April's Faith Story
Growing up in Arkansas, I was raised by my grandmother during the most critical moments of my life. It was during this time that I gave my life to Jesus and was baptized. I was 9 years old, and living under my grandmother's roof, I knew it was expected.
As I grew older, I suffered a great deal from rejection, abandonment, and shame from not having my biological mother in my life. After spending 4 years with my grandmother, my mother returned to Arkansas from sorting out her royal oats in California. She made a prodigal decision to take care of her last two children. My father and mother were very close but never quite close enough to ever venture into a marital relationship with one another. They loved each other during the day but at night it became a nightmare. Both of my parents, and the rest of my household suffered from the ill effects of substance abuse. Although my parents never married, I am so glad I had the opportunity to know my father. He worked hard, and played even harder--Sometimes to his detriment. As dysfunctional of a family life I had growing up, I was somehow afforded the grace to attend college. Even as a growing adult in college, I never really felt like I fit into any group of people. As I matured, I was now searching for love and acceptance. It was in the arms of a married man that this love and acceptance was birthed and conceived.
On the journey to discovering my real identity, I tried so hard to piece together the puzzle that my life was supposed to be. Even in a structured learning environment as college was, I learned more outside the university walls than I did inside of them. I was in severe emotional pain. I started trying to put band-aids on the wounds of my pain with every educational pursuit and each credential. This compensation would make up for the lack of peace that I actually felt inside. Much to my dismay, I never did find peace in those textbooks. I needed something consistent, something I could hold on to, an anchor; I needed deep healing, not superficial make-up.
Still searching for answers, I came into a relationship with The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Through this relationship with Jesus, it became apparent to me that my head knowledge of Him was just not enough. I somehow needed to get the message from my head to my heart, which only comes through pursuing a righteous and holy lifestyle. Finally married with 3 wonderful children, 10 years of employment with the government, an Associates degree in Respiratory Therapy, a Bachelors degree in Psychology, Masters degree in Counseling, and yet another Masters degree in Education, and careful evaluation, I discovered that this Christian was still struggling with perfection.
In 2013, I attended a week long Respiratory Conference in Anaheim, California where I was to present a proposed research topic for the following year. I was up every morning working on developing the details of this research that I begin to get so anxious that I couldn't even think straight for days. This conference changed the course of my entire spiritual journey. It was at this conference in my alone time that I first heard the voice of the Holy Spirit.
After having been at the conference for almost 3 days, I woke up early to read my devotional with the intent to make it to the present days' session by 8am. Before I started reading, I heard a still small voice say "Stand up." Thinking that I was still somewhat asleep, I laid there in the hotel room looking around. The voice, still and small in octave but more audible this time, I heard again repeat, "Stand up." Because my processing time is a little slower in the morning, I just needed to be convinced that this was indeed Who I thought it was, but still not obeying, I waited for the voice to stop speaking so that I could carry on with my day's plans. Nevertheless He spoke to me again. "Stand up." And so I did. Finally, I obeyed the first command and that's when I received the gift of His presence. Spiritually awakened at this time, He had my full attention.
He begin to say that the place that I was standing was Holy Ground. Because I had never heard Him speak to me before in Arkansas, I asked what made "this" ground holy. He responded by saying "Because I am there, and wherever I Am, is Holy." That was at 6am. Needless to say, wherever His presence is, I have learned that worship should always follow. I didn't leave that room until 2pm. I called my husband and we both begin to cry through the phone. Not only did He reveal Himself to me in light of that presentation, but I experienced the glory of the Lord in a tangible way! His presence absolutely changes everything!
This experience was the beginning of many more encounters. God has indeed opened my ears and my eyes to Him and it has allowed me the honor to intercede for His people. Why He would choose someone like me is still an enigma, but I believe in my heart that He chose me and I am ever so grateful for every opportunity that He allows for me to share the story of how He redeemed my life from destruction, including that which was self-inflicted. I'm still learning outside the classroom, but I would have never discovered His perfect love if He had never found me first!