0:00:02 – Speaker 1
Welcome to the nextTalk podcast, where we share real stories and practical advice for parenting the digital world.
0:00:09 – Speaker 2
We’re your hosts, Mandy and Kim. Mandy is an award-winning author and the founder of nextTalk, and I’m the director of nextTalk, a nonprofit organization created to strengthen families through open communication. You can check out all of our resources at nextTalk.org.
0:00:24 – Speaker 1
We’re your wives, moms and friends tackling culturally relevant topics from a Christian perspective. We’re sharing what we’ve learned and where we failed. We’re so glad you’re here for this conversation. So, Kim, I was recently talking to a church. They’re having me speak next year and they were vetting me out, which, by the way, any church is listening. you need to be vetting out your people Like I think it’s a really, really good thing.
Actually, it’s a red flag for me when churches don’t vet me out and don’t ask me my biblical beliefs, because I feel like it’s just a red flag, like you got to be careful There. You’re letting speak to your people.
0:01:01 – Speaker 2
Yeah Well, there’s just so many different theologies. you could say out there that you need to know what people believe and what they’re going to say to your flock.
0:01:09 – Speaker 1
I mean what you’re saying is there’s even a lot of Christian. I’ve gone off the rails. You know, you said it.
0:01:15 – Speaker 2
I was going to be nice.
0:01:17 – Speaker 1
I mean, I’m just going to say it Just because somebody says they’re a Christian doesn’t mean they’re reading their Bible, and there’s a big difference.
0:01:24 – Speaker 2
I actually had a pastor tell me just recently be careful who your kids are listening to. That’s part of your job is to direct them to the right kind of theology, because you know, just because someone says they’re a Christian and their podcast doesn’t mean a thing.
0:01:38 – Speaker 1
Yeah, People twist scripture all the time. So I love it when churches vet me out. But here’s the question they asked me And I get asked this a lot, but not as often as I should. They say what’s your testimony? How did you meet Jesus? Yeah, like in Christian lingo, that’s what that means. When they say share your testimony, they’re saying to you in the Christian world how did you meet Jesus? Yeah, Yeah, right. And so I shared my story and it was kind of cool the response that I got And she was like wow, that really gives me a lot of insight into who you are. Then I started thinking about it. You know, i’ve been a Christian for 20 plus years and I think we get a little complacent in sharing our story. And I even texted Kim and I had this moment. I think I texted Kim and I was like have we ever shared our personal testimony on?
0:02:26 – Speaker 2
the podcast. Yeah, i remember that text and I mean I’ve shared it before events and different things, but on the podcast we certainly have not. And I think that’s super important that people know why we are the way we are and how we got that way, and that’s our testimony, that’s our story.
0:02:43 – Speaker 1
And if you ever listened to some of our podcasts and you’re like that doesn’t click with me, you know we talk a lot about the Holy Spirit, we talk about biblical truth. If you don’t know Jesus, like there’s going to be a huge disconnect with the conversations that we’re having on our show. Like it’s true, because everything we do is rooted in that faith and that belief. So step one today in this show is we’re going to share testimony. Yep, so here’s mine in a reduced fashion, and I do share my actual testimony and talk. So if you’ve read talk, you’ve gotten this.
I grew up being raised by a single mom and my grandparents took me to church like religiously, took me to church. My grandpa was an elder. We had to get there early to fill the community cups, like all. I remember all of that. In my young days My grandma was my Sunday school teacher. So every week she was putting the people on the felt board and you know I was talking her with all of that, all the little cut out things that we used to do in Sunday school When Sunday school was a cool thing.
Yeah, we call it life groups now or you know something catchy or edgy, but it’s still that basic concept of community, of getting together and learning about God together, and so I’ve been rooted in that. When I was a young kid, i remember we had this situation in our church where at the very end, like if you want to give your life to Jesus, you walk forward. You know, you walk forward in the aisle. I remember just thinking, yeah, i mean, this is my life, i’m here every week and I want to live for God. And so I walked the aisle, which everybody was like clapping and you know, it’s all the things from an outsider and such a weird day.
But anyway, my grandpa baptized me and that was kind of like my faith journey. Now, it was a small church, we had no classes. That said what does this mean? that you’ve given your life to Christ, what do you believe in? There were no questions, there were no conversations about what my faith looked like. It was just like me doing a checkbox, like me going forward, me getting baptized all the good things a good Christian girl would do. And so I say that because I really don’t count it as my salvation experience. It was a ritual, it was a religious ritual that I went through and I didn’t realize it at the time And I ended up straight out of it. It’s a racial 인 danger that not only I grazed with it but all the other people.
When we moved away. At one point my mom and I moved away away from my church, away from my grandparents, and my life was changed. I say that because I didn’t have the foundation there that I had always had And I realized my faith wasn’t very strong without all of that, and so it was really about like just doing what they wanted me to do, kind of thing. But I literally just walked away from Jesus and I really got tired of the rules and the regulations and the hypocrisy that I would find in churches. I visited a couple in high school.
Really I didn’t want to get involved at all because I felt like it was a ritual or a box to check And I just felt like it was kind of pointless, to be quite honest. So, of course, made a lot of mistakes. Then I met Matthew, who is my husband, and I remember meeting him and it was like really different, the kind of Christianity that he portrayed versus the church that I grew up in. That was very legalistic and like rules and just follow this pattern kind of thing. Even in his words that he used it was very different for me, like it was about a relationship with Jesus and not really about a religious thing And that piqued my interest a lot. But on one of our first dates I felt compelled to kind of tell him a lot of mistakes that I had made. We were getting serious fast and I could see the relationship and I didn’t want to be dishonest. I felt like he thought I was a good little girl.
0:06:37 – Speaker 2
Well, your mom told him you were too.
0:06:43 – Speaker 1
And I was not a good little girl. I felt like, really like we. I needed to have some conversations and I really thought after this conversation I had prepared my heart that we would no longer continue dating. I had a lot to say. I had a lot to say. What was really cool is that after I gave this big speech and I do remember, like my friend and I like, let me tell you, this is so funny.
This is a little detail that I just remembered. I wore white because I thought it would make me look more pure, like I’m not joking. It was a conversation, my friend and I. we figured out my outfit, you strategize your purity. I got it look as good as I can look tonight, because it’s going to be bad. That’s hilarious. So I wore a white tank top but I wore a white shirt over it. I had a double white like here, here, here here.
0:07:56 – Speaker 2
0:07:59 – Speaker 1
Lord, help us. You know I’m sweating, i’m going in, i got sweat going through my white tank and my white shirt, you know, because I’m like I really like this. For the first time in my life, like this is the guy that that I like genuinely. He doesn’t feel like he wants to use me or, you know, like weird objective like or whatever, and I’m going to lose him because of my choices and my stupid decisions. And so I kind of shared with him a whole bunch of stuff and I remember him grabbing my hand And he said, like you know, god still loves you, right? And in that moment, like I didn’t realize what happened, I knew I felt forgiven. I knew I felt like wow, that’s amazing.
But then we started going to church together and one Sunday I was sitting in a pew. It kind of like his response to all my mistakes set a stage for Jesus to speak to my heart in a way that he had never spoken to my heart before. And we were sitting in the pew and I remember the blue carpet, i don’t know. We were talking about Christmas and Easter and it finally clicked on me Like Jesus was born on Christmas, he rose on Easter. Like I never even got that in my faith, like how it was all connected. Nobody talked to me about faith type stuff like that, and so I just remember sitting there and then I just could see Matthew’s face saying God still loves you And then connecting the dots about the faith history that I had learned over the years, And it was just the moment.
It was the moment that I was like Lord, i want you to come into my heart and don’t ever leave, and I wanna be changed from this moment forward When I shared that testimony recently. It’s been a while since I’ve shared all of that And it just reminded me I don’t think we shared enough, because Jesus does miracles in our hearts, miracles, and we don’t talk about it enough, like it’s like, oh, he did that 20, so years ago, and so you know, of course, i’m a Christian And we just go about our day, and I think it’s really important to stop and share with our kids. How did God speak to your heart? When did you have that light bulb moment where you were like, oh my gosh, it all made sense And it all came together, and that was the moment that I surrendered and submitted my life to Jesus.
0:10:26 – Speaker 2
I love your salvation story Cause it’s beautiful on a lot of different levels, like how God uses other people, like you said, to set the table, and it’s just really, really special And I’m glad you shared it. And it does remind me, like what you’re saying here is during COVID, because we couldn’t go to church, we were doing what we called like our faith walks, and we would take a walk and my husband would choose a scripture and we would read it first and then we’d go for a walk And we discuss it on all different types of levels. And out of those walks we started to share some things that God had done in our life, before them, miracles in our life and our personal testimonies. And there was a time when one of my kiddos cried and was just like seeing Jesus through our eyes in that way was just overwhelming for that kid And it reminded me how important it is to share our stories, like share what God is doing in your life now and then what he does in the future with your friends and everyone. I mean it just you don’t wanna be crazy and scare people away, but, man, this is our story and we should be sharing it, and so I guess it’s my turn now. Yeah, you gotta share it, kim. Okay.
So I, very much like you, was raised by a single mom, and it was always her and I in it together, and she did not come from a Christian family and she met Jesus early on, right before she got married, and she was like on fire for the Lord And so she was gonna raise me in the church and prayed for me all the time. And so, like you, we went to this very small church in the country and I remember the Felt Board and growing up in a Christian environment. I mean, i had God parents who are a big part of my life and I was very involved in church and my mom was too. And at a very young age I was baptized. Only I was like in the white gown, it was like a whole planned ceremony And I remember that being special because that’s what I was supposed to do. But, like you, it wasn’t a transformative decision I made, because my life was changed, because I think when you’re a kid, your life you haven’t lived a lot of life yet You make that verbal commitment to Jesus, which is what I did. But it’s when the rubber meets the road and life starts happening that you realize how following him and being in relationship with him changes everything. And so I feel like it’s almost like I made that choice because it was the right thing to do at the time. But then life began to happen and that changed everything.
I will never forget writing in the car, with my mom looking at her and she was kind of I think I had gotten in trouble, to be honest and she was kind of giving me the mom speech, and I remember saying I have decided to like put Christianity on the shelf. I need a minute to be like a kid, like I want to do wild things, i want to party, i want to have fun, which I’m sure she loved hearing. I was like I want to like have a boyfriend and do all the things, and then I’m gonna take it off the box, the box on the shelf, and Recommit my life to Jesus. When life is boring, when I’m an adult, like I remember that specifically when life is boring and I’m an adult and I’ve done all the things, then I’ll be a Christian, because right now it’s just too much work.
And my precious mom Did not freak out and she was like okay, you know, and she just like went into, i’m gonna pray for my kid mode and I’m gonna keep taking at her church and keep encouraging her. And I did, i did all the things, mandy. I did all the things.
I think we lived a similar life, and Even before we knew each other, even before we knew each other and that girls turn good. Good thing there wasn’t like social media back then.
0:14:12 – Speaker 1
I’ll just oh my gosh, i’m telling you right now, if there were phones when I was in high school and college, i would not be allowed to work at next. Talk like nobody on our board would approve me to work at next. I’m like let’s just say that right now.
0:14:25 – Speaker 2
I don’t. I feel like that’s not a surprise, though, no, i’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. Yeah, we both. We both lived a little bit of life and God protected me. My mom always said You’re gonna make mistakes, just try not to make anything that will change your life forever. And that was always in the back of my head and thankfully that was the case. And then I had a sweet friend who would always invite me to youth group and I was like no, i’m not going. And Finally one because because you’re drinking it up every night.
Okay, you’re at the club, Let me be on it shaking your booty. Let me be honest, the the shaking of the booty was like my number one goal in life. I did not. I was the good girl, since I never drank or did drugs. That was not my thing. When I was young, i, that was. My life goal was to be a backup dancer for salt and pepper. But anyway, we’ll put that dream on the show.
0:15:18 – Speaker 1
I wasn’t there yet.
0:15:23 – Speaker 2
So I, um, for some reason during the summer they had like this youth thing and I went with her and I remember, whenever she talked to me or ever I thought about Christianity, always thought like God loves the world, god loves people, god loves you, know, his followers. And that was always kind of this place I was coming from and We were praying one day and they were giving this message about purse, our personal relationship with Jesus, which I had heard all my life But just hadn’t resonated with me. And I was praying and I was like Lord, lord, what is that? and in my spirit I heard I Love you, kim, i love you, and I can’t tell you what or how, but in that moment it was as if God said it’s me and you, it’s not, i love the world, it’s about me and you. And I just began weeping and praying And I mean I’m sure there was people looking at me, but I didn’t care And I was just praising the Lord and thanking him for loving me and keeping me and protecting me And I recommitted my life, or really I think it was the first time I committed my life to Jesus in a personal way, like it was me and him.
In that moment Nobody else mattered And that was the beginning of a new walk with Jesus for me. And it was not perfect And there were many times where I strayed and came back. But one thing I was just sharing in this Advent season my kids and I have been committed to reading scripture slowly and talking about what it really means. And one of the things that I keep coming back to in my faith life is Adam and Eve in the garden. When they realized they were naked and they were shamed and they had sinned that, god quietly walked through the garden and said not what have you done? But he said where are you? Where are you? And that has been like God’s call on my life. Every time I have struggled in my faith, he has come looking for me and said gently and lovingly where are you? I want to be back in relationship with you And that’s been my testimony that he has never failed me, never left me, always pursued me, and it has changed every decision in my life since that day in youth group.
0:17:45 – Speaker 1
You know, as you were telling your story, kim, one of the things that I was thinking about is that we both struggled when we saw Jesus as like rules to follow or boxes to check or not having fun. He’s no fun. Yes, man, that goes so much along with our parenting too. I think we can get so caught up as Christian parents in rules and then making grades and then doing this and then doing that, that we lose the relationship, and we know from experience the rules don’t work. It’s the relationship that matters. And then, once I had that heart change, i wanted to surrender, i wanted to submit, because they didn’t feel like rules, they felt like protection. Yeah, you know, they felt like you’re not trying to make my life miserable, you’re actually trying to protect me from myself, because I’m out here making all kinds of stupid things that I have seen hurt my soul and hurt my body, right, and so it just that relationship piece is so important. You know, we titled this show Life Changed in an Instant, and again we want to go back to, you know, that moment of salvation when we really had that, that moment where it all clicked and it became real. The faith became real. It wasn’t our family’s faith. It wasn’t some ritual that we had to follow, but it was a real relationship between God and us personally.
And from that moment on, you’re right. We’re not perfect. We still screw up, we still make mistakes, we still do all the things, but our name is written in the book of life. It cannot be erased. Right, we’re there, we’re in it. It’s just like when our kids mess up, you know we don’t do that. We don’t mess up. You know we don’t disown them. We don’t. But we’re like what are you?
0:19:31 – Speaker 2
doing Like where are you?
0:19:32 – Speaker 1
Where are you? Where’s the kid that I know that you are?
0:19:35 – Speaker 2
Right, yes, come back into relationship with me. Let’s restore this. Let’s move back onto the path. Let’s go back Absolutely.
0:19:46 – Speaker 1
So listen, i think we kind of want to challenge you this Advent season What a wonderful time of year to kind of reflect on what Jesus has done in our lives. Have you on your faith journey? what is your moment of salvation where everything changed for you? Have you shared that with your kids? And if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, i don’t know that I’ve had that like.
I feel like I’m a Christian, i believe in God, i but I haven’t had that moment where it all makes sense, no, no, maybe you need to revisit that with Jesus. Where is my heart? Has this been a surface-level faith that I need to really dive deeper? I have never read the Bible like I have when I committed my life to Jesus, because then I was entering into a new phase where I wanted to get to know him, mm-hmm, his character, right, i’m digging, i’m digging. And when life hits hard, like the porn question in fourth grade and all that, he’s my source, he’s the one I turn to. That’s the difference, mm-hmm, with just having faith and thinking, yeah, i’m a Christian, versus like living the faith, yeah, and versus really digging into the relationship. Like God, i want to surrender to whatever you have for me, because I trust you that much with my life.
0:21:00 – Speaker 2
Or maybe you are a Christian and you had that moment and you can pinpoint it and share it, but something has happened along the way. Maybe you feel betrayed or angry at the church or at a person in your life that played a role in your faith. Or maybe something happened and you feel a sense of shame, so much so that you feel like you no longer are in relationship with Jesus And God is calling you back and you can feel that, that tug on your heart, and you’ve known that he’s waiting for you, but you haven’t made that decision yet. Maybe that’s the place that you’re in this holiday season.
0:21:37 – Speaker 1
Or politics, have entered the church and they’re like I’m never going back. You know, whatever it is that Satan is trying to drive you away. Here’s what I want to say about that. Jesus is different than people. You know. I love the local church. get involved in a local church. I was hurt by the church, you know. you have to realize the church is full of people and people are flawed, but Jesus is not. So we can’t confuse the two. You know Jesus is the Creator. His ways are better than our ways. His wisdom is way far than what we can imagine, and so don’t confuse the two. about Christians or about experience or a hurt, don’t shut Jesus out because of that. He is asking where are you?
0:22:23 – Speaker 2
Within our testimonies. I think it’s clear that it’s not perfect. Sometimes we stumble, sometimes we meet Jesus and we need to meet him again because of life, but he is always there, waiting. He’s always there, waiting with arms open wide for us, no matter what has happened, ready to forgive us and be in right relationship with us. It is never, ever too late.
0:22:47 – Speaker 1
So I’m going to encourage you today Pray to Jesus. If you want to say, for the first time ever, come into my heart. I want you to be Lord of my life. There’s no magic words. He hears your heart, he loves you. Just talk to him. Or if you want to say Jesus, you know I met you way back when and I have strayed and I have not dug into your word and I have not been faithful, and I know you’re looking for me and I’m right here and I’m ready And I want to dive back into this Like recommit your life to Christ. Whatever you need to do, get right with Jesus. You cannot point your kids to Jesus if you don’t know him yourself.
0:23:24 – Speaker 2
Among all the hustle and bustle of this season. We know this is a heavier topic, but it’s so important. This is the foundation for everything we do, mandy and I and our families and our organization nextTalk, and so we felt like it was important to share that with you. And so, in the midst of it all, take some time, talk to Jesus, get right with him. It’s the most important thing this Christmas season.
0:23:50 – Speaker 1
Spend time with your loved ones and have a very merry Christmas. Thank you so much for joining us, listening and sharing our podcast. Because of you, this show is in the top 5% of over 2.9 million podcasts.
0:24:07 – Speaker 2
We have lots of resources for you, from counseling to live events. Or if you have a show idea or a question for our team, visit our website at nextTalk.org. We’d love to hear from you.
0:24:18 – Speaker 1
At nextTalk. We’re more than cyber parenting. It’s conversations to connect. This podcast is not intended to replace the advice of a trained healthcare or legal professional, or to diagnose, treat or otherwise render expert advice regarding any type of medical, psychological or legal problem. Listeners are advised to consult a qualified expert for treatment.
Transcribed by https://podium.page