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This is Tami’s testimony: You can get to her blog HERE

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This is a bare-bones outline of my testimony. To tell the entire story would take a very thick book! Bouts with alcohol, suicide attempts, molest, rape, divorces, adultery, abandonment, infidelity, the suicide of my “first love,” my mom’s death, the end of my relationship with my step-dad. Each of these has pages and pages to the story because I learned so much from each trial. I don’t know how to reduce it to a “before Jesus/after Jesus” thing, because there was no clear line between the two. He’s woven in and out throughout the 47 years since I first “gave my heart to Him.”

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I “gave my heart to Jesus” at seven. My family wasn’t “religious,” though and when we moved from Orland (where I was saved), we didn’t attend church much. The Bible was not a part of our lives. My dad drank and worked sometimes, Mom worked nights, went to school during the day, and slept when she wasn’t doing homework.

At 11 I started drinking when I went to visit my cousin in Orland. When I was 12, I had a bout with alcohol poisoning (though no one was aware of the dangers of this). God spared my life, and I began to go to church alone.

High school was a mixture of being a “good Christian girl” when at church (which was Sunday morning and evening, a Tuesday morning prayer breakfast, Wednesday night prayer meeting, and Thursday night Word of Life club), then trying to live that out in a crazy house at home.

Weekends I dated guys…lots of guys. I needed love. Although I kept my nose fairly clean during those years, I smoked – which I was sure made God really mad at me and was the reason He didn’t reach into my family and fix us.

Although we were baptized as a family when I was 16, my dad soon returned to alcohol…and my little brother to drugs.

I went to Bible college right out of high school, where I met a fellow. He took me out for my birthday at the beginning of November – and we were married at the end of January. After the incident with the guy I met at church camp who asked me to marry him, then invited me to his marriage four months later, I wanted to make sure this one didn’t “get away.” He didn’t and the only good thing that came from the marriage is my oldest son.

At 18, I got into drugs and began drinking again. Church hadn’t “worked” for me, so I dumped it.

At 20, I remarried. This was a nightmare of a marriage – ten years of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. These are the years of learning that God provides, heals, defends, protects…and the beginning of learning that He loved me.

At 29, I first learned that God actually speaks to us…right out of the Bible…and right in our heads! My kids and I fled to the women’s refuge and my Bible from that time reads like my diary.

Because the church I attended at the time was how I began to see the danger of my situation, they were very important to me. It was at their recommendation that we went to the refuge and filed for a restraining order.

Not knowing that God would provide for us, I went back to my husband for several months before God finally cleared the way for us to move away from this man and his poverty-level trailer he’d settled us in out in the boondocks. (No heat, no hot water, holes in the floor big enough to crawl through, a front door that wouldn’t latch so our chickens got into the house all the time, no propane to cook with…and four kids). God removed us from there to a new townhouse in town.

Then I got called to the pastor’s office (a fellow with whom I’d never spoken), and told that I was setting a bad example for others. I was told that I could not serve in any ministry there anymore. No offer of someone to walk beside me through what I was dealing with – just dumped.

While the counselors my husband and I saw stated that church policy did not permit them to give any support to either party in our court cases, one of the two wrote a letter to the court to show the “fine” character of my ex-husband. This was a custody battle. That letter cost me the custody of my kids for three years…and brought an element of sleaze into two of my kids lives that lingers to this day (through his girlfriend). More hurt, more confusion about God and “oh how He loves me.” Really? This is love? Never mind. I can do without.

The pain was so intense that I left church…and did not return for another decade. There were two more marriages and two more kids in the meantime. It wasn’t until my current marriage (three years in) was in a shambles. We’d separated and I was not about to go back.

I called a pastor at a random church for help. He agreed to counsel us. His time yielded some fruit (we’re still together!), but the counsel he gave was his own – not God’s. We began attending some marriage classes, and an “Experiencing God” class. During this class, my oldest daughter ran away from home – no note.

We eventually landed at the church we now attend. We’ve been there since 2000 or 2001.

No matter what else goes on, I know that I am greatly loved and highly favored of the Lord. I’ve learned to look beyond the circumstances (stuff happens when you live in a fallen world), and keep my eyes focused on Him. He’s had to be my all-in-all. No one else close to me values me very much due to their own brokenness. I’ve learned to crawl into my Papa God’s lap when things are tough, for there are few people who feel the need to comfort or encourage.

Without God, I’d be suicidal most of the time! I know that the reason for my story is to offer hope to those without. I can minister to people in nearly every walk of life for I’ve “been there, done that, and bought all the souvenirs.” Rarely does a week go by that I don’t draw on what I’ve learned from God through my various trials and hard times. In a weird way, it’s nice to know that all the garbage I lived through has value today as I minister to folks along the way.