My name is Stephanie. I grew up in a small town where I lived most of my life. I started life with some hardships and many problems. My parents divorced and remarried many times. I had many step dads in my younger years. Some of them chose to take advantage of their role in my life and crossed lines that should never have been crossed. My father, on the other hand, raised us and loved us like no one else ever would.
I was a very difficult child. By the age of 13 I had already been sent away four times to homes and places for children who had problems, i.e., drugs, alcohol, running away, etc. I think more than anything I just wanted attention. I was drawn very early to the sexual aspect of life. I believe this was due to the molestation. It made me feel loved. I continued to be very hard on my father for some time, all the while blaming my mother for all that was wrong with me. I could not tell the truth to save my life.
When my parents remarried after many years apart, I really lost it. Plummeting quickly into adulthood, I did not want anyone telling me what was right and wrong because I knew it all and that was that!!!!!!!
At 14 I was stealing cars, drinking and having sex. I truly did not care about myself or anyone else. After spending time in several more treatment centers, I decided to move out of my parents’ home. They were getting a divorce and I knew I was leaving no matter what. They let me go this time.
I moved in with my boyfriend, “Charles”, when I was 15. We wore both young and had an explosive relationship. I was too hardheaded to ask my dad if I could come back home, even after I found out that I was carrying a baby. I chose to stay because I wanted so badly to feel loved. Feeling so afraid of the future and so very alone, I became very depressed. My dad was always my saving grace. He always knew when to call. Three times I was very close to suicide and he would call to check on me before I could complete the attempts. I believe God had my dad calling me even though he does not know to this day that he saved my life back then.
Then came Destany, my 4 lb., 11 oz. beautiful baby girl – the first thing I ever did well in my young life. She started to build a hope in me that I did not know I would ever have. Perfect in every way – not one flaw!
Everything changed on February 2, 1994. “Charles” shot me in the face at close range. †The bullet entered my left eye and ricocheted several times in my head, lodging between two vertebrae in my upper spine. I remember thinking, “Why is this happening to me?” but a quiet voice whispered, “This too shall pass.” I stood up, not fully understanding what had just happened. With a screaming in my head, I put Destany in her crib and called 911. I sat bleeding and waited to die. My only fear in the world was that my dad would never know how much I loved him and that I was sorry for the hurt I had caused him.
When Starflight arrived, they tied me to a gurney. In the air the attendant began to pray for me out loud. I had never heard anyone pray for me. I knew I was going to die.
I remember the emergency room well. My dad was there, and then my mom came. I could hear everything, but I could not speak. My dad kept telling me not to worry, that I was going to be okay because God had a plan for me. All the while I had another baby growing inside of me and no one knew.
My recovery was long and painful. So was the pregnancy. The doctors†repeatedly told me my baby was not going to be okay and that I should terminate the pregnancy. But that voice kept whispering to me, “It will all come to pass one day.”
On September 23, 1994, I had recovered and had a 4 lb, 1 oz. baby girl. Perfect in every way! I thought to myself, “I am going to make my life stand for something.” I was going to be the best mom in the world … but first I had to get out of my situation.
My dad, my hero, once again saved my life. I had been in and out of women’s shelters only to back out from fear of being alone. I wasn’t yet 18, so jobs were hard to come by. After many failed attempts to deal with “Charles” and his rage, my dad put me on a plane to Arkansas. I lived there for a year, struggling with no family or friends, just Dove House, a shelter for battered women. I got a job killing chickens in a slaughterhouse, and a very loving family took in the girls and me.
I began to fall into a depression that consumed my life for a very long time. I decided it was time to come home and pay a visit. This only made it harder to go back. I went to visit my sister and mother in Corpus Christi, Texas. They both lived in a house with my stepfather at the time. They had “fun jobs” – my mom worked at a restaurant and my sister at a bar by the coast. So I decided to stay. I got a job at a sports bar and quickly decided I loved the attention and quick cash, not to mention all the free drinks and drugs. My stepfather was a heroin addict.† I had to call the girls’ grandparents because I knew they were not safe with me.† I was falling apart at the seams.
With the girls gone, I lost my ever-loving mind. I had so much freedom to do as I pleased, and that is just what I did. My job at the sports bar could not pay for my drug habit, so I fell into a world of deep darkness that would soon consume my life – dancing. I danced all day and partied all night. I believe it was the power I enjoyed. No one could touch me. No one could hurt me and I did not have to worry about ever falling in love. It was not a job but a lifestyle. One night after work, I was violently assaulted, raped and sodomized. After driving around with me for hours, the attackers finally threw me out of their car and fired a shot at me. I lay on the ground and hoped they would not miss and that I would die. A homeowner called the police after hearing the gunshot. Soon the ambulance arrived and I was taken to the hospital where, once again, a stranger prayed for me. I remember thinking “This God of yours is a joke. And if he’s real, he hates me and I also hate him.” Yet still that whisper came, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.”
After I was released from the hospital, I did not know where to go. I was too bad off to go back to work and when I got to the apartment I shared with another dancer, I discovered that she was having a party. I could not go in and found myself at yet another shelter. When I was well, I tried to go back to work and found myself telling my whole story to a man in a motorcycle gang. He informed me that if I would become his old lady he would never let anything happen to me again. I agreed.
I was heavy into speed. I partied all the time and became numb to the world around me. I really thought that my life was getting better. Instead I had just become a punching bag for another man. All of this happened so fast, in fact, I don’t remember most of it. Thank you God!
One day while visiting my girls, my youngest daughter Tori, who was three at the time, found one of my dancing shoes – it was clear and very high. She ran into the room with it and said, “I knew it.” My heart dropped. I was terrified and did not know what to say. She then said the most important words I would ever hear, “I knew it Mommy. You are Cinderella. I found your slipper.”
This was the beginning of a turning point of my life. Shortly after that I moved in with the girls’ grandparents and started looking for Christ. I did not fully believe there was a God, but I knew there was a reason I was still alive.
I was longing for life. I again married without waiting to see if he was the one. I just wanted a family with a mommy and a daddy. I found out very quickly that he had some drug habits that I could not be a part of. I was never going to lose myself or my girls to that again. My girls and I moved in with my life-long friend, Meshell. She helped me to seek out Christ. We were so happy living in Page, TX with her and her son, Christion. On December 25, 1999, she and Christion were in a car wreck and she died one week later. Christion was taken out of state to live with his father’s family. I was working at an office outside of Elgin and lost my job. I wrecked my car a week later. And if that were not enough, my house burned down. All of this happened in one month’s time.
I remember very well the day I truly found Christ. The girls and I were living at my dad’s. I had finally hit rock bottom, and I asked him to take me back. Of course he did. He forgave me for all that I was because he knew what I could be. I was driving home from my new job as an accountant. Right there on the side of Hwy 290 in Austin, TX I pulled over and gave my life to Christ. I cried for over an hour, not knowing what to say. I spilled my guts to a God, who for the first time ever, I knew was there. He listened to my confessions and my apologetic heart. I felt His presence and saw that He had been with me all along, weeping for the harm I had done to myself. I heard all too clearly that voice, “Do not worry my child; this too shall pass.”
One week later I met my now-husband David. I knew he was the answer to my prayers because when my daughters met him for the first time, Tori ran up to me and informed me that David had the other glass slipper – she was sure of it!
I was in no way done with my struggle in life. A couple of years later I developed cancer in my cervix, but something was different this time – my belief in Christ. Through prayer with David’s mom and a wonderful doctor, I knew I was going to be OK. I had lost several babies through miscarriages.†
We had been told that Dave and I would never be able to have a baby. So we began to pray. Guess what? On September 26, 2003, we had a 6 lb. 1 oz baby boy. Perfect in every way.
David, the girls and I had dabbled in Christianity for some time – not fully ready to give our lives to Christ. About 3 years ago I awoke from a dream where Christ had said repeatedly to me, “This all has passed. It is time for you to do my work here on earth. Be my hands and feet Stephanie.” This happened over and over all night long.
We have given our lives to Christ in the fullest. He has been calling me for a long time; however, I had chosen to ignore the call. My life has changed drastically. Now, don’t get me wrong. It has not been easy. I have lost friends because I am a “holy roller.” I have faced ridicule from almost everyone around me. But the joy that Christ brings me is worth all the losses. I pronounce joyfully that Christ is my Savior, my life, my one, true love. He brings me to such a wonderful place.
Christ had told me all along that this would all pass, and I believe with all my heart and soul that it has. I know I will still face hard times, but I will face them with the Lord. Many times in this story I have referenced my dad’s undying love for me and all of my struggles. I know now that my Father in heaven has always had that same undying love for me. He might have been disappointed but never left my side. For he knew he had a plan for my life. He has turned all of my sorrows into joy! He has given me knowledge beyond belief. I HAVE SEEN FIRST-HAND THE MIRACLES HE HAS WORKED IN MY LIFE!
I am not perfect in any way. I am not proud of my past. Yet I know I am going to walk in heaven. I am as clean and white as snow. For I have accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and I will walk with Him all the days of my life!! I have been forgiven for my sins and made clean only through Christ.
Stephanie, founder of New Song Ministry
*Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the people mentioned