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the beginning of the story
September 5, 2016
Okay. Here it is. I'm just going to start writing things and pray that God makes sense of it all, both on paper and in the reader’s eyes.
If we acknowledge Jesus as our savior, we have the Holy Spirit. That's a period you see at the end of that sentence. That's it. Really I don't need to write anything else, because that's all we honestly need to know. The problem is that I don't think we all either a) believe that statement to be true or b) pay any attention to the fact that the statement is true. What's going to follow in these blog entries…I don’t like the word “blog” …in these stories… is my journey - the journey that God has me on, to figuring out what the Holy Spirit is saying to me. Everyone's journey is going to look different - but the core is the same. Do you believe you have the Holy Spirit? Are you listening?
About four years ago I felt like God was asking me to write my story. The problem was, in my eyes, there really wasn't a story. I didn't have the earth-shattering testimony that would change someone's life forever. I lived a relatively boring life. All my Dad had to do when I was younger was to look at me with a disappointed glance and I straightened my path. So, what on earth do I have to offer? That was my continuous argument back to God. As is typical of God, however, He persisted. He kept calling me to write. I can’t tell you how many times, while in prayer, the song "Write Your Story" would come on. Or how many times I opened my bible to a verse about recording your story.
Francis Chan in his book You and Me Forever says "Life is about Jesus. We are not here to tell our story, but His. We are here to live His story, not ours." Well thank goodness - the pressure is now officially off! So here it is: God's story, through my life, my journey to discovering the presence and the voice of the Holy Spirit. Can I just say how much this excites me?! What I'm going to share isn't something new or totally off the wall (although I would guess some will argue that point) - but it's the very thing Jesus talked about in John 14:16-17 - "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you”. It's what completely rocked my world and gave me this whole new love for God that I never even really knew existed.
To be very honest with you, I want this to change your life. I want you to open this story and not be able to stop reading. Not because I'm such a good writer, not because the stories are so amazing, but because God is in this. And because there is a message that He wants us to hear. My prayer is that it's not my words, but words that He has given me that I believe we all need to hear. Trust me, it changes lives. Mine was one of them.
So, I sat down at my computer and started writing. That is until I got overwhelmed or something better came along. I kept trying and I kept failing. I mean really, who wants to hear about the Christian girl who grew up in a great family, going to church every time the doors were open, got good grades, married an amazing man, had three beautiful kids and worked in a job she loved? (Wow, that does sound kind of awesome!) Sure, there were mess ups along the way, choices I definitely would have made differently if I could do it over, but nothing that would drastically change the course I was on. In my attempt to be obedient I'm going to do as God asked and I’m going to write. I did, however, decide you should know something about me to give you a base for what I'm going to be sharing - you know, so you don't think I'm crazy - ha!
Growing up in a small town in Indiana, my life was not anything out of the ordinary. Or maybe by today's standards, it was. I had a wonderful life filled with family, friends, God and security. A dad who came home for lunch every day. A mom who stayed home and baked cookies for us after school. A Sunday school class filled with all my friends from school. It was safe and full of love. I had the house where all the kids congregated and the parents that led my youth group. We took family vacations, learned our Bible stories, served cookies to the elderly and enjoyed life. I look back on my childhood and it makes me smile. The days riding bikes in the neighborhood until dark, the day my mom turned our backyard into a circus, the parades down the little streets of our town...all of it a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.
Our church was the tiny little white church with a steeple, open the doors see all the people. Young and old, they were friends of ours since I was a born. It was a secure place to be where we sang hymns, listened to the sermon and had potluck in the basement when it was all over. It was fun being a part of the church family and it was certainly easy to be a Christian. It seemed that pretty much everyone was.
Our quaint little town of 3,000 was nestled in among a large Amish community, rolling farmlands and the grand world of RV factories. Our town was a big tourist draw, what with all the horse drawn buggies and all. During the summer our population nearly doubled with cars driving painfully slow trying to take it all in…the laundry hanging on lines outside, the tiny children in bonnets playing in the yards and the horses pulling carts along the side of the road. As most children do, I took the whole thing for granted, not really understanding that this kind of life didn’t exist for everyone. I had very few events in my childhood that caused me to contemplate the existence of evil and never even thought about it.
My first real glimpse of “evil” in the world came when my Dad lost his job. I didn’t really even consider it to be evil in nature until I grew up, at the time it was just scary and uncertain. I can remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. My Dad worked for a couple, managing their hardware/lumber store. We had become close family friends with the couple, staying at their house when my parents went out of town, spending time with them outside of work, I’d dare say we were like family. And then that sneaky little devil got his grip on their marriage, the husband had an affair and just like that, their lives changed dramatically and as a result, so did ours. In a really big way. My Dad came home, laid down face first on the floor in our living room and wept. I had never seen my dad that way and it was scary. My Dad was the pillar of strength in our family and to know that he was helpless made us all feel desperate. In all the anger and hatred from the divorce, the couple sold the store, fired my dad and sent him walking home. No notice, no car, no pay. Nothing. Just a hatred that comes from dancing with the devil. That night, with my dad on the floor, my mom crying, my older brother threatening to take care of matters (I’m not really sure what that meant, but in light of how angry he was at the time, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t good), I saw that bad did exist. That the world wasn’t all peaches and cream and we were going to need a miracle to pull through this. I remember praying, because that’s what I had always learned to do, to lean on God when the going gets tough. One thing I didn’t know at the time, however, was how to give it all to God. To really give it to God. I said my prayers and moved on, trusting my mom and dad to take care of things, maybe more than God.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and try to describe who I was as a child, who I saw myself to be. It seems like it would help to know a bit of who I was and what I was like before the Holy Spirit swept me off my feet so many years later. There are probably a lot of people that should chime in on this part to help, but since I’m writing in the woods all by myself, it’s going to have to be a solo interpretation.
My mom and dad used to say that I was a gift from God, a daughter to fill the hole in their heart that my older sister Dea left when she took her last breath. Born with an absurd amount of dark crazy hair and brown eyes, I came into this world the spiting image of my sister, Dea. The nurses questioned if I actually belonged to my parents, wondering if instead I needed to be shipped off to France. Wonder if that’s why the name? I’m still not totally sure about that one. I do know, however, that at one point my parents thought it would be a good idea to give me a perm – at 6 weeks old! Not a really good look, since at that age bedhead trumps a "hairstyle" every single time. I was a pretty easy little girl, or so I’m told. Although, I will say, over time I have noticed that everyone’s kids always sound so much better than when they were raised years ago. So, really, there is no telling. I could have been a spoiled rotten little brat, for all I know. Based on the photo-history, however, it seems safe to say I was good enough, at least, to be smiling in a plethora of pictures. I was that kid that followed all the rules and only had to be looked at with a stern face to correct any wrongdoing on my part.
So that was me. And still mostly is. But there is something different now and it's the reason for all these hundreds of words. The "different" is what I believe God wants me to share. It all started about 10 years ago when Jesus asked "will you give up everything to follow?" and after years of hesitation, I answered yes.
What will follow are the stories of what began happening to me the moment I believe Jesus knew I was serious about saying yes. Not just giving lip service, but an on-my-knees , hands-in-the-air, begging God to let me serve & follow kind of service. One thing I have learned, is that truly following Jesus isn't for the faint of heart. But it is for those who want to give 100% of their heart and it is absolutely worth it.