God has a funny way of showing you things. If you knew my testimony, you might be surprised to hear me say I would not change a thing. It’s crazy that I would say that because as I was going through my storms, I certainly was not saying that! It is because of these challenges that I am the person I am today and for that reason alone, I would not change a single thing.
While my testimony is long, I will give you a condensed version. I am married with two boys. In 28 years of marriage, my husband and I have only been with each other about half of that due to my husband’s addiction problem. For most of our marriage, he has been incarcerated. This left me to raise my two boys pretty much as a single mom. Every time I even contemplated the idea of getting a divorce, God intervened. He told me that this was not the answer. So I kept a long-distance relationship with my husband through his incarcerations while raising our two boys. I made sure that his boys had a positive relationship with him as well and kept us engaged in the church. I knew there would be no way I (we) would make it without God. When my youngest was in 1st grade, our world was turned upside down overnight, yet again. I had to get guardianship of my niece and nephew. Overnight we went from a family of three to a family of five with ages ranging between 6 and 13. My life would never be the same. Not only was I married to someone incarcerated, which I kept a secret from so many, but I was also now raising four kids on my own. I had no idea HOW I was going to do this, but I did know WHO would walk by me every step of the way.
Fast forward to nearly six years ago. My husband comes home a changed man, like seriously a changed man. The guy that I had always knew he was had finally showed up to be my husband. He had some work cut out for him as he worked to restore his relationships with his boys, niece and nephew, inlaws, and father, but nothing would prepare him for what we would face just after he came home. First, I get into a head-on car collision and by the grace of God, I only suffered a concussion. This would change my relationship with my husband forever. From that day on, we understood just how precious life is.
The second thing that happened was my niece had two children that she could not raise on her own due to various circumstances. So my husband and I had to step in. We went from being like newlyweds again to being “mom and dad” to two beautiful children overnight, one of which is autistic. Being the main caregiver of a special needs child is not easy at all, and when you have spent nearly half of your life behind bars, you have no idea how to be a parent much less a special needs one. But my husband rose to the challenge and became the stay-at-home dad to Eden and Israel. We knew that he would not be able to get a job due to his background, so we agreed to just make things work on my income as a teacher.
As we navigated this new normal for us, we knew that we had to get back to church. It’s not that we were not going, but when you have a special needs kid, going to church is hard. While we longed to worship and get connected, we weren’t sure what we were going to do with the kids. Taking an autistic child to church or anything really requires patience and understanding from everyone involved. So we started going back to the church that I had been attending through much of Mike’s incarceration. We first started going by ourselves and quickly learned that they had a special needs ministry and what a blessing that has been for our family! Life is not easy by any means for us, but we are making it day by day, sometimes hour by hour, all because of the power of God. He has truly carried us through the trials and has provided us many reasons to rejoice.
Going to church now is so much different than when we first started going many years ago. Worship is no longer something that we just go through the motions with. It is a deep and heartfelt worship that comes because of what He has done for us. While there are so many songs I can think of that literally bring us to tears, these words from the song Reckless Love by Bethel Music beautifully sum up our relationship with God.
“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”
This is one of our favorite songs. We are so incredibly thankful for His reckless love. We did absolutely nothing to deserve this. Not only did he see us through incarceration, but He is also leading us every step of the way as we raise two kids. He will guide us through all the trials life throws at us.
I am not sure what you may be facing today. Maybe this past year with COVID has been extremely difficult for you. Are ready to get back to normal if that is even a “thing” now? Things are starting to open back up – movies, parks, churches, and so much more. One event my husband and I are looking forward to attending is the Chris Tomlin/Kari Jobe/Bethel Music Tour.
After almost 15 months of minimal worship services, in an unprecedented way, Premier Productions reveals the worship event of the Summer as Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, and Bethel Music share the stage on tour for the first time ever to re-ignite believers of all ages. The music of Tomlin, Jobe, and Bethel offer an atmosphere of passion and rejoicing, as their faith in the Gospel is stronger than ever after one of the hardest seasons ever endured.
“There is nothing comparable to worshipping with people in person again. We are so excited to lead worship with our friends and worship God with over 10,000 people.”
– Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music
If you are looking for a way to reconnect and start living again, I strongly urge you to consider this concert. Despite all we have been through as families, communities, states, countries, and the world, we are all still standing. God has and is meeting our needs. We only need to cry out to Him. Stand and worship with fellow believers. With songs and scripture that have been shaping your life and will shape the rest of your life in worshiping Christ, there’s a new hope rising. Come and be a part of it! THIS is the time to come back together. THIS is the moment to raise our voices. For the first time ever these amazing worship leaders will be TOGETHER on ONE stage, leading us in ONE voice, lifting up ONE NAME! Being led by: Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe with special guest Cody Carnes, Bethel Music featuring Brian &
Jenn Johnson, Brandon Lake, Dante Bowe, and Jonathan & Melissa Helser, this is one summer concert you don’t want to miss! You can purchase tickets here.
Win Tickets to Chris Tomlin/Kari Jobe/Bethel Music Tour.
Get your tickets NOW to experience the worship event of the Summer in a city near you and enter to win TWO FREE tickets to the city of your choice here! The giveaway ends June 17 at 11:59 pm. The winner will be notified on June 18.