Growing up I was raised mostly in a Christian/Non-denominational environment.  My parents jumped from church to church and my mother even converted to Atheism at one time.  My grandmothers took me with them to Catholic, Methodist, and Lutheran churches.  With all that bouncing around to different churches and religions, it’s no wonder I had no solid foundation of God in my life.  I thought I had accepted Christ as my personal savior many times when I was younger.  But I had a hard time accepting that my sins were forgiven.  I knew I would continue to sin and I was afraid of making God mad at me. So, I kept my distance, from him.  I guess I thought that if I was a good person, I would still go to heaven.

I had a rough start in life living in a physically and mentally abusive environment while growing up at home, and I was also a frequent runaway living on the streets.  That habit of running away when things got bad continued into adulthood.  The abuse also continued into my marriage and with having children.  I had three beautiful children and married my best friend.  I thought life would finally be better.  I was very wrong, when my 15-year relationship with my husband hit rock bottom, he ran off and hid my three children while I was at work. My kids were ages 5, 3, and my youngest was 2.  The only thing in life I knew that I was doing right, was being a good and loving mother to my babies.

In Pennsylvania possession is 9/10 of the law even in matters concerning custody.  It only took a few phone calls to me, saying I am never going to see my children again to cause me to have a mental breakdown. 

I was devastated, I couldn’t understand how God could allow a good mother to be separated from her babies.  I became very angry, depressed, and even suicidal.   I eventually found my crutch in substances and unhealthy relationships.  Drugs became my medicine to numb the pain.  

I stayed on that path of destruction for a very long time (So long that my children are now grown, and I have four grandchildren) and I am currently trying to repair those broken relationships.  After struggling with not being able to see my children at all, I decided to move far enough away to not “logically” be able to see them.  In April 2000, I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.   

I visited a local church here in Madeira Beach, Florida with my father when he came down to visit from Pennsylvania.  I didn’t feel welcome there at all.  I was telling two of my bar customers (I was a bartender) how bad I felt at that church, and they suggested I visit their church. They said it was a newer church and very laid back.  I went with them the following week.  I liked it and I continued to go even when they returnedto Ohio.   

This was in March 2015.  I went a couple times a month and on Mother’s Day-May 10, 2015. The message sunk in.  I decided I wanted to forgive my real mother, who committed suicide in 2009; I wanted to forgive God, and forgive myself for all the stuff that I had been harboring deep within me.  I saw that I needed God in my life.  I was an alcoholic and I had been smoking, drinking, and doing drugs since I was 9 years old. I knew I needed change.  My old ways were getting me nowhere in life. 

I came home from church on May 10, 2015, and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and I asked him into my life.  On that date of my re-birth, I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and I got rid of the substances in my life.  I started to study my Bible.  I became an active member of the church, volunteering whenever possible, I read my bible and devotionals every day, and started listening to a Christian radio station.  My old customers and friends say I have made a complete 360 compared to the “Wild Child” that they used to know.  

I can now see God working in all areas of my life and I was so excited to be baptized last Sunday night on April 22, 2018.  I have been attending Radius and I am so thankful that like thischurch is starting to feel like my family.   

I am very thankful that God led a friend to share and invite me to this church…. 

And I thank God that …“We are a people on mission, moving out in ever-widening circles to change our world.” 

Thank you for letting me share.