From the beginning - yet still very condensed! I could go on and on about what the Adonai has done! This was inspired by a lady named Lynn, whom I just met. She said, "I love your email address - if you have a minute to tell me the testimony behind it". (MommySetFree) I always joke with people who ask me "spiritual things". I say, be careful what you ask for...I can't JUST spend "a minute" when it comes to testifying to what YHVH has done in my life!
I start my testimony from the beginning, because it is very relevant. In it lies my greatest "struggles of the flesh" as we say in the church. It is good for us to recognise where we came from - however, it very important that we do not remain there!
Having been raised in an "unbelieving home", there was never a "holy day" or consideration for God. Relationships were not things which were cultivated or understood. My stepfather was an upright man, a hard working man, with a code of ethics defined by college, the army, athletics and a critical upbringing (in an unbelieving home). The result was a disciplined perfectionist, who defined himself by his works and managed intangible things (like emotions) with alcohol; A functioning alcoholic, that had "everything under control"(except at the end of the day, when the drunkenness finally took hold; but few saw that, and most of those who did, where drunk too - so there was "no foul" in our home). On paper, a successful man, a loyal friend, father and son, yet no God. He didn't need God; ask anyone, he was doing just fine.My mother gave her heart to the Jesus as a teenager, but she didn't quite grasp all that meant (as so many of us can attest too), she remained Lord of her life and did things "her way". She too built her family as best she knew how, on one leg, yoked to a man who despite all appearances was on one leg too. Both with emotional baggage from their own Godless upbringing and handicapped in areas of forgiveness, trust, anger and pride; living a life of competition and seeking approval of man. I always had a sense that I was a reminder to her of mistakes made in choices with my birth father. There was a strong sense of unforgiveness around my very conception, and while she didn't consciously do that, it was a burden I can always remember carrying. (We truly underestimate what we pass on to our children, even it if is never spoken.)
(I often wonder how my kids will describe me when they are almost 40! I have to say, I don't condemn my parents for my childhood. I had a lot of things really good. They did the best they could with what they had. Without God, I wouldn't have been any different. I can't imagine what it is like parenting in this messed up world without YHVH. )
At age 7 or so, I had my first conscious encounter with God, It was through my neighbor (Sherry Sharp) inviting me to her kid's program at church on Wednesday nights, Awana. I went a few months in a row and was exposed to God there. I honestly and truly made an oath with Him one night upon returning from one of those meetings in my room. I remember staring into the mirror as I talked with God the first time, wondering if could see Him "enter into my heart". I remember His Holy Spirit filling me and weeping. (so in a sense, I guess I did see it!) It was a sense of love and warmth which I had never known before, but am blessed to say I have become very familiar with since! In that moment, He gave me the gift of faith. I used my little Awana book for devotions, and looked through a Children's Bible that had interesting pictures. I prayed daily, but stopped going to Awana, when my neighbor no longer offered rides. It was a prayer life of talking with Him daily with a faith of a child that would sustain me for years to come.
At 15 I left home. One might call me a "run away", but I always saw that "running away" was something done in secret. That wasn't my case - When I left home, it was a snapping point (something inherently learned from my upbringing), I packed a friend's car full of my possessions and my mother stood on the stoop, saying, "If you leave, don't come back." I took those words quite seriously. I said a prayer as I left, I remember it clearly as day. "God, I've really done it now. There is no turning back. It's just you and me now, there is no one else I can trust." Those are bitter sweet words out of the heart of a 15 year old girl! I stayed at a couple friends houses, then slept on some park benches, and set up camp in the woods. (CRAZY- I KNOW!) A friend's mom (single mom) got wind of it, and insisted I stay with them. This all took place in the summer time, so school wasn't an issue. This friend and I got a job together, which worked out because she was old enough to drive. I stayed with them over the summer and heard of some guy in his late 20's who was renting a room out of his house, and I took it. (AGAIN, SCARY - but no harm came to me, even though it was "tried") I was finally old enough to get a car, so I bought one with money I had in the bank. I worked and went to school, and eventually got my own apartment. Needless to say with my new found Independence and immaturity I got into all kinds of predicaments and made many many bad choices in the years to come. How I came out of it, as well as I did - is only by God's grace.
Things took a major shift in my faith when I was 18. My brother (and person I considered closest to me in the whole world) committed suicide..He was a month away from 22 and was going to college at Purdue. One week prior to this, we had just made a pact that i was going to move our there live with him. There was desperation in his words, that I did not realize until it was too late. It rocked my world. He had gotten himself into a lifestyle of homosexuality and partying and I think it was a dark place that consumed him whole. I was devastated; He was the smart one; He was the one that had it "all together" (again on the outside like we were taught); He was the one who always did well in school; The one the parents trusted, everyone loved, and thoughtful, hardworking and all around "good" in personality. In my devastation, I asked God, if David self destructed, what was my fate? I always thought him to be the sane one in the family!! I had him on a pedestal and that pedestal came crashing down on me. It had me on my knees in morning for my loss and searching for answers from God. I got the Bible out and read revelation (because I needed one!). I prayed and wept and prayed and wept, like I hadn't in a long time...since I was all grown up and "in charge" anyway. He started speaking to me again, like He did when I was a child. He met me in my darkest place of need, once again. This started a long drawn out process of morning and healing. I still numbed my pain with marijuana and other assorted party favors/ I also tended bar, so I was in the middle of that whole scene...yet God was still there....bringing me along and drawing me near...WHY??? I hope to effectively answer one day. But for now, it simply testifies to His faithfulness, His mercy and His grace, and the fact that He sees right through our rebellion and selfishness when we don't deserve it. His love and forgiveness is a gift, we must accept it - but it truly was not deserved. I understand what Scripture means when it says my offering is but filthy rags. Even as the years go by, and I look back to what I gave as my "best" then, I now see was...pathetic...but He understands that it was my best!!!! I expect that will be the case 20 years from now too. That's just how it is....Thank YHVH for His mercy and grace without it we are dust! I am so grateful that through the years and even today, He accepts me just as much today as He did then, even though I am further along in my understanding, and transformation and obedience than ever before. He loves me just the same today as He did then - perfectly. I could make myself (and everyone around me) crazy dwelling on all the mistakes I made, all the people I influenced to do things that separated them from God. I could easily be governed by guilt on so many levels if I didn't FULLY TRUST in God. I have as many "skeletons", if not more, than the next girl, but I have been SET FREE from my sin, because I have put my trust in YHVH and His Messiah Yeshua, and I have turned from my wicked ways and chosen HIS ways.
Moving on...I moved to San Fransisco when I was 20. I transferred there with a company I worked with and wanted pursue my carrier as a make-up artist. I talked with God, and He talked with me. He showed me many things, but I was still didn't grasp that "LORD of my life" part. He was part of my life, but not my all in all...if you know what I mean. I was an adventurer and San Fransisco had that to offer. By 24, I had received 4 marriage proposals over the course of my 9 years of independence (declining 2, one long engagement and another short engagement) and I also questioned my own sexuality! I was a mixed up girl inside. I bought into feminism, environmentalism, and humanism! I practiced martial arts, rode motorcycles and "anything he could do, I could do better"My hair was military-short and bright red, tattooed 3 times (which have since been removed!). I was tired of being alone and wanted something more. My prayer life intensified greatly after I canceled the 2nd engagement. I was in that place (again) of recognizing that I wasn't in "control" like I thought, and that I was really "missing it". I couldn't help but ask myself, "Was I going to be like my birth father in relationships?" (He was married many many times.) Was I capable or loving and being loved? Trusting, forgiving and letting myself go? So I got on my face and sought God again. (I was kind of like King David in many ways! Both having a heart for God but learning HIS WAYS the hard way!) I came to the place of recognizing the prompting of the Holy Spirit and how every time I went against my conscience or intuition (as I called it at that time) I got burned...bad. So I made an oath again, like I did on that day when I left home at fifteen - that I would heed the warnings in my spirit, and rely on Him once again.
I backed off of many things that I was conscious of as "wrong" and continued in others. But God is still faithful and knew me better than myself. About 6 months later, I met the "man" who would be my husband, Ben. We were both 24 and both ready to find that "soul mate". I had no doubt that He was the one God had for me. Three months after our first date, he moved in with me (Keep in mind - I did not realize the implications of our actions when we did this. We paid dearly for this choice, like many bad choices confessed in this testimony...but God is faithful and He heals those who trust Him too!!!! He is in the restoration business! That certainly is not license to make stupid choices, but it is our saving grace if we did.). We got engaged at 9 months and lived together for another year...until something happened....
We found ourselves in a church up the coast with a sweet lady whom we were trying to involved in business. She was going to introduce us to another prospect. She was a Christian, as was the man we were meeting. It was Highpoint Baptist, if I remember properly. I remember the worship, but not the message. All I remember is Abba, speaking into my spirit and telling me - "It's time to come home. It's time to make me LORD." I practically ran up to the alter! Ben followed me, but I found out a year later that "that was just to support me". He wasn't honestly "there" yet. I never saw that church again (it was about 2 hours north of the city), but that was the beginning of an on going transformation in me from the inside out.
I now saw everything through a different lenses. I was still ignorant to His Word, but His truths were being written on my heart. Convictions were seeding and that compelled me to make radical changes in my choices. He showed me how I was a worshiper...but of the wrong things, my "idols" were glaring at me when I returned home. I cleared many shelves of books and music that He revealed to me. I WANTED to go to church, and prayed for Him to show me one. He did and we went to The Vineyard...which in retrospect was exactly where BEN needed to go. (That's another story!) God convicted me of defiling His plan for marriage. I didn't understand it, but I knew that I could not live with Ben any longer without being in covenant with him (and HIM). I drew a line in the sand. I loved Ben, but if I had to leave him to obey my God, I would. Meanwhile, I thought He was experiencing the same things that I was from the inside out (When in fact he wasn't, by his own admission a year later, the night before our baptism is when He truly wrestled with God and yes...God won!). At the time, if I had known that, I never would have married him. As messed up as I was, I was STILL committed to marriage being for "Keeps" a permanent decision. In Abba's wisdom and sovereignty, He knew that - and He also knew that Ben was "His", so it was as if God staged the whole thing! I am so grateful!! Had I known...I would have left and missed what God had for me because of my very zeal to serve Him! Anyway...We were married 3 months later.
This start certainly was not one I would wish on anyone, its not pretty, but its mine. I used to guard my story closely for fear of judgement of other believers, but I have been set free from that too. :-) Truth is a far more powerful testimony to Yah's mercy and grace than a story of self preservation!! I praise God through it all. I just pray that my children's truth is one that testifies of how they walk steady and strong with YHVH through the many temptations and trails of this world. How Yah spared them from all those wicked things!
That was then - this is now:
- We have been married now 14 years. In that time, we have walked richly with our Savior. We have had trails and stumbled, but YHVH is ever faithful. We have worked through our "skeletons" and become increasingly committed to our God. We have learned to "bounce back" when we stumble and the falls have become less frequent and less severe! Praise Yah! He is transforming us from glory to glory as He prepares us to be His bride. We have learned to lean into Him to be the head of our home. He leads us in preparing our children to walk in His blessings without the need to endure many wasted years lost to the locusts (sin) - like their parents, and grandparents before. The chains have been broken; a new family legacy is being written as we have been grafted into YHVH's family tree, with it comes a rich heritage of love, restoration and fellowship in Him. We spend our days meditating on his precepts and living by Yeshua's example, the best we know how ... each day. Allowing ourselves to be trandformed into servants. Trying be ever sensitive to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit as He directs our path.
- My mother is walking in right relationship with YHVH for several years now - she had been redeemed and is walking out her salvation with fear and trembling. She is a student of the Word, a prayer worrier and a completely different woman than the one who raised me. Amen! She lives with us and is a dear friend.
- My father is honestly seeking God's truth, we can now talk about faith and God openly with Him and our relationship is strong and good. He is married to a wonderful believer. Praise Yah!
- My step father remains in my prayers; I long for Him to know my LORD and to fellowship with him in that place.
- My surviving "baby" brother has come the Lord and is learning what that means, as is his wife. They too try to lead their family in God's ways.
- My children all love Adonai and I pray they walk upright in His promises all the days of their lives and for the generations after us that may come.
Praise Yah! Praise Yah! Praise Yah!
We are standing in the promises of our King and seeing them come to pass every day. Glory Be to the King of the Universe who raises dry bones and breaths His life into them. Praise be to YHVH, giver of life and source of all that is good! Amen.
If you come away with one thing from this confession - I pray it be this: It is very important that we not remain in our place of pain or corruption! So many "believers" make a conscious or unconscious choice to remain in their "ugly place". They allow seasons of trial to become their identity and never let go of it. The only reason why we look back at those trials is to glorify Yah in bringing us out of them!! As we trust in HIM, it is HE who determines where we are going. His plans are to prosper us, not to harm us. His plans are to heal us and form us into His likeness as He prepares us to walk with HIM in the eternal. Yahweh is bigger than our biggest trial, our greatest pain, and our deepest ingrained fear!!By trusting Him these things are resolved, in His perfect way, in His perfect timing. Not always instantly, but always in diligence and faithfulness to Him. By honestly assessing where I come from, it has allowed me to process it and move on. Acting like it isn't important, is a lie that allows unresolved issues to stay that way, and it effects our ability to walk in the fullness of Yah promises. On the other hand, hanging out there and wallowing in it, is only a form of self torture and has no resolution in sight. Both are snares of the enemy that keep us from walking in the fullness of victory in our Messiah! They are his way of handicapping The Church. This is reconsiliation process that everyone who has every been hurt must go through.
The 4 KEY THINGS to walking in victory as "God's People":
- Trust YHVH and lay "it" down (submit and choose life)
- Obey His Word (be teachable and do it)
- Forgive and accept forgiveness (We are human! Be humble.)
- TURN from the old way (repent) and build people up in His name (love)
From the depths of my heart,
Mommy Set Free