Monday, June 20, 2011

my testimony: as it just now came out

So, you're going along, minding your own business, doing fine when all of a sudden - life happens.

I'm still wrestling with doing this.

Writing out my testimony, that is.

I feel like I'm supposed to, but it's easier said than done.

Everyone has their own share of skeletons in their closets. I'm no different from anyone else in that aspect. And I'm pretty sure there are some that will continue to stay there simply because it does neither good nor bad to let THOSE out.

No one goes through life completely unchanged by the events and situations they encounter.

hmmmm... where to begin....

Once upon a time, in a place far, far away from here..
(not really, but that's how stories usually begin).
I grew up in the south. Same house for the 1st 16 years of my life. Then my parents moved and are still there to this day.
I've been in church ever since I was old enough to be around people and stay in a church nursery.
Here in the south, there are more churches than gas stations and grocery stores combined.
I was under the impression that I was a Christian from the moment I learned who Jesus was and the books of the Bible song (which i still use to this day sometimes ;) and all the stories of God's chosen people. But... Christianity is not to be 'inherited' just because your parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins are Christians. It's a choice EVERYONE will make one way or the other.

I grew up fully involved in church. I was baptized with my parents in Lake Murray when I was 13, played guitar and sang in our church youth group, went to church summer camp, even went to a few FCA meetings when I was in high school. Not until 2008 did I know what it mean to be a Christian.

So, after high school, I pretty much decided to start making my own decisions, no matter who it hurt. I used to play in the Tuesday Night Music Challenges and the Village Idiot in 5 pts. That's where I met and started dating the guy I moved to Nashville TN (9 hours away from home) with. I can't even remember feeling bad about it at the time or thinking I was doing anything wrong. It was just life, and it just happened. I was an adult. I worked full time and kept house after myself (18) and 19 year old boyfriend. Thinking back now, WOW, we were still kids!! Things weren't horrible, but yes, we were still learning who we were and how to be adults.

We made friends and hung out.. blah blah blah.. he joined the coast guard, we got married and moved even further away (wildwood, new jersey). We made friends, hung out, moved to Charleston SC, I got very sick, had to have my entire colon removed, healed..
We made friends in Charleston, SC, hung out.. ( a lot of this hanging out with friends was done at bars and by this time, I was 21, but was about sick of the bar/drinking scene since that's all it seemed like we did.) We just grew in different directions, got divorced and I moved back home. That was FUN!
It's funny how the choices you make WILL affect other people, whether you want them to or not.

Skipping through lots of fun details... I was pretty much constantly in a relationship. Had to have someone to... idon'tknow.. make me feel complete, loved, accepted, needed, responsible... NEVER ONCE did I think of church, God, or asking Him for help.
There is a lot about my past that I don't remember. Almost like a blur.

In 2006, I met Roger. I knew him from high school, but we didn't know each other there. He was gorgeous and I do remember that. Things were great for a little while - about 2 months - and that's when we started our downward spiral. He introduced me to lots of things. I listened to Marilyn Manson, TOOL, Nine Inch Nails, Blue October... they turned out to be some of my favorite bands. He was very influential in my life and on my life, personality, and decisions. He was arrested because of drug use and things should have changed there, but they didn't. It got deeper and even more involved. And the worst part is, no one really knew. I got amazingly well at hiding things.
Yeah, well in 2008, I got pregnant. I was devastated!! what was i doing? what would my parents say? how was i going to raise a child with a junkie? There are times when I remember Roger going to work at Jillian's and coming home with $5, saying it was a slow night. He did that a lot. I knew he was lying. He thought he was good at it, but since I was better at it, I knew.
I let this go on until I couldn't take it anymore. I was so sad and depressed and we fought all the time and I didn't even want to be in the same room with him - ever, that I let it 'slip' to his parents the situation we were in. One month before Hailee was born, Roger's sister and brother in law came to our apartment and gave him the ultimatum of either him leaving or me going back to my parents.
(some adults we turned out to be, huh?)
They drove him to U-Turn For Christ.
A Christian discipleship program where drug/alcohol or anyone addicted to anything can go for i guess rehabilitation in a very zero tolerance Biblical setting. It was like Bible boot camp. I wasn't to have ANY contact with him for atleast his 1st 6 weeks there since we weren't married.
Roger was an athiest. He left after being there for 1 day because "he had already been to church 3 times" and couldn't take it.  WahWahWah... I wouldn't go get him. He had no choice but to stay. This was his rock bottom and my 'i can't take anymore because there's about to be someone else i have to worry about, not you anymore'.

By the end of the 1st week, God met Roger where He was and Roger surrendered his life to God. He tells his story much better than I ever could. I only played a small part in all of it, but Roger, a junkie, irresponsible daddy of my unborn child, was about to be used by God to draw me nearer to Him.

He was allowed to come to the hospital with an overseer from the program and meet his daughter for the 1st time the day I had her. I remember seeing him and him telling me all about how good he was doing and he held Hailee, but I don't remember much else.

That was it until he finished 1st phase (the 1st 8 weeks). Then, sometime in 2nd phase, his next 6 MONTHS, we were able to be together with his family present so we could have family time with Hailee. When we would talk, he wouldn't use curse words. He would text me scripture (I never had the time or interest to look it up). We would listen to Christian music (this really used to get on my nerves). When I would say any curse words, or want to listen to music I wanted to listen to, or watch what I wanted to watch - not Bible movies, he would look at me like I had 2 heads. He even gave me a devotional, but I didn't read it.

Not until I started going to church with him did it all start to click.
We went to Calvary Chapel Lexington, where the men's U-Turn ranch is located. The pastor was a teacher. Sunday mornings, we would sing worship music, then everyone takes out their Bibles and picks up where the pastor left off reading last sunday. He didn't just 'read' to us either. He taught teaches us. It's not his interpretation either, it's simply the word, simply. By learning and reading the Bible, I was learning things I've never known and have been a 'christian' allllllll my life. (yeah right.)
I started looking forward to going to church and learning more, and slowly, my heart started changing too.
My language changed, my interests changed, my attitude changed. meaning: i couldn't listen to the radio stations or bands i was used to listening to because now, it was clear just how much garbage was going in my ears. I couln't read the same books or say the same words just because how much garbage was coming out of my mouth. I couldn't watch the same movies or TV shows because they would make me feel ashamed of things that were going on in them. Would I want to be watching, listening, talking like I used to, drinking like I used to if Jesus were right there with me? NO!

because He is. and has been the whole time. and i never cared before. but in wanting to be more like Jesus, even MY life was taking a U-Turn for Christ :)

We got married, more involved in Calvary Chapel, and moved our little family into a house almost behind the church. Life hasn't been without it's challenges, but we deal with them in a different way. Instead of turning to the world to fix things, we turn to the Word. There are people that show us genuine love and we are so excited to see God work in other people's lives, the same way He has worked in our lives. It is better to give than to recieve. We are happy in our tiny little home because it was a gift from God. His timing is perfect in everything. There HAVE been times where the money/provisions we needed could have ONLY came from God, and it is exciting when you see things come together :)
He meets you where you are. He's always been there and always will be there. He wants to give you a hope and a future, not bad things. Jeremiah 29:11 says,
"11 For I know the (A)plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for (B)welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a (C)hope."
and it's the truth.
The Bible changes lives. It renews hope, gives you a future an eternity to look forward to.
Who else can make an athiest change his beliefs? not any person.
Who else can turn someone's life around so completely? not any person.
Try as you might, you will never experience true happiness until God fills the God-sized-holes in your heart that only He can fill.
It will take God an eternity to show us just how much He loves us, and that's just what I plan on doing for the rest of my eternity.
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
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