Yesterday, I celebrated 15 years with Jesus. I know what you’re thinking. Wow, that is cheesy. Hallmark is thinking, how have we not thought of that card line yet?!?! I’ll expect to see my check in the mail, Hallmark. I remember when it was my 10 year anniversary and I didn’t really think anything of it, but for some reason, this “anniversary” is different. Maybe I’m thinking about it because I’m turning 30 next month ( I mean, 25…yes..25) and I’ve started to super reflect on my life. Maybe it is because I am about to enter into my third year of seminary. Maybe it is because I am about to begin the process of answering a lot of questions on my beliefs as part of my ordination process. (I’d be okay with it if you prayed for all the papers I have to write by the way. I'm kinda super way stressed out.) Whatever has got my wheels turning I think I know God is pressing on to me to think about those around me that have helped me along the way.
I’m so incredibly thankful for Heartland Presbyterian Center where I attended camp for several summers. It was a few summers in and during MADD camp (Music, Art, Drama, and Dance) and the influence of counselors like Becky or our director, Paula, that made Christ so real to me. I’ll never forget Paula’s deep phobia of feet. I’ll never forget when she washed the feet of every single camper. I mean, have you seen middle school’s feet that have been at summer camp?!?! GROSS. You probably just dry heaved. I don't blame you. And yet there she was, washing ours with such love and Christ was so real to me in that moment that I could no longer push Him away.
So I gave my life to Him on June 18th, 1999. And I had no idea what I was really in for.
I’ll never forget when my best friend, MacKenzie, went to college and how she poured into me from a state away and sharing her new found love of Christ through Campus Crusade of Christ. She taught me to listen to better music and also not say words like “ass” and other worse language. (I may be backsliding here and there, MacKenzie. Come visit me and fix it. Hello confession.)It was a year later that I followed her and became heavily involved in that ministry. To Finch, Chad, Shelia, Monica…you poured countless hours into me and believed in me as a leader. I’m convinced I am in ministry because you believed I could teach and preach. I’ll also never forget the first church I fell in love with and the way I fell in love with how the church could operate at its best. Heartland Covenant Church met in a small storefront in a strip mall on Sunshine in Springfield, Missouri and it radically changed my life and the lives of all my roommates and friends. Brad will continue to be one of my most favorite preachers I’ve ever heard. The love of the congregation from Peggy, Scott, Donna, Tracy, Colette, Terri, and so many others made me excited about the possibility of church.
My first ministry job was such a joyful ride. Matt and Lindsay gave me so many opportunities. I failed a lot, messed up a lot, but I also grew in leaps and bounds. I’m so thankful for the way they taught me, encouraged me, gave me chances, teased me, and loved me. Since being in Dallas, it has been another great chapter of life in ministry that continues to unfold everyday. I’m thankful for Stan who took a chance on a girl from Kansas and trusts me and lets me run wild with my ridiculous ideas. I’m thankful for Kay DeBlance who quite possibly is the person I admire and respect more than anyone I have ever met in the ministry. If I could be half the pastor she is, I know I would be getting something right. Then of course, I can’t forget my incredible husband, Scott. If I hadn’t said yes to Christ and followed all these steps, I would have never met him. And I fricking love that dude. Sorry I said fricking, Mackenzie.
At the end of the day, my life has been more than camps, ministries, or an employment by a church with a funny name. My heart and life have been radically changed by Jesus Christ. Some days, more than others. Other days I wonder if I really did say yes. Thank goodness for grace. My journey with Christ hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it has been really, really hard at times. Downright crappy. I’ve cried, been hurt, and been angry more than I can write about, but I’m still following. I know it was never promised I would escape any of those so if a pastor tells you that you’ll never go through hardships, run away! At the end of the day, it has simply been an adventure having Christ by my side and the Holy Spirit continually guiding me and empowering me to do more than I could ever hope to do on my own. I’ve experienced so much joy—something I could write and write about, but I’ll spare you. I just know my life is better because of Christ in my life. He continually pursues me and loves me even when I am just a knucklehead. That also makes me so grateful that God continues to put people in my life that encourage me and point me towards Christ AND that pray for me. I will always need those prayers. Keep 'em coming because I certainly don't have this all figured out.
I really don’t know what the next fifteen years hold for me, but I know one thing for sure, I can’t wait to be part of showing Christ to others and seeing the Holy Spirit lead them to say “yes” to Christ.
I’m so glad I said yes.