The Shaping of a Leader
The year 1992 was a big year for me. I was thirty-five years old and ready to start a family. Because I had been having trouble conceiving, my husband and I decided to seek professional help from a fertility doctor. As we went through this process, I started to feel discouraged and disappointed that this was the road I had to take in order to have children. Then one day, as I was pulling my car into my garage, the Lord spoke to me and said, “You are going to have twins in your first pregnancy and a singleton in your second. In your first pregnancy, you will conceive through in vitro fertilization. In your second pregnancy, you will get pregnant on your own.” As soon as I parked the car, I pulled out a paper and pen and wrote down what He had said. To this day I still have the original piece of paper. Not long after, within the first in vitro cycle, I became pregnant with twins. Twenty-five weeks into the pregnancy, I was put on complete bed rest, and five weeks later I went into pre-term labor. Ready or not, these babies were coming.
Seven months after the birth of my twins, I found out I was a full twenty weeks pregnant. What a surprise! Nineteen weeks later, I gave birth to another baby. I had birthed three babies within one calendar year! Because my twins were premature and my third child was full term, for the first two years all three of them looked about the same age. I had a modern triplet stroller, had many sleepless nights, and spent hours feeding babies and changing diapers. Those were some of the happiest times of my life.
One snowy winter day, when the kids were toddlers, my son came running into the kitchen and asked me for a cookie (an Oreo to be exact). At that moment, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “There is a need for My Church to pray.” I looked at my son, and then my two daughters, and said to God, “What do you want me to do about it?” I can’t do anything now, I thought. I have three toddlers, and I am a very busy stay-at-home mom!
His words tugged at my heart, however. Before I became a mother, I had spent more than ten years serving God in full-time traveling ministry. Despite the fact that I am a woman, and many of the churches I ministered in had never had a woman speak before, the Lord granted me favor, and I traveled all over the Midwest and East Coast teaching on prayer and many other subjects. We experienced mini-revivals and great demonstrations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many were saved, healed, and challenged to co-labor with God and build His Kingdom. The ministry was growing, and I traveled up to three weeks out of a month. However, when I decided to have children, I laid down the ministry.
But that day in my kitchen, I realized that although I was taking care of my children dressed in an oversized t-shirt, sweats, and white cotton socks, the call of God remained, and one day He would once again ask me to be His mouthpiece. After that encounter, I often felt like my heart was in two places—content in the moment, but also seeing into the future with a vision for ministry.
As I raised my own children, without realizing it I was also being shaped to teach and train this next generation of leaders. When the kids were little, we had no computers in our house, TV was relatively clean, and cell phones didn’t exist. But as they grew, the pressures and anxieties they and their friends encountered also increased, seemingly at the speed of light. I had inside information on what was going on with our young people, the tests and trials they face and the strategies of the enemy to take them out. Looking back, I can see that my infinite God had a bigger plan than I did. He always does what He does with purpose, destiny, and perfect timing.
When my children were about ten years old, God began to draw me into a deeper place of consecration with Him. I would drive the children to the bus stop, watch them get on the bus, drive home, go into my home office, and spend time with God. During that season, I did not do much shopping or have much of a social life. I just hungered to get close to God. I like to say I was “hidden in the house.” I didn’t want anything other than a deeper connection with God, and I used my free time to be with Him. This season lasted five years.
Eventually, our children all entered private high schools. Suddenly, I found myself spending six or more hours a day in the car driving the kids back and forth to school, to their activities, and waiting in hockey or dance parking lots. Instead of wasting the time alone in the car, I listened to hours and hours of teaching CDs, devouring anything that fed my spirit.
During that time, thinking I was ready to go out to minister again, I accepted an opportunity to speak at a conference. However, when the conference was over and I was back in my office, much to my surprise, the Lord told me not to accept any more speaking engagements. I didn’t know exactly why, but I thought it would be a good idea to obey. He obviously knew more about my destiny than I did. I simply had to trust that what He had begun in me He would bring to completion. My job was to continue raising my children, to listen to Him, and to trust the process.
During this same time, my interest in pottery, something I had enjoyed in high school, was rekindled. After I set up my pottery studio, I kneaded my first ball of clay and threw it on the wheel. Plop! As the wheel began to spin, I put my water-drenched hands on the clay, and deep down on the inside of me I heard God say, “Before I ever formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you and ordained you to be a prophet to the nations.”
As I worked with the clay, I realized God was telling me He was going to continue to work with me, shaping and molding me. Some areas in my heart needed to be reworked due to some hardships I had experienced. All He wanted me to do was to stay pliable in His hands and allow Him to take me through the process of transformation. I had thought I was ready for public ministry, but apparently I was not. I felt like clay on the potters’ wheel, and I was being reworked.
This time of reworking and remaking took another year and a half. I spent countless hours with God, often while making pottery. He had many lessons for me in that season. He taught me to how to keep Him as my focus and how to live in the light of eternity. He reminded me that one day I would stand before Him and give an account for how I had been faithful to what He had called me to do. He taught me about living between two worlds, that although I was here on earth my real citizenship is in Heaven. I learned about living with purpose and guarding my heart from the distractions that try to take me off course and sideline the call on my life.
My pottery was an intricate part of this process. He turned my hobby into a grand metaphor of His work in my life. Thus, each pot I made was part of my personal timeline. Each had a name, a scripture, and a prophetic word. They are all unique, and they all speak of a season in my life. In this, God showed me His watchful eye over my destiny. He was with me the whole time, and each season had purpose. These days, I don’t have time to do my pottery any more, but I do have eighteen prophetic pots on a shelf in my office as reminders that God is the Master Potter. He prepares each and every one of us, as beautiful vessels, for our destiny. The best years for the universal Church are yet ahead of us. He has called and ordained many vessels to live in this time in history. Now, He is getting ready to take many vessels off the shelf, to bring them out of hiding and display His glory through them.