A lot of people roll their eyes when I talk about God. And I get it.
I used to roll my eyes too.
I was thinking back the other day about my journey, and about 3 women I met who shared crazy, unforgettable things with me. Honestly, I thought they were nuts at the time. But, all these years later, I've realized that what they taught me with their lives was everything.
I met them over a span of a few years, 12+ years ago. I remember hearing them talk, and being fixated on how ridiculous they were. I silently judged and scoffed.... and thought my way was so much better than theirs.
The first one was an older woman in the Bible study I'd decided to try out. Her 20-something yr. old son had just been in a terrible car accident, and I remember her telling us "The only thing we can do is pray."
And I thought "WHAT?! NO!!!! That's insane!! You can't just do nothing. You can't just trust that things are going to be okay. I would stay at the hospital night and day! I'd ride the doctors. I'd make sure they were doing everything they could possibly do!!"
A few months later there was another woman. She was our worship leader's wife, and she homeschooled her 3 children. I remember her telling me that "the most important thing about their schooling was their relationship with Jesus." (And I could hardly contain myself when she said it. I think I even did the choking-cough thing.) WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY??!!!!
Of course, I didn't say anything to her, but in the back on my mind I'm thinking that MY 8 yr old son was in the GIFTED program at school. He was reading classic literature, studying space, playing Mozart on the piano & pitching Little League. She could put her money on Jesus. I was putting my money on ACADEMICS.
I put a high value on academics, and the fact that I had decided that I was going to be the world's best mother. I had committed to be everything that my alcoholic, mentally-ill, child-abusing mother was not. I was giving my child every opportunity to succeed, and doing a pretty good job at it too. I didn't need Jesus.
Fast forward a few years....I have a daughter now, and my son is struggling and acting out (it's the beginning of his drug use, but I don't know it ). I'm thinking more about God, and how the 2nd woman was smart to make it a priority for her kids.
Then, I'm at a Beth Moore livestream at our church called "Delight yourself in the Lord." Beth Moore is teaching how to be grateful in all things. I'm paraphrasing here but the gist of her teaching was:
"If your husband is late getting home from work, be grateful you have a husband & that he has a job, etc..etc..."
I'm watching it all and thinking "Yea. Yea. I get all that. But you know what? If my child was sick, there's no way I'd be grateful."
And just then a woman with a young son diagnosed with cancer gets up on stage. She's smiling a radiant, beautiful smile. She's praising & thanking Jesus. She's putting her trust in the Lord, and delighting in all things. Even her son's cancer.
I was shocked. It felt like God was speaking directly to me.
It wasn't long after that when I experienced the hardest time of my life (up until that point). My beautiful first born son had turned rebellious and violent. The pain, grief and loss was unbearable. I thought back on those women. I remembered their faith & the outrageous things they shared. In utter desperation, I surrendered to Jesus & I thanked him.
Day by day, things got better and better. I got strong, and steady. Our family healed, and I came to know the deepest love I have ever known. I started Milk Velvet Pearls using the symbolism of the pearl to express what I couldn't put into words: beauty born from struggle, through faith.
I wanted people to see God's grace through my jewelry, and I remember thinking very clearly "Ok God, I've learned my lesson. You can make everything good now."
But things didn't get easier, they got harder. And since then, I've had more opportunities to crumble under devastating circumstances.
Our son almost lost his life to drug addiction. Recovery almost broke our marriage. And then when we emerged healthier, happier and stronger. I suffered a massive brain aneurysm rupture that should have ended my life.
The hard times have taught me that I will always be okay. God's peace and power never end, and never fail.
I often times think back to those women, and the things I learned from them.
By His power, I've seen prayers answered and miracles happen. And by His grace, I'm living my best life now.
Me. The one who had to question, scoff, and learn the hard way ~ is now the one who can't stop telling about it.
We can survive anything if we only believe.
Thank you Becky, Valerie, Beth Moore & Kelly.
"All day long I have held out my hands to disobedient and contrary people." Romans 10:21
PS That little boy diagnosed with cancer is now a happy, healthy student at Auburn! Praise Jesus!