Kelli Worrall, Communications Professor
Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute – www.moody.edu/moody-bible-institute-chicago/
Written by Julie Stroud
Forrest Gump philosophy says life is like a box of chocolates, indicating the various and often unrelated choices we make throughout life. While there may be some truth in that, here is another perspective. Life is like a set of building blocks. We each receive a set of seemingly random pieces to connect and fit with other pieces as we build the structure we choose. A master plan guides us through the process, and as the structure takes shape, we begin to see its beauty.
Kelli Worrall is now seeing the plan come together as her career takes on exciting new additions. A Communications Professor at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute, she has long been a lover of words. Only recently has she become the weaver of words for the masses.
The building blocks of Kelli’s life began in Minnesota as the daughter of parents with cerebral palsy. While she had a loving relationship with her folks, living with disabled parents was not easy. It was a part of her life she wanted to keep hidden, and many of her schoolmates did not know.
Years later, a high school English teacher saw Kelli’s writing talent. She encouraged Kelli to enter the Guideposts Magazine writing competition for young writers. This inspiring mentor of a teacher encouraged her to write about her personal story. Kelli won 2nd place and caught the writing bug. Not only that, but she saw God use her personal pain for His greater plan. What she wanted to keep hidden, He used publicly in one of the most-read inspirational periodicals in the world. The foundation of building blocks was laid through these early life experiences.
Kelli went on to receive a degree in writing. She moved to Chicago to work for a Christian curriculum company. Eventually, she became interested in teaching and returned to school to receive a master’s degree in Religious Education which led to her position as a Communications Professor at Moody Bible Institute.
Teaching writing to college students was inspiring, so much that it inspired her to return to college for a second master’s degree, an MFA in creative writing. Her thesis was a book-length manuscript based on her blog titled, “This Odd House”. She had tinkered with blogging over the years, sharing about life with her husband Peter, also a Professor at Moody, and the experience of adopting and raising their two children. This Odd House speaks to the busy family life that occurs in and around their lovingly restored 1920s Craftsman style home.
While on sabbatical to revisit her thesis and publish This Odd House as her first book, she continued blogging. Her manuscript was being floated with publishers, a lengthy process full of stops and starts even for the most talented of writers. Meanwhile a blogpost she wrote was gaining speed and going viral. This caught the attention of her editor who recommended the blogpost was material for a book. In a turn of events, 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves, co-written with her husband Peter Worrall, was Kelli’s first published book.
Moody Bible Institute is a large institution with many aspects to their worldwide ministry. As such, Peter and Kelli were asked to speak at marriage retreats. This was good experience for Kelli and it paved the way for an invitation to lead a women’s retreat. She had never done anything like it, and found that she loved the process of diving into scripture to create four messages for a weekend women’s retreat. With that, a new addition to her professional life was being built.
Since Kelli’s first book was released in October, 2015, life has consisted of writing, speaking, teaching with family life woven throughout. And she loves it all. Kelli’s second book, A Piercing Embrace: 7 Life-Changing Encounters with the Fierce Love of Christ is under contract and will published later this year.
Kelli’s advice for aspiring women is to be obedient and follow the crumbs sprinkled before you. She acknowledges that prayerfully setting goals is good, yet we should hold our goals with open hands. In her quest to publish one book, the Lord led her to another. Perhaps there were some things yet to learn and God knows the timing of such projects. His ways are perfect.
For those who have the desire to write, her encouragement is to be a good steward of this gift. “We are made in the image of a communicative God.” Ever a teacher, Kelli says, “Write, write, write. We undervalue our gift.” She encourages aspiring writers to journal, blog, take a writing class, join a writer’s group, write articles, and read.
From where she stands now, with many building blocks fitting into a recognizable structure, Kelli says, “I can see how God has prepared me.” Grateful and humbled, she shares, “I am not doing this for the praise of men, but to share the Word. My job is to deliver the Word.”
This Odd House of Kelli Worrall’s is God’s design for her, and she is delighting in it.
Written By Julie Stroud
Julie Stroud is the Founder and President of Fervent Coaching. With two decades’ experience as a work at home mom and solopreneur, Julie brings experience, wisdom, and education to the clients she serves. Through coaching and training, Fervent Coaching equips and inspires Christian entrepreneurial women to be God’s best in the marketplace.
Are you a Christian woman entrepreneur with a story of personal and/or professional overcoming? Or does your ministry or business have a strong give-back component that is making a difference locally and/or globally? If you would like your story considered for this blog and upcoming book, contact Julie Stroud at firstname.lastname@example.org.