Posts Tagged ‘calling’

How much further was God going to stretch me thin?

February 12, 2010

As the waves rhythmically hit the side of my ship rocking me to sleep, I lay in what some would call a bed feeling as though my prayers were hitting the ceiling and falling to the floor with a thud.  I remember wondering, How much further is God going to stretch me thin? and Who am I really? quickly followed by What was I made for? Nearing the end of my time in the Navy, I was also nearing the end of my rope.  Disillusioned with the church, the Christian life as it had been taught to me, and my purpose in life as I understood it, I did not think I could go on.  In a leap of faith, I resigned from the Navy wondering if God was calling me to ministry.  Not knowing what that would look like, and without a job or a plan, I left.  The fog increased since things often get worse before they get better, but then I realized that though I did not, or rather could not, see it at first, God had led me to this place and was in the process of leading the way out.  It has been a long journey thus far, but God has given me quite a few people to help along the way.  While the end of my story has not yet been written, I am currently at seminary and discerning a call into ministry.

[This was written and posted as an entry into a writing contest to win a free Kindle.  The info can be found on Mary DeMuth’s post Win a Kindle! Really!]

Confused: Too Many Possibilities

January 10, 2010

Photo by: Stefan Baudy

Lately I have been frustrated with the choices I have in front of me.  While I was comfortable coming into seminary not knowing what I would end up doing afterwards (since it is at least 3 years away), I have definitely been seeking clarity with respect to my call.  I have quite a few great opportunities with the programs the seminary offers, and it is all very exciting!  That is except when I start to plan what it will look like to follow that path and subsequently wonder if it is the path I will walk or not.  For instance, there is a great joint degree program that Princeton Seminary offers that would allow me to earn a Master’s in Social Work with only one additional year of schooling.  As this is something I have felt drawn towards in the past, it started to seem as though that was something I was called to do.  As this would require me to be much more judicious with the courses I take, I came up with a fabulous spread sheet to keep track of the credit requirements for the M-Div and leave room for classes that would count towards the MSW.  But now I am doubting that.  I am taking a class about teaching in the church and it is becoming very evident to me that I am passionate about helping people learn.  But what am I supposed to do with that?  I have thought that maybe I could see if they would let me shift to a dual degree so I could get an Master’s degree in Christian Education and the M.Div. but I can’t very well do that and the MSW program.  I’m not trying to make plans of my own without regard for what God is calling me to do but maybe that’s what’s happening.  I am trying to discern what God is calling me to do which to me means stepping out in faith and being willing to be wrong.  I wonder if that’s part of the problem then?  Maybe I am not really willing to be wrong.  Maybe I just want to pick something and have it magically be part of what God is calling me to do.  I guess I will try to hold the possibility that I am wrong and the hope that I have discerned rightly together for as long as possible and wait for God to redirect my plans.  If only that we as easy to do as it is to say.

On a positive note, I am scheduled to meet with my session via Skype on Tuesday to start the process of becoming a Candidate for ministry of Word and Sacrament.  My meeting with CPM (the ordination committee for PC(USA)) is scheduled for Jan 19th though I will not be going to the Presbytery meeting until April.  I am okay with that though because it means everyone will be able to be there.

Created to serve

August 24, 2008

I had lunch with my pastor/mentor/friend ‘A’ today.  It was nice to catch up!  We had not met for quite some time (maybe two months) and while I have given her snippets here and there between my time out of town as well as hers, there was much to say!  So far in life, my greatest years were the four years I spent at the University of Florida working on my English degree.  But it wasn’t the degree that made it great, and while the community was awesome and surely contributed a TON to the fact that I can say they were the best four years of my life, I have come to realize it is much more than that.  I have come to realize that the reason I loved college so much is because I was very involved in the church.  My ministry involvement was wide.  Small group leading, home group co-leading, music ministry, president of the “club” aspect of the church I went to (so we could use campus facilities, etc.), women’s Bible study, newsletter editor….yeah…I was super involved.  And for the most part I loved it.  When I realized I had boundary issues, I started to think that all my involvement was over involvement and due to my inability to say no.  While there is some truth to this, it’s also because I love service in ministry.  I am fulfilled by it.  It is life giving for me.  It’s neat to have just another way that God has put some more flesh on who I was made to be.  I am able to see more clearly that God is calling me to serve.  Up until this point, the focus has been on the calling and on the ministry.  Cognitively the service was wrapped up in all of this, but like I said, now it has a bit more flesh.  Kinda like how the mummy comes alive and becomes more and more whole in The Mummy Returns.

On the question why

May 23, 2008

In my last post Excited, Ruth commented and said,

I’m glad you’re excited. Why not blog more about it, maybe make a list of exactly what you’re excited about. Catch it on paper. I didn’t respond to the advice thing, I am adviced-out.

I feel a little bad about her comment as my post was a general feeling from my life and not specifically the blogosphere.  Though it was kinda a response to my post CPM from the day before.

That said, here ’tis, Ruth!  : )  Thanks for the great idea.

Really the reason I am excited about having an interview with the CPM is because I am excited about going into ministry.  As such, my list will be titled:

Reasons I am excited about my call into ministry

  1. I have realized the call has on my life is intricately woven into my identity.  To step into the call is to step into the way God created me.  I think I should say however, that I do not believe it is my call that defines who I am.  I believe God who defines me through my call.
  2. Being that I am coming from a faith background that did not allow me to hear God’s call on my life, having finally hearing it and being in a place where I can put my “yes, Lord” into action is envigorating and inspiring almost beyond expression.
  3. I love to help people in ways that effect the way they see themselves, the world around them, and their Creator, God.  I love to contribute to someones depth of understanding in light of what God has shown me.
  4. In the spirit of number 2, I love it when depth of understanding leads to changed lives.  It’s neat to be used to free the captives and bind up the broken hearted.
  5. It is REALLY neat to look back on my life and see how God has been shaping my heart for my calling.  I now have words to express something of which I previously only had minimal intuitions.  I am definitely a work in progress, but I can see how God has humbled me in order to make me a leader who serves others instead of self.
  6. Being endorsed by session has placed me “under care of” the session.  That is comforting and I am looking forward to increased opportunities to learn, grow, and serve under their care.
  7. In addition to being endorsed by session, should the CPM approve that endorsement, it will (I hope) provide a framework of accountability and mentoring that I desire as I start this part of my faith journey.  There are obviously many who have gone before me in this and I covet guidance from this perspective.
  8. I said “Yes” to God!  ‘Nuff said!  : )

Okay…I guess that’s all for now.  Back to reading A Work of Heart by Reggie McNeal for my Christian Leadership Development course. 

The Story of the Pink Hammer

April 18, 2008

This Sunday is Women’s Appreciation Sunday at my church.  I am pretty excited about it because I get to speak for 5 minutes on my call to ministry.  I figured I would share my write up of what I am going to say.  It probably won’t come out this way exactly, and it might be too much information since I only have 5 minutes, but I am going to write my outline from this write up.  Anyway, it is also fitting that I put it up here because it will also explain the title of my blog.  Enjoy!

     A year ago today, I was still in the Navy.  If you had asked me then if I would be where I am in life now, I probably would have laughed at you.  But here I am standing before you a little nervous for sure, but excited to share a little bit of my story with you.

     Brought up in an Agnostic home, I had a general idea that God was some sort of Supreme Being.  I remember this world seeming very complicated to me…all the details of it…the social interactions between people…the messiness of it all.  I moved into adolescence wanting to know who I was and there didn’t seem to be anyone around who knew enough about who they were to help me out.

     I accepted Christ on a camping retreat that I said I wanted to go on because they were going canoeing.  Translation: The Holy Spirit was drawing me to God.  It was December 20th, at 12:20am that I made the decision to follow Christ.  I was 14 years old.  I went to bed assured of my right standing with God.  When I woke up, I went to the camp counselor and said: “I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead” placing myself in the verse he had given me to read the night before.  It was a powerful moment.

     Despite numerous shortcomings on my part, I remained strong in my faith throughout my college years.  I graduated in May 2003 with a degree in English and was commissioned an officer in the Navy the same day.  This day was the best day of my life second only to the day I accepted Christ.

     My time in the Navy can be summed up in two words: exciting and trying.  Two of the greatest things that resulted from this time were the fact that I was able to see a much clearer picture of who I was, and more importantly, who I wasn’t.  Thus I also gained a bit more clarity as to my purpose in this life.  I submitted my letter of resignation to the Secretary of the Navy declaring (from the rooftops if you will) that I was getting out of the Navy to go into full time ministry to “preach the gospel of the saving grace of Jesus Christ who died that we might live eternally.”  Yes, that’s actually what the letter said.  I wonder how many people read it…

          Most recently I realized that much of the discontentedness and anxiety I felt was linked to the restrictions that had been placed on me at the very beginning of my life in Christ: the role of women in the church is restricted to children’s church, women’s ministry, and hospitality.  A born leader, I was told my gifts were not welcome in the church.  Before I walked through the doors of this sanctuary, I had never heard a woman preach.  For over a decade, I attempted to cram myself in a box defined by other people’s ideas of what it looked like to be a woman after God’s own heart.  After much studying, wrestling with God, and quite a few encouraging words from many of you, I decided to let God define that for me. 

     By stepping into the freedom that comes with finding ourselves in Christ, I have been empowered to step out in faith and pursue a Master’s of Divinity and explore the path leading to ordination.  It is a very exciting and overwhelming time for sure and I am so thankful for those of you who have spoken into my life and lifted me up in prayer.

     So where does the pink hammer fit in?  Good question!  As I was writing an assignment for one of my classes, I remembered how my dad used to let me nail scraps of wood together with this very pink hammer.  I hadn’t thought about that little hammer for years!  It was odd to me as this thought seemed to come out of the middle of no where.  And then it dawned on me: I am the pink hammer (Coo coo ca choo).  Being a woman and being used by God to powerfully speak the truth into people’s lives are not mutually exclusive.  They are elaborately intertwined within me because that’s how God made me.  Though many might say that hammers shouldn’t be pink, some are created that way.  So it is with women and preaching.  Some say women shouldn’t be preachers, but there are gifted by God to do just that.

     In light of my journey, I feel I should end with a word for the women in the room: while there will be many people in your life to help you as try to figure out who you are, only God is qualified to define that for you.  The challenge is to let him.  And to that I say, “He who calls you is faithful, He will do it.” (1 thes. 5.24)