Chelsey at Joyfully Living for His Glory is hosting this week, and she wants us to take the time to tell about ourselves. So it's gonna be LOUD! And I'm so excited to know my sisters better. I wish I had more time to put this post together and organize it well, but I'm extremely limited on time right now, so I'll speak off the cuff. Hey, at least I have the backspace key in this conversation. Too bad we don't have them in real life discussions, right?
Wellza (pun intended), here is my story, at least part of it:
Brian and I have been married for almost 19 years. He's a blessing to me, and I can say honestly that our love has grown deeper and more unselfish over the years. (thank goodness!) Our kids are known as the "A Team," seeing as all their names start with "A"s. Austin is 13, AnaLee is 10, and Allison is 8. And Allison would have a heart attack if I didn't mention that Abby, our 8-year-old Toy Manchester Terrier is also part of those "A"s.
I've entered a new season of parenting--one where the titles of taxi driver, counselor, teacher, friend, intercessor, manager, director and social coordinator all fall under the same hat. Life never gets dull, and my kids make the season fun and laughter-filled. Wouldn't be completely real, though, if I didn't mention that, with the way I'm wired, this is a tough season for me. It's easy on the discipling, shepherding front. Tough on the hectic pace, juggling, and constant "with-it-ness" that it takes to stay on top of all the physical and emotional issues. It keeps me on my knees!
Would take me a novel, so the nutshell version is, it was tough, but God faithfully provided beauty in midst of the pain. Though dysfunction, abuse and tragedy lined the walls of my childhood home, I refuse to allow those to define me. I am not a victim, I am an overcomer in Christ.
I grew up in an itty bitty town (3200 people) in southern Illinois with only a few stoplights in the town square. Everybody knew everybody else, and it was kind of neat that way. Most of my mom's family lived around us, so my life was full of time with family--grandma and grandpa, aunts and cousins.
My personality as a young girl was always a bit offbeat. I yakked off the ears of strangers and would pretend with Barbies and dolls in my bedroom for hours at a time. As I grew up, I often role-played what I was going to be when I grew up. I started off as a fast food window clerk, got promoted to television anchor woman, then ended up a famous Christian singer. Quite the imagination I had.
The First Baptist Church of my town meant the world to me. I was saved there at 6 years old and married there almost 14 years later. The people in that Body cared for our family through the most difficult of times.
It makes me tired remembering all the activities I dove into as a youth. Almost everything that was offered. In retrospect, I know that was because I needed an escape from my home life, but at the time, I just thought I needed to do it all. My favorite, though, was singing and acting. When I left home after high school, I moved to Texas to go to college on a music scholarship, and I was able to do so because my only sister (and best friend) and her husband took me into their home to live.
I had only been in Texas a few months when I met Brian, and two years later, we were married. Wowzer, did he swoop me off my feet. As a matter of fact, he still is. We've had a rough three years, full of loss and taking care of others, and I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather walk through it with than Brian. We lost his dad to a brain tumor (which was a long suffering death), had his granddad live in our home for a few years and pass away in Brian's arms in our house, and we lost my mom in the midst of taking care of both of them. All of the suffering and pain has brought us to this new normal, this strange new place of figuring out what God wants us to do as a family. It's brought us to a place where we've had to seek Him with open hearts about how He wants us to spend our time, our money, our passions, our ministry. We're still working through it.
While I'm pretty sure everyone in the blogosphere has read it, because it has had the most reads and posts of any I've written, one story in particular that I wrote tells a great deal about who I am and where I've come from. It has some pics as well. If the Lord leads you, give it a read when you have some spare time. It's called Remember Glory.
My life Scripture verse is Psalm 118:14 (NIV):
"The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation."
I picked this verse a few years back, because I realized then that through all of the hardships I face, He has become my strength. With all of the voices from the past that try to throw me into depression and despair, He has become my song. With all of the strongholds I discover that I need freeing from, HE has become my salvation.
The Lord has been, is and will continue to be so very faithful. I'm blessed to have my husband, my kids, my best friend and sister, a brother-in-law that is just like my brother, my precious nieces and nephews, a few very close friends, and a bundle of faithful, fun friends and ministry partners. Above all, I have a faith that will not be shaken because of a God that loved me enough to send His one and only Son to die for me. My future, though unwritten here on earth, is written in permanent ink in Heaven, and that defines my life above all.
In the Key of HE,