I’m a Christian with a lot of weird ideas. (Like, I think God laughs at my jokes. Oh, and I’ve already asked him if I can live next door to Stevie Ray Vaughn.) However, I do know that I’m where I am today because God has walked with me and guided me.
How I got here isn’t all that interesting, until you put God’s vision into the equation. For the most part, I grew up in a fairly normal home. My dad was Church of Christ and my mom was a Methodist. Sounds normal, right? Well, compound that with a dad who worked shift-work and needless to say, we didn’t attend church. That was until my fourth grade year when my parents compromised and we started attending the Methodist church in Dumas, Texas. A short year later, my dad was transferred to Muleshoe, Texas. It was there where my faith would begin to sprout.
As small town goes Muleshoe is pretty typical. There’s a hardware store (where I worked on weekends and summers), a drag and a Sonic. Typical West Texas. And everyone, and I do mean everyone, belonged to a church. The farthest thing from being a Methodist was being a Catholic (and really after attending Mass I learned they weren’t that different at all). But it was in my junior high youth group where I finally started to learn about God. Through the prayerful dedication of Sunday School teachers and choir directors I was learning all of the basics about God and Jesus. Even on church ski trips I retained valuable life lessons (that I still cling to today). In high school, our Sunday School teacher was brave enough to lead us through a study of Revelation. The youth directors became my adoptive parents (they’re still addressed as Daddy Doyce and Mamma Janelle).
Then – there was college.
I didn’t darken the door of a church for the first full year of college. Even though I knew my spirit wanted and needed God’s presence. I thought I could fill it in with talking about him, or reading a little of the bible, but I was truly missing the interaction with other Christians.
The next year, I started singing in the choir – only because they offered a small scholarship. But it was a start. A start that my mom capitalized on – BIG TIME.
Mom had recently completed a Walk to Emmaus and wanted me to go. I didn’t think that was a good idea. I messed around until I just about didn’t get to go, then finally Mom and a good college friend (who’d already been on a Chrysalis) got me to go. There I was. Smack-dab in the middle of…Heaven knows what. But it was that motion that set my life down a different path. I didn’t become an overtly obnoxious Christian, or a hyper-Christian, but I did now know about that small, quiet voice that gives us wisdom. (Thank you Lord for the Holy Spirit.)
At the end of my college journey I really began to struggle with, ‘Okay, what’s next?’
‘Isn’t this the part where I meet Prince Charming?’
‘Isn’t this where I land the six figure job that’s a perfect match for me?’
I interviewed for several jobs. One day, I just ‘happened’ (don’t you like that) to be looking at a job posting board at my college when I saw a job that I knew I could do. The only problem? It closed THAT day. (Now folks, I’m young, but the idea of faxing a resume still sends chills up my spine.) After rushing around to complete a resume and cover letter, I noticed that I needed a letter of reference. HUH? Where was I supposed to get one of those? Fortunately, Ms. Kay Hagar was brave enough to stand up for me and be counted. Kay – thank you again and again! We faxed everything to them by 4 p.m. WHEW!
But the strange thing was – I knew I would be interviewed.
And I was. As I packed for the interview, I was talking to my best-friend and room-mate. I was pulling out the only business suit I had when God told me ‘You’re going to get this job. You’ll also meet the man you’ll marry down there.’
I can still remember that moment as if it just happened. It was as clear as if it were spoken through a loud-speaker and even though I’d never heard God speak to me directly before – I knew what it was in a heartbeat. I told Melanie what I’d just heard and she said, ‘You’re losing it now.’
Being young, I quickly forgot about God’s promise. I drove to Muleshoe, picked up my mom and together we drove to the desert – Odessa, Texas.
Mom waited for me in the car as I interviewed. I did a good job. No, wait, I did a great job. Mom and I drove back home and life went on like normal.
Later, I learned that I had landed the job and that I could start in July. Let the adventure begin.
As I got settled into my apartment, I began to learn my way around town. Mom would come down on some of the weekends to visit and help decorate my new place. One weekend we drove by a small Methodist Church and she said, ‘That’s where you’re going to go to church.’
‘Ummmm – I don’t think so.’ So the very next day we visited First Methodist. I knew instantly that this wasn’t where I belonged; however, I wasn’t going to admit that to my mom (or at least not just yet).
It was also in this time that God really began to work in me. You see, for about two years, I was completely alone. I knew no one in Odessa, other than the few folks I met at work. I did get involved in some community groups, but no true friendships seemed to blossom from them. When you’re all alone – the world looks a whole lot different.
And hadn’t God told me I was going to meet and marry my husband here? Well, where in the heck was he?
And then, one day it snowed.
Snow in Odessa is a big deal. Because it rarely happens. I woke up to the snow and decided, ‘I’m going to go to church at that little place Mom mentioned.’ I raced to get ready and made it just for the opening hymn. I slid in on the back row and sang. I enjoy singing. It’s a happy thing for me. During that worship service, I heard God talking again. This time, he said, ‘See that guy sitting in that shaft of light? That’s the man you’re going to marry.’
I know, I know, I know! WEIRD!!! But, so, so, so true!
Eventually, I would join that little church and become a singer in a new praise and worship service, where another person (who just happened to be sitting in a shaft of light one snowy day) played guitar. I was terrified to get to know him. What was his name? Oh, yeah, Jay. And what’s his story? Hmmmm…
At first I didn’t talk to him, but for some reason I felt led to find conversations with him. It turns out, he liked to play cards with some friends after worship. It turns out I like to play cards with some friends after worship. Turns out – they’re the same friends. Let the flirting commence. If this is the man I’m supposed to marry, well, then, let’s get moving.
I did everything in my power to encourage this poor guy. I offered to do things together. ‘Wanna go grab a Coke?’ ‘Nah, this Star Trek movie’s almost over.’ (I know, right?) ‘Wanna go eat a quick bite?’ ‘Nah, I’ve got leftovers at home.’ Eventually, after a full six months of trying I told God.
‘You were wrong. It’s not him. I give up.’ I’d just driven us to get ice cream (where I paid). We sat in my car listening to Hotel California when I gave God my proclamation. It was at that instant that Jay realized he wanted to kiss me. Finally, God had sent the message – but it wasn’t instant bliss. God was still working on him (and me too for that matter).
He asked me on January 1, 1998 where I wanted to watch the National Championship game (romantic huh). I told him my apartment.
We’ve been together ever since. We were married on my parent’s 27th wedding anniversary, June 24, 2000 (so I could always know how long I’d be married).
You know, when I tell people this story, they never believe me. I think they think I’m exaggerating or making it up. Truly – I’m telling you, nothing could be further from the truth. I know the sound of the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and it’s a beautiful, pleasing sound.
This isn’t my complete testimony – just one portion. There are other details of my life that can serve as conversations points; however, this one portion is the most striking to me because it shows the power God still has in our lives. He still communicates with us – if we’re willing to stop and listen to his words and guidance.