Mentor of Faith // Rhoda
It had been ten years since I had last seen Dr. Wolle (aka Rhoda - still hard for me to call her by her first name!). I was a defiant freshman in high school and she was my English teacher. Her love and sincerity fueled her discipline and she was fun! She saw something good in me when no one else did - including myself. Following high school I carried the memory of Rhoda's example well into my years of college and even now as a mother. Teachers please don't underestimate your kind words or gestures to your students. Rhoda's smile is worth a day of praise!
I am so grateful to say that we were able to meet up recently for some coffee and conversation. I was right back to being the 14yr old girl wanting to write down everything amazing she was saying. Some things don't change. :)
It was such a blessing to catch up with her and now I get to share the latest with you!
"Tell us more about yourself, what is a regular day like for you?"
Many years ago I was at a workshop and was asked to write down a list of things that were most important to me in my life. After compiling the list, I was told to write down how much time I devoted each day to the top three items on my list. I felt like such a hypocrite. I had written Jesus as the number one thing on my list, yet at the time, I was not reading my Bible each day. I had often agreed with the saying that Jesus is my best friend, yet I wasn’t treating him like it. Your best friend is the one you want to talk to on a regular basis and share life with. You want their advice when you have decisions to make; you want to share your happy moments and your challenging times with them. Yet, I was not treating Jesus like he was my best friend. This simple exercise was transformational for me. I now realize that I must set aside specific time each day to intentionally spend time on the things that are most important for me, or the world and life will hijack my schedule.
So I begin each morning with a steaming cup of coffee and my Bible. In the quiet dark of the morning, before the bustling of the new day begins, I spend time with my best friend. After reading and prayer time, my trusty Beagle companion, Kipper and I head out for a walk along Lake Michigan and watch the sun rise on a new day. I have learned that after a fresh walk, my mind is best able to focus on reading and writing, so early mornings are when I do my research and writing.
Then I head into the College. I am blessed to teach Educational Psychology at Wisconsin Lutheran College. I teach in our traditional undergrad program, our Master’s program for teachers returning to get their Master’s Degree, and also in our adult completion program. We have a relatively new program at WLC where adults with about 2 years of previous college can return to WLC one night per week for about 2 years and earn their Bachelor’s in Business Management and Leadership. It is a very fun program to teach in because my students range from 23 years old to those in retirement! In addition to teaching I am also the Director of our Center for Academic Excellence. In this role I manage 45 student tutors, work one on one coaching students with study skills, and also work with faculty members as they aim to help each student develop to his or her full God-given potential. I serve on a couple of Boards for ministry and also serve as an Educational Consultant, so free time is spent in those capacities. I also love to travel, golf, sail, listen to music, watch TV/movies, read, and watch sports, so I am rarely bored! I have a very blessed life, and I thank the Lord each day for it.
I have never been married and do not have my own children, but I have been blessed with wonderful nieces and nephews, and have many previous students, colleagues, and friends who are family as well!
"How would you describe your unique role as a woman?"
My role as a woman is a bit different than most of my friends who are married and have children. God has not blessed me in that way, but he has blessed me in so many other ways. My goal is to find contentment in what he has given me. I feel that is one of my callings; to practice and help others understand that we are blessed regardless of our marital status, and to find contentment right where we are. If we are married, we are blessed. If we are single, we are still blessed, just in a different way. If God had chosen to give me a husband and children that would be a blessing; so far, he has had other plans for me and I am very content with that. I love to travel and share His precious truths as I visit places such as Africa and China, and Haiti. This would be very challenging to do if I had a family. I spend long hours at work and am very devoted to my students, again, this would be more difficult if I had to get home to cook dinner. So the key for me is being content in the role God has given me. I love my life, and I find my contentment in Him!
"What bible passage is your personal favorite?"
Wow, it is pretty tough for me to pick one. I think of different passages as special friends that keep me company during different times in life. I’m spending a lot of time with Romans 15:13 right now.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Who is your strongest Christian mentor?
I will forever be grateful to my parents for brining me up in the Word, and sending me to Emmanuel Lutheran School and Arizona Lutheran Academy. It was a sacrifice on their part, and through that they taught me to spend time and money on what was most important. I had incredible teachers who modeled for me Christian faith, forgiveness, and love.
Kathleen Barfknecht was my teacher from first through fifth grade and was a stickler for Bible History, and memory work, and she loved to sing hymns. Because of her faithfulness, His Word was engrained in me at a time when I was a sponge and I forever carry the nuggets of memorized Bible passages and hymns. James Pasbrig, and Victor Fenske really stand out from high school. They were both gifted at helping students discover and develop their interests and gifts.
At Martin Luther College Dr. Cindy Whaley and Coach Barb Leopold were two women who influenced me tremendously. If I can have half the impact on others that these teachers had one me, I will be very fortunate. All of these people loved their Savior and that impacted their interactions with students so fundamentally.
How did you get started teaching and counseling?
I never planned on being a teacher. In High School I had several teachers who encouraged me to attend DMLC, but I was not the least bit interested. I was going to go to Nashville and play music! When I was 21 I moved to Nashville. After a variety of odd jobs to pay the rent, I eventually got a job working in the music industry. I was living my dream: singing, playing, writing music, working in the industry – yet it felt rather empty. It was all I had ever wanted to do, and now I didn’t want to do it any longer. I had a mid-life crisis at 27! I began praying the prayer in the front of the hymnal every day, For Proper Use of God’s Gifts : “Gracious God, all that I have comes from you: my body and mind, my strength and intelligence, my time and abilities, my energy and possessions. Guard me from the temptation to use these gifts only for my personal benefit. Make me willing to use them joyfully in service to you and to your people.” In time, it became very clear to me that I was to return to DMLC (it would become MLC my second year there.) I have been so blessed from that. I have learned that I want to be where God wants me to be!
Is there anything specific from Titus 2:3-5, our blog's mission, that you would like to comment on to encourage women?
Titus 2:3-5, "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
I love the way this passage ends, “so that no one will malign the word of God.” God is the cornerstone for all we do, even our work building up and encouraging each other. Not unto us - but to him be all glory!
What do you feel is a threat to a woman's faithfulness in her home?
We constantly have to recalibrate our compasses so that our focus is always on Jesus. It is easy to get caught up in the expectations of the world. Our goal is not in pleasing others but in pleasing God…that can be very challenging, and we only have the desire and strength to do this by staying rooted in Him. I love the fruits of faith listed in Galatians: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is what we want our lives to look like, as well as our schools, our churches, and our homes. How does this happen? By staying connected to the vine!
How do you keep yourself filled when your job is so often encouraging and inspiring others?
I must remain in the Word each day. That is the only place to truly refill/refuel. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory!” Ephesians 3:20.
Is there a moment that you saw God's hand so clearly guiding or providing for you?
For this final question, I’d like to thank God for the work he has done in the lives of my students. We don’t always know how things are going to turn out; we don’t know what will happen to the young people around us. But it is so fun to get a glimpse and see how our Lord has worked in their lives.
I am so grateful to God that he used Rhoda as his instrument to mentor me as a young teen and now her circle of influence has grown and grown to all over the world. She is filled with the fruit of the Spirit and it's hard to miss! Yes! Glory to God! <3
To read more from Dr. Rhoda Wolle you can follow her at her blog drrhoda.blogspot.com