I originally shared this large hunk of my testimony in 2009. Here I am, updating it in 2019…ten years after I first shared it. There’s a lot of my story intermingled throughout my site, but this is the most up-to-date and detailed telling of my backstory. Thank you, as always, for being a part of the story that God is still writing.
For those of you who have been following my blog for the past couple of years, you will know that God has really gotten a hold of me and is making some radical changes in my life, as well as the life of my husband. He has given a new life to our marriage and the way we parent our children. There are some things that we can only give God credit for and I strive to always do just that.
I’ve found over the years that when people start talking about how “wonderful” their life is and how close they are to Christ, it’s easy to find yourself discouraged in your own faith. In years past, people would talk to me about what all God was doing in their lives and it seemed as if they were always on a “Spiritual High.” They made it seem like they never struggled with anything and that God was leading them in big things. While I know that God is always at work in our lives, there have been times where I felt that God played favorites; simply because of the way someone would portray their relationship with Christ.
Many years of my young[er] life were spent questioning my own faith because I wasn’t like that. I was not always on a spiritual high or in a constant state of awareness of how good God is. I knew it all deep down, but life happens. Unfortunately, when life happens in a way that we don’t like it is easy to forget that God is still good. That mentality—the one that says everyone else’s faith is stronger than mine is/ever can be— can be damaging to our own spiritual walk.
In light of that, I wanted to share with you that I am not perfect.
I am not always on a Spiritual high.
I don’t spend each and every single day singing Praise and Worship (I’m from Alabama, y’all. I like my country music.)
I don’t spend nearly as much time studying and praying over God’s word asI would like to.
I have bad habits.
I’m a mess.
I do not have it all together.
From the outside, I look put together. Hair somewhat in place, makeup on, usually my clothes even match. However, if you take that away, you will see that I’m broken. I’m damaged. I’m covered in bruises and scars. I’ve had plenty of hurts done to me and inflicted a lot of my own pain. There are a ton of things in my life that I regret; things I would change in a heartbeat if I could. But, God had used every hardship to grow me, change me and break me. This is HIS story as much as it is mine.
I pretty much grew up in church. I was baptized when I was 12 by our then Pastor, Brother _____. I knew what being “saved” meant, but at that age, it’s hard to fully understand what it means to “die to self” and “take up my cross.” I do remember reading my Adventure Bible at night sometimes in my room, but I also remember that I hated Sunday School. I wasn’t a big fan of my Sunday school teacher and “felt board Jesus” seemed like more one of the of a fairy tales I enjoyed and nothing at all like what I was reading about on my own.
If you were to ask my parents, our Youth Group was a social club. For some, it really was. So many came to church on Wednesday nights because that was what you did in the south…you went to church. Many of the kids in town loved to attend our Youth Group because we were the only church in town that had an entire house dedicated to the teenagers. Imagine a big screen TV, kitchen stocked full of junk food and the best 90’s Christian posters you could buy covering the walls (Jars of Clay, anyone?)
During my younger teenage years, we got a new Pastor at our church whose name was Brother Teddy. He was by far the most wonderful preacher I have ever had the experience of getting to know. He was a man of God like no one else I had ever met and inspired our church in so many ways. I felt like God’s presence radiated out of him and filled the room whenever he was in it. I remember he used to take his shoes off to preach. He said that while standing in the Pulpit he was walking on Holy Ground, just as Moses did at the burning bush. His passion for the Word was contagious and I wanted to be just like that.
He brought with him a very young Youth Minister-David. David was in his young 20’s, single, but had a fire for Christ that was obvious. I was raised ‘Southern’ Baptist, and it was unheard of to have such a young single guy serving in a Pastoral position. Most of the church elders didn’t like him. They said he wasn’t good for the teenagers and that we needed someone older…someone married. Someone they thought fit the part. Regardless, David was chosen to serve as our Youth Minister on a temporary basis, just to see what he could do. Before David started, our youth group took up a half of a pew each week and maybe a full pew on Holidays. After David started, our numbers increased to the point of filling up six-eight pews on Sunday…for both morning and evening services.
David shared the message with us from a perspective we could relate to. He knew the temptations that were out there. He knew the sin we faced. He was blunt and to the point with what we needed to know and equipped us with the tools to stage our counterattack against the garbage in our society. I was on a Spiritual high like none I had ever felt.
My parent’s bought me a Teen Study Bible that I filled to capacity with study notes, highlighted scriptures, messages, and prayers that God answered. I stayed away from alcohol, drugs, & sex. I had a very close group of Christian friends that I spent time with outside of school and I spent whatever time I wasn’t involved with school activities at Church. I did mission work, led VBS classes, went to extra Bible Studies. I was on Fire. God was speaking to me and I was growing in my faith by leaps and bounds.
During all of this, I moved from public school to a smaller Christian Private School but managed to maintain a group of Christian Friends. The summer before my Senior Year of High School, I lost both of my grandmothers within a ten-day window.
I remember sitting in the woods behind my parent’s old house, crying and cursing God for doing that to me. Something that-even though I know God’s forgiven me for-I’m still ashamed of. I abandoned God because I thought he abandoned me. I went about my Senior Year, taking life into my own hands. Turning my back on the Jesus who I had once had such a fire for. I started mingling with the “popular” kids on the weekends. Eventually, I started drinking. I was in a very controlling and unhealthy relationship that led to me making a lot of poor decisions.
I was depressed.
I was angry.
I hated everything about myself and pretty much the life that I was living.
It’s amazing how quickly the Devil can jump on you and tear you down, isn’t it? I went from Spiritual High to Chronic Depression and misery in a matter of months. I felt abandoned by God and like all of the Christian living I had been doing meant nothing, God allowed something terrible to happen to me and it made me IRATE.
After High School came College…and Frat Parties. Lots and Lots of Frat Parties. I had three other roommates during my time in college. One was dating a guy who had a Cocaine Addiction, and the other three enjoyed the party scene…a LOT. I never had been, but I became a party girl—a HARDCORE Party Girl. I never intended to have that reputation, but I did. My first semester went by in a blur of classes, Sorority Obligations, Frat Parties, and Drinking. Lots and lots of alcohol. I did manage to go to class in the first semester and I pulled a 3.3 GPA.
I was taking 17 hours worth of classes Monday-Friday (all of which started no later than 9:00 am). I had to work eight hours a week on campus for a scholarship I had earned. I worked at least four days a week at a BBQ Joint, where my shifts weren’t over until 9:00, meaning I got home at 10:00. I was in a Sorority, so there were those obligations to meet…six hours of required Study Hall per week, Swaps with the Fraternities, and weekly meetings. Not to mention that first semester I was only a Pledge, so there were other things that I was required to do before I could officially be initiated.
When I got off of work at night, it was straight to the shower to redress and head out to the Bars or the Frat Houses until 2:00 or 3:00 am. Then I would home to cram in some study hours (assuming I wasn’t too drunk to hold my head up) and then get up for a class in the morning. First semester, I did all of this.
During that first semester, I also broke up with my High School boyfriend. It was a terrible relationship that had an even more terrible ending. An ending resulting in Police and an unwritten restraining order…on him. That relationship resulted in a lot of dirty rumors being started about me and a lot of bad circumstances. Such as waking up to go to class to find out that someone had slit my tires. Or the time someone keyed my car all the way around.
By the second semester, classes were out the window. Who cared if I went or not? I went to some. My history class was easy and I enjoyed it. But, my Biology Professor didn’t lecture so I didn’t go which resulted in a Big Fat “F” in Biology and “FA” for Failure to Attend my Lab. I was also taking Sociology and made a “D” because I didn’t bother to try. It wasn’t hard and the professor was an Alumni of my Sorority, so she gave me the opportunity for extra credit and I just didn’t take it.
These are things that I am most ashamed of but they are such a powerful part of my Testimony of Faith. I was lost. So lost in my own shame and embarrassment for some of the things I had done. For some of the things Alcohol had led me to.
I will state, for the record, that despite the abundance of marijuana in the college world and more than one opportunity to use, never once did I use drugs. NEVER. A testimony I am very proud of.
I remember it so vividly. It was a guy. [Ironically] His name was David and he wanted to be a youth minister. He was a very devout Christian, an Eagle Scout and I had a HUGE crush.
He was a friend of a sorority sister that I met in the Student Center one day in between classes. For whatever reason, he sat across from me at lunch and shared his testimony: who he was, what God was doing in his life, how God saved him and how he wanted to be a Youth Minister. He had spent who knows how many summers attending and then working at Kanakuk Kamps. His story and his life were powerful. That woke me up.
I went home that night, locked myself in my tiny room at my apartment and cried. I remember getting on the floor and begging God for a second chance to make things right. I went to the bookstore the next day and bought a Student Bible, a bunch of books on Rededicating your Life to Christ and how to Overcome Temptation in College. I wrote my sister (who is five years younger than me) a long note apologizing for the things that I had done and had allowed her to witness me doing because I knew that my life was a big influence on hers and that my party habits were not the things she needed to be seeing. I even started back going to classes.
I started attending Student Ministry Meetings on Monday and Thursdays. I started hanging out with my Christian Sorority Sisters. I ditched the beer and the bars. I was getting my life on track. It was HARD. I loved my roommates, even with their party habits. I missed hanging out with them. I missed the “friends” we hung out with. I hated being on the outside of their jokes during the day when I was at home from classes and they were just waking up from their hangovers. With God’s help, I somehow stuck to it.
When Finals and all rolled around. I hit the books. I tried my hardest to pull up what I had destroyed in just a few weeks. I bombed. Majorly. I made a “B” in my History Class that I loved. But I failed everything else, bringing my overall GPA to an embarrassing 1.3. Yes. 1.3.
Needless to say, my University Scholarship was out the window. I had blown it. Big Time. My parents refused to give me a second chance to make it on my own. Even though, to this day, I know it would have been different. I know I would have made up for it. I know that I would have a Degree right now. Naturally, I was mad. I was furious actually. I cried. A lot. I missed my friends because I had NONE at home.
I transferred to Junior College and started Pursuing a degree in Education. I found friends, of the wrong kind, and started drinking again. I failed another class. Ironically, the same Sociology Class I had made a “D” in the previous semester. I started dating the wrong guys, again. It was like my life had hit replay, only this time, I wasn’t enjoying it so much.
I was depressed and angry.
I was broken and hurt.
I was drinking just because it made me feel better—or it made me lose myself.
I was waitressing, making good money, but I was miserable.
He allowed me to get a job at the Hospital close to my hometown. I started working in the CCU. Then I met Josh. Sometime before I started working at the hospital, I had given up drinking once and for all. I witnessed a very close friend nearly lose his life in a terrible alcohol-related car accident. I put the alcohol down cold-turkey once and for all and swore I wouldn’t touch it again. I knew that it wasn’t really fulfilling me, it wasn’t making me happy. I had let it become a habit. A bad habit that was leading me deeper into alcoholism.
Josh and I met at the hospital we both worked at in August of 2007. We started dating in November, got engaged in February and got married in April 2008. I found out I was pregnant in May. We moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in June and I had Noah in October. I wish I could throw in the “and we lived happily ever after” line right here, but I can’t. My marriage was good but still had its bumps. I was having a baby. I essentially had all of the things that I had always wanted.
But, I wasn’t right with God. There was a point before Noah was born that I tried to mend my relationship with God. I started studying my Bible again. I spent hours during the day while Josh was working reading my Bible, studying and praying. We had found a church we enjoyed and I was going to a Moms Group during the week. But, there was a situation going on in our home at the time that had me miserable and depressed. A situation that was like the black plaque in our house.
I prayed about it.
And prayed about it.
And prayed about some more.
I honestly spent hours upon hours some days praying for this situation to go away. Praying that God would fix it and make it better. Praying that God would heal what was breaking daily.
At least not then and I hated God all over again. This pain that I was feeling was worse than anything I had ever battled in my life. It was a hurt that struck me to the deepest part of my body and was killing me and everything that I loved along with it. I was more upset and broken than I had ever been. When it didn’t end and didn’t change, I gave up on God. I felt like I was doing my part. I was praying relentlessly and for the most part, I felt like I was praying faithfully, but still that black cloud hung.
Noah was born and the past couple of years have led me up to this point I am at today. That black cloud has finally dissipated and returned and dissipated again. We have moved multiple times, said goodbye to multiple friends and had two more children.
God has started to heal what was broken and damaged. He’s called our family into ministry. Amends have been made and mistakes have been forgiven. Relationships have been healed. God has started to give me a love for my husband and my children that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. He has opened my heart to receive his word and his will for my life.
He is using tools I never imagined to teach me and make me into who he wants me to be. I shared all of this with you, to show any of you that think that your mistakes can’t be forgiven, that you’re wrong. If God can save me and make me new again, then I know he can make you new too. He has rekindled my spirit and changed my heart in ways that I never could have changed on my own. God is showing me that he has big, BIG plans for my life. Plans that exceed anything that I could have ever planned or studied for. And he has shown me that he can turn even the worst of circumstances into good ones.
If I hadn’t have failed so badly my first year in college, I never would have moved back home, never would have gotten that job at the hospital, and never would have met Josh when I did. God is at work in some way or another in your life.
You just have to trust him, acknowledge him, and know that he is the author of our stories.