The Pastor's Daughter
When I think of someone sharing their testimony about finding God, I tend to think there is more often a “rags to riches” type of story. One was lost, now they’re found. I don’t have that story, at least I don’t see it that way. Growing up I think my childhood was pretty average, from what I remember. My parent’s divorced when I was 8 and a few years later my dad and Sheryl started seeing each other. Sheryl was already a member of a great church and the only memories I had of going to church before her, was when we would visit family over the holidays. Then it became more of a do your hair, wear a fun dress, be proper…. Not completely ideal for a kid! So when my dad told me we were going to start going to church on Sundays (I spent weekends with him), I was hesitant. From what I recall, it wasn’t bad at all. I think at that age I fell into the in-between of drawing in the bulletin and actually listening to the message.
As time went on, we went more. I went through confirmation classes. I remember to complete confirmation I had to be baptized. I think I was about 15 at the time. I never actually sat down and had a conversation with God that I wanted Him to lead me in the way I lived and let Him know He was the guiding light in my heart but I knew I had to do that before getting baptized. So I did. I don't remember having any type of overwhelming "aha" type of moment - I think I'm just not that type of person. I was calm, I was at peace.
Fast forward many years… I spent a few years at college, became a little bit of a partier, and didn't always make the best decisions. I was young (in my early 20s) and I was invincible. I still had a relationship with God but it wasn't a priority. In 2010 I found out I was pregnant. I don't like disappointing people and I really thought that's what would happen when my family found out. I was 24, not married, in a rather up and down relationship - obviously not the ideal situation, especially for a pastor's daughter. I remember standing in my dad's office one day at church and he looked at me and said, "Whitney, you're such a smart girl. How could you let something like this happen?" I replied with, "It was God's will!" Really that was me being a smart alec and trying to get out of an uncomfortable question, but really it had to have been the truth too!
I believe that God brought me Annalise in 2011 to be my saving grace (her name even means "by the grace of God" and for good reason). As I said, I was making poor choices and am truly lucky my family never received a call that I was found somewhere or went missing. Getting pregnant and meeting Annalise was the wake-up call I needed to get back to my relationship with God. Without her, I don't know where I would be, or if I would even be alive today.
My relationship with God has grown and I now have the ability to teach my daughter to have that same relationship. I watch her learn and even teach me about Jesus' teachings. I watch her face light up as she hears songs or stories about God and she can tell me what happens before the story ends because she says "Oh I've heard this one!"
I'm not perfect. We don't go to church every week. I make mistakes, I sin. I am definitely not the poster child for a "pastor's daughter.” But I do give thanks to Him EVERY SINGLE DAY, I show compassion and give, and I walk with faith knowing that God is leading me in the direction that He knows to be best!
My flesh and my heart may fail,
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