I am the 6th of 7 children born to a "family in Ministry". My father was a pastor for many years and my parents had worked in Germany as missionaries in the late 60ís. I was born in 1974 about 11 months after they came back to the States. My mother had been raised in the United Pentecostal Church and my father had grown up Lutheran. In his search for the Lord, he had begun attending a UPC church in Billings MT and over the course of the next few years ended up at a Bible College in Portland OR where they met. Shortly after marrying they went back to Montana to start churches for the UPC and then went on to the mission field as UPC missionaries. Five children later and more than a little disillusioned, they returned to the States to start some non-denominational churches. Being a part of the Charismatic movement, they were excited to be moving in the Gifts and to include their children and their friends in this wonderful opportunity to be closer to the Lord.
Just a little background information to help you get perspective. J By the time I was three we were living in the parsonage next to the little church my dad was pastoring and were there morning, noon and night. My parents were eager to serve others and to have an "open" home. In the course of a year they took in no less than 4 different troubled young people. One of them was a pedophile and it doesnít take a lot of effort to figure out what happened next. My brother, who was 18 months older than myself was also molested. But for me, it was only the beginning. Of course I couldnít tell anyone. At that age, I didnít know it was wrong. We were just playing. But over the course of the next 6 years, it seemed like I was a magnet for people who would take advantage of children. It all stopped when I was 9 and I was left feeling like I was no longer significant. I didnít find church or God as He was presented to me an option. God was all about the appearance. If I wore dresses everyday and didnít cut my hair, wear jewelry and make up I was doing the Christian thing. But I was still so empty and even at 9 wanted something that was significant and powerful.
Being an avid reader I turned to books to meet that need and escaped often into a fantasy life. With my imaginary scenarios and friends I was never lonely, I was always significant and most importantly to me, I was in control of every situation. I canít tell you how many times, while on road trips, or even in church services I would close my eyes to "take a nap" only to have gone into that fantasy world. I read everything that I could get my hands on and eventually found science-fiction/fantasy novels. They opened a whole new world to me of the mystical and supernatural. Having been raised in a "Spirit-filled" home where spiritual warfare and the gifts and moving of the Spirit were openly shown and discussed I wasnít skeptical about what that all meant. I simply knew it was real and that it, to me, was something that you did. But this mystical stuffÖ now that looked interesting and powerful. I could again, be in control.
By the time I was 11 I had spiraled so far into my fantasy world I had no friends, no close relationships and as long as I kept a low profile at home no one would ask me how I was or get close enough to figure me out. I was very lonely and depressed. So, I suppose itís no surprise that when my oldest brother had a nervous breakdown and flipped out in the living room I wasnít able to cope. My parents reactions of embarrassment and confusion left me with the distinct impression that it was not ok to fall apart. I needed to keep the mask of "OK" on as long as possible. At one particularly low point I wrote a suicide note, which somehow, I have forgotten how, got into the hands of the school counselor. She reacted responsibly and kept me under supervision until my parents could come and pick me up. Iíll never forget overhearing my mother vent over the phone to a friend about how outraged she was that they would keep her child without her permission. Not one word about my situation, only her outrage and again, embarrassment.
At the ridiculously young age of 13 I resolved to hide it all and fake it on the outside so no one would ever know how fragile I really was. I actually made a few friends and had a group of girls that I was involved with. I tried out for sports (what was I thinking?) and crawled out of my shell. At a birthday party some friends and I decided to do a seance. It was during that time I found out I had a "special connection" to the spirit world. The spirits would talk to me and they would move through me. The power and the thrill of being "chosen" was spectacular. Absolutely intoxicating. And I was hooked. Like an addict I would go back again and again to those experiences and moments. The depression lifted, for the time being, and I was the life of the party. Then I would go to church and go through the motions. Fooling everyone. I know the Lord wasnít fooled and He brought people into my life that were willing and able to speak to me, if I would have listened. But even then, I saw that I could really have it both ways. I could "repent" on Sunday and sing at church and then do whatever, say whatever, be whatever the rest of the time. Speaking in tongues was easy. I could fake the gibberish. I could interpret tongues, I knew enough of Scriptures to say things that were relevant and were uplifting. An encouraging word is always welcome and rarely questioned.
By the end of my freshman year, I was no longer so impressed with the darkness I was playing with. It wasnít enough and there werenít enough paybacks to keep me interested. I could see the importance of being a "good Christian" so I resolved to just do it. I would wear the right clothes, do the right things. I made a huge statement of throwing my make up, jewelry and "worldly" clothes away. My parents were thrilled and I was resolved. I gave it a year. I didnít swear, I didnít cheat, I didnít flirt with Satan. I went to church, I went to retreats, I was a leader in our Youth Group. You name it I was there. I tried to read the Bible, but it was confusing to me and I couldnít read for more than 5 minutes without going to sleep. So I figured I would just pray. Oh, and brother, could I pray. I had a fairly large vocabulary for a 16 year old girl and I was impressive. The wordís would just flow out and I was eloquent. But it was all so empty. I was still depressed, lonely and frustrated. By the end of that year, I had decided that I would rather have the thrill in my life of the spirit realm that continue killing myself for something that had so little payoff.
I remember in the beginning of my Junior year in high school reaching a new low. I sat on my bed with my back to the wall and sat in the lotus position as I meditated on the concept of peace and how I knew it. I had been studying the New Age and was excited to see the "freedom" it offered. There is one god and many ways to him. Thereís no condemnation. I could find him on my own path. All the peacefulness I saw in Eastern mysticism was so tempting and enticing. As I drifted from one thought to the next I thought of the power that could be mine if I just gave up and gave in to this god that I was seeking. So, I prayed. And even then, in the middle of myself, I knew I was praying to Satan. I prayed for power, I prayed for control and I offered myself as collateral. I didnít care and I guess I thought it was still all a big joke. A cosmic joke on Heidi that would leave me just as unfulfilled and depressed. Little did I know how eager he was to take me up on it.
Within the next few days I noticed a new confidence Iíd never experienced. There was an inner prompting guiding me. Everywhere I went, it would tell me what was going on and what I could expect to happen. I began little "experiments". I would sit in class and tell people to do things and then watch them do them. It was a rush. I became very good at Drama. I could morph into any character I desired. The darker the better. The angrier the better. I began teaching my friends how to meditate and how to "let the character fill your consciousness". My grades went up, my social status went up. I was voted "most talented". (woo hoo, I know). I had finally achieved this level of significance I had so desired. So, why didnít it mean anything? Why was I still lonely? Why was I terrified at night in the dark. Why did I have nightmares that left me frozen and unable to move?
At graduation from high School, my parents made me an offer. If I would go to Oregon and be in a missions program, they would pay for it. Free trip out of the house? Why not? Missions program? Sure, I could do that. I mean, if you are serious about being a good person, you are going to do Christian stuff. It was expected and I was willing. So off I went. But what I found when I got there was young men and women who were serious about God. They were worshipping Him, they were eager to serve Him. They had sacrificed scholarships, jobs, families, friends just to come here and serve God. And they loved Him. They werenít perfect, but they were forgiven. They were open to me and didnít treat me like a freak. They didnít care what I looked like, they didnít care where I came from. If I loved God, then I was one of them. And for the first time, I couldnít fake it. I couldnít pretend. I would go to services and weep. Desperately wanting to "fit in" but really not getting it.
That fall I enrolled in 5 month training. I wasnít eager to do that, but it was what my parents wanted me to do and they were paying for it. Lacking much initiative or drive on my own, I went with it. I became more and more depressed. The time dragged and I withdrew into myself. There were times during that first 3 months where I would black out for an hour at a time and not know where Iíd been. I found out later that I would wander and at times make some very inappropriate advances toward one of the individuals on staff. He would rebuke me and I would turn around and walk away.
9 weeks into the course, one of the teachers came to speak on Spiritual Warfare. Finally something I could find interesting. I was fascinated as he shared stories of deliverance from demonic possession. I was eager to go back for the 2nd to last day when he was going to open up the class to prayer. I wanted to be prayed for. I wanted this powerful man to give me some of what he had. I was one of the first forward. My classmates were all being blessed and were crying and laughing as they worshipped. I went forward, fell to my knees crying and I couldnít pray. For the first time I couldnít make a "prayer" come out. A girl came over to me and put her hands on me to pray for me. I began to hiss and to writhe like a snake on the ground. As soon as she stopped praying I would quit, but as soon as she started again there Iíd go. I was confused. How could this be happening to me and what was going on? All those years of playing with the devil were starting to catch up to me and I had no idea how bad it was. For the next four days I hissed, spit, frothed, swore, screamed and threw myself around the room. These people I had despised and thought rejected me prayed for me, they fasted for me and they held me down so that I wouldnít harm myself. Finally on the last day, one of the girls on staff held my head on her lap and began to pray for me. She refused to "bind and cast out". She just began to pray for ME. She spoke to me, not to the demons that were having a field day with the young people. She told me that I had invited these demons into my life and I needed to take authority and tell them to leave. All of the sudden, I could speak. Well, whisper was about all at that point. I began to list them and tell them to leave in the name of Jesus. And I got free, one by one. I donít know how long I was there, I donít know how long I talked, I really donít know how many were there. But eventually the people holding me down let go and began to sing and worship as I continued to talk. Finally, I was done. And I laid there weeping. We got up and walked to the dorms and I slept.
That evening was a service and I went. I felt empty and I could barely move. I was bruised from the shoulders to my ankles and my throat was raw. I laid on the floor next to the worship team after the service and the stillness was tangible. I closed my eyes and I knew that this God who was powerful enough to destroy the hold Satan had on me was present. I knew He loved me and I knew that He wanted me. He wanted ME. Not because I did it all right. Not because I deserved it. The value was in what He could make of me. I knew that I would destroy myself if I continued. I knew I would end up in hell. But most of all I wanted to be safe. I wanted to follow this love and to live in the security of Him. I said, "God, Jesus, Iíve tried everything I know and itís all been for nothing. There is nothing and no one more powerful than you. And I need you. Iím not worth much, but please take me and make me yours." 10 years later the peace that flowed through me is still tangible. The stillness of my mind and the joy of His presence. Within minutes I was transformed. The next day, people didnít recognize me. Iím not exaggerating. I was free and I was new. I went on a two month trip around the US working in Missions. I was so hungry for the Lord, I couldnít stop reading the Word. The Lord stayed very close to me through that first year. He would speak to me and guide me daily. On the one year anniversary of being saved, He told me that He wouldnít be as audible as He had been. That I needed to learn to seek Him and to walk in the truth I knew. That as an infant He had carried me and that now I needed to learn to walk. I was terrified and I did struggle for a few years. During that time He brought my husband into my life. He had been raised in a very strong Christian home and loved the Lord. He was able to answer my questions and guide me to the Word as I struggled to find out what it meant on a daily basis to follow Christ. All I had grown up knowing and doing was a sham to me. I was learning this all for the first time and thereís a lot there folks!
Over the next five years, we had two boys and went from going to very charismatic churches to where we are now at a Calvary Chapel Fellowship. Where we are taught the word and are encouraged to study it. The temptation is there for me to seek the easy route to fulfillment and purpose. But I am always brought up short when I think of where that road goes. Even when I get down and frustrated, thereís always hope. At no time am I alone to figure this all out for myself. I have true friends in my life who are there to encourage and bless me. But most importantly to help me focus on the Lord. I have two precious children who are a gift from God and a consistent reminder of His goodness to me. My husband has been more of a blessing to me than I think I even am aware. He has prayed for me and encouraged me, exhorted me and at times allowed me to fall on my face. I know that to a large degree, he is the vehicle the Lord has used to teach me how to follow Him.
I am able to reach out to young women in our fellowship and I see the loneliness all around me. All I have, all I am is a blessing from the Lord. I have no doubt that I would be dead right now if it werenít for His intervention in my life. Thank you Lord for saving me from myself and from the snares of the enemy. Thank you for being faithful to me when I not only turned from you, but ran to your enemies and laughed at Your sacrifice and Your gift of salvation.