In 1999, I was living out my calling and my dreams but as 2000 rounded the corner, I experienced an unexpected loss greater than all my fears. I had just gotten my counseling license and was on staff at local church as the director of their counseling center. I also joined the pastoral team in teaching on Sundays, oversaw the small group ministry and had a growing private practice. My speaking ministry was thriving and I had just been invited to contribute as a professional to a published book on marriage as I pursued a doctorate in Women’s Studies and Biblical Counseling. The women’s ministry team had just created a monthly luncheon where I was speaking that was doubling in attendance as each month passed.
I knew the church leadership was having disagreements but I could have never imagined the extent in which the dissension would result. One day I was called in by the board and informed changes were being made. The senior pastor was being fired and I had a choice to make. I could side with them and support what I perceived to be their betrayal or I could leave also. Within days, I and anyone associated with my counseling team were evicted from the center for an innocent act. I would later be asked to forgive the leaders involved in this hasty action. In less than a week, I lost my job, my community and within a month the man who at the time was my first love would break up with me. All this occurred weeks before my 30th birthday. As much as I knew God was with me, I struggled with so many dynamics. Try as I might I couldn’t seem to trust staff as I interviewed at churches near and far. I finally chose to open a solo practice and eventually returned to the security of the school setting as a counselor at a middle school and later became a high school crisis counselor.
Over the years, I have witnessed God restore so much of this loss. I am now married to that boyfriend with two amazing children and own a counseling center three times the size of the one I founded as church staff. I am part of a wonderful church body that affirms my gifts regularly. I have continued to be faithful in speaking locally to church, school and parent groups. I even almost a decade ago had a book accepted by a publisher. At that time, I was the one who chose not pursue the opportunity as at the same time I discovered I was pregnant after years of fertility treatment.
I really thought God’s restoration was complete until I attended She Speaks. A strange calling to sabbatical and some late night interactions with some previous She Speaks graduates led me to attend the conference hoping to share a message for parents that burdens myself and my staff at every turn. What I found at She Speaks was affirmation and a ministry commission I never thought possible. Lisa’s prayer was so powerful, I felt the Spirit land on top of me and say, “You are mine. I never forgot you. It’s time. Trust me.” My speaker group interactions affirmed that I would not be alone but walking beside a generation of equipped and called women bravely following Him.
As I attended each meeting, God truly answered prayers going before me in ways I could have never dreamed. I left restored and ready to take the risk of choosing to serve Him wholeheartedly once again no matter the cost. Over a decade ago the fall seemed so treacherous, I wasn’t sure if I could ever join Him in pursuing a call to travel and speak or write to a broader audience again. I wish I could share with you each incident and interaction that confirmed His call and provision but all I can say is that every time I thought, “This is too much and I can’t do it” these last two weeks, God has beat this proactive ball of energy to the task proving that I don’t have to make anything happen. It’s His call and He will prepare the way. I have had people offer to endorse and influence the book, bumped into publishers in the strangest places, had articles accepted for publication as I returned, and large churches that I’ve never contacted reach out to me for speaking engagements.
Saturday, after attending an additional conference called Declare where God sent women to pray with me personally, I joined another group women laboring as passionate digital evangelists furthering my equipping for a different age then the one I started. In the 90’s, the words blog and podcast didn’t exist. All of these interactions culminated in the agent I felt led to connect with inviting me to join her, providing me the wisdom and guidance I long for as I continue to seek His will for the message He has called me to deliver.
Maybe you connect with me in restoration and resurrection experiences? I have heard stories of these very themes from countless women the past two weekends. Hope after death of a child, loss of a career, and even restoration of a marriage headed for divorce. I spend hourly sessions regularly with people in my counseling office suffering from tremendous loss and destruction that has come from their own choices, the choices of others they trusted, and being human in a fallen world. I am often the voice saying the darkness will not last forever. To everything there is a season… As we walk a path seasoned with truth, grace and unfortunately time, I celebrate with them as they graduate from the process healed and hopeful again. Maybe you are at the bottom of a cliff feeling like the climb is hopeless; maybe you are holding His hand beginning climb; or maybe you are where I feel that I am moving close to the top and holding onto Him for dear life knowing the cost is much greater than the recognition. No matter where we are, may we count everything a loss compared to the greatness of knowing Him who has called us remembering He in time will work everything for our good.
I’m so grateful to the leadership and prayers of the Proverbs 31 team and all who were involved with She Speaks. This daughter of God left what she thought was a conference commissioned with renewed commitment to her calling. Thank you for joining Him and allowing me to experience a resurrection of trust in the Father and His call to ministry like I have never known before. He has truly done great things!