Lynnette at Dancing Again has such a heart to see triumph over our afflictions and victory in Christ Jesus! Hop on over to her blog and read of this passion! She is such a welcoming and encouraging blog sister! I hope her joy spills all over you as it has me :)
I was raised in a Christian home that faithfully attended church. The abuse I experienced as a child was not from within the home, but like so many others, from people close. It started young enough that I don't remember ever even realizing it was wrong or abusive. This was just part of life.
Being a victim of an abuse, if not worked through, makes you more vulnerable for other abuse. Such was the case with me.
Aside from the abuse issues, I was on a downward spiritual slope. I wanted what was evil, I sought it. I was into drugs, alcohol, spiritism, promiscuity; my thoughts were vile and I hated me! I had great grades, was considered to be a good kid by friend's parents (which means we got away with more) and other than my very obviously immodest attire, most would never have guessed that my backpack had whiskey my friend stole from her parents for me and very few books! I lead others into temptation and sin, some of them away from God and toward what is evil. I struggle sometimes looking at what has come in their life that I had a part in. What a train wreak! I was desperate. I hated me and wanted the easy out. I considered suicide and the person who "saved me" from myself, built trust in me he later decided to take advantage of. I found myself wondering if it is abuse when you are compelled to do something and it leads to a place you don't want to go? yet do anyway.
I continued to spiral out of control, but got my head together enough to get off of drugs and alcohol. By this time I was 13. After an inappropriate relationship with a 32 year old man (yes when I was 13) things began to really change. I attended a Back to Genesis conference with my mom. I'm not even sure what all happened there, but it was moving and exciting! Change was really getting a hold of me and I felt different.
I decided to look into this religion thing. I researched and studied. I had a group of friends that would discuss this at lunch with me. One became Jewish at the end of it!
Then one night I felt broken in my spirit. I wept and repented, but felt I was being moved to go to my mom and confess. I felt the Spirit really moving me, and believe me I was fighting going to confess, but I had no peace! I went and spilled all of the contents of my heart to her. I sought forgiveness, and though I don't remember saying some official prayer or anything I look back to this night as the day I received Salvation.
I was saved from much! Much more than many even realize if they only know who I am now. I am so unlike that person that at times it is hard to believe it was me!
I did not mature quickly in the faith, and found myself in habits of sin, especially double mindedness and promiscuity. I was perfectly capable of going Monday through Saturday living my way, and carving out Sunday for God... or at least enough time for church and Sunday School. I taught children's Sunday school and VBS, went on missions to Mexico... but really I was so compartmentalized that I never considered my hypocrisy. Until I couldn't hide it!
God chose to bless me in my sin, and I have Ysabella to show for it!
This is where more big changes jump in!
As a 17 year old high school student I was quite frightened over the idea of telling my mom, let alone everyone else that I was pregnant, but I chose to face it head on. Our church helped me to confess my sin in front of a Sunday school group they had chosen for me, and Dave (who was not a Christian yet) to attend. I started to look at what life as a Christian was really to be and to strive to seek His help to be that way!
The next really big Spirit moving experience I had came when we were pregnant for the second time in 2005. The first pregnancy had ended in miscarriage and had been hard on me, as well as our three littles who were so overjoyed to be having a new sibling. (Of the kids, it was probably hardest on Ysa, who was 5, and confusing for the other two at almost 3 and 1.)
Our first ultrasound showed a cute little bean of a baby ;) who was wiggling and had an excellent heart beat! The kids got to watch the newest Rivas on the screen and we were so excited! I got really sick! The next month was a struggle to keep things down and I had a trip to the ER for dehydration. At our second visit, as we tried to hear a heart beat, there was nothing. The nurse acted like it happened sometimes, old me to get dressed again, we'd move to the next room over for an ultrasound. She left to prepare the room, and give me privacy, and I cried out to God.
"Lord, I want to want what you have planned. Please prepare my heart for what is coming." And the Spirit moved, and I was deeply sad. I know God was answering my prayer, and allowing me to be ready. I felt overwhelmed with the sadness, yet comforted to feel the Comforter there with me. The nurse asked if my family in the waiting area should come, I said no. As we saw our baby on the screen, still as small as last time, with no heart beat I cried. We brought in my family, and as my now 6 year old saw our baby she said, "Mommy. Did our baby go to be with Jesus?" I said, "Yes Sweetie. This baby is with Jesus now." The next weeks were full with grief, the D&C I dreaded, and the sweet comfort of my Savior! I can look back there and remember that closeness; that resting peace.
The gold came out of the furnace further refined, and the dross swept away. I had a new understanding, a new outlook, and a new tender place for others.
God has used my sin, my circumstances, my pain, my joys to make me who I am now. God will continue to work until He has brought it to completion! Thank you Jesus! May you be glorified in me!
Do you have a story to share that could encourage someone walking a path you have? Do you have a testimony to the beauty that God will bring out of the ashes of your trials?