So, for my New Testament class, I had to compose a letter to my teacher about my life, the universe, and everything... *snickers* Anyway, it had to answer certain questions, and as some of you may know, I do love to write a good letter. This information isn't exactly all commonly known, so I thought I would post it here for your valiant approval. I don't know what that meant, exactly, but its 12:30 AM, for heaven's sake! Blah. Here it is!
Dear Mr. Turnage,
My name is [insert pseudonym here]. I’m twenty-one years old, and I come most recently from Lexington, Kentucky. You should be warned, letter writing is a hobby of mine, and I have been known to send twenty-page letters before. Lucky you! My name means “Gift of God” “light a lamp” “in the sheep meadow.” Now, my mom didn’t know the meaning of my name when I was born, but I like to think that it means God has had a destiny for me since before I was born. I do know that He guided my steps to Evangel University, and I trust that He has a plan for me when I leave here.
To be honest, I nearly didn’t come to Evangel. I “graduated” from home school when I was seventeen, and knew that I wasn’t ready to go all the way to Missouri. It was my goal even then, had been in my heart since I was fourteen, but it wasn’t time yet. I took a semester off from school to work, and started college in the spring semester at the University of Kentucky. In the next two years, I joined the Christian Student Fellowship and UK, and became involved in the student leadership there. In a bit of irony, it was at this time that my relationship with God began to drift, and I began a number of unhealthy relationships… more “liberal” Christians… most particularly, that with my best friend Michael. I allowed myself to be emotionally abused, and couldn’t ever say “no” to anyone who asked a favor of me. I never crossed moral lines of the most obvious sins, drinking, sexual immorality, but there was definitely sin separating me from God.
I didn’t want to come to Evangel after becoming so attached to my new life. I had so many friends, and I despaired of leaving them. But after receiving my associate’s degree, I decided that I didn’t want to pursue an education at UK, and transferred to Evangel. I struggled at first, for almost a year, with adjusting to life in Missouri. Raised mostly in the south, the Midwestern culture shocked my senses. The people were different, and for the first time in my life, I was well and truly away from my family. That particular period of my life was the most difficult I have ever struggled with, but by the Grace of God, I was able to let go of all the baggage I had accumulated over the last two years. It took time, but I finally realized that this was where God meant for me to be.
I am by nature an unselfish person, which occasionally gets me into trouble. Coupled with a low self-esteem, I have also had to struggle with depression. This is probably my greatest weakness. When I fall into a bout of depression, I get discouraged and frightened. I actually am afraid to write when I get like this… I don’t know why, but just sitting down and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) terrifies me. During these times, I manage to accomplish very little.
On the other hand, this weakness has also lead to my greatest strength. First because I have to lean on God, and this has strengthened my faith in Him and in myself. Second because I have learned to overcome the worst of my depression, and refuse to allow myself to become trapped in fear and doubt. I think that God has used the entire situation to challenge me, and force me to grow.
My life goals are… somewhat vague. I know that God is leading me, but I’m not sure where! I am a History major, with a minor in Spanish (which, by the way, terrifies me). My most immediate plans are to get through this year with all A’s and graduate in May. After that? Perhaps I will work for a year before going on to grad school, or perhaps God has another plan for me. I would love to be involved in local politics somewhere or perhaps someday to teach at the college level. That, of course, would eventually require a PhD… I would like to leave this class with the ability to efficiently study the New Testament, and to gain greater insight into the word of God.
Hmm, this letter isn’t really flowing into the next topic—I should have put it at the beginning. Oh well!
I was raised in church. We went to First Assembly of God in Lexington until I was three months old (I was dedicated there). Then we moved to Easton, MD where we attended an AG church. My sister Sarah was born there when I was fourteen months old, and it was there that my father joined the Navy. We moved to Great Lakes, IL while he trained, and went to an AG church there. When I was two and half, my sister Rebekah was born. We moved soon after that, first to Orlando, FL and then to Springfield, MA. I think we were still AG at this point. My brother Charles was born in Massachusetts in late 1986. In 1987, we moved to Norfolk, VA, where we began attending Tabernacle Church of Norfolk, a non-denominational, non-charismatic church. It was here that I began attending Cubbies and Awana, and where I first gave my life to the Lord. My brother Sam was born in 1988, and at some point we stopped attending church regularly. When I was in the second grade, my brother Andrew Cory was still born, which was the beginning of a very difficult time for my family. It wasn’t until 1992, just after the birth of my sister Elizabeth that we returned to church. Our new church was Glad Tidings Assembly of God, and it was here that I first remember hearing anything about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was also at Glad Tidings that I was baptized in water. In 1993, we moved to St Marys, GA, where we attended Agape’ Christian Fellowship. Agape’ was… different. It was a non-denominational church, and it was most assuredly charismatic. People danced in church, they spoke in tongues… it was crazy! Well, it was at least an entirely new experience for me. My brother Josiah was born in 1996, and in 1997 we went full circle and returned to Lexington, and First Assembly.
To conclude this letter quickly (I did warn you that my letters are long), my favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Princess Bride. I love all kinds of music with the exception of heavy metal, rap, and new age jazz. The last two books I read were “Up in a Heaval” and “The Dastard,” both by Piers Anthony. And as much as I love fantasy, history, and (some) science fiction, my three favorite books are “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “The House of Seven Gables,” and a short series of novellas by Francine Rivers about the women in the lineage of Jesus Christ… actually, I guess the last two probably have something in common with those three categories of books, but… well, anyway, that isn’t the point. The point is that I managed to keep this letter on two pages, and still cram in a frighteningly large amount of information.