These kinds of posts are tricky for me. There are things I want to share about my faith background, but when we get into talking (or writing) about ourselves, it can be easy to give off this “it’s all about me” kind of vibe, and that’s not what I’m going for. My hope is to give credit where credit is due – chiefly aimed at the only one who is deserving of any praise – Jesus Christ.
That being said, I’m just going to roll with this one. So, here goes. My mother had me very young at the age of 16, and I was born prematurely via c-section. My father was in the Navy, and fortunately he was stationed in a state that has one of the best children’s hospitals in the U.S. Even so, my parents were told that I would not make it. According to the story I’ve always been told, my parent’s church held a service just for me, and the whole congregation prayed for several hours. The next day, my father got a phone call from a healthcare worker, telling him that I was suddenly very better. I soon was able to breathe without assistance and was sent home (I realize these things happen every day, and doesn’t mean anything special about my relationship with God. The fact that we each get to live another day is a gift. I’m just thankful for my life that almost never was).
This started my father on a path of taking his faith very seriously, and to this day he still does. I remember going to church with my mother and father when I was very little, so for me, I always believed in Jesus in some form. My mother and father split up when I was four, then I was fortunate enough to have a very loving step-dad come into my life who accepted me and my little sister as his own. He was from then on, and still is, “dad.”
Like any family, there were troubles. But, there were a lot of great times too. One of the most peaceful periods of my childhood was when my family and I attended a local “church,” which was no more than a handful of people sitting in this ex-biker man’s living room, listening to him talk about his story of how Jesus changed his life. It was in his living room floor that I knelt down and “accepted Jesus” in 1996. I was 9 years old. I remember being baptized in a local river. I don’t know the date, but it was fall and the water was not comfortable. A couple weeks before I turned 10, my mother gave me my first bible for Christmas – and it’s the same one I use today – though it’s a bit beaten up and the pages are falling out.
For a couple years after that, I was very curious about God. I tried to read my bible but I couldn’t understand it. I did enjoy Matthew 5 though, and I remember standing outside waiting for the school bus one morning thinking on it. I also remember thinking how it would be so great to never sin again, but I was told that was impossible, and that made me sad. For a very short time I talked to two boys on the school bus about God. I can’t imagine I had much worth while to say, but we enjoyed it. There were a lot of things I questioned, especially troubled by the idea of hell and sadness for those who would be “left behind” after the “rapture” just to give into “the beast” without anyone there to guide them.
These kinds of questions and others caused me to fall away from the faith in a sense during my later teen and early adult years. I still believed, but it was more out of self-preservation and fear of hell than a real love for the Lord. Fast forward to 2012. My first child was born, and I took my old dusty bible off my dresser and started to read it. In 2014 my second child was born. These years were some of the hardest in my life. Not just because of the challenges of motherhood, but I saw all my ambitions go out the window along with some serious personal and emotional troubles.
I was not in a good place at all. My husband and I had two kids, no home, no money, and little hope for our marriage much less a “happy family.” We were living in my husband’s recently deceased grandparent’s house, partially for upkeep, but mostly because we had no other option. I felt like a total loser. How did I go from honor grad in high school to striving to get into law school to this? At what point did I waste all the potential I had, and now I have two children and I don’t have a clue how to raise them right.
We didn’t have cable TV, but we did have one channel that played The Shepard’s Chapel from 8am to 5pm every day. I watched that, and again I started trying to read the bible. I was also caught up in a lot of New Age spirituality. I got to a place in summer 2014 where I hit a kind of rock bottom. I was very confused. Was this New Age thing right? Was Jesus even real? What about this Arnold Murray guy? He says some wacky things, but what do I know? What denomination is right? All I wanted was the TRUTH so I could raise my kids right and have some peace and stability in my own life. So I prayed that the Lord would lead me to the truth, even if I didn’t like it.
It seems like it was just a matter of days when I came across the website, www.oraclesofgod.org. I was researching the Shepard’s Chapel, and I found articles written that debunked this man’s teachings. I started exploring the rest of the website. It was simple looking, which I liked because to me it meant the webmaster was concerned with more important things. I read everything, and I prayed about whether I should listen to the studies there. After about a year I had listened to every one of them, and it changed my life.
I went from being suicidal, confused, and totally lost in the faith to being in a place where my childhood zeal for God was re-kindled! All the questions I struggled with as a kid and young adult that caused me problems in the faith were answered, and I had this fuller picture of Jesus and His truth that made so much sense!
The lack of these basic, truthful understandings in traditional Christianity blew my mind, and I thought that if people only heard it taught this way they would be as happy as I was. I’ve been disillusioned in that since. I started my blog, Kindling Truth in October 2015, but I really didn’t know what I was doing (though I thought I did. I imagine I still don’t). I was reborn through the Holy Spirit in January 2016, not far from my 29th birthday, and it’s been an interesting, and at times, very difficult journey — though the difficulty mostly results from me going astray in one way or another.
That brings me to where I am now, in August 2017. My family and I moved last year, because again my family was in trouble, and this time it was my father who I had been mostly estranged from since age 4 who took my family in. We are now doing well, and I thank the Lord who has worked things in me, my marriage, and my family. We are happier and at more peace than I ever dreamed possible, and I have the opportunity to build relationships with my family. I’m living proof of the truth, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else will be added to you.” Though, I don’t live it perfectly, by any means.
As for Kindling Truth, there are times when I feel this “building on another man’s foundation” kind of feeling (hence the name of this article). The things I learned from Paul Stringini at oraclesofgod.org totally changed my life and led me on a path of substantial spiritual change also, and I still try to keep up with the latest studies. That being said, one of the foundations of my belief is that each Christian should try to search the scriptures for themselves before accepting anything as true. I know there are some who can’t do that, but I trust the Spirit to lead them.
My writings have not been perfect by any means, and though it started after receiving the truth from another, I’ve had to go through some faith-testing trials in order to really solidify my beliefs. I know many would think that I’m ripping ideas off of someone else, and I admit I’ve felt that way at times. But, the truth is the truth, so the message should be similar. I’ve struggled with this blog, but I know it’s what I’m supposed to do at this time, even if no one else believes that.
I’ve mentioned the Oracles of God studies before, and they are linked to on my contact/resources page. Everyone who knows me personally has heard me talk about them, and I’ve encouraged others to listen as well. I know there are those who receive knowledge from the Lord and not men and are then called to teach. That was not the case for me. I have learned to go my own way in a sense though, leaning on the Holy Spirit for perfecting my understanding.
What is the point of this whole spill? For one, I want to show readers that my path of faith has not been easy, and this is really just the surface of that struggle, if that. So, if you struggle with faith or have questions about doctrine or Christianity that cause you to question Jesus, don’t feel bad. There might be good reason for that. Secondly, as I said at the beginning, I want to give credit to the Lord for changing my life, and again make mention of the teachings that started my born again journey.
I also want to be transparent in letting people know that I have learned from someone else, but also encourage you to do as I have done and carefully search the scriptures for yourself. Listening to what others say without question can be very dangerous, and the process of letting the Spirit teach you is amazing. I would love for every Christian to experience the joy and wonder of learning from the Lord himself!
That being said, I’m always here to offer support and answer questions to the best of my ability. I keep comments closed because I’d rather engage in private discussions rather than openly. My email is listed on the contact page, and I welcome anyone to reach out.
**update: comments were later opened in December of 2017**
I intend this to be the only post of this nature on Kindling Truth, instead letting my “testimony” be in the form of showing my mistakes and what I’ve learned. I’m often put off by the “testimonies” of others for reasons you might be put off by this one. I get it, and there are reasons for this post that I can’t state explicitly, but the Lord knows.