For such a time as this.
As I sat and listened to Lora Jones use the story of Esther to talk about things which happened in her own life, I was struck by this phrase.
For such a time as this.
For me, that phrase uttered by Mordecai in Esther 4:1 goes hand in hand with the question "why am I here?"
Esther's purpose or her "why" came as she was challenged to save her people from death.
I'm still wondering about my why.
I know my how - words and pictures. Those are gifts God has given me.
Words - be it in a devotion for a teen magazine or article for the paper - have always been a way I express myself.
Photography, and now art journaling, is another. When words can't express the thoughts sometimes an image captured by camera or pencil, help bring home the meaning.
But why am I here?
For Jones, it's a question she's asked for 14 years. One developed after a fateful Thanksgiving holiday car wreck claimed the lives of her husband and children.
She was left to figure out her purpose or life's meaning without succumbing to bitterness and anger.
To move on, Jones said, she made the choice to seek beauty, rather than bitterness. She chose to have faith rather than anger. She chose to look to the future, instead of the shattered past.
Like Jones I know God doesn't inflict things on us. Instead he uses the choices we make - and those others make which impact our life, for the good.
Oh our path may not be as straight as we desire. It might take us in places we never imagined. But ultimately, if we follow God, I believe he will direct us to the next step on our journey.
Jones' why has developed a new look as she prepares for the publishing of her book, which details the last 14 years of her life.
In "Song of a Wounded Heart: Regaining Hope and Trust After Personal Tragedy: The Incredible True Life Story of a Woman Who Lost Everything," Jones has detailed what she's learned as she's navigated life after grief.
The work, available later this year, provides the questions Jones asked God, her anger and loneliness, and why she chose to believe in the goodness of God, in spite of the circumstances.
Jones now travels to various churches outlining the hope she found when she, like Esther, released bitterness and anger, and instead learned to rely on others - and her faith - to move forward in life.
So why am I here?
Sometimes I ask myself that very question, as I delete a hate-filled message or hang-up the phone from an angry caller.
Why do I stick around in community journalism? Why do I care?
Then I look into the eyes of my college students, who are learning to develop their own sense of news judgement. Who are approaching the world with a fresh sense of purpose and understanding.
Or I look at the photographs taken by my high school stringer. A photographer who gets better with each and every game she covers.
I may still be figuring out my ultimate purpose in life. Something tells me the quest for an answer will never be complete.
For now though, in this moment, I am called to be an advocate for my students. To encourage them like a gardener nurtures a plant, and to help them come into full bloom in their craft.
I'm also called to tell stories. Some, lets face it, are better than others. But I'm called to help shine a light into darkness, and to spotlight stories based on people doing amazing things.
Why am I here? Maybe like Esther, it is for such a time as this.
Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller is the managing editor of The Grove Sun and Delaware County Journal. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-786-2228.