Earth Shaking, Doors Opening, & Breaking Free! Acts16:26


 Joy's Testimony

Franklin P. Jones said, "Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again."

I was raised Pentecostal, but by the time I had turned 16, I wasn't living the life I knew was right. I always had a longing to feel needed. In grade school I was a loner and what most people called a "dork." I had maybe three or four friends at most, even at church I felt like an outcast. So by the time I was in high school, I went on an endless search of something to make me feel anything but worthless. At age 17, I became pregnant and got married, thinking that I had finally found what I had been searching for. Boy, was I ever wrong. My husband, a person I had only known a short eight months before we were wed, turned out to be physically and verbally abusive to me, though in the two years we were married, did not hurt our daughter Marissa. The fact that she saw what her Daddy was doing to me was harm enough. He spent our money in bars and on drugs. I spent my days online, developing a relationship with another man. Finally I got the courage to leave and moved back in with my parents. He couldn't handle caring for a daughter he didn't even know, and I was 19, but still felt like a 16 year old. We agreed that she would be best taken care of by his mother.

     I remained lukewarm while being forced to go to church with my parents while I lived there. On May 5, 2002, however, I got into a major car accident with a girl from my church, Jami. It was at that moment I gave my life over to God. Crying, praying, and even speaking in tongues right there at the crash scene and again at the hospital. God re-filled me with His spirit again. My life was changed and I was finally happy. I became close with a new girl in the church whose name is Amy. With time spent with her I became closer and closer with God. She was a great influence on me. Together, but each for different reasons that will remain confidential, we started attending the Ironwood United Pentecostal Church in South Bend. We were big on inviting people we met online to come to church with us. Amy started dating one of them, whose name is Matt, and even though she did not mean to, once again I felt un-needed. I thought finding a boyfriend would full-fill the emptiness. I started dating a really sweet guy named Todd in December 2002. Even though I really cared about him a lot, it ended only a few weeks into the year 2003. February 3rd I started dating a boy in the church whose name is Adrian. He was the first "church boy" I had ever dated. It was a roller coaster relationship. I kept praying that God wouldn't let me fall for him as hard as I was falling. I made a lot of mistakes. I shouldn't have rushed into this relationship so quickly. If I had gotten to know him better first, I would have seen what was likely to come. In our second week as a couple, he told me he loved me. I was in love also. He was honestly the first guy I had ever truly loved. I loved him unconditionally, but it didn't last. I will keep the gory details of our breakup private. It is between God and us. Instead of running to God for comfort, I ran away. I was hurt, and I couldn't face it. I occupied myself in a new job that kept me working on church nights. I started a marathon-dating schedule, trying to heal a hurt that wouldn't go away. When I did go to church I masked my pain so know one would see. I made friends with Adrian's other ex-girlfriend, Shawna. We considered ourselves soul sisters. We both knew the pain of the other, and she helped me to move on. She was there for me when I thought no one else was.

       In July I was mixed up in some pretty bad things. I was messing around with a guy that had a girlfriend, and falling for him in the process. Then one night I was conned into an environment that proved to be very dangerous. My ex-boyfriend who was home from college raped me. That's when I started questioning God, thinking He hated me for letting all this happen to me. Then I found out I was pregnant. I felt a mix of emotions, and I didn't know which direction to turn. Not knowing if the father was the guy with the girlfriend or the rapist. My stress I know, is what caused me to miss-carry, but after I lost the baby I was mad at God and anything that had to do with God I had some pretty heavy nights and did some things I will always regret.

       On October 26th 2003 I started dating a guy named Adam. Adam had grown up with a few of my really good childhood friends, and when he was in the 6th grade and I was in the 8th grade he came to church a few times. We both had liked each other back then, but as you remember, I had such a low-esteem it never went anywhere and I never saw him again. Meeting again was what I thought as another chance.

       After only a few nights of hanging out, one night we were on out way to his friends house and we stopped at a gas station. As Adam was getting out, I saw him mouth the words  "I love you" to me. I didn't know what to think, but I knew I was happy. I didn't know if he had actually said it but I knew it was happening then. I knew I was falling in love with him. So, on October 26th when we officially started dating, he said it. He told me he loved me. I was scared at first because of everything that had happen to me in the past, but it was just a few nights later that I finally said it back. We had previously decided that the lyrics to Baby Boy by Beyonce where it says "Ata ata anaya" meant, "I love you" to us. So a few nights later when he said that I replied, "I love you too". I finally discovered that you cant help who you love, your not suppose to. I fell deeper and deeper in love with Adam than I did with Adrian. We were so happy, and never once fought.

     During the course of our relationship I moved in with a newly married Shawna and her husband Ray. I love my parents, but they have severe emotional problems that have a major effect on me. I didn't want to get stuck in the same loop again.

Things with Adam, however, were wonderful. We started smoking pot together, and one night I got a little concerned with the amount he was doing and voiced my opinion. Bad move. He started to get upset, so I just dropped the subject. I apologized, because I had no reason to talk. I loved him too much to fight about it.

       I got a job at Toys R Us for the Christmas season, which even though I love it, proved to be very stressful. One Wednesday night, December 3rd to be exact, Ray, Shawna, and I got drunk at home. We were watching country music videos, and I missed Adam. I knew he was home asleep, so in my drunken state I text-messaged him "I love this bar" based on the song that was on. The next morning a fight ensued. Our first fight and it was horrible. Not only was I stressed out at work that night, but also I was fighting with Adam the whole night through text-messages.

     When I got home from work, he called me again we agreed he would come over the next night and we would work everything out. I was relieved. Everything was going to be okay. So imagine my surprise the very next night while at work I got a text-message from Adam saying, "something came up, I wont be able to come over tonight". Just the fact that he wouldn't tell me what it was that had came up made me thing he was going out with his friends. I didn't text-message him back. I was fuming.

A few hours later I got another text asking if I had got the one from earlier. Since I was so mad, I text-message him back "I'm busy right now. Leave me alone." That started a whole new fight in which I was text-messaging him back while I was at work-again. Finally I told him I'd had enough and shut my phone off. I told him I didn't want to be with him anymore in the mix of the argument. It was all just too much for me. I was in a daze when I got home, and told Shawna it was over. When I said the words and they registered, my head started pounding. I took a prescription pain killer for the headache that originally was prescribed after I had teeth pulled. I sat in the rocking chair and turned my phone back on. I had received a few text-messages from Adam, so I attempted to test him back. Well, the response sent me into shock. Someone else text me on Adams phone saying "Leave him alone, he's trying to have fun". I flipped out. He was out partying instead of trying to comfort me and save our relationship. In a haze, I took the prescription bottle to bed with me. I didn't take them all at once, but in about an hour I had taken all of them. I didn't think about it. I didn't know what I was doing. I just felt pain, and it wasn't going away.

     After taking them all, I text messaged Adam, telling him I was already feeling the effects, and things were starting to get blurry here. He didn't believe me, so I either text messaged or called Shawna telling her I'd just done a bad thing. She came upstairs, but I was gone by that time. What I remember is a light when I tried to look up at Shawna, which was my lamp. She got me out of bed, down stairs and into the car.

    Things get clear again as I remember puking up black charcoal in the emergency room. They gave me that because it's supposed to clean out your system. Let me tell you- IT'S NASTY!!! My mom was there, and a lady came and told me I should be admitted to Madison Center Hospital, a psychiatric facility. I spent three days there.

     My selfishness that night hurt the people that cared about me the most. At first I didn't get it, but I understand now what it must had been for Shawna to see me do that. She stuck by me though, unlike Adam, who ran away. I will always be grateful to her, because she literally saved my life. She was there for me with Adrian, she was there through the rape and the miss carriage, and she was there when Adam left me. I know she will always be there.

     February I got full custody of Marissa, who is now four and my life turned on its head. I love my little girl. The party lifestyle held no interest to me anymore. My life was my baby girl. I took GED classes at Family Literacy in South Bend, and finally took the test. I will be starting college in the fall at Ivy Tech thanks to the Mom's Self Sufficiency Program, and my caseworker Jamie.

     March changed my life again. I had finally gathered the courage to call Adam. We talked, and things seemed good. Hopeful even. After some un-returned phone calls, I wrote him a letter telling him I still loved him, but left it up to him whether we get back together or not.

     March 20th Shawna, Ray, Caitlyn, and I attended a revival at our church. Bro. Linder from NC sermon was titled "The Cost Of Being Lost". I prayed that God would speak to me, because I was sick of fooling around. At first I was mad, but things started to hit home. I was thinking of course about losing the baby, when Bro. Linder quoted the verse James 1:15, which I had certainly heard before, but it never connected like it did that night. It says " Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death". That is why my baby died, not God hated me, but because no matter whom the father was, it was sin. Marissa was a gift from God, but this baby just was not meant to be. When I finally let go and gave my heart back to God, I felt so much better. I felt clean again. Shawna and I both went to the altar that night. God filled me with the Holy Ghost again, and I spoke in tongues for the first time in what seemed like forever, and I don't know how long I ever lived without it.

   When I got home that night, I was feeling as if I was in an altered state. I had finally came back to God whole-heartedly, and I felt so good, nothing was going to bring me down. Imagine my surprise when I saw Adam's phone number on the caller i.d. I checked the voice mail and there was a very simple message from him, telling me to give him a call. Hesitantly I dialed the number. I knew he was calling in response to the letter I had sent, whether it was good or bad. He answered, and this was how the conversation went:

   "Hey, Adam? This is Joy," I said shakily.

   "Yeah I know," his response was cold, which began to make me more nervous. My heart was pounding. I prayed to God for strength. I knew the devil was going to try and bring me down, now more than ever.

   "You called me?" I asked wearily.

   "Yeah, um... here's the thing," Oh boy, here it comes, I thought. "I've had it. I want you to stop sending me these letters, and stop calling me. It's over. You need to get it through your head. Move on."

   "Fine," was all I could say. "Fine," he answered back.

   So ended out last conversation ever. I was upset, but I know it was God's will that I prayed through that night. If I hadn't, who knows how I would have reacted, and what would have happened. I loved Adam with all my heart, but I love God and Marissa more.

   On April 11th, Marissa, my four year old baby girl, received the Holy Ghost. I heard her speak in tonguess the Spirit gave the utterance, and I saw the tears she cried as God filled her heart. It was the proudest moment I've had as a mother. God certainly has been blessing us.

   On April 20th, I got the results back from the G.E.D. test I took in February, ecstatic to learn I'd received Honors, even landing a perfect score in Reading. This has been yet another answer to prayer, for those of you who know me know that ditzy blonde me has never received Honors in anything having to do with school.

   I have learned it's a day by day process to live for God. You can't expect God to answer every prayer, to open every door and to do everything FOR you. There are some things you have to do yourself in order for God to know that you really do love Him and are willing to take the steps necissary to please Him. God is still working on me. Never said I was perfect, just forgiven, Praise Jesus! I will forever be thankful I have a God who loves me so much He gave me yet another chance