Monday, January 5, 2009

My story

Since stone walls and historic markers mingled with the sidewalks of my early years, it's not surprising I developed a love for history that drew me to antiques, auctions, and my own family history. In exploring my story, I discovered I come from a family who stubbornly made their way after arriving on one of the early ships of the 1600's. I've scoured moldy barns and dusty shops looking for something to fool friends into thinking I have an historic tale to tell.

Love of stories and people stirred my curiosity to uncover my earthly heritage, and as I began to dig, I discovered my story doesn’t belong chiseled in marble alongside great figures of the past or by a cabin on a highway. Instead, my determined forefathers carved out an empty legacy for those I've known and loved and those who came to family reunions and holidays. Without divine intervention, I’m confident I would've followed in the same footsteps and would've added my own emptiness to the mix. My earliest memories confirm it.

But God intervened. My own small family reached a place of desperation, and God sent an insightful woman across our path. Her kindness led us to truth and a turning point in our history of living and dying without peace. Despite generations of life apart from Him, God promises that, "Where sin (that's rejecting God's ways) abounded, grace (that's receiving something we don't deserve) abounded much more," Rom. 5:20. God's offer to outdo our "rotten reputation" went back further than the pre-Revolutionary and wild shores of Virginia. Conflict was exchanged for peace, and I embraced a story with greater power over my life than the past.

It's safe to say my family passed on few heirlooms, but when my parents asked Jesus to be the Leader of their lives, they began a new legacy. I learned that Jesus can take away my personal history and draw me close as His own child, giving me an inheritance greater than my ancestors ever hoped for. Instead of facing life with despair, I have confidence I can live a life of true peace.

Like a great story, God has peeled back the pages of the story He's written for me. He took me to Cedarville University in Ohio, where I earned a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Bible and Christian Education. I was blessed to be mentored and impacted there by godly people who gave me a passion for sharing God's story in the world He loves. His purposes for my life continued to become clear, as I met my husband, Jeff (a Pennsylvanian, not a Virginian), who was my partner and best friend from the beginning. Married over twenty years, the pages of our story together have included pastoral ministry, cross cultural missions in Asia, and working with ministry teams and people in all stages of their spiritual journey.

Jeff and I share a love for teaching God's Word and seeing it grow lives reflecting His peace. I’ve enjoyed opportunities to serve God in elementary and college classrooms, in training professionals, in teaching women, and in developing leaders. I love to teach and write about God’s truth and how it fits with life.

I now enjoy serving as the Women's Ministry Director of our church in Tennessee, as well as complementing Jeff's role as Pastor of Mobilization. We are more than thankful for the chance God gives us to travel and teach His Word with partners in countries around the world. Our children, JoHanna and Jacob, keep us on our toes to make Christ real in our home's private moments, as well as in public ones. They motivate us to be faithful to carry on a new legacy of living out the divine kind of "passes understanding" peace we're meant to know in Christ. I may not leave a lot of silver, expensive jewelry, or a quilt (yes, I gave up trying), but I hope our story will be one that shows that we lived that "abundant life" Jesus has given us.

In my free time, you may find me staring at an historical marker on a roadside, having coffee with my sweetheart (decaf light caramel macchiato, with a little whip on top), planting herbs with my Jo, listening to Jacob play guitar, or chasing my runaway dog Trace through the neighborhood. I never start a morning without reminding myself that God invites me to "Come have a peace" as I walk out my story with Him.

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