I wanted to share the story about how I got to know Jesus. It's a sweet and cherished story--one I hold near and dear to my heart. It's a ride filled with twists and turns and maybe a few embarrassing moments as well. But oh well, that's me. And I'm okay with that. *laughing emoji*
There's something so special about remembering the moment you came to know and love Jesus.
Growing up, I was fortunate to have a loving family who knew the Bible stories, loved Jesus, and went to church. For as long as I can remember I prayed to Him regularly. So I believed I was always a follower of him. I know this part of my testimony might be a little vanilla boring, but it's also where I started out. I didn't come from a broken home or struggle with drugs or alcohol. #Thankfully I'm very thankful that this is my story.
When I got to middle school, I went through a rough patch where some kids in school were bullying me quite badly and this really caused a lot of issues for me. I was a smaller student who marched to the beat of my own drum. I didn't want to follow the status quo.
The bullying came to a point where I just wanted to be invisible. The only time the bullying stopped for a brief time was the time I joined volleyball. I'm not really a sports girl. I'm more of an arts and theatre girl. I struggled with sports. Probably goes back to the time in elementary school when a softball hit me in the throat the first day. I quit. Yup, I wasn't into objects being thrown through the air in my general direction.
I hated going to the public school. I struggled with it a lot. I'd come home crying. Bullies are awful... and some teenage girls are awful. I am glad I grew up when I did without social media. I was able to leave school and the bullies and go home without having to deal with them online. I feel bad for the little kids these days with social media and bullies online. Uff...
The range of bullying I went through ranged from gum in my hair, sawdust in my sweater hoodie, a tampon colored with a red marker left in my gym locker (like why? And how gross, right?), and even one girl kicking a wood working project of mine in woodworking class while I was using the drill. It made an awful mark on the book case. I'm thankful it didn't hit my leg. They were really were some awful bullies. I hope they were able to come to terms with their life issues and choices. I really hope they learned to love.
After it got really bad, my parents took my siblings and I out of that school to homeschool us and I swear that was the best decision ever. I was able to take college classes early, travel with my parents whenever and wherever they went, I'd get done with classes by noon, take gymnastics and ballet, take part in theatre classes, and much more. Thinking back about it, I feel so blessed I was able to do that.
I wanted to share about the bullies because it shows where I came from. Those girls really caused emotional damage. Years after, I had to work through those struggles to build my self confidence up again. There were times I'd walk into a room to see women laughing or whispering and I'd instantly think they were talking about me. I thankfully don't feel like this anymore. So thankful God was able to help me through that.
It was during all that when I started reading The Left Behind Kids Series and it was through those books, that I ended up asking Jesus into my life. They were such a huge pivot point in my relationship with the Lord.
In my last few years of high school, I went through a tough time where I battled with some depression and darker thoughts. This was the time that I believe God really pulled me through.
The pressure around me formed me into a diamond so I could shine for him in a dark world. It was during this time that God taught me about his grace. How I don't deserve it but that he gave it to me anyways. He also led me to my life verse.
"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
And let me tell you, that life verse of mine is so true. I stuck to it in all those moments and still stick to it today. God always reminds me to think about it.
During that time, I volunteered at an old folks home and served food to them and listened to their stories while loving on them.
It was also during that time that I met a guy who wasn't a great guy. And I honestly don't even know how we started dating.
Something I struggle with, is whenever I see hurting people, I feel bad for them and let them take me down with them. And this was one of those moments. I ended up getting stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship where I ended up being stuck with him for 5 years. #BLAH There were even times where he tried turning my family against me. I had so much stress at that time it was horrid.
When I was in college, I started going to a church close to where I lived and this guy was going too. Thankfully one night I was invited to a Super Bowl Party. #DefinitelyDidntGoForTheSports I'd basically already broken up with this guy in my head and planned to end it with him that night. I'd tried talking to him earlier that day but he wasn't texting me. There were times he'd just go silent and I didn't know what was happening.
After the Super Bowl Party, I went home and he (this ex) was waiting there for me at my apartment. I told him I couldn't do this anymore and that it was over. We were in the hallway when I told him this and he started chasing me. I ran toward my apartment and am I ever glad I'd left my front door unlocked, because I was scared for my life.
Really honestly thought he would have hurt me and still to this day, I think he would have if he'd caught me. I rushed into my apartment and slammed the door behind me catching his fingers in the door. I bet he had issues with his fingers in the future because I slammed that door shut with all my might and strength that I could muster. There was NO WAY, he was going to come into my apartment ever again. Soon his fingers slid out and I twisted the lock. He was screaming at me saying "You'll never find anyone who will love you like I do." And I yelled back "I'll find someone better." and then backed away from the door slowly. He stayed there into the night yelling things. Thinking back on it, I should have called 911. I really should have. But I was young and scared. I didn't know what to do. I felt like I was alone in all of it.
Not long after that, my car windshield got shot at. I am very certain it was him as he'd started hanging with some really bad people.
I tell you all this because shortly after this, I began going to that church more regularly and that's where I ended up really experiencing the power of the love of God. I went to a worship night and had a powerful moment where I forgave everyone in my life that I could remember that had hurt me. Everyone. From the bullies to my ex. I also lifted them up and prayed for them. That God would help them and move in their lives showing them the light too. It was after that moment that everything changed. I met amazing friends and we had game nights and Bible studies and prayer gatherings in college apartments. It was powerful.
One night when I was back at my parent's place, I fell half asleep. I say half because I really don't think I was completely asleep. In this dream/vision I was running on a sand dune. These creepy dead black twisted trees stuck out of the sand. They looked like they'd been scorched in a fire with their branches all sooty. Almost like charcoal. My heart was throbbing as I ran.
Something was following me. I looked back. It was in that moment that I saw the things chasing me. They were dark slimy toad like things and they were disgusting and evil looking. I was so afraid that I kept running. At the end of the dune, I saw a doorframe and door sitting in the sand. I pulled the door open and inside a bright light. I walked inside. Instantly I felt warm and safe. I saw a bright figure. It was Jesus. I knew it was him. He waved me into the room. I ran toward him. The moment he grasped my hand, peace overwhelmed me. Safety. I looked toward the doorframe. He put up his hand and the door shut. A lock made of gold and silver attached to the door. The evil things outside kept jumping up to look in the window at us. With the wave of another hand the window shades covered me from them.
He went on to tell me that with Him, as my lock, the demons would never be able to touch me and that I was free. Safe in his embrace. This was one of the most vibrant visions I'd ever had. I still remember that warmth and peace I felt as though it happened yesterday.
I ended up choosing to get baptized at that church and it was a powerful moment in my Christian journey. Shortly after this, I heard someone at my college talk about studying abroad, so I looked into the different options. One stuck out to me. Queensland Australia. Somewhere warm and where they spoke English. I told my dad and mom about it and they were so supportive and said I should give it a try, so I applied and went through all the applications and interviews I needed to get accepted. The day came where I got my acceptance letter. I was so excited. This is something so different than I'd ever done. And it would end up being one of the biggest blessings the Lord had ever given me.
I met a girl through a Facebook study-abroad group from The University of Sunshine Coast who was another American student who was there the semester before me. She was setting up everything ahead of me. We chatted often. She told me where I could go shopping for food and more as well as where I should go to church and who I should talk to when I get there. She was a #GodSend who I'm thankful for as I was nervous to go there. Nervous but excited.
I still remember when my parents dropped me off at the airport, my mom jokingly but probably partially non-jokingly said "Now, don't go over there and fall in love." #WellThatMightHaveHappened
When I got to Australia, I got involved in the church and was there for awhile but not long after I may have fallen away for a wee bit. Take that back, I did fall away.
Being unique and different in a foreign land was part of the struggle. I had an accent. Cute guys with accents wanted to talk to me and flirted with me. I was THE blond American girl. The girl who looked German but had a Scandinavian last name. Actually was told that from one of my roomies. He later told me that when he first saw my last name he thought I was Swedish and then when he saw me he thought I was German and then when I talked he got the surprise of his life because I was American.
Being from the Upper Midwest in the States, you almost feel like you're a bit insignificant because everyone looks somewhat similar and talks like you and are about your same height. When I got to Australia, I also found out that I'm taller than most in other areas. I'm an average height in the upper Midwest.
But anyways, because of this... boys became my downfall. Cute boys with accents. Cute bad boys with accents. I don't know why Disney movies always made the bad boys more appealing -- the pirates, the thieves, and outcasts. This set me up for a lesson that I'd have to learn the hard way.
I got to know a group of Germans really well. Especially two guys. One was like a brother and the other one I really liked. He was a musician who was talented. We started hanging out and one night he kissed me. I fell hard. After that though, he ended up telling me he had a girlfriend back home and I wanted to break them up because I really liked him. #IFeelAwfulTypingThatButItWasTrue.
I didn't care that he had a girlfriend back home. I wanted him to choose me. I know this sounds bad and let me tell you I never thought I'd write about this on my blog as a testimony, because at that moment I thought it'd make me sound like a harlot. It made me feel like one.
I went on a spring break trip with him and some other Germans and it was on that trip, that I had an awakening moment. A reminder to return to Jesus. A returning if you will. The Germans and I went to Cairns (pronounced Cans.) and on this trip, I'd ended up getting really sick. I couldn't keep anything in and my nerves were wracking me around like a wrecking ball. It was awful.
It all came to a moment where we stopped somewhere where there were these tidal pools and I walked out to the tidal pools and looked into them. I don't even remember where this was. But it was there at the tidal pools that God called me back to him. I spotted a little crab in the mucky water of the tidal pool. It was cowering behind some seaweed there and I heard God ask me "Devin, do you want to spend the rest of your life like this crab? Stuck in a tidal pool with no fresh water coming into your life?" I shook my head. I didn't want that. Not at all. I'd been feeling empty and sad the last month or so and I didn't want this to be the way things were for the rest of my life so It was at that moment that I walked back to the camper van that the Germans and I had traveled in and marinated in what God had spoken to me about all the way back to the Sunshine Coast. That night we arrived back at the Sunshine Coast, I went to church and let my heart out to the Lord. I felt bad, but also felt relieved to be back in his presence.
That night while I prayed I asked God why I always had to fall for someone who was taken, gay, or bad for me and why couldn't I find someone. Someone who would love me for me. It was in a small still voice that night that I heard him say "Devin, don't worry. Your husband is here." And it was in that moment that my mouth dropped open wide in the dark church as people worshiped God.
Long story short, He was right. As God always is. I met my husband at that church (I'd actually already met him when I first arrived in Australia) and we became friends. And after being friends for awhile we started dating. We decided to start dating even though I had to go home to America to finish college. (You can read more about my long-distance relationship story here.)
I'm glad that God brought me through all those things because they made me a stronger person and because of that I can shine for him showing others that they can too.
God didn't bring you through the valley to leave you. He brought you through it to show others that it's doable.
What about you? What's your testimony? How'd you get to know Jesus?