I witness a miracle every day when I get up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror. I can’t help but smile! 🙂 When I look or think back on where I was and who I was a year ago, I am simply in awe of God. All glory, praise, and thanksgiving goes to Him for the transformation in my life, both physically and spiritually!
I struggled with being overweight for the majority of my life and often wondered if I’d ever overcome that struggle. I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to be able to say today that I have. But I did not, and could not, have done it on my own. I have felt the strength and love of my Lord and Savior every step of the way. Just thinking about how faithful God has been in my life brings tears to my eyes as I write this. I have lost 65 pounds since June 2016 and feel healthier and more fit than ever. God is good!
I also didn’t realize just how lost I’d been spiritually for the majority of my life. I have read more of the Bible in the past year than I did collectively over the first 26 years of my life. I’ve almost read through the entire Bible twice since beginning my initial challenge last July, which has led me to fall more in love with God than I ever knew possible. It has been and continues to be an incredible journey as I seek the Lord and find Him.
Furthermore, I never would have guessed a year ago that I would be back living in my hometown, finishing up my PhD remotely. God keeps showing me that His ways are infinitely higher than mine. I’m learning more and more the joys and benefits of letting go and letting God lead. Here’s a bit of a recap of the past couple months of my life.
While home on Spring break in March, 6 weeks before moving back to Lancaster, God made it abundantly clear to me that upon moving back He wanted me to reconnect at the church I grew up in, and in particular, get plugged in to the relatively new young adult Sunday school class (YoPros) and help it grow and thrive. To give some perspective, over 4,000 people attend Calvary Church regularly and there are maybe about 45 folks in YoPros each week. But the group is very transient. One week before moving back, I received news that about half of the YoPros leadership team was stepping down for various reasons. I knew that God’s hand was in the timing of it all, and I was excited to be used by Him and see what He had in store for unexpectedly leading me back to Lancaster at this time.
I moved back on Saturday, May 6. The next day, after 6 weeks of waiting for God’s mysterious plan to unfold, I was eager to attend the YoPros class, which meets during the 11:00 service. So I went to the 9:15 worship service and sat alone in a pew by myself. Despite attending the church for 18 years of my life, I felt like a total stranger. This is when it hit me that I had lost all sense of community, all sense of belonging, in just one day. What was happening? After the service, I proceeded to the YoPros class, sat down at a table, and again felt very alone. But I knew deep in my heart that God wanted me there. I was approached by a very sweet girl who asked me a simple question that led me to break down in tears right then and there in the middle of the room. That’s when I realized that despite the excitement in moving and feeling led by God, the transition was going to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. But God quickly gave me hope and showed His love for me by connecting me in a small group within YoPros that same day. They have since been a huge blessing in my life! God has also excitingly (and clearly) directed my steps to join the YoPros leadership team. Through class on Sunday mornings, small group, and several different social events, I have been encouraged and excited by the many new friendships I am building. There are days I still feel very alone and yearn for deeper, more meaningful connection, but I trust that it will come in time. And all the while, I rest in the loving arms of my ever-faithful and ever-present Heavenly Father, the most meaningful connection of all.
Round two of my challenge hasn’t quite gone as planned, but I am chugging along and not giving up. These past couple months have been overwhelming, to say the least, as I’ve experienced a strange mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. I’ve received a lot of different reactions from meeting both old and new faces. I’ve simultaneously entered new territory and old territory, and it’s been a lot to process. At times it feels like I’m a whole new person. I may look and feel different than I did for the first 26 years of my life, but I am the same person. And though it may often feel like nobody around me truly knows me, what I’ve gone through, or where I’ve come from, I’m reminded how awesome it is that God knows every little detail of my life. Everything I’ve been through, and everyone I’ve met, has played a part in who I am, and where I am, today. And the journey never ends. Each of us has a story which God is continually shaping for His purposes and His glory! You never know what may be on the next page 🙂