WALK WITH ME
“But those who obey God’s Word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” ~ 1 John 2:5-6 (NLT)
When Jesus said, “Come follow [walk with] Me,” He was challenging us to travel outside of our comfort zones and live a life dedicated to Him. It’s not easy and He knew it never would be. Still, we must choose to carry our own crosses and die to ourselves (sometimes daily!) so we don’t journey too far into the deep end.
Walking with Jesus means to walk like Jesus. Side by side, in sync. He is the ultimate role model, will never leave our side and is always there to lift us up. His teachings are perfect and our lives should reflect His.
But the reality is, while Jesus was always with us, He wasn’t always a part of our life. Whether we grew up in a God-centered home or had to stumble off course and hit rock bottom, we all have a moment where we accepted that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and we have our own stories to tell. The amazing thing about becoming a Christ-follower is our story is continually unfolding as our walk with Jesus travels down a long and narrow path toward eternity.
We may stumble, but with Jesus we will never fall. We invite you to walk with us and be encouraged by our stories.
“God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won’t follow sinners or join in sneering at God. Instead, they find happiness in the Teaching of the Lord, and they think about it day and night. They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do.”
~ Psalms 1:1-3 (CEV)
I’d say my faith life starts out fairly “boring.” My family of five regularly attended the local Catholic church and my sisters and I all participated in religious education classes. I walked through the sacraments of baptism, first communion, reconciliation and confirmation like any child growing up in the Catholic church.
It is interesting to me that in the eighth grade, at age 12, I couldn’t drive, vote, or drink—but my Catholic church encouraged my colleagues and me to complete the sacrament of Confirmation, where one publicly announces their belief in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and proclaims they will spread their faith to others. In hindsight this decision was one of the largest of my life, but at the time it felt like I was completing the motions alongside friends without truly understanding its significance.
So, I was confirmed as a Catholic in the eighth grade and active in my youth group throughout high school. I have many fond memories of youth group events, trips, and sleepovers and these happenings no doubt impacted my relationships as I ventured through my high school years. However, my faith was never truly challenged until the end of my college years.
I was drawn back into conversations about faith in my late college years by friends, and this is when I started to learn more about Catholicism. And when I started to learn more, it brought up questions. Questions regarding the priesthood, questions regarding transubstantiation, questions regarding how I truly believed Jesus would have acted in situations I encountered daily.
After college, a serious relationship ended and I was left hurt and lost. My post-college and early-career days were filled with me leading a double life: joining a young adult group at a local church, but also drinking with friends or coworkers until 2am simply to then get up at 6am and go back into the office. I couldn’t figure out what was best, as I treasured my friends and my social life, but knew I wasn’t making the smartest decisions regarding drinking and spending money.
I truly believe God pushes us until He knows we reach our limit, and through the church group I was introduced to Austin, a friend of a friend. His sly smile and timidness left me intrigued, and over the next few months he and I were able to connect over phone calls and eventually we had our first date. I started to spend more time with Austin and less time closing down bars. We still had fun together, but he balanced my “wild side” and I began to feel refreshed, too. Two and half years later Austin and I married and seven years later, here we are.
Many who know me would say I’m determined and that my career is an important part of my life, and I’d completely agree. However, my career has also been an adventure full of ups and downs. Of the five employers I’ve had, two have been fairly significant (and even national) companies that have gone out of business. Another employer was being bought out and my position would have ended with a similar outcome, had I stayed there long enough. My career path has truly been a roller coaster ride, much of which has been out of my control. In these times I’ve been challenged to remember that God’s path is not necessarily the path I’d pick…but I need to let Him lay out His plan.
On February 23, 2017 I learned that my fourth employer—a national retail chain—was shutting its doors. My colleagues and I were asked to clean out our desks that day, as a liquidation company would take over from here on out. Less than a week later I had an appointment with an infertility specialist, as Austin and I had been trying unsuccessfully for nearly a year to become pregnant with baby #2. The specialist discussed next steps and options with us, and we agreed that we’d begin these next steps.
Three days later I saw a plus sign on a pregnancy test. My excitement for baby #2 (even though I had tears every time I didn’t get a positive test for the year prior) was hindered by the fact that there were so many unknowns: I’m losing my health insurance for the family in a month! Can we afford two kids if I can’t find a job? How are the loss of my job and this pregnancy related? How is my daughter going to adapt to being a big sister?
So many questions toying with my emotions and my elation over baby #2, but the Lord is steadfast. And, thankfully, my husband was quick to remind me of this and be there for me as well.
As my due date with baby #2 quickly approaches and my new position has started, I’ve come to realize that there will always be questions. Often we don’t know—and won’t know—the answers to questions until God shows us His way. It’s my job to allow Him to work through me, and this is what I aim to do daily.