1. What was your life and attitudes before following Christ?
I grew up in church. Church was part of my weekly routine. Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights I was at church, active, involved, and dedicated. I had knowledge of who Jesus was because of all the wonderful Sunday school teachers I had throughout the years. I knew the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, and was a moral person thanks to my parents. I lived many years claiming to be a Christian, even going on a mission trip to Argentina. I looked like a Christian on the outside but on the inside it was a checklist, a religion. Then at the age of 16, I was sitting in a youth service, when the Lord stirred in my heart my need for Him, a Savior, a relationship. Tears flowed down my face and I quickly ran to my small group leader at the time for counsel. She led me in prayer and I asked the Lord to come into my heart and to be my Savior forever. From that point on my faith, my time at church, my tithes, my life was no longer rooted in works but was rooted in a relationship and a desire to live and love more like Christ every day.
2. How did you come to know Christ as your Savior?
Some of my story was mentioned above, but I wanted to share a very important part of how I came to know Him… my mom. As you read above, my parents always took me to church. I am so thankful for this aspect of my childhood. But, it wasn’t until my mom accepted Christ into her heart in her 40s that I too began evaluating my relationship with Him. You see, my mom always claimed to be a Christian. She too grew up in a God-fearing home. She taught Sunday school, she went on women’s retreats and she prayed. BUT let me tell you, that morning when she came into my room, before school, with tears streaming down her face, with a new light in her eyes…the light of life, I saw a change. She had entered into a personal relationship with Jesus and she wanted to tell me all about it! She not only told me, she began to show me. I saw the change in her spirit, in her lifestyle, in her demeanor! Her black bible was laid out on the kitchen table every morning before work. A sight I will never forget. When I saw this change in my mom’s life I wanted it. I didn’t understand why my heart was heavy and fearful that I didn’t have what my mom had, since I had claimed to be a Christian for so long, I mean for goodness sake I had just gotten back from a mission trip. I am so thankful my Savior is relentless, pursing me, chasing me, waiting on me…because boy did I have a lot of pride to work through before I surrendered my life to Him when I was 16. I was scared of what people would think, since I had claimed to be a Christian all those years. But through His power and His perfect love on a Wednesday night in 2000, I heard and could feel Him, inviting me into a personal relationship with Him…and praise God I accepted. It has been and will always be THE best decision I ever make!
3. How has Christ changed your life and how are you developing that relationship with Him?
There are so many ways and so many details of how He has changed my life-praise Him He saved me from an eternity separated from Him. Christ has given me hope when I have been hopeless. He has given me comfort when no one else can. He has been my provider, my friend, my support, my healer, my strength, my all. I truly don’t know how people live this life without this hope and a relationship with Jesus. I have seen Jesus answer prayers; direct my paths, work miracles and open doors for me that I could have NEVER done on my own! Christ has changed my life because He has given me a reason to live, “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)”.
Relationships grow and change over time. I desire to have a growing relationship with Christ. One that isn’t stagnant but that grows stronger day by day. Although, many times I fall short, I develop my relationship with Jesus through spending time with Him alone in scripture reading, prayer and journaling. I attend a small group for bible study and fellowship. I keep godly people in my life who hold me accountable and who speak truth into me. I try my best to make Him a priority, and when I do, I am never disappointed!
4. Can you share with us your experience with singleness and how this has influenced your writing in OurSinglePurpose?
Singleness, a season I never would have dreamed I would be living in at this time in my life. When I was 22 I said “yes” to marry my boyfriend of 2 years, Colby Hayes. I was so excited and thankful the Lord had placed such a godly man in my path and was ready to plan our life together. We started looking at venues for our June wedding. May 13, 2006 was the day of my college graduation, about 2 weeks after Colby and I had gotten engaged. On this particular day I received a phone call that would rock my world, “Colby had collapsed and was being rushed to the hospital.” At the time I lived 30 minutes from Colby so my roommate drove me to the hospital. It was there that I received the news that would change who I am today forever…Colby had died of a heart condition at the age of 26. My hopes and dreams in that instant were shattered. I remember sitting in the small room with close friends and family and the pastor that married my parents looked at me and said, “Holli life isn’t always fair, but God is always good”. After I got over the urge of wanting to punch this very sweet, elderly man in the face, I requested to see a good friend of both mine and Colby’s. I fell into her arms and said, “Catherine, what are we going to do?” I will never forget her response, “Holli, we are going to do exactly what Colby would do and would want us to do, cling to Jesus”. So that is what I have tried to do every day for 6 year years now, honestly I didn’t know what else to do or who else to turn to. No one could answer the questions I had or heal the hurt I literally felt in my heart but Jesus. I was in a pit and Jesus was the only One who could have gotten me out. It hasn’t been easy, there were many times I wanted to give up, but man oh man has the Lord taught me so much about who HE is and how much HE loves me. I have been angry at God, ran from God, gotten myself in sticky situations because I tried to play God in my life, stopped talking to God, and questioned God…but these times have driven me to learn more about who God is and who I am in Him, how to love more deeply because of Christ’s perfect love for me, to cry out to God in prayer expecting Him to hear and answer me, to see beyond the today and realize that this life is but a vapor…eternity is forever. All those lessons I had learned in church years ago were put to the test in my life 6 years ago…and I can honestly say, although this life isn’t always fair…God is always good, always faithful, always compassionate and always loving!
This event in my life, along with others has truly shaped my experience with singleness and has influenced my writing on this blog. I have learned, at times the hard way and am still being taught daily, that Jesus is FOR ME! His plans are to prosper me, not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I am HIS (Jesus’s, the King of Kings, the Creator of the universe, the Spotless Lamb’s) BELOVED! Now more than ever, I am thankful for the promise of Heaven, for the assurance that this earth is not my home…but for the grace, mercy and blessings that the Lord still pours out on me daily while living and breathing on earth. I trust Him with my desires, my past and my future. I trust wholeheartedly, that if there wasn’t more to my story here on earth…I too would be with Jesus in my eternal home (boy oh boy I can’t wait!). But since I am here, living and moving on this earth, I pray that through all I do and all I am (single, teacher, daughter, sister, friend, mentor) I bring glory and honor to Jesus…to make Him known!
My favorite verse is Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
God is bigger than my plans. What I think is great…is a small fraction to what God can do in my life and has planned for my life, if I allow and trust Him to use me! This is my prayer…Oh God use me to do the unimaginable wherever you have me Lord, by Your power and strength!