Born right here in Concord, North Carolina thirty-some years ago, I am the younger (by only six minutes) to my identical twin sister, Alicia.  I believe having twins was so overwhelming for my parents that they never thought twice about having more children.

                  I spent all of my childhood in church.  I started in the church daycare at 10 weeks old – it was a Free Will Baptist Church – which I still don’t know what that means except girls couldn’t wear their hair short or wear bathing suits.  Nevertheless, my sister and I were blessed with an amazing day care/Bible school teacher who later became our Godmother, and her husband, our Godfather.  She taught us Bible verses and songs that I have kept close at heart to this day.  I even sing them to my children.  I didn’t realize it at the time, or even years later, but I know now that she was one a few real disciples in my life.

                  My sister and I were close as young children.  We were dressed alike and really I felt like we were one. I remember answering to Alicia’s name many times.   We continued in church right through high school.  When I was seven or eight, we moved to a Baptist church.  My mother took us to church. I am so thankful that she did even though my dad was not active at church at all during my youth.  Church was mostly a Sunday thing for us.  There was never too much discussion or even praying at home. 

                  At the age of 10, some deacons came out to the house and asked Alicia and me a series of questions about Jesus being our savior and if we were ready to be “saved” and then baptized.  We both said yes without too much discussion otherwise.  So we were baptized on the same Sunday night during that summer.  We became involved in youth at church and I remember going to Liberty College for camp every summer.  We absolutely loved that camp and I will never forget my first experience with feeling God’s presence truly with me.  The camp counselor was giving the sermon, there were songs and a thunderstorm booming all around us – it was amazing.  I don’t remember the sermon but I remember at that point longing to know God deeper and wanting to make better choices to please God.

                    My junior and senior year of high-school, I ventured away from God, and really just lived to have fun.  Brian and I started dating when I was almost 16.  I knew of him even in elementary and middle school and even though it was young love, I knew at that age that he was the one for me.  He went to college at Western Carolina University due to his full athletic scholarship as a baseball pitcher.  A year later, I followed him there.  Finally, I had divorced Alicia (ha ha), and would soon marry Brian;  but not until law school.  College was great in a selfish way because I gained my own identity.  No longer a twin, I now saw some of the advantages.  Like when I visited my sister at N.C. State – it would freak everyone out and vice versa.  And one time when home from college, we even tricked Brian.  While managing to make good grades and do good in college, I continued to stray from God and church.  I still believed in God and prayed at night, but He was not the priority in my life.  I like to think of this as a time he carried me for sure.

                  Brian and I were married his 2nd year of law school – March 4, 2000.  We lived in Angier, North Carolina outside of Raleigh for 3 years while Brian finished school at Campbell University.  I worked in the staffing industry there and continued in legal staffing/recruiting in Charlotte for five years when we moved back home after Brian finished law school. 

                  It wasn’t until October of 2008 that I felt like I had a true AWAKENING from GOD!! AND now my  eyes began to open if only a little bit…. To a MIGHTY GOD THAT LEFT ME WITH NO DOUBT ABOUT HOW MUCH HE CARES FOR EACH OF US INDIVIDUALLY.  I had been in church at University City United Methodist Church in Charlotte since 2003.  Brian and I had been on several couple retreats and I had just finished a series of “in depth” Beth Moore studies.  In this month, Brian was planning to go on his first men’s retreat called “Souly Business”.  A friend had asked him several years earlier, but it wasn’t until this year that Brian felt the “nudge” to go.  I was fully supportive of him going.  As we prepared for that weekend (October 4-6), I was totally unprepared for what was to come.  You see, on our wedding day, we wrote and recited our own vows to each other, and one of those vows was the promise to be loyal and faithful all of my days married to Brian.  So while Brian is gone on this retreat, and several days prior, I started hearing IN A LOUD VOICE, you must tell Brian about the times my last year in college that I was unfaithful to him, even though we were not yet married.  I always thought that I could hide that, repent to God, and since it was done away with before marriage, it did not need to be shared.  Why would I hurt him and chance losing him, were my thoughts?  But this voice was so loud, screaming in my ear, that I had to tell him, no matter the cost. I couldn’t sleep because of my conscience for the first time in our 8 years for marriage.  It had to come out and there could be no secrets between us. 

                  So Brian came home from Souly Business on October 6, 2008 a changed man.  He was on fire for God and I could tell by the few phone conversations that we had that weekend that God was moving him in a huge way.  When he got home, he told me so many wonderful things that a wife longs to hear.  The whole weekend was about intimacy with God and thus intimacy in all relationships, especially with your spouse.  It was about knowing each other at a deeper level and striving to put God at the center.  We could both feel God working in the most astonishing way.  And from my end, we knew that our relationship could not go where He wanted it to go without honesty.  So at the same time that Brian was at a very high point in his walk, I had to tell him about the times during my senior year in college that I had been unfaithful.  This was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do, knowing the risk of losing him – and maybe not losing him physically but losing his trust, and breaking his heart. 

                  After we talked, Brian forgave me right away.  I knew it was real and the next 2 weeks of our marriage was like something you read in a book.  We were inseparable – I don’t mean just sexually – but it was like we had just met and were seriously longing to be together every moment of the day.  I remember just going to Brian’s work and hanging out so I could be near him.  I never do that.  God was showing us his intention for marriage and a glimpse of heaven, I’m convinced.  I felt true intimacy with God and Brian.  We could not put down the Bible and we could not be apart.  It was AMAZING!

                  Now it wasn’t long until these extreme feelings started to go back to what was normal for us, which is still awesome, but not like some extreme high that you never wanted to end. It wasn’t long until we were being attacked by Satan.  And truthfully, since then our marriage has had more struggles than the whole first 8 years.  But the good news is that we are committed to putting God first in our lives even though we fail often.

                  So here we are almost 4 years later, excited to be on this journey, and a part of a church that wants us to move away from that bubble of comfort and truly live for God. It is our hope that our eyes can continue to be opened a little at a time to what God has in store for us and our children.

Brian and I used to sing a song together called “Rivers of Babylon” by Sublime.  By the Rivers of Babylon, Where He sat down, and there he wept, when he remembered Zion…So let the words of our mouth and the meditation of thy heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Verai.  This is also Psalm 19:14 .  It is one of my favorite verses and one I try to live by.

                  Since 2008, I believe my thoughts have changed in that I look at everything with so much more purpose.  And everything matters now… from the encounter at the grocery store to the people you welcome to your home, to changing a diaper….  It all has value in His big plan for our lives!