A TESTIMONY OF HOPE
"I was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, and spent much of my life traveling as my father was stationed in many parts of the country through the US Air Force. My dad's retirement from the Air Force in 1979 led our family back to his hometown in the piney woods of East Texas where I spent my childhood growing up.
Now a single mother with two children, I spent much of my marriage in a relationship with a husband addicted to alcohol and drugs. My husband was our main source of income, and this lead me to feel trapped in the marriage with my children with no place to turn for help. We tried several rehabs, but none ever seemed to work for him.
In the year 2000, I received news that a baby boy was on the way. I spent much of my pregnancy abandoned by my husband who came home occasionally for a few hours at night. He spent much of his time outside the home in the company of crack cocaine. I gave birth to a little boy January 2001, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a congenital heart defect.
A few weeks after my son's birth, again alone one night with my children, I was awakened by sirens as alarms went off in my home. I will never forget that night. I watched from my front yard as firemen tried to save my home. The house and much of the contents were a total loss in the fire. I was devastated.
One month after the fire, my son went in for corrective heart surgery. He died 6 weeks later of multiple organ failure when he became septic with infection. My heart was now beyond shattered, as this was my second child to die tragically. I couldn't believe it could happen twice…………I didn't know how much more I could take…......…
My husband's drug addiction became worse and our finances dwindled to nothing as he was missing more and more work and what money we did have was mostly spent on drugs. It got to where the bills didn't even matter anymore as long as the addiction was satisfied. Multiple loans for drugs were taken out that could not be paid back and hot checks were everywhere. I was constantly at the pawn shop trying to get something back out that was pawned for drugs. Many items accumulated during our marriage were now being taken from the house and traded for drugs almost on a daily basis. The children and I lived in horror, as his unpredictable mood swings and the screaming and fighting became unbearable. Drug dealers and finance companies were calling the house and even coming by the house wanting money. Every time I turned around something else in our house was missing that was sold or traded for drugs.
My husband would cry as he felt trapped inside his own body. He didn't want the drugs anymore - but the drugs wanted him. His drug addiction was out of control and I could see a little boy desperately crying out for help. He didn't know how to stop. I loved my husband, and I stretched out my hand as far as I could to try to help. I was horrified as I watched him fall further and further away each day. I felt so helpless - there was nothing more I could do except watch him fall. If ever there was such a thing as a “good person with a bad problem,” this is what he was. He is very lovable with a great personality and you would never know or even believe that he had this kind of problem. He learned to adapt to his environment to satisfy his addiction. It was hard to believe this could happen to the son of a preacher.
I watched hopelessly as my husband slipped deeper and deeper into an abyss where drugs ruled over him and turned him into someone that he was not. The man I married was gone and I was now living with a total stranger. I became angry at this “new person” that took away my husband. I felt abandoned and very betrayed. I came to hate this person that took away my husband that I loved. I hated this person that tore apart my family. My pillow was soaked with tears every night. It was worse than suffering through the death of a loved one. My mind could not comprehend the death of my husband (that he was gone) because my eyes saw that he was still there - but it wasn't him. This confusion lead to an emotional break down that ripped my heart to pieces. I lived in constant distress. It seemed that around every corner was another secret demon waiting to torment me. If there was such a thing as hell on earth, I felt like I was in it. I was so depressed and felt I couldn't handle the stress anymore. I checked myself into a mental hospital. I thought I was beyond help and was afraid of what I might do.
As I waited for the doctor to come into the room to give me the diagnosis that I was crazy, my eyes fixed on a small blue book on a table at the end of the couch. It was by itself under a dimly lit lamp. It read, ‘Holy Bible.’ I picked it up and opened it. It fell open to Romans 5:3, and this is what it said, ’We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us - they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.’ I really knew at that moment I was in the wrong place for help. Something told me at that moment the doctor I needed was ‘Doctor Jesus.’
I left the hospital within a couple of days and went home. My husband agreed to check himself into another long-term rehab. While he was gone, I started listening to Christian music and found myself wanting to listen to it more and more. I noticed I felt so much better! I didn't even want to listen to my rock music anymore. I stopped drinking alcohol and again noticed I felt better without it and didn't want to drink anymore. It got to where I listened to Christian music from sun up to sun down because it made me feel better than any medicine ever could have!
A friend of mine stopped by my house one day and said, ‘Carey, I don't know what it is about you that is different, but whatever it is I wish I had it!’ Several people said they started seeing something different in me. I had gone to church on and off in the past. I decided to try a different church and suddenly found myself WANTING to go all the time and wanting to read in my Bible all the time. I would read a lot about Jesus. I really could feel something different stirring inside of me. A very deep love I had never felt before. A peace and happiness I had never had before. An extra ‘pep’ in my step. There was such a strong desire that set my heart on fire to seek more of the Lord.
In the past I would sing, like most people, every now and again in the car or shower when no one was listening (I hoped), but I certainly never considered myself to really much carry a tune. In fact, before I had a relationship with the Lord, I loved going to bars and I would drink enough -- and make sure everyone else drank enough -- to sound spectacular when I would karaoke! But I never considered myself to be a singer. Apparently one of the ladies in my church felt differently after she overheard me sing a little song in a Sunday school class. She went to the pastor at our church and told him I could sing. He then asked me if I would select a song in a couple of weeks to sing for the congregation (he did not know I had never sung in church). I was scared - I had never sung in front of people sober before! No kidding! It really put me on the spot so I said I would. I made up excuses for a few weeks until finally I sang. From that moment on everything changed.
Some time ago someone told me that the Lord could help me stop smoking. To be honest, I just giggled and said, ’Okay -- right -- whatever!’ See, I didn't want to quit. My cigarettes were the one thing that comforted me. I smoked about 2 packs a day for 15 years. The way I felt about it, I had been through a lot, and I reserved the right to use my cigarettes as my crutch and everyone should understand. The bottom line…..you just didn't mess with my cigarettes……you just didn't go there with me! Now, what I’m about to tell you is a miracle! Some may think it's crazy….I don't care. All I know is that it happened. In February of 2003 (not long after I had really started going to church), I was heading outside to smoke a cigarette. I heard a sweet, soft little voice in my head say, ‘You know it’s time to put those down.’ I literally laughed out loud, because I KNEW I would have NEVER said something like that to myself! So I kept walking toward the front door to go out and smoke and I heard that voice again, ‘I said, it’s time to put those down. It’s getting in the way of the things I’m going to have you do, and it’s time to put them down!’ I was shocked. I started arguing with the voice out loud, ‘No, I’m not going to put them down, I have a half a carton in the kitchen, and I’m not going to put them down - I don’t want to put them down!’ Then I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’m going to go outside and smoke this one cigarette because I haven’t gotten to smoke yet today, and then I’ll think about it.’ The sweet, soft voice said -- and I mean it said very sweetly, ‘I said, it’s time to put them down.’ It really shook me up! Well, it shocked me enough that I said ANGRILY, ‘Okay. I hear what you’re saying! I’ll put them down, but I’m going to need your help! I can’t do it on my own. But I will put them down if you will help me!’ I couldn’t believe I was talking out loud. My son even heard me. He thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy. But I put the cigarette down, and I didn’t smoke the other half carton. That night my lungs burned so bad. I can’t begin to tell you how bad they burned. It really hurt. The next morning I woke up and it was gone. That was it. I had no more craving. It was gone! I was tempted at times with the desire, but as far as the physical craving -- it was just gone. Because I had no physical craving, it was much easier to say ‘no’ to the temptation (the habit itself). Now when I walk in the store and see how much money it costs to buy patches and nicotine gum, I just giggle because Jesus was much cheaper! I have not smoked one cigarette since that day - not even a whiff. When I laid down the cigarettes, I had only sung once in church. I did not know I was going to start recording music or start a ministry. All I knew is I HEARD the Lord tell me to put them down, and I wasn’t happy about it AT ALL, but I did. What did I learn from that?
You may know the story of when Jesus told Simon Peter to take his boat back out into the water to cast his nets again after he had already come back in from fishing and had caught nothing. Simon Peter could have said - ask someone else. He could have said, no, I’m tired. He could have said, no way, I’ve already been out and I know there’s no fish there. He could have said - you don’t understand, I can’t do that. But he didn’t. Simon Peter may have griped about it (like I did), but he took his boat back out as Jesus said, even though he didn‘t want to. Because he was obedient and he did what the Lord asked of him, Simon Peter was able to experience the awesome power of God. He would never have gotten to experience that power had he refused to do what the Lord said. If you want to experience God’s power, you must yield to Him. That is what I learned.
My relationship grew quickly with the Lord and is still growing. I was hungry for Him and still am. I am needy of Him everyday. When I look back at what I had before all these tragedies and what I have now as a result of these tragedies, I can see that the Lord knew exactly what He was doing. Because of all the bad things that happened, many good things came out of it. My house that burned is now new from top to bottom. I even got the new windows and carpet I always wished I had (just not quite the way I planned)! My daughter and my son are in heaven with the Lord, and my son no longer has down syndrome. They are perfect and I will see them again someday for eternity. I don’t go to bars or drink anymore at all. For some that may sound boring. Actually it is the greatest feeling of being set free, and I realize now that the bars and drinking were just a trick to try to lead me off of the road that takes me home. I don’t feel lonely anymore now that I have Jesus in my life. I don’t smell like an ash tray everywhere I go anymore (at least that is what people use to tell me) and not smoking has really helped to strengthen my voice. The Lord showed me a talent I didn’t know I had that I enjoy very much and will always use to glorify His name. My husband still battles with his addiction but hasn’t given up. He has made wonderful strides turning his life over to Christ. We ended up going our separate ways and my hope is that the Lord will bring us together again someday. Drugs may have separated us, but love didn't. I pray for him every day. I believe the Lord will help him as He helped me with my cigarettes. Even though it hurt to go through with the divorce, things are peaceful now at home and I enjoy the company of my children and my crazy dog. The Lord showed me that I wasn't ‘trapped’ and that I could lean on Him for all my needs. Once I turned to Him, He blessed me and entrusted me with a ministry to glorify His name that can help others. Everything now is so much better than it use to be, but I had to go through several tragedies to get there. I had to go through the valley first -- and it was the valley of the shadow of death. Now I have the Lord in my life where I didn’t before. That’s really what He wanted all along. I am so thankful to Him - He is so precious to me. He really is a merciful God.
There are three things I pray for and you can journey with me to see how the Lord answers them: (1) that the Lord would someday, maybe through adoption, bless me once again with a little boy with down syndrome (2) that the Lord would show me how to use this ministry to help elderly people with prescription medicines and (3) well, -- the third prayer is a secret (you can try to guess if you want). I will let you know someday what prayer 3 is when the Lord answers it. One thing I do know is that I don’t know the Lord’s plan and since I have seen with my own eyes that He knows what is best, that is what I wish it to be most of all -- and that is what I will wait on. I’ll keep you updated on my prayer requests.
Just to think……picking up that Bible at the hospital changed my life. Had I not picked it up, I wonder where I would be now or even if I would be here now.
So where am I now? There was a fork I had reached in the road where I could have turned God away and become angry and bitter, or I could have moved toward Him for help. A point came where there was nothing left but Him, so I had to make that choice. I chose to crawl to Him in tears and humility for help. At first, I thought he was angry at me and that was why all those bad things were happening. But I saw later that He loved me dearly and that He, in fact, was being merciful. He allowed me to reach a point where there was no where left for me to turn except to Him. I know now that He wanted me to see this. Now, I experience His blessings everyday. Not monetary blessings or tangible things. I experience what we all long for. There truly are things money cannot buy. We all long to be loved, cared for, special and important. We long for peace and rest - that our lives have meaning and purpose..........
....I know now that I am loved, that I am special and have purpose, that I am cared for.
…………the only regret that I have………
……………is that I didn’t come to Christ sooner. He was there for me the whole time, wanting to help me the whole time, I just needed to go to Him………….
No matter where you are in life, no matter what has happened to you….NO MATTER WHAT…………
……………it is not too late for you either.
I hope my testimony can help you if you are going through trials.
…………I know He loves you too."
Lord Bless You, Carey
Please Email me at anytime here. Click on this link Carey
Please visit my website here Majesty Music Ministries
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