I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the ripe old age of 5. Some of you reading this may think that 5 is too young, but I knew the Truth, could answer all of the questions posed to me by my parents and my pastor, and so they determined that I would be allowed to make a public profession of faith, followed by a water baptism. I was so small that my feet flew up out of the water when the pastor dunked me.
I’d love to say that my journey ended there. I’d love to say that I’ve been the epitome of the perfect Christian girl and that I lived every day in the subsequent 32 years for God. However, that’s not my story.
Yet, even in the midst of my teen years, when my life in no way reflected God or the love of God, I still knew the Truth. By the time I came back to God, I was married to Kaylee’s dad, who is a non-believer. In the 9 years married to him, I held onto my relationship with God by a thin thread. I found a church, became a member, and made Christian friends. I had Kaylee, raised Kaylee to know God and to develop her own relationship with Him, and did my best to carry my own weight in the difficult and unevenly yoked marriage.
I started writing in 1999. I woke every morning at 4:30 and wrote for two hours – a means of escape for me into another world. In two years, I wrote 10 secular “trashy” romance novels.
I had vowed to stay married and to be a good wife regardless of how hard it was, because that was what God commanded (Malachi 2:16) In December of 2001, When Kaylee was almost 5, he admitted to an extramarital affair, and we divorced (Matthew 5:32). I felt like a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders. Despite the pain that Kaylee suffered with the divorce, I had never been happier. I didn’t even feel like writing anymore – and didn’t for years.
In January, Gregg and I met. Within days of meeting, we knew that we would get married. The first time we held hands was to pray over our first meal. We discussed topics of a spiritual nature, prayed with each other, went to church together, worshipped together, read the Bible together – it was beautiful and it was wonderful.
In March 2002 he asked me to marry him, in June 2002 we were married, and in September 2002, he deployed to Afghanistan. He was gone for 9 months. The one thing that kept me going through the stress of war was believing, in my heart, that God brought us together for a purpose, and that didn’t include Gregg dying before we could even live together as husband and wife.
When he came home, we changed churches to one that suited us more as a couple, and became very active in ministry. He taught Sunday School, I cooked Wednesday nights, and we became best friends with the pastor and his wife.
I had lost two babies before Kaylee and two babies after. My whole long story about that can be found here. After my fifth pregnancy, I had my tubes tied. Gregg and I prayed about it, and looked into getting my tubes reversed. It was a REALLY expensive surgery, so we just put it on our horizon about something we would save for in the future. Soon after, Gregg was offered a job with a company out of Georgia. The new employer had prayed about it with his wife the night before offering the job, and put paying for the surgery in the employment package.
Almost exactly a year after the surgery, I got pregnant with Scott. In July 2006, he was born via emergency c-section at 30.5 weeks (his story can be found here.) We knew God had arranged for Scott’s arrival by coordinating everything with the surgery, and that knowledge gave us a tremendous amount of peace, which got us through the 4 weeks and 1 day of our baby in the NICU.
Looking back now, I can tell you that we thought we were a happy, devoted couple, doing the Lord’s work, living for Him. We went to church. We prayed together. We prayed with our children. We were MADLY in love. Our love grew daily from the day we met, and I thought we were untouchable.
But hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
Johnathan was born via emergency c-section in May 2008. That September, our marriage suffered a staggering blow. It rocked us, knocked the wind out of us for several months. For the first time in fourteen years, I started to pull away from God. Praying about what we were facing only seemed to make things worse. So I just quit praying about it.
On the surface, nothing changed. Gregg was at an Army school 7 hours away and came home most weekends. The weekends he couldn’t come home, I tried to go to him, but with Johnathan, Scott, and Kaylee, that wasn’t always possible. I started writing again. Not an escape this time, but as a project that Gregg and I could work on together – via email. In February 2009, Gregg came home.
For six weeks he was home while he prepared to go to Afghanistan on the civilian contract that he currently works. Nothing had really been resolved with us. We had this huge pink elephant in our room that we never talked about, we never prayed about together, and it was destroying us. We were so in love that it was goofy and silly, but our marriage was crumbling at the base and wasn’t going to stand much longer.
At the end of March, as he prepared to leave and go 8,000 miles away, I finally decided to trust God again.
I prayed for hours. I sobbed and prayed and cried and prayed and begged God to save this marriage that I was so certain that He had arranged for a purpose. I couldn’t believe his purpose was to bring us together to have these two beautiful boys only to have it ripped apart. I just couldn’t believe that.
God directed me to Focus on the Family’s website. I typed a word into the bookstore search option and received a wealth of resources and information. I printed the list, went to our local Christian bookstore, and had them order every book on the list. Gregg packed all of the books that were for him to read in his carry on bag. I stacked all of the books that were mine to read next to my bed. I kissed him goodbye on April 2nd and fully expected our marriage wouldn’t make it through the first month, much less the next 12 months.
During the next two weeks, Gregg traveled and he read. And I read. And we read. And read. And we both prayed. And prayed. And prayed. He finally reached his final destination, and by the time he got there, we both had experienced such an amazing spiritual uplifting and renewing that I do not feel like I have the words to express it and I’m frustrated because I want to.
We individually and collectively vowed to make sure that every part of our life was living for God. Our love grew exponentially until the 8,000 miles separating us felt like a hair’s breadth. We started making changes in every part of our life – cleaning out our visual entertainment, our reading material, our music collection. We had spent several years following a Levitical diet for health reasons, but suddenly our diet and food preparation and food storage became an act of worship for us.
Our marriage healed. As if God just ran His finger down the gaping wound and left behind healed, unscarred flesh. It was amazing and beautiful and nothing short of a miracle.
We came together and vowed to use all of our gifts, given to us by God, to glorify Him. Despite an offer from a publisher for one of my “trashy” romances, I stuck by my conviction and started re-writing my books to be inspirational romances that could be used to inspire readers, to lift them up, to witness to them. I started this blog – and Gregg and I have worked together on it as a couple and as a ministry team. I’ve started back in my ministry of cooking for church meals. Gregg began teaching classes in Afghanistan and working on his own writing.
Deuteronomy 6:5 instructs us to love the Lord with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our strength. Joshua 22:5 expands on that and says that we are to love the Lord our God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all of our heart and with all of our soul.
Looking back now, to just before September 2008, I realize that I wasn’t living FOR God. I realize that He was part of my life. I know that. I trusted Him, I prayed to Him, I worshiped Him. But I didn’t pour out all of me into Him. And with Gregg and I just kind of going through the motions, as sincere as we we may have been, it opened us up to the enemy, who attacked and almost won.
So here I am, on the cusp of 38-years-old, 33 years after I first accepted Christ into my life, and I am just now really getting into my journey with God. I am so excited with what He’s going to bring me, and bring Gregg, and bring us collectively. We both feel like He has something amazing in store for our future service to Him. Right now we are just reading and learning and training and waiting for Him to reveal to us what is next for us.
Thank you for reading this and looking back through my testimony with me. I would love it if you would leave your own testimony in the comments section below.
May God bless you in amazing ways.