Suzanne’s Testimony: Navigating Life with Jesus

woman and dog beside river

Early Life

This is my story of navigating life with Jesus. I was born on the eastern shore of Maryland where my father was a poultry farmer. I have fond memories of bottle-feeding calves, driving a John Deere tractor, playing outside, weeding the flower bed, cutting asparagus, and my mother and grandmother canning tomatoes, green beans, or whatever was in season.

After my parents became Christians, we spent a significant amount of time in church. I gave my life to Christ as a child at a large evangelical crusade. I told my mother the previous night this was my plan and I followed through that night.

Moving to Kentucky

My father felt God calling him to go into the ministry. My parents sold our farm and moved to Kentucky where my father attended Asbury College and Asbury Seminary. We left our 14 farm cats but took our dog, Butch, on our Kentucky adventure.

When my father graduated from college, my sister graduated from high school. When my father graduated from seminary, I graduated from high school. My Dad pastored several small churches in rural Kentucky where my sister and I were the “special music”; we exemplified the scripture about making a joyful noise.

When I was a teenager, I had the privilege of touring the Holy Land with my parents. I wish I had paid more attention when they discussed the significance of some of these places. Now as I study scripture, I cannot learn enough about ancient Israel.

I am thankful for growing up initially on a farm in Maryland and then moving to Kentucky for my father to go to college and seminary. Working on the farm taught me the value of hard work and watching my father study as an older student, taught me the value of life-long learning.

Attending Asbury University

My parents then moved to Alabama for my father to pastor a church and left me to attend Asbury College with my older sister. Asbury is a Christian university, which had a profound impact on me. As a student, I took Old Testament and New Testament courses and attended chapel three times a week; my husband and I still have fond memories of hearing voices in unison sing And Can It Be. (Note to my family whom I hope will read this one day: play this hymn at my funeral.) While attending Asbury, my faith continued to deepen.

Marrying Neal

Neal and I met at Asbury. He was from Alabama. We married after I graduated college and we moved to Opelika Alabama where I began my career as a teacher. He transferred to Auburn University. Five years later, we started our family – – first having Ryan and then Emily.

It was also during my early years of marriage that my parents experienced marital issues, later divorced, and then became best friends in their later years. My Dad has since passed away but I know I will see him in Heaven. My Mom lives down the street from us.

Education Career

I was named a principal when I was 26, earned my Ph.D. when I was 27, and became a superintendent when I was 36 years old. Over my career, I served as superintendent of three different districts for a total of 15 years.

Throughout my career, I felt a responsibility to live my life by the scripture from Luke 12:48b “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” I knew I had to give my best to those whom I served and serve as the voice for children who did not always have a voice.

Now that I am Older…

I always thought my calling was to be a school leader, but now I think my calling is to be a grandmother. In this season of life, I am enjoying our adult children — seeing the amazing people they have become. I must admit that one of my greatest joys is my grandson. I think this is the role for which I was created. Neal and I love him with all our hearts. Along with our daughter and son-in-law, we are fostering his love of Jesus.

Still Growing Spiritually

Like all humans, I fall short, and there are times in which my spiritual life has taken a backseat to the demands of life. However, I am relieved that God loves me unconditionally and grace makes up where I consistently fall short.

My faith has carried me through some challenging situations as a school leader, a mother, and as a wife. These challenging times have helped me grow in my faith and grow more dependent on Jesus. I know I am not enough but He is!

I am 56 and continue to grow in my faith. Over the years, I have struggled with establishing a quiet time each day to read my Bible and pray, but I am getting better. I am the type of person who needs to be busy and my mind continues to think (sometimes obsess) on all I need to do. Carving out this quiet time with God each day was especially challenging when I was a superintendent and working long days. However, now that I am semi-retired, I have seen the value in consistently spending time with God. I wish I had done this throughout my life, but I am still learning and maturing as a Christian.

God knows my heart, my gifts, and my weaknesses. I know that if I stay in His light, He will use me for His good. My hope is to share my experiences in this fallen world and help others become who God intended them to be — His beloved son or daughter.

Some Meaningful Scripture to Me

Below are two Bible verses that are especially meaningful to me because they are Jesus’ guidance as to how I need to live while on earth. I hope they will speak to you.

“And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in you.” Psalm 39:7

“May the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust Him, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

May the Lord bless you!

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