Christ was not the center of our household when I was growing up. As a child, I was completely ignorant about the existence of God and the fact that He has a purpose for my  life.  My family was very poor, in more ways than one.  We were actually homeless at one point, which is how we ended up living in Louisiana but we were never without a roof over our heads or food to eat. I was entirely vulnerable, allowing many of life’s circumstances and situations to eventually shape me into a very angry and hateful person. 

School was always hard for me. I not only had a lot of difficulty with learning, but it was also the place where I experienced years of rejection and bullying.  My  Kindergarten teacher told my mother that I had a difficult time with puzzles. In third grade, the class had to take turns reading out loud. When it was my turn, I mispronounced a word  and the teacher laughed out loud and  repeated the way I pronounced the word incorrectly with a mocking tone. I was so humiliated! From that moment on I never wanted to say anything out loud in front of a group of people again. I couldn’t be called on in the classroom without being scared of saying something wrong and even worse, I was unable to participate in skits or plays  on a platform without being completely petrified. I continually struggled with every subject  except for Art and Science and ended up dropping out of high school after 10th grade.

My parents couldn’t afford to have us in any extracurricular activities, so my favorite things to do were playing outside, riding my bike and listening to music. I was sexually abused in first grade and exposed to pornography in middle school and had never received any sex education of any kind. I was raped the first time when I was 16 years old and two times later in my twenties when I was a victim of date rape drugs and drink spiking. Also, in my early twenties, I had two abortions.

I hated and resented my father by the time I was a teenager. I was so embarrassed of him.  He was 25 years older than my mom and many people would ask if he was my granddad.  I hated the way he treated my mother and me at times and had many memories of my dad yelling and my mom crying. It seemed to me when he was home he was always glued to the television. My heart became  fragmented, I was a very broken, hurt and confused girl, which led me into experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I ended up with such hatred towards people, including myself and was filled with anger and rage. I went to work at a horse farm and there was a coworker that didn’t even want to work with me because she was scared of me. Since her mom was my manager, she told her  to schedule us on different days ( Of course, I found that out much later). 

My Mom got saved when I was about ten years old but I didn’t understand that. I used to mock her for reading the bible. I used to tell her that she was an idiot  for reading that ‘stupid book’. I thought she was  weak and a pushover but she would just look at me with a smile and big eyes. I left home for good when I turned 17.  I had already been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol and it  got much worse over the years. I was involved in witchcraft and other types of  the occult. Anything was acceptable to me except for Christianity. I hated it with a passion and some of my favorite music at the time contained lyrics that mocked Christ and would shout curses at his name.

When I was twenty three I moved to Colorado with my boyfriend who was a satanist. The Christmas before I left, my Mom gave me a present. It was my only present. I unwrapped it to find a Bible! I looked at the bible and I looked at my Mom and I said “Are you joking, how much money did you spend on this thing?” She said, “about thirty dollars.” I said “Well at least you could have given me the thirty dollars and I could get something that I want.” and I shoved it back in her hands and told her she could keep the stupid book and read it herself (Which she did).  After being in Colorado a few months, my boyfriend tried to kill me one night in a fit of rage. He had me pinned to the floor and was biting my face while strangling me. As my body was convulsing, some people walked by our open window and made mention of the noise they heard inside. When he jumped up to close the window, I jumped up and ran to the back room to escape out of another open  window in our bedroom, running to the neighbors house for protection. I had to move out quickly but I was scared to be in there by myself so I walked across the street to the police department to ask if someone could help me by being present while I got all of my belongings out of the house. Noticing the bite marks on my face and bruises on my neck, the officers sat me down and asked me what happened. After telling them, they told me to stay there for a few minutes and they walked away. When they came back, they told me I could take my time and would have about a week to get my things moved out because he would be spending that time in jail! I had only been there for a short time so I didn’t know many people except for a few neighbors and coworkers where I worked as a bartender right around the corner. I moved in with a neighbor in the building next door until I found another boyfriend, then from that boyfriend to another boyfriend etc., eventually finding myself  involved in prostitution and selling all of my furniture and belongings so I could buy drugs.  

I knew I was in a very bad spot and needed help but didn’t know what to do. I would call my Mother when I was overdosing on drugs. For instance, one morning at 1 a.m. the moment I laid on my bed, my spirit came out of my body and was being pulled toward my bedroom window. I was fighting with everything I had to get back into my body but I couldn’t. As soon as I got to the window, I could see two figures which were completely black with hoods and red glowing eyes. In great fear I resisted and tried to get away, managing to make it to the front of my apartment, only to come to another window where I saw a figure identical to the two I saw on the other side. They were there to receive me. I desperately fought until all of a sudden I was jolted back into my body and jumped up, out of bed and called my friend for help. The next day I called my mom to tell her what happened. She cried, being so thankful I was alive. She told me that at the very moment I was experiencing death, the Lord woke her up to intensely pray for my life with my dad and brother.

One day I was walking downtown in Denver, which is where I lived. I was walking home after visiting a friend’s house where we had smoked some weed.  I heard the sound of bagpipes in the distance. Being that I loved music so much,  I followed the sound. I walked a few blocks and made it to St. John’s, a beautiful Episcopal Cathedral with beautiful gray stone, stained glass windows and   bell towers. I saw these men coming out wearing kilts and playing bagpipes. There was a security guard standing on the corner. I greeted him and asked him, “What’s going on here?” He told me they had just finished with an annual memorial service and they were leaving but  if I wanted to, I could go inside and he would  give me a tour. We went in and he showed me around the whole church. Finally, we walked up to the altar and there was an organ with huge pipes, towering high toward the lofty ceiling.

The security guard sat down at the organ and began to play. The sound was amazing. I felt such a presence and it gripped my heart. At that moment,  I heard a voice, loud and clear. He said, “I made music for My glory!” Tears streamed down my face. There was no question that it was the Lord and his name was Jesus Christ. I stood there and wept until he was done playing the song. I walked out of the church and before I made it to the first step I called my Mom. It’s rare for her to answer the phone but she actually answered the phone that day. She said “Hello?” I said “Mom?” She replied, “Yes?” Do you still have that bible you gave me?” I asked.  She said, “Yes.” I then asked, “Can you send it to me?” She broke down crying and it seems it got there the next morning.  

I was trying to find a church to go to. My Mom suggested a church to me. It was a large and internationally known church. I took an hour ride by bus to attend a service. They took up the offering and when the offering plate came I had written a note telling them that I was addicted to drugs and alcohol and I needed help. I put my number in it and asked for someone to please call me. I kept looking for that phone call but it never came. At that point, I’m still going to bars every night and all my friends are like “Yeah, Karen found Jesus.” I knew I needed a new path. In an effort to find some guidance and direction I decided to enlist in the Army. I called them. Normally they go out to recruit people so they were very excited to have someone that actually called them. They came and picked me up, gave me a physical, even assigned me a job. I was sworn in with my departure date scheduled until my last drug screen came back positive for cocaine. 

What do I do now? I talked to my Mom and she told me my brother wanted to send me some money to get me a bus ticket to come home. She told me it was a one way ticket. I said “I’m not staying there.” She said, “Just come here and when you are ready to go back we will send you back.”  I left my few remaining belongings at the house where I was staying and I took the bus home. I didn’t have one cent to my name but I did have a flask of whisky, and I had different drugs in each pocket of my wallet. I slept eighteen hours on the bus ride home. When I got to my Mom’s house I slept on her couch for three days. My brother said to my Mom, “She looks like a crackhead.” He didn’t know I basically was. On the third day when I woke up I was sober enough to know that I was not going to go back to Colorado. I began to go to church with my Mom and was able to give my life whole-heartedly to the Lord. He began to change my life and reveal Himself to me. I received His love for me and I became so in love with Jesus!

I started working at the horse farm again. A few weeks went by and I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter Anna. She is eighteen now. As I mentioned earlier,  I had two abortions. That’s because I had no understanding or value for life. I was selfish. I didn’t want a kid, I hated kids, and even if I wanted one I couldn’t afford to take care of one. But now, I have a love for children and I knew I was going to keep this pregnancy. I told my Mom I would give the baby up for adoption because I thought that would be the right thing to do since I was a single Mom living with my parents. My Mom said, “Oh, no you’re not! The Lord will take care of this baby, I promise.” So, I went through a program that helped single mothers and when they allowed me to listen to her heartbeat it broke my heart and I knew I was never going to let her go. 

When Anna was about 1 1/2 years old she was diagnosed with a genetic condition. One of the therapists  said that she would never be able to talk. She had surgery, five years of speech therapy and occupational therapy and I’m here to tell you today that as I write this, she is eighteen years old.  She doesn’t stop talking, and she is a worshiper, who plays the piano and sings so beautifully. 

The Lord also gave me my husband and two more wonderful daughters. The Lord has restored everything that the enemy tried to take from me. The Lord gives beauty for ashes. Everything the devil said I wasn’t, the Lord has shown me that I am. The enemy tried to keep me silent but the Lord said I have a voice and He wants me to use it for His glory. So, here I am to tell you that if you just fix your eyes on Him, believe and step through all the obstacles you are facing, He will help lead you into freedom. Remember how much I said I hated  before I was born again but the Lord softened my heart and has given me a heart of compassion. I  currently volunteer for CASA, which means I am a court appointed special advocate, a voice, for abused and neglected children who are in the foster system under the state’s care. The Lord has birthed through me a  ministry called All For Love. Our mission is to LOVE the world and we will greatly enjoy funding the end time harvest. We  proclaim the goodness of the Lord; we will share the good news that Jesus saves and gives hope to the hopeless. He gives beauty for ashes, heals the brokenhearted and sets the captives free.