I was raised in a lower middle class neighborhood, with my mom, dad, and two brothers. I was in the middle. My parents believed in a higher being but hadn’t experienced fulfillment in Christ or His divinity. They were kind people who treated everyone the same. 

Because my parents didn’t have any real conviction about their faith, I was allowed to go to church with whoever asked me. I sat through services at Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and Lutheran churches, as well as a variety of small, non-denominational ones. I had an idea of what God was about, but I never experienced fulfillment in Him. Sometimes I would sit there and think, “What are they talking about?” Other times I felt total joy. Looking back, I know the Holy Spirit was tugging at my heart. 

At fourteen, I went to a small Baptist church and gave my heart to Jesus, but I quickly lost sight of Him. Because my inner circle consisted of nonbelievers and my knowledge of God and His Word was limited, I fell away. 

Studying the Bible wasn’t something I was drawn to do. I have poor vision, and reading has always been hard for me. I wore glasses, but my condition was not correctable. I was a slow reader, and it was assumed I had some learning disability. 

It wasn’t until I was 30 that I discovered I could read well if the material was in large print. I also discovered I was just as smart as my neighbors, but by then, the damage to my confidence had been done. I spent many years struggling to improve my self-esteem. I didn’t yet know that self-worth comes through a relationship with God, made possible through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

My adult life consisted of church hopping, raising kids, and fighting with the world about who I was. Was I a mom first? A wife first? Should I work and make a name for myself? 

My husband was a nonbeliever. He was a workaholic on top of being an alcoholic. Our marriage was rocky. We fought a lot. I was not used to that—my parents had never fought in front of us. I didn’t know how to handle it. The strain and pressure in our marriage increased. 

In my search to find fulfillment, I never asked God. I turned to self-help books instead and tried all the “imagine yourself this way” ideas. I wrote a few children’s stories. I even started a fabric giftwrap business, but it failed. 

Then, in 2000, we moved from Chicago to Jackson, Michigan, to be closer to my family. I hoped that being nearer to them would bring me fulfillment. 

In 2002, I got pregnant with our fifth child. I thought I was going into menopause. Nope! I was overwhelmed, wondering how on earth I was going to do this. 

Our daughter was born beautiful and healthy, and things were okay for a while. Then, my father went blind. So that he could manage better, my parents gave up their home in Michigan and moved to Florida. Life changed for us all. 

Suddenly, I was in Michigan without family. Two of our children, now grown, had returned to Chicago. Money was tight, and I couldn’t run to Mom’s anymore when things got tough. 

I started going to a small congregational church nearby; my husband even went for a while. There, I gained faith and fulfillment as I learned who God is and who I am in Him. The three children who were still at home went to church with me. 

When money got tight, life got worse. I took odd jobs and waitressed, but few opportunities were available.