As a teenager and one of five children, I grew up in a small town in the upstate of South Carolina and attended a pentecostal church where my parents were members. Being born into a large family, my parents struggled to pay rent and provide food for our family. My Mom always had faith in God, and He always provided for us. She set a huge example for me to see her faith at work. It took me a while to understand where her faith came from in those tough times growing up. We had church service twice on Sunday and once a week on Wednesday where I was very involved in the youth group as well as singing solos and in the church choir. Attending church wasn't an option for me. I believed at a young age in Jesus but didn't feel his spirit and would often wonder what others in the church meant by being filled with the Holy Spirit. In keeping with the doctrines and traditions of the church, I did as I was told adhering to the strict church customs. As a teenager, I was saved and baptized outside in a river, but never felt anything different. I believe I was just joining in with the others, as it was what we were supposed to do to be a Christian.
After I graduated High School, I attended college with financial assistance as the first person in our family to obtain a college degree. While in college, I suffered a breakup my senior year and relocated to Greenville, where I had friends and soon after started going out to night clubs at the influence of others. Before I knew it, I was going out 3 to 4 nights a week and had completely gone away from everything I knew after being brought in a Christian home environment. Drinking was always involved and gradually got out of control. This reckless pattern continued until I was 30 years old when I became pregnant, faced with the pressure of having an abortion or being a single mother. I felt very alone. After giving birth, I lost my job and was forced to find another job with a baby. This was not the girl I knew in the past. She was gone. The depression of raising a baby on my own forced me to find an escape, and so I continued down a destructive path, and I became pregnant again. Once again, I was faced with the pressure of terminating the pregnancy. Through God's will, I had the courage and strength to keep my children and make a living for them. Over time I realized that God was calling me back to him and wanted my attention. He opened my eyes. Along the way, I lost many relationships of those who I thought were my friends.
At the age of 40, I realized that I'm enough. I had lived with the guilt and shame for years that it tortured me daily. God forgave me of all my shortcomings and has placed joy in my heart again. He gave me the complete family I have today with a loving husband plus another son, Christian, who I believe God has sent to us. Today I'm being baptized to show my family and the world that Jesus is my savior and he's rescued me. His spirit lives in me. No matter how far away from God, you go or how much others may persecute or judge you — once you give your heart to God, you will always find peace and rest in him.