It’s Sunday afternoon, I’m relaxing in the recliner, Murray is napping on the couch, my in-laws hit the road to head back to Iowa and it’s finally quiet. The rain has stopped, the windows are open, the birds are singing and I can finally think clearly for the first time in over a week. I love it when things feel this peaceful, like my mind can finally rest and the endless static has cleared. It’s when things slow down that I am able to reflect and make sense of all the ideas that have been buzzing around with nowhere to land. It’s my chance to catch the pieces of the puzzle and arrange them into something coherent.
June has been a rollercoaster. It was the end of the school year (yay!) however, because I resigned from my position at the middle school the last day was made bittersweet by the knowledge that it was most likely the last time I’d work with some of my friends. I enjoyed some time at home relaxing with books and netflix and lots of sleep, I finished my desk refinishing project, I leased an apartment with my little brother in Minneapolis and completed some big house projects with Murray before he leaves. If I never see a Home Depot or Menards again for the rest of my life I think it will still be too soon… It’s been a mix of wrapping up loose ends and preparing for new adventures. Happy and sad, celebratory and reflective. *Alexa, play Closing Time*
For the longest time I thought I would be a Social Studies teacher. Thought that I’d finish high school taking as many Social Studies credits as I could manage, earn my education degree and then proceed to teach for 30 happy years making History come alive for as many snarky teens as God would have me encounter. Yet, somewhere in my metaphorical desert that was Fayetteville, North Carolina, God placed within my heart the seedling of a new dream.
My friend Lara introduced me to a book called Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin and it opened my eyes to a problem I’d perceived but had never truly identified throughout my years growing up in the church. The premise of her book is that people, women in particular, have never been taught or encouraged to read the bible critically and engage in the text itself. Rather, they seem to have been only pointed towards watered down devotional materials or guided bible studies which leave them lacking the confidence and understanding to read the bible for themselves. Get it on Amazon
As a person who double majored in History and Social Studies Education, reading primary texts and teaching others how to do this is literally what I went to college for, yet I’d never considered using these skills when interacting with biblical texts. Somewhere along the line something broke down and we were taught that reading our bibles was important but that it was just something to check off the to do list each day, but not to treat with the same respect and effort as the classic literature we were supposed to study for English class.
It was this book that opened my eyes to a gaping hole in Christian education and how we foster the spiritual growth of women in the church. Churches seem to do a great job creating communities for women to connect for friendship, prayer and basic devotional studies and yet there seems to be a lack of intentional education where women are trained in how to study the Word deeply and learn the theology behind it. These are not concepts just for men or pastors/theologians, but concepts that all believers should have a basic grasp of.
Suddenly, my background in history education seemed like it had been obtained not for teaching kids about the founding fathers and mining primary documents for learning targets (Shoutout to Lin Manuel Miranda & Hamilton for doing that job for me lol), but rather to use these skills to glorify God and employ my professional training to bring people closer to Him through the reading and understanding of His word.
This began as just a crazy idea; a “Hmm. That would be cool, but I don’t think it would ever happen. But it’s a fun idea…” type situation. Fast forward to moving to Wisconsin, working as a para, and having multiple teaching job opportunities fall through for ambiguous reasons and I found myself truly questioning if being a teacher was what I was supposed to do with my life.
It was in this mindset along with learning that Murray would be deploying for a year overseas that I attended an event with him to hear Francis Chan speak. If you ever need a good kick in the butt to get excited about the Great Commission and dedicating your life to building up the Church, go listen to Francis or read one of his books. The dude doesn’t seem to have a great grasp on reality, but he sure casts vision about what the world could look like if we lived more like the early church and less like the American 21st century version. He really hammered home the idea that we shouldn’t be comfortable and we shouldn’t be complacent. That our time is precious and should not be wasted, therefore we should really stop and consider if what we’re spending our time and money on is of eternal value and the best way to use our efforts for kingdom gains.
I knew of this program through Hope Community Church in Minneapolis called LDI, which is their in-house Leadership Development Institute. It’s a staff intern program that takes people in for a year of intense spiritual development through ministry experience, character development through mentorship, and formal bible and theology classes. I’d always thought the program sounded cool, but suddenly I had this big, gaping, husbandless year in front of me, a current job that paid the bills but wasn’t really fulfilling any of the vocational goals I had for myself and no geographical ties because Murray wouldn’t be home. Suddenly the year started looking less like a dark, scary black hole and more of a golden platter with angels singing and a single overhead light shining on it type situation. You get the idea.
This kicked off a 7 month period where I really contemplated if I wanted to pursue getting a teaching job or if I wanted to listen to that little voice in the back of my mind that kept telling me to chase my dream of using my educational background to teach people how to read the bible, even if the details of it were murky. I thought about what life would look like while Murray was away, if being in Baldwin and continuing in my current job or getting a teaching job somewhere would be a good fit for me or if I needed to do something different. I began to really feel like LDI was what I wanted to pursue, but it felt crazy to leave the education world of applying for classroom positions for an unpaid internship where I would have to support raise my income and pursue a year of work and education that wouldn’t necessarily translate to anything concrete where I was done but would provide me with a strong foundation for any future ministry goals. I was on the fence and needed another good push.
Then came Lysa Terkeurst and her book The Best Yes. This book focuses on how believers can use biblical discernment to make decisions and how small decisions snowball into how we live our lives. She talked a lot about how there can be lots of good, God glorifying, choices we can make, but we get to choose. It’s through the work of the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s leading that guides us to the best ways we can invest our time and effort to glorify God. There’s lots of good things to do, but there’s also a best way. Get it on Amazon
I loved this quote which sums up the book quite well: “A best yes will require having the courage to say no to other things. No to wrong things. No to seemingly good things. That’s the only way to ensure there’s space to run and take that leap of faith toward the best things.” For me, this meant having the courage to say no to a “seemingly good thing” and walk away from my job at SCC for a leap of faith towards LDI and investing in my future with ministry education and experience I can use for the rest of my life, either formally or informally.
All this led to my current situation of wrapping things up at home while also being very excited for LDI to begin. Murray leaves soon, so we’re trying to get all the house stuff finished up and enjoy our last bit of time together before being apart. It’s a bittersweet time, but also so exciting as I’m preparing to begin LDI. I have my apartment with my brother who goes to school downtown and I’ve been working steadily on raising the $14,000 I need to participate in this internship as it’s unpaid and fully supported by missional donations. This alone is a huge leap of faith and trust in the notion that God would not lead me to this if he did not also plan to provide the means for it to happen. I don’t know where this will come from, only that I can faithfully ask others and allow God to provide me with the resources He has. Ministry work is hard and scary, but so fulfilling as it’s already been working on my faith and trust in the Lord (and I haven’t even officially started yet!)
I’m excited to begin this new adventure and see where God leads me in this year of change. I’m sure I’ll be updating you guys on stuff periodically, but if you’d like to get my ministry newsletter when I start sending those out or want to know more about my internship, let me know! Here’s a link to my support letter if you’d like to read it or want to know how to support me financially! LDI Support Letter