Bet you didn’t know this

I don’t speak about it often…mainly because I am rarely in a place where this topic has a place. But when I do find myself in a setting where I can bring it up, it’s like a neat party trick that guarantees dropped jaws and “are you kidding? YOU were one of THOSE?”

From birth to the age of 15, I lived in Southern California before moving to the greatest state (read Texas). During those 15 years my family and I were part of a very religious, legalistic, controlling denomination. They’re called The Apostalic Assembly. You probably haven’t heard of them. Perhaps you’ll be a bit more familiar when I describe to you what they look like.

Women could not:

Wear makeup. Wear pants. Wear jewelry (not even a wedding band). Cut their hair (not even a trim). Wear open toe shoes if you were in stage ministry. Could not be in stage ministry unless you were on the praise team or choir. The woman must always cover her head with a veil before entering the church. Both men and women could not go to the theater to watch a movie (what?). They also believe they are the only religion/denomination going to Heaven (what?).

This is what I grew up in. It was all I knew. My dad was second generation pastors kid in that. It was all he knew. It was a disgusting place of controlling men and sad, submissive wives. It was (is) a place of hidden sin in it’s leaders, sin that would be brushed under the rug because image is what matters most.

Romans 10:9 – Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED

You’re asking “Keilah, why’d you quote scripture?”

Thanks for asking, you’re so good at questions.

This group of people believe that baptism saves. Sorry, if that was true, then I got saved like 100 times every summer in my pool.

Baptism is the outward symbol to the inward change. We go from death to life when we go through those waters. Think of baptism as my wedding ring. My ring shows you that I am married to my super hot husband. It is a physical, outward symbol showing everyone that I am a taken woman (because they’re all pining over me, right? 😉 ) Taking my ring off does not make me any less married. It does not automatically mean I am no longer married, right? The same goes for baptism. It shows to my friends and family that I have made the decision to be obedient to Christ, did as He did and died to my flesh to be raised back to life. Not being baptized does not make me less of a Christian. It does NOT determine my salvation.

This church pushes baptism to add to their numbers, they also push the proof of receiving the Holy Spirit in the evidence of speaking in tongues. If you did not speak in tongues, whoa, you were not on the right track. Speaking in tongues is a gift. A gift. That means not everyone is going to have this gift and that is okay. It is not life or death if you don’t speak in tongues. But don’t you dare say that in their church. Receiving the Holy Spirit was dramatic, sensational, emotional, showy. Running the aisles, rolling around on the ground, shaking, yelling. This was an average Sunday morning.

I made the decision to be baptized when I was 14 years old. I was urged by my youth pastor to make this decision slowly, to not do it because all my friends were doing it because it was the thing to do. My youth pastor knew the truth and he tried to help me understand. At that time my parents were both in the depths of depression. The Lord was tugging at their heart for their attention, calling them out to make the move that needed to be done. I had to be baptized. I needed my church and my friends to know that I was saved. So I got in that tank, looked around the crowd gathering around for my parents. My mom was in the back of the church, I could barely see her. My dad sat a few rows back from the tank, his arms crossed looking so depressed and lifeless. That was the moment I knew something was wrong, I didn’t feel right. I went under the water, came back up and proved with the evidence of speaking in tongues that I was “saved”. Everyone rejoiced, but my parents sat there.

Not long after, we left the church, sold our home and all our belongings, and moved to Texas with just the clothes on our backs. We began attending a non-denominational church where the Lord began to detox us from the garbage we were taught our whole lives.

Freedom.

I came from that mess. It’s not who I am. I still sometimes battle with legalism and religiosity. But I have a community who can call me out on it lovingly and show me grace. I have a Jesus who isn’t concerned with how I dress or how much makeup I wear. Because wearing a skirt and looking homely doesn’t make me saved or “set apart”. I made the decision to get baptized–the right way, for the right reasons (I sound like a Bachelor contestant) on May 1st 2016 at The Paradox Church where I attend.

I pray the Gospel reaches those that are still lost in that religion. Because they don’t know freedom in Jesus. They know control. That is no life to live.

Betcha didn’t know this was my history, my background. I hope you can’t see the traces of it in me, but I also love that it is part of my testimony and the grace of Jesus truly saving me.

 

 

 

Find God’s Match For You

Does that title sound familiar? If you guessed Christian Mingle you are correct, my friend!

For those of you who don’t know what Christian Mingle is, let me fill you in in three words– christian online dating.

“Keilah, is this an #ad?”

No, it’s not. I wouldn’t say that dating site is for the faint of heart. I’m going to share with y’all how my sweet husband and I got our start!

Early 2013 I took a shoe box and began to write on notecards prayers for my future husband. When I moved out for summer from the dorm, the Tulsa wind blew the lid off that shoe box causing me to lose many of those notecards. The only prayer I remember writing was that if whoever he is was in a relationship that the Lord would cause it to end and soon because I was ready to meet him.

Christmas break 2013 my mom and I were sitting on the couch watching Hallmark movies and knitting. Yes, knitting. A commercial came on for Christian Mingle. We both laughed and my mom jokingly said “KK, you should sign up!” That night I set up an account and started browsing. Came across quit a few losers. Also, some not-so-christian guys. I had the account for maybe a week until I was ready to just cancel it.

*Enter my future luvuh*

He sent me the initial smiley face. There were three people in his profile pic and not one of them attractive. I smiled back just to be nice. He messaged me and out of the masses of gross men, he was the first to be genuinely interested in who I was. He didn’t ask for money, he didn’t ask me to come over to his house when his mom was going to be out, he also didn’t tell me I was supposed to mother his children (yeah, these are all things I heard).

After a couple of hours of chatting he asked to meet me at the Starbucks in Southlake Town Center. I lied and said I had family in town for the holiday.

WAS HE SERIOUS?! WHAT A PSYCHO

We became friends on Facebook and we messaged for the rest of Christmas break on messenger. I went back to school in Tulsa, OK and he continued to talk to me. I was weirdly starting to crush on him. But I could NEVER tell any of my friends for fear of being judged! We ended up exchanging numbers and agreeing to have a Skype call to make sure we weren’t being catfished by the other.

That first Skye call was 4 hours long. 4 HOURS. I did most of the talking, obviously, because I was nervous as hell. Also, he was FREAKING CUTE.

We continued to Skype and text for 3 months. All without my parents even knowing (LOL because I always told my parents everything). We agreed to finally meet in person, face to face when I came home for spring break. That week I was coming home was when I told my parents that I was meeting a guy from Christian Mingle at starbucks.

*Cue mom freaking out and dad acting remarkably calm*

Their demands were that he meet them the day after meeting me–which was also the day before he was taking me on our first official date. He agreed.

I walked into Starbucks, heart racing, so incredibly nervous, seriously considered just driving away. But oh, I would’ve missed out on the greatness that is Jonathan Austin Knowles.

He stood as I walked in. That’s when I knew. Not kidding. Want to know how I knew? He was so tall I had to look up. 6’4, ladies and gents. Also, blonde hair, blue eyes. *Swoon*

He hugged me, not even a side hug y’all. Breakin all the Christian dating rules! We sat and talked for a couple of hours. The only thing I remember was the sweat accumulating under my eyes. I didn’t know I could sweat there. #TheMoreYouKnow

Remember when I said my dad acted very cool, calm and collected? Well, he was circling the freaking Starbucks the whole time.

Next day he graciously met up with me and my parents (and Caleb) at Chuy’s. Super awkward lunch. But when we finally all said goodbye for the day, my parents gushed about how much they liked him!

Jon had planned out our first date: Dinner at BJ’s and a MAVS game. Y’all I spent the day googling “How to eat pasta in front of your crush” while shoving fistfuls of hot cheetos down my throat.

He showed up at the front door with two bouquets of flowers. One for me and one for my mom! Can you say swoon?

At the game, we sat awkwardly with our hands in our laps, keeping a safe space between us. Until I asked for a selfie. He put his arm around me and once the photoshoot was done, HE KEPT HIS ARM THERE. I could’ve thrown up the two pieces of pasta I ate for dinner. The butterflies were out of this world.

Later that week we went to the Fort Worth Water Gardens and walked around the Stockyards. On March 20th, he asked me to be his girlfriend. My first boyfriend. My last boyfriend.

10 months later Jonathan took me to Bass Hall to see Beauty and the Beast. Afterwards we walked around Sundance Square where he popped the question. I shouted at the security guards “HE JUST PROPOSED TO ME!”

Of all the ways I imagined meeting my future husband, online was not even an option in my mind. Be open to the plan the Lord has for you. Trust Him. Trust that He is still holding the pen that writes your story. Don’t think you have it all figured out…because chances are you don’t. And that’s actually really okay.

Oh yeah, remember that shoe box of prayers I mentioned that flew away? That one prayer I remember praying? Jon had a relationship that ended around the time that I wrote that prayer down. Boom.