As I began this new healthy lifestyle journey, I found myself so excited and determined to share with anyone who is willing to listen to every detail of what I have learned. When you are passionate about something you want the whole world to hear the good news. As I contemplated sharing my story with you all I found myself being convicted that I need to share my whole story, not just about my weight loss journey, but about the thing that means the most to me, my faith.
We didn’t go to church when I was a little girl. I think my parents would say they were Christians but I don’t recall ever learning about God in our home. My dad would go to church occasionally and I would ask to go with him because I just remember I loved being there. My grandparents were Christians and we would go occasionally with them as well.
When I was 12 years old, I was spending some time with my Great Grandma Bjork. She shared how much Jesus loved me and asked if I wanted him in my life. I said yes, and she walked me through accepting Jesus in my life.
My parents had divorced when I was 8 years old and for the most part my sister and I lived with my dad. Again, God was never really talked about in our home so even though I had accepted Christ in my life it was not nurtured in any way. It wasn’t until I was 14 years old that my life changed. My dad was on his 3rd marriage and decided he needed God back in his life and we started attending different churches. It was during this time that we attended a little church called Grace Brethren in Simi Valley, CA. I think someone in the church must have said that they had a youth group that met for Sunday School and they led us down the stairs to a room full of teenagers. Both my sister and I were very shy and quiet and probably felt uncomfortable being there. We found our seats and just observed what was going on around us. When the service was over, we would leave, probably never really talking to anyone.
It was after one of these services when we were walking out to our car that the youth pastor came running after us. He had invited my sister and I to go out to lunch with him and his wife and this simple gesture changed our lives! I will never forget how scared we were. Here we were, these two broken girls, being loved and cared for. I will forever be grateful to Brian and Crystal Roseborough for allowing God to use them in this way. Over the next couple of years, I was taught what it meant to have a relationship with God and to truly be loved by a community of believers.
When I was 16 years old my dad decided to take a job in Northern California. We had moved around my entire life but this one hit me hard. Our family life wasn’t the best and the only thing that brought me true joy was my church and youth group. I was beyond heartbroken that I had to leave and at this point in my life I thought it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. My sister was almost 18 at this time and stayed behind. I felt alone and knew I desperately needed to find a youth group to connect with once we got settled.
Here I was at 16 years old searching for a church all on my own. My dad and his wife would go to church occasionally but I never felt it was a priority for them. I’m not sure how many churches I tried before I gave up. I wanted my old youth group and my old friends and nothing compared. Usually by the time you are 16 people have their little “clicks” and were not willing to let anyone in.
I eventually started my Junior year of High School and met some new friends. They were not Christians but they accepted me and I cherished our friendship. I still to this day truly value these ladies in my life. Without having any godly influences in your life, you tend to walk away from your faith. I never stopped loving or believing in God I just didn’t tend to this relationship in my life. I eventually met a boy and would make decisions that affected the rest of my life. I ended up getting pregnant at 18, married shortly after, and had our first son when I was 19. It wasn’t until after I had my son that I started seeking out God again. I needed him in my life and I wanted my kids to know him too. I had my second son when I was 22 and I was on a path of learning and growing and sharing my faith with my kids. I was eventually baptized and felt so grateful to God for all He had done in my life.
All of a sudden, my life turned upside down. In 1998 I found myself in the middle of a divorce. We had moved to Texas for my husband’s job but I wanted to move back to California to have the support of my family. I ended up moving myself and my boys into my Dad’s house. Remember, it was not a good family relationship growing up but I felt I had no choice. It was truly the saddest time in my life. It was only a month later that my stepmom decided we were an inconvenience and kicked us out of their home. Here I was, going through a horrible time, and now I was homeless. God was so good and provided people in my life to help me out. First, my sister and her family were the first to step up and help me. Eventually a good friend from my youth group days stepped up and allowed me to stay with his family until I got settled. My in-laws also helped me out tremendously by taking my boys for the summer until I figured out my life. God was so faithful in providing me with amazing friends and family, a job, and an apartment that I could actually afford. When I look back at that time, I can see how God had me and made sure I was taken care of. We eventually attended Cornerstone Church which Francis Chan was the pastor of at the time and I grew tremendously under his teaching.
I can tell you being a single parent is one of the hardest jobs in the whole word. If you don’t have a good support system it can be overwhelming. After a couple of years, I found myself at a crossroads and made the hard decision to send my boys to live with their dad. I found myself slipping away from God once again and making bad decisions. I started dating a man I met at work and made that relationship more important than my relationship with God.
I hated being away from my boys and decided to move closer to them. They had moved back to Northern California with their dad so I decided to make the move up there. I knew I needed to end the relationship I was in and return to God once again. For the first year I felt like I was getting my life back on track. I had found a church and was teaching Sunday School. God had provided a job for me right away and the boys eventually moved back in with me.
All was going well until I once again met a boy. You can say that all of my insecurities lead me to constantly make bad decisions with men but ultimately it was my selfish desires. We were just friends at first. I couldn’t imagine dating him because we had nothing in common. He cussed up a storm, had tattoos (haha), and was what some would consider a “bad boy”. But he was truly kind and eventually won my heart. I completely walked away from God…again!
I eventually married this bad boy in 2005. He knew about my love for God and was curious about it but I felt so much shame for all that I had done that I couldn’t bring myself back to Him yet.
After we had been married for a few years I found myself struggling with depression. My marriage was ok but we were struggling. Ben had no idea how to help me. I remember laying in my bed one morning and just crying out to God. Lord, please forgive me!! I need you so desperately in my life. God was there, just waiting for me to come back to him. It is a moment I will never forget. That feeling of relief. I had my Father back and he still loved me.
I knew I needed to get back to church. I searched online for a church that was big enough that I could hide in and that had a Saturday night service so that Ben might go with me. He worked out on Sunday mornings and I didn’t want to mess up his routine. I found Venture Christian Church and prayed that Ben would come along. I honestly think that Ben was so desperate for me to get help that he agreed to go. Our lives were once again changed. Ben eventually accepted Christ into his life and became this man I never could have dreamed of. Our marriage changed and we grew in our love for God and one another.
It is amazing to me to see God use broken people. He does throughout the whole Bible but for some reason we can’t imagine Him using us. He was so good to me and yet I walked away from Him not once, not twice, but three times in my life. Every time he welcomed me back. Every time he loved me. Every time he used me. He says that if you are faithful to him, he will be faithful to you. I eventually got a job at Venture. For 8 years I was able to serve Him in this way and see first hand the beautiful miracles He was doing in people’s lives. I truly don’t deserve anything but God has blessed me with so much.
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus please seek Him. If you had a relationship with him but walked away, please run back to him. There is nothing you have done that will keep him from opening his arms to you. You are loved more than you can imagine! For those of you in Ministry, you might not hear all the stories of how you have impacted people but God knows so keep on serving him well. For all of you who have made an impact in my life, I am so thankful for you!