We came into 2021 with more uncertainty than we’re comfortable with. We like standing on the solid ground of our faith, relationships, careers, and financial goals.
It’s difficult when one of those is challenged. It’s almost devastating when all that we’ve known or believed is shaken to the core. That’s exactly what’s happened to a lot of us. But here we are. Still standing. Living. Hoping and loving.
Here I am, standing on what feels like more solid ground than ever before. This firm foundation has nothing to do with my circumstances and everything to do with Who I am learning to love and trust more and more. I better understand the old hymn, Rock of Ages. Jesus is The Rock of Ages, the firm foundation of my life.
I helped launch three books into the world this year. The first was about twelve women in the Bible called She Walked Before Us by Jill Eileen Smith. The author introduced us to new insights about the women and gave us a better understanding of their strength and courage. The next was by Tish Harrison Warren called Prayer in the Night. This work forever changed the way I see prayer. The last book I helped launch made waves and is still making waves in the world of Christian gender roles. The Making of Biblical Womanhood is an historical account of how patriarchy came to be the norm in much of the evangelical church. Beth Allison Barr challenges our thinking about what some claim to be “biblical” womanhood. I highly recommend all three of these books.
I dreamed for years about going back to school and it happened in 2021. I resigned my position as accounting manager to make room for this new adventure. In March, I started my first class in the MDiv program at Wesley Seminary, with a specialization in spiritual formation. I also applied at Friends University and was accepted into the Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership masters program. I began those classes in August.
I’m constantly amazed at how God is using both of these programs to challenge and change me. There is something beautiful about being in both simultaneously.
Earlier this year I started meeting with a spiritual director one-on-one. I’m not sure how to describe it except to say it’s always beautiful, and sometimes breathtaking.
I started work as an accounting professional with Robert Half in June. The three month work assignment turned into nine months. It’s been a wonderful opportunity and allows the flexibility I need to study and write for school. I hope to continue this kind of work while I’m in school or until an opportunity to do the kind of work I want to do in the world presents itself.
Come and See
And what exactly is the kind of work I want to do in the world? There are a few things I know for sure: 1) tell true stories about God, myself, and others 2) help others navigate the stages of faith and provide guidance to leaders and churches who want to create safe spaces for their people 3) help others understand they can hear from God and grasp the reality of being personally discipled by Jesus. Together these define a core value of inviting others to come and see Jesus for themselves.
I’m not sure what role that means I will have in the future – pastor, spiritual director, chaplain, or spiritual trail guide – but I’m willing and full of anticipation about it.
I continued writing about Giant Church Inc, which saw an increased interest with the release of the podcast series called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. If you’re part of the American church, take time to listen to the series. It reveals the inner workings of Giant Church Inc. I hope the growing awareness of the prevalence of spiritual abuse in our churches and Christian organizations will prompt us to take the necessary steps to prevent it, speak against it, and refuse to be part of the problem.
My work as an advocate for survivors of spiritual abuse progressed as I stepped into the role of board member with Tears of Eden. I enjoyed being a guest on Flying Free, Clarity Unleashed, and the Inglorious Pastords podcasts. I shared my story, and discussed the faith journey, biblical womanhood, and other fun topics.
My backpacking adventures continued in 2021 with another trip to the Emigrant Wilderness, a Sipsey Wilderness three day/two night trip, and my first paid gig as an assistant guide with Born2BeWild Outdoor Adventures. I made new friends and memories on the trails.
A Challenge For You
Several readers asked me about my Live Like It Matters Challenges prompting me to think about how I can encourage others to begin making better habits in 2022. Our habits shape us and our lives, so why not practice habits that make us the kind of people who are kind, thoughtful, and thankful. If you’d like to participate in the 7 Weeks – 7 Challenges, sign up here and on January 1st, I’ll send you an email with ideas and inspiration for how to live like it matters and a downloadable reminder with each week’s challenge.
More happened in 2021 and can be summarized as a year of growth and grief, love and joy, old dreams and new adventures, and a deeper sense of the wide goodness of God. He held me. He holds me. And always will.