Upon picking up my five year old son early from VBS, I walked through the impressively decorated hallway and was invited in to hear the closing comments made by one of the leaders wearing a mining outfit, complete with hard hat to go along with the VBS Cave Quest theme. Clearly, the children had been having a wonderful time, singing and playing with glow sticks exploring man made caves, but they soon quieted down to hear what their lead miner had to share.
He talked about the verse in Proverbs 3:5-6 that says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." He went on to explain about a time in his life when he was very afraid and called out to the Lord. He delicately explained that while he was serving in the military, in Iraq, that he felt out of place being Asian and away from home. On one of their missions, they were headed down a road and were not to make any stops. However, the enemy had led children out onto the roadway. When he saw the children, he called out to God and said, "Lord, what do I do?" He then heard a voice reply back to him saying, "Starbursts!" He quickly opened up a bag of Starbursts that he had just received in a care package for serving in the United States military and threw the candy to the side of the road. The children rushed off the road to get the Starbursts and were happy and best of all safe! The U.S. caravan was able to continue on the road without any injuries to the children.
It makes my heart happy that this man would not only serve our Country, but has a humble heart to serve children in VBS. Just found out today, that he is a pastor and police officer too. Now, I may not a big advocate for candy, but after hearing this story I will always smile when I see a Starburst!
Hope this story encourages you the way it did me!
When Christina approached me with the subject of writing out my testimony, a million things began to flood my brain. I have had my fair share of hard times, some self inflicted and some not. I have always known God to be real and to be involved, not that I always cared about it.
I was born in December of 1977 into a typical suburban home. I had my mom and dad and big brother and even the dogs too. Until January 1981, at a tender age of 4, my world was shattered when my father passed away in a car accident with another woman. A little over a year later, my mom remarried and my typical suburban life carried on. Except that it was really a hell for me that my parents knew nothing on how to resolve the depths of my pain and heartache. I had so much anger and resentments. I resented that I lost my dad. I resented that I had a jerk for a step-dad. I resented that I was stuck on this hell hole called earth. I resented that everyone else seemed to have dads. I resented that I hadn't been wanted by my dad because he was with another woman. I resented that that other woman got his attention.
Fast forward to my teen years in the 1990's. I was a punk rock girl filled with piss and vinegar. I had venom ready at any second to spew out of my mouth. My hurt and anger had never met Jesus, though I knew that He was real and that he loved me. But what the heck did that really mean anyway? Love was some sick tainted vulnerability that I was gun-shy of or completely avoided. I dated guys that didn't know Jesus and I thought I could fix them. I thought if I could "love" them enough that they would be okay too. What did I know of love or being okay? I was a wreck though I didn't know it. I never used drugs or became a drinker. I wasn't promiscuous. I wasn't like my friends, so that made me okay. I went to church. I believed in Jesus. I loved Jesus and God and I would defend them to the inth degree if someone tried to insult the Holy Trinity. But my heart was broken and wrecked and seemingly beyond repair.
So I preceded to marry a beautiful punk rock boy that would take me on a journey validating every single bit of what I already knew…men could not be trusted!! We married after a year long fun, romantic, full of excitement and chaos relationship. I was a tender 21 years old but thought I had a world of experience. He was in jail on a regular basis for alcohol related charges and I was so sickly co-dependent that I tried to "love" him clean and sober. If only I could love him enough too, he and I would be okay. I was so broken and so hurt that I thought love looked like self worship and co-dependency. I thought that love was a "ride or die" mentality that no matter what came, you stick it out. But humans are fallible and broken humans are viciously dangerous at times. My then husband was broken beyond repair and as I grew life inside me, he almost took mine. I was pregnant, beaten, scared, embarrassed. BROKEN. My father dies on me, my step-dad was emotionally void, my husband beat me up…men were the enemy of my heart. I had begun to go back to church during this time and I would just weep. So much sin in my life needed to be rinsed out throughout the cleansing of tears.
I tried to work the marriage out for 2 years but he was never going to get help. I prayed, "God, I will stay married to him for the next 40 years of my life if that is what you want me to do because I made a covenant before you, but if you can find it in your mercy, please deliver me from this marriage." In February 2003, God granted me deliverance from the marriage. I was at peace with my son and living a peaceful life together.
God then had the hilarious sense of humor to call me into a marriage with a fellow wreck named Jay Jordan. We had both grown up in the same punk scene. He hated me because I was a Christian. I was stunned when I found out he had become a believer. We started a ministry together called RIOT that was geared toward punks, skaters, hardcore kids and drug addicts and prostitutes. During this journey, God showed up like I had never seen. God had begun to heal my heart and reveal himself to me. He began to show me his goodness and kindness and righteousness. I was beginning to fall in love with God in a new way that was changing everything in my life. God changed my singleness to married, my single child to siblings and my broken heart into a healing heart.
I thought that I was getting the message. My life was thriving and prophecy was being fulfilled and all these awesome things were happening. I was certainly not still broken…right?!?! But my marriage was in bad shape, I pretty much hated my husband and I was ready to walk away. But when God puts something together, may no man separate it. June of 2014, Jay and I celebrated 10 years and I had just birthed our 5th child (4 Jordans). Jay began to pray every night for his broken little girl that was his wife. He prayed that God would restore our family and that my heart would be healed. In October of 2014, Jay and I went to a conference in Scottsboro at this awesome church and God told me that if I left Jay that I would always long for him. God then gave me a sense of what it would feel like. It was a terrible feeling in the depths of my heart.
In December of 2014, after 10 1/2 years of marriage, Jay passed away suddenly. Wrecked. Broken.
For months I couldn't form a full sentence or a complete thought. Again I had been thrown into the Valley of Shadow of Death for the second time in my life. This time though, I had God so intimately close with me that I never felt alone. In June 2015, God began to help heal my heart from my dad's death. WHAT?? Nearly 34 years later and NOW He wants to heal this??? But I began to understand that my dad's affair had NOTHING to do with my position as his daughter. I was loved as a daughter regardless of his poor choices. A few months later, I was struggling with grief and life and I prayed to God and Grace fell on my like I had never felt it in my life. Grace was a dense presence on me. Through that grace, I realized that it wasn't about me against my dad or my dad against my mom or me against my mom. It was a broken family and God was beginning to put all the pieces back in order for me. He was taking me back to the place, that ugly Valley, that I had met at such a young age and began to clear the way by cleaning up the old weeds and thistles and replacing it with grace and love and forgiveness. God healed my heart, for the first time in all my life, fully. My value and identity is solely in God's goodness and love as my father. He has restored in me that men are not my heart enemy but that Satan is my heart enemy. I will never let lies of brokenness and co-dependency and mistrust steal the joy of love and forgiveness.
So today, I rest in the love of my God. I rest that NOTHING can separate me from His love and that I can do nothing to win it or earn it because it is freely given and I will freely love others in Christ.
Thank you for stopping by to read this week's Share Your Walk Wednesdays with Stephanie's story. We are rolling up our sleeves over here at humble & bold to openly share the real difficult paths of our individual walks and Who met and rescued us along the way. Check out more of Stephanie's story in her book, A Dose Of Reality on Amazon or Tate Publishing. Contact Stephanie if you would like for her to speak or teach at your church.
HI. My name is Rachel. I have a story to tell that glorifies God. I share it to encourage others that mercy and grace are real. That God is a good God and I am His.
When I was young, we were in church every Sunday. We were also in church every Wednesday and Friday and sometimes Tuesdays. We spent a lot of time there. I accepted God as Lord from a young age. Sadly, I didn't always turn to Him when things were tough. Although, we were in church most days out of the week, my family had a little secret. My dad was a drug addict.
My mom hid this from me and my little brother. She was protecting us from the reality that, every day, dad was choosing to get high over being home at dinner, paying the cable bill, playing with his children and loving his spouse. My mom struggled with depression and was closed off and distant from us. This made my brother and I lean on each other a lot. Eventually, mom had enough and she left my dad. That was when we found out the truth. That our dad was an addict.
Mom moved into a single wide trailer with no power and no plumbing. My brother and I lived with her for about a month like this until her new job gave her the first paycheck and we didn't have to pee in a trash bag and keep our milk in a cooler with ice. It was difficult at first. But mom was happier than we had seen in a while. She found a new love and they got married. We moved to a small town an hour away from all we knew and I was scared.
My life at mom's was miserable. I was sad and lonely. My mom's husband had 2 sons and he and my mom were very focused on making them happy, which left me out in the cold a lot. I wanted to leave. And not just the house. I wanted to leave the earth. I cried out to God so many times asking, "why me?" and just wanting to go to heaven. My depression and thoughts of suicide started when I was about 12 and continued throughout high school. This turned into cutting as well. I felt in control of the pain when I was cutting. One day, I decided I had had enough. I wrote a letter to my family and friends. As I was trying to decide how to do it, I got a phone call from a friend from school. Someone that I spoke with but not much on the phone. It was an out of the blue phone call and totally unexpected. Little did she know that her phone call stopped me from doing something drastic and life altering for my family. The cutting stopped when my friend caught me. She made me promise to never do that again and reluctantly, I kept my word.
Dad stayed in our house for a while on his own. He was struggling with losing his family. He found a new girlfriend and moved in with her. We would visit every other weekend and it was pretty depressing. Dad didn't look good and we were ignored a lot. They split up because he couldn't kick the habit and he found another girlfriend. This time, he got married and moved into the same town as my mom and her new husband. That lasted 10 years before, she too, kicked him out and into rehab. After that, he was clean for a while and started working steadily. This is when he met his next wife. It didn't take long and we were getting phone calls that dad had relapsed and spent all their money on drugs. Off and on over the years we would hear of another slip up but dad would always call soon after, apologizing and promising that was the last time.
I found an amazing man in the midst of some of my trials. It was my senior year in high school and he was a fowl mouthed party boy. I was a good girl, so I gave him a choice. He could keep smoking pot, having wild parties, and cussing in every breath or we could start a relationship. He made the right choice and now we are about to celebrate 9 years of marriage and 3 beautiful children. We have had our ups and downs over the last 9 years but I would choose him over and over again. We have based our love with God as our foundation. That has made all the difference for us.
Two years ago, my dad called me. "You remember when you said if I ever needed a place to go, I could come to you? Well, I need a place to stay...tomorrow." I talked it over with my husband and we decided we could do it. So, we bought him a bus ticket and met him at the terminal in Atlanta the next night. We rode back home with the baby screaming and my boys confused as to why their grandpa was suddenly here. I made him a sandwich and put him to bed on our couch. The next morning began our journey. He has now been clean and sober for 2 years and we all praise God for that.
I give God the glory for my story. I am alive and raising a family because He loves and cares for me. I could write a book, filling in all the details that I have left out. Hopefully, what I did share can help someone else on their journey.
To connect with God you just have to reach out to Him and believe that He only wants the best for you. Having a real relationship with Him makes all the difference. To have a relationship with someone you have to talk to them. Trust them. And it's not different with Christ.
I want to thank Rachel for sharing her testimony of what Christ has done in her life. If you would like to read more testimonies, click on the Share Your Walk Wednesdays on the side bar and be encouraged.
Stay humble & BOLD!
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105
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