Sunday, February 17, 2019
I would like to give credit where it’s due for my life and this testimony: to God Almighty, to His church, to Gwen Shamblin Lara, the Leadership of this church and to my parents. Without them I do not know where I would be.
My story begins when my mother found Weigh Down in 1999 after attending a Weigh Down class, and went to a conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2000 where Gwen spoke. She then joined Remnant Fellowship in 2002 after attending Michael and Elle Shamblin’s wedding, and my dad joined soon after. I was 5 years old, and it was the best decision my mother did for my family and me. So you can say I grew up in this church, but I didn’t grasp what having a relationship with God was like. Yes, I lifted my hands in church and sang all the songs and had them memorized, but deep down I was always quiet, always reserved and wanted to be by myself—I was in my own world.
"Julianne is my biggest answered prayer as she has far exceeded every desire in my heart..” - Zachary
We moved in faith from a small town near Ottawa, Ontario to Regina, Saskatchewan in late 2007 to be closer to Remnant Fellowship members in Canada, which was also a good decision for my family spiritually. Slowly, I learned how to have a relationship with God as I payed more attention to the messages we were taught, and as I grew godly friendships that I still have to this day. Those friends helped me through many large testing times when I was learning how to put God first in my life.
Throughout middle and high school, I was introduced to a battle for my heart spiritually. I got sucked into something I had no idea I was getting into: pride, greed, and most of all, lust. The moment I thought that my relationship with God was going well, I was unknowingly listening to lies and entering the spider web that Satan was spinning on me—just like in the Lord of the Rings—and I was paralyzed. I was failing to put God first and was putting my needs before His needs… there was a great void in my heart that kept getting bigger the more I thought that I was “okay” and that all of this was normal to go after, that it was a phase. But I praise God for the mercy of this Leadership, of my parents, and the Scripture which says in Luke 6:45, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” My parents saw what I was doing, and they sat me down. They talked to me with so much love, compassion and a drive to focus on God that my heart was so moved that it brought me to tears. I realized that what I was doing was wrong. A lot of things were taken away from me to show where my heart was spiritually, and I’m grateful, as it gave me no distractions from truly falling in love with God wholeheartedly and putting Him first.
Fast forward to summer 2016, I got accepted to MTSU with a very generous scholarship—an answered prayer as it was the amount that would allow me to attend—which meant I was moving from Canada to Tennessee!! Before my second semester, God allowed a time of refinement in my heart when I came back home for Christmas. It was a time of deep introspection and cleaning up my heart as I knew I was holding onto things that were keeping me from loving God 100% of my day, everyday.
Two weeks later, I got to be in a Biology class with my soon-to-be wife. Julianne was the only person I knew in this class of 120, which was an answered prayer! Our friendship grew, and I was oblivious of what God was orchestrating for almost 5 months. God knew the desires of my heart of wanting to be in a relationship, but I knew I had to seek Him first. As we have been taught here at the Remnant: “The secret to relationships is not trying to find the right person—it is about being the right person.” - Gwen Shamblin Lara, History of the Love of God. Soon after I sought God in prayer about this desire, He showed me the feelings I had for Julianne. I later asked him to show me a sign from Him that I wasn’t grabbing this relationship for myself. He sent me not one, but two blue jays beside each other while walking on campus at school, and another one that same evening! I knew that it was from God as he tripled what I had asked, and I knew he had answered my prayer!
Through my parents advice, I asked her father if I could get to know Julianne and he was delighted and approved! A few weeks later, I returned to Canada for the summer, to work and spend time with my family. We continued to stay in contact every day through technology, either through texting, video chatting, or through Marco Polo by reading the Bible, The Tablet or The History of Love of God book. In September of 2017, I asked her parents if we could start dating, and they said yes! Our first date was by the Harpeth River, where we read the chapter on Godly Courtships in Volume III: God-Fearing Families by Gwen Shamblin Lara. We were so moved by what Gwen wrote that we determined that our relationship was going to be all about God and pure before His eyes. I share this because 8 months later I proposed to Julianne with the approval of her parents and my parents blessing, a few steps away from where we sat on our first date—and she said yes! On top of that, every day that week leading up to the engagement, God kept showing me blue jays everywhere I went. It was a beautiful confirmation of God’s love and His approval of this relationship. My family was able to be in town, and we celebrated with so many of our close friends that evening. It was one of, if not the best day of my life! God went over the top to make the day perfect—weather, friends and all!
Julianne is my biggest answered prayer as she has far exceeded every desire in my heart that I would want in a God-fearing and loving wife. I never imagined God would bless me with someone like her! She has a genuine love for others, she has always been gentle and full of care, and she knows how to put a smile on my face as she has the best sense of humor! Her heart for God and her perseverance has impacted my life and my relationship with God. I never tire to be around her as she makes me feel better; a bubbly ball of joy! Until I met Julianne, I never fully understood what love was until I started caring about someone other than myself. I praise God for His mercy, generosity and compassion that He has poured into my life, as I do not deserve this life full of answered prayers! He has shown me how real and personal He is, what true love is, and how I can love others! He is the perfect matchmaker, the master at irony, and is the best God to serve!
We have been taught at Remnant Fellowship how to love, how to love God, and how to have successful and blessed relationships. I pray that I love God more today than I did yesterday as I fall more in love with Julianne. May God get all the glory for what He has brought together, as He deserves all the love in the world!
My journey of finding my own personal relationship with God truly began after my parents were introduced to Remnant Fellowship in 2006 where we were taught how to love God above everything else. Of course I was still young and did not fully comprehend just how life-changing it all was. I could mainly see a difference between my school friends in Florida and those who I met while traveling to church festivals and summer camps in Tennessee. I knew this place was home.
Three years later, we had the opportunity to move to Brentwood. It was so amazing to get to grow up around many like-minded friends who always pointed me back up to God. However, throughout the next few years a root of self grew very large in my heart. I was listening to the lies that nobody wanted to be friends with me. Sadly, I relied on food to get me through my pain instead of reaching out to God. The sin kept growing as I constantly fell asleep during church and felt no conviction after amazing messages of truth. Going into my first year of college was the most painful year. I felt that pull for the world more than ever before. Drowning in a murky pool of greed, stubbornness, and lust there was no initial guilt, even though deep down I knew it was wrong as it was kept secret. The summer after my Freshman year, God woke me up. My family and I got in a wreck with our RV. A wreck that could've been detrimental if it had gone any other way. But He graciously spared us that night. In doing so, His spirit of conviction flowed into me as I felt this intense guilt for everything I had been doing wrong. I couldn't hide anything any longer, I felt like bursting. So I confessed everything to my parents. It was hard at first, but then a Spirit of peace was brought over me. I knew it was from God, because after so much time, I had finally listened.
My parents and church leadership alike were very loving as they directed me back into strengthening my relationship with God. Once I had refocused on gaining that love for God back, the blessings started pouring in. I was able to be joyful around my friends and make friendships with new people. My focus on school became better. And my relationship with my family, especially my mom, became much stronger. There were testing times, but relying on God was the key to passing them.
“...through the process of dating and getting engaged to Zachary, my relationship with God has increased in ways I never imagined!” - Julianne
On the first day of my sophomore semester, a friend from church walked into my early morning biology class, which turned out to be my biggest blessing. You can probably guess who it was. I didn't know Zachary very well, but I knew he had a heart for God as it was evident from the way he testified at youth gatherings. We instantly became good friends and it was always nice to see him, even at 8:00 in the morning. We spent the semester slowly learning about each other, and the day he asked to get to know me as more than a friend, is still one of my favorites. We had been studying for the final biology exam earlier that day, and my heart was beating out of my chest because God knew it had become a desire of my heart to know Zachary more. God totally provides!
Since then and through the process of dating and getting engaged to Zachary, my relationship with God has increased in ways I never imagined! I have been able to learn how to get out of self and I became determined to stay within God's boundaries. Through the teachings of Weigh Down, God allowed me to lose 30 pounds of greed, after many years of struggling and going back and forth with controlling the food I ate. I have a yearning to serve the church more, as I imitate Zachary and many other servant-hearted church members. He is always looking for the needs of others and is willing to help in any way he can, whether it be transporting people to school, helping at the church, and even helping my family around the house. I know I can speak for my whole family that Zachary made a huge positive impact in all our lives.
Zachary is the most humble, patient, gentle, and kind man I have ever met. He is constantly convicting me to go further in my relationship with God. He always gives the credit back up and makes his conversations about God. Not to mention he has the most powerful prayers and I love it whenever I get to hear him pray. There truly are blessings for obedience, and once you've learned to persevere during the testing times, God gives back ten-fold. It all comes trusting that he is in control!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”- Proverbs 3:5-6
Zachary is my biggest answered prayer, and I feel so undeserving and humbled to get to marry him in a church filled with beautiful examples to follow. I am in awe for this life we get to live everyday here on Earth. God truly is the greatest matchmaker and his love is something I never want to take for granted. He gave me my handsome prince! May our future covenant glorify God for years to come!!
For those who know me well, May 4th is a special day to me. It’s a day connected to my favorite film series; Star Wars. Not only are the films entertaining, they are also very symbolic to me. Early that morning my friends Lily and Jacki, who spent the night at my place, gave me a letter from Zachary. In his letter he praised God for the 8 months he had given us to be together and said he wanted to treat me to a fun makeover day as an early birthday gift before our family pictures at the church that evening. The three of us got ready, went and had breakfast at the Perch in Brentwood, and then made our way to Abi Peters who did an amazing job on coloring and styling my hair! I had never felt so prepared for family pictures. After getting dressed and putting makeup on at Lily’s place, Jacki was going to drive me to the church. On our way over she drove right past the church. I was confused why no one had told me of the location change, but it was okay as long as I made it in time. We pulled into the area where Zachary and I had our first date by the Harpeth River. An excellent location for pictures! We met up with Zachary and walked with him over to where the rest of the family was getting ready. After taking a few pictures of both families, Zachary’s sister, who did the photography, suggested to take a few with just the two of us. We got into position. He grabbed my hands and as we were looking at each other, he began to talk. At this moment I knew what was happening and tears started to swell in my eyes. I was able to hold it in until he got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him. With a most grateful and excited YES he got back up and hugged me as I let out my tears of joy. And magically when I looked over, many of our friends were popping out of the bushes and trees. Overall, the whole experience can be summed up in one word—Love. Love for my new fiancé who I couldn’t be more honored to marry. Love to all our friends who have selflessly given their time and efforts to make that day possible. Love to our families who have supported us and directed us daily. And most importantly love to our most Heavenly Father God who did not have to give us the gift of marriage.