"I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast towards you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
I HATE CHANGE. I'm going to run away every Sunday and go by myself to church, even if I have to walk the whole way.
I literally thought that the day my parents told us were leaving our church of seven years. I had grown up in that church, I knew everyone there and everyone knew me (taken we had less than a hundred people). Us kids played football, baseball, mafia, cops and robbers- pretty much every game we could think of every Sunday after church.
The snacks were excellent and the sermons and worship were good. Some of my closest friends went there, plus the guy I liked at the time…It was a place I felt comfortable being myself. It was my place, my church. <3
I couldn't imagine any other place being as good as ours. I was upset and uncertain, even afraid, of what our new church would be like.
So, I turned anti-every-other-church and vetoed all the options. I closed myself out and refused to like any others. I don't know what I was thinking, hoping that maybe we could go back if I was unagreeable enough!
One Sunday, we visited this church called the Rock. We were greeted with warm smiles and happy faces. After the service, we hung around outside (there were donuts!!) for a little while and then went home. As soon as my mom asked us what we thought of the church, my response was something like the following:
The church was too huge (they had four services and five campuses! How were we gonna meet people??), the songs were foreign and new and I didn't know any of them. And soo energetic (at our old church, we had a guitar and a cajon if we were lucky) and loud! The singers were jumping up and down and moving around, and oh, there were lights too. It felt too much like a concert to me.
But I had to admit, the sermon was pretty good (we'd been sitting in "adult service" since we were three or four)! The pastor was funny and held my attention throughout the service, didn't speak way too long, but beyond that, what he said was challenging. Of course, I had to add something negative to that, so I mentioned how fast the pastor spoke (like a hundred miles an hour)!!
Well, fast forward, the rest of my family loved it, so our parents decided this this was the church we'd stay at. I was still pretty skeptical, but at least I was starting to learn the songs!! We went to this church for about eight months before I started meeting people and liking the church. Our parents literally had to force us to go to Youth group one day in September! I have to admit, I wasn't too impressed at first. It was some back to school party thing with a lot of dancing and stuff, but what I really wanted was a good, heartfelt message. I got that the week after, when my parents again had to force me to go! I remember this Asian guy giving us high fives as we walked in and eating pizza, which was actually reaaally good!
My sisters and I stood around by ourselves for a little while, I think the Youth Pastor talked to us for a little bit, and then the service started. This lady named Eden was giving the message, which was really powerful. She then invited anyone who wanted prayer to come up to the front, where the small group leaders were standing. I remember being overwhelmed by this…this sudden and strong urge to cry, to go up there. I started to cry, though I had no idea why, and…I went up to this lady, Sindia. I think that I had been crying not just from general anxiety, but also because it took so much energy to be negative to everything and I was just exhausted - physically, mentally, and especially spiritually - and so I just broke down that day.
Sindia held me as I cried, and then she prayed for me. I'll never forget her words to me, and that day a special bond grew between us. I love her so much, and am so thankful for her!! That day I found my first friend - her. After going for a few weeks after, I realized I did want to keep coming. Making friends my age proved to take longer, but it helped when my sisters and I became student leaders and joined the worship team (I love you guys with all of my heart!!) After getting to know people, I realized just how real they were. They loved the Lord just as much as I did, and I knew they would be there for me when I needed them. I also found out that they had lights on the stage because they wanted to do everything they could for the Lord, and that they wanted to give their very best in everything to Him, and wanted to kind of copy what Heaven would look like! I met many of the adults on the worship team, and I saw just how genuine they were being and how much they loved the Lord. I've also pretty much memorized all the words to all the songs, too! xD And the pastor? He had to talk fast because he had so much good stuff he had to say!! I've also come to love the energy of the church and the youth. And the nice thing about big churches is that there's always someone new to meet and reach out to!!
Before we changed churches, I had always dreaded and hated change. After going to the Rock Church for a while, I've been able to see how good our God is!! He truly does have a perfect plan for us, and He definitely brought us to the church we needed to be at during this season and part of life!! The Rock Church has changed my life in so many ways and the Lord has broken so many strongholds in my life through this amazing church. Now, when I am faced with change, I look forward to what God has in store for me and try my best to trust that He has an amazing plan - because He does! He has an amazing plan for you, too!! :)) Don't be afraid of change, because God's gonna turn it into something good. Trust Him.
I also want to give a shout out to my fam at the Rock. Saying I love you is an understatement- you guys are amazing!! I can't wait to rejoice in Heaven with you all…it's gonna be AMAZING!! And a huuuuge thank you to my parents for making us go to Youth, and to my sisters for sticking by me!!
Sindi- Thank you for showing me how to love well and for challenging me to do things I'm afraid of!! You are such a blessing to me!!
Pastor Jesse- Thanks for loving on us and being like a dad to us!! I've learned so much from you and I am so, so grateful God let us have you as our YOUTH pastor for a period of time! We'll miss you so much!!
Tarynn- Thanks for being my first non-adult friend and, in a way, for taking me in! :)) You're amazing, sista!
Ty- Thanks for showing me what a leader looks like! You have much wisdom, and it's an honor to call you my friend!
Cynthia- Thanks for praying for me, loving on me, and being there for us!! Ily!
Andie- Thank you for showing me courage, true hospitality, and for always smiling! Thanks for encouraging me and gently pushing me out of my comfort zone. I have learned so much from you and you are such a gift to all of us!!
Arianny- Thanks for being one of the nicest people I've met - but also the funniest! Thanks for not letting me stay where I want to but pulling me out of the shallow side. I am so thankful for you!!
Kai, my Asian momma - Thanks for showing me courage and how to stand up for the people you love. You are something special and I hope you know that!!
Will- Thanks for showing me bravery. You were never afraid to share your story, pray for someone, or just be real. You inspire me, brother :)
Aliyah- Thanks for showing me how to be fearless and for being such a happy person :) you are such an encouragement to everyone and thank you for being there for all of us all the time!! Ily!!
Kaaria- Girl, you amazing! Thanks for always finding ways to make me laugh and feel better about myself. Don't stop being yourself!!
Jai- Thanks for giving us high-fives all the time xD and for reminding us to laugh and love the Lord but thank you for also caring for everyone. You go, big brother!
Paola- ahh, where to start? You are amazing! Thank you for reminding me of who I am and for showing me true humility, love and gentleness. And laughter. You have a passion and love for Jesus that's truly amazing! ILY!
Leo- Thanks for loving everyone as they are and for showing me that niceness has no boundaries! And thanks for putting up with us, "Dad"! xD
Yahaira- Thanks for encouraging me and for always making me laugh in the craziest ways!! Ilysm!!
Sophie- I am constantly inspired by you!! Thank you for showing me how to worship without holding back. You are such a joy, sister!!
Seth- Thanks for reminding us all to laugh and for reminding us to look for the good!
Ness- Thanks for being friendly, kind, and so talented! You are amazing at what you do!
Pablo- Thanks for being friendly to us and for always making us laugh. You're so encouraging and welcoming and honestly, I'm so inspired by ya!
Josiah- Thank you for caring for others and for your love for Him :) I always feel so safe around you, and I love our deep talks soo much.
Adrian- Maybe I don't know you that well, but you showed me a true servant heart! You're so ready to help others and you're amazing at working the sound!
Tommy- I don't know you that well either, but thanks for being open to other people's ideas and for never seeming to give up, and showing us how to truly be respectful and patient.
Asher- Thanks for showing us how to be fearless and how to use your gifts for the Kingdom! Keep it up!
Elijah- Thanks for encouraging me and for continually pointing us back to Christ, and for keeping us on our toes!
Jade- Thanks for accepting me as who I am and for reaching out to me :)) you da best!! Ilysm!!
Lucy- Thanks for playing soccer with me all the time and for reminding me to let go of my own desires! (And thanks for holding my water for me all the time, haha!)
Ms. Tina- Thanks for mentoring us and teaching us how to lead worship!! You are so amazing!!
Ms. Ashley- Thank you for always being there for us and for being so understanding, loving, and encouraging! We love you so much and are so grateful for you!!
Mr. Duhn- Thanks for always being ready to step in and serve when there's a need. We appreciate you!
And to everyone else I've met, talked with, served with, and worshiped our Lord with, I love you all and you have made a huge imprint on my life. I am the person I am today because of all of you. Thank you for accepting me as who I am and showing me how to be more like Him.
Thanks to my family at the Rock and especially the Lord Jesus Christ, I have finally found home.
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart;
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"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."