Confidence and Peace I Never Expected

January 22, 2024

Confidence and Peace I Never Expected

I was born into a large extended family whose lives revolved around church. Both sets of my grandparents started attending the Apostolic Faith when my parents were young, and most of my relatives were saved and worshiped there too. 

My mother had been raised in a family that sang together. So as I was growing up, whenever her side of the family was together, my aunt or grandmother would invariably sit down at the piano and start to play. Everyone would gravitate to the piano and we would spend hours singing in four-part harmony. I loved it! An unspoken rule was that you never sang the same part as whoever was next to you. My siblings and I sang together as well. From early on, the message of those Gospel songs touched my heart. My parents also faithfully took us to church and Sunday school, and encouraged us to memorize chapters of the Bible. 

In spite of all of that, some situations came up that troubled me and made me feel that I needed help from the Lord. I could see a contrast in the way people lived—those who loved the Lord and those who did not. There was peace and love in the lives of some of my family, and I wanted what they had. When I was about seven years old, I prayed after a children’s service in Medford, Oregon, and the Lord met me in such a special way. I’ve never been able to forget the peace that came into my heart. I knew God was real and could hear and answer my prayers. When it was time to go home, I did not want to leave the altar of prayer. 

A month before I turned thirteen years old, our family moved to Portland, Oregon, and during that transition I ended up switching to a new school four times. That was extremely difficult for me because I was very shy. In the moments when I felt alone, I would desperately pray for help and could feel the Lord’s presence with me.

God provided me with good Christian friends as I entered my high school years, and my social life revolved around church. The young people were really seeking the Lord and it was a great time. Among my friends at school, there was also a “Jesus movement” going on that was kind of a fad, but what I was experiencing wasn’t a passing fad. The Lord was leading me along. During that time, as I was praying with my friends one day, He sanctified me. 

I still had some growing up to do in those years, and learned a few lessons the hard way. A couple of times, I waivered in my convictions, wanting to fit in and please my friends, but I quickly found out that didn’t pay. I’m so thankful the Lord found ways to keep me on track. I really wanted to be kept.

At one point, several of my friends chose to turn away from the Lord and they invited me to join them in activities that I knew I shouldn’t do. The “Jesus movement” had come and gone, and I felt a responsibility to show them that what I had was real. I thought, What if I am responsible for their souls? And if I turn back on the Lord now, what if I never again feel what I felt as a young child? During those years there were some struggles and times of loneliness, but the Lord helped me through that too.

The camp meeting after I graduated from high school, I had the opportunity to move to Dallas, Oregon, and help out with the Sunday school there. The pastor was Brother Earl Phillips and one of his daughters was my very close friend, and they invited me to move in with them. When I talked to my pastor, Brother Loyce Carver, about moving, he suggested I pray about it. He mentioned that sometimes people move about and lack direction, and that can become a lifelong pattern. He said that if I were going somewhere to help, responsibility came with that decision, and that I should be dependable. I prayed and asked the Lord to direct my future. As I was seeking Him quietly by myself at the altar, once again He met me in a very special way. He filled me with His Holy Spirit. A month later, I relocated to Dallas and moved in with the Phillips family.

Other than the assurance that the Lord was leading me to move, I didn’t have much of a plan after I arrived. However, the Lord did have a plan. I had more growing up to do and needed to learn some patience. I was encouraged by the Phillips to “seek first the kingdom of God” and to “delight thyself in the Lord.” They told me not to just talk about it, but to actually trust the Lord with my life and wait on Him. Those were invaluable lessons.

In time, the Lord brought the man I was to marry right into the Dallas church on a Sunday morning. Darrel had recently been saved and was attending college nearby, and he soon became part of my group of friends at church. Though I never believed in fairy tales about marriage, I had witnessed people in loving relationships and I longed for that. I dearly loved one of my grandfathers and was using his godly, loving example as a pattern for what I was looking for. Darrel and I both spent time in prayer, making sure we belonged together, and God was so good. He answered my prayers beyond my expectations. Darrel and I married on Valentine’s Day in 1976 and have been blessed in so many ways over the years.

We continued living in Dallas and had a daughter and then a son. When our children were young, we were blessed to have my Grandma Friesen spend time in our home. She had experienced tragedy as a very young woman; her mother and two sisters died of tuberculosis in her care. My grandma also contracted the disease but was miraculously healed of it. She would tell us how her mother was such an encouragement in spite of her circumstances. Later, Grandma suffered more loss when two of her adult children died suddenly of heart attacks, and soon after, her own husband passed away. Despite all of that, she said she had so much to be thankful for. I marveled at her attitude! I was blessed by those testimonies.

I knew from my grandma’s experiences that hard times can come to good people, but somehow I still expected that if we did all the right things, nothing bad would happen to our little family. However, when our children were still young, God allowed something to come our way that was very difficult. Once again, I desperately sought the Lord over a period of several months. One day, He showed me that He was aware of our situation and understood our pain and sorrow. With that, the heaviness lifted a little. At camp meeting that year, the Lord encouraged me with the words of a song, “God will make this trial a blessing, and the whole wide world will see.” I didn’t care about the whole wide world seeing, but was grateful for the peace and assurance that our family would be okay. God also gave me the promise that He would keep that which I had committed unto Him. Many years later, I can say that He has kept His Word on all accounts. I never thought any trial could be a blessing, but through that experience I learned that I really can trust God with everything that is precious to me. God has been so faithful.

In 2014, I faced a different type of trial. On the last Friday of camp meeting, I was watching all of my grandchildren and some children from our extended family when I tripped on the threshold of a door and severely broke my ankle. It was scary, but the Lord was right there to help. I ended up having a couple of surgeries, was in a wheelchair for three months, and then needed a lot of physical therapy. It was hard to go through, but the Lord showed me His love in many ways. I was grateful that I never had infections or any other complications. Friends and family were so kind to help by visiting, bringing meals, and offering other types of support. I also appreciate that the experience made me aware of physical challenges that others face all the time.

At a recent doctor’s appointment, after checking my ankle the doctor said, “You know, this is really a good healing. I see this injury all the time, and I don’t see it heal up the way yours has.” Right then, I thanked the Lord again. When I hurt my leg, I didn’t know if there would be permanent damage or how it might affect our lives. I’m thankful that the Lord had a plan and that my ankle healed well, and I don’t want to take that for granted.

My life has been so blessed. The Lord took a timid, insecure child and has given me a confidence and peace that I never expected. I’m protective of what He has done for me; I would not trade that for anything. He has led me so far, and by His grace, I want to be faithful all the days of my life and to be the type of godly example that others were to me.

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