swoboda's column

      It was a beautiful late summer day. The kind of weather that makes you want to play hooky so you can spend the day having a picnic and running barefoot through the grass because you know that in just a short time you'll be wearing galoshes. That day couldn't have been more perfect and there I was, driving my youngest child to a Doctor's appointment and dreading the inevitable. Going into work that evening. The dreading had become a daily occurrence. I was Wonder Mom by day and Anchor Woman by night. From about six a.m. to five p.m. I'd spend the day taking care of three children, running errands, doing laundry and housework, helping with homework and cooking usually dressed in sweats covered with cat hair, sucker sticks and a nice collection of phlegm if it was cold and flu season. Then from five o'clock until midnight, I was transformed into a TelePrompTer reading Cinderella. I was perfectly made up, manicured, coifed and attired in a designer suit to give Northeast Ohioans their dose of daily news before they went to bed. Before, during and after our 11 o'clock newscasts, I had clever and witty conversations with my equally clever and witty co-workers so WHY DID I HATE IT?

      As I sat down to write the first of what I hope to be many articles for Connection Magazine, I had just come from a department store where a clerk eyed me suspiciously and said, 'Don't I know you? 'I know,' she said, 'you work down in shoes. No, wait a minute. You're my best friend's second cousin's neighbor? Oh, oh, oh, how DO I know you?????' I kind of wanted to let her go on but I didn't. "I used to do the news," I said. "Channel 5 and Channel 8." 'That's right,' she said. 'Why in the world did you ever quit that?'

      I gave her the Reader's Digest version. "Do you know how much of life you miss when you work evenings? I missed my son's baseball games, my husband's football games, (he doesn't play anymore, he coaches) school recitals and open houses. I missed dinners with my family, tucking my children into bed at night with bedtime stories and prayers. My husband, Bryan, and I were like two ships passing in the night and believe me, neither one of us was the Love Boat."

      At the time, that's why I really thought I was quitting. However, as I look back over my life, the last two and a half years in particular, I realize that God was preparing me for a bigger job. He doesn't want me delivering the nightly news, He wants me delivering the Good News of the Gospel. Through this column and through speaking engagements, I will share what God has done in my life, how He drew me to Him when I tried to fill my life up with empty relationships and worldly possessions. How ten years after I became a born-again Christian I turned my back on Him and tried to live as a carnal Christian, still believing but keeping one foot in the world. And how He has made me a new creature in Christ and does so everyday, putting a new song in my mouth. He put it on my heart to give up the spotlight and a six figure salary to devote my time and energy to my own family and to all the prodigal sons and daughters who believe the lie that the way of the world is better than the way of God.

      It wasn't easy and it didn't happen overnight. The first time He told me to "drop my net" and follow Him was that sunny day in the car. As I was daydreaming about what I could do to work at home, (picturing myself at the computer I now type on) my then 4-and-a-half old son told me he was having a dream. I prodded him into telling me what his dream was and he answered, "I'm dreaming you're working at home." My goose bumps had goose bumps.

      The next sign came a few weeks later and was literally that, a SIGN! I am directionally challenged and took the looooong way back to the interstate when traffic came to a dead stop for no reason at all. As it turned out, there was a reason. That morning during my prayer time I had asked God if I should give up the safety net of my job's sizeable salary or take the risk of quitting. Safety net or risk? It was a question I kept repeating during that day. The sign on the church to my immediate right read, "FAITH IS SPELLED R-I-S-K."

      God would give me several more affirmations, each one equally specific and spectacular.

      To paraphrase Job 22:21-23, 25-28 "Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from His mouth and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, then you will find delight in the Almighty who will lift up your face to God. You will pray to Him, and He will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows. What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways." (NIV)

      I've traded the world's spotlight because the Light of the world has commanded me to do so. "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." Acts 13:47 (NIV) What better news can one deliver than the Good News of eternal salvation?