Monday, May 26, 2008

This is what I shared with the young ladies at Bethany's birthday party. If you haven't read the post on the party (posted above, then do so before reading this).

Bethany- Happy Thirteenth Birthday! You have so much ahead of you during these next few years and I cannot wait to see how the Lord will work in your life! Your parents have asked me to share my testimony with you today, something that I feel that I should do especially as it is so evident that God has really done a work in my heart since I turned thirteen.
As you know, the Franco and Castlebury families have known each other for quite some time! I think that I can remember when you were born and how ecstatic your Momma was to have a girl!! So, you know what I am today but how much do know about what I was?
I was born into a Christian family, one that attended church every Sunday and sent their children to Christian school like everyone else in the local church. When I entered seventh grade my parents felt the Lord leading them to home school my younger brothers and I, something that I am eternally grateful for! If they had not done this I don’t know that I would be standing here today. Soon after this change in schooling the Lord began to convict and show my parents of certain areas that needed to change in our family. As these changes began to take effect I became bitter, hateful, and rebellious. I didn’t want to change because I didn’t want to be different and I thought that my parents were just trying to fit me into a mold. I didn’t trust their leadership and I most certainly wasn’t going to trust God. I was miserable and thought that my parents just needed to leave me alone so that I could “be my own person”. I wanted independence from my family and God; I wanted to be my own person. I wanted to have my own job, do my own thing, and not be accountable to anyone; but God wouldn’t allow me to have my own way.
I went on in this rebellious state for several years causing not only myself to be miserable and unhappy, but also my whole family. There were arguments, hateful words said by me, and a rebellious attitude that seemed to grow with each passing day. Finally, the Lord brought something into my life that caused me to deal with my heart which also meant dealing with my doubts about Salvation. My Mom took me to John 3:18 which says “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” and also to John 10:27-29 which says ”My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life: and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” It was then that I realized that Salvation happens when you trust Him as your Savior and that once you are saved nothing can take it away! You are God’s forever! As my Mom said “It was as if the light finally came on!” in my heart and from that moment things began to change! I can’t tell you what changed first as I didn’t even know change was taking place, but I know that I began reading my Bible and cultivating a relationship with the Lord! I found that I wanted to know more about God and began to wonder what He was going to do with my life.
There have been many ups and downs in the past eight years since the Lord got a hold of my heart and the recurring theme that I see and hear from my parents is that God has worked a miracle in me! There is no other explanation! See, during my rebellious years I thought that marriage and children were optional and that women had a right to do whatever the men were doing. But now, eight years after the Lord got a hold of my heart, my way of thinking has completely changed! I now believe that a woman’s greatest calling is to be a keeper at home and raising up a future generation that brings honor and glory to God’s name! There is such fulfillment in this!
As I got closer to graduating from High School I began to wonder “what would the Lord have me to do? Where should I go to college? Does He want me to go to college? What should I major in?” These were all questions that I faced every day. I finally told the Lord that “if You want me to go to college I will: If You want me to stay home, I will” and I had such peace after telling Him that. As I talked with my parents and listened to their concerns, it became apparent to me that the Lord wanted me to be at home, learning from my Mother how to be a keeper at home. See, I didn’t want a career; I felt that my place was going to be as a keeper in my own home and that wasn’t going to be something that I would learn or be encouraged to do at a college. Where else can you learn and have hands on experience about taking care of a home and children than amongst your own family? During what would have been my freshman year of college my Grandfather had a stroke and my Mom spent allot of time in Michigan helping her Mother as they made the trek back and forth to the nursing home. While she was gone I ran the house. I cooked, cleaned, did laundry, ironed, had to keep the boys on track with school, and took on the responsibilities that my Mom had every day. During the next several years this was repeated several weeks out of each year and it was a real learning experience for me! I would not have traded it for anything!
Bethany, as you begin your thirteenth year I would encourage you in several areas. I would encourage you to keep a submissive heart before the Lord and your parents. You have some of the godliest parents that I know and the Lord may guide and direct them down paths that may seems lonely but remember that the Lord is leading them. I have been, and am going down, the path less trodden and it is lonely but I take comfort in knowing that this is where God would have me to go.
I would also encourage you to make the most of these next few years to learn more about home keeping. I personally believe that God created women to be keepers at home and I believe that this is what your parents believe as well. Learn from your Mother- learn how to make your house cozy and welcoming to your future husband, learn how to take care of a home, learn how to cook those really good but really “hard sounding” meals! Of course I’m sure you already know all this but I must encourage you on!!
Bethany, do not waste the next few years as I did. Use them to read good wholesome books that make you think and learn all that you can from your mother and father. These years will be gone in a flash- use them wisely and for God’s glory!


Paula said...

Dear Ashley,

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful testimony. I am so very blessed and encouraged by reading it. Every word glorified God! I am very happy that the Lord turned your heart to home and to your parents. You are an inspiration and encouragement to me and all that encounter you. I know that Bethany and her family were very blessed by what you shared.

You are a true visionary and virtuous daughter!

I am blessed to call you friend!

Ashley said...

Thank you Mrs. Paula! I too am Thankful that the Lord has done such a mighty work in my heart!