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Share Your Story: Elizabeth

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Elizabeth stumbled upon Woodland Hills purely by accident, but that encounter brought her to Jesus. Her story reminds us that God is very creative in the way he brings us home!

Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was in a very secular humanist environment. I didn’t believe in anything beyond “this world” – morals and ethics were important, but the last thing any smart person would do is be a Christian. That said, I remember in 4th grade being asked, “If you could sit for an hour on a bench with anyone living or dead, who would it be, and why?” I remember thinking “Jesus,” because I wanted to ask what is UP with his followers and to get the real low down on what he was about, directly from him.

It would take a classified ad to find a roommate, and accidently donating my husband’s cherished childhood toy, years apart, to find my way to Woodland Hills! The 1999 ad for a roommate got me physically into the church, because she attended here and invited me to come along one Sunday. I remember Greg preaching about elections and that for some Christians, not voting could be a good thing, which offended my civic sensibilities.

In 2011, the donating accident led me into a Goodwill thrift store, where the (in)famous Greg Boyd book, Letters from a Skeptic, jumped out at me. I nervously picked it up, and decided I’d give it a dubious read. I considered myself an atheist, but somehow I felt God authoritatively tell me, “Get to know me.” This was rather untimely, as I had two small children and was in grad school 70 miles away and had no free time.

It is funny that I didn’t feel like I had a choice, even with all those excuses, including believing I was an atheist. Why did I listen to… “God?” A lot of church shopping eventually led me back to Woodland Hills, where I would listen with great fear and a “yeah, but….” attitude over and over, week after week after week. I realized taking the Discover the Kingdom course that I actually had a sweet relationship with the Holy Spirit and God, but Jesus was there waiting for me to know the REAL him. Taking courses is something I strongly recommend for everyone. A lot of light bulbs went on for me.

This faith journey is scary as an outsider. You dip your toes in, have doubts, learn some new things, which creates new questions and new doubts. Ultimately, I was tapped out when I started attending. As a lyric we sing sometimes says, “Have you come to the end of yourself?” I had. I wasn’t enough. Secular humanism didn’t feed me but it would take dozens of books and endless sermons to finally accept that I was, in fact, a Jesus follower (and fan).

The smaller driving forces were the humble stances of everyone who preaches, and the sense of humor that infuses Woodland Hills. Who knew you could be Christian AND funny? Everyone I’ve met is so generous, laid back and intellectually passionate, wanting to be kind, inquisitive and fed. There is no such thing as a dumb question, which is imperative if we are to learn and grow.

I’m enormously grateful I put out that classified ad in 1999, and found a roommate who happened to be a Woodland Hills member. As a semi-minimalist, I’m also glad (sorry, honey!) I donated my husband’s childhood toy in 2011, because I’m not sure I would have remembered to revisit this place if not for that Greg Boyd book waiting for me in the thrift store.

My brother is a Grateful Dead fan, but the only lyric I know of theirs is so fitting here. “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” Indeed. I’m glad I landed at Woodland Hills with all my doubts and unbelief.

We’re glad you landed here, too, Elizabeth!

Have your own story to share? We’d love to hear from you! Fill us in here.

One thought on “Share Your Story: Elizabeth

  1. Bonnie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Elizabeth! It is encouraging and thought provoking while still being laced with humor ~ yes we can follow Jesus and still have a sense of humor! God bless your journey to continue to be full of good surprises as you get to know Him better 🙂

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"We have been podrishioners for several months. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids moved back to California after living in MN for 10 years. They attended Woodland Hills for about a year before they moved. Now we all go to the beach together on Thursdays, come home and have dinner together, then we watch last Sunday’s sermon together. It is a special day for our family."

– Dale and Patricia, from California