Sep
08
17

My Testimony

 

September 9, 2009.

The day my life changed for eternity.

Growing up, I was taught God created the heavens and the Earth. That God created us. That God loved me and made me with a purpose. My family, especially my grandma Peewee, always openly shared her faith. I will always have memories of her sitting in her chair in the corner of her antique shop singing old church hymns when I was a little girl. She still does to this day. Between her and my mother, I was occasionally taken to church when I was growing up. Sometimes we would go a few weeks or months in a row and other times it would be weeks or months in a row until we went again. Being the extremely shy and quiet little girl that I was, I never wanted to leave their side so they didn’t make me go to Sunday school or children’s church so I always sat with the adults. I was never taught bible stories.

Without my mother and both of my grandma’s, I know I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I know without a doubt in my heart that they raised me with every ounce of love in their hearts. They taught me the morals I have. They thought me to always have faith in God and that no matter what happened in my life, God would always love me and get me through. They taught me to put God first. They taught me God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross. But I was never taught that the most important decision I could make in my life was to accept Jesus as my Savior. I wasn’t taught what accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior even meant. I wasn’t told that if I didn’t have Jesus in my heart, that I would die and live eternity in hell.

Fast forward to high school. I can honestly say more in life happened the year I was 16 than in my entire life up to that point. Even though we are all sinners, before I had turned 16, I would say that I was as innocent as you could describe. I had never said a cuss word, I had never tried a sip of alcohol, I had never kissed a boy or even had a boyfriend for that matter, I had never snuck out of the house, I had never gone to a party. I had pretty much never done anything that I was taught not to do. During the year of 16, all of that changed and I turned into a different person. I turned into a young girl who I didn’t really want to be. I was a young girl who was trying to find herself but was looking in all of the wrong places. The worst part of it all is that I knew I was doing wrong. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t find happiness, contentment, love, or peace that wouldn’t fade away. I simply didn’t know where to find all of those things.

And in the midst of it all, God was still good to me. God sent me Reiss Stanley.

At the beginning of 16, I had a friend who was dating a guy from Lenoir City (our rival high school) and told me he had a best friend who was single. They eventually asked if we would be interested in going on a double date with them and even though a part of me didn’t want to because I thought I was in love with my first boyfriend (yes, laugh out loud), I agreed to it. It was technically supposed to be a blind date but I had a friend find a picture of Reiss and show it to me before. A week later, we went to the movies to go see Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Reiss was so shy that he wouldn’t hardly make eye contact with me or talk to me and during the movie he reached over to grab my hand and nearly cut my circulation off. If you know Reiss, you are probably baffled right now. Anyway, I was so annoyed that he was breaking my hand and didn’t understand why he was being so shy but he was so sweet and polite that I let him follow me to Target afterwards to get Katy Perry’s cd. The next day, he asked me to be his girlfriend in the Lenoir City Walmart parking lot while my mother thought I was at my grandma’s. Little did I know that would be the best yes I ever said.

Still to this day, I do not understand why God thought I deserved him. In the beginning of our relationship, I did him wrongfully and especially didn’t deserve him by the way I was living but he always chose to stay by my side and lead me the right direction. Looking back now I see that at that time God knew exactly what I needed. And that was a sweet, Jesus filled soul that would invite me to small, country church every single Sunday. A church where I would finally learn what salvation was.

At the beginning of my senior year as 17 was approaching, I was forced to move to my dad’s house. At this point, I had been attending church with Reiss every week and as far as living my life, I had found solid ground again. Reiss was literally doing everything in his power to support me in every way he could. He would use his paycheck from his part time job to buy me food to get me through the week and he would take me to school in the mornings since I didn’t have anyone or anyway to get me there. I can confidently say this was the hardest time of my life that I had yet been through. My life had changed so dramatically in the matter of 12 months. I had went from a stable, supportive home to the exact opposite overnight. I had spent my entire summer training for major PR’s for cross country to try to earn a college scholarship and all of my work vanished from being emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained, resulting in the worst season I had ever had. I lost 15 pounds in a month from not having enough food to eat. My friends would tell me my clothes smelled when I came to school and would want to know why I didn’t have my phone or car anymore, why my mom made me move to my dads, why my boyfriend had to bring me to school, why I was losing so much weight, why I was always tired, and what was going on at practice. When I didn’t have an answer to give.

It was September 9, 2009. It was a Wednesday. My very last day as a 16 year old. I had one of the hardest days I had ever had. It was like all of the weight of everything that was going wrong in my life had fell out of the sky right on top of me. It was God letting me know I couldn’t make it and carry my burdens alone anymore. As I was getting ready for church that evening, my heart weighed a thousand pounds and I prayed to God and asked Him that He would help me make it to church so I could go to the altar. That night at invitation I ran to the altar as “Nothing but the Blood” played.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

And there on my knees with tears streaming down my face, I prayed to God and asked Him to please forgive me of my sins. I told Him I believed in my heart without a doubt that Jesus died on the cross for me and that I wanted nothing more than to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. And in that very moment, Jesus Christ came into my heart and filled me with His Holy spirit.

I wish I could describe to you what it felt like. But I will tell you at that very moment, my name was written in the Lamb’s book of life and I was redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus. In that moment, I gained eternal security and was promised to live in Heaven with the Savior forever. The moment Jesus came into my heart, all of my mistakes, regrets, heartaches, weaknesses, troubles, and unhappiness were removed and cast away from me. Jesus washed away my sins with His blood and made me white as snow. He took my broken pieces and made me whole. From that day forward, I have never cussed. I have never had a sip of alcohol. Reiss and I saved ourselves for each other until marriage, which was six years later. Am I perfect? The farthest thing from it. Do I think my sin is less than anyone else’s? Not a chance in the world. I sin everyday. All I am is a sinner saved by grace. I am better than anyone else? Absolutely not. I see myself as the most unworthy. I make mistakes and fail the Lord daily. I could spend forever thanking the Lord for everything He has done for me and for saving my soul but it would not be enough. He made me new. He gave me the greatest, most precious gift I could and ever will receive. He gave me everlasting life and eternal salvation. He filled my heart with His spirit and will dwell with me forever.

On the night of September 9, 2009, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and He saved my soul. For that, I will praise His Holy name forever.

On June 21, 2011: Reiss asked me to be his wife.

On June 21, 2014: I married the man God sent for me.

January 2016: I asked God to take my life and use it for His Will and His glory.

July 2016: God revealed His calling for my life was to witness to the world through my gift of photography.

February 2017: I began the journey God created for me as a full time photographer.

September 9, 2017: I praise the Lord for 8 years of salvation. And I pray that the person reading this knows without a doubt that Jesus Christ lives in their heart. And if they don’t, that they will accept Him before it is too late.

 

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