Linda's Faith Story
I don’t remember a time in my life that I did not think of God. One of my earliest memories is of being six or seven years old and of having God come to me in a very special way.
I was raised in a Christian home by parents who were kind and intelligent, my mother was a nurse, my father a pilot, but both had addiction and medical issues from childhood. These surfaced later in their married and family life. Our homelife was often sad and chaotic, but my parents made sure that I and my brothers grew up knowing God. Jesus was like another tangible member of our family. My mother spoke of him often, and was completely sure that he understood her struggles. She looked forward to meeting him in heaven. My father and mother made sure we went to church, were taught to pray, told of the power of God, and the story of salvation. Because of this foundation, even when the storms of adversity came into our lives, we knew we could turn to God.
There have been many storms in my life, some literal, some beyond my control, and some due to my own actions. Yet, with every one of them, when I have turned to God in prayer, He has always comforted and guided me.
The first and hardest, was not just a storm. It was devastating and heartbreaking. When I was eighteen years old my father took his own life, and committed suicide. This was a hard and confusing time for me. My father was the parent that I was closest to, the parent I thought I could always depend on. I had seen my father struggle with depression for years. My mother was in a terrible frame of mind even before his death, and almost immediately after his death she made me move out, and then made my brothers move out when they turned eighteen.
I was afraid and angry. I was only eighteen years old and had no idea of where I would live or how I would support myself. I was angry at the way my mother treated me, and felt abandoned by God. I couldn’t understand how my father could have suffered so much in his life and then died in such a terrible way.
There was a lady I had met at the neighborhood pool when I lifeguarded, and she had come to the funeral and said that if I needed anything she wanted to help. I went to her house and she let me live with her and her family for the next three months. I was in college when my dad died, and she suggested I go to beauty school so that I could support myself and work my way through school. At that time, I had no interest in becoming a “beautician.” I wanted to be a social worker, and resisted the idea. But having no other choice I went to beauty school.
To go to beauty school was one of my best decisions. I believe it was a part of God’s specific plan for me. I met all kinds of people from all walks of life, and have learned and shared so much through the years. It has been a way to make someone feel good about themselves outside and in. It was also a way to support myself after first leaving home and for many years since.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps (Proverbs16:9.)”
Initially, I was very successful financially. When I was only twenty-three years old, I had already moved to a new state alone and opened a salon for my company. I did all the hiring and training of the employees, fourteen hairstylists, five manicurists…and within a year of opening we were grossing one million dollars. I had built a condominium building with some other people and had a beautiful place to live. But with all the success, I had strayed far away from God. The spiritual things from my childhood had lost meaning and I hardly prayed.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark8:36.)”
Then my house was hit by lightning, during a tropical storm. The roof burned off and the building flooded from the roof down. The next day I noticed a church steeple and decided to go inside and say a prayer. This church had been hit by lightning during the same storm. I had not been in a church since my father’s death when I was eighteen years old. I was twenty-seven years old, and wondered why of all the churches I could have gone in I would have chosen to go into this church.
This was again another confusing and shocking time for me. Over the next two years, I left my job in the salon. I married and divorced. During all of these changes God was really trying to deal with me, calling me back to Him. My neighbor invited me to a bible study at her church. I went and for the first time in my life I started studying the bible.
At first this was not an easy thing for me. I had a hard time understanding, but each time I opened the bible I prayed to the Holy Spirit and asked that my mind and heart be opened to understand God’s Word. I sincerely wanted to know God’s will for my life, and I called out to him, and he answered my prayer. One night I opened my Bible and God opened my eyes and heart. I could understand, and the words were beautiful to me.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18.)”
Through another series of coincidences, I became part of a leaders Bible study at the church that was hit by lightning. The people in this study were older and had been following God for years. God had brought me back to the place of that first prayer, and blessed me with community. Afterwards for about seven years, I was able to work as a hairstylist, just making enough to live, and then spent the other time doing volunteer work. I was blessed to be able to work in a soup kitchen, home for unwed mothers and battered women that was run my Mother Teresa’s nuns, and to work in programs in my church. Life has had its ups and downs since then, and I am so glad that I have not had to go through them alone. God continued and continues to open my heart, mind and spirit to his Word. I have been in many Bible studies, and have received formal training in theology and ministry. God has put many wonderful people in my life. Through reading the Bible I have come to know Jesus in a personal way. I cherish and am so thankful for the gift of faith.
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good, of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28.)”
Forty Footsteps and The Adventures of Cleo the Cloud
Linda Marie has always had a great love for people and writing. As a hairstylist, she works with outer beauty while listening to the hopes, dreams, struggles, and greatest concerns of many people from all walks of life. As a writer, she puts these thoughts together. In Forty Footsteps, she shares her greatest love, God. She is a Stephen Minister, holds a Certificate of Spiritual Direction and Theology, and was inducted into the Honor Society for Religion and Theology. She authored a three story children's book, The Adventures of Cleo the Cloud.
The Adventures of Cleo the Cloud