November 4, 2012 Post

Sooooooo! A blog. About what I am up to at UrbanPromise (UP). Bruce Main says the best thing to do is to just tell my story, so here I go.

I have worked as a nurse practitioner for the past 20 years in primary care – meaning in a doctor’s office seeing a different patient about every 15-20 minutes. I have known for the past 5 years or so that I was tired of this line of work – of the pace, dealing with insurance companies, disability claims, medication refills… and yet not knowing what was next. Additionally I have taught at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing for the past 5 years. At first I thought this might be the change I sought, but it was not enough, and had its own frustrations. AND, as if these jobs weren’t enough, twice a year for the past 5 years I fly off to one lovely conference center or another to be the health faculty for Presbyterian Church, USA Credo conferences (PC Credo for short). These conferences each require me to be away for 9 days at a time, and I work with a great team of 8 faculty to run these conferences for Presbyterian pastors.

Credo conferences are cool in that they have you examine four aspects of your life – health, vocation, spiritual and finance – and call you to live your life henceforth with intention. I attended a Credo conference in the fall of 2007 as a participant prior to becoming faculty, and it was a pivotal moment in my life. I recognized that I had given myself away, and was living the life I thought others wanted from me, completely out of touch with what I wanted for myself. I had no idea about what I was passionate. At the time I found myself praying, “Let go, Let God”, which I continued right through to today. It’s funny what happens when you get out of the way and let God get to work in your life. Especially when you get to focus intensely on it twice a year, surrounded by incredible people, for 9 days at a pop!

Fast forward to a year ago, when my passions – and my call – crystalized. My passions are, in order: my faith, working with youth, and teaching. Note the lack of being a primary care provider! And yet, I have this massive body of medical knowledge in this noggin of mine – it seems a shame to waste it. My call: after getting involved with UP a year prior, thanks to my daughter Aubrey painting a mural there, I felt this urgent desire to work there – to be the health presence there, just as I am at every Credo conference. Bishop Desmond Tutu calls this feeling a “God pressure”. The trick was to articulate exactly what this meant…and to figure out the logistics of financial support.

UP is a non-profit organization relying almost exclusively on private donations. In other words, money is always tight. So the suggestion of a new position, no matter how enticing, was met with reservation. It was suggested that I begin with a pilot project, but with my schedule as full as it was, I knew that was unrealistic. A friend of mine (one of my Credo colleagues) suggested I run my ideas by my pastor and friend Bill Getman. He and I met for lunch, and a vision was born – that of a wellness center at UP, financed as a joint venture between First Presbyterian Church, Haddonfield (FPHC) and UP. This idea was greeted warmly by the executive director of UP, Jodina Hicks, and founder, Bruce Main. Our first steering committee meeting was in January 2012…and between money from West Jersey Presbytery, FPHC and private donations, the wellness center opened September 1.

I have chosen to leave a stable practice in Cherry Hill as well as my teaching position at Penn to begin this adventure. Right now there is enough money for me to remain employed for another 6 months. This with two kids in college! And an amazingly supportive husband. Some may think I am nuts, especially since I could be earning easily twice my salary if I looked elsewhere. And yet…there is no doubt in my mind this is where God is calling me to be. I have had experience after experience of receiving whatever I need for this journey. I am notorious for being terrible at saying goodbye, and yet I managed to live through – and remain calm through – saying goodbye to some 300 patients, as well as the dear staff at Wolfe-Simon Medical Associates, P.A. Every piece of furniture and equipment I need has been donated. I think of a professional who would be a useful resource, and within the week I am introduced to someone who fits the bill. This has been a faith journey unlike any I have ever experienced, and through this blog I hope to share it.
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