Hi y'all! I'm Kallie. Christ follower, mom, wife of a naval aviator, portrait & event photographer. This is me, hiding behind the lens. Graham Texan in northern Virginia. Inspired and motivated by community. Here's my quick story!
This will be a space I share papers, thoughts, and stories of time in seminary.
How did we get here? That’s a long story. Glad you asked…
I’m not just a mom. I’m not just a military wife. I’m not just a daughter. I’m not just a southern sorority girl. I’m not just a school psychologist. I’m not just a photographer. I am all of these and more. I am a child of God. Made in the image of the creator. Each of these gifts and roles shape and fill me. I couldn’t have predicted the path laid for me if I tried.
I am a cradle Presbyterian raised in a small west Texas town. As the first-born I honed my leadership skills taking charge of my two younger siblings. My extended family lived in the same town with my mom’s side only a few hours away. I’ve always wanted to “do the right thing” rule following is imbedded in my personality. My desire to people please has strengths and weaknesses. As a child it kept me top of my class and teachers pet. With my peers it kept me popular. It also made me my own worst enemy. No amount of striving could satisfy. My spiritual journey mirrored my life and personality. Church and faith were assumed in my family and community culture.
As with most young people middle school was a time of turmoil. My striving became more intense. I straddled my desire to be liked and my desire to do the right thing. I erred on the side of being right. I used that position to make myself feel better and look down on my classmates. I also met the first challenges in my desire for perfection. Dance. All the girls I was friends with and my little sister made the dance team. Literally everyone. Athletics. All but 10 in my class made a school team. I was suddenly outside looking in. Adults in my life saw me floating and scooped me up. My mom as a teacher helped me become a special education teacher’s aide. The dance studio director invited me to be a teacher’s assistant in the younger classes. I couldn’t see the wisdom in those placements at the time. It turns out they would be the seeds planted to my future path.
At youth group I struggled to find my place. I told my dad that I felt the youth director preferred boys and didn’t like me. I experienced God at Mo Ranch attending Junior High Jubilee and later Youth Celebration. I yearned for more spiritual depth out of my regular weekly youth programming. As I got older I was uneasy around my youth director. There were rumors floating but nothing that made it to my high and mighty ears. It was well known by that time that I was a brown-noser, goody two-shoes. My freshman year I was pulled from class by a senior in high school from our church. She and another adult leader told each of us that our youth minister had been arrested for molesting boys in our youth group. I was as shocked as much as I wasn’t. My gut always felt off, but you still never guess the worst in people. It broke my trust in church.
I remember vividly my dad taking me to lunch at the park. He sat bawling apologizing that he didn’t listen to my warnings or ask more questions. I lost interest and faith in youth church programming. Church felt a like another cultural expectation I was failing. Even when church felt false, God was real to me. My summers at Mo Ranch continued to hold special spiritual growth; a thin space where I felt God’s presence. I began journaling. The notebooks were filled with prayers and pleas for connection.
My older adolescent years were a blur of trying to find validation. I never went more than six months with out a boyfriend. I desperately wanted my friends to understand me. Church and God were separate in my life. Church was a social place to be seen. God was a presence I knew. Life transitions pushed me over the edge; my inability to control the world around me and meet my version of perfection led to depression. I gained insight into my limitations and learned to lean on God and the people sent into my life through those seasons. I learned to seek counseling and developed healthier expectations and boundaries.
Working with individuals with disabilities gave me joy like nothing else. Getting to know people and learn from them kept me energized. Teaching and leading were natural gifts. I never felt I was striving in classroom environments.
I had a break through when I was about to marry my college sweetheart. I’d been living as who I thought I was supposed to be. God broke open my heart and set me free. I broke off the relationship and for the first time dug into scripture. I got a job at the Presbyterian church while in graduate school leading undergraduate women’s Bible study. Something I felt ill-equipped to do. I was fed spiritually meeting weekly with the pastor and participating in small groups. For the first time worship meant something to me. A space to re-center on God and soak up the energy of a church filled with people looking toward the same center. Reflecting the God I’d always known. I begged God to bind my dreams and life to Christ.
I was shocked to fall in love with a childhood friend, Justin, who had walked with me through my most difficult times. We married quickly and I moved to join him in California before he deployed. My difficulty with transitions and control would be filed down. I still rely on marriage the marriage counseling we had with our pastor. He used Proverbs 27:17 to describe marriage. It couldn’t be more accurate. The sound of metal on metal makes me cringe. It’s violent and effective at the task of sharpening. I am strengthen by Justin’s unwavering faith and commitment to a life founded on God.
I have continually reinvented my work as we move. I’ve volunteered, lead, worked, taught, and raised our children. I took a hobby in photography and turned it into a business. We’ve lived on separate coasts, continents, and time zones. My dependence on God deepens with each new adventure and trial. My prayer life is vital to my health. I honed my skills in building friendships based on vulnerability and interdependence instead of social climbing and calendar filling. With each move I ask God to place people in my life. I’ve worked to be more intentional on where to spend my energy and gifts. I followed an explainable pull to work with the youth at church. I entered the program at a tumultuous time the leader was leaving after 10 years. I hadn’t spent time in a youth group since my own. I’d been a deacon at a previous church and taught younger children, but avoided youth.
On a mission trip with the confirmation class to Baltimore I had my first experience with a call to ministry. As I was leaving the leader stopped me and asked, had I ever considered a call to ministry? No. This church in Northern Virginia was the first time I’d ever had a female pastor. In my experience women like me don’t go into pastoral work. Two weeks later a different person asked me the same question. People were seeing things in me I didn’t see in myself. I dedicated myself to prayer and study. Asking those close to me what they saw. It was a resounding yes. The Holy Spirit these last two years has been a hurricane I couldn’t ignore.
I am now the interim-youth director. I love them deeply. The time I spend at work energizes me to go home and serve my family. I’m no longer ruling out what God might call our family to. We are leaving the stability of the military to explore where we are called now. My husband has always had a drive to attend business school and later in life run for public office. I am staying honest to who I am and who God is calling me to be by applying to seminary. I can see the different jobs, education, volunteer hours, and skills I’ve developed have been the culmination of me entering ministry. I’ve spent a year in discernment and my call continues to be affirmed. After serving as the interim youth director and on our APNC I am certain I will seek a parish call after school. We are ready to step out in faith.
My life has taught me that church has to be more than a cultural norm and expectation. It has to hold space for vulnerability and reliability; a community to share joy and sorrow. I want to help build and support more communities that reflect God’s love into the world. What I know now is I can trust the Spirit. For my life it is central to claim that I am a child of God called to serve, shepherd, and love people.