I don’t really consider myself a crier. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I cry…
I laugh until I cry…
…especially with this guy.
I cry about the Dallas Cowboys…
…and the loss of our dear Texas Stadjum.
I shed a few tears last week during the draft when Johnny Football was still available and Dallas was on the clock. Then I cried tears of proud joy when Jerry practiced some restraint and picked an OT instead.
I think Garrett must have blocked the door when Jer left to take a pee break during the 15th pick.
But lately, I have been a total crybaby. Every Sunday, without fail, I’m crying. Why?
Jesus, bro. Jesus.
Let me back up a bit.
Get ready for a bunch of words.
I didn’t really grow up in the church. I would go to church when I was at my Dad’s house and I attended some services when I was in high school. Both of which seemed very… fashion show-ish and social event-y to me. I couldn’t really identify where God was in all of it. The messages that were being delivered just didn’t really sink in and those delivering the messages didn’t “speak my language”. I didn’t get it, but I didn’t really mind. I have always prayed, though. The first time I remember praying was during halftime of Super Bowl XXVIII. I was 13, under my mom’s bed, praying that the Cowboys would come back in the second half; “Please God, just let the Cowboys win this Superbowl and I’ll never ask you for anything else. Amen.”
Cowboys came back in the second half to beat the Bills. Again. Sigh, those were the days…
That should have been my first clue; Dena, God is listening! He heard me (and the rest of the metroplex), but I didn’t hear Him. I went on about my life, in my Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt and matching sweatpants, and, as many people know, was less than a golden child. Quite the opposite, in fact. And I really didn’t care.
Whatevs, ya know?
In my mid-20’s (ugh, saying that makes me feel old as dirt), I was in my first apartment, living alone and getting into all sorts of mischief….and I use that word loosely. A few events occurred that made me question who my real friends were and who I could really trust. I also didn’t get a job that I really wanted and had to take another job to be able to make rent. I called my mom and let her know I was going to turn off my phone for two weeks, but would check my email. I just needed to calm down and have some quiet time in my life.
I started the new job, which I was not happy about. I mean, no one likes an accounting clerk, and I don’t even like math, I’m terrible at it. Math is hard. But I needed the money and had to take the job. The man who hired me seemed pretty cool, they were going to give me a calculator, and during the interview process a hot guy walked by, so, whatevs. It’s a paycheck, right?
Yeah, well, that hot guy and I became friends and started dating. This was our first date.
Taking a pic of a first date is not something that’s totally normal, I get that.
But I had this…feeling.
Not an I-showered-for-the-first-time-in-a-week feeling but more of a I’m-gonna-marry-this-dude feeling.
He’s funny, super sweet and puts up with my shenanigans. Like wearing a fake mustache in an airport and owning it like I’m Sam Elliott.
He grew up in the church and was very active in it. We talked about “God stuff” on several occasions and he wasn’t pushy about anything, just… informative. I’m one of those people that, when pushed to do or be something, will absolutely do the opposite. (Like being pushed to have babies. AHEM. Is everyone listening?!)
We bought a house together in April 2011.
We got engaged in October of 2011.
Yes, we were living in sin… but I couldn’t have been happier.(*)
Mom approved. Dad approved (with the addition of “make it right with God, baby girl”)
A fairy tale with fart jokes.
Flash forward to April 1st,2012 @ 4:30 am. The phone rang and a man on the other end of the line, officer something, said that my Mom had been in a car accident and that we needed to get to the hospital. Fiance and I jumped out of bed and rushed to the hospital. Mom had hit a concrete pillar head-on at 40 mph, air bags didn’t deploy and was dead when the ambulance arrived. The paramedics brought her back to life on the way to the hospital but she never regained consciousness. They refilled her blood volume three times over but her body just wouldn’t hold on to it. After hours and hours of surgery and time in the ICU, an insensitive jerk of a doctor told me that they couldn’t do anything else for her and I needed to make a decision. Pfft! “My decision is that YOU will KEEP TRYING!”
One of the nurses rolled her eyes. To this day, I still can’t believe I didn’t put her in the ICU.
They assured me that if she did make it, that her quality of life would have been nil. I knew she didn’t want that. She was the ultimate DIY-er and wouldn’t have stood for that. After several years of taking care of her father, we had had the “pull the plug” talk plenty of times. But it was completely surreal being in that moment.
I squeezed her tiny, cut up hand, told her that I loved her dearly and was so sorry for everything I had ever done.
Mom passed away late that morning.
I took the maximum leave that I could take from work, three months, to grieve and to plan our wedding. These are two things that definitely do not go together. But the loss I felt was translated into a handmade wedding full of a love and appreciation for friends and family. I crafted so hard. It’s was therapeutic. I loved it. The three months leave was up and I decided not to return to work. We got married and I was ready to get to the wifin’. I kept on crafting and heard about a new trade days/craft fair thing that was starting up nearby. The spot was free for the first month and I was IN. I sold a ton of stuff and had a great response from the people who stopped in. My favorite: “Where is your shop located?” Gasp! “You’re in it, babe.”
I signed up for the next month, it was July in Texas and I expected it to be a bit slower during the hot hours so I took a book with me that my Dad had given me a few months earlier. The book was called “God, I Have a Question“. The book was written by Dr. James Merritt, the guy that we watched on The Church Channel on Sundays when we were at my Dad’s house. Every sermon, it was like he was talking directly to me. He kind of spoke my language, ya know, funny, normal, so I knew the book would be an easy read.
About halfway through the book, I found myself weeping. Like, gasping for air weeping. Sitting in the middle of a field, in Texas, during the hottest part of the day, IN JULY, and the heat was the last thing on my mind. I finished the book in two days right there at that little craft fair. I needed to be baptized, I knew that right away. I felt differently about everything in my life, and about God, and knew I wanted to make a change, and I wanted God IN my life. In it. I had a fleeting thought, “Dr. Merritt is the one who brought me to this point, What if I got him to baptize me?” Then immediately thought, “Nah, going a thousand miles away to Georgia to be baptized is dumb, we just need to find a church family of our own right here in Dallas.”
Three weeks later, my husband got called into a meeting at work where they offered him the position to run their newly opened Georgia plant. Tears. Instant weeping. I shared that fleeting thought with my husband and we just looked at each other. First thought: “This is God. This is God!”. Second thought: “I can’t be that far away from my Dad”. Third thought: ” This is a blatant, not so subtle message from the Dude upstairs. We gotta go.”
So, here we are, in Georgia. We moved here in September 2013 and we attend Dr. Merritt’s church, Cross Pointe Baptist, every week. We are in a month long class they call Starting Pointe, it’s like, the road to becoming a partner in the church and being baptized. This Sunday we are supposed to turn in our testament. Since I started this blog in January 2014, I have had what I consider to be great successes. I can’t credit that to anyone but God. So, instead of turning in a testament that only a few will read (Hi, Carol!), I thought, why not put it here for more eyes to see and for more people to hear. So, there it is. Loving God, serving others and sharing my story.
I know, without a doubt, that my life belongs God.
A few month’s before Mom’s car accident, she found out she had a brain tumor, a glioblastoma, which is basically fatal and an excruciatingly slow and painful way to go. Did God save her the pain of a slow death and bring her home early? Yes, I think so.
Did I miss out on that job I really wanted so that I would meet the man of my dreams? Yeah, totally. After we started dating, I got a call from that company and got that job anyway. Hubs’ Dad was the cool guy who hired me, my mother-in-law shares the same name as me and the same birthday as my Mom. Cray? Yeah. All a part of God’s plan? Mos def.
I know now that the little prayer that I prayed under my Mom’s bed during the Super Bowl (which was played in Georgia, btw) was wrong. “Please give me this and I will never ask you for anything else.” That’s not what He wants, not at all. He want’s us to give all of our problems, cares and worries to Him. I can’t even explain (without crying), how amazing my life has been now that I have accepted Jesus as my Savior.
Did you know that the word “finished” is a Greek accounting term that literally means “paid in full”? So, when Jesus was on the cross and he said “It is finished.”, he wasn’t kidding. Our debt of sin was paid in full, wiped clean, y’all!
It’s still super emotional to me, which is why I cry every Sunday. He gave His only Son. That, to me, is almost unfathomable. His only Son… He loves us that much. Plus, it’s like my life is on CCTV for Dr. Merritt to see, seriously, EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. he’s talking to me, his message is exactly what I need and I thank God for that man and the messages that he delivers. Sometimes I think, “Man, I wish I didn’t cry every week!”, but then I also hope that the emotion never dulls. I want to feel it. Even if it does make my mascara run.
I didn’t take the best path to get here, but, any other path, and I might not have been here at all. So, I wouldn’t take anything back and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me going forward. I’m not totally sure why He brought us to Georgia, but our eyes are open….
So, yeah, I’m not perfect, and yes the blog title has “shart” in it, I realize that some may consider that a cuss word, I personally do not. I consider it the same as the word “crap”. Plus, God invented wet toots, so, He’s hilarious.
If you are ever in, or if you live in the Atlanta, Georgia area, please accept this invitation to join us at Cross Pointe. If you are interested, but find yourself so very far away, you can watch Dr. Merritt here live on Sundays and also catch past sermons as well. You can also catch him on The Church Channel on Sunday mornings (check your local listings). There is a link above to purchase the book and if you are interested in reading the bible but have that good ol’ “I don’t have time” excuse, you can listen to it online here. Put it on your iPod and listen to it on the way home from work. I listen to it while I’m sewing. It’s good stuff.
If you are one of those people with a science brain, Ron Wyatt’s videos are pretty awesome. He was a Biblical Archaeologist and found some pretty awesome stuff. I realize that having to see it takes away from the faith part of it, but if scientific proof is what gets ya there, I’ll take it.
So, if you happen to visit the church, I’ll be the one sniffling and ducking from the cameras. Say hi.
Note to Jerry Jones: Open the roof of that fancy new stadjum, God wants to see his favorite team.
* It’s been on my heart for a while to update this. Shortly after I wrote this blog post (which was also my testimony for our Starting Point class to become members at the church), there was a listing in the church bulletin for a job opening. They were looking for someone to blog for them (uhm, hello) and also do some other light photo editing and other stuff that I had already been doing through this blog. I truly felt I was being called. It felt perfect. I applied. The following Sunday after the service, I found the guy who was head of the department that had the job opening. I felt like a complete and total adult as I approached him, introduced myself, shook his hand and expressed my enthusiasm for the job and asked if he had a minute to talk about my qualifications, etc. He cut me off. He said he had read this blog post and didn’t care for it all. He noted the part where I said “Yes, we were living in sin… but I couldn’t have been happier” and then continued on to say that he didn’t think I would be a good representative for the church. In the moment, I couldn’t even gather my words. We walked out the door and I cried for three days straight. I’m a fraud, I thought. I felt like nothing. I wondered if he had even finished reading it all the way through. I wondered if others felt the same way. We never went back to that church but continued to watch it on TV and online. I did reach out to an associate pastor there. I was issued a written apology. But, like my mom always said “you can’t unring a bell”. He said what he said and it was hard to shake it. When writing this, I assumed it was implied that you don’t know what you don’t know and when you know better, you do better. But apparently some people need it written out in black and white. So, here it is. The devil is everywhere. I’m not saying that guy was the devil but what he said to me was incredibly judgemental and harsh. Right in the middle of the church lobby. I wish I had the wherewithall to even respond to him but at the time, I was literally crushed. All this to say: Your personal realtionship with God is just that, personal. You know the truth, God knows the truth and anyone else who casts any kind of judgement on your relationship isn’t coming from a good place. Remember that. I love you.
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