A Path of Growth and Purpose

When you are in your final minutes of life looking back, what do you want to see?

I want to see:

  • A woman who gave it all she had.
  • A woman who loved God absolutely.
  • A wife and mother who nurtured and supported and LOVED.
  • That I followed the path God laid out for me.
  • That I reflected God’s love and purpose to everyone I met and everyone I loved.


I had a good start. My parents were loving. They loved God, each other, and their family. We had a happy life. My dad (happy Father’s Day, Dad!) was a warm, affirming father, and mom was ever steady, always ready with the solution to every situation.

Inside our house and church, I felt solid. I felt strong and smart. I was invincible. But as I grew, it didn’t stay that way. Culture affected me.

I was thirteen years old when college and high school students began streaming into San Francisco for the infamous Summer of Love. Living in Southern California heightened the peer pressure to be in the “in crowd.”

My parents accepted a pastorate in the Pacific Northwest, and we moved away from the cultural turmoil. At seventeen, as I graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, my closest girlfriends rushed into unrestricted sexual expression, anti-marriage relationships, and began a lifetime in pursuit of professional career goals outside of the home.

Although my outward appearance suggested I agreed with the popular youth rebellion, I knew I was going to walk into my destiny of spiritual leadership in ministry. And then I met Rich.

I had the strongest impression that if I didn’t marry my youth pastor boyfriend, I would go against God’s plan for my life. Marrying Rich Wilkerson was my surest tether to my spiritual inner voice, but being a wife and functioning inside the church as a pastor in 1973 wasn’t easy.

I knew I had been called to spiritual leadership, but finding a pathway to my goal seemed impossible.

I was struggling, but God was always present, quietly nudging me. My Father in heaven supported me always, just as my earthly father did.

Time brought the births of four sons and the daily routine of caring for children. And then life changed. Our third son, Graham, was stricken with spinal meningitis at six-months-old, and inside that terrible tragedy God volunteered me to become the mother of a handicapped child.

I thought I would explode. Furious with God for letting me down and for not healing Graham the way I requested, I quit praying. My marriage was tested. No matter which direction I tried to go, I felt trapped.

My faith in God went through the wringer.

Denial, begging, and rage became my constant conversation with God.

Why me?
Why did I have to be a mom to a “special need” child?
What have I done to deserve this prison of broken dreams?
How will I ever rise above my circumstances to fulfill the mission God has placed in my heart?

And then one day I realized God, my Heavenly Father, hadn’t abandoned me.

He was there for me as a teen when I fought against the negative effects of an out of control cultural revolution.

He hadn’t abandoned me when he called me to leadership, marriage, and motherhood.

And most of all, He hadn’t tossed me aside when He called me to be the mother of a special needs child.

My Heavenly Father, OUR Heavenly Father, just wanted me to depend on Him. I didn’t have the strength to go on, but He did. I was feeling sorry for myself because all I could see was the “now.” He saw me from those last minutes. He saw a woman who was growing and becoming.

He used every situation in my life to help me grow stronger.

This weekend is Father’s Day. My earthly father is no longer here with us, and I miss him. I miss his hugs, his support, and his quiet certainty about the power and love of God.

While my Dad isn’t here, I’m still surrounded by fathers who love, support, and help their children grow.

Happy Father’s Day to my loving husband, who has always been there for our boys.

Happy Father’s Day to Jonfulton, Rich Jr., and Taylor, who are raising our amazing granddarlings to walk God’s path of growth and purpose. You are such amazing fathers!

Happy Father’s Day to all the men who are serving their families and helping their children navigate life.

And thank you, God, for always being my Heavenly Father.