While I was growing up I believed I had to be good to get into heaven. I imagined that God had a giant scale and if I did more good things than bad, then maybe I could get into heaven. It was all about what I did, not the condition of my heart. Yet somehow I knew this was not enough and I questioned and struggled. I had a deep sense that what I was doing was not enough.
In the Spring of my 8th grade year, I went to church with a friend. For the first time Eph. 2:8-9 came alive and I understood “For by grace you have been saved through faith, not of yourselves not as a result of works that no-one should boast”. I understood that Jesus was the one who saved me and I could never do enough “good” to get to God. I realized I had to make a personal choice to follow Jesus as my Lord. I knew I had no choice, I had to repent of my prideful belief that I could earn my way to God. I had to turn my life over to my Savior Jesus Christ.
In high school, I began seeking fellowship with other true believers. I visited many youth groups but most of them were just social clubs. I finally found a Bible study that helped me learn how to do more than just read the Word, but study the Word and be truly fed.
In college I immediately joined the only Christian group on my small campus. I also became a youth leader with a parachurch organization. I learned how to grow in my faith, share my faith and disciple others. For the first time I went on mission trips, and the one I went on my Senior year led me to do Missions work with University and High School students in Albania after I graduated. It was a truly amazing experience. It grew me, challenged me and changed me- all for the better!
When I returned to the states, I began working with a parachurch organization. I met my husband and we began serving in youth ministry together. Our ministry focus changed as we had children. I was ministering to other mothers with young children, homeschooling my children, helping my husband with his role mentoring kids in the inner city youth outreach at our church, supporting him in his role as Chaplain with Truckstop ministries. I also recently spent a few years working with a youth theater ministry. All these things have grown and stretched me in new and amazing ways.
Perhaps the biggest faith stretching thing in my life has been homeschooling my kids for the last 17 years! A commitment to them, to having everything we do for school also be grounded in the Word has grown and stretched me, and brought me to my knees pleading to God for help, more than anything else my husband and I have done in ministry all our lives. It has not always been easy, but has been immensely rewarding.
My favorite passage is the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”