I was asked to write this post for the Valley Church of West Des Moines women’s blog. You can find the original post here, but I’m also posting it here on the blog today (scroll for the full story).
Growing up, I was the kid who couldn’t stop writing. Most 10-year-olds dream about becoming a lawyer, doctor, nurse, firefighter, teacher, etc., but me? All I wanted to do was tell stories. When I wasn’t outside playing with my sister, I spent most of my time reading books, watching movies and writing my own stories. I loved everything about the communication process and enjoyed being able to convey a message through my words.
By the time my senior year of high school rolled around, I knew exactly where I wanted to go to school and what I wanted to major in. Without hesitation I enrolled at Ball State University to study magazine journalism with the intention of one day becoming the editor-in-chief of a magazine. This was my dream and my plan for my life, and so, I devoted my college years to preparing myself for a career in the magazine industry. As a freshman I became a contributor for the campus magazine and spent the rest of my college career working my way up the editorial ladder. Eventually my hard work paid off and after two internships and countless hours working for the campus magazine, I was chosen to be editor-in-chief.
Simultaneously during this time, I started this blog. I originally created the blog because I wanted to have a place outside of my journalism writing where I could share personal stories, life lessons and faith encouragement. After keeping the blog up for a year, my now husband and I had a conversation about the purpose of the blog over dinner one night.
He took a few bites of the Bruschetta Chicken Pasta I’d made and looked up at me and smiled. “You know what, Lauren, you’re a really good cook,” he said. “I mean, seriously — the recipes you come up with … they are so creative and inspiring! You should really start sharing these on your blog. Actually … you know what you could do? You could make the site about both food and faith inspiration and see where that takes you.”
At the time food blogging was becoming increasingly popular and I felt good about my husband’s suggestion, so that’s exactly what I did. Making the change was easy because I didn’t have many readers, and I also didn’t post very often because I was too busy studying or working at the magazine.
Little did I know the plans God had for the future of my blog and my writing career were about to take a major turn.
Life changed after graduation. Suddenly all the dreams I once had for myself came face-to-face with reality (paying bills, saving for a wedding, saving for a house) and I had a very hard decision to make in regards to my career. I had two options: work a part-time paid internship at the metro publication of my dreams, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, or work a steady full-time job as a communication specialist for a school district.
The plans I had for my life told me take the paid internship, but there was no guarantee that it would lead to a full-time position and for some reason, no matter how much I wanted to feel good about the decision, when I prayed I didn’t have a peace about it.
But God, I thought I was supposed to be the editor-in-chief of a magazine? That’s all I’ve ever wanted. What am I supposed to do now? I prayed.
He answered clear as day: “My dearest Lauren, I have blessed you with the gift of writing. I know you wanted a magazine career but I’m asking you to lay that at my feet and be faithful with the opportunities I’ve already placed in front of you.”
You mean like my blog?
“Yes! And the book you started writing, too. I know you see these things as a hobby, but I want you to use them to bring glory and honor to my name and to bless others.”
It was a bold calling from the Lord — to lay my dreams, plans and desires at His feet in exchange for an unknown, undefined career path. Part of me felt sad when I thought about giving up the magazine dream. I’d spent the last four years of my life devoted to becoming the best writer and editor I could be, and I grieved the thought of not pursuing that career path, no matter how risky it seemed.
That same day, “Shepherd” by Bethel Music came on my Pandora station. As I listened to the lyrics, I knew God was using the song to speak to me and urge me to trust Him:
“In the process
In the waiting
You’re making melodies over me
And your presence is the promise
For I am a pilgrim on a journey
You will lift my head above the mighty wave
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness you are the strength that comes from within
Good shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on
You make my footsteps and my path secure
So walking on water is just the beginning
Cause my faith to arise, stand at attention
For You are calling me to greater things”
In that moment I realized though I started my blog as a hobby, God had used Making Life Sweet to do a work in my heart while strengthening and empowering the faith of others, too. Looking back on how the blog had evolved, I could clearly see that He was leading me on a journey of faith and calling me to pursue ministry in a greater capacity. Suddenly I knew exactly what I needed to do. I would be faithful to the Lord and take the steady job while pursuing a career in women’s ministry on the side.
Since I graduated college in 2013, the Lord has continued to lead me on this journey of ministry, teaching me many things along the way. With His guidance I have stepped out in faith and written a Christian women’s inspirational book, which I am currently working on getting published. More recently, after feeling a nudge from the Lord to start speaking, I launched an inspirational podcast called “Finding Joy.” Balancing these things on top of a full-time job hasn’t been easy, but God has given me the passion and joy I need to stick the course. More importantly He has grown my faith to a place I never thought it could be while allowing me to touch the lives of many through my writing. There are people who come to my site for recipes and then stumble across my faith posts, where they learn about Jesus. For these things, I am forever thankful.
When I started blogging, it was mostly about me and what I could get out of it. I wanted to have a place where I could share my thoughts with the world and write about whatever I wanted to write about. But over the years, as God has called me deeper into ministry, I now see that it has been and never will be about me. It has always been and will always be about Him and the GREATER story He is authoring.
My book may never be published, I may never get to do ministry full time, my podcast might not go on forever, or the very opposite could happen. Either way I know in my heart that whatever happens I am grateful for the opportunity to be, as Mother Teresa once said, a pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.
Have your plans for your life been interrupted by God? What has He called you to and how can you learn along the journey? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!