February 2021


I grew up poor in North Carolina. My mom married my dad when she was 16; I was born a year and a half later. We moved around a lot, often living in places with no air conditioning or phone service. My parents were both addicts. My mom was a blackout alcoholic, and my dad’s drug choice was heroin. They divorced when I was just three years old.

Transformation of a Family Tree

My great grandfather was a sharecropper in Southeastern Alabama, near the Georgia state line. He rented a small piece of land to work, and in return, he would give a portion of his crop to the landowner at the end of each year. My great grandfather decided he wanted a better life for his family than the poverty-stricken fields in the deep South, so he found a job in the cotton mill. Later, my grandfather began working there as well. After one shift, my grandfather realized that was not where he wanted to spend his life—he wanted to continue the pattern of making life better for his family.

Keep Looking Up

I am a preacher’s daughter and a preacher’s wife in the Church of the Nazarene, but there was a time in my life when I wasn’t always faithful in my walk with the Lord. During that time, I blamed others for my walking away. I first blamed those I called the hypocrites of the church and then blamed those who had hurt me and had left emotional wounds that I thought would never heal.

God’s Transforming Power

I am the third of four children. My eldest sister is Hannah, then comes Mary, and after me is my brother Elijah. My dad was a pastor, an apologist, and a stand-up comedian. My mother grew up in a pastor’s home; my grandparents, Bill and Joan Sessoms, were in ministry together for over 50 years in the Church of the Nazarene. I have always felt called into ministry, but growing up under such influences as these made it tough differentiating between a desire to be like my dad and granddad and a call from my heavenly Father.

Spiritual Renewal

Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, I always had a knowledge of God—I accepted Christ at age seven during vacation Bible school and renewed my faith in Him when I was 18—but it wasn’t until later in life that I surrendered fully to Him. During the early years of our marriage, my husband and I hosted a prayer meeting in our home, and one night we talked about sanctification.

Holiness People

Forty years after the Church of the Nazarene came to my hometown of Greeneville, Tennessee, a holiness preacher came to the hospital and prayed over my parents’ firstborn. The church had given my teenage parents a baby shower, and despite my parents’ resistance toward salvation, the church did not give up on my family.

His Sustaining Presence

I was born into a pastoral family that focused on church planting, which meant that we moved often, from Prince Edward Island to Alberta and a few stops in between. I never swayed too far from Christ throughout my life. Even though I had doubts and did not always make the wisest choices, I felt God’s presence throughout my faith journey. When I was 16 years old, I was at a youth worship service and clearly remember the song “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone” being played incredibly loud.

Saying Yes

My testimony begins with the obedience of two parents who followed God’s voice. When my parents were first married, they decided they needed to find a good church home, and that they did. Both were raised in pseudo-Christian homes where things looked okay on the outside, but inside there was turmoil and conditional love. They believed it was the right thing for them to find a church for their young family.

God is Faithful. God is Good.

From the time I said yes to God and became a Christian, I have been experiencing God’s goodness and faithfulness. Many times, in my journey since, I have had to ask forgiveness for my disobedience. Even still, God is faithful. God is good. Regardless of my present circumstances, God keeps reminding me that my life is a living testimony filled with stories of His grace and faithfulness.