Who I was before I met HaShem/Yeshua:
I was only a couple months old when my natural mother sent me to live with a foster family in post-war Germany, 1951. My foster parents, although poverty-stricken and on welfare, gave me the only stable, loving home I would ever know--and it was there that I first learned about God.
I was approximately five years old when my foster grandmother held me on her lap and told me about the all-seeing, all-knowing Entity who watches over each and every one of us. It was an overwhelming revelation, and I accepted it without question. God and the Church, however, were never really a part of my life throughout my childhood and for most of my adulthood - and for good reason….
You see, when I was nine, my life fell apart at the seams. My natural mother was forced to take me back in order to be able to leave Germany with her new American husband. By age ten, while living at Fort Carson, Colorado, I was hiding in the closets from my adoptive father, a well-respected Army sergeant, who was sexually abusing me. I prayed that God would stop him, but He never did, and I found myself wondering if there really was a God.
When I was eleven, Daddy retired from the Army and moved us to Springfield, Missouri, where he continued to terrorize me for several more years. At age 14, when I threatened to tell the police, he beat me until I literally wet the floor. I had no one to turn to. Back in those days, no one ever talked about sexual abuse; no one discussed "good touches" and "bad touches." To add to the insanity, I had no real rapport with my mother, an alcoholic who was married a total of eight times. She had five kids, all by different men. Two of my brothers, like me, were either given, or taken away at birth. (I managed to find both of them in 1984 after years of searching.) Needless to say, I deliberately never had children because I feared they might suffer a similar fate. I simply couldn't bring myself to impose this horrible world on innocent babies.
By the time I graduated from high school in 1969, I had attended 14 different schools and seen my mother through dozens of broken relationships and several marriages. To get away from home, I joined the Army. It was the best decision I could have made, one that ultimately culminated in a successful career in which I rose to the top of my profession as an Army journalist.
My personal life, however, never got off the ground. Year after year, my life remained empty, and I kept thinking things would be all right if only I could find the right man - which I mistakenly thought would remedy all my problems. I had three nose jobs and a chin implant hoping to improve my appearance so that the "right" man would be attracted to me! Well, that didn't help and, o all the wrong thinking I've done in my life, at least I can pride myself on the fact that I never turned to drugs or alcohol - thanks to some powerful guardian angels.
At age 21, I ended up in a three-week coma from a mis-diagnosed ruptured appendix. Before waking, I had an experience that shook me to the core. I found myself without a body floating through space, feeling alone and afraid. Suddenly I saw a bearded man dressed in white, who appeared to be standing in front of the sun. (Today, I know that Jesus (whose real name, Yeshua, I didn't know back then) wasn't standing in front of the sun; what I had seen was obviously the light emanating from him.) Anyway, He had the kindest, most compassionate face I had ever seen, and I tried my best to reach his outstretched hand. I remember seeing his mouth move as he spoke, but couldn't hear or understand what He was saying, partially because of a howling wind all around me - and also because, I suppose, I was only a "half-hearted" believer back then.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the matters of the Spirit of Elohim, for they are foolishness to him, and he is unable to know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (AENT)
Try as I might, I could not reach Him, and to my dismay, I began to float in an opposite direction. After a couple of minutes, before he completely disappeared from view, I realized that the man was "that Jesus guy" who was nailed to the cross for going around telling everybody he was the Son of God! This panicked me, because I now KNEW I needed to get to Him because He was REAL!
Suddenly, I bumped into something hard, unyielding. In desperation, I grabbed a pitch-black, hairy hand that had appeared out of nowhere, and heard a disembodied voice that said he was offering to help - and found myself looking straight into the evil eyes of Satan! Shrinking back in fear (since there was no one else in my immediate vicinity to help me, and I was too afraid to stay in that dark abyss), I quickly decided to fool him into helping me without having to commit myself . "I give up," I said fearfully - and that's when I came out of the coma.
For days afterward, I remember feeling extremely close to God, praying constantly, without reservation, as if it were the most natural thing in the world - which, for me, it wasn't at the time. Until then, I had never prayed publicly and really never thought much about God who had always been simply an unseen entity "up there" somewhere.
Anyway, although I now knew this "Jesus" was real, I still couldn't bring myself to "go to church" because, to be honest, I felt most Christians were hypocrites. After all, my adoptive father, the rapist, had supposedly been a Christian….
And so, doing the best I knew how, I lived my life to the best of my ability. I went from one relationship to the next, always searching for the right man, never finding him. Like my mother, I married more than once; and, interestingly, my first husband was a carbon copy of my adoptive father. He was a physically and mentally abusive, manipulative drug addict who eventually killed someone over Heroin..
My marriage in 1992 (to a cruel, abusive, alcoholic bisexual) took me to the brink of suicide. During this time, to my surprise, I felt COMPELLED, not only to leave him, but also to retire from the Army (I had made it to Sergeant Major) and return to Springfield, Missouri, the home of most of my unhappy childhood memories. Tired, depressed and desperately wanting to recover from a life of failed relationships, I floundered about aimlessly in Springfield for a couple of months before eventually deciding to begin a brand new life by joining a singles group that met on Sunday mornings at a Methodist church. It was the closest I ever got to any kind of real church attendance, and the most healing thing I could have done for myself, because it was there that I rediscovered God.
How I encountered HaShem/Yeshua:
He suddenly "touched" me in November of 1993, on the last day of a three-day Singles Adjustment Seminar I was helping to facilitate at Schweitzer Methodist Church. (I had no church or religious background, and the only reason I was in this church is because that's where the seminar was being held.) As part of a closing ceremony, the 70 participants and facilitators stood in a circle holding hands in the sanctuary, and everybody had to take turns verbalizing "why I'm glad to be me". At one point my mind began to wander and I remember looking up at the cross, wondering who exactly Jesus was and why he had been nailed to the cross … and then my gaze went out the window into the night sky where I suddenly had a flashback to age 5:
Out of the blue, I remembered that my foster grandmother in Germany had told me something about God, and that it had made me feel all warm and safe inside. And then something strange and almost indescribable happened: I suddenly felt lifted off the floor as a warm, pink light engulfed my body. I remember looking around to see if anybody noticed, and checked my feet to see if they really were off the floor (of course, they weren't, and nobody seemed to notice anything).
Even though I wasn't "saved" at the time, I somehow knew God was "inside" me, in the deepest part of my soul … I was filled with the Spirit! (Since I didn't know that term back then, I viewed it as God "touching" me.) He somehow spoke to me by osmosis and, for the first time in my life, I realized that all the "bad" I had ever endured had had some kind of a purpose - and, to my surprise, I found myself thanking Him for all the horrendous stuff that had happened! Yes, I was actually grateful! Oddly, somehow the "bad" stuff in my life seemed to be on an equal plane with the good and I found myself relieved over the realization!
The thing is, none of it mattered because I felt as though I were being cradled in God's arms, hearing Him tell me that He had "allowed" me to experience a life of pain for His glory (another term I didn't know back then, but later learned). I was receiving unconditional love for the first time in my life - and I felt unusually safe and warm. It was the most amazing feeling, and I never wanted it to stop!
And so, in that one instant, I knew what had been missing in my life; I knew Jesus was pure love for everyone who accepted him; and I knew that no one could ever truly be happy or truly content without him (even though I didn't know at the time that his death on the cross signified my salvation!). Be that as it may, I also realized that God had brought me to Springfield, to that singles group, and to that particular workshop to enable me to experience that particular moment in time. I suddenly knew SO many things. It was amazing!
When He left me, I felt so empty! I wanted to tell someone that I had just been touched by God and that He loved me and all of us in that room more than we could ever imagine. But instead, I kept silent because I was afraid I would be viewed as a lunatic. I felt "high" when I left the church; a feeling that continued for another two days, but still, I could not bring myself to tell anyone.
The "incident" had happened on a Sunday evening. By Wednesday, I had begun to doubt the validity of it. It dawned on me that what I had felt was merely a result of having spent the weekend helping people to start feeling better about themselves. (It was obviously Satan trying to invalidate God's work!) Well, God apparently wasn't going to let the enemy get the upper hand this time and so, to assure me that He really HAD "touched" me, He performed a follow-up miracle:
That Wednesday afternoon when I went for another checkup and follow-up mammogram for the huge lump I had had in one of my breasts for two years, the nurse told me it was gone! I could hardly believe it - How could it be gone? I had felt it while in the shower on the Friday just before the opening ceremony of the seminar! Like that proverbial brick against my noggin' I realized that God really HAD touched me, and that this was His follow-up miracle to prove it. I wanted to shout for joy; to tell someone! But I simply didn't have the guts to do it. That would take me another couple of years….
How HaShem/Yeshua changed me into who I am today:
The thing is, once He had me, He wasn't about to let go! Soon after that "incident" at Schweitzer Methodist, I began dating my first Christian man - a "good ol' boy" farmer and high school drop-out, from small town Seymour, MO. On one of our first dates he took me to his church (I remember being amused at that, and couldn't believe I was actually dating a "Bible thumper!").
However, this proved to be a life-changing event because, on that particular day, that particular pastor was preaching about how God had always required blood sacrifices to atone for our sins, and about the plan of salvation and the exchanged life through Jesus Christ who offered himself on our behalf - and I "got" it! When the pastor discovered he had a new "babe in Christ," he immediately took me under his wing and throughout the course of about a year, introduced me to several study books that helped me to understand the Bible and what being "born again" was all about.
But here's the thing: I quickly realized, "something was missing" in the church … and I had a million questions for the pastor, such as WHY - since we are "one in Christ" - didn't Christians keep the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Feasts. And he always sent me to the writings of Paul, which have been greatly misunderstood…but even as a "baby Christian" I understood Romans 3:31 for exactly what it says: 31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." WHY, I wondered, couldn't anybody see that Paul said "the law" was NOT abolished at the cross?
From that point on, I knew "the church" had some gross misunderstandings about Paul and God and His Word in general, and I literally begged Him to show me what was missing. And He did - by causing me to move to Colorado Springs in September 1996, where much happened to not only heal me from my childhood, but He caused me to find His Torah via a Wednesday evening Torah study hosted by a rabbi from Denver.
So, after floundering around for the first half of my life, I had finally found the "peace that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7)! Besides becoming an on-fire "seed-planter" for YHWH/Yeshua/Torah, I ultimately ended up using my life's experiences to help heal others by leading Bible studies, volunteering to be a summer camp counselor at a church-sponsored kids camp, and mentoring female inmates through the prison ministry Friends in Transition. For awhile, I helped facilitate a class called "Turning Point" for people with life-controlling problems.
In the meantime, God gave me a wonderful man, a ministry, and a life I never thought possible. My husband and I pray every day that God will keep us on His path, no matter WHAT it takes, because we LIVE to serve Him. Halleluyah!