I was born into a home where both my parents knew Jesus. My mother had looked for Him all her life and found Him when she attended my father’s church. She rejoiced and followed through. My father grew up knowing Jesus, going through a couple different kinds of churches. But both my parents knew Jesus.
My brother was born with a tiny opening to his stomach. He was going to die. The doctors sent him home to do it, to avoid a higher death rate at the hospital. Someone came from our local congregation and cared for my brother. He lived six weeks, had surgery, and has lived forty-two more years. We prayed about it. It was a miracle I’ve known of most of my life. I was fourteen months old when he was born.
When I was six, I remember being on my bed and asking God to take me to heaven if I died. I knew about God. I knew about Jesus. I knew and I wanted to do what I was supposed to; I wanted to be baptized. But my parents thought I was too young. So they said no. I prayed and cried and hoped God would forgive me for not doing what I was told by Him to do. And I found peace. He would accept me, if a short life were my lot.
When I was nine I was baptized. I did it at camp, to avoid 800 people watching. I did it the first night, because I was excited. And so I had no friends, no family, there with me at my baptism. No one I even knew well enough that they would hold my towel. I went into the water with, “Just As I Am.” And I came out wet and happy.
From nine on I wanted to do what God wanted. I often chose the “hard things” to do thinking because I was willing that those are what God wanted for me. I chose to teach rather than research because I could touch more people’s lives. I chose secondary education because middle school is so hard to teach. (Impossible for me. This is a calling.) I chose to go into missions because “someone needed to and I could” and not because God called me to it.
When I was twenty-two I left God, the first time ever and the last time as well. God’s children were treating me poorly and though I had seen my family turn from God for the same reason and thought them foolish, the lies hurt. I had already spent almost two years as a missionary apprentice struggling with life’s pressures. Then to come home to that. And Satan stepped in with some handsome temptations. And I walked away from God.
Thankfully I figured out that was stupid fairly quickly and in less than a year I was back. I wanted encouragement and I drove six hours or more every weekend to go to my favorite church. God used that commitment to bless me and to bless others. I don’t regret the driving or the time.
When I was twenty-six God answered an old prayer and brought me my husband. He taught me that forgiveness is real. An awesome lesson for which I am still grateful.
God gave us two boys who strengthened and deepened our dependence on God. We’ve learned what it means to hear and say “Father” from another perspective. Both were risky births and we spent lots of early time praying and being answered.
In our years of being itinerate residents, we moved outside our denomination and enriched, not only our lives but our understanding of faith. God didn’t grow, but my knowledge of who He is and how He is did. He blessed me with experiences I had never expected and answered questions I didn’t know I had.
God has not changed. God is eternal. But my part of the relationship has deepened. My understanding of Him has grown. And I am more grateful for the love He has given and more accepting of His grace. I do not have to be perfect, because He is perfect. And He gives me faith.