I am in the middle of applying for a new job at a local camp, and I had to write a spiritual autobiography to attach to my application. It was kind of fun to do, so I thought I would share it with you. Happy Reading!
I was 5 when I prayed the prayer of salvation and asked Jesus Christ to come live in my heart and be my Lord and Savior. My mother had been talking to a friend on the phone about my brother and his salvation, and I overheard her speaking. As soon as she hung up the phone, I asked her what it meant to be saved. She explained it all to me, and I told her I wanted Jesus. We waited until my father came home, and he walked me through the Gospel one more time before bed. That night, during bedtime prayers, I asked Jesus to be my Savior and forgive me of my sins. I was baptized later that year.
It would be a very happy ending if that is where the story ended, but it was actually just the beginning of my Christian journey. My parents divorced when I was seven, and I started living a life of splitting my time between parents and houses. As I grew older, I discovered music and made it a huge part of my life, singing at church, school, and eventually on a professional level in the classical realm. By the end of Jr. High, I was career-minded and had the goal of being a world class opera singer in my sights. During all of this, I was heavily involved in the church.
While in my freshman year of high school, I began to make poor choices. Most would probably say they were “normal” rebellious teenage choices, but saying that doesn’t make it right or okay. I went to parties, drank alcohol, and kissed boys. All the while, I was attending church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. I wore a mask, lived a double life, if you will. There were people in my life, Christian people, who knew what I was doing, the choices I was making, but no one took the time to point it out to me or keep me accountable. That doesn’t excuse my behavior either, I know. The full responsibility of my choices lied with me. I knew what I was doing and still I chose what I chose. My high school career continued in that way for the most part. The only exception being that my music career continued to take off, so I had less time to make those poor choices.
As I began to look at college, I applied at quite a few universities within Texas and outside of the state. All I wanted was to be at a great music school. My father encouraged me to apply at Houston Baptist University, where he was on one of their boards. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, knowing that I would always wonder if I got accepted because of me or because of the family I was born into. I compromised with him. I would apply to Dallas Baptist University, although I did not intend to go there.
God had different plans than I had for myself though. After hearing back from all of the schools I was accepted into about scholarship money, Dallas Baptist exceeded all of the other schools. He made it clear it was where He wanted me. It was a difficult decision and the last place I wanted to go. It was small. Their music school was not well known. What in the world was He doing??
I quickly fell into the double life role as soon as I landed at DBU. It was here, though, that I found it was much harder to live a double life, in a fishbowl. A few of my new friends weren’t afraid to call me out on my behavior and choices. It didn’t change me instantaneously, but it did stick with me. Their words stuck right under my skin and bothered me every now and then.
During my sophomore year, I attended a night of worship. There was nothing said at this specific night that opened my eyes to the Lord’s calling in my life, but about midway through the worship, I was on my knees in tears. I would say the scales dropped off my eyes that night. The Holy Spirit touched me in a way I had never known before, and I knew I could never go back to my old way of life. That night started a new leg to the journey I was on in my Christian walk. I dropped the mask and began to walk in fullness and truth.
The next two years were a time of growing and changing for me. I immersed myself with God’s Word, and surrounded myself with people who would challenge me. Michael, my husband, came into my life, and I fell in love. It was an exciting time for me. One other change happened in the area of my music. I discovered worship in a way I had never known before. I learned it wasn’t about performance, but about my heart’s cry to the Lord.
Ten years have passed since that time. I have married, had 3 little boys, and moved cross-country to Arizona and back again. I remember who I use to be, but I am constantly looking ahead now, thankful for where God has brought me and how He’s changed me. While in Arizona, my husband and I discovered what we feel is our niche in ministry. I still love and work with music on a constant basis, singing and songwriting now. But God brought us to work with the college group called Element at our church, Highlands Church, in Scottsdale. We realized that it was while we were in college that we really started to understand how much of our lives God wanted, and we love working with that age group. Three years were spent on staff with the Element community, loving the almost 200 of them, leading small groups, and feeding them on a regular basis.
As we moved to Tyler in August, one of the first questions to cross my mind was where would I find college kids to love on regularly. My heart is heavy for them to know the Living God and to walk in the fullness of His grace. We began attending Bethel Bible Church not long after we moved here and fell in love with the teaching and worship there, as well as the people. They started a college group a few weeks later, and we now volunteer with them. As well, my husband and I are both leaders with the new Young Life College group here in Tyler, where we both lead small groups weekly. We are also members of a Life Group through Bethel Bible, which we love.
I tend to be a researcher by nature, so studying God’s Word is something I love to do. Being a mother of three and a wife, as well as working outside of the home, can make it hard to find time, but I work hard to make it a priority. It sustains me. When I miss it, I see it in my day to day activities. If I lose focus on God, I find I am quick to put my focus on something else as I depend on my human nature instead of the Lord. Different from when I was in high school, that is no longer a comfortable place for me like it had been.
Prayer to me is not just asking and petitioning. I tend to put emphasis on praise quite a bit. It’s probably the worship aspect of me. Quite often, my prayers turn into song. I’d like to say I’m great at praying, but I believe I still have areas to work on in the area of prayer just like everything else if I’m being honest with you. I find myself talking a lot, and not listening enough at times. It is an area of growth I am still working on and in.
Our church in Scottsdale had a saying that we stood by, Love God, Love People. I believe that is how my faith is played out around me whether it is with other Christians, or with those who don’t know the Lord. I want to love God and love those around me. I take walking along life with others seriously. Never do I want someone to say, Kelly knew what I was doing and she never said anything to me. She never spoke truth into my life. I want them to be clear on where I stand, with my faith in God and following Christ, and that I love them.
I love that the journey is never over. There’s always another turn in the road, song to write, and lesson to learn. The more I learn about God, the more I realize how much farther I have to go. I want to take each step though, and learn and grow. I want to pass it on to others and see them learn and grow as well, whether it is my own children or somebody else’s. I am called to go and tell, commanded really, and I take that very seriously as well.