I grew up in Eugene, OR, the product of a split family at the age of 5. It was at this time that my grandmother was taking us to Catholic mass every other Sunday, while my dad and step-mom took us to the Baptist Church. However confused I must have been, I can't remember a time when I didn't feel the presence of God in my life. I felt protection, as if He were in control. And I could talk to Him freely. I was hardly interested in either church though, either begging to go with my dad to his study instead of Sunday school, or uncomfortably bored at the mass where much of what happened was religious and seemed far from necessary.
It was in 8th grade that I met a girl named Kelsey who had recently moved to Eugene from Arizona. She was a joyful girl who seemed to get along with everyone. I longed to be her friend, so when she reached out to me, I quickly began looking for common ground. We got on the subject of churches, and she said that she was looking for a church youth group in town. I told her (knowing that the Baptist church was the only of the two that had a "youth group") that she should come with me sometime. I had no idea what God had done for me in that one little conversation. The door had been opened for a whole new life that I didn't even know existed.
We went to the Baptist youth group and quickly I was shared the gospel and accepted Christ as my Savior. I had heard that I needed Jesus in my heart many times, even asked him in at age 5, but this was different. I understood the cross, my sin, His forgiveness, His grace, my salvation. I couldn't get enough of this Jesus thing. I went to church on my own volition now. Every Sunday, every Wednesday, and for every extra event they had. I even went on every mission trip I could. God was growing me like wildfire, and the Holy Spirit took hold of my life dramatically. I was no longer depressed at school, no longer afraid of other kids, I had a confidence that made me excited to share Christ with people.
Only because of God's sovereign grace on my life, I had continued growth through high school and college. I became a worship leader in the college group, and started discipling other girls. I was persecuted for my beliefs because I wouldn't back down on the exclusivity of Christ. I was kicked out of the science wing at my school for leading a morning bible study and mocked at our senior breakfast with a slam award of "most righteous". Moral living became a natural way, and I began to learn what it meant to die to my flesh.
During the summer of my sophomore year in college, I decided to work an internship in California at a video editing studio. It was a secular environment that I hadn't known before. It was there that God taught me loneliness. I had no Christian friends, and no Godly support. I sat on the beach after work for hours each day, watching the waves and praying to God, asking Him to show me the world, so that I would have a heart to change it.
The next summer, I felt called to go on a Campus Crusade leader training mission in the same California city. It was there that I met my husband. His humble spirit was unlike any boy I'd dated in the past, however Christian they'd all been. Within months, we knew we were meant for each other.
After 6 months of long-distance love, I moved to Indiana to live with some girls that were in his Campus Crusade band, and quickly fell in love with Indiana and the wonderful friendships God provided for me. So much so, that those friends are some of my closest today. It was here that God taught me how to study, to love to study, and to cherish the Godly women in my life. My discipleship leader was a wife and mom, whereas in the past my leaders had been young, single women. This leader showed me a whole new world of married life I never knew growing up. She was honest with me about her arguments and struggles, and showed me how to lean on Jesus to supply every need.
Scott and I were married the next year and decided to be vicarious and move to Nashville, TN. We were full of expectations and hit rock bottom pretty quickly in our marriage. But in our time of selfishness and pride, God did not leave us. He provided for us an incredible church, full of Godly men and women just waiting to pour into our lives. I met a woman who had been through monstrous trials in her marriage, but could look me in the eye and say she hadn't given up. They made it through and so would I. Scott and I joined a community group where we met other young couples who made us feel less alone in our walk. We slowly began building back up what we had torn down so hastily. God worked on our hearts until we saw how ugly our sin was. It was then that we were ready to begin again. Nashville was a place where I learned about family, the church, and humility. We became leaders in the high school ministry and we were given the opportunity to sing and play music with some of the best. God showed me that he had gifted me for worship and I was given opportunities to grow my gifts.
One thing loomed in our hearts, and that was my family. We were so far away and felt that Oregon would be a better place for us to shine our lights. Upon moving back to Oregon, we started attending a non-denominational church. I was surprised at how quickly God called me into musical ministries. Before long I was in charge of the team and getting to use all the ideas and gifts God had been building up in me since my high school years. I was on fire for the Lord, but something wasn't right. It seemed that the leadership above me was not reciprocating my passion. Somewhere deep beneath the lack of vision was a terrible disconnect in theology. Through great sadness, my husband and I began realizing that the direction the church was going was not that of our hearts, and we had to make the difficult decision to leave. Never imagining ourselves in this position, we felt in a bit of shock. We had just had our first child, and were greatly disappointed to be losing our church family. But God used the situation to burn our passion for the Truth even greater. We prayed for a revival in the city. We prayed for a church home that would cry out in the streets Jesus Christ's name. We prayed to see people saved.
Just weeks amidst our departure, we were lead to a small start-up church. Walking into this body of believers felt like home. It felt like God answered all our prayers in one fell swoop, and again we were off on an exciting journey of the Holy Spirit's calling in our lives. Once again, God immediately called us to service through worship, and this time the passion was reciprocated. You could almost see the passion for Christ, like a tangible fog in the church's midst, and we felt overcome with gratefulness to God. It is in this season that I stand now. God is teaching me what it means to fear Him. He is teaching me patience, and complete submission to Him. I eagerly await my second child now, and find myself more and more dedicated to my family. My spiritual walk is full of stories, but I know that this is just where my story begins. May God bless my life as I walk in obedience to Him.