Linda Martella starts her day early—snuggling onto the couch to read her Bible and other devotional materials and to pray.
“This gives me a balance for my day—which can get pretty hectic at times!” says Linda, who teaches and serves as the principal’s secretary at Rio Lindo Adventist Academy, a boarding school in northern California.
In addition to her secretarial duties, Linda is also a professionally certified teacher and has taught a variety of classes at Rio, including ESL, Pre-Algebra, and Home Arts, which features a lab of 6 kitchens, 8 sewing tables, and 18 sewing machines.
With over 160 teens living at the academy, Linda enjoys being available for the students. “It’s such a treat to greet them in the hallway, to share a smile or a laugh, and just take time to listen,” she says.
When not on duty at the academy, Linda supports her husband, Dan, who pastors the Healdsburg and Cloverdale churches, about 75 miles north of San Francisco. Having been involved with Children’s Sabbath Schools for many of the 32 years of their ministry, Linda now coordinates the children’s storytellers, runs Power-Point slides, and helps with music. Each Sabbath, she joins Dan at the church door to greet members. The Martellas enjoy hosting potlucks and gatherings in their home and serving on the church social committee.
Since their children, Heidi, 27, and Jeffrey, 25, are now grown, Linda enjoys finding single people to sit with at church “so they won’t feel so alone. (Heidi currently serves as the associate communications director of the Jeffrey teaches grades 7 & 8 at the Buena Vista Elementary School in Washington.)
Although Linda has many talents, she believes the most important way to support her husband “is to be there for him when he needs someone to talk to, to pray with, to bounce ideas off of.”
“When we were first married, I thought I needed to make Dan successful as a pastor,” Linda admits. “I thought I had to do everything—lead a division, tell stories, host dinners, sing—you name it, I thought I had to do it.
“One day it occurred to me that he could do just fine on his own with God’s help, not mine. It freed me to be myself and develop my own ministry so that we could partner together in the plan God had for each of us. I just need to be available to love the people.”
Hospitality is one of Linda’s passions, and over the years the Martellas have hosted 10 Japanese students. “Our kids loved the experience, and every year we looked forward to our new set of guests.”
Currently, Linda and Dan have opened their home to a friend’s son who joins them during short school breaks. “It’s fun for us to be ‘Auntie Linda’ and ‘Uncle Dan,” Linda says.
While Linda is comfortable in her many roles, it hasn’t always been easy. “During my ‘Martha’ days,” she recalls, “I ended up so overloaded it just about submarined me emotionally.” Usually a happy and energetic person, Linda found it difficult to even get out of bed. Feeling helpless and unable to cope, she cried a lot.
One day Linda shared her struggles with a physician friend, who explained that she was struggling with depression. “He told me I had been doing too much and needed to take some time to care for me. He also called in a prescription.”
After connecting with a counselor and taking medication for a short time, Linda was able to snap out of the depression. Shortly afterward, the Martellas moved to another congregation, and Linda felt that “life turned right again.”
Through her experiences, Linda has learned some valuable lessons. “It’s OK to say ‘No’ sometimes,” she says. “It is so important to know our limitations and live within them.”
“Prioritizing and organizing is very helpful, even though I know that I may not accomplish everything on my list in one day,” she continues. “Learning to relax and let God take control of my calendar has helped me so much. . . . I also have learned to put exercise high on my priority list. Some days I only get in devotions and exercise, but even then I feel I have done the most important things on my to do list.”
Linda has found that a happy attitude can add much joy to life. "Not worrying about trying to be something I can never be enable me to focus on who God wants me to be," she says. "For now it is just being a sparkler for the Lord, brightening the corner where He has placed me... If all ordinary people just brighten the corner where they are, living their lives dedicated to God's will, just think how bright we could make the world."