Called to Ministry? Nah.

Tami.Scripture.LaunchPhoto

I come from a family of ministers.  My mom, my dad, a few aunts, uncles, cousins, my sister and my niece all professed to be “called” to the ministry at a young age.  Even my daughter is leaving soon for a year to minister to others on the world stage of missions.

Me?  Nope. Not me.  If there’s one thing I’ve always known about myself, it’s that I was NOT called to be a minister.  Being called to the ministry was something that happened to other preacher’s kids at summer camp.  Not me.  Many of my friends and family in ministry know God put this call on their lives.  I never felt that way.  Never had that still, small voice telling me to leave my nets and follow Jesus into the unknown throes of ministry.

When I was a kid, being “called” to the ministry meant you HEARD the call, and ANSWERED that call by attending Bible college or seminary, getting ordained as a pastor and leading a group of adults or families or youth or a choir in the day to day living out of faith.  It was messy and challenging and involved being able to speak wisdom in front of a group of people.

I have to admit to being both envious of those who heard the call and relieved that I wasn’t one of them.  Being a PK (pastor’s kid), I’d heard my share of messy stories and really couldn’t fathom being the one who would help out someone in that kind of need.

I don’t think kids now have this dilemma.  If they grow up in a church, they are sent on missions trips out of the country or even in their own towns.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, bringing hope to the hopeless.  They are the hands and feet of Jesus.  They LOVE like Jesus did.  They don’t wait for a calling. They DO stuff.

But me? I wasn’t called.  So I lived my life.  I raised my kids. I taught them to love Jesus.  I prayed for family members and friends. Even counseled a friend or two in a tough spot.  I gave a sandwich to a beggar on the street.  Gave a blanket to a cold homeless woman on a rainy night. Wait. What? That sounds suspiciously like ministry.

And so, at the ripe old age of fifty-something, I’m finally realizing I am called.  Called just like you are called.  In the trenches of real life.  It’s still messy and challenging, but doesn’t necessarily involve being able to speak in front of a group of people.  (Can I get an Amen?)

What it does involve is being available.  Teachable.  Willing to use your gifts to share the gospel.

Which brings us to today.  LifeWordsToday, to be exact.

About a month before we ever began discussing the idea for this blog, I came upon a scripture – Psalm 49:3  “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.”  I was compelled to write it on a card to keep in my Bible.  Next to the verse I wrote, “3/12/13 = from God = (?about what?)”

A calling, perhaps?

What’s your calling?

How I became involved with LifeWords Today…

Proverbs 3:5-6

Proverbs 3:5-6

After my mom, Tami, had returned home from a trip visiting her sister, Karen, and niece, Kristin, on the east coast she told me all about her trip.  She then presented me with the idea that the 3 of them wanted to write and start a blog.  They wanted to incorporate my grandma, Gladys, who was a pastor back in the day.  She has since passed away, but her words, knowledge, and sermons still remain.

When my mom was telling me about their ideas for LifeWords Today, she asked if I wanted to join them.  I immediately said yes! I put it all together that this blog would be of Gladys, her 2 daughters, and 2 granddaughters. How special is that?!

In the past year I have experienced a radical change with Jesus.  I went on a month long trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua with my best friend Rachel. We had a lot of down time and decided to spend it with God.  I was away from the business of life here in the states and had time to dig into my relationship with God, and Rachel was with me to help me do that.  When I returned to the states after being gone one month, I was searching for more of God and experienced culture shock coming back to constant go, go, go and having to force myself to be still and spend time with God.

In August of that same year, I went with Rachel to a Bible study that rocked my world as I knew it.  I was given prophecies that were already taking place and after putting my full trust in God and surrendering my life to him I was filled with a deep joy; a joy that is only from the Lord.  I see the little miracles of the Lord throughout my day, and I am learning to continually thank him for everything.  I have not only been filled with joy, but I have experienced God’s love and it is overwhelming! He has filled me with this joy and love to share with others and that is exactly why when my mom asked if I wanted to be apart of the LifeWords Today, I said yes! I want to share with others what the Lord has given me, and be an encouragement! The Lord wants you, but he is waiting for you to give him full permission to do so. I did it and I will forever be changed!

My favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

Because It’s In My Blood

I was born into a family full of preachers, singers and musicians…and though I felt “called” at the age of 5 to ministry, my ministry never took the shape I thought it was required to take. I have only recently realized that we are all called and that God uses each unique path in this life when we invite Him in and ask Him to use us… turns out I don’t have to be a speaker, a singer, or fluent in Hebrew… I just have to be me. My Grandma Johnson helped me to realize that in her last years on this earth, and she still inspires me daily.

Johnson's first pastorate
(Grandma, 2nd from left, at her first pastorate – yep, a woman preacher in the 40’s!)

My Grandmother was the kind of woman everyone wanted to be and/or be with. She was daughter, sister, wife, mother…. preacher, pastor, counselor and friend. I had the great privilege of having her in my life for 35 years. I know many people who never even had the chance to know their grandparents, or lost them much earlier in life. Though I didn’t live near my Grandma Johnson after the age of 5, I spent a great deal of time with her in the summers in my younger years. Later, when life didn’t afford me the time to spend with her in person, we began to spend more time on the phone together. When I started AndyBooks she helped by writing some short words of wisdom for me to post on my “For Your Spirit” page and we called them “Words from Gladys.” She wrote these for me between the years of 2002 and 2005, and that page still gets the most hits on my site every single month. She was a gentle soul and I never remember her raising her voice to anyone for any reason at any time. People loved her and learned from her. They wanted to spend time with her and she was always gracious and generous with her time. I don’t know how she wore so many hats simultaneously in her life, but from my perspective she did it with a grace and ease that made me want to be just like her.

My life has taken many different turns than hers did, so as I have grown older I have learned not to compare myself directly to her, but to instead pray for and hope to emulate her character. I don’t know if I have met that challenge with much success yet, but perhaps my love of writing passed to me through her and now God is giving me a chance to share it with others. My mother, Karen, and my Aunt Tami were both gifted with beautiful voices, and my Grandmother shared her voice boldly from the pulpit as well as gently one-on-one. Now it’s time to find my voice. I have been praying about my direction in life and how to use my gifts more effectively. When my Aunt Tami came to visit me in Charlotte in April 2013 and for the first time in my adult life I spent time alone with her, I came to realize that the women in our family come from a long heritage of ministry. When she told me the story of my 9th Great Grandmother, a Quaker preacher on Nantucket, I was overwhelmed by our awesome history that boasts women preaching and ministering before it was an “acceptable” thing for women to do! When she asked me what I thought of collaborating on this blog with my Mom, herself and my cousin Nikki, I was thrilled. It seems that God has orchestrated all of this (what a surprise, LOL) and that He has given us this platform to use our collective voice and mantle of ministry passed down for a couple hundred years.

Gladys Johnson, my Grandmother, passed away just prior to her 91st birthday in 2009. My Mother is 71, my Aunt is 54, I am 38 and my cousin Nikki is 25. Together, we cover nearly a century, and we have collectively traveled all over the globe. This gives 5 very distinct perspectives on life and ministry, and together we form LifeWords Today.

I’m excited and I hope you are too! LET OUR WORDS SPEAK LIFE!

LifeWords Blog Backdrop ~ My Point of View

While my sister, Tami, was visiting me in Massachusetts, I mentioned to her that I had always had an idea of a short 3-5 minute radio program that was an encouragement to those listening. Since Tami is a professional voice personality and does voice recordings for clients in her home, I thought she could give me some advice as to how to proceed with my idea. Because it is costly to record and buy time on radio stations, she suggested an online blog might be a better way to get an “audience.” The name LifeWords Today was decided upon and my daughter, Kristin, and Tami’s daughter Nikki also said God was dealing with them to get active in an ongoing ministry of edification.

With Tami’s media and technical experience she is the obvious one to set up this blog! This is a mother-daughter adventure! In fact, our Mother, Rev. Gladys Johnson, who passed away in 2009 at age 90, is the main inspiration for this blog. Mom was a writer and Bible teacher and preacher, and her legacy lives on in the hearts of her daughters and grand-daughters. We pray that you will receive encouragement from the Word of God and our combined experiences as you read our LifeWords Today blog and that you will also share it with your friends!