The straight A student who looks forward to book reports, pop quizzes, and extra credit assignments—that was me—a bit of a word nerd. Reading, writing, and editing others’ writings are among my favorite things to do. God has a plan in wiring some of us like that. I first sensed His call to ministry when I was in high school, and after many prayers for discernment, He gave me a clear vision from Ephesians: “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). I longed to know the Word more deeply and help others do the same.
Two weeks after earning a B.A. in English at the University of Mobile, I began Biblical Hebrew classes at Beeson Divinity School, and six weeks after graduating from Beeson in 2004, I joined the editorial team at Student Life Publishing, developing a new curriculum series to help students understand the story of Scripture. Vision accomplished,
In 2006 I married Ryan, and in 2008, I became a full-time homemaker when our first son was born. I was unprepared that the amazing joy I felt over our son’s birth would also include a bit of grief as I stepped away from a ministry job I treasured. A few months later, my former boss asked if I could edit a few hours a week from home, and I gladly agreed. Another son came along in 15 short months, and stealing away during their nap time or on the weekends to edit Bible studies was good for my soul. Our daughter was born in 2013, and my plan was to work in Christian publishing again when the kids went to school.
Interruption: Midway through our oldest son’s first year in kindergarten—at an excellent public school with a precious pastor’s wife as his teacher—something began to sit uneasy in our spirits. He was off. We, as a family, were off. I blamed it on the long school hours, but the Spirit kept us unsettled. Out of the blue one afternoon, my five-year-old son asked me to homeschool him, which was nearly as shocking to me as a burning bush to Moses, a talking donkey to Balaam, or a dry or wet fleece to Gideon. God was clearly calling all of our hearts. Everywhere Ryan and I turned, God put encouragement in our paths and confirmed we should take this step—one year at a time.
Homeschooling felt counter-calling at first. Choosing to homeschool has meant choosing not to work in Christian publishing, but as we begin our second year, our family is thriving. I could fill a book with ways He has deeply changed me and how I view my children and my role as their mother. My daily goal? Again, “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). When He calls us to do a particular ministry, lovely as it may be, it isn’t always for life; He calls us to Himself. Constant life-on-life discipleship with a seven, five, and two year old in tow is far from easy but sweetly blends beautiful with messy. Our greatest learning moments aren’t always from a set curriculum but from the Spirit’s work in the seemingly ordinary. I treasure the opportunity to have these moments frequently. As Jesus told Nicodemas, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6). This truth is what drives me. The Spirit is working in each of our hearts, planting seeds and producing fruit that will last for eternity.
Jill and Ryan Aldridge have been members of The Church at Brook Hills since 2007 and are parents to Bradley, Luke, and Mary Ellis. Jill has had the opportunity to write or edit at Beeson Divinity School, Student Life Publishing, the WMU, NavPress, Radical, and The Alabama Baptist, and currently serves on the team that writes the Small Group Guides for The Church at Brook Hills. When she isn’t working with words or kids, you’ll likely find her holding a camera, at a boot camp class, or sewing for her daughter.