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.
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.