I grew up in a Christian family, going to a bible-preaching church.
One day when I was five I just
said to my mom, "I wanna be saved." I had heard them talk about being
"saved" at church and I knew that everyone else in my family was "saved",
so I wanted to be included. So my mom and dad went through a little
tract with me and they explained the plan of salvation and prayed with
me. I didn't completely understand everything about salvation yet, but
I understood the main point of being made right with God and going to Heaven.
So at church I started learning more about God
and what that decision to accept Christ really meant to me. Then, when I was in second grade I became best
friends with a girl named Jessica. Now, we weren't just in the same "group" of
friends, we were IT. She and I almost always hung out with only each other. She was my
best friend and I was her's. We both understood that. We were, I guess you could
say, each other's everything. She was in love with horses and soon after becoming
best buds with her, I was too.
Do you remember "My Little Ponies" from when you were little? Well, we each had
about 40 of those each and we would play with them constantly. At every recess and at
every overnight we had together. After we got a little older we graduated to model horses. I'm not kidding - we would stay up the entire night and not sleep and just play horses
ALL night. We would make up adventures for them and all sorts of stories. It was
amazing what we could come up with if we put our imaginations together. She
taught me all about horses, and soon I began teaching her about how I was a
Christian. Her family went to church on the Holidays, not regularly. She didn't
know about salvation until one summer, I think the summer between our second
and third grade years, she came to Vacation Bible School with me @ my church.
She was saved there. We weren't old enough or mature enough to understand the
whole relationship-with-God thing yet, but we were "on fire" for Jesus! We went
to church camp together and we'd learn about God together. We'd always talk about
how awesome heaven was going to be. We would take breaks from playing horses some
nights and just sit and talk about Heaven. How perfect it would be...what it would
be like walking on the streets of gold...seeing GOD...having a perfect appearance...we'd
also try to talk ourselves into thinking that horses would be there. :) God & horses:
our interests in a nutshell. All of our other interests seemed to be the same, too.
Singing, tumbling, country music & Billy Ray Cyrus (that was then), reading, art,
whatever one of us liked, we were both into. We totally didn't care about what
people thought. I guess looking back, we were sort of nerds - we didn't try to
dress in style, we didn't care what other people @ school were doing, we'd just
do our own thing. We had that child-like faith in God and we didn't care who was
looking or what people thought. We were the best of friends - closer than sisters - all the
Then in the summer after our sixth grade year, Jessica, her two little
sisters, and their babysitter, who was driving, were killed in a one-car
accident. The night I found out....it was just weird. I just didn't think
anything like that
happened around here. Jess and I had lots of plans for the future, now I would
have to go on without her. I never
cried. The way my parents told me was something like "...and now tonight,
in Heaven" Then I started thinking about the countless hours we had spent
talking about that wonderful place and how at that very minute, she was
those incredible things. Wow. I was in awe. I don't remember a lot about my
reaction. I really didn't know how to act. It was almost too easy for me
I was so happy for her and her move to that perfect place. I knew I would see
her again and I knew she would be waiting there for me.
God used this "tragedy" and really worked through it. For one, Jessica's parents
turned to God in there time of need. Remembering times that Jessica had tried
to talk to them about salvation/God, they
became total-committed Christians, attending church every Sunday, and living
their lives for Christ. It was a wonderful witness to the community.
But unfortunately, for me it got worse before it got better. With Jessica, like
I said we had that child-like faith. It wasn't deep, personal relationship with
Christ because we were too young and not mature enough to understand and
maintain a relationship like that. We had each other and God was part of our
friendship. When Jessica wasn't there anymore, it was just me, on my own with
the Christian walk. A solid faith hadn't been built, because I hadn't realized
that there was more to it than what me and Jess where living - we weren't even
teenagers yet. That year in seventh grade, I found a new group to hang with. I thought they were "the good group", but
this was the time that our class started getting into the
to-be-cool-you-hafta-be-bad attitude. Everybody started cussing and smoking and
little forms of rebellion like that just to be cool. At first I didn't join in - I knew better.
Then I realized (or at least I thought) that I was the ONLY person left who
wasn't going down the gutter. I gave up. Everybody else was doing it! Jessica
wasn't there anymore to stick to the good and to God with. I really wanted
to be accepted and thought of as cool, so I started doing those little minor
forms of rebellion. It was a very confusing time. That was the time when I was
developing into my own person, you know that time when you really consider more
than what you have been raised on, you search to find out if what you've been
told your entire life is really true, you become very self-conscious, basically
maturing into an adult? Well, in more common terms: adolescence. All of these
changes in what had always been - PLUS the change of losing my one and only best
friend. Things just kind of went downhill. I just wanted to be cool and for
people to like me. By the end of the horrible seventh grade year, after going
through a huge fight with my friends and a LOT of other stuff, I was hanging
out with the stoners and trying to decide if I was going to become one of them.
I would get really depressed at times and just cry.
I remember driving down to visit Natalie's family for her confirmation and
telling Natalie all of my problems about my life.
I was making my family worried sick. I was worrying myself.
I wasn't sure of anything, really.
That summer after seventh grade (1997), my cousin, Evie asked me to go to this church
camp in Wisconsin with her. We weren't super-close, she hadn't really known what
had been going on in my life, but she wanted a friend to take with her to the
camp. I thought "why not?" so we went. It was called Camp Timber-lee. The first
person I met there was my counselor, Michelle. We hit it off right away because
we both had red hair. The speaker for the week was Giles Davis. He was a pretty
funny guy. Lots of cool people were there at the camp. But, Giles really knew what he
was talking about. I had chosen a different path than God, but what he was
saying made me consider what it would be like going back. Michelle was amazing.
She was so Godly. She was a mature, growing Christian who I could really relate
with. She shared with me all about her huge trial and how she fell completely
away from God, and how she rediscovered him. We had lots of long talks. I was
intrigued by her Godly-ness. She told me about how during praise & worship one
night, she was so filled with God's love that she just started giggling w/ joy
and couldn't stop! I had never experienced that deep of joy
directly from the Holy Spirit before. Everyday, as I would listen to Giles speak,
consider it a little more. What if I did start following God again? Maybe this
guy is right. He sure makes sense. I've never followed God like he's talking
about before. He's talking about a DAILY RELATIONSHIP. This is deep. This is more
than just a surface thing. God was totally speaking to me through Giles and
Michelle. I told Michelle the whole story of Jessica and my seventh grade year.
I broke down in tears one night during cabin devos with her. One afternoon, she
prayed one-on-one with me. I hadn't prayed the way she was praying before. She
showed me how she always prays with her hands open, palms up, as a symbol of her
willingness to give everything she has to God and to receive anything
from him. She prayed for everything that was going on in my life. It was
intense. I could feel the Holy Spirit there with us. We sat there and prayed
for what seemed like hours. It was amazing. When we were done, we talked about
things and how I felt. I felt so much better! As we were walking back to where everyone else was, I
was just so overflowing with the love of God. I had never felt that on such a
deep level before! I looked at her and she looked at me and I just started to
laugh! I finally realized that the only source of complete joy is from the
Father. He was showing me that I didn't have to look elsewhere to find meaning and acceptance
again after Jessica died, he would restore me! I ended up laughing non-stop for
at least a half hour - I don't remember for sure how long! I learned a ton of
stuff from Giles about having that relationship with God. He stressed the
importance of daily prayer and bible reading. He taught me how to CRAVE God. He is one of the top
ten FUNNIEST people I know. He always had everyone ROFL. And what he said about
God made perfect sense! He was so consumed with God and he knew just how to
get teens following God with discipline and spiritually maturing. He was
awesome. When I got home I told my family all about it. They were so happy. I
also told Natalie all about it. That was the summer God became real and
personal to me.
I was afraid to go back to school for my eighth grade year. I had become
a totally different person over the summer and I didn't know how people would
react. I ended up getting hooked up with a group of friends that I had hung out
with for the beginning of seventh grade. My best friend at school became
Christin. Neither of us wanted to do stupid things like the other kids our age.
She was a good friend. We cracked each other up all the time. I also got to
be pretty good friends with Kiel. He had a crush on me, then through that
we became buds. I still didn't
have any close, real-Christian friends. It was tough being a newly
rededicated Christian and not having anyone there everyday to keep me going.
But, God was there for me and I held on. I prayed SO much for a close, Christian
friend. That spring there was a Crusade in town. I was a counselor, who could
lead people through the little tracts. The very first night was "youth night"
the leader asked all of the Christian youth that were there to come up so they
could take a stand in front of their community. Of
course, there weren't any youth who stayed in their seats. They all came up,
Christian or not. Christin and I were sitting together, so of course we both
went up. The guy prayed for us and then he asked if a counselor would get a
teen and pray with them and make sure they understood salvation, etc. I was
a counselor, so I turned to Christin and asked her if she knew the plan of
salvation. She had been going to church her entire life, but did not know it.
We went up into the bleachers and sat down and I took her through the little
tract page by page. I was so nervous and I don't know how good of a job I did,
but she said a silent prayer and it seemed that she had understood and accepted
Christ! I was so incredible happy. The very next night, I was sitting with Kiel
at the Crusade. I was telling him how surprised I was that Christin had never
heard the plan of salvation. Poor Kiel - he was trying to play it cool, but
actually he didn't know either. After it was over, I asked him and he finally
said that he didn't know it. So I took him over in the bleachers to the same
spot Christin and I sat, and did the same thing. I explained it and he said
his prayer. He was so excited. With both Christin and Kiel I tried to use
examples of what I had been through. I just felt so unworthy to be used
by God to reach people, but he used me anyway! God answered my prayer in giving
me two Christian friends. It was still hard though, because they were just
baby-Christians and I was trying hard to lead them, but they didn't always
respond. I didn't feel like I was qualified to lead them along in their
new faith, but I still tried my best. Natalie and I were keeping in touch
regularly and we were really growing in our faith together.
The summer of 1998, before I entered High School, I grew SO much spiritually.
By this time Natalie were emailing each other daily and we were both maturing
in Christ so much. We got together for about a week that summer (we live
three hours apart) and it was so incredible. We were in the Bible, praying,
talking about our problems and giving advice, making big plans for what we will
do for God, it was awesome.
We listened to ONLY dc talk - over and over and over. We came up with the idea
SPAM. Spam was a major
growing experience. That was the summer I became disciplined and hard-core
about my faith. God became an indispensable part of my daily life. Now, not
only was he real and personal, I was a serious Christian, with a constant,
maturing walk with him.
My freshmen year I had a few one-on-one and small-group opportunities to share my faith. Two
more of my friends were saved, but I'm not sure if
the conversion was genuine. I had all of these baby Christian friends, but
none of them were really serious about their faith. I tried and tried to
lead them. I could see a little growth, but most of the time I saw none. Natalie always
talked about how awesome it would be if we lived closer, because we were
mature Christians friends we had. We were (and are) so frustrated
with the apathy of our friends/classmates. I'm still dealing with this at the present time and prayers would be so appreciated. :)
This past summer (1999) I went on a missions trip to Romania. It
wasn't what I expected it to be, but it was a growing experience and I
made some awesome Christian friends from Romania who were deep Christians.
Ema, Heather, Zubi, Teddy, all you guys, you ROCK! Kiel
was able to go, also. He experienced a lot of spiritual growth, which
This year I've found some other committed Christians @ my High School.
I've become good friends with Chad and
Josh who are
about God and following him - just like Natalie and I! I really needed that
fellowship with mature Christians @ school. I am so humbled
when I realize how much God takes care of me. He sees what I need and he
provides. He cares for every detail. I'm so not worthy of his gifts.
Natalie has been a huge help in my relationship
with Christ. I don't know where I'd be without her. We've been friends literally
our entire lives - our moms where pregnant together and we have been buds since
diapers. Since the beginning, whenever we're together we
seem to pull each other closer to God. Although we live three hours
apart, we see each other on all the holidays and special occasions and
we spend a lot of time together in the summer, and in between visits we
stay connected online. She is a mature Christian, who is committed to
God and it shows. We are constantly encouraging one another, praying
for one another, giving each other advice about everything,
discussing our values and goals on a deep level, and
we keep one another accountable. She's been with me through it all.
I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful
person in my life and such a God-centered friendship. I hope that I
can form more friendships like ours. Thank you, Nat.
This has been my testimony; a story of what I did about this incredible person
who was 100% God and 100% man who came to earth to give people life. Without Jesus, my life would be
meaningless. When I finally see my savior face to face when this life is over
it will be the most incredible moment I will ever experience. God's love for
me is intense and never changes. I live for the King of the Universe - who
happens to care for every detail of my life. He feels the same way about you.
Who do you live for?