My Testimony

In January 2012, my husband of six years and father to my two, beautiful, young children, Bella (4) and Nolyn (1), came home from work one day and out of the blue said “I do not think I love you anymore.” I later found out he had been cheating on me for months with one of his co-workers. Within two weeks of dropping this bombshell on me, he left our apartment and had moved in with this
woman; leaving me and our children with nowhere to go.

My children and I were finally able to find a rental house closer to both sets of grandparents. The kids adjusted to a dad who never came and saw them (although we still to this day have questions arise about “why does daddy not want to see me?” but that is another story for another day). Bella had a harder time than
Nolyn and I with the changes. She was uprooted from her friends in school and dance class, uprooted from the only home she remembers being in, and was having a hard time adjusting to our new, single parent household.

When we finally became “settled” in our new lives by the end of 2013, another bombshell was dropped on us. My 6-year-old, beautiful, healthy, little girl was diagnosed with Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This diagnosis was shocking and came out of nowhere. She had horrible stomach pains one day and three days later, she was in the hospital receiving her first dose of chemotherapy through her newly installed port. It was a wake-up call, for sure. It made me want to spend every minute I could with my children and never leave their side. We spent 9 days in the hospital and then they sent us home to begin our journey and fight with cancer.

During this time, I had asked so many people to pray for Bella and our family, and I believed in the power of prayer, but did not know if it would be enough to help this time (and yes, I know how bad that sounds, but I was so totally devastated and was quickly losing faith not only because of my new-found situation, but because I had slowly been slipping away from God for years and was not as close to him as I once was and longed to be again). I only prayed to God when I needed something; it had not been a part of my daily life for a long time. I was the definition of a lukewarm Christian. I believed in God, I knew He existed, but I did not truly know if He would answer my prayers and did not have the faith I needed. I was raised to pray when I had troubles or when I was asked to do so for a friend or relative who was having troubles, but rarely stopped to thank God for all he had given me in times without heartache or turmoil in my life. Because of this, I would go through the motion of prayer, but my prayers were rarely heart-felt and coming from a place of a true heart. I was not living an honest, Godly life. I was not being honest with my family, my friends, or even myself. Although I had once been saved by Christ, I found myself lost.

You see, my ex-husband and I started dating when I was 15, got engaged when I was 16, got married when I was 17, brought Bella into the world when I was 18, and brought our son, Nolyn, into the world when I was 21 (with a lot of other milestones in-between). My ex-husband was the first and only man I had ever been with at the time though. I was with him for my entire adult life and because I jumped into marriage and motherhood at such a young age, I felt that I missed out on many rites of passage as a young adult. While in college, I went to class and came straight back home. I never attended any mixers, clubs, or bars. I never did anything that did not revolve around my family (which is not a bad thing at all, but at the time, I was jealous and resented others who were my age and out having a care-free time). I would later use this as my excuse to do
things I never should have done all because I “never got a chance to be a teen when I was younger.” What a sad excuse! I had a chance and chose a different path. And if I would have stuck with my decision and not wavered, I would have been happy.

Both my ex-husband and I were guilty of getting caught up in “life” and not making time for God. We had other priorities which was ultimately the reason for the disbanding of our marriage. I had the resentment of not being able to go out and “party” because I settled into a life I did not think I was necessarily ready for at the time. He had a sex addiction. It did not start with him having sex with others and physically cheating on me. It started with looking at porn, then talking to women in chat-rooms, then meeting women from the internet for dinner, and then he began getting physical with multiple women. That is how sin works. It may start out as something small and seemingly innocent, but it grows and grows and becomes so big, it is hard to get out of it. It consumes you and destroys those around you, and eventually, destroys you too.

Throughout our entire marriage, we had battled with his infidelity. I would confront him, we would fight or in some cases even separate for a couple of weeks, but I always went back. Because of this, when the marriage finally dissolved, I was not distraught about losing him. It was a weird feeling. I was relieved. I knew for a long time that I deserved better, but I had two, beautiful children with this man and because I grew up in a divorced household, I had always said I would
never have that life for my children. I was heartbroken for them because I knew they would now have to go through life in a broken home and I know it is not easy.

Because I was married my entire adult life and faithful throughout my marriage, I did not know how much a man’s perception of me meant to me. I did not realize this at the time, but I defined myself by what men thought of me. Despite my lack of emotion throughout my divorce, the event was still traumatic and was still a blow to my ego and made me question my self-worth. I did not know how to define
myself as a woman without the opinion of a man. Because of this, I kept seeking approval from men and went a little-no a lot-wild once I was officially single again.

Something in me snapped. I was no longer a woman who sat at home 24/7. I was at night clubs and bars every weekend. I was quick to drop my kids off with the grandparents on a Friday night and then spend my time drinking, spending time with people who were not beneficial to me and did not care about my well-being, and slept with basically any man who would give me the time of day. I slept with men who were single, men who were engaged, and even men who were married-I did not care. I had no respect for those men, for their relationships, and ultimately, no respect for myself. I continuously felt guilty; I knew what I was doing was wrong, but always managed to fall back into my whore-ish ways. I was determining my self-worth by how men saw me and was rationalizing this behavior with “I am doing what I would have done if I never got married and had the chance to ‘have a life’ as a young adult.” But that just was not true.

I was on fire for God as a teenager. I let “life” get in the way of that. I put my ex-husband before God at the time because I had a teenage puppy-love with him. I was infatuated with him. The only reason it lasted as long as it did was because of our children. As a married couple, we rarely went to church and when we did, our hearts were not in it. We did not have a God-centered marriage, which, in the end was our downfall.

In March 2014, Bella caught the flu. She was in the hospital in a
medically-induced coma, on an oscillating ventilator, which was keeping her alive. My world stopped. My baby girl was fighting for her life daily. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) staff had prepared me-on multiple occasions-for Bella’s passing. They would send chaplains and social workers into our room and even told me I had “the sickest child in the PICU.” Those words still haunt me today. For the first time in years, I prayed meaning wholeheartedly every word I was saying. I was bartering with God, begging Him, crying, shouting, singing songs of worship from the depths of my heart-all the while begging for forgiveness.

All I could think about was how it should have been me in that hospital bed. I looked at all the tubes, wires, and scars covering my daughter’s limp body, her face that was swollen beyond recognition, and all of the different medicine being pumped into her body; I could not help but think that God was punishing me and trying to wake me up –and it worked!

I could not believe how reckless, idiotic, and selfish I had been-not only with my family, but with others and their families as well. I had no regard for who I was hurting at the time. And all of this because I wanted to have “a life.” I have a life. She was lying right there in that hospital bed. And her little brother who I was not able to see for weeks at a time because I refused to leave Bella’s side-they were my life. My children were, and are, my life and they are the only thing that makes my life worthwhile.

Bella was in the hospital for seventy-one days and by the grace of God, she came out of it with a few battle scars, but she is alive and well!

Since being home from the hospital, I have been trying to get my life back on track. I have resisted many temptations (and believe me, there have been many). My children and I are attending church regularly, I have recently joined our church choir, we are listening to more Christian music and designating worship time daily, I am praying with my children, constantly reminding Bella of God’s love and telling her that the only reason she is here is because Jesus loves
her and he saved her, and am now reading my Bible daily. I strive to be closer to God and get my life back on track, not just for me, but for my children as well.

While reading Proverbs yesterday, I felt these passages speaking directly to me:

“If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.
But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,
since you ignored all of my advice
and would not accept my rebuke;
I, in turn, will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-
when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you,
Then you will call to me, but I will not answer;
You will look for me, but will not find me.”            (1:23-28)

I felt like if I kept rejecting God and His will for my life, this would happen to me.  I could not bear to get to a point where I needed God and he would not hear my prayers. I need Him. I need Him to know that. I want God to know that I love Him and I need to thank Him for everything in my life.

As someone who was causing men to fall (an adulteress), the Bible says:

“For her house leads to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.”        (2:16-19)

and

“For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil but in the end, she is bitter as gall; sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; Her feet lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the ways of life; Her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.”              (5:2-6)

I do not want to be that woman! I do not want to cause people to fall and keep people from God’s glory. I want to be Christ-like. I want to be a Godly example for my children and others around me. I want to have a husband again one day, when I am renewed and ready in Christ, and I do not want to attract an adulterer or an ungodly
man. I want to attract a Godly man who puts Christ first. I want a man who loves God, me, and my children with a true and virtuous love like we have never experienced before from a man. I want to be able to be a godly wife because “a wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” (12:4)

Because of all of the negative things happening in my life, I have mentioned on several occasions that I feel like Job. That God is possibly testing me, but unlike Job, I am failing miserably. Although familiar with Job’s tale, I decided to re-read it. Job was an amazing, “blameless and upright” man. He made sacrifices to God daily, not only for himself, but for his ten children as well. I am definitely not blameless in the eyes of God, or anyone else around me and have been far from what God calls us to be for most of my life…so this portion of Job’s story definitely did not parallel my own life, but I continued to read…

Satan tells God that he believes Job only follows God faithfully because nothing bad has ever happened to him to make him question God. With God’s permission, Satan kills all ten of Job’s children, takes all of his livestock (his way of life), and kills all of his servants in the same day. When all of these horrific things hit Job all at once, he says “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (1:21)

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my faith would not have been that strong when my world came crumbling around me. I would have questioned God and asked why He was doing such horrible things to me, but not Job. He believed everything happened according to God’s will and believed God would take care of him, and in the end, he was blessed with more possessions than he ever had before, a long, happy, and prosperous life, and beautiful, healthy children.

I used to look at ‘being a “Job”’ as a bad thing. I looked at it as God throwing down his wrath on this man just to test him, but that is not the case. God loved Job and wanted to prove that with faith, all things are possible. When you love God and trust in Him, everything will turn out perfect, according to His will for your life. We as humans, cannot see what lies ahead, but God can. Trust in Him and give your life to him and you will be blessed beyond measure.

I do not tell you this to brag about how great I am for turning my life around or to gain praise. I tell you this in accountability.

In James 5:16, the Bible says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

I believe it is important to have someone know of my struggles and to pray for me and encourage me and my family so that I do not fall back into my old patterns. I am not going to lie, it is hard. But I know I can do it. Not only for my welfare and to ensure my place in Heaven, but to help my children find their right path as well.

On a side note, I wanted to mention how amazing it is that God used my daughter to “re-save” me. Bella is meant for such amazing things. Nolyn is too, but God has already showed his hand on Bella so many times. When Bella was born, I had something called placenta accreta that went undiagnosed. It means that the placenta attached too deeply into my uterus when Bella was created. I had a normal pregnancy with no complications and when I went into labor, I went to push and nothing happened. I was dilated and yet, nothing would budge (and we didn’t know why at the time). During all of the pushing, Bella spun around in my stomach and became breach so they had to do an emergency C-section.

First of all, once your baby is full-term, do you understand how hard it is to turn in utero? Most babies do flips around 4-6 months in utero, but after that it’s just kicks and punches you feel because they no longer have room to flip. MIRACLE #1. During my C-section, they found that I had placenta accreta. If I would have kept pushing had Bella not flipped around, they would have done all they could to pull her out and it would have caused my uterus to rip. I would have more than likely bled to death (all of this was told to me by my midwife).
MIRACLE #2.

Not only did Bella save my life when she was born she saved my life from eternal damnation by allowing me to turn back to God and see the error of my ways. Do you know what the definition of “Grace” is?

Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

I believe it is no mistake that Bella is named “Isabella Grace” which translates to “Beautiful Grace,” do you? I cannot wait to see her and
Nolyn reach their full potential and see how God uses them because they are both such special people. God has blessed me beyond measure with the privilege of being their mother and I will never again take that privilege for granted.

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