Friday, March 30, 2012

me, little

i realized today, while reading another blog, that although i've been pouring out who i am right now here, for everyone to see, i haven't told you where i come from.

i wrote about who i am, but i didn't write about how i got that way.

i've talked a lot about the path ahead of me, but i haven't given you a picture of the path that has led me to where i am right now.

so, that's what this is the start of. i don't know how many posts it will take, but i want you all to know who this crazy girl is and what has made her maybe a little different...

my story.
it's long, and when i write i tend to get a bit carried away.
since that's the case, i don't want to hit you with one massive, novel of a blog post. i guess i'm going to get all fancy here and start a "series."

here goes--

i was born in arkansas to a teacher/coach father and the epitome of the doting mother. i was the second baby, a little girl to follow the firstborn son.

 that's me there on the right--the one with the curls is my cousin. i was a little blonde haired, blue-eyed girl. definitely all-american, right?

we were definitely the all-american family. i was raised in church. right before i started kindergarten my family moved back "home" to the town both my parents grew up in and where the majority of my extended family still lived. my little sister was born in october of that year, the product in part of my mom hearing my prayers for God to send me a baby sister when she walked into my room one night.

in my hometown, pop got a job as the girls' basketball coach and a high school math teacher. i was blessed to get to have a mom who stayed home and was there to see us off in the morning and to welcome us home after school. we were carted to many ball games, and my mom says she watched my baby sister get passed from one end of the bleachers to the other at a home game one night.

there were many nights for many years that found me doing homework in the bleachers. my sister napped on a pallet of blankets between the bleacher rows many times. despite the late nights, we were still at church on sundays. pop was a deacon at the first baptist church in our hometown and worked with the RAs (a youth/missions group for guys) and my mom worked with the acteens (a group for 7-12th grade girls) and started children's church.

i always knew what i call the "sunday school answer" for everything, and i don't remember a time when i wasn't singing "Jesus loves me" or memorizing bible verses. i always knew God loved me, and i don't remember a time when i didn't love Him.

it was during a revival that i actually asked Jesus into my heart. i was right about 9 years old, and as is the case in most baptist church revivals the visiting preacher was talking about sin and fire and brimstone (well, maybe not exactly in those terms, but you probably get the drift).

in my church, all the kids tended to sit together. our parents were smart--they knew not to let us out of their sight, so there were always two groups of kids filling the pews at the front of the church: one, the youth group, and the other was filled with all of us who were too young for youth group but old enough to think it was uncool to sit with your parents at church.

during the service, i moved back to sit with my mom. i remember her putting her arm around me while i wiped tears off of my face.

now remember, i was only 9. there weren't any deep dark secrets in my life. for that matter, there probably weren't any little light secrets, either. afterall, i lived in a small town of roughly 2,000 people and my dad was the coach. that doesn't lend itself to too many secrets.

that night, though, i realized that even if i didn't have anything society considered majorly bad in my life, my sins were separating me from God just as much as if i had been doing the things even a seriously corrupted world sees as bad.

for the first time, i knew that i couldn't spend eternity with God if i didn't ask Him to forgive me.
 unless i asked Jesus into my heart, i would spend all of eternity away from God.

i wasn't old enough to know much more than that, but that was enough. i went to the front and knelt down at the steps. i remember looking across and seeing the girl i had been sitting with kneeling up there, too.

there have been times when i've looked at this first part of my testimony and been...i'm not really sure what word i'm looking for. not really disappointed, but kind of along those lines. when we would go to church camps when i got into those teenage years, the speakers there would usually have what i saw as dramatic testimonies of their conversion.

i heard them talk about being saved from drugs or satanic beliefs or generally self-destructive lifestyles. i listened to these testimonies, and there was a little voice inside me saying, "yours isn't good enough. what were you pulled out of? how bad was a 9-year old little girl who was in church every time the doors opened? who will ever get anything from your testimony?" that voice was made a little louder by the fact that by that time i was a preacher's daughter, but i'll get into that later.

if i had known then that my testimony would change, that i would definitely have darkness come into my life that would become part of my story, i would have been begging to keep the squeaky-clean testimony of that little girl.

i warned you that this would get long, and i've definitely done a bit of rambling already. so, i guess this is where i'm going to stop for the moment.

i hope, when i get done with being long winded (maybe you can blame it on that whole "preacher's daughter thing i mentioned!) you'll have a little better understanding of who i was and by that of who i am. maybe as i write through this i'll even get a better idea myself...

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Thoughts? I would love to hear them!
~Mandy