I have come to realize that serving the Lord is full of twists, turns, and sometimes even turbulence—and that how we serve him is multidimensional.
After seminary, I served in a variety of ministries I loved. On a church staff in Texas, I worked with teenage girls, led a weekly Bible study, was involved with the music, and spent one-on-one ministry time with young singles.
Then my marriage transplanted me to Pennsylvania where, in order to support my husband's academic studies, I switched from ministry to hospital administration. I eventually worked my way into management, computers, and software development. Ministry opportunities were scarce. Much as I enjoyed what I was doing, it felt like a detour—as though I'd stepped away from my service to God.
When our daughter was three, we uprooted again and moved to Oxford, England, for a four-year stint while my husband pursued doctoral studies and I supported our family with my software development business. I was in the middle of what turned out to be a 13-year hiatus from official ministry. My energies centered on family concerns and working with my clients. I didn't have much time or energy left for anything else, and I still remember a sense of guilt that I wasn't really serving the Lord.
But during those years, a friend's words freed me to think differently about what constitutes service to God: "Sometimes your family is your ministry." She validated the significance of everything I was doing at that time.1