I grew up as a daughter of military parents. My mother was naval reserve when she met my father who was in the army. After I was born she resigned, and my father went voluntary indefinite. I am old enough to have spent a year of my life crying myself to sleep every night from mid 1967 to mid 1968, begging God to send my father home safe from Vietnam. My father did return to us, but his easy smile and laugh were gone for many years.

As a child, I attended Sunday school, sometimes; and when I was 5 they gave me a pocket-size Gideon New Testament. There were pages in the front where you fill in your name and that you have accepted Jesus. I filled in my name and added the word "maybe." Even at the age of 5, I was a "yeah, prove it" kind of kid. I experienced religion as a form of rules and regulations, and I believed that I had to do all the right things to earn God's love. So I had no faith, really.

Awhile back, there was a very good man in my life and I cared for him deeply but could never communicate that to him. When he was gone there was a big, empty hole in my life. It took him being there, and then being gone, for me to see that while he meant the world to me that something else was missing too. God. I had shut God out. For a long time.

I did seek God, finally. I had to start over, going back to square one and re-learning everything about Jesus. This time, I got the right perspective. I finally got it that love and mercy are more important than following a set of rules. I made my prayer of acceptance last summer, and asked to be shown what I would need to change. I started working on a list of bible-study topics, and finally got baptized early this year. I did receive the gift of the Holy Spirit when I made the prayer of acceptance, and communication (including the music!) did get better when I was baptized. I delayed the baptism while I worked out some forgiveness issues. I didn't need to do that, for when I prayed about whether it was OK to be baptized before forgiving, I got the answer that baptism took priority. I continue to work on the forgiveness issues.

I see that my priorities have been: 1-Duty, 2-Honor, 3-Country, 4-Family and friends, 5-God. The list is twisted, and maybe that's why it has been so hard for me to keep relationships. I've got God as number one now. I'll be working on the rest.

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Orange Ranchero
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