Excellence is a dance of the mind, body, and spirit. That has been my personal mission statement for more than 20 years. When I look back over my choreography, I would have to say that historically I have invested more of my energy in the first two, and less in the third. I often describe myself as a lifelong learner, someone who takes great joy in learning new things. I was the first in my family to attend college, where my love for learning pushed me beyond my bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree in civil engineering, and then even further returning to school as an older adult to complete my PhD. I continue to challenge my mind through reading, intellectual pursuits, music, art, writing, and teaching. I am also a very active person and love being outdoors doing almost anything. I am blessed with a love of running, and it is often during the quiet times of my morning run that I am most often in communion with God.
Until recently, I nurtured my spirit through prayer, community service, communion with nature, and quality time with loved ones. I attended worship service regularly, but wasn’t investing much time beyond that. This wasn’t always the case, as I grew up in a wonderful Baptist church in West Columbia, South Carolina… not far from my mother’s home town, which also happens to be where Lauren grew up. I was at church Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings. I participated in VBS, Girls in Action, and dinner on the grounds. It was here that I accepted Christ as my savior and was baptized. After my parents divorced, my mother remarried and we moved to Wilmington, NC, my stepdads hometown, and started attending a very conservative church that had very restrictive views on women and pretty much everything else. Not being a very conventional person, I struggled to feel connected when on the best of days, I felt less than, and on the worst of days not welcomed. With all the other distractions of high school it was easy to put church on the back burner, and then eventually in the deep freeze. I am witness to the fact that while we may be guilty of turning our attention away from God, God never turns his attention away from us. It was a journey back to the church as I struggled to find a church family that shared my same passion for social justice and inclusiveness… an even longer journey back to the Baptist church.
For over 20 years, I have attended church regularly, but was not really a part of a church family. I gave of my resources, but not my time and talents. In the fall of 2013, God called me into closer relationship with him, and lay heavy on my heart the need to invest more of myself, and to find a church family where I could do just that. I am so thankful that call was answered by Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, a church family where I feel so welcomed and included. From the first day, I walked through those doors in June of 2014, and every day since, I have felt the love of Christ through all of you. I am so humbled to be standing before you as your next deacon of discipleship. Of all the leadership positions I have held, I feel most unqualified for this one. But I move forward boldly, knowing that God will give me everything I need to meet this challenge, including the words and the wisdom to serve you and this community, and all of you who will be there serving beside me.