Saturday, June 9, 2018
I was introduced to Remnant Fellowship at age seven after my parents had taken their first Weigh Down class in 1998. Our family joined Remnant Fellowship through membership in 2000. We worshipped in our house in California through conference calls and then webcasting. I do not have many memories of my life prior to joining Remnant Fellowship but what I do remember are the physical changes that my parents made with their weight and the spiritual changes in their behavior. There was less anger in our household and my brothers and I were learning how to be under authority. I remember as we were all changing, we would be out in public and strangers would comment on how well my brothers and I were so well behaved. This was a direct result of how our parents were seeking God and teaching us. But learning how to be completely under authority took me many more years.
My family was able to move to Tennessee when I was eleven years old. During this time, I still had self-focus in my heart and had a very quiet personality. Although I possessed some fruits of the spirit, I did not fully grasp the concept of having a relationship with God. I went to church with my parents, but I was not listening. This self focus progressed throughout my school years and I grew into anti-authority with my parents. I ended up with a negative attitude that lasted throughout high school and for a time I was tempted with worldly desires.
After not finding solace in the world, there were many talks with my parents and I decided to start following a right path. On some level I knew that I always wanted to be a part of a Godly community and to be married in our church. I started college and began to make positive changes. I experimented with what my parents had to say about living for God, and it still took me a few more years to be completely under authority. I tested this with my schooling and saw the blessings and consequences for both listening and ignoring their guidance. I could not argue with the fruit I saw from obeying their godly counsel. I was only able to make it through my university studies with their direction instead of trying to do things on my own.
"I saw her beauty inside and out but more importantly I saw that she had a relationship with God." - Parker
Another test shown to me during my time in college was exposed in the form of dating. Sarah and I had known each other for a few years but we got to know each other well in college. We spent time together carpooling to school and hung out with the same friends. I was still working on being rid of negativity and my past brash nature did not sit well with Sarah. During my learning period we eventually became close friends. We had encouragement from ALL our friends to date one another and one day I realized I did have feelings for Sarah and I could see what everyone else saw for both of us. I saw her beauty inside and out but more importantly I saw that she had a relationship with God. I knew that this was something we could both share and have a future together. God allowed some testing for me and through the midst of this testing, I knew I had to trust in God. I decided that I was going to be under God's authority no matter what and I was able to finish college and get a job all through the guidance of my parents. Following all of this, Sarah and I began to date.
Sarah not only has external beauty, but a beautiful heart. She shows me a love that I do no feel I deserve. What drew me to Sarah was her respect for authority and her desire to be a part of everything at church. She has always shown love to her parents by valuing their decisions. She enjoys volunteering her time at church and makes sure her friends are included. Sarah and I just completed taking the Weigh Down Basics class together with some of our family and members of our Fellowship Group. Through this class I have learned to wait on God’s timing instead of making fast decisions on my own. Sarah has also helped me in this by leading me to pray about every decision and seeking authority’s direction. I know the decisions we make to seek God together is what will keep us unified.
One of the things I am most grateful for in life are the friendships I have made. I have so many close friends that are unified in serving God together. Our friends and I want to be close to our parents and we do not desire to move away from them. I have been exposed to those who are seeking to be away from their parents and move away from their families, chasing careers and money. Living for God and His will is what has given us meaning and purpose for life. I know I will have the same friendships for the rest of my life because we are all unified in our love for God. This is something that I share with Sarah's sister, Rebecca, and her fiancé Jeremy. Rebecca has been a constant encouragement to me and others through her selflessness. She is always looking for what she can do to serve others and has the kindest personality. I feel that Becca has already been my sister for years. I have gotten to know Jeremy over the last year and witnessed how he saw what our church had through his family and decided to be a part of it. I am impressed with the way he has changed his life and I am encouraged by his commitment. The are both godly examples for Sarah and I and we are honored to be married along side of them in this double wedding.
All of this is possible through the teachings of our church. I am grateful for Remnant Fellowship and to its founder, Gwen Shamblin, for her love for us and for supplying us with the tools that will provide a lasting marriage.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to share all God has done in my life! He is not only an awesome God with power beyond anything on this earth but He is also a good God who is full of true and life giving love. I have so much deep love and respect for Gwen Shamblin, her family, this leadership, and this incredible church because of the true relationship with God that has been revealed here. Not only is this message taught, but I am humbled each day to see it lived out in the families I know and love here.
My family and I joined Remnant Fellowship Church when I was 10, but even at that young age I remember feeling so incredibly empty – and ok with it. As I was beginning middle school, I remember taking a trip from FL to TN (the first of many 36 hour FL-TN road trips for my sisters and I) and meeting girls my age and older who were just gushing with love for each other in a way I had never seen. There was nothing fake, no back-biting, no exclusion or unkindness – I was absolutely dumbfounded. At the time, I didn’t make the connection that it was because of God but I knew I wanted to be around these genuine friendships.
I began to follow the basic principles from the age of 10 leading into college, which gave me a happier personality and allowed me to build a foundation of prayer, but I still wasn’t making the connection that this was about a personal relationship with God. It wasn’t until college that I found myself going down the wrong path- pursuing a college degree that solely fed my own selfish ambition and curiosity, a heart full of greed that left me 15-20 lbs. overweight, raging insecurities, and feeling like I wasn’t making connections with any of the godly people I watched around me. On top of that I was still nurturing deep rooted fears of marriage and commitment to a person because of the examples I had seen before we became a part of the church. The peace I had chased as a child had lost its focus in my mind and I had strayed from the narrow path, little by little, over the years leading to this moment.
"He is a righteous man who values authority and it has been my honor to stand with him and watch him grow into a leader that runs to righteous leaders and God for guidance. Because of this, I have no fears following him the rest of my life." - Sarah
That summer my sister, Rebecca, came to a similar point in her life and I watched her run to God- she made it look beautiful, fun, and the fruit in her life was undeniable. She paved the path and I ran right after her! I decided to get in a class and the one, out of the many produced and written by Gwen Shamblin, that changed it for me was WeighDown Advanced. The class built a true reverence and fear before God that turned into a deep love because of all He was showing me through denial and obedience to Him. WeighDown Advanced is based on weight loss, which is what I originally ran to it for, but the fruit it produced was far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. God allowed me to humble myself and switch careers halfway through college leading to the wonderful and completely undeserved job I now have, He allowed me to lose almost 20 lbs. along with the heart wrenching insecurities that left me in tears and without peace nightly, through obedience to Him and laying down insidious fears of marriage God allowed me to meet the man I get to marry… all of this brings me to tears because I know better than anyone how completely undeserved each of these gifts are- but that is the God we serve.
I cannot express enough how each test, each patient moment, each “sacrifice” made (I put this in quotes because it seems absurd now to call it such) was so worth it! I was someone who firmly believed that I would never “fall in love” and I was positive that, if it were possible to love someone that, I could never stay in love. It’s truly unbelievable how, in the most personal of ways, God allows me to fall deeper in love with Parker each day. I could never imagine a love like this that only gets better– throughout the dating and engagement, God allowed little tests and situations that the two of us have gotten to walk through together. I tear up when I think of this truth we are taught here…. We actually get to learn how to make our relationships better? Not only that but I absolutely adore his family with all of my heart! They have been family to me over the years I’ve known them, and they have only grown dearer- I am honored to know Mark and Therese Jost and I’m blown away that I get to be related to the firmest examples of humility, hard work, and finding true joy in every aspect of life. They have revealed even more of God’s character through their lives and I have grown in my relationship with Him because I have gotten to know them.
The debt is beyond words for all my beautiful, dear, loving, godly, golden mother, Pamela Gunger, has done in my life; she moved heaven and earth to ensure that Becca, Rosie, and I knew the true God and did everything she could to make sure we were a part of the church that taught and lived it. She has been a rock and has shown me that following God’s lead, no matter what it is, is the most beautiful and true thing one can do in this life. Because she held fast to the truth and to this church, I have a foundation of love from the heavens that has made my life richer than I can ever imagine. It is a gift beyond words and I am humbled by it.
It was, in fact, through my mom and her close friendship to Therese Jost that Parker and I originally grew close as friends. The two of us grew closer working together, taking family trips all over the world together, making sure our mother’s harps were in the correct location (practices recitals, even the occasional trip down to Florida), carpooling to college together, all this transforming quite suddenly into the most beautiful relationship. Being a part of Parker’s life has been beyond a dream and something I could never have articulated well enough to pray for. He is a righteous man who values authority and it has been my honor to stand with him and watch him grow into a leader that runs to righteous leaders and God for guidance. Because of this, I have no fears following him the rest of my life. I love him and I know this is a great and wonderful gift from God to marry a man focused on the heavenly kingdom.
In a hundred years I couldn’t have planned a more wonderful moment then the one Parker gave me on a perfect sunny morning on Natchez trace, in front of my favorite flowers and my family hiding behind the trees. Only 36 hours before I was helping my future brother in law propose to my sister, so when Parker got down on one knee, it was the biggest, happiest surprise of my life...made even more so when my family burst through the tree-line to celebrate with us. Just when I was thinking there was no way I could be happier, God flooded my heart with inexpressible joy and it will always be my favorite memory, surrounded by my family and friends and my favorite person in the world.
The capstone to all of this is the wonderful gift of getting to be married alongside two of the dearest people to me. My sister, Becca, has been such a back bone for me throughout my life and she has shown me a superior example of how to walk with God by following the examples of our leaders here. She is my sister and my true best friend and it is a kiss from God that I get the chance to share this day with her! I am overjoyed to have met and gotten to know her fiancé, Jeremy- he has shown me so much of what loyalty to God means and I will always hold close to my heart a quote from his YCO show, “point my feet where you want me to go and I’ll run. God, just show me the path.” (You Can Overcome Show) And I can faithfully say that he has never wavered.
I am honored to know the couple I get to stand with on this beautiful day and I pray with all my heart that it is a true thank you back up to God for all He has done in each of our lives! May He be pleased and may these unions forever glorify Him!