What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jamie Bush's Testimony

[Jamie gave the following testimony recently at Pathway Church during a series Deb and I were co-teaching on relationships. She and her husband Thomas are actively involved in Pathway Church, dedicated to helping others find Christ and follow Him.]

I am overwhelmed and humbled by God's generosity and persistence.

Five years ago I was living with a man who was a drug addict, who physically punished me and belittled me daily.

My Aunt Sandy told me she worked with a guy named Thomas who was great, but also in a bad relationship...she was sure if we'd both free ourselves we would be so happy, BUT I was absolutely sure that I was worthless and that pain is what I deserved. EVERYone in my life tried to pull me away and help me, but I wouldn't listen.

God sent 3 friends and several family members to me telling me this would kill me if i didn't leave. I lost my house, my car, my job because I put this man in control of my life and he destroyed it. Finally, I was beaten and scared so much that I left, but when I didn't think I could live without that "love," I attempted suicide. I couldn't believe I survived. Why was God so cruel?

At that point, I really was mad at God. My dad was dead, my sister was dead, and i was absolutely alone. How did he let me go through this? I was a great person until I put all my "faith" in a horrible man.

What I didn't see, is that God had moved me to my mom's house to "recover" my life and be filled with love. God pulled me from that man because I wouldn't remove myself. God put me in court-ordered counseling and I began to realize I did have self worth.

I went to church with my Aunt Sandy from time to time and felt SO pulled to God that I still pushed him away because I wasn't ready to admit my failures. One Sunday I heard "Grace like rain" and it clicked....God did love me! God saved me from the fire I had put myself in! God did have a future for me! God already forgiven me for the horrible things I had yet to admit to him... does that sink in? Slowly...

I started working at the Neighborhood Thrift Store and slowly began dating again....met Pastor Brian and started coming to Pathway....still slipping up and not making great choices with dating, but I knew i wanted a Godly man.


my same Aunt Sandy that had taken me to church, finally convinced me to go out with Thomas....

Meanwhile in Thomas' life: painful divorce, living with a woman who took advantage of him financially and emotionally...then he made her leave and went to church one Sunday in February 2007....Thomas asked God to take control of his life again and promised to change his life...

We met the next Friday...three days later I told my mom Thomas would be the man I married.

God worked with me and through me and never let go of my hand...while I thought he'd ignored me, it was me looking away. I am in awe and humbled that God can work such miracles. The peace and love I have with Thomas is a daily blessing, to breathe easier around someone and know they have your best interest at heart is such a love I never imagined, and through God's love and grace, it is a daily reality. What is more much greater is the love God has for me? More than I can comprehend. I am not worthy, but I am grateful.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Ken Johnson's Testimony

[Recently at Pathway Church here in Huntsville, Alabama, Ken Johnson gave this testimony in the midst of my message on "How to Bring out the Best in Your Kids." It took a lot of guts for him to share this but it really spoke to a lot of hearts about the influence, good and bad, that parents exercise over their children. We are all proud of how Ken is growing in Christ.]

On January 9, 1961, a baby boy was born to parents with unresolved issues from their own upbringing. Back in "those days" it was considered taboo to mention anything like alcohol addiction and physical abuse. If you dealt with anything like that in your home, you kept it to yourselves.

Today it’s a much different world. Issues like those are out in the open and people talk about them more. In a "perfect" world things would have been different. But of course the world isn’t perfect and we don’t get to pick our parents or the environment in which we’re raised.

I was in for a rough and bumpy ride as I got older.

As a young skull full of mush growing up I naturally listened to anything my parents told me. Misbehave and you were disciplined. My father, who had unresolved issues of his own, was the enforcer – the one who dealt out anything that was coming to me. I can remember my father telling me, "You were a mistake, I wish you had never been born…you’ll never amount to anything!"

My dad at times would have his way with me, fondling me in unspeakable places. I would go back to my room afterwards and cry into my pillow. I knew if I said anything, I would get anything he was dealing out again.

My mom, who was what’s now called an "enabler," just stood by and watched everything that happened to me, saying nothing. To the best of my knowledge my father never abused my two sisters. If he did it was never while around me.

My mother was a wonderful person, even with everything that was going on. She did the best she could in raising my two sisters and me. She never worked outside the home and she knew that, if she left our dad, or if he left us, she would essentially have nothing.

My mother basically lived her life through her kids and smothered us with love. I can remember her always telling people, "You’ll never see my kids acting up because they’re always with me – which, at the time, was fine and good. But then again, she never pushed us to learn for ourselves. She always did things for us, especially me, always telling me, "Someday I’m not gonna be around so you’re going to have to learn for yourself." But I didn’t get the chance. I still struggle today with basic living skills. Slowly but surely I’m learning. I guess you could say I’m getting by.

Several years ago my mom and I were traveling from Arizona to Alabama in a car pulling a U-Haul trailer. In order to save money, we didn’t spend the nights in motels. Instead we would sleep in the car. One morning near the Oklahoma /Texas border, we were waking up to start the day, when mom got out of the car and fainted. She died in that rest area in Oklahoma, apparently from natural causes.

Losing a parent is one of the greatest disappointments one can have in life. I called my sisters, one in Huntsville, and one in Arizona to tell them that our mother had passed away. That was a devastating task.

When I finally got to Huntsville I was blessed with a great job. Little did I know, however, that I was beginning a downward spiral and quickly lost everything including my job and my apartment. I was even put out of my college classes after three years, because my grades weren’t measuring up. So I moved into the Downtown Rescue Mission. I started doing all right and even worked my way into a supervisory role. But not seeking help for my childhood trauma, plus having been diagnosed with adult ADD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Avoidant Personality Disorder, I developed another problem.

I became addicted to over-the-counter antihistimines, which also led to 3 different arrests for shoplifting. After attending a treatment center, I became aware that I was taking pills to sleep in an attempt to deal with the pain of past issues with my dad. I was afraid to go to sleep as a child for fear of what my dad would do to me. To this day sleep is still a struggle. Many nights I sleep little or not at all.

Sadly, some of the things in my past have left me with scars. There are a lot of things I can’t do, and a lot I have to pay for. But the biggest thing I can say in my life is GOD LOVES ME and I BELIEVE IT!

I gave my life to Christ several years ago at our church when it was meeting on 8th Avenue. Later, while staying at the rescue mission on 9th Avenue, my life was set on fire for God after hearing a man give his testimony at a chapel service. I had backslidden terribly because I didn’t place myself in the position to receive the proper support. Shortly after that, God blessed me with an apartment and an income again, but since I was never properly schooled and disciplined on how to be a proper steward of God’s finances I essentially put myself back into the same hole I was in before.

I was spending money I didn’t have…AND KNEW IT! It was nothing to check my account balance and see a negative $400 balance. I couldn’t eat the way I should. My cable was turned off. I barely paid my rent and my debts snowballed.

Thank God today I’m doing better. I’m surrounding myself with good people – NOT PERFECT PEOPLE – but I read the Bible every day and it helps me make it through the day. I’m a work in progress.
Today’s reading is one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life – all of my deepest, darkest secrets out there for all to see and know. Some of you already knew some of these things, but the coolest thing is, GOD KNOWS ALL OF THIS ABOUT ME AND MORE - AND HE STILL WANTS TO WORK WITH ME, AND IF I DO WHAT HIS WORD TELLS ME TO DO HE WILL CONTINUE TO BLESS ME.

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you. May God bless you.