This first article is dedicated to Marilyn Cardamone, a godly woman who made a huge difference in my life. She is proof that the fruits of your labor are often not noticeable for many years.
Serving God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is my main priority. I love my family, and they are absolutely my second priority in life. I am a wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, sister, teacher, and church member. My God-given talents are teaching and writing. I taught high school English for 32 years and retired in 2014. I then taught preschoolers at my church’s child development center for 5 years. Now, I am beginning a new career – writing about living a godly life in an ungodly world. I am so very excited and blessed because God has given me this opportunity. I want to help others by sharing my life experiences – both the suffering and the blessings.
A Troubled Past
My hope is to use my writing skills and my personal experiences to reach both nonbelievers and believers alike. I believe that God predestined me to be a part of his family at the beginning of creation. Throughout the years, God has had specific purposes for me to achieve, and in this season of my life, my purpose is to just share what God has shown me.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family and spent a great deal of my younger years (before going to school) staying with my maternal grandparents. Even after I started school, I loved staying with my grandparents whenever I could because I felt happy and loved around them. Without a doubt, I consider Ima and Tom Dillard my biggest role models in life. I always thank God for them. At a very young age, my grandmother began telling me about Jesus. I believe that God very purposely used her so that I would begin to love him early in life. My family attended church sporadically due to personal situations. My parents would go to church for long stretches of time, stop going for another large chunk of time, and then start attending again. Once I got to 7th grade, my parents did not attend church at all during the rest of my teen years. Neither did I.
It was not until right after my husband and I got married (after my freshman year in college) that I attended church again. We met another couple who invited us to a small church, and we accepted the invitation. For the first time in my life, I began to have consistent church attendance. It was a small church and we met some really wonderful people. Finally, I started learning about what the bible has to say about God and Jesus and how we are supposed to live. However, my husband and I ended up moving to another town. We truly missed our church family. Fortunately, we did find a new church home and established new friendships with Christian people. Those early years of marriage and raising our children were mostly good years because of the Christian fellowships we had within our church and with our personal friends. Then what seemed a good decision at the time – moving back to the town where we started our married life – signaled the beginning of a long period of instability and real struggle. We did not establish the same ties with a church family that we had had before.
Years of Struggle
Because of some long-lasting effects from my childhood years, I have struggled with many issues. I have always loved God and Jesus and prayed and read my bible, but the specific areas of struggle never went away. Unfortunately, after my husband and I permanently returned to the town in which we started our married life, I stopped attending church for about five years while my children were living at home (which I truly regret). Even when I did begin attending church regularly again, I did not establish the close relationships I had had at earlier churches. My husband, for various reasons, did not return to church. I am sure this impacted my sense of disconnect when attending church. I changed churches several times because I went wherever it was my daughters wanted to attend. After they left home, I experienced the empty nest syndrome and lost interest in attending church for a short time. However, after my first daughter got married and started attending church with her husband, I began attending again. I have been at the same church since then.
The Slow Journey Back to God
Not feeling a sense of belonging during many of my years at church impacted my relationship with God. Losing the close relationship with God that I had had during my earlier years of marriage had a very negative effect on my life. I also feel like I cheated my own children out of a consistent church life and suffered from that guilt. However, when I started to consistently begin attending church again, I got involved in a women’s Sunday school group. I also began teaching in the preschool department. I was very blessed to be able to teach both of my first two grandsons in Sunday school during their early years. Even though I no longer attend a Sunday school with Christian women (I attend church services instead), my years with that group and my continued years of teaching Sunday school affected a change in me. I began to slowly establish relationships within the church family, but unfortunately, I still struggled in my personal life.
I have now discovered that having a close relationship with God is an absolute, non-negotiable necessity. How else can we truly live a godly life? I made many mistakes while struggling with the “demons” that had long haunted me since I was a child. Worst of all, I fought depression, even though most people did not know it. People who suffer from depression truly lose their joy in life.
Fortunately, even at my worst times, I knew deep down in my heart that God was the only answer. God never left me even though I left him behind at times. I have now been teaching Sunday school for about the last fifteen years and have have taught VBS most summers. Teaching preschoolers in my church’s child development center also was a blessing for me. I believe that committing myself to serving God through teaching children has helped me to reestablish my relationship with God. However, it has been a very long process to truly giving him everything. Even though I was involved in the church, I still suffered times of deep depression. I couldn’t understand why God allowed me to suffer so much. Over the years, I prayed and prayed to be delivered from these life-defeating feelings and emotions. To make a long story short, I got to the point that I really hated my life because of my struggles with depression, loneliness, and what I now I realize was a bad case of self-pity, which I am sure Satan encouraged. Instead of seeing the blessings in my life, I was held captive by my own self absorption, to the point I often felt like I was staring into an bottomless abyss.
Finally, I had no place to look except UP for an answer. I was so broken I finally had to say, “God, I do not want ANY control of my life at all. “PLEASE TAKE TOTAL CONTROL!” And I meant it. From that moment on, I started my journey of transformation towards becoming the person God purposed me to be. God had simply been waiting for me to allow him to rule my life so that I could become a person I could truly love.
My Life Today
I thank God for all the trials and tribulations I have experienced, even those in my childhood. Suffering has allowed me to truly grow as a person. I have been humbled by the knowledge of my own sinfulness, even though I am basically a good person. I still sin because we all sin because of our sinful natures. However, these sins are not ones of conscious disobedience. The insight, wisdom and knowledge that God has given me since I committed my life to him 100% now allows me to share with other people who struggle with many of the things with which I struggled. Because I made a very conscious decision to give total control to God and to live by faith in him alone, I have changed greatly. My everyday life has not changed so much; it is only the way I see myself in relationship to God that has changed. God has blessed me so much. I have discovered that God opens our eyes and our hearts so much if we will just trust him with everything. Now I see things in the bible that I never REALLY saw before, and I hope to share these insights with others.
Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony. It is hard to open up to others – something I never did before – and admit how far away from God I traveled and to also admit to my struggles with depression and my personal “demons.” However, I believe God allowed me to go down this path so that I could truly discover and fully believe that he is the only answer to everything in life! I had to be totally broken in order to become who God wanted me to become.
My passion now is to show people how important it is to not only trust in Jesus, but to seek to live godly lives. We live in a very sinful, and in my opinion, scary world. Christians need to stop living like they are part of this world. They need to start thinking about eternity, not only for themselves, but for their loved ones and friends. However, in order to do these things, each person has to admit that living a life that is not God-centered is not the answer. Only through committing ourselves fully to God can we be who God purposes us to be.
Honestly, people may not always like what I write about because it may make them feel uncomfortable or even guilty. There probably was a time when I would not have liked what I am now being led to write. God has now called me to present the truth that he has shown me, the truth that has totally transformed my life to one of joy and peace. What each person chooses to do with this information is between him or her and God. It is not my role to judge anyone, but only to write relevant articles that are based on the bible, God’s Holy Word. My hope is that every person who reads my articles will stop and truly evaluate his or her relationship with God. This is the true purpose for my website.