Saturday, June 9, 2018
My life has been forever changed since the ﬁrst day I began putting God ﬁrst in my life. Growing up, my mother brought us to a lot of diﬀerent churches and even at a young age I can remember not understanding some of the contradicting messages we heard. The things I would see and hear never aligned with what I would read in my Bible and the teachings of Christ. None of the churches we went to had any answers and I began to dread the very thought of going to church. Having a relationship with God sounded scary and weird.
Even through my later teenage years I considered myself a Christian, but it was really just an empty label I would use when it suited me. I rarely listened to my Father’s instruction and forsook all of my Mother’s teachings living a self-indulgent life of sin, pain and guilt. I was living indarkness with a greedy pride-ﬁlled heart as hard as stone.
In late 2016, I picked up a then dusty Bible my Mother had given to me around the time I had graduated from high school and found a letter she had written still tucked away in it. After reading the letter I was stunned at how consistent and loving she has always been. Reﬂecting back on the time since the letter was written, I could trace every squandered opportunity and disappointment I had created in my life to a choice of sin and self indulgence over God. The scales fell from my eyes and I knew that no matter what it would take, I needed to stop sinning immediately…so I reached out and began webcasting the Remnant Fellowship Church services with my Mother, Genny, and sister, Amy.
Putting my pride aside, I realized that everything I was hearing through Remnant Fellowship Church was the truth and that this church is diﬀerent. There is absolutely nothing more important than ﬁghting for a relationship with God. I strongly felt that God was urging me to get closer to connect with members of Remnant Fellowship and so in February of 2017 I was blessed with the opportunity to move down to Nashville joining my Grandmother Helen and sister, Ellen.
"…I am beyond grateful for all the blessings that God has bestowed upon me. First and foremost was meeting Rebecca Gunger—not in a million years could I have dreamed up such a beautiful and perfect partner to spend my life with." - Jeremy
In the passing months I was learning so much more about what true Christianity is by watching people around me putting God's principles into practice everyday. Learning how to be led by God, always looking inward at what I needed to change and then maintaining an upward focus on God constantly. I still carried a lot of guilt from things I had done in the past, but I was able to let go of it with the knowledge that true repentance is putting truth into practice and being obedient to God. My heart has truly been healed and is now full of love and gratefulness for God and his church.
My faith has only been strengthened through the messages I’ve heard at Remnant Fellowship and all of the examples around me. I am beyond grateful for all the blessings that God has bestowed upon me. First and foremost was meeting Rebecca Gunger—not in a million years could I have dreamed up such a beautiful and perfect partner to spend my life with. She has a true servant’s heart, and is so full of love and kindness that it lights up the room when she walks in. Her love for God and dedication to his church is always so encouraging. The word of the Lord is always on her lips, never failing to have sweet and gentle words ready for everyone she meets. I look forward to the days ahead without worry and doubt and having full confidence because of the truth that we are taught here.
I am more and more grateful to God with each passing day for all He has done and continues to do. I am honored to testify that God Almighty really is a good, loving, kind, and generous God, and truly anything good in or seen in my life is a direct result of pursuing a life lived in love for God and then others.
I grew up in a small town called Niceville, Florida where my parents gave us an amazing childhood. But, from a very early age, I was desperate for my peers’ approval, and running after people’s approval was doing the opposite of what I thought it would do. I wasn’t filled up at all- rather, I was exhausted from sleepless nights, beat down, sick with constant worrying and anxieties, extremely self-absorbed, and while happy and positive at school and events, I was exceedingly irritated and negative at home, which led to deteriorating relationships with my parents and sisters. We were doing a lot of church hopping around this time, but by 12 or 13, I was ready to quit the whole church idea all together. Thankfully, right in the middle of all this, my mom was invited to attend a Remnant Fellowship service. I was very skeptical at first, and I remembering wanting to see if people there were for real, if someone could really be that joyful and have a relationship with God.
The resource that changed it all for me was the Legend to the Treasure class- a profound class and Bible study written by Gwen Shamblin that came out in late 2007-early 2008. A lot of the filming was done in Destin, just a few miles from where I lived, and I was intrigued by the theme of searching for God and discovering what I really treasured. We got to meet the Shamblin family on one of these filming trips, and I was struck by the love they showed to each other and everyone they came into contact with. Later, watching the class, I remember one of the first questions Gwen asked in the videos was “where is your ship headed- for the peaceful shore or for the rocks?” That totally got my attention. The class completely transformed my perspective, and a relationship with God became everything to me. I began wanting to be around people who prized and sought after that as well. We moved to Tennessee in 2008 to be closer to this amazing community, and ten years later, I am so grateful to say that I have gotten the privilege of growing up at Remnant Fellowship. There are so many examples of people with real relationships with God from the leaders to the youth group and seeing that year after year has made all the difference for me! I am happier every year, more grateful, more in love with God and others. Instead of being obsessed with getting everyone’s approval and feeling empty and lost because of that, I now focus first and foremost on getting God’s approval, and then He gives back favor in astounding ways. My relationships with my parents, especially my mom, and sisters are healed. God has totally taken care of my studies and career. I have a full-time job I absolutely love and have zero student debt- all from putting the principles we hear every week into practice. I can’t say it enough, but I am sincerely thankful. I feel like I was at a crossroads and about to head down a very dark and empty path, when God mercifully guided me to a new, lesser-traveled but so much more purposeful, happier, and peaceful road. I pray to stay on it for the rest of my life!
"The biggest blessing has definitely been my relationship with Jeremy Kaunisto. I prayed over the years for whoever God had for me..." - Rebecca
The biggest blessing has definitely been my relationship with Jeremy Kaunisto. I prayed over the years for whoever God had for me, and I kept opening up to scriptures all the time of God providing, so I did pray that God would bring whoever he was right through the church’s doors. At the same time, I got the amazing opportunity to become more involved in helping with the church’s youth group which brought so much joy and fulfillment to my life. Learning to serve the church and others around me by watching the genuine examples of the youth group leaders—the Hannahs, the Stites, and the Walters--and putting it into practice made life so full, that not being in a relationship wasn’t that big of a focus for me anymore. And that is right when Jeremy walked through the doors of Remnant Fellowship church, literally out of the blue. I met him on a Wednesday night right after he moved, and I remember being so impressed and moved that a guy his age would walk away from everything he knew just to pursue God and be around people seeking right living. A few months later, the timing worked out, and things came together so instantly! I quickly fell in love with his humility, kindness, attentiveness to others, but especially his desire to do what’s right before God. He is a man of his convictions and true to what he believes in, not easily shaken or uprooted. The way he dove in and changed his life continues to convict me to this day. He made such an effort to get to know and serve my friends and family (even our infamous set of Collies), and everyone loved him straightaway. He is so much fun to be with and an amazing cook to boot, but most of all, a God-fearing man with an incredible heart, and I am so looking forward to a life by his side!
I was pretty sure early on that he was the one for me, so when he proposed after five months of dating, it was an easy and happy yes! I have always loved Ashlawn estate and have so many lovely memories there, as Gwen has generously opened up her home on many occasions over the years, but getting engaged there is my new favorite. I am overwhelmed by the love God and so many have shown to us on that night and continue to show to us, and I pray to emulate that all the days of my life.
I am so grateful that Jeremy’s the one I get to share this life of finding God with, and that God brought a girl from the Gulf of Mexico and a guy from the Great Lakes together in beautiful, perfect Tennessee. I am so excited and honored to get to marry him at my favorite place on earth with my favorite people on earth. My sister and I have done everything together as long as I can remember, and she has been my best friend since day one. Her boldness, bravery, humility, selfless love and steadfast focus on the big picture have profoundly helped me over the years through many trials and tribulations, and I can’t believe we get to take this huge step together in a double-wedding ceremony! I have cherished her fiancé, Parker Jost, as a brother these many years, and he is the answer to my prayers for Sarah. He is so generous, thoughtful, steadfast, servant-hearted, and not to mention, one of the funniest guys you’ll ever have the privilege of meeting. I couldn’t love the Jost and Kaunisto families more, and to now all be family, is an amazing gift from God I pray never to take for granted. God really has worked for the good of all of us and pointed us to the peaceful shore. I pray the four of us give back this love and serve God and His church all the days of our lives.