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Pathway, part 1

Hey friends! I love everything about fall! It’s totally my favorite season and reminds me of fresh starts and new beginnings. I am not a Halloween person and I don’t decorate with scary stuff but I do love a good scary movie. At my house we have been watching scary movies throughout this month. Each night we are able, after the girls go to bed, to sit on the couch with blankets, chocolate ice cream, and brownies, and get set for two hours of fright! Okay, the movies are not really that scary, it’s more like Hocus Pocus from 1993, but still fun anyway!

Fall also reminds me of the start of new school years, of course. I remember elementary school, homeschool, high school, college, and seminary. Working with students in student ministry, people ask why I chose seminary. I thought I might take some time to explain that, in case one of you might be thinking about attending seminary too! I might sound kind of weird because most people associate seminary with pastors, which is true, and I’m a girl, and definitely won’t be a pastor, lol!

For those girls who feel like God is calling them to ministry, it might be helpful to hear how another girl ended up in a place called seminary and what opportunities are out there, especially for girls. There aren’t too many of us in the world! I believe it is an exciting calling and should be taken seriously. After seeing this side of ministry, it’s not for the faint of heart! Let me acknowledge that I believe every person has a ministry in whatever job God has called them to. My dad’s ministry is serving as an accountant with an insurance company. After witnessing my mom’s music ministry experience and my dad’s accounting secular job experience, I see that vocational ministry has some unique aspects and challenges to it.

When I think back to how God worked in my life to take me to seminary and ministry life, I guess it begins with my parents. I went to church. Pretty simple but impactful. The consistency of going to church as a family and attending Sunday School, choirs, VBS, missions with church, mission projects with my family, and mission projects through my high school.

I went to a private Christian school in north Mississippi called SBEC (If you are from Southaven, hey and go Trojans!). From kindergarten through third grade, we went to Bible class once a week, and I remember being intrigued by the history we learned with the story of God. It made a difference in my life, even though at the time, I had no idea!

I was homeschooled for eight years and I experienced discipleship at home through going to church and being shown church is what we do; not in a duty sort-of-way but to worship God and learn. I was shown God is the number one most important part of life. When I began homeschool in third grade, my desk was under my mom’s Southern Seminary composite picture. I thought at the time it was just a bunch of old black and white faces from the olden days of the early 1980s. I didn’t think too much of it, but I knew my mom went to seminary for music. Like any other kid, I just knew that’s what she did, thought it was cool, and that was about it.

After moving to Kentucky in high school, I attended Lexington Christian Academy where we attended Bible class daily as a part of the curriculum. I loved school, my friends, and the teachers really cared about students personally. Some teachers chose to share weekly devotions with us, some simply showed Christ in their love for students. I would not have traded that school experience for anything! Church student ministry was actually a struggle for me (that’s a story for another day) but through the student ministry and especially through discipleship at my own home with my own family, I really began to know what it looks like to own my faith, not just that of my parents. Through working in student ministry through college, seminary, and beyond, I see the importance of high school graduates really knowing what they believe and why before they leave home and go to work or college…where their faith is not just simply something they do on Sundays because their parents do it but a real relationship with God. If they grasp it before they leave home, it will be easier to stay in a growing relationship with God and make wise choices. Statistics from Barna and USA Today research in 2015 show that about 70%-75% of high school students drop out of church after graduation! Some return after they have children, but some never do!

College at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, I believe, is where God began to really show me His calling in life. It makes sense, as college students are growing in leadership and choosing a career. Coming out of high school owning faith will make it easier for students to hear God as they make important life decisions too.

For any college student, one of the most important pieces of advice I would give is to get involved in the campus ministry on campus. It may take a full year to feel like a part of it, but stick it out and choose to participate. The people there will be a source of encouragement spiritually and in life. We can be renewed and encouraged spiritually through Christian friends so we can love those and share Jesus with our friends who need to know His hope. The point is to be encouraged by Christian friends, and go out and love those who need Jesus. We want to avoid the “holy huddle” mentality and instead, go out to classes, sports, band, clubs, wherever, and love our friends who need to know Jesus. There are also mission opportunities through the campus ministry, small groups, and fun events all year.

College is wonderful, as people want to get to know other people and, in my experience, are more accepting of others than high school. It does, however, cause us to choose what lifestyle we will live. It separates friends sometimes as we make choices regarding what we will or will not do. This happens in middle school and high school too, it’s just on a larger scale in college, since the decisions made at this point in life often have greater impact than when people are younger.

Through my friends and campus ministry and my own quiet time, God began teaching me how to see people the way He sees people. I’m still learning, but I remember really trying to love people then. As a cheerleader with some Christian friends on the team, we had conversations with other girls about Christ right there on the mats at practice waiting for our turn to tumble or stunt. I had some great conversations with other friends about God running through the mountains of Kentucky at track practice in the afternoons as well.

I’m getting a little long-winded, so next week I will get to the main event that changed my life and was really the culmination of how God had prepared my life for 20 years. A mission trip called Beach Reach…



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