Life began J
I was brought up one of eight children. My mom was divorced when I was three and remarried when I was about five. My mom always sent us to the local religious service. This continued as I was growing up. Sunday school, Wednesday night, pot luck suppers, youth group, etc. etc. I was raised going to these religious social groups (In hindsight I can see that this is all they were.) I probably raised my hand in an "altar call" a dozen times to be saved. I sang hymns, I prayed, and I was always trying to please my parents. I was told by others, particularly my mom, that I was saved, and I believed that. I always did want to be good but my motivation was not to please the Lord, but rather to please others. I could not see the contradictions between what God said and what was happening in my own house. As I look back I see just how many contradictions and how much hypocrisy there really was. Jesus' words were not spoken, let alone attempted to be lived. It was all "grace" no righteousness, live like you want, because you are just back slidden and God will forgive you. My parents condoned all kinds of behavior in our house. The justice and righteousness of God was not taught. There was no conviction of sin. I would always feel this terrible guilt inside. I would do many things to push it away, but it was always there, and no one could take it away.
Four out of five of my brothers were either in jail, doing drugs or wandering aimlessly about. My sisters were all living with there boyfriends, bringing them over for dinner, with my "Christian" parents blessing the whole mess (the religious Jewish family down the street would put my family to shame morally!) I tried to be the good one.
I enrolled in Nyack college, an alleged "christian college". My motivation for going was not spiritual or academic but rather I had met some friends that were going there. Well there I was at this school, and academically I did not do well. Spiritually I was already dead, but now I was just heaping up in my mind more facts about God. I didn’t need facts. I needed Him…Praise the Lord He never gave up on me. Life at Nyack College contributed to the hypocrisy I had seen all my life, with the religious leaders no different than the rest of the world around me. My own sin and foolishness led me to make choices that led me away from God and anything that had to do with Him. The people all around me, who claimed to know God and to be His, were right there with me in the pit. People in positions of religious authority taking advantage of others and using them for there own sinful pleasures. I could go on and on. Actions speak louder than words. If I had been a true disciple of Jesus, I could not have lived the way I had been living.
I eventually left the college and met a few other "christians". Nothing was different and again my own sin led me to move in with a man whom I later married. This man was not claiming to be religious at all. I had made a choice. I did not want to have anything to do with religious people (at that time I didn’t know any true disciples of Jesus). I still believed (hard to imagine) that I was O.K. with God. My life with my husband was not grossly immoral. My heart and my attitudes were wretched and sinful, as were some of the things I did. The guilt was still there, and I would drive it away by my increasingly obsessive behavior. I would just push it away and try not to think. The Lord was drawing me (thank you Jesus forever for not giving up on this stubborn soul!!!).
I remember being pregnant with my son Jeffrey and singing in the car "Jesus loves you", and asking God to please have my son be healthy. I was afraid He was going to punish me (for at some level I knew I deserved His wrath). I promised God I would take Jeffrey to "church". Well Jeffrey was born healthy, and I continued in my sinful wretched ways, driving away the guilt that was always there. One day I remember I was standing in the kitchen, and I stopped and thought, 'is this all there is?'
I then began my search. It was October 1996. I was in a little religious building, and some guy was talking (I think about sin), and all of a sudden I knew that all those things I had learned about Jesus were true. I knew at that moment that I was forgiven. I was weeping for I understood at some level that I had just passed from death to life!
The events after that day are a little confusing and hard to explain. You see I was taught that I had been "born again" when I was younger, so I thought I was just coming back to the Lord. It wasn’t until 11months later while I was attending a bible study and reading through the book of 1st John, that I knew then that I had recently just been "born again" for real! The life that I had been living previous to meeting the Lord was a life that a true disciple of Jesus could not have lived. I was sooo very grateful to finally be forgiven and to be truly His! I was His I am His praise Him forever!!
Well after that wonderful day when I met Jesus, my life started to slowly change. As I was to understand later in my walk with Him, my life became more difficult…yet Jesus was taking the guilt away! My relationship with my husband began to worsen. It had been a relationship built on the flesh. Now I had met Jesus and He was changing me. All the things that used to be important were losing their importance. As I sought to know more about my Savior and what He wanted from me, my life began to change. My husband showed a little interest at first in spiritual things, and even claimed to be "born again", yet there was no fruit. The closer I got to Jesus the more the tension grew in our house. My husband would get very angry and say mean and hurtful things. Physical threats and the emotional stress were very hard to bear, not only for me, but also for my son who was two. Through it all I knew Jesus was with me guiding me, loving me.
I was so hungry .The same Jesus whom I had grown up knowing ABOUT was now real!! I wanted to tell the world! I began to tell everyone I knew. Sadly, instead of them repenting and also truly knowing Jesus, they did not want me around anymore. This was a strain on my marriage. I was told that I talked to much about God and that I was not the same person anymore. I spent a lot of those first few months reading and feeding on Gods words, and praying for a friend. The people in the religious building did not have time and showed no interest in getting together with me and so I just kept praying. The Lord answered my prayers several months later. I started to attend a bible study. I met a few other believers that wanted to talk about Jesus my Life!
It was here that I met my future husband Tim. I could see in him a hunger for truth, and for the first time I had met someone who was really trying to do what He believed! I asked Him to talk with my husband and he was the only person who ever attempted to help my husband. My husband was not seeking the Lord, and attempts to talk with Him were unfruitful. After several months, I felt that I could not bear living with this constant tension. So I sought the Lord and I took my son and left to go to my mother’s house in hopes that we would reconcile.
The next few months were very difficult. Hopes of reconciliation grew dim as my husband remained unrepentant, and unwilling to even attempt to reconcile. I agreed to not fellowship with Tim or any other "bible study" member, and for two months I did not. After that nothing changed and the Lord provided an apartment and a full time job for me and Jeffrey. We were divorced a year later. Through all of this my mother and dad refused to talk with me as I began to speak Jesus' words to them . They were so offended. Jesus' words are so true, as "he does not bring peace but a sword". Every relationship I had had in this world was gone. Jesus was and is everything to me. "He has reached down from on high and took hold of me: He drew me out of deep waters" (Psalm 18:16). I could have them back IF I ignored Jesus and just spoke about religion and the things of the world. Praise the Lord by His grace He gave me the strength to go through this very difficult time of pain and rejection from all whom I had known. They all think I am crazy (I am crazy in love with Jesus!!)
In June of 2002 the Lord joined Tim and I in marriage. I am so blessed to have a wonderful man who loves the Lord with all of His heart. The Lord has shown me His love through Tim in so many ways. I think that I am the most blessed woman on the earth! I have the love of Jesus and a husband who tries to love Him too!! The Lord has blessed us with six children (two are not with us) and four are with us. He has and is continuing to bless us in every way. He is showing us so many things in His word!! I pray that as we continue to seek Him to seek to know what He wants that He will continue to guide us along this very narrow way. I am learning that being a disciple of Jesus is a moment by moment day by day relationship. He says to take up our cross daily and follow Him. Trying to daily be faithful serving the Lord everyday with the gifts He has given. He has blessed me in so many ways. My testimony continues each day by his grace as I daily learn to abide and surrender to Him my Lord and my glorious King. I don’t look back. I am forgiven. I am looking forward to the glorious future with Jesus. I am eternally grateful and thankful that I am saved and am His child! Praise the Lord!!
For now I am trying each day to be faithful with the gifts He has given so that I may please my Father in heaven.
A second look back...
I want to write down some thoughts as I have seen them as the years go by. I met Jesus about 10 years ago.
I wanted to know him and I wanted to know what he wanted. I would read the bible especially the books in the new testament, trying to know what Jesus wanted me to do. I would also attend religious services for quite a while, trying to find others that wanted to talk about Jesus and my Father. I became increasingly more frustrated with christianity as I could not find a place with people who wanted to talk about Jesus. It seemed that I was always kind of on the outside looking in. I guess I was looking for the manifestation of God's love that I was reading about in the people that claimed to be his...I was confused . I did not understand in large measure all of the doctrines an theology I was reading and had been taught in my years of growing up in christianity. This went on for a few years. Bouncing from one religious group to another. Circumstances in my life were changing. As I continued to try and know what God my Father wanted from my life. I made choices that I now can see were not the best choices, yet at the time I sincerely thought were Gods will. (Thanking God for His mercy daily, may I be merciful to others). Through all of this confusion I was seeking the Truth, and our Father was patient and gentle with me as my faith was weak.
God was merciful and blessed me with my wonderful husband. My Father used Tim to gently show me a little at a time the truths we had been blind to by our belief in the Bible as God's word instead of just listening to Jesus as our Master. I was so confused because I was seeking to know and understand God through all the other people in the Bible instead of going to Jesus the source of our knowing our Father!!! The truth was there before me all the time so simple and pure! There were many changes in what I had come to believe and they were brought about gradually as by His mercy I continued to seek His truth. I am so grateful that I am free!!! I feel when I look back at the person I was when I met Jesus and the person I am now, I am truly a different person. He can and does change us!!! Thus the new name...