Welcome! My name is “Pepper,” and I have literally been called this name my entire life by family, friends, and colleagues. I am a wife, a mother, a little sis, and a writer in my own right. Thankfully I am a part of a tribe of friends who are anything but cookie cutter. I have enjoyed writing most of my life in some form or another. My father was a brilliant, unpublished writer. Some of my fondest childhood memories are sitting on his lap as he taught me to read by introducing me to the works of well-known poets. Most of whom our children would find quite boring. I would read my dad’s writings over and over and try to mimic their sound.
Although I was an emerging young writer, no one ever told me it could be my life’s work. Writing was a hobby for my father, and that’s what it was for me. Just a hobby. But the art of writing defines me more than anything else in my world other than my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, it would take years to come to this particular defining moment.
When I was a small child I knew I wanted to be a nurse. And as small children do I spent part of my imaginative playtime “nursing” my dolls with the pretend medical kits my parents bought me. When I reached my teenage years college was not really an option. But that did not detour my goal of becoming a caregiver. So in 1980 at the tender age of 17 I set out to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and began my career in geriatrics caring for the elderly. Then through an arduous journey, in 1985, I became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). I broadened my field of practice as I continued with my goal of attaining my bachelor’s degree as a registered nurse (BSN). But despite my best efforts, one divorce and two baby boys later that dream had become severely blurred.
Around 1995 I met a hero named Johnathon who shortly thereafter became my husband, and a father to my sons Gabriel and David. He is literally the only earthy father they have ever known. He has helped me raise them practically from the cradle to manhood. During their formative years, and our “youngish” years life was not much different for us than for other working class parents. Both being in the medical field we would alternate shifts so as to not require babysitting. We did pretty well navigating the drama of life that comes with just being alive.
In between I managed to take a class or two towards my nursing goals. But in about 2003 illness necessitated me laying down my scrubs never to pick them up again. However, laying down my scrubs did force me to pick up my pen once more. And at this juncture in life I was looking at reentering the workforce with a new occupation. But can “normal” people begin a writing career at almost 40 in a culture where it’s 9 to 5 almost 365 at the kind of job and salary which represents an accomplished life?
Could a family of four really live a minimal lifestyle fueled by passion and good ‘ole common sense rather than driven by appearances and bank accounts—and survive? America is an awesome place to be born and live. But America in general is a “money first keep up with the Jones’s” type of culture. But during these years we had not even been formally introduced to these so called “Jones’s.” Much less being able to keep up with them! Therefore after some initial recovery I set out to have a “respectable” career again. Translation: One that will impress others while giving you a lot of money at the same time.
So, on this wise, after another arduous career journey (peppered with some sparse employment in between) I graduated from Washburn University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies (BLS). Just about the same time my teenage sons were graduating from high school. Not surprisingly the writing element is what I enjoyed most in my legal studies. But I did enjoy the majority of my legal courses. I made the dean’s list several times, and graduated with honors. However, I never did really see myself as a paralegal. Therefore, it was not a hard leap to make when I applied, and was accepted in the master social work (MSW) program at the same university just prior to receiving my BLS. It would enhance my BLS degree and possibly land me that unconventional “dream job” I was hoping for.
I would be in service to people during some of the low points in their lives. Something I did for more than two decades. And I was good at it. It was practically all I had ever known. My first and only year in the MSW program was a highly successful one. But being a social worker, like being a paralegal (both respectable careers) was not at all who I saw myself becoming.
Now here I am, quite candidly, taking a go at what for most of my life have been incompletely expressed and partially fulfilled passions—writing and biblical studies. They are passions which have really come full circle. One of the awesome things about God is that he never wastes opportunities nor circumstances. In fact, many of them He orchestrates. Only God can turn missteps or delay to blessings as he has done with me. The Lord has prospered so many things I put my hands to, and it felt good to have been in the good will of God. But now it feels even better to be in the good and perfect will of God.
Let me say that I am appreciative of you allowing me to share some of my story with you. I invite you to be a part of my journey if you so desire. I hope that you will be truly blessed and enlightened as I share with you many of the things which are on my heart. But more importantly many things which are on the heart of God.
Thank You and Shalom,