The date was September 30, 1990 and I was seven when I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I knew God loved me and most of my friends had already accepted Him. However, it was that day I knew I needed to finally meet Him. So I raised my hand and prayed with a leader. I cannot remember the exact words; however, I do remember my excitement as I ran to my Daddy to tell him I accepted Jesus. Before we left the church parking lot, he wrote it down in my pink Bible.
I was quite a Daddy’s girl growing up. I loved spending every moment with him. We went to games together; watched movies we loved together; went for drives in the country; he taught me so much. I was a good girl who loved both of her parents and didn’t give them too much trouble. I loved to dress up and go to church. I wanted to be at church every time the door was open. I knew what was right and didn’t have any problem telling people. Momma even called me her “little preacher.” However, it was my constant struggle with my weight that left me self-conscious and looking for people to love me. I felt like the “odd” one. The last one picked. I struggled to be accepted and to find where I fit. I felt “at home” in church but through different circumstances of divorce, remarriage and health issues, my family was in and out of church during my elementary years. So I didn’t truly begin to understand God’s love and acceptance until I was a teenager. As a teen, I became concerned for the souls of my family and friends. I was outspoken and stood out as I wanted to make sure my loved ones knew I loved them, however, God loved them more. I was very involved at church and helped in any area I could. At 14, while on a mission trip, I knew God was telling me to work with children and youth. I was not sure how yet; I just knew I wanted to live my life serving Jesus. I spent a lot of time talking with my amazing youth pastor. He was a Godly example that I could always “run” to when I had questions. I remember one afternoon talk that made a tremendous impact on my life. We were watching a high school wrestling match when he asked me about what I hoped to do with my life. Again, I knew God wanted me to help teens; however, I also knew God wanted me to be a writer. So my youth pastor suggested that I work for a Christian teen magazine. As soon as he said it I knew that was what God had for me. It was my “aha” moment and it was heavily on my heart in high school, college and led me to where I am today.
However, in order to get where I am today, I had to endure. I understand the saying that you don’t know how good you have something until it’s gone. I knew I was blessed growing up in a Christian home with a family who encouraged me to grow in my faith. However, it was not until the true hard times hit that I realized how thankful I was for my faith. From 2003 to 2007, a series of really tough times took a blow at my family and it was my faith that sustained me. We saw my grandfather, cousin, uncle and both my grandmothers pass away, and my Momma took a horrible fall that drastically changed her life. But the biggest blow to our lives came when my Daddy passed away on Thursday, June 15, 2006, just days before Father’s Day and six weeks after my college graduation. My world, as I knew it, was changed forever. Although I can remember many details, the loss left me feeling numb for two years. I knew I had to take care of my Momma. So I “ran” to work in the field I knew but was not called to and tried to fill the void with exhausting work hours and comfort food. In return, I slowly gained a great amount of weight and lost precious time with my family. It’s through this time that I know my Heavenly Father carried me. I tried to take care of myself and my family on my own but He carried me. He ran to me and He showed me my need for Him. He still carries me today and will always be there for me. When I think of all the love and acceptance that I looked for, I truly found it in Him. He loves me in the most extravagant ways, truly more than I could ask or think. In 2008, life began to change as I left the field I knew and completely pursued life with my Heavenly Father. I began to work for the church and that led to me writing for a Christian youth magazine. Knowing my body was the temple of God and I could not serve Him fully in the state I was, I gave my lifelong struggle to Him in 2010 and He worked a weight loss miracle in my life. He blessed me the knowledge, opportunities and strength to lose 140 lbs. and keep it off. Once a girl who dreaded the mile run in school, I now love to go out on run/walks for fun. I am amazed at how much my life changed when I ran to my Heavenly Father. In the last year, He has opened doors that have allowed me to minister to children and women of all ages. He constantly surprises me with His outrageous love.
I may not know what my future holds; however, I am thankful to know my Heavenly Father does and His words have always given me peace. In college, I heard one scripture so many times and in the years following I have clung to them so much.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. Because of those words, I have peace knowing whatever I face God will use it for His good and in His perfect plan. Likewise, more recently, another verse has breathed new life and hope in me. It’s the only verse where He says “daughter.” “He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’” – Mark 5:34 ESV. It gives me chills every time I read it because He is my Father and He has healed me. Today, I am so thankful for my faith. I do not know where I would be without my Jesus; however, I am so thankful to know I do not have to question because I know He is always with me, running right beside me.