God writes each of our stories in His own unique way. But we are not just characters, we help write the script as we choose to obey or disobey the Father. There is a power in our stories. The truths of God come through as we look back on how far the Father has brought us. Scriptures come alive within our hearts as we live out the truths they proclaim. The following is the story of a Christ-follower just like you, who has walked through the ups and downs of life with her Father God.
By Guest Contributor Felicia Harris
I grew up in a single parent home and lived in a small country town called Thomasville in South Alabama. My mom never married. I attended a small Methodist church that had a census of about 15 to 30 members that attended regularly. I grew up with 5 brothers and sisters in my home, and my mom also raised my cousin when his mother left him in Alabama and continued her life in New York. I had a relationship with my father, but he was married with my 5 other siblings.
My church life was different from the norm. Unfortunately, I don’t remember being involved in church growing up. When we did attend church, my mother always told us to say the Bible verse, “Jesus wept” – John 11:35. I didn’t know the significance of the verse until I became an adult. Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus while showing empathy for Mary and Martha. Romans 12:15 says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” Jesus wept can also be another example of God’s grief over our sin. I was expected to go to church, but participation of the children wasn’t emphasized. I do remember enjoying the different visiting choirs. I have always enjoyed Gospel music and it brings me peace during times of stress or storms. I remember as a child the sprinkling of water for christening. I do remember the feeling that something was missing. My mother did encourage prayer for meals and bedtime. I don’t think prayer was significant in other areas of our lives. I do remember praying as I was growing up for a better life for myself when I became an adult. My mom did work in a factory for a short time, but money was tight in the household. I grew up on government assistance most of my childhood. My father gave minimal support for 3 kids. I dealt with bullying and peer pressure as other teenagers. During my high school years my older sister, Sheila, married and joined a Pentecostal church. She shared her ministry with me and I attended her church several times. I still didn’t feel at home.
I went off to college and my sister was constantly giving me scriptures or prayers to read. I was in college when I started tithing. As my sister explained, “God asks for 10% but He also wants you to give from your heart.” Deuteronomy 14:22-23 (TLB) tells us, “You must tithe all of your crops every year. Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place He shall choose as His sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” Second Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” God promises to richly bless us if we are faithful in tithes and offerings. And Malachi 3:10 says, “ ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try me now in this, says the Lord of Hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it.’ ” As my salary increased, my tithes increased. The Lord has been faithful and all my needs have always been taken care of.
I continued to attend several Methodist and Baptist churches in the Birmingham area, but I never felt at home. I wanted a church that the pastor teaches from the Bible and not just their opinions. One of my favorite verses in college was “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT) Unfortunately, I did make some bad decisions that did affect me later in life.
I had goals for myself: 1) graduate from UAB as a nurse, 2) marriage, 3) child. I did graduate in 1998 and purchased my first home at 25 years old. Marriage and kids didn’t come as planned. I continued to pray to God, but now looking back I realize that I never had a real relationship with Him.
In 2003, I had an infection that medications were not working. I had episodes of feeling good or times that my body felt that I was crashing. It’s true; nurses don’t take care of themselves. MD’s ran several tests to determine the cause. While waiting on the results prayers became more intense. I now believe that I was negotiating with God about my life. I think this is when my relationship with God became stronger. My cousin Keisha and I always tried reading through the Bible, but we didn’t have a clear understanding of the meaning. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and received treatment with oral Metformin. Thankfully I didn’t need insulin injections. Unfortunately, I had a time of depression because I knew the complications for uncontrolled diabetes. I continued to pray and changed my diet and exercise. God blessed me and I only had to take the medication for one year.
I was married September 23, 2006, to Mr. Harris. We attended church regularly and decided to make GFBC our home church, so we joined together in March 2007. I made my commitment to God by being baptized in April 2007. My husband and I attended regularly at first, but eventually my husband’s work schedule changed. Our marriage has had ups and downs. We have faced the issues all marriages face: attending church regularly, tithing, what we wanted for our child and ourselves, and the normal turmoil of any intimate relationship – trust, guilt from the past, selfishness, forgiveness, working through our issues. But scripture has a lot to offer to those of us who are married. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and slander along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And these verses of comfort for me: Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” We have been able to overcome, but keeping a marriage strong against our enemy, Satan, takes effort.
Ms. Felicity Madison Harris was born March 11, 2009. During my pregnancy I prayed for a healthy, happy baby. I was blessed with my happy baby girl, Felicity – the Latin meaning is “happiness” as she recently told me.
I made a promise to myself that my child would have the opportunity to have a relationship with God at an early age. I prayed that she would desire God in her life. Prayer is important to her. I have a video of her praying for her toys, family and “everything” when she was 2 to 3 years old.
Now that she is older, she prays for healing for her father when his gout is active. Her PE teacher told me that Felicity prayed for her when she injured her leg. Felicity and I pray together nightly.
June 2017, Felicity made a commitment to God and was baptized at GFBC. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I was smiling, and I know God was smiling also. Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”
I had my yearly GYN and mammogram appointments. I received a call from my MD that I would need further testing about an area that was seen on the mammogram 2 weeks previously. I had follow-up for a more detailed ultrasound the next week. Of course I felt anxious and apprehensive about the test. But I was abnormally calm during that time. I had faith that God would protect and take care of me. Even my friends and coworkers told me, “You seem so calm.” I know God has a plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’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.’” And Matthew 6:34 says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (NLT)
My sister Sheila prayed for me and gave me verses to read. Becoming Faith Friends (BFF) Lifegroup ladies were so supportive with texts, emails, and phone calls. I felt the love of my class/church family. Jeremiah 33:6 says, “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
I received the phone call from my MD that it was a benign fibro adenoma and nothing needed to be done! God is a Faithful God!!! I was scheduled for another mammogram in AprilI and a follow-up ultrasound in 6 months, but before that time passed I felt a hard area on my breast at the incision site. So I called and had my appointment moved to an earlier date. I had an ultrasound and thankfully it was only scar tissue. And my MD stated that the area had decreased in size from my previous mammogram in October. Blessing!! God is awesome!
My Lifegroup has been a blessing to me. They were very supportive after my father’s death, my health issues, my marriage, and Felicity’s illness and surgery. Cards and emails arrive just as you need them. I am active in church, working with worship care monthly in Kids Kingdom, in the blood pressure check ministry and as a prayer warrior for the ladies in our life group. I have grown so much since joining GFBC and I know that God is still using me.
Satan continues to attack me with my job, child, and marriage. I remember that God will not place anything on me that I can’t handle. God will always be with me during the good times and the bad times. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”