If I were you and I clicked the “about” button to find out more, I think I’d want to read first that this person has a good redemption story. Here’s mine:
I grew up in a culturally Christian home, the sixth child in a family of eight. We said a blessing at meals and some of us went to church. My mother went most Sundays and my father went every once in a while, but not often. When I was eleven, I was invited by a neighbor to go to a youth group meeting. At that meeting, the Lord opened my heart and began to draw me to Himself. I gave my life to Christ on a mission trip to Blairsville, Georgia when I was twelve.
At the age of thirteen, I heard God’s call into ministry. It was during a youth service (at which I was speaking) that I heard his voice and I distinctly remember the call, even today.
“This is where you belong.”
Since I was standing in a pulpit at the time, I interpreted that as a call to preach, not a normal thing for a girl living in the South in 1975.
My pastor encouraged me to try Christian Education instead, and I took that advice, but walking away from God’s call caused me to walk away from God. By the time I left college I was no longer following Jesus.
For ten years, I struggled mightily against alcoholic tendencies (you can’t swing a dead cat in my family without hitting an alcoholic) and against a lot of baggage that goes with it. That decade led me down some very dark paths. I’m stunned now to think how quickly I found the darkness, how blind I was to my own soul-sickness. But even while he watched me walk into the darkness, God said, “She is my very own. I know what she is made of” (Isaiah 63:8).
Somehow, through his prevenient grace Steve and I found each other when I was 19 and married when I was 23. Neither of us were following Jesus but five years into our marriage — through Bible Study Fellowship — we returned to Christ together. We had a child who we raised to know and follow Jesus. And God said, “Once you were not a people but now you are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:10).
At thirty, I rediscovered my call to preach while on a spiritual retreat. I’d say now that this was when I really, finally gave my life and will over to God. It was also when I got filled with the Holy Spirit. That changed everything.
Almost immediately God brought my call back in front of me with this invitation:
Just say yes.
And with that, I promised him I’d go anywhere or do anything he asked of me.
And oh my! I have done this so poorly but I have tried to stay true to that promise I made. God has richly blessed my family and me on this journey. And God said, “Once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10).
So I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love (Isaiah 63:7) — of his bottomless-cup ability to favor mercy over justice. (You do get that point, right? That all spiritual rescue work is an act of mercy over justice? Because listen … if we got what we deserved, we’d be dead by now.). I love to tell God’s story of redemption and help others find their redemption through the magnificently good news about Jesus.
Maybe it also helps to know I have some education: a B.A. in religion from the University of Georgia (which means I’ve studied religion from a very secular and liberal place); M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary (which means that after all my theological wandering, I settled in an orthodox place); and a D.Min., also from Asbury. That last one was perhaps the most unanticipated yet most productive and healing of my educational experiences. My doctoral project gave me time and space to answer a burning question: How do women lead past those more natural barriers common to most women so they can lead (and plant churches) effectively?
I’ve served as an ordained minister of the Gospel since 1998. My first five years were spent as an associate pastor in a large downtown church, where I was responsible for starting contemporary worship service in a historic vaudeville theatre. What a trip. That project shook off some of the bigger chunks of arrogance (I’m under no illusions; I’ve not yet come close to being delivered of pride) and helped me figure out how to start a thing. All my years since leaving there have been spent developing a missional community in Evans, Georgia.
This is my personal mission statement:
I create conversations and communities that expose the Kingdom of God.
These days, that happens most fruitfully through writing, preaching, podcasting, and trying things out with an amazing community called Mosaic.
And my family is a true treasure. My good husband has been teaching middle and high school for more than thirty years. Together we have a daughter who has chosen a life sort of like ours (which, I’ll admit, is pretty gratifying) — married to a pastor who likes to start things, with a girl of their own who is has our collective heart.