How Do I Find God Again? Carmen Leal Found Him in Music

By Carmen Leal:

Has it been ages since you attended church and wonder, ‘How do I find God again?’ Music was the key for Carmen.

 

Image Courtesy of Anita Peppers

“You have a beautiful voice.  We’d love it if you would sing a special song on Sunday.”

I enjoyed the obvious warmth in the pastor’s words, but the style of music was foreign to me. This was a Presbyterian church with music so different from what I’d known in my Catholic childhood.

Even though I’d only gone back to church to get a free hour of babysitting for my two toddlers each week, I enjoyed the people. If I was going to continue with this church, I should get involved. I decided to ask my pastor brother for song suggestions, since he too was a singer.

“Merrill, I need to sing a song at church, and I don’t know any of this kind of music. Where do I start?”

Merrill’s counsel led me to a small Christian bookstore. I’d never been to a store devoted to Christian books and music, but on a lunch hour from work, I climbed the steps and entered the small store.

The owner, Peter, obviously busy, took time to help me select songs that might fit my voice. He patiently listened as I mentioned various pop artists and songs I enjoyed. From that list, he was able to send me to a tape player and headset so I could hear accompaniment tracks from well-known Christian artists.

For years I had sat in that hard pew at Holy Name Church, whispering with my siblings, making fun of the ritual, and being bored. I had only been there because I had no choice. As soon as I left home, I left the church.  Yet although I thought I had retained nothing from my youth, the music at this new church made me realize I not only remembered words from the past, but now understood them. Like a flickering flame needing only the slightest breeze, the words set to music fanned the embers of belief already in my heart. Songs I listened to had portions of scripture in them, just waiting to be remembered.

For the rest of the week I quietly slipped up the stairs, into the overcrowded shop, and grabbed some cassettes and a player. Artist after artist sang of a God I wanted to know. He seemed more real to me after those few days than He ever had as I was growing up.

On the last day of that fateful week, I listened to Sandi Patti singing a song called, Upon This Rock. My eyes filled with tears. I knew, without really knowing how, that I had to invite Christ into my heart, to become a follower of His.

God is perfect in his choice of timing and location. With strangers surrounding me, and tears cascading, I gave my life to Him. I also knew I wanted to use my gift of music for Him, since it was music that had opened my heart.

I never told Peter what his shop did in my life. Rhema Bookstore was a struggling business, and he probably wanted to give up quite often. I’m sure Peter must sometimes wonder if his work really matters.

Yes, Peter. It does.

Hear Sandy Patti sing Love in Any Language, posted on YouTube by the CCM Music Channel:

You can also find the song Upon this Rock, as an MP3 on Amazon.

Carmen Leal knows first-hand about finding God in the midst of difficult situations. She is the author of nine books including The Twenty-Third Psalm for Caregivers and The Twenty-Third Psalm for Those Who Grieve. Her tenth book, Through a Different Lens: Revealing the Transformative and Spiritual Power in Movies, will be released in the fall of 2013 from The Pilgrim Press. To learn more about Carmen visit ww.carmenleal.com.

Do you yourself wonder, ‘How do I find God again?’ Read more testimonies here at Finding God Daily or visit our sister site: GodTest.com.

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How Do I Find God? Badge of Hope (Police Ministry)

By Kristi Neace:

 Kristi Neace, founder of Badge of Hope Ministries, shares how she knew the answer to ‘How do I find God?’ yet at age 26 finally allowed Him to help her. God then led her into a new ministry for police officers and their wives.

 

I grew up being taught about Jesus from the cradle on, so it wasn’t unexpected when I decided at age seven to follow Him in baptism.  However, that was about as far as it went, until my early twenties.

Feeling overwhelmed by the stresses of motherhood and added frustrations of being married to a cop, at twenty-six years-of-age I dropped my head on the kitchen table in desperation and cried out to God, “I can’t do this anymore! I need you!”

My life was in shambles and our marriage on the rocks.  I had allowed God to become more of an afterthought than Lord.  So at this most desperate hour, and not knowing what I might be capable of if I didn’t get relief from somewhere, it was as if the Lord placed His heavenly hand on my shoulder and said, “Finally…now you’re ready to listen.”  And, listen I did.

From that moment on, I vowed to give every ounce of energy to honoring Him.  It wasn’t always pretty or neatly packaged, but it was a matter of direction.  My husband and I began fine tuning our marriage, and our children were seeing an ever-increasing swing toward wholeness and joy-filled lives.

After moving us to another community and into a better suited position to serve, God began opening doors for me to minister to other women through speaking and writing.

Though our marriage was now on a good, even plane, the two of us were still going different directions until 2009. Then a woman half-way around the globe gave me an idea for a book – one reaching out to wives of police officers.

Story after story came flooding in about the hardships these special women face, as well as the heartaches. Both I knew, all too well.  I had now entered my husband’s world and God was meshing our lives even closer together.

In 2010 and after several more writings, God led me to found Badge of Hope Ministries.  The Lord was opening more opportunities for me to speak to law enforcement groups, and my husband and I were overwhelmed by God’s grace over two completely messed up individuals.

Today, I not only continue to speak and write, but am on our church staff as Women’s Ministry Director overseeing 300-400 women on a regular basis.  Our kids have grown up and we’ve entered a new chapter of this life, one of excitement and purpose.

Looking back, at twenty-six years-of-age, if God would have told me where I would be right now, I would have laughed and like Jonah, found a slow ship to Tarshish.  But, praise God, He only gave me one step at a time and now, instead of running from, I run straight into His arms shouting, “Lord, send me!”

 ©Kristi Neace. Kristi is a sought-after Bible teacher, writer, speaker and founder of Badge of Hope Ministries and author of books for police families.  Her life experiences as a police wife and now as a police mom, give her the expertise needed to reach out to hurting law enforcement families.  Kristi also has years of women’s ministry experience and loves sharing a good word from the Good Word.  You may find her books and speaking schedule on her website at www.kristineace.com. You can also follow Kristi on Twitter @Kristi_Neace .

Are you wondering yourself ‘How do I find God?’, perhaps even for the first time? Visit GodTest.com

See a related article about FCPO, the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers:

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How Can I Find God? Julie’s Story: In the Smoke

By Julie B. Cosgrove:

Do you wonder, ‘How can I find God’?  Julie found Him–heard him– when He woke her just in time, as her bedroom became engulfed in smoke.

 

It was an overcast and cold evening a few days after Christmas. My parents had gone out to a society function, as was their custom since my father was in politics. At thirteen, they felt I could be left alone.

That year had been a horrible year of loss. My brother married, my sister went off to college, and my mother went back to school to get her Masters in Speech Pathology. We’d sold the home I grew up in and moved to an apartment complex.

I had also left the cat I had most of my life behind at the house where the new owners would care for her. She was mostly blind and my parents felt it would be better if she were in familiar surroundings. That didn’t happen. She escaped after days of howling as she searched for me and was hit by a car.

I had also moved away from my best friends.

Besides that, I was in hormonal  h-e-double sticks, being thirteen. It all added up to one depressed, bordering on suicidal, girl.

That Christmas I received a fold-up Tensor lamp from my parents. It had a crane-like neck that could bend in any direction and clip onto the bed stand for reading. It also had an intense burning, tiny bulb. I fell asleep reading. The lamp unclipped and fell into the mattress. It began to smolder. In my sleep I recall that I felt hot and my throat was scratchy. An inner voice said, “Sleep. You are coming down with something. There is nothing worth waking up for anyway.”

Like a clap of thunder, a booming voice of authority pierced my sleep-ears.

“Julie. Get Up. NOW.”

I bolted awake to find my room engulfed in smoke. I couldn’t see a thing. Then the smoke parted and I saw the door open. The apartment’s security flood light streamed into the hallway from the sliding glass door off my parent’s master bedroom.  I made it to the balcony and collapsed, the billowing smoke cloaking me. Some strangers shouted and tossed my mattress to the apartment driveway below. In mid air, it burst into flames in a poof, then pieces floated down in illuminated chunks like fireworks.

The next thing I recall was lying on the couch, peering at my mother through the condensation of my breath on an oxygen mask. Later on, my parents said I slept for almost a day, I awoke in the middle of the night. I got onto my knees and whispered, “God. That was you. I don’t think my life is worth living but You must. You saved me. So I give it to You. Tell me what to do with it.”

We were not big church goers. I didn’t know about being reborn. But, I began to read the Bible and asked to go to church. A youth minister took me under his wing and I accepted Christ. God has never let go of me or my desire to tell others of His mercy and grace.

Julie B. Cosgrove  (juliebcosgrove.com) writes devotionals for several publications and Christian women websites. Her own blog is Where Did You Find God Today?

She has authored three Bible studies and one faith-based novel entitled Focused. You may preview them at Goodreads or Amazon.

Julie also leads Christian workshops and retreats.

 

Wondering yourself, ‘How can I find God?‘ to explore faith, visit GodTest.com.

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