If I were ever to get a tattoo it would simply say the word “grace”. I suppose that is a funny way to start out a testimony but then again the nice thing about a testimony is that it belongs to you and is authored by God. Peter and I have consistently referred to our relationship as a story; one that we are content to live out as it is being written. For me however I haven’t always had such great faith. My life resembles more of a “choose your own adventure” and unfortunately that is often how I approached my faith. The fact that I am sitting here, 5 days before my wedding, writing my testimony for my future father-in-law is a true testament to God’s amazing grace in my life.
I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian home. Being a fan of birth order I’m sure it is easy to recognize the “first born” signs in me right away. My strongest characteristic and the one that rendered me weak was my desire to please. I was a strong-willed child, loud, smart and ready to take on the world at an early age. No matter what I did though, I always made sure it would please my parents. My parents taught me from an early age about Christ and I became a Christian during a time of bedside devotions that we had faithfully when I was a child. Baptism and dedicating my life to potentially serve in the mission field followed. I excelled in everything I did from reading to painting to playing the piano. And as I grew older my relationship with Christ grew as well.
There is something to be said for raising your children in the body of Christ. I had wonderful Sunday School teachers, mentors and friends who made my adolescent years full of innocent fun. We had sleepovers, toilet papered, harbored innocent crushes on the cute boys in youthgroup and were just all around good kids. I had a strong support group of adults and families to look to as examples. I memorized tons of scripture; a by product of 6 years in Bible Quizzing. I felt strong enough to stand up to my peers and to stand up for my faith.
In the sixth grade I discovered Ephesians 2:8-9. If I remember correctly I started liking the verse because I could never forget it. Never forgetting was a great asset in Bible quizzing and I started holding onto that verse as “my favorite” or “my lifeverse.” The true meaning however was lost on me. I didn’t understand the need for grace in my life. I didn’t understand what it meant to need a savior.
In college my support group slowly seemed to fade away. My home church split and my parents began to attend a new one. The adults and friends that I loved, respected and who held me accountable weren’t right there every Sunday to push me closer to Christ. I was challenged with many new things, even at a Christian school. I found myself frustrated and even a little angry at God because of the split in our church and my lack of support. I started writing some of my own book and on the outside it looked pretty good. I supposed that is why we don’t always judge books by their covers.
I muddled through college, bent on marrying a man who might not have even been a Christian and struggled even harder when we broke up after 4 years. I questioned God’s ability to truly love me and continued to scribble nonsense on page after page of my story. I finished my Master’s and moved to Charleston to “make a new start”. There I found myself confronted with the same demons and still unable to relinquish the quill.
In the summer of 2005 I started attending ECBC with a friend. I didn’t want to go. I had already tried attending and hadn’t connected with anyone. My friend kept inviting me over and over again and eventually I signed up to join a community group. After the first week I vowed never go to back. I felt judged and out of place because my relationship with the Lord was so neglected at the time. Each week a good friend would call me and tell me she wanted me to come. And each week I would keep going.
Later in the semester we started Tommy Nelson’s “Song of Solomon” series on love and marriage. I was fascinated by it and for the first time found myself content with my singleness. The Lord was working in my life. I was so captivated that I often forgot to pick up my pen but chose my Bible instead. I drew closer and closer to Him.
In December of 2005 I met Peter. He doesn’t remember it much but I do. I am convinced that the Lord shielded Peter from me that month because I was still picking up my pen. Sometime between December and early February the Lord did some major editing and I found myself beginning to live out the story He was writing. I prayed about Peter for 3 or 4 weeks before he asked me out on our first date. I wanted to make sure this really was the next chapter in my life.
I find myself reading ahead of Peter often in our story. I came home 2 weeks after we began dating and told my Dad to pull out his wallet because we were going to have a wedding to plan. I knew that Peter was the one God had designed for me (you see, He does illustrations too) early on in our relationship. The Lord taught me to be patient and to trust Him as I waited on His timing. I have learned to trust the Lord when Peter is gone, when he can’t call and when I start to fumble in the dark, looking for that pen again.
I am amazed by grace. Instead of a messy, marked up draft, I have a beautiful love story. One that began hundreds of years ago keeps going and going and getting better and better every day. It doesn’t end like a series of best sellers, the end is open. I wait each and everyday for more and more of what the Lord has blessed me with. I am astounded and honored to be part of your family and can only hope to give our children the legacy that both you and my parents have offered freely to us. We have been given the greatest gift of all; grace.
If you want to share your salvation story link up with Amber via the
Journey of Faith link above!!