In answer to a request from my FIRL JulieMom, Here it is!
To begin- I feel like I need to tell about my parents a little because they had alot to do with who I am now!!!
My parents were married in 1961, in California. My father was the youngest child in a HUGE Mexican-Catholic, very poor family of 14 children. They lived in California in anything from a Railroad boxcar, to an actual home! While they had a religious background, nothing was really practiced, except "Do right or Dad will beat you!" Pretty clear! My mom was the farthest thing from my dad! She was the youngest of two children, born into a fairly well to do WASP family. I think they each got married as an escape from their current situations, seeing the other as the ticket out!
This isn't to say they didn't love each other- they just celebrated 46 years of marriage in April. That isn't to say it was all wedded bliss, either! ~ Anyhow!
I was the third born of four, and the first child to come after "The Move from CA to NY". Dad was a Sheet Rocker, and California just wasn't growing. (Remember, it was 1966!) My uncle said NY was booming, so here they came. My mom's family had a deep south heritage, with all the Baptist religion that comes with it, so we did attend church. Methodist, visit with friends to their churches, and then finally to FBBC. My father made a profession of faith, but there was never any fruit. Mom truly was saved, and the spiritual head of our home- made for some turbulent times, let me tell you! Needless to say, though, we did have a church upbringing. My siblings and I started to attend first as a result of the bus ministry. Yep, you betcha, I am a bus kid, and proud of it! Rode every week until my mom started to take us in a car- Major status elevation in my mind! (until, of course the VW bus got repo'd- another whole story there!) Moving on!
I really loved church. My two older sisters made a public re dedication to Jesus one Wednesday night in church, and that seemed like a huge thing to do. The next Wednesday night service, you better believe I was the first down the aisle during Invitation! I was 7 years old, and Mrs. Motley met me at the alter. I couldn't hear her with all the organ music piping out "Just as I am", so she took me to the back stairway, and went through the entire plan of salvation with me. I knew I loved Jesus, and then and there it all made sense to me! I trusted Christ as my savior, and knew what all the big deal was first hand! I faithfully attended church, AWANA, worked for three summers at Circle Seven Ranch, worked on the bus ministry, and so many other things a good church girl does.
I graduated in 1985, and went to College. I delineate Part I and II, because it is almost like the story of two different people! I went from a girl who loved church, and thought I knew all there was to know, to a person who never talked of Jesus or went to church. I knew I was saved- I understood I was a sinner and had repented of my sin- I just had no real affection for- or personal knowledge of- God, and it made obedience a very mechanical thing. When I was challenged- I caved!
Looking back, I see the first real step in the wrong direction was as a senior in High School (I went to public school). I got a job at Bells Grocery Store. I loved the early Sunday morning shift, and stopped going to church. Wednesday nights followed soon thereafter. After I graduated and went to college, the pattern was already set and I made no changes. I met a boy who was so very nice, handsome, considerate, catholic and unsaved (Cute College Boy AKA: CCB). It seemed just fine with me, because college was a two year plan. It was like a little two year bubble in my life into which I would cram all the junk I wanted, and when it was over I would move back home, get back into church and God, and it would be a neat little package that I could just file into my "Life Experiences" Folder! Well, when that nice CCB who was from central NY decided to move to Rochester to continue this "relationship" ...GULP...! I could no longer keep part I separate from part II- and I had a decision to make! After I returned home, my conscience (the Holy Spirit!!) would not let go of me. I knew I needed to repent of my "bubble years" and get right with God. He is so merciful!!! I was in conscious rebellion, and he was longsuffering, patient, loving, and welcomed me home! It was such a breath of cleansing to get that guilt off my heart and life. Only one problem- CCB expected to still be dating Cute College Girl, and she was gone! I introduced CCB to every Christian I knew. I saw church friends and the mall, at the Ice Cream Shop, at Red Wings Stadium - I attend a huge church and they were everywhere! CCB was getting very frustrated with this new-to-him person I was ( I was feeling so-o back to me!), and I could see no resolution to this. I DID NOT want to be in my mom's situation- forced to be the spiritual head- and CCB was not showing any indication he was warming up to getting saved. I finally broke up with him one night. (...Long pause and many tears here!!!...) During "The Break-up Night", however, God brought to mind every single AWANA verse on salvation, forgiveness, and eternal security, and let him have it both guns. I John 5:13 hit him square between the eyes! That night on his way home, he got saved in his car! In the next two years, CCB grew in the Lord by leaps and bounds! Talk about the spiritual fast track- God put him on the express train! Skipping all the sappy details - in 1989 we got married. We now have 5 amazing children, thoroughly love being a family, and are pursuing God in all we do. All in all, not a super interesting story- nothing like a persecutor of Christians becoming saved, but it's all mine!
God recently gave me a verse of scripture that I pray for my children that they can keep their testimony free from a "part II". In Isaiah 7:15 it says "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." This is talking of Jesus himself as a child, how he will know only good, and that will cause him to also know to refuse evil. Children do not need to experience the world so they can then choose good over bad. They can refuse evil altogether! That is my prayer for my children!