I got a phone call today from one of the pastors at 12Stone asking me my story and what led to me jumping in for open baptism this Sunday. I’ve been tossing around the right words since I came from the baptismal. As a blogger I wanted to present my story but it just seems like words just didn’t work! As you know, I posted about the baptism itself, but my expression seriously just doesn’t do it justice. Below is what I emailed to her. She was moved, so perhaps I have the right words and have just been wanting to revise so I can relive.
I was raised Presbyterian. Baptized as an infant and presented to my family church congregation – still have my little pink Bible I was given that day. My father was a elder and assisted my mom as the high school youth leaders. I loved being at my church; always gathering for the typical church potlucks with dish after dish of macaroni and cheese and endless gallons of pink lemonade. I had friends there. Life was “normal”.
When I was in the second grade, my parents divorced. With that, my mom slowly pulled away from the church we grew up in – not all at once, but gradual. My brother and I grew up semi-involved, but nothing like the experiences I had as a child. Through middle school I joined the choir, only to quit after the Christmas program. I joined the handbells because of my musical talents and their need, but that didn’t last either. There was something missing that I just couldn’t find anymore… I didn’t feel anything.
After entering high school I became a twice a year Christian – Easter and Christmas Eve you could find me draped upon the pews. I’d never fully listen, just show up out of duty if you will. The messages never grasped my soul and I longed for noon to arrive so I could get out and get food. My mom and brother joined in on the twice a year appearance schedule out of convenience. Our family just lost the love for church and I lost touch with Christ. I never felt abandoned or alone, I just took for granted the blessings I received as if they were just there and not gifts.
I went off to college at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide) where I became best friends with a wonderful girl who is now married to a wonderful man. They both have amazing faith and love for Christ. I visited their church back in their home town a handful of times, but still didn’t have a connection. I would reminisce about the times I had a church, but couldn’t find what I was looking for – the burn.
Upon graduating from college I returned to Lawrenceville to begin my “adult life”. After finding a job and settling back into life in Atlanta, I decided that I needed to seek a church home – not for me, but for the family I was going to have one day. I knew the amazing experiences I had as a child and felt it was my duty to my future family that I found a home for us even though I was not married, had no intentions of marriage and had no children. So I began my search. I visited the Vine in Braselton and frequented several Sundays there, but then fell out again.
In February 2008 I visited 12Stone for the first time. Overwhelmed by the size of the church, the friendly volunteers, the amazing music it was almost too much for me to take – and then PK began to preach. I listened; held on to every word that he spoke. I learned; his explanations and stories brought everything into perspective. I loved; from five minutes into the sermon, I knew I had finally come home. After that first Sunday I began raving about my new church – the big one that blocks traffic. I invited my mom who fell in love immediately, joined a small group and continues to come every Sunday. I invited my little brother, who struggled with his beliefs for a long time. I am proud to say that I watched him accept Christ last year. My husband and I joined a small group that changed our lives. This “family” has held my hand and helped me understand so much of what I had left behind or forgotten over the years. 12Stone has brought my family back to living Christ-centered lives and I’m forever grateful.
The baptism was something I had wrestled with for about a year or so. I believe that I was baptized at birth when my parents presented me to their church, but wanted to proclaim my love for Christ myself. I struggled back and forth on whether it was the right thing to do or not. My husband told me to ask God, that He would tell me what to do. As much as I don’t want to admit that my husband was right, he was. On the 21st when PK mentioned the open baptism I immediately got excited. I elbowed my small group friend sitting next to me that Sunday and said, “I’m doing it.”
On Sunday, I was beyond excited to be a part of open baptism at 12Stone – so much so that I was the third person to be baptized! The whole experience is something that I will relive over and over for years to come. The volunteers who helped me before, Travis for helping me into the baptismal and being the catalyst for such an amazing part of my life, the wonderful team who greeted me as I exited the church with hugs and dry clothes. Every face is imprinted on my mind forever; every word will ring through my ears.
I also have to thank the lady who honked at me driving by the Gwinnett Braves stadium and giving me a thumbs up and the wonderfully kind lady at Costco for stopping me to share that she too had witnessed my baptism.
I still tear up when I write this down because I’m so grateful of the love that surrounds me everyday I’m a part of the 12Stone family.