I start this post and accidentally deleted it. I was super annoyed and tried all kinds of ways to retrieve it. I guess there is something different I needed to write, so here I go again.
I will warn you; I tried to keep this short. Looking back I see that I failed in my attempt. It is long. What can I say, 20 years is a long time.
Today a celebrate my real birthday. We celebrate the day I was born, but it really doesn’t have nearly the significance to me that this one has. This day is the day that I really became alive. I was born already dead. I was a slave to iniquity. The beginning was tough. It was dark, painful and filled with devastation. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for that painful beginning. I would not change one minute of it. So much has been healed and redeemed that I see to change my beginning takes away the splendor and beauty of what He did. I was so destroyed when I was introduced to Jesus that I did not need to be convinced that I needed to be rescued. I actually felt more like, “Finally, someone has come to rescue me.”
There is so much to tell in regard to the story and I hope to be able to unload that bit by bit over time under the category, “my story”. This post would be much too long otherwise. I would like to just mark some really important landmarks in my walk to celebrate how amazing Jesus is. Think of it as snap shots teasers to get you interested in the whole story.
I have to do some landmarks leading up to me meeting Jesus, because they are important.
Also, I am really trying to be accurate with the years, but I am doing this by memory so some of it might be slightly off.
About Sept/Oct 1991 my best friend and I decided to hitchhike to Hollywood, California. That was quite a story, but will have to be told at another time. I met Alexandra’s (my oldest daughter) bio dad in Hollywood. I would end up bringing him back to Texas with me.
Hollywood was a huge mess. What I found in California was a land of free methamphetamine. When I say free what I actually mean is no money needed. There was a price that, unfortunately I was willing to pay. I became extremely strung out on meth while on Hollywood Blvd. When I had gone so long without sleep that I lost touch with reality hallucinating and completely unable to think any rational thoughts, my best friend could see that I was either going to O.D. or go completely and permanently insane. She convinced a group of punks who had a stolen car to drive me back to Texas (another crazy story for another day).
Around Christmas 1991 the group descended upon my mom’s apartment. She let us stay for a couple of days. If you have ever heard the term “gutter punks” that is an understatement of what we were. We stunk so bad that my mother through away the blankets we slept on away because they still stunk after she washed them.
From Dallas we decided to go to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Crabs (Bio dad) and I only made it as far as Missouri. Around Jan/Feb 1992 I got pregnant and soon after left Crabs and came back to Dallas.
I tried to figure out how to get the money together to get an abortion, but was unable as a homeless person to come up with the money.
Around May of 1992 I was high on LSD and an assortment of inhalants including freon and experienced Hell. (another story for later). After the Hell experience I called my mom and asked her what I should do. I didn’t believe in God, but I never wanted to go back to that place. Somehow I knew in my heart if I ever went back I wouldn’t be allowed to leave. My mom told said, “This is what I would tell you to do, ‘Pray and ask God if you are real show yourself to me.’ If He is real, he will show you and if He is not, you haven’t lost anything and no one has to know you prayed.” I secretly started praying that night.
July 17, 1992 I called mom and told her I wanted to go to church with her. She was shocked, but picked me up. I walked in punked out and tough as nails-on the outside that is. Inside I was petrified and confused about why I wanted to go to church. That night David Fees stood me up at the end of the service and said, “The Lord wants me to tell you that He loves you and that He has seen your tears.” I broke, sobbed and prayed. I knew at that moment Jesus was real, that He loved me, He had come to rescue me and that I wanted Him to be in my life forever.
I was preparing to give the baby up for adoption. My mother was quietly grieving this decision every day. Around the beginning of October I began to feel like I might want to keep her. I spoke to the pastor of our churches wife about the decision seeking some counsel. She prayed and asked me if I was willing to walk with the Lord all the days of my life. I said yes to which she replied then the Lord says this baby is yours. (now I am not even going to go into the problems with that whole conversation). What is important is that God knew that I needed to make that commitment to follow Him all of my days out loud. For some reason the commitment was like a rock to me. When I would want to turn back, and believe me there were those times, something in me felt like I couldn’t turn back because I had made that verbal commitment. The path forward was tough; I had a lot of really bad stuff to process through and deal with. Sometimes going back to the drugs seemed like a much better option.
I decided to keep the baby 8 days before she was due. Thanks to the church I attended within a week I had everything I needed for the baby and so much more.
I struggled, though, with knowing I had done so many drugs while I was pregnant. I was so scared something would be wrong with her. I used to pray, “Lord if something has to be wrong with someone, let it be me. Please let me take the consequences; don’t let the consequences come upon her.” I was so overwhelmed with regret and fear.
On October 15, 1992, after 26 hours of labor, Alexandra Nicole was born perfect and weighing 6 pounds 15 ounces. I was immediately smitten. I have always called her my miracle baby. She is a miracle because God protected her from my selfish behavior and she is a miracle because God used her to save my life. Sometimes when I felt too tired to keep trying to figure out life as a normal person, she was enough reason to keep pushing. I couldn’t stand the thought of her wondering why her mommy chose drugs over her and so when there seemed to be no other reason to keep going, she was enough.
The first time I really heard God speak to my heart was the day I gave birth to Ally. I wanted to go down to smoke a cigarette; the nurse wanted me to wait until later because it was cold and raining. When she left the room, I felt God tell me in my heart that if I chose not to go smoke a cigarette He would keep me from having withdrawals. He would take care of that, but I had to make the choice by faith to not go downstairs. I never smoked after that.
The next few years were me seeking the Lord and growing pretty quickly. I slowly learned how to function as an adult and how to be a mom. August 8, 1993 I met Larry, the love of my life (well second only to Jesus). He fell completely in love with Alexandra. That little girl had him wrapped around her finger. He called her Baby Doll and she had his whole heart. Eventually He would give me a piece of it, but she had it before I did.
Around April of 1995 I went through one of the most painful things I have experienced since meeting the Lord. The church we were attending broke us up a few months before we were to be married. I know you have lots of questions about how a church breaks a couple up and why. That, my friend, is a story for later. We were devastated. I cannot explain how much it hurt. I used to cry until I would start to almost throw up. I cried and prayed and pressed into the Lord. The greatest thing that God did in me through that experience was to really break my will. I put Larry on the altar of sacrifice and did what I thought was obeying God. He was my Isaac. I can promise you I never stopped loving that man. He was and is the love of my life. After being able to put him on the altar and trusting that God was enough and dying to my will for the situation, everything else God has asked of me has been cake. That situation is the situation that broke me of my will. I didn’t understand it and I sure didn’t like it, but I chose to trust God in it.
Summer of 1995 I started to see that the church we were attending was a little unbalanced. I also started growing tired of trying to “maintain” my salvation. I did not know anything about grace at that point. In September of that year I went to see Larry. We had been broken up for about 6 months. We were intimate at that point for the first time. I want to say it was weakness, but I really feel like, in retrospect, that I wanted to get pregnant. I think I thought if I got pregnant they would have to let us get married. We did get pregnant and they did not let us get married. Once again I let them tell me what to do.
That baby would be my precious Stephen Isaac. I spent the entire time I was pregnant waiting to have a miscarriage. I really thought that my punishment for my sin (of fornication) was that God wanted to let me get pregnant with a baby I wanted only to take it away from me. I literally expected every time I went to the bathroom that I would be having miscarriage. I waited for 9 month convinced that I would lose the baby. I call Stephen my baby of grace because God used him to teach me about His grace. He blessed me with a beautiful and precious little boy out of a sinful choice I made. He also used Stephen to keep Larry and I connected as well as to keep Larry alive. He told me that when he was going through the pain of losing me and Alexandra and was running from God Stephen was the only thing that kept him from running his car into a bridge embankment.
We were apart for about 2 and a half years. He was a great father. He came for visitation, paid child support and went above and beyond. Around March of 1999, Stephen (then 2) looked at me and said, “Mommy I want daddy.” I told him that he would see daddy that weekend. He responded, “No, I want my mommy and daddy in the same house.” The lightbulb went off and I thought what is wrong with me. I started praying that day and talked to mom. Later I typed a very long letter to Larry apologizing for all that I had done; it also outlined all the things he told me about the church I had realized he was right about. We got back together pretty quickly after that. On May 23, 1999 he asked me to marry him. On September 2, 1999, after waiting longer than we wanted to wait, we were married.
Sometime around 2000 we got pregnant with Chloe Grace who I call my baby of completion. She completed our family.
Around 2001 we started to attend a tiny little Baptist church in Wylie where we learned about reformed theology. Much of the really bad teaching we had both received started to unravel and lose its grip on us there. We really learned to question what we believed and why. That church gave us a rich, strong, beautiful foundation.
The 2005 to 2008 years were kind of dark years. I had been struggling with a lot of secret sin which was kind of residue from the abuse I suffered and the subsequent lifestyle I led. God started to really cause that to come to a head in my life pretty much like a great big boil. The right pressure was applied and I couldn’t hide the sin anymore. God exposed me so He could set me free. (more on that later)
In the midst of those dark years, we started attending The Village, but ended up leaving. After we left The Village things really erupted. I started drinking more heavily and found myself drinking daily. That period of my life a time that God really started teaching me mercy, struggle and grace. I had not struggled to get free from addiction when I met Jesus. He just set me free. During the years I came into bondage to alcohol, learned what it was to struggle with a monkey on my back. I learned that one can love Jesus and still struggle to find freedom from addiction. (That is the short version of lessons learned).
Around 2009, things came to head with my drinking and I started attending Celebrate Recovery. I still struggled with drinking even while attending weekly recovery meetings. August 16, 2009 I took my last drink. August 17 this year I celebrate 3 years alcohol free.
April 2011 we went back to Village where God has been so faithful to heal us, change us and make us more like Him everyday. I am a part of the Recovery Ministry at the Village and help lead other women through the 12 steps to find a closer relationship with the Lord which leads them to deeper freedom.
As I look back I can see that God’s hand has always been on my life. He has always led me where I needed to be to learn the next lesson and have the next layer removed. Sometimes its hard for me to even believe that I was that girl. She seems like a distant dream.