Hali’s story: Obedience, pursuit of passion, and God’s calling

There are conversations that seem to make an imprint on your heart and simply stay with you over time.  I’m not sure she even remembers meeting for coffee that day, but I’ll never forget it. I met Hali (pronounced with a long A, like Haley) when she was just a shy and incredibly quiet 8th grader. I was her church small group leader and due to her apparent mutism, I called her Hali (short A) for most of the year. (Who am I kidding, I still call her the wrong name more times than not.)

A note Hali wrote me in 8th grade. I like to reminder her from time to time of these sentiments.
A note Hali wrote me in 8th grade. I like to reminder her from time to time of these sentiments.

Now a senior in high school, Hali was facing decisions that loomed large and carried tremendous weight, namely what to do after graduation. Should she do what was expected and go to college like the rest of her peers or go against the flow and do something completely different?

She chose the latter…


Doing something different takes tremendous courage. Smart, responsible, gifted, and focused, no one ever imagined she’d do anything other than go directly to college. College is the logical next step after high school, especially for someone like Hali. With dreams of becoming a physician, why not take the logical next step? Because something about the logical next step didn’t feel right. In fact, it felt wrong. So maybe doing something different doesn’t just take courage, but also takes obedience. Acts 5:29, “ If we have to choose between obedience to God and obedience to any human authority, then we must obey God.” And obeying God often means doing the illogical.

Hali has always had a heart for missions and so spent a “gap year” overseas with a missionary organization. In that time, God confirmed that Hali had reservations about pursuing medical school for a reason – becoming a doctor was not the next step. But what was? She still did not know. And yet she trusted that God had a plan and a purpose for her life. She believed He would be faithful and she patiently waited for this plan to be revealed in His timing.


For two years she explored other careers in medicine, including becoming a local paramedic. And she developed ministry skills working with the very same youth group she was raised in and where I first met her so many years before. The passion for missions remained, the passion for medicine began to fade. And overtime a different passion she’d always had grew even stronger. A passion placed there by her Maker. A passion in line with His heart. A passion for those in bondage and in slavery. Hali’s heart is to see captives set free and captors brought to justice. Suddenly Hali’s calling seemed crystal clear…

And so today, my friend Hali moves to Chicago. She’s off to college in pursuit of her passion and in obedience to the Lord she loves. Today she takes another step in living out the calling placed on her life. Faith is still required. God gives us all a lamp for our feet to illuminate the next step, not a headlight to reveal the entire path. But He promises to go ahead, walk along, and hem in behind. He never leaves nor forsakes. And He finishes what He starts. And though I will miss her deeply, I could not be more proud or more inspired. And because she is way too humble to share her story, I felt compelled to do it for her. Because we can all learn from Hali… that following God takes courage to be different. That the risk it takes to obediently follow God is always worth it. That following God is an unbelievably exciting adventure. And that God’s call to serve His kingdom always aligns with the gifts, talents, and passions He gave us when He created us. Imagine that…


Hali May, I’m honored and privileged to witness your adventure and I am waiting with eager expectation to see where the journey takes you. I have no doubt it will be to places and heights you could never imagine. “All this is why we are constantly praying for you, so God will make you worthy of the great calling you have received from Him and will give you the power to accomplish every good intention and work of faith.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)  ~Much Love, Karen Ann



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