I was extremely insecure as a young teenager and used alcohol and drugs to enable me to be social at just about any event. If I let myself, I can still clearly see the pain my bad decisions produced. And I cry. I’m so grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, for the blood that has washed those terrible things away, and the grace that allows me to start fresh every day.

My husband and I started dating after a party in 1992. We connected right away and have been together ever since. I truly believe God set us up. He used Mark to save me from myself. This was God’s plan for us to be together. He became a father to my daughter, and we soon had two more kids to complete our family.

We were at a party one night and my best friend told me she was going to a new church. She asked if I would go with her. She told me she was studying the Bible. I decided I would go to church and study too! I’m competitive, and she wasn’t going to do anything I wasn’t doing! She was baptized, and soon after, on November 25, 1997, I was baptized too. I find this amazing, as it’s an example of how God meets you where you are. There’s no need to be perfect or to change anything in order to begin seeking him. He found me at a party!

Jesus saw me from the cross. He saw me and loved me.

I’d like to say I straightened up totally, and I did to some degree. There were times I still partied when my old self wanted to come through. However, the power of my new life, the power through the cross, was and is stronger than that old life. I had added stress piling up with frequent attacks from my MS (multiple sclerosis). It was not easy. The church helped us so much during that time. My kids almost became fond of the MS attacks, as it meant yummy food would be coming from my church family! God was dropping seeds on my family’s heads even then.

We’ve been through many struggles, they’ve been challenging to say the least. Although at times I’ve wanted to let go of Jesus, he never let go of me. That mustard seed of faith sustained me until he opened my heart one weekend, showing me the bitterness that lived there. It was amazing how quickly my heart softened, once I was open to seeing the bitterness. My heart changed, and my faith blossomed. This was after being a Christian for 16 years!

My faith grew even stronger last year. My husband went through some tough health challenges. He started looking at who God was and began to study the Bible. I asked my family group to pray he would be baptized by December 31.

God is faithful, and Mark was baptized December 18, 2016. God promises that he will give you more than you can ever dream or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). I’m sharing my faith more. I’m stepping out to love more. I’m stronger in my faith that I ever have been. My relationship is closer to Jesus than it ever has been.

His sacrifice set me free. It has given me a new life in Christ, and I’m truly happy and content.

Are there times when bitterness creeps back into my heart? Yes, of course. It’s my nature to shut down and create walls. But because I’m closer to Jesus now, I can see it happening and give it over to him. I won’t trade my relationship with Jesus for anything. I can’t. Where would I go? There truly is nothing better. I’m grateful for his amazing sacrifice.

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” – Romans 6:8-10 (NIV)