Friday, May 20, 2011

My Testimony, My Story

Recently, I was talking to my grandmother about my cousin. My cousin in now 36 years old, and she has a form of cancer. However, she is a miracle because she wasn't supposed to live to be a year old. When she was a baby, she was diagnosed with leukemia. My aunt and uncle were told she wouldn't make it. She underwent chemo and radiation, and God moved. She has survived thirty-six years. The treatments she underwent stunted her growth, took her hair, and limited mental development. Now my aunt and uncle, who two years ago lost their only son due to a tragic event, are preparing and praying for what may well be their only daughter's final years. My grandmother asked me why I think God lets these things happen to good people. Honestly I didn't know what to say.
I've been having a hard week. There is nothing unusual happening for it to be such a hard week. Everyone in my household is well.
I feel like I've been in battle for the last several days, and I'm starting to have some battle fatigue. I believe Satan has been working on me. He has had me questioning what I've been doing with my life. He has lied to me so convincingly I have downplayed everything.  I took my blessings for granted and started to think that anyone could do what I've's nothing special. But this morning, after talking to a very wise woman of faith, I'm feeling quite better. After a few tears and a lot of prayer, I believe that God has shown me the truth and perhaps, for now, this victory is won.
This was a trying week, but I believe it was all leading up to what I am about to reveal. God spoke to me this morning and a quick review was placed on my heart. I was also led, I believe, to share a few things about myself. If you are a friend of mine, you know that I have also been struggling with a bit of writer's block. I think that has come to an end now.
I was raised by my mother. She had me when she was just twenty years old. From what I have been told she and my father were crazy in love. I have no memory of such a time. Before I was a year old, they were divorced. I'm not sure exactly what happened. As with any story like this one there is a lot of hearsay. My mother worked hard in a factory and raised me alone. My grandmothers helped, but for the most part, it was just the two of us. She dated sporadically until I was seven.
When I was seven my life would change dramatically. My mother married a man whom she thought could give us a better life. This was based on the fact that he had a house. We were living in a trailer. Unfortunately, she did not know she would be the one working to pay for that house, and while she was working, things would happen that she would not learn about until much later.
Her husband went through many bouts of unemployment. At one point he would leave for two years to work in North Carolina. Those were the best years for me during the 13 year marriage as I would be able to sleep without fear. I lived through many years of different forms of abuse at the hands of this man who my mother thought would give us a better life. I never told anyone. Actually, I tried at one point to tell my mother, but she didn't understand. She took it as we were finally getting along.
When I was in college and living at home, she decided to leave him. She had met someone else, and he was willing to help her leave. She informed me even though they were separating, they were going to continue to live in the same house. Neither one wanted to give it up to the other. Once I heard that, I called my grandmother and asked to live with them. I did not tell her the reason:  I was too afraid to stay in the house any longer for fear of what might happen to me. Once settled there, and after graduating with my first degree, I begged my parents to let me move to another city to continue going to school. They complied, and I was free. Even though I probably didn't live in the best neighborhood, I never felt safer.
When my now husband and I found out we would be returning to our hometown to live after college graduation, there were precautions that I felt needed to be made. When we married we couldn't put in the paper where we would be living. We couldn't have a listed phone number. When we started our family there couldn't be any birth announcements in the newspaper. I wanted to take as many precautions to ensure our safety. To my knowledge, he never tried to find me. If he did, he didn't succeed. 
However, he succeeded in finding my mother. She had moved out and left no forwarding address. He would sit in the parking lot of her work and follow her home to see where she lived. He would leave notes on her car. He would leave notes, and other articles that she had left behind, on her doorstep.
When I was pregnant with my second child, my husband and I went on a trip together. We left our daughter in his parents' capable hands. When we returned, we were shown the newspaper that had a published obituary of the man I had feared. I felt relieved. I chastised myself for it. I spoke to my preacher about it. I felt relieved and no one but my husband and mother could understand. My mother truly didn't know the depths of my reasons, but she was relieved for her own--he had been her predator too.
When our two children were young, my husband and I would decide to build a house. We would argue and fight during this process.  Some nights, even after the house was built, we wouldn't speak to each other. We would have to get to the point where we would have to remember why we loved each other in the first place. We would talk to a counselor separately. At the same time we were dealing with a child who was speech delayed.  Half the time she was pulling her hair out of her head by the fistful in her frustration,  and we had to learn how to handle that. The stress of making everything work would almost break us. At this point today, I can honestly say that I love him more even now then when I married him. It amazes me every day how blessed I am to have this man as my partner in life and how good God is to fix what is broken.
I had my third child when I was thirty. When I was a day away from turning 32, I would lose my mother to cancer.  It was a long battle. I sat by her bed on a dark stormy night and talked to her and God. I told her how much I loved her. I felt His presence in the room when He came to take her home.
I fell into a pit for two years. When I was 34, I became pregnant with my fourth, and long-awaited child, that I had hoped to have before finding out my mother had cancer. I lost the baby in the first trimester. Again I fell. This time the fall was shorter, but I fell just the same.
We have lost grandparents, I have lost my mother, aunts, cousins, and a baby due to miscarriage. I can honestly say that I don't know why bad things happen to good people. I can say that I look at things differently now. God is Good ALL THE TIME. I honestly don't think I would be able to type, or say this, unless I had been completely broken down and then raised back up by the Holy Spirit.
I can see the good that has come from the horrible situation of my mother's cancer. My mother came to know the Lord. She was saved and baptized. When I get to heaven, she will greet me.  I know in my heart of hearts that would not have happened otherwise. My uncle who was right there throughout the journey was saved and baptized and became a deacon in the church.
I grew up never wanting to get married. I didn't want to have kids.
What were my role models?  I came from a broken home. I had to fight every day of my life from age seven to high school graduation.. I grew up with a man who hated children. He led me to believe I was worthless, ugly, and wouldn't amount to anything in life. I had a father I mainly saw on birthdays and holidays.  Men were not to be trusted. 
Who would want any part of that?  I wanted to grow up be a fashion buyer for Bloomingdale's and live a solitary life, with no one to fight with. The lie Satan had been feeding me was I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. There might have been some truth to that lie.  
My God is patient and trustworthy, and He has shown me the whole truth. I finally realize what I always wanted to be when I grew up, and the great part about this is that I've been fulfilling it this whole time. God has given me my true heart's desire. I always wanted to be a part of a real family. I wanted to be the mommy. I wanted the husband and the kids and all of it--even the crazy cat that sleeps at the foot of my bed. I had it all, and I never recognized it.
I don't have to be anyone's idea of successful. I only have to be me, and that's good enough. Because I AM THE DAUGHTER OF THE KING!!! I am saved; I am forgiven; I am redeemed; and I am a work in progress. Fortunately, I am God's own handiwork. I guess that's not too shabby for a girl with a beginning like mine.
So what if I started out in a trailer park?  There is a mansion waiting for me in heaven. I guess that is what makes my mindset different from other people. I don't look at death as a punishment. I don't look at it as an end. I am not afraid of it anymore. I look at it as a gift and a new beginning.  After all, the best Daddy is there waiting for me, along with my mother and all those who have gone before me.

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