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Project R12:11

Hello, Thank you for this opportunity. Some of you may know a bit of my story. I plan to share some things you may not know. But I could not tell you my real story without understanding Christ’s story …what a great gift He has given me and I have received of the forgiveness of my sins by His giving His very life for me! I found it very difficult, almost impossible to share my story the first times I cdid so. I wasn’t confident I was really forgiven and had a lot of shame. I so relate to the Samaritan woman in John 4. In today’s culture, I could be coined her, based on my sin history. Jesus told her she had been married 5 times and was living with a man (my story is different but still culturally similar) and He said to her: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10) Jesus also told her, and only her, in all the Bible, outright, that HE, Jesus =Messiah! (John 4:26) She then ran around telling everyone, “HE told me everything I ever did" (John 4:39) and many people believed in Jesus. Many listened to Jesus, then said: “we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” It was by studying John 4 that God comforted me and enabled me to break out of shame and start telling my story because I am convinced and confident that I am forgiven, saved and have received THE GIFT OF GOD in Jesus Christ. I’ve been snatched from the fire, brought up from the deep. I can tell you “I was in a pit so deep but He was deeper still and brought me out!” I felt like a leper that Christ was willing to make clean. (Matthew 8: 2-3 in a spiritual sense I have experienced this!) I believe I could be or any manner of horrible things, even dead and in hell without Jesus! But God knows everything I ever did and has forgiven me! He has been with me, rescued me and wondrously helped me! Before I start my story overview, I would like you to consider two things and either write them down or keep them in mind. 1 Do you remember the first time you prayed and experienced an answer to your prayer? 2 Do you remember the first time you sensed God speaking to you? With those two firsts of yours in mind, my testimony will include my answer to those two questions. We could probably talk a lot on the answers this audience could give! What testimonies to God’s Faithful Love and Presence we would hear! Here is my story in a nutshell: I was raised by two parents that were basically faithful to God and each other the best they knew. They were married over 50 years til death parted them. This set an important precedent in my life and family. I have an older sister, and brother, and a sister that was born about five years after me. Two very sweet early memories I have is of my sister, brother and me, nightly, kneeling and praying, asking God for another sibling and GOD answered! God answering our prayers made an impact on me, on us, as youngsters! The second memory is of us siblings playing First Holy Communion. We went through all the ceremony. We took bread to receive “the body of Christ” and I felt so special and loved, yet I had little understanding of what it all meant. We were a faithful, week in, week out, church attending Catholic family. My mother came into the Catholic faith by marriage. My father was raised Italian; his parents from Italy. My mother was mostly raised by a single, full time working mom as her dad was in isolation with tuberculosis much of her young life. My parents had many ABUSES growing up. But despite, or maybe because, of these hardships and exposures: (a mix of religions, spiritualism, occult activity, alcohol, violences, neglect and abandonment), my parents sought and feared God. My parents both had their own journeys “out of works based trying to earn salvation, false religion” to really receiving and knowing Christ as Savior to forgive their sins and being BORN AGAIN. But what greatness to know they received Christ thus are in heaven based on the authority of God’s Word. It has been a long process for me to learn what I will share. I share with you to give to you what has taken years for me to really learn and live. I see now that everything that has happened in my life can be used to advance the Gospel. This is the same in all believers’ lives, as true Christians, and it is a joy to me to recognize because this helps me accept the very hard things in my past. What was meant for evil GOD meant it for good. Genesis 50:20. Romans 8:28. I was impacted NEGATIVELY BY ILLNESS and MANY ABUSES early in life. I suffered emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuses, some as early as 3. Many spiritual things were confusing to me. I was victim of Satanic occult abuse at 14. All these abuses seemed life altering and difficult, even impossible, to recover from and overcome, BUT GOD!(When I gave this testimony verbally my voice cracked and I had a hard time continuing.) Although I was taken to church every week all of my life I do not think I heard the true gospel at church or at least I did not understand it. In that, I did not know, I was not taught, to take my SINS TO THE CROSS FOR FORGIVENESS. I hid my sins. pretended they were not there or confessed them to the priest to get prayer penitence. I did not understand CHRIST PAID FOR MY SINS AND WANTED ME TO TAKE MY SINS TO HIM. I thought God was a policeman/Santa in sky kind of God saying “BE GOOD” or else. I did not understand that God wanted and real relationship with me. I did not understand that God’s laws were meant to protect me not take away my fun. I did not understand that God wants me to tell him of my sin and let HIM FORGIVE ME! As I look back church was a confusing mix for me. We were told Jesus died on the cross but we were not taught to confess our sins to God. We told the priests our sins and then did special prayers to make up for our wrongs. What Jesus did and WHY he did what He did simply did not compute. I did not understand the basic truth that my sins were paid for by Jesus on the cross. I was always trying to earn forgiveness and to be good enough! The simple truths of Christmas being Jesus’ coming to earth and his birthday and Easter being a celebration of His resurrection after dying on cross for my sins was not clear to me. It seemed clouded over and confused by Santa and The Easter Bunny and ways we celebrated and by mixed teachings. But I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness to reach out to me personally. At about 10, I remember experiencing or sensing God personally at home: I remember distinctly on Good Friday my mom explained that it was the darkest day all year and why: A remembrance that Jesus died on the cross that afternoon. But again I was not really clear why. I knew he was innocent and God’s Son. I did not understand at that time that Jesus is also God in human flesh. But I remember that Good Friday had a huge impact on me. I remember praying and being thankful for Jesus and feeling with Jesus all was made right. I also remember at about 10 being told the story of Solomon and was encouraged to pray and ask God what I needed to help me.. I asked a personal, private petition and I sensed that God answered me! It seemed The LORD was speaking to me and what I sensed from Him did happen. It was the first time I sensed God speaking to me personally in prayer! I was amazed! I wanted to BE GOOD, to please God. But I knew I wasn’t good inside. Outside yes I obeyed mostly.. but I lived with dread and overwhelming SHAME and felt at my core that I WAS BAD AND DIRTY. Yet, I was a very obedient child! I could not make sense of my feelings. I had periods of wanting to die almost as young as I can remember. I was in great pain a lot but could not make sense of it all. I felt crazy because my reality was one way but the denial of my reality by my family confused me. (When I was an adult I questioned my parents about my memories. My mother admitted to me and family members that she took me to the pediatrician when I was about 3 because she was concerned I had been sexually abused. She said I acted in ways that were sexual. But she says the doctor assured her I would grow out of what was concerning her. From that time on my mother denied any sexual abuse and did not seek any help for me.) At 14 I received Christ, was born again, at a youth retreat on July 4th weekend. I go into this more in The Elephant Gospel book. If anyone is interested, free books are available, while supplies last, if you contact me. A few weeks after I was born again in Christ, I was a victim of occult abuse. Followed was a time I thought started good but turned sour and it seemed a BLACK cloud descend over my life! The most popular boy at school liked me. He was full of adventures and fun. He seemed to brighten my world. He opened up the world of horses and horseback riding and I felt in love. But over time, my heart was broken in an unusual way by a double betrayal and rejection. I cried three days, would not eat and was unconsolably sobbing. My parents almost took me to the hospital. I felt broken, undone, unrepairable. (Now looking back, it all seems so incredibly tied to my early childhood abuses and betrayals by those that were supposed to love me.) Something in me snapped at that time. I felt desolate and unlovable and absolutely devastated. A darkness felt over me. After this, I was so conflicted. I went through throwing myself at guys to see if I was still attractive to shutting down completely. I was a very mixed up confused teen! Depression, an eating disorder, FEAR OF MEN and GREAT FEAR OF SEX AND FEELING SUICIDAL all overwhelmed me. I did not know where to go for help. I shared with a friend my fears and why. Our comfort of one another turned sour. It was a short time but this was “A RUIN” in my life! I hated myself and her. I felt terrible guilt, shame and condemnation and stopped the relationship. I was even more suicidal thereafter… In time I graduated high school and went off to College. New start. Good beginning. Love of life. Marriage. Then, first year of marriage: Abortion. Devastation. Same type cycle that I was not equipped to cope or handle. I spiraled downward. Eating disorder worse. Drinking. Barely survived. Struggling much to do daily life. Graduated college. Bo, my husband, entered Air Force. Based and moved to Montana. Better life. Stable time in our lives and marriage. Friends became family. In 1985, we were blessed with our firstborn Adam. Return to Florida after four years service. In 1989, we were blessed with our second son Alex. We have been Blessed greatly. Yet still never really feeling forgiven for my past or at peace with myself or my own skin and struggling in marriage and as a mom. I often have felt NOT GOOD ENOUGH and A FAILURE. I had this dream of being trapped in a prison compound that had a maze that I was desperately trying to escape but the maze exits were all locked and there were guards in towers above the compound that shot bullets at me. I did not know how to escape and I did not know what was true or what was lies! I finally found an exit that opened. I knew it was because of JESUS. Believing and calling on JESUS, His Truth opened the locked exit door and I got out only to face the guards’ bullets. I woke up. In real life it seems the maze represents FALSE RELIGION (or CURSED GOSPEL) and the Exit only opens by JESUS! HIS Grace, Guidance, Truth and Spirit overcomes all locks and bondage. The shooter, or guards are the Legalists, the Pharisees, the religious people that are not living by TRUTH and Grace and try to stop those with Jesus and the TRUE GOSPEL and GOOD NEWS from getting out. In real life I know that Jesus as Truth and Grace was and is and always will be the way out of the religious bondage of trying to be good enough or earn salvation. I had to replace lies with truths! My relationship with the LORD and learning His Word and Grace and Mercy saved me. I am now living FORGIVEN AND LOVED AND ACCEPTED BY GOD! I have more fully RECEIVED AND LIVE THE TRUTH AND REAL GOSPEL and thrive in my born Again, FORGIVEN BY CHRIST IDENTITY and REALITY. Now I want everyone to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We are blessed to have Adam and his wife Jennifer and their son Aiden now 6 months and Alex’s wife Kelsey and their son Henry 2 + years old. Even in Alex early, unexpected entering heaven in August 2020, God has been good and faithful to us. God our Father did for our son what we could never do: THE LORD raised him up and brought him to his eternal home. We are overjoyed and grateful that Alex knew Christ as his Savior. I have never prayed more for anyone that I did the last week of Alex‘s life. I was devastated that my prayers were not answered the way that I had hoped. I felt betrayed and forsaken by God but God showed me Jesus was forsaken (I just felt forsaken but wasn’t) and yet he committed himself to His Father. Committing myself to God is something that I began doing and say outloud at times, especially when I have felt my worst in grief. I feel on a personal level God showed me that some of my prayers are answered only in heaven just like Jesus in his prayer in John 17:5, NASB: "And now You, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world existed.” He experienced the transfiguration but I do not think his prayer was fully answered on earth. But Jesus’ prayer was answered in THE RESURRECTION, IN HEAVEN, similarly, I believe my prayer is answered in the Resurrection because Alex is Resurrected and in Heaven! Maybe some or one of you are like I was: trapped in lies or “BE GOOD’ type thinking or mentality of works based religion and not really knowing God as Savior who forgives sin? May I pray? LORD, OPEN OUR HEARTS TO YOU, please. Help us BELIEVE IN JESUS AND BE SAVED! Please open eyes and turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that any who are willing may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in YOU LORD JESUS ACTS 26:17–18). May those willing repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds’ (v.20). LORD, help us receive and know the truth of who You are God and what You have done for us in GIVING YOUR SON FOR OUR FORGIVENESS OF SIN through His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection! The work of God is to believe In Jesus Your Son, LORD, Help us believe in the work of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins! Make us born again and transform us to Your image LORD, please. … ‘I have had YOUR help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify and want your forgiveness, salvation and help to each person here today! Help us know and be known by Jesus! We pray in the Mighty to Save Name of Jesus! Amen and Amen. —— John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 KJV We know Satan is a liar and counterfeiter. One of his greatest goals is to get God’s people away from the truth of who God is and what God has done for us in GIVING HIS SON FOR OUR FORGIVENESS OF SIN through the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Through my experiences and The Word of God, I believe it is essential to understand and receive and share about GOD’s FORGIVENESS THROUGH THE BLOOD of Jesus (all in OT points to Jesus). Otherwise, our lives are not lined up with The Bible and True Gospel. The presence of God with us, strengthening and comforting us, His Word empowering us, His Gospel bring hope to us His resurrection promises already realized for Alex but in future for us has blessed us in the midst of our pain & deep grief! LORD HELP ME BE A Witness and servant as Paul was in Acts 26:16 snd as Jesus in Mark 10:45. Help me point to Jesus and fulfill my call. Help me Simply and humbly give my testimony. Be polite and respectful. Help me LORD to conform to custom and social graces and skillfully select the parts of my story that are relevant to audience. In the first part of testimony use I instead of you and be more unthreatening and gracious in making a point. Help me say i used to be just like them: was convinced I was ok by being good… I worked to earn forgiveness I was not living the true gospel! Jesus please send me to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in YOU LORD JESUS ACTS 26:17–18). Through this powerful ‘I’ message of my testimony, May I like a Paul actually say to them that they are in darkness and under the power of Satan, in need of forgiveness for their sins. Help me point out their needs, and also point out the way to forgiveness: ‘I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds’ (v.20). Help me say ‘We need to repent and turn to God.’ ‘I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike’ (v.22). Help me be willing to speak to everyone, to the powerful and to the weak. Help me like Paul’s message be always centered on Jesus! Lord, help me to take every opportunity to tell people about Jesus and to follow his example of humble service. I pray to show the real Hope of The Gospel: The forgiveness of sins because of Christ death and His resurrection and the hope in life we have now and eternally, through the finished work of Christ on earth. “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” Acts 26:18 CSB


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