- Birthday May 11, 1982.
- My first cassette tape? Paula Abdul.
- My first poster: New Kids on the Block.
- Childhood Friday nights? Watching TGIF.
- Occupation? Lecturer at the University of South Carolina.
- Favorite food hands down - spaghetti.
- Most despised food - cooked broccoli (love the stuff raw).
- Personality type? Extroverted, iNtuitive, Feeler, Judging. In other words, I rarely even go to the bathroom by myself.
- Current Friday nights? At home watching a movie or hanging out with the Richards.
- Dream vacation? A year long cruise around the world with close friends or family (so that I don't have to go to the bathroom by myself).
- Marital status: married to Ben, who's a church planter (I think that's a weird title; maybe I'll suggest a new one).
- Favorite Christmas gifts this year: yoga (lounge) pants and the Arbonne salt and sugar scrubs.
I started a journal on September 17, 2009, hoping it would be a catalyst for invigorating my faith. But it wasn't - or at least it wasn't the primary mover. Instead, this new church thing we're doing (Columbia Church) has provided all the right pieces to help me sort out God, Christianity, faith, and relationships.
But let me step back to July 2007. At 36 weeks, my sister delivered a stillborn baby girl whom they named Zoey Mackenzie. Ironically, her name - one picked out months before her arrival - means "life." That baby symbolized answered prayer for our family because she had been a long time in coming. Because of cord complications, that prayer dissolved into tears, a funeral I didn't want to attend, and miles of questions. My emotional connection to God and faith and spirituality went numb. I still believed in God and I wasn't angry; I just shut down because I couldn't emotionally wrap my mind around God and His role in our loss. I didn't purposefully choose that reaction, and I didn't even necessarily want it - but it's where I stayed for two years.
All the times I'd professed that I "trusted" God prior to June '07 now seemed juvenile and superficial. I was encountering what I considered to be a true tragedy and I found it hard to trust - His goodness, His nearness, His rightness. But Christianity is about trusting. I needed to find a way to trust again because life made little sense without it. When you've encountered God, it's hard to live as though you haven't. But those old wineskins, as the story goes, won't hold new wine. I needed a fresh spirituality - one that helped me embrace my new paradigm while also centering me firmly in Christ.
During those two years I attended graduate school (intense!), switched churches, and bought a house. I also wrapped my life up in two people who were not healthy for me emotionally or spiritually. They did little to help me sew new wineskins, and I made deliberate choices that kept me from moving forward. But, freedom came from a simple, unexpected conversation with my dad where he encouraged me to break my ties and move on.
So I did. Sometimes decisions are that simple. I moved on, met Ben, started teaching, got married, and joined up with Columbia Church to bring something new to this city. If you've ever worked with a small group of people to make something you really believe in happen, you know the beauty of those dynamics. These relationships, hearing good Biblical teaching, reading provocative books with spiritual insights into the Christian life - these are the things that restored me. These are the things that brought life back to knowing God.
It's encouraging beyond measure to know that God - in His grace and mercy - pursued me with love and kindness during that season. And it's reassuring to know that He was the same yesterday, is the same today, and will be the same tomorrow.