My name is Sr. Stephanie Koch. I am 29 years old, and have been with the Servants of the Cross since September 2007. In February 2010, I took a leave of absence from community for personal formation, healing, and growth, arriving back in community in September 2011. During my year and a half away, the Lord showered down so many graces upon me that now looking back I am overflowing with gratitude for all He has done in my life. While away I came to see who ‘Stephanie' really is, the ‘Stephanie' that God created. I discovered that my true home is found within, where Christ dwells, and I was able to receive healing and freedom in many areas of my heart where for so long only pain and sorrow resided.
The Cross. I am beginning to learn what this means. About a year ago, Sr. Anna asked each of us to choose an object that represents our personal cross. I chose a bare wooden heart that I now hang on my bedroom door. It represents how the Lord is asking me to come to Him with my naked heart which can feel very vulnerable and painful at times. Slowly, as the Holy Spirit inspired, I began painting the heart hanging on my door. At first I painted a blue border which represents Mother Mary's love and protection. A couple months after painting the blue border I added a wooden cross and then eventually painted Christ hanging on that cross. After many more months I also added my own arm that is reaching up to the wounded side of Christ. In my reach, my own heart rests in the palm of my hand. The Precious Blood is pouring from Christ's side onto my heart held up to it. Finally, I added the backdrop, a dark sky with mountains in the distance and a long winding road that leads right up to the foot of the cross. This painted wooden heart, hanging on my door, is a constant reminder of my life's journey to the cross, full of joys and sorrows, and how the Lord desires me to offer Him my emptiness and nothingness, my naked heart just as it is. And I know that my heart remains protected because Our Lord reminds me that His sacrifice on the cross bore my sins, my wounds.
Growing with my Sisters. One of my greatest joys is growing in relationship with my sisters, laughing with them, and learning to love and serve them. I love when we go on road trips together, for ministry purposes. It is loads of fun driving for hours, talking together, playing car games, and singing along with worship music that is playing. Each one of my sisters in community is such a blessing to me.
The Nazareth of my heart. We can get really busy serving Our Lord and His people but there is a peaceful flow to our days. I sense the Lord calling me to live the Nazareth of my heart as I go through my day, doing all for love of Him. During my year and a half away from community I learnt a huge lesson about Nazareth. I came to discover that my true home is within my heart where Christ dwells. It is within this Nazareth of my heart that I can remain united with Christ in the business of our days here in community. I have discovered that whether I am washing dishes, doing finances, traveling to a conference, or simply listening to one of my sisters, I am home with Jesus, in the Nazareth within my heart. Someone once told me that when you are in love you just want to be where your beloved is, so I guess I must be in love, for all I want is to be here right now with my Beloved Jesus, living, loving, and serving, as a Servant of the Cross.