Monday, October 17, 2011


Last spring, as you know, I agreed to do something I never thought I would do again: teach.

Believe me, when the word “Yes” came out of my mouth I was probably the most surprised person in the room. I still am.

Last summer, while sitting on the sabbatical dock, I asked B why he thought God would have me go back to teaching because going back to work in any way, shape, or form was not in my Life Plan. I didn’t need the money (although I’m not complaining about getting a paycheck!), I didn’t need to get up early (most mornings when my alarm goes of at 5:45 a.m. I curse myself for that decision), and I certainly didn’t need the hassle.

B, being the ever-wise-one that he is, just quietly reflected for a moment. And then he said, “You are so much more confident as a mom now. Maybe someone in your class just needs a mom figure.”

I’ve mulled that over so many times this semester. And I really thought he was right when a girl came up to me after class one day and said to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes your mannerisms and the way you talk about your family remind me so much of my mom, and I miss my mom so much right now.”

And I agreed in my heart that B was right when two girls from my classes at different times asked me to have lunch with them. What fun to hear their stories and to share a bit of mine!

So, O.K., if God wants me to be a “mom figure” to some college girls, I’m good with that.

But I still felt there was something more. Some hard work He had me to do. But I didn’t know what that could be.

Until last week when I had one-on-one meetings with each of my students, all 40 of them, and during one of those meetings I had a conversation I never expected to have at my Christian college. One of my students told me he was struggling with his faith.

Struggling is one thing. It’s normal, expected almost, but calling oneself an atheist at a Christian college is another thing entirely.

I loved talking with my student last week; I appreciated his openness and his sincerity. I asked a lot of questions, just trying to get a sense of how this happened, this loss of faith, and whether he felt he could, or even wanted to, get it back. And the entire time I felt the Holy Spirit telling me not to worry about this boy—that God had His hand on him and He would take care of the outcome.

As he left, I told him there was a book I really wanted him to read—Carolyn Weber’s Surprised by Oxford. I don’t know why, but I thought it might resonate with him somehow.

I loaned him my copy last Friday. On Sunday he was waiting for me at the back of my church (um, yes, church!), smiling, and telling me how much he enjoyed the book. The 400 page book that he had devoured in two days!

As God would have it, I had actually cooked a decent lunch yesterday, so I asked if he had any plans and would he like to come over to our house? He agreed. Now, on any other Sunday I would have offered him a bowl of cereal, but yesterday I had made a pork roast because Kate was home for Fall Break. (God thing? I think yes.)

While my girls were getting lunch ready, my student and I sat on the couch in our family room and talked about the book. He said to me that what he has started to realize, and what he took from Carolyn Weber’s book, is that Christianity isn’t so much about our seeking God, but it’s more about God seeking us.


We chatted about the parts of the book that we really liked and what it meant to us, and then he told me that he is planning to take next semester off to study in . . . get this! . . . Oxford! I had no idea that this was his plan when I gave him the book.

God thing? I think yes.

We enjoyed a great lunch, great conversation, and a great day. And I received great confirmation that I am exactly where God needs me to be right now.

Someday I’ll have time to blog consistently again, but I’ll be honest, my blog is taking a back seat right now. Teaching has to be first because it’s where God has called me to be for this season, and I can’t wait to see what He confirms for me next.

And also? This weekend I met an author who also spoke some truth into my life (I’ll tell you more about that later), and so my other writing is taking second place starting today.

Blogging? Third place for now. But that’s O.K. I have the confirmation I need that I’m doing what I need to be doing. And that is so sweet.

How about you? How has God confirmed your steps lately? I’d love to hear about it!

I'm linking up with my sweet friend, Richella's, "Grace Imparted" series today.


Despite the fact that I'm not as consistent as I'd like to be, I'd still love to have you follow me here. That way you can get updates as soon (or as late) as they come up. Just head over there ----> and hit the little RSS Feed button or sign up for email updates. And thanks. I love followers!


  1. That is such an amazing story, Shelly!!! I love it. I'm also excited to hear that writing is getting moved up on the priority list.

  2. Beautiful. This is why as a family we've chosen to invest our lives in college students. It certainly has it's moments of frustration and discouragement, but God given opportunities like these make the hardships fade away.

    So thankful you are where you are and praying that you will continue to have these opportunities.

  3. Shelly-
    So happy to hear how the Lord is using you in your students' lives. Just the fact that you choose to meet for an hour with each student is a gift and the fact that you care and desire to point them to Jesus is fantastic! What a gift you are to these college students.

  4. One of my favorite things in all of life . . . is the amazing thing that God chooses to use us. It always brings such joy and I enjoyed hearing the joy in your post here today, Shelly. Isn't God cool? (and so are you.)

    I am so looking forward to being on campus with you next week.

    Impressive and fun that you met with each student. What a great idea.

    See you soon.

  5. Believe me, I'm not as magnanimous as you all make me sound. I'm required to meet with each of my students twice during the semester--and for 15 minutes each, not an hour like Becky would have you think! (I think that would have killed me!)

    Just setting the record straight. :) But it IS really fun!

    Glenda, I can't wait either. It's going to be great!

  6. I love this so much, Shelly!!! I love "God stories" - where He lets us see, so clearly, exactly why He's doing what He's doing. And when He uses us to do it? Amazing! I love that He has changed your story and that it's blessing you AND your students. And I love that you're working on some other kind of writing project. Even if the blog comes third. Because I am hoping that this project is a book, and then I will read it. :)

  7. Awesome, truly!

  8. What a wonderful story--and a wonderful telling of it, too.

    There are a lot of things that I don't particularly like about being 48 years old. Old Enough for hot flashes? Check. Old Enough for lots of gray hairs? Check. Old Enough for more wrinkles than I can count and even a few age spots? Check. Don't like these things at all.

    But Old Enough to recognize God's work? While it's happening?? Yeah, that part I like.

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

  9. I'm so glad that student is getting loving, non-pressuring help as he struggles with faith. Wheaton (at least the faculty and staff I know from there) is such a great place that way!

  10. What a beautiful story! The college years are still so formative, and these students are so lucky to have you guiding them!

  11. Thanks for sharing that beautiful story. I just finished that book two nights ago and really enjoyed it. I'm excited about the upcoming series at church, too, on "God's Answer to Atheism."

    Love how God is using you in this calling and how He does surprise, doesn't He? I hope to see you around soon. Are you going on the Women's Retreat?

  12. I'm a Weepah! How wonderful that not only are you teaching these kids, but connecting with them, too. It's something we all hope for with our kids at any age in school -- that they connect with a teacher and really learn! Nice job, Shelly!
    --Marie Furrh

  13. Thanks for sharing this story, Shelly! Brought tears to my eyes. So happy for you that you're so clearly where He wants you to be right now. I love hearing stories like this!!!

  14. Wheaton has some great teachers!!

  15. Oh Shelly, I think God definitely has you right where He wants you. I know it must be hard to be doing something that kind of goes against your natural grain right now, but I'm sure there is purpose and that makes it palatable. How wonderful to see such results in this young man so quickly. Isn't it powerful when God plugs us into a work He's already doing?

    I have felt God's confirmation recently in my work and pursuits, but I'm also at one of those points where I'm needing a little more and not getting it. I can see many things He has done in the recent past, but I'm needing some fresh affirmation. I guess that's just a lack of faith on my part. Still I press on.

  16. this post put tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing.