I don't remember the date of when I got saved. I vaguely remember being at a middle school youth group event at Germantown Baptist and praying the words, "God, I believe you sent Jesus Christ here to die for my sins and that in his death, I can be saved." But like most people, I didn't take a next step. Sure, I prayed some, went to a handful of events, special occasion church services, read some devotions, and many many times attempted to follow a bible reading plan. I still believed. I never doubted, BUT I hadn't let God have the priority spot in my life.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”
Mark 12:30 ESV
In college, I had a personal experience that rocked my faith. It wasn't that I doubted God, I just couldn't understand how He could possibly forgive me for so many sins. I used to gloss over this experience because I didn't want to examine it, but now I recognize that the enemy used my shame and guilt to drag me further and further from the Lord.
After moving to GA and meeting my future husband, he and I followed my acting dream out to California. We moved in together before we were married. We didn't attend a church, and we definitely got a little caught up in the earthly "treasures". But, as God is so faithful, He kept placing desires in our hearts to live a more fulfilling life.
In March 2013, my husband lost his job, 5 weeks before our wedding. We consider this the start of God seriously wooing us. Yes, I said "wooing". :) God took away the job that provided very well for us. With that, He took away the expensive clothes, the pricey dinners, and nights out drinking with friends. He didn't bless us with another form of employment for months. We lived on unemployment and my brand new personal training career. When we were offered a job, it was HALF of what we needed to stay afloat.
A few months later in January 2014, we decided that we wanted to try to get pregnant. This was only a handful of months after the above job started. Tim found a "better" job and while we were still incredibly strapped with some unexpected expenses, we thought things were looking good. We were dissatisfied and every single month we cried as the hopes for a baby didn't come true.
Fast forward to May 2014, I was running a successful personal training business, booked an acting job, had a new agent, and for all intents and purposes we should have been happy. We weren't. We decided that this life in CA was over and we would move back to GA. A handful of weeks later, Tim was let go from his job, again. We packed up our pup and moved across the country.
Here is where our testimony gets interesting. Each month as we tried and failed to conceive, I started pursuing God. I started reading His word, because nothing else made sense. I spent less and less time going out with friends and more and more times being quiet at home. I started listening to Christian music. I started praying for understanding. Once we got to GA, I knew life had to be different. We couldn't just keep doing what was obviously NOT working. Yet, as all of us do, we think we know best and we inevitably fall into the same temptations and traps.
God saved me from going down the rabbit hole by blessing us with our pregnancy with Calista, 11 months after we started trying. However, due to circumstances, it left me out of work and us financially strapped AGAIN.
In December 2014, I joined my first ever bible study at Johnson Ferry Baptist. I actually didn't have a wonderful experience in this mini study and decided I would give it one more shot in January. I fell in love, but don't let me fool you, I was so so so so so scared and intimidated. I had dreamed of a room full of young moms, just like me. God gave me a room full of women who could be my mom or grandmother. Those women became the best type of mentors cheering me on as I truly studied the Bible for the very first time. They let me verbalize my confusion and stumbling understandings. They celebrated when I connected the dots and praised me for bringing new light to Scriptures they knew by heart. So, I stuck around for another study.
Calista was born June 2015 and one week later my bible study leader went to heaven. That woman encouraged me until the day she died. She showed me what a woman in the word looks like. What a life lived for Jesus could be. She showed me a love that I wanted, a love that I knew I wanted to show and teach my children. Her life told me that I was right where I needed to be.
And one day, I woke up and realized God had my whole heart. I realized that I seek Him, I need Him, and I love Him. I mess up all the time and sure don't have a perfect track record of quiet times, completed bible study homework, or even of going to church. But, it was like all of a sudden, which wasn't so sudden really, I knew His way was better than my way.
In November 2015, Tim lost his job and I still wasn't working. With help from family and friends, we made it through. In March 2016, he was let go from a different job and rehired within 3 days. During those 3 days, I was prompted to ask about teaching a fitness class at Johnson Ferry and hired on the spot. Are y'all seeing God's work here? I sure do.
I started teaching fitness to worship music in June 2016. I started looking for more opportunities to train and make $, but I kept feeling God telling me to surrender to this season of motherhood. In July, we started trying for baby #2. In the middle of our 2nd month of trying, the flood happened to our friends and family in Baton Rouge. We felt called to do something about it and low and behold, 22,000 views on a Facebook video later, God provided not only the funds, but a 22 foot Uhaul truck for the victims. The Monday we left to drive the truck to Louisiana, Tim was let go from his job. The very next Monday, we found out God had blessed us with our 2nd baby.
Ok, so this is where you wonder why we have more faith now than ever, right?! God had just shown that through Him, miracles can happen. Provision can happen. His will be done. I remember praying very specifically and genuinely, "God, I know you provide, but I honestly don't see how this is providing. Please show me. Please help me see what I am missing." We were mentally and emotionally exhausted. We were out of options to pay bills. We had maxed out the credit cards from previous job losses. We had wiped out our entire savings already. We had nothing and nowhere to pull ourselves out of this. But do you know, God provided. Between the generosity of Johnson Ferry Baptist's Pastoral Care Ministry and wonderful friends, family, and perfect strangers, we made it through 3 months of not being able to pay rent. That baby is now 25 weeks in my belly and she will be here right around my birthday. But best of all, oh yes, best of all...
My sweet husband, he started praying again. He started telling me that God would provide. He started having faith again. He was the one who asked if we could start going to church on Sundays, since God provided him with a new job where he doesn't have to work that day for the first time in a decade. My husband made his way back to God too. And today, January 22, 2017, we let the world know that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and we will follow Him wherever He leads us.
Now, I don't know where this journey ends and we still are in a financial bind, but I do know that God provides. I do know that God has plans to give us the best portion. I know that His plans are bigger and better than anything we can come up with. I mean, we've tried to make our lives work and we failed. We know that God forgives us for what we've done in the past or will do in the future, but most importantly in being in His word, we are reminded constantly of His faithfulness to His people. We see His blessings even in hard times. Sure we could be upset about the last 4 years of financial struggles, or we could look at it this way...
Without these struggles, we wouldn't know God. We wouldn't know His forgiveness, love and grace and we sure wouldn't know to simply see every single blessing He's given us. We have 2 daughters. We have a cute little rental house and we have friends and family that encourage and help us. We are blessed and as hard days inevitably come, I will keep my hope in Jesus.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Romans 15:13 ESV