Two years ago I was attending a wonderful church in Monrovia that had an amazing, yet small, congregation. It had been hard at first. I’d been raised in large churches and had found comfort in sinking into the general hubbub. I was not a child that wanted to stand out so I was happy to blend in. Finding myself in a church where everyone knew my name, cared about my life, and prayed over my every cold was daunting. It didn’t take long though before I loved every person there, those people were a hard bunch not to love. That little blue building had become my home away from home and those people had become as much my family as those whose blood I shared. The thing about love is, sometimes it sneaks up on you and it did on me. I didn’t realize my love for these people or that place until the day it announced its virtual dissolution; that a new, much larger congregation would be joining ours and my then current pastor would be stepping away. Shortly after the announcement, and just two weeks away from the new congregation joining ours, I found out I was pregnant. It was a time when I drastically needed something to stay the same and, instead, I was in a world where nothing felt familiar anymore.
You hear a lot about how God has a plan. Finding his plan in this situation was the hardest thing I’d ever faced but, at the same time, it was the most I’d ever relied on the knowledge that he had one. He took a crazy, uncertain, and scary time and used it to save me. I believe it goes without saying that my walk with God wasn’t at its strongest and that I’d fallen away quite a bit. He granted me all the time in the world to find my own way back and at the last possible chance he brought me back. Becoming pregnant saved my family relationships, helped me get out of an unhealthy relationship with the wrong guy, and spared me from near alcoholism, all the while bringing my faith and trust in God to a level stronger than it ever had been before.
It’s amazing to think that a little over a year ago I had no idea what my path was or where God wanted me to be. I was floating along praying just to get through, and now I’m standing here, far from the person I was.
It was that church’s dissolution that brought my mother, Ferol Null, to the PazNaz team as the Events Coordinator. She was the one that brought me to PazNaz in July of 2015, 7-months pregnant, to assist with childcare for an event called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I’d never heard of the group before and had never worked childcare, but I’d taken some classes and she had heard they needed some help. It took no time at all before I was marking every MOPS day in my planner and asking about other childcare jobs. I couldn’t believe how quickly I loved this big new world and how loving this world was to me. I had to stop working when my daughter, Morrelle (Ellie for short), was born. When I came back the welcome, encouragement, and excitement extended towards me and my daughter told me this is where we needed to be.
In the spring of 2015, I took my final few classes at Citrus College, got as close to my Associate of Arts degree as I was going to get there, and made the choice to take a break from school. In the fall of 2016, a position opened up to be the Administrative Assistant to the Directors of Children’s Ministries at PazNaz. I prayed about it for a while and honestly took longer than I should have to get my resume in. Even though I was unsure of this new direction, God knew where he wanted me and he made sure it happened. I am one week in to my new job and I couldn’t be happier. I’m working in this amazing place surrounded by amazing people and working on a team full of the most phenomenal people I know. So far I’ve gotten to do a lot around the office with Pastor Faith Romasco and I’m learning all the ins and outs of how The Cave works with Pastor Doug Ravasdy. On top of that, I still get to do the childcare jobs that got me started here to begin with!
It’s amazing to think that a little over a year ago I had no idea what my path was or where God wanted me to be. I was floating along, praying just to get through, and now I’m standing here, far from the person I was. I couldn’t possibly be happier, and I’m so grateful for all the amazing ways the Lord has worked in my life to bring me here. I can’t wait to see how he’ll use me and what more he has in store! If we haven’t already met, I look forward to the moment we do. Please don’t hesitate to say “hi” and, if we have met, I can’t wait to see you again!
– Ariana Martin
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