Friday, December 6, 2013

My Story

A couple of weeks ago, my pastor challenged us to consider sharing our "stories".  Every person has a different life story.  Some are more dramatic, others less.  Mine probably falls somewhere in between.  I've been praying about this since that sermon.  What do I share?

Well, here I go...

I was raised in a "blended family" from the time I was seven.  I don't remember life being any different than that.  For the most part, I attended the Catholic church.  It was there that I received my First Communion and my Confirmation.  Because my mother's family was Lutheran, I did attend Lutheran church and Vacation Bible School sometimes at my grandparent's church.  Regardless of where I was attending church, I was learning bits and pieces about the Word of God.  Although I don't remember ever doing any in-depth Bible study, I remember always being really intrigued by the Bible.

During my college years, I rebelled.  That may be putting it lightly.  I attended a Catholic church sometimes.  I even lead the music a little bit.  But that didn't last long.  I had gone from a girl who thought she knew exactly what she wanted from life to someone who was lost.  Remember, this was before the days of cell phones and Internet.  I was incredibly lonely.  I missed my family but was too proud to tell them that.  So, I went down a somewhat dark path.  I drank too much and found companionship with the wrong people.  

By the end of my junior year, I decided that college wasn't for me.  I thought it was a better decision to pursue a career as a store manager for Payless Shoes.  I loved that job!  I really was good at it.  I do remember being so excited to be assigned to my first store in Williston, ND making about $17k a year.  If you know anything about Williston now, it is smack dab in the middle of the ND oil boom!  I'm certain that the salaries are much different than they were in 1994.

While quitting college one year from graduation was definitely not the best choice of my life, being a store manager for Payless did bring me to Bemidji, MN where I met the women that God would use to bring me to a personal relationship with Him.  In March of 1995, right there in the back room of a Payless Shoe Source, I prayed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

The end.  My life has been perfect since then.  Wait...that is definitely NOT the truth.

Shortly after that, I, along with my first husband, moved to the Twin Cities.  I was excited for the job promotion.  But, I was once again lost.  I didn't have a church home.  I didn't have mentors.  For the next several years, I still felt so incomplete.

My first marriage ended.

I remarried.

My second marriage was struggling.

My husband is in the Air Force Reserve.  For approximately half of the first five years of our marriage, he was deployed.  After his last long-term deployment in June of 2008, we didn't know how to be in a marriage.  We didn't know how to co-parent.  We didn't even know how to live together.  

By the end of July, we were at a point where either something had to change or we were going to be facing divorce.  Marriage is difficult.  A second marriage is more difficult.  We had a load of baggage with which we had never dealt, from our childhoods to our first marriages to mistakes in our current relationship.  I knew in my heart of hearts that I loved this man and still wanted to be his wife.  But how?

He spent time with a pastor at our church and then with a Christian counselor.  Eventually, he and I attended counseling together and then as a family.  In September, I began really learning about the Bible through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship).  He and I began reading a devotional Bible together each night.  Let me tell you, that was HARD!  Each day's reading came with discussion questions.  There were some questions that we did not want to discuss.  They were difficult conversations, yet necessary.

Another five years has passed, man that seems to have happened quickly!  And while life still throws many challenges our way, we have learned how to handle them better.  Our marriage is strong and Christ-centered.  We still pray together every night and read a devotion most nights.  Now, our daughters, my husband, and I all attend a BSF class.  We are learning together.

I once felt lost and now am found.  Regardless of what life has to throw at me, I have a constant, never-ending relationship with Jesus Christ.

My life on this earth will never be perfect.  It's not meant to be.  We were not created to find complete contentment in things of this world.  

One of my purposes in sharing "My Story" is to provide hope, for even one person.  Praying to accept Jesus isn't like planting a magic bean.  It doesn't mean that your life is going to be without hardship.  Quite the opposite, you may experience, even to a small degree, persecution because of your faith.  In this country, it probably won't be beatings and imprisonment.  However, it could very well be the loss of relationships.  Each person's story is different.

I have found grace.  I have found forgiveness.  I have found hope.  I have found a way to celebrate the best of life and handle the most difficult.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

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