I was born into a wonderful, but not perfect family, in the small town in Indiana, in 1952. The oldest of three, I was the only girl, and my parents were divorced before I started school.
My mother remarried, and I loved my step-father who treated us like he was our own father. I went to my father’s house with my brothers on weekends. My mother had made a profession of faith when a child, but did not believe in eternal security, and my dad or step-dad were not saved.
My grandmother was a Christian, and took care of me when my mother worked in a factory, from the time I was born. We talked about Jesus, the Bible and spiritual things all the time. She used to teach me Bible verses and underline them in her Bible with my name and the date I learned them. (She did this for all her grandchildren). I praise the Lord I learned about Him from a young age!
When I was 8 years old, my step-dads mom (I called her grandma, too and loved her very much) started taking me to the Baptist church and the very first time I heard an alter call, I went forward and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and be my Savior. The pastor’s wife knelt with me and showed me verses from the Bible and prayed with me afterwards. I have never doubted my salvation, based on God’s promises in his word, and am so happy for the child-like faith that I had.
The next Sunday, when the preacher closed the service, I remember bowing my head and when he gave the invitation, I looked up at those around the congregation with honest surprise! “What, there are people here who have never accepted Jesus?” In my child-like mind, I could not understand that anyone would not have accepted the gospel of Jesus, once they had heard about it!
I went forward almost every Sunday. I’m sure the people in that congregation probably thought I was the biggest sinner of all! If asked why I came, I would say “I want to pray that my step-dad would get saved”. I wanted him to come to church with me so bad, and I just knew if he did he would get saved!
He did come one Easter Sunday about six years later. (it was a miracle)! During the invitation, Daddy didn’t go forward, and I was praying and crying, loudly. He was so upset with me he said he would never come to church again.
Daddy was very successful and self confident. He didn’t feel he needed the Lord, I believe. He worked hard, was honest, and paid his bills and provided well for his family. He knew of Christians who were not as “good” as him. He saw me fight or argue with my brothers, on Sunday, he pointed out, right after we had been to church! I was so discouraged and tried to be the best I could, but although I knew I was saved, I was not perfect.
We had problems when I was a teenager and I did not live at home the second semester of my senior year of high school. I won’t go into the details, but Daddy and I didn’t speak. He was very strict, and although I didn’t do anything wrong, I got into a lot of trouble and we didn’t speak for a few years. I really had hate in my heart, but knew it was wrong and asked God to take it away. I didn’t want to pray that way, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
Time passed and I grew up and got married very young and had three children. I prayed for my step-dad, but now with the fervency I did as a child. We reconciled when I was expecting my first child. He and my mother and three brothers (by that time he and Mother had a son) had moved to Kentucky and I lived with my husband in Virginia. I was only 18, and I missed my mother. I wanted to visit her and see where she lived, and I asked her to ask Daddy if I could come visit for my birthday, which I did. I was scared of what to say when I saw him, but when I did, I went to him and gave him a hug—it had to be the Lord, because I was really scared. We never talked about the problems we had, and he acted as if nothing had happened.
Six years later, he was very sick and diagnosed with a very rare illness. Three months before he died, he asked my mother to show him how to be saved. He literally said, “What do I have to do to be saved?” She led him to a loving knowledge of the Lord. After he was saved, he called me, and my Daddy, who never cried because he felt it was a sign of weakness, tried to tell me he was saved, and could not do so, because he was crying so hard and he was so sick. Mother took the phone and told me what had happened, and he wanted me to know he wanted my forgiveness for what happened between us when I was a teenager and couldn’t even live at home. I had goose bumps running up and down my arms—I knew God had answered my childhood prayers, and although I had not been as faithful in praying as I should for my Daddy, GOD WAS FAITHFUL!
He knew what it would take to save my Daddy, and it took a very rare and unusual illness (Waggoner’s Granulamotosis) for him to know he was not in control, but God was! It also taught me that God knew what it would take in my own life to fully surrender to God. (and he still does)!
Daddy had been in and out of hospitals before he was saved, and he was patient to a point, but he would get tired of all the needles and cuss at the nurses and scare them. He was there several times, so I know the nurses probably were afraid to even go into his room sometimes! After he was saved, he never really went around telling people (he was too sick to even go to church), but these nurses asked him, saying, Mr. Bottomley, something is different about you. What is it? (Because he didn’t cuss at them any more). Then he would simply tell them how he had placed his faith and trust in Jesus and how He had changed him! He wasn’t even trying to witness, but he was!
When we had the funeral, everyone thought we were crazy because we were not crying and carrying on. Everyone knew how much my Mother loved him and how happy she was with him. They were worried about her reactions. We knew he was in heaven with the Lord! Not just because he told us he was saved, but because he changed so much! He was not able to be baptized, go to church, or hear a preacher, but the Holy Spirit worked in his heart and ministered to him!
My Mother died, twenty years later, with assurance in her heart that she was a child of God, secure in His salvation, understanding that there was nothing she could do to earn or lose the price that Christ paid on the cross.
Although I miss my Mother and Father, I know I will see them again someday because I am born again. I praise God for His sacrifice for me and the promises in God’s Word!