We all have a story. A story that describes our journey in life. Events and experiences that impacted who we are. Personalities and character traits that mold and shape us. A story defined by people we intersect with, all forming a view of the world deep within our hearts. What is your story? Does it include love and pain? Joy and suffering? Yes, of course. Our lives are filled with many similarities because we all live in a world marred by sin. We all have a story to tell. Your story matters. You matter. God created you and He longs to be part of your story.
I recently celebrated a milestone birthday (50! YIKES) and am an empty nester. It was time to ponder my story. I have written a version of my story for you below. I realize it’s long – I am 50 after all! If you have time, grab a cup of coffee, find a comfortable seat, and allow the story to speak. My prayer is you will find God’s message of love, grace, and truth within my story. I would love to hear your story too!
I come from a long line of confident, Type A, strong-willed personalities, so it was no surprise my genetics were developed with the same traits. From my childhood, I was a natural leader and influencer among peers.
During my adolescence in the 1980’s (anyone else have gigantic hair?), I developed a vibrant relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ, influenced by my Christian heritage, prayers of many saints, and my evangelical church. Even though my beautician skills were lacking, God became very real to me during the tender junior and senior high years. I made my share of poor choices, but God was near. Like all areas of my life, my temperament influenced my passionate love for the Lord. What a gift. Because during those same years, my home life was falling apart due to addiction and abuse. Sadly, I faced many heart-wrenching realities that no teenager should have to face. Yet, there was Jesus. He never left me and was always a constant in the chaos at home, bringing joy and peace among the trials.
I knew God was calling me to full-time service and I surrendered to this call when I was in 7th grade. I will never forget the nerve-racking moment I stood up in front of hundreds of peers and ran down front to the altar. Of course, I had the plan already outlined in my mind (as most Type A’s do). I was certain that I would become an international missionary or perhaps an evangelist. As I matured, a passion for knowing more about Jesus merged with my drive for excellence. In high school, I read a book that had a life-long impact on me. It was Charles R. Swindoll’s book, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. The moment I read the first pages of that book; I felt a connection. It expressed in words exactly how I viewed the world. I wanted to be a world-changer for Christ and never settle for status quo. What I didn’t realize at the time was that even though my heart was sincere, I had a misconception of what a surrendered powerful woman of God looked like. I thought that if I worked hard enough with enough faith, God would use me to bring revival and change to thousands around the world. Without realizing it, my sincere passion was being molded by the cultural lie that a woman of influence had to be measured by authority and control.
During my educational training in university, I started dating a wonderful man that eventually became my husband. After marriage, we moved to upstate New York, where God lead me to found and administer a Christian elementary school for rural families seeking school choice. Years went by, and I became disillusioned thinking I was not fulfilling God’s original call on my life. I was not an international missionary and I was not impacting enough people.
Did you catch the problem? My perception of God’s plan for my life was based on what I thought he wanted me to accomplish for him. He calls some women into powerful and influential spiritual positions of authority, but not very many. I had to break free from the lie that I was not doing enough (ever felt that way?). I began wrestling with the questions “Who am I?”, “Where do I fit?”, and “Why am I here?” until the Lord gently revealed the sin of pride and I fully surrendered to him. His gracious answers to these questions revealed that I WAS the “missionary” he wanted me to be right in my home and community. It might not be flashy (which Type-A’s like), but it was real soul transformation. The gospel message was being lived out in my daily tasks as God allowed me to partner with him behind the walls of my own home, in my avocation, and in my community. God used scripture to humbly shift my thinking, and I soon realized my identity was defined as a child of God, my belonging was satisfied in my home, and my purpose was to glorify God.
Through all this I learned that Jesus simply desires that I abide in him each moment of each day, celebrating his generous gift of salvation in my life. He chose me to love him. That is enough. My temperament has not changed, and I constantly wrestle with taking control. However, I realize living above mediocrity means having courage to stand for God’s truth, resisting cultural pressures, and daily submitting to my biblical identity, belonging, and purpose. I discovered that surrendering is true power because it enables God to move through me. I came to realize that my greatest ministry was to my husband, children (I’ll tell you more about raising my children at a later time), church, and each child in my classroom. That was God’s plan for me. Through the last 30 years I grew in wisdom and now each day (well, let’s be honest… most days) I seek to show less of me and more of him.
It’s no wonder that my favorite poem is “The Road Less Travelled” by Robert Frost. This poem inspired me to courageously and humbly follow Jesus’ way – the road less travelled and “that has made all the difference.” I have learned to not fear being counter-culture and courageously live out biblical womanhood, to humble myself, to submit to his Word, to hold on tightly to the hem of my Savior as He leads me on his narrow path. This journey demands great strength and courage which are powerful tools when surrendered to God (God didn’t make a mistake in my genetics, after all!).
In Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, Swindoll expresses the sentiment that has most impacted my life: “Periodically we bump into a few refreshing souls, who have decided that they aren’t going to live in the swamp of the status quo, or run scared of being different, even though others will always say, ‘It can’t be done.’ Those who aim high are strong-willed eagle types who refuse to be bothered by the negativism and skepticism of the majority. They are the ones who believe that mediocrity must be confronted.”
Recently, I shared this Swindoll quote to my adult son. After listening carefully, he enthusiastically stated, “That describes you exactly, Mom.” In this moment I realized that submitting to God’s greater plan for my life has not been a compromise. I AM a world-changer, just in a different way than I originally imagined. I don’t have to be leading a revival, traveling across the world, rising to the top rung of a cooperate ladder, having the most online followers, being famous and known by thousands to be a powerful influencer for God. See, I have transformed into a woman whose life expresses the heart of God simply by surrendering all I am to him. By abiding and resting in the person of Jesus Christ daily, I find joy, peace, contentment, and satisfaction. Biblical womanhood and surrendering control are antithetical to our fallen nature and cultural lies, so we need support.
Women are powerful influencers; therefore, we must first understand our biblical identity, belonging, and purpose. We must courageously rise above the level of mediocrity and fight against the lies of secular culture. Instead, we must stand on the truth of God’s Word. My deep hope is that I will inspire women of God through godly examples on my blog, instruct women of God in biblical truth in my shop, which will impact women of God to become passionate change-makers in their own hearts which will transform their home and culture. Can we support each other on our journey to biblical identity, belonging, and purpose?