By Noelle Hotaling
Growing up, we never talked about God. I grew up Catholic, but we were never a big practicing Catholic family. I went to CCD (Catholic children’s religious education), got all of my sacraments, and when I was in 6thgrade, stopped doing anything church-related at all, really.
Soon after my confirmation, when I was about 12 years old, my mom got a new job as the secretary at an Episcopal church. I began helping out doing odd jobs, and I began meeting people. I asked my mom if she would bring me to church there sometimes. She agreed, and I began attending services, as a 12-year-old girl, alone. And that’s how my journey to know Christ began.
When I think back on my faith journey, I think about Jesus’ disciples, and I wonder how many of them started down the path to Christ just like me, alone. It didn’t seem strange or hard for me to go down this path alone, because really, I wasn’t entirely alone. Just like the disciples had each other, I had my church family there, supporting me every step of the way as I came to know Christ.
As I grew older, my curiosity grew bigger. I wanted to know more about Christ, his followers and God, and so I began exploring my faith, again, largely alone. I never really told anyone the way that I felt because where I lived up North, in Pennsylvania, God was not a common topic that was discussed. Again, I began a new journey alone. Along the way, I came to find that I wasn’t really alone in this journey, either. There was a whole community of people out there, just like me, who were looking to know Christ better—who, like me, were looking to know and to read his stories and to find a way to have a greater faith in him and in the Father.
Three years after my husband and I got married, I felt a huge calling to the Word. This calling, paired with the community of fellow “faith-finders” I had come to find, led me to a new friend through a Facebook group. She and her husband planted a church in Texas, and she often posted about reading His word daily, how she practiced her faith every single day and how she prayed. She was a big inspiration for me, and through her, I finally felt that I had found a way to grow my faith in a bigger and better way.
In our church growing up, we didn’t really read the Bible. Of course, just like any Christian denomination, we followed the Word, but we never learned Bible passages, and growing up, I’m not entirely sure we even owned a Bible. With my friend’s help, I began the practice of daily Bible study. It’s not anything formal, just me, my Bible and a cup of coffee every morning (or whenever I get a free quiet moment as the mama of an infant!).
Through this daily practice, I’ve come to find so much. I find peace on the days I need it. I find joy, I find hope, I find inspiration and most importantly, I find grace. I have yet to find a day where I find anything less than exactly what I need, written in His word. Through this daily practice, I feel refreshed. I feel re-centered, and I feel a sense of confidence as the Word teaches me how to see extraordinary things in the ordinary, every single day.