I can’t believe that today I can say that I’ve been a Christ follower for ten years…that is a DECADE! I’d like to be able to brag about how much I know or have grown as a Christian, but I still feel like I’ve just barely scraped the surface of what it truly means to grow in trusting God daily.
Something that I thought would be fun is to reflect on those first few moments and my journey into becoming a Christian.
My entrance into the church was through serving projects. Our area in the tidewater had been struck by a powerful hurricane in 2003. Schools were out for a few days, so I was bored. The guy that I was dating shared that his youth group was highly involved in the community. That youth group and youth director had organized projects going into the most severely affected homes and helping those people to clean and remove the storm debris.
Because of that I started to join the youth group in various activities. This led to deciding to go on the fall youth retreat.
One of the distinctive memories of Eastover is in riding the ferry over to that area. My youth group always thought it was fun to hold crackers or pieces of bread and wait until the seagulls would swoop seeing if they would be brave enough to maintain holding the food until the bird snatched it. Lots of screaming and laughter filled those moments.
We would ride the ferry to an amazing retreat facility called Eastover. This is a beautiful dorm style facility set in a rural area. It is gorgeous with the crunchy leaves on the ground. Our days were crammed with Bible studies taught by various leaders, and many active relay races (I learned in youth ministry that this was to tire the youth out so they could focus on the lessons…sneaky…sneaky).
Between all of the sessions I realized that I was opening my heart to believe about the things that were being taught about this man named Jesus. That night at the culmination Bible message (being taught by my future leader to Brazil) they offered an altar call for those who wanted to dedicate their lives to Christ. I remember standing there knowing that I wouldn’t go to heaven if for some reason I died…honestly, I was thinking that if Christ came back my boyfriend at the time would go to heaven and I wouldn’t. I remember wishing “just let someone else go first, just let someone else go first” Then, the Pastor said, “okay is there anyone else who wants to come forward” and I beelined to the front to pray with my youth director and accept Christ into my life!
Afterwards, I remember praying at the front of the room with my boyfriend at the time. It was funny because I really had no idea how long I was supposed to stay there on my knees. We stayed there for awhile as everyone began to clean up the room, and head out to the bonfire under the stars. Finally, I decided to stand up, and I remember that my legs felt numb from resting on them so long, so that it felt like I was a newborn lamb walking on my legs for the first time. It was a neat thought and metaphor for my new life.
Walking out to join the youth group, I was quiet an somber, struck with the giantness of the heavens above me, of the beautiful starry skies above, and how I was going to live up there one day.
That night I shared with one of the girls near my bunk bed, my decision. She informed the rest of the room, and they did one of the coolest things that I’ve ever experienced…they began to sing “Happy Birthday” to me.
Therefore, Eastover still holds a special place in my heart. I attended each retreat even through my college years, returned to lead and teach sessions to the youth! The final year that I went, my husband and I were invited to attend together! It was one of the coolest things we’ve done as a couple. Surprisingly, I know I took my camera (there are pictures of it around my neck) but I can’t seem to find the pictures anywhere! Instead, I’ll fill this post with pictures from my 2008 visit.
It is cool to share this milestone with you. I’ve done so much growing from that moment, from mission trips, from personal failures, from witnessing God’s victories, from quiet seasons, from times where God’s providence has been so obvious in my life. I can truly say that no matter what the season is, that God has proven that He will always be there for me. Here’s to the next few decades of living my life for Christ…I cling to the promise that He will finish what He has begun in me. Philippians 1:6.
Random fact…I haven’t looked at these pictures in years, and they are prime example of my need to sort and edit my photos! But, it is neat to see that these pictures from 2008 are definitely in the same style of the pictures I still take today five years later. Its neat to thing that I have similar things that I tend to capture photographically.