What an awesome and amazing God we serve. It was such a blessing and an honor to be able to present the girls to Him! To be able to commit to raising these beautiful, sweet, and smart little girls to love, serve and honor Him in all of their lives, is just an over whelming sense of pride and joy.
Days like Sunday just remind me of what finally led me and my family to the Lord. It shouldn’t be said that we weren’t believers, it is more accurate to say we were definitely doubters. To say that the Lord works through people, is certainly an understatement.
Around Thanksgiving last year, our family was at an all time low. No money, no home of our own, no hope….Depression was abound! Then one Wednesday night Chris’s cousin, Mark, invited us out to the church that his family attended, for a Thanksgiving meal. Never ones to say no to a free meal, we eagerly agreed to go. Actually, the meal was very uneventful. We met Mark and his family, ate our meals and left. Don’t remember if it was that night or the next day but, Mark invited us to attend service the coming Sunday.
I have to admit that I was skeptical. Over the past few years there had been numerous news reports about sex scandals within churches. I quickly began doing internet research on just about every church in or around Abilene. The one thing that the Beltway Park Baptist Church website offered that no other church’s site did was one little phrase, “All of our teachers have undergone background checks in order to ensure the safety of each child in our area of ministry.” Comforted, I agreed to go on Sunday.
The girls had only ever been to church one other time. I tried to explain to them that we would be attending church and what they could expect and how they should behave. Naturally, they had tons of questions. None of which I was prepared to answer. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I literally had no idea. On the way to church that Sunday, Chris and I discussed the problems we had with church and religion.
Lack of solid evidence
Conflicting ideology between denominations
Where’s the proof?
The first Sunday we attended church at Beltway Park the sermon was simply captivating. I can’t remember the details of it exactly, but I do remember leaving being happy and with a sense of hope. Hope had been something that had eluded us for several weeks, quickly turning into months. The girls were hook instantly. After some discussion Chris and I agreed to keep going back for a while to see if some of our questions were answered.
We went back the following Sunday. Again, we left the sermon feeling tons better about every thing. We could actually see some light. When in all reality nothing had really changed for us, except adding church to our weekly routine.
It was the next Wednesday, 2 weeks since our first visit out there, things really started to click for us. The church did a presentation of “Bethlehem Star“. You could literally seek light bulbs going off in Chris’s eyes as he watched this. This gave him some solid information, that if he had the resources he could prove himself. No longer was this someone telling us to believe because some book said so. No, this was someone saying, look I have taken the time to do some research and proven things from this book (the Bible), with science, in a scientific method. We could totally appreciate this. We left that evening feeling as if we had been asleep for a very long time, and our eyes were just starting to adjust to the light.
When I was in high school I did attend church some. I went to the Church of Christ because that was the denomination of my best friend at the time. While I was going, I really enjoyed it, but mostly for the social aspect. This laid the foundation for my belief, it just never answered the why. Here I was, 17 years old, being preached at week after week, about our God unconditionally loving us. Then in turn I would be preached at about how salvation is a constant struggle, you can and most people will fall from grace. This often left me wondering why? What is the point? Sunday after Sunday I would diligently listen to the sermon, always with the same message, “Get saved”, these are the steps to follow to be saved. Never did I hear about what you were suppose to do once you were saved. Surely that couldn’t be it, especially if it was so easy to fall from grace.
The following Sunday, as we were on our way to church, Chris and I discussed this issue. Chris suggested that after church we find someone to talk with, that maybe they could answer these questions, or at the very least point us in the directions I needed to go to have my questions answered. As we entered the auditorium, we took our seats and music filled the air. One of the most alluring parts of Beltway Park (at least for me) is the music. Very up tempo, and the worship leader, Jeremy, is an amazingly gifted and blessed individual. Every time during worship, I can fill the Spirit moving. Amazing! Anyways, we settle in for the lesson. The preacher stepped up to the podium and began. About 5 minutes into the sermon, my mouth feel open, and Chris and Mark swear they have never seen Bible pages being opened so fast. He was speaking on Romans Chapter 8. The specific verse was Romans Chapter 8: 38-39. I could hear “ding ding ding”, inside my little brain going off. It was all I needed to hear. All of my most pressing questions were answered in that one 30 minute sermon.
That night Chris and I attended “Get to know Beltway” class. Basically it is a class that gives information about the who, what, where, when, and why’s. After the class, we were fortunate enough to be able to meet with the worship leader, Jeremy. He asked the basic questions of, do you believe, have you accepted Christ, if you died today do you know you would go to heaven. Chris and I both sorta stumbled through that one, because it wasn’t something we had thought about. Jeremy suggested that we go home and talk and pray about it, and come back the following Sunday to talk with him. Chris and I spent the better part of the week doing just that. We prayed about it and talked about it. Then on Wednesday, Carolyne came to us and said “I have accepted Christ as my savior and I am ready to be baptized.” Naturally, we talked with her to great links. We even took her to talk with the children’s pastor. We expressed our concerns about if she was truly ready or not. After about 30 minutes of questioning Carolyne, he said “she is absolutely ready.” Armed with the convictions of a 7-year-old, Chris and I headed home. We continued to talk about why it was so hard, as adults, to turn it all over to Him. After hours and hours of discussion and prayer, we were ready. We believed undoubtedly!
All this time, Chris had been practically unemployed. Actually, he had been working very part-time for the local EMS provider. He was lucky if he got 24 hours in a two-week pay period. Christmas was the coming Friday, and we had no idea how to buy the girls any presents. We knew that they would have plenty of presents from other people, but we didn’t have a clue how to have any from us. Mark call Chris and gave him some money. With the money Mark had given us, we were able to buy the girls all of their presents except for the Nintendo DS’s they really wanted. In fact we were $150 short of being able to have everything we wanted for them. It wasn’t the end of the world, and they girls were going to have a far better Christmas that we had imagined they would. Chris and I sat at the dining room table at his Dad’s house talking about things we could do, how we could manipulate the money to at least get them the things the girls really wanted. At about 9pm the front door bell rang. Chris answered the door and there stood a man, who we had never seen, holding a Wal-Mart sack. He asked Chris, “Do Catherynn and Christyan Bennington live here?” Chris answered “Yes they do. How can I help you?” The man then handed Chris the Wal-Mart sack and a card and said “These are for Catherynn and Christyan.” Chris asked the man “Who can we tell them they are from?” The man just smiled and said “Santa.” Chris came back to the dining room table and said “You are never going to believe what just happened.” He told me the entire story and then we opened the card the man had left. Inside the card were two $75 gift cards to Wal-Mart. What are the chances that a complete stranger would bring gifts to your children in the exact amount you were needing in order to buy them that one item they really wanted? Not very likely by our calculations.
On Sunday after the first service as we prepared to go in to talk with Jeremy, Chris’s cousin Mark literally tackled him at the door. Mark was on the phone, jumping up and down. Chris and I just kept looking at each other trying to figure out what was going on. When Mark finally got off the phone, he tells Chris that the woman he works for just agreed to guarantee Chris 3 or 4 loads per week! Say what you want, from the moment we stepped foot in Beltway Park our lives started looking up. From the moment we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and was ready to make our confessions, our lives turned completely around. No longer hopeless, no longer jobless and soon to have a home of our own, we bounced into Jeremy’s office. Without much prompting from Jeremy, our entire story fell out of our mouths. Starting with how we got to Abilene, how we got to Beltway and the miracles and changes abound in our lives. The only explanation for any of it, is Christ! He used Chris’s cousin Mark as an instrument to bring our family before Him.
Carolyne, Chris and I made plans to be baptized in 2 Sundays. On the day we were to get baptized, the church called to let us know that the heater to the baptism pool was broken. We were more than welcomed to go ahead and get baptized or we could reschedule for the following Sunday. We elected to wait, because the thought of being immersed in freezing cold water at the end of December was less than appealing. Wouldn’t you know, during service there was a little boy getting baptized. He didn’t care that the heater to the baptism pool was broken. It was his day to make his confession and he was going to have it! I have to admit, I was in awe of this little boys conviction! I was also ashamed that I lacked that kind of conviction. Anyways, long story short, the Lord has revealed himself to us over and over. Leaving no room for doubt in our lives. The following Sunday, Mark baptized Chris and Chris baptized Carolyne and me. it was a very special day. And I can’t think of better people to have shared it with. While we don’t always do the things we should or be the people we know we should, our lives are so much more blessed. Sometimes though I have to remind myself to seek the Lord daily.
I see the Lord every day in my girls. I mean, even before I accepted the Lord, what good could I have done to be blessed with these 4 specific little girls? I am so lucky to be their mother. I see the Lord every day in my husband when he looks at me lovingly, even when I don’t deserve it. Don’t tell him I admitted it, but I am not always the most pleasant person to be around. But he still loves me, regardless of if I yell at him for something he had nothing to do with, or if I cold shoulder him when he is trying to be affectionate. I am so blessed to have found the Lord and to be able to share this with my children and Chris.