Everyone has a testimony.
That is, everyone can testify to the power and glory of YHVH he or she has witnessed in his or her life. I have met precious young women being raised in righteousness who, when asked to share their stories, shrug and claim they don’t really have one. But they do! You do! Just because you haven’t reveled in and been saved out of our sinful culture doesn’t mean you don’t have a story. I encourage you to spend some time thinking and praying about this and to be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope within you.
Now, as for my story; this part is difficult for me. In no way do I want to disrespect my parents or to make it sound like my childhood was miserable. I would say that our family life was rich and that my parents imparted many worthy qualities to my siblings and me, but being a rather introspective and analytical person, well established in marriage and a family of my own, I can’t help but consider what parts of my childhood I do and don’t want to see repeated in my new family.
When I was very young my family attended church for a couple years. We stopped celebrating Christmas and other holidays that my parents considered pagan, stopped eating pork, began keeping the Sabbath and Feasts. My parents never officially joined that church, stopped attending the services and somehow within a few years there was little evidence in our home of what they claimed to believe. We never went back to Christmas and all that but Saturdays we did yard and housework and had a big lunch of bacon and eggs. Mom would discuss God with you (at length!) if you had questions, as she did with strangers and friends but I don’t remember anyone reading the Bible, praying or giving Biblical instruction.
Through my teen years it was my understanding that Mom (Dad never seemed to have an opinion) believed in the God the Bible spoke of but it was her faith alone and not something she encouraged or instructed us in. I was turned off by what I considered hypocrisy. I believed there was a god and that the Bible spoke of Him because I gleaned that much but I never knew him or considered His ways.
When I was eighteen I was working my first job, had just gotten my driver’s license, and in my free time I began going regularly to hang out with my “friends” in the nearby big city. I didn’t consider myself promiscuous (compared with most of the girls I knew – NOT a reliable benchmark!), but I was an admitted flirt. I simply loved the attention I could get from guys and as soon as I was bored with one I would look to another for attention. The guys I hung out with were more than willing to give it. I hadn’t been taught that I was courting disaster. It was accepted by everyone I knew that this was just what teenagers did.
While at work, I usually had an earful of passionate Christian discussions or sermons from a friend who had recently turned his life over to YHVH. Clint talked regularly about the little non-denominational church he went to and finally talked me into attending one Sunday night. Sunday nights I hung out downtown anyway and the place where they met was only a couple blocks away. That was the first time I ever really heard about Yeshua (we called him Jesus then) and his death on the cross. I was convicted. You mean this guy died just for ME? I can’t say I was “saved” that night but I will say I began to seriously consider my life in the light of truth but this was not enough to really change my behavior. I just felt worse about the things I did.
My mother’s philosophy on raising teens had a lot to do with letting us alone to discover things for ourselves. To trust us unless we proved ourselves untrustworthy (to us that meant, “Do whatever you want, just don’t let Mom catch you,” – kids learn this at a very young age!). Mom and I have since discussed this to some extent (we’re rather good friends now, though it was rough for some years while it dawned on me that parents aren’t perfect and began walking in forgiveness toward her). She says she didn’t want us to just believe what she told us, but learn about and come to the truth ourselves. In my current understanding, this is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Proverbs 22:6 says to train up a child in the way he should go. Proverbs 29:15 says that a child left to himself brings his mother to shame. Deuteronomy 6 says we are to keep YHVH’s instructions (Torah) and to teach them diligently to our children. If it were better for children to be alone to figure things out for themselves, why did YHVH create the family structure? Why do children need parents?
There seems to be some conflict in my mother’s heart about this. She is disappointed now in her children and what we have each become, as though she did have some idea in mind all along of what family should be and hoped we would find it on our own. She and Dad love and appreciate us as individuals and are pleased to see my brother providing for his family, my sister and I staying at home with our children and enjoying them. But we all have considerably different ideas of who YHVH is and what he expects of us. I am now the mother of seven children, aged 10 months to 12 years.
Bobby and I have been married 12 years. I would not undo what Father has done in my life because I wouldn’t be the person I am today but please don’t start a family the way I did! Father has something much, much better in mind. Going back to when I first heard about Yeshua … well, I found myself pregnant a few months later. (Remember, a child left to herself brings her mother to shame. Oh what a miserable time!) Bobby and I married just a month before Farra was born. I knew Bobby was not the man with whom I would have chosen to spend my life but I had never really given any thought to that and as far as I was concerned it was too late: we were having a child together and we would be married. He was obliging.
The first few years of our marriage were pretty bad. Bobby stopped pretending to serve YHVH; my faith grew in leaps and bounds as I sought to understand Father’s will for me and my uncaring, unbelieving, unfaithful husband. I learned how to listen to the Holy Spirit each and every day, every moment. I learned what love and forgiveness really are and how Father can use them in one spouse to bring healing to the other. Just about the time our third child was born Bobby committed his life to YHVH, to me and our children. YHVH has restored our family and is even “restoring the years the locusts have eaten.” I have definitely been blessed by the fact that Bobby embraced from the beginning my staying at home, homeschooling and homebirth. We now see eye-to-eye on the Torah, the roles of husbands and wives and the fact that we should train up our children in the way that they should go.
Our respective unrighteous upbringings don’t make it easy, however! I battle every day with habits I was raised with that the world considers normal and yet the Bible reveals are destructive. In Messiah I have seen victory. The days I don’t feel like fighting the fight, I do it for my children. I believe that every victory lessens the severity of the battles they will face. If they witness my struggles (which they often do, for they are always with me), see me stop feeling sorry for myself, see me put on an attitude of gratitude, I feel that it must do them some good! I want to be real before them, as well as to instruct and encourage them in the righteousness that comes only with walking humbly before YHVH.
I meet many people who tell me, “Just wait until they are teenagers.” I will not say that our children will not be typical teenagers but I know so many families who have YHVH-fearing, respectful, wonderful children of all ages that I have hope. Thanks to every one of you ladies that contributes to this magazine; your testimonies give me hope! One final word. I read a translation of Psalm 19:7 the other day that put it like this, “…the testimony of YHVH is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.” I immediately thought of SSM and the wisdom that pours forth from you fine ladies because of the testimony of YHVH in your lives, both that which you find in the Bible and also the testimony of Him through your parents.