The Time My Life Changed for the Better

The Time My Life Changed for the Better

From one faith to another
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As a little girl, I went to Sunday School almost every Sunday with my mom to the Second Church of Christ Scientist in Richmond, VA. It was only a five minute drive away from our house. Some mornings, my mom had to bribe me to go with her or pull me out of bed to go. I would've rather stayed home playing with my Barbies or with my best friend down the street. One thing that usually got me to go to Sunday School was the fact that my mom told me that we would go out to lunch with everybody after church. Also, my childhood best friend was in my Sunday School class. She made it a little more bearable.

As I got older, I tried to get out of going to church more and more. The first time I was ever left home alone was the day I absolutely refused to go to church with my mom. I had no interest and wanted to go back to bed. My mom waved the white flag and left. After that fit, I decided I would obey, and that I would go to church again. I mean, c'mon, it's only an hour.

Then, 2009 hit. I was still going to Sunday School and going out to lunch with all of our family friends after. I was starting to understand more of what we were learning. Then, the summer came. Now, for the past four years I had been going to summer camp in Maine called Newfound/Owatonna. My mom, my uncle, and some of my mom's closest friends went there when they were kids. We had pretty much planned for me to go back in 2009, too. A roadblock got in the way when my mom got sick. I had a very close family friend come pick me up for church on Sundays, and then another friend would take me to dinner before Wednesday night testimonies. I started losing my faith.

My mom passed away and I went to church for a few more times, and ended up refusing to go anymore. I couldn't understand why God would let something like this happen to a girl like me.

That's when my dad and his side of the family decided to take me to Catholic mass one Sunday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Richmond. I wasn't so sure. I had been to Catholic mass as a little girl when we went down to Texas to visit my family. I didn't like it. I found it long and boring. I usually just took a nap in the pew.

I then began going to mass with my dad every Sunday. I started to really enjoy it and felt like this was where I was supposed to be. I knew this was what I needed.

After a few months, my dad introduced me to Father Renninger, at the time, he had just started at St. Mary's as the priest. He was hilarious. He had the entire congregation laughing out loud during his homilies, and he still does. I then met two ladies who would become my catechism leaders. From then on, I went to mass every Sunday at 9:00 A.M. and then would have my catechism lessons downstairs in one of the church's board rooms. I did it along with my friend from elementary school. These lessons went on for a number of weeks. I learned prayers, stories, teachings, and why different sacraments were performed.

Then, Easter came along. The week leading up to Easter Sunday, I had almost my entire dad's side of the family come into town. We went to Holy Thursday and Good Friday services. Then, the Saturday night before Easter Sunday, I was baptized into the Catholic Church. I received my Baptism, my Confirmation, and my First Communion all in one night. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for hours. I was so happy. It was a feeling of peace and happiness that washed over me like a wave. I realized, 'Wow! I've been missing out on all off this my entire life!'

As of today, I still love being Catholic. There have been moments where I have questioned my faith and if it is really for me, but I know 100% that I am right where I need to be.

*Picture above is mine

Cover Image Credit: The Michigan Catholic Choir

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God's Letter To The Struggling College Christian

Don't give up on me because I haven't given up on you
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Dear Struggling College Christian,

Life can be tough, especially in college; you’re at that age where you’re not exactly an adult but also no longer a child. You’re somewhere in between, possessing just enough freedom to do what you want while still being held responsible for the decisions you make about your future. You're always stressed out. You’re going to get hurt, you’re going to feel like dropping out or changing your mind, and you’re even going to want to turn your back on me, your God, but I want to tell you this: your suffering is not in vain.

SEE ALSO: I Am Christian Millennial And I Do Not Hate You

I want you to know that everything you are going through is a lesson. It’s all building you into a better person, a better you. The things you’ve asked of me, the things you’ve told me you wanted – those are things you have to be prepared for and you still need a bit of tweaking. The future, though bright, isn’t all sunshine and roses. The path has twists and turns, cracks are in it, fallen logs in your way, and most of the time you’re not going to be able to see straight ahead of you. The weather is going to be unpredictable. The hailstorm is going to knock you off your feet and the twisters are going to send you spinning into confusion, exhaustion and doubt, but with the strength that I am trying to build up in you, you'll find that you know exactly where to find shelter when the storms break down your door.

You’ll find that the lessons you learn from trying times are exactly what you need to fulfill my plans for you. You’ve read Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28, and heard them hundreds of times, but there is a verse in the Bible that you may have never paid attention to: Ephesians 2:10. It reads: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The most important part of this verse is one simple word: beforehand. So while you’re crying and stressing about what job you’re going to land after you graduate, if you’re going to marry that person you’ve been with for years, or if you even want to be majoring in what you’re currently majoring in, I already have a plan laid out specifically for you. You are my child, my creation and you have a purpose.

However, while knowing these things is great, it is all pointless if you don’t do. So here’s what I want you to do: do not give up. Have faith in me. You believe in me, so why not believe in me in your darkest moments? That’s the reason you became a Christian, right? Because I'm the one person you know that won't forsake you. You know that I love you, and you know that I’m here for you, so prove it. I know it can be hard when you’re pulled in a lot of different directions by your social life, your academic life and your extracurricular activities not to mention your family life and your own personal sanity, but take a few minutes out of your day, every day, to talk to me. Tell me your fears and your desires. Remember that you can ask me for and about anything. I'm always going to give you an answer, whether it's a yes, no, or not right now. After that, I want you to stop worrying and fight on through the darkness. You are stronger than you think.

My Child, enjoy yourself while you are young: don't stress over the things that you can't see. Don't give in to the depression, the anxiety, or the stress; things that are not of me. Don't let yourself forget about me or believe that I'm not there when I am and know that my plan is set in place for you. All you have to do is walk in it. Trust that this is all for your good. But most importantly, remember that I love you unconditionally–at your worst and your best. Life can be tough, but you are tougher simply because you are mine.

I’ve got you,

God

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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Finding Joy In The Valleys Of Your Life

Don't allow your circumstance dictate your happiness or your heart.

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"Finding joy in the valley" that sounds crazy I know. I personally do not know what your valley looks like or has looked like but I do know the God that sees it. Our lives are not always going to be full of just mountaintop experiences we've got to experience the pain of the valley at some point. My life has not been full of sunshine and rainbows lately; I have been struggling really struggling. Trying to get use to this whole being on my own, going to college, adulating thing and it is tough.

Let's just say God has an ear full of my complaining over the past two months.

Sometimes I believe that we get blinded by all the bad of the valley and forget the good. Not to long ago I heard this sermon about breaking to give. Matthew 26:26 says,

"As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples."

Is that not kind of what we go through. The Lord takes us in, blesses us, then He breaks us, and finally He gives us. When the Lord is breaking us and when we are in the valley it isn't for us to just feel sorry for ourselves. It's honestly not even about us but about what were going to do for others. The Lord is working in us and is going to make something out of all the hurt. So yes it hurts, it hurts really bad but the outcome is going to be worth it. It's going to prepare you to do things you never would've imagined yourself doing. It's going to help you seek after the lost and tell them about our Father in Heaven that loves them. That died for them. You may give someone that extra boost to making the Lord The King of their Heart.

So, with that being said find joy in the valley. Surrender to the Lord's plan for your life and know that this valley is worth it and tell yourself you're going to praise Jesus through it because He is worthy. He sees us where we are. He sees our pain. He sees our tears. He sees our mess ups. He sees it all and still chooses us. Is that not awesome? So here are a few ways I find joy in the valley.

1. Pray

We can not do it on our own so do not even try. Talk to God about how you feel. Get it all out. Cry to the Lord tell Him how bad its hurting; although, He already knows your pain He still wants you to tell Him. Sometimes getting all your emotions and feelings out there allows you to see what the Lord is doing.

2. Turn on some Jesus jams

I know that when I am in a valley worshipping the Lord always reminds me why I do it and it brings me this happiness that no other thing could give. If Jesus never did anything else for us if dying on the cross and saving us from sin is the only thing, He ever did that would be enough to praise Him for. He took your death sentence. He took your punishment. He paid our debt. Remembering these things brings me joy. Knowing that nothing I could ever go through in this life could be as a bad as what Jesus, a perfect man freely took on the Cross for me.

3. Talk to other believers

Sometimes other believers have gone through or are going through the same things we are. We need to seek advice from them and seek prayer from them. Do not be afraid to speak up and talk about what you're going through. They can help keep you accountable and just speak life and joy into you.

So with all that being said I really just encourage you to choose joy when you find it. Don't allow your circumstance dictate your happiness or your heart. Find joy in the valleys of Life.

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