People that knew Natalie Lyons a few years ago would agree she has “completely changed.”
“When I first set foot in the church, I could automatically feel something,” the 26-year-old said of when she first attended Mass. Previously Baptist, she converted three years ago.
“What I found at the Catholic Church was a personal encounter with Christ and it was a game changer for me.”
Today, she leads small groups, participates in a discipleship program and helps organize retreats at Blessed John Newman University Parish at Arkansas State University, her alma mater.
At Blessed Sacrament Church in Jonesboro, she volunteers with CYM, assists with retreats and chaperones Steubenville conferences.
Lyons draws on the painful parts of her childhood to help relate to young people. Raised by her grandparents, her parents divorced when she was young and her mother abused alcohol and drugs.
“It made it difficult for me to embrace God as a Father in my life or Mary as a Mother,” she said. “These kids, they struggle to see themselves as beloved children of God. That was me; I felt I wasn’t worthy because no one found worth in me. I think that helps me to help them understand they’re not alone.”
Lyons, who has a brother with autism, is a special education teacher at MicroSociety Magnet School, seeing God’s reflection in her students.
“I always think about that Scripture where it talks about ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ To me I think children with a developmental delay” or any disability “it’s the perfect picture of when God calls us to embrace a childlike heart because they are fully and completely and dependent on their provider and I think that’s what God is calling us to be — 100 percent dependent on him as a Father.”
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