(By: Tammy Punt)

I can't remember how old I was the first time I experienced some sort of abuse. But I can remember the details and what I was thinking. I remember feeling so much hate. I remember feeling scared and having no safe place. By the age of five I was aware of things not many people are aware of at the age I am now, twenty-five. 

Soon after I was about to have my seventh birthday, I went outside to play as I did everyday and I looked out into the street and saw a bright yellow taxi cab. I only saw them on movies at that time and I was instantly curious. I waited to see who was in the cab. So anxious, even though I knew it was no famous actor as it would be in the movies. 

A tall blonde man stepped out of the back seat and was instantly staring at me with obvious excitement and sadness at the same time. I knew him. He was my dad and I had waited for what seemed like an eternity to see him again. He spent the first years of my life in prison. At that moment when I saw him, I felt safe for the first time in my life. I knew he would protect me and my sisters. It was no longer my job to protect, feed, or raise them. 

Although I still felt compelled to do it, and as the years have passed, they have gotten use to that and have either loved me or resented me for it. But either way we have a closeness that I believe to be rare. I was right though. My youth passed with little abuse from there on out. But naturally it affected me in ways that have made things unnatural for me that to others might seem to be the norm.

This is why I had to tell you about my uncomfortable past to help you understand my walk with God and how I got to the point where I am now.

I grew up not knowing what love is or even that it existed. I knew it was there but what I thought of it was from a past of lies that had persuaded me to do things to prove my love which was not what other people expected of me. So I was confused. I eventually accepted the fact that I was alone and no one loved me, and I was some what okay with that due to I was already a person comfortable with being alone. 

I started going to church when I was around nine or so. We rode the bus every Wednesday and Sunday. It was fun getting out of the house I grew up in - to be around "normal" people I thought. In my house there was always fighting and chaos. My parents stayed together for the kids they had said, but I think it would have been better if they didn't.  

I remember telling friends at church that I had plans on going to the movies with my mom, or out to eat, or all those other things that I thought was so wonderful because I did not experience them. I wanted people to think I was happy. To this day I don't like for people to know if I am having a hard time. But I think this gets harder with age and everyone can pretty much tell now when I am upset without me saying a word. 

I went to a Church of Christ. I had a good time and made some friends. I even went to church camp in Oklahoma every summer and had the best time ever. I was baptized one year after church camp because my cousin and friends were going to also and I just had to. Of course I did not know the meaning behind it even though I had been going to church for years. It ended up being a social gathering to me and that was as far as it went.

At fifteen I fell in love. I thought to myself finally I knew what love was now and nothing was going to stop me from having it. I stopped going to my Church for a bit and became completely devoted to my new boyfriend. We were inseparable. 

A few months later I found out I was going to have a baby. I was so scared. But at the same time I was excited. I was not scared about taking care of him because I basically raised my sisters at this point and I felt I was a pro. Of course I found out differently that no one is a pro at parenting. I wanted a better life for my son than I had. I worked really hard in school and had two jobs. I did graduate. 

I even went back to my Church. But this time I was different. I didn't know if I should go to the youth room or the sanctuary. I was lost. You could see it on my face. I remember standing still in a hall, not knowing what I should do. People saw me, I know they did. Not one person stopped and talked to me. Again I had been going there for a long time. They all knew me. But this time they acted as if I was invisible except for the occasional glares, and I even got a couple of disappointing nods. All of those feelings I had as a child rushed through me like a wave hitting the shore. I literally bent over with pain in my stomach at the hurt I felt at that moment. This was MY safe place. This is where I came to get away from everything else in this world. I knew most of my life if I ever needed somewhere to go to get away from the abuse, resentment, and fights I could come here. And yet I was standing in my safe place and wanted to be anywhere but here. I left and never went back.

A few years passed by. Things were okay. No major problems. I had my son and he was with me and that was all that mattered. Me and my son's father eventually went our separate ways and I just continued to work and live a pretty simple yet empty life for a bit. I had another baby and that filled some void. So I had my two boys and I knew that's all I needed. Them with me and my life was complete. 

Our family had some problems. My Dad got diagnosed with two diseases in one year and was told he had a year to live.  After that he lost his successful company. I moved back in to help him out and soon my sister made some bad choices, and I had to step in to take care of my nieces to avoid them going to foster care. It was a hard decision for me because I took care of them once before when they were infants while I was in college - trying to make a better life for me and my only son at the time. I ended up then having to drop out and get a second job. I was nineteen. But I prayed about it and asked God to help me decide even though I did not completely trust His judgment at the time. I was still angry from what happened to me at my old church. 

I was so confused as to what to do with the girls. My aunt told me that she joined this church called Grace Fellowship and maybe I should come sometime. I was skeptical but in need of some answers and I trusted that my aunt would not leave me by myself. One Sunday I got the courage to attend service with my aunt. I hesitantly walked through the double doors at the small church, trying to hide my nervousness. I sat down next to my aunt, not really expecting much. Some people walked by and I watched. I noticed not many people were dressed up. This was surprising, yet it gave me a sense of comfort. 

At my surprise, a few people came up to me with a smile on their face and introduced themselves to me. They all said they were happy I came to this church. I remember thinking:  How can you be happy that I am here? You don't know me. So the music started to play and I was in awe. 

I continued to go to this church afterward - counting down the days until the next service. I feel I have a family there. The people loved me for me and to this day even though I have had a really rough year, everyone still greets me with a smile. A couple of months went by and I started to feel closer and closer to God. I actually started to get excited to teach to other people. I developed this passion to tell people my story and how I felt about God. 

One Sunday my Pastor taught on a subject that had me confused and was holding me back from continuing on a journey with God I thought I started along time ago. He taught us about how you can be baptized without being overcome with the Holy Spirit at the same time. I thought when I was water baptized so long ago that this was it. I would be different now. It would be more natural for me to be good. Now of course I was wrong. So I went home after that service and prayed and cried for hours. I wanted to be overcome (baptized) with the Holy Spirit. I wanted to raise my hands in church because I felt so. I wanted the passion that I knew was in me to surface and bring all the emotions out for me to change the world. Then I stopped. I just sat there and stopped weeping and listened. I didn't know what I was listening for but I was determined to stay still barely breathing until I heard it ... Then God let me know something.

I had already been overcome (baptized) by the Holy Spirit. It did not happen at once like a slap in the face, but gradually my passion grew, and my relationship with the Lord was closer than ever. I had to be on the move making good decisions simply to put a smile on the face of my Creator. I know it won't get me to the front of the line but it is what I WANTED to do now. I want to please Him. I want to worship Him. I want to live for Him and scream it from the tallest mountain (even though I am scared of heights.) That's what it does for you. It makes thinks seem possible. Faith is so powerful. I felt really alive for the first time that night in my room. 

This is not the end of this story. Everyday is a battle to become an even better Christian. I will never become perfect on this earth and I am aware of that. I have my distractions that the devil is very much aware of and I do stumble. I know it will get harder at times, but I know one thing. I promise to never give up on the Lord again. He is my Savior. He has always been there but now that I am aware of it, no matter where I go, in Him resides MY safe place.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please feel free - if you feel this will help anybody that you have in your life - you are more than welcome to share it. My purpose is to help people through the Lord.

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake. 

To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.


JESUS DID IT! and...


Remember:  All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity.
(Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)