I was saved and became a Christian when I was seven years old. A few weeks later I was baptized. In my Christian life I did what most Christian children do. I went to church with my family, attended Sunday school and Bible school, acted in Christmas plays, and attended revivals at our home church and community churches.
At sixteen I left home to live on my own. Over the next two years, I worked at a local restaurant, lived in about six different places, and miraculously graduated from high school. I also stopped attending church. I was extremely independent and felt I needed no one’s help. I prayed sporadically, attended church with friends a few times, but God was (for the most part) not on my radar.
I moved 30 miles from home to attend college and graduated (another miracle) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and a teaching certification.
I met my husband when I was student teaching. My mother-in-law, Shirley was one of the office assistants at the school and introduced us. Crazy story. She had wanted to name her daughter Greta, but my father-in-law wasn’t crazy about the name. She ended up with a Schnauzer she named Greta. When she met me, I guess she figured it was her last chance! My husband’s family sort of saved my life. I started going to church again (where Chad’s grandfather was pastor).
For most of my life I was an okay Christian. I went to church but rarely opened a Bible and prayed mostly when I needed some help with something. God was not first in my life like He should have been. I had never totally surrendered my life to Him, never admitted that I am His, and never acknowledged I was here for His purpose. I was a little on the selfish side. I have often wondered why God kept prodding me, why didn’t He just call it quits and find someone more willing to do His work.
I believe God gave me signs through the years, tried to steer me in the right direction, but I wasn’t a good listener. I wanted to go my way, do my thing, and put me first.
After I was married (two years after student teaching) I busied myself with graduate school, my husband, Chad and a sweet, fluffy puppy named Gracie. I adored her. One night she escaped from our fenced-in backyard and was nowhere to be found. I spent hours wandering through our neighborhood calling her name, knocking on neighbors’ doors asking for help. At 2:00 am I finally gave up and went to bed. At 4:00 am I heard a scratching on the back door and there stood Gracie, covered in Cockle Burrs with not a care in the world. Later, when I had time to process this event the thought came to me that God was trying to tell me something like… “You worked hard to find your lost dog. Why won’t you work that hard for Me?”
I soon forgot about this.
Other signs came and went. Life was busy: birth of our son, Jackson; graduate school; new jobs; moving; birth of our daughter, Kennedy; and the list went on and on. I continued to go to church. I taught Sunday school, and even began to read the Bible a bit. But, I still didn’t get that God was trying to tell me something. I did feel a tugging at my heart from time to time, mostly when Chad’s grandfather was preaching. I rededicated my life to God one night during a revival. Still something was missing.
I used to pray that God would help me grow closer to Him, and help me be a better person and Christian. Hmmmmm. In 2007, at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had only been working as a faculty member at USC Upstate for a year. I had a great husband and two young children. I had everything I had ever dreamed of in life.
Knowing I had an illness that could possibly be terminal I began to think in a different way. And, I began to pray!
I prayed and prayed and prayed. “God, give me a sign.” Nothing. I assumed He wasn’t listening. I could see Him with His back turned to me. One day I prayed as usual asking for His help and asking for Him to heal me, me, me, me. Amen. The prayer was over. Seconds later, I began again. “Dear God, I don’t blame you if you are ignoring me, or thinking I waited too long to need you, or completely disgusted with my selfishness. I just want You to know that I am sorry: sorry for wasting so much time; sorry for not acknowledging who You truly are, The Almighty God; sorry for not surrendering my life to You completely. I surrender. I am Yours.”
I stopped praying. I turned on the radio in my car. Mercy Me was singing Here With Me. God hadn’t turned His back on me. He was there all the time.
Chemotherapy and surgery is tough, but with God, my family, my church and the Hope Center, I made it. That was in 2007/8. The years since have been the best of my life. I love each and every minute of each and every day. I take nothing for granted. I love life and try to live healthy eating right (most of the time) and going to the gym (Thank you, Brenda). I have the best job in the world (go Upstate). I have the best family in the world (I love you Chad, Jackson and Kennedy). I attend an incredible church (www.mudcreekchurch.org). I have awesome friends (Vickie, you know you will always be my best…pool time). And, I have the most incredible, one-and-only, Heavenly Father, God!
Put God First.
Take time to play.
Spend as much time as possible with those you love.