Every time that we post these Brave Stories we pray over the ones who's eyes will read it. If you're in a dark place where you feel like God is far away, we want this to be the sign or the words that will let you know that He's still there. He's the creator of the universe, He set the stars in the sky and told the moon what to do, but do you know that He cares about you. He cares about if you'll make friends when you're the new kid as school, He cares about you when you're trying to get your first job or get into college, He cares about you when you make bad choices and have to face the consequences and He cares about who will come into your life. If any of the words in our blog can bring one person, just one person, closer to God or even just introduce them to who God really, then this has all been worth it! The story you're about to read is one of those stories that will hit some heart strings. I'm sure we've all dealt with bad choices that we've made in the past, but it's not looking back and feeling ashamed that will bring about a change in our lives, it's looking forward into what God has for us and letting Him into our messes. He wants to come in and be the comfort and that peace that we are longing for. This is McKenzi Stone's Brave Story and we are so honored that she chose us to share it!
I’ve always been a rebel, in the truest sense of the word. Now I say this as part of my identity but let me tell you, this has not always been a good thing. I inflicted a lot of unnecessary heartache on people that I love and care about because of the carelessness of my actions. The God that we serve is a redeemer. He doesn’t give up even when we stray, even when we ignore His whispers, even when we outrightly disobey. He always waits patiently for us to surrender.
My story starts out just like so many others but instead of calling this my Brave Story, I more accurately refer to this as my Grace Story. I was raised in a Christian home by strong, Godly parents who worked hard to teach me right from wrong and to instill an exemplary work ethic and respectful attitude in their blatantly rebellious first born. It is kind of a joke in our family that my siblings are lucky to even have been born because if my parents would have ever imagined that the remaining three children would be as much work as I was (they weren’t), they would have certainly quit after me. Sometimes, even thinking back on my childhood, I cringe remembering all of the havoc that I wreaked! Don’t get me wrong, I had a phenomenal upbringing. I lived on a farm/ranch and had animals and played sports and did just about anything a kid could dream of doing. However, from a young age I can remember quite often butting heads with my parents, in particularly my mom. At that age I was probably described as “naughty” or “strong-willed”. My head strong attitude eventually turned into shear rebellion as I progressed into my teenage years. From about 8th grade to mid-way through my senior year, I have a hard time identifying with myself as the same person that I am now. Obviously, it was me making the choices that I did for those short years but I look back and think, “Honestly, what was I thinking?” I said and did things that I knew my parents would not approve of. I lied, I went places that I shouldn’t, I associated with people that I shouldn’t have, and all without much of a thought or care.
When I was a senior in high school I had to face my parents one awful February day and tell them that I was pregnant. I was 18 years old, still in high school, and I was going to have a baby. The second my mom knew she pulled me to my knees and we knelt in the living room of our house and we both just called (and cried) out to Jesus. There was about a month gap from the time I knew until the time I told my parents and that was probably the most miserable part of the whole deal. After my mom and dad were aware, it was like a weight had been lifted. It didn’t make anything better but it certainly made it bearable because of the fact that I didn’t have to hide it from them anymore. I remember being numb for a while. In the months leading up to my son being born I basically just kept to myself. I finished high school and endured the heat of the summer and in September of 2010 my precious, unexpected, tiny best friend was born. I have never really put the feelings into words that I felt from that day moving forward. Every time I’ve tried I could never come up with anything that I felt did it justice. I just knew that this was where God needed me to be. In my earliest days of being a mom I can remember just talking to God and telling Him, “I know this is what you want for my life, I know that I am meant to be this boy’s mama.” I had such a strong sense of direction that I hadn’t felt until I became a mom. I was fierce when it came to protecting my child and doing what was best for him. I called on God so often in those early days of Cash’s life because I knew that if I didn't depend in His wisdom there was no way I could make the right choices. After all, I was an 18 year old girl dealing with some big stuff.
During this tumultuous time in my life, I never turned my back on God. I just basically took a back seat in my faith. Since coming out on the other side of all of this, one thing that I learned about myself is that I have a tendency to sit back on my haunches when it comes to my faith, more specifically my prayer life. My mom and her sisters and best friend, my aunts, are some of the most fervent prayer warriors a person could ever meet. I have known this and been blessed by this for my entire life. Because of that I often find myself texting or calling in prayer requests to them and then sitting back and waiting for it to happen. I have caught myself being too dependent on other people to pray for things that I desperately want. I used to think of God in terms of a genie in a bottle. I subconsciously thought that if I don't out rightly converse with God about something, then I can save myself from having to be angry with Him later if my wish isn’t granted. Because I know this and am aware of this about myself, I make it a point each day to wake up and start my conversation with God. We basically talk all day. “God, what should I make for lunch?” Just kidding, but I know myself well enough to know that if I wait until the end of the day to make time for God then I’ll fall into bed and be asleep before I make it through the first sentence.
After Cash was born I thought a lot about what I wanted my life to look like in the future and where this little boy and I would end up in 2, 5, and even 10 years. There would be times where I would let my mind wander and I’d become overwhelmed with fear that I wouldn’t be able to find someone to love us both. After all, we came as a package deal. I knew people with children found love all the time but there was just this fear of bringing someone foreign into my child’s life. I didn’t want to confuse Cash if perhaps a relationship didn’t work out and I certainly did not want to force responsibilities on someone that wasn’t ready for them. After some diligent praying and also some interesting bumps in the road, Brett Stone walked into our lives when Cash was almost a year old.
I will be the first person to admit that things were not always a cake walk in our relationship. However, one thing held true, Brett loved my son as if he were his own flesh in blood. Even when things were rocky in our young and complicated relationship, Brett’s love and adoration for Cash never faltered. It was then that I finally let myself fully commit to building a future with that handsome cowboy. He and his family are such a sweet answer to my prayers and we have told Cash for as long as he has been able to understand how extremely lucky he is to have so many people that love and care for him.
Our life now is pretty special, my husband works at a job that he loves in order to provide for our family. I am able to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for my life which is being a mom. Cash is now five and is a big brother to his baby sister, Kennisyn, who will soon be 8 months old.
I am nowhere near where I want to be in terms of the depth of my faith. I know I’ll never reach a point where I become complacent in my walk with Christ because He always has more to give, more for me to learn, and more reasons for me to live for HIM! There has certainly been times when it’s only been me and God. He has seen me at my worst and given me the wisdom and grace to get through it all. Because of that, God definitely deserves my heart and full attention when I’m at my best!
There is a song by Matthew West called Grace Wins. If you haven’t heard it you need to go listen to it, immediately! That song just speaks to my soul. The first few times I heard it, tears just streamed down my face. Every.single.word struck something inside of me. I could post every single lyric and caption it as my favorite part but instead I chose to narrow it down to this, “Words can’t describe the way it feels when mercy floods a thirsty soul. A broken side begins to heal and Grace returns what guilt has stole.” God’s grace flooded my soul and even though I don’t deserve it, that same Grace keeps redeeming me time and time again. Most importantly, I am not who I am today because of anything that I did on my own. God’s Grace wins every time.