The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Jesus laid this rich tapestry out through all of the characters in this story. From the patient and loving father, to the wild and wayward son, I think it portrays our Papa God's heart for his children in such a beautiful way. My favorite part is to place myself in the father's place when he would've seen his son coming back from afar. There was no anger in his heart for his son making the right choice but only joy and thankfulness that he was coming home. For that son to be received back into his father's arms with only a loving heart wiped away all of his past mistakes.
Holly Frick's Brave Story is so very similar. I cried tears of joy reading it and I'm sure you will too. It's such an absolute amazing story of the Father's forgiveness, His grace and His mercy. And what a blessing it is for her to have the same attributes in her earthly father as well.
I was born in Canada and we eventually moved back to the states where I grew up in a small town in Central Kansas. My dad was a devoted Southern Baptist Pastor and my mom was a nurse. I grew up going to church every Sunday (twice a day) and on Wednesday nights as well. I loved my Youth group; I looked forward to singing on Sundays, summer mission trips, ministries, church camps; I loved being involved in my dad’s church. It wasn’t the easiest being a pastor’s kid, everyone was always looking at you and your family waiting for you to mess up or to make some mistake, but I wouldn’t trade my childhood and all those experiences for anything. My family and my church family was teaching me about God and having that relationship with him and laying down the foundation for my life.
My senior year of high school, I met a guy who eventually became my husband. He was pretty much the opposite of everything I had ever known. We were completely unevenly yoked and over time my focus became more of him and my new found freedom so to speak and less of God. I began to slowly step away from my walk with Christ and became very complacent with my faith. It saddens me to openly say that….but my focus really did became less and less of God and more and more of me. I hadn’t necessarily turned my back on God or my faith, but I wasn’t spending any time with him and there was certainly little, if any focus on Him. How blessed are we that even in times where we are completely undeserving of His love and grace; he stills love us and forgives us. His heart was longing for me to turn to Him and to rest in his ever-loving arms.
Over the next several years, I primarily focused on my college and working towards my Masters degree and further building my career. I slowly stopped going to church, my prayers became less and less and my Bible just sat on the bookshelf collecting dust. After six years of marriage, we were blessed with the birth of our son. Even though my family and I hadn’t talked much over those past 6 years, something about my son being born was the beginning of the first step to the reuniting of my family and I. You see, I had moved out of my parent’s home a month after I had graduated from high school. My boyfriend at the time had proposed to me and my parents knew this was not the man I was supposed to marry and in fact they didn’t attend my wedding. Their first born daughter, the oldest of 4 children, and yet despite how much it hurt them not being there, they knew this wasn’t the man for me. I remember my dad telling me he could not walk me down the isle and give me away to someone he knew and felt was not of God’s blessing. My mom and my baby sister didn’t help me pick out my dress or any of my decorations or help even plan my wedding; it was a very emotional time for me and I couldn’t understand why my own family was not supporting me. So the birth of my son was that first step for all of us.
Two years later, on October 23, a week after my son’s 2nd birthday, I found out my husband was having an affair. This completely rocked me to my core. I couldn’t understand how I could be so sure of someone and our entire marriage and yet be so oblivious to him having an affair. I remember sharing with a friend the sacredness of marriage and wedding vows and the only reason I would ever consider divorcing my spouse would be if he physically hurt me or my children or if he had an affair…but that day when my husband confessed to having an affair and I am suddenly faced with the reality of that and knowing I have family; I naturally wanted to try and repair the hurt and all the betrayal for the sake of my family. I wanted to fight to keep my family together. However, I remember sitting on the couch at our first marriage counseling session and my husband was sharing how hurt he was that he was ending this relationship with this woman of 2 months and how she was crying, yet in the same breath he had no remorse for me his wife of almost 8 years and our little family. I just remember thinking there is no way I can ever trust you again, especially after hearing these words come out of your mouth. So that day, I knew we couldn’t fix us and I moved forward with beginning our divorce process. I remember not telling my family for two months, in fact I faked sick for Thanksgiving and Christmas because I was afraid I would hear them say “ I told you so”, so I avoided telling them anything at all. My brother called me Christmas morning and as he started talking I knew he knew there was more than me just not being home for the holidays. At that moment, I completely fell apart and told him everything. Over the course of the next several years, I every once in a while would read scripture or I would pray for whatever situation I was in or if I needed something and occasionally attended church, but nothing regularly.
Then Wednesday, July 23rd at 5:38 PM, my entire world came crashing down. “All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things remain” Hebrews 12:27. This verse couldn’t have been truer for what I was about to go through in my life. I was completely shaken, beaten down, broken all over again; but this time it was worst. I found myself completely over taken with fear and questioning God “Why me, why me God? Have I not suffered enough pain these last several years, that now you want to take my son away”? That day my ex-husband, who had left me and my son 5 years ago and moved 18 hours away, had served me with custody papers and was wanting full custody of our son. He was proposing to move him several states away from the only home he had ever known and away from all his family. I had never before felt more of an attack from the enemy than I did that day. I just fell to the ground on my knees bawling feeling completely defeated. I didn’t even know what to do at that point. The only thing I knew was to call my dad. All my life he had been that person I could go to for whatever and he would smother me in love and scripture and prayer and I hadn’t had that from him in almost 12 years. But I knew I needed him at that moment!! Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
For the next several days, my family, my entire community, my church; everyone all pulled together to help me. There were so many prayers over my son and I; several letters and emails and phone calls all sent to the judge on my behalf. I never could have imagined that much love from so many people. That following Monday, at 11:00 AM my entire family sat in the park across from the court house and my dad read the following scripture, Ephesians 6:10-17 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." He then closed in prayer and we proceeded to the courtroom. The judge did end up granting me full custody of my son.
That day on July 23rd was the turning point in my walk with Christ. My life was shook up, my fears were smothering me, my heart was broken, I was beat down, stomped on, completely shattered; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26. As the Lord continued to heal my heart, my faith grew bigger than any storm I was going to encounter. “Greater is He who is in us, then who can be against us.” Romans 8:31. God grew me through so much these past several years of my life. He used what I went through and redeemed it. He made me so much stronger and gave me hope. He forgave me!!! A few years later, I met my amazing husband. We have been blessed with 2 more children and boy and a little girl. I left my corporate job and moved to the family farm where I get to spend my days helping my husband run the farm and ranch and raise our children together. We also have an amazing church family and community.
I know God has huge plans for me. I feel him working daily in my life and pushing me to share more and do more. I am not satisfied just being a “surface level” Christian. I don’t want to live my life just going through the motions; you go to church on Sunday, you read your Bible here and there. No, I want more. I don’t want to just “know” about God, I want to truly “know” Him! I want to be that person that draws people to the Kingdom of God. I think a lot about what if I had continued on living the way I was living and God never had that chapter in my life where I was faced with a custody battle… I may have continued on living a life of not putting God first. My son may have continued growing up just knowing there is a God, but not really “knowing” Him and having a relationship with Him. That hurts me deeply knowing that because of me, my children may have never come to know Christ. I daily crave me some Jesus time!! I want time in scripture and to be in fervent prayer… “Spiritual maturity will not just happen, you have to renew your mind through marinating in God’s word." I want to be #SoldOut on the Lord, daily immersing myself in his word and in prayer. I want to know Him more. I want to always seek him first in all I do. I pray I am a light for others and I pray my children come to know Him.