A few weeks ago at church the series has been called “This is My Story,” the series made me think about my story and how I have gotten to be where I am today. The ups and downs, happy and sad moments, the good and bad are all things that I have maybe pointed to, but never actually written out on the blog. I have shared my story with college students while serving with the BCM as a student and minister. I have shared with high school students while working at a church, volunteering at another, and serving at various church events. I have shared with people all across the world while on various mission trips to Ukraine, Haiti, East Asia, and all across the United States. But never have I shared my story here, but that is going to change today.
Where to start…
I could start with birth, or yesterday, either would work, but I think I’ll start with seven years ago, when life started for me in a newly real and amazing way
Just over seven years ago, I was in my first year at WKU, seventeen years old and truly away from home for the first time that seemed to matter. I had skipped my senior year of high school to be a part of a new program in the state of Kentucky, The Academy, as it is often referred to. Young, excited, and ambitious, I was ready to take The Academy and WKU by storm. I was ready to get away from small town life and the craziness and focus on me and my future. Little did I know that something else was planned entirely.
Now that something else didn’t pull me away from WKU or The Academy, it did however put my life on a trajectory that did not lead towards a pre-med college focus, medical school, or some high paying job. It did lead me towards discovering the true meaning of life, my passions, and an even better way to serve people outside of medicine. During my first year at WKU, I met Jesus and came to know him as my personal Savior. Now don’t stop reading here, because I promise, while my story and life are changed and shaped because of my relationship with Jesus, they are not boring or static because of it.
Now let’s jump back to the true beginning, birth. I was born in 1989 in a small Kentucky town to someone who I respect and admire a ton, my birth mother who decided that the life she could provide for me was not the best for me, so she gave me up for adoption (Like SERIOUSLY!! Who doesn’t respect that!!??!!). I was adopted by a wonderful couple who lived in Oregon and jetted across the country at three months old to begin my life with the couple I now call my parents.
Life was good! About a year after I was born, my parents had a baby, my little sister Carolyn. About five years after that, we packed up our Oregon home and headed to Kentucky where my dad calls home, to be closer to family. We headed back to the state where I was born to move into the town and house that I have called home ever since. I jumped around to several different schools after we first moved to Kentucky, while we waited for our house to be built, but finally in the second grade after attending four different schools, I landed on my fifth and final school for awhile, FES.
FES became home. A small school of four classrooms and less than 100 students, first through eighth grade, the teachers, students, and their families became a family. A group where everyone knew everyone and many people were related in some way or another, FES was where most of my foundation was laid. Life was grand during my time at FES (except for maybe sharing a classroom with my sister every other year – 😉 ) I played basketball, did lots of 4-H activities and competed in academic team all while watching my sister dance and later also join the basketball team. We had fun, friends and a family that seemed to be perfect.
In 2004 after graduating top of my class at FES (and best defensive basketball player), I headed to high school at WCHS. Little did I know, but these would be some of the hardest years of my life. I jumped into the high school atmosphere at full force, marching in the band, performing in the concert and jazz bands, playing softball, trying to force my knee to let me play basketball, participating in 4-H, FCCLA, Spanish Club, Academic Team, NHS, Beta, and a variety of other school activities. Never letting myself have a free moment. I stayed busy, busy, busy during my high school tenure, not wanting a moment to escape without living it to the fullest. Little did I know that my seemingly perfect family, would have some major challenges that would push me further into the path of busyness. One year, my family hit some major financial problems that caused some major tensions, another year brought some challenges to my sister and how she lived her life and in the midst of it all I stayed busy and tried to seem like the perfect, put together student and daughter who could carry the weight of the world on her shoulders, all while secretly beginning to suffer and become depressed under the weight of all that responsibility. Throwing myself into the activities I was involved with as well as my grades, I jumped at the chance to leave a year early to participate in The Academy at WKU. So I applied, did a lot of sweet talking to my parents, interviewed, was accepted and moved my life to WKU’s campus in the fall of 2007.
Now we are back to where we began 🙂
So in 2007 I began to hit the books as a college student. Little did I know that I would struggle more than ever before. School was suddenly very hard and that secret weight began to weigh heavily on me. I no longer was the best student and I slowly felt like I didn’t have to live up to the standards that I felt had been controlling my life. I stopped attending church (something I had done all of my life), started caring less about my grades and school, and tried to discover me for me without the weight of my family, home, and high school life weighing in. But as my grades slipped and school became more of a struggle, I felt the weight in a whole new way, as something that was telling me I was a failure. The hints of depression that had been peeking in during high school, flared and singed my life. I began to feel like a failure, stopped caring about life, started feeling like my appearance was no good and needed to change, and really just wanted to hide where no one would see me. The depression led me towards an eating disorder, that I worked hard to hide from my friends at the time, and led me towards thoughts of ending my seemingly failing life.
Enter in some awesome friends. While my life was in a tailspin, I did have some friends who had convinced me to go to the BCM with them every week for a Freshman Family Group and who encouraged me to go to the BCM’s worship service with them. While the concepts and presentation of things weren’t altogether new to me, I had grouped them in the back of my head with the “church” impression I had from growing up and saw the events as things to do and at best social gatherings, more than I saw them as events that presented any form of meaningful information. One night when things seemed to be at an all time low and I wasn’t sure that I could make it through one more day, a friend knocked on my door and asked me to come to worship with them. I figured why not since I didn’t have anything to do. That night the speaker during worship talked about his son who had committed suicide and what that had meant to their family. It hit me that depression and suicide was not going to solve anything. He also shared about the saving power of Christ and that the ultimate love was not from parents, friends, or success, but in Jesus Christ who died for the sins of everyone. I burst out in tears. I knew that what I had been doing and thinking was wrong. I had a long talk that night with one of my friends about Jesus and accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
Accepting Christ became the single most important decision I have made in my life. And even though it was THE BEST decision I have ever made, it did not end all of my problems. I continued to struggle with my self image and eating disorder, but The Lord began to do work in my life and helped me begin to see what he saw. God didn’t just see a girl from small town KY, who was an overachiever, just wanted people to like her and would do anything to get approval and recognition. He saw a girl who needed love, comfort, peace and renewal and he began to slowly give those things to me.
College was over soon after it started and in December of 2010, I graduated from WKU with degrees in Psychology and Religious Studies (not quite the Biology, Chemistry and Math degrees I started pursuing) and was headed to SBTS to begin a Master’s degree in Youth Ministry and Apologetics, only to be offered a job with the BCM at Berea College a semester later. And thus began the whirlwind of crazy in my life. I moved to Berea, worked at the BCM and served with the Gilmin Group for recovering drug and alcohol addicts for a year, then felt the call to move back to Louisville, but not return to seminary. About 8 months later I started a new Master’s program in Educational Counseling. I stayed in Louisville for just over two years and recently moved to Lexington to begin the next phase of this journey of life that The Lord has called me to. While God has led me down some rough and crazy roads, I have learned more than anything over the last several years that God has a plan and if I trust Him he will show me the path. Things aren’t always easy, but they are much better when HE is at the center.
I’m not perfect, but my GOD is! While I still have human struggles and fall short of His call in my life daily, I have HOPE for a future with THE ONE AND ONLY GOD OF ALL CREATION!
Thanks for sharing in my story today. There is always more that can be said and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I love sharing my story of how The Lord has worked and is working in my life!!
Grace & Peace,