My Faith Journey
The Most Important Thing that Makes Me "ME"
If you've happened by any of the other pages I've created, you already know that I am a big fan of Jesus Christ. There are any number of things that people use to describe me, but the one thing that really makes me who I am is my faith in that man who walked on this earth about 2000 years ago and gave his life for me long before I was born.
My faith in Jesus Christ and my journey in that faith walk to this point is definitely the subject that will help you know me more than any other. Feel free to ask questions and join the discussion. I realize faith is one of the most controversial topics. There won't be a place to argue or try to convince anyone they're wrong, but you'll be welcome to leave your own faith story.
So, read on, ask some questions or leave some comments . . . and listen as I share my faith.
I Began This Journey at Birth
and Sometimes I Think it Made it Harder to Find My Way
Born on a Sunday and in church the next, that's how they tell me my faith journey started. I obviously don't remember it, but I do recall understanding that Sundays were different, special, and included at least morning worship and often an evening service too. Everyone I knew went to church, my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, everyone! In fact, two of my uncles are preachers, my aunts are Sunday School teachers and choir directors and my grandmother had a faith in Christ that was so real I've never doubted that God is real and present.
The down side of that kind of history is the false feeling I got that somehow because all of the adults I loved where assured of a spot in heaven, I was too. For many years, I thought my faith was something I was born into rather than something I had to embrace for myself. Finally when I was about 14, our church had a pastor who helped me understand that salvation was more than just inherited, it was a personal commitment to the One who had given everything for me. So at an altar in an evening service, I gave my heart to Christ.
It wasn't long before that pastor was moved to another church and in came a new clergy person who, to this day, I can not be sure actually knew Christ personally. Perhaps you've always assumed that everyone in ministry is a born again, committed to Christ, Christian, but if there's one thing I've learned through the years, it's that just because someone assumes a position of authority in church does not necessarily mean they understand the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some are like I was, they were born into Christianity and think somehow it's a mantle to passed from generation to generation. Others like the message of peace and want to do something "good" for the masses, they have good intentions, but they don't understand that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Pardon me, I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.
When this new clergy person came, my new found faith began to flounder. You see, faith is a living and growing thing, and much like a plant or a child, it needs fed, nourished and nurtured. This pastor brought none of that to the table, and unfortunately, if you talk to my mom, you'll discover that my parent's faith wasn't as deep as it appeared. No one seemed to understand the concept of discipleship, the feeding and growing part of the faith. And without discipleship, faith will fail almost every time. Mine was no different.
Two short years after my altar experience, I was dating a nice young non-Christian. Within a year we were married and expecting a baby (not necessarily in that order). Steve went to church with me when we were dating, but after marriage, he didn't really have any need for it. He could see me anytime he wanted, he didn't need to give up that hour just to spend time with me anymore. Since Steve didn't go to church, I quit going too. I think part of it was my embarrassment at being pregnant, and no one from the church called, wrote or seemed to care that I wasn't there anymore, so I figured why bother. For three and a half years I only attended church sporadically, Christmas and Easter and perhaps a Sunday or two here or there to make my parents happy. And while I believe you don't HAVE to go to church to be a Christian, I'll tell you that in my life, I found it impossible to keep the faith without the constant contact and fellowship with other believers.
Finally, in January the year my oldest daughter turned three, I decided that even if I didn't deserve to be in church anymore (I was convinced I'd blown it with God), she did deserve to be there. My New Year's resolution in 1984 was to be in church at least 2-3 Sundays each month. Plus, I knew that Sunday School was where kids learn most of the stuff they need to know as a Christian, and I was raised that a good parent doesn't just drop their child off at church. So obviously, I began attending church and Sunday School with my daughter at my mother's church.
Within just a few months, though, my life was turned completely upside down. In March of that year, right after Monica turned three, Steve joined the Air Force and left for Basic Training. I was left to run my parents' business and raise a three year old until he graduated Basic Training. And in June of 1984, I became the wife of an Airman First Class in San Antonio, Texas. Because Steve didn't go to church, and I am really kind of shy until I get to know you, I stopped going to church again, at least until September.
In September, we moved from Steve's training base, Lackland AFB in Texas, to Griffiss AFB in Rome, New York. Because of the commitment I'd made to make sure Monica was in church, I really wanted to start attending chapel. So, after a few weeks on base, I convinced Steve to go with me so I could meet someone there. He went one or two Sundays, and then the adventure of my faith really started. It's here that I finally found the Bread of Life and Living Water. This is the time of my life when my faith took off. But I think I'll leave that for another story, because here is where it gets really interesting . . .
The Griffiss Years
Three Kids . . . a husband without faith . . . makes for an interesting faith journey . . .
When I arrived at Griffiss, there was just me, Steve and our oldest (now in her 30's), the most beautiful three year old you've ever seen. Steve had gone ahead of us and found a small "apartment," which was really two old hotel rooms they'd cut the door out between. The front room was a traditional looking hotel room with a hotel restroom and the back room fit a couch, sink, refrigerater and small table with a stove in the closet. Not a mansion by any stretch of the imagination, but "home" just the same. We lived there about a month and then moved upstairs to a larger "apartment." Again it was furnished and was a place to lay our heads. But we lived several miles from base, and I was shy. So, I didn't even try to find a church, on or off base, and of course, my young faith floundered desparately.
I'd made that commitment in January to get in church, so after three months of skipping out, one more move closer to base into a real three bedroom apartment convinced me it was time to get back into worship. Steve went with me the first couple of Sundays until I met someone and then Monica and I were on our own. It didn't take long, though, until the warmth and love of those in the base chapel embraced me and I felt at home. We went to Sunday School and the ladies in the chapel became my friends. I started meeting with a group of them mid-week and we prayed for each other and studied God's Word together.
Steve didn't go to church with me during these years. He did attend Christmas Eve with me once or twice and may have come to hear Monica sing in the Children's Choir. I don't really remember. What I do remember is that group of ladies I met with. Each of us had a husband whom didn't live in the faith. We prayed for each other's spouses every time we met and in our personal prayers. That experience made a huge difference in my life. One that I carry with me every day. And as we prayed, I grew. As we met, we studied God's Word. I began to read the Bible for myself daily. In New York is where I read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time. Ultimately, every Bible Study and every Word I read brought me closer to the realization that the rules I'd been taught in my youth were man made expressions of people trying to do what was right. These rules and expectations weren't what God had in mind for me, they were my grandparents' feeble attempt to help me be a "good girl." And with that knowledge my journey toward freedom began.
As I embraced scripture for myself instead of just knowing all the things my ancestors and Sunday School teachers had taught me, I began to realize Christ did not come to bring rules and regulations, He came to bring freedom. Yes, there is a responsibility in that freedom, but it let me throw the rules out the window and begin to just live life like I loved Jesus Christ. I certainly hadn't "arrived" in my faith walk, but I knew I was headed in the right direction.
After two more babies and living away from home for nearly four years, depression began to meet me most days. It was just the beginning of a small battle, but I remember thinking if only . . .
- If only I had more money
- If only I had more time
- If only I lived near my family
- If only . . .
I was sure there was something that would lift the dark cloud I felt all around me. When I talked to my friends about it, some attributed it to "baby blues," after all, I'd had two daughters and a miscarriage in a matter of 26 months. They convinced me that as soon as my hormones got back to normal, I'd be fine.
Finally in January of 1988, almost exactly three years after we moved our furniture to New York, the girls and I moved home. We came right at the change of the 2nd quarter of school and Steve was scheduled to follow us as soon as his enlistment was up in March. But with this move I had more purpose. I intentionally made sure that I was in church every Sunday. My parents had switched churches and my dad had left my mom, so life was a lot different this time, but I was sure everything would change now. I was home, in church with old friends and knew a lot more about the truth of Jesus. Everything had to be alright now . . . right?
Moving Back "Home"
These next years were some of the most formative in my Christian walk. I had begun reading scripture and what I read there caused me to struggle with the faith I'd been raised in. I grew up following the rules and being "good". Even though I'd asked Christ to be my Savior, I still felt the need to do the "right thing". Steve and I moved back to Ohio in January of 1988. We found a farmhouse to rent for the Summer and I immediately got back into church. From January through April I attended church with my mother, but after renting our house, Steve said, "If you'll go to the church we went to when we were dating, I'll go with you." I immediately called the pastor at the other church and explained that as long as Steve went with me, I'd be switching churches. This church had a lot more folks our age and was the church where those we rented from attended.
That week they had a revival and thanks to our landlord Steve was guilted into going to that revival every evening. Because of that, my prayer of the past few years was answered! Steve met Christ! This was a great help to my walk. It's always easier to stay true to the faith when your spouse is on the same journey.
Gradually over the next couple of years, I discovered freedom in Christ. I began to realize that the "rules" aren't what life in Christ is all about. Living each day for Jesus is all that my Savior asks of me. Paul's statement "everything is permissable, not everything is beneficial" began to make complete sense. I started to realize my actions needed to be the fruit of my love for Christ, not a means to salvation. My goodness is like filthy rags to God, but my appreciation of Christ's sacrifice and acceptance of that gift pleases Him and brings Him joy.
By 1990 I had begun to understand and seek the Spirit of God. I began to understand that His Holy Spirit moving in my life was what would bring me total and true joy. As I gradually allowed His Spirit to lead me and be my all, Christ began to bring things into my life I never imagined.
On my birthday in 1990, God brought together a group of us to play music. That one day of "jamming" turned into a Christian Music group called "Crossroads to Glory." We would tour for five and a half years, playing at least 9 times a month during our busiest year. I wrote close to 40 songs while I played with Crossroads, all to bring glory to God. I am thankful that I was finally able to share my faith in a huge way to complete strangers.
Plus in my home church I led children's church, then the youth group and finally a Sunday School class. I had grown in Christ by leaps and bounds and my greatest joy was to share that faith with others. I really thought I was in a place I could stay forever, but God had other plans. As always, he used these years to prepare me for the next phase of my faith journey.
By July of 1993 Steve and I started feeling very restless. We weren't sure where God was calling us, but we began praying that He would open the door for us for whatever it was He had in mind. We considered changing churches and looked into other ministries. We were sure there was something else God wanted for us, but it wasn't until Labor Day weekend when Steve heard Christ. We talked about where God was calling us and then we made the announcement . . .
Music Tells My Story
Where I am today
After walking with Christ for all these years, I am now in the phase where I am amazed and often overwhelmed with how blessed I feel. I'm not a prosperity preacher, we aren't rich by any means (although we are more comfortable financially than we've ever been before), and life is not perfect. I still have days that I don't feel like doing anything, I worry about my children from time to time and I feel despair when I allow myself to get caught up in politics or the things of the world. However, in my own personal life, I feel exceedingly blessed.
Christ has freed me from most of the things I used to worry about. He has delivered me from worrying about what everyone else thinks. I spend at least 1/2 hour a day in His Word and prayer and Steve and I give at least 13% of our gross income to our local church (and a bit more to missions). God's faithfulness has taught me to be faithful. And the more faithful I've learned to be, the more blessed I feel.
Many would say I have a boring life. I don't drink and I don't "party." I do go out with friends and family on a regular basis and get together with the same many times a year. I do lunch with my cousins bi-monthly, laugh with my sisters every few weeks and eat out with my church family every Sunday. We laugh together, cry together, joke and surprise one another. We support one another, and I know without a doubt that there are numerous folks that lift me up and are there for me in an emergency.
Faith is an indescribable blessing. One I wish for YOU! May the grace and peace of Christ find you seeking after Him, and may you discover the richness of His faithfulness!
If you have questions about my faith or about Christianity in general, feel free to ask them here. If you want an answer be sure to click the box that says you want to be notified of replies or stop back often!