In August, I attended my first tournament in over a year. The time in NYC and onsite with players at the US Open was a time of reconnecting and remembering why the LORD called me to this ministry in the first place.
We all need to be loved for who we are, not what we do (or did). Remaining present and available in the lives of others is not easy. It can be very time-consuming and stressful. But it opens hearts and ears. It demonstrates that Jesus isn’t just about “conversions.” People mattered to Him in all their messiness and pain and even rejection of Him.
In my year away from the tour, I learned that God is patient and faithful to continue His work, even when His ministers don’t have it in them to go on. We all need breaks. Jesus even had to take off for the hills to get away from the stress of ministry. He found rest in the presence of the Father regularly, and sometimes withdrew abruptly.
Going forward, I plan to heed the advice of my friends in ministry and be more like Jesus in withdrawing from the stress of ministry regularly so that I don’t have to bring things to a halt again. While my time away from traveling provided the opportunity to write down a fuller account of my ministry and produce Over Oceans: A Memoir, I was pained by texts from player friends asking when I was going to return and if I left the tour because I was angry with them. I assured them that they had done nothing wrong. It was my lack of full recovery from long, overseas trips and getting improper treatment for an auto-immune disease that had me side-lined.
Going forward, I also plan to be more creative about my one-on-one time with players. Time spent onsite at tournaments is important, but it is just one space open to me to encourage player friends. Beyond personal contact, the production of articles and books geared toward the interests and needs of women in professional sports, can be a powerful means of contact. It is largely for this reason that I took the time to write Over Oceans: A Memoir , set up the long list of resources on the WSO website, and have other articles and books in the works.
Going forward requires support. And as many of you know, I recently left my church of nearly twenty years. The decision to leave was based on increasing difficulties with stated denominational views on women in ministry. While variations can be found from church to church, the overall emphasis is not one that lends much support for individual gifting but rather presses understood culture-based roles not necessarily found in Scripture. And so, convinced by the Word and the Spirit, I found it necessary to seek out another local church family and larger organizational connections in which to entrust the formal oversight of my mission work.
Rested, re-oriented and encouraged by new ministry connections, I am excited for the future. And I can’t wait to share with you what God has next!