Proverbs 4:10-13 “My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.”
I was born as the youngest of five children. I was a farm girl in Minnesota. The barn’s hayloft was my castle and the fields were my playground. I grew up knowing and being taught to love and honor God with my life. However, there were many instances where I found myself in heaps of trouble, from stealing cigars and tobacco from the grocery store to fighting with my older siblings. In the midst of that, God began convicting me of my sin when I was under the age of ten. I began to recognize conviction and began learning to confess and repent.
My grandparents and parents were Christians. I grew up learning Scriptures before I could even read. My mom was a stay at home mom, who also taught us at home. When I was a little girl, my mom discovered that I had dyslexia. I could not read! My brain could not decode the words and patterns of reading. This scared my mom, and her greatest concern was that I would never be able to read the Bible. Because of this, she began helping me memorize Scriptures. We learned many verses through songs and actions. She also sat with me day after day helping me sound out words. It was a painstaking experience for both of us. Then, one day, the words clicked into place. I could read. I was the age of a fourth grader and could suddenly read like one. It was nothing short of a miracle. I believe that the steady intake of Scripture healed something in my brain to allow me to read.
Around that same time, in 1998, my parents felt that God was calling them to help in the Heartland ministry. Heartland had only been going for three years, and it was very small. My mom enrolled me in the school and I learned quickly that it was different than being at home. However, I desired to do well. I pushed myself and tried my hardest. My parents never had to stand over me and demand I do homework. I tried to be an example to the kids in my class, and I wanted to please God.
As I entered middle school, I faced many challenges. I loved God but a majority of the kids around me wanted nothing to do with His ways. It was difficult. By this time, I had also realized that friends, teachers, and mentors came and went rapidly. So, instead of getting to know people, I began to watch people’s lives to see if I wanted anything to do with them. It built a wall around my heart.
High school was the worst time of my life. I was tired of trying so hard. I still wanted God, but I began to feel stagnant. I let life happen around me and did not do anything about it. I began to drop the standard, and my life was a huge walking complaint. I still did well in school and I had moments when God felt close, but I was angry and lonely inside. I got to the point where I wanted to quit school and get my GED, but loving teachers talked me out of that, and I graduated in 2006 from Heartland Christian Academy.
I still had no drive in life. I had no goals. I just wanted to be done with school, but my parents told me I should go on to Bible College. I believe that they saw that I was drowning in stagnant waters of self pity. It turned out that I liked it, and learned a lot from the life lessons I experienced there. I graduated from Heartland Christian College in 2009. It was not a completely smooth road, but I am thankful for the bumps that taught me what life is about. I had many moments where God began to heal my heart and show me how good life really can be.
Currently, I am a teacher at Heartland Christian Academy. I have been teaching sixth graders for the last four years, and I am still learning. To be a teacher is to learn twice. Some of my teachers are now my coworkers. It is nice to be able to give back and to stick it out. After seeing so many people leave throughout my time here, it is nice to know that my roots have gone deep. I do not know what God has for my future, but as of now, I am proud of the fact that I have stood here for almost 15 years as an example to those who are coming up behind me. Running from trouble never fixes anything. Staying put and standing through the trials is where growth happens.
When I was younger, I never thought that I had a testimony. Hearing all the testimonies of recovered drug addicts and alcoholics caused me to feel like a nobody. I thought that God had not saved me from anything big like that. On many occasions, I found myself thinking life would be easier if I had come through a hard life. As a church kid, you ask Christ into your heart so many times and make so many mistakes growing up, that doubts of your salvation fill your mind continually. It seems that you always know the right answers but still seem confused at what to do. Believe me!!! Satan has a heyday with church kids. However, I began to realize that God had indeed saved me from the BIG STUFF. He saved me from having to go through those experiences. He cradled me in the palm of His hand and kept me from much pain. I am not saying that I never had struggles or sin to overcome, but I am a testimony of the faithfulness and protection of God. I am a testimony to those who can now raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is worth it. I was one of those kids. I am so thankful for the faithfulness of God and my parents who led me down a straight path. So remember, “… Take hold of (His) instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.” (Proverbs 4:13)