The Lord drew my heart to an understanding of the Gospel through a children’s picture book that my dad read to me when I was seven. I’ve shared that detail as part of my testimony for years without grasping the significance, but it’s now my favorite part. Books have always been a huge part of my life, and I think the fact that God used a children’s book to reach my heart illustrates how much He knows and cares for each of us and can meet us exactly where we are. I was baptized several years later at the age of thirteen and soon began working in the horse program at a Christian youth camp where through service, staff Bible studies, and community my faith was encouraged and strengthened.

But as I grew up, I struggled more and more with doing “good” for the sake of appearances and serving the Lord out of a sense of duty as opposed to joyfully walking in his footsteps. It wasn’t long before my identity was wrapped up tightly with my work and with the goals that I accomplished. Between the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2014, I saw my hard work pay off as several dreams fell into place over the span of six months. I got my dream job working full-time at the youth camp and signed a three-book publishing contract. It felt like if I worked hard enough, I could do whatever I set my mind to do.

Of course, that’s not what happened! (Thankfully!) Instead, the new few months proved an enormous challenge as those goals I’d worked so hard to achieve became a source of incredible pressure and stress, forcing me to recognize my own limitations. Only after a serious car accident resulted in multiple surgeries and a lengthy recovery period was I able to pause long enough to begin to see just how far my heart had shifted away from simply trusting and resting in Christ.

Since then, the Lord has been shaping my heart in so many ways, drawing me away from my natural inclination toward works and helping me to rest in faith upon His perfect work instead. To know that my identity is revealed in Him and that I am beloved before I do anything. I came to The Village Church Denton in the fall of 2017 and knew that I’d found my church home and wanted to get plugged in immediately! I’m pretty sure my enthusiasm slightly overwhelmed the sweet people at the Connect table, but I soon found a home group, started volunteering with Middle School and High School students, and over time felt drawn back toward serving vocationally in children’s ministry. It is a joy to live and serve among such a faithful and loving community!