In 2008, I only came to Charleston to help my parents move and get settled in. I was ready to go home, having been sick for over a year with no known cause. My mom begged me to stay. So I told her I’d apply for one job—just one—and if that didn’t work out, I was going back to Miami, Florida. I got on the computer and typed “children’s ministry job.” The first that popped up was at Seacoast Church. God was at work.
I interviewed at Seacoast and received a job offer. Two weeks later, doctors at MUSC found cancer in my thyroid. Even though I had been at Seacoast less than a month, my boss came to the hospital and sat with me and my family all day.
“I’m seeing your mind like a tangled web, and God is going to unravel every single thread.”
The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. I underwent radiation and waited and prayed. The whole Kidscoast team treated me like family, even though they barely knew me. They not only fed me, prayed for me, and encouraged me, they fasted with me when I couldn’t eat certain foods because of needing a full body scan. But then God performed a miracle. The scan showed the cancer was completely gone!
Still, I had almost daily panic attacks. I knew I needed help, and God kept whispering to go see Julie Hiott, Seacoast’s Care and Counseling Pastor, but for over a year, pride kept me from obedience. Finally I went to see her and told my story. She said, “Honey, that’s a lot. I’m seeing your mind like a tangled web, and God is going to unravel every single thread. One at a time.” So began my inner healing. I learned to fight in prayer and listen to God. I learned to constantly ask myself, “What is true?” Not, “What do I feel?”
Surrendering your fears
In 2010, I met Brian Crittenden. He was patient and kind, hilarious and committed to growing closer to Jesus. One day, he came to my house with a bouquet of lilies—even though I’d told him I hated flowers because an ex-boyfriend always bought them for me whenever he hurt my feelings. Brian said, “God told me to bring you these. He wants to redeem every single thing in your life.” And God truly does. We just have to let him.
Still, when Brian asked me to marry him, I had a full blown panic attack. Yep, hyperventilating to the point where he asked if he needed to take me to the hospital. Ladies, find yourself a husband you can breathe through a paper bag in front of! I thought marriage would make me feel stuck. Instead, marriage to a man who loves Jesus has made me more fully who God created me to be! And he continues to help me grow closer to God.
Surrendering your dreams
After about a year and a half into marriage, we started trying to have a baby. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. A group of wonderful women at Seacoast prayed over me and Chelle Fazal was one of them. She said, “You are not too broken to be a mom.” God had hit on my biggest fear and pronounced it a lie. Soon afterward, I became pregnant. But we lost the baby. And then we lost a second child. Still I held on to my faith, knowing God was the same today as he had always been. God has solidified three truths in my heart. He is good. He is kind, and He is a Protector. Over-reasoning and worrying must fall to these truths. My third pregnancy brought us Avonlea. She is living, breathing proof that God keeps his promises.
When Avonlea was a year old, I stopped working at Seacoast. I cried because Seacoast was my sanctuary, my refuge, the place where I found rescue. But God was teaching me that he was my sanctuary. He was the source of my safety. I fought against the perceived inactivity, the need to be seen, the lie that doing was more important than worshipping. But God tore down every lie. And during that season, he gave me my sweet baby boy, Lincoln.
God truly does want to redeem every single thing—no matter what stage in life we’re in or what trauma we’ve experienced. We have the choice to grow closer to God and see for ourselves that he will do abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.