knew, God knew being a part of this company was where I belonged.
A pearl experiences change. My life has had many changes. One major change was going from a wife to a widow. In June of 2018, another change came: I was blessed to marry a man who makes me laugh and live with joy every day. A few months into our marriage, God put me in another situation where I would gain wisdom acquired through experience. My sweet new husband Kaene was starting to have seizures that were causing him to black out and not know where he was or what was happening around him. After many doctor appointments and tests, the doctors were finally able to determine that he could have surgery to remove the part of his brain where the seizures were coming from. After a five-hour surgery, I was told I could see him. Seeing him brought back many vivid memories of the time in the hospital with my late husband that I was not prepared for.
Needless to say, this was very hard for my heart. I asked God, What are you doing? Why would I go through something like this again? As I cried out in my pain, I heard God reply, Do you trust me? Surrender Kaene to me. Trust that whatever happens is a part of My plan. God was reminding me to put my trust in Him and in His ways. Praise the Lord Kaene did wake up! He had the brain surgery he needed and has been seizure free for almost two years!
A pearl preserves through change. Through the trials and changes I’ve experienced in my life here on earth, I cannot image going through them without the Lord and community of believers through Mary & Martha. I have learned to lean on Christ as my joy and strength and experience full surrender and trust in Him. And this I know for sure: Though our circumstances change, Christ never changes.
Caitlin Buchholz Hammes is a Mary & Martha Consultant who lives in Iowa with her husband Kaene and their baby Rowan. Seven years ago, her love for Jesus and sharing His truth with others led her to become a Mary & Martha Consultant, and now, she serves as a Senior Team Leader, her full-time career and joy.
Thank you, Caitlin, for sharing your heart and story with us!