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A Spritual New Begining
by Anne Harrell
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Chapter 1
A Spiritual New Beginning

Before I tell you about our daughter Cyndy, I would like to share with you in depth, some background about my husband Mark and myself, by telling a little of our Christian walk. I think giving you this information will help you understand our journey through pain and healing, and God’s faithfulness to us through the darkest hours of our lives.

Mark and I met on March 6, 1983, as you probably have heard about the old saying, “Love at first sight” or haven’t you? Mark and I fell in love immediately, and we were married on April 23, 1983, just six weeks after we first met. Since he was eight years older than I was, Mark was ready to settle down have a family of his own. Where I was not sure, what I really wanted other than a Christian man, one who truly loves me for who I am and not for anything else. Mark took me under his wing, in a loving caring way, and helped me to understand the need to strengthen my much-needed new walk with Christ. Being such a young Christian, I had a lot to learn about knowing God as my Heavenly Father along with trusting Him as Lord over me.

Just two months before Mark and I met, I came to Jesus Christ and acknowledged Him, as my Lord and Savior. Tom, a close friend of mine, had led me to Christ during a time in my life that was really overwhelming and complicated. Tom had become increasingly worried that my life was spiraling down hill, without any hope of Christ as my Savior; my soul would be lost forever.

I had come from a troubled household, in which there were numerous of serious problems where there was no love for Christ or was Christ ever spoken of in the house. As a child, I had been physically and sexually abused, which contributed to me being a very troubled and out of control teenager. I was dreadfully unruly and had many emotional problems, and I even tried to commit suicide. It is by the miraculous, loving grace of God that I made it to adulthood, much less to being a wife and a mother to my children. Even now, God has been merciful and astonishingly loving in giving me a marriage that has lasted for twenty-three years and still counting.

As a teenager, I had heard about Christ, and His unselfish love, since my Granny was always insisted taking me to church with her whenever I would visit her. But I didn’t want to give the Lord full control of my life, I wanted to run my life the way I wanted it run, not wanting anybody or powers over me. Pastor Nunnally would constantly tell me about Christ and His love, encouraging me to walk in the ways of Christ, instead of just walking in the ways of unrighteous. At that time in my life, I was not ready for any kind of life changes, which would ultimately mean living my life for Christ, even if it meant going to hell when I would die; I did not care what would happen to me.

When I was fourteen years old, my uncle raped me at knifepoint, another problem to make me more disobedient and not want to turn to the Lord. I was scared to death, to tell my mom that I thought I might be pregnant and the father is my uncle. With all the stress placed on me, I miscarried before receiving any medical attention. I remember Pastor Nunnally letting me know that the rape was not my fault and that the police needed to be involved so that my uncle’s crimes could be brought to justice. But my uncle had connections in my hometown that allowed him to get away with the rape without any punishment.

I discovered rather quickly that I had to fend for myself if I wanted anything in life. Throughout the entire horrendous unspeakable experience, the question that permeated my mind and heart continually was “Where are you, God?” Where exactly was He while I was being raped? Why was God letting my uncle get away with such a hideous uncalled for crime? Since I had suffered sufficiently from various forms of abuse since age five, I concluded that God must not love me if He did it must have been very little. The more I prayed to the Lord, the more it seemed like He had hid His face from me and the less He cared about me, even if He did, it must have been very little if He loved me at all.

It was years later after my friend Tom had moved a way that he begun talking to me about Christ, sparking a flame to grow for the Lord. I have to confess that at first, I thought Tom was just plain crazy, and out of his head, when he first told me about all of what Christ had done for him. Yet a part of me was hungry to know the Savior who could heal all things, one who could take away the painful memories, and replace them with ones of Christ’s love for us. I remember taking the phone from my ear, and looking strangely at it as if, I could not believe what I was hearing. Upon listening to Tom telling me about Jesus, I could hear and feel the knock at the door of my soul, the knock was getting louder.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He, who has an ear, let him hear what he Spirit says to the churches." (Rev. 3:20-22)

I knew that Christ was calling out to me, His lost ewe lamb, calling me to come and give my life over to Him for He would give me rest “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The Lord wanted all of my heart and soul, to live and proclaim Him as Lord over me, living my life to acceptance of Him only. That very night Christ was pounding at the door of my soul. This time He was not going to go away until I had accepted Him as my Savior.

On my knees that very night, I came crying to a Heavenly Father who could take away all pain, anger, and sorrow, and who could lead me in a direction that would glorify the Savior. Jesus wanted my soul. Close to two- thousand- years ago, while on the cross, Christ called out my name, a time I was not even thought about yet, Jesus had me on His mind. I was His daughter.

That very night I wanted Tom to expound more on the love of the Lord and His redeeming qualities. The gospel about Jesus, and His saving grace, was music to my ears. I wanted to hear more of the Savior who could heal all ills. Tom was so on fire for the Lord, and I just had to hear more about the savory and sweet smell of the Lord. My soul was craving the love of Christ. I never dreamed that the Lord could use me--a sinner--who was so sinful and still is. He wanted my life to be changed and put on the road of recovery.
Thinking back to that very night in February of nineteen-eighty-three, I realize Tom was sincere about me coming to know Christ. At first I thought he was just kidding around, yet he was extremely serious. He was concern for my disgraceful, sinful soul, wanting me to see my immense need for the Savior. He wanted me to have the assurance that if I died that very night, I would be in heaven. Thank you Jesus for loving me, a sinner!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

I was ready to draw nearer to my Lord, follow His ways, and lean on Him.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. What else can I ask for from my Lord?” (James 4:8-10)

One of couple of things Tom sent to me after that night was the popular poem “Footprints in the Sand.” That very comforting poem has touched my life so much in countless of ways especially when I look at where I have been, I was feeling so alone, I realize now that Jesus was carrying me through the hardest times of my life. WOW!

That very night in February of nineteen-eighty-three, the Lord knew that I would hear Tom out and accept Him. I started praying in the name of Jesus, and I knew my prayers were being answered. As the Apostle John recorded Jesus as promising to his disciples, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Tom and I prayed together whenever we talked, and God has always been faithful to answer according to His perfect will.

My prayers started immediately that I would find a loving husband who would love me, one who would take the pain away. I desperately wanted someone who would protect me from any further harm. For a long time, I had carried around that secret of my abuse. I never told anybody that I was being abused. Even Tom knew very little of what my family life was like. I was scared to tell anyone that bad things were happening. All I wanted was a man who would not look down on me and who would love me--one who would love me for being Anne and not some perfect person that I could not be. I never dreamed that Christ would put someone in my life so fast after praying for a loving man to be my husband. I never dreamed that in three months time I would be married to a wonderful man who would love me and help me raise children.

God knew that I needed Mark. He knew that Mark would love me and would care about what happen to me. After first meeting Mark, I would tell him little about my background, fearing that he would flee and not want me. The more comfortable I got with Mark, the more I would tell him. At times I would move him to tears after telling him all that had happen to me. Mark just wanted to take care of me. He did not care about the past; he just wanted to make sure that I would be taken care of now and in the future.

Mark had been a Christian for several years, before we had met each other. He had prayed that God would give him a woman, who would love him, one who needed a lot of love in return. Mark was unaware what he was getting into when he prayed that prayer from his heart, to the Lord. The thought never came to his head that he will be dealing with a wife, with a history, that was very painful and horrible. This led to a rough beginning of our marriage, because we both were carrying some heavy baggage into the relationship that neither of us had dealt with before we were married. We did not have the energy or the patience to work through our problems on our own.

All of this baggage was very destructive to my relationship with Mark. To be honest, we fought violently all the time. A neighbor who lived a couple houses down from us would witness Mark getting locked out of the house after an argument. He would have to plead with me to let him back in the house. I was just so very high strung, and unreachable. At times, I was incredibly stubborn and hostile, unwilling to compromise with Mark. We never took the time to really know each other and love each other. We were going in our own little circles and never met in the middle. There was little trust and dependence on each other.

Looking back, I realize that I did not trust God as my Father or really recognize His character. I did not understand how a father could love a person like me, and I did not believe that God saw me as His own precious child. I just wanted Him to bless me, and I felt that He was being callous or unreasonable when things did not work in my interest. If it was not my way, I did not want it at all. Nevertheless, because God refused to let me go, He worked in my life to show me His love. God had to use such extreme circumstances to get my attention and change my life eternally for good. Because God loves me, He will go to great lengths to draw me near. That is worth it.

Learning to love God and accept His love was very tough, but now I can see that He went to great lengths to show me His love for me. He showed me that I was His daughter and my life did matter to Him. He wanted very much to be a part of my life and bless me with magnificent treasures that would be stored forever. I have to give another heartfelt thanks to Tom for caring about my soul back in February of 1983.

So hold on tight, for my story has only begun! I pray that you will be blessed by reading my love story of a mother and father and their daughter, and God’s goodness in her life and death.

Thank you, Lord, for taking hold of our lives and holding us in your arms. You were faithful to us from the very beginning of our marriage, and You guided us with Your hand through the joys and troubles in our life. Teach us to continue to put our trust in You depend on You alone.
In Christ, Amen

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