Since stone walls and historical markers mingled with sidewalks, parks, and roads in my early life, it’s not surprising I developed a love for history that drew me to antiques markets, auctions, classrooms, and my own family history. In exploring my own story, I discovered I come from a “very Virginian family” who stubbornly made their way in America after arriving on one of the early ships in the 1600’s.
My love of stories and people stirred my curiosity to know about my heritage. As I began to dig, I discovered my story isn’t one to be chiseled in marble alongside great figures of the past or by a preserved cabin on a highway. Instead, generations past wrote a story of determination to make a life that would satisfy them. They ended up carving out a legacy of emptiness that persisted for those I’ve known and loved in recent years, to those at my family reunions and holidays. Without divine intervention, I have no doubt I would’ve followed in these same footsteps, adding my own emptiness to the mix.
But God intervened and changed my course. My own small family reached a desperate place, when God sent one of His own to reach out with insight and gentleness. Her act of kindness led us to life-changing truth, and my parents’ lives became a turning point in our history of living and dying without peace. Despite our long pattern of life without God, in the Bible He promises that, “Where sin (that’s rejecting God’s ways) abounded, grace (that’s receiving something we don’t deserve) abounded much more,” (Rom. 5:20). God’s offer to outdo our “rotten reputation” went back even further than our landing on the pre-Revolutionary, wild shores of Virginia. This truth about God’s grace was pivotal in my life, as conflict was exchanged for glimmers of peace. I learned there was a story with greater power over my life than our past.
My family passed on few “heirlooms.” But when my parents asked Jesus to be the Leader of their lives, they began a new legacy. I came to understand how Jesus could take away my personal history of living apart from Him, and He could draw me close as His own child, giving me an inheritance greater than my ancestors hoped for. Instead of facing life with despair, I have confidence I can live a life of true peace.
Like a great story, God has peeled back the pages of the story He’s written for me. He took me to Cedarville University in Ohio, where I earned a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Bible and Christian Education. I was blessed to be mentored and impacted there by godly people who gave me a passion for sharing God’s story in the world He loves. His purposes for my life continued to become clear, as I met my husband, Jeff (a Pennsylvanian, not a Virginian), who was my partner and best friend from the beginning. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in 2015. The pages of our story together have included church ministry, cross-cultural work in Asia, a variety of ministry settings, and working with teams and people in all stages of their faith journeys. Jeff and I share a love for teaching God’s Word and seeing it grow lives that reflect God’s peace in challenges. God has allowed me to serve in elementary and college classrooms, in teaching women, in strengthening families, in mentoring, in developing leaders, and working for justice.
Now I’ve started a new chapter of serving families and children as a director of Head Start/Early Head Start in Oregon. Our own two young adult children, JoHanna and Jacob, bring us great joy and motivate us to pray we will be faithful to carry on our new legacy of living out the divine kind of “passes understanding” peace we’re meant to know in Christ. I may not leave heirlooms like silver, expensive jewelry, or a quilt (I gave up trying), but I hope our story will be one that shows we lived the”abundant life” God wants us to know.
In my free time, you may find me staring at a roadside historical marker, having coffee with my man, planting herbs, lingering at a used bookstore, or chasing my runaway dog through the neighborhood. I never start a morning without reminding myself God invites me to “Come have a peace” as I walk out my story with Him.
I hope you’ll be a regular visitor here and share in the reminders of God’s extraordinary plan for us to know His peace!