Heather (Boerger) and Ryan Ingersoll met in the window-lined "Vanity Hallway" running alongside the chapel and courtyard at the Trinity Lutheran College (TLC) Issaquah Campus in the fall of 2003. It was the beginning of a deep friendship grounded in conversations about life and faith spurred by immersion in the TLC community. Four years later, the week after Ryan graduated with his BA, they shared wedding vows in the chapel below the stained-glass windows, only a few feet from where they first met.
Since graduating from TLC in 2005 (Christian Education), Heather's work has been guided by her passion and commitment to help others understand the deeply innate spiritual nature of children, a seed planted in her by Professor Sue Houglum. Heather went on to earn her M.A. in Human Services and a Ph.D. in Education. Her first job, as a freshman at TLC, was working for housekeeping. Her last position at TLC was Chair and Professor of Early Childhood Education during the college's final year. Heather notes this as the opportunity "…to give back to the students and community that shaped [her] so deeply."
Ryan completed his undergrad in 2007 (Youth and Family Ministry) and has pursued work in higher education, with a focus on academic administration, digital learning, libraries, and educational technology. This experience includes TLC, Augsburg University, Seattle Pacific University, and George Fox University. He earned a seminary graduate certificate in Christian Studies and an M.Ed. in Digital Education Leadership. One of his most poignant memories at TLC includes his senior year when a snowstorm blanketed the Sammamish plateau. He and his RA team walked to QFC to get supplies and snacks for their floor members.
Ryan and Heather's life journey is like a winding path with many transitions and unexpected endings. Heather lost her "dream job"teaching at her alma mater, and more recently, Ryan experienced a lay off related to COVID-19 budget cuts. There have been 15 moves across three states,over ten jobs, three graduate degrees, and two children. While every aspect of this journey has brought challenges and joys, they look back at each experience as a necessary and valuable step in living out their vocation and calling.
They approach life with a spirit of adventure and commitment to the people and places around them. When faced with a potential new opportunity, they jump in ready and willing to explore and learn. Ryan recalls Frederick Buechner’s quote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet” (Wishful Thinking). Some connect a vocational calling to a specific job or career. Ryan and Heather believe it is much bigger. Ryan says, "Our vocational calling is about how we live authentically, regardless of what we are doing or where we are living. We are committed to living into our whole self. When something out of the ordinary presents itself, we start our discernment by saying, 'I wonder '..."
It is surreal to step back to the moment 17 years ago when they first met; Ryan, an incoming freshman, and Heather a junior. While their relationship has grown much deeper, what remains unchanged is their commitment to a life of following God's spirit and advocating for justice in often-overlooked places.
Key Learning at TLC:
"God's intentional design is one of beautiful diversity. Living and learning at TLC taught us the importance of sitting down over a cup of coffee, tea, or beer with someone you might not fully agree with or understand, to embrace an experience different than your own."
Advice to students:
"Be you! In Matthew Paul Turner's When God Made You book, he writes, "You being you is God's dream coming true." Be confident in who you are as God's beloved (Henri Nouwen). The world yearns for your compassion, innovation, energy, and advocacy. Trust your intuition and how God speaks to you. Authentically engage diverse opinions and find mentors who will be honest with you. We need the voices of our young people now more than ever."
Until their next adventure, Heather and Ryan live outside Portland, Oregon, with their two sons, Theo (five), and Aidan (one).