Thursday, February 13, 2014


So, in an effort to be absolutely vague and not forthcoming, a prompt from an application I have asked me for my Christian Testimony. I thought I'd share it here.

"I've always talked to God.

Even though my family didn't talk about God, I always knew He was there. We talked about everything, starting when I was about...four? Five? My mom taught me quietly about God in window moments, but it was my grandmother who showed me that God was real and He was Life. In our summer visits to Georgia, I learned that for some people, God was always there--church was a part of everyday life. I remember the first time I heard a Baptist hymn--I could barely see over the pew, but I sure could hear the song story of the rugged cross.

Sometime around middle school, while my nightly conversations with God changed topics from stuffed bears and tupperware snacks to peer pressure and pleas for acceptance, I found friends who invited me to Immanuel Baptist Church. I spent time in the youth group there and went to church every Sunday, learning for the first time about baptism and about who Jesus really was. I was 13 when I asked Jesus to come into my heart, and was baptized in the church by Pastor Jeremy. I still have my first bible, given to me by my mom that day; I remember the piano and the blue carpet and the white robe, and the water that refreshed my spirit.

Walking with God as a teenager with little adult-family spiritual guidance can be a bit vacuous--I remember thinking at times, "Well, what do I now? Now that I'm baptized? What is my calling? What IS a calling?" But I kept going to church, and sometimes would visit other churches to try them on, like a glove--searching for a warm fit. My heart would always return to the roots of my childhood, however, with the thick blue Baptist hymnal blending in with the new, modern music--words projected on the screen--My God is an Awesome God.

Going to college at UCLA was, in a word, overwhelming. My campus was the size of our town, and friendliness was a hot commodity, rare and cherished when one could find it. I immediately sought out refuge in the church, and became an active member of Campus Crusade for Christ. It was there I found my roommates for the years to come, there I found friends and potlucks and Bible studies to counter the frat parties and sporting events that were not a part of my social circle. Being a music major, I was asked to sing at an Episcopalian church on the 3rd Street Promenade every Sunday; having no car, I would hop a bus with the other college students, or homeless women carrying bird cages, or older men heading to the veteran's hospital and looking slightly lost, and go to church. Later, a Catholic church asked me to sing in their afternoon services; and with my Crusade Bible studies, I soon found Sundays filled with worship from morning to evening. I learned a lot about the two denominations I interacted with, and while I remained at heart Southern Baptist (with a slight emphasis on the Southern), I appreciated the other faiths and their differences--learning that how God speaks to one may not be how He speaks to all. I remember feeling so glad to know that He knew so many "languages", and that His presence was truly there for all who were seeking. The building was just the receptacle.

After college, I had several job offers and a few grad school offers from many places in Southern California that were part of the larger LA area; but my heart wanted to come home. I'm truly a desert dweller, and even more truly a small-town person. I got a job with the local school district teaching elementary music, and met my future husband. He was and is a devout servant of the Lord, and we have been married 12 years and are raising five beautiful children. When our fourth was born, I left work to be a stay-at-home mother for the next five years. My husband's extended family is quite large, and meets for worship in the homes of different family members almost every Sunday--but it is our family's daily walk with God that has been the glue of our marriage. My children go to Sunday school at the Nazarene Church, and have been to Immanuel's summer vacation Bible school every year for a decade. We read the Bible together frequently, and my son has aspirations to be a priest and perhaps attend the College of the Ozarks in Missouri, where our family has deep religious ties.

In fact, the most spiritually trying time of my life came when my priest-aspiring son was born in 2002. Daniel was born with the fatal heart defect of TGA (transposition of the great arteries). They flew him to Loma Linda ten hours after his birth, and he underwent two open heart surgeries in the first six weeks of his life. I wore out my knees with prayer during those weeks, and knew God was listenig when our surgeon asked if he could pray with us. I sang "The Lord is in His Holy Temple," "Amazing Grace," and "Everything's Alright in my Father's House" over and over again to my son; soon, the doctors' asked us to stay in and sing through Daniel's daily procedures, because our hymns stablized his vitals. The hospital staff has us record our songs so they could play them through the surgeries. They asked us to visit other babies in the NICU and sing to them. I read at night my Bible and Hinds Feet in High Places, finding comfort in the allegory of Much Afraid and trying desparately to not BE Much Afraid. God delivered, as He promises He will, and let Daniel stay with us--a gift that I give thanks for every day. My personal rainbow.

I began my testimony with the sentence "I've always talked to God," and that holds true today as it did 30 years ago, when our conversation began. His faithfulness to me, to my family, to my children is a constant source of wonder and strength to me. The opportunity to share this has been meaningful, and I give thanks to Him as I trace His line through my life--How Great Thou Art."

1 comment:

  1. Somehow, I missed this post. Thank you for sharing Marla. What a beautiful post. What is even more beautiful is I see you so much in here. It isn't just words on a screen but actual living testimony. ((()))