If there’s one thing Karen Sinn knows it’s that God is a God of purpose.
Even though she’s been through many difficulties and disappointments, today she feels she’s finally living the purpose that God has for her life. Her message to other women is that God can use every one of your hurts to help others.
Karen’s childhood was idyllic. “I grew up in an awesome, functional, Christian home with my brother and sisters, mother and father,” she said. “My parents provided the right balance of expectations, fun and church life.”
Growing up she wanted to help people, be in ministry and somehow be in front of others as a teacher or speaker. After helping with camps and organizations for the mentally challenged, she decided to go college to become a special education teacher. It seemed to combine all of her interests.
When she met the man who would become her husband she admits she was not living as a Christian. “I was ignoring God. I was partying a lot, dating around and drinking. I wasn’t going to church at the time but I knew I was called to be a faithful Christian.
“I talked about God with him. He said he was a Christian so I thought our beliefs were similar. I knew alcohol was something I could take or leave. I thought it would be the same for him.”
She had stopped drinking when she started student teaching. After they got married, though, she realized she and her husband had two very different value systems. The differences were not just with alcohol but with other issues and mindsets as well.
Still neither of them went to church much until they were married about three years. “I got pregnant with our daughter and it was like a wakeup call,” she said. “It was as if God wooed me back to him. I began a faith journey of commitment and deep relationship with God.”
Although her husband would go to church with Karen and their daughter, Meagan, he lived a double life doing what he wanted outside of church.
“My home life was never safe,” she said. “There was great insecurity there. I never knew what I would come home to.”
She quickly learned in order to keep things at home somewhat peaceful she had to live behind a mask. For Karen, the untruthful way they were living and the way her husband was treating her became overwhelming.
“It was scary, confusing, hurtful and painful,” she said. “He was so good with words and arguing. He made me doubt myself. He was good at manipulating and controlling.”
Karen, who had been working as a special education teacher since college, began having difficulties concentrating on her job. “The paperwork burden became an everyday battle,” she said. “It was too overwhelming. I knew a lot of it was my home life. I just couldn’t cope with everything.”
She went to a counselor who diagnosed her with situational depression. “I am a creative, relational person,” she said. “I knew I had to get out of teaching. I had crashed and burned in regard to my job. But I also knew something had to be different with my marriage. We went to counseling for awhile but nothing seemed to work.”
Despite the difficulties at home and with her job, for some time Karen had been active in her church. She taught Sunday School, adult Bible study and discipleship classes; led retreats and women’s ministry groups and even did some substitute preaching.
“I knew I was called to ministry,” she said. “I just didn’t see how it would work with my home life such a mess. I was hurting so bad. How could God use me?”
Still searching for an answer, she read Pathway to Purpose by Katie Brazelton. “This book changed my life,” she said. “It was written just for me. Reading it was an amazing experience.”
She emailed the author and took the necessary training to become a coach going through all three levels of training within six months. She immediately began coaching women.
“Life Purpose Coaching was a perfect fit for me,” she said. “It was and is what I was made to do.”
A teacher at heart, Karen took the training to train coaches. “This was beyond my wildest dreams, really, to be able to train coaches who then coach others.”
Karen’s dreams continued to come true when the Methodist conference hired her to coach pastors. “Essentially, I worked one on one with pastors to help them realize where they were on their own learning curve, what their goals and dreams were for their congregations and how they could help them get there. I helped them see how to make changes in themselves and/or facilitate changes in the congregation.”
Although things were going better for Karen in her ministry and new vocation, they still were no better on the home front.
“I held on as long as I could and probably longer than I should have,” she said. “I just kept wanting him to love me enough to change, give up his various vices and become a loving husband. I finally saw that was never going to happen.”
She gave her husband an ultimatum asking him to leave until he could get his life back together. When he told her he wanted to continue his lifestyle, she realized her marriage was over.
“I grieved the loss of my marriage,” she said. “I loved my husband but I didn’t love what he was doing to himself and to me.”
Karen wasn’t sure how her divorce would affect her coaching. “God is really good at taking lemons and making lemonade,” she said. “He never wastes a hurt.”
She found that God seemed to open up a floodgate and began to bring people into her ministry who needed someone to understand exactly what they had been through.
“Some of the women God has brought along my path are wounded with lots of hurts, pains and sorrows in their lives. Coaching helps them see past the difficulties to who they have become as they have lived through the pain. It helps them see the strength, courage, perseverance and resilience that is theirs.”
Life purpose coaching is about re-framing one’s life and gaining renewal something with which Karen is very familiar. “It is really about discovering who you are in Christ. You realize maybe you are someone worthy of having a purpose. It’s about looking at the past but not staying there. It’s about picking the truth from the past and discarding the lies. It’s about discovering your passion.”
Many of the women who come for coaching are in a transition of some kind such as empty nest, retirement or going back into the work force.
“They may be happy but they know there is something missing,” she said. “Many say to me, ‘I know there is more I could be doing. I haven’t found the thing that just makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning.’ They are busy people just wanting to find a balance.”
After going through coaching, some have decided to become coaches themselves. “Often times the one who wants to be a coach is a person who says people are always coming to her with their problems. It’s a woman who wants to be able to make a difference in another woman’s life. It’s a woman who has been through her own hurts.”
After coaching, it was natural to add the job of becoming the first Field Representative for The Caring People, a ministry for single mothers.
The ministry helps churches form weekly care groups for single moms. The group provides childcare for the children, a meal, Bible study and a group of Caring Women who serve as mentors for the moms. “Those providing the groups walk the love of Jesus into the hearts of the single moms.”
Karen helps train those wanting to start groups. In Columbia, many different organizations such as Love INC, New Life Pregnancy Center, Voluntary Action Center and different churches refer single moms to the groups.
There are currently three groups in Columbia, one in Boonville and four in Kansas City. In all there are 30+ groups in the United States and many in El Salvador. The ministry is in the beginning of the growth stage. As the first and only Field Representative, Karen may be called upon to start groups anywhere.
“I train the leaders for the Admin. Team and new groups and then they minister to the women many of whom are hurting,” she said. “I’m able to help the leaders do that because I have lived through it.”
Although Karen doesn’t know why everything happened in her life as it did, she does not question God’s sovereignty. “I see the scared and wounded women God has brought to me. God knows what I have lived through.
“He knows I did not let that define me. He knows the faith, strength and courage it took to remain in that environment and still grow in Him. I know as long as I make myself available to share with others, He will continue to bring hurting women who need encouragement into my life.“
Today, Karen’s life is full with the ministry God has given her. “This is who God has created me to be. I can see every step of the way how God has led me to this place. He has helped me discover who I am and what my passions, dreams and goals are. I can’t imagine doing anything else. He truly is a God of purpose.”