Good morning brothers and sisters. This is a first for me so please bear with my nervousness. When brother Granger asked me to do this my heart skipped a few beats with fear. But I will give it my best shot.
I was not raised in a church-going home and consequently there was a void in my life until I asked Christ into my heart at the age of 13. Instinctively ever since I could remember I believed in a being greater than myself. I was just not clear on what exactly that meant. I call it being hard wired for God. I still did not attend regular church but I prayed often. When I did attend church I found my mind wandering and not really taking away too much. The home I was raised in was much like everyone else’s in my neighborhood where most parents observed cocktail hour promptly at five.
Being raised in the 60’s and 70’s in Seattle, I simply assumed all Americans observed cocktail hour. After graduating from WSU I came back to Seattle to start my, quote, adult life. I met and married a man who also lived the example that was set by his parents. He was the life of the party and everyone loved to have him around. My parents also loved him. My dad was so excited to have someone to watch sports with and toss a few back. My husband and I had a lot of fun attending parties which often included dancing until the sun came up. Then came the babies. I slowly began to notice that I was always the first to leave the party and I would say…it’s okay honey you just stay and have fun, I’ll take the kids home. Well, this went on for several years and in that time, I became very lonely. My husband would now attend parties without me.
I prayed so hard for my husband to be a spiritual leader in the family. I just knew my prayer would be answered. My complaints to my husband about feeling like a single parent fell on deaf ears. Over a period of thirteen years I tried so hard to make my marriage work…a few jobs were lost, everything we worked so hard for was slipping away. I was beginning to see that my husband was putting the party life above his family…this meant only one thing….ADDICTION… DUH! When the emotional abuse began to get worse I simply had no choice but to leave my marriage. I felt like such a failure…what would God think of me.
For years I could not see that this way of life was simply wrong mostly because I was raised this way and knew no other. I do not say this to insult my parents whom I love dearly or to pass judgment on a lifestyle in which many of my old friends still partake. But I can honestly say that the example set by the LDS through the word of wisdom is a big reason why I am here.
I do not regret my first marriage because I have two beautiful girls whom I would not trade for the world.
Not long after my divorce was final, I met the kindest man I had ever known. Jim and I were married shortly thereafter in 2000 to the dismay of my parents. I was raised upper middle class and my new husband was raised very poor in a home without much love. After being a sports widow for so many years in my first marriage, I was so glad my new husband did not really take much interest in sports. Hard work was pretty much all he knew.
Over the last six years of our marriage Jim and I worked very hard together and moved six times. We bought houses that were in need of TLC, lived in some of them and sold some, rented some out and bought more.
When we started this process I was working full time doing payroll for a local casino. THE MOST SPIRITUALLY DEAD ENVIRONMENT I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. I had a boss who was dishonest and just plain mean. This was a very difficult time in my life and I leaned on God a lot. I was very much an outsider, it was commonplace for my coworkers to gamble and they often invited me to visit other casinos with them after work. I would politely decline and head home to be with my family. Those were the longest three years of my life.
One day Jim and I realized our 43rd birthdays were coming up. We were born just about a month apart. I had said for years that I was done having children. But after some discussion we decided we would leave it in God’s hands and if it were meant to be, it would be. Everyone said I was too old, something would be wrong with the baby and I would be an old woman when it reached high school. Well as many of you know, we were blessed with a very healthy beautiful baby boy. And if anything he will keep us young and active for many years to come.
We lived in Port Orchard before we moved here in December. I noticed my husband start to take on an urgent and diligent search for the truth. I was glad to see this as it was what I had prayed for. Jim had been searching to find the true church for over twenty years. We had nightly discussions about the bible which usually left my head spinning. Though I loved learning and hearing God’s word, my mind could only hold so much info until I would have to say okay honey I’m on overload lets continue tomorrow. He had and still has a great thirst for spiritual knowledge.
One day I noticed him reading a Book of Mormon that someone had given him
several years ago. Oh NO! I thought…well hopefully this is just a curiosity.
He began to talk to me about the book. The more he talked the more I shut down
and simply would not listen. Didn’t he know all those facts that every
other mainstream Christian has heard and read about the LDS? Well I better get
out there and find a normal church to attend,
So that is what I did. I was so excited to begin finally to attend church. I went in sat near the front and immediately filled out the card on the back of the pew in front of me. I checked every box. Yes I want someone to pray for me, yes I want to join a bible study, yes I want someone from the church to call me….well a week went by and I heard nothing. So the next week I filled out the card again, perhaps my last one was lost…so I checked the boxes again. After a month went by, I really needed to talk to someone to see if they could straighten out my husband’s incorrect path. So I thought... well I’ll just call the pastor at his home. The pastor answered the phone with a friendly Hello…oh finally I could get someone, oh pastor, I said, I am so glad to talk with you….then I heard…we are not able to come to the phone please leave a message at the tone….I drooped with disappointment. I left my message and again I waited. Looking back I think God was trying to tell me something.
In the meantime….
After much persistent bugging and pleading I agreed to go to services at Jim’s new place of worship. I was amazed at how welcome everyone made me feel. This felt almost like a family I thought…but I would never admit that to my husband. It was very different from other churches I had been to including my new church where everyone sort of shuffled in and out, not really speaking to anyone new.
Just about a year ago today, my husband, Jim was baptized at the LDS Mullenex ward. I did not attend. I regret that now. But I was so sure he was making a mistake and wanted no part of it. That did not stop him from trying to get me to join. In fact it got so bad that I went to Bishop Merrill and asked him to tell my husband to stop. He did talk to my husband and he did tell him to stop. Bishop Merrill is another big reason I am here. I loved him for that; I guess I was expecting him to work on me too. But he simply said that no one comes unless they are called. Unbeknown to me, I had several people there praying for me.
My dear husband did let up for a short while
One night last February, I was at my wits end with my husband’s persistence. I had been visiting with sister missionaries and reading the Book of Mormon and asking God for the truth. I went to in my closet where I sometimes go to pray. This is the main reason I am here….
I asked for a answer that seemed a long time in coming. I think God was waiting for me to come to him with a broken heart and that is just what happened. Please God I cried, just give me a sign that this is the right thing to do. I’m so worried about making a mistake. Sometime in the middle of the night I was awakened by the most beautiful feeling of overwhelming all consuming love. It felt like the lord was holding my heart in his hands. I was amazed, I thanked him and went back to sleep. I decided that night I would be baptized as soon as possible.
I consider myself still a toddler when it comes to spiritual growth. Many amazing things have happened to me already and I still make a lot of mistakes. But I keep trying, praying and hoping to be found worthy to dwell in the presence of my heavenly father when that time finally comes.
Gig Harbor, Wa
07 Nov 2006