“I never would have guessed.” I could say that about so many aspects of my life.
I grew up near Poughkeepsie, New York and went to Vassar College, in town. I started college expecting to major in German and economics and become an international banker. It was a big move (to New Jersey) for me to go to Princeton Seminary where I started on the ordination track in the PC(USA) in 1998. During my middler year at Princeton I reconnected with John and Ruthie Seiders whom I had gotten to know through their InterVarsity Christian Fellowship days in New York. John and Ruthie had just started their tenure here at FPC Bethlehem a few months before. They were looking to hire someone to work with the middle school students at the church, part time. Did I mention that I ran into them at the middle school retreat at Lake Champion. At that time the retreat was run by seminary students. Anyway, I applied for the position, and started in June 1999 at the church as Partner for Middle School Ministry. I never would have guessed that I would work in Bethlehem, PA.
After a little over two years the church eliminated my position (which had grown to include recreation ministry and was full time by then), and I had begun dating Jason. I didn’t want to leave Bethlehem because I really liked him. I had completed an internship year at St. Luke’s in the chaplaincy program and decided to apply for a one year residency program in part to allow for some time to see where this new dating relationship would lead. I never would have guessed I would have been a chaplain.
During that residency year as a chaplain I lived a split kind of a life- one full of fun and expectations of good things during the evenings and weekends with my friends and Jason. While my work hours were full of sadness and struggle. I found the work overwhelming and, for me, the hospital chaplaincy route was not a sustainable position. I never would have guessed that I wouldn’t know what was next.
In the summer of 2002 after attending 6 weddings and looking forward to my own in January 2003, my chaplaincy residency ended and I needed a JOB. Jason and I were getting married and he was a graduate student and I needed to secure an income. A friend referred me to a case management position at Family Answers in Allentown. I interviewed and began working right away. It was a natural move to the social work arena after my work at the hospital, also the new work was with parents and families which was familiar to me from my work at the church. But I never would have guessed that I would enjoy that work so much. I had finally found the place where my desire to live out my faith in service balanced with the other callings in my life (which by that point included living in Bethlehem and marrying Jason).
I have been working at Family Answers for over 12 years now and have held a variety of positions, but none so surprising and unexpected as the one I hold now. For the last two years I have been the Northampton County Reentry Coordinator. I have been working behind and sometimes in front of the scenes to create a network of support and resources for people returning to our community from incarceration. This work has been more exciting and life-giving than any other work position I have had. I never would have guessed that I would find my spiritual life awakened and energized in jail. I find it a privilege to be part of creating a network of people and providers who truly care for people coming out of the jail and want to see good things, want to see people enter and stay in recovery, want to see 30 year olds get their GED, want to see parents safely reunited with their kids, want to see systems be more efficient and service oriented, want to see Redemption and Restoration first hand. It is exciting and I never would have guessed that this would be my call at this time in my life. I really don’t bother guessing what’s next any more, I will do my best to have faith that it will be just right.
About the Author:
Laura moved to the area 14 years ago and met Jason, her husband, here at First Presbyterian. They have been married 11 years and have two children, ages 2 and 5. Laura and Jason are very active in their Sunday night Bible Study and have made life-long friends there. In her precious few minutes of free time Laura enjoys running and knitting, but not at the same time.