I grew up in a Christian home, and I spent a lot of time at church. When I was four I realized that I needed to make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. No one was with me, but I'd heard all the instructions many times, so I asked the Lord to take away my sin and give me a home in heaven. My favorite color at the time was white, and I chose Psalm 51:7 as my favorite verse: “...Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” That was the beginning of my walk with Jesus.
When I talk about Beginnings, I have to mention Shiloh Bible Camp. I came to Shiloh for the first time when I was ten—and I immediately felt at home there, perhaps in part because my great-grandfather was a pioneer just down the road from the camp's location. When I was thirteen, I was asked to come work in the kitchen. I see Shiloh as the beginning of my ministry—the first place I was aware that I was serving God. I was just the “gopher” in the kitchen—I didn't even cook! I brought ingredients to the cooks and I dished up pudding and I set the tables. I worked in the kitchen for several weeks every summer and I did some junior counseling too, until the summer I graduated from highschool. That year, there was something new at Camp, the Christians In Training program, and it was the only option for teenagers who wanted to volunteer at camp. I was very anxious to stay involved at camp, so I filled out my application as soon as I received it and mailed it the next day. I've been told I was the very first CITer. I remember one of the verses we learned in CIT:
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)Shiloh gave me a wonderful beginning in serving God and seeing that every job from cleaning bathrooms to mowing the lawn could be done for His glory...and it was fun when I was working with other Christians!
Of course I also began a lot of friendships at Shiloh—including my very best friend Lissa, and my husband Mark. Mark and I met in 1989, and we started dating at a Study Retreat in March 1993. For that first year, we only saw each other at Shiloh. This was a wonderful way to begin a relationship because it was all very real. There weren't any romantic candlelight dinners—we were washing pots and pans and making pizza!
The next page in my scrapbook is titled "Guidance." As I look at the four years of our dating relationship and the first few years of our marriage, I see God's guidance. I know God guided us to meet the way we did, and as He led us toward marriage, He guided me through a series of jobs. I worked in a clothing store, where I worked with a woman who knew the manager of the Washington Mutual Bank in Aberdeen. Eventually I went to work at that WaMu, and that led to a transfer to a branch in Salem, Oregon where Mark was going to college when we got married. I didn't get the first job I applied for—it seemed perfect at the time—but God was guiding me to the next job, and it was better. It was inside a Fred Meyer store, and after Mark and I were married he worked in that Fred Meyer. We had two less-than-dependable cars, so it was very helpful to work in the same building! Experiencing that season of guidance prepared me for a later season of guidance when Mark lost his teaching job in Oregon and we moved to Las Vegas.
I trust in You, Lord; I say, "You are my God." The course of my life is in Your power. (Psalm 31:14-15)