The first 52 years of my life were rather scripted. Small town upbringing. College. Job. Graduate school. Marriage #1. Two kids. Divorce. Corporate job. Corporate merger and severance. New job. New marriage. Growing kids. Blending family. Divorce #2. Empty nester. A co-worker of mine has a saying, "Make a plan. Work the plan." That's what I did, even if I wasn't always sure exactly what the plan was supposed to be.
At the beginning of 2018, I found myself in a time of transitions. I had just sold my house of 16 years, moved from a rural suburb into a more populated area of Dayton, Ohio, and was at a point where other voices weren't dictating how I should spend my days. I had time to listen to God and my heart. In that process, I began to find my voice.
I spent 10 months writing and self-publishing my first book. I began to "put myself out there," doing live storytelling and trying things I had never done before. I began talking to people and listening to their stories. In doing so, I came to better appreciate the power of community. The more I write and the more I listen, the more I understand that God can use each of us to touch someone else’s life. A second book came soon after, followed by a third. Once that fountain opened, a burst of creativity began to flow.
When I am not writing or working, I love to play Euchre; host intimate parties for my friends; and listen to live music, any time, anywhere. My children are in their mid-20s, so time together is scarce. But I cherish the moments we are in the same room at the same time.
Professionally I wear many different hats. By day, I am the Executive Assistant to the President & CEO of a multi-service line, faith based, non-profit organization in Dayton, Ohio. I often say that my main job is to do things that make the jobs of others easier. Here I get to use my organizational and leadership skills to support the company’s mission.
By night and on weekends, I get to be more creative and reflective. I get to pursue my passions and do things that make the lives of others richer. I get to tell stories of how God has brought me to this place and time and share the bits of wisdom I have gathered over my journey. I get to walk, sometimes briefly, with others as our journey’s collide. In those times, I get to use my humor and communication skills to support God’s mission.
Life is hard, too hard to travel this journey alone. My goal, with God's direction and guidance, is to find ways to engage others in community. Through my writing, women's events, storytelling, public speaking, and other endeavors, I want to inspire others to seek ways to build meaningful community with others.
That may sound simple and vague all at the same time. I suppose it is. To say, "I want to make the world a better place" seemed a bit broad. Mostly I just want to tell my stories, engage people in conversation, and connect with other people. And in doing so, continue to listen to my heart and God to see how His plan unfolds.
(Adapted from "God Moments, Stories and Songs of God's Steadfast Love." (c) 2019; Sandra J. Combs.)
My faith statement can be summed up in two phrases, “blessed assurance” and “amazing grace.” I cannot imagine going through life without the assurance that no matter where life leads, God is with me. There is power in that understanding. There is equal power in the knowledge that when I make mistakes, God’s grace sustains me.
"Blessed Assurance" is an old hymn that portrays confidence with the words, “echoes of mercy, whispers of love." I love the imagery of that text.
Echoes – the reverberations of sound coming back to us or the repetition of sound. As we go through life experiencing over and over again the echoes of God’s mercy, and the mercy others afford us even when we may not deserve such, we begin to understand the real meaning of a God moment. Sometimes God moments are powerful, like someone standing in a canyon screaming at the top of their lungs. Sometimes they are gentle, like the final echoes that return.
Whispers – softer sounds meant only for one or a few to hear. I think a whisper can be as powerful as a loud scream because often it is unexpected. A whisper can interrupt chaos. A whisper can bring calm. A whisper can bring a reminder that no matter what else is going on around us, we are not alone.
God moments are everywhere. The key is to notice them and understand them for what they are. God works through people, through creation, through acts that seem like coincidences, but later reveal a deeper purpose. God is everywhere, giving us assurance and grace. That simple fact is the basis for the stories I often tell, and the foundation on which I can live my daily life.