By the time I was nineteen, I was extremely bitter, angry, volatile, violent. I had become a kleptomaniac. I was addicted to stealing everything around me. I was heavily on drugs and had really pushed everybody out of my life due to my own behavior.
I ended up homeless with nowhere to go. I had a little car, barely. I had to open up the hood. I had this butcher knife that I kept with me. I had to open up the hood and hit the solenoid switch to get it to jump off. It was just a little beat-up car that I drove.
There were three days I had nowhere to live. I had my bags packed, black garbage bags in my car with an ironing board in the middle, and I put things in my lap if I had to drive around. I just didn’t know where I was going to go.
A lady approached me. I was in the parking lot, the AAA Women’s Service, and a lady came out and approached me, and she said she had noticed, for three days, me in my car. She asked me if I wanted to come in and talk to her, and of course I said no.
She said, “Well, where are you living?”
I felt like, “Uh . . . well, what do you care? You know, it’s none of your business. Why are you asking me these questions?”
I don’t know exactly how I responded. I just wanted to know why she was asking me all these questions.
She said, “I think we can help you. We are a women’s service that can help girls in need if they’re pregnant.”
“Well, I’m not pregnant and I don’t have any needs. Thank you but no thank you.”
So she kept pursuing me, and she kept trying to talk to me. She said, “Just come on inside and talk to me for a minute. I’ve got something for you.” So I thought, “Whatever.”
I went inside, and she came out and handed me a key to her house. She said, “You can move in with me tonight.”
I get teary-eyed every time I tell this story, honestly.
They kept asking me to this man’s house, this family’s house. You know, they wanted to talk about God, and I kept saying no.
Finally, I felt cornered one day. They kept asking me to go. They really wanted me to go. Well, I thought, “Ok, I’ll go. I’ll go hear what they have to say.”
They started asking me questions about my life. They really started probing and probing. They brought me to a place where I realized I really did not know God.
I thought, “Am I saved? I don’t know. I think I’m saved, because I said a prayer before, you know?”
He asked me if I had said a prayer before. “Did you ever ask Jesus into your heart?”
I was like, “Yeah, uh, of course. I mean who hasn’t? I mean who hasn’t said the prayer and asked Jesus into their heart?”
So he began to probe even deeper. “Do you know you know where you would go if you died today? Why do you think that?” He was just asking questions, one right after the other.
I really came to this place where I thought, “Oh my gosh! I don’t know God. I’m really not walking with God. No, I’m not really saved because there’s no evidence in my life that I’m really saved.” Then he asked me, “Are you ready to start fresh? Do you want to start over? God will really help you.”
He gave me all this hope of a new start. “I can do this. God will help me. You know, just this ‘new start.’ It’s kind of like taking a jump. Can I give up everything?”
Then he said, “He will meet you right where you’re at. He will meet you there. Don’t try to look out around you, just right here.”
So I said, “Yes, I will, I will. I think so, I will!” I was really nervous. Do I really want to do this? BUT I DID! That moment was when I really made a decision to walk with the Lord.
When Mike and I met, he had just come to the Lord, and I had just come to the Lord. Now, after we first met, I fell away from the Lord and got pregnant. Then I came back, and we met up again. We were just friends. We’d always just been friends, and he was very kind to me during pregnancy. He did not try to do anything with me. He just saw my need. He helped pay for things. God used him in a way to really help me. We were both still very self-centered people and stuff. We ended up getting married. Mike and I got married when Gabriella was 2 1/2. He adopted her.
Thus began the tremendous transforming journey through my marriage. I knew that even before I got married that this was going to be really difficult. There were multiple marriages between my husband’s parents and my parents, and we’d never really seen a steady, godly marriage. We had not had that example set before us, and we didn’t really know how to do this thing.
When Mike and I got married, I made this commitment to God that I would not divorce him. I would not leave. I was in this for the long haul, because I knew that we didn’t know how you have a good marriage. I was willing, and I knew that it was going to take everything within me and us walking with God together to make this work.
Really, it didn’t happen like I thought. I really wanted this wonderful marriage. I thought he was going to be great. I thought all our problems would be solved because we were married now, and we were happy.
I became miserable, really, from the very beginning. We went through terrible, terrible times. He fell away from God, totally turned against God.
So here I was for a period of years walking with God by myself, without him, trying to raise children. Everything I was going towards, he was going against. God used this as that “fire” in my life, that refining fire – the difficult marriage, the difficulty in raising kids, not knowing how to do anything, clinging to him for every answer, trying not lose my temper, overcoming evil with good, trying to love Mike in spite of the things I saw in him.
Really the problem was with me! God, through this whole process of my marriage and raising kids, began showing me. Really, what he was doing was transforming me. I wanted my husband changed. I wanted my circumstances changed, and I wanted everything to change because I was miserable.
God was showing me that I was miserable because of what was inside of me, not because of the things going on around me.
So when I began to really get this… one night I remember begging God for deliverance from this marriage. I said, “I promised you I wouldn’t leave, but will you make him die?” I just prayed, “God, please kill him. He is never gonna change. I mean, look at him. He is making all of our lives miserable. Please deliver me!”
I remember God saying, “Deliverance is in your heart. It’s not out here, it’s here.
“You’re right! I can live! Even if I lived in a prison, even if I lived in a
bad marriage, even in all my troubles, I could really find freedom!”
From then on, he’s been walking with God, and we have built a marriage in the Lord. We now counsel younger couples and teenagers, and we’ve raised five girls. We adopted one.
So we’ve got five daughters, and then we took in my niece and two nephews, and we help raise them.
Its funny because at one time I didn’t even want children, and now absolutely my whole passion is to help kids, really help kids find the Lord at an early age and walk with God, give them hope.