I had the privilege of being born into the ministry. Being a pastor's kid has shown me the highs and lows of ministry but, more importantly, has provided me with an environment centered on God. At the age of five I experienced loss for the first time. I lost my Grandpa, my best friend, eleven days before Christmas. My world shattered. I didn't understand what death was at that age. Even though I was young, as a pastor's kid, I had been to many funerals, seen many lifeless bodies, but the memory of his lifeless body is forever etched in my brain. I was angry with God, to say the absolute least. I didn't (and quite honestly still doesn't) make sense why he had to go at such a young age. My view of God had been turned upside down and I was confused.
A little over a year later on April 6th, 1996, after many answered questions and nights of unease, I chose to follow in my family's footsteps and place God at the center of my life. I couldn't wait to tell everyone that Sunday in church. I ran around like a maniac (well, in all fairness, that was not a new development). The joy spilled out of me onto everyone I met and continually refilled from their shared excitement.
About a year later we moved. My mom tells me I cried every day for a straight year. To be honest I'm still not quite over it, but I know it was God's plan. I may not know why yet but someday I will. I was enrolled in the public school half way through the year; meaning, I was placed in the classroom with the absolute worst teacher. I had always loved school and, back home, I had had amazing teachers. I was in the principal's office almost every day. No, mind you, I was a really good kid; seriously. Part of the problem was that no one bothered to explain to me that every school has different rules, while the other half of the problem was that I was quite the logical thinker at the age of seven. I decided that if I got expelled from school my family would be forced to move back home. This became my mission. Sadly, my mission failed so I tried to accept my circumstances.
I attended the same public school until I was in fifth grade and my parents (at my request) moved me to a Christian school. It was bit of a culture shock, being the worldly child that I was, but I grew to love it there. My freshman year of high school I switched back to the public school system. Most of my friends from church went to that school so the transition was pretty smooth but I missed my Christian school friends greatly.
December of my freshman year of high school I contracted a virus that began 'attacking' by body. I missed chunks of school, Volleyball games/practices, church, youth group, youth group events, and hanging out with friends. We spent months going to doctor after doctor only to hear the same dumbfounded expression, 'We don't know.' I wrote a lot of angry poetry during that time but I also started reading through the Psalms. It was so encouraging to me that I'm not the first one to face the unknown. My relationship with God began to grow during that time and I am thankful for that.
Six months of 'I don't knows' finally produced an answer (all-be-it the wrong answer but we were getting closer). I still missed school weeks at a time but I was managing, for the most part. My life became a giant Jenga game of balance and placement that often led to a tumbling of the blocks.
School was a struggle since, when I was feeling better, homework was the last thing I wanted to do. Thanks to my teachers, school, and parents, I graduated on time. I attended Word of Life Bible Institute for one incredible year right after high school. God taught me so much about who He is and how much He loves me in that short year.
The second semester of that year I was extremely sick. They really worked with me so that I could finish the program and earn my certificate. Part of the program is to work for the summer at one of their camps. There was no way I was going to be able to work at a camp so they let me do an "outside ministry" working with my home church (i.e. my dad). I helped with the music aspect of worship and random tasks, but my main focus was the teens.
I wanted to do a Bible study with them and decided to write my own. I was excited for this opportunity but I had no idea how much I would love it. I loved everything about it. I loved writing it, studying scripture, designing the booklets, and even leading them through it each week. I was amazed how much I had learned and retained from Word of Life, especially since it was really difficult near the end. Everything about that experience was rewarding. It was awesome to see these kids learn and grow and know I was a part of that, thanks to God's sovereignty. Writing still wasn't on my radar as a viable career option but this opportunity revealed a love for words, and The Word, that I had never fully had the chance to explore.
Still struggling mightily with my health, I took a few online classes and a job at a portrait studio. That spring God led me to Cornerstone University where, for that first semester, I pursued a degree in Vocal Performance. Half way through the semester my voice teacher began to ask me what I wanted to do in the future, what I was passionate about. I began talking about music but quickly went into my passion for the church and discipleship and my interest in writing. He told me that he could tell I loved music but it wasn't until I started talking about the church and writing that I really lit up. He pointed out to me that that was where my true passion lied.
The next few months were torturous. There were many emotional phone calls to my mother and contemplative walks around the pond. I had truly felt, my entire life, that God wanted me in music. Maybe that pursuit was what brought me to Cornerstone, I don't know but I do know that, up until semester, music had been His plan for me. Switching majors was stressful and terrifying. I had been working my whole life toward being a singer and now, once I was finally doing what I loved, I was going to throw it to the side? It didn't make sense, but, then again, God often doesn't.
That following spring I started having further health issues to point that I decided to withdraw from school. I was angry, I just wanted to be normal and finish school before I was 30, but God had a plan. I always know He does but I don't always see it; not until a three week study abroad trip to South Africa.
That following winter I took a study abroad January term to South Africa to make up a needed credit I had had to withdraw from that previous spring. I almost didn't go due to health complications but I desperately needed that class to graduate on time. So, with the blessing of my doctor and reluctant acceptance of my parents I began planning my trip to South Africa.
I immediately felt drawn to South Africa in a way I had never experienced before in any other county. During my time there I learned they have a great need for Bible study material and curriculum. God slowly revealed to me exactly how I could bring all of my talents and interests together, and it looked a lot like South Africa. It wasn't until the plane ride home that He finally answered my prayers; He was sending me back to South Africa and I could not have been any happier.