{The Rest of the Story}

My Testimony
 I {always} stand amazed

I was born into a Baptist Minister’s family which means I’ve been going to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday evenings, Vacation Bible Schools and for Prayer Meetings since I was conceived. I grew up in the church and loved being involved in GA’s and Acteens, Awana’s, Children’s Choir, Youth Group and singing on the Praise Team. But, none of that makes me a Christian. However, I still hear this a lot: “Well you have to be a Christian because since your dad was a preacher, he made you believe in God." Just like my dad or mom couldn't make me like Brussel sprouts, neither of my parents could make me believe in God. Absolutely nothing but my own experiences and decisions brought me to the Lord.

I grew up in a great church and I attended all the church functions until my Junior year in high school when I was hurt by my close Christian friends. So, I rebelled and fell into the wrong crowd. I now filled my time with parties, drinking, smoking and making horrible decisions. Some memories I can’t even remember and some that I can't forget. But, I know I’ve been forgiven. I knew all of the time that those Christians who I then despised, all those "So-called-Christians," as I called them, in all of their mess and struggles, they still had something I needed so desperately. They had God. They weren't perfect. No one is or ever will be. Maybe you can relate but being hurt by your Christian friends just cuts a little deeper, stings a little more, because you know they should know better. I did make my way back to Jesus, it just took about 6 years to get my own mess in order and it was only with God's mercy and grace.

Through my messy years a huge blessing came out of it and that’s my husband. I started dating him in my “wandering years” as I call them and I knew he wasn’t a believer. But, my dad was right when he always said, “Who you date is who you eventually marry.” I dated and I married an unbeliever. For a year or so our belief differences didn’t bother me but one night I fell to my knees knowing that I couldn’t continue life the way I was living. I was brought to the end of myself and my own strength and I knew I needed God. That decision drove a wedge between me and my husband and eventually, instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole, I left my husband to the only one who could change him; God.

I focused on my own relationship and being a good example to him. My dad pointed me to a passage from 1 Peter 3:1-6  

 "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."

From that point on I prayed a lot, stopped nagging him to come to church with me, and then the following year we found out we were expecting our first baby. From the moment she was born something changed in Blake. He had a new confidence and way about him. I couldn't put my finger on it but it was like a spark was lit and he was a different man. He willingly, on his own, his own idea, asked my dad to meet with him once a week to do a Bible study with him. He wanted to read through the entire Bible and get my dad's clarification on some things. My dad and Blake met for about a year and when Anna was 16 months old Blake accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. It was an amazing moment. I was asleep actually. (If you know me this is no surprise) That day Blake had surprised me and took me to Austin on a road-trip to south congress to eat and just get away. On the way home a Christian radio station was on the radio and he said it was like God hugged his soul. He said he'd never felt that way, and he invited Jesus into his life. 

At that point in our marriage we were on the same path and started looking for a church home. We visited a lot of churches trying to find the perfect one for us. We were getting settled into one when something happened that we weren’t planning for and I know it was a gift from God. We got a call from Blake’s Aunt about a house that was a really great price for our area but it was 20 minutes on the other side of town. I immediately said no, I wasn’t moving. Plus, we already owned a house and we’d have to sell that and I felt that it was just going to be too much. But, I prayed on it and God changed my mind. We sold our house in 21 days and moved into the new house shortly after but because it was 20 minutes away we had to find a new daycare for our daughter. We found one 4 minutes away, which is kind of unique being that we live in a rural area, and the day school was a ministry of the church that was there. The day before she started we decided that we should go to the church service at least once to make sure we liked it and find out just what they’d be teaching our daughter on chapel days. Well, we fell in love and made it our permanent church home. 

Years go by and I was working in corporate America but not very happily plugging along. I knew something was missing. I wasn’t using any of my creative talents and having kids can really change your perspective on life. So, I started praying and God laid it on my heart to become a teacher. It was a totally different career path and when I told my husband he was 100% behind me. I knew it would be a while to get my alternative certification but within months of praying that prayer I had a teaching job at a Christian private school in town. We were amazed to see how trusting in God fully brought such blessing.

However, it was a really drastic pay-cut. I told Blake that there wasn’t a way we could do this and he said, “No, we are doing this. We prayed for this and God provided and we are doing this. God will make a way.” I was still skeptical but I knew God would provide. We started selling things here and there and talking about some second jobs I could possibly take. We kept saying we’d get rid of everything except the house. That’s the only thing we were holding onto. We just knew that God provided this house for us so we’d join and become involved in our church. We clung to our house. We worked hard on our house and it was great for our family. We said we’d only give it up if we were forced too. Well, a week or so went by and we knew we were going to have to sell the house, use the equity to pay off some debt, and then rent somewhere. After a couple of days we actually grew to be really excited and so eager to see what God was going to do and where he was going to lead us. 

Some, well most people, thought we were crazy. "You’re taking a huge pay cut, selling your house, and going to rent somewhere, all for a job? A job that you've never done and you aren't sure you're going to even like?" Yes, it sounds crazy but we gave it all to God. He placed this on my heart, Blake and I prayed and knew this was God’s doing, and we were going to, for the first time in our married life 100%, no doubts, crazy-for-God, trust him! And then, the phone rang. It was our church's Business Director asking if I was interested in the Children’s ministry position because the current children's minister and her family were leaving. (Another amazing story of God's faithfulness, they were given a house from a wounded military non-profit!) She asked us to pray and talk about it over the next few days but only a couple hours later I emailed her and said, “We don’t need more time to pray about it. In fact we have been praying about this! We just didn’t know what “This” was.”

So, I accepted the position at the church, started teaching and even though it’s double the work I get more time with my girls since the school’s Kinder program is only three days a week. I can’t be thankful enough to God for everything he has provided throughout my entire life. A Godly family offering a firm foundation of faith, forgiveness after my “wandering years”, forgiveness daily for all of my short-comings. A wonderful church home and the job of being a mother, teacher and minister to our church families and their kids. I {always} stand amazed!

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