How God Prepared Me For My Life’s Purpose
The Bible reveals that God knows us before we are born and has a specific purpose for our life (Jeremiah 1:5). Looking back, I can see how God had His hand on my life and prepared me for this ministry – even before I knew Him. Through my story, I hope you will see that God works through ordinary people like you and me. He has a purpose for me and He has a purpose for you as well.
Before I Knew Jesus: 1952-1982
God Planted Seeds
I’m the eldest of four children. In my earliest years, our family attended a variety of churches and studied the beliefs of different religions. My parents didn’t have a firm foundation in their faith, and were seeking truth. When I was 13, we moved to a small mountain town in Colorado, where we finally settled into an Episcopal church.
It was during this time that God planted some seeds that would help guide me to Christ. A student at my school seemed newly “born again”. He was very excited and witnessed to me about Christ. He invited me to a church meeting. I told him, “No.” However, I did read with interest several books that spoke of the power of Christ to transform lives, including The Cross and the Switchblade and my mother’s Katherine Marshall books. I was interested, but never surrendered to Christ.
Although I attended church weekly, participated in Sunday School and youth group, and even practiced playing hymns on an old organ we had at home, my eyes remained closed to my need for a Savior. When I left home to attend college, I immediately deleted church from my list of activities.
For the next twelve years, I can only remember hearing about Jesus from one person, my mother. While I was away at school, she became a born-again Christian. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, she prayed fervently for me. I am alive today because of her prayers and God’s grace.
A Supernatural Encounter With Death
Something very strange happened in college. I was in a terrible explosion that should have left me severely burned or dead, yet I was unharmed. It wasn’t until years later that I received an explanation of what had happened, and it came from God’s own mouth. Read the full story.
A Really Big Mistake
God reached out to protect me during my college and young adult years, even before I was a Christian. One time, however, His attempt to protect me from a really big mistake was unsuccessful.
I was engaged to marry an avowed atheist who wanted to take “In God We Trust” off our coins. I already knew he could be verbally abusive, but was determined to marry him anyway. One night God sent me a strong warning in the form of a vivid dream. The dream depicted my fiance’ as Satan incarnate. It was so realistic, I was afraid to go near my fiance’ for several days. Nevertheless, and against the advice of family and friends, I stubbornly persisted in marrying him. Four years later we divorced, fortunately without children. I didn’t know God, and I didn’t know God had better plans for me.
The Perfect Matchmaker
Even as my divorce was being finalized, God was working out His plan for my life. This time He played the matchmaker. Kyle and I met on a blind date orchestrated by two friends who thought we’d make a good pair. My mother insisted I go out and have some fun. Kyle was very kind. By the end of our second date, I had a deep knowing that we would marry. We did, seven months later.
A Big Move
Meanwhile, God was at work on the next phase of His plan: to move us from Colorado to St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after Kyle and I met, he interviewed for a job in St. Louis with Charles, the owner of a manufacturing company there. Kyle declined Charles’ original job offer, but for several months, Charles called him regularly, trying to convince him to take it. Eventually the calls stopped.
Sometime later, Kyle discovered that his situation at work had become unstable. After fruitlessly seeking other work in Colorado, Kyle called Charles. Though he did not have a job opening, he hired Kyle as a consultant until a regular position opened up a few months later. We moved to St. Louis in September 1980.
Thirty-three years later, we are still living in the St. Louis area and Kyle is still employed by Charles’ company.
The Perfect Realtor
One of the first things that struck me about St. Louis was the abundance of churches. In fact, it disgusted me. Neither Kyle nor I had any interest in church or God.
What we didn’t know was that God had already picked out the house He wanted us to buy – in a neighborhood where we would be surrounded by born-again Christians. The owner had tried unsuccessfully to sell the house. He had rented it for a year, the same year we were in Colorado trying to find another job. Meanwhile, the neighbors had been diligently praying that God would send just the right buyers for the house: ones who were ripe to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Everything fell right into place, just like clockwork. Kyle’s sister and brother-in law, the only people we knew in St. Louis, referred us to a realtor in their area. It didn’t take long for her to show us the house. She was certain the owner would be willing to drop the price substantially so we could buy, and he did. The banker who arranged our loan said I reminded him of his daughter, so he gave us a lower interest rate. Soon, we were in our new home, surrounded by praying Christians.
Breaking Down Hard Hearts: 1980 – 1982
We enjoyed our new neighbors. They earned our trust by being friendly and helpful. God was working through His children, softening our hearts so at the right time, we would respond to His love.
The right time for me came a year and a half later, soon after we had our first child.
I had experienced depression, fear, and health problems when we first moved to St. Louis. Those problems returned and were magnified. I also had pain because my tailbone had moved out of place during childbirth. The doctor said all he could do was break it and reset it, with only a fifty percent chance of it being corrected. In desperation, I asked a neighbor if she knew of a “faith healer” I could go to.
“I don’t know anything about a faith healer,” she replied, “but I would be happy to take you to hear an evangelist who prays for the sick. Would you like to go?” She was delighted when I said, “Yes.”
When the day came, my neighbor’s station wagon was filled with excited women. We listened to the evangelist’s message with interest as she told how God had made Himself known to her while she was a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas, and how she had become a born-again Christian. Her stories of the miracles God had done in her life were amazing. She preached Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was sent to save us from our sins.
It was the first time I had heard the Gospel in a very long time. Yet my mind was so confused. I couldn’t grasp what it all meant.
After the message, the evangelist prayed for the sick in the name of Jesus. The power of God was so strong, I could not stand, but fell to the floor. When I finally got back up, my physical and emotional symptoms were noticeably lessened. The next week, I went with my neighbors to hear another evangelist. After the message, I went forward for prayer, and again, the symptoms were improved.
“He Loves Us So Much”
Not long after my experience with the evangelist, one of my neighbors, Marilyn, said something about God that really stuck with me. She said, “He loves us so much.” She said it with deep conviction and great emotion, and for the first time, I thought of God as a Person, not a power. I could have a relationship with this God.
God used Marilyn and my other neighbors to nudge me toward the right path. I asked them how to deal with my depression, and they told me to start reading the Bible. Marilyn gave me a tape of the music sung in her church. I didn’t realize until later that most of the songs were straight from Scripture. I listened to it for hours every day while caring for my daughter. It brought me hope.
When Marilyn invited me to start attending church with her, I willingly accepted. I went a week or two, but then stayed home one Sunday. My emotional and physical symptoms seemed to worsen. I realized that being in God’s Word and with God’s people made a difference. From then on, I made weekly church attendance a high priority.
Light Shines Through The Darkness
The church Marilyn and I attended placed a strong emphasis on teaching the truths of the Bible. They taught that it was the inspired Word of God. The young man who was the pastor had experienced a dramatic transformation in his life through the miraculous working of God. His joy and excitement was evident – and contagious – as He shared messages about God’s love and forgiveness.
God used his messages to shine a light into the darkness of my soul. The psalmist said it well: “The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130 NASB).
It was a slow process for me. At first, I couldn’t understand anything the pastor said. I heard the words, but couldn’t grasp their meaning. After every message, I went forward to receive prayer, and gradually, began to understand more.
God also used music to encourage me and help me grow. Every Sunday for about 45 minutes, I joined with the congregation in singing what seemed to me the most beautiful songs I had ever heard. Some of these praise and worship songs I had learned from the tape Marilyn had given me. Only later, as I continued to read the Bible, did I discover that many of them were word-for-word Scripture. Without realizing it, I had memorized many verses of God’s life-giving Word.
These songs had a great impact on my life. God used them to help deliver me from depression and fear. Today, years later, Kyle and I still sing them during our daily devotions.
God knew I had a lot of questions. Soon after I went with my neighbors to hear the evangelist from Las Vegas, God stirred the heart of the pastor of that church to visit me weekly. This very kind man listened patiently as I asked questions, then showed me answers in the Bible. Over the course of several months, he explained the biblical view of God, Creation, mankind’s fall into sin and God’s remedy for sin, Jesus Christ.
During this time, there were people praying for Kyle’s and my salvation. We didn’t even know it. Years after this, I met one of them. She recognized my name from a prayer list and was thrilled to hear God had answered her prayers.
Saved By Grace! 1982 – Present
An Immediate Change
After years of people praying for me, and God working in my heart, I finally realized my need for a Savior. I accepted Jesus Christ in the summer of 1982.
There was an immediate change.
I became aware of God’s presence and was amazed that He was so real.
I became aware that God wanted me to stop doing two things: Making free copies on Kyle’s work copier because it was stealing, and watching one of my favorite TV shows that promoted sexual immorality.
I could read the Bible, and I could understand it better.
Truth vs. Error
The Holy Spirit had been given to me to teach me and guide me into truth, but I didn’t realize it at first.
One evening, as I was with Kyle in the car listening to a radio preacher, suddenly it seemed like red lights were flashing violently inside me. I told Kyle, “I don’t understand it, but somehow I know that this man isn’t telling the truth.” A day or so later, God showed me the truth. I felt led to open up a Bible lying nearby. When I did, my eyes were drawn to the exact Scripture that proved the man was in error. This was confirmed by another Scripture that was referenced in the margin. I was so excited by my discovery, I ran to share it with Kyle.
I was satisfied attending church every week, but it soon became clear that God wanted me in a home Bible study as well. I resisted the idea, but whether I was listening to the Sunday sermon, a message on the radio, or a friend, the topic invariably turned to home groups. God was insisting, even though I kept saying, “No.”
One day, on a whim (something rare for me), I decided to take a walk in the park. Kyle, Baby Jen and I strolled through the park until we came to the bandshell. Some people were putting on a play, so we sat down to watch. When I heard the name “Jesus”, I immediately knew it was a home group. Sure enough, after the play we were handed an invitation, from the same church I attended. God had orchestrated it all.
I finally surrendered my will to God’s. That week, Kyle dropped me off at the home where the Bible study was being held.
Over twenty people were gathered together to study the Bible. When I came in, they graciously set aside the lesson they had planned, and spent the entire study time answering my questions. Then it was time for prayer.
“Does anyone have a prayer need?” they asked.
“I do,” I quickly responded. I told them I was in pain because my tailbone had moved out of place during childbirth.
“You lay your hand on the place where it hurts,” they said, and we’ll pray in the name of Jesus for your healing.”
As they prayed in the name of Jesus, I felt heat in my tailbone and was immediately released from pain. Like the man in the Bible, I jumped up and was dancing with joy. Everyone else was too, thanking and praising Jesus.
When Kyle came to pick me up from the meeting, I told him I would be attending every week.
I really wanted Kyle to have the new life in Christ that I had. For months, he had good-naturedly accepted the changes he saw in my life, but was somewhat perplexed. My new friends told me not to nag him about church, but just pray and thank God that Kyle had a desire to go. I did as they suggested.
I also invited the home Bible study group to meet at my house. The first week, Kyle stayed upstairs taking care of Baby Jen. In time, he moved from upstairs to sitting on the stairs where he could listen, to downstairs.
Easter Sunday morning, Kyle woke up saying he would go to church with me.
We didn’t know God had already prepared a “divine appointment” for him. When we arrived at church, there was a crowd of about 3,500. Though I never sat in the balcony, I suggested we sit there. To Kyle’s and my amazement, we ended up just a few seats from someone Kyle knew, one of his co-workers. This man told me later that he had been praying for Kyle, but hadn’t had an opportunity to witness to him about Christ or invite him to church. Now the door was open.
In July, 1983, Kyle accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and we were baptized together.
Plans and Purposes
At the beginning of this story, I mentioned that God knows us before we are born and has a specific purpose for our life (Jeremiah 1:5). Kyle and I had completed the first step, which was to realize we needed God and to enter into relationship with Him by accepting the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Then began the long process of discipleship, the preparation to fulfill God’s calling.
In our case, God had called Kyle and me to be teachers of His Word. He had also called Kyle to have a leadership role in the church. He had called me to publish Bible studies, Scripture songs, and personal testimonies of God’s work in peoples’ lives.
Passion and Preparation
God planned our discipleship program in advance. He knew which people He would work through to make sure we were taught, trained, and mentored properly. He planned which churches, ministries, home groups, and Sunday School classes we needed to be in so we would be supported and grow.
He also put in our hearts a willingness and desire to do what He had called us to do. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (NASB).
God provided us with many opportunities to hear and study His Word. Children’s Church was where we began serving soon after receiving Christ, and after a couple years, He opened doors for us to begin teaching under the watchful eyes of more experienced teachers in Children’s Church and in a number of small group settings.
Our library of teaching materials and Bible study tools grew quickly as people gave us these resources as gifts. We still use many of them today.
Looking back, I can see how God prepared me for a teaching-writing-publishing ministry before I even knew Him. In school, one of my favorite subjects was English, especially grammar. My teachers in college challenged me to really improve my writing skills. Then, when I began a Master’s Degree in teaching English as a Second Language, I was given an opportunity to teach some classes.
God had given me a passion for praise and worship. I was excited that on the Sundays I served in Children’s Church, I received a free tape of our church service and could learn the songs.
Soon after Kyle received Christ, our home Bible study group got a new leader. In the group, I met a woman named Bev. She had just come into town and needed a place to stay for a few weeks, so she stayed with us. She brought with her a notebook filled with guitar music for numerous Christian songs.
To me, Bev’s notebook was like a treasure trove. I had taken guitar lessons in 7th grade and still had my old guitar. With Bev’s help, I re-learned some basic chords and started practicing some of the songs from her notebook.
When our home group needed someone to help lead praise and worship, I volunteered. God knew I needed a better guitar. It wasn’t long before my brother gave me his guitar. It was just what I needed. Since then, God has opened other doors for me to lead praise and worship.
In 1984, the Lord began giving me Scripture songs. The first one was given to me as I was awakened from my sleep. I heard the lyrics and melody for a short children’s song in my head. I was surprised. I had never had the interest or the ability to compose real songs. I lay back down, but after a few minutes, verse two came to me.
New songs began coming more frequently, so I sang them into a tape recorder and wrote them down. My music education had been basic. I could read music because I had participated in choir, and could play a little piano and guitar. God provided someone with more skill in music to help develop the songs, first in 1986, then again from 2009 to the present.
God gave me a passion to publish His Word soon after I received Christ. I was so excited about what I was learning, and so amazed at the dramatic changes being worked in my life, that I wanted others to experience the same thing. Whenever I took notes on a sermon or Bible lesson, I typed them up and passed them on to others. When I found a good resource, I would tell others about it and sometimes even buy it for them.
In 1987, I self-published a collection of fourteen of the children’s songs God had given me, and the following year, produced a children’s musical.
How I Discovered My Life’s Purpose
In early 2007, I had a strong sense that God wanted me to do something for Him, but had no idea what that was. I desperately sought the Lord’s leading. Finally, I made a commitment to add journaling to my daily devotions. Every day, I sat with pen and paper in hand, waiting quietly to hear and then write down what the Lord would speak to me.
After more than a month, He began revealing my ministry calling – Word For Life Publishing. To this day, I continue journaling almost daily, receiving many new Scripture-based songs and an enlargement of the vision for this ministry. God promises in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (NASB).
This story would be incomplete if I neglected to mention perhaps the most important factor of all in ministry preparation: character development. God’s plan for His children is that we are conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).
In the fall of 1984, God placed me in a women’s ministry that challenged me every week for over five years to let go of detrimental thought patterns and bad attitudes, and become a do-er of God’s Word. The director of Women With A Vision, Cheryl Skid, was a Jewish woman who had repeatedly rejected Jesus Christ – until one day He opened her eyes to the truth.
Cheryl’s enthusiasm for Jesus and His Word was contagious as she taught from the Psalms and led us in serving others in the group, and also people in our community. We learned to take correction, repent, forgive, love one another and become generous givers. Though God has worked through many individuals and ministries to help me become more like Christ, Women With A Vision, perhaps more than any other, helped shape who I am today.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you…plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” I thank God that He has a plan for me, and that He patiently worked in my life to prepare me to fulfill my life’s purpose. I look forward to where He is leading me now and in the future.
God has a purpose for you as well. He loves you so much. My prayer is that my story – and the resources offered on this site – may be an encouragement to you. I invite you to visit often, and stay awhile. If you have questions, comments, a personal testimony that you’d like to share, or a prayer request, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our Contact Form.
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