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At the memorial service for Frances there was a guest there who was invited to give the eulogy.
It was a wonderful surprise to see my youth pastor from high school, Ward Hill.
IMG_1046 [1127794] ward and I He was a great influence for me as a young teen.
My family life was broken and I had a lot of questions to ask him.
When I began to go to the youth group I had no idea what to do or how to act.
Eventually I joined the youth singing group called the open door singers and we traveled all over Oregon for concerts.
It was a good and positive time for me.
Ward was a kind, gentle man. He had a wife with four children and they lived as a family together.
I watched with great amazement how he worked with the children and they worked together as a team in the youth group, then our singing group leaders were also married with two children.
So I was able to see the interaction between ‘a healthy family’.
I lived at home with my mom and sister’s, my dad had left many years before that.
My mom was remarried in my sophomore year of high school and that was both uncomfortable and unsafe.
As a young person I had many questions and many concerns, about life and struggles that were day to day.
At one point in time I met ‘my boyfriend who is now my husband’ and I also gave my life to Jesus and became baptized.
God gave me peace and also a life changing moment after I had said a prayer from my heart.
Testing him. Basically throwing a fleece out to him to see if he KNEW what I needed to believe.
Only a God who knows our hearts could ever answer a prayer like the one I said.
To this day many years later, I believe HE knew I had to have something tangible and real to hold onto in order for me to believe.
The story is in this:
Before I became a Christian.
My view of God was full of skepticism and unbelief.
He was like a Santa who gave things to people when they asked.
He was very far away and not an all knowing, GOD.
Jesus was a man in a story book.
I was not raised in a Christian home. Yet I do remember walking to a small church as a little girl to Sunday school. As I listened to the stories of the bible on flannel graph boards,
God and Jesus were unreachable to me.
They were characters in a hard backed book. I couldn’t touch them or feel them. They were songs sung to the music of an un-tuned piano. Jesus loves the little children… only I was not one of them.
The way God reached out to me is a wonderful and powerful reminder,
that HE does indeed listen to the prayers, of those who do not know Him.
He listens to the heart cries and He is moved with compassion.
In my freshman year of High School, I began to search the meaning of life. We had moved again to a new rental home and another new school. It was at the bus stop while waiting for the bus I would engage in conversation with a girl there. She was an honor student who lived with her parents in a normal stable family. I was very different. I would wear the Diana Ross ratted hair style, fake eye lashes (yes I did say that) and white eye shadow. Every day this girl would ask me questions. Pursuing me. Forcing me to ‘think’ about God and church and life.
Every day I argued with her.
My life experience had been much different than hers.
My concept of ‘love’ was not something she could understand. We were two friends speaking different languages.
She talked often and gave me lots of questions to think about.
As our friendship grew I began to listen to her and then I decided to test her ‘GOD’.
My sister Mary had been gone for many months on the street, living life as a drug addict and runaway. I missed her greatly and wanted desperately to see her. We didn’t know if she dead or alive and it was a heart ache I couldn’t take care of on my own.
I remembered this girl told me ‘GOD hears all prayers’.
I didn’t believe it but what could I lose by not trying?
One night as I was going to bed. Not knowing how to pray or how it all works for Him to hear you.
I prayed a simple prayer. A bold one. A searching from the heart prayer.
I said, “God I would believe, I think I can believe you, if you can find my sister.
The girl tells me you know everything, you see everything. So you should know how to find her. I want her home.
IF you are God. IF you know everything then YOU can bring her home tonight.
When I wake up in the morning I want her sleeping in her own bed. IF you can do that, then I will believe.”
I went to bed and fell into a deep sleep. Unusual for me at that stage of life.
You can imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning, and saw her across the room sleeping in her own bed. The police had found her in the middle of the night and contacted our mother. She had been beaten badly but she was home, sleeping in her bed, in our room.
It was a miraculous reunion of sisters. A cry from a young persons heart to a God who hears.
We were always hopeful she was alive, but never knowing.
Mary didn’t stay at home very long. She left soon after the first night, but my prayer was answered.
Now I had to deal with ‘the girl at the bus stop’. I made the phone call telling her what happened.
She told me about God, church and her youth group.
I believe God knew the only way I would trust, was for Him to show me an answer to a simple prayer.
From a simple heart. HE can do the unimaginable. I trust Him. The journey continues.
The girl at the bus stop is now my sister in law. We married brothers.
The years after God came into my life were not easy. But because of the strength
HE gave I was able to trust Him through the process. He was hope when I felt hopeless.
He was my peace when it wasn’t peaceful. He was love on a Cross saying to me, “I care deeply for you”.
His ways are mysterious and wonderful and I am always in awe of His love.
I have never regretted that first life changing prayer. I hope this finds you encouraged.
Our God is a God who hears the simple prayers of faith.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate it just has to be from the heart.
(I know this was long but the story had to be shared, Frances was my sister in law’s mother.)