After I became a Christ-follower, I desperately wanted to clarify my calling and serve the Lord with everything I had. I began thinking about different things I might do. At the time, I longed to impact young adults. It just seemed logical to me that I should teach at the college level. And it seemed like earning a Master's degree should be my next step.
My dream: Earning my Master's degree and teaching in a university setting where I could impact young adults.
In the ‘80’s I almost moved ahead of God’s timing as I began to investigate graduate opportunities here in central Wisconsin. But God clearly whispered to my heart, “No. Going to UW-Stevens Point right now would remove your heart from the center of your home—and that's where it needs to be right now. I will teach you what you need to know—character comes first!”
Well that was pretty blunt! I got the message. Even though the Point campus was only a half-hour away, I knew it was a different culture—and a world-away from the environment God was creating in my own home at the time. I obeyed, and was willing to let my dream die.
I stayed where I was, investing in my little family, and used what was already in my hand. I joined God wherever I saw Him working around me. One thing I did was volunteer to teach art at my children's school. God was faithful to keep His promise to "teach me what I needed to know!" He was developing character in me, and teaching me to live "from the inside out."
He actually re-taught me my major, starting with “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” He showed me that just as speech is verbal communication, art is visual communication, so “What’s in your heart comes out in your art!”
As I stayed faithful, He opened up opportunities in the late 90's for me to teach workshops for classroom teachers. One day there was a man sitting in the back of one of my workshops. Afterwards, he told me it was the most clearly communicated workshop he had ever seen! He was the head of the Education Department at North Central University in Minneapolis, and He asked if I would consider teaching there!
I was shocked, and told him I didn't have a Master's degree. He said he didn't care; Every K-12 teacher going through the Education Department at NCU was required to take Art Methods, and what I had to offer was exactly what he needed. But I live in Wisconsin! Not at all daunted, he said we were creative people, and surely we could come up with a solution!
He had no idea that my little dream was being resurrected!
The following fall I traveled to Minneapolis each month to teach for several days in a workshop format. There I was, re-designing the Art Methods class and teaching at the university level–without a Master’s degree! God had, indeed, taught me what I needed to know.
I invested in students for several years while I redesigned the program. Once the new foundation was laid, designing turned to maintenance. I began to realize that I thrived as a "starter-upper." I knew it was time for me to pass the teaching role on to a younger teacher who lived in the cities, and I moved on to new adventures.
Even though I hadn't realized it, the God who created me knew that teaching day-in and day-out at a university would have sucked the life out of me! Wow. If I had pushed through to fulfill my dream on my own by going to UW-Stevens Point, I would have spent a lot of money and been stuck in a career that wasn't the best fit for me!
In the early 2000's, God gave me more wonderful opportunities to work with young adults at home. I started a ministry for young adults in our community called Access, and I had fun designing a welcoming environment for them in a local shopping mall. One day I just got the courage to go ask if I might use the space in a vacant store. When told yes, I was even bolder and asked if I could create a great environment and leave it up. Much to my surprise, the answer was yes! so there we were in a rent-free space, connecting with young adults each week!
I also had the opportunity to help a student start CRU [Campus Crusade for Christ] on our Mid State Technical College campus, and invested in young leaders for many years.
Around the same time, I began to transfer my design skills to the computer so I could help communicate vision for ministries through graphic design.
Later, in 2006 when I was enrolled in a Life Purpose Coaching Program, I learned about Rockbridge Seminary. It sounded so amazing! But God had said no to working toward my Masters degree, so initially I dismissed it. But the idea of earning a Master's in Ministry Leadership kept rolling around in my head. God whispered, "What you thought was a hard 'no' was really a 'not yet.' You were not ready, and Rockbridge wasn't even founded yet. My timing for you is now."
WOW. God was opening wide the door for me to learn and grow in an amazing environment— from my own home, using the ministry opportunities around me for hands-on experience, and connecting with other students around the world. My heart sang as I realized God led me to that moment through His Word and the life experiences He provided for me.
My dream didn't turn out exactly the way I had imagined it. In real life it was different, but better. All the while God knew the underlying cry of my heart—He placed it there!