Jason is out of town for the day/evening doing some side work. God is good. Lord knows we all need extra money right now. We have budgeted down to the penny and are being uber-frugal – then we pray. He provides in the most mysterious ways! In this case, Jason will be filming a kick-boxing match at an Indian Casion. He was actually pretty excited. The down side? Me and the kiddo are all alone without any expendable income for the day.
So we hit the library! Since I was a little girl, the library has been a favorite place of mine. It just teems with endless possibilities. I love a good story, a good recipie, a new lesson, and new anything. To think that God gave us the ability to place our thoughts, our very hearts on paper to share with the world is amazing.
I love to stroll through the aisles and scan the titles, hoping that something will catch my fancy. I hate looking for any particular title – too much work. I like to let a good book discover me. Today it was Idoleyes: Mandisa – My New Perspective on Faith, Fat, and Fame. This one has been on my “To Read” list, along with about 100 others, for awhile. I was excited to have found it and plunked the book into my bag.
I got Jonah home and settled him down for a nap after reading a Rosemary Wells (I just love her!) book and No Roses for Harry. Then I raced downstairs to get reading. I was pleasantly surprised to read an awesome foreword by Beth Moore whose writing I have come to love. In the first few chapters Mandisa shares her testimony. While I love to read and listen to many things – there is little better than a testimony of what God has done in the life of a person.
As I read her testimony of how she came to know the Lord and eventually how she came to work at Lifeway in Nashville and then to lead worship at Beth’s Living Proof Live conferences, I was flooded with memories of my own and amazed at how God crosses the paths of people and works simultaneously in the lives of His children.
In August of 2005 I was living in Nashville (Antioch to be exact) with Jason and Jonah, who was then a little over a year old. I had bee working for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee for over a year in the nursery, Jason with Marriott, and we attended Judson Baptist Church. With good jobs, great friends, and an awesome church – things looked very good on the outside for our little family, but they really weren’t – not at all.
When a child is thrown into the mix of an already tumultuous marriage, two unfulfilled people struggling to be whole, things can get a little rocky. Jonah was a joy. A sweet baby, who brought a whole new level of love into our lives that neither of us had ever experienced. We also discovered in ourselves a whole new level of selfishness that we hardly knew existed. Both hurt by the other and battling it out with a host of unreal expectations, we struggled to keep up the facade of the happy Christian couple. We did most of our fighting while Jonah slept.
That summer, I got invited to go to a Living Proof Live event in Knoxville with our women’s group at church. Jason had the weekend off, so he agreed to me going. I talked a dear friend of mine who was experiencing the devastation of divorce to come with me. I boarded the bus that Friday morning hopeful and unsure of what to expect.
As we rolled into Knoxville some 3 hours later – it was teeming with women. All kinds of women, and not just big-haired, pedal-pusher wearing, thirty and forty somethings either! I think there were 20 something thousand there from all over the South for the 2 day conference. I had done a Beth Moore study once a long time ago, and liked it. Still, I thought she must have something special for this many gals to come see her talk. I had no idea.
You see, the thing is that Beth didn’t have anything particularly special to offer (no offense! She would tell you that herself!) She is just a humble servant, albeit a funny one, who has devoted her life to recklessly abandoning herself to God. She’s just nuts about him. She’s desperate to know Him. I sensed that from the moment she stepped onto the stage. But before she spoke, the worship team led. And OH did we worship. It felt good. It was freeing. Unfettered by the responsibilities of home and the expectations of denomination – we just worshipped. Loudly, passionately, joyfully. There’s nothing like hearing 20 thousand women raise their voices to the Lord in one accord. I get the chills just thinking about it!
I wish I could tell you what all Beth talked about that night, but I know the one thing that struck a match in my heart….did I have an enemy? Was there someone in my life I hated? Was that someone myself? Yes and No. Well, Yes and Yes. One person who had become my arch-enemy was the very man I had pledged my life and love to, and the other was me. At the end of the service, the screen in the middle of the arena flashed scriptures over and over reminding us of who GOD says we are. I just wept. All along I was hating my husband for wrongs he’s done to me, refusing to forgive and blaming him for everything wrong in our marriage. God had me pegged good. I just wept.
That weekend culminated in a real turning point in my life with Christ. I started to love Him in a whole new way and I began to desperately cry out for my marriage to be saved. While it didn’t all happen right then and there, I started to believe God that He could do it if I could trust Him.
I know this post is already terribly long, just bear with me a little longer! On the second day of the conference I noticed one of the worship singers as she began to belt out a song that I loved Shackles by Mary Mary. This girl could wail! Her voice was commanding, powerful, and absolutely gorgeous. She sang it like she meant it. It wasn’t just a good song, it was a testimony! My soul testified with hers and it still does. Every time I hear that song, I have to crank it up and sing along. You cannot imagine my delight and surprise when I saw that same girl – Mandisa – auditioning and making it onto American Idol that same year. I was and continue to be one of her biggest fans!
Needless to say, I’m loving the book. We’ve come a long way girl, and we have a long way yet to go.