My Story, My Song: My Testimony

Last weekend, on the Saturday before her biopsy, So Young spent about half the day on the computer writing this blog post. She can’t see well, so I set up the computer so that the text was highly magnified and had a black background with white lettering, which helps her because of the high contrast. It was truly a labor of love for her. This post is really her passion, what her life and this blog are about. I invite you to read it. She also asks that you reply to the post with your own story of God’s goodness and blessing to you. (Note that this blog is moderated for first-time posters. I check a few times a day to approve posts.)

From So Young:

Just keep in mind that this is my blog so I can share what I want, that and I also have a brain tumor, so na nee na nee na neee.

I have always said that I was born a Christian, because I don’t remember a time I didn’t believe in Jesus. I was born into an imperfect Christian home to a Southern Baptist minister. (This particularly attracted James for some reason. It wasn’t my smile or my sense of fashion.)

I grew up on “Jesus loves me, this I know/For the Bible tells me so” and “God is so good.” Without a doubt, I will die (someday a long time from now) with those two songs in my heart and on my lips. I grew up hearing my mom and dad singing spiritual songs and hymns at home and went to church every Sunday for more.

I always considered my story to be a boring one, so I started to ask God for a better one. When I ask I always receive. The door always opens when I knock. He has always been faithful to help me find when I seek.

Just a few days ago, I confessed to James that I had been praying for God to give me a better testimony. Even in my blindness, I could see the incredulous expression on his handsome face.

“That’s the one thing you’re not supposed to pray!”

My best friend, Kim had a similar reaction and said, “You prayed that?!”

OK! Yes, I did. I told God that I wanted for my life to have a higher purpose and that I wanted to live out this life for Him. I didn’t want to come to Him and say I did nothing with the life I was given. My highest hopes are to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21 & 23). I desire to be salt and light in this world that is darkness. The fact that there is good in this world speaks of God’s love and goodness.

Like I said in a previous post, I’ve been stumbling around proclaiming “God is good ALL of the time.” Thank You, God, that even though I can’t see with my eyes, I can see You clearer than ever with my soul. I can truly say with all my heart that I see You. And it all started with the faith of a little child, singing church songs. He’s been planting seeds all along and now they have grown into fruits of righteousness. Faith is a gift from the Father of Lights (James 1:17). Every good and perfect gift comes from You. It’s a gift and an everlasting treasure.

As Christmas draws near, God gave us a gift by sending his Son Jesus to a little town in Bethlehem, his pure and holy one, to be birthed in a filthy stable for farm animals. I can’t grasp the enormity of God’s love, until I think of it this way. You may have heard it so many times. You may have heard it a gabillion times, but hear it again and BELIEVE!

It’s so hard to understand why He would send his only Begotten Son, Jesus, to come and atone for our filthiness, our sin. I’ve been a Christian all my life (let’s just say a little over 30 years), and I ask, “Why? Why do you love us so much to send your precious one to be born into this filthy world and lay him down into a filthy manger? You sent your Son Jesus to suffer and die the most humiliating way. He was mocked, spit on, smacked, punched, flogged, and then nailed to a cross (a criminal’s death sentence). And for what? For living a life without sin and without fault? Because it was God’s will and his perfect plan to reconcile us to him. We are as filthy rags, but God shows us love in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ Jesus died for us, so we can come into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father (Romans 5:8).

As the hymn says, “How deep the Father’s love for us,/How vast beyond all measure!/That He would send His only Son/To make a wretch His treasure!” How amazing is your grace, God, that You would make me, a wretch, your treasure. How unbelievable that You consider me a treasure too! That’s really the only way I can understand why You’d send your precious Son for me. Now I will live my life for You, sharing that You alone are good, sharing about your great love and what you have done for me.

Here’s how to accept this free gift of eternal life: Pray to Christ Jesus, confessing your sins with a repenting spirit. Ask to receive Jesus as God’s sacrifice and atonement for your sinfulness.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Amen! Now it’s your turn to respond. If you haven’t received Christ, I pray that my life will draw you a step closer to Him. I have complete assurance and peace that if I were to go to sleep and never wake up, I will wake up into the loving arms of Jesus, the lover and Savior of my soul. Not because I am good. No, it’s because He sent Jesus to suffer and die for me to cover over a multitude of sins. I am made righteous through Christ’s blood. So now, when He looks at me, He sees the righteousness of his Son and not my sin.

Have you accepted this special gift? No? It’s totally free to you! Just pray to receive it. Not ready yet? I am praying that God will gently soften your heart to receive this free gift. Jesus is the open gateway to God and a right relationship with Him.

I’m sorry if anything I’ve shared was offensive in any way. That is not my intention, but the apostles said that the gospel and Jesus’ name are offensive. I am just deeply grateful for this new boldness I’ve been given to share the good news of the gospel. Call me, write me, or ring on my doorbell. What a privilege to usher you into a relationship with a living Savior.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing me that I am special to you. I call this tumor a gift because you will do mighty things because of it. I treasure you! “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). You are the treasure that I seek. You are the light that has come into the darkness. You are worthy to receive all honor and glory and praise.

The most exciting part is that Jesus was crucified and died, but the story doesn’t end there: Jesus was laid in a tomb and on the third day was resurrected to life, just as the scriptures prophesied. He has overcome death and the grave.

Now that I have shared my story, I’d like to receive your stories on this blog: How has God been good to you?

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16 Responses

  1. James/SoYoung..my friend told me the Falls Church is having a larger HEALING prayer service tomorrow at 3pm. I believe in the power of healing prayer and have seen miracles..even personally..so wanted to share. They do have regular healing services too but tomorrow someone from the UK is coming to speak. I have not been home the whole day to find out details but wanted to share asap. We’re praying for you! God bless!!

  2. James / SoYoung!! Here’s the address..I thought it was earlier this month like around 3pm so pls double check:). http://www.thefallschurch.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=127138

  3. Well you want to here my story? I have shared my favorite scripture with you and it is from Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” This to me says the most about the person I am. I have always seemed to have a very blind faith that did not need to see the finish line. Life is a journey and not knowing the outcome or what might happen tomorrow really is appealing to me. I used to worry about things but it was right in the midst of me learning that all things seem to happen for a reason and just being in the situation and influencing it the best way my gut (I refer to the Holy Spirit as my gut) tells me to or leads me to gave me a serious peace that was unlike anything that my alcoholic father or co-dependent (worse) mother ever offered me. I am not the most steadfast servant and am a sinner amongst sinners but I do know that in the end life will be what it is and I will always be taken care of. Sometimes “bad” things happen but there is always a silver lining amongst it all that God reveals to those who have their “eye” open to see. I feel it takes a miracle to see some of the linings from time to time but I am also a believer that miracles are God’s way of showing us the small pictures that will eventually make up the big picture. I am going to enjoy my life to it’s fullest and will never fully know what tomorrow or maybe the next minute will bring. I simply have to trust and have faith that the big picture will be as beautiful as the small pictures all seem to be.

  4. We just have to look around at the world around us to know God exists. Man could never create this beauty.

  5. Ah, to my ears your testimony is the one we all wished for, the one that knew for always that Jesus is LORD. And it continues to be one that we would all wish to have. Strength in times of hardship by leaning with all you have on the Lord. The best testimony of all. Much love and prayers from Germany.

  6. So Young, James and family,

    We thank God for you and your wonderful family. What a blessing you are to so many through the years and your recent posts!

    We are praying for you. Keep anchored in our Lord Jesus Christ. May He continue to sustain you in His amazing grace and mighty strength as you run the race set before you.

    Scott & Debbie Barfoot

  7. It is so encouraging to read your blog and know how you can praise the lord in spite of any circumstance. When we praise God, the devil is confused and angry!! It made me think of Psalm 34:1-3 “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make a boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.

    My prayers for you and your family have been lifted up and now I’m thanking and praising God for his healing power and what he’s about to do in your life!!

    The Mills Family( Sherman,Kentra and Alex)

  8. Philippians 2:12. I continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. This probably comes as a surprise. I talk a good game. But the road for me was never an easy one, and it still isn’t. I was raised Catholic, and Catholic the rest of my family remains (I’m the one responsible for those 37 nuns in Chicago, y’all. One of them’s my sister.) In my later high school and college years, I began a years-long struggle with what turned out to be major recurring depression–something that went undiagnosed until I was nearly 25 (whoops) and remain under treatment for, to one degree or another, to this day. I returned to the church my last semester in college, and though I didn’t realise it at the time, it saved my life. The Catholic Center at NYU was such a beacon in such a very, very dark winter that fifteen years later, I got married in the same stone building that had been my refuge, by the same priest who had in 1993 handed me a potato masher when I wandered into the Center in the middle of a Thanksgiving snowstorm contemplating suicide and said gently, “Oh good, you’re here. We need help in the soup kitchen.”

    I graduated and moved to the Northwest. Depression came and went. I ached painfully for my church home, but was happy in Spokane in a way I had never been in New York. I got my master’s and came home (crying for Spokane the way I had once cried for the ugly church building on Washington Square South) and promptly started dating a nice, Southern Baptist boy. Oh, it was a match made in….I don’t know, the writers’ room of MadTV or something. But something happened. Actually, several somethings. One was that we started taking turns going to each other’s churches. I would bring him into the city (where the choir was THRILLED to have a bass) and he would bring me to his church. Each of us had some culture shock at first. Depression, though, was lowering its wings around me. I was visiting my friend on the campus of Messiah College when I had my first–we don’t know what it is, whether it’s anxiety, or panic, or a flat-out suicidal breakdown. In any case, it wasn’t pretty. He drove me to Holy Spirit Hospital in Harrisburg, where they would have admitted me anyway given my body temperature and blood pressure, which were both alarmingly low, even if I hadn’t been in such mental disarray. I don’t talk about it much, and certainly not on the internet, but this wouldn’t be the last sojourn over the years to what my father insists on referring to as “Hotel Silly” (I myself prefer the phrase “hat factory”).

    But something happened the first night, as I lay in my room, which was for the moment unoccupied by a roommate. I was alone in the room, and then….I wasn’t. I knew that the spirit of God was in the room with me. What’s more–and more peculiar–was that I knew the spirit of God was over in the corner, behind the door. At that point I started to second-guess what was happening, but then I figured, what the heck. I was already in the mental health wing, I might as well go with it. Suddenly, the spirit of God was not in the corner anymore. And I knew it was in me. And then, as I watched, my rib cage opened up like a gate, and an ivy plant spilled out from my chest. (Like I said, I figured I was already in the loony bin–what better place to have a hallucination of this sort, especially one that involves God as a plant?) For those of you who’ve seen my ankles, this is why my tattoo is of a tangled vine of ivy leaves.

    When my friend came to visit me the next day, I asked him a favour. I asked him to bring me a New Testament. (Being Messiah College, his four suitemates fought over who was going to be the one to bring in their extra copy and witness to me!) I also, from a deep=seated habit, asked the nurse to arrange for the chaplain to bring me communion. Also, the plant thing had me a little unnerved.

    That fall, I asked to be baptised by full immersion. I had brought up the idea to my parents, who were for various reasons less than thrilled. It broke my heart. I had heard that men would have to leave their families to follow Jesus, but I never thought they meant ME. My family already knew the Gospel. Didn’t they? On All Souls’ Day of 1997, in front of my friend’s congregation and without the knowledge or presence of my parents, I made my profession of faith and was baptized….again. My feeling at the time was that the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation happened too young, and under too much duress: I was in eighth grade, and my parents were the Confirmation class teachers. There was NO WAY I wasn’t getting confirmed, even though in theory it’s the adult profession of faith made with full understanding. At 14? Not hardly.

    Anyway, six months later I proceeded to get diagnosed with cancer. The treatment and recovery process was a whole different box of squeaky-toys, but the spring they found my tumour was one of the most peaceful times of my life. People at my new church prayed with and over me, prayed for healing, prayed for cures. I simply said “thank you.” I told them the truth–that it didn’t matter if I died. If I had just spent the last year of my life getting to know Jesus, that was cool with me. It was a heck of a way to go. Of course, since that was almost 13 years ago, that obviously isn’t how it went down, but I meant it at the time.

    That’s where it should end. I found Christ, I kicked cancer’s butt and in the process started running. We’re good, right? It didn’t end there, of course. The church had a political implosion, they ousted the pastor, my deacon resigned and we found out he’d been having an affair with someone at his office. I shut down. Again. Add to that the return of major depression aggravated by “good heavens what have they done with my endocrine system?” and you have a whopping good time. I didn’t pray for something more interesting. I prayed for peace. For forgiveness–forgiveness for me, and for me to forgive God. I was angry. No, let me say that again. I was ANGRY. For a good number of years. I stopped going to church altogether.

    So here I am. In limbo. A weak candle flame, trying not to gutter out with every gust that comes along. A little lost, a little cynical, a little angry (still), a lot humbled, and yet….still….still, the coming of Advent, a little hopeful.

    • FireCat, this is James. I just wanted to say a few things. So Young wants to respond to you but may not soon because of her tiredness, etc., but we both are really touched by what you have written here. (You’re also a terrific writer.) I can see what you have gone through in So Young. There are times when she knows God loves her, and other times when she asks why He has left her alone. I love her and am close to her, but I just can’t imagine what it feels like. Still, I encourage her that Jesus said He wouldn’t leave us as orphans. No matter how I feel, God is near. Also, FYI, So Young is near and keeps intending to call you. She will soon. Thanks for opening up. You are a true friend.

      • There was a time His son asked Him that too, remember? It was when God was closest.

  9. Soyoung and James,
    What an amazing story!!. God is up watching and listening to us all. I believe in his miracle and his power.
    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Love and hugs.
    Annette and Emmanuel Sikali

  10. So Young and James,

    Doris and I have been friends for several years. Once when we were meeting at Panera Bread for Bible study, So Young came in to pick up lunch and Doris introduced us. Even before that, however, I felt I knew you. Doris and I proudly share stories about our grandchildren and I have met your daughters on two occasions, so I feel close to you. Praying for your complete recovery is easier because of that feeling of closeness.

    Your witness is a blessing. Thank you sharing.

    Praying for you,
    Barbara

  11. Your story and bravery and faith have help strenghen my faith and commitment to god. I was very angry at god for many years after my mon passed. Thanks for sharing and it’s okay for your kids to not understand all of this, I am 50th and still don’t understand things that happen. All the love and prayers from the Davis family in North Carolina.

  12. So Young- praise God for your amazing heart that is both beautiful and courageous. My soul is *so* encouraged by what you share with us in this blog.

  13. Dear Ruby,
    My family and I are very spiritual, but we do not participate in any formal church. Some folks, particularly here in the southeast, find this objectionable and suspicious, but we are neither, just private. We find that humans have a tendency to corrupt spirituality in a very quick way so both of us, on our own, had given up on formal churches and have spent our adult lives in our own contemplation of the Things Bigger Than Us, the Hereafter, Goodness vs. Evil. We have specifically taught our daughter about The Golden Rule, History, and the basics of our own religious upbringings with as much as we know about other faiths in the attempt to understand how and why we see it differently around the world, with an emphasis on tolerance and acceptance of all ideas on these subjects.
    My husband grew up in a Catholic house and can still recite the Latin from when he was an alter boy. He doesn’t know what it means, but he can still say it. When we met I noted his dog tags had in the religion area “Cowhn.” “What’s that?” I queried? He hesitated to tell me as he didn’t want to offend anyone, as he purposefully practiced keeping his spirituality to himself. I finally got it out of him. It stood for the “Church of What’s Happening Now.” I found this hilarious and profound. It was one of the main connection points we had among many as we connected for our lives together.
    My religious upbringing was by a very devout Episcopalian Mom. Dad was Episcopalian also, raised in a Southern Baptist house, but confirmed in Mom’s church before the wedding. We went to church every Sunday. We had Sunday dresses, Sunday shoes (never ever worn anywhere else), white gloves, and hats. We always wore hats in church – always. Mom was always involved in the administration of the church having some skills in book keeping and such. My parents’ closest friends were our God-parents and my parents were God-parents to other kids who my sister and I still refer to as “God-siblings.” We had an idyllic childhood and everyone wished they had our parents. They were amazing.
    Long about junior high when I was around 13, Mom announced that homework would be completed by such and so a time in order to watch a PBS special playing that night and for the next 5 nights of that week thereafter. It was a special about the six wives of Henry the VIII. Each week was devoted to each wife. Henry the VIII, she explained to my sister and I, is who began our church, then called the Church of England, and this was his story and important to our education to understand the origin of our church. Cool. We sat and watched young Henry marry the widowed (formerly married to his brother Arthur, the Prince of Wales) Katherine of Aragon. It was a beautiful love story and happy ending for the poor widowed child bride from Spain (the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella – the same Isabella that supported Christopher Columbus in his adventures – I was fascinated by the “small world” nature of this story). Henry and Katherine were very in love and had a wonderful life together for 18 years. Unfortunately she had not had a male child or heir to Henry’s throne. She had Mary, a girl, but no boys that lived. This bothered Henry a great deal and he was very bothered about what to do about it. Comes along Anne Boleyn, a young voluptuous babe. She had quite the wiles and poor Henry found himself smitten by her charms. He decided that he should divorce his wife Katherine in order to marry Anne so that this younger woman could hopefully produce him a male heir. He became obsessed with this. The Catholic Church said, “…um. No.” There was a whole big deal about how he married his brother’s wife, and that’s why the church should grant the annulment, but when they got married in the first place, they had to go through hell and high water to assert that Katherine and Arthur had never consummated their marriage. They were only married a few months and some hypothesize that he died of testicular cancer. Who knows, but this became a huge deal 18 years later when Henry was trying to divorce his loyal wife, the Queen, so he could marry Anne Boleyn. When the church denied his divorce, he separated from the Catholic Church and declared himself the head of the Church of England. At 13, I found this story to be the most riveting, most dramatic, most exciting story I’d ever seen, not to mention the raw sex of it for a PBS special in the 60’s. As we breathlessly watched the conclusion of Episode 1, Mom was explaining some of the details and nuances of what we had just watched. I was fascinated. I remember it like it was yesterday, though, when I said to my Mom, “So let me get this straight…The Episcopalian Church, the Church of England, our church, got started just so Henry the VIII could diddle with Anne Boleyn?” I was deeply offended at this idea and the expression on my Mom’s face was like I’d just disappeared down a deep well, never to return. I continued our family routines of church every Sunday until the day I went off to college. The only other time I’ve been to any mass since is for weddings or funerals, never for any regular visit. It just stopped meaning anything to me even though I knew there was something Bigger there, something more Pure. Any time I tried to get to the bottom of this I was disappointed again by people getting in the way. I gave up after a time and didn’t think about it too much and tried to keep this to myself very much like my future husband that had “Cowhn” on his dog tags.
    Years and years later I was driving late at night listening to talk radio show. The guest was an Episcopalian Priest of all people to touch me in such a profound way. He described God as an underground river. The underground river comes to earth in all different ways and in all different forms and is used by people in all different ways – nourishment, cleanliness, food source, beauty, inspiration, and so on. They also call it in all different ways – rivers, streams, springs, wells, oceans, even ice floes, as well as all the languages in the world. His point though was that it’s all the same thing. It’s still H2O. That’s like God. It’s all the same. He is called different things, and means different things to different people, but it’s still the Same Thing. “Right on!” I shouted to my radio that night. It’s all the same. So while my family does not attend formal religious ceremonies with regularity or at all, and are not likely to at this point in our lives, we are much more spiritual than meets the eye. We pray, think Pure Thoughts, send good vibes, wish, hope, and believe in the power of positive thinking. It’s all the same and really does have power to connect us with the Something Bigger. We do this in a private way and all on our own. I tell this story to you, Ruby, because you asked. I hope it doesn’t offend. I can’t explain anything, and I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but I do know that prayer, good vibes, wishes, dreams, hopes, and positive thoughts have miraculous powers. I’m hoping your dreams and wishes come true.

  14. The soft gentle tones of the South followed me as my adolescent mother sang. Rising high, swing low the melody grew as I drew nearer and lessened as I rose. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Like So Young, I always believed that Jesus is the Son of God and our Lord and Savior. Our young lives were filled with disruption. However, I never heard my parents complain.

    My Christian life has been unusual, perhaps because my parents were young. The summer that I turned nine, my family moved to Los Altos, CA. I remember my mother driving up to the foot of the Baptist Church and pointing at the doors. “Go become a Christian.”

    A year later, the preacher said, “Either you follow Jesus Christ or you follow the world.” I remember my Sunday School teachers helping us memorize scripture. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The preacher was a fire and destruction preacher, but the Sunday School teachers were kind and fun. To my young mind, there was no uncertainty. I most definitely wanted to follow Christ. I grabbed my younger sister’s hand and we marched to the front of the church. The angels in heaven may have been rejoicing, but the preacher was not thrilled. After all, we attended with out adults. My mother did start attending when my brother turned five. She even taught Sunday School. She didn’t talk to me much, but when she did, I listened.

    Throughout the rest of my life, I’ve found that if I draw close to God, I hear Him more clearly. Spending time with other Christians encourages my growth. I am blessed to have you and James in my life. You, So Young, are a light in my life that brings me great joy. James has always been sunshine.

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