Song of Gratitude: Part 2

After yesterday's post, I don't want anyone to get the impression that I grew up in this terrible home.  That isn't true at all.  My parents were always very supportive...and still to this day, I go to my parents to hear those words of support.  But Christ was not the center of our home...mostly because my family didn't know Christ.  But despite that, I grew up in a loving home, with parents who cared deeply for their children.  We spent lots of time doing fun family things, taking family vacations, going on fun outings, my Mom used to make elaborate cakes for my birthday...a tradition passed down.  My Dad carted us from sporting event to after-school activities, even if we did have to listen to Car Talk on the way.  :)  Not a bad childhood by any stretch of the imagination.

We also went to church my whole life...but that church didn't recognize the Bible as authoritative.  I think they did in the denomination's doctrinal statement, but when it came to reality, not so much.  Being a good person was what was important.

I don't want to speak for my parents here, but I'm going to.  :)  My Mom would say that she didn't become a Christian until after I did, and my Dad had heard and accepted the gospel earlier in life, but didn't put Christ first until about that same time.  My parents had began to study the actual Bible at a study at the church we attended, and eventually left to go to a church that did hold to the authority of the Bible.  Then what happened next is pretty astonishing.  After a couple of years attending that church, they attended the Missions Conference held at the church and knew God was calling them to the mission field.  And a couple of years later they left and went to Bolivia, and today, are in Southern Spain today ministering to the North African population.

As an adult, I have had the privilege of witnessing the spiritual growth, and sacrifices they have made for the Gospel.  Not a lot of grandparents are willing to let their grand-kids move away (without a fight anyway), let alone being willing to move to the other side of the world, only seeing them for a month a year.  I watched them sell most of their belonging at a series of garage sales, and the house that they had spent quite a while saving to buy.  Now, I get to hear the amazing stories of the North African church prospering and becoming independent, and I am so glad my parents get to be a part of that.  I am sure that if my parents could reverse the clock, they would wish for another chance at raising a family, but God uses all things to His glory, and the transformations in my parent's life has definitely brought Him glory.

BTW--I have kept from using proper names for the privacy of the first family and the security of my parents...It would be great if you would make sure to do the same if you comment.  :) 

A Song of Gratitude: Part 1

The new church we are attending has asked me to do a short bio for their monthly womens newsletter.  It is because I am the newest woman in the church, probably, and no one knows much about me.  Anyway, I am trying to write two paragraphs summarizing my life up to this point.  As I attempt this short-winded feat, I am constantly thinking of all the people who gave of themselves so I could be where I am today.  I have gotten to be loved on by some pretty amazing people in my relatively short life time.  So I'm going to spend today telling you about one family...in hopes to follow it with others.

My Senior year of high school...a pretty selfish time in the life of Katie Branson.  Katie mainly cared about one thing...Katie.  I did some "good" things that year...and even hung out with the "good" crowd most of the time.  I can not say this is any of my doing though...I just really wasn't interested in partying.  If I had been, I'm sure that is where I would have been.  But this isn't about me.  :)

Calculus class...senior year.  After the first few weeks I began to notice a guy in class.  I couldn't have told you what it was at the time, but looking back, he had peace.  I'm sure he also cared what others thought of him, but not like most people.  It didn't seem to be ruling his life.  He had something that I didn't and I wasn't sure what it was...I just knew he was different.

A few months later as I was talking to him and he asked me where I was going when I died.  Going to church my whole life, but never cracking the Bible, my view of God rested on I'm not sure what, but anyway, I was somehow sure that a loving God wouldn't send people to hell.  He responded in a very strange way.  He told me that the Bible didn't say that.  Interesting thought, having an authority outside of yourself.  As the conversation finished and he explained what the Bible did say, I remembered hearing that same thing at a Baptist youth event I had gone to in Middle School.  "Oh, yeah, I know that."  I can't remember the exact wording, but it was something like that, because, I knew everything then.

As life progressed and I did crack the Bible, I did start learning what it actually said, and I also began dating this guy.  Now if I'm his parents, this is not a desirable situation to be sure...I am not cream of the crop here, and I am pretty much as selfish as people got, but I am immensely grateful to them.  I am in tears I am so grateful to them.  Not for letting me date their son, but for letting me glimpse into their lives.  For the first time in my life I got to peer into the inner-workings of a functional family.  A family where the kids respected their parents, and the parents respected their children.  In fact the entire time I knew this guy, I never heard him speak even a slightly bad word of his mom or dad.  They spent time together...the Bible really was their authority in life...and they genuinely loved others.  This stuff was all foreign to me, I really didn't know families could actually function that way.

Today, I'm sure their family is much the same as it was, healthy, loving people, loving God.  And I know that this side of Heaven, they won't see any reward for loving on me, and allowing me to be part of their lives, but I am immensely grateful...and my family is too.  Without them I wouldn't even know what a family living for God would look like.  But today I think of their example regularly, praying for the strength to love like that.  It is also unlikely that they will read this, but if by chance they do, Thank you.