I’m CSPC member Jenny Bushkell, and this is how I’m living deeply.
Talk about timing! I’d just become President of the Nativity Pageant of Knoxville, and it happened to be the year the pipes burst under the Coliseum. Everybody in the media wanted to know if the pageant was going to happen. I know it sounds sort of like a nightmare, but it was great- we couldn’t have bought that kind of publicity! Of course, I was doing a lot of media interviews. One of them was on WRJZ Joy 620, where they asked if I’d ever thought about working in radio. I hadn’t, but it stuck in the back of my mind. About a year later, I called to get someone else interviewed on the station. The producer who answered said, ‘We’ve been waiting on you.’ And that was the beginning of what’s now been a 17-year radio and podcasting career (quite a change for this UT Logistics and Transportation major!). This whole transition was tough. I was the top sales rep in the country for a logistics firm, but I really felt the Lord telling me to stop what I was doing. So I resigned, which was very upsetting to a lot of people. I had no idea exactly where the Lord was leading me, and He didn’t reveal it to me immediately. But what I’ve been doing for the better part of two decades now is, appropriately enough, pure joy. I co-host Bob Bell’s radio show on Monday mornings. And for about 15 years, I’ve been doing my own interview show (Crossroads with Jenny Bushkell, also available as a podcast) on Friday afternoons. Plus I write minute-long vignettes called Moments of Joy. I just find those as I go through life- anybody could do anything, and it’ll become a moment of joy. The goal is to encourage and give people hope. But it always makes my friends nervous when they say something and I go, ‘That’s really good. I’m going to write about that and record!’ Other times it may be something I read in Scripture or heard in church. My whole pathway demonstrates the importance of following what God’s calling you to do, especially when it’s most unexpected.
I grew up in a great Christian home- full of love, centered on the Lord. But during college, I strayed. I was into the social stuff and my church life got spotty. Honestly, the only time I really was in relationship with the Lord was when I felt like I needed Him. He was there on the shelf, so I’d pray, ‘I need you today because of this.’ I wasn’t truly in relationship with Him, listening to Him, and following Him- I was having a good time. When I got my first job out of college in New Orleans with a railroad company, the young man I was dating was ready to get married and move with me. So we did. But our marriage quickly became a toxic cycle. Serious, marriage-killing sin was a reality. My life was built around what I call the dance of codependency. I was trying to ‘fix’ him and help him- doing the things a codependent does, including not letting my family know how serious it really was. We ended up getting a divorce. I was really a mess because I was thinking I could find somebody to help me and to fix my life. After a few more mistakes, I realized that there is nobody -no person- who can do that (though I did end up meeting the right man: my husband Larry, the earthly love of my life). Jesus is THE relationship. When Celebrate Recovery started in Knoxville, they asked if I wanted to help as a volunteer. ‘No, I left that stuff behind me,’ was my first answer. Well, I ended up spending 15 years as a part of Celebrate Recovery, helping women conquer codependency and form healthy relationships. My life story and experience afterward are what make my Crossroads interview show (it’s about life recovery and healing in God’s strength) such a natural fit. It’s easy to relate to people who are going through these things, and they can relate to me, because I’ve been there. I’ve lived that, I know what I’ve done wrong, and I know what will help. Most of all, honestly, it’s just about letting them know who Jesus is.
Listening to –and following- God’s leading is also what brought Larry and me to CSPC. We started watching the services during COVID. We were so impressed with the teaching and sensed it was time to make a move. After just attending services for a few weeks (once COVID restrictions were over), I knew the only way for me to fit in was to get plugged in. One morning, lo and behold, James said the church needed a fourth grade Sunday school teacher. What do you think I’d done for 20 years? Taught fourth grade Sunday school! My husband nudged me and one of my friends said, ‘Did you hear that?’ So I’m back in the classroom at CSPC. The great thing about teaching children: they’re eager to learn. I get to start showing them this beautiful picture of a God who loves them and who’s with them and who wants the best for them. I love it! These are the things God does when you’re ready to hear His voice and follow His direction; sometimes people will ask, ‘How can I make sure I’m doing that?’ I’m careful about how I present it, especially if I have someone on my radio show who says, ‘I found recovery immediately.’ God’s leading and timing differ in each person’s life. I would just encourage people to start by getting into a good church that’s teaching out of the Bible, listening to what your pastor and Sunday school teachers are saying, being in the Scripture yourself, praying daily, and connecting with a Bible study group. Then you’re going to start seeing Him, feeling His presence, and sensing His direction. You need to be looking for His confirmation; listening, waiting for it. I’m really grateful He’s entrusted me with so many peoples’ stories – through my radio work, teaching, and just everyday conversations. These stories help assure me He hears us, He’s real, and He knows each of us. None of this is about me, it’s about God. I just have to be ready and be obedient to follow. The most important thing we can do is learn to trust Him and love Him the way He loves us, and then tell others, because you never know when what you say might influence someone else’s eternity.