As a child, I was raised in a home that had limited exposure to God or Jesus.

In fact, my dad told everyone he was agnostic or atheist, depending on who was at the door with a pamphlet for him. My dad was very distant emotionally and physically. I don’t think he meant it be hurtful, he kind of just modeled what his parents had done.

My Mom, bless her heart, would take us to church every week–
My brothers and I would fight all the way there,go into church,and fight all the way home. And that’s basically how I viewed “church”.

I didn’t understand the simple truth that God loved me.

I was a chubby little red-head — shy, insecure, teased all the time.

I took it personally and it just made me feel all the more unloved and rejected. I was a classic case of low self-esteem.

As I grew older,
the more I tried to mask my insecurities – to pretend everything was okay, — the more empty I felt inside.

I felt so alone and so desperate for someone to “love me”. Anyone.

I tried to fill this emptiness, this loneliness in my heart…

You name it – I tried it – food, men, alcohol and shopping –

By the time I graduated college in 1993,
I had pretty much sampled everything the world has to offer.
Nothing worked.

I was still empty and lonely – and carrying a huge backpack of guilt and shame for the poor choices I knew I was making.

Soon after college,
I found out I was pregnant.

Not my favorite Thanksgiving — telling my parents right before the turkey and stuffing that their only daughter was pregnant –
and would be going through this ordeal alone—a single mom.

Thankfully, my parents were very supportive
and 9 mos later they were blessed with a wonderful grandson –
and I had a beautiful, precious son, Jake.

Fast forward a few more years – I was 26 and a single mom
a college grad waiting tables for a living –
I was thousands of dollars in debt
and had a new, very serious problem: cocaine addiction

What started off as just “experimenting with friends” after work – quickly consumed my life. Cocaine gave me new confidence – new energy.
It numbed my pain, and even made the extra pregnancy weight I gained literally fall right off .

Suddenly, I was being noticed — men wanted me. Isn’t that crazy?
I‘d lost so much weight that my face was hollow and sunken, I was am emotional wreck — but I was wanted!

My own Grandma said, “Wow, Cindy, you’re so beautiful now!”

NOW?? — Hadn’t I always been beautiful?

So, the cycle of addiction continued….

In my heart — I knew this was not the life for me. I wanted to be a good mom. Except – my daily choices did not reflect my heart’s desire.

Cocaine was as routine to me as brushing your teeth and I didn’t know how to stop!

I remember sitting on my bed one night wondering…
“What in the world happened??
“How did my life turn out this way”??

A few days later ….. I accidentally overdosed on the cocaine.

I drove myself to a med center, where after tests, the doctors told me they needed to take me by ambulance to the hospital.

I was told I’d probably be dead on arrival.

I didn’t die like they said I would,
but was quickly brought to my senses when a police officer spoke to me.

He said:
I heard what happened – so you obviously used cocaine —
that’s a misdeameanor
and if you used, you possessed — that’s a felony.

I heard you drove yourself to the Med Center
What if you had killed someone? — that’s negligent homicide
and a minimum of 15 years in prison.

I heard you’re a mom – is that what you want? – your son visiting his mom in prison every week?

That conversation with the police officer — I’ll never forget, and thankfully, no charges were filed.

But, I made a charge to myself that night as I left the hospital:

I vowed I would do whatever it takes to get my act together and figure this life thing out.

The next morning, I was thinking, if I could be like anyone, who would I want to be like? And I thought of my friend’s mom. a woman I barely knew, named Carole.

Her daughter and I worked together at a restaurant.
Carole and her husband often came to the restaurant, and Carole was so full of joy, of life, & laughter.

So, I picked up the phone and called her,
“I don’t know if you remember me , but I’m Cindy, your daughter’s friend, and I need help”.

She said, “Cindy, you need Jesus.”

Now when Carole said I needed Jesus — I knew I needed something to fill that emptiness in my heart— so, on that day, July 21, 1996 I decided to believe in Jesus and surrendered my life to Him!!

I said, “Jesus, I’ve tried it my way, this time I’ll try it your way!!”

I didn’t waste anytime trying to figure out what this whole new life with Jesus was about —
I quit my job, left all my so-called friends, and started going to a Bible teaching church.

I also began meeting with a wonderful Christian counselor.

I remember one day she said, “Dream Cindy, when you look down the path of the future, what do you see??…”

I was like, “Dream?? See a path?? “Yeah right, lady”

I felt like I was in a pit so far down that I couldn’t even see up, much less see a path towards the future…

And then she shared with me, from the Bible Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

For the first time in my life, I truly felt and believed that God could use me, the real me, and that He had plans for my future!!!

I began to study the Bible, and put into practice what I was learning.
All those empty places inside were being filled with God’s peace and God’s hope. Even my backpack of guilt and shame fell off.

I, also met a wonderful group of Christian friends.

Suddenly I really was experiencing the joy and the acceptance I had always desired.

I got a new job coordinating a program for teen moms and their kids
and also, was invited to schools & churches to talk about self-esteem, and staying drug & alcohol free.

And then …..I met a guy. Not just any guy, but a really special Jesus-loving guy! 🙂

His name – David Timmer.
One day he commented on my WWJD bracelet. The bracelet led to dating, and 2 years later on Thanksgiving week-end 1998,
David asked me to marry him. Of course, I said YES!

I was living such a happy Christian life! 🙂 Planning our wedding. And I was never going to have to be a single mom again.

Jake was happy! I was happy! Life couldn’t get any better!

Just to give you a snapshot of our happy life… 🙂

Right after we were engaged, my boss gave us tickets to see the Nutcracker. We got all fancied up, put Jake in his best Christmas sweater and off we went. It was an amazing time! 🙂

We capped off the evening by putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it. After Jake was all tucked in bed, David & I were sitting there watching the beautiful lights — and he asked for some paper.
David was pretty persistent, and I asked him why?
He said, “Cindy, I just want to write down how I’m feeling right at this moment. This has been a perfect day and I just don’t ever want to forget
how much joy I feel right at this moment.”

4 days later — just 5 months before our wedding and 2 weeks before Christmas…I received a call while I was at my parents house.
David had been killed in a freak workplace accident.

That night is a blur ……….

I remember weeping and wailing and throwing myself on the ground.

I asked my pastor over and over again: WHY? WHY? WHY would God allow this?
David so wanted to bring glory to God through our relationship.
We were even going to pass out those silly WWJD bracelets at our wedding!
We wanted others to know Jesus through us!

David often said he would give his life for just one person to know Jesus.

WHY would God take him home??

The next day, on the front page of the GR Press was David’s story – of how we met, WWJD bracelets and all. That morning I knew God was in this — He knew what He was doing — somehow He was in control.

Two days later, at David’s funeral, my Dad (the atheist/agnostic) accepted Jesus as His Savior!

REMEMBER David had said he would give his life for just one person to know Jesus. Little did he know …. it would be MY DAD.

And you know what…God does not waste our pain.

And, it was painful … I’ll be honest…
That next year after David’s death was tough — incredibly tough

Some days I’d get out of bed and say, “ OK God, I’ll get up and put lipstick on. You’ve got to do the rest; that’s all I can do.”

I leaned hard on God,
leaned hard on the Bible,
leaned hard on my friends (who were so good to me, they even sent me & Jake to Disney World).

My dear mentor at the time, a precious, Godly woman in her 80’s named Eileen said…”Cindy dear, you have a choice –
You can let David’s death make you better or bitter.”
And I decided, regardless of my circumstances, I was choosing better!

Soon after David’s death, I was offered a new job – and became the Children’s Director for a very large church.

And that’s where I met a new friend. 🙂 John was in charge of the church payroll, so I’d see him every time I’d get my paycheck. He knew of David’s death and the hard time I was having, and sensed I needed a friend.

So John was there for me: mowing our lawn, fixing our car,
gluing 100 gummy worms on a board for Jake’s 100th day of school. 🙂

He was also there for all of my “firsts” after David’s death, which were so unbelievably hard.

One day, soon after the 1 year Anniversary of David’s death – I remember looking at John and thinking, “Wow, you’re cute. How come I never noticed that before??” And, yes, I was the one to ask him out on our first date. 🙂

When we first started dating, Jake was 5 at the time, and would run around the house with mistletoe – hoping John & I would get caught under it. His little mind thought if we were both under the mistletoe, we would get married.

Well, little Jake got his wish! 🙂 John and I have now celebrated 11 years of marriage… and added 3 more children.

Jake is now 17, Benj is 10, Amanda is 8, & Sarah is 7. I am so blessed! 🙂

And, not only did Jake get his wish – I got mine as well!

I’m no longer a single mom – now I’m a stay-at-home mom with a wonderful family that loves me.

My life today is in a healthy place. Jesus is the difference!

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