Monday, October 28, 2013

Personal Testimonies of Faith ~ Kelly

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I am excited to share another testimony from a sweet lady I've been able to reconnect with because of Facebook. We went to school together and were even neighbors for a little while when we were kids. May you enjoy and be encouraged!

When I was asked to write my testimony, it was a great reflection of how coming to Christ began and continues with my parents' guidance.  I have been “in church” for as long as I remember. I think I may even recall hearing “Amazing Grace” from the womb. As a 6 year old child, I walked the aisle at Trinity Baptist Church in Memphis, TN following a Christian Magicians Magic Show and following alter call.  My Daddy walked that aisle with me and we were baptized together a few Sundays later. He was “re-dedicating” his life to Christ.

At this young age,  I just knew I didn’t want to go to hell and felt the pull to walk forward. This was just the beginning of my faith walk. I continued to go to church pretty much every time the doors were open - Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights and any other time there was an important “going-on.” My parents both worked full time, but even in their chronic exhaustion, they made sure we were always there.  But as the saying goes,  “standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car anymore than sitting in a church makes you a Christian.”

I would love to say that I continued to draw closer to the Lord as a teenager and remained pure and holy and strived to please Him in all I did and said, but I can’t.  I may have gone to every church function possible, prayed at meals and bedtimes, been taught “right from wrong,” but I was never truly “discipled.” Meaning, I was never shown how to have a daily quiet time, read my Bible, witness to others about my love for Christ, pray without ceasing, call upon Him for strength and not my own fleshly will.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents loved us and parented us the best way they knew how. They also had not been “discipled,” but just immersed in church and expected to thrive in this crazy world. I knew what NOT to do because it was BAD but wasn’t shown why in the Word of God that His way was best. From the outside, I looked like a “good girl” in comparison to others around me but was very far from it. Looking back now, I’m sure more people than I knew were not tricked by my “act.”

My junior and senior year of high school were the worst as far as my rebellion with my parents, and most importantly, the Lord. Right after I graduated, I moved out to live in an apartment with 2 other girls because I “had to “ get away from my parents. In my opinion, they were smothering me, and I needed freedom. Basically what I wanted was freedom from rules , consequences, and the guilt and shame of my sin, and I realized later that conviction did not come from my parents but from the Holy Spirit.

I soon realized that all of this “freedom” was too much for my incredibly inept 18-year- old self. You see, my mother had convinced my father that if I thought I was so grown up, then they should treat me that way and I had to pay for everything on my own while attending college fulltime and working part-time in a wallpaper store. When you have to buy toilet paper, toothpaste, and laundry detergent, living on your own doesn’t seem quite so glamorous anymore.  I lived on my own a little over 8 months before I came crawling back home like the prodigal son. 

By then, my relationship had improved with my parents. My 16 year old sister and I were closer than ever – distance makes the heart grow fonder and makes you forget about petty fighting. And, I was madly in love with my boyfriend, Jon. Besides my pride being bruised, I felt like everything in my life was beginning to look up. I planned on getting back on track with “the church thing” once I moved back with my parents, because that would make them happy.  I moved home on February 18, 1995. It was a Saturday. There was lots of laughing and joy. There wasn’t a party, per say, for the prodigal child returning, but we did have my mom’s homemade chicken strips – which are as good as any fattened calf!

The next day we all went to church together as a family. My parents were so happy. I breathed a sigh of relief to be back home and under the financial wing of my parents. Life was the way it was supposed to be – for one whole day.

The next day, Sunday, February 19, 1995, my world was rocked. After church Sunday night, my sister and her friend, Tara, decided to not stay for the fellowship dinner and headed home to watch movies. We would be home shortly after.  2 boys from their school were following them home. 10 minutes after they left, one of the boys came running into the fellowship hall of our church and told us to come quick. There had been an accident.

We arrived at the accident scene before any emergency personnel. My Mom was a nurse, so she left her Momma mode and went straight to nurse mode, running down to the mangled car. Brooke, my sister, had hit a telephone pole. I sat on the hill in utter disbelief and shock and screamed, cried, and prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I had never prayed like this before. It seemed like an eternity, but Tara was pulled from the car first, covered with a sheet.  They took Brooke out next to the back of an ambulance, but it was too late. She was gone. Gone not even a month after turning 16 on January 24.  The most horrific tragedy my family has ever gone through.  My life was over – or at least I thought . . .

What I witnessed in the next days, months, and year to follow, was faith in action. My mother is the strongest woman I know. She now says this was also a turning point in her walk with the Lord.  She showed me what it was like to believe. To have faith. To know without a shadow of a doubt that God is sovereign. With God’s strength, my Mom was able to thank God in the midst of tragedy. I did not understand how she did this.  In the beginning I was so angry with everyone and especially with God.  Was he punishing me ? Why was this happening? I mean, why would a loving God allow my precious, hilarious, beautiful, full-of-life, baby sister to be taken in such a tragic way? 

It took  over a year for me to come to grips with Brooke’s death, and slowly my anger turned into complete and utter brokenness. I was broken over my sin and I was so over myself. Being angry can really make you tired.  God  began to reveal Himself to me more and more.  I knew I had to have what my Mother had. I longed for peace and healing.  She helped to guide me even closer to him by showing what it really means to live for Christ and not just be labeled Christian. My Daddy walked with me down an aisle at 6 and at 19; my Mother was a critical part in bringing me back to Him.  I rededicated my life to the Lord and have been amazed at His grace and mercy ever since. He gave me beauty for ashes, as in Isaiah 61:3,”To all who mourn…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praises instead of despair.” 

My joyous blessing has been my wonderful husband and 2 awesome kids.  We strive to show our children what a relationship with Christ actually looks like and not just let them learn “about” Him at church. Anyone can know about Him. I want to KNOW Him more and more and I want my children to long and thirst for a relationship with the Lord.  He continues to prove Himself to me every day. He is all I need. I pray that my children see Christ living through me, even in the hard times. I want them to know that even when I fail daily, especially with parenting, that God is the only one I can depend on for strength. I can do nothing on my own. He uses my weaknesses to glorify Himself.   

It’s been 18 years since my sister's Homecoming , but I know that I will get to see her again one day. Talk about testimonies – so many people had so many wonderful stories of Brooke and how they knew she loved the Lord! I want people to KNOW that about me. I would have her back with us in a second, but the Lord used her death to bring so many people to Him. She accomplished in death what most don’t in their life on earth. In the words of a song I heard once, “God has healed my wounds, but left the scar” so I will always remember what He brought me through.  According to 2 Corinthians 12:9, His power is made perfect in my weaknesses. More of you Lord, less of Me!


platanosandmangoes said...

Wiping my tears through this one! Wow!

Unknown said...

Sad and sweet. Precious.


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