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This Is My Story

January 21, 2008

     I did not grow up in a Christian home. My father died when I was very young and my mother remarried when I was 5 years old. My stepfather was an alcoholic and a fairly mean drunk. My mother and step father did, at least, send me to church, but, what that taught me was that "Church" is just something you do, not something that impacts your life.  I heard the gospel preached and was baptized at 12 years of age, but I never experienced any real change in my heart.  In fact, every time I came to a point in my life where I realized I had messed up, I just kept getting baptized. I was truly sorry for the problems I had caused and I really wanted things to be different, but I didn't want to have to change me; I just wanted to change the circumstances and the consequences.
     As I got older, I traveled down a lot of wrong roads, destroyed a lot of relationships, and pretty well messed up everything in my life. Then in March 2000 the consequences of my sin finally caught up to me and I came to the end of myself. I prayed these words to God, "I don't want to live like this any more, God, please change me." For the very first time, I totally submitted myself to God's will and acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life.  I gave all control of my life to Him. Immediately, peace washed over me. It was so powerful, I physically felt it, and God has been changing my life ever since. In the beginning I tried to "do" all the right things. I still had that sense of "I'm not worthy of God's forgiveness so I have to earn it." God blessed me however, with a wonderful pastor and loving church so that, little by little, I grasped the truths of God’s love and mercy.
     Gradually my prayers changed from "here's today's shopping list, God" or "attention, God, clean-up on aisle 3" to genuinely asking God to teach me and and help me mature in  my faith. I wanted to know His blessings, but even more, I wanted to know Him.  Since I couldn't earn my worthiness, I asked God to make me into the person He wanted me to be. Praying for maturity is a lot like praying for patience; you have to go to the classroom. Contrary to popular opinion, God doesn't simply sprinkle us magically with maturity, patience, meekness, or whatever and suddenly we are whatever we prayed to become. It's more like physical therapy, and most of the process involves some pain.
     Stangely, it was after I accepted Christ that my marriage fell apart and, at the same time, I lost my job. I had great difficulty finding another job. In fact, at times I worked as many as 3 jobs simultaneouosly just to earn enough money to survive. My husband's poor financial decision-making adversely affected me as well since we were only separated and not divorced. I moved 6 times in 4 years with the last move coming in July of 2005, just before hurrican Katrina.  After that move, I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I even shared with my Christian sisters at church that "just walking down the hallway felt like it would cause body parts to drop off of me. I was exhausted and if I had to move again, I would just burn everything and start over." 
     God must have took me seriously because in Aug 2005, I lost my home and everything in it to Hurricane Katrina. I was left with 3 changes of clothes and a crock pot (the only things I took with me when I evacuated). When I returned to my home the morning after the storm, all I could say was, "well, you go, God!"  I suddenly had great, unexplainable peace. Those words I had repeatedly shared with my friends rang in my ears. Somehow, I knew this was God's answer. He had something in store for me and He wanted to start a new beginning.
     He has been faithful every step of the way to meet my every need (including building a new house for me), continually showing His personal love for me, and teaching me to trust Him. The Bible has truly become the "Living Word" to me and God has drawn me so close to Him that, given the choice to experience the painful things again or to stay a spiritual baby, I would choose to go through it all again. Because the relationship I now have with God so totally eclipses anything I used to hold dear, I am now 100% sold out to God and willing to do anything He asks.
     Please understand, I am still human and often fall short of His mark, but now I trust in God's promise in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And, in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” In Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” And especially, Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” What a great God we serve! 

Dana Adkins