My Personal Testimony

I wrote about my journey (thus far) with God so that my child and family members would have it to read if they ever wanted to read my story. It was just sitting on my computer; all that work for nothing. Then I realized that I could put it on my blog, and maybe it would actually get read, and maybe even help someone on their journey. So here it is. You can read it and know more about me. You can read it and scoff. You can read it and maybe you will have a thought you would like to share with me (no negative ones please, I will not respond to hatefulness). You can read it and maybe you will have questions. If you have questions, you can comment below or you can email me at failingathaiku @yahoo.com. I will reply as soon as possible. This is not my full testimony, I’m not sure that I want some of the more private parts of my testimony shared on a public site, but this is most of it. I hope reading this blesses you in some way.

washing Jesus' feet

at His feet

I have known God all my life, probably because much of my family is very religious. I spent many of my childhood Sundays in Sunday School Class. For this, I am very thankful. My grandmother walked very close with God and served as a wonderful role model for me even after her death. Other family members, in ways big and small, also pointed me toward a life of faith. I was saved in my Aunt Iva’s bedroom when I was six years old and begged my mother to let me be baptized. The preacher of the church we were attending at the time knew my family well and allowed me to be baptized when I was seven. I was baptized in a cold creek outside of the town where I went to school.

My grandmother and father putting the fear of God in my mother is one of the main reasons I am where I am today.  I would say that I spent 90% of my childhood Sundays in a Pentecostal or Non-denominational church.  However the rest of Sundays that I was not in church, I spent the morning in front of a TV.  If my mom was sick and my uncle Raymond couldn’t take us, then mom sat us in front of the TV and we had to watch at least one if not two of our Bible tapes.  The tapes were cartoons, and each one covered a different story out of the Bible.  They were very close to how it happened in the Bible, not a lot of downplay.  Even when we weren’t in Church, God was around.  My mom and grandma were often reading the Bible and quoting it to us when we were being rowdy.  Maybe that answers one of my questions.  I don’t understand how someone can come from a home where they were often taken to a good church and come out of it unbelieving.  But maybe it is because God wasn’t talked about at home? People often think it is a teacher’s job, or the Preacher or the Sunday School Teacher’s job, to educate their children. But it is the job of the parent to make sure their children are being educated and that what they are being taught is biblical and correct.

I have been blessed by God. Because I have had chronic back pain since I was in high school, as an adult I have often thought of my back and leg situation as my thorn, but I am blessed by what I have learned from it. I was born during a time when surgery could be done easily and several different kinds of specialized doctors were available to do surgery. When I was around 6 years old I slipped and fell. I was playing tag, or some kind of game, with my cousins at a family get-together. It had rained earlier and there was a pop bottle on the ground. I stepped on it and slipped. My back hurt bad enough the next day that my mom took me to see a Chiropractor. He saw the differences in my legs when I was on his table because it was summer and I was wearing shorts. (Even before my leg was fixed people rarely noticed that one leg was smaller than the other.) He asked my mom what doctors she had taken me to see. She mentioned a few doctors and told him we had run into a bunch of quacks. I had doctors put my feet in all kinds of contraptions, they had my mom buy special shoes that were supposed to fix my leg, but all they did was make it hard to sleep. He asked if she had tried a Shriner’s Hospital. My mom sighed; of course she had tried to get me in.  Several people had told her to try, but Shriner’s had not agreed to see me. The Chiropractor said he would make sure I got in because I needed to go there. He wrote a letter and in a few weeks I was on my way to St. Louis with my mom and dad. My mom had cousins that lived halfway between our farm and the Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis. This also turned out to be a blessing. I really liked my cousins, they were about 5 years older than me, and staying the night with them was so much fun and cheap for my parents who were middle class. It was also a good distraction to have girl talk all night before a scary doctor’s appointment.

They took molds of my left leg and gave me a brace, similar to an air cast. They made lifts for my shoes and I was able to run and play and people would often forget that I was different from the other kids. I didn’t feel different as a child as I was usually able to keep up with the other kids. Then during one appointment, the big doctor of the hospital came in with several other doctors and looked at my leg. He told my dad I would need surgery and they needed to do it before I hit puberty. He saw the chigger bites on my legs and said that I couldn’t have those on my legs next year. I would have to be healed up and have no infections before the surgery. They set the date, which turned out to be the first day of school for 6th grade. He gave me a resistance (rubber) band to exercise with, to strengthen the muscles in my left foot. It was at this time he was impressed with my muscle development; I had done gymnastics that summer and it strengthened my legs and feet. He said that if I could lengthen my heel cord through exercises there would be less cutting. So I did the exercises and when spring came I put on bug repellent and played more toward the house instead of in the field. I was a tomboy growing up and would rather be romping in the fields than playing in a pretty dress in the house. I remember eating breakfast at a Best Western with my dad one morning. It might have been the day of the appointment that they told me I would have surgery, I’m not sure. But I know that it was the first time my stomach randomly hurt and I couldn’t eat. My dad asked if it was nerves and I told him it wasn’t sure. Little did I know that was the first time my eating would be affected by my nerves.

I had all kinds of tests leading up to my surgery and a few after. One was really painful. Some doctors and nurses put needles in the muscles of my legs, then had me flex my foot. When I would flex my foot the machine would make loud popping noises that sound like when your television is nothing but static. When they couldn’t hear the static they would ask me to flex harder. I remember being in pain and being so frustrated and having tears run down my face, and I remember my dad leaning over my face, catching my tears with a Kleenex. The doctors finally let me go after figuring out which muscles I did and did not have. Later, after the tests were concluded, I got to see an image of myself walk on a computer. It is the same technology that they put on basketball and football players to record their movements for video games.

During the surgery, they took one of the two growth plates out of my right knee. My left leg was much shorter than my right and they knew that if they took one growth plate out of the right leg, it would make the difference smaller. My mom asked if it would make me shorter than I would have been and they said only by about an inch. I am 5’2 and my mother is 5’3 ¾ so I think they were right. Even though I did my exercises, my heel cord was not long enough, so they cut notches in it and put a wire through my foot to keep it flexed for a while. Then they took the main muscle off of the outside of the left side, of my left foot, and put it down the center of my foot so that I could flex my foot upward and walk without swinging my foot out (which would eventually have worn out my hip). I still have to wear a lift inside of my shoe because my left leg is still about a quarter of an inch shorter than it should be, but I have had people meet me as an adult and they have no idea that my leg is any different from theirs until they catch the shine of my scars in the light. I did have to stay in Shriner’s Hospital for 2 weeks. The last three or four days of that stay I was able to roll around in a wheelchair. I was in a wheelchair for 43 days. The last week of that my right leg became strong enough that I could stand on it. My foot does have some numbness on top, I can’t pull my toes up, and as of 2014 the scar tissue is starting to grow into a ball on the side of my foot, but I am luckier than children in other countries and I am blessed to have the mobility that I have.

The stay at the hospital was a hard one. I was in a lot of pain and the first nurse I got after I woke up from surgery was very mean to me. She made me get up and use the commode chair next to my bed instead of helping me with a bedpan. It was nighttime and no one else was around, I tried to tell her that I was not supposed to get out of bed for two days but she snapped at me and told me to get up. I was ten years old, drugged up, scared, and alone. I stood on my right leg even though it hurt a lot. I only had to do that once, but it is a wonder I didn’t fall or damage my leg badly. I think once again, my mother’s prayers saved me from disaster. I brought my diary and a notepad and other things to keep me busy during my two week stay. I got all of my nurses to sign my notepad, even the night nurses that I don’t remember, signed it and told me they had enjoyed checking in on me as I slept. Sleeping was not easy so I am surprised that I didn’t remember the night shift nurses. There were no beds and really no comfortable chairs so no parents were able to sleep in the rooms with us. I shared a room with 2 other girls but they slept most of the time. They were also confined to their beds for most of my stay. There were teenagers in the children’s wing and they would race through the halls on their beds and in their wheelchairs and wake me up. One night I remember hearing the nurses laughing at the nurse’s station. At first I was mad, because they should know better than to be so loud at night, then I was sad, because I felt so alone. The frustrations and conflicting emotions would continue after I was home. Only later, a few years after I had helped take care of my dad’s father did I realize what great insight God had given to me during those days. I understood the loneliness and difficulties that my grandpa was headed for when he had a stroke and was in the hospital for a while and when he had to start using a wheelchair. Later when he had several more strokes and was confined to a hospital bed, I visited him in the hospital, staying for hours at a time. I was there when they brought him home to die. I was sure to be there every moment that I could because I knew what it was like to feel so helpless and to feel like a burden. That time (the summers of my Junior and Senior year of high school, and the weekends of my senior year) taught me so much about caring for a loved one and caring for a dying person. It made me appreciate nurses, and the wishes of someone with a chronic and debilitating disease. It also taught me that not everyone is good under pressure and even the people that love you can be extremely selfish. I learned about boundaries, and about being strong when others are weak. Going through that has made it easier to advise friends, and to pray specifically for people who are facing that kind of situation. I am glad I went through that situation early in life, so that I do not make the mistakes that others sometimes do.

I think the surgery is what set off my depression. I was in a deeply depressed state until ninth grade. During those three or so years, I did not go to church, and rarely read my Bible, if at all. I guess that may have been the time when I lost my innocence. It was when I was about 13 that I saw how evil the world really was, and it looked as though no one was following God. Then I started to think, “Well maybe there isn’t a God…?” and for some reason I could find no proof as to His existence. All of my friends were still unbelievers or had peculiar beliefs about God. Also, these friends were suffering and depressed like me. I prayed every night for them for various reasons, knowing that ‘anything you ask for, you shall receive.’ I prayed and cried to God, “Let me hear you! Speak to me!” I would stay awake and cry into the ever still darkness only to have the silence mock me.

Then I had my fill of it and refused to pray or follow my life-long Pentecostal belief. I told my mom and all my friends that I didn’t believe in God anymore and I certainly wasn’t going to pray anymore. My mother didn’t know what to do, although she was a strong Christian. Just as I had gotten used to not praying every day, she took me to see a preacher one day after school. I spoke with Joe, and his wife Becky, about how I didn’t think God cared anymore because it seemed He didn’t ever answered my prayers. That period in my life was a very difficult time for me and I don’t remember everything that transpired.

I remember the Wogomans prayed over me and anointed me with oil. The rush of relief I felt was amazing. It was then that I remembered all of the other times I had been prayed over. My mother had brought me to the front of the church to be prayed over several times regarding my left leg. My Aunt Iva had also done that, and I an interesting experience when a preacher touched me the summer before my surgery. I had many other memories come back to me in the next couple of days, and I suppose that is when the other memories left me or got blocked out. The old memories were mostly memories of sitting in the pew as a child, listening to the preacher and feeling the Holy Spirit moving inside me and through the church building. I also remembered all of the stories I had heard of God’s grace and His miracles. I realized I had been trying to punish God because I was mad because I thought He wasn’t helping my friends. I knew how much it hurt God for me to denounce Him; I knew that there were tears were streaming down His face. I was hurting so much that I wanted that, but even in the midst of my pain I couldn’t stand to hurt such a great being. So I convinced myself He wasn’t real. After some solemn prayer, I realized He was real, and He does care. Because God can see into the future He knows what’s best; we just have to learn to be patient. I agree with Mary Gardiner Brainard who said, “I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.”

Before I left the Church that afternoon Sister Becky gave me one of the greatest presents I’ve ever received. Her Spirit Filled Student Bible (a New King James Version). I read that every day and did a whole lot of serious, down on my face praying. Finally, I came to understand that God is very real and alive. Just because you don’t hear God’s voice or get an immediate answer doesn’t mean he doesn’t care or isn’t there.

I know my Mom, as well as other family members and friends, must have prayed hard for me because my eyes were opened to many things. I spent the next three years reading through that Bible and was amazed by what I found in it. There were the answers to so many questions! How could people argue when the answers were right there? I started with Matthew to learn about Jesus since we should be like him. Well, let me tell you: there were times I had to read with a box of Kleenexes because I had tears streaming down my face! God’s love was so apparent! I received so much peace and comfort from reading the Four Gospels. I eventually learned that God has His own timetable, and you should be grateful that His answers are wiser than your own. I learned that it is very rare to actually hear God’s audible voice. That still small voice inside of you is God. He does let us know what we should be doing; we just have to remember that we walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

I wanted a boyfriend so bad in High School. My junior year I prayed for God to send me the perfect boyfriend, maybe even my soul-mate. Then in my senior year I just prayed for a boyfriend. I decided he didn’t have to be perfect. I just wanted someone to tell me I was pretty, and I wanted someone to confide my innermost thoughts to. God made me wait until my first year of college to have that first boyfriend. And not only was he perfect, but he was my soul-mate. God set up a course of events that had my future husband right beside me, in plain sight, the whole time I was begging for a boyfriend; and I am glad it went that way. My husband and I know in our hearts that God had both of His hands in our relationship.

My senior year of High School, I learned that you have to love yourself, and be willing to let yourself be loved.  You have to understand that God made your body just the way he intended it to be. There is nothing wrong with you that God can’t fix and God can do it if you will let him. You are perfect in his eyes, and I think that is something everyone needs to understand before they can participate in a healthy relationship and not mess it up.

People often get saved because they find out that God could fix the bad stuff in their life and put them in a better place. In fact, that is my whole testimony: I was very depressed and angry then God made me whole. So I believe in telling people about the peace that Jesus brings, about how wonderful you feel when you first become a Christian and surrender to Christ. Then the first time they hit a rough spot as a new Christian, that is when you explain that God didn’t promise there wouldn’t be pain, but he did promise strength for the journey. Whenever God closes one door He always opens another, even though sometimes it’s hell in the hallway. You can explain later that when you become a Christian Satan picks on you even more. One has to remember that “Faith is not a storm cellar to which men and women can flee for refuge from the storms of life. It is, instead, an inner force that gives them the strength to face those storms and their consequences with serenity of spirit.” (Sam J. Ervin, Jr.)

I said the Sinner’s Prayer again after I felt I had come to the full knowledge of God. I figured out a few years later that no one ever comes to a full knowledge of God; just a more mature and deeper understanding. I decided when I got baptized again, that I was going to be the best Christian I could be and that I would live my life as Christ-like as possible. I was, and am not, always a model Christian, nor do I have all the answers. Life here on earth is a journey, like walking down a dirt path through the forest. We are walking along, gaining experience and understanding with each hill and turn in the road. Every now and then we fall down in the dirt or get rained on, but God is always over the next hill, waiting with a warm blanket and a warm smile.

I eventually married my first boyfriend. Then he and I found a house that was beautiful, and by God’s Grace, just in our price range. Life was grand! Of course, without struggle there is not growth. After being in our house for a month bills started rolling in. Even though I had received a small raise and my husband was being paid for working four different jobs, we were living from check to check. Then the doctor bills started. I sent my husband to the doctor to get a physical done, which turned out to be a good thing because he had high cholesterol. I got sick soon after that; I felt miserable for a month before our new doctor revealed I was rotting out my stomach. Because of my left leg being shorter than the right, my hips are unaligned, which throws my back off, which throws my neck out, and so forth.  I was constantly taking over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil and Aleve, and the anti-inflammatory medicine was irritating my stomach. So the doctor told me to take Tylenol and prescribed me an anti-acid so that my stomach would calm down. My husband decided to sell his Trans Am Firebird, to help with the bills, then the car market crashed and selling it became hard. Before it could be sold, my car’s check engine light came on, and the bumper on the other car was beginning to fall off.

But I learned to “glory during the storm.” If you praise God, especially while things are falling apart, it really helps. If you continue to have faith that God is in control, and is shaping your life for his purpose, things will get better quicker. If you pray and pour your heart out to God, He will give you answers. One morning I poured my heart out to God all the way to work. I was almost there, when I got to thinking about the second ice storm that had just came through, and how it had ripped the trees apart. As I was watching the crews pick up all of the limbs, I thought, “How sad you must be Lord, to see all of your pretty trees all torn up.” Then I thought, “Wait a minute… you sent that storm… you knew what was going to happen to those trees.” As I thought about what I had seen trees do in the past after bad storms, I realized that there was going to be a lot of growth. The little shrubs and plants that lived under those trees would get more sunshine, would get a chance to grow. The trees themselves would have lots of buds in the spring and they would grow in new directions. Hopefully they would grow away from the power lines and not continue to cause problems.

My husband and I were both having health issues and we had bills, but at least we could just take a pill and get over our sicknesses. There were people we knew who were suffering from cancer. People were losing their parents, there was a girl at work who had no insurance and was pregnant for the second time, which prompted her boyfriend to threaten to leave her. At least my husband and I only had ourselves to worry about.  It can always be worse. I have found that the trials and lessons we are going through today are prerequisites for the trials that lay ahead. At this point, we had moved to my husband’s hometown and joined his childhood church. It is the church where we would later dedicate our son G to the Lord.

I love how Christine Caine puts it “new levels, new devils.” After we had our son, we had financial struggles. We saved, clipped coupons, wore our clothes and shoes until they had holes in them and still couldn’t afford new things. Luckily God gave us both wonderful parents and we got through it. He also impressed upon a stranger to give us $400 in the fall of 2010. I used to post on a site at Bibleforums.org. After seeing one of my prayer requests one of the members sent us money. We used it to buy summer clothes for our son, and food for him also. I prayed for that man or woman to be blessed then I sent a Moderator a Private Message to let them know just how much we had needed that money. I told him to thank the kind stranger who had followed God’s prompting. After that, I realized that being upset over not being able to afford designer clothes, food at nice restaurants, or brand new cellular phones was not as big a deal as I thought it had been. At that point, I was thankful to just have a jug of milk in the fridge.

My labor was short and fairly easy, but the first 6 months of motherhood were dark and trying. It got so hard mentally that I am not yet ready to share that part of my testimony. I believe now that I suffered from postpartum depression, and I wish I had been diagnosed. Instead, I struggled through it for 2 years before I shook those weighty feelings. The weekend that I dedicated my son to the Lord (May 8th, 2011) changed my life forever and I am a better mother and person for it. I am especially thankful to my husband for getting me through this time in my life.

Being a mom enlarged my heart. If you had told the 20-year-old me that I could love people more and be even more sympathetic to strangers, I would have told you that you were crazy. I have always been a very empathetic and sympathetic person. But being a mother to a little boy made me realize that every man is someone’s son and therefore everyone deserves God’s love and mercy, and my mercy as well.

While being a Stay At Home Mom is nice and is a huge blessing from The Father, it gets lonely too. I wish I had reached out to the women at church sooner than I did. I found out that Baptist Churches that are part of the Southern Baptist Convention have Woman’s Missionary Unions in their churches. That group can be further broken down to Women On Mission and Adults On Mission. God had been putting the need to reach the unsaved on my heart since I was 16 years old. Through Women On Mission, I was able to reach so many more lost people than I could by myself. I realized that in being part of a group of women I could do all of the cool outreach projects that I was unable to do by myself. So I joined my local group in 2012 and have been loving it ever since. It has grown me in ways that I did not think I could grow.

God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Something interesting I have noticed is this: everyone knows the story of Job and how much he suffered and how he lost all of his children and livestock.  But what people rarely talk about is how, after it was all over, he was doubly blessed. He had twice the amount of children, got back twice the amount of cattle and goats, and he lived a long life.  If you can get through to the other side, well… you never know what awaits you there.

I am a Christian because I have fallen to my knees in surrender to the One True God. I am in realization that He, and only He, can and will deliver me in my time of need. I am a Christian because I have accepted that Jesus’ death on the cross and ascension from the grave, is the one and only sacrifice that will get me clean enough to go to heaven. I understand that it is free and cannot be bought or taken. I am a Christian because I study the Bible and try my hardest to live by the rules therein. I know that God controls a lot of my life.  He controls who walks by me on the sidewalk, who I stand next to in the grocery line, or who I drive by in the car. I also know that he controlled who my parents were, who my friends are, and who my husband is. Can I push the people in my life away and be around bad people? Yes, but there are still some people who God is going to cause to walk in and out of my life. There are some circumstances that God is going to put me in whether I like it or not. However, I do believe that the Will of God will not take you where the Grace of God cannot keep you. Do I still get stubborn and try to fight God on some issues? Yes! But I have learned that when I have a problem if I will just turn it over to God, and ask him to do according to His will, that my life becomes much easier and less stressful.

During trying times in my life I have studied the Word hard, often praying to God to send the Holy Spirit to reveal His plans and thoughts to me. Those dark times taught me that when the world pushes you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray. I try my best to pray every day, and I try to thank God often for the “little things” as well as the miracles He makes come to pass.

Do I mess up every now and then? Yes. Do I become proud and forget to let God take care of it? Yes. Do I get angry and want to lash out, instead of showing the patience and love of Christ? Yes. But I’m working on it, and more importantly… God’s working on me.

12 thoughts on “My Personal Testimony

  1. Just love this story,such a blessing to hear. I have been around my Niece Sam a lot back then she was so young,Going through all this. She was a great fighter through it all. We had some great fun back in those days.She made me laugh a lot.Love being around her such a blessing and joy. “Great person” And now she still is a great Lady of the Lord Jesus. Wonderful person U will ever meet. Nothing keeps her down very long;she’s right back up an at it with a sweet smile ready to go. “Praise God” Amen ! So Very Very Proud of Samantha. Glad to be her Aunt. “WOW”

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  2. Praise God ! I finally got to read this. I didn’t know you, had this written down.
    That so Awesome. Thanks for sharing it. “Great reading” Enjoyed it so very much.Like hearing about God in your life. Just Awesome!! Much Love & God Bless; Your Aunt Ivajewel.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A Powerful Testimony!! Thank you for sharing your story!! It has truly shed light to my eyes of just how real God’s blessings are!! And His enduring faithfulness!!!

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  4. Pingback: Learn, Live, Hope | Failing at Haiku

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  6. Happy to have found you on twitter and now your blog – Have a prayer request. My brother, Frank Gresham, director of Whosoever Ministries – jcdaytona.org – was just diagnosed with bone cancer. Please put him and his family on your prayer list. We are standing in the knowledge that miracles happen and prayer works. Thanks! Kathleen

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