Easter Baptism Story!
I grew up in a Christian home, attending church with my mom, and was saved when I was 5 years old. My parents got divorced when I was 6, which was a very difficult time for my mom and me. I have struggled for a long time with anger towards my father and it is something that God is still working on in my life. As I got older, I became very involved in my youth group. I felt completely accepted by the older students there, some of whom are still close friends of mine. Unfortunately, my youth group went through many messy transitions between youth pastors, as did our church in regards to senior pastors. During these times, many students would stop attending, although some stuck it out. Luckily, my last youth pastors poured into me and encouraged me to volunteer with the middle school youth group. The summer before I came to college, however, was challenging because these new ministers ended up leaving as well. I was devastated, but God used this time as a period of growth for me, helping me trust in him. I ended up leading the youth group for the summer along with a family friend until I came to college, something I never would have imagined myself doing a year prior.
I have seen God work in amazing ways in my life over the past few years and I’ve grown immensely. Coming to a secular college has really helped me make my faith even more my own and I have had to lean on God a lot more. I have had to seek out my own church and Christian community and I have seen God answer my prayers in so many ways, from helping me find CM and good friends, to providing for me with finances and a ride to Life Stream Church on Sunday mornings. I have been blessed with an amazing Life Group, an RA who connected me to CM, the opportunity to go on a Spring Break trip to Dallas, and a roommate with many similar interests as me. Just seeing the Lord’s provision for me in coming to GVSU has really strengthened my faith.
I have felt God calling me to be baptized for a while now, and I believe that it is the perfect way to acknowledge my faith to both my community of believers and my friends who aren’t Christians. I want to take that next step by acknowledging that I am striving to follow and trust in God’s plan for my life and be obedient to his call. Even if I sometimes cannot see what it is that God is doing, I know that his plan is greater than anything I could ever imagine up for myself. I am choosing to lay down my worries at his feet because his ways are higher than my ways and his plans are higher than my plans. I love the lyrics from the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle: “When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, I will trust in you” and this is the anthem I will keep singing.
Easter Baptism Story!
Looking back at the last few years of college, God has completely redirected my life by bringing joy and hope that used to seem so impossible. I grew up lacking a relationship with Jesus, which resulted in a faulty foundation. In high school my parents decided to divorce and I was unable to handle that amount of change that accompanied. God met me at my lowest point and provided me with every opportunity to come and follow Him. He led me to Grand Valley and I left behind my past filled with depression, anger, and a broken family. I came to college and found myself in a new community, one who fosters my faith and God shines so brightly through. During my struggles before college, I was lost and hopeless. Once Jesus shined His light through my closest friends, I knew a relationship with Him is what I had been searching for all along. God has placed countless faithful servants in my life that have supported me, encouraged me to take numerous leaps of faith, and displayed what a servant’s heart truly looks like. I am forever thankful for the friendships that God had waiting for me at Grand Valley. Their boldness, vulnerability, and invitation to come and follow alongside them has impacted my faith tremendously. Jesus has been evident by leading me to go on mission trips, to sign up for leadership, and to serve kids as a teacher. He has transformed my heart, grown my passion to serve, and has shown me what it looks like to live and love with passion. God has continuously shown me that he is my hope, my guide, my redeemer, and my joy. He provides comfort in the deepest of valleys and brings light to every situation. He calls us by name to shine his light on the lives of those around us and play a role in his perfect plan. Jesus has laid a new foundation for my life that is built on his unwavering love. All of this has been God’s way of encouraging me to take the next step in my faith to be baptized and commit my life to following Jesus.
Alumni – 2010
How were you involved with Campus Ministry or how did God use CM to impact your life while you were in college?
I had the privilege of being a part of the worship team and also leading Spring Break Trips with Campus Ministry. Before GVSU I didn’t understand what following Jesus even meant or even to have peers that were seeking a relationship with him. Campus Ministry gave me opportunities to join a small group and finally start to build deep relationships; with women especially. My freshman year I decided to go on a Spring Break trip to Tallahassee FL, and that trip forever changed my life. We worked with Habitat for Humanity and the guys on the trip were incredible examples to me of men who loved Jesus and respected women as their sisters in Christ. I also returned back to Tallahassee 3 more times as a trip leader and met some of my best friends there (including my husband…cliche, I know..but boy do I love that guy!).
I honestly showed up at GV with the intentions of not having a faith anymore, but God showed up in BIG ways for me through CM and through so many friends. I learned how to seek after God, how to help others find Him, and what my passions were (even if I didn’t realize it then). I met my two best friends through CM: My husband Josh, and my best friend Katie!
Where are you and what are you doing now?
I can’t even begin to explain how God used CM to lead me to where I am. When I was a student, Young Life was a part of CM and I was also very involved with YL in college. It’s crazy to think that 11 years ago I was attending Young Life for the very first time at GVSU. And now my job is leading Young Life at GVSU! Through CM, I learned how to figure what gifts God had given me and how I could use them to advance God’s kingdom. Josh and I are both heavily involved with Evergreen Ministries (our church!). We are both still a part of the worship/productions team there, and I spent the last 4 years as a high school youth leader. We are also currently huddle leaders for Life Group Leaders at CM and we love it. They’re good people!
Going to GVSU as a freshman, I barely even knew if it was the right place for me. But God used Campus Ministry and Young Life to shape me, teach me and stretch me. I will forever be grateful for this ministry!
To say that God has been faithful in my life is an understatement. Throughout my faith journey, He has proved himself to me time and time again. When I was fifteen years old, my mom passed away and for a big portion of my life, inwardly, I did a great deal of running from God. I let bitterness and discontentment reign in my heart and spent a good portion of my life running from my pain, shoving the burdens of my heart deeper and deeper down and refused to accept God’s plan for my life and my family’s with contentment. God brought me to a breaking point one summer in China, when he gave me exactly what I had asked for: joy. He showed me that joy is deep rooted contentment in His plan, knowing that it is good no matter what. I learned that joy is different from happiness – it acknowledges that no matter what happens He is sovereign. I have faced mountains and valleys in my life, and this past year, if I’m honest, has been one of the most challenging I have faced. I have made poor choices, struggled emotionally and have had to face this new season that God has brought me into. God has allowed things to be uprooted in my life that I never expected to change. I’ve had to learn that I am weak and I am broken and have had to learn to be okay with it. For so long I believed that wrestling with God, doubting His plan or questioning what He allowed in my life was wrong. It wasn’t until I read John 11, through suggestion of my counselor, that my perspective shifted: the way I saw God, wrestling and the tragedies that happen in life drastically changed. Through the story of the death of Lazarus, God opened my eyes to the truth that He meets us where we are at, no matter how ugly or how dirty it may be. Nothing is too far from His redemption and He will chase after us and pursue our hearts. He will get into the ugliest places with us, to prove Himself and to remind us of our desperate need for Him. I have learned more in the past few months about God, myself and what it looks like to fully surrender myself to Him and depend on Him for everything in my life. The waves that He has allowed to splash up against my boat the past six months have been difficult, challenging and at times unbearable. But I have learned that God never gives up on His children and can take any mess, any chaos and bring it to order. I’ve learned that wrestling with Him is beautiful, because He will always, always, prove Himself faithful. In the past couple of months I’ve learned that the more I admit my weaknesses, my shortcomings and my brokenness the more I am relinquishing control and giving my all to God. The more I come to God weak, broken down and in need of Him the more I depend on Him, and the more I depend on Him, the more I am giving up control, and when I give Him control, it radically points to His glory.
I am a broken human being, in constant need of being rebuilt and remade by a Savior who has given me more grace in my journey then I ever deserve. I believe in a God that doesn’t just glue our broken pieces back together, but He takes each piece and remakes it, redeems it, restores it and makes it new, for His glory, so that His name might be praised after it all – through every heartache, every tragedy and every moment we face in this life.
Don’t you love when everything goes according to plan? Don’t you hate when it doesn’t?
When I first stepped foot on Grand Valley’s campus as a freshman, I finally experienced a taste of freedom that was totally new to me. There were so many new opportunities to take advantage of, people to meet, and responsibilities to take on- and I wanted to do it all.
See, I was so ready to get out of my house. Nearly every relationship in my family is strained by a past that is littered with emotional deprecation. Refusal to see eye to eye or give respect to each other’s opinions and feelings created an environment of negativity and hatred.
So, it makes sense that as soon as I was set free from that enslaving environment that I felt the need to take advantage of every opportunity just because I could. The ability to do things without the fear of judgement or backlash was freeing and addicting.
What I didn’t expect was the feeling that came over me with all of these new things. With every new organization I joined or team I was on, I convinced myself that I had be the best. I had to be successful. I had to be the kid from my family that went and did things with their life- and I didn’t need anyone else’s help to do it. I had to do it on my own. Why? To prove that I could.
I prayed about the things that I did, yes, but I always prayed for success. My arrogance was only fueled by God’s grace to grant me many successes. Until he didn’t.
Let’s take a trip to Spring Break sign ups. I was a one year veteran of this, so I had a plan. I had a list of top 5 trips that I would like to go on, but we all know that all I wanted was my number one choice. When my number was called, there were still openings on my trip and I was confident that I was about to go on my first-choice trip. Except someone took the last spot just before I got there. I was crushed, disoriented, confused, and frantic. Hold onto that thought.
Now let’s talk about some of the other organizations I got involved in. I became heavily involved in the residence life community here at Grand Valley this year. And when I say heavily, I mean that I took on just about every role that I could. I am on the E-Board for the National Residence Hall Honorary and Laker Village Community Council and am an active member of the Residence Housing Association. Not to mention that I helped plan the regional conference this year. So, when I applied to be an RA, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be granted the position. Everyone told me that they were rooting for me, my application was flawless and my interview was effortless. But, from the way this story is sounding, you may be able to tell what happened next. A few days ago, I received an email that I was not selected. I was again crushed, disoriented, confused, and frantic.
Now let’s go back to our Spring Break situation. Once I finally accepted that I was not going to my first choice trip, I looked at my list and reluctantly walked to the table of my second choice. As I was filling out the contact information, something came over me that I still can’t explain. Something beyond my control prompted me, mid-signature, to look up from the paper and ask the trip leader, “Do you actually know if there are any spots open on the Cuba trip?” After the words came out, I was mortified. I couldn’t go to Cuba. It was far too expensive. Cuba wasn’t even on my list. I told myself that this year I would trust God with the funds, but Cuba? That trip is almost twice as much as the next most expensive trip. I didn’t have a plan for this. Well God did, and here I stand today with my trip paid for in abundance by his grace.
For the Spring Break situation, God’s answer was not only direct, but I believe he took complete control of me. There was no time for me to think about my fears and hesitations. For the RA position, it is a little less clear. What is going to happen now? What will I do in the fall? While I don’t know the answer to this, I do know one thing for certain. God is in control. But guess what? That is okay. That is okay because his plan, as he has proven time and time again, is far greater than anything that I could imagine.