Several years ago, I shared part of my personal testimony as a Mother’s Day post (you can see original post here). A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to share a devotional with my women’s Bible study group. A few days before I had to share, I had a pretty personal conversation with Noriko that lead to me sharing my testimony with the women (most of which had not heard it before). I did make some changes from my original post but most of it is unchanged or just rearranged. I did not share all of this with Noriko [my exchange student from Japan who was with us during the 2013/2014 school year] just the parts below that I specifically mention her. So here is what I shared with my friends:
I was saved as a young child and grew up in a Christian but very dysfunctional home. As the oldest of 4 kids I had to grow up way too quickly while we dealt with severe illnesses, divorce, remarriages, constant moves, financial insecurity, and a whole lot more. When I was young; all I wanted in life was to get married and have kids. I dated several guys throughout high school and had serious relationship my senior year and after high school another serious relationship that lead to engagement. Shane and I started dating a few months after my previous engagement ended. We got married in 2002. I jumped into a marriage expecting it to cure all of life’s problems but I carried a lot of my childhood baggage with me. I quickly found out that life’s problems didn’t go away just because I switched households and who I was accountable to. We had a great first year of marriage. After that our careers (Shane-Military & Me-Nursing) and different shifts carried us in different directions and from there our marriage went downhill on so many different levels. We also experienced several difficulties which included me being in a major car accident which God totally and graciously spared my life. In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I had always wanted children and was very excited. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor didn’t say for sure that I was miscarrying. But as a nurse who had worked in the OB-GYN field, I knew what was going on. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote the following poem:
As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death;
You give me strength to sing.
Only you know why I am going through this trial.
I can rest in your comforting arms.
Not knowing what the future holds for this life inside of me;
I give this child to you.
Like Hannah gave you Samuel before he was born,
Like Abraham gave you Isaac before the sacrifice,
I trust your will.
When I rest upon wings as eagles;
You will give me strength.
I shall run through this valley and not be weary.
I shall walk and not be faint.
When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil because of sin that Shane and I each individually had let into our lives. We almost got divorced but during the time we were trying to reconcile we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together.
We moved to Okinawa, Japan where Kendal and later Audrey was born. For seven months after Audrey was born; I dealt with medical issues including a couple of surgeries. On top of that; our family experienced another major marriage crisis and I started to fall into depression. In 2009, we left Okinawa for about a month and went home to deal with our family situation. During that experience I started to learn what it meant to fully rely on God for comfort and strength.
In the years since then I have been allowing God to work on me in a way that I never have before that year. The biggest continuing struggle for me has been the anger and bitterness in my life. Each time I experienced a crisis it just added to the problem. I have been able to truly forgive those who have hurt me just like Jesus forgave me on the cross. And I have been able to make time to focus on my relationship with God and my family. I journey with God regularly by praying, writing, singing, and accountability and He continues to heal me on a daily basis. I have not made it to where I need to be yet; but I am daily running the race and pressing towards the goal of being more Christlike. Through everything; God has continued to bless me, my marriage, and my family as a whole.
A few days ago, Noriko (my exchange student) and I had a conversation that inspired me to share all of this with you. Keep in mind that often when we have to explain things to her we have to continuously use her translator for words or concepts she is unfamiliar with. So it is not always a quick explanation. She was asking why Americans have middle names. This led into me explaining that we often choose names based on meaning or family connection. Audrey means Noble Woman and her middle name, Lynae, pays tribute to both my mom whose middle name is Lynn and Shane’s mom who’s first name is Lynn. I told Noriko that Kendal’s name was even more meaningful and explained to her that I had lost 2 babies through miscarriage before she was born. We chose the name Kendal back during our first miscarriage based on the poem which I wrote “as I walk through the valley of death”. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” We thought that it would be a fitting name for a baby who overcame the valley of death and lived. Noriko seemed to be in awe over all of this.
At the end of my poem I referenced my favorite Bible verses Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
While I was Okinawa, I found a plaque that has the passage in both English and Japanese which is now hanging in our hallway. I showed it to Noriko and after she read it, I explained that when we are tired and broken and are going through things that bring us down, we put our trust in Jesus and he carries us back up so that we can fly again. In response, Noriko said that she likes Christian thinking 🙂
So in conclusion, I would like to emphasize that I give God all of the glory for continuing to work in my life through my trials. My message to all of you is God never promised that we would always be happy when we have Jesus as our Savior; instead he uses Paul’s testimony to tell us that Christians can have hardships far beyond our ability to endure.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul says “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
Through our hardships; God wants us to fully rely on him so that he can deliver us and heal us. God wants to draw us into a closer relationship with him. He will always rescue us but sometimes it is in the midst of our hardships. He doesn’t always remove us from circumstances but allows us to go through them in order to draw us nearer to Him. And he can always use our testimonies to impact other people and draw them into His kingdom.
(Eagle Photo found here)