As a child, I attended a mainline church. I always believed there was a God and desired to please Him. When I was 9 years old, I went to vacation Bible school with the neighbors. They were Southern Baptists. We made popsicle stick pencil cans, had a flannel board Bible lesson (now I’m dating myself) and then went to the sanctuary where we heard the most hair raising sermon about Hell you’d ever want to hear. Every child went to the altar that night, unless they had gone before I guess. I refer to it as being “scared into the Kingdom”. The next year I went back and insisted that they pray with me again because I just felt that I needed to do it. The altar worker argued with me but I told her I wasn’t leaving until she prayed again. After that I would often lay in my windowsill at night, looking at the stars and talking to God and I would sense that there was someone there with me, the same feeling I felt when I went to church with my grandmother who attended a Pentecostal church. There were periods of time through middle school and high school that I read the Bible and prayed but never had anyone to guide me in Christian growth. I remember that I put the golden rule in my locker at school and it strengthened me when I was being teased relentlessly because I had grown way too fast and went from being ultra athletic to barely being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. My growth spurt had taken all my coordination. And because of my height my jeans were “flood” length instead of dragging on the ground, which was the style then. My Dad couldn’t yet afford to drive me 2 hours away and pay for the tall sizes.
While in college, I broke up with my boyfriend and I was miserable. I came to the realization that I needed that Jesus I’d experienced as a child so I went to the campus ministry building and sat there for 6 hours, hoping that just one person coming in and out of Bible study would realize that I was new there and stop to chat, but no one did so I went on without Him, but attended church sporadically until I graduated.
After college, I married my boyfriend of 3 ½ years and life got miserable real fast. I was definitely not ready for marriage. Between that and the stress of my job, I became ill and went to the doctor. As I lay on the table, I noticed a sign on the ceiling that said “Lord, please help me remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together.” My diagnosis was that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and valium was prescribed. In that day, any kind of mental or emotional illness carried a negative stigma. They didn’t know then what they know now about it. As I sat in my living room the next day I became hopeless. My life was miserable and I was going crazy, or so I thought. I felt like such a failure. I thought about how nothing I ever did in life seemed to completely please anyone and about my poor husband having to live with a crazy person and decided to end my life. As I held the whole bottle of valium in my hand and put them to my mouth, that sign from the doctor’s office and my windowsill experiences played in my mind like a motion picture. I got up, flushed the pills down the toilet and started reading my Bible every time I felt sick. I started at Genesis 1. I didn’t understand half of what I read but I could tell that the words had a calming effect on my heart. Several months later, I sat in a church in State College, PA. I wasn’t particularly listening to the sermon, (Sorry, Pastor B). I was talking to the Lord in my head telling Him how unloved and unlovely I felt and in my head, I heard His voice. He told me that He loved me and invited me to have a love relationship with Him. It was so appealing to me because by then I was desperate for love and I found myself walking to the front of the church sobbing while the Pastor was still preaching. I don’t know if he intended to have an altar call or not, but I caused one. A sweet lady prayed with me and I literally felt what seemed like a 2 ton weight lift off my shoulders and I don’t think that my feet touched the floor the whole way to my car. I have never looked back or gone back to my old life. I have never been the same. I have never regretted letting Jesus love me.
A few weeks after I was saved, my husband was also saved and we stopped talking about divorce. The time came when we wanted children but I could not get pregnant. One day while reading my Bible I came across some verses that said that the Lord would make me a joyful mother of children, so I looked up to heaven and I said, Lord, it says right here that you can make me a joyful mother of children. I know you are very busy taking care of the missionaries and people in real trouble, but when you have time, could you please make it so that I can have children? Again, I felt that presence. It didn’t just descend this time. It came in my driveway, around to my back door, through my kitchen and into the room where I was sitting and just rested real heavy for a minute or two and then went away. After that I had a peace where there had once been sadness when I thought of having children. I was a new Christian and I didn’t understand that He had healed my body until a few weeks later when I found out that we were going to have a baby. I had told the Lord that I would like a blond haired, blue eyed girl with a sweet disposition and a passion for Him and the Lord gave me just what I asked for. As a result, I realized that I may belong to the largest family in the world-the family of God-but when I call my Father, it’s like I’m His only child and He gives His full attention to me and comes to visit me wherever I am. I’m that special to Him. And so are you.
Through the years, many things like this have happened. God miraculously saved the lives of two of my children after a doctor said they were unresponsive at the scene of a devastating car accident and I was told that they wouldn’t make it. He healed them up enough to go home in just 2 months instead of the six months the doctors had predicted. I was told time and time again that something miraculous was happening by the doctors, nurses and social workers at the hospital but I told them that they weren’t miracles for God, He was just doing what He does and being who He is. I can honestly say that in every situation where I have needed something, God has come through, whether it was food, money or any other type of provision, the need for a babysitter that I felt I could trust, times when I needed comfort or wisdom in a situation, times that I have needed great courage, or those times when I again felt unloved or unlovely. In fact, I am still learning how deeply and completely God loves me and that His love is perfect love. How many without God can say that they are loved with perfect love? I honestly don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want the kind of love I have found in God.
I’ve seen Him work in the lives of others bringing them through abuse to joy, healing eating disorders, making Himself real to them no matter how far from Him they are, turning them from being evil doers to lovers of good, from being negative to being hopeful, from feeling fatherless to knowing a Father’s love, and from being addicted to complete freedom. He’s REAL and He’s REALLY GOOD!
That doesn’t mean that I am perfect or that my life is easy. Anyone who knows me knows how imperfect I truly am. It doesn’t mean that bad things never happen to me, they do. I have faced and currently am facing difficult hardships That’s called life. It doesn’t mean that I never fail or make mistakes. But I have found that I can be in hard circumstances on the outside but still have peace, hope and expectation of good on the inside as long as I remember that He is with me through it all and that He is the solution to every problem that I face. I navigate life knowing that He is there, guiding me and holding my hand. I’m never alone. I can expect good to come because I know He sees the end from the beginning. He’s ready to help 24/7 and knows what I need before I even ask and has an answer all ready when I call. I love that no matter where I am, I can create a windowsill moment and can feel His presence anytime that I need Him or just want to spend some time in His presence. I love that His words, found in the Bible, have life in them. When I read them, they change me, comfort me, and remind me of the hope I have in Him, both in this life and the next. I love that this life is not all we have. It’s just the precursor to an eternal life where there are no tears, no pain, no needs or wants, just peace and joy and total fulfillment. I love that this is available for anyone who truly wants it no matter how far from Him you may think that you are. He has opened love’s gate and He will hold onto you and never let you go.
If anyone would like to talk with me further about my experience or if you have questions about how to know that God is there for you as He has been for me, please contact me. I would love to tell you about Him. #Jesuschangedmylife