I'm not one of those people that has the crazy, total life turn-around testimony. I've never done drugs, I've never partied, I'm still saving sex for marriage. But, I've been told that everyone's story is unique. Everyone's story is just as important. The angels in heaven rejoice when a person receives Christ as his or her Savior whether it is a wayward teen, a dying grandpa, or a small child. In church today we had a time of reflection before the last song and were asked to thank God for the different people that made our story what it is. As I don't get the opportunity to share my story often and the people who have helped me along the way I'd like to share it with you now. I was born in a Christian home in Orange, California. My dad came from a "Christian" home in Texas and moved to CA while still in high school. He met my mom at Burger King and he brought her along to church with him after they started dating. My mom grew up in a Jewish home where Jesus was simply a teacher, not the Son of God. Long story short, she became a Christian in high school and she and my Dad married when they graduated college. My dad went to seminary part-time after they married.
I grew up at church. I only attended Crescent Baptist Church for six years before we moved to Oceanside, but I remember sitting in the red cushioned pews and listening to Maranatha songs, the pastor who came into our Sunday School class and greeted all the little students with a kiss on the cheek while I hid under the table, wearing Joseph's colorful coat made from brown paper bags and decorated with crayons as we marched down the halls singing, and having black painted on my nose for my part in "We Like Sheep." I listened to the Bible stories, and I understood that to be a Christian, you had to "ask Jesus into your heart."
One night, when I was three years old I had just been tucked into the lower bunk and my brother who was five was on the top bunk, I asked, "Josha, am I a Christian?" (though I couldn't quite pronounce Christian so it sounded a little different.) He said he didn't know. I asked, "Will you help me be one?" So he led me in little prayer that we had heard so many times in church during altar calls. I remember being very excited and ran out into the living room and said, "Mommy, Daddy, I'm a Christian; I'm a Christian! (Again, not pronounced quite right.) Some might question if this is true, and if I really became a Christian that night, but I have no doubt. I mean, how many things do you remember from age 3? Only monumental things. Same with any young age memory. You remember things that made a big impact on your life. The Bible often talks about having faith like a child. That's just how it was in my case.
To add to my church filled life, I also was enrolled in private school. I attended Victory Christian School in Anaheim for kindergarten and then moved to Oceanside and completed grades 1st-12th at Tri-City Christian School. Some argue whether private school is a good or bad thing. For me, it was the best gift my parents could have given me. I'm so happy I had the opportunity to be there. All throughout school, I was the goody-two shoes Christian girl. I knew the Bible stories really well between Sunday School and Bible classes. I knew the answers backwards and forwards, but it didn't really mean anything special to me. Being a Christian, going to church, praying, etc. were all things that we just did. I didn't know any different way of doing things. It was a way of life and just the way things were.
The summer before my Freshman year of high school I stopped putting off having a quiet time like I had been hearing I should do for so long. I don't remember them being anything great or life-changing, but I believe God really used that time to prepare my heart for the things that were coming up in my high school years. Freshman year brought a lot of new faces to TC. I became friends with a few of them, but the two that made the biggest difference were Becky and Sean. They had so much passion and excitement for God and their relationship with Him. Christianity wasn't a way to do life for them; it was a continual relationship with God. I was amazed. I didn't know Christianity could be like that. I saw what they had, and I wanted it. I prayed that God would put that same fire in me that they had, and He did!
Memories are all over the place from high school, but I remember taking part in worship team at chapel, I remember desperately seeking God's will for that time in my life, especially in the area of relationships, I remember learning to trust God to provide as He miraculously gave me a $2,000 scholarship to go to Europe with my senior class for our class trip--the exact amount I prayed for, I remember dealing with questions about my mom getting cancer and learning that it was all in God's plan, I remember meeting with Nicole during our free period for breakfast and asking each other questions to hold each other accountable, I remember speaking/singing at our senior chapel about how God taught me to surrender my life to him--one of the biggests topics of growth for me in high school. High school was full of so many lessons and pursuits of God's heart. I was challenged, I was broken, I was healed, I was picked up.
After high school, I transitioned to college and had the blessing of getting to know Paige who had come to lead worship at our church. She was a few years older than me and helped me so much. We studied a book together, we shared about quiet times we had, I spilled my heart to her about so many things. God brought her in at just the right time as I dealt with transitions and questions about life. I also got involved in college ministries, first at North Coast, then at New Song. Both groups have provided me with wonderful fellowship when I needed them as well as a place to get involved outside of my little world.
My story is still being written, and I'm sure many more people will come into play, but as I thanked God today for the people that have helped me thus far, I want to thank you too.
To Josh: for leading me to Christ through the eyes and understanding of a young kid
To Dad: for always having a good answer for my theological questions, for baptizing me, and for someday marrying me off to a guy you'll hardly think worthy of me. ;)
To Mom: for listening to my venting and offering wise counsel from your experiences to help me through day-to-day, and participating in Moms In Touch to pray for me with other moms
To Bethany: for opening my eyes to the world as you share your love for the third world
To Nicole: for holding me accountable, for sharing and bearing the weight of both struggles and joys
To Becky and Sean: for showing me what having a relationship with God could really be like and helping bring about my rededication to Christ
To Paige: for mentoring me at such a transitional stage of my life and never hesitating to pray for me
To Fallon: for introducing me to Every Thought Captive and opening my eyes to the lies I've believed about myself, and showing me the power and joy of prayer To Farah: for always asking me how I'm doing with God and challenging me to take it a step further
To Erica: for bearing my burdens and letting me bear yours as we struggle through similar circumstances and frustrations in our lives
To my teachers at Tri-City: for consistently setting the example of what it means to love God and love your students; your testimony played a huge role in my high school years
I'm sure there are many more that have failed to come to mind right now, but thank you so much to all of you. You have helped further God's kingdom by taking part in my story.