A Fresh Start | Articles | The Fellowship

A Fresh Start

    Apr 7, 2024 | by The Fellowship

    While growing up in the Midwest, I was exposed to the teachings of many different denominations.  The most consistent was a major denomination that stresses works to attain salvation, but my grandmother also took me to Sunday School at a non-denominational church.  

    On the Sundays our family went to church, we were taught to lie and say everything was fine and we had no problems.  I might get slapped by a parent while on the way, but when entering the church -- the perfect family pretense began. Ours was a very dysfunctional family.

    We were also economically challenged, so during summers I went to Vacation Bible Schools on weekdays because meals were served!  During high school, I worked to provide for my needs and another employee often talked to me about her beliefs and church teachings.

    As a result of exposure to so many different denominations, I never developed my own set of beliefs. On top of that, I was emotionally needy from never being really accepted or valued.

    Once out of high school and on my own, I moved in with a man who had mental health issues such as being manic and schizophrenic. It was bearable because he gave me emotional support which I badly needed.  In return, I supported him financially and emotionally.

    No pregnancies happened – my doctor said I would never have children.  What a surprise after 20 years to become pregnant!  I knew without question that no child should have to be exposed to my volatile home life.  So, I left and hid in a different part of the city. After seven years, he found me, and I knew it was time to move to another state.

    My employer allowed me to work remotely, and I chose Texas.  My daughter, 7, and I got into our old clunker and drove to Houston with the possessions that would fit in the vehicle. I prayed on the way for a fresh start, a new beginning.

    We found a modestly priced apartment in the Barker Cypress area. I had my laptop to work remotely.  Two weeks later, Hurricane Harvey hit!

    When the water began rising, I had not even unpacked.  Our important papers and keepsakes were still in waterproof containers sealed with duct tape, so I put them on a high shelf.  Once outside, water was up to my armpits.  Three Hispanic men with broken English came walking back in the dirty water.   A man in a canoe took my daughter and the neighbor's children while two of the men walked with me to higher ground, carrying my laptop, a bag with a few clothes, and some peanut butter and tortillas.

    Once on higher ground, where could we go?  All the Katy shelters were filled.  The NRG stadium was a possibility, but I needed to keep working and it would be impossible there.  The man with the best English invited us to stay in his home.

    I was scared but had no alternative. My phone was dead, so there was no way to contact anyone. With a frantic prayer, my daughter and I got in his beat-up pickup. The house was better than I expected, and a woman was there which gave me relief.    We slept on the floor of a bedroom on a mattress.

    It only took nine days for things to start getting back to normal.  An apartment locater found us a new place and bought us a mattress to sleep on. My car was totaled but was insured.  A new car dealer took pity on us and got us into a vehicle.

    My daughter and I often ate at a nearby hamburger joint. A young man who worked there became our friend and invited us to his church – The Fellowship. Not much of a people person and having faced rejection for being a single mom who had never married, I was not interested in subjecting myself to a new group of people.

    But early last year, one Sunday morning with nothing to do, we decided to give the church a try.  My daughter loved the youth group and wanted to come every Sunday.  The music and message really spoke to me, and I cried throughout the service.

    Four days later, my employer said working remotely was no longer an option and I could move back to my hometown or be terminated with severance.  I did not want to uproot my daughter, so my job ended.  I submitted a request to the Prayer Team and someone in the church parking lot prayed for me.  One week later, I had a new and better job offer with more income and benefits. I was so aware that God was taking care of us! 

    Both my daughter and I needed counseling, and the church helped set it up. My daughter began volunteering for childcare during the first service.  Last fall, I joined a LIFE Group of caring people and began attending Alpha. I had so many questions that needed answering.  Recently, I attended the evening praise service.  The Holy Spirit convicted me to confess and accept the forgiveness Jesus offers and to fully place my trust in God.

    That was the beginning of my new life in Christ – the desired new beginning that had brought us to Houston!  I was baptized on Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the year. I am thankful to God for leading us here and for this wonderful family only He could provide!

    Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
    See, I am doing a new thing!... 
    Isaiah 43:18-19

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