While I was writing this journey and collecting my thoughts, I was reminded of God’s grace in bringing my family to Orthodoxy, as well as seeing that I am grateful for each part of the journey. I am truly thankful to have been raised in a Christian home by wonderful, loving and God-fearing parents. I grew up attending a Protestant Missionary Alliance church. Although it was defined as non-denominational, the theology is Baptist. We attended church regularly and I enjoyed attending Bible study all through K-12. When I was about 5 years old, I distinctly remember going to my parents and asking to say the “printed prayer” and asking Jesus into my heart. I am especially grateful to have met my husband Tim there many years ago in the school program. When I was 10 years old, I decided to get baptized as a profession of my faith in Christ. As I grew into my teen years and my faith grew, I knew there were parts of my religion that I would continue to not feel complete or have peace about. There was a fair amount that didn’t make sense to me and questions that went unanswered. When my husband and I were dating towards the end of high school I started attending the Presbyterian church with him. We had many conversations about our faiths. I felt like my faith wasn’t complete, things were missing, and there were still questions that I couldn’t really get an answered.
Once we were newly married, we went through a period of time that we didn’t attend church on Sundays but continued going to the Bible study. We felt like “church shopping” wasn’t getting us closer to the truth, and church politics continued to be problematic. Tim’s late uncle who lived in Michigan is Orthodox and would talk often with my Father-in-Law about his faith. They would discuss different books about Orthodoxy and talk about Theology. My in-laws attended the mission parish in Salem, and I remember having discussions about Orthodoxy but not giving much thought to it or taking it too seriously during that time. Little did I know that Orthodoxy would be in my life to stay.
We had gone to an Anglican Church a couple times and I appreciated the reverence there. I realized that this had been missing from church and was a crucial aspect for me. After graduating from dental hygiene school, I met Amanda Black, a parishioner of St. John and we both agreed that we had very similar personalities and really seemed to hit it off. She invited us to the midnight Liturgy on Christmas Eve of 2017. It was such a beautiful service and although I had no idea what was going on, with the incense, candles, chanting, and reverence, I felt at peace and at home. I had truly not experienced that before in all the times I had attended church. After talking with my husband following the service, we both felt the same way and were drawn in.
We started to attend St. John after that. I didn’t know what was going on during the service at first, but I felt at home. I had many conversations about Orthodoxy with Amanda at work, and I would ask her a lot of questions trying to get a better understanding of Orthodoxy. A lot of aspects felt unfamiliar and even uncomfortable in the beginning, but I knew that I had found the Faith. As time went on through attending the Basics to Orthodoxy classes and church, I was finally able to have clarity about unanswered questions and the things that didn’t make sense. I feel that Orthodoxy is simple but extremely deep and I have been so grateful that Christ has allowed me to start chipping away at the many layers. By God’s grace my husband and I were baptized on February 23, 2019, and about 3 weeks later our first daughter Evelyn was born. What a joy it is that she was able to be baptized twice, once in the womb and once in the church! Exactly one year later we were married in the church and shortly after found out we were pregnant with our second child. I am so grateful for the rich blessings that Christ has bestowed upon my family and even more grateful for His timing. I have been blown away at the vibrant community of St. John, and I feel so privileged to be a part of it now as I continue my Orthodox journey.