I was blessed to be born into a family that was thoroughly involved in a growing church, and that taught me the importance of following the Lord first in your life. Despite my parents’ best efforts, I eventually began to put more stock in participating in church events rather than pursuing Christ and loving him with all my heart, soul, and strength. As you can imagine, that led me into trouble when I hit my teenage years. I became selfish and began searching for completion in a hollow world and culture. I let the attention from boys bring me validation, instead of seeking my worth in Him. My friends were more important than my future and it was easier to choose the way of the world instead of the world less traveled. Eventually all of the things I placed so much value on began to fall into shambles–all at one time. I was tested and God literally stripped me of any idol that I had placed before Him. Friends, popularity, music, pride, boys, all of it. I finally began to grasp that my life would be nothing and mean nothing if I wasn’t pursuing the Lord and spent the next few months making new friends that showed me the love and forgiveness of Christ, while preparing for my first semester of college.
That August, a long time friend and amazing guy asked me on a date. We spent the following months falling in love and enjoying the new freedoms of college. Unfortunately, I found myself beginning to stray from the Lord’s will once again. There were many moments of clarity where I saw myself placing this great guy before my relationship with the One who created me and made me who I am, but continued to give more love and attention to this earthly relationship, rather than the one that mattered eternally. I began taking this relationship that He had blessed me with and using it to shame his name. We fooled ourselves into believing that we could get away with mocking God–living two different lives simultaneously.
Our disobedience eventually led to the conception of my little man, Eli. We found out the fall of our sophomore year of college and we were finally forced to face the shame of our actions. We had to explain to every person that we loved that we had let them down. Those first few weeks of telling everyone were some of the hardest of my entire life and the worst part was that we had taken something beautifully created by the Lord and tarnished it. Because we had discussed marriage prior to the pregnancy, we made the decision to get married and raise our child as a complete family. (You can read more about the decision here) We married on November 19, 2011, then we were blessed with our son the following April. The support, forgiveness, and grace that we experienced during that tough season was a direct blessing from the Lord. We felt the love of the Savior shared with us in tangible and intangible ways alike. We are forever thankful to the people that were there to listen, help, and support us during that time. Seeing what it is like to love and serve as Jesus offered us perspective and an amazing example to be followed.
One year after announcing our pregnancy with family and friends, we moved out on our own, to a new city. I don’t know that I have ever been as scared as I was the night we moved into that little apartment, but we trusted that the Lord would provide for us and bless us for living within His will. Since then, He has done just that. We attend an amazing church in the area and live a meager, but meaningful lifestyle. We are able to look ahead to the hopes of the future, but will always carry the lessons learned during this stage of our life. For the first time in my life, I have found it easier to rely on the Lord solely, trusting in the provisions of His promises. He has taught us to keep him first in everything. The world seems to think that certain parts of your life can be completely controlled by you, but I am a firm example that the world’s promises couldn’t be more empty. Nothing on this planet will bring you more joy than experiencing the true redemption that is offered to you.
After everything that I have experienced in my short time on Earth, I have been repeatedly reminded of the great love the Father has for me. After reading it over and over from His word, it has finally started to sink in that he loves me. His redemption is all-encompassing, His forgiveness deeper than ever imaginable. The freedom that repentance offers is like nothing else. I am reminded daily of how dark my life would be without the forgiveness that was offered to me and to you. From here, I have a little boy and an amazing husband to constantly remind me of the true greatness of our God. I strive each day to be open to what he wants to speak into my life and teach me to be. I heard once in a song that “the best part of grace is the chance to give it away” and I truly believe that we, as Christians, are given a fantastic opportunity to show grace and love to those that seem the most undeserving. The grace that we received was given to us while we were still undeserving–it is our responsibility to share that with the world!
I pray that my story was encouraging to you today, no matter your stage of life or circumstances. I would love to hear back from all of you, so be sure to check out my blog, shoot me an email, or tweet your hello’s! A big thanks to all the awesome ladies who allowed me to join you guys today!