Carol Nelson

This is the story of my spiritual journey through life. I tell this story so my students and others can know more about me as their professor. I come from a long line of Lutherans. I was born, baptized, confirmed and raised Lutheran. From birth, I was taken to Sunday school and church. As a young child, I remember watching my mother praying the Lord's Prayer and I tried to remember the words so I could pray them too. As I got older and could begin to read, she would put her finger under the words of the hymns so I could sing along in church. Mom was my Sunday school teacher when I was little and she would tell the Bible stories using Flannel board figures. I learned these stories very early, as she would also read them to me from a Bible storybook that I still have in my bookcase in my home. Growing up in the Lutheran faith gave me a solid background in the Bible because of my Sunday school and confirmation classes and a deep appreciation for the liturgy of our church. When I attended a Bible camp as a teenager in Oregon, I began a quest for a deeper walk with God. I remember being asked to share scripture at the closing service of camp. The hymn we sang "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" has become a favorite of mine from that time on. My three years of confirmation during my junior high years were especially intense. We memorized scripture and Luther's Small Catechism. When I was confirmed and was allowed to take the sacrament of Holy Communion I felt I had finally entered into the church as a spiritual adult but in reality, I was only a baby in Christ. It wasn't until my freshman year of college that my faith in the Lord and my faith in the Lutheran church were challenged. In my Humanities class, the first book we read was Job and the purpose was for us to see how God and Satan had bargained for Job's soul. While studying WWII, I discovered the truths of the Holocaust. I was so shocked to learn about this horrible time in history. My dad had fought in the war and I guess this part of history had past me by in my classes in high school. I also learned that Martin Luther said many derogatory statements about the Jewish people. This freshman year brought many doubts into my mind about my faith but also it brought me a set of friends through a Christian group called the Navigators. I began to attend their Bible study group in one of the leader's home and found fellowship and support. My first year of college I was very homesick. Going away to college was extremely hard for me. I came from a close-knit family - they were 400 miles away and I also missed my fiance who was attending college in my hometown. It was through the Navigators that I learned a very important Christian truth. They talked about "giving your life to Jesus". For me as a Lutheran I never had felt it was necessary to make a public confession of my faith. But through Bible study and prayer with this group, I did make that decision to ask the Lord into my life. I'm not sure my parents ever totally understood why I had to do this as "Lutherans always had the Lord in their life" as far as they were concerned. That decision made a huge impact on my life and was the beginning of my deeper walk with the Lord. Many times I have looked back on that time and have been so thankful for the people that led me towards that decision. It didn't make all my problems disappear - actually it made my relationship with my fiance more complicated. In the years to follow I made some poor decisions and went through a disastrous first marriage where I learned that you should not marry someone that is not a Christian. But God was so faithful and protected me through that time. A few years later when I met the man that God had intended for me, I knew that if you put God first in your marriage, it gives your life meaning and direction. Even though we were Christians, our marriage was not perfect and we faced many challenges in our life. But God was always faithful and things worked out for good. In my role as a professor on a college campus, I meet students from all walks of life. My first concern for them is as a child of God and if it is appropriate and the timing is right, I share with them my faith. This does not happen very often but enough times to know that the Lord is working through my time there on campus. I also know there are times when the stress of teaching, mounds of grading, and general pressure from administration makes me forget to call on the strength of the Lord. I have been blessed to have Christian colleagues to support and encourage me and together we try to support our students in our department and across campus.

My Life

Favorite Quote

Coincidence is when God works a miracle and decides to remain anonymous.

Friends describe me

considerate, compassionate, patient, talented, strong in my faith, a seeker, genuinely caring about others, open to new understandings, and faithful to friends and family.

My hobbies

quilting, gardening, reading, and being with my grandchildren.

Fantasy dinner guests

JFK, Martin Luther King,Jr., Martin Luther, Ruby Bridges, and of course, Jesus.

Best advice I ever received

Go to college (from my brother)

My undergrad alma mater

Washington State University

My worst subject in school

Math and French

In college I drove

Ford Mustang.

If I weren't a professor, I would

be an elementary school teacher.

Favorite books

Beaches, The Shack, Quilt Books written by Jennifer Chiaverini, Mitford books by Jan Karon, Colony by Anne Siddons, and most good quality children's books (I teach children's literature) like: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Bud, Not Buddy, Holes.

Favorite movies

An American President, Gone With the Wind, Jane Austin Book Club, Pride & Prejudice, The Thorn Birds.

Favorite city

Washington, D.C.

Favorite coffee

Tall, decaf, skinny, vanilla latte from Starbucks of course

Nobody knows I

would have gone into the ministry if the Lutheran church was ordaining women when I graduated from college.

My latest accomplishment

Becoming a Full Professor (finally).