Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Testimony

Last week I had the opportunity to share my testimony with a group of ladies. It's not something I've really ever formally done before. I thought I should at least document it, so I'm not so nervous to do it another time.

For most of my life I have listened to people give their testimonies and been amazed at God’s transformation in their lives. Their stories were always so fantastic, with dramatic life changes. I felt like my story was so boring…no one would be interested in hearing about my life. You see, when I was three weeks old, I was adopted into a loving Christian family – one with a strong Christian heritage. My grandparents were missionaries & preachers, and my immediate family was very involved with Bible Studies and leading worship. We were the family that if the church doors were unlocked, we were there…Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, Thursday morning…you get the point. And we weren’t just there to attend, we were usually setting up or cleaning up, or leading. I used to joke that if you were sick, but hadn’t thrown up you were well enough to go to church and if you had thrown up, then surely you must be feeling better and can go to church.

I knew all my Bible stories and that Jesus had died on the cross for my sins. When I was four I used to come home every week from Sunday School and go sit on my “Time Out” step, pray, and ask Jesus to come into my heart and make it clean. By Sunday afternoon I had usually done something wrong and wondered why Jesus hadn’t made me clean & perfect like him. One day while in the bathtub, for some reason I unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper into the tub with me. I know every mom is cringing! My mother came in, I’m sure flabbergasted, and asked why had I done that. My tear-filled response was to say, “I don’t know, I’ve asked Jesus to come into my heart and make me stop doing wrong things, but I guess it isn’t working.” My loving mother explained that Jesus doesn’t make us perfect when he comes into our heart. We will still sin, because we won’t be perfect until we reach Heaven; but that he guides us and helps us to make right decisions if we will listen to him. Now with full understanding I knelt, literally at the throne, right there in the bathroom and asked Jesus to clean my heart and come and live there.

There was no dramatic life change. I was still a four year old doing four year old dumb mistakes, getting in trouble for them and then asking God to forgive me. I attended church camp and every Jr. High and High school retreat. I was the goody-two-shoes. The brown-noser. I didn’t get into trouble. Even after going away to college I could not say there was anything in my life that I regretted. People would tell me I should be thankful, but I wasn’t. I thought I was boring! Then, after my oldest daughter was born, it began to click.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.” This was the verse that our pastor gave to Mikalah as her life verse when we dedicated her. Even though I had heard the verse many times, this time it made me pause and think about my own life. I told you that I was adopted. What I didn’t tell you was that I was born on the heels of Roe v. Wade. Or that my birth mother was told to have an abortion or leave the house. She chose to leave her family. The adoption agency that I was placed with had placed over 800 children in 1973, but in 1974 when I was placed with my parents I was child number 8. Now no matter what your political standings are, I feel truly blessed to be alive. And after reading that verse in Jeremiah, I began to realize that God had put me with this family for a reason. Maybe he knew how reckless I really could be and he gave me a family that would help to keep me in check. Or maybe he had a plan, one that required a strong Biblical background, one that had had God as its foundation since I could remember.

Six months after Mike and I were married, we were in a pretty bad car accident. The result was that I had to quit school to recover. By the time I was well enough to continue my schooling, I was pregnant with Mikalah and Mike only had a few more months before graduating. I never finished my schooling. Several years later, one of my younger brothers unexpectedly chose to end his life. Each of these situations was an opportunity for my faith to be rocked, but because of its firm foundation, I was able to thank God for his blessings. And have now been able to come alongside others that have experienced or are experiencing similar situations.

And then came “The Big One”. I was enjoying my comfortable suburban life, married to an engineer, stay-at-home mommy to four children. And then my loving husband came home one day and said that he thought he’d like to be a pastor instead. That one little sentence turned my whole life upside down. I did not feel that God was calling me to be a pastor’s wife. I dug my feet in and challenged God every day. I even went so far as to hide a few phone messages on my husband’s messy desk from people interested in having him come pastor.

But God had plans for me, and as He says in Philippians 1:6, “Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Through many “Dutch Uncle” talks with God, He softened my heart towards being a pastor’s wife, to starting a new church, and to moving to Montana…a place I said I never move to. That doesn’t mean my day-to-day life is a piece of cake, but it does mean when I’m discouraged, frustrated, mad, sad, or over-whelmed, my uneventful, boring life I thought I had as a child reminds me of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness. Now I am thankful that my testimony is mine – even without a bunch of drama!


Anonymous said...

Love you!

Deedee said...

Thanks for sharing that Jen! Our family upbringings are so similar in some ways! (and different in others ie. I'm not adopted) but I totally get the whole 'there if the doors are open and your not puking thing'! I too felt my testimony was BORING with a capital B! But I was once told that my testimony is one of what God saved me from - not what God saved me out of! That really struck a chord with me! And I for one think you are VERY special and that God saved you for a special reason! Love ya! (((HUGS)))

Deanne said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony! I can relate to the 'boring' part, I, too, was raised in a Christian home and grew up going to church. I've been a believer since I was young and thought my testimony wasn't as dramatic as others. But I've come to be thankful for God's protection through my life. It's kinda nice to have the 'boring' testimony! ;)

becca said...

Thanks so much for sharing your life, your heart.

Heasleye said...

Thanks for sharing, Jenn! You did an excellent job! Love, E

Chris said...

I have a "boring" testimony, too, but I have learned to be grateful for it. There are definite advantages to being an observational learner rather than an experiential one.

Trish D said...

Thanks for sharing - you know I'm another one of those "boring" folks :) but I can definitely see God's hand at work, as I look back and see so clearly how different decisions (that didn't seem all that profound, or have a clearly "biblical" right/wrong side) would have radically changed my life.