I hope you enjoyed Emily’s post about her faith walk.
You can find it here if you missed it yesterday.
Today I have the pleasure of featuring my beautiful cousin Joy Marie.
Joy is not a blogger per say, but she has been managing the site www.helpalandmoe.com.
She also had the most amazing beach wedding.
(Don’t we all look so much alike?)
(That would be me screaming in Joy’s arm while our loving caring Grandpa looks on!)
Take it away, Joy!
We went to Sunday school, vacation bible school in the summers and were brought up knowing Jesus loved us. When your child, you think as a child and just know that things will always be taken care of. When my parents divorced, things were still taken care of. I had what I needed, not always what I wanted but with Mom being a single parent she did all she could. Have a big, loving family helped then.
When I was 8, tragedy struck our family. My little brother Johnny was hit by a car while riding his bike. Mom and I were there and saw the entire thing happen. Johnny died. My childhood died that day as well. What I didn't and couldn't know that day was that my parents each died that day. They would never be the same. Time passed, life went on and things kept being taken care of. I was told Johnny was with God and Jesus. As an 8 year old you can not possible grasp the concept of heaven. One day you have a brother and the next you are alone. You have no one to talk to. You are incapable of finding the words to describe how you are feeling. You don't know how to feel.
When I was 12 we moved to Georgia. The big, loving family I had was gone. I was with Mom, my (step)dad and (step)brother Erik (who at this time resented me and treated me horribly!). We found a church. I started confirmation classes at a Lutheran church. I had not yet found my faith. The pre-teen years for a girl are hell. Plain and simple. I was angry at everyone then. (Except my Aunt Terry because she convinced my mom that it was okay for me to be wearing a little bit of make-up and learn proper skin care which helped a lot with my self esteem around the 'city' girls in Metro Atlanta.) I couldn't understand why God took Johnny and not me. Why did he leave me here? What was so special for me to do in my life that I was left behind?
The questions haunted me for years and it interferred with my faith. I had a hard time trusting that He loved me and that I was already forgiven. I believed I had to earn my right to be left here and one day be with Him and Johnny. That I was left here to do something incredible and my life had to have some great meaning or purpose.
I was supposed to get married in September 2001. I cancelled the wedding the June before. I knew I wasn't ready and neither was Jason. In October 2002 my Grandpa, my soul mate and man that I held nearer to my heart than any other, died. Suddenly. I was devastated. I got depressed. I was angry again. Angry at him for taking care of everyone else before he took care of himself and angry at God for taking him before I was ready to let him go. In November of that year, I left Jason, thinking it was for good. I felt that I couldn't love him the way my Granny loved 'Papa'. That on his deathbed, I wouldn't be crawling in bed with him to kiss him goodbye and that my life may as well end as well....like Granny and Papa.
I mourned, I grieved...I prayed a LOT! I was lost. The entire time I heard a knock on my soul and God would ask, "Joy, are you ready to let me in yet?" I would answer, "No, Lord, I am not yet worthy of your Love." I believed that. I truly believed that I had not achieved what it was that He wanted me to achieve yet!
Every night I would say my prayers the same way that I had since childhood. I would always pray for Jason first. Couldn't stop. I would get angry because I didn't want to pray for him! At the same time, I was dating. There were some awful and funny dates in those years!!! I can laugh at them now but at the time I was wondering how long I was going to be alone. Yet, in my heart I knew that the person I was going to marry was already in my life. Where and who was a mystery but I had the intuition. In 2006, Jason and I found our way back to each other and it was magical to us both. We were married on the beach on a beautiful October evening at sunset. This is why I continued to pray for him and I was grateful.
I got pregnant in May 2007. I was so scared and excited! Complications came with the pregnancy. I had gestational diabetes, low amniotic fluid, the baby was breech and the placenta was in front of the baby meaning I didn't get the moving and kicking that the majority of pregnant women get. At this time I opened the door wide open to God. I let go of everything and gave it all to him. I had to only think about me in order to take care of the miracle inside of me. Kylie-Rae Maureen was born 4 weeks early but was healthy, strong and loud! I had an emergency ceasarean and it was found out at her birth, that she had a know in her umbilical cord. God was there for my baby! He was there for me and Jason! Our prayers were answered and we were so grateful and continue to be.
The elation and faith went away. We lost everything in Florida. The economy tanked and the housing market crashed. Jason, being a carpenter and owning a framing company was hit hard and was one of the first hit. It wasn't losing the material things that bothered me. It was losing my independance and having to move home. I couldn't find work. I shut the door again. Our lives were a mess and we were bouncing around between Georgia, Florida & Wisconsin, Jason was working in any state that he could find work in. We were apart and I was raising Kylie alone. I was miserable.
My best friend, Karri started going to a new church and I went with.her to check it out. I walked into His Hands Church and heard the guy on stage say "God loves music, let's play some rock and roll." Then I heard the most AMAZING Christian music I have ever heard in my life!! I was in love. I was home. The message at His Hands is "Jesus...Not Religion". We do not judge. We do not preach. We share. We love. We party and celebrate the love of Jesus Christ. When we were all settled back in Georgia, I took Jason to church with me. We went every week. I was listening to the Word and feeling great. The door was opening again. I had let God in for some coffee, but wasn't speaking with Him yet.
Things weren't getting better. I vented to Jason one day and he turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said "I am not going to church with you anymore. You go, but you aren't listening. What's the point if you aren't giving it to God completely?" I was at a loss for words. He was right. I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk. My attitude changed then and there. God was let into my heart for more than just coffee. We are together 24/7 now!
I let him in just in time to get me through some difficult months. My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in June. She was in ICU for 3 weeks. She had gotten so sick that there was a lot of things wrong at once. I prayed non-stop. (James 1:5-6) I never thought she was going to die. I just knew that she was going to get better! I cried, of course I did. It was so hard seeing this brave and strong woman who I admire and love so much be stuck in a bed with tubes in her and sedated severely. It was awful! During this time there was family in and out of town. Behind my back it was said that I was in denial. I was appalled when I heard this! Number 1 - I have FAITH. I knew better than anyone how sick she was. I watched her deteriorate for months. I dealt with the awful staff at the doctor's office giving her run around and held her as she cried because she was at a loss of what to do, she felt so bad! Number 2 - I know how strong she is inside. She continued to live when her child was taken from her. She choose to live for me and herself, then for the man I now call Dad. She is stronger than anyone I know.
I choose to have faith. To let faith consume me. I take each day as it comes and go with it. (Matthew 6:34) I live my life knowing that He loves me, He loves us, oh how he loves us! I am proud that a great lady told me she was proud of me for having God in my life before she passed away. I am grateful to her for loving me enough to tell me that. I'm proud too. Things are getting better every day for us. My mom is healing. She is kicking cancer butt! My daughter lights up every room she walks into (she begged me for 2 days to shave her head for her Nana when Mom lost her hair from the chemo so we did it!) We always make it through each month financially.
I was brought back home for a reason. I was jobless for a reason. I prayed for Jason for a reason. I was left behind for a reason and I know now it is simply to exist and love. To make other people smile. To help and love others and be a Servant to my Savior. That is great in itself. The world would be a better place if everyone chose to be a Servant. I judge no one. I pray for everyone. I forgive because I was forgiven before I was born.
God's Blessings to y'all,