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At one point in my life I believed in Santa Clause, magic, and the Abdominal Snowman; granted at this point I wasn’t even aware I was mispronouncing abominable. I was so certain that a jolly old man crept through my doorway every Christmas Eve. I would track his movements online and struggle against my drooping eyelid dying to see those reindeer fly. Most of all, I violently defended his honor against every person who tried to tell me he didn’t exist. I took painstaking measures to keep my belief, as did my parents who would leave snowy footprints by the door and take a bite out of every cookie my brother and I put on that plate.
Gradually I lost my belief in jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, but I hold the memory of staying up late trying to catch him in the act close to my heart. The thing about beliefs is they change. Beliefs define who you are, and as your definition of yourself changes so do your beliefs.
One of my strongest beliefs has taken a lifetime to for me to develop and understand. That particular belief is two-fold: my belief in God as a Christian as well as my belief that things always change for the better. I had to change to grow into my beliefs, but unlike my belief in Santa Clause my testimony of love and change is not something I will grow out of.
Change; one six letter word with a multitude of connotations. Change can be defined as a verb meaning to transform or convert, to exchange, or to make different. This word holds special meaning in my ever-developing testimony. Change not only describes the way Christ has moved in my life but also the lessons which he continues to instill: be the change and accept the changes.
When I was in preschool, I experienced my first big change. My grandfather lost his life to lung cancer after a long, uphill battle. As he neared the end of his time, he drew nearer to God in ways I would not understand until I was much older. I’ll never forget the way my father came into my classroom, with his leather clad arms crossed firmly across his chest. It is from that event that I developed what one may call my “control issues.” I was not willing to accept the loss of the greatest man I’d ever known, and did not yet know that he was with the greatest God.
Several years later, while sitting outside on a Sunday morning, waiting for my Catholic friends to return from mass, I asked my mom a question. “Hey mom?” I said quizzically, “How come we don’t go to church?” Upon hearing that question, my mom was moved to make a change for my brother and me by signing us up for a Christian Wednesday night program called Sonlight. It was through this program that I came to know Jesus.
As I was moving up to the junior high and high school ground, the youth pastor Kara stepped down and announced that she and her family were moving away. It was in this time, as they packed up, that I became closer with her than ever before.
Though I was sad to see her go, God kept reminding me that good things were coming. I was always told junior high and high school were about “finding yourself,” and in seventh grade I found who I was in Christ. For the first time I understood what it meant to be “on fire for God.” I began to build strong relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and witnessed to others where ever and how ever I could. I was helped in this by three new people God brought into my life: Janelle Stevenson, Nicholas Peterson and Lauren Anderson.
Janelle and Nicholas were hired to replace Kara and her husband Steph; this demonstrated to me that change is good. No matter how hard it is at the time, God has a better plan. Janelle taught me so much and brought great changes to the youth group. Nicholas became the worship arts pastor which gave me new opportunities to sing and worship God. They showed me that I have been truly blessed with musical talent and how to use that to reach people and praise my lord and savior. Lauren is probably the most amazing youth leader I have ever met. The verse Proverb 27:17 always comes to mind: “As iron sharpens iron, so friend sharpens friend.” Lauren was my iron, showing me how to live a godly life while breaking the stigma that Christians can’t have fun. She changed me by teaching me to love people and love God more than I ever have.
It was with their guidance and my strong relationship with Christ that extraordinary things happened. In eighth grade at my junior high we went to the flagpole to pray one September morning to participate in the national event See You at the Pole. We had five people show up that morning, and while we were praying something crazy happened, other students began throwing small rocks at our heels. Most people would find this horrible but when I discussed it with Lauren we were so excited! This spiritual warfare was proof that God was moving within us and the Devil didn’t like that one bit. In response, I organized a second event just for our school that I called Spread the Word. I preached a small message about putting on the armor of God, brought worship music and finally prayed for our school. As the buses flowed in God moved in the most incredible, tangible way I have ever experienced. Our circle of prayer kept growing, and growing and growing. By the end we had 23 people holding hands and offering words of prayer. I thought to myself, “Take that Devil; my God is greater than any stones you can throw.”

The next year that very phrase was thrown heavily back in my face; Satan came at me harder than ever and I crumbled. Change after change occurred in this year. Janelle and Nicholas left to move back to Omaha and get married, Lauren moved to Philadelphia, and I started high school. This was a struggle for me; I did not want to let go of all the great things that I had going. I became complacent and lost during this time of transition. God never leaves us, no matter how hard we push away, but he allows us to learn and make our own choices. Somehow I know my rebellion in this period broke his heart, but through this I learned I can’t control everything and he’s the one in charge.
Now, once again, is a time of transition. I am a junior in high school beginning my search for college and God’s calling in my life. I have never been so terrified of the future. The two strongest mentors I have ever had are also going through large changes. My worship arts pastor, mentor, vocal and piano teacher and dear friend Kelly Condron is stepping down from her position at our church, meaning she won’t be able to guide me anymore. This is a tough one for me as she has been a fantastic role model in my life for the past two years. Additionally, Lissy Mcgarvey, another staff member at my church who has become my best friend and second mother is going to truly be a mother. As excited for baby Micah as I am, I fear I am losing her in a way as well. Even though I know I serve a God who never changes, even as my life does, I still struggle with my need to be in control. I also struggle with my feelings of selfishness and frustration when I fall short of complete trust.

Even so, I hold true to my belief and testimony that is unchanging in the midst of an ever changing world. The story of my relationship with Jesus is this; he changed my life inside and out and continues to do so without ever changing himself. As I look forward, I know that God will continue to teach me to let go and trust him, and I am looking for the environment where I can best accomplish that.




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