I’ve written my testimony before (you can read it here), but I just feel like there’s a lot that has happened that I need to add to it. So here we are.
April 29, 1995
The day I was born. From birth, God had a plan for me. I was born into a family that only one other child, a child who was 13 years old at my birth. I was also born on the day of my grandpa’s (dad’s dad) visitation. At my birth, it looked as if I came into this world to help ease my dad’s pain at the loss of his father, who his mother just reminded him that she was not sure that he was actually my dad’s dad. For the first five years of my life, that’s what I was for my dad. I was his little girl, and I was to brighten up his life. When his other two kids, who are 18 and 21 years older than I am, caused stress on his life.
December 21, 2000
When I found out that the Mayan’s had predicted the world to end on December 21, 2012, I couldn’t help but laugh. 12 years prior to this, my dad passed away. He had an aortic aneurysm, basically meaning his heart exploded. My brothers came upon him at the end of the workday. I was rushed to my grandma’s, where I stayed with my cousin, while her mom and mine rushed up to the hospital. By the time they made it, the doctors had declared his death official. As a five year old, I didn’t understand it. I had never experienced death before. In one of our family videos, we have a tape of that Christmas. It was somber. My mom kept telling us that she loved us and reminded me that I could always talk to my dad because he was in Heaven watching over me. The scene was also different in comparison to my previous Christmas’ recordings. In those, my half-brother and half-sister were there in the beginning, the blinds were open. Our house was full of laughter and light. But now, it was dark and somber. The family as I knew it was falling a part at my feet. My half siblings gradually slipped away; half-sister faster than my half-brother. In January, my brother had gone back to college, coming back on the weekends. Through the week, it was just my mom and I. Once again, I was someone to bring happiness into my parent’s life. What I didn’t know was that my mom would cry on her way home, but she always seemed to have it together at home, or at least when she was in front of me.
January 2001 – May 2004
A month and a half after my dad passed, his ex-wife gave us a dog. As I’ve grown up, I have come to realize that the day before he passed, my mom, dad, and I went to his ex-wife’s house (they were on better terms now than at the beginning of their divorce) to pick out our dog. I always had this faint memory of little dachshund puppies, their skin sagging over their little legs. But now I hold it even closer because it is the one memory that I have with my dad this is completely my own. Throughout the years, and thankfully still, God has allowed our dog to bring happiness into our lives. Ducky, derived from my dad’s nickname of Duck because he had a temper of Donald Duck, is our 16 year old dachshund that has caused us so much stress, yet is worth every bit of it.
In this time, my half-brother also married his girlfriend who had been dating before I was born because he had gotten her pregnant. This decision was the start of his spiral. A year or so after my nephew’s birth, they split because he once again made a mistake. After signing the divorce papers, agree to pay child support, he got back with her, still having to pay child support, but he was not. You may wonder why I include my half-brother’s life into my story. Well I have a reason. What we do effects the people around us. His marriage, divorce and what followed effected me. More than I realized at the time. My ex-sister-in-law caused havoc for our family. I was just a little girl, but I was facing the repercussions for my brother’s divorce. His ex took away his son, even though he kept his promise of only having his son at our house. Sure, he wasn’t paying his back child support, which really bit him in the butt later on. I remember the last time my brother brought my nephew over to our house. It ended with the cops picking him (my nephew) up because my brother had his new girlfriend over and lacked his divorce papers. My brother got to see my nephew less and less, while my mom and I tried our hardest to get to his games (football, basketball, tee ball). My half-sister on the other hand, at first wanting to kill our sister-in-law, turned into her best bud. She was all for keeping my nephew away from my brother. She was also all for keeping herself away from me. Three days out of the week she worked in my hometown, and she hardly came to see me. Later on, this effected me emotionally.
During this time, my mom and I didn’t go to church much. We went on holidays. Not just Christmas and Easter, but Father’s and Mother’s day too. I also went to VBS. So I had the general knowledge of Jesus, but it didn’t click.
July 2004 and June 2005
In July 2004, my cousin brought me to the place that changed my life. Kamp Keirsey. Although, that summer I did not realize how big of an impact it actually would end up being. I have been out there every summer since. There will be more about it’s impact later.
The next summer I got saved. I went to the all girls camp, where we learned about being daughters of the King. I can’t tell you ALL the details, but I remember quite a bit. I can bring you to the exact table where I accepted Christ at. I said the prayer and went forward at the end of the week, declaring that I had received the greatest gift.
I wish I could tell you that that’s where my story ends. That after that summer I had my mom take me to church. That her life changed. That I spread the news to EVERYONE I knew. But that’s not what happened. We didn’t go to church more. I didn’t tell all of my friends about Jesus. I didn’t read my Bible. Nothing really changed. I did continue to go to camp, so that’s one thing.
August 2007 – May 2009
Junior high. The best years of my life, right? Ha, nope. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either.
I started to go to youth group, and my mom and I started going to church more. But I still wasn’t telling people about Jesus. I still wasn’t in my Bible. I started picking up on my friends’ habits. I started cussing. I was calling people names, and it wasn’t very discrete. In fact, this led to one of the worst parts of Jr. High.
One of the girls I made fun, well called names, was a mean girl. She was one of those skinny girls who had everything (even a home tanning bed), while I was a chubby girl who had what she needed. One day in eighth grade, her and this other girl (who she didn’t even like) started talking about nachos. I know, this is silly, but they started saying, “I like nachos, but not that nacho. That’s a grande nacho.” They were talking about me. They were making reference about my weight. It was really a stupid insult, but it did it’s work. It was then I started to realize that my body wasn’t ideal, at least to society. I started to think less of myself. I wasn’t pretty because I wasn’t skinny. They continued on for like a month, if that, and then it just stopped. But she had done her damage.
It was in Jr. High that I also started questioning the death of my dad. I didn’t know why God had taken MY dad. I knew these people who had awful dads. Abusive, physically and emotionally, dads. Ones that were not even in the picture. I was mad at God that He took my dad. My dad would’ve loved me. Who would never abuse me. I was angry at God. But I still went to church, so I thought I was still good.
June and July 2010
In June 2010, I went out to Kamp again. This summer was my first summer of Sr. High camp. That summer we had two boys cabins and two girls cabins. One of each met together for bible study. My cabin went over to the boys’ cabin. During our bible study, we had somehow gotten on the topic of the cabin leader’s life. He had talked about how that previous October (2009) he had lost his dad. He talked about how he had moved through the stages of grief already. He had mourned. He had been angry. And finally, he had accepted the fact that it was his time. I sat there on the bunk, thinking about the loss of my own father. I realized that I was still blaming God. It wasn’t His fault; it was the sin of this world. I started coming to terms with the loss of my father at that camp. And I continued to grow to see that God had a plan. That my dad needed to be taken away from me so I could learn to love Him. There are still times where I miss my dad, especially around Christmas.
In July, my youth group went to CIY (Christ in Youth). It was life changing. I left determined to change my ways. Determined I was going to go back to school and tell everyone I knew about Jesus. Needless to say, I didn’t. Although, I did make the decision to take the next step in my faith.
August 4, 2010
I had wanted to get baptized before this summer. In December 2007, I talked to my youth pastor about it, but we were rejoining the church that split from us and our baptistery had been empty. Looking back though, I was not in a place to get baptized then. So on the last full day, our free day, of CIY I talked with my youth minister. He had convinced that it was something I needed to do. And I had wanted to do it so my grandparents could watch. My relationship with my youth minister was rough. He had been married to my cousin, but they split. Because of this, it was a little awkward with my family and him. He said that he didn’t have to be there, that we could do it in my grandparent’s bathtub. We were going to work something out. I brush those all aside. I wanted baptized in the church where my youth group could see. My cousin, the one who took me to Kamp, was in Jordan at the time, so I picked three girls that went to CIY with me. I thought we were close, but looking back, I realize I should’ve picked someone else. But, my grandparents were there. As were my mom and brother.
As much as I regret not having my cousin baptize me, I’m glad I did it when I did. My grandpa had been sick for the last few years, and a week after I got baptized, he got worse. It was exactly two months later that he passed away. I had publicly proclaimed my belief in Jesus. That day. I went back to school a few weeks later and hardly discussed Jesus with my friends.
August 2010 – May 2013
Sophomore. Junior. Senior. High school. It was uneventful. Like any girl, I had my moments where I liked boys. I was still going to church. Camp. CIYs. I would get on spiritual highs, only to go back to school and go back to my ways.
Sometime in this, my family grew further and further a part. Well my half-siblings grew a part from us. My half-sister was first. She had completely cut herself. She had picked our ex-sister-in-law too many times. There was a fight on Facebook first. She said my mom kept all of my dad stuff away from her, but my sister never made the effort to come and see us. Then my ex sister-in-law remarried, and her husband adopted my nephew. I was angry. My family continued to fall a part. My half-brother couldn’t fight it. His mom had his divorce papers and wouldn’t hand them over. He had given up. And my sister didn’t fight. She just stayed there and let our ex sister-in-law take my nephew away from me. My anger boiled. And to this day, I struggle with the hatred I have towards both of them.
On May 19, 2013, I graduated from high school. I was away from the people who could really care less about me. The place where people knew I was a Christian, but people who didn’t hear about Jesus form me.
My freshmen year I drifted away from God. I still believed in Him. But I was out a car, therefore I wasn’t able to go to church. I hadn’t made really any friends either. I attended my college’s BSU (Baptist Student Union). I was definitely not reading my Bible. I tried my best to listen to worship music while I studied.
A week before my sophomore year, I finally got a car. I started going to church and my church’s college age service. It was really good for me. At first, it was overwhelming because the church was huge, as well as the college age, and I didn’t know that many people. But in March, I went out on a limb. In January, I had started to go to a bible study through the church, and I really connected with a group of girls. So I decided to go on the Spring Break trip with the college age. Well, it was actually because I thought a boy was cute and he asked if I was going. So I was set. I ended up leaving that trip liking another boy. But despite boys, it was an amazing trip. We went to Las Vegas. Another overwhelming experience for me. It was beautiful, but so heartbreaking. Seeing all the sin. One day, while walking the strip, I saw a guy wearing a “Grand Canyon University” shirt and he appeared to be picking up a girl, for you know. Vegas had gotten to this guy he was my age. Despite leaving with heartbreak, I was also full. I had grown closer to this group of girls and it was a great opportunity to meet people in the college age. I made some of my closest friends on the trip.
My junior year was very similar to my sophomore. God continued to mold me into a more social person. See, I’m an introvert (hence my being terrified of large groups of people), but God has been working me into more of an extrovert. I went on the Spring Break trip again, and it was very different from the year before. You can read about it here. You can also read about my unexpected friends that I made from going to church.
Summer 2014, 2015, 2016
My last summer as a camper, I had talked to the director of camp and asked him about working out there in 2014. At the time, they had all the people they needed for Summer Missionaries, who are at all the camps. So in January, I settled for helping out at girl’s camp and junior high camp.Next thing I knew, I was getting an email to the link to the Missouri Baptist Convention page to apply to be a summer missionary. I was really confused, but Dawnita, the woman who was taking over the summer missionaries, explained that spots had opened up and I was selected. I was ecstatic. But at the same time, I was nervous because I knew enough about God but I wasn’t sure how I would be able to help anyone.
That first summer, I had no idea what I was doing. But God still used me to impact lives. I had campers telling me how much I had help them. But I knew it was all God. I could have never done it without God. That summer, God also stretched me. Typically our second week of camp is Super Summer (a huge camp put on by the MBC), but I couldn’t make it to training. Due to this, I stayed behind and helped with deaf youth camp. It was an interesting experience. I was one of four people who had full hearing capabilities. It was like being in a different country. I couldn’t communicate with them. I had to have someone translate for me. I learned a couple of sings but not enough to hold a conversation. I am glad that I didn’t have to do it again.
The next summer was different. I was the only returning girl summer missionary, so I felt the weight of being responsible for telling the others what to do. They all went to the same college and briefly knew each other. There were times where I felt left out, and at the end of the summer, it came out. We went into Dawnita’s cabin and discussed. It was that summer that I learned how to properly resolve conflicts. Let everyone tell their side of the story. It worked out smoothly, and now we are all great friends. I also knew many of the campers, so it was easier to get them to open up to me come invitation time. But I also felt protective over many of them. I knew their stories and I had relationships with them, so I wanted to be the one they shared with. I had power control. That summer I also attended Super Summer. I was terrified. I was going to lead a small group, of 7th grade girls. I didn’t think I could do it. There like 500 people there, and what I thought was not near enough time to be by myself. God’s funny though. I was able to connect with my four girls and I had plenty of Cassidy time. He taught me that summer to trust Him beyond what I had. (Read the full story here.)
This past summer was one for the books. My heart had been broken the two summers before, but my heart was shattered. I saw the brokenness of too may kids, and of one family in particular. A set of two boys that have 2 moms and 2 dads. More siblings than fingers. A step-dad who is not very kind. These two boys, their siblings (step and half), and their cousins hold a special place in my heart. And when I think of them, I can’t help but tear up. Super Summer again was overwhelming, especially since there were even more people there then normal. But I got by.
This past summer was also beneficial for me. God is working to remind me that we each have our circle of responsibility and He has one for each of us. We also must not interfere in other’s circles, which is hard. He also opened my eyes to some of my actions and the reasoning behind them. I have a tendency to get annoying with keeping in contact with people. I need reassurance that they still care about me, like constantly. I realized this was because of my sister. She should have cared, but she never did. This left me damaged.
Kamp has been a huge blessing. And I have a post all about it. I would type it all here, but this post is already long enough.
There is so much more to my story, that I’m not even aware of. I also came to realize that my dad did not love God like he should. He was full of anger, at God. If he had lived, I probably would not have gone to Kamp. I probably wouldn’t have changed. And as much I miss my dad, I’m glad I’ll get to spend eternity with my Father. I’m still growing. I’m working on reading my Bible in a year. I’m working on wanting a relationship with God more than a boy. I’m still trying to work on my self-worth. But I’m getting there.