To Read on the Journey

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I love to tell stories.

There is one story I have told more times than I can count.  I've told it to waiters and waitresses, in the grocery line, at Target, while waiting for a prescription, to our old neighbors and our new ones, to my kids' friends, to their parents... to anybody and to everybody

It's my But God story.

It's when I realized that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, was pursuing me.  It's the story of how at 14, I heard and saw God with my own ears and my own eyes.  It's not a made-up story.  It's for real.  God. is. for. real.  

At the time my dad was a drug user.  He did not claim me as his daughter (he acknowledged my younger sister and half-brother as his).  He was mean.  Awful.  I wanted him to want me so badly that whenever I saw him I'd approach him. I hoped he'd want me. Instead he called me  "the daughter of a whore" or a "little  #&*@ing whore." Instead,  he made it clear that he did. not. want. me.
(He was a drug user for 27 years, until 1998, when he was arrested.  He currently resides in a state hospital, where he is being treated for Bipolar schizo-effective disorder). 

When I was almost 3 my teenage mother left my younger sister and I, a routine visit to my paternal-grandparents turned into a 3 year stay.  When I was 6 she returned.  I think she wanted to be ready to be a mom, but she wasn't.  In the 12 years I lived with her she was preoccupied with men, and payed little attention to my sister and I.  She was married, divorced, engaged, separated, married, divorced, engaged, separated, married, divorced, married.  I've had 7 "dads."

So by the time I was 14 I was certain something was lacking in me.  I was sure my parents had rejected and abandoned and continued to leave because I wasn't pretty, lovely or good enough... because I wasn't deserving.   I was miserable, and in my 14 year old mind had concluded that my life would always be this way.  At that point I considered taking my life regularly.  I tried once. 

I see now that at the time God had intentionally placed classmates in my life to draw me to Him (in fact, I can see that He had thoughtfully placed individuals in my life from day one who would draw me to Him).  At the end of my freshman year of high school one of those classmates invited me to join her that summer for a week at Hume Lake Christian. 

By that point I wanted nothing to do with God.  If  there was a God I had one question for Him, "Why did you give me this life?  I've done nothing to deserve it."

Still, the thought of being away from my chaotic life for a week caused me to pursue that week vacation; however, that pursuit was short lived as camp was too costly for the daughter of a waitress.

But God.

One week before camp I received a call from my friend, who excitedly informed me that another girl had cancelled, her spot was paid-in-full, and her church wanted me to go in her place.

I know now why God wooed me to a camp in the mountains.  At camp my vision wouldn't be obstructed by the lies that plagued me in my home in the valley (both literally and emotionally).  At camp I would see that God wanted me.

So I went.

Hume Lake was breathtaking. The camp experience was like no other, and I was invigorated by the activities, games, being part of community, 3 meals a day, the singing (my favorite), and especially by the people who poured into me.
That week the speaker shared that "God is a father who will never leave or forsake us." Psalm 27:10

He also shared Romans 8:38-39  "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

He shared how God gave His son, Jesus, to take on Himself man's sin which separates us from perfect God. Jesus was punished in our place through a painful death on a cross.  But God.  3 days later Jesus came back to life! And by believing in Him we can have a new and whole life, too! 

I wanted that.
All of it.

I longed to be wanted.
I begged to be permanently and unconditionally loved.
I wanted a whole life.
And here was the God of heaven and earth so intimately telling me 'I want that for you, and you will find it in me.'
And on June 19, 1988 I expressed that I believed Him.


Fast forward to 15 years later.   I wanted to go back to Hume Lake to celebrate my 15th "birthday" with my husband and 3 young children; to take them to the mountain where my life began.

We hadn't told anyone of our plans.  We were financially strapped and our plan was to camp there for a couple of days.


I was approached by a couple from our church, who mentioned that they had a cabin at Hume Lake, a cabin that they wanted us to use for free!

God wanted me at Hume Lake. With Him. Again.
One morning while there I took a long morning walk.  During my walk around Hume, I looked back and thanked God for 15 years earlier- for the rescuing, lavished love, healing and blessing He had generously poured into me over the years.  

And as I talked with Him I recalled the question I'd had for Him 15 years earlier and said, "15 years ago I came here with one question, 'Why did you give me this life, I've done nothing to deserve it?' And today, today, I have the same question for You, 'Why did you give me this life, I've done nothing to deserve it!'


We did not tell you cleverly invented stories 
when we told you about the power and coming of our LORD Jesus Christ, 
but we were eye witnesses of his majesty.  
II Peter 1:16

And that is why I tell stories.  

My stories aren't cleverly invented stories, they're my firsthand account of how the GOD of heaven and earth pursued and continues to pursue me! 

I tell stories because I have to...

Because I want so much for you to know Him; to know what it is like to belong to the One who made you and knows you and wants you... Who is wild about YOU!

Because I want so much for you to live in the love of One True God, Who loves you higher and wider and longer and deeper than you can grasp or image. Seriously, His love is the best ever! 
And because I want so much for you to live a whole life.
  Live in Peace,



{cuppakim} said...

i always love your but god story. so amazing to read it year after year.

and i realized something.
we left for hume on father's day ever year when i was in high school.
i googled the day and we were headed up on 6/21/1998. :)
just a few days after your amazing life altering time at hume.

that place really is special.
hugs to you denise!

Kelli said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. What an amazing week you had at Hume Lake...I have heard wonderful stories form other people about their stay there. . I always look forward to your new blog posts because I leave feeling inspired and with a smile on my face.

Donna Amis Davis said...

Love this, Denise! Thank you for sharing your heart.

Linda Z said...

I always love your story telling and especially your "but God." Love you, friend. :)

The Every Day Extraordinary said...

Wow!!!! But God!!!

Tegan | Celebrate Twelve13 said...

Such a beautiful testimony. Cannot thank you enough for sharing.