I grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and was raised in the Moravian Church. I was christened as a baby, and went through Confirmation around age 11 or 12. I was involved in my youth group during high school, but college was a different story. It was not good for my "spiritual health." I'm not really sure of my salvation during my young adulthood. I had always believed in Jesus, but I had certainly gotten off the right path and I seriously doubt that I had a personal relationship with Him. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened," thereby not hearing our prayers. Even if I had accepted Christ at a young age, I have no doubt that the sin in my life had caused a barrier to that relationship with Jesus during this time in my life.
In June 1995, I married my first husband and gradually began growing in my faith at my husband's church - it was a Baptist Church. It took me a long time to join because of was fearful about being baptized. Finally, in 1999, we had an interim pastor, an older gentleman, Pastor Ray. I will describe him as an old timey Baptist preacher and I just fell in love with him! He did a study on the Book of Revelation on Wednesday evenings and we started going to church on Wednesday nights. I really began to have a hunger for the Word and by that summer I told him I wanted him to baptize me before he left. I know for sure at that point I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ - not merely because of the baptism, but because of the change in my life.
Actually, June of 1999, is also significant because that's when my marriage started to fall apart, only I didn't realize it yet. Satan was lurking around like a lion ready to pounce.
The next fall I became pregnant with our second child, but by January 2000, it was evident my marriage was in trouble. Even though we went for counseling, my husband left me that year when I was 7 months pregnant. Our daughter, Madison, was 2 1/2 years old. I was devastated. I was sick on my stomach all the time, I couldn't sleep, and I was a nervous wreck. My nerves were so bad that when I would get in the bed at night I would just lie in a fetal position and shake. My mom said, "Why don't you just ask Jesus to wrap His arms around you?" So I tried it - and guess what? It worked! I would imagine that He was holding me in His arms and it really helped to calm my nerves so that I could go to sleep. I truly felt His comfort!
I had a lot of questions during this time. A very dear friend of mine was going through in vitro fertilization and was unsuccessful. We would have lunch together almost every day and talk each other through our situations. I was so disappointed for them and I wondered why God would choose to make me pregnant instead of my friend, and He laid this verse on my heart:
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb...When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16(NIV)
God had a plan for my baby, and He had a plan for me too. I held onto that and I was comforted by the fact that God does not make mistakes!
I could not understand why God did not answer my prayers to save my marriage. I clung to Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." For my good! He had something better for me. God hates divorce, but he knew my heart and He knew that I had tried to save my marriage so He took care of me. He became my Great Provider. I was trusting Him to supply all my needs. "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19(NIV)
I was also terribly insecure and afraid of being alone. I was actually seeing someone who was not a Christian and at the same time I had gotten involved in a Bible Fellowship class at the new church I had joined and was continuing to grow. I was being convicted because the crowd I was hanging out with on Saturday night was not the same crowd I hung out with on Sunday morning.
About this time, our Bible Fellowship lesson was on Insecurity. It was on the Book of Ruth. Ruth was obedient and a woman of noble character - God took care of her and used her in a much greater plan. It helped me to see that I needed to trust the emotional area of my life to God as well, so I broke it off with the fellow I was seeing and started focusing more on important things like my children.
Next June, I went to Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina, with my parents and my children. One morning during our vacation my dad showed me a verse that he had read. I feel like it's my life verse because I believed it for myself and God has restored my life again.
"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again." Psalm 72:20-21(NIV) (Emphasis mine)
I remember that week walking on the beach talking to God and just basically turning my life over to Him - whatever His will was for me, I was okay with it. Less than a month after this happened, He brought Mark (my current husband) back into my life. Mark had been through similar circumstances and we dated for a long time when we were very young. I was the first girl he ever kissed! Little did I know what God had in mind! The Great Comforter has completely healed my heart.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3