I was ten years old when I decided it was time to find myself a momma who would love me. One Sunday morning, I headed out to a church just down the road from where I was living—and the Spirit of the Lord led my little feet directly to my mother-to-be.

She was the pastor’s wife, and she was beautiful. I wrote on a scrap of paper, “Will you be my mommy?” Then I placed the note in her hands. That precious saint of God read my note, reached down, and lovingly took me into her arms. She told me she would be proud to be my mother. After the service, Mildred Postell took me to her home and then went to talk with my aunt.

My aunt had recently inherited the role of caretaker from my grandmother, who had done her best to raise me. Years before, my mother had dropped me off at my grandmother’s house and made it very clear that she didn’t want anything to do with me. She referred to me as her “bastard child.” That title warped how I saw myself for decades.

My aunt gladly gave up responsibility of caring for me, and just like that, I was Momma Mildred Postell’s little girl. I finally had a family of my own, complete with a godly father and mother, a loving brother, and three amazing sisters. Every one of them welcomed me into their home and treated me like family.

Things were good until I became a teenager. Then I rebelled. It wasn’t that I doubted the Postells’ love for me—I just didn’t love myself. The rejection, abandonment, and abuse I’d experienced from my mother and other family members in those formative childhood years had led me to self-hatred and a low sense of worth.

In Matthew 22:37–39, Jesus says the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” But I didn’t know how to do any of that. I didn’t love myself, so how was I supposed to love others?

Frankly, I had trouble accepting the very concept of God. In my eyes, He had allowed every bit of the abuse, abandonment, and rejection I had suffered as a child. How could He say He loved me? I felt like I was His bastard child, too. If He was such a loving God, why had He let me be unloved the first ten years of my life? Why didn’t He kept me from experiencing all that pain and rejection?

With those thoughts dominating my mindset, I was headed for self-destruction. I began dancing in strip clubs, drinking, and doing heavy drugs. I sank deeper and deeper into a life of sin.

I broke Mama Mildred’s heart, but she didn’t give up on me. She continued loving me and praying that the Lord would get hold of my heart. She asked Him to convict me of my sin and bring me into true relationship with Himself. God answered her prayers, and in His time, His kindness brought me to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Before that moment, however, I went through some very dark times. In fact, I tried more than once to take my own life. My heart was just so very lonely. Even though I had a loving family, I felt I had no reason to live.

My last attempt was almost successful. I drowned in a pool. Revived, I was in a coma for a month. But Momma Mildred stood by my hospital bed and declared life to my lifeless body. “You are not going to die, child,” she said. “God has a plan for your life!” She prayed fervently for me, and the fervent prayers of that righteous woman availed much (James 5:16).

To the doctor’s surprise, I came out of the coma. It was evident that the Lord had spared my life. I began to wonder if perhaps He did love me after all. Maybe He did have a plan for my life, as Mama Mildred insisted.

I had heard about God’s love for years. I had gone to church with Mama Mildred and listened to Papa Preston preach his heart out, but I’d never let what I heard sink into my heart. I had always shut myself off from God and His love.
After the coma, however, things changed. For the first time, I allowed my heart to be open to the love of God. I no longer went to church because it was expected of me. Instead, I went to learn about the One who had saved me.

I wanted to know God for who He truly was, not for the distant deity I had always assumed He was. And I wanted to experience the good plans that Mama Mildred (and Jeremiah 29:11) had promised God had for me.

At the church, I humbled myself, asked God to forgive me of my sins, and put my faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Faithful to His Word, God saved me. He began to heal my mind and help me love myself, so that I could love others too.

It wasn’t easy—I still struggled with relationships and self-destructive habits, but now I wanted Jesus more than I wanted the alcohol or cocaine or my life as a dancer. I wanted Him more than any of those things, and He helped me walk away from them. I also wanted to make Mama Mildred proud. As my heart and life changed, the Lord led an amazing, godly man named Bobby Tyson into my life. (Read his story on page 18.) Mama Mildred loved Bobby the moment she met him. His heart for people and His love for Jesus was undeniably evident. Bobby fed the homeless, helped sick children, and visited prisoners in their time of need. He served people the way Jesus did.

I loved Bobby’s heart too, and—believe it or not!—I asked him to marry me. We’ve been married now for 18 years. Our favorite thing to do is share the love of God with men and women who, like me, have been rejected and abandoned. You can often find us riding Bobby’s Harley into prisons to help others discover God’s love and the power of repentance.

Mama Mildred passed away a few years ago. I’m so thankful that God allowed her to see His perfect plans being fulfilled in my life before she went home to be with Him. I look forward to the day I will see her again, but in the meantime, I will continue to show the unconditional love of Jesus to everyone I meet, just like Mama Mildred showed it to me.