I am a member of Compel Training a division of Proverbs 31 Ministries meant to equip called women into writing, speaking, and other Godly engagements. Yesterday one of the group administrators asked a question: What is your 2021 Memorial Stone?
She explained that the exercise is inspired by events that happened in Joshua 3 and 4. When the Israelites has finished miraculously crossing over the Jordan River, the Lord commanded Joshua to have 12 men collect a large stone each to place near the Jordan River, where God had provided for them. For years to come, people would see the stones and ask what they were for. The Israelites would respond to their question by telling them all that the Lord did for them during that time.
What is your memorial stone–an amazing way you’ve seen God provide for you–in 2021? When you think back to this year, what will you tell people the Lord did?
For some reason my brain wanted to reduce it down to one word, which wasn’t the exercise at all, but here we are with my squirrelly brain – so let’s go with it.
LABORIOUS – It was a laborious year
It’s an adjective meaning a task, process, or journey requiring considerable effort and time.
I’m good with that reflection of 2021 and I think it’s pretty fitting. Let me tell you how it started on a Friday night sitting in a chapel ended up with me surrounded by textbooks for a Seminary program!
Heather Dixon was the keynote speaker at our women’s conference in March, on Friday night she spoke to a smaller group of us about our desire for our legacy. What would we start? Or maybe what would we end? She said with a passionate fire in her belly:
“Legacy makers are not afraid to embrace the unknown!”
She asked us what we wanted and shared some things that might be stopping us” I have nothing to offer, I am unworthy, Somebody else is already doing it… My excitement of the initial declaration was interrupted by the sting of the reasons holding me back. Shoulda-coulda-woulda the words that trip us up as we reflect on our lives, and I didn’t want that to be me. We might call this event the conception, Heather helped me find that seed planted deep within me that needed living water to grow into what our creator wants it to be.
I recall letting the thoughts from the Holy Spirit marinate on my heart before sharing them with my husband. You see my favorite person in the world, my dearest Randall, is a Nascar style dreamer; not cars specifically but the speed part – he’s F-A-S-T. I’ve learned that sometimes when I share a desire or a dream with him it’s off to the races and he’s already building it in his mind or in real life. This makes life really exciting! Sometimes I feel like I’m on a roller coaster but it’s taken off before I’m properly strapped into the car! He asked me “What do you want to do?” The conversation of what I wanted or felt called to do, took at least 3 hours, ultimately, I said I want to write, teach and speak. I’m gifted in these areas in my secular career and quickly came to understand that God’s gifting isn’t isolated to one domain of life.
By the end of April, he built me a website and a brand and ChasingGrace.org was well… do we say born? In some ways I felt like a new Mom everything appeared to arrive all at once. I had (and continue to have) so many questions and there’s so much to do. Do I really have enough time? How would it grow? What if it didn’t grow? How would I change? It’s fitting that one of my first devotionals was on Elizabeth and how she laughed, because this adventure seemed laughable.
The anxiety spiral of all the questions revealed that I had some personal gaps between the space where I am at and the place where I am being called. I sat down and started to document the gaps and make a plan. Knowing wise counsel would be needed I set up some time with our Senior Pastor to hear his thoughts. We’ve been at our church for a handful of years, and I’ve served in several ministries. He said something like “We’ve seen what you can do, which is about anything you put your mind towards, but what is it that makes your heart the fullest?” I recall being so nervous sharing with him what I thought God was asking of me. As I explained Chasing Grace and that I wanted to write, teach, and speak his face flooded with excitement and animation. We discussed the gaps, and he had the way to fill it, a seminary program thru Lancaster Bible College. I applied in late summer – and started course work in December 2021.
2021 has felt difficult for me, asking for what I want for myself is sometimes impossible. Enrolling in school is a sacrifice for my family, less time with me, less fiscal resources for the family – but more of God and a leaning into a calling He has placed into my heart and an example to my children of how to trust in Him. It’s been a growing season that has produced new life. I’ve had the opportunity to tell people about how God is working in me and in my family, I gave my first teaching to a small group of women at my church, and now I’m embarking on a journey with new-soon-to-be friends (my LBC classmates).
My memorial rock for 2021 is engraved with the word laborious and stands in and near the living water, knowing that whatever God brings me to, He will bring me thru for the purpose that he has designed – my primary job is to be obedient to the next right thing.