From the time I was a young girl I was taught about the love of Jesus and knew Him as a close friend. This has been a gift that I don’t take for granted.
Yet, little did I know during this tender and innocent time what God would have in store for my life to teach me deeper lessons about Himself. I graduated from college with a degree in nursing, married and stepped full swing into a career that would take me through a variety of nursing fields: pediatric intensive care, cardiac intensive care, neuro-intensive care, dialysis, home care, school nursing, and regional director for a hospital equipment company. It almost looks as if I didn't want to leave one medical stone unturned. During this time I had three sons and was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom while they were small. When they went to school I returned to nursing.
Seventeen years after beginning a nursing career I felt a desire to balance my life out and learn more about business and administration. I thought it would be helpful in my nursing career so I took the exams and was accepted in the MBA program at Colorado State University in early 1995. I found myself thriving in this new environment as I soaked in all the new learning. But God had other plans. During the second quarter of school, in September of 1995, an event happened that changed the entire trajectory of my life. A man entered my home, held a knife to my neck, and threatened rape and probably murder. My children were at school, my husband at work, and I was home alone. The story that unfolded is nothing short of a God story; a miracle from His hand, and looking back, crazy enough, it is one of the greatest blessings of my life. As the knife was facing my stomach I began to pray out loud and my assailant mysteriously froze. After escaping from my home I sat on the curb and the man came and sat beside me. It was the middle of the day and my mind was dazed, but God again intersected the moment. The tables turned and he said to me, “I need a savior.”
Matt went to prison but my life changed drastically as well.
I dropped out of the MBA program and began speaking, telling the story of how God had saved my life. The requests began to come in from all around as churches, even in other states, would hear the remarkable story and ask that it be told to their congregation. My husband and I were involved in a church plant at the time. Our young pastor asked me to share the story with our new congregation. Several months later I received a call, “Would you be willing to join the pastoral staff?”
During the next 12 years serving as a pastor God continued to teach me and grow me deeper into a place of His love. I learned that He is faithful and would carry me through anything no matter how dire it appeared. He showed me He is able to do the impossible, that I could trust Him, and that He would never leave me. He stretched me beyond what I ever thought possible. He took me into places I never dreamed I would go.
He revealed His heart to me in a way that left me speechless.
I could give a list of pastoral leadership responsibilities as I think back on those 12 years. I could mention how the church grew to over a 1000 and how we developed dynamic leaders. But my own accomplishments and the growth of the congregation are not what stand out to me. What stands out is the way God humbled me. It is the way He so graciously taught me to lay down self-dependency, pride, and self-sufficiency. It is the way He showed me that He is dependable, He is sufficient, and He alone is worthy of praise. Through the challenges and joys of pastoral ministry my heart swelled to a deepened place of love for the One who had died for me, given His life for mine, and set me free to truly live.
Four years after becoming a pastor I knew I needed to be trained for the job so I began school at Fuller Theological Seminary. I was on the slow track, just taking a class or two per year, but finding that the growth curve for each class was nearly vertical. I loved taking my new learning back to my congregation. In 2010, after serving with the church for a total of 14 ½ years, I stepped off the staff role to enter seminary full time, completing a Master’s of Theology in December of 2011. God was at work through it all, expanding my horizons, connecting me with dynamic Christians all over the globe, and broadening my understanding of Christendom; its past, its cultures, its diversity, and its dimensions.
Also in December of 2011 I met with a publisher and began writing the book, Desperate Hope. It was released in the fall of 2013. It is the story of my encounter that day in 1995, but so much more. My assailant, Matt, accepted the Lord in prison and 16 years later we reconnected to share the story of hope from both sides. I was honored to write his story along with my own. It is really God’s story. God is the hero in it all. Matt and I spoke live for the first time December, 2013. The story has been told numerous times before and since.
Transformed By Love
A five minute trailer for Desperate Hope
During 2013 we started a nonprofit ministry called, “Tenacious Love Ministries.” This gave us a working entity to do the ministry we were already doing. We have been teaming up with other nonprofits in various places to serve the poor, work for poverty relief, champion for those in oppression, and share the story of hope. Over the last couple of years we have partnered with Biblica to send over 6,000 scriptures to various parts of Mexico, and another 6,000 to the Dominican Republic. In 2013 we partnered with my son’s nonprofit, Transition Ministry, to build an educational center for Haitian refugees in the DR. God chose to bless this endeavor and the monies were raised and the center for over 60 students was built in just 7 months.
This brings me to today. Not only has God taught me about His faithfulness, goodness and love throughout the years, and not only has He expanded me, shaped me, deepened me and grown me, but He has given me a heart for His kingdom. Like never before I understand that His kingdom is yet to come in fullness, but it is breaking in now. I can testify to it now. I can live in its principles and values now. I can champion for its reality now. It is a kingdom of justice, righteousness and the reign of God.
The world is in need of hope.
I am reminded of that every day. In this new season God is calling me to champion the hope found in Jesus Christ but in a new way. He has been preparing me for a long time and taught me lessons in the desert as well as in the meadow and on the mountaintop. But I have come to realize that all the life experience is meaningless without a living, dynamic, love infused relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the core of my life. It is what, in the end, truly matters. It is what gives me courage to tackle new heights, strength to embrace each day, flexibility to expand in new arenas, and the desire to go wherever He leads. He is my life, my greatest desire, my deepest love, and my surest hope for now and into eternity.