|Graphic courtesy Andrew Latorcai|
I was born into a loving Christian home. My mother had been raised in our denomination, the New Apostolic Church, and I became a fourth generation member of the church. My dad had found faith in his youth and was a Deacon in the church at the time I was born. I lived basically what one might consider a normal Christian life. I was baptised and sealed (in our church the receipt of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands of an Apostle) as an infant; and, at the age of fourteen I was confirmed in the church, though I was more excited about joining the youth group than paying attention to the significance of the promise I had made to God. I hadn’t really had many major experiences that affirmed my faith at that point. It wasn’t until sometime later, still in my early teens, that I really felt the Holy Spirit moving.
Come, Oh Holy Spirit, Come
We were attending service in a larger congregation about four hours away from ours. It was a special occasion with two Apostles visiting the area. I had been very sick with bronchitis. I had to step out of the service so my coughing would not disrupt the congregation. Although there were speakers and extra seating areas outside the sanctuary, I was not able to find a seat. I missed the duration of the service and spent the hour praying that God would grant me a special blessing.
Following the service, the ministers greeted the congregation members. I shook hands first with one Apostle, who smiled and said. “Hello. How are you?” before moving on to the next individual. I then shook hands with the second Apostle. He paused for a moment and looked deep into my eyes. Then, raising his hand, he placed it on my head and said, “God bless you!” I began sobbing immediately and fell into my nearby Evangelist (our pastor, if you will). I was overcome with the Spirit and with joy at receiving the special blessing I had longed for. This was a defining moment in my life.
Jesus is All the World to Me
As any child would, I had my zig-zagging moments of following and rebellion. I was not a "bad kid," but I made my share of mistakes. When I was eighteen, I began dating a long-time guy friend from high school. He was of a different faith and my dad did not approve. Being eighteen, of course, I thought I knew everything and did not believe him when he sat me down and warned me about this boy. Our relationship moved ahead at lightning speed and we were engaged within the year. I had been praying that God would move his heart and that he would accept our faith, but he did not. Even when I prayed, I had pain in my chest and a lump in my stomach as though I knew what I was asking for was not God’s will, but I continued just the same. Unbeknownst to me, my parents and my congregation and friends were praying that this relationship would end. It did, just short of one year in, at the end of May 1999. I was devastated. Little did I know, God was about to teach me one of the most important lessons I would ever learn.
I was the only youth in my congregation. One of my best friends had married young and she and her husband had invited me to spend some time at their home and later join them in a Christian young adults gathering. I was happy to go along. I was feeling lost. I was lonely and wanted to be loved. At the young adults meeting, we sang praise and worship hymns and discussed the Bible, of course. We also chatted about the topics that affected our lives at the time and shared resources such as books, music, etc. I was really interested in learning more about God’s design for dating and relationships. I’m not entirely sure how I found it, but eventually I bought and read the book Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones. It is a study of the Biblical book of Ruth. I had already been taught that Jesus was my spiritual bridegroom, but hadn’t really given it much thought. Through reading Lady in Waiting, I began to realize that the only “man” I needed in my life was the Lord and that only He could fulfill all of my needs. I became hungry for His word, bought an NIV Bible which was easier for me to understand than the King James Version, and began to devour it!
Cut to Labor Day Weekend 1999 – I was now twenty years old. It had only been three short months since my relationship had ended with my former fiancé. Our church was having its yearly Day of the Youth weekend. This one was to be held in my home state of Montana with youth from the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan attending. A common underlying theme of these youth weekends was to find a partner in life. (My parents met at a Day of the Youth in Kitchener, Ontario in 1975.) I had decided that I didn’t want to meet a guy and if I did, I would just have fun for the weekend and that would be the end of that.
God has His own plans.
As I mentioned earlier, at the time I was the only youth in my congregation. As I did not yet drive, it was arranged that the Canadian youth would stop in my town and pick me up to ride on one of their buses with them to our host city. The appointed time came and I boarded the bus. I knew one of the youth and his parents (*who just happened to be Lacey’s brother and their parents) on the bus and decided I would sit with his mother, but then…well, God has His own plans. I got to chatting with some of the other youth and my eyes met those of a young man. We had met before on another youth weekend two years prior and again when I visited the City of Lethbridge on Spring Break from college. We started talking and were inseparable for the remainder of the weekend. Two years later on August 19, 2001, my husband Michael and I were married. I had waited on God’s timing and looked to Him to be the source of all I needed and He blessed me with a God-loving faithful husband. We will celebrate our twelfth anniversary this summer.
Just as God Leads Me, I Would Go
In the Summer of 2005, my husband and I and our two small children made the move from Edmonton, Alberta to a smaller town in the southeastern part of the province. I had not wanted to move there as I quite enjoyed the diversity of our large congregation and the amenities offered by a bigger centre. Still, we went and I did my best to adapt into the new area. I never felt completely comfortable there and had a difficult time trying to fit myself into the new congregation. Our children were only two years old and nearly four months old when we arrived. My youngest was especially colicky and I had a difficult time gaining much from the services through his cries. The children grew and soon I was back singing in the choir and helping out in other ways in the congregation. Yet, I never really felt completely a part of the church family. Several years into our move, we began to experience challenges in the congregation. These challenges grew to the point that our faith was severely tested. We sought out strength from a minister from another area. Within a few years’ time, we began to travel from our city to Lethbridge to attend services. Many times we were asked, “Why don’t you just change denominations? Surely there must be another church in town you can attend?” Truthfully, and I can only speak for myself, the thought did cross my mind. If we are all one body of Christ, then why can’t I try somewhere else? However, the promises I had made on my Confirmation Day and the days of my children’s baptisms and sealings came back to me, as did the fact that I believed in the power of the living Apostles in our church. I could not give up, even though I was weary.
Our family continued to travel, every Sunday, to Lethbridge for services sometimes staying overnight in a member’s home, only missing one or two due to weather or financial difficulties. (It was quite expensive to travel four times a month.) Every time we left the services with joy in our hearts! The sermons moved me more than I had been moved in years. I really felt such a connection to the Lord there and felt so much love from the congregation members.
Eventually, we knew we would have to make a decision about whether we were going to continue to make the trip or try to go back to our former congregation. My husband applied for jobs in Lethbridge. During that time, he was also up for a promotion with his current employer. He is a very loyal person and so, when he was offered the promotion, he took it. The other jobs did not come through. We continued doing as we had been.
In September 2012, our congregation celebrated a Church Thanksgiving Day. On this day, the service was particularly touching to me. Many members of the congregation, myself most definitely included, were in tears. I felt a stirring in my heart that maybe, just maybe we were to move to Lethbridge.
On the way home from the service, my husband shared with me that the night before when he had attended a gathering with one of our ministers, a man who was the pastor at another church began asking him questions.
He asked him, “Do you know what you are supposed to do with your life?”
To which my husband replied, “I need to do God’s will.”
The pastor then asked him, “What is God’s will?”
My husband responded, “I don’t know.”
Then the pastor said, “I think you do, I just think you’re too afraid to do it.”
When my husband shared that with me, I realized that I was the one that was afraid. You see, during the time we had lived in our other town, I had become a doula and established my practice, which by this time was just beginning to thrive. I had made some wonderful friends that I didn’t want to leave behind. I also am not the greatest when it comes to change. Stability is a value that I was raised with and was very important in my family. Still, I was moved by what my husband had told me. So, when we arrived home, I held my Bible in my hands and prayed that the Lord would show me exactly what he wanted for our family.
I opened the Bible to Judges and my eyes fell to Chapter 1, Verse 2:
The Lord answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”
That was my answer. My husband received confirmation of a job in Lethbridge shortly following and we moved to Lethbridge in October 2012.
Come to Jesus
God has taught me so many things and he continues to show me more each day. I am so thankful for my parents instilling faith in me from the start. I am thankful for my wonderful husband, our children and our new church family for all of their love and support. God does great things, we need only to place our needs in His hands and fully rely on Him and His loving Son. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for us all that we may live. May I always remember that when things seem toughest, all I need to do is come to You.
Come to Jesus is performed by Chris Rice