I was born and raised in Southern California. I ran away from home at 16 and lived in Seattle, Washington for a while before coming to Birmingham, Alabama at the age of 17. That was many years ago, and I have since reconciled with my family, but I continue to live in Alabama because I love living here. I have a great job. I have wonderful friends who treat me like family. I love Southern cooking–there really is nothing better. I go to the best church in the world. I love all the trees. The beautiful emerald coast beaches. The four seasons, especially the spring and the fall. Mix all that in with some Alabama football and there is no place I’d rather be!
My favorite verse in the Bible is Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I was as far away from God as you could get, and even though I had run away God’s love never failed to come after me. He demonstrated that love in so many ways with all the godly women He has put in my life, and continues to do so even today. Through one of those godly women, this runaway got her G.E.D. at Jefferson State Community College and then started taking classes there, and later transferred to Birmingham Southern College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. Statistically speaking, there are not many runaways with college degrees. God has been so good to me. Presently, I am a Senior Accounting Specialist for a large corporation in Birmingham. I am so blessed to have a job doing what I love to do.
If you had told me that one day I would be attending a mega church, I would have said, “No way!” I began attending Church of the Highlands three years ago, and it’s so big, you can get lost there. I came in with a lot of hurt and not knowing what my purpose was anymore, so I was glad to be lost in the crowd. God is always working His plan in our lives, and He was not going to let me stay lost in my hurt.
I discovered two life changing things at this church, 21 Days of Prayer and small groups. The first 21 Days of Prayer was so life changing for me that I have not missed one since. There are no words to describe what it is like to pray with thousands of people at 6 AM. It is an amazing experience that has brought me into a real relationship with God that I never had before.
A mega church gets small when you get into a small group. Small groups have literally saved my life. My dearest and closest friends are the ones I have met in small groups. When you are able to take off the mask, and just be real with people and share from your heart, it changes everything. The friends I have made through small groups are the friends I can call on when I am out on the ledge. God never intended for us to do this life alone. We really are better together.
Breath on Paper is one of those Church of the Highlands small groups. I wanted to be a part of this group because these women are so real and share so much from their heart. C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.” Breath on Paper has made C.S. Lewis’s words come true for me. ~ Cheryl