My Testimony about my faith (updated 6-9-14)

Actually, my first words were, "Oh for Christ's sake."  My Mom was horrified not sure what to write in my baby book.  It's what my Dad used to say a lot.  I have a suspicion God smiled and said, "You got that right!"

God never gave up on me, He followed me all over Southern California.  I kept running into Christians.

As I grew up, I thought of Jesus as a dead statue that hung on the wall. God led me to several Christians who tried to lead me to Christ.  There were a lot of hippies in Southern California.  The grown-ups taught us, "Stay away from those hippies.  They are terrible, stinky people.  They hurt children."

As a little girl, I went to a Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, CA.  I remember a hippie playing the guitar and singing. I had never experienced such love.  I know now that perfect love casts out fear.

Many times neighbors took me to Calvary Chapel after that.  The only way I can make sense of it now, is God was trying to bring me to Himself.  I tried to get on drugs but my friend told me she couldn't buy them for me, she kept thinking of my eyes.  Really glad I didn't.

Circumstances in my life left me empty and angry.  I remember a man on a street corner asking me if I believed in Jesus, that He is coming again. I replied, "That's nice tell Him hi when he comes."

My Mom had ulcerative colitis and had to have her colon removed before I was 5 years old. She had a really hard time accepting this and couldn't cope for many years.  She turned to alcohol for comfort and slept a lot.

My Dad left when I was 12.  My parents divorced and remarried. Eventually we moved to Cedar City, Utah.  God knows I do things best the hard way.  I went to a Mormon Church with friends but it was about genealogy, and I don't have a good family history.  Something about it just wasn't right. One night I prayed that God would show me the true Church. There wasn't a lightening bolt or a visit with Moses, Elijah and Jesus, I just got a strange feeling of peace. It turned out we had moved next door to a Southern Baptist family. One of few in Utah. They invited me to a Southern Baptist Revival. The visiting Evangelist said in these words, "The true Church is the body of believers in Jesus Christ." They also told me that Jesus could be my friend. I was very lonely, empty and angry. I wanted His friendship. So I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.  I experienced this amazing joy for the first time!  I hadn't laughed in years.  My Pastor at the time said he felt a little jealous : )  It was the only Southern Baptist Church in Southern Utah at the time (to my knowledge).

The Pastor of the Church, Rodger Russell, met with me after the revival.  He tried to walk me through the Bible.  He would say, "Turn to Romans 8:28."  I had no idea what he was talking about.  So I'd turn to page 828 and finally, blushing told him "I'm sorry I don't understand."

He stopped and explained how the first 8 was the chapter, and 28 meant the verse.  Then I went on to read the Bible for myself.  At first all I saw was what was wrong with me.  It really stung.  I went to Church and asked why the Bible was so hard to read.  My friends smiled and said, "It's like that at first.  Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you.  Soon you'll see God's grace."

They were right.  The second time through I saw God's mercy and compassion.  I found new strength and memorized verses to help me through the nightmares of the past.  I soon realized reading the Bible everyday was like soul food.  Now I look forward to my quiet times.  Even after 38 years, the Bible still applies in new and different ways.  I still get a little twinge when I come across an area I need to change.  If you're new to the Bible don't give up.  You'll find great messages and hope in it.  Just keep praying for the Holy Spirit to speak to you.  Soon you'll have a treasure chest of God's Word in your heart.

After I became a Christian in Utah, I told my parents.  My Step-Father yelled, "There is no God!  There's only horoscope."
My Mom yelled back at him and said, "She can believe whatever she wants!"
Yay go Mom!  She'd never stood up for me before : )
I went to school and told my friends, "I became a Christian."

I thought they would be so proud of me.  But that's not how it went at all : )  One of the girls demanded I tell her where I got my authority.  I had no idea what she was talking about so I answered, "Huh?"
She said, "If you marry people how do you get your authority?"
Hmmm second day as a Christian and I was so lost.  So I answered,
"From God.  We have Pastors that actually perform marriage ceremonies."
She said, "You can't marry people unless the authority is received by the laying on of hands."
"We prefer the direct route to God but thanks for letting me know."
(I write this part with a disclaimer - when people have something like a religion in common, they rarely understand outsiders.  They are caught up in their own group.  It's human nature to join up with similar people.)

It got me thinking.  I would read my Bible in the canyon lands and dream of chariots, horses, men in robes, Jesus, and the disciples.  Utah is a beautiful state.  I asked my Pastor for all the Sunday School materials he had so I could understand the Bible better.  Our Church would have picnics and go up to the canyons surrounding Cedar City, Ut.

I went back to school on another day and the teacher pointed at me and yelled, "We can not speak of what I want to say because we have one of THOSE among us!"
I tried to crawl under my desk but didn't fit.  It hurt.  He was the only radical teacher in the school and the only real problem I had in school.  It didn't help that my parents smoked and I went to school smelling like cigarettes...

The Mormon kids went to their seminary, it was required.  They never told me I had to attend.  I appreciated that.  I was the only Christian in my High School for awhile.  So, when some other Christian kids came to town I thought it would be nice to have our own Bible study at my house.  My Mom was fine with it.  I messed up on some theology and the girls got mad.  So I went back to the Bible on my own, went to college, and attended Church.

One day I came home from school to find a Mormon missionary pacing in front of our house.  He said, "I have bad news.  Because you refuse to become Mormon, we are putting you on the, Hopeless List."

I answered, "Wow!  Thank you.  You see, I'm a born again Christian now."
The missionary's jaw dropped and he walked away dumbfounded.  

Next, I got the desire to go to a Christian college.  I prayed that God would help me  financially.  Within days, I got an ad in the mail from Grand Canyon College saying I shouldn't let money stop me from getting a degree.  So I took off in my 1967 Ford Mustang and headed for Grand Canyon College (now a university) in Arizona from Utah.  The only time I got scared was when I saw an Indian Chief standing by the side of the road as I drove through Arizona.  Oh and when the car started overheating outside of Phoenix!  Yikes!   My prayer was "HELP LORD PLEASE!"

I got to the school and my Mustang died in the parking lot.  There were all these cute Christian guys that helped me out : )  I went inside and found out because my Mom and her husband didn't have money, I qualified for the maximum financial aid.  God blessed me to pay off my student loans within a few years.  It was so great to meet other Christians my age.  And see how much I didn't know about the Bible, which got me digging even more.  I signed up to be a Summer Missionary.  I had dreams of going someplace exotic and wonderful like Africa.

When I got my letter it was to be a summer missionary back in Southern California.  I couldn't believe it... it was disappointing for sure.  But once I got started I realized God's wisdom.  I didn't know much yet.  And gave my testimony for the first time in a Baptist Church in California.  I went to open my mouth and no words came out...  Did you know your knees really do knock when you're really scared?  I did lol. It was the first time I asked the Holy Spirit to give me words to say.  My testimony came out so good a guy came up and asked if I'd be speaking in other Churches in California.  My jaw dropped and I looked around to see who he was talking to.  The Lord gave me the opportunity to lead several children to Christ.  There were so many I had to ask my partner, who's Dad was a missionary, if it was for real.  She laughed and said, "Oh yeah!"

One thing that was hard to take was that the kids in the Christian colleges were pretty much like all other kids.  Some were "free at last" experimenting in things I'd been around my whole life.

My Mom and step-father moved to Washington state.  I didn't have a way to go back to Phoenix.  So I finished up in Seattle.  I left Phoenix with thunder storms and flooding behind me.  My friends and I drove through California for an earthquake, I got thru Oregon soon before Mt. St. Helens erupted.  I could see the smoke rising from the mountaintop. Don't think it was a message from God : ) but maybe.

I graduated from another Christian university, "Seattle Pacific University," in 1983, with a BA in Fine Art, Bible, and English minors. This was actually a miracle in itself.  I didn't have money to go to school.  So I worked in Financial Aid Offices.  I paid my loans off early once I figured out what credit cards and loans really are. : )  God didn't send me to any University, He sent me to one of the most expensive ones... after a year in a Community College.  Because of financial issues, I graduated in 5 years instead of 4.

My husband and I met at our apartment complex.  We stared at each other for around 2 years.   I had a bad habit of falling for the wrong guys.  God's always pulled me through.  One day Todd worked up the courage to knock on my door.  He asked if I would like to go to a movie with him.  He seemed so sweet and kind.  So I said, "Yes."

He got so excited, he jumped and yelled "Yes!"

He forgot to tell me when the movie was.  I thought it was so sweet.  I finally met a guy who really liked me : )  instead of trying to move into my apartment on the first date.

We went to see "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure."  After that we just fell more in love.  We would ride the ferry in Puget Sound out of Seattle, back and forth to Whidbey Island.  We talked so easily and long.  Everything disappeared but us.  I remember seeing older passengers looking at us with this "aren't they cute" look.  We got married and have been together for 21 years.  We've had some really bad days for sure.  But I'd learned earlier on to ask the Holy Spirit for words to say.  Prayer and forgiveness are so good, God wants us to succeed.

I got my first real job at Boeing in 1988, as a data entry operator. I didn't have money for a business suit so I got one at the Salvation Army.  I had previously published in a Christian magazine.  So HR moved me into Technical Writing.  I was sitting in a cube, in a computing department when the web first became public.  I quickly learned HTML, and other programming languages, along with my Art degree.  I had a great career in designing and developing web sites.  I was at Boeing for 10 years.  My husband and I moved to New Jersey in 1998.  I was able to pick up some nice contract jobs and worked for:  Lipton/Unilever, AT&T, TriZetto/Erisco, Merrill Lynch, AIG, and L-3 Communications.  I've been a Business Systems Analyst, Full-time Consultant, Senior Software Engineer, Project Manager, Instructor, Senior Member of the Engineering Staff, and a World Class Competitiveness Trainer.  I always had at least a 3 hour commute.  I worked for a total of 30 years in business.  Probably more if I counted waitressing as a teenager.  I tried maid work and was just way to slow.  I'm too clumsy...  In the restaurant, I almost decapitated a man when I walked too quickly around a corner and the salad went flying into his booth...  Sigh... We all have limitations none of us are perfect.

My secret to success in business was praying and a sense of humor.  I was leading a team at Boeing and all the guys got so mad at each other, they refused to work anymore.  I was in charge of gathering the requirements.  I'm thinking, "so... now whaddo I do?"

So I told the boss about it.  He told me to just stick with it, don't stop.  The next day the group was glowing!  I was wearing my bicycle helmet just in case : )  I went back to my boss and told him it was all just fine. He was surprised.  The girl that sat next to me asked loudly, "Karen did you pray?"

I answered, "Yes and He answered me."

My boss laughed and said, "Whatever works."  Then he got one of those ear to ear grins. I love it when people smile : )

God has always supplied my needs and helped me through many difficult times.  He's available 24x7, every day of the week, anytime.  I now attend a Calvary Chapel Church in NJ.  I recently graduated from the New York Institute of Photography's Professional Course.  Todd told me it was time to pursue my dreams, so I am.

My favorite title is being God's servant.  There's so much joy in serving the Lord.  And my commute is just seconds now : )

I'm just a servant, not a great Theologian.  God always leads me to people I can help.  This year will be my 38th year walking with the Lord.  Thanks be to God : )  I finally get to be an Artist, Writer and Photographer.  It's always been my dream.  He never stops blessing does He?  We even got to sing in an awesome choir at Carnegie Hall last year.  I enjoy writing my blog and sharing my artwork so much it really feels effortless..  God saved my life in so many ways. I think I sat in a cube for 30 years... no more!  I have a garden now and the flowers are still alive!  Yay!

I'll never forget singing to the Lord at Carnegie Hall for Christmas.  I opened my mouth and heard 100 sopranos : )  So glad to know Jesus.

God bless!

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