Today's testimony is by one of my dearest friends Hillary. I met Hillary around 13 years ago when she was in college at the U of A and Laurie and I were leading College Bible Studies when we were in our mid 20's. Hillary became one of our best friends and we were in each other's weddings and we have traveled together many times. She always makes me laugh and I can talk to her about anything. We live about 3 hours apart now and I wish we were closer so our girls could be BFF's and so we could be together more. She is a faithful, Godly woman and I am so blessed to call her a best friend.
Hi! I'm Hillary. I'm wife to Josh, momma to Sadie, 2 and Sophie, 3 months. When Kelly asked about sharing my testimony on her blog my immediate thought was how boring my testimony is. I don't have some radical transformation story. By the world's standards my life before I became a Christian and my life after I became a Christian weren't all that different.
I'm so fortunate to have grown up in church. Church has always been a part of my life. When I was little I lovedSchool, Children's Church, and choir during the school year and I loved vacation Bible school in the summer. One summer, during vacation Bible school, the preacher was speaking about becoming a Christian. He mentioned things about "knowing" and "believing" Jesus and about spending eternity with Him. The preacher asked us to say a prayer if we wanted to be saved. I knew I didn't know exactly what he meant by all that but I also knew I wanted to be saved. I believed in Jesus and I truly loved him with as much love as my 8 year old heart could love. I remember after praying the prayer and meeting with the counselor at church everyone made such a big deal out of my new "profession of faith." Seemed silly to me. I just assumed everyone believed in Jesus. My sweet naïve little self.
Over the years the Lord really blessed me with amazing Christian friends. It was easy to follow Him when everyone around me was following Him too. We all went to church, listened to Christian music, and did and didn't do the things we were supposed to. College was a defining time in my walk with the Lord. I started out my college career at Baylor University in Waco, TX. I am so thankful I was able to go there as a freshman. I met some amazing friends and had the best freshman year imaginable. The beginning of my sophomore year things in my heart started to change. The reality of my "sheltered life" started to kick in. Everyone I was around was just like me. Even if you weren't a Christian you acted like it or said the right thing because everyone else was. People were good at the talk. I realized that I was really good at the talk but I wasn't really walking in my faith. I wanted more and I needed more. The Lord kept working on my heart and in January 2000 (after the Hogs beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl...WPS) I went to Waco, packed my things, and moved to Fayetteville. It had nothing to do with Baylor. It had everything to do with me and needing a new environment.While at the University of Arkansas I really feel like I started to connect with the Lord for myself and not because it was the right thing to do. I met lots of people who weren't just like me and that was wonderful. I was fortunate enough to pledge Tri Delta at the U of A and move into the Tri Delt house. I loved being in a house full of girls who were all so different. Some loved the Lord, some didn't. It's not that I wanted people to be unsaved. It's just I wanted and needed to be around people who were real. If they didn't believe they didn't pretend. It helped me make sure my faith was authentic and not legalistic. I am so thankful for that time in my life. It finally became a choice of mine. I wanted to grow in the Lord. I wanted to be in Bible studies and to go to church. I no longer did some of these things out of obligation but out of choice. I chose to do things that honored the Lord because I loved him. What a feeling.The Lord was so faithful to me and continued to bring people, churches, situations, etc into my life that helped me grow closer to Him. I experienced ups and downs like everyone else. My biggest area of growth came after college in my days of singleness. *cue sad music* At the time EVERYONE was getting married and I wasn't even dating. I felt pitiful and pathetic. Waiting was not my thing and yet I was forced to wait, and wait and wait. At the time it felt like an eternity but looking back it was no time at all. All I wanted was to be a wife and ultimately a mother. I wanted a good Christian man who loved me and loved the Razorbacks. Was that too much to ask?! Looking back I now see that I drew closer to the Lord and our relationship was the sweetest during that time of singleness. Being single was hard. Or let me rephrase that. The fear of never getting married was hard. It was a true fear and it sent me straight to Jesus. Looking back I will forever be grateful for that time.
I do praise the Lord that his will for me was not singleness. I was introduced to Josh through a mutual friend. I will be honest, I really liked Josh but Josh was a youth pastor. Hmmm...a youth pastor. I wasn't sure being a pastor's wife was the thing for me. I actually wrestled with it for awhile. I didn't think I'd be very good at it and I wasn't sure I wanted it. God brought me to the place that I knew Josh was the one for me and His will for my future. Because of that, His will was also for me to partner with Josh in ministry. Josh and I married in 2008 and we still serve in the same church we started in together. Being in the ministry is tough. It's amazing but it's tough. I'm so thankful God has called us to this place but it is not for the weak. I wouldn't trade it though. God continues to bless us through His ministry. When church is all around you there must be a conscious decisions to seek the Lord apart from the "job". That's not always easy.
I will confess that the first real hit in my relationship with the Lord came when I got married. My new role as a wife changed things for me. I wanted to stay close to God but it was harder than it had been. My time and attention were shared with a husband. It was a hard balance to achieve and I didn't do well at it.
In April of 2011 my second dream came true. Sadie Lauren was born into my life and changed my heart forever. In some ways I finally saw a tiny glimpse of the love God has for me, His daughter. I could hardly fathom that He could love me so much more than I could ever dream of loving my daughter. How is that even possible? Yet it is.
I'm so thankful the Lord blessed me again this past July. Sophie Lee became my second daughter. How did I get so lucky? A husband and 2 baby girls? Someone pinch me. The Lord had given me the desires of my heart.
Being a mom had connected me to the Lord in an amazing way. I have never in all my life been this vulnerable and exposed. So much to gain and so much to lose.
All this leads me to now. I'm going to be very real when I saw I really struggle right now in my walk with the Lord. My heart desires so much to be with Him and grow with Him yet life makes it hard. I've been learning to give myself a break. Some days spending time with him consists of a short devotion on my phone while other days might lend a more in depth conversation. The importing thing is to be with Him. God first, Josh second, my sweet girls third. That's hard for me but I'm learning. It's a process.
Although I felt my testimony was boring I now realize that there is nothing boring about a sinner saved by God's grace. My story might not be as exciting as someone else's but it's my story. God has done and continues to do so many things for me. That could never be boring. I pray that I will live a life that honors the Lord so that one day my daughters will have a testimony of their own to share. I'm a work in progress but I am blessed.