Wooden pews. Stained glass windows. Red hymnals. Organs. Felt board story time in Sunday School. Longing to be Mary in the Christmas play (but always an angel). Eating leftover Wonder Bread communion. Listening to Amy Grant (yeah!) and having a crush on Michael W. Smith (New Kids on the What?). And, most importantly, above all, following the rules. This was my childhood “faith life.” And it is something I am so incredibly thankful for.
No matter our upbringing, God reveals Himself more personally to each of us uniquely over time. When I was little, God was someone with rules I needed to follow. Then, in late elementary school, I learned He was someone I could ask “into my heart.” He is constantly teaching us more about who he is and what He wants for our lives. And by my mid-twenties, what I thought God wanted for my life looked pretty awesome. I was about to get married to my best friend. I had plans to go into full-time ministry. I moved to Texas, had a brand new house, and a great new church community. I was getting to work on all sorts of fun, creative things and meeting amazing people. Soon would be kids and my ministry career. Life was grand.
Then I went through a very unexpected and unwanted divorce. Not only did it abruptly change almost everything about my physical, daily life and the dreams I had for my future, it took me back to square one in my relationship with the Lord. The weeping and gnashing of teeth are definitely REAL. I went through a season of intense sorrow, questioning, and confusion. Nothing seemed to make sense, and it felt like the more I prayed, the worse things got.
But what God did through that season was turn my head to the middle. I was so focused on the happy endings to stories (literally, my job was making movies about inspiring stories), that I was missing what was going on in the middle. He showed me that THIS is truly where He reveals Himself through our stories—even more so than any ending—and that the most vulnerable parts of our stories are the most important parts. (“His power is made perfect in weakness. Ooooh – that’s what that meant.”) I truly have a heart for people’s testimonies, and one of my favorite things about Fellowship is that it is a place of beautiful, messy stories—not perfect people.
In the spirit of authenticity, my first two thoughts when I was asked to come up with my “two words” were (1) two words sound like a gimmick and (2) one of my words is obviously not RESTORE. . . and so, of course, my two words ended up being Restoring Authenticity. Despite my initial hesitation, these two words really are the theme threading throughout all the different work I have been a part of—from Excel sheets to documentary film production. They also reflect my heart for church ministry and are what energizes and challenges me personally and in my relationships.
As the Family Ministries Administrative Assistant, I—spoiler alert—assist our Family Ministries…administratively. My position is unique in that I get to see Fellowship’s investment in our people from sweet, tiny newborns to students taking ownership of their faith, to young adults preparing for marriage, to older couples coming along side these same newlyweds. But what I love most are the people I get to work with and their hearts for the people of this church, our surrounding community, and people all over the world. They encourage and challenge me daily.