“But now thus says the LORD, He who created you O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’” Isaiah 43:1
Her story is one of redemption, of second chances, of forgiveness, mercy, grace and love. Her story may not be unlike yours…but it’s hers nonetheless – and one that she is happy to share.
I was brought up in the pew! I started going to church from the moment I was brought home from the hospital. I was born in Canada, and spent my first nine years of life in Scotland. I went to church three times on Sundays, attended prayer meetings on Wednesday nights, Sunday school, kids clubs…the works. I was saturated in God’s word from an early age. I had two loving, Godly parents who stressed the importance of a walk with Jesus. At the age of seven, it seemed like the right thing to do to ask Jesus to come and be a part of my life; and that is what I did. One Sunday evening with my Mom by my bedside, tears in her eyes, I asked Jesus into my heart. Nothing seemed to significantly change in my life. I was just a little girl, but God’s hand was on my life, and I knew and understood that He had a plan for me.
At the age of nine, my parents, my two younger brothers and I moved to Canada where my father and a couple of other men started a church. The church I was brought up in was quite strict and caused me to question my faith on numerous occasions By the time I entered my teenage years, I was pretty much riding the fence – one foot in the Word, the other in the world. I wanted the best of both worlds. I taught Sunday school, went to church camp, and enjoyed youth group, yet at the same time I had a rebellious spirit. I was curious with what the world had to offer and fell into temptation over and over again. His hand was definitely on my life, as I look back over these years. I can see where He rescued me from circumstances that could have had dire consequences, and I praise Him for that!
When I was 21, I felt God calling me to travel to Scotland. I obeyed and went for a three-month trip. This is exactly where God wanted me. This is where I would finally listen. He needed to take me thousands of miles away to get my attention and draw me to Him. For three months, I saturated myself in God’s Word, in attending church, bible study, and worship nights. My cousin who was ten years my senior challenged me week after week to take a deeper look into my life and into my lukewarm relationship with Jesus. One night, she simply said: “Lynn, you are choosing to ride the fence. You either want God in your life or you don’t. It is time to decide. If you don’t want Him, then put your Bible in a drawer and forget about Him. But if you do want Him, then give Him your whole self and live for Him!” I had never had someone be so direct with me. It was a few nights later that we attended a worship night. There were probably 1000 young adults there. However, during the song “There is a Redeemer”, I felt like it was only me and Jesus in the room. I heard Him beckon me into His arms, and there I fell. That cold, rainy evening in Glasgow, Scotland is where Jesus became Lord of my life. That praise song still makes me weep when I hear it, for it was the beginning of truly allowing God into my life and having Him lead me. It was the beginning of my love story with my Savior.
It wasn’t long after I returned to Canada that I met a young man. I had known him casually for almost ten years, but we started dating and after four months of seeing each other, we got engaged. Nine months later we were married. I loved being married. He truly was my best friend. We had so much fun together. We enjoyed the outdoors, playing sports, and spending time with family. We taught Sunday school together and simply enjoyed one another’s company. I was very happy. Thirteen months later we found out that we were pregnant! Although it wasn’t in our plans to start a family so soon, we were excited and looked forward to the birth of our baby. Almost seven weeks premature, I gave birth to a tiny baby girl. Although she was quite sick and we almost lost her, we were so happy to be a family of three. A couple of years later, we brought home a beautiful baby boy. Our family was growing, and I loved being a stay-at-home mom. When my son was only nine months old, I found out that I was pregnant again. Whoa! I was not prepared for that one! However, I gave birth to another son, and I was thrilled. Our little family of five seemed perfect. However, it was around the time of my third child being born that I began to see a change in my husband. He stayed out late, and left early in the morning, but the worst was yet to come. It was when pornography crossed over the door and entered into my home that I was truly devastated. My bedroom was no longer a place of safety, love, and passion. I felt more like a two-dollar hooker. I felt so trapped in trying to please this man that had become a stranger to me by allowing him to play out his fantasies because of what he had watched. Night after night I would cry myself to sleep, praying, hoping, wishing that things would change. For three years, I endured both sexual and emotional abuse. I felt worthless. I felt alone. I had this deep dark secret that I didn’t share with anyone . I was too ashamed. What had happened to this Christian husband of mine? He had promised to love, honor, and cherish me. He lied.
Allow me to back up a little. In September, 1999 I met a women named Lauri. She quickly became my best friend. Our friendship was like one that had been established 20 years before. She had three girls, and our kids quickly became friends as well. We did lots of outings and coffee together. We ate together, played together, babysat for one another, and most importantly we prayed together – for ourselves, for our husbands, and for our children. On March 5, 2000, only seven months after meeting her, Lauri died, suddenly and tragically. I remember the night I found out like it was yesterday. It was as if someone had punched through my chest and tore out my heart. Why? God, why? I remember driving the next morning in the car by myself, hysterically crying out to God, “Please! Raise her from the dead! You raised Lazarus! Raise her! PLEASE!” I was so overwhelmed with grief. Yet, in the midst of all this pain, God was with me, and He worked in my life in ways that I had never allowed Him to before. He grew me in ways that I had never grown. I immersed myself in the Word, seeking Him daily. I understand now why He allowed me to go through the loss of Lauri. He was preparing me for a much deeper blow.
On January 1, 2001, my husband delivered these harsh words to me: “I do not love you. I don’t want to be married anymore. I am leaving.” My husband of ten years and the father of our three children decided that just maybe the grass was going to be greener on the other side. He packed a bag, and walked out the door, leaving me with our three small children ages 7, 5 and 4. I felt that fist drive through my chest once again, but this time my heart felt like it had been ripped to pieces. How would I ever survive? I felt like such a failure. The feelings of rejection and abandonment are so hard to describe. I finally got up from the couch and wandered up the stairs to bed. I stopped and peeked into my daughter’s room as she slept. As I watched her peacefully sleep, the Lord gave me my life verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I laid my hands on my daughter that night and prayed that verse over her. Then I went to my little boys’ room and prayed it over them as well. For a year, this is what I did every night. God met me right where I was, and He gave me the strength to wake up every morning and to put my faith, confidence, and trust in Him. His love carried me through as He helped to give me my confidence back. I knew I was going to be alright. About nine months or so after my husband had left us, I went to visit my parents. I walked into the house and my mom looked at me and declared: “You’re back! The light in your eyes is there!” The light she saw was Jesus who walked so very closely to me and held me tightly in the shelter and safety of His arms.
Well, my story doesn’t end there. God is always faithful to keep His promises, and that He did in my life. Lauri’s husband, Dan and I started dating. God worked in both of our lives and drew our families together. On June 20, 2003 we were married. With our families and closest friends surrounding us, the same people who had walked closely with us as we both suffered our losses, rejoiced with us as we became husband and wife. I was given three new beautiful daughters that call me Mama, and a husband who loves and accepts me for who I am. We are not a perfect family, and there have been difficult times. However, I am thankful for the journey that God has brought me on. Has it been hard? Yes! Would I change any of it? No. For it was in the midst of these circumstances that caused me to fall on my knees and trust in the One who says He cares for me like no other. I am grateful for God’s love and His mercy and for showing me that He is the God of second chances.
Her Story brings me to my knees in worship to a God who rebuilds and restores what was once broken and destroyed. There are no limits to God’s mercy and grace, and His love for His children is so evident through her life. She is a dear friend of mine, and someone I greatly admire. I’ve often said, I want to be like her when I grow up. She’s passionate about Jesus and sharing His love with women. Lynn, I am so grateful to our Father that He would in His love divinely cause our paths to cross. You are a treasure to me. Your abundant joy in life despite all you’ve faced truly amazes me. To me, you look like Jesus. Thank you for loving others the way that you do. Thank you for sharing your story.