Friday, May 16, 2008

Tell me your Story

My friend KC referred me to a blog. Diane over at Meyers on the Hood is having a Tell Me Your Story Bloggy Carnival. About a year ago I sat down for the first time and wrote out my testimony. I was amazed by how much I had forgotten that had gone on in my life and it was wonderful to see how things all play together and where you end up from it all. I had given my testimony to my MOPS group last year when we had a tea and treasure day. So I am copying the story and sharing it with you.

(Mind you, this is the longest post I have EVER done!)

I am a fairly new Christian. I have always known God. Believed in God my whole life, but only recently have had a relationship with Jesus Christ.

When I was younger – elementary school age- my mom & Dad sent us to church on a church bus. I don’t remember my parents going to church, but me, my brother and my 5 cousins who lived next door piled on the bus and went to the Baptist Church. I don’t remember a whole lot from those days, but I remember having fun. I liked going to church and I remember the church doing nice things for our family when my mom died. My mom was killed in a car accident when I was 8 yrs old. That night it happened is a flashback I live over way to often. It was a very hard thing for me to understand why that happened. Back then I was angry about it often. This happening really changed me and especially changed our family.

My dad was young. Just 26 when this happened. He became isolated from us kids. He turned to heavy metal music, partying and a new girlfriend. I came home from school one day two months after my mom died to a new girlfriend living in my house playing mommy. It was a scary, uncertain time in my life. I am thankful my aunt and uncle and cousins lived next door. I spent much time there. But even that became strained. My whole family turned against my dad because of his behavior. Some of the people I so needed to be around I no longer was allowed to be with. I felt very much alone.

As the next few years went on we saw my dad go from one girlfriend to the next- always moving them into our house. My dad joined a Hard Rock band and me & my brother were dragged from bar to bar while they had shows to play. Brought to strangers houses so the band could practice. Or we had a houseful of people mostly guys in and out all the time. Most of the time when we were brought along we had no idea where we were. Usually we hadn’t had much to eat and we were left alone a lot. By the time I was 11 yrs old I was pretty much responsible for both myself and my brother. We moved to a new town and even though the church bus came all the way to our new house to pick us up, we didn’t get on. Dad was never awake to make us so we didn’t. I didn’t have much faith in God at that point. All I could see was that I had nothing.

Luckily the summer before 6th grade I met a girl who was my age that lived in my neighborhood. We instantly became best friends. One thing that intrigued me about her family was that went to church every Sunday. And if you were sick, you stayed home and watched mass on TV. They were Catholic and that was different church then I had seen before. It made me want something again. I would see all these families attending service together and I wanted that so badly. Lucky for me they let me come along each week. Even bought me a new coat and some things I could wear to church. They didn’t even mind when I was there on TV church days. I was part of something and I liked it. I started praying again. There is one prayer during that time that always stands out to me.
When you think of unanswered prayers that were really answered but you didn’t know it until years later? The summer between 7th and 8th grade I knew we were moving from a small town to a larger town. I was terrified. Everyone told me horror stories of things that would happen. How the kids would be. How I would be treated. I prayed every night for God to bring the right kind of friends into my life. I didn’t want to meet kids who did drugs or who were fooling around. When we moved I met the “popular” kids and hung around with them. I made a lot of friends but those were the kids I kept struggling to stick with. Finally a fight with one girl caused me to start hanging around some of the other kids I had met. I was so upset for so long, but didn’t realize that was what I asked for. God pushed me away from the kids that later would be kicked out of school, doing drugs and having 1, sometimes 2 kids while they were still in high school. God answered my prayer!
Freshman year I met another friend who’s family went to a Catholic church. Her family invited me to come along also. I would walk across town each week to come because my dad wouldn’t drive me. I can remember it being the one time all week I would feel at peace. My whole life felt out of control, but on Sunday it was all okay. I continued to go to church with her throughout high school and even went to a few youth events with her.

During my high school years my dad did marry one of the girlfriends. My step mom started out to be the best thing that happened to us. She brought us close together as a family. Something we hadn’t been since my mom passed. At the time when she moved in we lived in a large house. My brother and I lived upstairs, Dad downstairs and we shared the kitchen. His side of the house was locked. My stepmom took down the locks and opened the door. Only for a short time though. She became pregnant. I was thrilled. Maybe I would get a sister! I did get a sister at 17 yrs old, but once she was born, so was my stepmothers addiction to pain killers. My little family was torn apart again. There was screaming, sometimes hitting. I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted. I was working to pay for all of my things and when my things and money started missing I had to move out. One of my friends witnessed the way I was being treated and told her parents. I left the house a month after I turned 18, since I was still in high school my friends parents asked me to move in with them. I lived there until I left for college.

When I moved back this way I started going to church. Methodist Church, with my grandma. We did that and we always went out to lunch afterwards. It was nice and I enjoyed the time spent with Grandma but I was needing something I just didn’t know what was missing. During this time I broke off my 5 year mentally abusive relationship with my high school boyfriend. I got my first real job, first apartment and started praying a little more. I was dissatisfied with myself and things going on in my life but had no idea how to make them better.

I met my husband and we dated for two years then he proposed. At the time he proposed my cousin was dating a preachers son and was making some complete life changes. We both did the partying scene late in high school and college her more so than I. So I was curious as to what was making her change. We started having some deep conversations about the lord and religion. When I asked her to be in my wedding, she accepted, then declined. She wouldn’t participate in a bachlorette party, or have champagne for the toast. Wow. What was making her change this much! I wanted to know more about this. So once Bill and I were married and on the advice of the pastor who married us, I started looking for a church that would be our church. It wasn’t until after I had our first child Ethan that I started going to her church. It was there that I started to feel a little different. I knew there were changes in my life I needed to make, but I kept making excuses for why I couldn’t take the time to make them. I was afraid to change my life too drastically. One day Pastor was really delivering a message that spoke to me. I sat there in the pew and I thought what is this about that people say they feel different, that they feel Jesus. I didn’t understand. So I just said to myself. Jesus, I believe in you, I want to know more about you, I ask you to come into my life today. Come into my heart I want to know what this is about.
The best way I can describe that feeling I felt that day is the Grinch. How his heart grows. I felt my heart outside of my body and was filled with warmth, like the biggest bear hug ever.
I knew Jesus was there. I knew things would be different. I stayed at her church for awhile but as Ethan grew I wanted him to be at home too. I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I never read the whole Bible or that I really didn’t understand what Easter was about. Most people assumed I was where my cousin was spiritually. I felt dumb and unsure of myself. I questioned if this really was the right time to do this.
Not long after a friend of mine invited me to MOPS. She was new to it and thought that it might be something I would enjoy since not many of my friends were moms. I thought I would check it out. It took me some time, but I met some other moms that I felt comfortable talking with and I felt more at ease asking questions about things I was unsure of. I bought a new Bible for myself and it was one geared for moms so I could relate to what I was reading. Someone told me to start by reading the Gospels and even taking that step made me so much more confident in this choice that I made!
Another thing that really helped me was by reading the children’s bible stories. Then when I would hear about them in church or come across them they made a little more sense.

Shortly after coming to MOPS, we switched churches and started coming to Church here. Since accepting the Lord as my savior there have been many times that I know God has helped us through. But mostly the year I was pg with my daughter Elena and the year that followed was a time that we were hit with everything. Financially, Emotionally. While I was pg I lost my job, then Bill was laid off early that year, Elena was sick- we were on the verge of losing so much. But by having faith and learning to trust God we made it through. We got through each month and learned to not question how it happened. Relationships that were strained were mended and somehow we came out of that year even stronger.

I am still growing in my walk with Christ. But as I look back I can see that I have always been drawn to God, always wanted religion in my life, always wanted to be loved. It took me 25 years until I found it and I know I can never loose God’s love. I am so thankful for the place that I am in my life now. I can see how God has protected me. Allowed me to be in so many different positions but helped me to make the right decisions. Some of the things I’ve seen in my life a young girl never should have to see. Who I am standing here is different than I ever have been. I’ve always had a positive attitude about most things, but now I look at each obstacle in life in a different way. Nothing is as much of a challenge as before because I know we don’t go through anything alone. I can always give my troubles, my worries and especially my praises to God!

I’ve learned that prayers don’t have to just be for the major things. Major crisis, major illness. God wants to hear from you and help you with the simplist things. I wake up each morning and pray that I don’t start my day off yelling at my kids, or not to forget to say something loving to my husband before he leaves in the morning. It’s amazing to me how even mundane things can be better just by taking a minute to talk it over with God.

As a mother I am so proud of where my children are spiritually. To see where my faith can help them know the Lord and see them start out having confidence in and loving Jesus. To see my husband grow and come closer as well.

The other day my 4 year old daughter asked me where wind came from while she was swinging. I told her God made the wind. She then asked me to give her a push on the swing, at the time I couldn’t leave the baby where she was. Just then a huge gust of wind gave her a big push. She yells out “THANK YOU JESUS!” with the biggest smile on her face. I had the biggest smile in my heart because that is what I say too, THANK YOU JESUS!!


Amy Guerino said...

What a delightful testimony to God's faithfulness to continue to reach you. I also am thankful for the maturity of those Jesus followers at many stages in your life. They met felt needs and did not "push" answers or pass judgement on you.

I really love: "I’ve always had a positive attitude about most things, but now I look at each obstacle in life in a different way. Nothing is as much of a challenge as before because I know we don’t go through anything alone." My obstacles lately include chronic pain and the difficulties my special needs child has....negative attitudes soar around our house. Holding onto His presence today. Thank you for visiting me at my place.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful testimony of God's love and grace in your life. I believe God gives us all a longing for Him because He created us in His image. I also had a longing for God as a child and am so glad he found me and saved me at age 18.

DidiLyn said...

That was simply beautiful. I'm so glad that you came and decided to share that with us, and with the BloggyWorld.There is just so much to say but I'll just end with this; you warmed my heart and make me praise our Lord for his love and faithfulness to us. Bless you for sharing this story.

Laura said...

It is always amazing to see God's work! Thanks for sharing!

KC said...

Oh Heather.. I'm sitting here in tears.. Our Names were writen in the Lambs book of life before the foundation of the world.. and every part of your story just proves that.. My sister and I were talking yesterday on the phone about how if you stop and look you can see God working every day in the little things in our life as well as the big.. Your story has God finger prints all over it.. Everything he bought you though and went with you though.. to get you to where you are today.. Just amazing.. We have such a Great God.. Oh Glory, Blessed be His Name..
Thank you so very much for sharing this with us.. The thank you Jesus made me smile too, And I thank God that He has brought you into my life also.. :) ((((((HUGS)))))))

Stayllo said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony! I cried again just like I did when you did it at MOPs.

Sheryl said...

Heather, what an amazing story. God has been pursuing you since the beginning. I know he pursues all of us but it so obvious in your story. He must have great plans for you and you're already fulfilling some of those in the lives of your children.

I'm glad I came over here.


Jen05 said...

Heather! Now I'm crying too! Thank you so much for sharing that. I learned a lot about you that I didn't know and I can definitely see how God has been in your life from the very start. Isn't it crazy how we can see that plan all along once we get through some times we didn't understand? Thanks again for sharing :)