Sunday, November 24, 2019
Forest Green, Heather Grey and dark neutrals
To start, I must say that I will be forever thankful to my parents for moving our family to a community that loves God and lives it out daily. That said, the pertinent part of my story begins at the age of 11. I am the eldest of five children…the Jackson Five if you didn’t already know. At this point in my life I was seeking joy and dreams, but with no true direction or purpose. I had a heart that wanted to do what was right, but I fell prey to anger, lust, and a controlling nature at a young age. Then in 2006, we started webcasting with the Remnant Fellowship Church Assemblies, and this is where the evolution and start of my relationship with God began. After a few months of listening to Gwen Shamblin Lara teach about the Bible and what it means to have a relationship with Him, I came running to my mother, crying, wanting to be humble, look inward, and truly start seeking God on my own. I wanted a fresh start for my life! For the next few years I dived wholeheartedly into seeking God, with the benefit of a homeschooled life and the sweetest, God-fearing parents. To have this base of knowledge and daily practice of seeking God was wonderful, but when we moved to Tennessee and I began attending high school, the testing came, and it was apparent that I was still not giving God my ALL. I squandered God’s time, swaying back and forth between doing what I wanted and then seeking God, only to gain false-confidence and again falling prey to pride, lust, praise of man etc. All the while I was pretending that what I was doing was okay…because I was comparing my life to those in the world and making excuses for myself instead of comparing my life to that of Jesus.
By my senior year, I was much more interested in sharing my testimony and answered prayers for attention than I was in actually seeking God’s will and living each day to bring Him joy. I was focused on friendships, extracurricular activities, and academics more than I was on building up God’s Kingdom.
I’ll sum this all up to say this…by the time I entered college I was bearing a selfish, prideful, stubborn heart. I literally thought I knew better than everyone else… bringing my parents, and more importantly God, much embarrassment. By my senior year I had diminished most of my friendships to rubble, destroying relationships through my pride and laziness left and right. What was once a God-fearing, joy-filled, first-to-jump-up-and-serve pre-teen had become a 22-year-old young man riddled with depression and hopelessness from my paramount pursuit of self. This was reflected in my home life: playing video games to escape when I should have been delving into studies, fighting with my parents and brothers, running off onto adventures in the backcountry that I couldn’t afford for the sake of “getting a moment with God,” but if I wasn’t willing to seek Him at home why would I find Him out there? I was broken. I had cursed myself into a despair that seemed inescapable. The straw that broke the camel’s back was asking my mother to transfer 10 dollars into my account so I could make the drive home from school while purchasing a burrito from Moe’s with a coupon.
Enter October 17th, 2017. Gwen Lara’s sermon hit me so hard that I’ll never forget it. Gwen spoke about having one focus. She said something along the lines of, “If you can simply focus and narrow it down to getting one thing mastered, then move on to the next, you can do this.” I had heard something like this so many times from that stage, but on this day, with a broken spirit, my ears were finally open to hear it. After that sermon I knew my focus was divided and I needed to narrow my focus, with seeking God being the priority and taking care of my finances being next in line.– Seth
Enter October 17th, 2017. Gwen Lara’s sermon hit me so hard that I’ll never forget it. Gwen spoke about having one focus. She said something along the lines of, “If you can simply focus and narrow it down to getting one thing mastered, then move on to the next, you can do this.” I had heard something like this so many times from that stage, but on this day, with a broken spirit, my ears were finally open to hear it. After that sermon I knew my focus was divided and I needed to narrow my focus, with seeking God being the priority and taking care of my finances being next in line. I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing when, after running it past my parents they advised I drop my classes and get my heart right. That doesn’t seem logical, does it? BUT…it was God’s lead and the right choice. I immediately started changing things; I had been offered a job earlier that week and I started soon after. I started helping more at home, paying rent, keeping myself accountable. I also began checking in with Spiritual Leaders more regularly and so much GOOD fruit came from that. By December, God had brought stability back into my life. I was actually joyful, I had a passion for Him, for life, and I was serving my family. I began rock climbing as a hobby, got back into photography a bit, and life was overall blessed. THEN in January, while not looking for a relationship at all, God put Emma right in the middle of my path. I was in awe of her sweet demeanor and loveliness. We went on a walk together that ended up being a whole day together. Then in March of that year I asked her out for a date. We both learned a lot about each other, but after time, and with some reflection, we decided to take a break. I used this period of time as a catalyst to continue what I had started in the Fall previously: Checking in more often, re-learning how to put myself last, truly valuing others and their time, and dialing in on getting my heart and finances refocused. During this time, I started off by distancing myself from Emma, then becoming good friends, sharing about what God was doing and needs in our lives. I was granted a few opportunities to drive her to school or to work, and it was in these times that I started falling truly in love with her heart of selflessness. Then in January of this year (2019), I came home to Emma spending time with my family after I had finished a long shift, and with a sweet nudge from my mother, I walked Emma to her car on that cold and rainy night. It didn’t take much, and by the time we got to the car I was expressing my affection for her and within a few days we had begun seeing each other again, but with a much different tone. With God now being FIRST this time, a spirit of selflessness and maturity flowed between the both of us. We truly got to know each other, she got to meet my family, and we fell more in love with each other. Throughout the summer, we spurred each other on daily towards righteousness as we worked together through many hard physical and spiritual tribulations.
NOW, moving to July of this year, we had both started new jobs outside of the restaurant industry which allowed us more time to fellowship, which included less time seeing each other…all of which required more effort and selflessness to grow together. We stuck it out and grew even closer, with talk of a future together seemingly more and more often. In August we had begun planning a trip to Maine and the east coast to visit her family and explore the Colwell family’s stomping grounds. Then God opened my eyes to consider this as a perfect opportunity to ask for her hand in marriage. I procured a ring, my great-great aunt’s ring and planned with Emma’s mother Julia to surprise sweet Em. After having dinner with Emma’s family and asking her father’s permission for her hand in marriage, I brought up the idea of a sunrise hike to Beech Hill, reminiscent of our first date that took place in the early morning hours at our local Percy Warner Park. It was better than one could have ever imagined: surrounded by blueberries, overlooking the ocean, basking in the orange light of the peaking sun, and greeted by the occasional fluffy dog. With the awe and reverence of an Angel, Emma expressed that she didn’t think that moment could get any better. Then I asked her, “Then what about no more goodbyes?” She burst into tears of JOY and LOVE and we danced to my ridiculous humming on the front porch of this cottage…in awe of the life that we get to live. It feels as if I live in a movie that never ends, and I am so thankful for that. I am thankful for those who have stood by me steadfastly and helped me when I needed it most, waited patiently on me, pushed me to do the right thing, and reminded me to be humble when I least wanted it and most needed it. You know who you are. Above all, I want to thank God for His patience and for allowing me a chance to pursue Him with a helpmate by my side. I am so undeserving. With love and adoration to my family and friends, I sincerely thank you for hearing my story, and this is only the beginning!
Before anything else, I want to express how incredibly merciful and generous God has been throughout my entire life and how honored I am to even have a testimony. Any good fruit that has come from my life has been a direct result of God’s benevolence. I also want to thank the amazing family, friends, and Church Leadership who have been so patient and constant in love and support no matter what.
My wonderful mother, Julia Colwell, felt led to move our small family down to Tennessee from Maine in the late Summer of 2015. We didn’t know where we were going to live, and during the few days it took to drive to Tennessee, the incredible Langsdon family heard of our situation. This family, who had never even met us, opened their home to us. I cannot adequately express with words the generosity of Joseph and Maria Langsdon and their entire family. We were blessed to live with them for over two years, and the lessons I learned and continue to learn from them are invaluable.
In all honesty, it took me a few years to make the decision to be here genuinely in my heart and to wholeheartedly strive for a relationship with God. As soon as the choice was made, however, the blessings were abundant! As I now look back on the time I spent in stubbornness, I realize that God was gently trying to show me the incredible blessing that moving here had been. I don’t know (and don’t want to know) where I would be without Remnant Fellowship and all the loving guidance I have received from Gwen Lara through our Leaders and other Saints. I also know that I have so much farther to go spiritually from where I stand today.
While attending a Weigh Down class in March of 2018 at the home of Hunter and Allyson Day, I met Seth Jackson. The first few things that struck me about this wonderful person were his lightheartedness, authenticity, and understanding. We started talking and we eventually dated for a few months before realizing neither of us were truly ready to be in a God-glorifying relationship, and so we decided to take a break. This time of introspection brought all of my failed tests to the surface, and God allowed me to be humbled to the point of that one choice; do I stay and go all in with God and His Church, or do I give up? Thanks be to God and the amazing people He has put in my life that I made the decision to go all in for Him. Throughout the break, I had gotten closer to the Jackson family, because no matter what, they always felt like home…an extension of my family. Their warm-heartedness and love for God are so abundant and undeniable.
This time of introspection brought all of my failed tests to the surface, and God allowed me to be humbled to the point of that one choice; do I stay and go all in with God and His Church, or do I give up? Thanks be to God and the amazing people He has put in my life that I made the decision to go all in for Him. Throughout the break, I had gotten closer to the Jackson family, because no matter what, they always felt like home…an extension of my family. Their warm-heartedness and love for God are so abundant and undeniable.– Emma
After passing through that time of deep reflection, I found myself in the middle of the pack again; and guess who else was there… Seth Jackson! During this entire time, we had both been working at the same restaurant and had become friends. However, I had given up the thought of any long-term relationship with him for many reasons. Nevertheless, in February of 2019, I found myself at Mrs. Rebecca Jackson’s birthday dinner, sitting next to that same wonderful man I had thought would never in a million years want to date me again. But this night was the start of a renewed relationship.
It had been a desire of my heart for Seth to meet my family and see where I grew up, and in mid-September of 2019, that prayer was answered! My amazing mother, Seth, and I flew up to Boston and then drove up the coast to Acadia National Park. Before the trip, my mother asked me what I was looking forward to and for some reason, I couldn’t get Beech Hill out of my mind. Beech Hill is a beautiful spot right on the coast…looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. My family used to have picnics at the stone house on the top and fly kites. I’ve just always remembered it as a wonderful memory.
On the fourth day of our trip, we were in the town where Beech Hill is. That evening, Seth met my father and had the wonderful idea of going for a sunrise walk up Beech Hill the next morning. I couldn’t have been happier or more completely blind to the fact that he was going to propose. The sun was just peeking over the horizon when we got to the top. We sat on the front steps of the stone house, prayed, talked about how amazing life is, and laughed. I stated that this moment couldn’t be more perfect…and Seth said “Yes? But what about no more goodbyes?” He then took the ring box out of his jacket and asked me to be his wife. After bursting into tears of joy I said “YES!”
God’s timing is perfect…and I am in awe at how beautiful He has allowed our relationship to grow. Every day I am reminded of how privileged I am to have a person who makes me feel safe to face tests…even if I don’t pass them the first time. I couldn’t be more humbled and honored to get to become part of the Jackson family and spend the rest of my life serving God alongside my best friend. I love you more…Seth David!