Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I have been thinking about this post for a while, and I decided to bite the bullet and write it while I am still in a serious vein- you know, before I return to my usual silliness. I hinted earlier at a post about the legacy that my parents have given to me, so here you go:

I was born at a very young age. Good thing, too, or I would have missed a lot of my life. As it is, I can remember a whole lot of it, much earlier than a lot of people, I think. Here's my story:

In order to understand the dream that I have lived you have to know that both of my parents came from HIGHLY dysfunctional homes. I have heard that sometime early in their marriage they sat down and talked about what "normal" would be for their family. Because they knew that the abnormal that they had lived was not OK.

By the time I was born, my mom had become a Christian and was exploring churches. Going to church on Sunday Morning has always been a part of my life. I have been blessed to have been wrapped in a cloak of church family for as long as I can remember. And, honestly, I don't remember a point where I became "saved." I only remember always knowing that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins, and that He was the Messiah, and that because I believed this I was going to Heaven when I died.

When I was about 5 we moved to Washington state. One day at the laundromat we met a new pastor and his wife. That wily guy looked at that passel of kids and saw an opportunity to get the parents to church. He invited us kids to "Back Yard Bible Club" which he had just made up right there on the spot. Pastor Ray and Trudy ended up being my parents best friends. I went to that little country church for about 20 years.

Once Pastor Ray had the kids hooked, he started reeling the parents- more specifically, my dad-in. My dad would get up on Sunday morning, help my mom get us ready for church and then go back to bed. I remember crawling up into my daddy's arms and asking him, "Daddy, will you come to church with us today and learn how to be a Christian?"

I remember clearly the night a few of us kids had gone to the movies. We had called home but no one answered. So we walked. It was all of a mile. In a small town. I thought for sure we would get in trouble, but as we walked through the door the house was so quiet. I realized that it was because Pastor Ray was praying with my dad. He was asking Christ into his life. I think I was about 6.

So, from an early age I had a firm foundation under me.

When I was 12 I went to Lakeside Bible Camp. It wasn't the first time. But this year was special because it was that year, around the late night bonfire, that I told Jesus he could be the Lord of my life and not just my Saviour.

And they lived happily ever after. Right? Not really. I did really stupid young teen age stuff. I did really stupid young adult stuff. But I always knew I was charmed. Blessed.

Not until I was about 30 did I have my real "Shaking." You don't know what the glass is full of until you jostle it and it spills over. Boy, was I jostled. And it hurt.

My husband and I own our own general contracting business. We were wrongfully sued that year. Our church was going through a VERY nasty split. And my extended family was in crisis. Those were 3 of my 4 pillars; Church, family, and finance. At least my marriage was strong. I felt so very forsaken. I cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to count. I worried and paced holes in the floor. I felt so removed from God. So adrift. Battered.

I finally came to the point where I had to decide, "Do I really believe what I say I do, or not? Is my faith real, or have I simply been living the way that I have been told to- because it is 'right?'"
I confided in my good friend Kelly about all of my struggles after a MOPs meeting. She hugged me and prayed with me in the freezing church parking lot. She prayed that God would remind me that I am never alone.

On the drive home that night, a car passed me and I saw, in my rear view mirror by the light ot their headlights, a man sitting in my back seat. I whipped my head around and there was no one there. What?! Another car passed, and again I clearly saw the man- and then he was gone when I looked again. This was only a matter of seconds. I thought I might be going crazy! I examined my situation: I was singing praise (Finally, I had broken through the wall that was keeping me from God) and I wasn't afraid. I realized that at that moment God had chosen to answer Kelly's prayer for me. He had sent an angel to me to remind me that I was not alone. Never. And, that no matter how far away I felt from Him, He was never far from me.

When I was 30 years old I finally decided that I would follow God because he had proven himself to me in my life. Not because I was told to do it. Not because it was "right." But because my Heavenly Father had shown me how much he loved me when I hurt so badly. With in 6 months the lawsuit was dropped, and we had found a new church.

I owe the person that I am today to the foundation that my parents gave to me as a little girl.


Janean Campbell said...

What a truly exciting testimony of your faith in our Father and the foundation that your parents built for you as a very young child. Remeber to continue to do the same for your children...

Lee Ann said...

Gina, thanks for sharing your testimony! What an awesome God we serve. A great legacy your parents have given you, and how amazing that they sat down together to talk about "normal". Two people that knew there was something different out there and allowed God in to show them what that was.

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Thanks for sharing that. It's always special to hear people's testimony and be amazed at how God works. He sure is one creative guy!

Karen said...

I remember all of this although you can be quite tight lipped at times!
It is amazing- the things that we go through that either break us, or build us stronger in God!
I am blessed to have you as a dear friend.

Gramma 2 Many said...

There are still a few dysfunctions in our family Karen. Tight lips are one of them. Yes that can be a dysfunction!!!
Thanks Gina for the beautiful testimony & tribute. It is always a work in progress for all of us. We need continued prayer and uplifting. You remind me of my favorite verse. One I made a mantra in my early Christian walk. Acts 16:31. Look it up and hold it dear. It is a commandment with a promise. I, being human, like receiving something when I give, and here He promises just that.
By the way, Uncle Dale actually led dad to Christ. That night P.Ray was probably reaffirming and helping dad seal the knowledge of his salvation in his heart. He had that gift.

Heather said...

BEAUTIFUL post!! I'm speechless.

Kat said...

I am always "stuck" when I have been asked to give my testimony. Most days I am just full of doubts. And being Lutheran...well, we just don't do that :-) But I enjoy hearing about how people came to be - and how they found their way...

Britt said...

You totally just gave me goosebumps ..

Amen! :o)

Cookie said...

I think it was Jesus in your backseat...

Lady Dorothy said...

Wonderful testimony! Isn't God good? It always amazes me that He pursues US!

I pray that your post will touch many people where they are and with what they need in order to know God a little more intimately!

Debbie said...

Oh Gina...You have no idea....That was just brilliantly and divinely written. I am in awe. Truly in awe.

Rela Pantaleon-Manigsaca said...

Hi again! I knew I have landed on your blog before so I poked more a little bit and yes, I did come here on 8/25.

Anyway, this is a great post. Gave me goosebumps!