I have a beautiful life that I wouldn’t change for the world. I was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ Forever. I was raised with a balance of love and discipline. I was also raised to fear Almighty God, which is the beginning of wisdom, and who wouldn’t want a life full of wisdom and the blessing of God? Some may call how we were raised “strict” but Jesus himself said the path to righteousness wouldn’t be easy: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The Lord blessed me with athletic ability and from a young age I was involved in many sports. I thought sports would be my focus through high school and into college. However, by my early teen years I was diagnosed with a spinal condition and I was facing the possibility of surgery. My hopes, dreams and future suddenly came crashing down, at least that is what the teenage me thought. Who among you doesn’t have confidants or people you go to, to seek guidance or perspective regarding circumstances in your life, especially pivotal moments? While you might go to a devoted friend or relative, I found comfort in being able to go to my pastor and youth pastor to gain perspective and direction during this challenging time. This was the beginning of building a relationship and absolute trust with my pastor and other church leaders. While often instruction and direction was given, there were plenty of times that the only advice was to go to God, pray earnestly and let the Lord show me.
Ultimately, I had an extensive operation and unknowingly this began to unfold the bright future that I’m now living today. Through the direction of God and counsel of my pastor, I used my experience as a patient to fuel a passion for healthcare administration. What was initially thought as the worst thing that could happen to me, soon became the best. My Master’s program brought me to Chicago and the Lord opened many doors along the way. My first position outside of graduate school was at the very hospital that I had my surgery. I now have the ultimate guidepost as an administrator, to never lose the perspective of the patient. Another door that was opened due to following the direction of the Lord: meeting my husband!
I have now been happily married for almost 4 years. I met my husband playing beach volleyball in Chicago! My wonderful (and handsome!) husband is a licensed architect and also has a degree in civil engineering. He works at a renowned landscape architecture firm in Chicago and leads many complex projects across Chicagoland and in neighboring states. Did he attend our church when we met? No. Did he start to be curious about God and my faith months into us dating? Yes. Any relationship that is being built should be built on commonality and shared beliefs, how else can you expect to build a home that has stability for yourselves and future children? As many Christians do, I believe that God has the perfect helpmate for each of us. I prayed about my husband while we dated, that he be the one God intended for me, or if he wasn’t, that the relationship wouldn’t work out. I also spoke often with my pastor to get guidance on how to build this relationship in the goodness and cleanness of God: I wanted the blessing of God on the relationship. You know what often was my pastor’s advice? “Jazz, just let yourself be loved. I can’t say if he is or isn’t the one for you but God will show you in time.” We did fall in love in the purity of Christ and we were married after over a year of dating. He was and continues to be an answer to many of my prayers!
Over the years my husband and I have continued to pray, fast and seek wisdom and counsel for our marriage and household. We’ve been blessed with a strong marriage, flourishing careers, and this past year we were doubly blessed. After praying and seeking to know God’s will, we knew the time had come to consider moving out of the city. Finding a home that was in our price range, within commuting distance for work and not a complete fixer-upper, was going to be a tall order. The Lord provided. Our church family dedicated countless hours and resources to make our house a home. The timing of this blessing could not have been more perfect as we welcomed a beautiful baby girl later that year. Children are the blessing of the Lord and we strive every day to raise her in the fullness of love and the beauty of Christ.
Truly the goodness of God is unto those that seek to know His will and walk faithfully before Him.