In 2004, I realized that I believed in God. It was a slow dawning. Shortly after this realization I felt a nudge to go to church. Here’s the thing. I’d never really done the whole church thing. I mean I’d gone with friends off and on over the years, but certainly I’d never belonged to a church. But I kept getting a tug on my heart so I got myself and my son ready and we set off to go to church. I was a single mom at the time and my son was around 18 months old. We went to a United Church and sat through the service. There was nothing remarkable about it for me at all. When the service was over I sort of hovered a little trying to see if anyone would talk to me. No one was rude or anything, but I left without speaking to one person. I have nothing against anyone at the United Church. It just wasn’t where I was meant to be.
So, a few weeks goes by and I get that familiar nudge. So, off we go again. As we got closer to the church I stopped at a railway crossing and looked towards the United Church. I just didn’t want to go there again, but where else was I going to go? So, I looked across the street and saw this little farmhouse looking building that barely resembles a church and thought to myself, “I don’t belong anywhere. So, what does it matter which church I go to? Maybe I’ll just try every church until I find the right one.”
I crossed the street and walked into the Barrhaven Fellowship Christian Reformed Church. I had no idea what that meant. When I walked in I was immediately greeted by this friendly woman who asked if I was there for the GEMS and Cadets service. I said that I wasn’t. I had no idea what GEMS or Cadets was. She told me that there was a nursery downstairs for my son if I wanted. I declined because that was unheard of to me. In my head I was thinking, “What do you mean? Someone wants to watch my child for free while I sit through the service in peace? No way, what’s the catch?” So, we found a seat near the back. As soon as the service started I was blown away. It didn’t take long for me to take my son down to the nursery. The worship music immediately moved me and brought me to tears. The whole message spoke right to my heart. After the service, people talked to me and I just felt so welcomed. I knew I had to come back. It didn’t take long, but I met some other people new to the church. The music, the service, the people, all of it was exactly what I needed. I felt as though I’d finally found a real home. I felt accepted and loved. A few months later I met my husband.
In 2007, I was approached to join the GEMS Girls’ Club as a counselor. I had just had my third child and she was barely two months old when I started. By some miracle, my husband agreed to let me go Wednesday nights. Every year he threatened it would be my last and every year I somehow managed to continue on. Well, it’s 7 years later and my daughter started GEMS this year. I’m now a co-coordinator as well as a counselor. When I look back, I am amazed at God’s sense of humor and timing. My first time at this church was a GEMS and Cadets service and years later I was to become a leader in that same ministry.
I’ve grown a lot in the last 10 years, but all along I’ve craved something more. I’ve always wanted to be like the “Super Christians” who seem like they have it all together. I’d go through short periods of time when I thought I had a handle on it, but it was always sporadic and short lived.
This summer, I attended the GEMS Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When I went there I had it on my heart that I needed a change. I needed to find my purpose and calling in life. I thought that God was going to reveal my purpose to me there. I thought that He would tell me to look for another job, as I was so unhappy in the one I had. I’d spent 11 months depressed and miserable. I’d go home crying regularly because I was so unhappy. I had an amazing time. I met some amazing women. I had some real breakthrough moments like when I attended a workshop that really spoke to me. I cried through most of it. I left when it was over and walked halfway down the hall before I gave into the nudging in my heart.
“You need to speak to that woman.”
So, I did. By the time I walked back in the room everyone else had pretty well gone. So, I spoke to the workshop leader and told her how desperate I was to figure out God’s plan for me. Actually, I blubbered all over her. I cried and told her that I knew God was calling me for something, but I didn’t know how to discern what was next. The woman hugged me and prayed with me. She even asked for my email address so she could check in on me. Her name is Cindy Bultema. She’s the author of Red Hot Faith. A bible study that I am now leading at my church. More on that in a bit.
When I got home nothing had really changed. Over the next week work was super busy, but I still had it in my mind that I was going to look for another job. By this point some of what I had heard at conference was starting to sink in. I had started to envision myself leading an evening women’s bible study. Unbeknownst to me, the previous leader had been praying for someone to step up to take on the evening study as she wasn’t able to do it any longer. I was speaking with a life coach once a week and I shared with her a couple of my secret desires. One of which was to lead the evening bible study, particularly the Red Hot Faith study.
I think it was my second week back to work that I finally realized I wasn’t unhappy there anymore. I was even enjoying my job and it would allow me to continue being a GEMS leader and possibly lead a bible study. It’s now three months later and I’m still quite happy where I am. The only explanation I have is that God changed my heart towards my job and I am so grateful that He did. I ended up getting a really awesome raise!
So, I am leading the Red Hot Faith bible study and I think it’s going really well. I have a co-leader who’s such a big help to me and the women who come are so different and so open. It’s been a real blessing to me and I hope to them as well.
At the beginning of October the author of Red Hot Faith started a 31 Days to Fire Up Your Faith on her blog. I decided it would be a good idea to follow along. Now, I’ve spent 10 years trying to find a way to pray and read the bible and do all of those “Super Christian” things. I’ve failed at that a lot. But after a week of following these blog posts I was inspired to wake up 15 minutes early to read her blog and pray and maybe get into the bible a little. What I discovered is that I wanted more and more time to spend with God in the mornings. I found myself praying off and on throughout the day. I was finally doing all of those things I’d been craving for years. I just had to find the way that worked for me. I guess I always thought I had to just sit down and read the bible and it was too structured for the way my brain works. Now I do a little of this and a little of that, but all in all I’m building a relationship with God truly for the first time since I accepted Jesus over 10 years ago.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still have a lot of struggles. I yell too much, I swear way more than I have a right to. I still struggle with my eating habits. The main difference now is that I’m able to talk to God about it. I’m praying about my struggles and my blessings and I’m even praying for other people the way I’d always intended but never really managed more than a quick, “please be with this person”.
I’ve found my purpose and that’s to be a child of God, to be a woman of faith, to share what I have with those around me. And it is my prayer that I can be a blessing to all of the women and girls who come into my life.
I told you this was going to be a long one. If you’ve made it this far – thank you! So, there you have it. I’m putting myself out there and sharing the truth, as I know it, in my own life.