You all have gotten to know a little bit about my life currently, but I have only shared a small part of my testimony with you so far! So, I figured now is as good a time as any to share. I could give testimony all day about all the things the Lord has done in my life! For now, I would like to tell you about where my life was headed about 12 years ago:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
Junior and Senior years of high school can be stressful for teens. On top of the academic work, social life, school sports, clubs, and responsibilities at home, they are expected to start making decisions about the future. The question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” needs a serious answer, along with a plan about how to get there.
My high school experience was no different. I had to narrow down the endless choices to a specific career path I wanted to pursue, and then apply to colleges that would teach it to me. After taking all the interests and skills tests, doing some job shadowing, and researching different careers I came to a decision about half way through my senior year. I would do the Radiography program through my local community college. The plan was that in 4 years I would graduate and become an X-ray Tech.
Getting into the program was no easy task. They only accept 20 students each year, and statistically only 2/3 of each group would graduate the program. I knew it was a challenge, but I was up for it! There was two years worth of prerequisites to take before the program directors would even consider a student’s application. I got started right away.
In one of those prerequisites I made a friend who would be the catalyst for some big changes in my life. This friend witnessed to me and invited me to a Bible study and to church. I hadn’t been to church in several years, and I had never been to a Bible study! I gave my life to Christ at 12 years old, but through high school I had not been thinking about God much at all. Let alone thinking about what He wanted for my life!
Over the few months that followed I rededicated my life to Christ. I took communion for the first time, got baptized, and started volunteering in the children’s ministry and youth group. Children’s ministry was a natural thing for me to get into. I had always loved kids and had often babysat for family members and my parents’ friends. Youth group was a little less comfortable for me, and I decided to stay behind the scenes helping with set up/ tear down and working in the sound room. Doing so still gave me the opportunity to hear the youth Pastor’s sermons.
One night, a couple weeks into my final semester of prerequisite classes, the youth Pastor spoke on asking God for direction in our lives and seeking His will above our own. He included some of his own testimony in the sermon. The message was geared mostly toward the high school juniors and seniors in attendance, but it was an anointed word that made everyone there stop and think. Including me.
I began to wonder, was what I wanted for my life the same thing that God wanted? Was I seeking His will or following my own? I had never really asked him before, at least not that I remembered. I had some praying to do!
And pray I did. For several weeks I didn’t get any direct answer, but I began to realize more and more my love for children. The little ones in the church nursery absolutely captured my heart. Teaching and playing with the preschool aged Sunday school kids was so much fun! Then on the news I would see stories about abused children or of daycare personnel grossly neglecting the babies in their care. It shattered my child loving heart. I remember wondering, how anyone could hurt a child like that? The world needed more child care workers who really cared about the kids.
I don’t remember exactly how I found out, but at some point during this time I realized that my college had an Early Childhood Education program. As I looked into it more I found out that most of the classes I had already taken could be applied to that program as well!
What an obvious answer to prayer, right!? Not exactly. You see, a preschool teacher makes A LOT less money than an X-ray tech. Also, the scholarship that had paid for my classes up to that point was specifically for students going for or in the Radiography program. I had no way of paying for college myself at that time. I was only working part time and full time jobs that would work around a college schedule were hard to find.
So, I sought counsel. That counsel gave me mixed answers. Some told me that God would want me to be able to provide well for myself, so stick with the Radiography program. Others said that since God had given me such a heart for children, then he must want me to change my program and I would have to trust Him for provision. Still undecided, I applied for both programs.
A couple weeks later I asked a dear friend of mine to pray with me about my choice. As we were praying I clearly heard God tell me to “Take care of the children.” Then my friend looked up at me and smiled saying, “You have an answer, don’t you!” I told her and we prayed a little more, thanking God for His answer. I also asked Him to “close the door” and not let them accept me into the Radiography program if it was not His will for me.
Finally, I got the determination letters from the college about both programs. I was accepted into both! Confused, I prayed and asked God why He didn’t close that door to me. His answer was that the choice was mine. He wasn’t going to make it for me. I had to decide, with my own free will. Was going to follow the path he wanted for me or if I was going to go my own way?
It’s difficult when we work so hard for a specific goal, only to have our plans change. I had a career path in mind for nearly 2½ years. I took classes like Medical Terminology that I wouldn’t have needed to take to care for children. The unknown of how I was going to pay for the classes and how I would financially support myself after were frightening.
The orientation for the Radiography program was the next week. I decided to go and at least see what it was all about before making a final decision. The requirements weren’t anything I couldn’t handle. There was no reason I couldn’t continue on that path. Except that I just couldn’t settle on it and have peace, knowing that God wanted me to go another way. I had to leave my worries and fears about it with Him and decide to trust him with everything.
At the end of the Fall 2010 semester, I graduated with my Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Looking back now I can see, at least in part, why God’s plan was the better one.
Having my background has allowed me to be a better children’s ministry worker, and even create my own curriculum. I feel like it has made me a better mom then I would have been. Now I know about child development, safety and nutrition, and all of the other things I learned from my classes. When I have worked, I have never had to miss a holiday or birthday because of work, which is hugely important to me. That wasn’t even something I had thought about when I was planning to work at a hospital! When I have been home, like I am now, I know how to teach my little ones myself and have done home preschool with them. I am still using my education without being in a classroom setting. Even when I blog, I sometimes write about teaching children to help other parents do the same thing!
I hope that my testimony encourages you to not hesitate to follow the path God has laid out for you! My only regret is all my worrying about the decision. He might take you into uncharted territory. Your dreams and plans may be changed. But God sees the big picture, far beyond what you can see or imagine. He is not going to steer you wrong! God loves you! He wants what is best for you, and for all those who will be affected by your decisions.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9