Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sharing My Testimony

My Testimony
My parents split up when I was about two years old. My childhood is a blur of being juggled between different family members; my mom, dad, grandparents and my Nanny (great-grandma) and moving all over the place. Needless to say I had an unstable childhood where nothing was certain. Neither my mother nor Father were Christians. They both very much lived in the world, as did I. My maternal grandparents are Christians and took me to church whenever I was at their house. My Nanny was a sweet saint of God as well and she always took me to church. I lived with my Nanny a good deal of my childhood. I never questioned whether or not I was loved though. I've always felt much loved by my family. Especially my grandparents and my Nanny. They had an amazing capacity for love and I equate their love with the love of God. 

I was exposed to things during my childhood that no child should be exposed to, causing my views of the world and what is morally right and wrong to be tainted. My teenage years were filled with one bad decision after another. I longed to be accepted, to feel loved and to fit in. My early twenties just got worse. Much worse. As a young woman I had absolutely no respect for myself and no measure of self worth. I felt empty, alone and often depressed. In my search for love and acceptance I turned to men, drugs and alcohol. By the age of 19 I was pregnant. My mother died when I was about 5 1/2 months pregnant and in the years that followed, my grief and our many unresolved issues was like an all consuming fire within me. I began to quickly self-destruct, sucked into the dark world of drugs and immorality. I didn't know if I would ever be able to claw my way out.

As I previously mentioned I did go to church growing up when I visited with my grandparents. At the age of 12 I remember going down the aisle at church and saying the prayer to ask Jesus into my heart. It seemed like the right thing to do. I didn't feel conviction or feel like I was a sinner in need of a Savior. I even got baptized.  Going all throughout my teenage years and my early twenties I thought I was saved. This was a very dangerous mindset because I knew enough about the Bible and God to know that Jesus would forgive me for anything. I just lived my life thinking that later on down the line when I was ready to be a good Christian and straighten up, Jesus would forgive me and I would get things right. I'm so thankful that the Lord preserved me and kept me from mortal danger while I was under this deception. 

In 2005 several events took place that caused me to seriously ponder my path in life. One such event involved my son, and I knew immediately that there needed to be drastic changes in my life.  I was so deeply rooted in sin that I had no idea how to find my way out. I began to pray for the Lord to help me find a way to change. A way to walk away from the horrifying mess that I had put us both in. I was living in New Orleans, LA at this time and I began to feel like maybe I should go to church. This scared me a great deal because I knew that if I went to church I would have to change my life. I had seen so many hypocrites in my life that I didn't want to be one of those.  I wanted to either do things all the way or not at all. 

I found a church a few minutes away from my house and purposed to go there on Sunday. On that Saturday I realized that Hurricane Katrina was coming straight for Louisiana and that I needed to evacuate. I went home to Florida to stay with my grandparents.
The next day was a Sunday, August 28, I found myself at church with my grandparents. I remember sitting in Sunday school in the corner feeling so ashamed of myself. I sat with my head down the entire time crying. I didn't interact with anyone. During the entire church service I remember sitting next to my Grandma trembling. For the first time in my life I saw myself as God must have seen me. As a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. I couldn't even think past drawing my next breath. The only thing pressing on my mind and heart was that I needed Jesus more than I needed air. I went to the alter during the invitation. Now, at this time I still thought that I had been saved when I was 12, so I thought that I just needed to re-dedicate my life to the Lord. The pastor at that church didn't want to deal with me much. He just said a quick prayer with me and sent me on my way. 

Over the next several weeks I was constantly in prayer and reading through the New Testament. In those weeks I realized that there was no possible way I had ever been saved. I realized that the first time I ever felt convicted and came to the realization that I was a sinner was on that Sunday, August 28. One night in my room I got on my knees by my bed and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins. I asked Him to come into my heart and change me. I told Him that I wanted to love Him and live for Him. This is the single best decision that I have ever made. 

Over the next weeks and months I saw such change in my life. I immediately stopped doing drugs, drinking and smoking. I only went back to Louisiana to get my belongings from my home, which had been spared from damage. I never had any further contact with my friends there. I completely walked away from my life. I laid it all down for Jesus. I became very careful about everything that I saw, heard and did. It was such an amazing transformation and completely of the Lord. It was actually all really easy. I didn't, and still don't, ever want to go back to the person I was before Christ. That thought terrifies me. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." And that was exactly the case for me. Everything in my life became new, fresh and beautiful.

It is amazing that God used a hurricane to save me. I would never go as far as to say that He sent that Hurricane just for me, but I know that He did use it to work good in my life. I was 26 when I got saved. My son was five. Unfortunately, due to my life being so full of the lusts of my flesh, sin and the world, my son was exposed to things I wish that he hadn't been. By the grace of God though, I was saved and He began to teach me how to be a parent. 

Through reading the scripture, the Proverbs and seeing the godly examples of others I have seen my son come to Christ, our relationship grow into something beautiful that I never would have imagined and have seen him sparred from so much of what I endured as a child. 

Since being saved I have experienced renewed relationships with family members, I have, for the first time in my life, made real, lasting friendships and I have experienced blessings so abundant that I can't even begin to count or detail them all.

Knowing Christ, having a personal relationship with Jesus, is the greatest joy of my life. Second to that is being a mother. 

Now I don't know how other people, or myself before being saved for that matter, go through life without knowing Jesus. I am so thankful that I am saved. 

Cancer was a journey that I never expected to take. Going THROUGH that journey with Christ though is what got me THROUGH. Every day that I was sick I would say to myself, "I thank God that I am saved". I trusted God with my life. I trusted Him with my future, but cancer is scary because you don't know if God's will is for you to live or die. I'm not completely out of the woods yet, but I am so thankful to be on the other side of the journey and to be healthy and happy. Honestly, I am extremely grateful that the Lord gave me the valley of cancer. I am grateful that He took my leg. I have never been closer to Him or happier than I am right now and I wouldn't take anything for the journey that got me to where I am today. I am completely awestruck by my Jesus and that He has not only worked such miracles in my life, but He has given me the ability to be thankful for everything that I’ve been through and to always praise Him!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting THROUGH Your Valley

I was diagnosed with Metastatic Osteosarcoma of the left femur in March of 2010. For a year and a half I underwent intense chemotherapy as well as the amputation of my entire left leg in order to save my life. Please go to my Cancer Journey page to read about my story from beginning to end. Today I am CANCER FREE, healthy, happy and thriving. As a matter of fact, I've never been happier or in a better place spiritually.

It is important for you to know that I wouldn't have made it through a day of the battle for my life if it had not been for my faith in Jesus. It is my desire to share with you my faith, my story and the many topics that the Lord lays on my heart. That is the sole purpose for this blog. To reach out and share what the Lord has done in my life. What He's done for me, He can do for you!

On December 6, 2009 my Pastor preached a message entitled "Yea, Though I Walk Through The Valley." The word "THROUGH" has held special meaning for me since then. Pastor preached that message mere days before I found out my hip was broken for the first time. Before we had even the slightest clue that there may be a bigger, life threatening problem. Every time my Pastor came to visit me in the hospital, at home or saw me at church, he would remind me of the word "THROUGH" and encourage me that YES, Jesus would bring me THROUGH this valley! Well, dear readers, I am here to tell you that He has indeed done just that. In a most miraculous way!

Here are some highlights from that message that spoke to my soul:

Scripture References:
Psalm 110:4 - when a person is in a valley they need a drink
SOS 2:1 - Lilly of the valley
Isaiah 9:17 - valley's are desolate (depression is a deep, dark valley)
Ezekiel 37:1,2 - perishing in the valleys
Luke 3:1-6 ; reference: Isaiah 40:1-5
Psalm 104:10

Psalm 23:1-6
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
 4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
 5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

*Even though I am walking through the valley I will not go alone, I WILL come through
*By repentance and faith I prepare the way of the Lord. Get the stuff out of the way that holds me back from     serving & living for God.
*There will be NO MORE dark valleys when Jesus comes. One day we will walk through our LAST valley!!!
*There is a difference between walking in a valley and walking through a valley.
*We are going to go through our valley. It's inevitable. If I'm saved I will walk through it. The difference between a saved and a lost person is that I will NEVER die in my valley.
    Thoughts concerning walking through the valley of life
  1. Valley's are places of loneliness
    1. No one understands, I can't tell people what's going on, It's just me and God.
    2. It's not always wise to share your heart.
    3. I can be more alone in a spiritual valley than anywhere else.
    4. Jesus will go with me. He will not forsake me. Even though it may seem like no one knows or cares, He is there.
  2. Valley's are places of looking
    1. In a spiritual valley people go looking for answers and often go looking in the wrong areas. People don't go looking for substance in the valley. They're looking for survival.
    2. A valley experience will cause me to take a closer look at what really does matter. Usually when a Christian gets in a spiritual valley they assess their life. Why am I in this valley? Why do I have this problem?
    3. I may be going after the wrong things. If I go after God I can come out of the valley.
    4. Night sets early in the valleys. It gets dark in the valleys, sometimes you can’t see very far.
    5. A quick route to the valley is by putting the Lord on a shelf and my Christian life and pulling it out when it's convenient for me
  3. There are places of leaning on the Son for direction
    1. Call out on the Lord for direction. What should I do? How can I come through this? Grow through this? How can I come out of this valley as a better Christian?
  4. There are places of letting go
    1. Turing loose of things…. Are my habits really worth this? Is my unscriptural baggage worth me carrying it  through this valley?
    2. What habits have I acquired that hold me back and keep me down? A valley is good for stripping me of these things. The more baggage we cling to the harder the journey and the harder it is to come through the valley.
    3. Wouldn't it be better to win the victory now? To turn loose of the things that are holding me in this valley?
Your Valley May Be:
  • Fear
  • Finances
  • Family Problems - simple solution, put myself in the place where God wants me. Get myself right with the Lord and lead my family the way that I need to. They will fall into place.
  • Physical trouble - Paul had it, a thorn in the flesh. The Lord didn't take it away, but He gave him strength.
I found it fitting to title this blog "Yea, Though I Walk THROUGH The Valley," subsequently the actual web address is http://hoppingthroughthevalley.blogspot.com/. Since I do a lot more hopping than walking these days, I liked the sound of that :)
Please feel free to share this blog with any and everyone you wish. The Lord laid it on my heart to start this blog as a ministry, so don't feel the need to ask me if you can share it with your friends, family or acquaintances. 

I will be updating more on the blog as time allows, but I feel this is a great point to "launch it!" I do plan on writing articles bi-weekly as well, so keep posted for those.

Thank you for stopping by and may God bless you over and abundantly above all you could ever ask for or think!