Hello my dear friends and Family!
The title for this journey, “Collide: A Journey to Authentic Faith,” was inspired by the picture above. I received this picture (in physical painting form) as a gift from a woman by the name of Tricia Snyder, a pastor’s wife who was visiting with her husband to my first home church in Southern Oregon (Jackson Calvary Chapel). On the back of this painting are the following words:
“Get ready and prepare for impact – God is colliding with you – a violent, direct, divine impact. It is good!! A powerful, good thing He is doing! A collision usually happens when two people or vehicles try to occupy the same space. God has chosen to invade our space with Divine Impact.”
These words have always stuck with me and carried such importance in my life. When I took the time to think about the season of my life I am in, I realized God and I had had a divine collision wherein He was wanting to occupy the space in the driver’s seat of my life. I used to let God take over when I saw fit, but I quickly grew tired from always trying to have control of the uncontrollable. God had shown me, as I continued praying about my travels, this journey would be no small thing in my life. Rather, it would be my “journey to authentic faith.” To me, this phrase means discovering the woman God created me to be. It means discovering what genuine faith looks like when you strip away the rules and regulations Christians use to complicate Christianity. In my opinion, Christianity comes down to loving God and loving people, but what does that look like for me? What does loving God and loving people really mean in my life? That’s what I’m going to find out.
As of late, my life has been crazy, beautiful, sorrowful, laughable, tiresome, joyful and many other things. Some of you may know a portion or all of my story. Others may know nothing of what is happening within my life. Either way, I would love to share my story with you…
December 12, 2016 was my last day at my church of three years and the affiliated Bible college. I spent these years pouring my heart and soul into every area I served in and every person I came in contact with. These people became my family and my closest confidants. Leaving was not an easy thing to do, by any means, but I believe it was the right decision.
December 13, 2016: my first day without being in Bible college and without having a “home church” and the community that comes with it. I felt like I had no ties keeping me in Medford. Not like I had the day before or even a month before. This was the first day I felt lonely. This was the first day I regretted my decision to leave. I realized I didn’t know who I was or what my life was to look like without being involved in this church.
In the month prior to my departure, I left my job at Old Navy believing I needed to let go of that job to make room for God to put something else into my life. The combination of leaving my job, school, and church completely cleared my schedule from all normal routines for the following months. November was also a pivotal month for me, because I had brunch with my Aunt Emmalee. This was a very special event for me being that I had not seen my aunt along with every other family member on my dad’s side of the family for half my life (or longer depending on the family member). At this brunch I shared, with my Aunt Emmalee a moment God and I had together in 2015. My Aunt Elissa (Emmalee’s sister) had sent me a Christmas card full of pictures of her beautiful family. Though it made me happy to receive this card, I was also struck with a twinge of sadness knowing I would not be with my family for yet another Christmas. Holidays were always a hard time for me, but Christmas of 2015 was different. On this Christmas card I wrote “2016 = Restoration,” knowing God had made a promise to me to restore my family and 2016 was the year He would finally do so. However, I had stopped trusting God would keep His promise some time between when I wrote on the Christmas card and when I saw my Aunt Emmalee. I mentioned to my aunt at brunch how much I would love to have a family reunion in 2017. After telling Emmalee this, she extended an invitation to me to spend that Christmas with our family at her house. I told her I would take a few days to pray about it. I knew God was moving and making good on His promise, so a few days later I told my Aunt Emmalee I would love to spend Christmas with our family. After many excited calls, texts, and snapchat messages, my aunt booked a flight for December 16th.
December 16th came and it was time for me to fly to Washington. I was a bundle of emotions barely being held together by a thread, but then God made it clear He was going to be with me on the trip. I arrived at SeaTac with Aunt Emmalee in sight, but, much to my surprise, she was not alone. Some of you may have seen the pictures, which so beautifully captured my greatest ugly cry ever (yay). Along with my Aunt Emmalee was the man I hold dearest to my heart, my dad (whom I had not seen since I was 10 years old). As if that was not enough to bring me joy, my Uncle Darren was also at the airport. It was truly a beautiful moment, which I will forever cherish.
My two weeks spent in Washington can be summed up into these three words: God showed up. Auntie Emmalee took me to City Church, Kirkland (per my request and partial begging) for church my first Sunday in town. It was in that very service where God began to speak my next steps to me. I desired to hear more from God, so I spent at least one hour every day returning to City Church to pray and journal about what God was speaking to me. There was one parking spot upon a hill where I would sit in my aunt’s little, white Volvo and cry out to God. This is the spot where I felt God till the soil of my heart to make way for the deepest work He’s ever done in me. It was in these times where God collided with me. He met with me, not expecting perfection from me, but inviting me to be vulnerable before Him. God used these times to show me areas of my heart that desperately needed healing. I know very well how to be transparent. Transparency is my speciality. Vulnerability, however, is a completely different thing. As speaker and pastor, Kim Butcher, puts it “Transparency is ‘[God,] here’s my stuff.’ Vulnerability is ‘[God,] here’s my stuff and you can step in.'” Being vulnerable before God was not easy, but I knew I could either be vulnerable or let my heart harden even more and continue to build up walls like I’d been doing since my childhood.
Christmas morning came and, I won’t lie, I was super nervous! I knew I would be meeting my cousins in a matter of hours and seeing family I hadn’t seen in far too long. Fear began to creep it’s way in. I thought to myself, “What if they don’t like me? What if adult Tyler is too weird and different from little Tyler?” What if…? What if…? What if…? I let so many things fill me with worry and fear that I forgot to enjoy the initial moments of seeing my family. As the night went on and we all began to talk and reacquaint ourselves, those fears subsided and an overwhelming amount of love and joy flooded my heart.
Then came the New Year’s service at City Church. Aunt Emmalee and I went together, and I am sure glad we did. God revealed things to both of us in this service that would forever change our lives. For me it was a picture of my heart, or rather a series of pictures. The first picture was my heart of stone. Some light was piercing through and shining brightly from the cracks in my heart. The second picture was my heart of stone exploding. Shards of stone were flying everywhere as the light shone in all directions, no longer forcing its way through the cracks in my heart. The third picture, my favorite of the three, was of my heart being a purely white light shining in all directions. It shone so bright I could barely make out the shape of the heart. God used these pictures to prepare me for what He would be doing throughout the next season of my life. He explained it would be painful to tear down these walls I’ve so meticulously built, but worth the work beyond what I could even imagine. I’m sharing all of this with you, because it is really where this journey began.
Initially, I thought this journey would be to figure out what makes a healthy church and how I can apply any gained knowledge to my future ministry. I was feeling pretty good about myself. I soon realized God had other ideas about the purpose for my journey. He was wanting me to take this trip as a means of allowing me to determine the type of Christian I want to be, to figure out what makes up a healthy church and to humble me along the way, shattering my heart of stone.
While planning for this journey, I decided I would interview people in each city I visited. As I spoke with my mom (Tina Shreve), we decided that I could start interviewing people in the valley while I waited to leave for my first city. God began to make ways for me to speak to people I never would have thought I’d speak to in a million years. (I am very excited to see how these relationships will grow over time and what fruit God will bring forth from each one. If there is someone you think my mom or I should connect with in the cities we will be traveling to, please feel free to message us!) Through a cool turn of events, I was able to begin by interviewing Ben Courson, founder of and speaker for Hope Generation (Check out his website here: Ben Courson – Hope Generation). (I will share the contents of this interview in a later blog post.) My mom and I spent many days, nights, lunch breaks, and random times throughout the month of January praying about what was needed to make this journey happen. Then things in my mom’s world started to change. One day, I suggested she come with me. She loved the idea. (I mean what parent wouldn’t love their kid suggesting they go on the journey of the life time together.) We began to brainstorm and became enthralled with this idea that felt so directly from God. Since I was the one who first planned the trip, my mom wanted to make sure that I was able to set the tone for how this whole thing would go. I told her that above all else, I wanted this whole thing to be a Holy Spirit lead trip.
I realize this is a lot to read and I apologize for that, but I would love for all of you to take this journey with me and see what comes of it. My mom and I will be leaving March 8th for Sacramento and plan to stay until March 22nd. We are currently working on plans to head to Los Angeles, however, keeping in mind this trip is to be fully Holy Spirit led may mean some plan changes along the way. I’ve listed all of our social media sites below, so you can follow our journey in its full capacity. I’m going to be recording my interviews as I go, which I’ll be posting on Youtube. I’ll also be blogging up a storm, so you can follow me on here to see where I’ve been, to whom I’ve spoken, how I am doing, and what God’s been doing. If God puts us on your heart, I would ask of you to please pray for my mom, me, and this crazy, faith filled journey we are about to take because chances are we will 100% need your prayers. This journey we are about to embark on is no small thing for my mom or for me. It’s a journey to encounter God in a new way, to embrace His love in a new way, to embrace His truth in a new way. Most importantly it’s a journey my mom and I will be taking believing through faith that GOD WILL SHOW UP not just on this trip, but every day of our lives.