My family and I want to personally thank everyone for giving our boys the opportunity to attend the Youth Explosion this past weekend. Although they are both still recovering from the weekend, I believe they thoroughly enjoyed their experience. My words alone cannot express my gratitude. Kyle and Cole have never really had any knowledge of or relationship with God. In the past, I have made a few attempts at attending different churches around town but my kids were always steered in a different direction by their father. I have to admit that between being a single parent, working full time and attending nursing school I was not ready for the battle and threw in the towel multiple times.
My husband Chad and I have always had a relationship with God and never really felt a disconnect. Over the summer we really struggled with teaching all of our children morals and values. We couldn’t keep telling our children “because we said so” or “because that’s what you’re supposed to do.” We realized we were missing the basic foundation and talked about going to church. I knew this wasn’t an easy quest being that we would have to find the right match for our very large family.
The following weekend we attended Journey. Chad made me sit in the back and became very frustrated anytime I spoke with someone. He wanted to get in, and get out, unseen. He didn’t want to socialize. After several weeks we were both very happy, but Chad still wasn’t ready to commit. By the grace of God, he was sick one weekend and I attended service by myself. Pastor Jim mentioned the Blended Family Workshop. I thought to myself, what a great way to get involved without the long term commitment. After all, we could use all the help we could get with our 5 children. When I returned home, my husband was less than pleased. He stated that we could teach the class ourselves and we don’t need any help. Needless to say, I won that battle and we participated in the workshop!
Better than Blended was above and beyond what we expected. Initially, I thought it was going to become a complaint session, fueled by myself. Little did I know how much of an impact it would have on our marriage and our family. Chad absolutely loved the group….and the socialization! It really made us think a lot about things we were doing at home. I really think it should be a long term group for us as well! We are still in awe that Journey even has groups, workshops, and social groups available.
I honestly can’t tell you how much Journey has impacted our family. A couple of weeks ago, my husband was on the floor and looked up to me and said “has Journey really changed our family that much.” We looked at each other and both agreed that it has impacted our marriage, our family, and our children one by one. It brought tears to my eyes. We have a calmer home, happier children, and we see God’s will working every single day. Several weeks after first attending Journey, my husband lost his job. What would have been the most stressful time of our lives brought us closer than ever, and only through the grace of God, we have survived mentally & financially.
Because of Journey, I have learned to forgive those I once deemed unforgivable. I have become more intentional. I have become a better mother, stepmother and wife. Most importantly, I have a closer relationship with God. I can’t thank you enough!
A year ago turmoil ruled my life. My family had been uprooted by a move. My husband and I discovered that we were expecting another little one. I didn’t feel capable of managing our day to day. All of these things, and a lack of healthy boundaries, had left my relationships and my heart in disarray.
In the middle of all of this chaos and disorganization, I started to attend Journey. Previously, I had left my faith for many years because of wounds inflicted in the name of religion. But when the music started to play that first Sunday, it felt like I had come home.
I was safe again.
I had found a place to heal and grow.
I thought, if I ever came back to a relationship with Christ, I’d have to come back alone. I assumed my family would want no part of it. Even in my inability to persevere, God stayed faithful to my family. I wasn’t the only one who started attending regularly; my husband and boys did too!
And then Christmas came along.
My husband and I both come from divorced families. Things are never easy with broken families, especially when it comes to managing everyone’s wants and expectations during the holidays. Sure enough, I found myself running around, trying to please everyone — leading to more hurts, stress, and anxiety. Then, in a quiet space, I found myself expecting God to move. For some reason, God chose to meet me, right in the middle of a life that felt so out of control and filled with chaos. Now, I was expecting God to show up. I was expecting Him to call my husband to Himself. I was expecting Him to bring the peace He promises during Christmas.
I thought back to the many thousands of years when God’s people also expected. The slavery, bondage, and wandering they endured. No matter what happened, even when they fell away from God, this spirit of expectation somehow passed on to the next generation. “The Messiah is coming.” They even ended up expecting when He was in their midst. That’s when it clicked for me! I had been expecting God to enter into my pains, struggles, and situations – but He was already there. He was working in my family’s heart. He was covering with a peace beyond earthly expectations.
I guess maybe God thrives in chaos because it makes His perfect order, and perfect calm, to be clear. At least, it did for me.
Over the past year, God has moved in amazing ways. My husband was baptized at Easter. My boys are growing up surrounded by and hearing about a God who loves them and will never leave. The tools I’ve gained and healing I’ve experienced has left me with a heart of revival and passion for others to experience the same.
This Christmas season, even in the midst of some of the same challenges, I am choosing to enter into it with a spirit of worship. I’m entering in with a peace, knowing He works all things for our good and His glory. I’m entering with an expectation, not for Him to show up, instead believing He’s already present. My heart is full of gratitude and after a time of wandering, I come before my King, like the wise men, simply to worship.
If you have a story of how your life has been impacted by Jesus or Journey, we would love to connect with you please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
My fingertip swiftly traced the rim of my coffee cup as my feet shuffled restlessly underneath my chair. I glanced up again at my best friend and nervously smiled, trying to mask my scepticism and anticipation, but most importantly – my hope. She had been going to this church for a while now and finally convinced me to come to a night of worship called Hunger & Thirst. As the lights dimmed for the first time I really allowed myself to listen, to be present, and to be open. It’s because of this willingness to be vulnerable that I finally experienced what I’d been longing to feel all of these years. I felt home.
I was raised with a foundation of a very traditional religion. I didn’t truly know God, I just knew about Him. I followed the motions, while desperately trying to find internal happiness through external means. My world revolved around how others viewed me and it was built with bricks of bitterness, anxiety, and self-doubt. I thought “being saved” meant protecting myself. Instead of turning to the one true protector I crowded my life with drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder to mask it. I didn’t just feel intimidated from this far away God I learned about, I didn’t even think to seek Him.
That is, until He found me.
It started with the desire to find out what I truly believed. I had to decide if I even believed anything at all. When I dug deeper, I found that I didn’t believe in the key principles of the church I was raised in. I found out it wasn’t religion I was seeking after all; it was a relationship. It was realizing God is my Father. I realized He isn’t this unattainable being. He is with me and He is for me. It was reading scripture and finding so much truth and relevance in His Word. It was learning that worship could be me, with mascara-stained cheeks, crying out to Him in my dorm room alone and that a prayer could be me whispering for His grace while doing the dishes. Pretty soon I was finding Him everywhere — like a veil had been lifted in my life.
Eight years ago I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart. I was saved, but I was silent. I didn’t speak of my love for God, continued to sin, and hid my true beliefs from the church I was raised in. My relationship with my husband brought me closer to the Lord than ever before, but still I was silent. God was patient.
A year ago I was the one nervously walking through the doors of Journey for Hunger & Thirst. I was the believer who was also the sceptic. The one never thinking I would find a church that felt right. The one thinking I would never have the courage to speak my truth. The one thinking because I was saved, I didn’t need more. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
Now I’m the woman who was baptized, publically declaring the distinction of my faith at Hunger & Thirst several months ago. I’m the one who can’t STOP talking about my love for Christ and how that moment of openness has set me free.
I ‘ve never truly loved myself until I realized, and declared, how much I’m truly loved by Him. I’ve never found real peace in my life until I allowed God to wipe clean the things crowding my vision of Him. I now know being saved isn’t about protecting myself, it’s about allowing Him to protect me. I have eternal life through Him. My joy comes from knowing He is worthy of my trust and it is safe to trust in Him. I’m a sinner, but I have a relationship with the One who forgives. Being a Christian hasn’t eliminated my trials, but it has given me a reason to be triumphant through them.
Looking back it’s so easy to see all of the times in my life God was present and patient. He’s always been with me, but it took me taking a step out into faith to truly have a life blessed by Christ – to be a heart surrendered.