I remember exactly where I was when the question came. It was last June, and my daughter, Emily, and I were on a trail at Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland. We were talking about her graduation in 2016 and her plans for the future. The conversation soon turned to me. She asked me how long I had been working at Floris UMC, and I told her 16 years. “Wow,” she said, “that’s a long time!” I said, “Yes, and I have about fifteen more years left to work.” We talked about how much I love Floris UMC, the work of the local church and the people I work with and about how important it is to pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment when faced with big life decisions.
After that conversation I began to pray in earnest, “God, what does the next fifteen years look like for me?” Hearing God can be a tricky thing. Burning bushes, clouds of fire and smoke—these things are not commonplace in 2016. To hear God, I’ve learned that you must read scripture, pray, be still and watch the circumstances. You have to be extra tuned in to your soul. So that’s exactly what I set out to do.
A lot transpired during this time of discernment: my father died, my mother was transitioned to an assisted living facility and my husband had back surgery. (2015 will go down as the worst year ever for me!) It was in this season that I read “All the Places to Go…How Will You Know?” by John Ortberg, a book that was perfect for this season. I listened with ears to hear and watched with eyes to see. Slowly but surely I heard what it was God wanted me to do.
I came to understand that God wanted me to leave Floris UMC—that my family needed me. I couldn’t imagine this would be so. Why would God want me to give up my ministry? Why did I have to leave? Much like Gideon, I doubted, and so I waited. I wanted a sign, a burning bush, something that would give me confidence that this was indeed what God wanted. The more I ignored what I knew to be true, the more “coincidences” I experienced. (God is nothing if not persistent!) Then I woke one morning remembering the story of the man on the roof during a flood, and the first thought in my head was of the scripture from 2 Samuel 12:7, “You are the man!” I finally had peace. I was confident that God wanted me to take the next faithful step.
In early March I told the staff at Floris UMC that I was going to “retire.” As it turns out that’s not exactly what God had in mind. Not long after I told the staff, I was presented with an opportunity to work in the Alexandria and Arlington District Office of the United Methodist Church in Northern Virginia. So in July I will begin a new chapter. I am passionate about the work of the local church and look forward to continuing to serve God through my work as the program coordinator. I’m so very excited about this opportunity and what God has in store for me, but more importantly I am so thankful for the season of discernment and what I have learned about myself and about God in the process.