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“I grew up in public housing in Detroit, Michigan, where I was nine of ten children. For as long as I can remember, I was competitive. I wanted to get an education and go to college, and I made my life about striving for excellence in school, sports, and performing arts.

“Raised only by my mother, we only went to church during holidays and didn’t talk regularly about Jesus. I started attending a church for a free lunch program in my early teens. The woman who hosted the program, Becky Chamberlain, also created a small children’s choir, and I quickly participated. The time she spent with us leading the choir was also an opportunity for her to teach us about Christ and the church. I loved being at church, and as I grew older, it was a great place for me to be to stay out of trouble. I still didn’t know what having a deeply personal relationship with Jesus meant.

“I was the first one in my family to go to college. I was so focused on myself, and I did what many college kids do: join a sorority and party. I also aimed to achieve excellence. I pursued a degree in engineering because I felt like that was my only way to get out of public housing and become independent.

“Of course, there were a few detours. I switched universities and returned to my hometown in Detroit to finish my degree. Jerome, my high school boyfriend, was also in our hometown. We reconnected, joined the same church I was involved in as a kid, and eventually got married while we were in college. Soon after, we had our first baby.

“Still focused on completing my degree, we strived for the American dream to make enough money to buy a house and a car to add to the marriage and children. While we were part of a local church, without a heart relationship with the Lord, I became even more susceptible to sin. I later found myself in a very prideful situation when our marriage started to struggle, and I stepped outside of our marriage and had an affair. It was disastrous.

“But we were still part of a local church, and it was the church community who stepped in and helped us realize what we had in our marriage. Then, they begged us to go to counseling.

“The Lord in His sovereignty introduced us to a couple who did marriage counseling. This couple reintroduced us to Christ and reminded us how important it is to have a relationship with Him.

“Through these Christian marriage counselors, Christ broke us down and helped us rebuild. I realized that if life and relationships were up to me, I would mess everything up. But, if I give my life to Christ and surrender my heart to Him by trusting and walking with Him, things can be different.

“On the journey to healing, I reconnected to Christ in a way I never had before. Knowing that Jesus forgave me for such an egregious sin made me want to know more about Him. This is when I felt my striving for status slowly transform into surrender.

“I realized that God desired to be close to me. It’s why ‘the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John1:14)’, to wash away the stain of sin, close the gap between darkness and light, welcome us back into relationship with our Creator, and invite us into His service.

“I joined a Bible Study class and surrounded myself with others who loved the Lord. And for the first time in my adult life, I understood the gospel more deeply on a personal level.

“Jerome and I have celebrated 38 years of marriage instead of separation and brokenness. Over the years, we have lived in six different states, settling here in Texas. We’ve always sought to find a church home and community first because we know that living our lives for the Lord in the context of the local church is paramount to the success of our relationship. And as an engineering director at work, I no longer strive for status but glorify Him through my actions (Colossians 3:17), including having conversations about the gospel with coworkers.

“God’s faithfulness is unparalleled. As a child, I loved being in the church, but I didn’t know that even then, He was walking with me. Through college, infidelity, and motherhood, He never left me. He is always there for me. Just as I have experienced God’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace in my life, I now pass that on to others by sharing my story. He was so faithful to me, even when I was not (Romans 5:8).

“This Christmas, may we find our love for Jesus refreshed and renewed as we remember He left heaven itself to draw near to us – and may we move toward others in love as a result. Let us draw near.”