I was born into the world during the 70's, and my parents divorced shortly afterwards when I was only two. My mom met and married a man when I was five years old that became my step-dad, and I only saw my father and his new family one weekend out of each month or so. I was basically an only child, even though I had step-sisters that popped in to visit occasionally, and half-sisters who I saw at my father's house when I was able to visit them. I was an angry and rebellious child. I got in a lot of trouble, and without the gory details, I will just leave you with the knowledge that I am not certain how my mother survived my teenage years. I hung out with the wrong crowd at public school. I went to too many parties. I narrowly escaped getting caught by authorities. My mother put me in "rehab" as a desperate attempt to "fix" my problems.
I dropped out of church as a young teen and turned my back on God - believing that He was incapable of helping me out of the darkness I was consumed by. I looked for love in all the wrong places; I was always searching for a new high. My Christian family members prayed for my soul. It would be a vast understatement to say that I was the "black sheep" of my family. I thought that alcohol and substance abuse could erase my reality. There is just nothing pretty about being utterly lost - no matter what age you are when you are at the bottom of that pit.
Half way into my first year of college, I was spiraling out of control. I ended up pregnant, and without much thought and some bad advice, I had an abortion. It was on the table in that pregnancy office that my hard veneer finally cracked. My heart broke open and I realized (after it was too late) what I had done. I became extremely depressed, and gave up college to start a job and support myself. It was only a few weeks later, that God blessed me (at a time when I was at my lowest) by introducing me to a man who would soon become my husband and help to draw me away from my sordid lifestyle.
Kevin and I met at a night club... and contrary to popular belief, I believe that God works miracles even in the seediest of establishments if the prayers of the righteous reach His Holy ears in petition for the lost. This was one of those nights... the night I met my husband. Kevin was like no boy I had ever dated: clean cut and "normal". We looked like a very un-matched couple... me all dressed in black, and him sporting a button-up Liz Clayborne, a pair of Kohl Haan's and a sports blazer. He had a job. He had a car. He had nice parents (who were understandably concerned after meeting me). God really does have a sense of humor. We were inseparable for eight months, and were married when we were at the tender ages of 20 and 22 (just barely).
Over three years into our marriage later, and after many nights in clubs and bars together... we were still un-satisfied with life and our relationship was about to fall apart. One morning, after waking with a hang-over, an idea popped into my head (OK, maybe this was the Holy Spirit - I have to give credit where it's due!). I asked Kevin if he wanted to go to church. Feeling the same desperation at saving what little we had left of a relationship, he consented. So we sat through our first Sunday service together (without being prodded by family to attend) squinting at the lights, and trying to sing despite our throbbing headaches.
We tried many different churches, both coming from different backgrounds. We went infrequently at first, but somehow, we left feeling much guiltier, and much better... if that makes sense? We didn't think we could ever be like the "church people" who seemed to have it all "together". We decided to make church a habit when I was about six months pregnant with my son. We started a regular Bible study with an older couple. Both of us were convicted and could see the hand of God that had been drawing us towards Him with "chords of loving-kindness" all through those dark years in both of our previous lives. We realized that we had never been alone, but God had been there with us... and even though we were both allowed to suffer through the consequences of our sin and choices, God was always there in the midst of it with us, waiting for the perfect moment to shine His light into our darkness.
In 1997, we were both baptized into the body of Christ. Our son was a little, bald 9-month old "Mr. Clean" back then. We had been on our way to take pictures that morning at a photo studio, and Kevin suddenly said that he wanted us to get baptized (this would be my second time under the waters of baptism). We went to our Bible-teacher's house and were both baptized in his back yard in their pool... and then we rushed to get dressed again to make our photo appointment. The photo we took that day is amazing. We all three look like we are glowing and unbelievably happy. Even our infant son had a grin from ear to ear. It felt good to finally obey - to do right - to be forgiven and let go of the past. Although I still didn't feel like a "church person", I certainly knew that God loved me, and that He was proud. That was all that mattered. It wasn't all ups on the roller-coaster of life after that day. Satan isn't concerned with you when you are living in sin. He's only on your heels when you are trying to obey God. We had a new enemy. It was rough for a while, but we stayed faithful to attending church and praying through the tough times.
My daughter came into our lives when my son was only 23 months old, and we began to see life through different eyes with two children. Gone were the days of living for ourselves and spending all our money on vacations and weekend fun. I became a stay-at-home mother (a job I never had imagined in my wildest dreams) and began to work with my son in what I now know was the beginning stages of homeschooling. I had never heard of homeschooling... but that soon changed as my father introduced us to a large community of homeschoolers through his educational ministry in the field of Science. I was amazed by the children... especially the teenagers. The more I knew about the Lord, the more convicted I became in my heart that I was to prevent my children from the horrors that I had endured as a public school student. Of course, my problems did not only stem from public school... but I knew that it made my spiraling descent quicker with my parents kept minimally involved in my life. God started preparing my heart for a huge undertaking... and by the time my son turned 4, I began to plan out our first year of "homeschool".
At first, I was very uncertain. God placed some wonderful veteran homeschooling moms in my path to encourage me and show me what I needed to do. I read everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling. A friend of mine from church invited me to her house one day, and over a slice of her home-made dill bread, we discussed her early years of homeschooling and my desire to win my husband's favor over for this new adventure. She placed a copy of the Konos Volume I in my lap, and told me about their love for unit studies. I was inspired by the idea of making learning so fun. It sounded wonderful. She lent me her book and after a few trips to the teacher's supply store, I was ready to start the new year.
In our first month of homeschool, the awful 9/11 events transpired. We were living with our in-laws because the summer prior to starting homeschool, our home had flooded, leaving us with no-where to live for six months during clean-up and remodeling. We had many challenges, and being new to homeschooling, I felt that we were not up to educational standards. In the early spring, I gave my five year old son a Kindergarten test (the CAT - California Achievement Test), and was amazed when he missed only handful of questions. He was already reading, although not extremely well... and my husband was duly impressed. If it had not been for our financial struggles, we would have continued to homeschool the following year, but we put the children in private school when I was offered a job there as their registrar. My husband took a job as a contractor in Iraq after the war started. After being over-seas and seeing life from a different perspective, he began to see how precious life is, and how much we take for granted in America. He was asked by an Iraqi man if all the American girls were like Brittney Spears. This made him think about the positive side to homeschooling... and when he came back home, my prayers for his approval were answered. He was fully supportive and wanted us to stick out homeschooling, even if we had to really sacrifice by living on one income.
Since then, we have completed two years of homeschooling with our children. Many of those months have been difficult as my husband has been forced to commute to find a stable, well-paying job that will support our lifestyle. Homeschooling is certainly not the easiest choice, but we have been very blessed by the experience, and are thankful even in difficult circumstances. We know that our hearts are in the right place, and that we are seeking to please the Lord... so we expect good things in the future. I may have never expected to be a stay-at-home mother, to be a happily married 30-something wife to a God-fearing, loyal, Christian man.... or to be an elementary (homeschool) teacher to two beautiful kids that I could never have deserved... but through all of this, I am now convinced that God looks deep into your heart and sees what He wants you to become, and SPEAKS it into existence. I am amazed at what God has done for me. Each day is a gift. I can not help myself but want to share that gift with my children, and others. I hope that you will be encouraged to know that God is not concerned with your weaknesses or your past - He is all about creating your future.
The Year of the LORD's Favor
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
Photo from the movie "Blade Runner" (film artwork & photography © Ladd Company 1982) property of Warner Brothers Home Video © 1996.
All Bible verses from the New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society