I continued to walk the wrong path as a new Christian. I had also started going out with a Christian guy, prior to my baptism. It became apparent very quickly that we weren’t right for each other, but I kept thinking “it was me” as usual.
I would forget to ask for God’s guidance with the situations that I was facing, yet cry out His name at the last second. But, God was always walking with me, trying to show me the right way – I just wasn’t listening!
Shortly after being baptised, I met with one of the Elders at my Church, Jenni. She often went through the “10 steps to freedom in Christ” with people. I met with her on a weekly basis to go through this as I wanted to let go of all the hurt.
Two big things happened from going through those steps:
- I was able to forgive the men of my past, for the things that had happened.
- My Raynaud’s disease – supposedly incurable, was cured.
Jenni felt I should stop taking my medication after praying. Therefore, trusting in the Lord, I stopped that day and gave up my disability badge and income. It was my first miracle of many to come.
My parents were going to be away when I was scheduled to have reconstructive knee surgery and therefore they had arranged for my brother to pick me up from the hospital twenty-four hours later.
A male nurse came to walk me down to the theatre, then when I got out of the lift, a female nurse came up to me. She looked at me and said “that man that is being wheeled out of theatre would be just perfect for you.” She then walked off. I smiled, but thought nothing of it.
The next day, I was bed bound and Kieren walked into my hospital room.
Kieren had gone to college with my brother, but we had lost frequent contact with each other from eighteen-years-old and onwards. We would see each other when out clubbing every once and a while, and he’d drop me home to make sure my girlfriends and I were safe, but the relationship was always platonic.
It was amazing to see a friendly face and after saying hello, the first thing I said to him was “I gave my life to the Lord recently, I am a Christian.” Kieren looked at me puzzled but said “that’s nice for you.”
We chatted for a few minutes, but then a nurse told Kieren off for being out of bed and he was ushered to his room. That’s when I realised he was the man that the nurse had mentioned.
Apparently he said that the female nurse had gone up to him when he was in recovery to say that the lady going into surgery was the woman for him.
Kieren only realised I was in hospital when he saw my mum dashing to my hospital room to check on me before going away for a few days.
Kieren and I started seeing each other in December 2006.
I was smitten, but I had remembered praying to God a few weeks before my operation that I didn’t want to make the same mistakes in life anymore and therefore the next man that came into my life was to be God given. For the first time, I was content at the thought of being on my own – however long that took.
On our first date, Kieren cooked for us at my flat and I decided that if he was to love me for me, he would have to accept my past. I remember once Kieren sat down, I started to tell him about everything that had happened to me.
He was the first person I had ever told the whole story to, and he sat there listening and not saying a word. When I had finished, I looked up and Kieren was very silent and didn’t say anything to start with. I asked if he was okay. Kieren said that the information was too much to take in and he had to go. He got up and walked out. I didn’t hear from him for 3 days after that night.
I was confused to say the least, but I prayed that God would make it clear to me if Kieren was His gift to me. I remember telling God that He had to give me ten clear signs, and they needed to be specific – like Kieren was to ring me at 10pm on Tuesday night. Another was Kieren was to bring me a bouquet of lilies. He was also to take me on a weekend-away break with no ulterior motive. I also said that if Kieren loved me, it was to love me for me, and not for my body – therefore Kieren had to be happy to wait until marriage to have sex.
Kieren texted me later that week, to say that he saw a future with me and was sorry for not being in contact before.
God graciously showed me my ten signs, obviously without Kieren knowing them, and we fell in love.
As crazy as this sounds, Kieren and I had decided that we wanted to get married in Sri Lanka, after just 4-weeks of dating. That was before we got engaged but we were talking one weekend and found ourselves in a Travel Agent and booked it there and then. We told our parents that if they wanted to celebrate our wedding with us, then they had better start saving. Confused they asked where my ring was and we replied we’re not engaged yet.
Two months later Kieren proposed on top of Pendennis Castle overlooking Falmouth, Cornwall. He got down on one knee and poured his soul out. I on the other hand, had just tripped over the wood trusses, and couldn’t stop giggling after turning around to see him with the ring in his hand. Everything was perfect!
The elders at my Church were concerned, as were my Christian friends – some thought it was spiritual suicide, especially for a young Christian, but my minister met with me to discuss our plans for marriage. Charles also met with Kieren soon after and he said to elders that although he wasn’t a betting man, he knew that Kieren would give his life to the Lord at some point. Together with me saying he was my gift from God, my minister gave his blessing.
Kieren was raised Irish Catholic and fell into a coma at 6 months old from contracting Meningitis. When he woke up, the child that lay in a hospital bed on one side of him had died, and on the other side a child had had his arms and legs amputated, as well as being severely brain damaged.
Kieren’s only effect from it was he had developed ADD and ADHD. He was uncontrollable, but his mum fought hard not to have him medicated. He was sent to the nun’s and was unfortunately badly mistreated in a bid to try and make him behave. In the end, he turned his back on God in his early teens.
Kieren often was described as the most “Christian non-Christian” that people had met. He had started coming to church just before we got married as he wanted to “support me,” but had no part in the singing or listening to the sermon.
He was there in body but not in spirit. I prayed daily that he would give his life before we wed but God kept reassuring me of Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you.”
Three days before we flew to Sri Lanka to marry, I saw my main consultant about my gynaecological issues. By this time, I had been told by four separate consultants that my dreams of becoming a mum were pointless.
Medically, I could not have children. They had decided the best course of action was to give me a total hysterectomy. At 26 years old, this was a drastic measure, but one they thought necessary to stop the suffering I was enduring day in, day out. I begged them to let us try for a baby once we were married and it was agreed that they would “humour me” and we could have three months. The operation would then be performed.
Our wedding was perfect. The honeymoon even better and six weeks later we arrived back in the UK continuing to live with Kieren’s parents in a bid to save for our marital home. We had moved in with them six months prior to the wedding whilst we rented out my bachelorette pad.
Again, people found this difficult that we actually lived together – as how can you do that and not have sex? Kieren respected my wishes not to have sex before marriage and that is what happened. Don’t get me wrong, some days it was tough. Fourteen months of being with that special someone day in, day out, meant the devil tried to get into our thoughts. But we knew that we had our whole lives to be together intimately, however, looking back, this is something that we would both change. Living with temptation is not something that we now see as wise. The devil after-all, comes to kill, steal and destroy but I thank God that we honoured Him.
People today have said to me that they wished they had what Kieren and I have. I think that when you have found Mr or Mrs Right, to not have sex as the basis of your relationship is a powerful thing. As then, when difficult things happen in life, the relationship doesn’t crumble. Kieren is and will always be my best friend.
The first month of being back in the UK, I fell pregnant. We knew at around four-weeks but my consultants told me that I was wrong. So many pregnancy tests later (ten to be precise) and a trip to my GP it was concluded; I was most definitely pregnant. The consultants still to this day say they are unsure of how we managed it but I knew this baby was another miracle from God.
My pregnancy was far from easy and by eight-weeks, I was in excruciating pain. The scan revealed I was still carrying but they diagnosed me with SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) I was signed off work for four months and told to rest. I was classed as a high risk pregnancy due to the previous issues with my kidneys, and when I was around six-months pregnant I was rushed into hospital again. My kidneys had started failing and I became very ill. Kieren was taken aside and told that he was to choose between our baby girl and me. At the time, I was unaware of the decision made, primarily due to every mother’s natural instinct to protect her child, but slowly my condition eased and the baby survived as well. I was monitored weekly and went into labour 2 weeks before my due date. I remained in labour for the whole of that time having contractions day and night for fourteen-days but my midwife felt that whilst our little girl was happy, I was fine to stay as I was.
Our daughter was born after eighteen-hours of pushing. I remember the consultant telling me that I had twenty minutes to get her out or he was going to give me a C-section. I had not-so-politely replied for him to go away and he wasn’t going to come near me.
I wanted a Hebrew name and Kieren wasn’t opposed to this idea anyway, so we both fell in love with the name “Sarai” (which means princess) and Kieren wanted my middle name, “Louise” (that means famous warrior).
At three-weeks old, Sarai developed breathing problems. She had sleep apnea, but unfortunately was such a deep sleeper she would stop breathing altogether. An ambulance dashed to our home after she turned blue one evening and she was diagnosed. We were then advised to have a camera in her room and a monitor under her mattress to alarm us when Sarai would stop breathing. The first nine-months of Sarai’s life was hard. Sleep was a minimum and as per most relationships with new-borns our relationship suffered.
There was tension on both sides of the family due to jealousy from Kieren’s sister for wanting a child of her own and also having medical issues. My brother’s girlfriend at the time also found it hard that we had had a child before them, so I became a recluse.
I had gained twenty-five kilos / four stone during my pregnancy. Unfortunately, due to my eating issues when younger, I fought hard not to let the pregnancy affect what I would eat, but over compensated and then felt disgusted with my own body. Although I wasn’t diagnosed I knew I was depressed and Kieren one day told me he was finding it hard living with a ghost. I was “existing not living” and something needed to be done.
I had started having my violent nightmares again, they had resurfaced after seeing my ex-husband one day. I was attacking Kieren during the night and he urged me to get help.
A friend recommended I try Rewind Therapy. This is a therapy that helps sufferers put a traumatic incident behind them by stopping unwanted thoughts and images intruding into their lives. In short – it changed my life and slowly I became me again.
My medical issues came back tenfold after having Sarai and on 24th April 2010, aged 27 years-old, the consultants took the decision away from me to have more children. I had a total hysterectomy. Kieren had had a vasectomy two months after Sarai was born, as he had only ever wanted one child, but swore to never put me through the hell of pregnancy again.
I felt cheated and hurt by God. How could I go through life thinking I couldn’t have children, yet He gives me a miracle, then takes away my chance of having more?
I still have times that I struggle with this, but I now realise that Sarai was a miracle, and we are so blessed to have her in our lives. I was looking at the negatives rather than seeing our true blessing.
My in-laws were disappointed that Kieren had had a vasectomy. The atmosphere was frosty to say the least and I was “blamed” for not giving my in-law’s a grandson, it apparently was “my duty” to carry on the family name. Kieren pointed out that both Sarai and I had nearly died, but it didn’t seem to hold much value. My in-laws then said they were joking, but I felt their true feelings had been revealed. My mum was just grateful that I was still alive and she had a grandchild. My dad said I had ruined my life and that we should have just carried on enjoying life. If he had had his time over again – dad definitely wouldn’t have had any children.
My father had his first stroke in May 2010. We were away, staying at Kieren’s sisters at the time, when I received a frantic telephone call from my mum. We were four hours away, but rushed back to be with him as soon as possible. Although my dad fully recovered medically, he was a changed man and became even more difficult to be around. He had another mini-stroke a few months later, which isn’t uncommon. Since then he has battled with his health. Still denying there is an issue with drink, as he only binge-drinks on the weekends and holidays, but that is acceptable in his eyes.
He still goes through stages of becoming severely depressed, with the voices inside his head and nightmares of his mum dying in his arms, after she bled out from lung cancer. My Nan drowned in her own blood whilst dad was trying to resuscitate her.
Dad has pushed nearly everyone away, especially over the last ten years. My Mum is still with him, she is strong and one of the most selfless people I know. She just says that she took her vows and meant them, so hopes that he will get through the bitterness and anger in time.
In 2010, the Lord gave me a clear message to foster children. I didn’t want to adopt another child at that time, but loved the idea of helping as many as we could. Therefore we started having parent and child placements in September 2010.
In October 2010, Sarai was teething badly. Unfortunately, she was prone to ear infections during this time, and one of the infections developed and spread to her brain. Sarai was rushed into hospital and was very poorly.
Kieren had to stay at home with the foster placement at that time, until the agency could find someone for respite and this is by far one of the hardest things he has had to do as a parent.
Sarai lay in the bed motionless, tubes were coming out of her nose and she was hooked up to so many machines. I was told by the Paediatrician that they were unsure whether they had got to the infection in time. Alone in the room, I prayed out loud to God to save Sarai. To make her whole again. I then got angry with The Lord. How dare He try and take away MY CHILD! She was mine. That was the first time that I heard the audible voice of God and He very clearly said three simple words that have changed my life forever. He said, “She is mine.” I fell to knees and sobbed like a baby. This calmness and peace spread over me and I literally felt arms wrap around me and I realised in between my prayers, my words had changed…
I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to experience what it was to be a mum and that Sarai ultimately, was His. I then prayed that if this was her time, then I didn’t want her to suffer anymore and to let His will be done.
I fell asleep after those words left my mouth.
I woke up the next day and Sarai was not in the Hospital bed. Panicked, I leaped up and ran out of the room. My instant thought was, my child had died over night and I was a terrible Mother. As I stepped out of that room, my heart stopped for a split second. Then I saw Sarai was terrorising the hospital ward. Toddling around, she saw me and came towards me with her hands up in the air. The Paediatrician also saw me and ran towards me. I thanked God outloud for yet another miracle in my life. Sarai was given a clean bill of health and I told she was a very lucky little girl.
Kieren came bounding into the hospital ward about three minutes after – expecting Sarai to be dead or that he had to prepare to say goodbye. He struggled when I told him what happened and couldn’t understand how I could just “give up” on our child so easily. I tried to explain, but realised that he would never understand why I prayed what I did.
Kieren was hurting, and we had many disagreements regarding my faith and his inability to give his life to the Lord over time.
We fostered for around three years and it was hard going. Sarai was emotionally targeted by the moms and physically hurt on more than one occasion by the children we had – at times I remember crying out to the Lord asking why?
Yet I would take a step back and realise that He saw the bigger picture. God’s way generally isn’t the easiest, and although there were tough times, I now don’t regret a single moment.
The mums and teenagers still speak of their time with us, one even gave her life to the Lord. The children are all thriving, and Sarai is a well-balanced little girl who accepts everyone, no matter what their background, into her life.
Following the pregnancy weight gain, in 2011 I still had issues with the size of my breasts compared to the frame of my body. I then stood at 34GG, and was in agony from my back and neck hurting.
God had put on my heart that I no longer needed the implants and that I needed to love myself. I’m not referring to the stuck-up, worldly type of loving oneself, but talking about a concept of being thankful, and appreciating the person who God has made me to be. Much is said on how we are to forgive others, but many of us seem to skip over the concept of forgiving ourselves.
Regardless of what we’ve done in our pasts, whether it be an abortion, fornication, or some gross and embarrassing sin, it’s vital that we forgive ourselves from everything in our pasts that we are ashamed of. If God chose to forget our sins then shouldn’t I forget them too? In Isaiah 43:25 it says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
God’s word says that He has actually removed our sins from us! If we continually beat ourselves up it’s known as false guilt, and is a tool of the enemy – to pull us down. If we still associate ourselves with our sinful past, then we need to change the way we see things and therefore I made the decision to have my implants taken out. I got rid of the false nails and became me. The person that God loves and who you see today.
In 2012 on Easter Sunday, Kieren gave his life to the Lord. A few months before that, I had felt the need to challenge Kieren. Not an easy task, but disagreements regularly would be had, and I would be on my hands and knees crying out to the Lord.
My mother-in-law found it hard when Kieren said he was getting baptised. She told him that he had already had his confirmation as a child, and therefore saw this as nonsense. Kieren replied that he had never known God up until now.
The most interesting thing for me was that my dad came to Kieren’s baptism. He sat for around half of the service before walking out, but I said nothing to him.
Dad had also gone to Sarai’s dedication at church. When I challenged him on this, he just replied “I would only do it for her not you, as you’re not important”.
We were over our friends for lunch one day and we got talking about New Zealand. One of our friends is half Kiwi and periodically talks fondly of his memories growing up there. These friends have helped shaped us into the Christian family we are today and we are truly blessed to have them in our lives.
Kieren was given a clear message from God a few days later; to “teach to make a difference in NZ.” He came home and told me what had been said, and we started the process to move in July 2012.
The doors literally threw themselves open to reveal God’s plan, and our Christian family knew that God was at work. The devil on the other hand was also trying to stop this from happening, mainly through our families, as naturally they wanted us to stay close – to see Sarai, so a lot of guilt was placed on us. On more than one occasion, I doubted God’s plan because of what they said, but Kieren and I stood firm – united together through Christ.
I tried to hold on to our possessions when we were selling our house, I thought these were things were precious and “mine,” when in fact they are all materialistic. I was taught an important lesson and reminded that God owns everything in this world.
It says in Psalms 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” The only thing we own is free will and that’s to make the right choice by God.
God stripped us bare over the last twelve months in the UK. It was hard to let go, but we became loyal and took that step of faith. Since then we have never felt so liberated, so loved, and so free.
I took another leap of faith when I stood up against my morally and ethically corrupt employer months before we left the UK. Sixteen years in insurance and I handed in my notice. Kieren and I needed the money more than ever at that time but God wanted us to walk by faith and we were being tested, beyond what we thought our limits were. Yet God provided.
We generally look at monetary issues with employment and life – when we should be looking at the bigger picture and why certain circumstances have presented themselves. How can we glorify God? That is what Kieren and I try to ask in every situation.
Our families told us that NZ was nothing more than a pipe-dream and ten months on, our house was still on the market to sell, and Kieren had no job offer in New Zealand. So the devil started to get into our thoughts. Yet, living by faith, God rewarded us, and Kieren not only got an amazing job offer, but we completed contracts on our house – the very same day!
We had an emotional time leaving the UK for New Zealand in January 2014. It was hard to say goodbye to family and friends – some for the last time. God gave us this overwhelming peace when we got in the car to drive to the airport. In John 14:27 it says “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”
In the first few weeks of arriving in New Zealand we achieved so much from God walking with us and trusting in Him. He still continues to provide for us even now.
I felt very much at home straight away in East Auckland, but I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. Kieren’s message was clear and Sarai was excelling at school. After the first two weeks of being here, I suddenly felt very alone. Not in the sense that I wanted to go back to the UK, but what did God have in store for me? What was my journey? So I prayed and two very clear messages came to me:
- I was to share my testimony from beginning to end (even the bad bits)
- I needed to go to Bible College to go into Ministry.
I laughed, then cried, and then cried some more. The only person to ever know everything besides God was Kieren. A couple of friends in the UK knew some of my past, but to share it with potential strangers petrified me. My instant reaction was I was going to be rejected all over again. That people would look down on me for the things God forgave me for.
I prayed some more and decided that you can read the Bible, go to church, and not really know God’s faithfulness, His love, and His plan for you. Until you really know God, you have no anchor in your life, but when you know Whose you are, you’ll begin to understand who you are, what you’re supposed to do, and where you’re supposed to be. And sometimes you have to reach your lowest point to understand who God is and what He can do for you.
I decided to share my basic testimony at the Women’s Group within Church. I broke down before I’d even spoken a word. I was surrounded by my new friends – my Christian family, but all of a sudden a voice in my head said ‘get ready to be judged.’ However I pushed “my demons” to one side, and the words that God wanted me to share that day just came out.
I am at peace with my path that God wants me to walk, and I now know that I had to wait until I moved to New Zealand to go on this journey, as in the UK I would have had spiritual attacks from all angles. God made me what He wanted me to be. I am redeemed and ready to fulfil God’s plan for my life.
I have realised that until you stop comparing yourself with others, you will never be able to give birth to the gifts God has placed within you. So, thank God for making you who you are, and believe that He is transforming you day by day into the person He wants you to become.
I heard someone say that life is about having the confidence to go into the unknown. To me that sums up what being a Christian is all about.
Since sharing this part of my testimony, I have received encouragement from all around the world. I thank God every day for the blessings in my life and being able to minister to others. I intend to help people change their lives from all walks of life, to believe in not only themselves, but Jesus Christ. God NEVER makes a mistake and we were are all created in His perfect image.