Today I have a treat for you, but I'll warn you, it's a long post.
First, here is my bloggers challenge card - it was a sketch challenge and the recipe is just after the card! The story follows after that.
Stamp: My Favorite Things (image and sentiment)
Card Stock: Old Olive, Early Espresso, very vanilla, designer paper (brand unknown)
Accessories: Early Espresso SU ribbon, nestie die (for oval), onion wrapper (for texture on green put in cuttlebug) and, of course, copics to color in my lounging girl
Now on to the story - On Tuesday evenings I lead a womens bible study group with my church. I love the ladies I've gotten to know over the last few months. We have such a great group of women who are comfortable being real and transparent in sharing their life and faith stories each week. This past week as we wrapped up a 6 week study called 'the journey' the questions in our weekly study challenged us to write our testimony and share it with someone. Since I typed mine up, I figured I would share it with you - my blogger friends. Again, I'll warn you, it's a little long and quite personal, but it's my story and I would love to hear your comments if you took the time to read it.
I grew up identifying myself as a Christian, but had no real understanding of God or Jesus. I believed there was a God and recognized him in nature, but that was it. I certainly had no idea of my sin. I was insecure about myself, but I never thought of myself as a sinner. When I was a young mother, I went to a shower. Many of the women were catholic and they were discussing going to confession. I asked in shocked disbelief – what could you women have to confess? It was inconceivable to me that these sweet middle aged women sitting in the living room of my daycare providers home could have anything to confess.
I had a plan for my life and worked hard to control my circumstances to match my plan. I worked hard in school, got a degree and started my career. I married and had two beautiful healthy children and by the time I turned 35, I had achieved most of the things on my ‘life to do list’. But I was not content. I did not consider my children, husband or possessions a blessing. I treated them as a curse. The house needed cleaning. The kids did not always behave. My husband did not anticipate my every need. I was anxious and restless and ever so busy. Can you say selfish and ungrateful? You bet.
I decided to go find a church. The second church I visited was First Congregational Church of Hopkinton. One of the first sermons I heard was about freedom in Christ. A husband and wife shared how they were able to break free from negative thought patterns, restlessness and discontentment. The wife (Traci) started meeting with me for breakfast once a week to do a one-on-one bible study. While reading the book, I realized that I was a sinner and was separated from God because of it. I prayed God, I need help and proclaimed that Jesus would be the Lord of my life from that point on. As a new believer, I continued to meet with Traci. She encouraged me to rearrange my priorities as a Christ follower. I went to my boss and switched to a part time position. I stopped striving for the career and instead prioritized my kids and husband. Slowly the changes I was making began to have an impact. The stress level in our home reduced and life started to have balance and meaning. I joined BSF (a weekly bible study with daily questions) and through the daily study (over 8 years) learned to know and trust my God.
My husband and I have seen some very tangible situations where God’s hand was on our life. Knowing Christ and believing God’s word as documented in the bible have given me a life of contentment and peace. I also have purpose as a bible study facilitator. It is such a blessing to get to know the other women in the bible study and see their lives change as they believe and trust God’s plan for their lives and circumstances. I can’t image the chaotic and discontent life I would be living now if I hadn’t given my life to Christ 12 years ago. Praise God that He met me where I was at all those years ago.