I’m the model middle child. Smack in the middle of five children, I’m the peace maker, the care giver, the organizer of events, and pretty much everything else a middle child represents. Except I’m not ignored or forgotten as middle children often claim to be. Certainly my parents and siblings may have tried to ignore me at times, but I’m a self proclaimed attention lover, and I refuse to take a back seat.
My need for attention, however, is not why I write, speak, or even why I’ve built this site; so here’s a little history to explain why I’m here. Early in life, God became very real to me. He was not some abstract figure that prayers floated up to. He heard my prayers and cared about me, a little farm girl in Washington state. While still very young, I gave my heart to Him and determined that I would always live for God.
Living for God while surrounded by a loving family was not a difficult task. Although sometimes considered poor in material things (our family of seven lived in a two bedroom one bathroom mobile home for part of my childhood), we were rich in the things that matter most. Laughter, love, and adventures with my siblings made up my world.
When I was eight years old, our family was confronted with something that had the potential to change everything. My brother Berkeley was born with Down Syndrome, a genetic chromosomal disorder. Not even beginning to understand what this would mean long-term, my parents poured the same love into him as they did their other four children; and through that, I learned what unconditional love was. Childhood turned to adolescence and then to early adulthood.
More determined than ever to live my life for God, I attended four years of Bible college. I had my life planned out, with God’s permission of course, I would marry a pastor and we would live in a rural community and work with people I understood. If I did not marry, I’d go to a foreign mission field and work with orphaned children. You can imagine my bewilderment when a diploma was placed in my hands, and I had no calling, absolutely no calling to either of those fields.
Not knowing what else to do, I returned home and found a job. I began to work with people I didn’t understand at all. Plunged into a world where sophistication reigned, I learned what the rest of the world was like – that world that isn’t protected in a cocoon of loving families and sheltered by the church. Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp! I had to learn to be competitive in fierce markets, and the ability to negotiate and read people were no longer ways to merely get something I wanted. These skills were necessary survival tools in modern America. My professional work also meant that I rubbed shoulders with the elite. I attended social functions that boggled my mind with their price tags, and I learned how to dress and act in this other world.
As the years passed, I sometimes questioned whether or not God intended me to keep moving forward in my career, but to my puzzlement, I still felt no call to move in a different direction.
In my personal time, I stayed active in my church and pursued a closer relationship with Christ. Eventually, I began a one-on-one Bible study with a woman I knew. She was desperate. She didn’t come from the perfect world that I’d grown up in, but I could understand her now because I no longer lived in that perfect world either. Soon I’d started another study with a small group. How I loved explaining the truth of God’s word to them. How I loved watching their lives change before my eyes.
One day at work, I stood before a hostile audience. With a pounding heart and trembling limbs, I looked at this group before me, and as my gaze met with icy stares and folded arms, I began to lose my nerve. “Oh God,” I prayed, “this is too much. I can’t do this.” A feeling of calm washed over me. I took a deep breath and faced that room with all of the honesty I had in my being. I listened to their concerns, we talked through the challenges we all faced, and with wonder I watched their anger disappear.
A soft voice deep within me said, “This is what you were meant to do, Laura, but not in the business world anymore.” Somehow, my two worlds had joined. All of those years of secular work were a training ground where I’d learned about the hurt, the anger, and the disappointments that often drive people. Unlike so many, I also had the benefit of a secure upbringing and a God that offers the solutions for all of those aching problems.
I did not seek the attention that comes with writing and speaking, but not unlike a middle child, I stand in between those two worlds of confusion and peace. I’ve experienced both sides, and my desire is to stand in the middle, take you by the hand, and lead you to a place of peace and a closer walk with God.