Joy to the world
Worship Ministry Leader
grew up right here in beautiful Southwest Florida. I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized at the age of 6. My parents always attended southern baptist churches, so I grew up in a pretty strict environment. My world turned upside down when my parents got a divorce when I was 14 years old. Needless to say, I’ve had to rebuild my understanding of God, His love, His grace, and my own value.
My parents had a love of Christian music and passed that on to me. I started leading worship in local churches at the age of 14. I was even in a local southern gospel group that toured the U.S. (If you find pictures of that time in my life… please burn them… haha). I decided to get some formal education in music so that I could serve in the church at a more professional level. I have served God as a worship leader in the local churches of SWFL for over 27 years. At one point, I ended up the Director and Dean of two different Creative Arts academies. I was a featured soloist on several albums released by the Florida Worship Choir. I even had the privilege of singing with the Florida Worship Choir at the Sydney Opera House in Australia and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
All of that came to a halt when my husband of 19 years and I got a divorce. IT WAS AWFUL. I felt so alone. So many of my church friends and family didn’t know how to help, so most of them just didn’t. We were hurting and our five children were hurting. We needed help more than ever.
My world and my faith continued to come unglued as I realized that my sexual identity had been denied and unexplored for my entire life. I came out to my parents at the age of 11, and I was told that I would go to Hell if I participated in that “sin.” So, once I was ready to start dating again after the divorce, it wasn’t to a man. You better believe that I have been through hell and back due to who I fell in love with… and it wasn’t because God sent me to Hell… it’s because humans created hell on earth for me during that time of my life. People can be so judgemental and terrible. I had a crisis of faith during this time and wondered if God was even real.
We (my girlfriend and I) started attending a local church that is open and affirming, and for the first time in my life, we sat IN CHURCH WITH GAY COUPLES holding hands!! Never have I ever. It was there that I realized how BIG, and WIDE, and DEEP the Father’s love is for ALL humans. When I say ALL humans… I mean ALL. I had NO IDEA that God loved everyone. I had never been exposed to different types of humans and here in this open and affirming church… they accept everyone. WOW. Life changing. Soul changing. My girlfriend (Jess) and I were married in this church. They did a fantastic job of loving on us and helping us grow in the Word and our faith.
Eventually, I was ready to lead worship in a contemporary church setting. A work friend of mine had heard of Refuge Church and said I should check it out. I was so scared to try another church that Jess and I emailed Pastor Brian to see if I’d even be allowed to serve. His response was remarkable: Romans 8:10, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We knew that Refuge would be a safe place for us.
Jess and I (and my ex-husband and his new wife) have a total of 6 amazing humans that we get to parent in two different homes. Whew. Blended families have their ups and downs but it has been awesome to watch us all mature and grow into a loving, supportive family. I recently graduated with my Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. Now I get to work with people of all ages, helping them be as healthy and functional as they possibly can be! (OTs rock!!)
Movies // The Prestige; The Bourne Identity (all of them!); Miss Congeniality
Music // Yes. I can’t really pick just one genre, sorry.
Current Podcasts // FreedHearts, At Home with Byron Katie, The Deconstruction Zone, Crime Junkie
Recommended Christian Books // God and the Gay Christian (Matthew Vine), UnClobber (Colby Martin), Gifted by Otherness (L. William Countryman and M. Ritley), The Shift (Colby Martin), and Where True Love Is (Suzanne DeWitt Hall)