Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Prayer Focus Begins! ~ My First Prayer

I am so excited for our Prayer Focus week! It might just turn out to be a Prayer Focus month!

Imagine my disappointment and frustration when my internet connection went down last night! Ahhh!! It made me think of this powerful quote....

"The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray." - Samuel Chadwick

Thus the reason I am a day late in starting my Prayer Focus post ~ but more determined to press on and persevere! In fact, let's pray now:

Oh Lord, would You please teach us how to pray?? Would you make us mighty, powerful prayer warriors for Your Kingdom? Would you remind us that prayer IS the work? Teach us and grow us, O Lord, we pray. In Jesus' Powerful and Lifechanging Name I pray. Amen.

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I am grateful for the new many readers , so as I've been praying for this Prayer Focus, I'd like to start by sharing my journey.

I want to make sure everyone realizes I am not an expert in prayer, but once you hear my story, you will see why I depend so heavily on prayer.
God has done such a miracle in my life, and I am so grateful!!
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Growing up, I was raised in a home that had limited exposure to God or Jesus.

In fact, my dad told everyone he was agnostic or atheist, depending on who was at the door with a pamphlet for him.

My Mom, bless her heart, would take us to church every week–
My brothers and I would fight all the way there,
go into church,
and fight all the way home.
And that’s basically how I viewed “church”.

My first prayers were prayed while watching the Bozo show on TV in the 1st grade. I would pray so hard each day that my name would be picked for the at-home Grand Prize drawing. It never happened. (Pretty selfish prayers, I know!). I decided God was too busy, too big, and just didn't care about me.

I didn't understand the simple truth that God loved me.

I was a chubby red-head -- shy, insecure, & teased all the time. I took it personally, and it just made me feel all the more unloved and rejected. I was a classic case of low self-esteem.

As I grew older, the more I tried to mask my insecurities – to pretend everything was okay --
the more empty I felt inside.

I was so alone and so desperate for someone to love me. Anyone.

I tried to fill this emptiness, this loneliness in my heart. You name it – I tried it - food, men, alcohol and shopping – but nothing worked.

By the time I graduated college in 1993, I had pretty much sampled everything the world has to offer. I was still empty and lonely – and was now carrying a huge backpack of guilt and shame
for the poor choices I knew I was making.

Soon after college, I found out I was pregnant.

Not my favorite Thanksgiving --- telling my parents right before the turkey and stuffing
that their only daughter was pregnant –
and would be going through this ordeal alone—a single mom.

My parents were very supportive (thank you Mom and Dad!), and 9 mos later they were blessed with a wonderful grandson, and I had a beautiful, precious son, Jake. (Who turns 15 tomorrow - Wow!!)
Fast forward a few more years – I was 26 and a single mom, a college grad waiting tables for a living. I was thousands of dollars in debt and had a new, very serious problem: cocaine addiction.

What started off as just “experimenting with friends” after work – quickly consumed my life. Cocaine gave me new confidence – new energy. It numbed my pain and even made the extra pregnancy weight I gained literally fall right off.

Suddenly, I was being noticed --- men wanted me. Isn’t that crazy? I‘d lost so much weight that my face was hollow and sunken -- but I was wanted!

My own Grandma said, “Wow, Cindy, you’re so beautiful now!”.
NOW?? --- Hadn’t I always been beautiful?

So, the cycle of addiction continued….

In my heart, I knew this was not the life for me. I wanted to be a good mom!
Except – my daily choices did not reflect my heart’s desire.
Cocaine was as routine to me as brushing your teeth and I didn’t know how to stop!
I remember sitting on my bed one night wondering… “What in the world happened??
“How did my life turn out this way”??

A few days later, I accidentally overdosed on the cocaine.

I drove myself to a med center, where after tests, the doctors told me they needed to take me by ambulance to the hospital. I was told I’d probably be dead on arrival.

I didn’t die like they said I would (Praise the Lord!), but was quickly brought to my senses when a police officer spoke to me.

He said: I heard what happened – so you obviously used cocaine - that’s a misdeameanor ,
and if you used, you possessed -- that’s a felony

I heard you drove yourself to the Med Center
What if you had killed someone? --
that’s negligent homicide and a minimum of 15 years in prison

I heard you’re a mom – is that what you want? - your son visiting his mom in prison every week?

That conversation with the police officer -- I’ll never forget, OR will I ever forget seeing my mom freaking out, rightfully so, to learn all this about her daughter.

Thankfully, no charges were filed. But, I made a charge to myself that night as I left the hospital: I vowed I would do whatever it takes to get my act together and figure this life thing out.

The next morning, I was thinking, if I could be like anyone, who would I want to be like?
And I thought of my friend’s mom. a woman I barely knew, named Carole. Her daughter and I worked together at a restaurant. Carole and her husband often came to the restaurant, and Carole was so full of joy, of life, & laughter.

So, I picked up the phone and called her, “I don’t know if you remember me , but I’m Cindy, your daughter’s friend, and I need help”. She said, “Cindy, you need Jesus.”

Now when Carole said I needed Jesus -- I knew I needed something to fill that emptiness in my heart......

My Journey continues tomorrow....

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Prayer Downloads for You...

Check your Prayer Pulse by Mary Kassain (click here).

A Prayer for Women by John Piper (click here). I love praying this aloud ~ this is the woman I desire to be!!

Prayers for Spiritual Growth by Joyce Meyer (click here). May I encourage you to tape this to your refrigerator and pray it for yourself and your loved ones each day!!

31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children (click here).

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As always, I'd love to hear from you!! Do you have any comments, questions, or great prayer stories? Please share them with us!!

And the sharing of my journey from Darkness to Light continues tomorrow....

Blessings to you!!

5 comments:

Tara said...

WOW! what a great post! thank you... What would we do without prayer? i love what you've shared!!!

MOMSWEB said...

AWESOME! I remember calling my mother in my early military days in frustration and she would tell me to pray. I told her I was tired of praying. Now that I'm an older woman, wife, mother, and a wiser Believer, prayer is the only advice I give. It sustains me. Wonderful post!

Carol said...

Thanks for sharing all of this with us. I too struggled as a child, feeling fat and ugly and I cried a lot....couldn't control it most times and was teased so much for it. I am good now and I owe it to God who never gave up on me and who loves me just the way I am so I can love myself too! Carol

Courtney said...

Wow! Thank you so much for your transparency - truly you have a powerful testimony - I LOVE hearing the power of God displayed in believer's lives! Thank you for the encouragement this morning!

Crissy said...

This really touched my heart. I am so thankful that you shared your testimony. I get so anxious thinking about my past and hope that God never calls me to tell it. This gives me courage.

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