By: Karen Morrison Parrish  

Just where do I begin in sharing this adventure - this journey into hope from despair and out of unbelief into childlike faith? I am simply one woman who has been touched by God’s Spirit and led to trust Him with all my heart. It is my desire to record the peculiar occurrences that God allowed to take place in my mind, heart and life experiences in hopes that possibly one person in this earth may find His Spirit leading them into this same trust. So, I ask for my Heavenly Father’s help in remembering and recording all that took place over these many years in a fashion that is easy to understand and easy to believe. For indeed, all of what you are about to read is the truth.

If you knew my mother well, I still don’t know if she would have ever mentioned some of the things her eldest had been through in her “quest for motherhood.”  She may have been too embarrassed that her grown daughter had such wild dreams, and never said anything to any of her friends.  She would have kept these things to herself, possibly pondering, wondering about them.  But she would have said nothing to anyone in order to protect me.  Truly more than one person has thought that I was completely crazy.  Anyways, at the risk of tempting you to think I am zany, I’m going to start this and see where it goes.  At this point in my journey with God, I still consider these things, pondering them more deeply at some times than others.  Are they just something out of my own heart?  Are they from the realm of my own vivid imagination? Or will it yet prove to be reality?  Only God knows for sure.  So, on with the telling of what was told and told again in the mid to late 90’s.  It may help if I begin with sharing a bit about my husband and me; how we came to walk with God.

Every summer for as long as I can remember, the highlight of my entire year would finally arrive.  I would climb into a car and travel from the eastern part of Virginia to the far western edge of the state, to a piece of heaven nestled in the scenic, mountainous John’s Creek Valley at the base of Pott’s Mountain Ridge.  It was built as a resort during the mid to late 1800’s and experienced great prosperity as guests flocked to be treated for their maladies by drinking from the mineral springs and soaking in the curing baths.  After World War II vacationers chose to forsake this mountain retreat for family beach vacations. 

Eventually the resort was bought in 1960 by the denomination of my parents’ church.  Here my family spent at least one week together in a cottage on family vacation.  I and my three siblings would return for a week of summer camp with others of our age groups.  I went on to be a camp counselor for several seasons.  These were some of the happiest days of my childhood.

The summer after sixth grade, I attended camp and there met a boy named Wilt.  We did what many of the boys and girls there did together – we had our first introduction to something a bit more than friendship, something called “puppy love.”  Then we returned to our respective Virginia homes in cities 100 miles apart. But by the end of that summer, my family and I moved within 30 miles of his family.  By the end of that summer, I think it is fair to say that I had forgotten all about Wilt.   I had new surroundings, a new house in a modern neighborhood, and was busied with getting settled into a new school and coming to know all new friends. 

Wilt’s mother was the next to the youngest of ten children.  When she was six years old her father died suddenly in a mining accident.  The last words her father spoke to her mother the morning of his death were to tell her that she must always keep all the children together, no matter what happened.  Etta (Grandma Thompson) must have seriously considered her husband’s last words.  She did all that a woman could do in those days to provide for her children.  She took in laundry to wash, dry and iron.  She scrubbed floors and most importantly, she taught her children about her God.  She was a woman who never failed to pay her tithe, to walk with her children to church every time the doors were open, and to show them her faith by her works. 

Many times Grandma Thompson began the start of the day not having enough money to meet that day’s needs of her children.  Yet they never remember a single time that a meal was not provided.  Her only living child is her youngest son, who will be 85 in February of 2013.   When I recently phoned to ask him some specifics about a prayer his mother had prayed, it was so easy to hear the tears coming to his eyes as he was still touched deeply in talking about her.  I learned from this conversation that it was her nightly routine to sit in her bedroom and read her Bible.  Her daughter-in-law related that Grandma Thompson could be reading a chapter a night.  The children remembered the comforting sound of her soft voice as she read the verses out loud.  Grandma Thompson’s faith provided a great heritage for her children and grandchildren.  My mother-in-law said that she realized later in life that her family was quite poor by earthly standards.  However, they lived in the atmosphere of a mother so rich in faith that the children never knew they were poor.

Once a milk truck broke down near their home and the driver gave Grandma Thompson the milk.  Often they found groceries left on their doorstep.  She had learned to depend on her God, and He never once failed her.  Her children also remember seeing her many, many nights on her knees in her bedroom, in prayer for her sons who were in the war.  All her sons came home.  She didn’t lose one of her boys.   

One of the most specific answers to prayer that will always stick in my memory concerned the need for fifteen dollars for a cape for a daughter’s graduation from nursing school.  Grandma Thompson and her daughter asked the Lord to provide them with the fifteen dollars.  When it was almost time for graduation, every single person in the Pennsylvania County in which she lived received a refund from a utility company.  And just how much was this refund?  Exactly fifteen dollars! When she gave witness of God’s provision, some asked her if she really thought God gave everyone else a refund because she had asked for that exact amount.  Grandma Thompson did not waver.  She declared that her God was just that good and that He poured out His goodness on the just and the unjust.  So, yes – she believed He had blessed everyone in the county for her own daughter’s need.  This was her simple faith and witness. 

There is a verse in the Bible where Paul states that he remembered the faith found first in Timothy’s grandmother and then mother – that this same faith had been found in Timothy, also.  I believe this is the experience of my husband.  For the faith that Grandmother Thompson was graced to possess, this same faith passed from her to my husband’s mother, and then to my husband.  Grandma Thompson’s faith became instrumental as well in my own searching to know God as my own Heavenly Father.  

Once while spending an overnight with my in-laws, I was sitting in the dark on their living room sofa.  Unexpectedly, my mother-in-law came and knelt right down on her knees and put her face in her hands on the seat of an armchair.  I felt uncomfortable as she began to pour her heart out to God for a wayward son.  He had left home at the age of 17 and she just longed after him, being anxious to hear how he was, to know just where he was.  As I heard his name come forth from her lips, I continued to just keep quiet.  She did not know I was in the room, and I didn’t want to disturb her fervency.  I am so grateful for having been given the privilege of listening to her heart’s cry.

My mother-in-law had not heard anything from this son for weeks.  I heard her tell her Father, “God, I know I keep putting him in your hands for you to care for him and then I come right back and take him out again.  Please help me.  But I’ve just GOT to hear from him.”  She then got up and left the room, leaving me in privileged wonder at what I had witnessed.

TEARS RAN DOWN MY FACE

Late that night as I lay beside my husband in the neighboring bedroom, I was awakened by the ringing of the phone.  I heard Mom talking for a few minutes.  When she hung up the phone, I asked her, “Mom, was that Tom?”  With relief and thankfulness, I’m sure, she said, “Yes, honey.  That was Tom.  He’s OK.”  Tears ran down my face as I, too, felt such love for our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness to so swiftly answer His daughter’s cries.

At the age of twelve, Wilt gave his heart to the Lord Jesus.  Through his teen years, he had no friends to help him make godly choices, who would encourage him to grow in godliness.  His choice of companions did what the Scriptures say – his good morals became corrupted.  He was already in this corrupted form when we met again in 1973.  His eventual companionship with me only brought him into further corruption, for I had quite a wild side to me, a side that had not been fully ripened the summer we first met each other in 1967 at church camp. 

Though I attended church every Sunday, neither of my parents had the same relationship with God that my husband’s mother possessed.  In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing someone give any sort of testimony of receiving an answer to their prayers. The only prayers I ever remember hearing in my home were over our meals, as we went to sleep at night and then when we had prayers in church.  I have not one memory of either the ministers of the two churches in which I grew up ever sharing a single specific answer to their prayers, or any members of these congregations sharing any such answers.  Prayer seemed to be something we just said and did, but not something that had any real life in it.  It seemed to me that prayer was a part of our religion, but it was not something that we really enjoyed.  We repeated the same prayers over our meals as a family and the same prayers as we went to sleep.  We recited “The Lord’s Prayer” when we attended church, and read responsive prayers out of the hymn book.

I seemed to just take on the form of those around me, but in my heart, I had a deep void.  I believed in God and I believed in all that I’d ever read in Sunday school lessons, all the stories of the Bible.  I believed Jesus was born of a virgin, that he died on the cross and that he was raised from the dead.  I believed in angels and that God could do anything.  But I had not had an experience with God where I had come into a personal relationship with Him like the lives of my husband’s mother and grandmother revealed.  I talked to God and have memory of asking for His help at times.  But I do not have any memory as a child of asking Him to do something specifically for me and experiencing a specific answer.

There are many things that church-going children and teenagers can do in secret behind their parents’ backs.  The fact that we hid the “bad things” we did and did not do them openly in the presence of our parents – this one fact cannot be stressed enough as a good guide to assist us in determining if we are making godly or ungodly choices.  We always do the ungodly things in the dark, or in secret.   Before graduating from high school, I had gravitated towards pornographic magazines and movies and was regularly smoking marijuana.  When I was a high school sophomore in 1971, I was involved with the Drama Club.  I spent many hours after school with other kids who were into hanging out together and smoking marijuana.  I didn’t want to do that, or so I thought.  But one night after a special year-end party, I found myself sitting in the back seat of a car when someone passed something to me to smoke.  Because I was already smoking cigarettes behind my parents’ back, it was so very easy for me to put that illegal substance to my lips.  From that time on, I wanted to smoke pot every chance I could get.  And I had many, many opportunities before I ever spent my first dollar on purchasing it myself.

In May of 1971, I was a bridesmaid in my first cousin’s wedding.  She was five years older than me.  I have many memories of looking at the way she would curl her hair, the name brand clothes she would wear, and wish that I could be as pretty as my cousin.  Her brother was three years older than me.  I spent many summers with the two of them on my grandparents’ farm.  I loved both of them like a brother and sister.  We were so very close.  But these two cousins were very bad moral company.  I was shocked by some of the things they did, and their lifestyle and the influence of their lifestyle brought serious corruption to my own morals.  It was through these two cousins that I came to enjoy sexually vile jokes and viewed hard core pornographic movies in a hotel room after the wedding rehearsal dinner.  I was not reviled by the things I saw.  I found these wicked images awakened something inside of me that I found quite enjoyable.  Even though I knew at that moment that these things were wrong, I wanted to fulfill myself with all I could get of them.  Little did I know the depths that this evil dark realm of sin would continue to bring into my life for many years.  I became a captive to these shameful things, and Satan was my master. 

In January 1973, the tri-city area church youth in our denomination joined together on Sunday afternoons in one of the churches to rehearse for a musical production.  The first Sunday we all sat around in a sanctuary and introduced ourselves by name and by our local congregation.  I observed this one young fellow that caught my attention.  When he said his name, I just knew that I knew him.  His name was so familiar, even though I could not place his face.  I was just recovering from the loss of the young man I thought I wanted to marry.  He had decided he wanted to become a Navy Seal.  The week before I again met Wilt, the then-love of my life moved to California.  My heart was broken and I didn’t want to have anything even close to that to ever happen to me again.  I even considered joining a convent, though I was not Catholic.  I just never wanted to be hurt like I had been hurt.  So, I figured if I became a nun, there was a possibility I would be safe. 

For three weeks I asked everyone I knew if any had ever heard of a guy named Wilt.  No one knew him.  Then one night I dreamed about meeting him at church camp.  I woke up knowing that I had received letters from him.  I immediately went to my closet, stood on a chair and pulled down shoeboxes filled with letters.  As I searched through the shoeboxes, I found a post card and a few letters … each expressing how much he liked me, how much fun he had had that week, and how much he looked forward to the next summer.  He signed every one of them, “Love ya, Wilt.”  So, the mystery was solved.  Now I would see if he remembered me.

The next Sunday I walked up to him and said, “Hi Wilt.”  He seemed a bit taken back and peered curiously at me, studying my face.  I then returned the same peering into his eyes as I smiled and said coyishly, “Well, I had a nickname the summer we met.”  His eyes got wide open and his mouth flew open.  He said, “Goochie!”  Thus began our reunion and the start of my beginning again to trust that this time, I would not be hurt, that my heart would remain intact.   

We continued to have a safe relationship amongst our peers, singing together, and travelling to different churches together to perform the musical in local churches.  Then came the night Wilt asked if I would go out to eat with him after one of the performances.  For the first time I began to think differently towards him.  I felt at ease and began to relax the walls I had around me.  My mother remembers what I said after he brought me home.  “I have the feeling that I am going to be seeing a lot of that young man.”

Those feelings continued to grow deeper the more we got to know one another.  It seems like an eternity while we are waiting to get married.  Then, once married, life takes on a warp speed.  What I remember hearing my grandparents say many times, “The older you get, the faster time flies,” I now know of what they spoke. 

On June 19, 1976 Wilt and I were married.  I had no idea what those vows we made before God and the company of witnesses actually meant.  Unlike today in many churches, we had no pre-marriage counseling.  No one ever explained to me what it meant to love, honor and obey my husband, to cherish him all the days of my life.  I clearly understood the “until death do us part” part.  But all the rest?  Well, I must have thought I’d just figure it out like all other wives in my family.  My grandparents were married 66 years, my own parents were happily married, and I just figured it would be the same for us.  In His great mercy, God kept His hand of protection upon my life and reserved for me the man who He had chosen for me to marry.

WE ARE FREE TO MAKE OUR OWN CHOICES,
BUT WE CANNOT CHOOSE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR CHOICES 

Regarding my usage of marijuana, I brought this influence into Wilt’s life.  While we were dating, he came to know this side of me and tried his very best to talk me out of it.  He told me how he didn’t want to have anything to do with it.  It was illegal.  But, little by little, he saw that I was not going to quit.  So, rather than fight me anymore on it, he tried it.  Oh, if there is anything that I regret, it is that I caused him to stumble into a very bad place.  I know that choices we make have consequences.  We are free to make our own choices, but we cannot choose the consequences of our choices.  But I am so very grateful that God can indeed take the worst of lives and make them beautiful.  Sometimes it takes many years for the beauty to arise from ashes.  But if He has chosen us to be His own, He will not fail to keep us on the path towards Him, even though we may take 20 steps backwards after taking three forward.

Sometime during 1978, I became very miserable.  I didn’t like myself because I just knew that I was doing things I should not be doing.  I wanted to stop smoking cigarettes and marijuana.  I wanted to stop the social drinking.  And I was so very ashamed of the fantasies I explored in the area of pornography.  Yes – even women can become addicted to this vile evil.  I hated myself and there was not one thing I could do to break these bad habits. 

I knew I was not living a life that was really honest.  How could I be?  I lived two entirely separate lives.  I had my “fun life” doing things that I was now ashamed of and wouldn’t want anyone in my family or church to know about.  I’d live one way every night and especially on weekends, and then I’d go through the “church thing.”  I was in the church choir and often sang solos.  The more I tried to stop doing the things I felt so bad about, the worse it became.  I began going to church under the influence of marijuana.  I began going stoned to work every single morning.  Yet, no one but God and I knew all that I was really doing and how much I was crying out for His help.

Three major events took place in the latter six months of 1978 – three things that are forever etched in my mind.  The first was one early September night in the driveway outside a house to which I had run to have what I kept trying to convince myself of as fun.  Because I was such a miserable soul, I was not much fun to be around when I was straight (not under the influence of pot for those who don’t understand this terminology).  It seems Wilt and I had begun to have arguments about most anything.  When these verbal volleyball matches were at their peak, one of us would usually storm out the door and leave to get relief.  Well, this one night, I left him at home and stormed off to a house just a half mile from our house.  I’d never been to this house before, but I’d been invited to a party by a neighbor with whom we partied in this way.  So, I knew I could go there to relieve my frustrations.

As I eased into the mood of those around me, laying my head back on the sofa, someone began playing a cassette tape that they’d brought to share with the rest of us.  It was what I now know of is a testimonial of the work of God in someone’s life, or a “Christian’s testimony.”  I began to listen to a man sharing what he proclaimed as the truth from God’s Word, that written in the Bible.  He had been involved in witchcraft and had met Jesus as his personal savior.  He had been brought out of false Satan worship and now lived to share his story with anyone who would listen. 

Well, it seemed I was the only one in that entire room who was truly listening and truly believing all that this man was sharing.  The others around me were mocking and laughing, especially as this man went on to describe what he said the Bible said would soon take place in this earth.  He began to tell of this world ending as I then knew it, of a one-world government and one-world religion coming about, and a one-world ruler coming on the scenes who would not be “just a man,” but whom Satan would enter like he did Judas and this man would then be Satan’s man to inflict horrors beyond belief, terror and pain, and death beyond anything that had ever been known, worse than Hitler and Stalin and all evil dictators put together.  And he said this was going to take place in our lifetime.

While all the others listening laughed and made great fun of this man, I became absolutely filled with fear.  Fear like I had never ever known -- fear that caused me to run from the room, to run from these who were laughing at what I believed fully as truth.  I ran into the driveway outside this house and sat on the hood of a car weeping and crying out to God.  I can still see the tips of the pine trees high about the house’s roofline.  I can still see the bright moon filling that yard with light.  And I can still hear the one thing I cried out to the God I believed in and had cried to for all my life:  “God, I believe what that man said.  I believe these things are going to happen in my life.  And, I am so afraid.  Please—PLEASE.  Just show me what I must do so that I don’t have to go through these things, and I will DO IT.”

So, I left that driveway that night and went home – shaking with fear and wanting more than anything to run away from everything.  When I got home I wanted to crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head.  I tried to tell Wilt of the things this man had said, but they were still all in a jumble in my head.  So, I decided to try to sleep off the night.  When I went to move the phone book off our bed to place it on the bedside table, I had to move a Bible off the bottom shelf to put the phone book in its proper place.  When I picked up the Bible, instead of just shoving it aside, I placed it on my lap and opened it.  What I found myself reading when my eyes fell on the pages was the 24th chapter of Matthew.  

As far as I know, this was the first time I ever remember opening and reading from this Bible, The Living Bible version.  My parents had given it to me seven years earlier, when I turned 16, but I had never read the Bible by my own choice.  In fact, the only time I can ever remember the Bible being brought out by my father to read to us was once when he felt it was time to tell his three daughters about “the facts of life.”  He wanted to state what God had stated, that it was God’s plan that man and woman marry, bear children, and “be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.”  

As I read Matthew 24, I came to understand that God had everything in control.  Nothing was taking Him by surprise.  The more I read the Bible and experienced the peace that faith brings, the more I wanted to read.  Little by little, I read many portions of the New Testament.  I still find it comforting that God was drawing me to Himself, convicting me solely by His Spirit.  Not one other soul on the face of this earth was preaching to me.  John, the lawyer for whom I worked, his life spoke volumes to me.  But no one was pursuing me other than God by His own Spirit.  No human vessel had to tell me the things I was doing and wanted so to stop doing were wrong.  My own conscience smote me day and night.  Yet I could not stop doing these things.  I had desire but no power to stop doing them.  So I only sighed, cried, and kept doing these shameful things more and more and more.  

The second earth-shaking experience of 1978 came shortly after that night in which I cried out to God to show me what I had to do in order not to have to go through the horrendous things to come in my lifetime, things about the end of days, the last days – those things which I had heard on that testimony tape and had never left my thoughts.  On November 18, 1978, an ordained minister of my family’s church denomination by the name of Jim Jones -- this deceived man deceived 912 others to drink a poison kool-aid and meet their maker as they died together in Guyana.  I will never forget the night I was watching the news report on TV.  The camera came into focus on the sign hanging outside of the building in California where this group used to gather.  I saw “People’s Temple” and then, in parenthesis underneath, the letters of the denomination to which I then belonged.  I was absolutely in shock.  But it took this kind of shock to wake up the “Nancy Drew” in me.  So, at the age of 22, I began to examine just what this denomination believed and taught its adherents.  For if something like this had happened to THAT church group, how could I be sure that the same wasn’t going to happen to me?

I began to ask lots of questions about this church.  Questions like, “How could something like this happen?”  “How come no one over this church in the denominational boards had a finger on this?”  “What did this man DO to convince others that the Bible was not true, that the Bible was not the word of GOD?”  I had seen in another report where Jim Jones had taken the Bible in his hand from the pulpit and thrown it to the floor, telling the people that HE was God’s word made flesh.  It was absolutely one of the most frightening things I had ever seen and heard.

I WAS DETERMINED THAT I WAS GOING TO FIND OUT WHAT TRUTH WAS
AND I WAS GOING TO HOLD ONTO IT WITH ALL MY STRENGTH

Somehow, all of this meshed together with what the man on that testimony tape had said about “many false prophets shall arise and deceive many.”  I was determined that I was going to find out what truth was and I was going to hold onto it with all my strength.  Little did I then know just how small a strength I possessed.  I had no idea how very much I would need in the weeks, months and years ahead.  But God knew, and He was at work in me to reveal Himself to me in the midst of very hard times, times I would never have chosen to have to experience, but times in which I am so very, very grateful that He went through with me, even preparing them for me, and me for them.

As all of these fearful discoveries about Jonestown were being thrust upon me, I began to cry out to God for more help and more earnestly did I cry.  As I drew near to Him, He continued to show Himself strong and stronger on my behalf.  The third event that God allowed to take place in the fall of 1978 came to show me what truly was in my heart, though I had other influences that were still trying to overtake and destroy my very soul.  I became acquainted with a man that I had known from high school, a handsome guy who was a sophomore in high school while I was in the 7th grade.  I idolized him and dreamed about him and fantasized that he was “my boyfriend.”  Well, he never paid much attention to this ugly little duckling.  But for three years, I went to every play he starred in and daydreamed about him, just so glad I had such a “cute guy.” 

In the fall of 1978 one of my coworkers at the law firm continued to talk about her boyfriend by his first name.  One day I told her I knew a Phil from high school.  She thought her Phil went to the same high school I had attended.  And, what do you know?  Her Phil was my Phil.  But now I had gone through my ugly-duckling stage and I felt pretty, and pretty confident that I could now turn his head my way.  Those wicked thoughts, those adulterous thoughts were still in my head, and the devil was then working to bring about my falling into a trap.  I can say this now, because I now KNOW some of his diabolical ways.  I now know enough to smell the fire starting and hear the train coming down the tracks in some areas of temptation.  But then?  Then I was open prey because Jesus was not in my heart to keep me out of harm’s way.

So, plans began to unfold for me to meet Phil.  I saw him at her apartment one night and the sparks indeed flew.  I told my friend that I would really like to have an affair with Phil, and if she would help arrange this and never tell my husband, I’d be happy - happy; happier than I ever thought I could be.  She was that type of non-faithful friend, not faithful to tell me the truth as God would tell me.  She was the unfaithful type who couldn’t help but be anyway other than that because she didn’t know Jesus and serve God either.

Within a few weeks the night was set and she turned Phil over to me.  We were together in a bedroom and preparing to commit adultery together.  Well?  That was the truth, is the truth, and will forever be the truth.  For I was a married woman and though he had never married, I was lusting after the fulfillment of something that the devil had put in my mind when I was 12 years old.  Tell me.  Just try to tell me that there is not a war for God’s children’s souls!  But I’ll then tell you that there is Someone so very much more faithful than all our unfaithfulness -- Someone who has promised that He will not allow one of HIS children to be tempted more strongly than He can enable them to run from the temptation.  And on this night, He stood up inside of me and made me KNOW that “I CANNOT DO THIS.” 

I will never forget the foolishness I felt, the absolute foolishness and humiliation at having to ask this man to take me home.  I found myself withheld from doing what I had dreamed of for years.  For just prior to committing the act against my husband, against God and against my own soul, I found myself shaking like a leaf, standing up against the bedroom wall and pleading with Phil.  He did not take advantage of me.  He heard this poor woman’s sobs and repentance.  He was a bit shaken, but I believe the angel of the Lord that had watched over me all my days, I believe He held me up against that wall and bent both our wills away from committing sinful actions; actions that I am so very grateful now were not completed.

As I look back now over this third event, I realize that God’s voice had become very clear to me as I read His Verses.  One night I read James 4:17 in the Living Bible.  I still remember the application that the Holy Spirit made to my heart.  Basically, I read the verse in this manner:  “If you know what you are doing is wrong but you keep on doing it, then that is sin to you.”  I knew that the plans I was making to commit adultery against my husband - I knew these plans were wrong.  But, I did not know then that this was the very reason Jesus came and died in our place.  He died to sin of each and every form so that we might have the power to overcome all wrong-doing, all thoughts, deeds and speech; all that is contrary to God’s will.  I finally understood just what sin was – and I understood that the practice of sin was going on in my life.  I wanted to stop sinning, but I still had need of His power to stop sinning.  I could not do it on my own.  But that night, I experienced that for the first time in my life.  I had said “NO!” to what I most wanted to experience.  This one experience of what I now know is God’s keeping power; this one experience deeply affected me.

Something else had been taking place in my life as I got to know Wilt.  I developed a very close relationship with his mother.  I would spend hours having her share the stories of her mother’s faith.  I was so spiritually hungry to know God like Grandma Thompson knew Him.  I remember telling God that very thing one day.  “I only want to know you like Grandma Thompson knew you.”  During the time I was reading the Bible, I also read a book by a missionary named Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place.  I devoured this story and found the hunger and longing for God, to know Him like others have known Him – this longing just became deeper and stronger.  I also found I was growing more and more unhappy about my own life, actually coming to the place where I hated the things I was doing.  I look back now upon how much God used testimonies of His work in others lives to open my heart, to draw me to Himself and to reveal His truths to me.

THIS WAS THE TYPE OF LIAR I WAS

Winter passed and a new year unfolded.  It was now January 1979.  One Friday afternoon I found myself sitting at my typewriter in my cubicle.  My coworker sitting next to me in her cubicle asked me if I had seen a show on television the night before.  I laughed and told her that I had, and I thought it was simply hilarious.  This was the type of liar I was – one who lied about anything that I thought would make you accept me, like me, and want to have me as your friend.  Insecurities like this had a stronghold power over me.  I had made up wild stories like this for as long as I could remember.  Most of the times, no one but myself knew the extent of the lies I told to impress them.  But once when I was sixteen, my mother was made privy to this problem in my life and had strong words for me.

The summer before my sophomore year in high school I spent another week at the summer church camp.  My parents and other siblings stayed in a cottage while I stayed with other youth in the lodge.  My roommate was a year older than me and she had three brothers.  I am the eldest of four children, three girls and one boy, the youngest, that long-awaited son.  I found myself telling Mary that, like her, I also had an older brother.  I guess I figured that we would never see each other again after that summer, so she would never find out I really didn’t have an older brother.  But God had other plans.  He wanted my mother to have knowledge of this lie and then gave her words to speak into my life that I never, ever forgot.

One day I introduced Mary to my mother.  I went on to do something somewhere else on the conference ground.  Later as I returned to the lodge, my mother was sitting by the swimming pool on a bench under a tree.  She called me to herself and asked that I sit down where she could talk with me a few minutes.  She looked me directly in my eyes and said, “So tell me about your older brother, Karen.”  Ooops!  No hiding or backpedaling from this exposure.  I don’t remember a single word that I spoke.  I only remember what she said to me.  I only still can sense even today how my face must have flushed with shame.

My mother then looked at me with great understanding.  She did not speak to me in anger, but out of a deep concern from her heart.  She said, “Karen, if you don’t stop this lying, one day you are going to wake up and want to stop, but you will not be able to stop.  And, saddest of all, you will even come to the place where you will believe the lies you are telling are the truth.”   Only one aspect of her true words took place for the rest of my life.  I could not stop telling these lies, but believe that they were true?  Never once.  Every time I told one of these little acceptable stretches of my imagination, every time I tried to make myself look better than I actually was, I knew it and I hated myself for lying. 

Now some seven years later, here I was sitting in that office cubicle, feeling this same sense of shame, this same deep hurting because I had again lied to my coworker.  I had not seen that show.  But, I wanted her to think I had, so I lied.  As that lie came out of my mouth, the conviction of the Holy Spirit was poured upon my soul.  I had grown so very tired of lying.  I so wanted to be truthful and no longer have to worry about who I had told what to.

THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I CAN EVER REMEMBER HEARING GOD SPEAK TO ME 

I felt so very bad about that lie that I sat there at my typewriter, bowing my head and cried out to God.  I said, “God, if I could have just five seconds before that lie slipped out of my mouth, I wouldn’t say it, God.  I wouldn’t.  But I can’t stop lying.  Please, please help me and forgive me.”  This is the first time I can ever remember hearing God speak to me.  For in response to my cry, I clearly heard in my heart, “Go into John’s office.” 

John was a few years older than I, having graduated from UVA law school and come to work in the environmental law department only the year before.  I was his secretary and admired this young man.  I admired him for he was the first person I had ever been around who I observed actually reading his Bible, and he read it every day.  Every day at lunch he would close his office door, take out his Bible and read.  I knew this only because I had often had to knock on his door to give him a message during that hour, and always – always he sat at his desk, reading his Bible.  I never chose to read the Bible until the last four months of 1978.  Until I met John, I had never known anyone who even held one in their hands outside of the church sanctuary.  So this intrigued me.

In December 1978 John gave me a devotional for Christmas, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  Now, three weeks had passed and I was being told to go into his office to tell him.  What was I to tell him?  I was miserably crying as I sat in that cubicle.  I told God that I simply could NOT go into John’s office, for I was a basket case.  It would be too humiliating to go in there and tell him I wasn’t a Christian like he was a Christian.  I couldn’t even begin to understand the devotional he had given me.  And, for sure, I was not the person he thought I was. 

But the only words I continued to hear were four simple words of instruction:  “Go into John’s office.”  So, finally – finally I got up from my chair, walked to his door and knocked.  When he asked me to come in, I entered and sat in the chair in front of his desk.  He could tell something was wrong and asked me what the matter was, what he could do to help me.  I began to pour out the truth about my life.  I told him I was not the good person he thought I was, though I went to church every Sunday.  I did terrible things ... terrible, terrible, terrible things.  As I continued to pour out my anguish, he asked if he could pray for me.

This is my first remembrance of anyone ever asking me if I would permit them to pray for me personally.  I wanted his prayer and gladly accepted his offer.  I remember he asked God to help me find the answers I needed and to give me peace.  Then he asked me if I would like to come to the church he had been attending.  A special speaker was going to be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and he would welcome my coming.  I had plans to go to my grandparents’ farm for the weekend and would not return until Sunday night.  So, I agreed to come on Sunday night.

That Sunday night I found myself alone in the car, driving to a little storefront building about 20 minutes from my home.  As I sat at the stoplight at an intersection just three blocks from the storefront building, I distinctly remember hearing voices speaking, rather shouting at me.  “Don’t go!  Don’t go!  Turn around!  Go back!”  I had never ever had such a battle in my head.  But I knew I heard these voices and I was a bit afraid to keep on going.  But I found myself not listening to nor heeding their strong instructions.  Little did I know at that moment that the enemy of my soul somehow knew that if he could continue to keep me outside the four walls of that little storefront church fellowship, he would continue to postpone my hearing the gospel truth that God had sent to set my soul free.  But God - God who is greater than all powers against Him - He kept my foot on the gas and my hands turned the wheel towards the place He had planned to send me.  I had made a commitment to my boss to go, and I was not going to stop now.

On this night, January 14, 1979, I walked into a small storefront room as others present were standing and singing together.  From the time I walked into this place, I felt like I was surrounded by love.  I watched others doing something I had never seen, lifting their hands as they sang, and singing from their hearts with no hymnbooks in their hands.  I then heard a man share testimony after testimony of the works God had done in leading him out of mystical new age religions into being born again into the family of God.  I heard the truths of Scripture spoken with such wondrous clarity that I found myself wanting whatever the people in that room had come to know. 

Something a bit strange occurred while I was taking notes as this man taught us from the Bible.  At one point he began talking about how God wants to give His children the desires of their hearts'.  He shared several personal testimonies of his receiving a particular style of car that he prayed for.  He mentioned that his wife had wanted a copper colored side-by-side refrigerator freezer.  She had asked God for that exact desire, that specific style and color, and He had given her exactly what she asked.  I began to get bothered inside by listening to a man talk about asking God for such material things.  I actually got a bit angered by it and with a very forceful pen wrote across my tablet in all capital letters one word, underlined it and put exclamation points behind it.  I wrote: “MATERIALISTIC!!!!”  I felt a bit better after “yelling” on that tablet.  But then my pen stopped writing entirely.  I could not get it to write another letter. 

I guess this example best describes my own relationship with God at that moment.  For I remember clearly saying in my heart to Him, “OK, God.  If I am wrong about thinking this way, then just cause my pen to start writing again.”  I said it with a bit of a smart-alec attitude, yet my pen immediately began writing fluidly.  And – and I became more still inside and afterwards listened more receptively and intently to every word this dear man spoke.

At the end of this Sunday night sharing of God’s word, this man asked if anyone had any personal needs; he would be glad to speak with any and all who came.  I bowed my head and prayed, “God, I want to go talk with this man.  But I am afraid to go up front by myself.  If you will have John go with me, I’ll go.”  As soon as I opened my eyes, John was on the way up front.  I was then immediately on my feet behind him.  As I stood and waited for John to finish talking and then receiving prayer for a particular need he had, I began to weep.  When John left the front I stepped forward.  This dear man asked me what it was that I needed.  I told him “I don’t know.  I just want whatever these people have got.”  He asked me if I meant the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  I told him, “Well, if that is what it is.”  He then prayed for me to receive this infilling of the Spirit of God.  When he had prayed for me, he then continued to talk with me. 

Whatever he was expecting to have in the way that a minister of God has of a spiritual witness to his heart - an assurance that what has been prayed for has been granted - this man lacked that assurance.  As he continued talking with me, I only began to weep more and more.  Here I was before an entire group of strangers, except for John, and I was coming undone before all of them.  I didn’t want this to happen.  I was feeling very self-conscious.  But then - then the deep troubles - that which lay at the depth of my soul came forth from my lips.  “My cousin is in prison for life for hiring someone to kill his wife.  His sister killed herself, shot herself in the head.  And I just don’t understand.  How could God, God who is love, HOW could He allow something like this?  Why did He not stop them?”

All I knew about God was “God is Love.”  This was my foundation and I was terribly confused and distraught by these losses in my family.  As this poured out of my lips, the man before me called upon the pastor to come forward and take me away to another room where he and his wife could talk with me.  He told the couple that I needed deliverance from the occult.  I will never forget hearing that word “occult.”  For I totally disagreed with what he said I needed in order to be helped by God.  I remember thinking, “Occult?  I’ve never been involved in the occult!”  But, because I was just where God wanted me to be, I went along with the pastor and his wife and entered a quieter, more private room.  I sat down on a cold metal chair in front of two faces filled with love and concern for me.  I was introduced to Mike, the pastor of this church, and his wife Carolyn.

I DID HAVE SPIRITUAL BONDAGES IN THE AREA OF THE OCCULT
BECAUSE OF THE DRUGS AND THINGS PASSED DOWN TO ME

Mike began to ask me a few questions about myself.  He asked me what I might have on my mind, heart – was I doing anything that I knew was wrong?  Well, that opened the door to a flood of hideous things coming out from the darkness of my soul into the light of God’s countenance.  As I began to tell this couple the things that I was doing and wanted so to stop doing, he asked me about something specific.  He asked me if I had ever been involved in any witchcraft activities.  I then told him that I knew of nothing like that.  But the next thing I knew, I was telling him one specific thing after another.  I had been in a séance at a church camp.  I had played with the Ouija board.  My daddy read Edgar Cayce books and one of my grandmothers had someone pray over warts on her hand, someone she called a wart-witcher.  Either she or her mother had been involved with Jeanne Dixon.  I was very involved in reading books about evil things, all the Stephen King novels; The Exorcist; scary science fiction movies. Oh, and I had experimented with some different drugs in college and was now addicted to marijuana.  I did not then know of the direct relationship between drugs and occult oppression.  But I have since learned that indeed, I did have spiritual bondages in the area of the occult because of the drugs with which I had experimented and things that passed down to me from prior generations’ sins committed ignorantly by parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

BECOMING SPIRITUALLY BORN AGAIN

As I began to say these specific things, something occurred inside of me that I can only liken to something I had seen on the movie: The Exorcist.  My entire body began to bounce like a basketball on that chair.  I was lifted off the chair and slammed down on the chair by something I could not see nor control.  I was not nervous and causing myself to bounce.  I was being bounced by something invisible.  The next thing I knew, I was led to renounce in the name of Jesus -- to renounce all these things that I had done in ignorance and that all in my entire family line had done.  I do not today remember all that was prayed and all that I brought to the knowledge of this dear man and his wife.  I only know that in a very few minutes, I was free like I had never been free.  I felt like something so wrong had now become so very right.  I then asked God to forgive me for all I’d ever done and for Jesus to become my Lord and Savior.  I understood then the truth that He had come to set the captives free.  And, I was then born into the family of God by faith in Jesus.  The Holy Spirit had been faithful to lead me to hear the gospel, the good news and to place my own personal faith in Jesus’ Name, His blood, His death and resurrection – His payment in full for all my own and my family’s sins.

God led me out of my family’s denominational church and placed me in this non-denominational Bible-teaching fellowship.  On January 14, 1979, He set me free from the powers of sin that had held me captive.  My cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, perversions and the stronghold-sin of lying met their match.  Jesus had dealt the death-blow to my enemy’s power over me at the Cross.  I now began to walk in the newness of His resurrection power – and did I ever love Him.  I surely didn’t know much about Him, but did I ever find His power exciting.  As I shared these experiences with my husband’s sister the next night, she wanted to come visit this church with me.  On Wednesday, January 17th, my sister-in-law Carol also experienced deliverance from powers of darkness that had bound her all her life.  She was freed.  Within two weeks, my husband accompanied the two of us to this little fellowship of believers – those who believe all that was written for our teaching, our admonition, our equipping to go forth and bring truth and freedom from demonic captivity to all whom God would send us.

As we grew in understanding of just what Jesus had done for us, we began to understand the work of His atonement and the blessings that came upon all who would only believe what had been written in the Scriptures.  We came to understand Isaiah 53 and I Peter 2:21.  We came to see such a Promised Land of God’s provision that we wanted to trust Him for everything – our health, our wealth, our eternal and present well-being.  So, our walk and growth into the fullness of Christ Jesus, the walk of being conformed by the Spirit of God to the very image of the Son of God – this walk had begun.

Wilt and I surrendered our bodies to the Lord.  He became our Great Physician.  We ceased using any medications and took the Proverbs 4:20-23 medicine of His Word.  We were enabled to trust Him to be the guardian of our lives and the provider of our needs.  We went through lean times – but He was ever faithful.  I look back on those precious times and long to return to that simplistic childlike dependency.  Once you’ve walked away from trusting God to provide every cent and not taking an easier way out of your difficulties, it is indeed hard to return to the Lord in this area of financial trust.  But He is even today challenging, convicting and offering me forgiveness and repentance.  I want to step out on that water again!  God is still the same yesterday, today and forever.  He promised to provide my needs, not my greeds.  Sin shall not have dominion over me – I shall come forth as gold!

As Lord of our bodies, God had supreme control over all that went on in our bodies.  We ceased trying to take care of having children when we wanted them.  Within three months, I had conceived our first child, a son, Joel David.  In December 1979, our hopes were cut short as we lost Joel in the birth.  God is faithful to deliver us from the hands and plans of all our enemies.  He had given us comfort and promised that we shall yet be parents; that I, who though I am not a barren woman, I shall yet become a joyful mother, and upon the fulfillment of that promise I still wait.

Psalm 113:9 promises me that I shall be a joyful mother of children. God quickened this word from the Psalms to me by His Spirit as I lay in bed, reading His word that was still so precious to me.  For six weeks I rested as my body mended and as I recovered the physical strength that was lost through my birthing experience.  I was brought very low and had so many, many questions.  But this one thing I knew for sure.  In January of that year I had been graced to begin to draw near to God and have Him draw close to me.  I now had access to Him by my faith in Christ and the repentance He granted to me, the experience of knowing Jesus as my Mighty Deliverer.  The One who had delivered me on January 14th was now yet with me on December 10th, and every single day and night thereafter.  I still remember December 31, 1979, only twenty-one days after Joel went to be with Jesus.  I lay on the sofa watching the ball drop in Times Square and I heard myself speak out loud what I was thinking:  “This has been the best year of my life.”

God, the God of all comfort, truly He draws near when we are at our weakest.  Truly, He is the God who can turn our mourning into joy and make us to rejoice from our sorrow.  We learn as we grow in Christ how to yield to His Spirit and choose to follow Him in all the ways He was acquainted with as the Man of Sorrows.  He taught us that we can choose to believe His Father, our Father – we are to believe in His love and receive His love.  He has the same love for us and the same ways for us to always be led to triumph.  He will always cause us to triumph if we will only walk in the ways He reveals to us.  We can find that it may not always be easier to choose to rejoice by faith rather than sink down in depression and despair.  But we find that yielding to God’s Spirit is so very much better!   

Over the next several years, my husband continued to experience tests in the financial realm.  His jobs fell through as his employer went under during the oil crisis in the late 70’s.  His next employment opportunity ended as that employer went bankrupt.  The next employer moved their offices to Atlanta.  We knew we were to not to relocate to Atlanta.  Wilt then embarked upon a three-year bout with self-employment.   Thankfully this bout ended in January 1985.  He began getting settled in the area of service the Lord had chosen for him – maintenance supervision.  We lived in apartments for the next eight years.  I saw my husband every day whenever I wanted to see him.  He came home for an hour’s lunch with me every day.  He left the apartment at 8:00 and was home at 5:00.  Was I ever one spoiled woman!  Was I ever one blessed woman!

While living in the apartments where my husband was maintenance supervisor, I enjoyed many hours caring for children.  My four closest sisters in Christ were seeing God add one child after another to their families.  Wilt and I truly rejoiced with our friends and welcomed each new child with them.  This work of grace in both our hearts was almost inconceivable, that His grace had so mended our hearts that we were able to rejoice with every single person who was blessed with another child and then come to love each of these precious children.

Through the years and subsequent births, I began keeping their older children for an entire week after the birth of additional children born into their families.  These mothers so appreciated having my help in this way.  I so appreciated having their children for an entire week, children who loved spending a week away from home with “Mr. and Mrs. P.”  These days were filled with many hours spent learning about how children think, how they are so free to ask whatever questions pop into their little minds, and how very simple they are about some complex issues in life.  God taught me so very much through these children.  (If the Lord wills, maybe that will be the subject matter of another book, or at least a short story).

In September 1988, prior to losing my dear daddy, I began to keep a journal of my prayers, desires, thoughts and hopes regarding having children.  It began as a place to write particular scriptures that had become personal promises to me.  Later, I typed out a label and taped it on the spine, for this journal was now “My Childbearing Journal.”  For several years, my “faith” was quite active.  Every month I was so anticipating being pregnant that sometimes I actually convinced myself I was indeed “with child.”  When that book came out: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I devoured it.  Shortly thereafter, I developed many of those symptoms of “early pregnancy.”  I look back on all of this now and smile and even laugh.  I realize how much I had become “consumed” with my desire for a child.

In October 1991, I dreamed that I had given birth to a beautiful blue-eyed, blond-haired little boy.  In the dream I was nursing him.  When I woke up that morning, I couldn’t believe that this was just a dream.  It had been so real that I just lay there in wonder how a dream could be so real.  I was filled with such a longing and the sense of great loss.  For my arms were not filled with a precious young son.  They yet remained empty.  Later that day I was talking with Wilt’s mom on the phone.  In all the years I had known her, she had only had two or three dreams that she had ever remembered and told me of.  She told me that afternoon that she had had the strangest dream last night.  She said she dreamed that she was in Pennsylvania with her family and someone had had a blond-haired, blue-eyed baby boy, but no one knew to whom he belonged to!  I immediately said “He’s MINE!”  Of course this startled my mother-in-law, but then I explained to her my dream.  She said, “Well, Karen – we have a name for him.  When we named him we all agreed on Samuel."  Then we couldn’t think of a middle name, and I said, “Why not Thompson (her maiden name).”  So, his name is Samuel Thompson.”

EVERY TIME I BEGAN TO LOSE HOPE AND GROW DISCOURAGED ...

Two days later another friend called and told me that she had had a dream that I was pregnant.  “Coincidences” like I am telling you of happened so numerously during these first 10 years, that it wasn’t hard for me to continue to believe.  Every time I began to lose hope and grow discouraged, someone always came along telling me of a dream they had had in which I was pregnant, or how they had been reading the Bible and had a particular passage put on their heart to share with me.  As I’m thinking of this now, it really did happen time and time and time again.

For a couple of years after these same-night dreams occurred, I went around looking every month for Samuel Thompson to make his arrival in my womb.  I prayed for a Samuel, I cried for a Samuel, I did everything I felt inclined to do – but still, no Samuel.  During these months, I often thought God was speaking to me about the children I was to have.  The first time I heard what I thought was His voice to me regarding my hope came in the form of a question.  I had been reading a book by Marie Chapian titled: Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy.  Marie had travelled to Yugoslavia and searched out Christians who had experienced the days surrounding the 1941 invasion of Yugoslavia, a period of history known as The April War.  This book told how Christians sustained their faith during the hardships they suffered during the 1941 invasion of Yugoslavia.  It focused on the life of a Christian evangelist named Jacob and his wife Jozeca and other Yugoslav Christians and their devotion to God during this period of war and famine.

It seems that whenever I remember hearing what I believed was God’s Voice speaking specifically to me as His child, I can always remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard His Voice.  During the time I was reading this particular book, I walked out of our bedroom into the hallway.  I heard a clear question to my spirit:  “What if I have chosen you to bear children in hard times?”  I stopped short and stood still, considering what I had just been asked.  My response was to say, “Well, I would like to think that I would not be resentful that I could not have our children in easier times and while all our friends are having their families.  But, if You want me to have our children in hard times, that will be okay with me.”  Thus began my recording the particular personal encouragements like this in my Childbearing Journal.  This was only the first of many occasions of reflection and recording.  Over many months and years, I wrote at length the things I believed then with all my heart He was revealing to me.  My hopes of God fulfilling the things upon which He had allowed me to hope upon continued to grow.

As I have shared, I spent many hours in the company of children of various ages, but most often younger children ranging in age from two to ten.  As the eldest of four children, I had grown up caring for younger ones under me.  When I was twelve and living in a subdivision, I would often babysit for many neighbors and for families in my church.  These many years prepared my heart only to want to get married and have my own children.  That was all I looked forward to for as long as I could remember – getting married, having many children and being the type of mother who would always love her children, always listen to her children, always hear the hearts of her children and help them through life’s challenges, all the way through.

My own mother is such a woman - such a mother.  There could not possibly be a more patient listener and counselor.  She truly is a role model in this area of virtue. 

If there is one thing for sure and certain that I know, I know children are a blessing from the Lord, and blessed is the man who has a whole quiver full of them.  And for me, the more children the merrier.  With great joy, my youngest sister gave birth to their first daughter on July 12, 1991.  After suffering two miscarriages, finally my youngest sister had received their long-awaited child, and we finally had a niece for the aunts to dote on and our mother received her first grandchild to cherish.

Our joys were soon interrupted and put on hold, for it was discovered right shortly after her birth that our niece’s heart had not been perfectly formed.  Thus began many sleepless nights and anxious days over this sweet, sweet little one.  My sister took a year’s sabbatical from her elementary teaching position to remain home and hold, love and care for her daughter’s every need.  During the months that followed, the best of all surgical care was performed on this little heart to replace a malformed valve.  Our niece was so very strong and unless you knew what she had experienced, you would never suspect that she had been through all she had.  She grew perfectly normally, was always chunky and had the sweetest, rosiest little cheeks and lips of any baby I had ever seen. 

In August 1992 I got into bed late one night.  I was pondering one of these times of encouragements.  I had been talking with Wilt about having a little girl to go along with Samuel, and how I liked the name “Emily Grace.”  Well, as I was thinking on this, I heard in my mind two words that at that time I believed God had spoken to me:  “Twin boys.”  I laughed and said, “Sure God.  We have a name for the first son, Samuel.  What is the second son’s name?”  I then “heard” – “Elias Gregory.”  You can only imagine what I am vividly remembering.  I said “ELIAS?  Wilt will never go for that name!”  Well, I simply recorded all of this in the journal and put it back on its shelf.

My sister and her husband entrusted their darling to my care, also in August of 1992.  She finally felt secure that they were doing the best they could for her and she was so obviously thriving and perfectly normal in every way.  I felt honored in their trust and took her into my arms and more deeply into my heart.  My sister returned to teaching and I returned to finding great fulfillment in caring for others’ children.  A woman who worked in the apartment complex rental office had asked me to care for her newborn, Amber.  The next eight months were one of the happiest periods of the life I had yet experienced.  I found caring for two such precious little girls wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be.  In fact, I thought it was so easy and so very enjoyable that I began to think about how nice it would be if God would give us twins.  Sometimes it is a bit strange how desires are planted and remain and grow in our hearts.  Now my desires for just another son had grown to include the twin boys I laughed about earlier one night in August.

During this summer of 1992, Wilt began to desire a change in scenery.  He began to look for employment elsewhere but no doors opened.  In March 1993, his employer offered him advancement into a position as a regional maintenance director.  The promotion would mean a move to Washington, D.C.  He would be responsible for overseeing the maintenance departments of five D.C. properties and three properties located in central Virginia.  His employer wanted us to move to D.C., but this was not suitable to us.  We decided to move half-way between D.C. and central Virginia.  We found a house in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

IF WE CANNOT HOLD ON TO HIM THROUGH IT, HE WILL KEEP IT FROM US

On April 15, 1993, Wilt moved into our house in Fredericksburg.  I remained behind to care for our niece until her mother finished out her school year and would be home for the summer.  She was so looking forward to spending the summer with her daughter.  But this was not to be.  On Memorial Day after complications from another heart surgery, this precious little girl left our arms.  I was to have begun keeping her again on June 1st, but a little blood vessel in her head burst and she went to be with Jesus.  Both her parents were with her when it happened.  How merciful God was to me.  Had it happened one day later, she would have been with me and I shudder to think what I would have suffered.  Truly God does not allow us to endure anything beyond His enabling grace.  If we cannot hold on to Him through it, He will keep it from us.

After this loss I joined my husband in our new home in May of 1993.  Here I now began to experience a totally different life, a life I had never before known.  Prior to this move, I had lived within 15 minutes of my many close friends.  I lived just a little more than this distance from my mother and two sisters.  After our first monthly phone bill totaled over $200.00, I knew I had to learn to wait until others called me.  I have often thought of this time in our life as our “wilderness experience.”  For 19 months, we would be separated from family and friends by an hour’s driving distance and long-distance phone bills.  One friend with whom I had shared countless hours of sweet fellowship gave me the perfect fridge magnet as a housewarming gift.  Written underneath the sketch of a telephone, I laughed as I read: “Blessed are the brief; for they shall have lower phone bills.”  As you well know, sometimes some of us can be so detail-oriented that what someone else could relate in 10 words, it takes others of us 20 to relate … 20 paragraphs or pages that is (an original from my hubby).

Wilt’s new job at first was exciting. But it did not take long for it to become overburdening.  There were weeks in which between his job and the drive to and from D.C., he was working 100-110 hours.  He felt like a fish out of water as he worked amongst people he’d never associated with before.  There were drug-dealers and every other sort of undesirable in the complexes in which he worked.  I didn’t hear about some of the things he experienced until years later.  Once over lunch after a Sunday morning church meeting, I heard him tell of the time a shooting occurred on the property.  He and a coworker were sitting in a backhoe, discussing a sewer line excavation.  Someone started firing a gun while chasing another person out from behind a building.  One of the bullets flew right between my husband and his coworker and then pierced through the front windshield.  Praise God for His protective hand upon His children.  He brought home one of the bullets he had found on the roof or in a parking lot of the building – you know, the kind that once they hit a person, a little rotor blade opens up on them and they explode inside, ripping and turning the flesh into a hole the size of a quarter.  Was that ever a paperweight to have on your desk! 

At the end of our first summer in Fredericksburg, something quite unexpected took place in my life.  I experienced what I have come to hear others speak of as “having a vision.” In September 1993 in Pennsylvania, I was lying across the bed in a hotel room.  I was wide awake, and had just closed my eyes for a brief moment.  The next thing I knew, I “saw” in my mind, as quick as the flash of a camera, two beautiful baby girls, identical twins, one in a mint green dress, the other in a peach dress – and I instantly knew they were “mine.”  I began to think about names for these two girls and came up with Annelyse Ruth and Rachel Nadine.  I now had names for twin boys and twin girls, and I liked the idea that I might have two sets of twins.  I know, I know – I do indeed have a “vivid” imagination.

In July 1994, I was washing dishes in the kitchen sink.  I had been thinking how much I really liked the name Nathan Taylor.  I told God that if I could have one more son, I’d like to have a third son and name him Nathan Taylor.  I thought this was reasonable to ask, since He had told me what He had chosen to name the twin boys.  I didn’t get to choose these sons’ names, so if he would give me another son, I’d like to name him Nathan Taylor.  After talking with God about this desire, I then wrote all five of these names down and put them on the fridge.  I wrote them down in the Childbearing Journal in which I continued to write during the times I was encouraged in my faith.  

I HAD A VERY DEEP DESIRE THAT MY CHILDREN WOULD WALK WITH GOD FROM A VERY YOUNG AGE  

In August of 1994 I met a dear Christian family who hired me on a part-time basis to care for their three daughters.  Their oldest daughter was then four and a half.  Her mother shared with me this child’s salvation story.  One day the year before, she was out playing in the yard.  Suddenly, she came running into the house and excitedly told her mother that while she had been playing she had been talking to God.  She told her mother that she asked Jesus to come into her heart.  Then she exclaimed:  “He did, Mommy!  He did!”   Her mother said that there was a noticeable change in her daughter’s sensitivity, her conscience, and her desire to be an obedient child.  I got so very excited about this because for many years through my desiring and praying about this desire for children, God had worked in me what was most important to me as a mother. I had a very deep desire that my children would walk with God from a very young age.  No one encouraged me to think that it was indeed possible for a child this young to comprehend the truth well enough to ask God to forgive them for their sins and have Jesus save them and make them ready for heaven.  But, here I was, hearing such a testimony.  This one testimony fed my soul!

At this time in my life I had been thinking about the faith of a little child.  I had thought that it was significant to me what Jesus said about believing in Him, being converted, and becoming as a little child.  I began to desire to have that simple faith myself, to truly experience God as my Father, to relate to Him as such.  I also began to wonder about what hinders receiving answers to our prayers -- James said it was either because we didn’t ask or we asked something that was amiss, desiring to have it for selfish reasons rather than receive it to glorify God.

I also thought that if I were rebelling to obeying God’s will as He had revealed it to me, that God could choose to delay in giving me the answer until I quit delaying in giving Him obedience with all my heart.  So, it was this background that led me to desire to pray with this precious little one.  I asked God to put His will in her heart and to lead her to pray her desire to Him.  I figured she had absolutely no battle with unbelief.  As far as her being obedient to the will of God, how much could a child her age actually be accountable to obey?  Just obeying her mother and daddy and being nice to her brothers and sisters, and not telling lies or having temper tantrums.  I felt the chances of her receiving the answers to the things for which she prayed were a bit better than average.  I told her mother that I would like to encourage her daughter to pray with me while I cared for her.  She gladly gave her permission.

The first time I ever asked this child if she wanted to pray about anything, she just sweetly said “No, Maam.”  Well, since I had been asking God to put something in her heart to pray, I found myself talking with Him about my request.  “God, I have asked you to put something that is your will in her heart.  What should I ask her?”  Immediately I heard myself ask if there was something that she’d like to ask God to do for Mr. Wilt.  Immediately, she said “OH YES!  I want God to give Mr. Wilt a little girl.”  Well, I told her that was the very desire Mr. Wilt had, for a daughter.  So, she said she could pray and ask God to give him a daughter, which she did.

Several mornings later, this little one was sitting on my lap.  She looked at me and said, “Miss Karen … I’d like for you to have two boys at the same time, two girls at the same time, and one boy by himself.”  I about swallowed my tongue in shock.  I asked her, “Honey – WHAT did you say?”  She repeated it exactly as she had said…

It was not the fact that her “desire” for our family had grown so quickly and so specifically that shocked me.  It was the fact that the month before this came out of this child’s lips, I had written down five children’s names in my journal.  

After so clearly stating her desire for me to bear these five children, I asked her if she believed she could pray and ask God to give me these five children.  I wanted to be sure she believed she could believe He was hearing her when she prayed and believe He had granted her request.  She assured me she could ask God and believe it --- so I asked her to pray it. 

Sometime during the early months of 1994, Wilt decided to look for another job.  I had become very concerned for his health.  I didn’t want to be a widow.  Some nights he would wake up having trouble breathing because of the stress.  I know you know what stress can do to people. From February to September 1994, I sent out resume after resume seeking his new job, but not one door opened.  I just thank God that He heard our cries and came to our rescue in September.  Wilt got an inquiry from the resume he sent in response to the Jewish Community Center’s (hereafter referred to as JCC) ad for a maintenance superintendent.  He went on an interview sometime around the middle of September.  He liked what he heard about the JCC and was somewhat interested in the position.  But he had decided that he wanted a position that offered the possibility of advancement.  He couldn’t see any such possibilities with the JCC, so he told me he wasn’t interested.  That was on a Monday.

On the following Thursday, he came home and told me that HUD wanted to inspect the properties within the month.  I knew this meant another bout with the 100-hour-plus weeks.  He said “I’m not going to let them do this to me again.”  To which, I exclaimed, “You CAN’T do it again.  You’re in worse shape now than you were last year.  What are you going to do?”   Well, he said he was going to call the JCC again and ask for another interview.  He got a second interview, and the rest is history.

On October 1, 1994, Wilt had his second interview with the JCC.  That same morning, I woke up after a dream.  I dreamed Wilt and I were travelling from plane to train, train to plane, buckling and unbuckling, unbuckling and buckling FIVE BABIES – QUINTS!!!!  And I dreamed that they were just as I had written, just as my friend’s daughter had said and prayed – identical twin boys, identical twin girls and one boy.  One particular scene has never left my mind. We had gotten off an airplane and walked into an airport, carrying the five infants in their individual baby carriers.  The children were at perfect, perfect peace. 

Standing in the lobby was an elderly man with a long white beard, a long black robe and a black hat on his head.  I realized we were coming into an airport in Jerusalem where this man stood transfixed, gazing intently at this highly unusual family approaching him.  But somehow I knew in the dream that what he was even more amazed by than the sight of the two of us with these five babies, he was more amazed by the tangible peace that was so evidently upon our family as we approached him.  The babies were all at peace.  We as the parents were at peace, for we were being upheld by the very peace of God.

I woke up exhausted just dreaming about it.  Talk about “visions of grandeur!”   I lay on my back with my arm bent over my face upon the pillow, thinking about all that I had just so vividly been experiencing in my sleep.  Just the thought of the care of quintuplets in those few scenes I had dreamed!  I lay there trying my best to take in all the scenes that had been so vividly pictured in my mind.  I said, “God, you would need so much wisdom to raise five babies at once!”  Immediately I heard a sentence, a sentence with such clarity that I knew God was speaking back to me.  He said, “Pray for wisdom that you might keep your peace, that you might make peace.  Divine order produces peace.”  I am still learning this life lesson of doing all things in divine order, and depending upon and asking God for the wisdom I daily need.  I feel that this is as vital to my well-being as “Give us this day our daily bread.” 

As that morning turned into afternoon, evening and the next day, my dream took on an inkling of reality.  I just “knew” God was telling me through this little girl and was now confirming through this dream that I was going to have those five children that I had dreamed of, prayed about, and spoken of for hours on end.  I felt it was so real.  I felt at that time that it was sure to come to pass.  In fact, for at least two years, I went around telling this story to everyone who came into my life, and some strangers who were just passing through.

Had you been “in my life” during this time, I am sure you would have heard all about these things.  And, you probably would have laughed -- at first.  But if you had been as close to me as my friends and my family, you would have also been concerned.  It was all I talked about for awhile.  

In November 1994, we came back to the friends and family that we had left and expected relief.  We had high expectations that the Jewish Community Center would prove to be a far less demanding job.  Wilt would not have the pressures he had been under while managing the apartment complexes in D.C. and Virginia, but new pressures faced him here.  His brother Tom died of AIDS in January 1995.  My father’s mother, my dear 93-year old Nannie, went to glory in April and was followed by the loss of my husband’s father in June.  In August of 1995, I turned 40.

The morning of my 40th birthday was very difficult.  Wilt had said for some time that God had made him know that we would have another child.  He said the only thing God was waiting for was the set time that was known only to Him.  Wilt had become settled and content to just wait until that time came.  I wanted this same assurance Wilt had come to know, and to experience the peace that this knowledge had brought to him.  Yet, no matter how hard I prayed, how many questions I asked, this peace continued to allude me.

I had thought that I would have been pregnant before I turned 40.  So, I was fighting back tears that morning.  I got into bed to cry and pray.  It seemed that I felt a need to pray inwardly and not express anything out loud.  If I did pray out loud, God made me know I was to utter nothing in English.  So, I cried and groaned and prayed only in the Spirit.  I began to tell God how I would serve Him if He never gave me a child.  However, I told Him that I really didn’t understand why if He wasn’t going to do this in our lives, why He had allowed us to continue to hope and pray.  I asked why He had sent people to encourage us time and time and time again.  They could not have possibly known that I was almost at the point of thinking it would never happen.  Surely He must have prompted them to contact me, given them the dreams and the encouragements for me at the very time I needed them the most.  But yet I was tired of continuing to believe and wait.  I wanted to be relieved of this desire.  As I told Him all these things, I cried it all out like a baby.  I then became very hushed and still -- guess I wore myself out.

The next thing I knew, I had another of those so-called “visions.”  I saw in my mind’s eye a white-faced clock with a brass band around it.  It was just turning around and around and around.  It happened as quickly as the flash of a camera again, but I knew exactly what I had seen.  I asked “What was that?”  The next thing I heard in my heart/mind was “It is JUST a matter of time.”  I then knew that God was telling me the same thing He had told Wilt years before – that the only reason we still had not received another child was that there was a set time that had not yet come.  Finally, I had my answer from God and could rest in peace about this issue.

In the midst of these trying times, we were blessed to be able to leave the vagabond apartment dwellings and finally settle into our own home, what used to be my husband’s family home.  Now, no more would I wonder when we’d have to be moving again.  Ten moves in 12 years had deepened my desire for “roots.”  We moved into our home in the summer of 1996 and have enjoyed it beyond our dreams.  I love living in the rural country.  I love the convenience of being close to the city and yet have all the enjoyments that come with the small-town atmosphere.

After the busy process of readying our new home and moving one more time, I finally felt a sense of relief.  I had been too busy to think much about the dreams, the visions and my journal details.  My mind had been occupied with other things.  In January 1997, I began to realize that I no longer “felt” the same way inside when I went to tell people that I knew I was going to yet have five children.  For two years I had told people that this was one day going to come to pass, that I just “knew” God had made me know this plan, but now ... I felt like I was lying when I said “I KNEW” I would have even one child.  I began to cry out to God to help me understand just what had happened in my heart.  I finally told Wilt that I honestly couldn’t say I any longer believed I would definitely have even “a” child.   I didn’t want to tell Wilt what was going on inside of me.  At that time I thought it would discourage him so much to find out I had “lost my faith.”

That January 1, 1997, I told him these things and he sat there looking at me in total unbelief.  He was real quiet and then he spoke something that was so strong and settled that I will never forget the strength with which he spoke it.  He told me that it was now obvious to him and should be to me that what I had experienced was only a hope, not faith.  He said that he didn’t care what I said, what our pastor might say, what our friends and family thought, or what the whole world said, but he KNEW we would yet have another child and that it would be fulfilled in God’s timing.  I was brought to such a peace at that moment.  I went away thinking, “Well, Abraham knew what Sarah didn’t until right before it was fulfilled.”  God had brought Wilt to the place that he never expressed any doubt.  He always said the same thing – “It is just a matter of God’s timing.”  Even though I had also had this assurance in August 1995, for whatever reason, I no longer seemed able to keep this within my daily grasp.

The next morning I woke up feeling very depressed and discouraged.  All the encouragements, all the special little things I thought God had said to me, all the dreams and visions were so distant from me.  I then faced the reality of dying to my own dreams and I felt so very empty and sad.  As I lay there with an aching heart, I asked God to take out of my heart anything that was not His will.  Immediately, I had another “vision.”  I “saw myself” sitting on the side of the sofa with identical twin boys at my knees.  They had on pj’s, dark navy bottoms with white tops trimmed in navy at the neck and sleeves.  And to my right side, leaning over upon my lap was what I sensed to be another boy.  What was going on here?

Here I was asking God to take all of this out of my heart so I could once-and-for-all forget it, and here I was having another “vision.”  It happened just like the time I “saw” the twin girls.  As quickly as a flash of a camera and yet as vivid as a photograph, I saw these two precious little girls that I knew were mine.  If I were to tell you to close your eyes and picture identical twin baby girls in your mind, you could imagine it, but you would not actually “see” it in your mind.  I had seen it as clearly as looking with my eyes opened wide. Now I was seeing the exact same way, a vivid clear picture in living color of identical twin boys standing at my knees.  I simply could not understand what I was experiencing.  So I cried out to my Father.

I THEN CRIED OUT IN CONFUSION AND ANGUISH TO GOD

I then cried out in confusion and anguish to God.  I asked Him if all of this truly was Him or what in the world was going on?  I heard a passage spoken to my heart from Hebrews, Hebrews 10:23.  I believe He told me to continue to speak of my faith, to hold fast to it confessing it without wavering.  I told Him that I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have faith that these things were true.  I believe He then told me to look up the word “faith” in that scripture in the original Greek language.  I got out of bed and did that and what did I find?  That word translated “faith” actually meant “HOPE” in the Greek.  I liked that idea a lot --- I could honestly talk of my hope of becoming a joyful mother and even of bearing these five babies.  But I just couldn’t tell anyone any longer that I KNEW it would come to pass.

In September of 1997, I began to work for a Christian home school organization.  For two years I was in a position where I would be with many Christian mothers.  I guess because I worked for a home school organization, many mothers just assumed I had grown children.  At times some of these mothers would ask me “How many children do you have?”  I would sometimes have time to share a few of these remembrances with them, letting them know that I yet have a hope of having five children in my heart.  I never failed to come away from those conversations at awe – for very often this complete stranger would receive such hope from my hope and then return it back to me.  There is so much that is yet a mystery to me.  But I will never regret the life of hope and joy that God has given to me in the midst of very trying and discouraging times.

During this period of my life, I realized something had been in my heart that “blocked” my being able to believe I would give birth to a child.  I told Wilt that somehow I had faith to believe it was indeed possible that Jesus would come and catch us away to be with him in the air before I had given birth.  I couldn’t explain to you what would happen to the baby(ies) that would be in my womb.  I couldn’t tell you how I knew I could “fly away” even if I was two minutes away from delivery.  But I find it totally plausible that this could indeed happen.  I figure that if God could put Himself in a virgin’s womb, what difficulty would He face in taking me up with a baby in my own womb?

Wilt told me that he, too, is 100% certain beyond any shadow of doubt that God could cause me to conceive just two minutes before the rapture and that this would be completely fine with him.  Wilt has come to the place of such peace and joy just knowing that it is all in God’s hands.  He, too, is willing to hope against hope and believe against all unbelief – even to the very moment of the end, even if we, like others in Hebrews 11, have to leave this earth having not received the manifestation of the promise God wrote in our hearts. One thing for certain – if I go up with a baby(ies) in my womb, I will come back with the children that God gave us.  For He who has given us numerous promises and kept our hope alive and growing, He is a faithful Father.  And as such, it is impossible for our Father to lie to us as His children.  I know that I have just spoken of something that many people don’t believe.  But as my Nannie said about Jesus being literally raised from the dead, “I know many people don’t believe it, but I believe it!”

I’m remembering something that happened many years ago.  Wilt and I were not yet married.  We were in his car going somewhere when someone said that something was “impossible.”  I immediately began to sing the song from a Rogers and Hammerstein’s TV-musical I had often seen as a child.  The song was titled: Impossible,  and it was one of my favorites to watch and sing each year.  When that word “impossible” was spoken, I sang out:

“But the world is full of zanies and fools
Who don’t believe in sensible rules ---
And won’t believe what sensible people say –

The next thing I knew, Wilt sung out:

“And because these daft and dewey eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes---
IMPOSSIBLE things are happening every day.”

I laughed and laughed that Wilt knew this song and joined right in on singing it out!  As the years have passed, many times I have thought about how for some inhuman reason, he and I have been graced to have this hope planted deep in our hearts.  And in very recent weeks, our hopes have been once-again enlarged and strengthened.

The Psalms tell us that Joseph got a word from God in his heart.  Then he went through difficulties and trials, persecutions, misunderstandings, humiliation and alienation.  Sounds a lot like what our Lord Jesus also experienced.  But two passages comfort me –

Ps. 105:17-19

17He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:

18Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:

19Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.

Ps. 102:13-22

13Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

14For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.

15So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.

16When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.

17He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

18This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.

19For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;

20To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;

21To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;

22When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.


I hope you will not have read all of this and think I am presumptuous.  I hope you can hear from my heart that I have also had a dream.  This dream has been what I would say confirmed to my heart by multiplied witnesses.  This dream is founded on the will of God written for our admonition and learning in multiplied passages that He has opened up to us by His Spirit.  But at this moment, this is all yet a dream.  I can say with all of my being that there is nothing that would more fulfill this poor servant’s heart than to one day find that this dream was indeed the plan of God for our lives -- a plan that He completed in Christ Jesus before the world began.

Joel tells us that in the last days God would pour forth His Spirit upon all flesh and that some would dream dreams, some would have visions, and that our sons and daughters would prophesy.  I tell you the truth.  I believe that what I have shared of my experience could indeed prove to have been these pouring-forths of His Spirit.  But I have not yet been granted the assurance to tell you that this indeed will come to pass, that I will bear five children, that I will bear them as quintuplets.  But I can say with all my heart, that if this is the will and plan of God for my life, I want it with all that is in me.

I don’t care what difficulties and hardships would await such a labor of love and mercy.  The opportunities to proclaim what I do believe with all my heart would be worth all the sacrifices we would certainly have to make.  The opportunity to have a visible testimony to this truth:  We are indeed in the last days.  God chose us to live in these days.  He gave us names in Christ before our parents bore us and named us.  We are the most privileged generation to ever be!

All our days are numbered; were numbered before we were born to begin them.  There is nothing as wonderful as living every day filled with the joy of knowing God.  For this joy causes us to rejoice in the Lord always and then again.  Though days ahead may prove to be at times dark, the Lord is our light and our salvation.  And He shall deliver us from all evil and turn all to work for good in our lives.  He will set us above all our enemies, especially the enemies of doubt, unbelief and fear, and teach us how to walk with Him upon high places from places on high.  For we are now by faith seated with Christ Jesus in the heavenlies, far above all principalities and powers and mights and dominions.  Let us remember that no matter what may prove to be ahead for our proving (Deut. 8), our best is yet to be.

Habakkuk  3:17-19:

  17  Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

We shall see with our eyes and behold with our ears the marvelous testimonies of our faithful God’s dealings to make Himself a faithful people, a holy habitation for Himself by His Spirit, a Bride that is even now making herself ready for her soon-coming King!!!  May God keep fanning the flames of your own heart and keep every hope of His will alive in your heart.  If you are ever faltering in your feeble steps, just cry out to Him.  He is able to make you stand and to even pour forth divine utterances from your lips that will shut the mouth of the lion waiting to devour your faith and rob you of your testimony.  God has sealed in His people a witness in this earth.  Oh, come quickly Lord Jesus and make your praises known!  Let the whole earth be filled with your glory!  Thy Kingdom come!!!  Thy will be done in earth even as it is forever settled in heaven!

May the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace in believing all that His Holy Spirit has written, each and every promise He has made His children.  For it is indeed He that works in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.  It is always and forever His good pleasure that you believe all He has said unto you and that you believe it unto the end!!!

I leave you today with these promises:  He will never leave us nor forsake us so that we may BOLDLY say:  The Lord is my Helper!  I will not fear what man can do unto me!  Lo – Behold – He is with us, Immanuel, God WITH US!  Even unto the end of the age!  Faithful is He who promised us and with whom it is impossible that He can lie.  We have a marvelous, glorious, overly-victorious future opening to us as His children, opening daily! 

So keep awake - keep your eyes on Jesus  - I want to meet you with Him in the air!  And then shall we ever be together and ever be with the Lord!

Maranatha


PART 2

Continuing to Wonder and Continuing to Learn Lessons of Faith

November-December 1999

I sit here this morning writing and weeping at God’s faithfulness to restore my hope and to set me back in the right path.  It has been so long since I have "heard" God speak to my spirit.  He may have been speaking but I was either too hard-hearted in unbelief or too discouraged and down to believe that He was speaking to me.  But since I recorded and began to share this testimony in July, it seems I’ve been dredged on the bottom of the ocean.  I have only recently understood what I believe is behind this driest of times.  I believe since I openly shared my full hope, Satan has sought to shut me up.  I believe God was involved with leading me to write all I wrote.  I believe I was obeying His Spirit’s promptings.  The results were precious to me.

I initially wrote it to share with one woman I had known all my childhood.  Her family and my family were like one big family.  We did everything together.  We spent our vacations together.  When I was saved and shared my salvation experience with all who would listen, this one relationship among many others was dissolved.  It seemed to me that this woman wanted nothing of what I had been graced to know.  For years, every time I saw her I went through such mind battles, feeling so intimidated around her.  There surely was a great spiritual conflict between us.  In my mind, it was as if Satan himself was laughing at me through this woman.  I really didn’t want to be around her.   

In July 1999 I saw her at her daughter’s July 4th picnic.  She brought a delicious pasta salad.  I wrote her an e-mail that night to ask for the recipe.  Her daughter had found out in the spring that she was pregnant.  She had been married for seven years and wanted a child so very badly.  She had been through so much suffering because month after month none of these desires were being fulfilled.  Finally this spring, her daughter told the Lord that she was no longer going to seek to have a child.  She said that since she was a little girl all she had wanted were a few basic things.  She wanted to be like Jesus and this process was far from complete.  She wanted to be married to a man who would love God and go to church with her.  She wanted to live in the country.  And, she wanted to be a mother.  God had fulfilled all but this last desire.  She told Him that morning that she was going to go on with her life and be thankful for what she had and no longer let this desire consume her or make her think God wasn’t faithful to her.  She was able to commit this part of her life to His fatherly wisdom and plan for her life.

After praying in this manner, she called her doctor to make an appointment.  She had been experiencing some bladder discomfort.  The nurse told her that she would have to take a pregnancy test before she could receive any bladder medications.  She laughed and told the nurse that wouldn’t be necessary because there was absolutely no doubt that she was not pregnant.  But because of their policy, they insisted that she take this test.  The test revealed what had been hidden to all – God had granted His daughter’s desire before she had surrendered her hope.  This is such an encouraging picture to my heart.  Indeed, God will not allow our hopes to perish before He brings to pass His will in our lives.

A couple of times during the past seven years I had spoken with this daughter.  I had shared with her the things that I’ve since written to her mother.  She told me how much it meant to her that I had been steadfast my witness.  I felt so humbled by this encouragement.  I knew that any steadfastness she had observed was truly and only the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. 

As I wrote her mother that July 4, 1999 night, I wanted her mother to know that I truly was overjoyed for her daughter and for her family.  This would be the first grand-child for them to love and cherish.  As I began to write these heartfelt feelings, the testimony you have just read came forth from my heart.  I became aware that this desire I had for years to record all these things was now just coming together in a fairly understandable manner.  It was so easy to remember things that I’d written in the journal, and I didn’t even have the journal by my side. So, I prayed about sending it to her and was at peace the next morning to do so. [Since the first writing of the e-mail to this dear woman on July 4, 1999, I referred to my Childbearing Journal and filled in the dates on which these specific details actually occurred.  I wanted to send an account of these details to the parents of the child who “confirmed” so exactly what I had written as my full desire that September of 1994.]    So, I did.  And am I ever thankful for God’s faithfulness! 

God used this testimony to restore our relationship. God touched her heart.  She shared with me how much it meant to her to know all I’ve been through.  She said she wanted to express how thankful and “privileged” she felt that I shared all of my heart with her.  SHE felt “privileged?”  Peculiar choice of words, I thought.  I felt so very privileged to see what God was doing through all the hodgepodge of thoughts, dreams and visions.  God greatly encouraged me through these merciful results.

I WONDERED IF I HAD EVER HEARD GOD REALLY SPEAK TO ME ABOUT ANYTHING

For the next three months I began to question every single word of what I had written.  I became confused and depressed.  I wondered if I had ever heard God really speak to me about anything.  All I could do was cry it out to the Lord, trying my very best to be completely honest.  This entire year has been filled with this type of “coming clean.”  At least two situations that I was “sure” were going to turn out for good took a completely opposite turn.  I had spent several years laboring in a direction that was Godward and in keeping with what I saw clearly in the Scriptures.  But, my hopes had been cut off.  I became totally disillusioned with so many people.  I was disillusioned with myself.  I was disillusioned even with God. I felt He had deceived me.  I was wondering if I would ever be able to know that I truly heard His voice.

Somehow something that only God can do - somehow God kept that little mustard seed of faith and trust alive in me during these battles with all my questions - during these battles with the questions that Satan actually was speaking to my mind.  I believe this is a peculiar help of the Holy Spirit in us through these times.  God says in the book of Romans, Chapter 8 that the Spirit will make intercession with groanings and in ways that cannot even be uttered.  Jesus groaned in the Spirit.  Jesus wept in the Spirit.  And Jesus was heard in that He feared (honored;revered;sought earnestly to set an example for all mankind the important of obedience;the importanace of trusting) God. 

Satan was seeking not only to rob me of my hope for a child, but he wanted to use this one area of conflict to rob me of all my trust in God.  He wanted to use this and some other conflicts to once again cause me to turn away from the church in which I knew God had placed me.  He didn’t want me to continue in the Word that God had given me because he knows the faithful character of the God he hates and opposes.  He knows better than most of God’s children that if any woman, man or child of God will keep crying out and being honest, that God will expose all of His enemy’s wiles to that child.  And that child will not only come through these hours, days, weeks or years of darkness – but WHEN they come through, they will have understanding that will enable God to deliver others through their testimony.  He knows Revelation 12:11 is true.  He knows that God’s children all overcome only through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.  If he can just shut them up he can destroy them.  If he can get them so filled with doubt that they stop praying and testifying, he can hinder the Holy Spirit’s work in them and in establishing God’s Kingdom in them and through them.

What Satan had as his design through all of these struggles with spirits of doubt and unbelief was to remove me from a childlike relationship with God.  But God who is greater than His enemy -- God who is Lord and Sovereign over all His enemies -- GOD was working in my life through all of these dark days to bring understanding to me.  His Spirit kept aiding me.  One particular passage I remember hearing from time to time was “Men must always pray and not faint…” I kept approaching God in response to that one passage.  But the only prayers I could pray were for Him to help me.  I kept asking Him not to let me slip back any further.  I became so aware of my unfaithfulness in every single area where any could be seen.  All I could see was my sin, my fault, my weakness.  But when I least felt like keeping on crying to God, He ALWAYS came alongside and enabled me to tell Him all He already knew I was going through.  There is something about telling our Father our struggles and crying out to Him to help us – if we keep on, He will be enabled to get through all the hosts of hell that are seeking to destroy our faith.  Many are called but few are chosen.  I believe few keep on knocking until the door is opened.  But God wants each of us to be equipped with the knowledge of the spiritual warfare set against us so that we keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.

Finally, on October 20 I remember hearing His voice as I spoke out to him.  I don't remember what I was thinking about, but I remember that I had felt so disillusioned earlier that week.  I was going through a drawer and found a little 3x5 card on which I had glued five pair of candy booties.  I had been to a baby shower in 1995.  Someone had made little bootie mints in pink and blue.  I took five pair of them and glued them on this card and wrote the names of the twin boys, twin girls and the other boy underneath the booties.  When I saw that card, I just shook my head and chided myself that I could ever have even thought such a thing would really come to pass.  I thought of the years I had held onto this particular hope and desired to bear these five children, even as quintuplets if that was what God planned to show His faithfulness and glory through my life.  I thought of how many people I had told about these things and how good they had been to endure me.  But I felt so foolish.   But now I felt that this was all a vision of my own heart for my own pride and ambition. 

So, as I was driving in the van on October 20th, I may have been thinking these things again.  But I said out loud, "God, I still don't believe that it is impossible.  I have absolutely not one single speck of doubt that you can do this."  I feel I was really thinking about conceiving and bearing one child, but I say now, that I don't have one speck of doubt that His plan, whatever it will prove to be, has been completed in Christ Jesus before the world began and there is not one single power in heaven or hell that will be able to stay His hand from finishing His work and glorifying Himself in our lives.

When I spoke that sentence about not having any doubt that He could do this, I believe He asked me:  "Then what ARE you doubting?"  It set me on my ear.  He opened up my heart to listen, to ponder, to see what I was doubting, and the next series of thoughts came like a flood to my spirit.  I share them as best I can remember them.  They were just one question and sentence after another:   "Are you doubting that I will do it FOR YOU?  Don't you realize how much it hurts my heart that you are not willing to believe that I will give you what you desire?  Don't you realize as My child that I delight in giving you your desires?  Jesus paid a precious price to obtain your promises.  In Mark 11:24:  I have said WHATSOEVER THINGS YOU DESIRE when you PRAY believe that I hear you, that I give you the answer then and that it will come to pass.  This is the way for My army.  The armies of the earth have generals who establish the plan of war.  This is My way."

He also reminded me of what He had said to me in January 1997 – that I was to hold fast to the “confession of my hope” without wavering.  He understood why I had stopped talking of these things, and why I really wanted to give it all up.  I felt like a fool.  I didn’t want to keep on feeling foolish.  My pride and reputation were becoming more important to me than continuing to believe and obey the Word He had once settled and witnessed in my heart were indeed His truth.  Unless I continued in this Word, I would not experience the freedom Jesus, the Truth, would bring.  Unless I continued DOING that which He had told me, I wouldn’t KNOW that this was indeed God’s doctrine, not just my own imagination (See: John 8:32 and John 7:17).  He was encouraging me for what HIS plans were through all of this.  And He was asking me, “You were a lot better off when you were willing to talk about this and share it with others, weren’t you?  Your faith was growing and your life was different, wasn’t it?”

IT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE THAT WE CONTINUE TO HOLD FAST TO THE CONFESSION OF OUR HOPE WITHOUT WAVERING ...

I have pondered and pondered these things since this time.  I realized that somehow I had asked God for a child based upon this promise years ago, but now I was being given understanding of my part in keeping through the delay what I receive when I pray.  I now have been granted the measure of faith to understand this battle against our receiving the answers that will glorify God.  And it is absolutely imperative that we continue to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, without entertaining the least speck of a question of doubt as to whether our God will indeed perform His word, His promise that He caused us to hope upon and to approach His throne to ask for Him to perform on our behalf.

As I’ve said but am now repeating -- in January 1997 I had come to a point of realizing that the things I had confessed for years with my lips about having a child were just words.  My heart condemned me that I really didn't believe with my heart what I was saying with my mouth.  So, I decided that I had better just stop speaking about these things.  I talked with Wilton about what I was going through, and he made a very bold stand.  He told me he didn't care what I said, what anyone said, what the whole world said, but he KNEW we would have another child.  I thought I'd just ride in on the coattails of his faith.  When I woke up the next morning, the Spirit of God spoke, "Hold fast to the confession of your faith without wavering."  I was confused.  I felt I had realized that I didn't have any faith and that now God was telling me to keep speaking it?  I told Him I didn't understand.  He told me to look up that word "faith" in that passage in the Greek.  When I did, I saw that it meant "HOPE".  Well, I still had a huge hope in my heart, a huge desire that these things would yet come to pass to glorify God.  So, I went around for the next two years speaking of my hope whenever He opened a door. 

After I left the home school association, I no longer had these opportunities I have mentioned to talk of my hope.  Many of my brethren in my local assembly already had heard my “confessions.”  The devil was trying to convince me that they didn’t believe these things any longer, so why bother speaking them to THEM?  So, without anyone “new” to tell these “old” things to, I no longer wanted to speak of them.  The accuser of the brethren worked overtime on me through all of this until I found myself having lost almost all respect for the ways God had taught me, those who had taught me His ways and those who had walked with me in these ways.  Finally, God has brought me through these deep waters and enabled me to understand this war with spirits of doubt and unbelief.

He recently gave me this word that describes unbelief’s process of robbing us and destroying our faith.  The word is “insidious.”  This is what Webster’s says of this word.  It is from a Latin word that means “an ambush or plot, to sit in or on, to lie in wait for."  It is characterized by treachery or slyness; crafty; wily.  It operates in a slow or not easily apparent manner and is more dangerous than seems evident.”  God is still opening this up to me.  Interestingly enough, in the dictionary the next word after insidious is insight.  Vision is of God.  Discerning of spirits is of God.  But it is often through the reason of use that we learn to discern between what is of God and what is of the devil.  If we are not willing to keep on seeking God for light and understanding in our trials and failures in life, we will not gain insight.  Webster’s says of insight:  “The ability to see and understand clearly the inner nature of things.” 

This is the work of the Holy Spirit in every single defeat of a child of God:  To cause us to continue to approach God for understanding as to WHY we were defeated.  It is NEVER God’s will that ONE single ONE of His children come short of gaining His perfect will for their lives.  It is ALWAYS Satan’s will that NONE of God’s children ever understand what has brought them to the place of defeat.  But, the ONLY way God can reveal this truth to us is if we refuse to believe Satan’s lies.  We must resist every word he speaks to our minds.  His plot and plan only have a bitter end.  He is only through his continual questioning approaching us like he approached Eve in the garden.  “Hath God said?  How do you KNOW GOD said that to YOU?  Who do YOU think YOU are to believe that GOD would want to do that in YOUR life?  In your husband’s life?  In your child’s life?  You’re pretty proud and snotty, don’t you think?  What do you see in your life that could ever cause you to even be daring enough to HOPE that this is God’s plan?”

Satan is always and only seeking to deter us from asking God to reveal the truth to us and believing God will reveal it.  If Satan cannot keep us from asking in faith, he seeks to keep us from continuing in prayer until we receive the answer.  If we aren’t willing to wait until we have God’s answer, Satan will seek to push our desires into premature birth.  Even if our desires are indeed founded on God’s will, until we KNOW they ARE His will, these desires can be twisted if we are ignorant of some of the devil’s wiles.  He is always and only seeking to get us to step out in something before God had settled us that indeed this is His will.  If we run ahead of God’s timing, we can’t have God’s blessing.  People without a vision from God do indeed perish.  But often, Satan is seeking to cause the vision to perish.  He is seeking through the process of God’s refining delays to get us to release what God placed in our hearts.  This is why we must continue in humility before the Lord.  This is why we must be absolutely dependent upon God to confirm His word unto His servant.  And this is why we must wait until we are indeed assured of this one fact:  “This is NOT just MY desire.  THIS is the very plan and WILL of God for MY life.”   For until we know beyond any possibility of doubt, until we are 100% assured that “All this way, my Father leads me…,” we won’t be able to stand the battle that comes against us when we indeed ARE in the center of the perfect will of God.

This is why it is vital that we wait until we honestly in our hearts KNOW that this hope we have is founded on the will of God for our lives.  And if it is, God will continue to quicken our hopes until He makes them FAITH. The only way this process will have this completed end is if we endure until the end.  We must be willing to be absolutely honest with what is in our hearts as God tries us with fire.  But we must be absolutely unwilling to surrender our hopes unless and only unless God shows us our hopes have been of our own making.  If they are a vision of our own hearts, if they are motivated by some desire that is not Kingdom-oriented and God-ordained, they will not be able to stand this process of attack.  God will somehow get through to us to reveal that self and Satan were at the bottom of this inspiration.  But only as we continue to cry out to God in faith, trusting that He will do what He has written in His Word He will do – trusting that He cannot lie to us as His children – this is the ONE thing we can do when we don’t know WHAT to do.  We can turn to His written counsel and ask Him to quicken us with His Word.  We must be absolutely settled on this one fact.  The written word of God is truth.  If I take what God wrote to me for my admonition and learning and continue to commune with God about it, He will answer me. 

This is why I find that Satan seeks to keep us out of the Word of God, especially when we are feeling so unworthy, so weak, so worthless.  This is the time it is absolutely imperative that we force-feed ourselves.  For if we don’t feed our spirits when they are waning, we are as guilty of neglecting the temple of the Holy Spirit as the watchman would be of going to sleep on the wall.  We have a part to play, a job to do, a labor to be involved with.  Whenever we feel complacent and want to be relieved from “all of THIS,” we must stir ourselves up to seek the Lord.  It is written:  “They that seek the Lord shall understand ALL things.”  Not some, but ALL.  It is written:  “The hidden things belong unto God.  If anything is hidden to me, it is only that I may seek God to reveal it.  God has promised me as His child that if I will seek the Lord with all my heart that I shall find Him.  God is Lord and Sovereign over every single circumstance that has come to defeat me.  I am not going to give up hope and begin to doubt all that His Word reveals to me of His character. 

Joseph got a word from God and had to go through many years of humiliation and defeat.  But God enabled Joseph to hold on to what God had revealed to Him.  God will enable me to keep all that He has given me if I will continue to ask Him for strength, for illumination, for deliverance, even to keep my hopes alive.  As David cried, I can cry – Quicken me, oh God.  Quicken me by thy Word.  Remember unto me the Word upon which YOU caused me to hope.”

IF THE DEVIL CAN ROB US OF OUR HOPE, HE WILL ROB US OF OUR DESIRE

If the devil can rob us of our hope, he will rob us of our desire.  We will become contented in a state of under-coming, of not receiving the end of our faith, and God will be robbed of His glory.  This is why our desires must be nourished in humble prayer.  For if our desire for a specific answer will not pass away, if we continue to bring it to the Lord and cry, weep, sing, pray about the things we embraced in our hearts, He will keep it alive.  He is the author and the finisher of our faith.  It is His work alone to quicken us, to strengthen us, to keep us alive in the famines of our soul. 

On October 20, I began to realize that the Lord was quickening me to come again, to this time ask Him for a child and recognize the battle from the start.  If I would believe again and ask again (keep on asking and it shall be given, keep on seeking and ye shall find, keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you), then I believed I would count the cost this time of the warfare ahead and pay the price to obtain it before I asked God to perform this on my behalf.  I would then be daily enabled to fight the good fight of faith.  I wouldn't be a laughing-stock, having begun a house but not able to finish it.  I asked Him to bring me to that place where I would never again entertain a single speck of doubt about receiving the answer when I prayed to Him.  Then I would go away with joy and be committed to never again reason about this matter, but to only hold fast to the confession of my FAITH without wavering from this point forth.

God has brought me from the place of hope to establish me now in the way of faith.  I finally understand what I have embraced with my intellect for years -- what a wise older pastor received and lived and tried to convey to disciples of Christ -- the Mark 11:22-25 way of faith.  I understand that this is not just an option, but a command to me as His child.  I understand the devil's relentless pursuit after my little mustard seed.  For he knows if he cannot get me to release my desire and take a substitute of a lesser light which is really the darkness of unbelief, he knows that God will answer every one of His children's desires that pass through the fire.  I feel so foolish to think that for 20 years I have wandered around in this wilderness of sin, this wilderness of unbelief.  But I praise God for His faithfulness in keeping me approaching Him and at my lowest moment, returning to stoke the flax that was all but quenched in my heart.

He has added a few more encouragements to me since He caused me to embrace this.  If you are a parent, these examples are probably commonplace in your mind.  But these questions have really set my heart aflame.  God asked me:

"If your child desired to have something, wouldn't you want him to come to you and ask you for it?  Would you want him to remain withdrawn from you because he really didn't have the assurance that you would listen to him and give him what he wanted?  Wouldn't it hurt your heart that he didn't believe you loved him and were good to him?"

"As a parent, don't you desire to give your children what they desire to have?  In fact, don't you receive the most pleasure and delight when you know something your child really desires to have and you are able to provide that desire?  Doesn't your heart overflow with the joy of seeing the joy that your child has in what he has received?"  (God delights in the prosperity of His servants.)

"Do you give your children only what they deserve?"

It seems the more I think about my relationship with God in this light, as a child of my Father, that the easier it is to approach Him with every single desire.  As Philippians says, "In EVERYTHING, let your request be made known unto God, with thanksgiving!"  I believe that God has been purifying our hearts through many years so that those desires that will not perish -- those hopes that cannot be quenched -- these are those little mustard seeds that are almost now full grown and will come forth as the biggest plants in the garden.  Many others will see and hear and trust in the Lord our God as we receive the answers for those prayers manifested to our own sight and to their sight.  This is why the devil fights us the hardest and seeks to pour waters upon waters of discouragement and dismay upon us.  But when the enemy pours in like a flood, the Lord shall raise up the standard of His word against Him.

We have to begin to get back in there and open our mouths wide and let Him fill them with: "IT IS WRITTEN!"  I don't care how I feel about this matter.  God has settled it in my heart that as a member of His army, I am to only believe His promises, what He has said and SPEAK HIS WORD ONLY.  All my thoughts are to be taken captive to what He has written and given me in Christ Jesus!  As Jesus would obey, I am to captivate my thoughts to HIS obedience.  Jesus wouldn't doubt so I'm not going to doubt.  Jesus' faith will prevail, so I'm living by HIS faith, not my own.  Jesus would rebuke all unbelief, so I rebuke you in JESUS' Name!   The life that I now live in this flesh I live BY the faith OF the Son of God, not just faith IN Him.  AS a branch in the VINE, HIS FAITH IS MINE!  His faith cannot fail!  His love cannot fail!"

God is seeking to stir us up and return us to the fight.  He doesn't want us to settle down behind the lines, fearing the enemies that loom ahead.  There was a tribe -- was it Manasseh?  This tribe didn't want to go on over into Canaan land.  They saw a piece of property that looked good enough to them.  But Joshua told them they had to go ahead and fight with the entire camp of Israel to secure their portion of Canaan.  Then, if they wanted to return, they could go back to that piece they desired, but it would be sin to them.  This is how I remember the story. 

This is what I believe the devil is seeking to do in many of our lives, especially those of us who have boldly confessed our faith for many years and yet now find ourselves in the valley of despair and difficulty.  God wants us to receive the refreshing and reviving waters that are pouring down into our valleys.  He wants to restore our hope, renew our vision and return us to the fight of faith.  If we aren't willing to respond to His encouragements and ask Him to help us go again, to help us keep on knocking so the door will open, then we won't like what I believe may happen before He comes to take up His Bride.  We will see others receive the blessings and we will be filled with defeat because we will realize that God would have done the same for us if only we hadn't believed a lie.

I have thought about Israel spoiling her enemies before she crossed the Red Sea.  I have thought about how she went out a blessed people, not one feeble one among her.  I've thought about this in parallel to what I think God may do in His Church before the rapture.  I think we could find it indeed possible that He is beginning to manifest the answers to those long-standing prayers of faith.  I believe that those of His people who have yielded to His encouragements and His refiner's fire - I believe that they will begin to receive those manifested answers to their cries, their tears, their desires to glorify the Lord in testifying "LOOK WHAT THE LORD HATH DONE!"  I believe that we are in a peculiar way of testing now.

What would happen if throughout the entire earth those believers who embraced the word of promise and were proved and purified through the delays -- what would happen if God started giving the open manifested answers to their prayers all in a single year?  Would not the whole earth be filled with His glory?  Would not our hearing of these testimonies of His faithfulness to others quicken and inspire us to continue until He’d done the same for us?  Just a thought … just a pondering … just a wonder …

I believe we need to stand strong as God strengthens us, as He turns us back, converting us to the simple faith of a child.  Just as Peter was returned to his faith, I believe God is returning us to pure simple faith.  And as He turns us, I believe He wants us to consider those perishing around us.  I believe He wants us to pour waters out of our cups into one another's cups, to give strong drink to any who He sees may be perishing around us.  For people without a vision perish.  If Satan is after my brother or sister, I should be after him on their behalf.  I should be concerned enough for the Kingdom of God’s sake that I, like Abraham, who’s faith I am to follow, I am willing to take God with me down into their captivity and return with the bounty! 

God wants us to encourage, to comfort, to strengthen the brethren.  Satan knows how testimonies of God's people receiving the end of their faith encourage others to follow their example.  This is why he is so violently coming against us, trying to dim our vision and shut our mouths.  He doesn't want us to hold fast to the confession of our hope.  So he tries everything he can to get into the open doors and rob us of a blessing so that he can undermine our faith for yet receiving the answers to glorify God.  He tells us over and over again, "You didn't get this desire answered...you failed here and there.  What makes you even think that God will yet cause you to bear a child, to walk and run?"    We must exhort one another daily and help each other every opportunity we have to turn our eyes only upon Jesus.  He is able to deliver our feet from falling.  He is able to help us get up again! 

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT PERSONAL TESTIMONIES THAT AID AND STRENGTHEN US WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES WEAKENED THROUGH DELAYS

This is where I believe it is especially vital for saints to share what things the Lord hath done for them.  There is something about personal testimonies that aid and strengthen us when we find ourselves weakened through delays.  This is what I personally experienced through a sister recently sharing two testimonies with me.  Her closest friend in Boston believed for the healing of her eyes in 1982.  She had received God's Word, was quickened to embrace it, and when He made her know the cost for her, she grew from strength to strength, as Abraham, growing strong in faith, giving glory to God.  She lost her driver’s license and had to give up driving her car.  God provided every need of transportation she ever really needed.  Last year she moved in to live with her son and family.  Now, she wouldn't really even ever need to drive, would she? 

Well, several months ago the desire for her driver’s license and her eyesight were still present in her heart.  I don't know what she did in pressing into the Lord about it, or if God just made her know "NOW IS THE TIME."  But, she asked her son to buy a car for her.  And she got the books and prepared for the test.  And....  last month, at the age of 79 ----- GOD TOTALLY RESTORED HER SIGHT TO PERFECT VISION!  She received her driver’s license and you better believe she has had abundant opportunity to witness and share of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness.  This testimony so encouraged me.  As I had been hearing and receiving what the Lord was saying to encourage me to come again, I went to Him and asked Him again for a child.  I am willing to return to speaking of this to whomever He directs me to speak.  I am expectant once again!

I told this sister last week how much this testimony had encouraged me.  She said "Well, I've just heard of another!"  A brother in Indiana-land was in a car accident 40 years ago.  His eardrum was fractured and he was deaf in that ear.  He also believed God to heal his ear.  In the past month he was riding on his tractor when all of a sudden he realized he was hearing out of that ear.  GOD AGAIN MOVED AND HE RECEIVED THE MANIFESTATION!

I don't know all you have been going through, but I can surely imagine the mind battles.  I just want you to receive all that God wants to give you to comfort, strengthen and encourage your heart.  He has not allowed you to suffer all that He has in vain.  He will receive more abundant glory as He enables you to continue in the Word of His promise that He caused you to hope upon.  He will be faithful to manifest all His will in your life, no matter how many defeats we have experienced.  He is humbling us through many tests and He will bring us through so that we can also stand among the redeemed and proclaim "HEAR WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE FOR ME!"  Many shall see, and hear and trust in the Lord our God.  This is why the devil fights us so hard.  He knows what things like this do to open the hearts of others to believe. 

I am going to close with one more truth that He has been restored to my mind lately.  In 1984 I began to desire to be more faithful in the area of intercessory prayer.  Our pastor’s closest pastor-friend visited us and taught us on prayer.  He made a statement that I have never forgotten.  If there has ever been one sentence from one teaching that I have spoken about for 15 years, it is that one sentence.  He said, "God is going to bring us to the place where we are committed not to ask Him to do anything that we aren't first committed to continue to intercede about until it comes to pass."  I knew this was true.  I am seeing His faithfulness now 15 years later to do this in one area of my life.  Continuing to be instant in prayer and to pray always about a matter is simply to keep it before the Lord every time it wells up in our hearts, every time it comes into our minds.  To be unwilling to let go of it!  Eventually, when the Lord's time has come, we shall receive the field of service, the field of witness that the manifestation of these promises will bring into our lives.  All that the devil has meant for ill will turn for the good of the Kingdom of God. 

THE GREATER THE MIRACLE, THE GREATER THE WARFARE

As I said, I began to desire to be more faithful in prayer (I still need to be more faithful!).  In 1984 I had what I would term as a vision.  I was on my knees at the sofa.  I asked the Lord what was I supposed to do on earth while the angels were fighting in heaven?  I knew what Daniel revealed of the spiritual warfare that is taking place whenever we ask God for revelation.  The greater the revelation, the greater the warfare.  The greater the miracle, the greater the warfare.

As I sought God for this wisdom in warfare, I "saw" in my mind a lion tamer and lions in a cage.  The lion tamer was holding out the chair and driving the lion back with his whip.  What the Lord revealed to me I have only now been made willing to practice.

He said that just as the lion tamer took the chair and whip and drove the lion back, that we had the shield of our faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Every time the devil whispers to our minds, "How do you KNOW God will do THAT for you?  How do you KNOW that you are TRULY BELIEVING?"  Instead of listening to the first thought of doubt, He said "Just speak back to him the very promise he is trying to get you to question.  Use the very word he is trying to steal against him.  Turn it upon his own head.  Refuse to let go of it."  Then he showed me the lion was toothless.  He tries to intimidate us to receive his insidious lies.  If we listen to him, he knows he has been successful. 

But, if we refuse to entertain his questions, if we simply open our mouths and speak only what God has spoken, Satan trembles before saints who look the circumstances in the face and say:   "GOD SAID THIS:  By His stripes I am healed.  All things are possible to him that can only believe."  Speak the Word only and I shall be healed.  My mouth shall be filled with the good things that God has forever settled in heaven.  FOREVER in heaven thy word is settled, oh God.  I am seated with Christ at thy right hand. 

As I continue to speak only what God has given me to speak, darkness must flee.  Lies are exposed by Truth.  As I hold on to the little mustard seed that at times seems so small that I cannot even discern its presence in my heart; if I refuse to surrender my hope, this hope shall grow into strong faith, and what was once a mustard seed shall now come forth as a river of living water from my mouth.  I shall look right in the face of that giant and I shall not be afraid.  I shall speak to that mountain of doubt and fear and I SHALL SAY: “GET BEHIND ME SATAN!  DOUBT BE THOU REMOVED FROM MY MIND!  I REFUSE to give in to you!" 

As we then continue in speaking what God has spoken, God establishes us in this way of faith.  Then, when we have been established through use of these weapons, when we are truly convinced that this is God's way, you know what happens?  At the set time known only unto God, the devil flees, the manifestation comes.  This is why we must continue in thinking and speaking only what God has thought and spoken.  Only God knows how long this process takes to produce the faith of the Son of God in our hearts.  Only God knows when that work is perfect in us - when we truly have matured to the point He wants us to mature.  Then He releases the blessing to us.  So we just need to keep on learning our lessons well, for in His timing He shall tell us:  What to do - where to go - what to say.

God sees you totally restored and running through the streets.  God sees your husband saved and the on-fire head of your home.  God sees your child delivered from every demonic device and serving the Lord with all his heart.   God sees me with babies around my feet glorifying Him and testifying of His faithfulness to keep alive all that He has willed to come to pass in our lives.  Satan cringes in fear when to God we draw near.

Saint, don't give up!  All that you are going through will one day seem like a fleeting vapor.  There is so much more at stake in our trials than we understand.  The very glory of God and our giving glory to God is at stake.  God is preparing something greater than we can imagine.  He wants us to know Him and to be on fire for Him in the darkest hours that lie ahead.  It will be as we receive the manifestations of His goodness that we will find the fullest joy, that joy unspeakable and full of God's glory. 

Never ever forget that this God - our God - He is first and foremost the God who never changes and cannot lie to His children.  When He makes promises to us, He will never break a single promise to any of His children.  He is the God of hope and He does indeed fill us with joy and peace in believing Him.  So we simply believe what He said, embrace what His Spirit recorded for us to believe upon, and wait until our faith is made sight.  For He said and His Holy Spirit recorded in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that all the promises God had in His heart to give us, He gave us in Christ Jesus, His only begotten Son.  He made us great and precious promises, but it is up to us to believe Him and ask in faith, without any doubt, that what He said He would do for any and all who would only believe, He alone has all power to fulfill and He will fulfill each and every one of His promises if we will “only believe” and ask Him for them. 

God gave us His divine “YES!” in Christ Jesus who fulfilled all righteousness and with His own blood signed our title deed.  We are now entitled by virtue of Christ Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection from the dead, to take hold of God’s promises and by faith receive His “YES” when we pray.  When we then continue to hold fast to what God has already said “YES” to, when we then continue to thank Him that He HAS caused us to hope upon His promises, and He granted us access to ask in faith to receive His promises, we then bring glory to God.   We ask our Father for all He promised us in Jesus’ Name.  Now we only wait to see with our eyes what we have already received in our hearts by faith.  THEN – God is glorified in our faith and our telling others about His faithfulness while we wait.  THEN, at the time He chooses to bring into physical being and sight that which our faith embraced invisibly in power and might, we then bring glory to God.  Abundant glory, honor and praise – all praise belongs to God.  Give unto the Lord glory and strength! Give unto the Lord the glory due His Name.  Through faith in Jesus’ finished work on our behalf at Calvary, we are each made whole and we may each give our God a whole, whole lot of glory!

Know that there are saints surrounding you in heaven, saying "COME ON, KEEP ON, GO AGAIN, DON'T DOUBT!  SHOUT!  SHOUT! SHOUT!"  Know that there are saints in the earth hoping, praying, seeking your good field with you!  Wanting you to partake of all that God has so that many will turn to the Lord!  People without this vision sometimes find their hopes perishing.  May the God of hope continue to fill your thoughts with His and your heart with His heart and your mouth with His Word!  May you walk on every promise written for you to stand upon!  Every place on which your foot shall tread, He has already given it to you to walk upon.  For He has already said YES to you, to YOU, child of God.  Hold on to God’s “Yes” and you will be delivered and set above all this mess!!!!


PART 3

Twelve More Years of Walking in a Wonder Land

Today is October 2, 2012.  It is in the wee hours of the morning.  But I am awake and I am recording what has been going on of late.

During the past two months, I found myself prompted to share the testimony I wrote in 1999, the testimony of my journey from doubt and despair into faith and joy.  In August I had a recurrence of both desire and expectation to again arise in my heart quite suddenly.  Why after all these years had this hope to yet bear children become so present again in my heart?

I remembered then what the Lord had allowed me to think and believe many years ago that He had said to me:  “Hold fast to the confession of your hope, without wavering.  For He is faithful who has promised.”  Another time I thought He said, “And it shall turn to you for a testimony.”  So, in response to this resurrection of my hope, I was prompted to make five copies of the original two parts to take with me on a trip to John’s Island, South Carolina.  I attended a worship and praise service and workshop with a brother from Ireland by the name of Robin Mark.  He became known in America as a result of a song God gave him – The Days of Elijah.   That week-end in August was one of the most precious times with the saints in God’s family that I have ever been privileged to experience.

I was obedient to this prompting and took five printed copies to those God had prepared for me to meet and share a bit of fellowship.  I gave away three copies in South Carolina and the other two went to sisters in Christ in my brother’s church family in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The next week was spent with my husband and mother at the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  I had conversations with a couple of women on a beach blanket one day, another married couple standing on the beach and one dear woman and her little boy.  My hope for God giving me a baby(ies) was so very full that I found it quite easy to be free to share what was filling my soul.  I really didn’t care what anyone thought of me.  I just sensed I was meant to be sharing what I was sharing.  I didn’t have printed copies of:  Oh, The Wonder of It All, with me in that week.  But I got the names and addresses of each of these five people.  They each wanted to receive the whole story, and I assured them I would email a copy for them to read at their leisure.

I returned home after an absolutely lovely week in the sun, returning to my weekly work schedule and the life God has made so very fulfilling.   Shortly after returning home, I attended our assembly’s Sunday morning service.  I was standing in the back, awaiting my turn in the ladies room, when a dear sister in Christ came through the door.  When she saw me, she told me, “Karen, I had a dream last night.”  Well, if someone you knew was always having dreams and telling you about them, you might not consider this common occurrence anything peculiar.  But this dear woman in the ten years I had known her, she had never mentioned a single dream to me.

So, I was all ears to hear what she so obviously wanted to share with me.  She went on to say, “Well, I had the clearest dream I have ever had in my entire life last night.  I dreamed that you had your baby daughter, holding her in your arms, and she looked just like you!”  Well, I just about sucked all the air out of the room, for this was the last thing I ever expected to hear.  No one had brought a single such encouragement to me for 17 years.  During those 1980-1999 years of journaling and hoping every month, looking every month – many times I received encouragements of dreams others had about me, and written words they gave me from the Scriptures to encourage me.  But now – now 17 years had passed since this last occurred when I was 40.

This sister took me into her arms to comfort me, as she thought I was overwhelmed by her words.  She said, “Oh, I am so very sorry, Karen.  I… I didn’t mean to….”  I assured her that I was 100% OK with this dream.  I told her that only God knew what I had been doing in response to what I believed He was working in my heart to.  I asked her if I had ever told her of the dreams I had had many years ago.  I asked her if I had ever given her a copy of the testimony I had written to a family friend, a testimony titled:  Oh, The Wonder of It All.  She had never heard all of these things and she so wanted to read this.

Life has been so full the past few weeks.  I had simply not had the free time to sit down and get the e-mail version ready to send to those to whom I promised I’d send it.  But, God’s timing is always perfect, and when He wants something done, and done “NOW,” He makes a way where there may seem to be no way.  Earlier tonight, October 1, 2012, I went to bed at 10:30.  I awoke at 11:45 and seemed to know I needed to finish this account now.  So, I have just sat here in my rocker in my bedroom, read and reread the other two sections, and have now completed this addendum.

What you have just read is still only a wonder to me.  But I have been privileged to have been granted a mustard seed of faith that possibly - possibly this shall yet prove to be the work of God in fulfilling a wonder in these days.  There is absolutely nothing that could possibly be of more surprise to me than to one day find that God has blessed us in our 50’s with the fulfillment of our desire at His “set time.”  And, as strange as this may sound, I really would still LOVE to have those five babies – two boys at the same time, two girls at the same time and one boy, by himself.   

But, for now, these strange occurrences were simply recorded each time they took place, because of my own personal wonder.  Many years ago, when my level of hope for such hopes becoming reality were at their highest, I could see the potential, the possibilities that through my willingness to share the specifics of my own hope, quite possibly one day God would use His work in my life to inspire just one other person to keep on asking God about their own particular hope, to keep on seeking to talk with our Heavenly Father about it, and to keep on knocking upon His door to see if He would open up the treasures of His plans and possibly even bring about what He had caused them to so strongly hope upon.  Would they find that what they wondered over could indeed be a wonder for a set time in the future?  A time planned and known ONLY to God?

Thank you for your graciousness at receiving this woman’s sharing of her life’s experiences.  I pray that your spirit has been encouraged by a breath of hope breathed on you by the Spirit of God.  I pray that you will continue to draw close to the Lord and find yourself fulfilled through the salvation He has so freely provided and offered to any and all who will believe, ask and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  For He came to save sinners, of which I consider myself to have been once at the head of the pack. 

Oh, what a lovely Savior!  Oh, what a wonderful privilege to believe upon Him and to share Him and true life with all we meet.  For faithful is He that has promised us – He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He will always draw near to us as we draw near to Him.  And, no matter what we may have to endure before His soon coming to catch away His Bride who is now making herself ready – no matter what hardships may face us, we face them not alone – but in Christ Jesus.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  Just continue to cry out to Him for your every need.  For all who call upon the Name of Jesus shall be saved.  For He ever lives to save us to the uttermost!  Blessed be the Name of the Lord! 

Maranatha!


A PLACE OF PREGNANT PAUSE

October 8, 2012

As mentioned above, I began printing copies of the things I had recorded years ago and put them in a booklet form to have available to share with others to whom the Lord might lead me to share.  I had a desire to get a larger amount of these prepared, and instead of doing it myself on our home printer, I wondered what it might cost me to have a publisher or printer make this testimony up into a small book.

As I went to the internet to see just what might be available in this publishing/printing area, I saw a link to a website that published Christian testimonies.  I thought that I would like to see if this website owner would be interested in sharing this on their site.  So, spontaneously, I sent off an e-mail and attached all three parts.

I fully expected either no reply at all or a sentence or two in which I was told something along these lines:  “Thank you for your submission.  However, this type of testimony is not of the type we publish on this site.  Please know that if and when these things come to pass, we would gladly publish this on our site.”

However, the rest is now history.  This husband and wife were used of God not only to receive what I sent and read what I sent, but to encourage me that “Yes!”  They were willing to publish this on their website.  Norm has been instrumental in encouraging me to take the original submission and refine it, waiting on God about it, and then resubmitting the final product.  Thank you, precious saint for provoking me to loving and finishing this good work.  For this is my testimony, given me by God to experience and to share. 

How exactly may His Precious Holy Spirit choose to use this testimony?  What will be the results of this one woman stepping out on the water by faith at His bidding?  I know not.  I care not.  I only know that I have done now what I sense and believe He wanted of me -- He planned for me and now He has enabled me to do.

The results are now in His hands to continue to bring forth.  What will they be?  I, too ... I await in hope and pray in faith to see.  As the words from Robin Mark’s song: All Is Well, so clearly say from the Spirit of God to my spirit:  “I know not all His plans, but I know – I’m in His hands.”

May He watch over His work in each of our lives and publish His Word through us into the earth.  Father, may each of Your children overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony!  May you be glorified, the devil be horrified, and may many sons and daughters be brought to the place where they, too, will be glorified in Christ Jesus.  May Your Bride be complete, not missing one single cell, organ, tooth, eyelash or hair.  May we make ourselves ready for You, watching daily at Your gates, and be found ready at your soon coming. In Jesus’ Name I desire and ask all that I desire.  For You have taught me that You delight in hearing the specific requests of every single one of Your children.  Help us ask You for all that You so desire to do to show Yourself so very strong on our behalf.  For we who are so weak, we are loved by You, our Mighty Deliverer…  May we ask that YOU may be exalted and glorified in answering all that You’ve been faithful to work in our hearts of Your desires.  For as You have enabled us to find in You all our delights, You have given us the desires of our own hearts.  Now, help us to ask in faith, receive the answers by faith, and hold fast to them all the way through until our faith is made sight. 

For if we do not ask, how will we receive? Hitherto we may have asked nothing in Your Name – Holy Spirit, continue to strengthen us in our weaknesses to step out at Your bidding and ask, that our joy may be made full.

Oh, the Wonder of it All, indeed!  I can hear Your groomsmen going forth in the streets of our cities, crying:  “Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh!  Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh!  Prepare ye the way of the Lord.  Arise, oh Bride of Christ Jesus.  Arise!  For Your hour has indeed now come!”

Maranatha!

Copyright © 2012 Karen Morrison Parrish.  All Rights Reserved


Here is another writing by Karen than you might appreciate reading:  http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/k-o/LastDaysLessons.htm


Staff Note:  I truly appreciate the courage Karen and her husband Wilt have shown by allowing this testimony -  writing to be published.  I pray that God will use it to encourage other Christians to keep holding on to the promises they are standing on.  I too am standing on some promises that have yet to manifest ... fully realizing that I may live out the rest of my life never seeing those promises manifest, yet refusing to waver in what I believe God wants me trusting Him for.  Anyone can doubt.  That's the easiest thing in the world to do.  Yet if a born again Christian can believe that Jesus Christ paid full penalty on the cross for their sins so that they can have full assurance NOW that they will not be held against them on the Judgment Day ... what's so difficult about continuing to believe that God can execute any OTHER miracle He so chooses to execute on our behalf - or on behalf of someone else - in our lifetime (or perhaps after we've gone on to glory in certain cases, such as the salvation of loved ones)?  Let us not let Satan nor our flesh nor others talk us out of what we're fully convinced God wants us believing Him for.
- Norm Rasmussen, Director       


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OH, THE WONDER OF IT ALL
Imaginations or Revelations?