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A long journey to motherhood

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After of struggling with grief for years, Jamie Mezin found the life she was looking for thousands of miles from anywhere she had looked before.

By Brad Bowman

Jamie Mezin never thought she would have children.

Tragedy detoured her life, and Mezin didn’t anticipate she would live long enough to be a mother.

At one point she never dreamed that she would have two loving children – Emma and Isaac – or a husband, Cornel, who would send her bible versus about love when they first met.

No, it wasn’t in the plan, at least not later in her life.

But when she was younger, she did have it all planned out. Husband, children, work, everything was set.

But, fate wasn’t ready for that plan. There was much more for Mezin to learn about herself and her faith. Her life seemed to spiral out of control and in a different direction that was far from the plans she first laid out. But this new direction, while full of potholes and difficulties, would eventually take her thousands of miles from home but closer to love than she’d been in years.

At 16 she had her life planned out – she got engaged and started working at animal clinics to begin her path toward becoming a veterinarian.

But then life put a wrench in those plans and set her on a course for self-destruction.

“When I was a teenager, I was engaged at 16,” she said. “We were swimming in Taylorsville Lake and he [her fiancé] died, and I couldn’t save him. So this self-destruction, the cause of it, was really to punish myself for not being able to save him.”

And for Mezin, tragedy didn’t stop there.

“At 19, my second year of college, one of my best friends died in a car accident,” she recalled. “So, my dream that I had decided upon when I was younger was not a driving force for me anymore. I didn’t care about myself.”

Having now lost two of the most important people in her young life, Mezin’s path changed.

Down the slippery slope

As a young college student, Mezin lost herself in the trappings of immediate gratification: drugs, alcohol — anything to take the pain away.

She didn’t see a connection between God and what life threw at her. The two worlds didn’t seem to coexist.

The pain took her identity. Her dreams and her focus changed, but according to Mezin, she would learn God was bigger than her mistakes.

“I would sneak into the Baptist Student Union. I would sneak in to learn about God and sneak back out before anyone could talk to me,” she said. “I only left a small crack for him to come into my life. I saw after a year some of the things he started to change in my life.”

The darkness around her outlook diminished. Life no longer seemed chaotic, tragic or senseless.

“I started to find peace for my heart. I started to learn how to make choices that were going to be on a different path instead of self-destruction,” Mezin said. “Before that I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I felt like I was a slave to that. All of my decisions were – I was living for momentary desire and satisfaction to cope with this pain. There were other things available to me. I started to see the things God was putting in front of me for my life. I could choose not to do the things I thought I had no power over.”

When her life started to shift, Mezin recognized the changes God put in her life. She felt nothing would’ve gotten through to her without Him making those changes in her life.

“I said I love you [God] and I want to do something for you. I just want to let you know I love to travel,” she said. “That was my prayer before I went to worship that night. I still wasn’t talking to anyone at this point. I walked in this particular evening, said my prayer, and it was right before spring break. Someone [at the Baptist Student Union] ran up to me and said ‘We are getting ready to go on a mission trip you want to go with us?’ I didn’t know them, and I said sure. They were going to the beach. To me at that point it was just – I had just told God I liked to travel and five minutes later he is giving me an opportunity to travel.”

Reading the signs

The group went on a week-long mission to West Palm Beach to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

For Mezin, it wasn’t the mission work, but the lifestyle and sense of community she felt being around other Christians.

“They were raising their hands when they were singing. They were crying and praising God and caring for each other in a way I had never experienced,” she said. “It wasn’t about what kind of trouble can we get into to have fun. It was – we are with each other and this is enough fun for us — just enjoying each other’s presence. It was the first time that I ever really felt satisfied in my life. ”

Being accepted by the people she was around put Mezin at ease, but in her mind she knew she wasn’t like them. Her struggles were not their struggles. Her pain wasn’t their pain, but their acceptance gave her strength.

Mezin can’t point to one thing that led her to pursuing and graduating with a degree in elementary education. Like the new shift in her life, it was something she felt was revealed to her.

“I can pinpoint the one reason that said I wanted to go into education. I can’t remember in college what really pushed me in that direction, but once I got into teaching I discovered that God gave a gift that I didn’t know I had,” Mezin said. “I just walked into it and knew it was something I could do. With the kids, I had this ability to analyze where they were and pinpoint what the struggle was [emotional, educational or social struggle]. I taught for a couple of years in Spencer County, but I felt like there was something still missing.”

Filling a void

Mezin started going to Shelby Christian Church. She missed the satisfaction she felt when she went on her first mission. After a Wednesday night service, she asked the pastor if there were any mission programs. Expecting a no, the pastor introduced her to the mission program director Jerry Sweitzer.

After telling Sweitzer she was a teacher, he convinced her to go on a medical mission to Romania with Southeast Christian Church for a week during the summer. While there, Mezin found out it wasn’t just the mission work she loved, but the Romanian people.

Despite opposition from her family who thought her life’s pendulum was swinging too far in a new direction, she would also find her future husband.

“I just fell in love with the people there. They were so hospitable and just so kind and happy,” Mezin said. “They were really interested in what you had to say. Their hearts were really open and not like you were bothering them.”

Mezin came home from Romania after 10 days of talking to people from every walk of life: Muslims and Christians. And everything kept drawing her back to Romania. Whether it was sermons or biblical verses she read, everything seemed to be saying, “go.”

“I always seemed to have these deals with God,” Mezin said. “I told him I would go back to Romania only if Jerry Sweitzer seriously talked to me about going there. I went to church that next Sunday, and I never saw Jerry on Sundays. He asked me if I was ready to go back to Romania and live or not. I said I would do it.”

After training for five weeks in Colorado on how to be a missionary, Mezin learned how to raise the money to live in Romania for year. Family frictions arose from her decision because they believed she was abandoning a good job and a stable life.

“I sold my car. I got rid of my apartment. I basically sold my belongings because I didn’t have anywhere to store them,” Mezin said. “My family thought I was crazy. But God kept calming my heart even though it kept coming back to me that I wasn’t good enough to be a missionary.”

Finding her future

Leaving her past and pressing for her future, Mezin became an English teacher for the Romanian version of Kindergarten in Lugoj, which included children from 2- to 7-year-olds. On the weekends, she would help a bible study group in Resita, another town where she met her husband Cornel Mezin.

“We met in September. We were dating by November. We were engaged in January and married by March,” Mezin said. “He kept sending me bible verses about love and I never had been treated that way before.”

The Mezins moved back to the United States, settling back here Shelby County.

And as a mother, Mezin makes time for her family.

“I want to make sure we have time as a family. They will get enough socialization during swimming lessons and going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays,” she said. “I didn’t understand unconditional love, like God’s unconditional love, until I had to give it to my children.

“I make time at the end of the night where we talk to one another and they know they are safe to tell me anything. We make time to share each other’s ideas and read from the bible or stories. The important thing is we talk to each other and experience God’s grace together. It helps me as a parent to see the connection now that God has in my life.”