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History – a chronological record of significant events often including an explanation of their causes.
Herstory – a chronological record of significant events of my faith and service including an explanation of their causes.

Willohroots requested the whole story of my road to faith and service, so here it is. It turned out to be very long, but my favorite evangelist, David Ring, says if I don‘t tell it, it won‘t get told. Hope you can stay awake.

I think faith often starts in childhood. I know mine did. I can only remember one time my family attended church, and it was long enough ago that they had a smoking section, but my mother often spoke of God and His love. I remember her trying to explain the triune God, when I was about four. (Yep, four; can you imagine!) She did as good a job as anyone, and I’ve never struggled with that doctrine the way some have. It may be as simple as believing, because “Mom said so.“ But it works. She also allowed me to attend vacation Bible School, each summer, and always encouraged me to go to church with my friends when invited. It was during one of those visits, to a friends church, at twelve, that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. (Becky B., if you ever read this I owe you my very life.)

Unfortunately, we got tied up with Jehovah’s Witnesses shortly thereafter. I can’t call that time a total loss, because it instilled in me the importance of Bible study and reaching out to others. And how many people can say they were baptized on the fifty-yard-line of Texas Stadium? I did however become very confused about Jesus, and lost my trust in Him. After falling away I tried a lot of other roads, including Wicca, but when life was at it’s worst and I really needed someone, I always found myself at the foot of the cross. I kept searching for someone/something to fill the void. Men didn’t do it, and I have three ex-husbands to prove it. Four children didn’t do it, though they came closer than anything else. Liquor, pills, pot, work, friends, none of those things filled the empty space inside.

Then on September 11, 2001 suddenly and without warning, our entire country went into mourning, causing me to consider ending my life. For that to make sense you need to know that I’m an empath, which is not something weird or spooky. It simply means that I feel the strong emotions of those around me. Fear, anger, and sadness surrounded me, and I couldn’t escape, even for a moment. The only peace I felt was when my husband and I attended a memorial at the church across the street from where I worked. Then and many times since then I’ve had the feeling of being held as I wept. Doug must have noticed, because he was the one who suggested we actively begin seeking a church to attend regularly. Of course, after visiting several and not finding what we were looking for it kind of fell by the wayside.

A few months later, a friend invited me to a women’s retreat at her church, and paid my way, because there was no way I could afford it. It started out with a silly PJ and crazy slipper night, and turned into one of the most important milestones in my life. Suddenly I had an appetite for God’s Word again, and found myself on my knees rededicating my life to Him. Well, He doesn’t take a thing like that lightly, and soon Doug and I were attending his mother’s church regularly. During a Sunday service, we simply looked at each other and said, “Let’s join.” Neither of us even knew the other was considering it! A week later we were baptized together, which has turned into a huge strong point in our marriage.

It really was a great church, on the small side, with as sweet a spirit as any new Christian could hope for, and Brother Dan, the pastor, was a great teacher. I still had a trust problem with Jesus, and was trying to work it out when The Passion came out. It broke my heart and sent me running to my Savior’s arms.

We were at that church for three years, and as with most things, I jumped in head first, always carefully avoiding stepping over my bounds as a woman. With the encouragement of our piano player, Marlene, I was singing specials with the bravest of them, and found myself teaching Sunday school and leading children’s church. As most good things tend to, it ended. Our church split, my Sunday school class of tough little girls vanished, and children’s church was down to three little boys, so they were moved to the regular service. Our best friends left with the Pastor and began a new church, where he abandoned them right away. We were heartsick, for them and for us.

After they found a new pastor for their fledgling church, we went to visit them. They asked me to lead the song service that day, and suddenly I had a place to serve again. There is really nothing like building up a brand new church, so much to be done, and so few to do the work. I was in “Martha” heaven. There were some things I had to get use to though. Women were often called on to pray, and there was a woman on the finance committee! Funny, it didn’t take long.

It soon became apparent we had a problem. Our pastor was jealous of one of the founders of the church, and had begun to use the pulpit to blast him at every opportunity. He also started manipulating people to further his own agenda. We kept expecting him to get angry enough to walk out, and though I still don’t know why, I promised my friend I’d have a devotion ready, if we needed it. It finally came to a point where we had to ask him to leave. It was ugly and painful, and we lost several families, because of it. With the help of one of our other ladies, I was pressed into leading our services, while we looked for a new pastor.

I was about as freaked out as one person is allowed to be. My husband had just gone out of town for work, and there was no one I could talk to, well, other than God. I cried, and told Him I wouldn’t do it, couldn’t do it. I am a woman after all. Of course I just happened to be in Deborah’s part of Judges in my Bible reading. So I agreed, but I wouldn’t stand in the pulpit, and would only do devotions until one of the men was ready to preach. But they needed more, and somehow it had fallen to me to feed His sheep. It wasn’t long before I was in the pulpit, preaching. It seems there is very little difference in a devotion and a sermon.

Six months later, we did find a preacher. I had a few doubts, but everyone else was so happy. I shut my mouth and handed my charges over to his care and keeping. I did, however, stay the song leader. I don’t know that speaking up would have changed anything, but do wish I had tried. I stuck it out as the pastor’s thumb came down harder and harder, because my husband was happy there, and because there were some good things happening.

The toughest thing to deal with is that the pastor knows I feel called to ministry, and he simply can’t let it go. He always talks about how good it is to visit his home church, how they bless him with things for his church, and how they pray for and support him. He would not only deny me that, but actively try to destroy any ministry of which I am a part. In the end I had a choice, stay and destroy the church or go find the supportive environment I need and crave.

Doug and I have found a place where we can both serve, and which supports women in ministry. I get phone calls from people leaving our old church. Sometimes they’re in tears wanting to know what went wrong. It seems since we left the pastor has taken iron-fisted control. They are only allowed to sing from the hymnal he brought in, and he has questioned the salvation of several members, because they’ve sinned. There are other things, but that’s enough. Why did he wait until we left to do those things? Maybe because he knew I’d call him on them?

My independent Bible study starts Wednesday morning. Anyone who wants to attend will be welcome, and I plan to go invite a few folks the churches haven’t bothered with.

God worked too hard to break the chains that bound me, and no one is putting me back in them! If anyone has a problem with it they can talk to my Boss.

Father, help me always to remember that You’re not done with me yet, I’m just a sinner, saved by grace, and that minister means servant.

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Karen, if you’re reading this quit. I want to tell you face to face.

Doug and I have been visiting Aurora Baptist Church, where his mom is a member, for a few weeks now, and today we decided to make it our church home.

Aurora is much bigger than anywhere we’ve even visited before, but it has a “large family” feeling to it, and they have had the same Pastor for 27 years. The Sunday School is done in a small group setting, which Doug and I have never done before, and we’re encouraged to “chime in” and share what we’ve learned on our own. (Read: I don’t have to sit on my hands and bite my tongue. 🙂 ) I love, love, love the music! It’s a mixture of the old and new, and just enough of each. There are also more ministries going on there than I’ve been able to count, so far, and they don’t have a problem with women in ministry.

Making it official that we’re leaving Faith breaks my heart, just a little. I poured a lot into that church, but it seems my season there is over, and God is calling me to something new.

I know He knows what He is doing. Just pray I’m up to the challenge.

Yeah, I know you didn’t quit. So call me if you want, or we’ll talk Sunday at lunch. Love you.

My non-Christian friends are welcome to chime in too, if they have an opinion.

Is it possible to be tempted into not living out God’s will for one’s life by being given nearly everything one has ever wanted in a good, godly church?

…you could get dragged right out of your comfort zone.

My season as song leader, in our little (but growing) church, recently ended. There is a little sadness, because I’ve really enjoyed doing the job, but I’ve always said when someone more qualified came along (It wouldn’t take much.) I would step down gracefully. That someone came along in the form of our Pastor’s son, who just graduated Bible College. He’s a wonderful young man, and we’re lucky to have him. We’ve grown so much that he will also be leading our new Children’s Service!

Do I get to sit back, rest, and enjoy warming a pew for a while? Of course not. J, who will be leading Children’s church, is getting married in five months, which means he will not have a wife to help him, for a while yet. That’s important, because there will be a number of young ladies attending. J’s mother is already busy in the nursery, so guess who was asked to help. It is short-term service, but since I’ll be helping to build the ministry his fiancée will be dropped into in a few months, it needs to be done properly and well. Fortunately, I do have the experience which J lacks.

We’ve also started a new thing on Wednesday nights, with the corny but apt name “Come and dine in 09”. The Pastor and his wife, Doug and I, and anyone else who would like to help, put together an meal each week. (It’s nothing expensive or fancy. This week we made soups.) We have a prayer meeting, and then eat together. It’s been wildly popular, and last week we actually had more on Wednesday night than we did on Sunday morning!

Sadly the food pantry is also very popular. The downward moving economy had been devastating in this area, and people are hurting for the basic necessities of life. Keeping the pantry well stocked, clean and organized has become almost a second job. Right now I’m also trying to find warm coats for a few of the children, and two car seats for the church van. The coats I can just buy, but car seats are expensive. Send up a prayer if you would.

Looks like I should be too busy to be upset. Doesn’t it? Be very careful when you ask God to put His hand on your life. It’s a very powerful hand!

I knew this time would come, and have even looked forward to it, so why this feeling of panic and sense of loss?

For almost two years, I’ve been the song leader at my little church, and for six months I filled in as the Pastor. I’m not qualified for either position, and had no problem handing over our little flock when the right man came along. Now he’s growing the church, and I can see my season as song leader ending.

Sooner rather than later, someone qualified for my position will join the church. I will hand it over graciously, then come home and cry, even though I’ve known for years that my true ministry is feeding people, and for those same years I’ve been asking, how can you feed their souls if their bellies are empty?

Now, we have a Pastor as passionate about it as I am, and he’s letting me set up a food bank. (Another job I’m not really qualified for.) It would be difficult to do both jobs, so I’m confused by my attachment to the song leader’s position. It’s not like I’ll never get to sing again, and it will even be easier to sing the songs I really like.

Very odd.