Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Power of a Testimony

Do not try to hang on to your life.  Give up your life for the sake of Christ.  You will not be sorry you did.

Today, I am in a funk.  No reason, really.  I had a great weekend and life is good.  I just can't shake this "yuck" that is clouding my mind.  I began thinking that the best way to curtail this attitude is to meditate on the words of Christ.  I began reading my Bible and started thinking about all that God has been in my life.  


I am not sure if I have put my testimony to paper computer on this blog, but I felt an overwhelming sense that someone needs it today.  WARNING:  This is long!

I was born in Texas in the winter of 1980 after what my mom describes as the hottest and most miserable summer to date.  I was the 2nd born to my mother and father as I had an older brother that was 2 years older than me.  My mom was just about two weeks shy of turning 19 the day she had me.  She then had my younger brother a year and some change later.  Three children by 20 years old.  I cannot imagine.  I don't know all of the ins and outs of what exactly happened but my mom decided to leave my father and my two brothers behind when I was about two years old and we moved to Dallas.  That is around the time that I was placed into the Kyle Family.  Gary is who I consider to be my dad and has been since I was two-years old.  That is where I met my Aunt Donna and my Granny...two people that I feel were responsible for the person I am today.

My childhood was filled with many painful memories.  There were drugs, physical abuse, running away, lying, and me feeling lost and abandoned more times than I care to recall. After what seemed to be a lifetime filled with not knowing what each new day would bring, my mom checked me out of school on November 21, 1994 and I will always remember that day.  I was in the 8th grade at Adams Middle School.  I was just voted VP of the National Junior Honor Society and things were just good for me.  That day was earth-shattering.  We got on the Greyhound bus for the very long ride to Hope, Arkansas and I do not remember crying harder in my entire life.  I was very angry at my mom and all I could think about was how my mom had stripped me away from everything that I loved.  God had a plan, it was just incredibly hard for me to see at 13 years old.  

The next year or so would prove to be incredibly difficult.  My mom was trying to rebuild her life...whatever that meant for her and many times I felt like an afterthought.  One February, a friend of mine at school invited me to go to church with her to a Valentine's get together.  I went and it was so much fun!  That is when I met Christi and Charlie who would touch my life in a very permanent way.  I went to church off-and-on for several months on Wednesday nights.  Then in August of that same year, that friend invited me to go to church on a Sunday.  I could have counted on 1 hand how many times I had gone to church.  I am so glad I said yes that day.

On August 27, 1995, I went to church with my friend and the pastor kept talking about "being saved."  I had NO idea what in the world he was talking about.  I didn't want to ask any questions because I was afraid of what others would think.  After church there was a youth rally that we went to and the girl that spoke talked about how she thought she was not able to be saved because of all of the bad things she had done.  She sang the song, "Jesus Will Still Be There" and my heart melted.  God was doing a work in me but I had no idea why I was feeling what I was feeling.  On the way back to the church on the church bus, I finally said, "I keep hearing people talk about being saved and I don't understand what that means.  Saved from what?"  The kids on the bus began describing to me what it meant to be saved by Jesus and it peeked my interest but I remember being really really quiet the rest of the way home.  That evening, I remember that same pastor preached again about being saved.  I understood a little more and wondered if that was something that I could do...because I really wanted to.  

That evening, we all went to Christi and Charlie's house...remember from the Valentine's cookout?  They were the youth leaders in our church and there was a Back to School Party at their house.  Really the only thing I remember was spending a great deal of time in their guest bedroom talking about salvation and what it means to surrender to Christ.  That evening, I prayed the prayer that would change my life forever.  I asked Jesus to come and live in my heart!  I was so excited!  That very moment, I honestly believed that everyone in the world would be as excited as me and I wanted everyone to have what I had. Unfortunately, I would find that not everyone would be as enthusiastic about that decision as I was.

When I was a junior in high school, I began dating a boy that I thought I was so very in love with.  It was the first person that I had ever had strong feelings about and despite everyone's warnings about the dangers of this relationship, we dated for about 2 years.  There was a lot of emotional abuse and honestly I had no idea how to really recognize a toxic relationship....all I had ever known about relationships was toxicity.  

My senior year, I moved in with Audra and Mike and things just got worse.  They were wonderful wonderful people but my relationship with my boyfriend had spiraled to the point of desperation. I had stopped going to church, I had stopped consulting God about any and everything, and occasionally, I went to his church.  God was certainly not a priority in my life at this time.  I remember one of my teachers asking me when he and I were going to have sex.  I was a little surprised by the question but then felt very pressured when she said, "Well everyone is going to wonder what's wrong with you." Heaven knows I did not want to be known as the weirdo!  

In November of my senior year, I went to that very teacher and told her that I needed a pregnancy test.  She bought me one and in the girls' bathroom at Hope High School on November 14, 1998 (ironically the same day my first baby was born), I found out that I was pregnant at the age of 17.  I was devastated and I cried like my life depended on it.  I also was in so much shock and despair, I told everyone I came in contact with that day.  I lived within walking distance to the school and I just wanted to go home.  My best friend at the time would not let me.  I think she was afraid of what I would do.  All that was going through my head was:  I have to go to college, I cannot raise a baby, I do not want my mom to raise my baby, and what is everyone going to say....especially everyone at church?!!  

The teacher that bought me the pregnancy test called me out of my 4th period English class and took me into her room with another teacher.  They began telling me all of the reasons why I should have an abortion.  It was out of the question for me.  I was not even thinking in that direction.  It was a non-issue for me.  It was against everything that I was.  The other teacher had an abortion several years before and had two healthy children and explained to me that everything would be okay if I wanted to just "do the easy thing" and "no one would have to know."  The problem....God knew.  And I knew.

That day as quite a whirlwind for me.  Every single person that I came in contact with, with the exception of Audra, encouraged me to have an abortion - my aunt, my boyfriend, my teacher...I can't even remember who else.  What was not said to me?  "You do not have to do this."  I was convinced that it was the best thing.  No one would ever know.  I could continue to live my life and the "problem" would just disappear.  Man, was that ever false.

On November 21, 1998, I ended my first pregnancy with an elective abortion and really thought it was the end of that part of my life.  I could have not been more wrong.  It was a horrific experience and and experience I would not speak about again for several years.  I graduated high school on May 21, 1999 and went to Central Baptist College in Conway, Texas to be a nurse....or so I thought.  At this time, I was very very committed to the cause of Christ.  Anything and everything that had to do with church, I was THERE!  I had broken up with my boyfriend and after a time of him stalking me and just some other horrible things, we were completely finished by the time I graduated from high school. There was so much pain wrapped up in that relationship.  So much.  I just poured myself into my faith and my church.  It was very difficult with this huge dark cloud hanging over my head but I was pretty good about pushing it away.

CBC was a hard transition for me.  The academics deemed themselves a little harder than I anticipated and after losing my scholarship the first semester, I had to step up my game and get a 4.0 to bring up my GPA to get the scholarship back.  And, I got mono and was out of class VERY sick for about 6 weeks. I still managed to bring my GPA up and got my scholarship back.  The next year, I changed my major to Christian Counseling and began taking classes in that area....which included Human Growth and Development.  That class hit me LIKE.A.TON.OF.BRICKS.  When they showed what a human fetus looks like at 8-weeks gestation, I became very ill and ran out of the classroom.  I ran all the way to my dorm and sobbed for hours, face to the floor.  My friend, Rachel, came and knocked on my door.  We talked and talked and talked and it was one of the first times I had ever talked about that experience that happened in high school.  A few times, I talked about it during my years in college but only to those that I felt were "safe."  

During the next several years, I had given my testimony but I did not give my complete testimony.  I left out a major chunk.  Really, I didn't leave out the abortion, I lied.  I told everyone I got pregnant in high school (because that is okay, right?!) and that I had a miscarriage.  Satan is really good about telling you it is okay to fabricate the truth a little, especially if it means he will continue to have that stronghold in your life.  

I went on to graduate from CBC in May of 2003.  I went immediately into graduate school the following fall for social work.  In the midst of that, I met the man that God had for me to marry.  We met in August in 2003, started dating in November, engaged in January, and married the following August.  One thing I knew, after the engagement and prior to the wedding, is that I had to tell Brice.  I cried and cried one evening as I told him that there was something he needed to know.  After I told him and I was sobbing, he simply looked at me and said, "That's all?"  It wasn't the response I was waiting for.  I just knew he would ask for his ring back.  He also wasn't minimizing what I did.  He looked at me and said, "Christ has forgiven you for that, you know that right?  If Christ has forgiven  you, then so do I.  I love you and it doesn't not matter to me what you did five years ago."  I melted...into a puddle.  It was the first time that I had really experienced God's redeeming love in the flesh.  It was a moment I will never forget.

Brice and I left Little Rock due to his job and moved {back} to Grand Prairie in February 2006.  Things were pretty smooth for awhile until I found out I was pregnant in March.  I was terrified.  I knew that God was going to take the baby from me or give her some terrible disease because of the poor decision I had made so many years prior.  Then I decided that He wouldn't do that because Brice deserved a healthy baby.  I delivered a healthy (early and poor eater but healthy) baby girl on November 14, 2006. God gave us our second beautiful BIG blessing on March 12, 2009.  Then, our third little firecracker came on October 19, 2011.

In 2010, I attended a women's conference where the speaker talked about Surrendering the Secret which was a post-abortion Bible study and I thought I might puke in my chair.  I hadn't heard anything like it but KNEW that it was something I needed to look into.  I grabbed her business card with the plan to contact her later.  A few months later, Joel Owen preached a sermon at our church as we did not have a pastor at the time.  It was about redemption, forgiveness, restoration, etc.  I don't remember much of what he actually said, but I cried during the music of that service and did not stop crying until we exited the building.  God had my attention and my heart.  

I looked for that business of card of Carrie's from the conference and I could not find it anywhere.  I googled her, signed up for the Surrendering the Secret study and my life has never been the same.  For 12 long years, I let Satan tell me that I was not good enough, not worthy of Christ's love, and allowed him to have that stronghold over my life.  I was healed from my abortion and God said, "Go and bless others."  I began the study at our church and I am so glad that God did not let me go.

I know this was long but I feel like it is important for people to know that your parents did not have to go to church, you did not have to be born going to church in order for Christ to save you.  I also felt that it is important to others to understand that we sin as Christians.  Sometimes it is what we think is small sins and sometimes it is big but God does not see it that way.  Your sin is just as bad as my abortion was. He can save you from ANYTHING!!  He wants to.  Just call out to Him today...contact me if you want to know how.

God is still working in me today.  I have come so far in my life.  I make mistakes, I am not friendly a lot of the times, I let my mouth get the best of me sometimes a lot of times and yes, I do yell at my kids.  But, God loves me and all of my messes that I create.  My prayer is that I am better today than yesterday.  That may not always happen but it is always my prayer.  

God is good.  God is faithful and He LOVES ME.  Guess what?  He loves you too...accept that love even if you don't understand it.

I heard this song this weekend and I want to share the words with you...it really touched my heart.

The Blood of Jesus Speaks for Me
The blood of Jesus speaks for me
Be still my soul, redeeming love
Out of the dust of Calvary
Is rising to the throne above
There is no vengeance in His cry
While IT IS FINISHED fills the sky
Forgiveness is the final plea
The blood of Jesus speaks for me

My heart can barely take it in
He pardons all my guilty stains
Surrender all my shame to Him
He breaks the curse of every chain
My sin is great but greater still
The boundless grace His heart reveals
A mercy deeper than the sea
The blood of jesus speaks for me

When my accuser makes the claim
That I should die for my offense
I point him to that rugged frame
Where I found life at Christ's expense
See from His hands, His feet, His side
The fountain flowing deep and wide
Oh, hear Him shout the victory
The blood of Jesus speaks for me

Worthy is the Lamb
Lamb for sinners slain
Jesus Lord of all
Glory to His name
Heaven crying out
Let the earth proclaim
Power in the blood
Glory to His name
JESUS

Oh, let my soul arise and sing
My confidence is not in vain
The One who fights for me is King
His oath His covenant remain
No condemnation now I dread
Eternal hope is mine instead
His word will stand, I stand redeemed
The blood of Jesus speaks for me.

Amazing love, how can it be
The blood of Jesus speaks for me.

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