faith & freedom

Every life is a story unfolding, waiting to be told. I pray you find encouragement as I share mine with you:

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time. “ ~ Oswald Chambers

Freedom came to me after years of full-on rebellion, extravagant living, and pure desperation. I never thought that one could live in complete freedom. I mean, yes, of course, I know we live in the land of the free. Christ died to set us free, and, well, that freedom is not… FREE.

The truth is that life in this fallen, outside-of-Eden world I was born into teaches me that freedom is the absence of rules and responsibilities. When we launch ourselves in the direction of that definition of freedom, we are looking for that day when we are not obligated to do or be something specific. Freedom, though, when we consider what we are looking for, is not found in what we do, nor in how we define ourselves or our circumstances – Freedom is the life-changing presence of God at work in the life of those who yield themselves to it.

When I first began to seek freedom – I was looking for a quick fix to some life-long problems. I found myself in my second marriage, spinning into self-destruction. It left me wondering why my plans never seemed to work out. The year was 1999; my husband spent three months of our first year of marriage working out of town, and we spent hours each day calling each other repeatedly to take advantage of the 20 minutes for 10 cents long-distance rates I dialed into. (Does anyone reading this remember to pay phones and long-distance calling codes and cards? Lord, now we have a phone in every pocket that can call just about any country in the world… But, I digress. Where was I?)

Oh yes, I remember how… Looking for freedom… That’s where I was.

On this particular night, I asked God to set me free from yet another dysfunctional relationship.

I sat in my bathroom, asking myself why no one could ever seem to meet my need to be loved. Loved deeply, loved long, and loved – IN A HOPELESS ROMANTIC SORT OF WAY. I had just found out my husband had misgivings on our wedding day, which had led to a wicked fight and him being withdrawn and distant through much of our marriage. He said he didn’t want to tell me these things before we walked the aisle because he feared losing me. My heart ached with that familiar feeling of breaking when my hopes and dreams for something new had been dashed to the ground. I just wanted one part of my life to look like the ideal I had as a little girl. Before that night I had been sure that marrying Scott was my fairy tale come true.

The problem with fairy tales is often found in the fact that they are never based on Truth.

A few months later, after my husband returned home from working out of town for those three months, we began to attend church with his grandmother. May I say that I felt “pretty sure” he was saved at this point in our relationship? He had been responsible, hardworking, and respectful before we married. He even attended church with me when I asked him to go. He had all the “virtues” of what I thought a Christian man would be.

One night, after we had returned home from a confirmation class at church, I confessed that I could not agree with the pastor’s teaching on predestination, which led to a lengthy monologue of my baby believer’s perspective about the doctrine. At one point, I looked at Scott and stopped mid-sentence. The look on his face gave me pause. His eyes were distant, and he nodded vacantly, acknowledging what I had said, but his expression indicated just the opposite. He had no clue what I was talking about.

So I threw it out there. “You have no idea what I am talking about, do you?”

He looked like he had just been released from a heavy burden. He smiled that sweet, lopsided grin that captured my heart before I knew his name and said, “The closest I ever came to God was jumping the fence in the backyard to attend church at Easter or Christmas.”

NO. WAY. I began to emote and respond in a high, dramatic fashion. At first, I told God I wanted out right that minute. I did not want to spend one more minute of my life with an unbelieving husband. I had experience with one unsaved husband and one very unsaved fiancé – I had no desire to try this out a third time.


Eventually, I calmed down and prayed: “Lord, please… please… please… save my husband and use me to do it. Amen.” (Every single night—page after page journaled with that one line.)

In the following months and weeks, neither Scott’s nor God’s will concerned me. All I wanted was to have a Christian husband. I was determined to make sure God and Scott submitted to my will on this—however long that took. In some ways, I’m being a bit cheeky with my words, but in some ways, not really. God’s will always land in the range of “not willing that any should perish,” but Scott’s will? A toss-up.

We visited other churches in our area, but nothing settled on me as a good fit for what I had been raised to believe. Fast-forward a year, and you would find my kids in an after-school program offered by a church in the neighborhood where I worked as a School Cafeteria Manager. I didn’t know anything about the after-school program except that the director’s name was Ms. Claudia, and my kids loved attending when I had PTA meetings—especially on Wednesdays. My heart languished, sinking fast, believing Scott, and my kids for that matter, would not come to the Lord short of a Road to Emmaus miracle.

Until that one Wednesday afternoon when I picked up my kids, who eagerly begged, “Can we go to Bibleville tonight, P-LEEE-ASSSSSE?” Bibleville happened on Wednesday evenings at the local Baptist church up the street. The director would bus the kids up to the Dairy Queen every other week. They’d get a kid’s meal and an ice cream cone before heading to the red brick building with a white steeple on Main Street. All the other weeks Ms. Claudia and her crew would cook up a meal for the kids and serve it up hot.

I declined the request that night telling them we would have to talk about it on the way home. My dejected daughters slunk over to their basket and retrieved their backpacks before glumly dragging their feet out the door to our ride home. I assured them I would let them go to Bibleville after we had visited the church. My closing statement went something like this: “I want to check it out. Just because it says ‘church’ on the outside does not mean there’s ‘church’ going on on the inside.”

After a couple of more weeks of the girls begging, I relented and asked Scott to visit the church with me on Sunday morning. To my surprise, he agreed. Sunday morning arrived, and we all got up at the crack of dawn. After all there were seven of us to get ready, three between the ages of 6 and 8. I had them all dressed to a T, and we loaded up our red and white Ford extended cab and headed out for church. We dropped off the kids at the red and white brick building on Main, and then Scott and I drove a mile down the road to the “high-tech modular building” and settled in a gravel parking lot on five acres behind the intermediate school. The site was the home of the new church building that was being planned and paid for in those waning months of that year. It was September, coming on fall in Texas, which meant it was still blistering hot. We walked into a Sunday School meeting in progress. They were about to break for the transition to the morning worship service and the kids would be brought over on the church vans. The worship was different than I had ever heard before—upbeat, with several instruments playing along. The songs encouraged me, filled with heartfelt admiration for God, but not folksy like the hymns in my momma’s favorite hymnal back home. People around us and the leaders raised their hands and swayed to the music. I remember chuckling when they called themselves “Bapti-costals” because I had no idea what it meant.

That night, I told Scott I didn’t expect him to return for the evening service, but I wanted to go. When I walked out of our bedroom to leave, I found my husband in the front seat of our pickup, along with my three kids, waiting to go. The next few months saw us at the church’s doors each time they were open. By Christmas, we were well acquainted with the many people we had met that first day.

Taylor, our next-to-youngest child, was acting and singing in the church’s Kids Music Theater program. She played a “Jazzy Shepherd” in the Christmas Pageant. But God had a plan. Each week, the Gospel came forth as the kids worked their scenes and sang along to the music provided by the leaders. Scott would often take her and sit in the back pews while she practiced. Each time, he heard the Gospel in a way that helped him understand who Jesus was and why he needed salvation.

When the day of the play arrived, we overslept. We hurried our five kids through getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and grabbing Little Debbie snacks for breakfast before rushing out the door. My hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, and I put on a frumpy white sweater and a blue skirt. I had no idea what this day held, but by the time the worship music started, I was weeping and raising my hands along with the rest of the room. At the end of the service, Scott leaned over to me and asked, “What should I say when I go up there?”

I encouraged him to ask them what it meant to be saved and if he agreed with their advice to pray to receive salvation. He did. More tears flowed, along with the gratitude overflowing from my heart.

I could barely grasp the reality of that moment. I still get emotional when I think of it. He received baptism that night before the play, and in the next few months, we would see three of the five children in our blended family come to know the Lord as their Savior. These three were baptized in May 2001. A few years later, our fourth child prayed to receive Christ at church camp, and we still pray today for God to reach our fifth child with His power and grace.

In our seven years at that little Baptist church in rural North Texas, we discovered God and began to rely on Him in every way. We eventually stepped into youth leadership, and the following fall, I helped to facilitate women’s Bible study with the Pastor’s wife.

During these years of searching out my relationship with God in the tissue paper pages of scripture, I found my first taste of freedom. I still had issues. I believe if we are honest, we will find that all of us struggle with some sort of issues as we grow in Christ. If we’re breathing, we likely have them.  I had skeletons I wanted to keep locked away in the closet of my mind. I did not want anyone else to know about them, but in reality… I didn’t want to deal with God about them.

But God… He wouldn’t let me get away with leaving those skeletons hidden away. My worst fear was they’d come sprawling out on the floor one night at Bible study when the lock popped off that door in my mind. So, God, in His lovingkindness, required me to meet face-to-face with the depravity of my soul. That story is better saved for another time, but I will say today how God’s grace and love met me in that moment and not only covered my sin – it washed me clean of it. That was the beginning of the end of me as I knew myself – a moment in time that made way for all things to be made new. It would take years to see I need more than just the freedom that comes with repentance, but those days came. Since 2009, I’ve been learning to walk dependently and humbly with my God and unlocking the unlimited potential and freedom He created me to live in and from – rooted and grounded deeply in His Word and His Presence.

Those early days of finding my roots in that small country church led to several other churches, both non-denominational and some of varying denominational variety. I realize the greatest joy in serving others, loving them from God’s heart—whether they know Him or not—and imparting a glimpse of the Kingdom in the lives of those I touch, no matter how brief.

So, today, I am living in my place as a daughter of the most high King of all creation. I am beloved, redeemed, and forgiven. My identity is based on who God says I am. My God-given identity allows me to fulfill all the roles of life He has planned for me: Daughter, Wife, Mother, Sister, Friend, Artist, Coach, Wildflower, CEO, Freedom Fighter and Prayer Warrior – even my seasons of grieving as a bereaved parent and empty nester. I pray more than the story of my life you will find on this website the glory of God revealed through the discovery of freedom that has been my journey and the Truth that has set me free.

I am a self-employed visual artist, graphic designer, Bible study author, and Executive Coach. Thank you for taking the time to read this part of my story. I pray you find much here that encourages, inspires, and lifts you up. Be sure to share comments and check out the opportunity to engage in community with me through Bible studies and our Mighty Networks.

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