Kristin Rice grew up in the same house from the time she was born until the day she left home at the age of nineteen.“When I was younger I struggled to find joy. I seemed to have it, but it was a ‘fake’ joy,” said Kristin. “I was always known as a happy kid, but I wasn’t really happy, I just smiled a lot.”
Kristin was abandoned by her real parents. Her dad left when she was eight, and throughout her childhood Kristin and her mom developed a very broken and unhealthy relationship. Upon turning 19 and realizing their relationship was only getting worse, she thought it would be best to move away from home and work on rebuilding their relationship from a distance. Kristin was attending the University of Houston and decided to move in with some of her friends from college.
On Easter Sunday of 2013, she had her car packed and ready to go. As she went to say goodbye, her mom abruptly shut the garage door and told her that she was dead to her and never wanted to see her again. Kristin explained, “That day, my mother disowned me. I knew she wasn’t happy that I was moving out, but I never expected to hear her say those words. At the time, I had already started walking away from the Lord; after that it became a run. I stopped going to church and was fed up with God for all of the bad things that happened in my childhood.”
“Growing up in the youth group at Grand Parkway, I was taught that God is always working, and that he makes beautiful things out of dust; but I didn’t see anything beautiful. I just saw a lot of dust. As I struggled with the reality of being cut out of the only family I’d ever known, I held on to the promises of God that were drilled in my brain, like ‘God is good all the time,’ and ‘God always keeps His promises.’”
After Kristin’s mom disowned her, her life continued to crumble around her. She soon realized she couldn’t do it all on her own, and she heard God speaking to her in the midst of her pain and heartbreak. “I started seeking after God whole-heartedly, and in doing so, I finally began to understand what joy is. It doesn’t mean that everything is going great. It means that no matter what, God is still good — and He’s enough for me.”
When Kristin was growing up James and Kim Smith, members of Grand Parkway, lived across the street from her family, but had since moved to East Texas. Kristin hadn’t seen or been in contact with them in four years, but God was about to bring them together again in a pretty special way. The Smith’s moved back to the Richmond area and met Kristin for lunch one day, learning of everything that had happened in her life over the past few months. Later that same day they reached out to her saying they had an extra room in their home and wanted her to come live with them. Kristin said, “I couldn’t believe it! I cried out to God, ‘Yesterday I had no idea where I’d live; today you brought me a family.’ As a kid, I’d dream about the chance of one day being adopted. I distinctly remember on my 18th birthday thinking, ‘I’m too old; I’ll never get to have a real family now.’”
“This was a new season of everything; a season of joy and healing. I was learning what it meant to be a Christian, and with that came a lot of joy! I wasn’t just learning about God, I was getting to know Him. Psalm 27:10 was my verse during that time. It says ‘For my father and mother have forsaken me but the Lord will take me in.’ Not only did God provide for me, He provided abundantly. I used to know happiness, but now I know joy. Psalm 4:7 says ‘You have filled me with greater joy.’ God is so good; you can’t help but be joyful when He is so good!”