Visit With a Volunteer:
May 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
How often does a college music major also major in mathematics? And how often does a music and math education major graduate with teaching credentials then end up working in computer programming? While this career trajectory may not be the norm, this is exactly what Lisa Miller has experienced in her lifetime.
Born to the late Edward Gordon, an architect, and his wife, Aurea, (also deceased) a graphic artist, Lisa grew up in St. Louis, MO, along with her two younger siblings. Miss Gordon graduated from Ladue High School, where she played flute in the band. Currently, brother Steve and his wife Carrie live in Tucson, AZ, while her other brother, Ed, is single, residing in Sedona, AZ.
After high school, Lisa moved to Iowa City, IA, becoming a University of Iowa Hawkeye. Beginning her pursuit of a degree in music education, she soon realized how much she enjoyed studying math as well. Before long, this became a second major for her. While a student at the university, this Hawkeye co-ed met a young man named Gary Miller who would become her husband 44 years ago. He graduated and began a teaching position while she was completing her student teaching. Upon finishing her degree, Mrs. Miller was unable to secure a teaching position in either music (band) or math, so she worked as a substitute teacher. Three years later she would go on to earn her associate’s degree in computer programming, a field in which she would be employed for 15 years. When asked to compare the fields of education and computers, Lisa explained, “There are differences in these areas…computer programming rested on intellectual abilities, while teaching, which I’ve found to be more challenging, rested more on interpersonal capabilities.”
In 1983 the Millers moved from Iowa to the Kansas City metro area, where most of their lives were spent residing in the Northland. For 6 of their roughly 40 years in the KC area, she and Gary lived in Merriam, KS. A gentleman she worked with in the computer field was a Christian, and enduring a health crisis with his wife as she suffered from cancer. Lisa asked him how she could help, perhaps with meals, and he gave her contact information for a woman at his church who was organizing various types of assistance for his family. Having not been brought up in a church-going family, Lisa became intrigued observing how this man handled the stress and heartache of his wife’s diagnosis, and how their church family was helping them through it. Long story short, the Lord was using this experience to draw her to Himself. Through conversations with this co-worker, Mrs. Miller soon began listening to Christian radio programs, particularly John MacArthur, and seeking guidance through her own personal problems, including some within her marriage. After wrestling with God for 6 months, at 39 years of age, she bought a Bible and sought out and attended an area non-denominational church, where she worshiped for 2 years.
The Millers then moved north of the river, where Gary worked as band teacher at North Kansas City High School. Before moving, Lisa asked her (then) pastor how to find a church in her new area. He advised they should visit churches, seeking one where the Bible was clearly taught and preached. After checking a few different houses of worship, this family settled on Gashland, which they found to be warm, friendly, and most importantly, Bible-based.
When their son and daughter had joined the family Lisa spent 10 years as a stay-at-home mom. Thus in 1997 she was able to become actively involved at Gashland. First she started attending the Mom’s Bible study. She also became involved with the Flower Ministry, ordering fresh flowers for the sanctuary each week, and then moving them between the two service locations. Mrs. Miller also became a Precept Bible Study leader, something she enjoyed doing for 6-7 years. But at that time she was ready to work outside the home again and became an instructional assistant in special education for the next 7 years. After a couple of years, she so missed working with Precept that she started an evening group for working women.
In addition, this busy lady has been active in other areas of GEPC life, sometimes playing flute with the worship team or on past choir cantatas, serving as a 3rd grade Sunday School aide, helping with Conversations set-up and with VBS.
Lisa recounted, “In 2015 our Women’s Ministry Program was revamped and I became very active with it. Donna Pace was heading up the ministry at that time. Of the women participating then, Melissa Cable and I are the only two remaining.” And, sadly for Gashland, Lisa Miller will soon move on. She and her husband are both retired, Gary from his last position as assistant principal at Oak Park High School. They will be relocating to Columbia, MO, in the very near future. Hard to understand why….their son, Patrick, is one of the pastors at a large EPC congregation, The Crossing Church, in Columbia, where he and his wife, Emily, are raising their two children, 7 year old Iris and Oliver, who is 4. Gashland actually helped support Patrick when he was involved in college ministry at Covenant Seminary (Pastors Ritchey and Michael’s alma mater). In addition, the Millers’ daughter, physical therapist Beth, also lives in the MU college town with her husband, Dean and their 9 month old baby girl, June. So, Columbia = two children and their spouses as well as three grandchildren…..a no-brainer!
When asked if she had a favorite scripture passage, without hesitation, Lisa responded, “The Book of Philippians, definitely, and especially chapter 4.”
As if Mrs. Miller has not kept busy enough with all of the ways in which she has served at Gashland, she still has time for some other interests and hobbies. 10 or 12 years ago she decided to add another instrument to her musical abilities, learning to play cello, which she continues to work on. She enjoys sewing and quilting, as well as painting with water colors. And she is an avid reader, averaging over 100 books per year!! Two of her favorite authors are Elizabeth Elliot and Amy Carmichael, who, Lisa states, “speaks to my heart.”
In light of Lisa’s long and varied list of activities and work history, it would be easy to assume she is quite the extrovert. However, she self-describes herself as being “shy in many ways, since childhood.” Whether introvert or extrovert, one thing is certain, Mrs. Lisa Miller has served the Lord in many ways during her decades at Gashland, and she will be greatly missed. May God bless you in Columbia, Lisa!