They year 2012 started with triumph and answered prayers and then quickly turned into the hardest and ugliest battle I’ve ever had to fight… a battle to keep my marriage intact. Ultimately, my husband announced for the final time that he wanted a divorce. I honored his request and signed the papers. At first I thought I had failed; that I had lost the battle, but God picked me up and said, “My dear, the battle has already been won for you when I hung on the cross with your name on my heart.”
When faced with darkness, loss, and trials, a person can choose either to focus on the pain, or the purpose. I decided to focus on the PURPOSE God has for me, which is that of victory over darkness, rejection, loss, and the enemy (Satan).
God turns ashes into beauty. I am rising from the ashes victoriously, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I never thought I’d say this, but I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to 2012. Goodbye, memorable year. Hello, continued victory, new beginnings, met dreams, and the sweetest, most fulfilling value and identity in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wondered about someone’s story? Someone’s background, upbringing, trials, successes? It’s so easy to sum people up when we meet them, but deep down we know there’s more.
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I was 5 years old and sitting in my LDS (Latter Day Saint, or, Mormon) Primary class for children, singing “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” wondering why Jesus would want me to be a piece of the sky.
I was 8 years old when I was baptized into the Mormon religion. I remember stepping down into the warm baptismal font in my neck-to-ankle white suit knowing my sins were about to be wiped away. My last thoughts were, “Wait, I’m not ready. I wish I could sin more, and THEN be forgiven.”
On my 10th birthday, we had a family pizza party. I didn’t wear shoes the entire day as I played outside in the green Spring grass. Dad gave me a black “Coleman” sleeping bag and a “MagLight” flashligh. Always one for emergency-preparedness (including everything from cold Colorado temperatures to bear attacks to Y2K) it was an awesome gift. (To this day I favor the MagLight brand over any other flashlight.)
I was 12 years old and snuck into the Youth Dances held in the gymnasium of the Mormon church I attended. The appropriate age for a dance attendee was 14, but I snuck in with my sister (who was 17).
I was 14 when I house-sat for a friend and got drunk for the first time. I walked home with my “boyfriend” and kept repeating that I thought I was going to die.
I was 16 when my sister went to college and I snuck into more dances. My mom and I ate Twizzlers and listened to Backstreet Boys on the way home from visiting my sister at Southern Utah University.
I was 17 and on top of the world. I was on the high school swim team, had a college scholarship waiting for me, had a cute boyfriend, and was a rock solid believer of the Mormon religion. I attended early morning Seminary classes and was very active in my church functions.
I was 18 when I converted my aforementioned cute boyfriend to Mormonism.
I was 19 when I knew something was missing for me- spiritually speaking. I withdrew, (most of my rebellion happened around age 14) and stopped believing in the Mormon church.
I was 21 when I partied like a “normal” (worldly) college student.
I was never raped, hit, or shockingly hurt, but I was lucky, on many occasions.
I was 22 when a coworker told me about a Christian radio station she listened to during the day for encouragement. I looked at her weird, but knew something was different about her.
I was 22 when I saw a woman in the shaving cream aisle of Wal-Mart wearing a cross necklace. I thought to myself, “I want that. I want to be so bold for God, that people see me and know me as one of his.”
I was 22 when I moved away from my college town and took my dream job in Arizona.
I was 23 when I started attending a Baptist church every now and then. One day, the Pastor was preaching so hard, his fake front tooth fell out! This was truly my first introduction to a non-Mormon church. The people were friendly, the food was good (Baptists are known for that) and the friendship was genuine.
I was 24 when I asked Jesus Christ to be my personal Savior and I gave my life to him. It was September 12th, and I was sitting on my bed. I had met with my pastor many times to ask many questions. I had previously submitted my paperwork to the Mormon church requesting they destroy my record of membership (a requirement in order to leave the church.) On September 10th, I received confirmation that my request had been completed.
I discovered that what was “missing” for me was a true relationship with Jesus Christ. More than following a religion (Mormon or otherwise,) it was about the personal relationship.
I got on my knees, resting my elbows on my bed and prayed the prayer and read the Bible verses my pastor gave me. Nothing happened. Lightning didn’t strike. In fact, my condo was eerily quiet. I called a friend from my Baptist church and asked her if I did it right.
She told me it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong, but it was an act of submission to the Lord. She said that in time, and with exercise in my faith, that I would start to feel new.
September 13th I woke up and felt new. I was not ashamed! (Romans 1:16) I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was now a believer of Christ.
That day I left for a work trip to Tucson, where I was able to find a church to attend. I worshipped like never before, since I was a new believer, and knew no one. The praise and worship was very moving. I knew I had made the right choice to give my life to Christ. I knew I was never going to be the same again.
As a child I enjoyed the arrival of the newspaper each day. I’ve always loved to read, but I especially couldn’t wait to view the comics and one particular section few paid attention to. Back then it wasn’t called the “Travel” section, it was just a section about the Western region. I remember reading thinking, “Isn’t there more than just the West?” One day I noticed a section about other cities in places I was unfamiliar with.
I would lean with my elbows on the bottom of the paper, ink stains on my skin, running my finger over the list that showed the temperature highs and lows for cities around the world the previous day. My mother tried to convince me that every major city was listed: Tokyo, London, Sao Paulo, Madrid, etc. I wasn’t convinced. I was starting to learn that the world was much bigger than Denver and the West.
In fifth grade I aced the US geography test of all 50 states (we weren’t tested on Puerto Rico/Guam). This would lead to later courses in college in which I did equally as well with world geography.
I think I always knew I would travel and live in many places; I’ve always been so curious about other countries and cultures. This is probably why I loved my Anthropology course, with all the tongue-clicking language practice and stories of families that lived more like Wolf-packs than the family scene I was used to.
I guess I’m not a “traveler” by definition, but for any upper-20’s aged woman, I’ve sure lived in a lot of states- eight to be exact. (Most moves happened after the age of 18.) In each place, I always sensed I was in a “stepping stone” position- meaning I would soon be elsewhere.
This morning I found an article about the US cities in which children are most spoiled. Surprisingly Beverly Hills was not #1, rather Manhattan was. Santa Monica was second.
Something happened to me as I viewed pictures of each city on the list. I kept turning the page: Ft. Worth, Minneapolis, Tulsa (wasn’t expecting that!), Miami, and then farther down the list: Atlanta. My heart leapt as I saw the picture. It had nothing to do with the article, but everything to do with love. I recognized the city before I read the caption, and I felt two things. LOVE, and HOME. Atlanta is truly my city. After all the travel curiosity and research I’ve done, I’m truly happy to settle down here.
Tomorrow we are moving to our very first apartment in Atlanta! (There! I told you where I live, and nothing bad happened… No lightning strike, no murderer busted through the window!)
I am excited to move closer to the city, and to have found such a beautiful place to live.
More details to come… Maybe I’ll include some pictures, too.
Have a safe and fun weekend!
A must see video. Please see the YouTube page for proper specs. (Truth is I have had nothing to do with the production of this video!)
I will say that I believe we should all be fighting false-religion, not necessarily religion itself. This video is not aimed at anyone particular person or religion, just a mind-opening perspective of the church.
Powerful; I dare you to pass it on.
An incredible excerpt from the Bible,
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We know because he first loved us.”
– John 4:16-19
An incredible excerpt from the “He Is” reading plan in the “True Identity” Bible by Zondervan (italics are from the author of this blog):
He is love: “How appropriate that John, the disciple Jesus loved (see John 20:2), reveals the simple yet profound truth that God is love. God sent humanity the greatest love letter ever written, the Bible. He demonstrated his love by dying for those he loved. It is his very nature to love. Because God is love, we too are learning to love- not because it’s our nature, for human love is fickle and failing, but because he loved us first. Because God is love, he commands us to love our brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends, and even our enemies- those people we find hardest to love.”
May we go and spread the love Jesus designed for us to have. Let us first hold it in our hearts and then let it dwell in us as we lift our eyes in freedom to our God. Let the love we have from Jesus stir in us and spill over like a river.