#229. Love City: God Is My All-In-One

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

Today is my mom’s birthday — she has been gone three years.

I will never forget. I got a phone call, and they told me my mom was dying; but, by the time I got to her, I learned she had already died. The police wouldn’t let me in, so I didn’t get to see her for the last time. I remember begging the police — “Let me in, let me see my mom!” One of the officers said, “I’m not going to let you see her like that — you need to remember all the good times.” I was so upset, that I lost consciousness and fell/passed out. I remember seeing an angel standing over me. But no one saw the angel but me. I asked the people around me if they saw the angel praying over me, but no one saw her but me. It made me feel crazy but I know what I saw!

I went back to my home, and thought to myself there isn’t a God. If there is a God, why didn’t He send His angels down to protect my mom? If there is a God, He would have known that I needed my mother. I asked the God that I didn’t believe existed, “Why would You take her?” My family tried to console me. I told them, don’t come around here with that God stuff. He took everything He could take from me.

They still kept praying and talking and not listening to me . . .

After I got the call that my mom was passing away, I was in my car, driving as fast as I could to get to her apartment, I was saying stuff like “God, please don’t do this to me. Please God, I don’t want my mom to suffer,” not knowing then that by Him taking her, He had answered my prayer for her not to suffer. I didn’t look at it that way, when I said there wasn’t a God. I just thought He was being mean, trying to hurt me. So I asked Him — “Is this You punishing me by taking my mom?” 

But despite my feelings, God was providing. My mom died January 10, 2017, and it cost a lot to bury her. I didn’t want the city to bury her, so it cost a lot. I struggled to get the money to bury her, which meant that when school started that year, my kids weren’t going to have what they needed for school.

But, despite everything I said that was so mean to God, He provided for my kids — school supplies, clothes, backpacks — and so much more! 

God did not stop believing in me! I might have wanted to get rid of Him, but He was there the whole time. My faith was shaky for over a year, and I wouldn’t step foot in a church. But, despite how I was feeling about Him, God was still right there! He didn’t give up on me! He didn’t leave!

Even when we turn our back on Him, God doesn’t turn His back on us. He remains. It is hard to learn and understand, but it is true. 

I don’t understand my mom’s death to this day, but God has helped me see life from different aspects and angles, so who He is and what He is capable of is becoming clearer to me. 

I am learning who God is: He is your all-in-one! Joshua 1:5 says God will never leave you or forsake you. That’s what all-in-one is! Even though He had to do what He had to do by taking my mom, God didn’t leave me hanging! He was still providing! My kids were still doing well in school. We had what we needed. The rent got paid. He got me a house. God is my all-in-one!

My mom always wanted me to have a daughter, and now I am pregnant with a girl! I have three sons. The oldest is 12. My middle son is eight and the youngest is five. Then, I mysteriously come up pregnant — and it is a girl! She is due Sept. 8, 2020, as another sign of God’s ongoing provision! 

My only request to God was that I would have a girl, so that I could love her the way my mom had loved me! And here she is!

God is your all-in-one!

#228. Love City: Saying Yes To The Life He Has Offered

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I grew up in a protected home. For whatever reason, God planted me in a family with two people who trust His love. They love God and know that God loves them. Everything they do pours out of that. I can see in their lives the way scripture plays out in truth. I am so grateful that I was in that environment. Their story started my story. 

Both of my parents grew up in homes with alcoholic fathers. My mom grew up going to church and her youth group became her family and support system. My dad also got involved in youth group. They loved youth group and loved the church. They met at Bible College. My dad graduated but mom didn’t have enough financial support to finish. They got married and started living a life in alignment with God. My dad worked as a youth minister and my mom worked cutting hair. After about seven years something happened with the leadership of the church that severely hurt my dad. My mom had been continually hurt at the church by different things. They didn’t hide these things, but they did not want to bad mouth people so I don’t know the details. They decided to leave the church and pursue vocational ministry. My mom works in the home office of a nursing home and my dad sells medical equipment. They found that they have had so much more freedom to really do ministry and show many people God’s love — even more than they did at their positions in the church. 

I got to see my parents grow. They have always been vulnerable acknowledging that they are not perfect but growing in the Lord. I never had to be perfect — just be willing to follow the Lord even if there were mistakes in that. I was never really involved in church because of the hurt my parents experienced. We hopped around and really tried to find a church but my parents wanted more freedom and less judgment. It’s a weird paradox growing up in a household of true believers and not being involved in church at all. I think God works even through people’s mess, and He worked through my parent’s hurt. Even now at 24, I am still learning to be in a church community because a corporate church community is just not the norm for me in my family. There are some drawbacks to this but what is beautiful is that the Lord is truly sovereign. God works with us wherever we are. Now, as I am learning to walk in a church community, I am a lot more open to being in a church and not suspicious of church leadership. I don’t have “church hurt” like many people do. 

I grew up in a house that understood that love is gritty and not just shiny and polished. Love meets people where they are, which is often battling through wounds and trying to believe that they are actually loved. I didn’t grow up believing that if you are a Christian you will look like “this.” Through my parents’ example and God’s guidance, I can now work in an inner-city ministry and not judge and not feel superior. My wonderful relationship with my own parents makes it very easy to call God Father, but many people have never had that. Living here reminds me how good I had it at home. 

When you really believe what Scripture says and you build your life around that, it really changes what happens through the generations. It is possible to be the person who changes the trajectory of the family from brokenness to wholeness and love. My parents shifted the course of the way their two families were headed. It is so encouraging to see that if you are faithful to Christ, it truly frees the generations that come after you. I know it wasn’t easy for my parents. They had to work to undo what had been said and done to them, but they put in the work and I am the beneficiary. I have lived in the fruit of the work God did in my parents. Scripture says He will set the generations free and God has done that in my family. 

God is the great orchestrater. He has all the pieces and parts in place. He cares about individuals and also cares about families as a whole unit. God really cares about reconciling things. He cared about reconciling us to Himself through Jesus, and He cares about our “little lives.” He cares about my little family in Oklahoma. He cares about the kids who are getting killed in the streets of the West End of Louisville, where I work at Love City. I see the same freedom coming to families right here in Portland. A 15-year-old was murdered in the streets, and we see now that God has reconciled the family. His grandmother and family have come to truly love the Lord. God has used that tragedy for good — to help his family through that pain and to walk in fullness of life. 

Life with God is simple. That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. It’s just saying yes to everything He is offering. This can be scary. It can be scary to heal wounds, to undo coping mechanisms that you learned to help you survive hurt and brokenness. But if people had the courage to just say yes to Jesusto say yes to his will, to really mean it, and shift accordingly, there would be so much freedom, restoration, and flourishing. 

It’s the life with God we search for. It’s the age old question, from Aristotle to Aquinas to me today– what’s the good life? How can I find it? The first step is saying yes to the life that He has offered. It is a life of submission and listening to Him, discerning His will and getting rid of the things in your life that pull you away from Him. That’s what the yes is. It’s a hard yes. It’s a complete surrender yes— but on the other side of surrender is the freedom that we all want. It’s there for anyone who wants it. Jesus asked the question, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:1-15). When you answer yes, freedom follows. 

#221. A Second Chance

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

After dealing with a spirit of rejection all my life, I made the worst decision I could have possibly made. It was Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011. My wife and I had been divorced for three years, and I had been dating another woman for about seven months. Everything was going well in our relationship. We had even talked about getting married, but that night she called to tell me she wanted to break up. Once again, the rejection hit me — this time full force. I just couldn’t take it any more.

I hung up the phone and immediately began to plan my suicide. I called my mom but never said what I was going to do. Then I went to bed. The next morning (Thursday, Sept. 15) I got up and wrote a note for whomever. Then I dialed 911 and told the guy on the other end what I was going to do. He tried to talk me out of it, but I said that I’ve had enough and hung up.

I then went outside and sat on a stump with my pistol and waited. When I heard the police pull up, I put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger. Lying on the ground I was still conscious and could hear everything being said around me. One officer said it was a bad angle, and I probably wouldn’t make it. Then they picked me up and carried me to the ambulance. They laid me on my side and put my head on something hard. As they drove me to the hospital, I began to choke on the blood collecting in my throat. I tried to lift my head to cough but the attendant shoved my head down.

While going to the hospital the male attendant was telling jokes and laughing with a female attendant. He told her I was losing too much blood and wouldn’t live. When we arrived at the hospital, I lost consciousness.

I don’t know how many days I was unconscious, but when I began to wake up, I could see faces, though somewhat blurry, and hear voices, but I was unable to talk.  Eventually my vision cleared up and I could talk again. My mother and sister were there, along with some friends from the church I attended.  

Three weeks to the day that I arrived, I went home, though very weak, as they did not allow me to eat anything.  Not even a drink of water.  

When I started dating that woman, early on I remember saying to myself, “If this woman breaks up with me, I’ll kill myself.” I did not realize that what I had done was make an inner vow, which opened the door for the enemy to come in. I had never heard of an inner vow until I was home and recovering. I heard a man on TV explaining what it was.

The same year I tried to end my life, my ex-wife and I were remarried on Christmas Eve. My miraculous, full recovery and marriage has given me a new appreciation for life. I also have experienced God’s love for me in ways I had never experienced before. 

I understand now that God was not rejecting me. It was the enemy rejecting me by using other people. This spiritual warfare had me convinced that I was not wanted and not loved by anyone. Those were lies and I bought into them.  

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.(Ephesians 6:12)

#220. He Gives Strength to the Weariest of Souls

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

As a child, we never went to church. My parents were born and raised in a coal mining community of West Virginia. They were both the product of poverty and religion gone mad. The foundation of their lives was built on a belief that true “religion” was about who could not get bitten when the rattlesnake was passed their way. Sometimes, I imagine that my parents viewed their entire life as a church service, just waiting to see which one of them would survive the poison.

I am the youngest of three substantially older siblings who were on their way “out the door” as I was “on my way in.” My parents were the owners of a donut shop, which meant they both worked from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m., so my siblings were burdened with the responsibility of caring for me and seeing that I was fed and entertained. I am certain that between my two sisters, this was not a responsibility they were happy about! So, from early on, I was left alone to entertain myself while my parents worked, slept or went out.

For my mother, daily drinking was a true way of life. A diagnosis of diabetes led her to become sober when I was about 12. Funny thing is that with that one decision to make her life “better,” it seemed as if ours became worse. Our house was never one that had a pattern. I lived in total chaos, not knowing what to expect on a daily basis, but that chaos was the only thing that I knew, and the comfort level of the craziness was, at times, the only normalcy I could hold on to. We went from weekly drinking binges to weekly AA meeting splurges, only to find that she was never ever satisfied with any of the outcomes. She was self-consumed. Eventually, I was the only one left at home, left behind to deal with her misery and anger. She had nothing of herself to give and she demanded so much from me.

When it came into my life, I’m not certain, but God gifted me with a keen sense and a creative mind, making it easy for me to be a leader. In the past, like my mother did, I have used that gift to my advantage. Not to glorify God as He intended, but to glorify myself and my behaviors. If I would have allowed God to open my eyes, I would have seen that satan had been invited into my life through the portal of nonchalance and unawareness.

Looking back over my life, I see how God protected me. Many times, in my childhood, I was in vulnerable and dangerous situations. For many years, I didn’t realize that God was my Protector, Provider and Defender. I had no clue until I heard about the Gospel. So, back then, I said it was “luck” that protected me.  I spent so many years running from everything that I knew to be “normal.” 

All of that came to a complete halt when I became an incarcerated convict in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. It was then that I was able to stop running long enough to let God get a firm grasp on me. I had the opportunity to complete a Christian program based on Bible principles in prison. We were trained in scripture so that we could apply it to our lives when were released. The program was designed to be inmate-led. All of the participants in this program lived in one dorm, and there were two female inmates who predominantly taught our classes (character and scripture memorization). This program opened my eyes to the love that God offered me. I felt acceptance from God, acceptance of who I was becoming through His word. 

God took the time that I spent behind bars to mold my soul, to create in me a love that was unfailing, unbelievable and undeniable. He opened my eyes to peace and a firm foundation of trust and calmness. So much for “jailhouse Jesus,” huh? It is real and true and I am a living testimony of His grace. But, as I received the knowledge of God, I never received His grace through salvation before I came from behind the walls. There was great wisdom within the walls. I learned so much and gleaned so much of that knowledge, but I just never accepted Christ as my Savior. Instead, my time in prison was a time of building trust in Him. Since I had never had anyone to lean on in my life, it was difficult for me to develop trust, but I was learning.

Upon my release from prison, I was quickly thrown into the reality of life. The husband that I thought would be there with open arms had since found someone else. My household full of furniture that I thought I would have available to me had been given away months before to anyone who would come and get it. And, any thought of a past life that may have waited on me while I was away was just that, a thought. Visibly there was nothing left of my former life, and as I tell the ladies that I minister to today when I speak to them, “God will remove all hindrances from you when He changes you.” He knew that if anything from my past would have been waiting on me outside the gates, my heart would immediately run back to the place that He had just delivered me out of. Not the life I would have chosen, but with separation and knowledge, I could not have asked for a better blessing. With the hard reality of being alone and still not having committed my life to Christ, I turned back to the bottle. 

My mother passed away in 2000 and my father died in 2007, so loss was not a stranger to me. After I was released from prison in 2011, my sister, whom I had not had time to make amends with, died of a massive heart attack eight months after I was released. The loss of my beloved sister was the final blow to an otherwise broken soul. Then, the only reason that I lived was to drink until I died. Days turned into weeks, and each and every day for three months, I drank myself into unconsciousness. Secluded from life, I wasted everything that I had on the bottle. I would drink until I passed out, wake up again, curse God for keeping me alive, and drink again. I knew that the Master existed, I even led my own mother to Christ hours before she died, having the faith that He existed, but not accepting His love for me personally. Not yet.

It was the love of my dear friend (story #219) who would ask me to go to church for a revival service. It was her love for me that kept bringing her to my doorstep to check on me, often afraid of what she might find. It was her commitment to not letting me die alone that urged her to consistently reach out, as all the others had given up hope. In one moment of strength that, at that time, I saw as weakness, I allowed her to take me to church. In one moment of time, I surrendered to the call of the Master. At that altar, I prayed that He would take my life and He, in His audible voice told me this: “I have heard your prayers and I will answer them. If you take one more drink you will die, but you will not live with Me in Heaven.” Only God knew that I would leave that altar saved unto His Kingdom and delivered completely from the horror of alcohol.

So many things I needed to tell my loved ones. My children, still angry and wounded from my incarceration, were not even speaking to me. I had spent many nights on my knees asking God to change me into the woman that He wanted me to be and that He would reunite me with the boys. Two years of praying and crying, praying and crying. “Please bring about a change in me that is pleasing to my sons,” I would beg. After two years, God granted that request with my older son. He was the hard-headed military son who had originally demanded that I seek help. He is the one who found me after a two-week drunk and had to call the ambulance. He was the one who uttered the words “Mom, the ambulance is here and the whole neighborhood is watching. Now, am I going to have to carry you out like a drunk or are you going to walk out of here like a woman?” Those were some of the last words he said to me before I went to prison. He is the one who asked to see me first when I came home two years later. I can’t explain the conversation that we had at dinner. I can’t remember the words that I used to ask his forgiveness. But I do remember this phrase, “You’re my mom, and I will always love you.”

His brother, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as forgiving. He was not ready to see me, notbecause he was angry or hurt, he just didn’t need me in his life. He had a great career, a wonderful wife-to-be and a fulfilling relationship with God. I had never been there for him, so he went on about life as if I were not involved, and I wasn’t. But each week I would message him, just to tell him that I was thinking of him, that I was praying for him and that I loved him. Three years of prayer and petition and one day, a response. At 4 a.m. on a Monday morning in July 2014, I sent the usual message. “Son, I love you and I pray for you always.” And at 4:17 a.m., the reply, “Mom, it’s time we get together for dinner. Would you let me take you out Friday?” God hears a praying mom. He would take no apology or reasoning. He only wanted to start a relationship with his mother. He wanted nothing of the past and could only focus on our future together and his upcoming marriage in August. To my amazement, he and his bride-to-be handed me an invitation. The wedding was a few weeks away, and they both graciously involved me in some decisions of food and pictures on their big day. As I left my house on the wedding day and during the entire two-hour drive, I could only weep to God, thanking Him and asking Him to allow me to sit in the back so I could watch from a distance. I asked Him to honor one more request, that I just be able to see my son’s face as he took on the responsibility of leading his new household as a Godly husband to his wife. “Just let me sit in the back. Please do not let me get in the way,” I prayed out loud as I drove. But my God saw things differently. As the pictures were finished and the wedding was about to begin, I started to find a seat in the back row. “Mom, where are you going?” I heard. “Honey, I’m going to grab a seat so I can see you.” The next words were priceless…“Mom, you have to sit up front today. That’s where the moms go.” So, my oldest son took me by the arm and escorted me to the front row. So I could see. So I could feel what it was like to be forgiven. So I could be a part of this new life. So my faith in a loving God could be reaffirmed and I could share this story with those who need hope of answered prayers.

Wrecked by Grace . . . The Adult Child of a Demanding Mother. The Adult Child of an Alcoholic. The Adult Child. Convict. Convicted. Transformed. From a family tree of addicts to the aftermath of a life of bad decisions, the season of my life has to equate with fall. From the most hardened love demands of a mother to a love that is tender and forgiving that I have with my Heavenly Father, the leaves of my life have fallen in due time. Bits and pieces of me have been scattered throughout my life. Pieces of the real me. Pieces of joy and pain, laughter and tears. Pieces that seem to have the most majestic colors in the latest season of my life. Not the soft colors of spring, nor the stunning colors of summer. My life reflects the majestic warm colors of autumn, pleasant to gaze upon and sometimes a mere wonder that the leaves survived the harshest heat of past days.

One month after God delivered and saved me, my calling to correctional ministry began. I met a woman from our church who had a ministry team that went inside the Pine Bluff Area Office of the Arkansas Community Correction facility once a month to speak words of hope and testimony to the residents. At that time, the facility was open to all ex-offenders released at least 60 days who had been given permission from their parole office to travel outside the county.

From the moment that I went into the compound, I knew that God had opened a doorway for me to minister. I felt the pull of the Spirit and heard the words “This is the reason that you have lived behind the walls — so that you can be an image of hope to these ladies.” In the coming back, I knew that my life was coming full circle. I knew that God had allowed every bad decision, wrong turn and misguided step to place me in prison. He knew I would have faith enough in Him to tell my story to those who were still battling. I was taken out of the war and now, with God’s help, I am walking back into the battle to lend a hand to others.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to go back into prisons and tell people that God is for them and not against them. His love reaches far, further than they have ever been. As strong as any addiction or stronghold that has them unable to move, He is more powerful and can give strength to even the weariest of souls.

God’s character is fully merciful and compassionately just. He does not waiver and He cannot be manipulated. That is the best part of the Grace of God. In reality, justice sets us free. Justice is the blend of the strong hand of the Lord because He loves us, the repentance that draws us closer to Him and the ability to forgive ourselves of the past through His strength.

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. — Deuteronomy 8:2-3 NKJV

#218. God Cares About It All!

I have three horses: Angel (see story #70), a mare named Darla, and a big beautiful gelding named Red. Apollo, my neighbor’s horse, also has joined my little herd, since he was all alone after his pasture buddy passed away.  

The morning of July 7, all four horses had been trimmed by my ferrier. They were all happy and healthy, or so it seemed. 

Darla has to wear a grazing muzzle during the day in “grass season,” due to “founder” (high sugar in the grass that could kill her without it, almost like diabetes). When I went to the barn about 7 p.m. to put Darla up for the night, I noticed Red was not with the others. 

I rode over the hill and found Red standing there looking like a swamp monster! He was soaking wet, covered in dirt, and had scuff marks on his head! I had no idea what had happened. My first thought was “something attacked him!” 

I noticed by our other barn, the dirt had been disturbed and the water trough had been knocked over. Then I knew he had been rolling around because of painful colic. As I began to attend to Red, he fell down. I quickly got him back up and called my husband, Mark. He brought me a syringe of Banamine (pain medicine for colic). We took turns walking Red for about four hours. He did have a bowel movement, but that didn’t seem to help him feel any better.

We called the veterinarian. The vet intubated Red with a gallon of mineral oil to check for a blockage. We did everything we could that Tuesday. My husband and I stayed home from work the next two days. We were determined to get him better. We had not eaten and took turns sleeping in short shifts. All our attention was focused on Red. 

We have an old backhoe here on the farm, which had not been used for about three years. The lights on it have not worked at all for at least 10 years! On Thursday morning, Mark said to me, “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I need to jump that backhoe to get it running . . . you know?” 

With a lump in my throat, I said “Yes, I understand,” knowing that Mark would need the backhoe to bury Red. Yet we continued to work with Red the rest of the day, keeping in close contact with the vet. Finally, around 4 p.m. Thursday, I realized the medicine and everything else we had been doing was not working. Red’s breathing was getting very labored. Even though he followed us around the round pen, he never laid down again.

This whole time I had been praying urgently to God to “save my big Red, please!” But, at that point, my prayers changed to, “If it’s time for him to go, even though he is only 16, please don’t let him suffer.” I prayed for God’s strength and guidance on what to do. 

The vet arrived about 4:30 p.m. He listened to Red’s belly and told us he couldn’t hear any “gut sounds.” He diagnosed Red as having a form of “gas colic,” which can be fatal. The vet said there was nothing we had done or could have done to cause or prevent this. He told me it was Red’s time. I knew he was right and didn’t want Red to have to suffer.

As we walked Red to the area where he would be put down, I was trying to be strong, but my pain was so intense! I felt like part of me was dying. I told him what a good boy he was and thanked him. I told him I would see him again one day. 

The vet was wonderful! He said to me, “When I administer this, I’ll take his lead line. Sometimes they go down easy and sometimes hard.” I just nodded. I was praying to God to give me the courage to do this and also to be with him when he passed. Mark said, “Maybe you don’t need to be here for this. Go back to the house.” I said, “No! I have to be here with him!” 

As the vet started the euthanasia, Red buckled and then fell over. As soon as he fell over, I turned away, walked off, and went to my knees. I cried as quietly as I could, I honestly thought my heart was literally breaking to pieces! Then I remembered the song “Ten Thousand Angels Cried.” The lyrics refers to God during Jesus’ crucifixion, “God turned his head away, He couldn’t stand the sight.” Remembering that song gave me the courage to get up and go back over to Red. I stroked his big beautiful face and told him it was okay to go. I told him how I loved him so very much. 

I am glad I could be with Red as he passed away peacefully. After he died, about 7:30 p.m., I went back to the house, because I didn’t want to be there when Mark buried him. When Mark got back to the house, he comforted me a long time as I cried. He said, “Let me tell you about that backhoe.” I said, “I don’t care about the stupid backhoe!” He said, “You will when I tell you this.” 

I listened as Mark told me what happened, “You know I told you I needed to jump the backhoe to get it going right? Well, something told me to just try to start it without jumping it, and when I did, it started right up! And every light on it worked!” 

A few days later when Mark went to move the backhoe from the area of Red’s grave, he had to jump it, and none of the lights worked. So once again, God cares about everything in our lives, even things we consider to be trivial or not worthy of bothering him about in prayer. God cares about it all! This was a reminder to have faith in Him, regardless of what we think we want, but trusting in Him for His plan for us. We know that His ways are not our ways. We can have peace because God loves each of us so very much! 

God was there for us that day; even though I didn’t get the result I wanted. God showed us through a backhoe (of all things) that He cares for us and is always there with us.

#216. Gurl Get Your Mind Right

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I was born in Pittsburgh and raised in a middle-class family. My parents divorced when I was eight years old. My mom put me in dance classes when I was two years old. I took tap, ballet, jazz, tap solo, and baton — all at the same time. I became really good at it. My teacher told my mom I should audition for the play written by Gershwin, Porky and Bess. Out of 4,000 kids, I got the part. When I was eight, we moved to the country to live with my grandparents. I was no longer able to go to dance lessons. This was devastating to me. I loved dancing and believe that was God’s calling on my life. I was raised going to church every Sunday, but I don’t remember confessing and accepting Christ as my Savior. 

My mom remarried when I was 15. We moved back to the city. I moved from a predominately white school in the country to a predominately black school in the city. It was a culture shock. One night I went in a car with some of the guys from my high school. We ended up at a wooded park. They got out, but told me to stay in the car. I didn’t listen and when they saw me coming toward them, they grabbed my arm. They told me there were guys who were planning to rape me. They took me back to my house. God worked through those guys to save me. 

I was a thick girl. I thought I was fat. My mom was very critical. She made comments about my clothes making me look big. My mom was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. Nothing I ever did was right. If she and my stepfather got into an argument, she blamed me. He was the best stepdad a person could ever have. He tried to get my mom to be nicer to me. 

My senior year in 1976, I was a cheerleader and started dating a football player. He turned me on to weed, opium, hash, and cocaine. I started trying other drugs. I even snorted heroin once. It was God’s grace that protected me. I was promiscuous and slept with married men. 

I was excellent at typing and after graduation became a secretary in the nursing department at the University of Pittsburgh. I got my own apartment at 17, a two-room efficiency, paying $95 a month. I watched a movie of a baby being born when I worked in the nursing department and knew then I never wanted to have a baby. I was 23 when I had my first daughter, Brandi. I had seven abortions prior to that. Six with the same man who fathered my daughter and one with a boyfriend. I didn’t know any better. No one taught me. I had no self-worth. My pregnancy was a nightmare. The father told me that it wasn’t his baby and that I was fat. I had stopped doing the drugs during my pregnancy and replaced the drugs with food. I became addicted to food. In the last three months of my pregnancy, I gained 100 pounds. I was an emotional mess. 

My daughter’s father didn’t go to the hospital with me when I gave birth. He came around a few times to see Brandi, but he wasn’t really involved in our lives. I started smoking weed again. I got a job at Aetna insurance. Jim, a Christian gentleman from the Houston Aetna office, came to our Pittsburgh office and asked me to come to Houston. He said there was a position that I would be really good at. He said, “If you come to Houston, I will make you the supervisor and you will get a raise and you will get a bonus to cover your move if you show me what you showed me in Pittsburgh.” They offered me $10,000 more to do the same job in Houston. My daughter was only three when we left Pittsburgh. When we got off the plane in Houston, Jim and his wife, Tamara, met us. They drove us to our apartment complex and gave us a TV. We only had our clothes, a couple of towels and a clock radio.  My furniture was coming on a truck that was stopping in other states.  It took two weeks to get our furniture.

When you move to a new town you don’t ask people, “Who has weed?” One day as I walked through the apartment complex there was a big group of guys and one of the guys came to my door and asked, “Do you get high?” I told him I did. I sent my daughter to her room. I thought he had given me weed, but he had given me crack cocaine to smoke and I was hooked immediately. He told me where to get it. I started dating this guy and he would bring the crack over. I became more and more addicted. 

Jim did everything he promised. After one month, he made me a supervisor and gave me a $10,000 raise plus a bonus to cover my moving expenses. I was excelling at work, traveling to provide training and had been the employee of the month four times in the same year. But I didn’t have the money to afford my drug habit. So, I came up with an elaborate plan. I started forging names on checks at Aetna and cashing the checks. Eventually, I was out sick and one of the girls in my department figured out what I had been doing. My boss asked me to come into the conference room. A man with a briefcase said, “Have you ever cashed a check besides your paycheck?” I told the truth. He said, “I’m glad you told the truth.” Then he took the checks out of his briefcase and laid them across the table. He said, “We know what you did but don’t understand why you did it. Why? You had such a bright future.” I said, “I’m addicted to crack.” He said, “We thought it was drugs.” He asked me how much I had taken, and I told him I had a folder at home with all the checks. He asked me to bring it in. I brought the folder to him and he told me to go home and they would let me know what they were going to do. 

My friend John from work called me and said, “Where are you?” I was driving and said, “I’m just going to kill myself.” The devil was telling me to just let the wheel go. John said, “Just drive to my house.” Then Jim called me. He had told the leadership at work he was going to remain my friend. I believe God was intervening on my behalf through both of these men. Jim told me I needed to immediately go to treatment. I went. Jim and Tamara not only took care of Brandi for two weeks, they also went to my apartment and packed up everything and put it in storage. They sent my daughter back to Pittsburgh to my family. Aetna fired me, but because I cooperated with them, they didn’t press charges. The bank didn’t press charges either. Nobody came after me. God spared me. I should have gone to jail for what I had done. Jim came to that facility every day and brought me a Bible. I wouldn’t listen. I said, “Get that Bible away from me.” He said, “It’s the only thing that can help you.” My therapist told me I had to get to the root of why I was there. I felt like my parents had robbed me of who I should have been. I loved dancing. I should have been a choreographer. They took something from me that was near and dear to my heart. I also realized the resentment for my daughter’s father. I discovered all of those things in treatment. 

After 90 days, I got out. Aetna had kept me active on the payroll to pay for my treatment. This was another way that God provided for me. God saved me from killing myself through John and Jim. He saved me from myself. Jim and Tamara let me live with them with only two rules — stay sober and go to my meetings. They gave me a car and credit card. 

I went to church with Jim and Tamara but was still stuck. One night they were getting ready to go to Bible study and I was sitting on the couch and balling. My daughter was coming back from Pittsburgh and I knew that I was going to have to face her and make amends for all I had done,  including locking her in the house at night, while sleeping, so I could go out to get crack, putting her in danger. 

Jim and Tamara invited me to Bible study but I didn’t want to go. While they were gone, I was thinking about how to kill myself again because the thought of facing Brandi was overwhelming. When they came back, I was still crying. They got down on their knees and said, “There is only one way. You have to accept Jesus.” I asked, “Will it make this pain go away?” That night I confessed Romans 10:9 and everything changed. I started going to a Bible study group. I got an apartment. One year to the day of my sobriety, December 16, 1988, I got offered a job at Enron. This company was drug-free, and employees had to be drug-tested to work there, which was what I wanted.


Things were going well at Enron. I got promoted and got bonuses. The girl they put me with at Enron was a Christian and had me listening to a Christian radio station. I went to her house for Bible study. I was clean and sober but then I noticed people were getting things and recognition that I wanted. I figured out a way to cash travelers checks at work. They confronted me and I admitted it. They fired me but didn’t press charges. This time I couldn’t blame it on crack. I had to do self-inventory and say to myself, “Are you a thief? Do you just steal?” Even though I had accepted Jesus, I still didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. 

When I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, Courtney, I immediately went to have an abortion. I was single, overweight, depressed and scared to death because of my pregnancy with Brandi. I went to an abortion clinic. I knew I was right at 12 weeks. They lady said, “You are 13 weeks. We can’t do it. But you can go upstairs. They do it up to 26 weeks.” So, I went upstairs. I am sitting there with a sheet over my lap and the doctor is getting ready to examine me. I prayed, “God I know this is a sin, but I can’t have this baby. I can’t even afford to raise Brandi.” The doctor examined me and said he couldn’t do it. I asked him why. He said, “I don’t know. I just feel there is a risk with you.” God intervened . . . again.

When Courtney was born you would have thought she was a crack baby. She had a hernia, a tear in her liver, a hole in her spine, her heart was on the opposite side, her intestines were in knots, her neck muscles were messed up, and her head was tilted. She was transferred to the ICU at Texas Children’s hospital, where she stayed 90 days. She went home with a feeding tube. She had a special-needs caregiver. I was working at Enron when that was going on. God preserved me — my mind — through all of that. I had no family, but I did have Jim and Tamara. They were my family.

Some of Courtney’s problems have been healed, but she still has some health issues. God gave her a brilliant mind. He preserved her and He did the same thing for Brandi. Brandi is so imaginative and creative. I truly believe God protected her mind through my drug battle.

In 1999, I began attending a non-denominational church, New Light Christian Center. Dr. I.V. Hillard was having a Spiritual Millennium Warfare conference at this church. I went down for the altar call and experienced spiritual healing. I had finally found my church home. This church taught me so many things. I was delivered from addiction in 1988, and I never went back. Crack cocaine is euphoric-demonic and is spiritual warfare. I finally got to the root of my problem. I had been self-sabotaging. For so much of my life, I didn’t have a personal relationship with God. When this happened, my life was transformed. God called me to evangelism, to minister to women with low and no self-esteem, bound by addiction like I was. 

When I was pregnant with Brandi, I developed diabetes. As a result, I’ve had five toe amputations. I have diabetic retinopathy in my right eye. I have been in stage three kidney failure for 15 years, but God is sustaining me. I have been at death’s door many times, but God has protected me. God is faithful and loving. If we just seek Him, He will never turn His back on us or leave us. God did not give up on me. He kept pursuing me. He kept helping me get on the right track. God protected me and my daughters and provided and intervened for me so many times. I am so grateful for the people God placed in my life, for the revelations He has given me, for the healing He has provided. I am grateful for my two daughters who are amazing women. 

I transferred to Mooresville, North Carolina, to work in human resources with Lowe’s. I thought that my purpose of coming to North Carolina may have something to do with my ministry GurlGetYourMindRight which God gave me 10 years ago . My lease is up in August, and I plan to go back to Pittsburgh. I believe God wants me to go back home. There are women who are there who need life spoken to them. I really believe the ministry will take off there.  

Lastly, no matter what you go through in life, always remember “it’s just temporary” because we’ve already won! The ransom that was paid for us covered all our sins but we must continue to renew our minds and not be subject to this world.  To the ladies, who are still being controlled by men and this world…….GurlGetYourMindRight!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Matthew 6:33 NIV

#215. The Ultimate Father

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I born to a 13-year-old mother. I came home from the hospital with my grandmother and was raised by her. I grew up in the West End of Louisville in a rough neighborhood with lower income white and black people. The parents wanted their children to have better lives than they did. I went to church regularly with my grandparents, which was an important part of building my Christian faith. 

I was in ROTC all four years of high school. I graduated on a Saturday and went to Marine Corps boot camp on Monday. The first trial of my faith was when I went to Afghanistan while I was in the Marines. The Muslim soldiers stopped five times to pray each day. These men were my age and were willing to put their weapons down to pray. I wondered if I would put my own weapon down for my faith. I was brought up in the church, but I had never seen conviction like that. I had never really seen someone who was willing to put their life on the line for their faith. 

A few months later, we were securing buildings to make sure they didn’t have weapons. We were going into homes and trying to speak to parents. I learned that they were just like us. They weren’t evil. They were just trying to raise their children to have better lives than they did — just like the parents back in the West End of Louisville. 

What helped me commit my life to Christ was the change I saw in the lives of people I grew up with. I saw people who were raised in sin and hate who, over time, experienced a change in their life. They began to serve God. Any questions I had about Christianity were resolved because I saw what Christ did in the lives of people when they accepted Him. Their lives were radically changed.

During my time in the Marine Corps I didn’t go to church a lot. I did do a lot of praying in combat. It is true what they say: There are no atheists in foxholes. Before we went out on a combat mission, we held hands and prayed together. I never met anyone in the U.S. Marines who refused to pray before a combat mission. 

When I was a young Marine, I came home on a weekend and went to a club. I met a young lady and six months later my grandparents told me that a young lady was looking for me. I was 22 years old when my son was born. Over the next eight years, I went through child support and visitation. I didn’t have more children until after I was married when I was 30. 

After my first daughter was born, when my son was eight years old, I did a blood test and found out he was not my biological son. But he is still my son. Here is how God worked this out. My grandfather was not my biological grandfather. My grandmother was divorced and he was my step-grandfather. But he loved me and treated me as his own child. That prepared me to deal with what happened with my son. I had no other way to treat him but the way I was treated by my grandfather. God prepares us for things coming down the pike that we don’t see coming. I have three wonderful grandkids now. They were just here Father’s Day. My son just got out of the Army himself. He is the older brother to the girls. We are all family. 

I always had a curious mind. I got my undergraduate degree on active duty and got my graduate degree when I got out of the Marines. I worked with Toyota for about 13 years in quality management and then another 10 years for Honeywell in corporate quality. In 2012, I left Honeywell and started two UPS franchises in shopping centers.

Prior to this, in 2000, I had a motorcycle accident. The doctor prescribed pain killers and this was the beginning of years of struggle for me with pain pills. In 2012, I had a second motorcycle accident. I was given more opiates. Opiates change the way you think. I had gotten in trouble before but it was nothing serious. There had been no real consequences other than money. 

By 2016, I was in real trouble and that’s when I lost my UPS stores. I had to short sell my businesses and face the consequences of what I had done. I went through the next three years going through that, then I went through a physical amputation. My right foot was amputated six inches below the knee. I got through my amputation on Tylenol and muscle relaxants. I committed to myself that I would not put another opiate in my body. Generally, pain won’t kill you unless it triggers a cardiac arrest. But I knew if I took opiates again, it would have destroyed my life. Right when I thought I had faced the worst thing in my life, then there was something worse. 

But everything that we go through is to make us who are are supposed to be. I am a man of faith. If you believe in the Bible you can’t expect that your life will be any different than the experiences of those people in the Bible. Job was a good man, prosperous and blessed and yet he suffered greatly. I came from the West End but had become prosperous with a six-figure salary, properties and businesses. And then it went away. I am 52 years old. I never thought I would be missing a part of my body. It is trying at times, even though I know there is good that has come from it. 

I am in training to become a minister. I talk to people about giving their lives to Christ and the change that will come from that decision. If I am doing something that is sinful or wrong and you are my friend, I want you to call me on it. And I do the same for my friends. I love them and stand by them, but I call them out when they are doing something wrong or sinful. One of the positives that has come from my amputation is that I have found that people listen to me more attentively now.

Everything that God teaches us in the Bible, is put there to protect us. Living life by the teachings in the Bible leads to a life of peace. Even though on the outside I am down one foot and receive disability, I am happier than I can ever remember being. I sleep well at night. The PTSD is even better. I have more peace than I’ve had in my whole life, despite how my outer body looks. As we grow and mature in our Christianity, we have internal peace. This allows me to conduct my life with more serenity than I have ever experienced before. 

I have discovered that God is the ultimate Father. Nearly every parent wants the best for their children. I believe that is what God wants for us as His children. That is why he has given us the guidelines in the Bible. He has given us everything we need to be successful. All I have to do is to accept His will and work every day to adhere to it. I won’t be perfect but I can try. 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

#214. Praying Wives: Only God Has Such Power

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I have mostly good memories of my childhood. We didn’t have much but we had love. However, my dad wasn’t very loving. Although our mom and dad didn’t go to church, they sent us kids to church on the bus. 

My dad cheated on my mom a lot. He would go to work, come home, dress up and go out. When I was about 16, my parents started going to church. They both were saved before they passed away. After my dad was saved, he stopped cheating on my mom. As I got older and got to know my dad, I forgave him and really grew to love him. 

It’s funny that I ended up marrying a man kind of like my dad — a man that cheated on me and who wasn’t loving. I married in 1975 when I was 18 years old. In 1976, our son was born, followed by our daughter in 1980. I wasn’t going to church and didn’t really have a relationship with God then. 

Thirteen years ago, I began going to a MISSION Church of God (Mobilizing, Ignited, Selfless, Servants, In, Obedience, Now). A friend invited me to go, and she went with me. My husband did not go with me. He had a girlfriend and had been cheating on me for years. He drank a lot. He was mean to me and I was afraid of him, very afraid. I prayed and prayed for my husband. I prayed that the Lord would touch him and that he would get saved. I prayed that God would stop him from cheating and being mean.

Even members of my family told me to divorce him. But I felt strongly that God didn’t want me to do that. I never gave up on him. I never gave up on God’s ability to change him. 

I asked the people of the church to pray for him and I could see it working. My husband had a lot of booze at the house. One day I poured it down the drain. He was going to a party but came home to make shots before he left for the party. He yelled for me and I thought “I’m in trouble now.” We were on the steps and he pulled his fist back to hit me. I sensed a shield of protection came in front of me. I stood there and wasn’t afraid at all. I had no fear. He just dropped his hand. I know God protected me. If he had hit me, he would have killed me.

I prayed for my husband for a couple of years before I saw a breakthrough. The preacher’s mother told me that I wasn’t laying the situation down to the Lord. It was true. I wasn’t completely surrendering the situation to God, trusting that God would change him. But, finally, I did. I gave it to the Lord completely and that’s when things started happening. 

My husband got more and more miserable with his lifestyle. I could see that he was not happy. He was staying home more and not going out. Occasionally, he would even go to church with me. Finally, he tried to kill himself. Thank God he didn’t. When he came back from his attempt, he said, “Let’s go to church.” (See story #210) He stopped drinking and stopped seeing his girlfriend after that. For about a month, he would cry and cry in church. I know he was under conviction. Finally, he surrendered to God and was saved. 

Life now is totally different. We’ve been married 45 years this year. I feel like I have a new husband. He is a completely changed person. My husband is a man of God now. I don’t worry about him cheating on me now. I trust him wholeheartedly. I tell him, “If I had to go through that again to have you where you are today, I would go through it again.” He has become a minister. He preaches every Sunday in the jails. He preaches at our church sometimes and sometimes he preaches at his sister’s church. 

I am so thankful to God for giving me the husband that I wanted all my life. Only God has the power to make such a change in a person. I have seen that God is faithful. Everything is in His time not our time. There are times when you might wonder if God is really there, but I think that is the evil one causing us to question. God is there all the time. When I began to trust God completely to handle the situation, that’s when things began to change. I have learned that God can be trusted completely. 

I want people to know that with God you can do anything. If you trust Him and believe in Him there is nothing that He cannot do . . . nothing. I want people to know that God is there for you. Just believe and reach out to Him. He is waiting for you to reach out to Him.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

#212. Praying Wives: Something To Live For

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I married my high school sweetheart. Bob and I had known each other since first grade. I knew he had a good heart and I believed the Lord brought us together with His blessing. I was young and idealistic, full of hope and dreams for a bright future together. Fifteen years later at the age of 35, I found myself living in quiet desperation. My husband and I had good jobs. We lived on the property of a golf course where my husband was a PGA pro. Our three daughters were wonderful and a source of much joy. Yet something was wrong with our family.  Day after day, hour after hour, I was forced to deal with the fact that my husband was an alcoholic and drug addict. Oh, there were days we could hide it from the outside world. There were moments we pretended it wasn’t a fact and tried to laugh and have fun together as a family. But always in the back of my mind I was waiting for something to trigger him, to set him off and send him into erratic behavior directed toward me or the girls. We never knew when or why that would happen. Once he began to drink, his rules were the only rules in our house. He would drink all night, unable to work the next morning. Our girl’s room was the only sanctuary they had. They were afraid to invite their friends to our home because of what their daddy might say or do. Not only was his behavior awful, but his language was also worse. He didn’t care who heard what. I didn’t know how to deal with these terrible problems.

 
I remember going to a golf tournament with him. He promised me it would be a good weekend without drinking and that we would have fun together. The first night I found myself in the motel room at midnight wondering where he was. His promises had quickly been broken leaving me upset and frustrated again.  Left alone, I questioned my life, and began to talk to the Lord. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to come face to face with Jesus Christ in a way I had never experienced before. But before this happened, things went from bad to worse. My husband was arrested for public drunkenness and everyone in our little town knew it. He was the “town drunk.” I had accepted Christ as my Savior when I was ten years old. I have always had a deep love for the Lord. I was active in my church and when I married that continued. As each child was born, I made sure they were in church. Rarely could I get Bob to attend church with me. Mostly he would only go if the girls were in a program. When I asked him to attend, he got indignant, saying that Sunday was the busiest day of the week at a golf course and how could I expect him to be gone. I made sure the girls went even though they knew that Dad didn’t think it was worth it. 


I’ll tell you some of the things I did wrong. I wrote letters to people who had overcome the battle of alcohol. I called members of my husband’s family. I asked friends to talk to him. Five times I went to the pastor of our church but could never really tell him what was wrong. I could only sit there and cry. I got mad at Bob, went along with him, ignored the problem, and tried to reason with him. I reached out for any solution that sounded reasonable. In August of 1975, I began to feel ashamed of myself. I found that if I encouraged Bob to drink more, he would pass out sooner and I would have some peace and quiet.

 
One evening that August, Bob had finally passed out and I went to our back porch, a quiet haven for me. Everyone in the house was quiet. Outside everyone was gone and the peace and solitude that our old worn-out porch offered were just what I needed. I was physically and mentally exhausted from juggling three jobs, keeping the girls busy and having no answers. I had upset Bob that night. I don’t know what I did to upset him but when he drank it didn’t take much.  I sat down, soaked in the night noises, and sighed.  I hugged my knees and rested my head on my arms and the tears began to flow. I cried out loud and I thought about whether anyone could hear my sobs and if they did would they even care. I thought, “I am of no use to anyone.” I felt reduced to a scream, a tear, a cloudy mind. I was unable to function, a blob waiting to crawl into a hole and stay for a long time. Many other nights this same summer I had come here knowing there had to be a way out, wanting to help but just not sure what I should do. I can remember screaming on previous nights, “God, why is my life like this? What good am I to anyone? Why don’t you just let me die?” And then I would always feel so guilty because I couldn’t pull it together. I couldn’t find an answer.

 
That night in August was different. Out loud, in sobbing tones, I said, “Lord, I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve tried all I know to try. I don’t know anything else to do. If you are listening to me, please, please help me.” And at that moment my tears and sobs ceased. That shocked me. I had been sobbing so hard I was shaking, but it just stopped. I felt very warm inside and very calm. It was not a sensation I was familiar with. For the first time in an exceedingly long time, I didn’t feel alone. The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “I am with you. You can go on. It will be alright. You are my child. And you have three children to care for. I will help you.” The Lord had been waiting for me to turn it over to Him. He probably said, “Well, finally she is going to let me handle it!” At that moment, I knew everything was going to be alright. God was listening and He cared. He could see my heart and He was there. I didn’t know how everything would be alright, but I knew He was giving me strength and love to face tomorrow.  Positive thoughts began to come into my head. “I can like myself once more. I can begin to be a better mother. Our girls need me. And Bob with all his problems needs me more than ever. With God’s guidance and wisdom, I can be a good wife, the wife Bob needs me to be.” I finally gave up my problem to God and said in effect, “Lord, take over.” And He did… in more ways than I could ever imagine! The evening breeze stirred the leaves on the huge elm tree in the back yard. I suddenly was aware of the beauty around me. I stood up slowly as not to shatter this new atmosphere. I went into the house and looked in on our three girls, my heart was so full of love for them. They looked so fragile and beautiful as they lay there sleeping soundly unaware that a miracle had just taken place, one that would deeply affect their lives forever.

 
At last, I knew I must work on myself. The Lord helped me by sending a friend who invited me to a Bible study. There I began to study God’s word in a fresh way. I made my heart vulnerable to others in the Bible Study and they began to pray with me for Bob. The more I learned about the Lord, the stronger I became. I was able to exhibit a kinder spirit in my home, my emotions were more stable, and I had a wonderful hope inside knowing the Lord himself lived within me and was helping me become more than I could dream.

 
I never thought of divorcing Bob. When I looked at him, sometimes I could see the 17-year-old boy I fell in love with. I could see the gifts and talents hidden from view. I could see the man I loved to be with, to laugh with, to share with. All those things were still there, they were just hidden. One of my greatest desires was to be a good wife to him. Taking care of him made me happy. I knew without a doubt I couldn’t abandon him. I would not give up on him. With the Lord’s help, my love for Bob and a deep sense of commitment and purpose kept me going. After I realized the Lord was in control, the thought occurred to me that I might be the only one exhibiting a Christian walk in front of Bob.

 
In November of 1975, Bob was converted at an old-fashioned revival meeting in the Laurel County High School gym. The Lord took away the desire to drink immediately with no withdrawals at all. Bob took no more drugs. He was able to fellowship with fine Christians who provided encouragement and love. It took almost 2 years to work through everything we had gone through to put our marriage back together. Our daughters had a dad again. Bob went back to college and seminary at the age of 40. He started two churches in Kentucky and became a full-time evangelist whose calling was to share this story about the grace and love of our Lord. We began traveling all around the world and Bob preached and taught. We had amazing experiences and met many wonderful people.  God even used Bob’s golfing expertise to evangelize. Bob would invite men to play a round of golf with him and while they were playing, he would share his testimony and invite them to attend revivals where he would be preaching.

 
Bob preached his last revival in 2006. He passed away in 2008. My trust in God has grown so much since my husband died. As I reflect on my life, I can see now that God was guiding me all the time. He reassured me and encouraged me in the difficult first years of our marriage. He gave me an unexplainable peace even when Bob was out of control and I had no idea what to do. When I surrendered the situation to God, He worked things out in wonderful ways that were beyond anything I could imagine. God provided years of extraordinary experiences and opportunities. He sent many people to encourage us, mentor us, pray with us, and provide for our financial needs. I am deeply grateful for the wonderful people God put in our lives and the part each person played in our story. It isn’t our story at all. This story is God’s story and the glory for every step of our journey is God’s alone! 

#211. Praying Wives: There Is Nothing God Can’t Do

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

For much of my life, I wished for that “Damascus experience” others had described . . . a sudden insight that is overwhelming and life-changing.


It seemed to me that such a transformational moment in time would be the confirmation that Christ had truly entered in, and all things past were gone. But, instead, I was blessed (now I see it as a blessing!) with the early and constant faithfulness of God that has been revealed over and over again in my life. I now understand how God began a good work in me and has refused to let me ever get too far away from His efforts to work in me to completion.


I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were married over 50 years, before my dad passed away in 1993, way too early! I had a great childhood and was surrounded by family who instilled in my brothers and me the importance of acceptance, unconditional love, and constant support. God was always a big part of our family. We weren’t wealthy, but our family sure had everything we needed, and often what we wanted as well. My parents taught us to be grateful for our blessings, particularly for our family. As a result, I am thankful for and treasure relationships. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love deeply. I’m loyal to a fault and when I care, I really care! Although this trait has blessed me immeasurably, it also has its consequences. My depth of love can be equal to depth of grief when relationships are lost or damaged. So, along this journey, I have loved and lost but, in the end, love is always greater!


I have great memories of our church as a child. We started attending when I was four years old, and it’s the only church I have ever attended. It has always been a big part of my spiritual formation. I remember a particular night at youth group, when Jesus became much more personal for me. I made a commitment to give my life to Christ and to try my best to live my life the way God prepared for me. I have not always been an obedient child of God, but my desire has always been to do things His way.


During high school, I met a guy I dated for six years, until the summer of my senior year in college when we married. We began to live the life I had always imagined . . . the house with the white picket fence, two beautiful children, a dog and a goldfish! And then, things changed — dramatically and quickly. My husband became very ill. He was diagnosed with adult-onset type 1 diabetes. He struggled with the reality of that disease, and I found myself trying to own it for him, which was impossible and did not serve either of us well.

 
Soon after his diabetes diagnosis, he began to use alcohol in excess and became a very serious alcoholic. Alcohol and diabetes don’t mix and, as his life began to deteriorate, so did our marriage. I never imagined being divorced. In fact, my faith wouldn’t let me even consider it for a long time. But the consequences of his drinking became more than I could handle. Although my family and friends were there to love and support me, it was still very overwhelming.  I soon learned that it is in our times of desperation that we are closest to God.


About two years after my marriage ended, my ex-husband died. I was 32 years old with two children, ages five and seven. I was lost and confused, but God’s faithfulness prevailed. His grace, mercy, power and love sustained me in ways I still cannot fathom. That faithfulness has been the theme of my relationship with God. It is only when we admit that we can’t do life on our own and completely surrender to God that we experience real victory. I am a bit of a control freak — I like to do things my way — I struggle with that. But I learned that my efforts to control things were really futile. Everything always works out much better when I let God do it His way.

 
My professional life was always such a gift. I was a health and physical education teacher for 30 years and loved every minute of it. I had such incredible friends who loved and supported me throughout those first months and years of being a single mom, living on a teacher’s salary.  And, of course, like He always does, God started showing up in unbelievable ways. I began to receive unexpected income, transferred to a teaching job I had always wanted, and then — the greatest blessing happened.

 
Some good friends wanted to introduce me to a friend of theirs who they were just sure I would enjoy dating. As I began to live into my new life, I had pretty much decided that dating was out of the question. I remember they told me three things about their friend, Greg: He was a police officer (Are you kidding me?), he was pretty much committed to being a bachelor (Where can that go?), and he was almost four years younger than me (I already had two children). But they also said we had “so much in common” and insisted I meet him. I didn’t say yes or no, but they must have heard yes. A few nights later they arranged a chance meeting that changed my life forever! There he was — this tall, very handsome man in uniform. My children were with me and I remember my son ran over and said, “Man! Can I see your gun?” I thought then, “Well, this will be short-lived.” Greg laughed and didn’t seem to be scared off. Before he left, he asked if he could call me, and this time I did say yes!


Greg called me shortly after that and we started dating. We dated for a little over two years and to say it was a learning experience for both of us would be a real understatement. He had been in only two serious relationships before we met and was scared to death of commitment, especially with two children involved. I had built a secure wall around me and was at a place where I was determined to never let anyone hurt me again. That kind of gets in the way when trust is a cornerstone of any relationship! Then, God stepped in. He eased Greg’s fears, helped me tear down that very unhealthy wall (that sometimes wants to creep up again) and grew a love that has been simply amazing!


In 1985, Greg and I got married. Although neither of us had any idea how to create a new family, we began that journey together. The children had loved him from the start and within a few weeks, they asked Greg if they could call him Dad! Without hesitation he said, “Of course” and I could tell it thrilled him. They also said they didn’t like having a different last name, so we began to talk about how we could change that, too. On the Friday before Father’s Day, a precious friend of ours performed our legal adoption ceremony. The children took Greg’s name, as well as his heart, and it has been that way ever since. As I look back, I see that God was busy working, not to just repair my broken, untrusting heart, but by sending an angel to my children and me. Greg has been an incredible dad, and he is the best “Cappy” I could ever imagine to our six grandchildren.


When we met, Greg was not actively involved in the church or living out a personal relationship with Jesus but, somehow, I knew it would happen. I trusted that God would work in his life. While we were dating, he started going to church with me. We attended a Sunday school class together with people who were older than us. During that time, Greg learned a lot about prayer. I had asked for prayer for his safety and for advancement opportunities at the police department. He was uncomfortable with that because he thought God was too busy for those kinds of things. Gradually he learned just how personal God can be. Although he first went to church to please me, he soon genuinely wanted to go. Worship became an integral part of our marriage. In the midst of all that, he was searching. Without question, he believed in God and that Jesus had come for his salvation. But he hadn’t pursued a personal relationship with Christ. It was head knowledge but not a heart relationship. I prayed for that transformation and knew God would, in His time and in His way, show Greg just how much He loved him.


Around 2000, Greg went through a tough time. He was discouraged about several things and kept it to himself for a long time. I had become overly involved in leadership at church and in my career and didn’t see what I needed to see. I had not made Greg the priority I should have. There was a period when we were struggling and really had to reevaluate where we were going. During those days of difficulty, God was saying to me, “I’ve got it. I’ve got it. Just keep loving him.” And I did. During this time, my prayer was that the Lord would draw Greg to Him and that Greg would allow God to heal and comfort him. I prayed that the power of the Holy Spirit would consume him and bring him to a place of complete surrender. I also prayed to protect my heart from building walls against being hurt, to keep me in God’s arms and not to let me run ahead of where God was going with Greg. I wanted to be a partner in Greg’s journey but I also realized I couldn’t change things, only God could.

 
To no one’s surprise, God answered my prayers. One day Greg asked me what he could do that would help me. I felt like this was my opportunity to offer him the only solution I knew would work, so I asked him to go see the senior pastor at our church. He agreed and the rest is, as they say, history! They had a great conversation and prayer in the sanctuary and Greg had that “Damascus experience” I had always longed for!  He gave his life to Christ and experienced a transformation that has been remarkable to witness. (#193). This was one of those mountaintop moments in life when you realize God is so present and so faithful. When I look back to those few months of “struggling,” I see clearly what was happening. We live in the midst of a spiritual battle in this very lost and broken world. As a result, there are times when the enemy especially targets us. It’s usually when we are doing something pretty right or when we are very vulnerable. In our case this battle became real when we had allowed our relationship to become vulnerable. Satan saw our vulnerability as an opportunity to do his evil work. As we both stepped back and let God take control, He stepped in and squashed it.


I was born to be Greg’s wife. I have no doubt about that. I also know I was born to be the mother of our two amazing children, even though they came to me first. Right now, it’s hard to reconcile those two things but I know someday God will make it perfectly clear! Greg often says I am the reason he became a Christian, but that’s not exactly accurate. It was God’s pursuit and Greg’s surrender that allowed for his salvation. But I will say I sure did want him to know and trust Jesus. After Greg surrendered his life to the Lord, our journey together took off like a rocket ship. He became the spiritual leader in our family and we were real partners in marriage, parenting and everything else God put in our path. God has given us incredible empty nest years with Greg leading and teaching me. Something I really cherish is when we pray together. At first, we would simply ask one another how we could pray for the day ahead. We have continued that practice and the majority of our mornings we begin our day in prayer, thanking God for this incredible life He has given us and asking Him to use us to bring others into relationship with Him.

 
About 15 years ago we went through a health scare when Greg was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s a story of God’s powerful healing love. During that time neither of us had the first fear that things wouldn’t be okay. When he received the cancer diagnosis, the first thing we did was get on our knees and pray. Then and always, prayer has been the wind beneath our wings. We have trusted God with our lives in every way. 


Recently God has led us to prison ministry leadership roles. It has been a remarkable experience, one that neither of us could have imagined. We know that like every other “leading,” if we get out of the way, God will be faithful to do His good work in and through us for the glory of His Kingdom. It’s our privilege to watch Him work! Praise God from whom all blessing flow!


When I stand back and look at the life God has given me, it is truly incredible. His faithfulness has been the theme of my life. There is nothing God cannot do. He is so good and so big and so willing to bless us, if we are willing to receive God’s blessing. 

In my life, I have found my favorite verse of Scripture to be true:For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).