I was born and raised in steamy South Texas in the wild and crazy days of the 80s and 90s. My parents divorced when I was a baby. Both remarried, and so I have two sets of parents and all kinds of crazy wonderful siblings. I had a pretty typical lower, lower middle class raising which required my parents and us kids to work a lot at our family’s business to make ends meet. We were taught to be strong, fiercely independent, and work hard for everything we had. If life could’ve or should’ve been any different, we didn’t know it. It was just life, and we lived it.
My elementary years were marked by sexual abuse at the hands of a man who married into our family. The abuse lasted into my fourth-grade year, before I got the courage to tell my parents. He was arrested, and we went through two trials to see him put in prison.
I’m not sure that I know now who I was before this season of my life, but I’m absolutely certain that I was changed in my deep inner person because of it. When you go through something like this,finally reaching the end of the long exhausting process, all you want to do is be done with it. Everything in you is done. Overdone in fact. I walked away from those years both desperately trying to pretend that they didn’t happen and trying everything I could to be better than the stain of them.
I met Jesus when I was twelve. I can remember knowing that He was mine and that I was His and that He was very much real. The only problem was my misunderstanding of what being in relationship with Him really meant. I came to Jesus with everything I was and everything I thought myself to be. I truly believed I was a burden to Him which needed making up for. Like… Now that Jesus has taken me on, I better not make Him regret His decision. I better do all the things that I’m supposed to and not do the things I’m not supposed to, so that He’ll be proud of me.
Even in my error, I knew I was saved. This understanding alone kept me tethered to Him during the following years of mountainous highs and desperate lows in our relationship. I knew I needed Jesus for my salvation, but I didn’t recognize how much I needed Him for my healing.
Journey with Jesus
It wasn’t long after that, I started to believe that the Lord might want to use me in other women’s lives. I was pretty sure that He had better stock to choose from. I didn’t feel worthy to carry His name to others. I mean who, besides Him, knows better than me just exactly how low and dirty some of the pits I had fallen into had been. Wouldn’t he rather choose someone who had stayed close to Him all these years, instead of running off for the far country?
I ended up deciding, no matter what I thought about His choice, He was the one who had given me Life and if this is what He wanted to do with it, it was His to do with as He pleased. I believed the Truth that my identity, security, acceptance and significance was in Him. The very Truth that He used to heal me and draw me to Himself, would be what He spoke through me to others.
The Lord had used Dr. Anderson’s books as effective tools in my life. I went through his ministry, Freedom in Christ, to train and equip me for service. I spent my first few years as a volunteer, discipling the women that the Lord sent me. He grew up around me the most amazing and vibrant tribe of Jesus lovers to journey with. In all of it, He grew me and stretched me, loved me and forgave me, taught, laughed and cried with me through it all, and so did they.
At some point, I could tell something was shifting. Something needed to change. After much prayer and seeking the Lord, I came to believe that He was calling me out of volunteer ministry, and into full-time vocational ministry. And so He was. In 2018, our home church laid hands on my husband and I, prayed over us, and commissioned us for service. Freedom in Christ hired me as part of their US field staff shortly afterward, and I’ve been here ever since.
In my early thirties, at a particular low in my second marriage, I was confronted with whether I did, in fact, believe that there was a God. And, if so, whether I believed He was big enough to fix all the things that I had screwed up. I decided there was, and that He was.
It was in the time that followed, as I was returning to the Lord, that my mother gave me a copy of Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson. I can remember ugly crying as I read my way through it. I couldn’t believe that I had spent all of my Christian life getting it wrong. I didn’t have to follow Him to get God to be proud of me and want me to be His daughter, I already was His daughter, and He was already so very pleased with me. I was free to truly follow Him.
As I drew closer to Him in spirit and in truth, He lovingly confronted many of the wrong beliefs I had been living under. He showed me the Truth found in His Word. I learned about who He said He is as my Father God and who He said I am in relationship with Him through Christ. It was everything to me, everything to why and how mine and my family’s lives were changed.
I can remember being upset after I learned who I really was in Christ. Why didn’t I already know this? Why didn’t anyone tell me the Truth? Why did I spend so many years getting it all so wrong? How different would things have been if I had known that I was already loved, secure, and accepted in Christ? I had been in and out of church for almost 20 years, and felt like I never heard the Truth that because of Christ I already was a child of God, redeemed and forgiven. Maybe I was only paying attention on the days that we focused on being dirty old sinners, saved by grace.
The Holy Spirit, being ever more grace filled than I, was faithful to help me see that we can’t teach that which we haven’t learned. So, maybe it wasn’t that the church was withholding the Truth that could set me free. Maybe they didn’t really know and appreciate all that had changed in them because of Christ. This thought made my heart hurt for all the people just like me, who had Christ and yet didn’t know all they had in Him.
I have the great and distinct joy of sharing my life and my days with the Lord and His bride. Even before quarantine made it cool, I was using Zoom to connect with women, individually or in small groups, across the country for discipleship. My days are filled with virtual and face to face meetings for prayer and Bible study. I use these studies as a vehicle for us to use to travel toward Jesus together. The Holy Spirit is abundantly faithful to grow everyone involved who is truly seeking Him through the Word.
I also get the great fun of traveling around the US for FICM practicums and other functions where I get to meet, encourage, and train other leaders who have been called to discipleship and reconciliation ministry in their local church. I enjoy this work very much because it hits specifically at my calling as a disciplemaker of disciplemakers. I am called to go to the people who go to the people. The Lord also allows me to work in this direct function through my participation as co-leader of virtual Freed to Lead classes that Freedom in Christ offers nationally through their website. In these classes, we offer 17-week discipleship groups geared toward church and industry leaders where we focus on how our identity in Christ can transform any leadership role.
Recently, the Lord has expanded my vision to include international work. Around the end of 2019, I could tell the Lord was giving me a heart for traveling abroad to meet His people and see His work being done. I was returning from Cordoba, Mexico, in March of 2020, when coronavirus caused our borders to close. I lost a mission trip planned for Uganda later that year which broke my heart. I knew, however, that the Lord would open things back up for me on that front, in His own time.
At the beginning of 2021, I was asked by FIC leadership to join an international team that is working to develop discipleship materials for disciplers throughout the world. This has been a sweet time of seeking the Lord through prayer, as we wait on Him to give us revelation and wisdom in this effort. I also joined a mission trip to Tanzania, Africa, in late August ‘21, and I was able to travel to New York and Arkansas with Freedom in Christ to close out the year.
March of 2022 brought with it a trip back to Cordoba, Mexico and the Mexican Indian Training Center that I love so dearly. We loved on so many people, gave away bibles, and built benches to serve as pews for rural churches in the area. I leave for a week at the end of April for the FIC San Antonio practicum, and look forward to all that the Lord will do there.
There is so much good, really GOOD kingdom work going on around this world. I love getting to visit it, encourage the laborers in the field, sow in where I can, and then come home and tell y’all all about it. I stand in eager anticipation as I wait for the Lord to show Himself and His path for me. I know He will be faithful to accomplish in me and through me all of His good plans. I have learned, and am still learning, to trust Him and His timing in it all.
The journey has been tragic and wonderful, dirty and divine. Mostly, it’s been real and it’s been mine. I haven’t liked every place I’ve visited along the way, nor every season that I’ve walked through, but here I am by the grace of God still walking. Hopefully, I’m growing as I’m going, becoming more like Him with every step. Hopefully, those who I’ve met along the way, whose paths have crossed mine such that we travel toward Him together, hopefully, they are growing also. This is my hope for the journey, and He is my joy within it.