I am first and foremost a child of God, then a wife, mother, daughter, and sister. If you would have met me 20-25 years ago you would have guessed that I would be an attorney. I was a great manipulator. Maybe a sales person . . . I could talk anyone into anything (and did) . . . or maybe a drug dealer to support my habit. I am looking forward to my 20-year high school reunion next year. I want people to notice the change in me and ask me why? “Why,” would be only because of the grace of Jesus.
When I was 13 years old my mom was diagnosed with a rare disease, unique only to my family in the United States. My grandfather died from this disease and eventually it took my aunt also.
I was “protected” from the news of this disease by well meaning family who told me my mom had cancer and would get better. Within a year and a half my mother was in a nursing home in a vegitative state and my brother and I were shipped off to Alaska to live with my father. (My life up until then had been in Vermont only). I remember my mom was in a nursing home in Vermont, I hated being in Alaska, and my dad worked hard on the North Slope. We barely saw him. We fought being here in Alaska very hard. So, after a year, my dad relented and let us go home. Where was home? Many foster care homes. My family was too screwed up to take us in, and my brother and I together were quite a handful.
The last time I saw my mom alive was on my prom night. I walked in her room with my prom date and she silently cried when she saw me. I introduced her to my date, gave her a kiss and told her I loved her, wiping her tears away. That night was bitter sweet. No, my mom didn’t die that night, but it was that night that I realized the doctors were wrong. My mom did recognize me. She wasn’t a vegetable.
Let me back up to say that although my grandfather was an Episcopalian priest, we were not Christians. We went to church on Holidays . . . mostly with my dad to the Catholic Church. Occasionally we would attend an event at my grandfather’s church. God was a big wish granter in the sky who made miracles. All I knew is that He blessed those he loved and punished the rest of us. Until this point my only prayers had been for him to make me skinny, grow my hair overnight and make Shawn Cassidy fall instantly in love with me. Now it was serious time, I prayed every day since my mom was diagnosed, and when I learned the truth of her disease in Alaska, I prayed even more. The night my mother died was May 27, 1985. That was the night I turned from God. Since then God has used my mother’s illness, death, and my life in foster care to help many others in similar situations. Never would I have dreamed He would turn her death into good, but He did exactly that.
Having been rejected (or feeling) rejected by my family members; being put in foster care; having mom die; then my grandma die; I felt like everyone who loved me left. I went wild. Started partying; lying; stealing. I was quite the party girl, and everyone knew to have fun, call me. Then I fell in love and got pregnant. A voice inside me told me to wake up, get smart, get a job and live a decent life.
Looking back I see God’s hand over and over again in my life. My daughter was born at not quite 5 months at 1 lb. 13 oz. She was a miracle. Most babies don’t live at that weight. Her lungs weren’t developed, and most babies in that condition have long term illness or disabilities. My daughter was released from the hospital at 3 lbs. 3 weeks after she was born. She was so tiny, we bought cabbage patch preemie clothes to bring her home in.
My love affair with her dad faded (in his eyes). He left me. I stalked him. I was obsessed. He couldn’t leave me too! I was desperate; did crazy things to keep him and was eventually admitted to a loony hospital. I tried to commit suicide 3 times. Every doctor said it was a miracle I lived and came out sane. (Although some of you would disagree with them).
In DC, in the 3rd psyche ward, I made some good friends, whom moved in with me when I was discharged. They were not so much crazy as they were crack heads. I thought I could help them. On September 12,1989, my 21st birthday they introduced me to a force that overtook my life. The world of crack.
You wouldn’t believe the situations I put my daughter and myself in. I was shot at; sold all my daughter’s, mine and my dad’s belongings; and did things I never want to think about. Drugs consumed me so much, I barely remembered that I had a year old daughter who lived in the middle of it.
On a Christmas eve, I was in the streets looking for drugs when I came home to my apartment. I realized I had forgotten that my daughter was in the apartment alone. I remember staring at my reflection in the mirror and asking God to take me and give my daughter a better life. I smoked my crack and waited. Nothing. My daughter woke up the next morning and came running from her room. I was still at the table waiting. She was laughing and excited about Christmas. She hugged me, and kept singing . . . and it was just like that, I snapped out of it! I packed a diaper bag, went to the car, and drove 18 hours to my grandmother’s, where I stayed clean. She taught me how to be a mother.
Miracle #3: Almost all crack addicts go through terrible withdrawal. (I have since been around many others with this problem and hope that I helped them also; just knowing that I walked that path, but am now clean and forgiven). Most of them go back to it. I never have. God delivered me from that.
I chased my daughter’s dad for a while longer; even was thrown in jail. I lost custody of my daughter, and the day the judge gave her to her father, I was a broken woman. Her dad walked out of the court with his attorney and told me if I never contacted him again and moved to Alaska, he would hand her over. I agreed, and that’s what I did.
Miracle #4: Its at that time that I met a very special woman. She worked at a bank, and we met while cashing a check. She offered me a place to live. I remember leaving the bank thinking she was nuts. She knew nothing about me, yet was willing to take me and my daughter, who she had never met. She told me she was a Christian, and I instantly thought “square” and blew her off. That whole day something said to go over. I did. She went over some rules, and I moved in that next day. That is where I met the man who introduced me to my Savior: my husband.
We would talk for hours on the phone; about God and how He can change our lives. While talking to my future husband, I fell in love (or as he puts it, I became obsessed). I pursued him relentlessly, starting with going to church. That meant I could ride with him and see him more. He loved my daughter, so he immediately said yes every time I would ask him for a ride.
The problem was my husband didn’t fall in love with me. So, I fell back into my old habits of manipulation and lies, tricking him into caring about me and eventually marrying me. I thought, “This God thing works! He gave me my husband.” That was the enemy deceiving me. My husband was so unhappy. He is a bright guy, and it didn’t take him long to figure out my lies. I knew he would leave me like my family, foster families, mom, grandma and former husband. I did everything I could think of to try and make him love me, but nothing worked. So, I decided to test him and his faith.
I was the ultimate nightmare of a wife; mean, angry, ugly, disrespectful, lazy, dishonest. Well, he hated me all right, but he stayed with me. That intrigued me. Every night for almost 3 years I listened to him pray to God to help him learn to love me. It was torture, but it was a wakeup call. He truly believed if he called on God, and obeyed His word, it would be okay. His witness of forgiveness, grace, and perseverance inspired me. I wanted what he had. No, he wasn’t at peace with our marriage, but that’s because I let the enemy in constantly . . . but he had faith.
I started counseling and then being discipled by our pastor’s wife, and I discovered the one person that would never abandon me. Not my husband, but Jesus Christ. I finally felt like I had something to live for . . . someone who would love me even though I was the ultimate sinner. (Your hair would curl if you knew the details!)
God forgave me even though I hated myself. God isn’t going to get tired of me. God isn’t going to die. And, He is the only one who will ever have all the right answers. The day I died to my fears and myself was the day I began living.
Shortly after this took place, I noticed my husband stopped praying his nightly prayer. I was concerned . . . like he gave up . . . but then I noticed there was something different between us. My husband and I have been through so much: hate, love, lies, truth, the births of our children, and the death of one. I now have no doubt of his love for me. I see it whenever I look in his eyes or see his smile. Better than that, what I have with my husband is the ultimate love story of all time. My husband introduced me to the love of my life: my Lord and Savior.
Trust me. If God can forgive the sin I was living, He can forgive yours too. I am in no way fixed to perfection, but I am healed by grace. Its probably you who can’t forgive your sin on your own . . . that’s why its so awesome to not ever have to be alone again!
— A member of Journey Christian Church