Monday, August 30, 2010

My Jesus Story - Part 1

Twenty-two years ago this week, I met a man. His name is Jesus. My life was changed and it's never been the same.

I thought it might be best to break my Jesus story into smaller pieces. Some people who meet Jesus have more dramatic stories to tell. I am one of them. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's my thing. It's my story. And I am thankful for it.

Some background...

I grew-up in the country. I lived at the same address all of my growing-up years. I lived in a modest home on a large wooded piece of property. I loved horses and most any creature that found its way to our home. Stray dogs and cats were always welcomed. I always thought I lived the life of a girl in a fairy tale.

My father often worked two to three jobs to make ends meet and to put food on the table. My mother stayed home until my youngest brother went to school. There were four kids. I have an older sister and two younger brothers. We fought like cats and dogs and mostly hated each other. Seriously.

I didn't know it until much later, but my mother was addicted to prescription drugs for most of my middle to high school years. I suppose back then nobody knew or talked about such things. Doctors gave out medicine like it was candy, kinda like they do today, except most people today know the side-effects. Valium was my mother's escape. I don't say that to be disrespectful or to make light of the situation. The truth is, she cared for her mother (my Grandma Meme) after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died at our home. I think her doctor thought he was doing my mother a big favor when he prescribed her Valium. Maybe he thought it would help her cope with the gravity of my grandmother's death. Honestly, I don't know. I could never figure out why the house was always a mess and why my mother was always asleep on the sofa.

I always looked to my father like he was a knight in shining armor, riding on the beautiful white horse, coming to my rescue. I knew he was there to protect me and provide for me. My father always seemed to be happy (when he and my mother weren't fighting), but when he got mad, buddy did we ever know it. He never had to raise his voice. His blue eyes would dance and his jaw would tighten and move back and forth. My father had a paddle he made out of piece of maple. It had holes drilled in it so it could swing quickly. He kept it on top of the refrigerator. When he reached for it, you knew you were in a big world of hurt.

When it came to "religion" we got to experience just about everything. My mother grew-up Catholic. I can remember going to church with my grandmother. She would kneel on a little bench to pray. My grandmother accepted Jesus as her savior three days before she died. I remember being at the wake and having the priest scorn me in front of everyone for attempting to take part in communion. I didn't know any better. I was only ten years old. I wasn't Catholic. I wasn't anything. We were introduced to Jehovah's Witnesses and went to a Bible study at someone's house. We were also involved with Mormonism for a while. We also went to a Bible believing church for a short time. None of it made any sense to me. Nothing fit together.

My father's mother sang in the church choir. She went to church just down the street. It was a little country church with stained glass windows and a tall steeple topped with a cross. I remember going to church with her. I would often hold her hand which always seemed to be covered with a soft leather glove. She would sing songs that were so pretty. Songs like The Old Rugged Cross and In the Garden. I learned those songs as a child and never forgot them.

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Hard work usually paid off. I started working when I was ten. I got a paper route. I started paying rent to live at home when I was a sophomore in high school. I also bought all of my own school clothes and anything I needed personally (from laundry soap to shampoo). I bought my own senior pictures too. These were hard lessons to learn, but I learned from them. And looking back, I am thankful. A little bit of hard work never hurt anyone.

I'll pick back-up tomorrow where my mother announced on Christmas morning she was leaving.

Go back up there and read the words to the last refrain. And He tells me I am His own. Do you see those words? Then don't feel sad. Jesus is drawing near to this very messed-up young girl. She just didn't know it.


  1. Dearest Michelle,
    As I read this, I hear your voice; yet I don't hear a tone of sorrow. A bit of sadness, maybe. We, fortunately, have been instructed with the best parenting manual there is for our children, and have husbands that follow that manual not only for parenting, but for marriage; yet a sadness is there that you (and I) didn't have that benefit in our younger lives. But it is not sorrow - for you and I know where the story is heading :D
    Thank you for sharing. . .
    love, teri

  2. Thank you for sharing this! God uses all situations in our lives to mold us into the person He created us to be.


  3. Michelle, my very Dearest Michelle,
    How could I have ever not have known all those things went on in your life? You and I have always talked about things, but Bless your heart, I had no idea.
    When you talked about "In the Garden" and Mom singing, I could almost hear her singing with her alto voice. we still sing that song and it has, along with
    " The Church In The Wildwood" been some of my many favorite Hymns. I'm glad you have those memories and keep them close to your heart.

  4. What's that they say about never regretting your past because it's what made you who you are today? Well, I'm thankful for the rough times you had because they made you the wonderful person, friend, and sister-in-love you are today! A blessing in disguise! Many hugs to you. I have never heard this story and look forward to sharing it with you!

    Love you!