My Journey to Pastoral Ministry

My Journey to Pastoral Ministry

Roots and Wings

Like most people, my roots can be found somewhere in my early life.

Surviving a broken home upbringing with hard-to-love parents who had an impaired ability to nurture and protect had a profound impact on my beliefs. My parents claimed to know God. They did not.

My less than ideal background earned me a PhD in shame. Trust was not in my vocabulary. Most of my childhood was spent nursing insidious insecurities. 

Life was confusing and unstable for my young self. Questions like: “What’s the purpose of my life? Why is there suffering? Why am I here?” left me hopelessly meandering through a painful life of perpetual inconsequence. Scared and alone. The only option was survival.

Like many, I found Jesus in the midst of mess. Through a late-in-life love story I experienced blended family-by-marriage issues that led to adoption. My husband and I wanted to raise our daughter in faith, but we didn’t know how. We started by attending church where God began to shape my calling.

I served in a youth ministry and heard a student testimony, which planted a seed that marked me. After hearing how God had saved this child’s life, a process of discovering who God is began for me that continues to this day. 

I learned the value of redemptive suffering through church leaders. I discovered purpose in my painful past through a deeper relationship with God and finally won that hard-fought battle with my childhood self who longed for love and acceptance.

I completed a church training program and became a lay Christian Counselor to help others. In the process of counseling others, I learned who I am in all my flawed humanity. As I counseled others God was reveling unbecoming truths about myself which helped my spiritual maturity.

Through counseling I realized that God often breaks a heart to make a heart. What broke me blessed me. God used my past and pain to repurpose me.

Bruised and a bit battered, but grounded, stronger, braver and determined to embrace truth, love and kindness unapologetically with God in the center of my life, I discovered that I was meant for more than my past and God showed me I can fly, which is literally what I did. 

In 2014, four years after coming to faith, I got on a plane with my husband and daughter and flew across the country where God was calling me next.

The Space Between

The differences between the church and social cultures of the west and east coast were striking. We churched hopped a bit before settling on a church which we now call home.

It didn’t take long before I realized that I desperately needed Bible wisdom in my new world. I continued to immerse myself in my spiritual growth and enrolled in an academy program to become a Christian Counselor. Alongside the academy training, I enrolled in an international discipleship program through a mission-sending church to obtain clergy credentials. 

After completing a 4-year program, I became a Minister of Pastoral Care. In addition to serving as a Pastoral Minister and Christian Counselor, I can baptize as well as officiate weddings and funerals.

One of my callings as a pastoral minister and Christian counselor is to bridge my life experiences and God’s truth with the world of ordinary people. People who are Christian, non-Christian, new to faith, growing in faith, unsure about their faith. People who scorn Christians (and all we believe).   People who have suffered church or previous faith injustice and everybody in between.

Christian counseling is a term that people sometimes use with different meanings. To me, Christian counseling is based on Scripture. God’s truth. The Bible has much to say about many things, including psychology so, for me, Christian counseling begins with Scripture. 

Modern-day psychology tends to look towards positive aspects of human nature, virtues and the importance of things such as gratitude, forgiveness and altruism. Positive psychology gives a more balanced view of humanity, but it can be too positive. Lest we forget, humans have fallen, and sin has stained the image of God in all of us. We are capable of evil and sin. That’s why we all need Jesus. 

From Within

The Bible gives me complete and comprehensive answers to life struggles. It doesn’t answer every question, but it answers the important ones.

God created humans in his image. We were designed to be connected to and have mutual appreciation of one another. 

People mess up all the time. God calls us to forgive. How do we do that?

God is walking with me through a long season of healing by teaching me about forgiveness. With God’s help I have forgiven many (including myself) and learned much. One such lesson is that it’s easy to forgive someone for what they’ve done. Much harder to forgive them for what they are.

“You can forgive people for what they do, it’s very hard to forgive people for what they are. I don’t think that God forgives us for what we are. I think God forgives us for what we do. When it comes to what we are, God accepts us and accepting someone is not the same as forgiving them.” Lewis B. Smedes, The Art of Forgiving

These days, I am leaning on the Temperament Theory Christian Counseling approach to guide me as I wrestle with challenges and relational brokenness, in myself and others. This counseling approach helps me to understand why my counseling clients (and I) do what we do and helps me to accept them (and myself) for what we are.

All Roads Lead to God

To one degree or another there are pieces of a broken heart in all of us. This only leaves us with the haunting inescapability that we all need a savior.

Everything valuable I’ve learned has come through affliction and not happiness. Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). He didn’t say blessed are those who overcome mourning. 

The most beautiful story to tell is rooted in truth. I’m a truth seeker. Everything about Jesus rings of truth. Jesus is real. By a miracle of grace, He transformed my life.

In my process of discovering Jesus I’ve learned much about evil, justice, love and forgiveness.

Nobody describes this better than world-renowned apologist, Ravi Zacharias …

“There was one event in history where evil, justice, love, and forgiveness converge. It happened on a hill called Calvary at the cross of Christ.

All the suffering of the world converged there, in that single act of sacrifice when the One who was without sin took the penalty of sin and accepted the ultimate in suffering - separation from his Father - so that we might be brought to Him.

It was the lowest point of the incarnate Christ; he was separated from the Father while still in the center of the Father’s will.

There the threads converged in a pattern that seemed so disparate from the world’s point of view, yet they were the crimson threads of our restoration to God.

This was Jesus’ ultimate purpose: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).”

The cross shows the evil heart of man.
The cross came because of the justice of God.
The cross demonstrates to us the very love of God.
Without Jesus’ forgiveness we would never make it.

Ravi Zacharias, The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives

I studied Kabala (Jewish mysticism) and Buddhism for a while. I could never make sense of either.

I can tell you that the God of the Bible raptured my soul, marked it with His signature and transformed it to the peculiar shape of his glory but those are mere words which could never accurately describe what God has done in my life.

Why Jesus? He describes my heart. Better than Oprah or Dr. Phil or any try-harder-life phycology. He understands all I’ve been through. He gave me what the world could not. He taught me that all that happened in my heart was purposed for a reason.

God my heavenly Father was everything my earthly father was and is not.

I’m striving to be faithful with the stewardship that God has entrusted me with to be the voice of truth to reach, rescue and restore. I want to counsel and comfort those whose homes and hearts are broken. Currently I do that through Christian counseling, teaching kids and teaching ordinary people how to live in L.I.G.H.T. (Living In God’s Holy Truth).

I am happily captive by the Scriptures and by Jesus’ love. It’s not a duty or a chore or a sacrifice. My Jesus-saturated life becomes better with each passing day. I simply and without equal affection to anyone else love and adore Jesus. I love His truth. I love His Word. I love God our Father.

I know there are people who would roll their eyes and irritatingly mutter some unkind remark at this claim. And I suspect it is to these people that C.S. Lewis wrote about in Mere Christianity “… if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.”

God is my number one, trusted, reliable loving Father in heaven and here on earth who stands by me. He has given me life. He will take me to my eternal place of rest and anything in between he walks alongside me.

There is one problem in this world. Sin. There is one solution. Jesus.

And, so, I end where I began. What’s the purpose of my life? Jesus. Why is there suffering? Jesus. Why am I here? Jesus. Simply put, He is the way, the truth and the life.