I use my voice in a circle of seventh grade girls to make sure they know their worth.
Growing up, I didn’t have voices in my life to help me understand my worth. My home life was chaotic and stressful. As a result, I rebelled, turned to self-harm, and pursued unhealthy relationships because I didn’t believe I was worthy of real joy or contentment.
My life was on the verge of falling apart.
I remember feeling so hopeless and I didn’t know what to do. I cried out to God, “Help me, help me.”
I came back to church. I started hearing God’s view of me: treasured, lovable, worthy. More importantly, I started truly believing it. I started thinking about serving in the church and saw an opportunity to serve with Student Ministries.
Today, I lead a life group of 10 middle school girls. I can remember being their age. I’m so grateful that I get to be a voice in their life that tells them they are treasured, lovable and worthy.
I use my voice one-on-one over coffee so that people walking through recovery know they are not alone.
My dad wasn’t emotionally available when I was a kid which left me with so many questions, fears, and doubts. Does he even care about me? Why am I not enough?
As a young adult, I lost my best friend to suicide. I was crushed. I felt more alone than ever. The only way I knew how to feel better was to drink excessively.
The pain wouldn’t go away and my life spiraled out of control. I knew I had to take a different path, away from addiction. I started attending church early in my sobriety, and that is when my relationship with God truly began.
Over time, God provided restoration and healing from the resentments I struggled releasing. It has been a long journey, but He has provided me the strength to use my brokenness and pain to help others who are currently struggling.
Today, I am over six years sober. I feel compelled to help others walk through recovery and find hope. I work as a case manager at a local treatment center, and I am involved with a group of people in various stages of their recovery journey as part of our ReGROUP ministry here at Mariners South County each week.
I see the redeeming power and mercy of God in each of their stories. They are a picture of the hope that is possible through God.
I use my voice through a keyboard - to help people know that the God we sing about each weekend is real and He is at work to heal and restore His people.
As a musician, I’ve always felt called to serve in the church and I spent years playing at worship services. There was a season where I experienced discord between the mercy we were singing about on Sundays and the ability among my peers to live it out well.
I felt discouraged. I allowed my discouragement to distort my view of God because I felt so let down by church, it felt like God continued to let me down as well. My passion and calling for leading worship suffered.
I brought these feelings with me the first time I played with the Mariners South County band. But I immediately felt welcomed and valued despite the baggage I was carrying. I had found a safe space every week to gently peel back the scars, explore my faith, and continue to seek truth and knowledge in God, while also feeling fully accepted by a church community.
Every time I have the honor of playing with the worship band, I feel my own worship growing. There’s a song we sing called “Cornerstone” that always impacts me profoundly when we play it.
Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior's love
Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all
Through my playing, my hope is that people who are in the midst of a storm experience the compassionate and powerful God that I know.
I use my voice to invite other moms to create an authentic, supporting, faith-building space that I was craving as well.
I’m not typically a person who starts things. Honestly, I’m still a bit surprised I took the action that I did – but I am more astonished by how God worked through it.
Recently, I was listening to a favorite podcast and the guest was an author talking about her new book, The Struggle is Real, and as she spoke, I immediately knew I wanted to study it. The premise is the weight women carry as friends, wives, mothers, and daughters, and the prominent lies of unworthiness and inadequacy we carry that God is eager to free us from.
The title really says it all: the struggle is real. I knew if it was something I could relate to it, most likely there were other women that felt the same way.
I was thinking, “I wish someone would do a small group study on this book so I could be part of it.” I could hear God’s prompting that maybe I was that someone and I needed to invite other women to join me.
I prayed about who to ask and ended up with a list of 10 women. None were more than acquaintances – women I knew from my neighborhood and my kids’ school – so I didn’t even know if they would be interested in a book about God. From my perspective, these women seemed to have it all together.
Seven women responded with an emphatic, “yes!”
I am still in awe of how God connected us through these weekly gatherings.
Together we crushed stereotypes and unfair perspectives. We helped each other find God’s voice above the noise of self-criticism and doubt. This little group provided an opportunity to ask questions without the fear of rejection. God broke down walls built up by past pain and I witnessed His love become real to these women.
What I know now is that people are curious. They are thirsty for authentic community and they are just waiting to be invited into it.
I use my voice to tell my story of miraculous healing of my sight to encourage the people in my life that nothing is impossible with God.
There’s no other way to explain the healing I have received than as a miracles of God -- and there were multiple miraculous healings.
I had a detached retina and macula in my right eye and my vision was drastically impaired. I had surgery to repair it and part of the procedure was to insert a gas bubble into my eye. Recovery prohibits going above 1,000 feet elevation for 90 days.
Shortly after I had surgery, my mother, who lives in St. Louis was put on hospice care. Her illness kept her from receiving any food, IV or liquids other than a small sip of water in the morning to take a pill. She is a petite woman and I was certain she could not survive more than a few days. Because I could not fly to see her, I had to make peace with the fact I wouldn't see her until I joined her in heaven, but in my heart, I ached to be with her again before she passed.
Two months later, she was miraculously still with us and I was nearing the end of my 90 day restriction. I flew out to St. Louis her and was by her side when she took her last breath.
Meanwhile, the vision in my right eye didn't return. The first surgery had been unsuccessful. I had a second surgery and then a third with no success. X-rays showed that a blister had formed on the retina preventing my vision from returning. The surgeon asked I return in a month to discuss next steps.
A week later, there was a healing service at the church. I thought, "I've tried everything else, why not?" and I came forward and asked for prayer to heal my eye. The woman who prayed with me prayed boldly with no hesitation or compromise in her words. She believed God wanted to heal me.
On my next visit, new x-rays revealed that the blister was gone! And my vision was returning. The surgeon was astonished. There were no next steps. No more surgeries.
I learned patience and surrender during these last several months. Waiting for answers, waiting for an opportunity to see my mom again. I had to surrender to God’s timing and not my own. As I look back on the past year, His timing was perfect.
There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't share my story with someone. God wants to heal us from everything that burdens us. When God touches our lives, we must share it with others so that they know God and can move towards their own healing.
I use my voice to mentor young dads at my workplace and encourage them to be the father and husband God designed them to be.
I’ve spent my whole career in sales where the pressure to earn and perform is constant. There’s always another sale to chase, call to make, customer meeting to schedule – all in pursuit of that next commission check.
I see so many young men – new husbands and fathers – whose focus gets skewed to believe that financial provision is the best they can offer their families and that their value is limited to their jobs and what they can earn. This is a dangerous path that feeds pressure, uncertainty, and isolation.
I know because I was just like them.
When my three sons were growing up, we were in church every Sunday and I dropped them off at student ministries activities each week. Although church and God were a part of our family rhythm, I fell short in showing them that Jesus was not just another thing to slot in among work, sports, family time, and all the other things that fill our calendars – He is everything.
I was choosing my career first until about 20 years ago when I was inspired to go deeper with God by a guy from church. He challenged me to read one Proverb a day for a month which prompted my own challenge to read one whole book in the Bible and then the whole Bible. It changed everything.
I decided to downshift my career, and God has truly rewarded that decision. Today, I have the best relationships that I have ever had with my sons and daughters-in-law.
People at my workplace know I’m a man of faith, and for 20 years now I’ve not hid my love for Jesus and commitment to following Him. I’m not going around quoting scripture or anything, but I walk the talk and do my best to exhibit the love of Jesus everywhere I go.
What I have found is that instead of this being a barrier to relationships, it has created opportunities to have deep conversations and pray with my coworkers. These are guys who want to do right by their families and just need sound guidance that comes from a God who loves them and desires for them to prosper in every single area of their life.
These little interruptions to my workday are in actuality the best contributions I make to my workplace. With every conversation, my faith grows and my passion to be the dad I want to be to my grown children is invigorated.
Right now, I am semi-retired and my part-time work schedule enables me to contribute full time to my main calling to mentor young men – whether at my workplace or through the weekly Men’s Bible Studies at the church.
I feel a strong calling to guide and encourage, knowing that when dads are really, truly present it is a reflection of God’s own love for His children. I have a voice and a story, and I’m abundantly grateful that God has given me these communities to put them to use.