I don’t even really have the words to say how I feel but it was an emotional experience for sure. Where to start…
I have grown up a Christian and my life has had it’s many ups and downs for sure. I feel like I have been saved several times but I have never really felt as strong about my faith as I do today.
When I met my husband he did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ…at all. It was very hard for me to celebrate holidays and not recognize the true meaning of those holidays as a couple. I never pushed him to change. I just always offered up the opportunity to experience what it was like. I invited him to church when I went and the answer was always “Nah, I’m good”. We agreed when we had our kids that I would raise them up to know The Lord. After we had our son, Quin, Val began seeking. He started asking questions and talking to people who had once tried to talk to him about God and Faith and Jesus. A few years later with help from a few of his close friends and one trip to my childhood church, Chesapeake Church in Sunderland, Maryland, and he was in 100%. He dove into serving and devotionals and I was so inspired and more in love with him than I was before… but I was not in love with myself.
Val decided to follow Jesus just before we had our 2nd child. Our home had caught fire, our daughter was a month old and suffering from colic. We were living on couches basically homeless with nothing but our clothing and I was extremely post partum. My husband was traveling 5 days out of the week and working multiple jobs on top of his full time job to help make money for us. We were found responsible for the fire and the insurance company decided to make us pay for the fire damages to our home and the costs to rebuild it. I was lost. I was unhappy with my body (rightfully so but I knew it was just a matter of time before I would fix that). I felt like I didn’t know what my purpose was. I had no identity aside from being a mommy and a wife. There is nothing wrong with that but I felt like something was missing. I felt helpless when it came to finances, completely dependent on my husband and was completely exhausted alone and depressed. Who was I? Who had I become? This was certainly not the person I was.
Instead of drawing near to The Lord I pushed Him away and my faith was in need of a respirator. I fell to my knees and prayed for a sign. I asked for direction and for him to just show me what I needed to do to start digging my way out of the hole I had put myself in. It was about 2 hours later that I received an invitation to become a beachbody coach and I knew that it was the sign I was asking for. I thought things were going to change and that everything would be alright. It was the best choice I could have made. I was having amazing success and pretty fast. Our income more than doubled and pretty much tripled in 6 months, I had built an amazing team. I became an 1 of the 100 coaches out of 180,000+ coaches that are considered ELITE in the company. We bought a house and a new car paid off debt and the insurance claim that we owed for the house fire and my kids were happy and healthy. I got back to my pre baby shape, I was feeling amazing but I still never gave the glory where it was due…To him. I believe that it was a test of faith.
When I didn’t take the time to strengthen my relationship with Jesus and follow him like I should have…things slowly started getting stripped away…from me. Val’s faith became stronger and things started coming together for him in his life…mine was falling apart. From the outside looking in, everything was great but I was struggling on the inside. I felt lost again. I felt alone. I was homesick. I started to compare myself to everyone around me. I felt stuck in my business. I stopped doing personal development I barely workouted out and I picked myself apart. Nothing I did was good enough in my own mind. My business and my team started to fall apart as well. I felt helpless and didn’t know how to help them. I didn’t know how to lead them, and I was attracting that same negativity I had in other people as well. It is true that you attract what you give out.
I felt sorry for myself and made excuses. I went into a yo-yo cycle with my weight and how I took care of my self both mentally and physically. This was my job and yet I found myself stuck. How was I supposed to help people when I couldn’t help myself. I kept SUPER busy so that I wouldn’t have to think about it. I wore myself down. Trying to stay positive was exhausting and I got really sick. I had to have 2 procedures on my stomach for some intestinal issues, that I developed when I was pregnant, that flared up again. My kids were getting sick and Quin took a trip to the hospital with a pretty good whack to the head. Val was working late and gone a lot again. My migraines came back and the medical bills started to pour in and I was not putting money in savings at all. At least the bills were paid in full when they came in, which was freeing and such a blessing. I felt like such a horrible mother. I had lost my creativity and desire to go do fun things with them. I hid myself in our house and when I did go out and do things I just didn’t really let myself connect with other people on a personal level. I had built back up that guard wall and was afraid to let people see me for who I was at the moment. I was afraid of what they would think or that they would judge me. I just didn’t want to let people in. I spent time on things that were not important or priorities and found excuses not to do things. I buried my nose into my business as it was the only thing that was keeping me together. My marriage was starting to take a toll s well and Val and I were headed down the wrong path. Fortunately, he is amazing and was not going to let me destroy myself or us. He wanted to help me and tried but I just didn’t want to hear it. I think I was afraid of what he…meaning Val, would think of me if I told him that I was questioning my faith. I mean, I was the strong one in our relationship for so long when it came to this. Now my faith was pretty non-existent.
It seemed like life was slowly falling apart again. What I didn’t know then was that it was actually all falling together.
When we moved to Texas at the end of 2013, and all signs pointed to Celebration Church. I was totally alone. I knew NO ONE! We started to attend regularly joined a small group and meet some amazing people. The one and only friend I felt close enough to here in texas was also a member of the church and we spent a lot of time together. She really held me together. I did the growth track and my faith was once again tested and questioned big time, which now looking back I am so grateful for. A woman at our table asked me the date of when I was saved. I froze. I had no answer. I felt like I had just been told that I wasn’t really a Christian. Was I? Had I been saved? Was it all a lie? Had I just been pretending? These are all questions that I asked myself. One of the women in our small group, who is now a close friend, Celeste noticed my inner pain and struggle and approached me. I broke down into tears and just cried. She told me that all these things were the Devil trying to take a stronghold over me at my weakest point and she prayed over me and with me for strength and clarity. To be honest…It made me feel better but it still just didn’t feel right. I had so many questions and felt so broken. Val was excited about his faith and asked me to get baptized with him. I just couldn’t. He wanted us to do it together so he waited. He asked me 3 or 4 times to get baptized but I wasn’t ready. I was struggling and felt like I didn’t know what I believed anymore. It felt like a lie.
With the support of a few friends that I confided in, my church, my small group and my husband I made my way back. I reached out to a friend who had shared with us on a webinar that she had gone through something similar. After all, I always say “If you want to know how to do something, ask someone who has done it”. She REALLY helped me to feel like I had the power to change my situation but that I had to stop fighting it. I had to Let Go and Let God. I just didn’t know how. She sent me the book The Circle Maker by Pastor Mark Batterson. I read it and I learned how to do prayer circles. I just started praying. I prayed for clarity and for vision and to hear God’s voice. I just wanted direction again. Once again, I started “seeking”. I found myself in a new relationship. It was weak but it began between myself and Jesus Christ. I began to pray circle daily after I worked out. I started listening to personal development and podcast instead of music while I worked out. I learned how to live my life for Him and trust his plan. I learned to Let go and let God.
I had ALWAYS been against tithing and so afraid to do it. In this book the circle maker Mark told of a story about he and his wife’s tithing. I reached out to a friend about it. She had kind of always been my light and my confidant when it came to following Jesus. I wasn’t afraid to talk to her openly. I had just not really do so in a while about my struggles. I asked her about tithing and I decided to go for it and in return ask God to flex his God sized muscles and show off a bit. 3 weeks later I listened to the little voice that said, “give an extra $5 dollars” as the offering went by. I gave it. That week on pay day…I had the biggest paycheck to date without bonuses. Val also got a really big commission that he wasn’t expecting. And for the next few weeks the increases in paychecks kept coming. I continued to tithe and I gave a little extra one week. The following payday…I received a bonus that I wasn’t expecting to receive. I didn’t think I had qualified for it. One week I forgot to tithe on time and guess what…My paycheck went down. I haven’t forgotten since and my income is at an all time high.
BUT…for some reason I was still afraid to share this with people. I couldn’t even share it with Val. Why?? I was still afraid to be judged and what people would say or that people in my business would turn away from me if I shared that side of me and my struggles with it. I remember someone once asking me if they had to believe in God to be in this business or if it was faith based. I think that scared me away from it too. I was afraid to turn people away. That they wouldn’t take me seriously or automatically stop believing in me and my ability to lead them if they knew that I followed Jesus. One day while I was in the shower…weird place to hear that voice I had been praying for, I know…I heard a voice come in and say, “Stop being afraid. You will not have to fight this battle if you just stand firm in your beliefs and trust in me. Do Not be afraid; Do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow. I will stand by you. I will lift you up and be with you”. Turns out that is actually a verse. Sort of. 2 Chronicles 20:17 . This was on Saturday Night.
While Val was away that same weekend the message at church, the very next morning, hit home for me…HARD…and when they asked if I was ready to re dedicate my life to The Lord… I raised my hand. I read the book Ten Steps to Christ. I had experienced something in February at the Radiant Women’s Conference that I thought meant something significant at that time. It just wasn’t what I thought. I know now that, in February, when I heard a voice say “I brought you here to TX for a reason” and I felt this sensation of someone grabbing my arm telling me it would be okay and that I had to just have faith and to trust that it was for a reason…that reason was to rebuild my relationship with Him. It was so that I would be stronger than ever and I could THRIVE. It took time for me to figure that all out and what it all meant. I just stopped trying to understand it all and just put faith in that he would show me later. I worked on listening to the little voice in my heart that was leading me. Then on July 16th, 2014 It was like I just woke up and my vision had never been more clear. I knew exactly what I needed to do and how I was going to do it. I had been praying circles around that for months. I started opening up to people. I started sharing myself more and my thoughts more openly. I learned to put myself out there and put more of me into my business and my relationships that I had with people. I stopped holding back. I got back into a routine and had this grand vision in my head of exactly what kind of system I needed to implement into my business. Little signs were everywhere and I heard His voice loud and clear. I started going to our women’s small group again. I stopped saying no to help and started listening to other peoples advice. I dove into the bible and downloaded some really great apps so that when I would feel that negativity creeping in I could turn to God’s word to get me out of it. I don’t skip a day of personal development and I do a devotional everyday. I don’t feel so overwhelmed or pressured anymore to do it all, on someone else’s time. I learned to re prioritize and to say NO. This is huge for me. I learned to stop trying to please everyone and that not everyone will agree with me or even like me and that is okay. I just need to Focus on the Lord and my relationship with Jesus and building my dream home and life in heaven. I don’t want to get there one day and be turned away. I am going to follow Jesus and I am not afraid to share that part of my life. I hope that this inspires someone else who is struggling with their “walk”. If not that is okay. But this is me and who I am and I am So proud to say that I am turning my tests into a testimony and I am just getting started.
I knew when they said they were doing baptisms today that it was time. It was what I needed to do. I told Val I was ready. I wanted to let everyone know just how good God is and that I believe he is my savior. It almost didn’t happen. Val was not able to make it to any of the services yesterday or today. Fortunately we have an amazing church that truly cares about people and we have some really great friends who are part of the ministry at church. So today…Thanks to Celeste Gonzalez, Pastor Daniel Gonzalez and Pastor Charles with Pastoral care… we were Baptized and our life is forever changed.
Thanks for letting me share my story. I am sure that I left some of it out. I didn’t think. I just typed. It wouldn’t be me if there weren’t parts missing or typos right? HAHAHA!!
I am turning my tests into my testimony and I can’t wait to see where I will be lead from here