During my freshman year of college I had to take a speech class. There were only about fifteen people in the class, plus the professor, but as I walked to the front of the room for my first talk about spotted owls I’m not sure which trembled more, my knees or my voice.
I was happy to pass the class and earn my credits, and as I looked at my grades at the end of semester I thought, “Well, that’s that. I’m glad it’s over.” Or so I thought.
The next time I stood in front of an audience, I was at my church. My pastor had asked me to share my testimony. This wasn’t an “I gave my heart to Jesus when I was five-years-old” type of story. Instead I shared about become sexually active at a young age, having an abortion when I was fifteen-years-old, and facing a second teen pregnancy and having my son when I was seventeen. I’d promised my pastor the year prior that I’d speak for Sanctity of Life Sunday. Yet when the time arrived it was the last thing I wanted to do. Still, I knew that to not stand up there and share my story would be to disobey God. It wasn’t just my pastor asking me to tell my story. God was too.
Both my knees and my voice trembled again, and I’m pretty sure that I read most of my story. For weeks prior to speaking fears had plagued me. I was afraid that once our church members knew the truth they would look at me differently.
Yet when I lifted my gaze and looked down at the congregation I saw two things. First, compassion. Even though I regretted the choice I’d made in a very dark place, my church friends saw how I’d suffered too. I’d faced pain, shame, and heartache after my choice and they understood my pain.
The second thing I saw as I looked out in the audience was the same pain and shame that I’d carried for so long in some of the faces. Seeing that, my voice grew stronger as I continued to share. I wanted those women to know the forgiveness, hope and healing I’d discovered through Jesus Christ. I wanted them to experience healing too.
After the service was over, a half-dozen women approached me. They asked me to pray for them, and some signed up for the Bible study that I was leading. And as I drove home from church that day, I was thankful that God had trusted me to share my heart. It was hard, but I knew then that my story could make a difference. I also knew that I no longer had to hide behind a mask, trying to be perfect.
our life, too.
What God Has Done
I never would have been able to get in front of an audience and share about my past pain and regrets unless I’d allowed God to bring healing into my heart and life first. Even though I’d grown up in church, I wanted to do my own thing during my teen years—mostly date cute boys and do things I knew I shouldn’t be doing. At seventeen, I found myself pregnant and abandoned by my boyfriend, and that’s when I turned to God. I prayed, “God, I have screwed up big time. If you can do anything with my life please do.” What has He done??
- God brought me an amazing husband. John loved me and love my son, and we’ve been married 28 years.
- God gave me and John a houseful of children. We have ten children officially and two more bonus daughters who totally count as our kids.
- God called me to help start Hope Pregnancy Center in Kalispell, Montana. Read about our 10th anniversary here!
- God’s enabled me to lead a Teen Mom’s Support Group since 2002, called Teen MOPS.
- God’s opened the doors to having 70+ books and 500+ articles published.
- God’s given me the privileged to speak all over the United States and internationally.
- God’s called me to homeschool our children. I’ve been homeschooling for 25 years, and I still have another ten years to go!
I dared to say, “If you can do anything with my life please do.” I’m amazed what God’s done! I know where I was headed: to destruction and a life of pain and shame. Yet God has turned everything around for His good.
I pray that my story—my testimony—will help you to be able to trust God with yours.