Oh the Places We Go

1 10 2010

You know how when you’re young and you have dreams of what your future will be like and then all that changes (well maybe for some it doesn’t, that’s OK). I try to remember my dreams … I know I wanted to be an astronaut, a country singer (don’t make fun!), and then finally a doctor. Now there were a few folks in my home church, Camano Lutheran, who were encouraging me to pursue being a pastor or a ministry leader of some sort. I stayed active as a youth involved in volunteer leadership opportunities but never thought of it as a profession really.

Even went to college to be a doctor, calculus and chemistry classes killed that dream right away. Through that painful realization in college that I’d officially be weeded out of the pre-med track I trudged on and learned other important things about my self. I learned I wanted to be a doctor because I care about people and because my parents both held roles as registered nurses and fire fighters so naturally I needed to practice medicine as well. I remember being really scared to call home and tell my mom that I needed to drop the classes because I was failing them, I was surprised that there was no tone of disappointment in her voice (I still remember it practically 15 years later). That gave me enough confidence to face my Chemistry professor and tell him I needed to drop the class. The really cool thing about him (Dr. Waldow if I remember correctly) is he not only was OK with me dropping the class but he asked me what I was passionate about, what did I think was next. Concurrently I pursued a double major in Religion and was discovering I had an interest in studying the Bible and other religions – the history, interpretations, etc. So maybe somehow I’d be a pastor or something, but I’m female and that would be really hard. He told me he thought that was a great idea and to go with the dream if I sensed a call. I had several soul-searching conversations with close friends, and with Doug whom I had just started dating in our sophomore year. Doug kept saying what ever I decided he would support me, and that if we were still together and I wanted to go to seminary he would follow me there. I transferred to a Bible college (Trinity Lutheran College in Everett) and graduated with a B.A. in Youth & Family ministry.
Well, fast-forward 14 years later and I’m not an ordained pastor but I’m a church minister — I struggle with describing my role because it involves coordinatin not only children’s ministry, Sunday School, youth ministry, but family ministry, nursery ministry, and supporting adult education with resources and finding leaders. There are a few other hats under all of that. Who knew that I was going to be doing such a thing in ministry? Who knew that I’d also be balancing life as a wife and a mother. For some reason I never dreamed about being married, probably because of my parents divorcing when I was younger. But I always prayed, looking out my window at the night sky, that I would come upon someone who would really love me and be true to me and stick around. So far at 10 years of marriage plus 4 years dating, and two kiddos later, I think Doug and I are doing well. Not to say there haven’t been any trials, but we’ve only grown stronger working through the tough times together. God knew and God knows.
This week I’ve made yet another trek on my own to the Lifeserve ministry conference. Last year I ventured off to Colorado and this year we’re in Columbus, Ohio. To be honest with you, last year I saw the description come through a few emails and basically ignored them. Then I read through the full details one day and thought, wow – that is exactly the type of conference I’ve been praying to come my way. Something that helps me put all my ministry areas in perspective and concentrate on equipping and empowering volunteer leaders. I still pushed it aside though because nobody else I knew had ever heard of such a thing. Shortly after, I participated in a free online ministry training called The Nines. Someone in this video conference said ” you need to take care of yourself, seek out leaders/colleagues in your area of ministry. If that means attending a conference that isn’t popular among your colleagues but interests you – then be a leader and go learn!”. It seemed that pastor was speaking right to me, God speaking right to me. I knew what I had to do, that day I typed up a proposal of the costs (researched registration, hotel, airfare, etc) and sent an email off to a few folks to see what they thought. Everyone, to my surprise, said go for it. So I did. 
That first LifeServe Conference was seriously scary because it was the first time I went to something out of state where I knew absolutely NOBODY. I don’t know how many people know this about me but I don’t even go to movies on my own (I did once for therapy homework – then I had children and lost that opportunity!) I only recently in the past few years started going and sitting in a coffee shop or a restaurant on my own with my laptop to do work. I guess when I went to Trinity Lutheran College I went there knowing no one, BUT I had been to the campus for other events and I knew several people who’d attended or spoke highly of the school. Lifeserve nobody had ever heard of and didn’t seem interested in going along with me. It ended up being a somewhat interested experience (transportation-wise) but overall it was exactly what I needed for support and encouragement in my ministry. And the reason nobody had heard of it is because that was the first ever LifeServe conference.
So I’m back again this year and it is going pretty well. I’ll save what I’m learning in another blog post. There are some things I’m more confident about … forcing myself to search for people on Twitter who are at the conference and tweeting using the #Lifeserve tag and I met a guy…yeah I know that sounds bad, but it isn’t THAT kind of meeting a guy. Someone else who holds the same position in a similar sized congregation in Indiana, it is his first LS conference and we’re in similar workshops/affinity group. So I was so bold as to invite him to join me for dinner last night b/c neither of us knew anyone else and he was amazed to find someone with a ministry position like his. It was fun to chat shop and turns out he is married as well, so chatting about how we balance family and ministry (if at all sometimes). We added to our group today for dinner (I found someone else from WA State- wahoo!! – last year I was the only one). It has been fun to have conversations with others to debrief the workshops we’re taking and how we can apply what we’re learning to our lives and ministry. My workshops track today has caused me to do some deeper thinking about my role and passions and call. Still much to figure out but it was exciting to discover some things about my personal leadership style and what God may be calling me to… because he created me that way. Don’t worry LCPC’ers it doesn’t involve leaving the church (I don’t think). 
There’s a little bit about the places I’ve gone that I never imagined possible, fears I’ve overcome, people who’ve encouraged me along the way, how God has provided when I’ve trusted and had faith that Gd will provide.
Where have you gone in your life journey? What fears have you overcome? Who has encouraged you in your life.
Peace. ~L
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