"Creation" of a marriage and family therapist ... take one.

I looked at the young woman in dismay.

She had just confirmed my greatest fear. The Lord really was asking me to go back to school to be a counselor. I had gone over this in my mind -- for many, many years -- hoping I would never have to do it. You know how it is: You know there is something you are supposed to do, but it doesn't fit the picture you have of your life, and so you keep putting it out of your mind ... never doing anything about it, and somehow hoping God will forget He called you to that.

The rent for my existence just came due.

And God had come calling to collect it.

We were at Creation Northeast. It had been a week and I was exhausted. The entire time, I had been faced with issues that called upon every tiny piece of untaught counseling knowledge I had -- from cutting preteens to suicidal teens; from upset young ladies to disgruntled adults. A 17-year-old had been absent from our group for some time, causing a great deal of consternation. In reality, I knew, she had been hiding away with her boyfriend, doing God-knows-what. As our youth pastor talked to her about consequences, I foolishly said to myself, "If she looks at me and says, 'Can we talk?' I'm going to get a counseling degree."

Oh, oh. The next thing I knew, she flicked back her blond hair and, looking directly into my eyes, said the phrase that changed my life: "Can we talk?"

If I had any doubts, what followed in the next few days eliminated them. Immediately, I called one of my prayer partners and asked her to pray about if (still hopeful!) and how I was supposed to do this. I searched out the program at Evangelical Theological Seminary that one of our pastors had recommended I check out months ago. I tentatively talked to someone at Evangelical hoping they'd say it was far too late to apply for that year. Nope. In fact, they encouraged me to apply and told me they'd work with any prerequisites I might be missing. Their new student orientation was coming up -- if I hurried, I could make it in time (I did).

In our first class, I was amazed to find out I was in a Marriage and Family Therapy program -- not a Christian counseling one. Although I quickly fell in love with the concepts, it was still a big surprise. I realized that the grace of God had placed me exactly where I needed to be ... and that this type of therapy -- based on family systems theory -- fit me far better than anything else I could imagine. I loved my classes, and my professors ... it was an amazing experience. In due time, after three years of classes, internships at Hershey Evangelical Free Church and the Marriage and Family Center in Lititz, I graduated. I was a marriage and family therapist at last.

And it wasn't a bit scary.

Since then, God has taken me on an amazing ride, both personally and professionally. You'll hear about more of it via this blog, no doubt. However, the most amazing thing is this --

He was right.

I love this job. I love helping people see their inner strengths. I love couples learn to look at one another with love again. I love everything about it.

Welcome to Sanctuary. May it truly be a sanctuary for you in the midst of life's craziness. May you find the vision God has for your life. May we be able to help you do that.

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