Four years ago it seemed that after unthinkable tragedy my family and I just couldn’t take another blow. After two-second trimester infant losses, with burial sites side by side, my family and I felt as if we were left to bleed ourselves dry.
After what seemed to be the last fatal blow, I threw up my hands and took my son Cameron who was struggling deeply at the time to Journey Church up the road from where we lived. It was in the middle of the day, filled with the newness of spring but in my heart the end of a long dead battle with winter.
The Administrative Assistant, after spotting my tear filled eyes and broken spirit, went to find a pastor on duty…fast. Pastor Jonathan took us in and wiped our tears but mostly met my then 11-year-old son where he was…as true men of God do.
And I knew a thing or two of a true component of God. I was raised in the church, a passionate youth who screamed the gospel of Christ at every avenue of life I encountered. I spoke, sung, shouted, and lived Jesus. But then I left Him. As fast as the sun rose it set and in that I had come and gone away from my Savior.
But me seeing the consequences ahead I chose to saturate Cameron with Journey Kids. He even won a scholarship to summer camp that year, embodying the faith he was new to that was putting his broken heart back together again. Now he serves regularly on the tech team, on Servolution Saturday’s, and is a leader at H20. He has a passion for ministry and has been told he has a gift of wisdom with an emphasis in theology.
My husband and I saw the fruits of the church and the swift change in our son, but we still wanted nothing to do with it ourselves. It just wasn’t our “thing.”
Our then 14-year-old son Caleb was a harder sell to get to go to H2O. We saw what it was doing for Cam and wanted the same healing for Caleb. We had in fact just buried two infant sons in the past 18 months. Who couldn’t use a little healing after such losses?
After the bribe of a Chill and Grill and free ice cream, we convinced Caleb to go. He was met with music, fellowship and football on the shores of Lake Michigan. He was sold.
That summer Caleb taught himself to play the guitar, gave his life to Jesus and has been an instrument for God with growing momentum ever since. He is the worship leader for H20 and often is on the worship team for the big services. He is attending NCU this fall studying to be a…worship pastor.
My husband and I had no mistake in seeing what Jesus through Journey Church was doing through our son’s lives; we just wanted nothing to do with it. It scared me, threatened to own me again, ultimately bringing me back to feelings of abandonment of parents who just didn’t want to stay. The broken inner child inside us can be really unforgiving at times.
I was still bitter personally, angry and stubborn. Why did God keep taking from me but forgetting to give back?
My sons encouraged us to come to weekend service and we told them that, although it was doing great things in their lives, we had no need for “religion”. I knew deep inside my rage filled mindset that was a lie. I was just too proud to admit it.
My darkness grew fast eventually consuming me. As easy as it was for me to ask for help from God on behalf of my children I simply didn’t feel like I was worthy of God’s grace for myself. I mean who walks away from God after over 25 years of deep commitment? The idea of going back to church compounded my guilt, reminding me that I was unfaithful, that I did in fact, walk away from the Lord who had never walked away from me.
Jesus kept melting my frozen heart, reminding me that I wasn’t the lost child, that I was His chosen child.
While my sons were at Winter Camp this past February I went to the Saturday night service. The first church service I had gone to in nearly 15 years.
And I was brought to my knees.
The Holy Spirit moved and I ran into His loving arms as Pastor Jordan sang the invitation song. I took God up on the call He has on my life, the prophecy to use me, heal me, and put my broken pieces back together again. I ran to the altar and gave my life back to Christ.
Since then my husband and I have rarely missed a service. We are now on the First Impressions team for Journey Kids, telling parents all the amazing things Journey Kids and H20 have done for our kids. We have 2 younger kids who we now have the opportunity to raise in the church.
So what has coming to Journey Church through the medium of my kids done for me?
It has made me grow.
Brought me hope.
Made me seek.
Called me out.
Forged a smile when all I wanted to do was cry.
And brought out my inner Shine.
And this is just the beginning…
I feel a gentle breeze against my face overwhelming me with peace, that I can fulfill my greatest destiny against the deepest of odds as I’ve found my way back into the loving arms of my Savior.