Toward the end of my interview with Mrs. Hoekstra, after I asked her if there was anything else I ought to know before writing a profile piece about her, she lifted up her eyebrows, smiled brightly, and said, “You could just write, ‘she is so blessed,’ and that would be all you need to say.”
Lynn Hoekstra works at Providence as the Director of Academic Support, and her workspace is known to students as the A.S.C.C (Academic Support and Career Center). She makes it a welcoming working environment by lighting it with lamps and filling it with homemade snacks. When she is not making students feel at home in the A.S.C.C, she spends her time as the adjunct professor of Education, helping students to learn to love teaching as much as she does.
She grew up on a farm in Grant Park, Illinois. After I gasped at the delightful prospect of living on a farm, she grinned, nodded, and rolled her eyes. “Oh, it’s the best life for a kid,” she said. She grew up with three older brothers, but never felt alone, and with a mom and dad who were in love. “I never doubted that they loved each other,” Mrs. Hoekstra said, explaining that they constantly worked to cultivate respect for the other person however, whenever they could.
When she was 4 years old she met a 6 year old boy named Jack, and as they got older their families spent more and more time together. “Our families became good friends. His best friend was my brother. Our families would go to the lake together every Fourth of July; our parents would go on vacations together. We grew up together,” she told me. Mrs. Hoekstra has even confused Mr. Hoekstra’s nieces and nephews by showing up in his old family home videos of when they were both small children. By the time she was in 6th grade, Mrs. Hoekstra was ready to give an answer to a neighborhood friend who asked her who she was going to marry (she waved her hand and said to me, “You know how 6th graders talk”). Her reply, at the age of 12, was simple: “I’m going to marry that Hoekstra boy.” And in the October after she graduated from high school, that’s exactly what she did.
Mrs. Hoekstra is still affected by the childhood years she spent on the farm. One of the top 5 qualities on her Strengths Quest list is responsibility. “I learned that on the farm,” she said. And her life as a child revolved around family, church, and work, which are things that still influence her. One thing that was not a value to her family was the importance of education. “My parents were not educated,” she said. “That was not a high value.” This may make it seem odd that Mrs. Hoekstra has ended up as an educated teacher. While her parents did not encourage her to go to college or to pursue any sort of higher education, they did encourage her to always seek to be in the center of God’s will, and that is where she has found herself, here at Providence Christian College. “My parents taught me that I would never be happier than if I was in the center of God’s will,” she said, and that Divine will has brought her here.
Mrs. Hoekstra gives credit to some of her friends and to her husband for her decision to go to college for the sake of pursuing education. Their encouragement, combined with the deeply planted love for adventure and eagerness to embrace new challenges, instilled by her dad, and the confidence that she could do anything she set her mind to, infused by her mother, moved Mrs. Hoekstra to enroll as a freshman in college at age 33.
Now she is teaching education at Providence and working on her Doctorate in Christian education, believing that these callings are in the center of God’s will, and finding deep happiness and blessedness in them. “I love it,” she said. “I love all of it. I’m so blessed.” She shook her head in awe while she explained with delight that her doctoral studies keep her constantly studying the very thing that she’s doing at Providence: Christian Education. And she is thrilled to be training up another generation of Christian teachers, saying, “As long as I have that opportunity, I’m going to say, ‘thank you, Lord. I’ll do my best.’”