This is the first in an upcoming series of short articles chronicling the thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears and preparations of one woman who desired to live her life fully abandoned to God’s calling, even if that meant using her career skills in a foreign country.  Meet Sheila...

Imagine you are an immature seedling, planted in the protective shelter of a greenhouse, growing daily stronger under carefully regulated conditions of light, warmth and nourishment.  Under the Gardener’s care, your lush greenery gives way to fresh, luminous flowers which delight all who come to visit and enjoy.  But you can see there is a world outside the glass, a place of immense possibility and promise.  What if you could bloom outside this greenhouse?

Sheila’s personal “greenhouse” may look somewhat like your own or like that of someone you know.  She grew up in the U.S. Northwest, graduating from Washington State University in the late ‘70s with a BA degree in Interior Design and working in that field after graduation.  The unfolding years included marriage and relocation near Seattle, Washington, where Sheila and her husband became actively affiliated with University Presbyterian Church.

Faint stirrings of what still lay decades ahead for Sheila began to occur at UPC when she and her husband became part of a team of compassionate believers who befriended dozens of Cambodian refugees in the ‘80s;   in Sheila’s own words, “Many of those friendships endure to today and I have a deep heart connection with the people and culture of Cambodia, with much of my early compassion and cross-cultural sensitivity aroused by the stories of their suffering and traumatic history.”

The couple’s love of adventure and other peoples led them to live in Southeast Asia for six years in the ‘90s, where they adopted both of their daughters, finally returning to Seattle to work and raise their family.  And there Sheila remained planted for most of the next two decades, living life fully and blooming beautifully in God’s greenhouse.  But there was pruning to be done...

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