Dear Amanda, I hope you receive this holy Bible with all of my love. And that in your future you study it, understand it, and grow to love the words and the wisdom and compassion they will bring into your heart.
Amanda Milski’s father penned these words in the front pages of Amanda’s Bible when she was a girl. Love from God, within her home, and through her church, was a primary theme throughout her youngest years.
Amanda grew up in Bacliff as one of eight children in a blended family. They attended a small church in San Leon where her dad’s faith in God grew as a result of a close-knit relationship with the people of the church, specifically the pastor.
“We used to go very religiously — every Sunday the whole family would go,” said Amanda. One Sunday the church hired a photographer to take family portraits, and they all dressed nicely and smiled big for the camera — the girls dolled up in “adorable little dresses.” All smiling. All together. That was her childhood.
“One of my earliest memories was when my dad got baptized,” said Amanda. “It was one of the most incredible days of my life.”
She felt a wave of warmth as she watched her dad go under the baptismal waters. That day, she told her dad she wanted to be baptized.
“He thought I was too young and didn’t fully understand,” she said. He had her explain to him what baptism was, and she recited a version of what her dad had previously told her. Ultimately, her dad decided she should wait. There was no rush.
Shortly after her father’s baptism, their pastor was hit and killed in a motorcycle accident.
“Our church changed after he was gone,” she said. Their family eventually stopped attending, and her dad grew distant.
“My life was completely different after our pastor died,” Amanda said. “My dad stopped praying with us as much and stopped reading the Bible with us as much.”
A few years after the incident, Amanda’s mother abruptly left the family.
“When she left I took it pretty hard,” Amanda recalled. “I felt a lot of abandonment and unworthiness. I was so unworthy that my mom couldn’t even love me, so she left.”
That happy family portrait was the only picture of the entire family together, and Amanda could no longer find it.
Amanda buried her conflicting emotions — a trust and belief in God and a feeling of unworthiness — deep in her heart and struggled with them throughout her growing up years.
In middle school, Amanda again asked if she could be baptized. She had been attending a different church in her neighborhood whose student pastors had a great influence on her growth as a Christian. Her stepmom asked her to write an essay explaining what baptism meant to her, but, for reasons she did not understand, her request was again denied.
“She rejected my essay, and so I started feeling really defeated,” Amanda said. “I started doing a lot of research and started reading the Bible as much as I could because I felt like I didn’t know enough. I felt like I had to know everything.”
Then in high school, the incredible pastors of her youth group moved away, and the church changed yet again. Amanda stopped attending altogether midway through high school.
She joined the Army National Guard right after graduating and quickly became lonely and isolated, enduring two years of depression and severe anxiety.
“I just lived my life as if God wasn’t in it — kind of meaningless.”
“When I was close to graduating from job training [in the National Guard], one of my friends asked if I wanted to go check out some churches on base,” Amanda said. “I was like, sure, why not.”
They visited several different types of churches, none of them a good fit. But those visits did ignite in Amanda a desire to start a conversation with God again.
Not long after this, she met a guy on an online dating site. They talked for about two months before they met, and after their first date he asked Amanda to go to church with him.
The guy — Jordan Milski — went to Clear Creek Community Church. Amanda was hesitant at first to attend such a big church, but the service — from the music to the message — struck her in a deeply emotional way.
“I went home and asked God to forgive me for not sticking by him and trying to take control of my own life,” said Amanda.
Amanda saw how God began putting people in her life to bring her back to him. Two of those people were Jordan’s friends from Clear Creek. But since they were “church people,” Amanda thought they would judge her.
“They terrified me at first,” she recalled with a laugh. “They’re gonna see how crappy I am,” she remembered thinking. “But they were amazing, and they still are.”
Amanda began to live her life more purposefully. She worked to build a relationship with her mother and began to pray regularly for her dad, hoping to bring him back into the church.
Amanda and Jordan started attending Clear Creek regularly and eventually married. Not long after they married, the Coffeys asked Amanda and Jordan to join their small group. It was in small group that Amanda finally began to deal with her feelings of unworthiness and considered the idea of baptism again.
The group read through Missional Community, a study that explains the mission of Clear Creek and essential beliefs of the Christian faith. Through this study and the encouragement of her small group, Amanda learned what it takes to get baptized.
“The reason I hadn’t been baptized was that I still had my feelings of unworthiness, like I didn’t know enough,” she said. “Now I know I don’t know enough, and it doesn’t matter how much I know. It just matters that I know God sent Jesus to die on a cross for me and that my sins are forgiven as long as I believe. Outside of that, I have a lifetime to learn about God.”
Amanda was baptized by her husband on October 6, 2019, at Clear Creek’s Egret Bay Campus with her mother, father, many of her family members, and her small group in attendance.