Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shower of Blessings

Deuteronomy 11:27
"the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today."


Proverbs 10:22
"The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it."


Isaiah 44:3
"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."


     The last few months have been amazing. The Lord has continued to pour out his blessings all over Meagan and I. We are so undeserving until it hurts, but God reminds us time after time that he will never leave us hanging. I used to think that the more synonyms for Jesus that I used as I praying, then the more God would bless me. I don't think I ever really thought that exact thought, but that is just an example of how I ran MY Christianity. 


     I had this idea of God that was totally off base. I would avoid sin as much as I thought that I could get away with so that God wouldn't punish me too bad...WHAT? Punish? Yes, that is how I viewed God, like I was going to get grounded from his blessings and grace if I lied to many times in one day. The Bible says God chose the foolish things in this world...he must have picked me in the top ten then. 


     There is something that I really want to talk about, but before I do I just wanted to share something that God revealed to 3 or 4 times in the last month of my Bible study. For all those seminary folks out there....yes I said 3 or 4 times because if there isn't a bush on fire telling me stuff then he must make it clear to me, and without fail he always does.


     I was always asked God, even after I was truly saved, I would ask him why I had to be slung around and thrown in the mud until I was in such a dark place that I wanted to die? Why me God? I remember asking one time "God, why do so many of my friends have it all together and I am just barely making it?" Little did I really know...NO ONE has it all together.


     In Luke 7: 41-50 Jesus is telling Simon of two men who each owed money to a lender, one owed 50 bucks (paraphrase obviously) and the other 500. He tells him that the lender forgave both debts and then goes on to ask him which one would be more grateful. And it was that "AH HAH" moment when God revealed to me that it took everything that I went through to get me to become as grateful as I am. I will never go back to the things of this world. Why would I choose pain over promise or burdens over blessings?


     I will step out from behind the pulpit now. I really want to take a little space and just sing my wife's praises. She is maturing in to such a submissive woman of God. I don't mean submissive like "Meagan, do the dishes then rub my back", I mean biblical stuff here, she honor's her commitment to our marriage daily on top of honoring God in all that she does. She is such an amazing person and I daily look up to her and am so thankful for her friendship. I am so thankful that she has chosen to live in obedience to God's calling with me. It is a daily adventure to see what trials and triumphs God will bring us.


     Not long after I started working Meagan and I started talking about her going back to work. She somewhat wanted to and some extra income would be nice to have. So, she started doing all the things she needed to do in order to teach in Texas and began applying for jobs. About a month into applying for jobs that she was over-qualified for and not getting any kind of feedback she came to me with something that God had shown true in her life. At that time she was doing a little painting for fun and making a tad bit of spending money. She told me that God had called her to use her ability to paint, that HE HAD GIVEN HER, and that he would provide for us using her talents, God-given talents. 

     Within the first month of full time painting she had received more business than either one of us really even believed possible. We were being blessed from every angle. We thought, hmm this is neat, God is blessing us with this for a few weeks. We were wrong Meagan's business keeps growing and growing and we keep getting blessed abundantly. It is so amazing to see how Meagan's obedience to God's call not only blesses us just enough, but our cup runs over. People don't just pay for Meagan's paintings, they pay extra, not because we ask for it, and we certainly don't expect it, but because Meagan is obedient to the call God showers us daily. Something (just a side note that one of my mentor's shared with me, he said 'something' was another name for God, so when someone says "something" told me to do it...) something is put on peoples hearts to just bless my family and it brings great joy to my life. Especially when I know that we do not have it all together yet, we still struggle at times financially and spiritually and these blessings are just a way for God to say "relax you two, give me your troubles, keep seeking me so that I may pour out more and more blessings in your life." So that is what we do, we long for him and lift his name up. Meagan and I try to always preach the gospel without using any words. 


     We are so blessed that God chose us. All we have to do is passionately seek him and he will fill us with the anointing of The Spirit. 







     

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

15 countries...

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."
--Mark 16:15

Last month, I was asked by Outcry in the Barrio (the men's home Todd went to) to paint a flag representing each country where a Victory Temple was established.  I was more than excited to do this for them.  The paintings are hanging in the entryway as you enter the men's home.  There are 15 flags.  It's really unbelievable thinking of the history of this incredible ministry and how many destroyed lives and families they have helped piece back together.  Todd and I are humbled to say we have had experiences with this ministry that we never believed were possible.  
Anytime one of the "homeboys" gives their testimony, they always lead up to the day they were saved by saying, "But One Day," which is where we got the title of our blog.  It gives me chills every time I hear one of them saying it.  All of their pasts were so different, so spoiled, and usually so deceitful.  Even though I know those three words are coming up as they are giving their testimony, I still get teary-eyed hearing each one of them say it because when they get to that part, "BUT ONE DAY," they are all the same.  We are all saved only through Jesus blood he shed on the cross for us.  
I am so thankful for my "one day."



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Koinonia

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people."
--Acts 2:42-47

Wow!  Today the weirdest thing happened...It was another little sign of God's work in action.  He reaffirms my faith everyday as He answers prayers and opens doors for our family.  
I had been praying about possibly broadening the scope of work with my painting.  I asked God if it was His will for different opportunities to come my way in order for my business to thrive.  One of the specific things I prayed for was for someone to ask me to paint a mural of some sort in their home.  Not just any mural, but something that would glorify God and draw more people closer to Him. 
A little history...When we first moved to Fort Worth, I was asked by Kelly, who I have mentioned on our blog several times, to join a bible study group.  I didn't hesitate to say "yes" because not only was I going to be able to study God's word more, but I was going to be accountable.  I also thought that maybe in the mix of all that I would make some new friends.  I remember going to eat the first time we all met together.  I was really nervous because they were the first group of women I had been around in Fort Worth and I wanted to be accepted.  It is funny I say that now, thinking of all the friendships I have made.  
We all bonded instantly over a book called The Secret of the Lord by Dannah Gresh.  I encourage everyone who hasn't read it to definitely, find a small group of friends, and read it.  
Throughout our several weeks together, so many masks of perfection were broken down as each one of us shared some very tender, heartfelt moments of disappointment/embarrassment/struggle in our lives.  I really don't think that we ever got out of our study without at least two or three of us completely breaking down.  But, you know what?  That is what God intended to happen! And it was awesome!!  To have the freedom to share such intimate moments with friends who you know care about you is something I've never quite experienced.  One week our study mentioned the word "koinonia."  Don't worry, I had never heard of it either, but WOW am I glad I know what it means now.  In simple terms "koinonia" means to build community by intimate participation, which is what we are called by God to do with our fellow Christian family. This word really meant a lot to our special group of women and we often went back and referred to it.
Today was our last day to meet together at one of the women's homes.  At the end of our time, she approached me about something she wanted to commission me for.  Guess what it was?  A MURAL.  She wanted me to paint the word "Koinonia" in her family room.  How amazing.  I stood there in awe for a moment.  I even asked her to repeat exactly what she wanted me to do to make sure I understood.  God answered my prayer today.  And I can't wait to share with you what the Spirit fills me with as I try this new venture out!!

In the meantime, here are a few paintings I did for Lakeview Fellowship in Fort Worth.  These were for the youth Sunday School classrooms.  Enjoy!






Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."
I Corinthians 12: 4-6


We have lots of things weighing on our minds for our future this week.  Don't worry, everything is great and we are still staying in Fort Worth, just trying to decide where we will live, job possibilities for me, and exploring new opportunities.


We continuously are blessed by more orders for paintings.  Here are a few I did not long after we got to Fort Worth.  


One of Three for the Victory Home Administration Building...

A few "consolation" Bunko gifts...

For our sweet new friends, the Spence's...

Painted Tom's for Todd's (and my) cousin, Janna Clements.  Such a sweet memorial to some of her family.  Each component (down to some of the colors) had a special meaning.

Cross painting, which has become a favorite, for the Trantham's...

Holly also had me paint a canvas with their name...

"Mr. and Mrs." painting for Marci and Greg (who have one of the most adorable babies in the world)...

Triptych for Jenni and Derek's baby, Landry, who I am so glad my parents were finally able to  meet this past week.  I'm really jealous of them. :)  It matches his bedding.  

Painted chalkboard for Taylor's sweet 16 birthday bash...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where has the time gone...

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."
--Hebrews 11:1


First of all, we apologize for leaving you all hanging for so long.  We have really gotten wrapped up down here in Fort Worth and have been trying to settle in and establish ourselves. 

Honestly, I have had a lot of things on my mind recently and have been struggling with a challenge that has revealed itself to me...What is my purpose?  There are so many definitions and answers I could have given to this question a few months ago, but as I found myself down here in a new town with not many friends (except for my husband, son, dog, and a few special people), I became idle and lost.  Up until this point, God had revealed answers to us so clearly and explicitly that we didn't have time to wonder what we were supposed to be doing.  Once we got settled in though, I didn't hear from Him as clearly as I had for a few months.  I wondered why He wasn't revealing Himself to me and questioned my ability to discern what He wanted for my life.  
Then I realized, it was me.  It was my fault.  I had lost sight of Him in everything I do.  It is so easy to get out of consistent time with Him and get lost in the worldly things that REALLY DON'T MATTER.  AT ALL.  


Why?  Because we are just passing through.  This is not really my home, nor yours. We are only here for a mere moment when compared to eternity.  So, what is my purpose?  To worship my creator, my Father, and to share His love with anyone and everyone I come into contact with.  Not necessarily by words, but by my actions.  I have challenged myself to do this daily knowing that I will never be worthy of His love for me.  I hope you will join me.


On another note, to supplement our income, I have been painting A LOT since we have been down here.  When I say A LOT, I mean enough to pay our rent.  Not many people would share that, but I think it is part of our testimony.  Even though we do live in a one bedroom apartment, our rent is NOT cheap compared to where we came from.  It gets kind of scary at the beginning of a new month and I know that I don't have any paintings coming up, but somehow (also known as the Holy Spirit) something (also known as God) intervenes.  We always make rent.  ALWAYS.  Because God protects us.  


I wanted to share some of the paintings I have been doing over the past months for our next few blog posts.  To those of you who I have been blessed to paint for, THANK YOU.  Because really, to us, it is a blessing. 



  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Led astray...

"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all."
--Isaiah 53:6

One of the reasons Todd decided that we should move down here was so that we would be able to help other families like our own.  Granted, not every family is the same and not every addict is the same, but when you have gone through similar situations, there is peace in knowing someone else has been where you are.  Since we have lived here, there have been a couple of people who have come across our path that needed the same grace that we received.  Yesterday, we drove about three hours towards Arkansas to meet up with someone, now our new friend, who had decided to make a change in their life. 
Honestly, once we started heading back down to Fort Worth, I became extremely bitter.  I didn't realize until later that my bitterness was not directed towards anyone but satan.  He has completely captured so many vulnerable people through the power of addiction.  It is disgusting to see how he can make someone believe their life is dependent on everything except the one true GOD that all our lives should depend on.  I was sickened to see how parallel our new friend's life is and Todd's life had been.  The lies, the stealing, the manipulating, the lack of LIFE.  Driving along, our friend kept nodding in and out of consciousness.  As she told us her story, I couldn't believe it.  She has already endured much more than I could ever imagine in her short life.  Todd and I just kept looking at each other.  
It was not a look of annoyance and judgement but a look of...HOPE.  We know there are possibilities for her life.  We know she is beginning her second chance.  We know the pills she had just taken and the cigarettes she just smoked, could be her last...forever.  We know this because we serve a gracious God that will pour out His mercy on her if she will just ask for it.  We know this because it happened to us.  
We can't wait to see the progression of our new friend over the next six months.  God will restore her life, her family, and her health if she will just allow Him to take it over.
  

Friday, March 16, 2012

God's timing is impeccable...

"Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise." 
--Nehemiah 9:5

"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you."
--Exodus 23:25

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
--John 1:16


We got settled into our little apartment just a few days before Christmas and right from the start it was perfect. We had cut our square footage in half and yet our space had doubled. For you see our place back in Benton was just a house, not a home. Most of the memories in that place were horrid. We got Beckett settled in and then Duncan (our retriever). I think Duncan is still getting used to not having a backyard, but that won't last too much longer.

Meagan and I would often go to the men's/women's homes. I had developed such a strong relationship with Nick over the past few months, that I wanted Meagan to get to know Ms. Ana. Ms. Ana and her husband, Pastor Gerald Salamon started the Men's home in Ft. Worth over 20 years ago. Pastor Gerald passed away around 2 years ago and that is when Nick took over the men's home and Ms. Ana stayed over the women. 

Meagan and Ana hit it off immediately. I think the fact that Ms. Ana fell in love with Beckett probably kick started that. We all hung out pretty much every night. And at some point during the day usually stopped by to say hi to each of them. God began to use Meagan with the home's. She began volunteering one day a week at the administration building doing whatever was asked of her. I was so proud of her obedience to the call of God. She also began doing artwork for the men's home and then the administration building. 

Everyday was a new adventure for us and we loved it, still do. This whole time I was vigorously looking for a job. I had what I thought were a couple things that were locks. God didn't see it fit for me to do these things and he closed those doors. For the first month we were down here the job hunt was somewhat dead. We were not desperate for me to get a job right away and we just enjoyed our days together. 

After the first of the year I really cranked up the job hunt and right away had two different interviews on schedule. I went to them and immediately I knew that was not what God had in store for me and my family. Over the next several weeks I went on several more job interviews, most of which were to just get the experience and then the "one" came up. It was a firm in Dallas where the pay was great, the benefits were great and the time off was even better. It was the one that Meagan and I wanted. This being said after a week or so had passed they called to tell me they had selected someone else.

During this time, my good friend Bobby came into town and I headed over to hang out with him. Out of the blue he asked me if Meagan knew how to use the program AutoCAD. I called her and she said yes, it had just been a while. Bobby's partner owned a landscaping business and needed someone to come up with concepts for multi-million dollar backyards. She was skeptical at first even though the money was great. We had decided that she would stay home with Beckett pretty much no matter what.

She went and met with what is now her boss. He explained that she could work from home and do it on her time. Wow, God is so amazing. Bobby also called me not long after that and told me he had a guy he wanted me to meet. The guy he spoke of was a director at a rehab in Azle, TX. We will call this guy Robert. Robert and Bobby met at one of the monthly luncheons at the men's home back when Bobby was still in the home. Bobby kind of became a liaison for Robert. When the men who just couldn't seem to get it after three months at Robert's place, he would call Bobby and he would help him get to the men's home for 6 more months. 

Since Bobby had moved back to Oklahoma he wanted me to introduce myself to Robert and somewhat fill this role. I gave Robert a call on a Saturday and after a great conversation he wanted me to come out and see his rehab. I went out on Monday to have lunch. My first impression of the place was...WOW. It was huge with nice leather chairs and huge bunkrooms, the kitchen had granite counter tops and it looked like a culinary school's kitchen.

Robert and I sat down and chatted for a while and we talked a lot about this blog which he had read. We also talked about the fact that I was vigorously looking for work so that I could provide for my family. He thought that was crazy because they were looking for someone. He said they weren't really advertising the job but believed that God would bring someone to them. God is amazing.

A week or so went by and Robert called and told me his partners would like to meet and we set up a meeting for the next day. Robert informed me he would not be there. When I got there I met with the other 2 partners and 2 of the counselors. It soon became a job interview filled with questions. I could tell they were kind of skeptical of my short sobriety time. But like I told them, when I got out of rehab the first time I was all about getting my 30, 60 and 90 day chips at AA meetings and all that, but now I didn't really think in time frames. I was just clean and sober and that was my life, it would never go back and it didn't matter if it was 9 months or 9 years to me.

I left there feeling pretty awesome about everything. In the mean time I had gotten another interview with the "perfect job" company in Dallas and it was coming up in about a week and a half. During all of this we went to Benton for Beckett's birthday. We figured it would be a lot easier to have 30 people meet there than all drive 5 hours away. By the time we went to Benton it had been a little over a week since I had heard anything from the rehab. We had a wonderful time with friends and family but were very glad to get back home to Ft. Worth.

I got a call the night after we were back in town and Robert said that I needed to call one of the other partners in the morning to talk specifics of the job. After a week of prayer they had decided to over look my short sobriety time and offer me the job. I will be going back to school to work on my masters and will hopefully get my doctorate as I become a licensed counselor. Two days later was supposed to be my interview with the company in Dallas, but God had made it so clear to me that I was to take this job and decline that interview.

I started the job over 3 weeks ago and I love it. I get to spend time, minister and just help these guys out. The hours are long and odd but I get to be home every weekday to spend time with the family. The money is great and on top of that we still have 3 or 4 different side jobs going on. Our life is so incredibly simple and so overwhelmingly amazing. I wouldn't change one thing about our life. God has blessed us beyond belief and we praise him daily for his grace and mercy. I am able to do more than just provide for my family and I owe it to Jesus.


Beckett is with his grandparents in Benton this week for Spring Break.  He stayed with Todd's parent for a couple of nights and then, switched to my parents for a few nights.  I'm nervous to see how he acts when he gets home because he has been SOOOO spoiled!!!
He loves bananas!

My dad said this was his favorite "toy" today.  Notice the HUGE knot on his head!

First experience playing on the playground in Chick-Fil-A.  Needless to say, we have an issue with hitting other people right now!  Oh goodness!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Strong Hands...

"Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ."
--Ephesians 5:21


I don't know how many of you have ever heard the song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real, but if you haven't, you need to listen here.  

A year ago, when Todd was in one of his worst binges, I remember listening to this song and thinking, "How in the world will I ever have a husband like this?"  I thought it was hopeless.  When we would ride in the car together and this song would come on, I would drop subtle hints like, "This is my favorite song right now" and "I love this song.  Just listen to the words."  It didn't ever help though.  When the song started off with the part that said, "I look around and see my wonderful life, Almost perfect from the outside," I almost lost it every time I heard it.  That was MY life.  COMPLETELY.  If you were just an acquaintance of ours, you didn't know the truth.  Honestly, even if you were a good friend of ours, you didn't know the truth.  Because I was REALLY good at hiding it.  I felt desperate, lonely, and hopeless.  I wanted Todd to lead our family with "strong hands" to "stand up when I [couldn't]."  But, I knew that not only could he not do it, but he WOULD not do it. 

I wanted so badly not to be the strong one in our family.  I didn't want to make the decisions anymore.  I wanted to follow the biblical truth because I knew it was the right thing to do.  I wanted someone to help me with the finances.  I wanted to be submissive and obedient but, I didn't have to because it was never required from my husband.  I wanted someone else to love Beckett as much as I did.  And I never thought I would have it.  But, I accepted my fate and decided to keep it as concealed as possible. 

God changed that.  He gave me a strong husband that is willing to fight for our family.  He also gave me a husband that I can have dreams with and work together to accomplish them.  He gave me a husband that loves Beckett more than anything.  He gave me a husband that has chosen to support our family on his own and allow me to stay at home and be a mother.  I am so thankful to God for his gift to me.  

I'm not going to say it has been easy learning how to be a submissive and obedient wife though.  Because of the things that Todd and I had gone through, I had built up mounds of resistance toward him.  Also, I didn't think very highly of him, so why would I ever trust what he had to say.  It takes a lot of patience, prayer, and guidance to try to be anything like what I know God wants me to be.  It is a constant struggle for myself.  Everything single day.   

When I listen to the song "Lead Me" now, I feel completely different than I did a year ago. Instead of feelings like resentment and shame flooding me, I feel emotions like excitement, thankfulness, and fulfillment.  I can't wait to see all the things God has stored for Todd and me during our marriage.  They will be big.






Photography by one of my best friends, Kellie Snellings

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Start of the Start...

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven...For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
--Matthew 6:19-21

When the day finally arrived for me to pick Todd up from the Victory Home, I was elated (to say the least).  I had decided to go down the night before and stay with our friend's, The Trantham's, so I would be at the Victory Home the earliest time Todd could leave.  Driving up to the home was different this time.  It was the last time Todd would be considered a true "homeboy."  The reason I say true "homeboy" is because Todd will always be considered a "homeboy."  I would consider any man who finished the program through the Victory Home should be able to wear the "homeboy" hat.  But, he would no longer be living there.  It was his turn to give back to others.  It was OUR turn to give back to them.  

Todd met me outside and we wasted no time leaving.  Not because we don't love the Victory Home, but Todd was free.  For the first time in six months, we could talk as long as we wanted, he did not have to be home at a certain time, he did not have to call and check in with anyone, and most importantly, we were really on the path to starting our new life.  We drove back to Benton, smiling the entire time.  We were greeted by my parents and were not excited about the conversation that was going to take place.  Todd said in the last post, it was almost like there was an "elephant" in the room.  There wasn't just an "elephant," there was a GIGANTIC "elephant."  One that had to be spoken of.  At this point in time, Todd had only seen my parents once during the six month journey (when his grandpa passed away).  At that time, there was no room for talking about the things we were about to discuss.  My parents really said the things I expected them to say.  "We are sad our baby is leaving Benton."  "What about a job?  What about her job?"  "Why do you have to move away to stay better?"  "You have a lot of proving to do."  They said all the things ANY parent would say in their situation.  And honestly, I understood.  I really did.  But, at that point, Todd and I knew God was calling us to Texas.  You can't really stand in the way of God when he is all but shouting to you to go the other way.  I wouldn't say that Todd's conversation with my parents changed the way they felt.  It didn't.  Nothing could.  Except time.  When you have broken someones trust as much as Todd had to many people in his life, it takes time to gain it back.  

Todd and I spent a couple of days in Benton and then, headed back to Texas to move into our apartment.  Once again, we stayed with our friends the night before we headed to the new place.  The next morning, I woke up with the worst feeling ever.  I was sick as a dog.  Literally.  Of course...What does Satan always do when he sees God's servants fervently working for HIM?  He puts obstacles in their path.  If we lived in Benton, it wouldn't have been a big deal.  I could have called my parents to come help.  Todd could have called his parents.  But, down here, we didn't have anyone to call.  For the first time, Todd and I realized what it was like to fully rely on each other and God.  The experience could have possibly been one of the best growing experiences for us to start with in our new life together.  Somehow, we managed moving in, unpacking, and getting things set-up for Beckett and us when we got back the next time. 

I want to talk about our apartment.  Our apartment is our own little 800 square feet of earth that we cherish.  We love our apartment.  Not because of what it is, what it looks like, what it had in it, but because of what our lives in it stand for.  We are living here not for ourselves, but because we felt God's guidance in our lives to live in Fort Worth.  We left behind a much larger home in Benton.  But that home was so empty.  On the outside looking in, it was everything we could have wanted or needed.  I loved the thought of our home in Benton.  But, like my good friend Kellie said one time, "That home was never what you thought it would be."  Honestly, it was much less.  It was full of lies.  It was full of bitterness and hatred.  It stood for everything I am so glad I am not a part of now.  I have everything I could ever want in our small apartment.  I have Todd, Beckett, and our faith.  I used to get so caught up in what I wore, what my house looked like, what  my husband did for a living, etc. that I lost sight of the main reason we are here on this earth.  We are only here for a moment in comparison to eternity.  When you look at the world and your life with that perspective, priorities change.  Work isn't as important.  The brand of clothes you wear really doesn't matter.  And the happiness of your husband and his satisfaction with his job is much more important than what it pays.  I love our little apartment.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We've only just begun...

"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland."
--Isaiah 43:18-19


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
--I Peter 1:3


If I recall correctly, I don't believe that I stopped smiling the whole way home that Wednesday morning. We arrived into town a little after lunch and headed straight to my in-law's house, to see them of course but most of all because Beckett was there. Thank you Jesus for my son...Wow! After the hellos and the hugs we sat down to chat. I was nervous, but at the same time felt led to initiate the inevitable conversation. I told them that I had every intention of getting a good enough job so that Meagan would not have to work and so that she could stay home and take care of Beckett. The next part was no surprise. Her parents basically told me that they were not happy about the move to Texas. Who on earth could blame them for that? They had known me for over 5 years and I had been on drugs the WHOLE time. In their eyes I was much less than a man and rightfully so. Of course they would be mad that someone who had done nothing but fail would want to move their only child and only grandchild 5 hours away. Honestly, they took the whole thing a lot better than I would have...A LOT better. I thank God for that everyday and for them, because they certainly had the right to get me out of their lives and they chose to trust us. I say 'trust us' because I think they are slowly starting to trust me again, but they have trusted Meagan daily.


After we took care of the giant elephant in the room things were back to wonderful and we had an awesome meal that night. The next morning I headed to my parent's house where I picked up my dad and we headed to pick up the U-haul. We spent the rest of the day loading it up with everything that Meagan and I owned minus the furniture she sold. That night (the second night I was home) was my dad's birthday and we celebrated with all of our family, for those who know me you know that means we had about 25 people over. It was great and the next day I took Meagan to work and while she was there I was taking care of all of the last minute stuff.


At noon, I picked her up and we headed to Ft. Worth, me in the U-haul and her in her car.  We arrived late that night and stayed with some friends. The next morning I went to see Bobby and we had lunch. After lunch Meagan and I headed by the men's home to pick up a couple of guys to come help us unload the U-haul at the apartment. We spent the next 4 hours unloading and then Nick let us take those guys out to eat as payment. That was a huge blessing for them, but it was for us too.


We spent our first night in the apartment that night, it was great, boxes stacked a mile high. We just went from a 1700 sq. foot house, to an 800 sq. foot apartment and the crazy part is, I didn't care one bit, I had everything I needed and wanted in arm's-length.


We headed back to Benton after church that Sunday so that Meagan could finish her last week of teaching. It was great to hang with my family. We were able to get someone who was very close to me to go to the women's home. They took her down on a Tuesday and I went down the following day. From the start she was not happy to be there. Her main problem was the she had convinced herself that she was alright. You see, like I have said before and like I tried to tell her, drugs were only a small part of the problem. Her problem, like all of us is sin and this was the perfect place for that. "I can't be away from my kids" "this place is not for me" and so on. These were some of the things that she said, also some of the very things that I said. One thing I know is that a person like me and her must hit rock bottom in order to change, and change here especially. In my mind, she had not hit rock bottom, she had tricked herself and by Friday of that week found a way back to Benton. She seems to be doing okay now and I pray for her each day. I pray that if things ever get too bad that God will make a way for her to come back to the women's home.


I did a little teaching at the men's home that week and Meagan arrived that weekend to help me unpack all of the boxes. We made a pretty good dent in the boxes and by Saturday morning I was just getting in the way. I decided I would go fundraising with the guys. It was a great day and by the night time we had most of it unpacked.


We headed back to Benton after church and the next time we would come back to Fort Worth we would have both Beckett and our 75-pound Golden Retriever Duncan. Although things were going great, God still was putting things in my path to strengthen and stretch my faith and he was still nurturing me as well. He was certainly just beginning...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coming home...

"But our citizenship is in Heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ."
--Philippians 3:20

So, the last time I left you I had just been saved and was on cloud nine.  However, when I came back home from dropping Todd off at the Victory Home, it was the same old mundane life.  I returned to work.  I returned to stress.  It was hard to keep the fire that I felt when I was saved burning as strongly as ever.  Honestly, I think a lot of it was my fault.  I didn't really know what to do in order to keep myself so in tune with God that nothing else mattered.  This is just a side note...I have found that at any point in time when I start to feel lonely or insecure, I can usually relate that to my prayer life.  The more I pray and seek God's will, the more fulfilled I am and vice-versa.  I think that is how it is for most Christians.

At this point in mine and Todd's journey, I was so ready for a permanent change.  Anytime I returned home from a trip with Todd, I wanted more and more to be back where he was.  I wanted to start fresh with him.  And nothing else mattered.  

After Todd had been in the home for about four months, he dropped the "big one" on me.  He told me we needed to move to Fort Worth.  Now, for me, most people would think it would have been one of the hardest decisions of my life.  I had everything in Benton.  I had my dream job where I had worked so hard to reach my highest potential, I had both families around us, I had a great home that I loved, I had a ton of friends, etc.  But sometimes, in those instances where you look like you have it all, you feel the loneliest.  I was definitely lonely.  I felt as though no one else had been through the things that Todd and I had been through.  And when I thought about Todd moving back to Benton and us staying there for the rest of our lives, it made me sick.  Not because of the town, the people, or anything like that, but because of the memories we held there.  For me, the decision was easy, I was ready to go where I was being led.  Led by Todd, but most importantly, by God.  

When I returned home from the visit where Todd said we needed to move, I got on top of things.  Because I am a planner, I decided to get prepared.  Any minor thing that needed to be done to the house was taken care of in order to get it ready to sell. I got the carpets cleaned, the roof patched, the carpet repaired, etc.  However, everything was on the "down-low."  Now, thinking back, I'm not really sure why I was so worried about everything being hush-hush.  It was in that instance that I should have been the most vocal about all the things God was doing in mine and Todd's life and how He was guiding us into a new path in which we would be able to bless and be blessed the most. 

Now, all of you know what the housing market is like...Well, when God is your pilot and steering you in a direction He wants you to go, you can throw the housing market and all its statistics out the window.  Todd and I sold our home in about 3 weeks.  The weird things about it was is during those 3 weeks, I wasn't really worried about it selling.  I just knew it would happen.  It had to happen.  And if we didn't sell it before we moved, we would just figure it out.  The thing I was worried about was breaking the news to a few people.   

I will say this... there were two people/groups that I was afraid to tell.  The first was my dad and the second was "my girls."  

I am an only child.  I have always been a daddy's girl and a mama's girl.  My dad was very proud of the person I had become and still am.  He was proud of all the accomplishments I had made while working for my school district.  He was proud to be able to tell people that "my girls" had won numerous competitions.  He was proud of the mom I had become and the home I had.  My dad was/is so proud of me.  I really felt like leaving all those things would let him down.  When you tell someone you love things that you know will disappoint them, you try to tread lightly.  Now, I'm not going to say my dad was thrilled with the decision Todd and I had made and I completely understand why he wouldn't have been.  How in the world was he supposed to be able to trust Todd who he only knew as an immature boy who not only couldn't, but wouldn't take care of his only daughter and grandchild.  

The second group I was most worried about telling was "my girls."  I knew I would be letting them down in the sense that I was leaving in the middle of the year.  I knew they would be heart-broken and honestly, I believe I was just as heart-broken to leave them.  When I sat down to tell them, I couldn't get anything out.  I was really so consumed with emotion that I was at a loss for words.  Honestly, I don't know if any of them knew what I was about to tell them (or they could have all known).  It was as bad as I thought it would be.  I was sick to my stomach the whole day before I was able to tell them.  I put on a fake smile the first few minutes of class and then, just broke down.  

A lot of times in life people wonder why God put them in certain positions.  In response to "my girls" I have often questioned what my purpose was for their lives after I realized God wanted me elsewhere.  And then, it just hit me one day like a ton of bricks.  It doesn't matter how much technique, choreography, discipline, etc. I taught them.  Actually, in the long run, all that stuff is superficial.  The reason I was there coach was so they would be able to see God's work in my life.  Not even during the time I was their actual coach.  But now, in my rawest form where I can give glory only to God for the change he has brought in my life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It is finished...

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
--Acts 20:24


"...As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." 
--Joshua 24:15


I did not miss being on discipline. I was up late each night scrubbing and cleaning the whole house and everything around it, including the rocks again, and this time the bottom of our big yellow school bus. Then one night Nick told me that I was in charge of discipline and I thought that was great because I would be telling everyone else on discipline what to do. The first night I was in charge we had to stay up until 1am because the guys were acting up and I was in charge of keeping them in line. Turns out being in charge of discipline was the worst job yet.


This cycle of things kept up for about 3 weeks and I was just about ready to give up. I was mad, I hadn't seen Meagan or Beckett in almost a month. I told God that 5 months was enough and that I was ready to go. I told him that I was tired and I needed help if I was going to stay. Knowing that he will help me if I just ask is comforting. The morning after I begged God for his mercy Nick called me into his office. He told me that he had talked to my dad and they would be in town that weekend for me and Meagan to go look at a house in Saginaw, TX. 


In other words he was telling me that I was off discipline. Also this meant that I would get to spend the day with my family. That Saturday marked me being there for 5 months. I went out fundraising early that morning so that I could be back by noon and meet my parents and Meagan at the Men's home. I was so happy to see them. It was exactly what I needed and once again I stood in awe of what God was doing in my life. 


We went and looked at the house and immediately we found out that living in Texas was going to be a bit more expensive than Arkansas. We then went and checked out some apartment complexes. We liked a few of them but I just couldn't believe it was so expensive. Oh well, I knew God would put us where he wanted to. We had run out of time but we drove past one more and I told Meagan to check into that one and if it was a certain $ amount then we would live there. We went back to meet up with my parents and watch the end of my first Razorback football game of the year. I didn't like missing most of the football season, but that was a very very small sacrifice and in the big picture really not a big deal. For those people who know me personally they know for me to give up college football was a huge deal. :)


Hanging out with them was perfect but it came to an end after a few hours and I went back to the men's home. I met them at church the next morning and cried out to God on their behalf. Thanking him for what he was doing and asking him to anoint them and bless them. After lunch the next day they were gone and it was back to life at the men's home. I was still teaching from time to time, hitting the streets daily and giving Jesus everything I had because he gave me more than everything I asked for.


Two more weeks went my by and my family was back in town and this time Nick let me stay the night with them. I got to feed and hold Beckett....Thank you Jesus. I got to watch the entire Arkansas vs. Mississippi St. game and just spend quality time with my family. Oh yeah, and I got to eat some amazing food which by now was a wonderful blessing, and I got about 8 hours of sleep...Thank you Jesus. After lunch the next day they headed home. It wasn't all that sad for the first time in 5 and a half months. Meagan was coming back late Tuesday night to stay the rest of the week at her friend Holly's house because they were heading out of town.



Thursday of that week was Thanksgiving day and what a blessing it was. All of the men from the home headed to the Church around 6am and set up shop with haircuts, food, and clothing to give away to the homeless citizens of Ft. Worth. Meagan also came to help and did she ever help. I didn't know how Meagan would react, and honestly until that day I was afraid Meagan wouldn't pray in public. I was witnessing to a few of the men and women who were smoking across the street and I glanced over to the front doors of the Church where I saw Meagan praying for one of the homeless women. I could have jumped up and down screaming I was so excited for her to receive her blessing. It was then that I knew Meagan and I would have no problem taking on the world, which is what we were about to do in less than two weeks.


After spending 12 hours at the church ministering and blessing the homeless we got the day off Friday (during the 6 months that I was there we got 3 days off). I got to go eat with Meagan for lunch and then got to watch football the rest of the day. We had a normal weekend and after lunch Sunday I said goodbye to Meagan knowing that the next time I would see her would be the day I was to leave and complete my 6 months. 


The next week went by with no real major hiccups, it just seemed to take forever! My last weekend and then my final 3 days had approached. I got up early Wednesday morning and went about the morning, already being packed of course. It was me and another guy that got to the Men's home on June 11. After the morning Proverbs, all 60 of the other guys circled around me and him and cried out to God on our behalf. I then spent the next 30 minutes staring out the front door for Meagan. She arrived and I met her outside and just about squeezed the life out of her I was so happy. 


We headed to Benton mainly to pack up all of our stuff and move into our apartment Meagan had found. I was nervous though, I still had some unfinished business to take care of. The true test of faith was about to be right in my face...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

But One Day...: Yes God, I will do it...

But One Day...: Yes God, I will do it...: "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgement to begin ...

Yes God, I will do it...

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgement to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?"
--1 Peter 4:16-17

"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."
--Phil 4:19

Bobby had warned me about the 3 toughest times while he was in the home. The first would be the first time I saw my family, I made it through that one okay. The second one had come about. I had hit the half way point and I was getting attacked from every which way. By this time in the home I was one of the leaders. I was driving one of the vans as we went evangelizing and fundraising each day, I was the dorm leader for the older guys (guys who had been in the home from more than 45 days) who slept downstairs, also as I mentioned I was sleeping by the phone and praying for people throughout the night. I was teaching the new guys and the devil was not happy about all of this.

As I would often tell the newer guys, there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't want to leave. This place was tough, THANK YOU JESUS! If it had been any different I wouldn't have changed. I don't really remember exactly when but my little brother got to take in the experience during this time. I didn't know what he would think, honestly from the very moment that he saw me I think he began to look up to me again. I had lost any sense of being a role-model for him. If he wanted to know what not to do he just needed to hang around me for a little while. But all of that had changed and I just knew it by the way he seemed to look up to me and how proud of me he was. He may not even know this now but, next to Meagan, his approval was pretty important to me and I missed being his "big brother". From the moment we saw each other I knew I would always be his big bro/mentor/role-model.

God had been really dealing with me on something. He made it very clear to me that if I really wanted to change I would be obedient and go where he told me to go. At first I thought "hmmm, this will be easy, I have already dropped everything and come to Ft. Worth" but then I realized he meant my whole family...for good. So I wrote a letter to Meagan telling her what God had put on my heart for our family and completely to my surprise she said "I will do whatever God tells you to do for our family". And that was it, for once in my life I didn't question God I just said okay. After all he had saved my life and everything in it, it was the least I could do. I will do whatever God asks me to do because I know he will bless my obedience, although I will never do anything expecting a blessing or do it because I deserve to be blessed, because I don't as you all know.

That was that and Meagan had to break that news to her parents, and I had to break it to mine. Since the moment Meagan and I started dating all her parents have known was a wild KID who just flew by the seat of his pants and didn't really have any long term goals. I had been to rehab and jail and did not change, why on earth would I be any different now. The answer is simple...the blood of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless they still had reservations, I was taking away there only child as well as their only grandchild, and although they were not happy about it (and I do not blame them at all, they were better sports about it than I would have been) they supported our decision because Meagan was happy and because it was God's will for our family.

My parents took the news about the same, although they have another kid, they do not have another grandchild. They seemed okay with it and I think that mainly stemmed from the 2-3 visits that had in Ft. Worth and according to Meagan..."you can just tell" that I had changed. I don't really know how to describe her saying that other than me being filled with The Holy Spirit.

----Just a side note that I don't know if I was clear on. The Victory Home did not cost me a thing. They don't get ANY private or government funding. They do not get food stamps per person on anything like that. It is run strictly by donations and money that is raised by all of the guys fundraising each day. If God puts it on your heart to donate feel free to email me at toddm2526@gmail.com
This place saved my life so it is the least I can do to mention that so that someone else can have the same chance to know Jesus and get their family back.

Anyway, one day while we were out, Joe Joe (that is his nickname not a typo) called me (the 3 older guys in the home took cell phones with them so the leaders could call and check on their group) and asked how we were doing and I told him. Nick was out of town for a couple of days so it was just Joe Joe doing all the teaching and he then told me that Nick had told him to pick a couple of guys who would be teaching to EVERYONE that night including the women from the women's home. Now, I had taught the group of 5 or 6 new guys a few times but this was 60 guys and 20 women plus one of the guy's family had come to visit him. I told him I didn't want to, that I couldn't do it, knowing that I was going to regardless. God had been preparing me to do it though, by telling my testimony on the streets and teaching the new guys I was ready.

I went and picked up the other guys and headed home for prayer time. I asked God to speak whatever he wanted through me and just use me as a vessel for his words. It took me about 20 minutes and I had 2 pages of notes and the topic was: Tame Your Tongue. The main verse was Eph. 4:29. It is actually one of my favorite teachings now. I don't really remember the actual teaching part. The Holy Spirit just booted me out of the way and spoke for almost 40 minutes on the subject. I do remember some clapping and amen's so I must have been doing okay. It felt great and it wasn't the last time I would teach. I actually enjoy sharing now, which is crazy because I have never really liked speaking in front of people. I know it is cliche but I can do ALL things through Christ.

Nearing the end of my fourth month Nick called me into his office. He said "you had better start talking if you want this discipline to be a little easier than last time". I knew just what he was talking about. After 4 and a half months my body was tired of waking up at 5am and being on the go until midnight each day. The last couple of times that I had been out to evangelize and pass out fliers I had decided to park the van and let everyone take a nap, instead of hitting the streets. Not only had I been doing that but one of the newer guys managed to sneak a food stamp card in and I was buying snacks and everything while we were out (a pretty big no no since we don't carry money). He told me that if I really wanted to be obedient to God's call I had better watch out for the little things, for they are almost worse than the big ones. He called Meagan and then my dad to inform them that there wouldn't be any need in them coming for the next month. I was so upset. I was afraid Meagan would think that I have really changed and that I was up to my same ole tricks which was not true, I was just going through the growing pains of being a baby Christian and I hope that she saw it that way. Come to find out she did and she was actually happy that I got put back on discipline because it was the time that I changed the most.

Just when I started to get comfortable God decide to discipline me, stretch me, and mold me so that he could begin to use my life more.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I fooled you and you and you and...me

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 
I have summoned you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, 
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..."
--Isaiah 43:1-3


When I left Todd the first time I visited him, I was rejuvenated.  My mind had been completely changed the moment I saw Todd.  I was able to forgive him for everything.  I know that you probably don't believe me, and that is fine, because honestly, I doubt I would have believed someone saying that they forgave EVERYTHING their drug-addict husband had done to them and their child.  I don't know what to attribute to the fact that I forgave him in that instance except for God's divine plan for our lives.  Because if I had not been able to forgive him right then, I wouldn't have been able to be open-minded to the changes that were about to take place in not only our family's life, but my life.  


As I left Fort Worth that weekend, Todd and I agreed I would come back the following weekend.  You see, we had so much to talk about and get caught up on that the 2 hours we were able to have with each other wasn't enough.  We needed more time to see where we were headed next.  I needed more time to get to know the new, growing Todd.  I called Nick, the home director, during the week and asked him if I would be able to come down and visit him.  He didn't tell me what I wanted to hear.  He said Todd would be going to a conference in San Antonio the following Sunday and that "I was welcome to come, but I would only be able to sit with him at church.  He would be leaving immediately after service."  Perfect.  That was all I needed.  Just to be able to sit by him.  That weekend came and went.  I got to see Todd and only talk to him for a few minutes after church.  But it was fine.


During the time Todd was in the home for the first 2 months, his grandpa was back in Benton getting worse.  After falling one day and breaking his hip, he was admitted to the hospital, never to return home again.  I remember the night Todd's dad called me.  I had already gone to bed and was asleep, but told them to call me if anything happened.  Steve said, "Meagan, he's gone."  I went to visit Pawpaw and the rest of the family at the hospice center.  It was surreal that this was happening and Todd wasn't able to be around for it.  Especially, now that he was sober and actually able to feel REAL feelings.  I hated and hurt for him the entire time I was there.  I was scared too though.  Honestly, I was scared he would come home for good.  I was scared his family would want him to stay home.  I didn't want him home...yet.  I honestly wasn't mentally or emotionally prepared. I went to Fort Worth the next morning to pick Todd up.  I was relieved to have him be able to come home, but broken about the circumstances.  


At home, Todd was looked to for strength, probably for the first time in his life.  He handled the pressure well.  I knew he was heart broken because he wasn't able to be there the last moments of Pawpaw's life, but he didn't think about it at that time.  He thought about taking care of everyone else in his family.  This was one of the first signs to me that Todd was changing.  As an addict, he was completely consumed in his feelings and his agenda.  It didn't matter what anyone else wanted or asked; he was going to do his OWN thing.  Not this time though.  He was aware of everyone's well-being, not his.


The day after the funeral, I took Todd back to Fort Worth.  It wasn't a good drive.  The entire time, he was nervous and sick at his stomach.  By that time, I was beginning to understand the strain the Victory Home can put on someone.  We stopped and ate at a place about an hour away.  Both of us couldn't eat anything because we knew what was coming up:  SEPARATION.  Again.  Except this time there were about four months left.  


I dropped Todd off at the Victory Home and was sick to my stomach.  Every other time I had left Todd in Fort Worth, I was uplifted.  Not this time.  This time, selfishly, I was sad.   I was sad for the four months Todd would miss with Beckett.  But, at the same time, I knew that Todd needed to stay in order for him to become the man our family needed. 


This next part is what I have been waiting to tell...


When I was 7, I thought I was saved.  I knew there was a God.  I knew I wanted to get baptized.  I knew I wanted to join the church.  So, I did.  I walked through the motions.  


When I was 10, I thought I was saved again.  Yes, I was older, and able to understand who God was and why I needed him.  I was afraid of God.  I wanted so bad to have a relationship with him, but didn't really understand what that meant.  


When I was in high school, I began to doubt my salvation.  This continued for about 13 years.  Everyday (yes, I mean everyday), I would wonder if the Rapture was going to occur.  I was so afraid God would forget about me and leave me behind.  If I woke up in the middle of the night and didn't hear my dad snoring, I would go in to see if my parents were still there.  If I didn't hear anyone talking in the next room, I would go in to see if they were there.  I would have these daydreams of my entire family vanishing and me being here on this earth, alone.  If you have never thought about that, it's an extremely scary, lonely feeling.  But, as human nature goes, I would repeat the things I had said in my "salvation prayer" at the age of 10 and talk myself back into the fact that yes, I was saved.  I said the right things.  I took all the correct steps.  I was fine.  Let me reiterate, this would happen EVERYDAY.  No one ever knew though.  I was too proud to tell anyone.  I mean, I had already thought I was saved once, so surely, just surely, I was saved the second time. Plus, I did everything right.  I went to church.  I was in Sunday School.  I was a nice person.  I "prayed" to God.  And let me tell you this, I was a great talker.  I fooled everyone.  Even myself.  What really got me thinking about the validity of my salvation was something Todd said the night before I took him back.  As we were laying in bed that night, I asked him, "When you pray, do you try to imagine what God looks like?"  I wanted reassurance that I wasn't the only one who did that.  Since I knew Todd was saved, if he said yes, then, I would know I was okay and once again, talk myself back into my salvation. Without hesitation, he said, "No...but I used to."  I was sick.  Now, I am not saying that believers never picture what God looks like.  I think a lot of us do.  But, I was trying to picture him for the wrong reason.  I was doing it to make him more real to me because I was lacking in faith.


I was listening to this Christian CD in my car on the drive home from Fort Worth after dropping Todd off.  "How Great Is Our God" is the 9th track to the CD.  I have heard this song hundreds of time, but as I started listening to it I thought, "I wonder if I will get anything out of this song tonight."  By the time the chorus came on, the Holy Spirit was convicting me more than ever before.  This time, when I walked myself through the things I had said when I was ten, I couldn't talk myself into the fact that I was saved.  I knew at that moment that, yes, I would be left if the Rapture happened that night.  I pulled off the road in Texarkana and asked God to forgive me of my sins and save me.  I decided I wanted a REAL relationship with Him at that time.  It was that simple.  That was all I had to do for those 13 years.  I am so thankful that God never gave up on me.  That is the thing, by that time, everyone else would have given up on me.  Even the devil had given up on me.  He knew I was already taken care of because of how proud a person I was.  But, not God.  God will never give up on us.  


I was so excited.  At that moment, I was ready to go to Heaven.  I had never felt a feeling like it before.  I cried, sang, and just rejoiced in the fact that now, Jesus had my back forever. :)  I called my parents.  I didn't know what they would think.  I said, "Mom, I have something to tell you.  It's kind of embarrassing and you will never believe it.  I just got saved."  Honestly, my mom knows me so well that when I got to the point where I paused before telling her I was saved, she figured it out.  Not because she thought I wasn't, but because she knows me that well.  


I had told Todd I would call the home when I got home.  I prayed he would answer the phone.  He did.  When I told him, I think he was shocked.  See, I had fooled him just like I had fooled myself and everyone around us.