"Jesus replied, 'I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.’"  John 3:5 NLT

     On Easter Sunday, Katie Swanstrom was baptized. She wanted to proclaim her love for Jesus in the presence of loved ones, the Lord,  and her new church family. “It was definitely scary, but I was so excited and felt it was the next step in my faith walk.  I wanted to say I believe in Jesus because I knew it was going to open my heart the rest of the way!”

     Katie’s faith journey was a slow process. She grew up in the Catholic Church with her mom faithfully taking her each Sunday, yet always feeling like church was more of a chore than a pleasure. She was baptized in 6th grade but still unclear as to what her faith really meant. It wasn’t until high school when Katie started dating a devout Christian that she was introduced to the joy and love of Jesus Christ and to the idea of living for him.  It was in this season that she first saw church in a positive light.  And yet, she still had trouble surrendering completely to Christ.  She would feel a tightness in her chest, and break out in a sweat when asked if she was interested in giving her life to Christ.  She felt as if her boyfriend’s parents were pushing and judging her because she hadn't yet accepted Jesus. In college, though not often going to church, she began to become open to the idea of a "higher power."  Later, she started to go to church with her sister in Newport and she began to feel the real love of Jesus in that faith community. The pastor’s messages spoke to her.  It was during this time that the doubt, misgivings, and things she couldn’t speak up about began to be dealt with through the Sunday messages. 

     Katie was beginning to open her heart to Jesus and really began to find Him through the Swanstrom family.  “The Swanstroms lived their faith by example. They were never pushing for me to believe, they were always so welcoming and loving. This inspired me; I wanted to become more like them.  I wanted to know this Jesus who they love so much, who they walk everyday with.” 

    “The last step for me was Pastor George and his messages. The way he talked through the questions I had in his sermons,” Katie added. 

     “In pre-marital counseling with Eric, we were led to put God into our marriage which was interesting for me because I wasn’t sure of my relationship with God, let alone God in my marriage. But it was so healthy; it is not another person who is going to fulfill you in life, but Jesus Christ.”  Katie and Eric Swanstrom were married last July. 

"Since I have been baptized, my heart is fully open to Jesus," Katie explained.  "I have surrendered my life to Him. If you seek, you will find Him.  This is really an impactful verse for me as I am really trying to read my Bible, go to church every Sunday, and Eric and I have started attending The Starting Point class at The Shoreline."