Bittersweet Days

This evening will be bittersweet for me. I am going to the Alumni Homecoming banquet at the college I graduated from in 1974. (I know–I am truly getting old!) The reason it is bittersweet is that the college is in its last year of existence. When May arrives, the last graduating class will receive their diplomas and a school that has been in existence since 1956, will merge with another college. Like many Bible colleges the financial burden of staying open, the pandemic, and the lack of incoming students have created the perfect storm, causing hard decisions to be made.

Unfortunately I have seen several Bible colleges close in the last decade. I could cite a multitude of reasons why the majority of Bible colleges are struggling to remain open. Some of the reasons are valid, some of them are not. But that is not really the purpose of this post.

When I started college, I did not come from a Christian home. My parents were good people and had high moral standards but seeking and serving God was not a priority. I was blessed with a neighbor who sent me to church camp, made sure I had rides to church, and invited me into her home. She mentored me and I was so grateful for it. I was challenged in church camp to make a commitment to serve God by learning more about him at Bible college.

When I started Bible college it was the first time I had ever been around so many Christians. I gained a firm foundation for my faith, and believe me, it is a foundation I sorely needed. I learned to question Scripture, evaluate its meaning, and look at its context. I learned that Christians have flaws and not everything is perfect (including the college and the people there), but in spite of it, God can use them for his good. I developed friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Even in my small graduating class, I can tell you where the majority of them have landed and how they have served God through the years.

So many memories and so many stories. So many times shared with laughter and tears. So many late night papers and early morning classes. While my college days are long behind me, I will still mourn the loss of a school that helped me build a deeper, richer, relationship with Christ. I know not everyone left college with great memories, and that saddens me. But for me some of my most enduring memories and some of my best friendships were formed while I was there.

College friends. Still together after all of these years.

So tonight I will reconnect with many friends and acquaintances. I will listen as stories are shared, laugh at the memories, reminisce about those who have passed, and probably shed a tear or two. I have my own stories–things like the night I woke up to see my roommate sitting on the edge of her bed with a wash cloth and soap in her hands. I got up to go to the bathroom and as I opened the door, I found myself drenched with a bucket of water. Seems Debby and friends had been having a water war, and I ended up the victim. The look on Patti’s face was priceless (as was mine) when she realized exactly who she had thrown the water on. It did wake me up! I still laugh when I think about it.

So tonight I will celebrate the fact that I have been privileged to do life with some of the finest Christians I have known. I will thank God for an institution that through the years has trained ministers, missionaries, and ordinary Christians to spread the good news of the Gospel throughout the world. I will come home with new memories. and I will celebrate that because of Saint Louis Christian College many precious souls have come to know the wonderful grace of Jesus. Homecoming to heaven is going to be a great reunion for sure!

Words to My 22-year-old Self

I belong to a facebook group called Ministry Chick, which is specifically designed for women in ministry. In the short time I have been a part of that group, it has been refreshing to see women come together in support of one another. Today a young woman posted a question that really got me thinking.

Her question was “If you could go back and tell your 22 year old self anything, what would it be?”

Goodness! My 67-year-old self would have plenty to say. But here are the top 10 things in no particular order, except the first one, that I would tell my 22-year-old self. Continue reading

What’s Her Story?

We all have them in our churches. Women whose lives are full of hurt and pain, who struggle with job loss, economic woes, health issues, parenting issues, and more. They sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday, trying to trust God with their struggles and frequently wearing a mask to cover their pain. We will never know their stories unless we make the effort to invite them into our lives and discover who they are.

A friend and I listened as a woman shared her story of a son who is struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. She lived in fear as she watched his hallucinations and bizarre behaviors become increasingly more frequent. The hours leading to his involuntary hospitalization were something I would never wish for anyone. My heart ached for her and her pain. We held hands as we prayed for her family. My friend and I both prayed that God’s healing hand would be on this family, but it was her prayer that made me cry as I truly saw the heart of a mother who loved God. Continue reading

Living with Brokenness

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a Fresh Grounded Faith conference. I heard Ann Voskamp, Laura Story, and Jennifer Rothschild share their stories and their challenges as women of God. I loved listening to these women because they were authentic and real. They didn’t paint a “rah, rah, everything is good in our lives” picture! Instead, they talked about our wounds and our challenges and our pain–our brokenness.

thAs I listened this weekend I thought about the multitude of women I know who have shared their stories with me through the years. Stories they have never shared with anyone, secrets so deep and painful they affected the rest of their lives. And I have been a keeper of the stories that have been told to me in confidence. My heart breaks every time I hear one of them. Continue reading

Surviving Transition

ChangeTransitions. We all have them. Some transitions fill us with expectation and excitement, others fill us with dread and uncertainty.  Some transitions are of our own making, others are sometimes forced upon us.  But there is no doubt, good or bad, we all need to learn how to adjust to transition in our lives.  It is especially difficult to make a smooth transition when change comes our way, not through our own choosing, but through circumstances–sometimes beyond our control or understanding. Continue reading

The Man on the Honor Flight

10686785_10203126098255503_2263128286258544606_nToday is a very special day for a very special man. My brother-in-law, Steve, will be boarding a plane for an Honor Flight to Washington, DC. If you are not familiar with an honor flight, these flights take a veteran to Washington DC, where they can see memorials honoring those who have gone before. What Steve will see today includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and The Vietnam Wall, both of which will be moving experiences for him. This blog is a letter to a man who is not only my brother-in-law, but also a brother to me.

Dear Steve, Little did we know how big a part of our lives you would be when Sharron brought you home for the first time. I remember looking up and seeing all 6’4″ of you and being amazed at how tall you were. What I have discovered since then is that not only are you tall in height, you are tall in spirit. We have shared a lot of memories through the years. Continue reading

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

Cast Your Bread upon the Waters

I have been going through the daunting task of selling my home. Literally, months of preparation have taken place. The house was suffering from years of neglect simply because financially things have been difficult for me, especially since my husband’s death six years ago. The interior was dark with dark brown doors on all of the rooms, a tired kitchen and gold and blue bathrooms. The exterior? Well, that is a long, complicated story. Suffice it to say, in this house every time I turned around, some new issue had reared its ugly head. But this is where I can truly say, God is in control. Continue reading

Sometimes Life Is Hard

tearsSometimes life is just hard. My heart has been full of sadness for some of my friends and family lately. I cannot tell you how many of them have been going through crisis mode.  The loss of a family member, the loss of a job, the loss of a child, the heartbreak of a broken marriage, the pain of broken confidences, a diagnosis of cancer, and the list goes on.  Each one of them are precious individuals who are reeling from their hurt and pain. I wish I could fix it for them. But I can’t. Continue reading

Being Enough

Sometimes I struggle in life with the futility of being enough.  I want to stop being “ordinary” and do something special with my life. You may know what I mean. I think if I am just a better person, or if I work just a little harder, or if I do just a little more, or if I am just a little smarter–I can be loved more, recognized more, rewarded more, respected more . . . and, you get the picture.  In all honesty, that kind of thinking is futile and leads to discouragement and disappointment.  Because I am searching for significance in the wrong things and the wrong people.

That’s why I love God’s grace. Continue reading

The Throne of Grace

Today I will be perfectly candid with you.  If you are looking for a feel-good, inspirational blog post, you may want to just stop reading now.  This is not it.  This is the real truth, probably one that more people identify with than even I could imagine.

In all honesty, when I was reading everyone’s “Thanks for a great 2014” post on Facebook, I wanted to post “2014 sucked (a word I intensely dislike yet found myself using) and I will be glad when it is over.” Continue reading