On My Faith –
I was raised in a family where we had a very loose understanding of God. I believed God existed, I was knowledgeable of the Ten Commandments. I went to church occasionally, with my grandmother. However, religion was not talked about much in our home. My grandmother and her siblings were raised in the United Methodist Church. When one of her brothers left the UMC for a Seventh Day Adventist Church, it would create a fracture in the family that would span the better of thirty years. Two of her siblings refused to even speak to him, and she was left with a fractured family that was once very close. Because of this fracture between her siblings, it is my belief, that we were not pushed in regard to religion. I believe she didn’t want to see a division between her children and grandchildren. I can remember one occasion when my grandmother put a quick stop to a debate between my sister and I, which was about God. Still, there were mornings I would come upon my grandmother reading her Bible, watching a special on TV, etc. I knew she believed in God. But, that was about all I knew.
I struggled with my faith for a long time. My heart longed for “faith” but not as I was experiencing it. By high school, I was looking for something real and tangible. Yet, I felt I had been given a rule list of things to abide by. As long as I kept up with that list, I would go to heaven. My God loving family members would love me. All would be good. But, if I messed up… I knew the consequences would be big. My soul in hell for eternity. My family members disowning me for my life time. Which means, of course, everything was great until I broke one of those ten rules. At which point I believe I was done for, I was going to hell. Thus, I made the conscious decision that if I was going to eternal damnation and losing my family… I might as well make the best of the time I had left on this earth.
What I didn’t know at the time was the idea of Salvation. I believe we were living a good life because we owed it to Jesus for dying on the cross so many years ago. I didn’t realize that Jesus died on the cross for the sins I was committing today. That He had already paid the price. How foolish I was. I wouldn’t understand the message of salvation for many years later. In my mind, I was still doomed.
Before I knew it, I was married and I had a beautiful daughter. We began going to church with my family. It was my hope to spare my daughter from all of the mistakes I made, and my fate, by giving her a better start. There may have been no hope for my eternal soul… but I wasn’t going to allow her to have that same fate. Not without a fight. I attended bible studies, I listened to the sermons, all with an intention of having the knowledge to share with her. Even still, I didn’t understand what Jesus did FOR ME. I was fighting for her future. I had given up on mine.
Then a gentleman from our church died. He had past, he wasn’t known as the “best guy in the world”. I attended his funeral, and listened to Pastor deliver a message about forgiveness, salvation and what Jesus did for me. That day, at a funeral, I gave my life to Christ. I haven’t been the same since. I was changed that day. I was freed from my sin, my guilt, my shame by a sovereign & righteous man … who died on a cross… FOR ME. FOR YOU. FOR THE WORLD.
On Marriage –
I never wanted to be married. My parents divorced when I was two. I never realized that importance of a “man”. I watched my mom handle it all on her own. In fact, because of how my father left, I didn’t have a lot of faith in marriage. My grandmother and grandfather separated, and she was doing fine on her own. I figured I could just avoid the pain all together and be single and happy. My uncle wasn’t married & he had a great life. Sounded perfect.
God, however, had other plans. Through a series of encounters, would come to meet my husband. It would be several years before we would even have a date, let alone get married. Over the years as my faith grew, my dedication to my marriage vows became stronger and stronger. We would go through some bumpy times. We moved in with my grandmother for three years, so that I could be her care taker. We had lay offs. We had kids. We had financial woes. We had death in the family. We had arguments.
My husband and I both came from divorced families. Frankly, we had no clue what a stable marriage looked like. We didn’t have a role model, we didn’t have any advice or someone to emulate. We were treading water most of the time. Fortunately, we did have God. The more my relationship with Jesus grew…. so did my relationship with my husband. The marriage covenant took greater meaning. The more I studied The Word, the more I understood God’s design and intention for marriage.
When we had been married thirteen years, my husband would have to have two major surgeries. He was out of work for the nine months between surgeries. We would be tested in regards to health & strength, finances, endurance & stress. And…. we were closer than ever. A time that could have created stress that would divide a couple, we grew closer. Our marriage is so important to the both of us, that we don’t take it for granted any longer. We speak up when we begin to feel disconnected & we make an effort to fix those things. It is hard, when you have work, kids and responsibilities. The important thing is that we keep trying. It will never be perfect, but nothing ever is. It is important. To us. To God. To our children. And that makes it worth fighting for.
On Parenting –
Imagine never wanting to be a parent. The idea of everything from pregnancy, to birth to raising the children sounded terrifying. That was me. It was not part of my plan, ever. But, just like my marriage, God had his own plan there too. I would be blessed with not just one, but three children. My first daughter, I credit with bringing me to the cross. Funny that her first impact on leading someone to God would happen when she wasn’t even old enough to talk. My second daughter, I credit with saving my life. It was due to that pregnancy that we caught the precancerous cells early. God carried us safely through that pregnancy, stalling the growth of the cells. Once she was born, I underwent treatment. Eleven years later, I am still cancer free. My third daughter, brought me peace. There is something about her spirit that touches me deeply, her capacity to love has a lot to do with it.
It still amazes me that I am a parent. It was truly something I never saw for myself. I have learned a lot about love, grace, peace, faith, sacrifice and myself through parenting. The greatest gift God gave our marriage, was three bundles that would change our perspectives on the future. Most importantly, change us a people. I learn more from my kids than I ever could have expected and I’m still learning. I don’t always get it right. In fact, there are some things I failed miserably at. Yet, there are moments of victory that over shadow all of that. As we get closer and closer to that age, when my eldest daughter will leave the nest… off to college… marriage… etc. I feel that I have so much more to teach them. I am grateful that parenting doesn’t stop when they turn 18.
Over the years, I have faced trials. We have as special needs child, which let me tell you… the first time someone refers to your child as disabled, it knocks your breath out of you. We have a teen trying to establish independence. We have battles, win some and lose some. But we never stop fighting for our children. God never stops fighting for us.
On Faith in the Workplace –
I can sum this one up very quickly. Do what you can, with what you have, when you can. Even the smallest gesture or gift can impact in a big way. You don’t have to be a millionaire to help someone. You can use your time, talent, gifts, heart and love to do more than dollar bills ever can.
On My Health –
Several years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. This is a thyroid condition that is prompted by an autoimmune disorder. On any given day my thyroid symptoms may be hypo or hyper. It’s a roller coaster ride. Some days I have energy, some I’m completely drained. I battle my weight. I battle my emotions. I battle my energy. I battle with sleep. It’s frankly exhausting. Yet, most people just don’t understand. For years I still tried to “do it all” and always give a “yes”. I’d do the best I could for other people, and my family was often left with a completely empty shell. The house, my responsibilities as wife and mom, and even our relationships personally suffered because I would have nothing left to give. Within this last year, I finally said enough is enough. I was more honest about my condition, how I feel, how overwhelmed I have been trying to be all things, to all people, at all times… and admitting to how it impacted my family. I was also direct that I wouldn’t be doing that any longer.
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