Here I am, just one Christian chick doing her best to live for Jesus every day.
That’s a great mission statement for my life, but how did I get here? It has been
quite a journey. One I don’t think any of us could have expected. Well, not one
of us other than God. He knew it all well before I ever found my way to this
I had a very difficult life from the beginning. I was a baby that was planned solely
for the purpose of saving a marriage that would never be saved. My father had
an affair while my mother was expecting me, and left soon after I was born. At
only 3 months of age, the story goes that I was very ill with pneumonia. My
Momma and Grandmother were sitting up at night trying to care for my weak little
body. The doctor told my Grandmother to put me in my crib with a cool
vaporizer. Then, create a tent over the top of the crib. It was likely I wouldn’t
survive the night. This was our last hope. God had plans. This sassy little
cookie made it through the night, and continued to grow.
When I was two, Momma remarried. My stepfather became the only Dad I would
ever know. Dad was an alcoholic, and very emotionally abusive to Momma and
me, yet he provided for us. Momma stayed. Grandma or Gram as I
affectionately called her, took care of me as much as possible. Mom had grown
up in church, but had walked away from the Lord after marrying Dad. Gram
made a deal that she and Gramps would carry me to church every Sunday. Boy
did they! From the time I was just a little bit of nothing, Gram carried me to
church faithfully. I grew up praying before my meals, going to Sunday school,
and learning from Gram. Over the years, she was the one who taught me to
Service for me began when I was just young, “helping” Gram when she served in
the nursery at church. Of course I wasn’t old enough to do much helping, but
she considered my playing with other kiddos, and picking up toys to be a job that
a big helper like myself could do. I did it with pride! I have sweet, fond memories
of Thursday nights with Gram. She would travel to a little nursing home in town
with baskets full of bananas ready to distribute to the little old folks there. She
would conduct a mini church service for the residents. We would sing to old
cassette tapes, and worship the Lord. She would give a small lesson, and then
we would walk to the rooms where the patients who couldn’t come to the service
were. She taught me to shake hands, some residents needed hugs, and I
handed out the bananas. Those little old folks thought we had brought them gold
when the bananas appeared. I went every Thursday night that I could with
Gram. My attendance was not permitted when school was in session. However,
as soon as we had a day off, I was ready for banana duty!
Gram took me to vacation Bible school every year. I remember learning about
Jesus. I also remember learning about hell. Hell sounded like a mighty scary
place, and I most certainly did not want to end up there! So, like any responsible
8-year-old girl scared of dying a fiery death, I decided to accept Jesus into my
heart. Yep! This chick needed fire insurance! So, my sassy little self became a
Christian. I had no idea what that meant or what, if any, requirements existed for
living like a Christian. I just knew that by asking Jesus into my heart I wasn’t
going to hell. I went to church every Sunday, just like I had forever. I started to
sing in the kid’s choir. Isn’t that what every good Christian kid does? I went to
Awana’s and learned the books of the Bible. I did what I thought was right.
Then, I came home to the scary place. The place where over the years, I was
emotionally beaten down by Dad. Momma and I were called every name in the
book. We may have even had the book thrown at us once or twice! Dad yelled
all of the time. If he wasn’t at work, he was drunk, if he wasn’t drunk, or at work,
he was passed out. When I was at home, he told me how awful all this church
stuff was. He had no use for it. He also convinced me that I was unwanted,
unintelligent, unworthy, useless, ugly, and an assortment of other un words that
began to fill my ears. Those un words quickly filled my heart. They impaled my
soul. They became me.
By the time I was a teenager I was far from God. I didn’t have a relationship with
Jesus. I was questioning whether I should even live. I needed to feel needed. I
needed to feel worthy. I needed to feel wanted and loved. So, I tried to find
young men that might make me feel all that I needed. Relationship after
relationship came and went. I was never good enough. By the time I was able to
drive and work, I completely fell out of church. The whole Christian walk didn’t
even take a backseat. It had no place in the car. I tossed it beside the road, and
tried to find my place in the world.
I had decided I would attend college early in my high school years. I wanted
nothing more than to get away from home! So, I tried to be a good student.
Considering I lived in my room to avoid having to listen to all of the yelling
between Momma and Dad, studying was something I definitely had time for. The
problem was, I usually struggled to concentrate because you could still hear the
yelling clearly behind my closed bedroom door. On occasion things would get
really bad. I’d get scared, frustrated, and not know what to do. So, I’d voice the
occasional prayer. You know the drill. Hey Lord, it’s me. Yeah, do you think you
could stop all this screaming please? Do you think you could convince Momma
to leave? Make Dad go away. Amen. Then, back to making my 80’s hair defy
gravity with cans of Aqua Net. I was “livin’ on a prayer” for sure, just not the right
kind of prayer.
As a senior in high school, I began dating a young man who had been a sweet
friend for the first few years of high school. Wesley’s last name is Andrews, and
mine was Artis. Thanks to the alphabet, he typically sat in front of me in our
classes that we had together. He was a nice guy. He was sweet, funny, smart,
but definitely not the guy that I was going to marry. Y’all can start laughing now,
because we’ve been married for 21 years. Wes didn’t go to church. His family
didn’t darken the door of a church, so he truly had no interest in attending church.
I remember something caused me to invite him to go to church with me one
Easter. He did. I think I just wanted to show him off. Isn’t that what a girl is
supposed to do? That was the last time Wes and I would be in church for many,
Off I went to college, focuses on getting through so that I could be with my man.
I went to a few Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings on campus. I prayed the
serenity prayer often, and tried to find some connection to the Lord. I never
found much of one though. I figured if I just lived a good life, that God would be
ok with me. Besides, remember, I’m a Christian! I prayed the prayer. That’s all
Wesley and I were married in 1994. We moved 650 miles away from my family.
To this day I profess that to be one of God’s miracles. I truly don’t believe we
would still be married if I lived close to my folks. I was a co-dependent, insecure,
scared little girl, who was now married, and had no idea of how live my life. I
remember asking Wes as one point early in our marriage about going to church.
He told me I was welcome to go, but he wasn’t. I felt so insecure, that I refused
to go without him. I was certain if I went to church, then he would leave me. I
was certain if I sneezed wrong, my husband would leave. The emotional abuse
of my childhood had left some nasty scars, and they would try to destroy my
married for several years.
Life began to happen for us. A house, cars, jobs, bills. You know the drill. After
being married two years, I was certain that I needed to be a Mom. I was missing
something in my life. We were missing something in our marriage. I was certain
a baby would fix the emptiness. So, we tried to conceive. We tried to conceive
for 2 years. Finally, we became pregnant. I was certain all would be right with
the world. That was until 15 weeks in to the pregnancy, when our sweet little
bundle passed away. It wasn’t the typical miscarriage. It was a blighted ovum.
When the doctor did the ultrasound to check to see why I was bleeding, she saw
only the placenta and sack. No baby. She explained that the baby had been
attacked by my body, and had disintegrated. I was beside myself. I was
distraught, I blamed myself, and I felt like I had nothing left to live for. It was all
my fault. At a time like this, it would be been an exceptional choice for me to
lean on the Lord. Yet, the thought never crossed my mind. I was so mad at him
for letting my baby die, that I wanted no part of him!
Two more years of infertility passed. Finally we saw a specialist. He said it was
highly unlikely I would become pregnant…ever. We were supposed to give it a
few months, use a fertility monitor, and if I didn’t become pregnant by June, more
invasive testing would be necessary. I started to pray. Not great fancy prayers,
just the simple, Lord please let us have a baby, prayers. He did! Just 2 weeks
prior to our scheduled invasive testing, the stick ended up with a plus sign on it!
All of the tests I did showed positive. Y’all, I bought every test on the market.
Those sticks were my friends! I was checking plus signs, double lines, single
lines, and every line in between. I have no idea how many positive pregnancy
tests I had, but I kept redoing them just to be sure I really was pregnant!
God had answered my prayer! Too bad I couldn’t recognize it.
It was a long, difficult pregnancy to say the very least. Delivery wasn’t a cakewalk either.
Our little monkey had a rough start to life. Monkey’s younger years were difficult for Wes and me to navigate. I was blessed to be a stay at home momma for our little one. Yet, it put a financial
strain on our marriage. It also put an emotional strain on our relationship. There
came a day a few years later when my husband had declared it was time to call
the attorney and divide our stuff up. He was miserable. I was damaged from my
childhood, terrified of him leaving us, paranoid something would happen to the
baby, and our marriage was nothing but a shell. It was at that point I began to
pray harder than I had ever prayed in my life. Lord help me! Then, the Lord began to change everything.
Several months later, we received a late night phone call. Wes’s dad has passed away. The Lord was beginning an amazing healing in our lives! As I walked my husband through the loss of his
only living parent, God began a mighty work in both of our lives. Our family did
not have a pastor in our lives. God provided one through a friend of the family.
The night of Pop’s funeral, that pastor spoke kind words my husband had never
heard. He prayed the most amazing prayer for our family, and that was the seed
that our hearts needed.
Another year later, I declared to Wes that our kiddo should attend Vacation Bible
School. I wanted him to have the beautiful experiences I had in my life. My
hubby agreed. So, the kiddo attended VBS at the church our pastor friend led.
We met lots of wonderful people through that VBS. Our son was saved at that
VBS. It was how Wes and I would be saved as well. Later in the year, right
about Christmas time, my husband declared rather nonchalantly that we might
want to start attending church. It was then than life changed. Y’all, it was like a
light flashed and everything changed! Our marriage was strong, and our family
was strong. We were attending church…I met Jesus!
One Sunday morning, during the music portion of our worship session, God moved me to tears. He
showed me that I needed Him desperately. He showed me that I had prayed a
prayer many, many years ago, but I never knew Him.
This sassy chick took her cryin’ face right down that aisle as fast as my short little
legs could carry me. I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior! I finally met Jesus
and He changed my life! I found purpose in my life. I found hope where there
had been none. I found joy, passion, excitement, and so many other emotions I
never knew. That’s what Jesus will do for you! No longer was I walking around
with a fire insurance policy. Nope! I had upgraded to the promise of eternal life!
A few short months later, all three of us, were baptized together. We celebrated
a new beginning in our lives. We celebrated a Savior! God took his place at
the center of our family. Right where He belongs. He became our world.
Y’all, I celebrate that Christ pursued me for so many years. I celebrate that He saved
our marriage. He saved our lives! I celebrate that He blessed us with a son
doctors cannot explain. I am thankful that God never gave up on me. He
pursued me…us for year, after year, after year. Then, on that one wonderful
day, He held me in His precious arms and mad me His. I celebrate that I am the
daughter of the one true King! I celebrate salvation. I am here to say that Jesus
truly does change everything.