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I am excited to share another testimony from a sweet lady I've been able to reconnect with because of Facebook. We went to school together and were even neighbors for a little while when we were kids. May you enjoy and be encouraged!
When I was asked to
write my testimony, it was a great reflection of how coming to Christ began and
continues with my parents' guidance. I
have been “in church” for as long as I remember. I think I may even recall
hearing “Amazing Grace” from the womb. As a 6 year old child, I walked the
aisle at Trinity Baptist Church in Memphis, TN following a Christian Magicians
Magic Show and following alter call. My
Daddy walked that aisle with me and we were baptized together a few Sundays
later. He was “re-dedicating” his life to Christ.
At this young age, I just knew I didn’t want to go to hell and
felt the pull to walk forward. This was just the beginning of my faith walk. I
continued to go to church pretty much every time the doors were open - Sunday
mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights and any other time there was an
important “going-on.” My parents both worked full time, but even in their
chronic exhaustion, they made sure we were always there. But as the saying goes, “standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car
anymore than sitting in a church makes you a Christian.”
I would love to say
that I continued to draw closer to the Lord as a teenager and remained pure and
holy and strived to please Him in all I did and said, but I can’t. I may have gone to every church function
possible, prayed at meals and bedtimes, been taught “right from wrong,” but I
was never truly “discipled.” Meaning, I was never shown how to have a daily
quiet time, read my Bible, witness to others about my love for Christ, pray
without ceasing, call upon Him for strength and not my own fleshly will. Don’t get me wrong, my parents loved us and
parented us the best way they knew how. They also had not been “discipled,” but
just immersed in church and expected to thrive in this crazy world. I knew what
NOT to do because it was BAD but wasn’t shown why in the Word of God that His
way was best. From the outside, I looked like a “good girl” in comparison to
others around me but was very far from it. Looking back now, I’m sure more
people than I knew were not tricked by my “act.”
My junior and senior year of
high school were the worst as far as my rebellion with my parents, and most
importantly, the Lord. Right after I graduated, I moved out to live in an
apartment with 2 other girls because I “had to “ get away from my parents. In
my opinion, they were smothering me, and I needed freedom. Basically what I
wanted was freedom from rules , consequences, and the guilt and shame of my
sin, and I realized later that conviction did not come from my parents but
from the Holy Spirit.
I soon realized that all of this “freedom” was too much
for my incredibly inept 18-year- old self. You see, my mother had convinced my
father that if I thought I was so grown up, then they should treat me that way
and I had to pay for everything on my own while attending college fulltime
and working part-time in a wallpaper store. When you have to buy toilet paper,
toothpaste, and laundry detergent, living on your own doesn’t seem quite so
glamorous anymore. I lived on my own a little over 8 months
before I came crawling back home like the prodigal son.
By then, my relationship had improved with my
parents. My 16 year old sister and I were closer than ever – distance makes the
heart grow fonder and makes you forget about petty fighting. And, I was madly
in love with my boyfriend, Jon. Besides my pride being bruised, I felt like
everything in my life was beginning to look up. I planned on getting back on
track with “the church thing” once I moved back with my parents, because that
would make them happy. I moved home on
February 18, 1995. It was a Saturday. There was lots of laughing and joy. There
wasn’t a party, per say, for the prodigal child returning, but we did have my
mom’s homemade chicken strips – which are as good as any fattened calf!
next day we all went to church together as a family. My parents were so happy.
I breathed a sigh of relief to be back home and under the financial wing of my
parents. Life was the way it was supposed to be – for one whole day.
day, Sunday, February 19, 1995, my world was rocked. After church Sunday night, my sister and her friend,
Tara, decided to not stay for the fellowship dinner and headed home to watch
movies. We would be home shortly after.
2 boys from their school were following them home. 10 minutes after they
left, one of the boys came running into the fellowship hall of our church and told
us to come quick. There had been an accident.
We arrived at the accident scene
before any emergency personnel. My Mom was a nurse, so she left her Momma mode
and went straight to nurse mode, running down to the mangled car. Brooke, my
sister, had hit a telephone pole. I sat on the hill in utter disbelief and
shock and screamed, cried, and prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I had
never prayed like this before. It seemed like an eternity, but Tara was pulled
from the car first, covered with a sheet.
They took Brooke out next to the back of an ambulance, but it was too
late. She was gone. Gone not even a month after turning 16 on January 24. The most horrific tragedy my family has ever
gone through. My life was over – or at
least I thought . . .
What I witnessed in the next days, months, and year to
follow, was faith in action. My mother is the strongest woman I know. She now
says this was also a turning point in her walk with the Lord. She showed me what it was like to believe. To
have faith. To know without a shadow of a doubt that God is sovereign. With
God’s strength, my Mom was able to thank God in the midst of tragedy. I did not
understand how she did this. In the
beginning I was so angry with everyone and especially with God. Was he punishing me ? Why was this happening?
I mean, why would a loving God allow my precious, hilarious, beautiful, full-of-life, baby sister to be taken in such a tragic way?
It took over a year for me to come to grips with
Brooke’s death, and slowly my anger turned into complete and utter brokenness. I
was broken over my sin and I was so over myself. Being angry can really make
you tired. God began to reveal Himself to me more and more. I knew I had to have what my Mother had. I
longed for peace and healing. She helped
to guide me even closer to him by showing what it really means to live for
Christ and not just be labeled Christian. My Daddy walked with me down an aisle
at 6 and at 19; my Mother was a critical part in bringing me back to Him. I rededicated my life to the Lord and have
been amazed at His grace and mercy ever since. He gave me beauty for ashes, as
in Isaiah 61:3,”To all who mourn…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a
joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praises instead of despair.”
My joyous blessing has been my wonderful husband and 2 awesome kids. We strive to show our children what a
relationship with Christ actually looks like and not just let them learn
“about” Him at church. Anyone can know about Him. I want to KNOW Him more and
more and I want my children to long and thirst for a relationship with the
Lord. He continues to prove Himself to
me every day. He is all I need. I pray that my children see Christ living
through me, even in the hard times. I want them to know that even when I fail
daily, especially with parenting, that God is the only one I can depend on for
strength. I can do nothing on my own. He uses my weaknesses to glorify Himself.
It’s been 18 years since my sister's
Homecoming , but I know that I will get to see her again one day. Talk about
testimonies – so many people had so many wonderful stories of Brooke and how
they knew she loved the Lord! I want people to KNOW that about me. I would have
her back with us in a second, but the Lord used her death to bring so many
people to Him. She accomplished in death what most don’t in their life on
earth. In the words of a song I heard once, “God has healed my wounds, but left
the scar” so I will always remember what He brought me through. According to 2 Corinthians 12:9, His power is
made perfect in my weaknesses. More of you Lord, less of Me!