In this episode I want to encourage your faith, maybe in a way you have never known and even if you have, I hope that the testimony of my story to you will help boost you to believe bigger than you have lately and we all know that we need some of that. Those of you who may have lost hope and feel lonely and may be dealing with a lot of fear and anxiety for whatever the reasons may be, I want to encourage your hope to rise and for you to know that better days and happiness will be ahead, when you begin to allow your faith to be stirred. In this episode I am sharing how my big faith journey began. (This is part one of two.)
Life, it's a Big Faith Journey
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Hey you! Thank you for being here for today, I want to encourage your faith, maybe in a way you have never known and even if you have, I hope that the testimony of my story will give your faith the boost it needs that will inspire you to believe bigger than you have lately. Those of you who may have lost hope and feel lonely and may be dealing with a lot of fear and anxiety for whatever the reasons may be, I want to encourage your hope to rise and for you to know that better days and happiness will be ahead, when you begin to allow your faith to be stirred up. In this episode I am sharing how my big faith journey began.
I have shared with you that my early childhood was filled with confidence and happiness and love. This time in my life is my go back to place, my place of reference of what I feel God has always intended me to be like and for me to be to other people. Before I was born, when Daddy was only 19 years old his father died. They farmed together, it was their dream, their passion and they were well known farmers because they were very good at what they did. My father had quit school after 8th grade to farm with his father and help the family. When my Daddy was only 24 years old he was very sick in the hospital and had to have lung surgery. The doctors told him that he would die within 5 years if he didn’t move to dryer climate. So when I was only 4 years old my parents had to move 1600 miles away from all their family and start life over. It was really tough. Its not like we had a choice to move, we had too.
Life was hard on my parents, my father really missed his farming life and struggled to find his new place in this world. He found it more difficult to find a job on a 8th grade education and seeing him struggle with that fact was the reason I wanted to pursue a higher education, to simply break that curse that hurt our family. As a young wife and mother my mother so missed the support of her family and living so far away was lonely and hard. And for me once going to school my life changed a lot. I didn’t really like school and the experiences I had as a child with certain competitive classmates and certain teachers who had them as their teacher’s pets. Long story short we made it and things worked out, but through the process I didn’t want to add anymore worry and concern to it and I kept a lot to myself.
Life is a battlefield, someone or something is always waiting for the opportunity to take us off the playing field. And you know that the more Will we have to be here, the harder it is going to be for those things and people wanting to conquer us, to accomplish tackling us to the ground. This is why building up and maintaining our faith is so important. You do this by literally getting up and putting on your armor of God each day. So lets go over it as we suit up.
Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
I was raised in church. You have more than likely heard the saying “I was a drugged Christian” well that was me because most of the time it was about my mother by herself struggling but succeeding in dragging we three kids to church.I knew God all of my life because of her. It was the most important foundation she could lay for your lives, and the greatest gift in live as well. Proverbs 22:6 says : Start/Train children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. In fact at 7 I made the decision to follow Christ and be baptized. I felt the beauty in that decision even as a young child. But often times I felt afraid about things other people seemed so happy about. I wanted to live out my time on earth and see what would become of my life when they were all wanting to go to heaven at any moment. I just didn’t seem to understand what all they were happy about and that made me feel like maybe something wasn’t right about how I felt and that God was probably mad at me for not having what all the other people seemed to have. Then they talked about fear of God and yes, I felt fear, fear he wasn’t happy with me. I needed someone like I am now to explain these things to me to show me the way.
All I knew for certain is I couldn’t wait to get on with my life. I felt lost like it was hard for me to connect with the world. I carried a lot of weight on my shoulders that I know I shouldn’t have as a child. And I prayed for God to send me someone who could understand me and help me to go where I needed to go. When I was in the 6th grade I saw him, the man I would marry and I knew it at that very moment. How in the world could I know this so I blew off that thought. I was sitting in church and saw him taking the offering. I didn’t see him again until 3 years later. Again the same scenario but this time we connected. We dated for a year and half and we were married when I had just completed my sophomore year of high school. I was 16 years old. A few years later, I realized I had always been someone’s someone, someone’s daughter, sister, wife and now someone’s mother. Who was I? To this point in my life I felt like people had been telling me what to do, or letting me know that I wasn’t doing it right which basically meant I wasn’t doing it the way they did or thought I should. There were times I felt like someone was waiting to watch me fall or even push me down. After all there were many who were betting just how long our marriage would last. And it only takes just one or two people talking like that to really drag a person down.
Just thinking out loud but why can’t people just cheer one another on? Why can’t people instead celebrate and support the uniqueness of one another? I think there would be less failure in the world if only people supported one another instead of wagered bets on how long until the person failed. I may be wrong but I think for the most part these types of people are not so sure about themselves that they don’t want you to actually succeed and out do them. This is why you have to truly know you dream and jump into it and take ownership of it. Be happy for yourself.
So finally we decided to branch out in life as we began searching for a new church after all I had continued to attend this same small church the only one I ever have known. I still felt the same lost feeling in the atmosphere of our church body and I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere and so there just had to be more. I see now that it simply meant that it was a place that I/we were not growing and it was time for us to discover that and be where we needed to be now in our lives. The pastor of our small church made a visit to our home once he heard we had found a new church family. He was really upset with us. That didn’t help me with what I had been feeling and in fact he simply confirmed my point even further.
It was when I was 23 and had been married for 7 years that my husband came home one Saturday and told me that he was moving out and I was devastated. Things had been troubling for us but I was surprised. And like I have always done I kept to myself, didn’t venture out much and took care of our home and our two children. My Daddy told me not to worry that he would take care of us and as much as that should have made me feel better, it didn’t. I knew there had to be more to this life than this and I wasn’t finding it. So one evening I just fell on my knees and cried and I said out loud, “Lord, if you are real, please take this life of mine, you can have all of it, and make it your own. I sure do not know what to do with it.” I didn’t sleep that night, but instead when the sun came up I walked outside and I found myself looking up and I really took note that I was not walking around with my head down. For once I held my head high and I felt like someone really special, free and full of life. I realized that my relationship with God was Whom I had to be concerned with and He would make things right. Once I had His forgiveness all else would be ok because I was right with Him. I had never felt the way I felt now. I realized that this was MY relationship with God and that the two of us determined just how it would be, how good or bad it could be and of course me I want great.
A couple of days later I was at the sink washing dishes and I was thinking and talking to God. I said to Him, “Lord, I know in the Bible that you healed people, and I believe that today you still do. So Lord, I want to ask you to heal my marriage. Lord, I don’t want my children to be another statistic of divorce.” And in His way of speaking to me, in my head I heard Him say, go now and turn on the television to channel 21 and record it so that your husband can one day listen to it as well. I did exactly what I was told.
The first words out of the TV were “Today we are going to talk about Born Again Marriages.” Now if that wasn’t confirmation then I had to be lying to myself. I was so amazed by what I was hearing. There were broken marriages and lives so much worse than mine and yet God healed them all because one of the partners was seeking God to heal their marriages. So I had some real hope here and I decided to stand in the gap by standing in faith. I also distanced myself from just about everyone but those at church and one other person name Jon Mentor.
Jon was a pastor at a small church in the desert of Harkahala Valley. He was once married to a very dear older friend of mine who had passed away from cancer a few years earlier and her name was Sara John. We called her Johnny. On her death bed she had told me that she was praying that one day Jon and I would be close. I didn’t think that wish would ever happen because there were some things I didn’t like about him. But all of that was about to change mainly because a lot of those things did change in Jon since Johnny’s passing. I think God was telling Johnny at the time about my future that I didn’t see. Jon was my one person who faithfully stood believing with me for the healing of my marriage. When I cried he would listen to my sobbing phone calls regardless of the time. He would pray for me and he would encourage me. And I needed it. I needed someone to believe with me in a world of doubters and people who probably had not seen faith and miracles happen. I know I didn’t think I had but I wanted to be a part of that. So with nothing to loose I gave God my faith, it was all or nothing. Putting my faith into action meant I had to not only speak my future but I had to show it as well.
Don’t get the wrong idea that I was up all the time in my emotions. Nope, I wasn’t I had my times each and every day. There were moments in the days ahead that I was so discouraged and so many tears produced as doubting thoughts in my head whirled around as well as words spoken to me from my husband that could at times crush my hopes and my spirit. But not for long as I was learning how to react and what to do he began to get responses from me that shot down his. In those tough daily moments I would go to God crying, and pick up my bible, and I just started reading it out loud until I felt a peace come over me. And peace came every time.
When my husband first left me I was so mad at him that I made sure he left nothing behind. And all the places where his clothes used to be I pushed mine in the closet to fill it up and placed mine in those empty drawers. And then I read God’s word in Hebrews 11 where it talks about that our faith without the acts of faith is dead. So that meant I had to activate my faith by showing God that I believed He was going to do what He said He would. This chapter taught me that God needed me to do my part so that He could do His. I had to live on the word of God but speaking it and acting it, speaking things that were unseen but would one day be seen. Things that were not I was to live as if they were. Now in my faith I found myself making room again in my closet and in those drawers for my husband’s things to come back too. After some of his hurtful words I had taken off my rings, but now in faith I put them back on. My babies saw me positively change as the hope was rising up in me and I prayed with them and over them and spoke positive words to them and every time the church was open we attended. Its important to note here that faith works in all areas of life so when listening to my story know that whatever you are facing you can begin activating your faith in it.
I attended one of the largest churches in the country at the time and in our department we had 200 people. Then we broke down into small groups towards the middle of our class time. My married church friends were older than me because they went by the husband’s age and they were always people I desired to be like. And one of them in particular stepped up to the plate and because my husband wouldn’t return his calls, my friend went to my husband’s job and crawled under a big truck he was working on to talk to him and our friend really gave him some things to think about. But even after that most of them carried around some doubt and so that made Jon’s role in our lives even more important. I needed someone to declare my stand and stand with me until my marriage was healed or until I felt it was over. I am thankful for their attempt and their help, but one Sunday in our group I realized that they had not really experienced any situation quiet like mine and God was really going to do something truly big in my life to show them. They lovingly said to me, “We just think you might be more comfortable in the single’s class. After all he wants a divorce.” I sat there for a moment and gathered my thoughts carefully before I spoke. Looking up and around to everyone in the class and I said to them, “ I cannot and I will not go to a single’s class, because God has shown me that faith without my actions is dead and if I go to the single’s class that would be telling God that I didn’t believe He was going to heal my marriage. I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you this, my husband is going to come home to me and my children and one day he will be back in this class with me and, we will have a testimony in marriage and we will even be serving in this department. You can see why a person might keep to themselves during this time, they probably thought I was crazy and that was really stretching it with the whole really big faith thing.
I had cleansed my house of evil spirits. I told the devil he had no right in my home and in our lives. If you have seen the movie “War Room” my experience was much that of the character Elizabeth who walked through her house telling the devil off and how he had no right there, and kicking him out, I got goose bumps watching this because it was like dajavue for me for my experience was in the 80’s and this movie came out in 2015. But that ole devil he is clever. You see then I had a dream with him in it. Ole Satan knew he couldn’t come into my home, so he was now coming to me in my dreams trying to mess with me and showing me that if he wasn’t allowed in the house he would stand outside of it waiting and trying to latch on to whatever he could in our lives. In this dream he was standing at my front door looking in, and knocking. I went to our door which was what they called a cross buck door with the top half of it in glass. And I pressed my face up to the glass directly on the opposite side of the glass where he pressed his face and I said In the name of Jesus get out of my yard. This is how much he was desperate to destroy my life and our family. My potential in life was so threathening to him. I realized this young woman that I was becoming, who had often times found herself feeling the lesser was becoming bolder and braver by the day.
I loved all that I was learning from my new pastor and the lessons he had to teach each time. I realized that I finally got it, for his message and how he taught it was speaking to me and I was learning. I was becoming who I was meant to be and with that I felt the need to be baptized again and so I went forward to the altar to begin this new life of mine. My mother in-law appeared in my mind to be the one who knew all things God. But I discovered she was missing something. I knew I had a marriage and family to save and so I realized that I needed to talk to my mother in-law. I asked her to come to my house for lunch. You see at lunch I shared with her what I saw. I said “My husband told me that if he didn’t have your house to come too he would be home with us.” And she said well I don’t know what to do and I told her, you tell him to go home. I told her that in Mark 10:9 God says that what god has joined together, let no man put asunder. I asked her if she knew what put asunder meant. As she began to think I said it means let no one separate or take or keep apart. Regardless if you and your husband realize this or not you are contributing to this by allowing him to remain there and not come home and work on this. And God will hold you accountable. I felt it was important for my husband to be home because there were suddenly those who had wanted us to fail flying around like a bunch of mosquitos moving in for the kill who simply would attempt to complicate things.
The time was approaching for me to be baptized. My parents and those grandparents I shared with you who took me in as their own and always showed up for me like they always had were also attending my latest event in life. But the day before my husband called me and we talked for a long time. He will share with you today that he could hear my change. There was confidence in my voice. He would come visit and leave me crying and God would talk to him on his way to his parents house and so then he would call to check on me to hear a peace in my voice. This was because in the time since he left to drive the 7 miles to his parent’s house I had grabbed my bible, barely being able to read the words because of my tear filled eyes and I read, I prayed and God’s peace came over me. It was exactly like being knocked out to the ground and not giving up but instead keep getting back up time and time again in faith that God was doing something and I had to do my part and activate that faith.
In that phone conversation he asked me if he could pick me up and take me to church as I got baptized. So he did and on the way home he shared with me he was coming come home because He felt God told Him too. We stopped on the way home and he picked up his stuff. We met his mother on the road and we stopped and he told her he was going home.
It wasn’t a happily ever ending story for it took another six months. Six months of me getting my children up and taking them to church in our 17 miles across city traffic to get there. Six months of him not going with us. But us still going. Six months of him making me mad but God teaching me it wasn’t always about me, sometimes God was working on him. God taught me that I had to let Him work and it took time. He told me to put it all at His feet and let Him do the work because He was the only one Who could change anything anyhow. So instead of letting out my feelings and starting a fight with my husband I would go to the shower and cry it out, yell and cuss it out to God. I could not put it all at the throne and then keep trying to pull it back into my court, I had to leave it there. I was talking on the phone one afternoon with my mother she said “Honey I don’t know how you do it, always say I love you only to hear silence.” I then realized that as much as she loved me and meant well, the ole devil was trying to sneak in and have his way of using that opportunity to make me give up.
One evening after hearing those words from my mother, I began feeling so weak, so tired of saying I love you and hearing nothing back. So tired of feeling like someone’s door mat. The thoughts filled my mind that I wasn’t worth much and is why he didn’t love me. That no matter what I had done these past 7 plus months he would never give me the chance I deserved. I was falling further down in that dark place. But all the sudden in this moment I cried out to God and I said, Lord, I know that I promised you that I would wait ten years if I have too, but Father I am growing weak and I am feeling I may just want to give up. So Lord, I need you to do something. This is when I learned of God’s mercy and I will never forget it and I will be forever grateful. I went outside where my husband was working and I told him I needed him to watch the kids because I had to go pick up some things at the store. I had started my preschool business to help contribute to our income and I needed some things. As I was about to walk away he grabbed my hand and he pulled me closer to him. And he began crying. He said I love you, I have always loved you, I’ve just been scared, scared to be hurt again. And that is when everything changed. In that moment is when God showed his mercy upon me, upon us. And that next Sunday I will always remember my sweet church group and how every one of their jaws dropped when we walked into that class together and we began serving as the outreach directors of that department. We had couples begin coming to us seeking help in their marriages. Some worked out while others just couldn’t seem to find their way back for one reason or another. But the good news is there is hope and there is help for whatever the outcome is, there is life because there is always Jesus and He, will never leave you.
Our story continues and in the next podcast I will be picking up and sharing from here. But I want you to know this that when you ask God for something, He doesn’t give you what you ask for, He gives you so much more. He gives you utter beauty. God didn’t answer my mediocre prayer, He answered me with so much more. He gave me a marriage that is priceless, He gave me a partner that I would chose over and over again, He gave me a love I could have never imagined. He gave me a true best friend. He made everything so much better. He gave me something that it took big faith to do and that set the tone for the rest of my life. I pray that whatever you may be struggling in, that you have taken away from this today some, faith and you begin to feel it rising. For more detailed information on our testimony entitled “Marriage, Our Story” and verses to support you in your faith journey you can find and read it on my website linked in the description of this podcast. You can email me as well at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for joining me today and until next time….believe that you are more than a conquerer by doing your part and activating the faith in your life. -Diana Hudgins