Degree/Year: B.S. in Education, French major 1980
Hometown: Montgomery, AL
Current Position: Co-founder of the nonprofit ministry Wildstream Experiential Resources, Inc.; Facilitator of DivorceCare in Monteagle, Tenn.Describe your journey from Samford to your current position: I got married a few months after graduating from Samford and did substitute teaching before becoming a full-time mother of three. After 18 years of marriage, our family began experiencing the effects of several traumas related to my marriage. Even with much counsel, these traumas eventually led to the demise of my 29-year marriage. At that time, I asked God to take this total mess in my life and, as I submitted it all to Him, to make it His MESSage of grace and redemption. I had no idea He would answer that prayer and redeem many locust years above and beyond my imagination.
I eventually met a wonderful man named Daniel who had also experienced a devastating, unwanted divorce. Daniel shared his vision to start a divorce ministry and in 2014, we opened the doors at Wildstream Retreats in Monteagle, TN to help hurting people navigate the wilderness of divorce. Now, more than six years later, Wildstream is a nonprofit ministry which has held 57 retreats for more than 450 hurting souls coming for the first time, and multiple retreats with an ADVANCE curriculum for alumni to return.
What do you enjoy most about your ministry? It is a joy and privilege to be available to listen to people during one of the most devastating seasons of their life. I have the opportunity to give them solid, biblically-based principles through our conversations, curriculum, retreats and online classes.
One day I realized that what I erroneously believed disqualified me from full-time Christian service actually uniquely qualified me for this ministry. Almost everyone knows someone, either in their family circle or a close friend, who has or is experiencing the pain of divorce. Their crisis needs to be addressed with a balance of grace and truth. God put in my heart this saying, “Perfectionism builds walls, but brokenness builds bridges,” and I thank God every day for the opportunity to be a bridge to another broken soul.
How did Samford prepare you for your ministry? Samford prepared me through the Christian atmosphere and godly friendships I enjoyed there. The entire time was a positive influence of knowing no matter what I did or where I went, I wanted to know Christ and make Him known to those in my sphere of influence no matter their circumstances.
What advice do you have for current students? Enjoy these brief college years to the fullest. Savor the special moments with friendships that may be lifelong like so many of mine. In the words of Howard Hendricks, who influenced me as a teacher and communicator decades ago, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” My favorite Bible verse that further exemplifies this truth is 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “We were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us.” As we desire to teach others, it should spring from a heart of caring and compassion, not just disseminating information.
What is your favorite Samford memory? There are so many great ones, especially just the casual moments talking, laughing, eating, praying or just hanging out in dorm rooms or common spaces with girls of whom many are now lifelong friends. I am proud of starting a Panhellenic Bible study in 1978 so that sisters from all of the sororities would unite over God’s word and their Christian sisterhood instead of focusing on competition. Also, with the help of my French professor, we planned and pursued one of the first study abroad programs for Samford in 1979-80 when I spent my senior year at a university in Aix-en-Provence and learned far more outside the classroom about life in a foreign culture than I did in the walls of the French university.
Looking ahead, what are your goals for your ministry? I desire to continue to minister to many who are facing the tragic heartache of divorce while often feeling disenfranchised from their church or community. My desire is for Wildstream to offer further Biblical guidelines, principles and teachings through an array of online classes and weekend retreats, and for those who are single again to receive hope, healing and encouragement as they learn better ways of communicating in relationships. We say relentlessly, “You repeat what you do not repair,” so it is imperative to learn to change destructive attitudes, behaviors and tendencies that can sabotage and destroy marriages.