So to kick-off this new thing of "Spirit Sundays", I figured I'd start at the beginning and give my testimony.
But I can't take too long, Kevin's giving me the evil eye bc the girls are in their beds and he wants to watch a movie. 127 hours. So I have to move this bus along.
Growing up, my family regularly attended Sunday service at a large Presbyterian church. My dad sang in the choir and for several years, Andy and I did too -- and bell choir. (Try not to look at me different.) We had some friends there, and for the most part it was a positive experience for me. The few years I did youth group was fun too, until it wasn't. Anyway, I remember my dad telling me we were "Christians" - he was fixing the skylight in our family room, was on a ladder. I remember looking up, and telling him so many kids at school go to CCD, and church on Saturdays, not Sundays. They get to stay later at the sleepovers, not leave for church. He looked down at me, and said, "We're Christians, not Catholics. There's a difference." But I never really did understand the difference, until I was older and realized we didn't have rosary beads, pray to anyone but God or Jesus, and we didn't talk about Mary all the time. It was fine by me to not be Catholic as I got older - I sang for a few years on Saturday afternoons with my dad and Andy for a Latin mass at a Catholic church, got paid too! It seemed they took church very seriously, and there was a lot of standing and sitting. Being "Christians" seemed easier, less intense, less guilt.
As a family, we said "grace" before meals often, but that was the extent of our prayer time together. Our family endured many difficult years, and I prayed in my room, begging God to intervene somehow. My brother did too. When I was young, I remember being non-impressed, as God did not seem to help us. It made me feel small and unimportant. I didn't not believe in Him - I just didn't trust Him, or really, love Him.
In researching colleges, I spent a weekend at a Christian college in PA, right down the street - literally - from the home my dad grew up in. It was a beautiful campus, and it appealed to my parents because it wasn't too far away and my grandma (who really, was disinterested in me and I was not close to, but still) was right there in case I needed her. I didn't. But after spending the weekend, I fell in love with the school - everyone was so friendly, it was small and close-knit, it had classes I was interested in, and I loved the area. It made me feel good.
My first day at Eastern, I was scared out of my mind. My roommate, who ended up becoming my dearest friend, my maid-of-honor at my wedding and we roomed together all 4 years, was different than me. As in, I think she had not one but several Bibles, and posters on the wall professing her faith. I brought pictures of my friends from home with beers in our hands from a summer party. I didn't know what I had gotten myself into - but after a few weeks she and I overcame our fear of each other, and started to talk. Really talk. And I made wonderful friends, most of whom had a strong background in faith. We had a blast, but they taught me, too. I listened and sought God, and during my freshman year, I asked Jesus into my heart as a believer and follower. I have loved him ever since, and I am raising my girls to listen and seek God also.
There is still so much I don't know or understand. I will die not knowing or understanding - and that's ok with me. It has nothing to do with my belief. To some this may seem ignorant or uneducated - to me it is simply faith. That's not to say that someday I may struggle...I feel that my relationship with Jesus is still a relationship where there may be hard times. But every day I give thanks for what I have, and pray for protection for my family, and guidance for our day. To pray brings me great comfort, to place my day, my desires, my fears, at the feet of Jesus so I don't have to go through it by myself. I can't watch my girls while they're in school - but He does. I don't know what their future holds - but He does.
I understand how people don't believe in God, Jesus. It makes me sad, but I understand. For anyone reading this, if you are not a believer, I hope you have an experience - the sooner the better! - that changes your mind, your heart. I pray you feel the love of God alive in your life.
That actually was the short version - hard to believe, isn't it. :)