The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust;my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower!” psalm 18:2
I am 41 years old. I gave my life to Jesus my Lord at the age of 11. My story, my journey with Jesus is very precious to me, and the writing of it has many details. I want to share some of them with you. I believe we need to share our stories with you, and you with us, because we can greatly encourage each other. God is all encompassing, and awesome!
I was born into a rather difficult situation. My young parents fought violently. My father was in the Airforce, and had met my mother in Wyoming. My mother was mentally disabled, and they both had an explosive temper. They tried to make things work, but in the end, when I was almost a year old, my father took me to live with his parents. I had suffered from my parent’s anger-I was traumatized: terrified of water, and even at 11 months,I didn’t move much in my crib, I would just lay there and stare.
” And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live;yea I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments…” Ezekiel 16:6,7
My Grandmom had just accepted Jesus as Savior, at the age of 45. When my father had called her, she told me she heard the voice of the Lord telling her to take me, it was what He wanted. My Grandfather told me years later, that my father had said if they didn’t want me, he would give me up for adoption. My Grandfather said, “no member of my family is going to be adopted out.” And he took me, and then my little brother a year later. And forever all our lives were changed. They showered me with attention and love, and in just a few months, I was rolling, crawling, and trying to stand.
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” Psalm 27:10.
I really didn’t understand the safe little nest my Lord had tucked me into as I grew up, but today I praise Him for it. My Grandparent’s home was quiet. My Grandmother would read Bible stories from the Bible, and from a beautifully illustrated Bible Story book. It was the perfect place to get to know my Savior. And He was so patient with me. I couldn’t explain why at the time, but I was full of unrest, and anger as a child. I tried to hide it but I know I was a difficult child,moody and selfish. My Grandparents were patient. They told me they loved me, and told me to call them Dad and Mom so at school I would sound like the other children when I talked about family. Dad loved computers, and worked as an electrical engineer for a well known science and electronics based company. He wasn’t an outwardly affectionate person, but he did little things to make me feel loved. One memorable thing was he would ask me to turn on the bedroom computer(his bedroom doubled as an office because he had to work with classified material for work often), and as it booted up the prompt would read “Hi Christy”. That would usually coax a smile from my usually somber countenance.
My Dad and Mom were also very diligent-every evening they would sit at the dinner table with us, and Dad would talk to us about right and wrong. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but looking back, he was shaping my morals and values at a very crucial time for children. He would tell me, “Everyone you meet, and interact with-they want to write on your character. Its like a sheet of paper, and everyone wants to write what they think on it[through influence, interaction and persuasion]. Be careful who you let write on your character list, because what’s written there will influence what choices you make in life.” He also often said with a smile, “At your age, your peers are talking in your ear alot. I’m going to talk louder in your ear than your peers!”
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11
And Dad did. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just go and do what other children did-movies, parties,games,etc. though on a few occasions I did, if Mom could talk to the family, and felt good about them. Dad kept saying it was more dangerous to be in strange and unfamiliar places than in his day. He stressed that during these formative years, school, and a quiet, stable home were the most important. He said the fun I thought I should have as a child-those things would not have a large impact on my much longer life as an adult. Later God would add to that thought process. Dad said, the good things I built as a child-self discipline, study, quiet, responsible living- those things would indeed greatly add to my success as an adult. And he was right.
While Dad ministered to my intellect, and morals, Mom nurtured my spirit and my soul. I have fond memories of sitting on the couch with her as she read from a beautifully illustrated Bible story book and introduced us to Jesus. She sang to Him as she did dishes. She talked to us about Him like she knew Him, because she did. Reading the Bible was so important to her-she spent time with Jesus every day. Her Bible was a rainbow of underlined treasures I loved to look at. Jesus was powerful and kind. Gentle but firm in what He wanted us to do. I really could feel Him in her life. She lived Him. She was kind, and quiet when Dad would be upset about work, or at her. He wasn’t saved, so her faith made him angry.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
There were many times I was afraid at night. Mom would tell me to pray to Jesus, and claim His Shed Blood. Satan would have to flee! She was right, and those moments where I called on the Lord made me feel closer to Him. I still had all the usual childish tendencies of disobedience, but Jesus was patient. He kept showing me He was there, real, present. He was faithful to me because of who He is.
Jesus made such an impact on me that I took my Bible story book to recess in second grade, and tried to share Him with a dear friend of mine who was Jewish. This made her mom very upset, and told my friend to never talk to me about Jesus again. Later in life I would understand all the misconceptions Jews have about Christians, and Christians have about Jews. God’s people are kept apart by hate, but we serve the same Lord, have the same Messiah. It was a tender, and special first experience witnessing though!
Mom took us to church, and one day I watched her declare her love for Christ, reciting John 15. Then, in a long robe, she went down into the water at a little church, and was baptized. I was mesmerized. When could I do this for Jesus? I asked her. She replied,”God will tell you when it’s time for you. Just listen to Him.
“ I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
Dad’s normally serious, intense, and logical mind occasionally gave way to a softer side. One day he came to me when I was 9. “I love the violin. I’ve tried to get my daughters to play it, and they wouldn’t. Would you be willing to give it a try for me?” I said sure! I didn’t understand how important it was to him at the time, it just seemed like something I had to do. I remember how he took me to the little violin shop, and bought me my first violin. I had no idea what I was holding either. He paid $400 for it 30 years ago!
I had no idea how important this small event was going to be in God’s plan for me!
Learning violin is no easy task. I would work and work at it. I would hear Dad’s footsteps outside my bedroom door and he would pause. “Squeak squawk! Keep practicing!” He would smile and say. I selfishly thought he was teasing me! But later in life, after he was gone, it hit me. My bedroom was near the end of the hall, the opposite direction from the stairs, and anything he would normally walk to. He was coming to hear me specifically because he cared so much.
One day, and I remember it was my 3rd year playing, he walked by and said, “Hey, no more squeaks! Good job!” I was working through a difficult passage, and that made me feel like I was on a cloud! He didn’t give compliments lightly, I knew he meant it!
I hit a wall at around year 4. I was being teased by a girl on the bus because of my violin. She would say “what do you have in there, a machine gun??”. That was so dumb, but young children are tender and impressionable. It made me feel embarrassed. I didn’t have any other friends who played violin in any of my classes, so I was also feeling isolated. I had an aunt who was a professional cellist, and though I asked, she wouldn’t play with me. So violin became a negative force in my life. My teacher kept encouraging me though, and I even made first chair in the orchestra. I must have been pretty good but my insecurities were clouding my vision. He had encouraged me to also avoid a shoulder rest, and I hid from him the fact that I had trouble with the violin slipping, and I secretly gripped the neck during difficult pieces. When he began to introduce positions and vibrato, both of which meant I had to release my grip on that neck,that was when I’d had it. I backed away. I knew I’d fail. I had to quit. Dad said to keep with it till year 5, and at year 5 I quit. How foolish. But children are foolish and don’t appreciate the important things. That’s ok. God never forgets.
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD. I will turn away your captivity…” Jeremiah 29:13
Let me backtrack a bit. I was what we call an “admirer of the Light” as a youth. I loved and respected what God did in my Mom’s life, but I hadn’t surrendered my heart to Him fully. I didn’t connect God’s will with my own desires,I was captive to my desires. I was still a liar, I was a thief, stealing coins from Dad and Mom to go buy candy at the local convenience store. It was so dumb, because I was hurting people who loved me, and I was so empty inside.
One evening, when I was 11, I stewed over the fact that I had to clean all the Thanksgiving dishes. I was feeling so sorry for myself. I looked at the clock, and it happened to be time for Unshackled to come on the christian radio station. I loved Unshackled because of how hurting people found Jesus, and peace, and order to their lives. It was so interesting. It was definitely diverting when I had a mountain of dishes to do!
So I turned on the radio. A man began to unfold the events of his life. He was selfish and impulsive, I remember. He got to the end of himself, to his lowest point. And he realized he was at a crossroads. He needed God, or he was going to die. God spoke to me as I listened to the man’s story,”what about you? You can’t keep living like you love me, and disobey me at the same time. You are at a crossroads. You can keep being miserable and ugly inside, or you can choose to come to Me.”
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 7:18,19
I left the dishes, ran up to my room, and shut the door. In the dark, I knelt by my bed, and the foot of the cross. I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus. Mom had struggled with my bad attitude for years. When I told her I’d given my heart to the Lord she said,”I want to believe you. It’s going to take time for me to see you’ve changed.” And from that hour I made it my goal to show her. I became hungry for the scripture-every story in the New Testament I devoured with interest and earnest. I really wanted to understand, to change. And God blessed. Mom was right though-salvation is a walk that takes time. It took time for me to make more and more choices for the Lord, and less for me. The seed was planted though. I had a long road to go, I knew that. All glory and honor goes to God. I’m so thankful He reached down, and saved me. I’m so thankful for Christ’s Blood!
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Revelation 3:19
One of the most frightening and foolish things I ever did, was to begin encouraging the attention of a young muslim man in 9th grade. What was I thinking?? I snuck away to see him one day, skipping school, which was pretty daring. Then he discovered where I lived, and came to see me, asking me to sneak out. This set off a chain reaction in my Dad and Mom that I deeply regret today. They were very afraid for my safety, and concerned they couldn’t watch over me anyore. They sent me away, though I know they didn’t want to. I had to go live with my father. My father told me how upset they were, that they couldn’t trust me. It was a painful, sudden, and emotional break with Dad and Mom.
“And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Matthew 23:9
It was time for God to get serious with me. I entered a world of pain, as I moved into my father’s home. He was in the middle of his second divorce. He was living with his girlfriend who had 2 children,and was divorced from her first husband. My father had 1 troubled daughter who came and went, from the second marriage. And now he had us, me and my brother, from the first marriage. My father’s kidneys were failing. He owned his own electronics repair shop, and it took all his time. The stress was HIGH in that house!
“ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1 :16
My father and I never saw eye to eye. To deal with my own stress (new school, new family), I would carry Mom’s Bible everywhere. She’d given that beautiful Bible full of rainbow underlines to me when I moved. I took it to the stream nearby to sit with the Lord in peace, and read. My father teased me. That didn’t matter too much. What did matter were the mind games he played-saying I could see friends, then he would tell the family to ignore me because I didn’t choose to spend time with them. He told me I had to get a job, and start thinking about supporting myself. I had till 19. And if I wanted spending money in the meantime, I had to get a job. The divorce was so expensive for him. I felt sorry for him because his second wife was as abusive to him as he was to my birth mother.
In 11th grade got a job as a nurse aid because I was going high school and taking nursing classes through a work/school option. I would have to work nights in the summer, and if the nursing switch took too long, I would get home after 8:30 in the morning. If that happened, the door would be locked, because they’d left for work. I had to wait till my step mom could come unlock for me. Things like that kept me emotionally distant from my father.
I went to a little Nazarene church on my own. Before I learned to drive, my father or step mother would drop me off, and come get me after the service. if I lingered too long, talking to people, they would drive away, and I had to walk 3 miles home. I know I should have been more prompt, I was wrong to ignore his wishes; but I craved the fellowship. It was worth the walk, and I could talk to Jesus a bit before jumping back into the proverbial fray.
I don’t blame my father, because he had so much self inflicted heartache. Jesus could fix it if he would submit his whole heart to God. One day I got a glimpse of his anger at God. We were coming home from church,and as he drove, we sat in silence. My father suddenly looked at me and asked,
“So, what if you die one day, and discover that while you were worshiping Jesus, we were supposed to actually be worshiping the sun?”
I wracked my brain, because my father was a very intelligent debater. I was just this know nothing teenager. I prayed and this is what God gave me to say. “If I worship God with all my heart here, and I die, and find out there was no God, I haven’t lost anything. But if I decide not to worship God, and I die, and discover there is a God, and I didn’t choose to worship him when I could,I’ve lost everything.”
He didn’t reply to that, nor did he need to. God answered his question.
He did tell me that he went to a small local church for help. They turned him away empty. This led to a lot of anger and confusion over the church and hypocrisy. I took it as a lesson for myself. If I call myself a Christian, I need to live it out, and help people in need. Not turn them away.
I only lived with my father and his family until I was 19. He told me I should enroll in college after high school, or get a job, and an apartment. It would be good for me, and as he said, money was tight for him. I was frightened because I didn’t know what to do. I got college info, including student loan information. They had said he would need to pay living expenses for me. So college was out. He said he couldn’t even pay my required $25/wk food stipend.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
I’d spent many years as a child, dreaming about this joyful reunion with my birth parents who had an interest in my life, and wanted me to be part of theirs. When I moved up there, and that didn’t happen, I was so disappointed. Then it started to occur to me: he rarely visited, maybe 5 times in the 15 years I was with my grandparents. And on those visits he rarely said much to me, he always came to see Dad. They mentioned often my father needed money. He never sent money down to help with my brother or myself. He never called to talk to me. I was a part of his past that he just wanted to disappear. I suddenly felt lost, and unwanted, and trapped up there at his house. I just wanted to disappear!When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. Jeremiah 8:18
“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2
God showed me my father’s approval or disapproval didn’t confirm or negate my worth to God. God was the one working in my life to save me all this time. He is the Father who never fails. He will never leave me or forsake me.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ” Proverbs 3:5,6
I’m not sure why, but my search for financial independence from my father led to the Armed Forces. I tried the Air Force, but I didn’t have enough academic credits for them. So, I tried the Army. They wanted me because I would go in as a specialist with my LPN degree.
“Wait upon the LORD, and he will strengthen thy heart. Wait, I say, upon the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
Odd things began happening: I would get ready to go to Basic Training and things would happen to delay my departure. One memorable one was when I was trying to make a hole in a dog’s collar. The knife slipped and I cut my finger deeply. I had to get stitches! And it delayed me for 10 days. Today I know that the Lord was lining things up so I could meet the love of my life, and His purpose for me.
“Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in Heaven.” Colossians 4:1
Basic Training was a blur! I’d never been so far away from people I knew. And the work was hard! I kept a little Gideon Bible in my pocket all the time, and it went under my pillow when we finally got to sleep at night. Because I was a specialist, not a private like most of the women, I was thrown into a leadership role. I had to lead the cadence, the march, and make sure my platoon was doing everything they were supposed to. I was a quiet person, and it was a disaster. I lost my voice screaming cadence for marches on a few occasions. And in the barracks, there were so many women causing trouble, difficult to persuade, childish. I lost my patience. I definitely couldn’t cut it as a platoon leader, and the Drills quickly demoted me-first to squad leader, then they finally, mercifully relieved me of all leadership. I learned that making connections with people, building relationships through mercy, and compassion were key to reaching those ladies. though that made me better in my leadership role as a mom years later.
Because of my training as a nurse, I could go right to permanent party-to the hospital where my actual work would begin. I had just prayed to the Lord that I really wanted to give Him every part of my life. And suddenly a mutual friend asked me if I wanted to meet someone I just had to meet, named Rob Crawford! And here my own story ended, and our story began.
“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.
The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears…He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.
He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me…” Psalm 18
I can truly say, that while life hasn’t been easy, God has in His mercy shown me He has always been there, since the beginning of my life, before I could ask or think, He was there, helping me. When I was caught up in myself, He was there, calling me. When I was learning to love Him, He was there, Present and enveloping, and as close as I let Him be. And today I rejoice because I am free. He has all of me, and I am His. I love You so much, I cannot express it! And I cannot wait to see Your Face, one day, when my race ends, O Lord Jesus my life!