I grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, a small town right on the edge of the farm plains of North Dakota and the lakes country of Minnesota. I grew up a Lutheran home, going to the same church for 18 years that my dad grew up in. I considered myself a christian, but it didn’t mean much else to me besides not doing a bunch of things I thought I wasn’t supposed to do. I genuinely believed that Jesus was the Lord who died in my place, but I didn’t know how that should impact my life or what that looked like daily. I didn’t even know it WAS supposed to change your daily life.
When I was 18 I moved to Duluth, four hours from home. In seventh grade, my grandparents took me on a camping trip up the North Shore, and I knew right when I drove over the big hill and saw Lake Superior for the first time that I wanted to live there one day. So I moved there right when I turned 18. I didn’t want to live on campus, so I got an apartment a 20 minute walk from the university. (You know that old phrase “When I was your age, I had to walk to school in a snowstorm uphill both ways? That was me. Because that’s Duluth.)
I didn’t know anyone in the whole town, or even the entire part of the state. I went to college planning to join a fun outdoors group, craft group, or community group. I was actually planning on NOT joining a college ministry because I thought it sounded boring. But I was invited to an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship event by one of the only people I’d met in Duluth, and I never stopped going. After about a month or two of going, I decided to give my life to the Lord. I realized that Christianity doesn’t start and stop with believing that Jesus is Lord. It starts with that, but after, we are supposed to do something, and let it affect our everyday lives, goals, and mission in life. I started to understand that I don’t have to do certain things and not do others. I don’t have to follow a set of rules to try and live a life that’s good enough. Instead, I’m supposed to be obedient to God because He’s worthy of my praise and because it expresses my gratitude for what he’s done for me.
I met my husband Reed when I was 19, and we got married 11 months later. I was 20 and he was 24. We got married right before our last year of college, and spent a lot of that first year road tripping the country. We traveled to California, Maine, Glacier National Park, Florida, and Arizona. Those are some of our favorite memories. We camped the whole way out of our Honda Civic, so between the good gas mileage and cheap camping costs, the trips were cheap.
We spent our second year of marriage praying for a good job to pay off all of our college debt. Then we spent the next two years working at that “good” job. Reed worked as an engineer on the railroad, and it paid well but they treated you terribly and required you to be gone most of the time. After 20 months we’d managed to pay off 65K of our debt, about 75% of it. Then we found out we were expecting our first baby, and we had to figure out how to get out of the railroad. My husband started his first business, we bought and renovated our first house, had a second baby, and began renovating our second house. That’s a one paragraph summary of five years.
I don’t have an “exciting” testimony, but it’s still important to share. Since then, I’ve gone through up and down seasons. But God says that we are to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2), so stories of slow growth are what God is wanting from us. I know there are people with stories similar to mine. Be encouraged that your faithfulness and not-that-exciting testimony is just as important as the dramatic testimony. And that there is no such thing as a “mature” christian, only matur-ing christians.