I have never put my testimony in writing before, so I will do my best here to be as succinct as possible. I do not intend to make this a huge post, but I do want to give a clear picture of my past and where God has brought me to in my adult life. So....here goes....
I grew up in a conservative Christian home so accepting Jesus into my heart and life as Lord and Savior was expected once the age of accountability or understanding had been reached. There was no fanfare when I did (I was 8). I had no major life changing or altering experience as some do when they come to Christ. I just said a prayer with my father and went on about my Sunday afternoon as any other 8 year old little girl would have.
I am the oldest child of three children. I have a younger brother and a younger sister whom I love dearly but being the oldest comes with responsibilities of being a good example, teaching the younger children how to grow into the different phases of relationships with our parents, etc. I was not the best example of a big sister as a teenager. I was dealing with being sexually molested by a friend of my father's. I babysat his children. I looked up to him and to his wife as friends, as leaders in the church we were attending. I often wonder if he remembers what he did to me. If he cares about the scars and shame he inflicted upon me. I took me years to deal with and get over the shame of what he did.
We lived in Oxford, Mississippi and I thoroughly and completely hated living there. I do not have many good memories of that time in my life and at the age of 17 is when my convictions began to be tested. My mother was consumed with caring for grandmother, who had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiform - a very aggressive form of brain cancer. My father was working and very unhappy with the way his job was going. I was kind of left to fend for myself as the oldest child. I was a high school student and worked nearly a full time job. In my senior year, after my grandmother was diagnosed with brain cancer, my parents and I went to the principal of the high school and explained the situation. I only needed 1 1/2 credits (Senior English and Government) to have all the credits I needed to graduate so I wanted to do the remaining credits in homestudy so I could be at home as much as possible to help my mother with my siblings and with my grandmother between treatments. The principal said No. With my parents approval, I withdrew from high school and moved in with my grandparents 9 weeks into my senior year.
Many people have looked at me very disapprovingly for quitting my senior year. After all, what is a few months? Those few months turned out to be so precious to me. I had more time with my grandmother. I had an opportunity to give my mother rest as I sat in the hospital rooms from time to time. On December 23 that year, my grandmother went home to be with the Lord. I never have and will never regret my decision.
I did attempt to return to school second semester. I would not have graduated with my class and I would have had to take a summer school session but I would have at least received a high school diploma. I was utterly and completely ostracized. There were rumors that I had been pregnant but lost the baby. Another rumor was that I had an abortion. Since I had quit school and come back, some of my friends were no longer allowed to be around me. I quit again after two weeks back. Then I kind of spiraled out of control. Drinking, staying out all night, indiscriminate sex and it goes on. My relationship with my parents was awful. I was not a respectful daughter. I completely ignored any direction or discipline they attempted. They finally gave me an ultimatum one Sunday morning. Abide by their rules or move out. I moved out. I moved in with my boyfriend and his family...then I got pregnant with my oldest child right after my 18th birthday.
I decided after finding out I was pregnant that I was not in the right place. I literally woke up one day and called my mother and asked to come home. My parents never judged me, they never said told you so. My mother's response was, "God not only returned our daughter to us, but He has given us a gift in a grandchild." The fear was gone and replaced with my mother's love and my father's acceptance. I am a blessed woman, because this same story for too many pregnant teens does not have the ending mine does.
When my daughter was 13 months old, I met - and married - my ex-husband. My ex-husband verbally and emotionally abused me from the day we got married until the day we divorced. I have always said I wish he had physically beat me. Physical wounds heal faster than emotional or verbal abuse. He had numerous affairs and after only 2 1/2 years, I divorced him. The only good to come from my first marriage is my oldest son. My son has never met his biological father and he is soon to be 21 years old.
It was after my divorce that the Lord really started working on my heart and in my life. I saw miracles occur in my life from getting up to go to work and finding a flat tire, to coming home from work and finding that the same tire had been repaired. God provided for this single mother and two children in ways I cannot explain or describe. And then...
Spring of 1996 arrived and I met the love of my life. He accepted my two children as his own. He helped heal my shattered heart. He has every quality I needed then and that I adore about him now. We have been married 18 years. It has not been perfect and we have had our bumps as all marriages do. We have two beautiful children together. Between our two children, I had a miscarriage. That was hard. We found out at what should have been my 13th week, that the baby had not actually formed and was not really a baby. My body did not expel the failed pregnancy. I had to have a D&C. My upbringing, my belief system, my faith in God had a very difficult time dealing with the D&C because that is an abortion procedure. I vehemently oppose abortion under any circumstances.
My husband, though hurting himself, was great and his selfless support is something I will always be thankful for during that time. We both firmly believe that something was going to be wrong with the baby, whom I personally believe was a little girl, and God protected us from whatever we would have had to deal with. Three months after the miscarriage, we found out we were pregnant with our youngest son. It was a tough pregnancy. I spent the last two months on bedrest. He was born a happy and healthy baby and 14 years later, he is still such a blessing and joy to us.
To end this long story, I will say...there is so much more to this story than I can include here. Some details I have excluded to protect names and relationships...some events I have discarded completely because my intent was not to put this in book form!
God is so good and He is so merciful. His love and grace can flood through us and heal wounded spirits and restore lives and relationships if we allow Him to. I am living proof.