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This a story of redemption, of grace, of favor, and of HOPE! The picture you see of Lynda is faceless because she represents countless broken women whose faces some choose not to look at out of fear or just plain disgust. Please don’t turn a blind eye to this story. The Lord is raising an army out of the ashes of society. Are you going to just turn away? This is a hard, raw story to read, but God meets us ALL in our moments of pain then surrender!  Lynda has HOPE through Christ!!

FullSizeRender (1)My testimony is one of instability, abuse, identity loss and the devil trying in a big way to take me out. I was put into foster care at the age of 4 due to severe mental, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Had it gone on much longer, it would have killed me. I don’t remember a whole lot of it because I blocked most of it out in order to cope with life. I do remember a few details, such as being stabbed in the back of the leg by a stepbrother, having cigarettes put out on my body, and being made by my step-mother to stand naked in front of a mirror and telling myself that I was ugly, fat, dumb, and no man would ever love me when I grew up. I remember being hit on the head with a cast iron skillet, broomsticks broken across my back, and being starved during the day while my dad was at work. I ate dogfood to survive when I was locked in the garage most days with no restroom or water to drink. This all came to an end when I ran away in the middle of the night. I heard this voice telling me to go out the window after my family went to sleep. So I did. I snuck out my window in my nightgown and began walking down one of the worst roads in Jackson, MS in the middle of the night. It is a miracle I wasn’t hurt. I remember feeling like someone was with me the whole time.

Psalm 23:4 (ESV) – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Soon after I started walking down the main road, a lady pulled over and asked me where I lived and what I was doing out in my pajamas and alone at that time of night. I showed her my street and she took me home. She talked with my parents for a moment and then left. The next day, the social worker showed up at my house. The only reason I remember that night so well is because I got the beating of my life after the lady left that night. This began my life in foster care. During the next 14 years of my life, I dealt with being moved every year or two, never staying in one place for long. I was raped in one foster home, molested in another. I was labeled with the term, “Theraputic Foster Child,” with a page full of diagnosis to go along with it. Everything from ADHD to Bipolar to PTSD to Oppositional Defiant Disorder. No one knew how to deal with me.

Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV) – For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

When I was 11, I was moved to a long term girls group home after 2 failed adoption attempts. I told my social worker I didn’t want to be adopted because no one could stick with me and love me through my pain. I was a good kid, I just tested people to see exactly how long they would put up with me, and to see how far their love would go. Only one pair of foster parents passed the test & earned my love & loyalty, but I did not get to stay with them. However, they are the ones I call “Mom and Dad” to this day.

Psalm 27:10 (NIV) – Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

When I was 18, one month before graduation from high school in 2006, my biological father passed away of cancer. I got to see him 3 days before he died. He didn’t even really know who I was, but after 14 years, I could see the regret in his eyes when he looked at me. That was a hard time for me, thinking over the “what-ifs” and “if-onlys” of what could have been. I became very rebellious and got involved in a relationship with a much older man, 17 years older to be exact. He told me everything I wanted to hear. Pretty soon, he started to beat me and after I while I just tolerated it, then I began to fight back. This went on for 2 ½ years. After this ended, I jumped from relationship to relationship, looking for love in all the wrong places. Eventually, I became pregnant. I married a man who was not the father to my unborn child. I was trying to create the perfect family, but I failed. Joseph Nathaniel was born on March 9, 2010 to a 21 year old me. Later that year, my husband and I split up. From then on, I tried being the best mother I knew to be, but when you don’t have that example in your life, it’s hard to be a good mom, no matter how much you love your baby.

I began to repeat patterns from my past toward my little one when it came to discipline. I was taught discipline through fear, not love. I began yelling at him a lot and spanking him more than necessary. This was all happening while we were moving around a lot. I had moved us in with yet another man because we had become homeless. He left me with no job, no car, and no way to take care of Joseph. I also miscarried his child.

Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) – Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

One day, I realized that what was happening to me were just cycles and chains from my past and they were carrying over into my son’s life. I refused to put my child through what I went through, so I sent him to the best people I knew, the only foster parents that earned my love and loyalty. It’s been two years since that, and I have survived by living with friends and going down a path of being completely lost. I heard about the mission home from my foster sister. I was overwhelmed with the amount of love and peace I felt upon my arrival. One night in my sleep, the Holy Spirit told me, “Reading my word but not comprehending”. I woke up and was dumb-founded. This was the first time I had ever heard that still, small voice. So I waited, trying to figure out what He meant.

1 Kings 19:12 (NLT) – And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

Two days later, we watched “The Passion of the Christ”. I was in shock when it was over. I knew what God meant!! I was reading and understanding His Word, but I was not comprehending the amount of pure LOVE He has for me. Me!!! I had rarely encountered love in my whole life! He love ME enough to die on the Cross, and that was such a beautiful realization. But I am stubborn, so it took a minute to sink in. I went to my room and knelt beside my bed, weeping because His love was pouring into my spirit filling up all the places and pieces that were broken. There were SO many broken pieces. I stood and paced and knelt again. There was a war going on for my soul and I felt like I was about to burst out of my skin. Finally, I collapsed on my face and said, “I GIVE UP! YOU WIN GOD! I give you me, my son, my family, my future, my everything! I cannot do this by myself anymore!”

Romans 10:13 (ESV) – For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

After 27 years of surviving, I felt such a peace in that moment. I knew I didn’t have to fight, because the battle for my soul had already been won. Amazing things are happening in my life. I am gaining confidence in myself as a woman, a mother, and a child of the King! I am breaking chains from my past, and changing the legacy of my family. I am becoming the woman God meant me to be. I look forward to graduating the program, getting my life in order for my son, with God’s help, and living the life God means for me to live. I am so appreciative of this program and all the people who surround it. They took in a homeless woman, and showed me the love of God, and I will be sent out as an overcomer and a warrior for God’s Kingdom.

I hope that my testimony helps someone realize that nothing is impossible, and that God’s love is for everyone, not just some people. Everyone is equal at the foot of the Cross, and He died for all of our sins. He was with me the night I ran away from abuse, and has been with me ever since!

Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV) – Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”