I knew I wanted to do 2 blog posts for today’s blog hop. This is God’s testimony of my journey to Him. I give Him ALL the glory, and honor and praise for how He has molded me. I don’t even want to think about where I’d be if He wasn’t Lord of my life…
Where to start?
My brother and I went to preschool at the Baptist church outside of Chattanooga, TN when I was little.
When we moved to Knoxville, we visited the local Methodist church a few times. It got to where my parents would drop me off for Sunday School and most often would pick me up before church, unless I had a job in the service. I went for children’s choir practice on Wednesday nights and I often lit the candles as the service began on Sunday mornings. (I can’t remember my “official” title).
But I was not raised in a Christian home. I was raised in a home with morals; but there was no prayer, no regular reference to God and no regular church attendance.
I have a Bible that I received from one of the churches we visited when I was a child.
In that Bible, there are at least 3 dates written down as “the date I was saved”
but none of those 3 people who led me in the “sinners prayer” told me HOW to continue…
fast forward to when I was 11 or 12
my life fell apart!
My parents d-i-v-o-r-c-e-d.
That was in 1976
My family looked perfect on the outside. No one could believe it. I was the only kid in our neighborhood that had divorced parents.
I think I was the only one in my 6th grade class whose mother was a divorcee.
That summer we went to visit my Grandma in New York (yup, my Mom’s a Yank)
We ended up staying for part of the school year. That was the beginning of what I call my “looking for love in all the wrong places” years
When we returned to Knoxville, it got really bad:
Church stopped because every other weekend was spent at my Dad’s
I started smoking, because my mother had and I thought it was “cool” it was easy to take her Virginia Slim Menthol”s when I couldn’t convince someone to buy me Marlboro reds. And when my Grandma was around it was good old STRONG Raleigh’s…I still don’t know if either of them ever wondered why they’d go through so many cigarettes, or maybe they just didn’t want to know the answer.
I sought approval in every boy I knew or met.
I lost my innocence at around age 13…it’s just distant memories now; I won’t go into details, but I think of my own daughter at that age and can’t imagine her doing the things I did back then. I am SO very thankful for that!
I lost my virginity at 17…what most would call a one night stand with an older man who I had known for several months.
From there it spiraled downhill fast.
High school prom night was spent with my boyfriend at my Mom’s apartment without supervision.
Every man I dated more than once was “the one” so it made s*x before marriage ok. Even though that was not the way I was raised; and I knew it was not right.
One of my Aunts was appalled that I would even consider living with my boyfriend without marriage (yes, that was a long time ago, as today no one thinks twice about it).
I was grandfathered into a legal drinking age of 19.
Confetti’s (the local nightclub) had 25 cent beer on Tuesdays and 25 cent well drinks for ladies night on Thursdays!
The music was loud, the place was smokey and the guys were hot!
Or maybe it was just dark enough and I was just tipsy enough that I thought they were hot.
I worked as a cocktail waitress in one of the little joints down the road. When they were desperate, they let me tend bar too.
Waffle House at 3 am was another regular spot in my routine. 2 eggs scrambled,grits and hash browns scattered, smothered and covered.
I went to community college at 23. Started working at a great local restaurant, since defunct.
After work, Applebee’s was the place to be, the cheap beer flowed, usually until the placed closed.
I had been dating a man for 4 years that would use me, but wouldn’t tell me he loved me. I am so ashamed of the way I acted; especially with him. I was desperate for love and I would do about anything to get it.
4 YEARS I continued this charade.
About that time, my mom started dating the man who would become her 3rd husband.
He attended a local church.
I was SO empty! I was still seeking the love I had missed from my Daddy in those years I desperately needed him.
I do have to stop here and say that my dad and I have had a wonderful relationship. I LOVED every other weekend visits to his house when I was a teenager, and working in the garage with him, cleaning repo’s and frying up zucchini, summer squash, okra etc. for dinner every summer. In fact, I moved into his basement when I was 18. I do not blame my daddy for any of my decisions. I KNOW without a doubt he loved me then and he loves me now. (see my “ditto” post). I also know that I am who I am today because of my experiences, while i would never wish it on anyone else; I can say without a doubt God has used my life to His glory!
Back to my story:
I started attending church regularly.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I NEEDED the Lord!
HE was what I had been searching for all those years!
I remember well…it was a Sunday night in June, 1991. I had been working and a friend and I were sitting at Applebee’s.
I had ordered a draft beer. I took a sip and it tasted TERRIBLE! Now that is amazing in and of itself. As I had been sipping beer since I was probably 10 and LOVED the taste of beer.
But that night…it sat on the table, untouched. The entire glass.
That was the night God called me.
I did NOTHING to be His. No sinners prayer, no baptism, no nothing
But I knew I was changed!
That Friday night I was baptized.
But, I was still looking for love in all the wrong places.
I thought,” now that I’m a Christian, God will give me a husband”
I am ashamed to say that wore 2 engagement rings before Shane’s.
I had transferred to a small Christian college in West Tennessee
Then I spent a summer in the Inner City of Memphis.
Memphis was my missions trip, and believe me…the inner city is much different from “normal” life in any other part of the country. It truly is a mission field.
I grew so much that summer!
I realized I didn’t NEED a husband! I NEEDED God alone!
And that next fall at college,
God sent Shane. (I did have to wait for him to grow up after all, I was 29 and he was 20 when we married)
We will celebrate 20 years this August!
Is my heart always surrendered?
Sometimes my past comes back to haunt me
Sometimes I pull into myself, instead of trusting God, or Shane.
Sometimes the “if I’m perfect, people will love me” bug bites me!
I LOVE Jesus! My DESIRE is to submit to Him. I want to SERVE Him!
And I cannot describe the freedom and peace I have because of my relationship with Him!
Peace that surpasses all understanding.
Peace I never found in my life BC (before Christ).
Amazing peace, Amazing assurance that I can rest in Him through the storms of life. Praise God!
It’s funny, those who knew me then are surprised at who I am now, and those that know me now, are surprised when they find out who I was.
Isn’t God amazing!