This is me

My Testimony

Testimony

Intro:

Hello my name is Jennifer Cickavage, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself before I jump into my testimony. 

My husband is Bernie and we will have been married 28 years the 28th of April this year. We have 5 children and 9 grandchildren.

A lesson I have learned over the years, from God’s Word, is that things don’t always turn out the way you think they will….

Look at some people God had chosen in Scripture:

Isaac was God’s chosen. 

Isaac and Rebecca had twins, Jacob and Esau, Isaac favored Esau while Rebecca favored Jacob. God chose Jacob, not Esau, even though Esau was favored by Isaac, God wasn’t interested in pleasing Isaac, for He had a greater plan. 

Then we have Jacob, God’s chosen instrument, although Jacob had 12 sons and favored his wife Rachel and the children he had with her. God chose Judah, the offspring of Lea and Jacob, the wife he was tricked into marrying. Tricked by whom, one might ask, Laban or God? One thing’s for sure, God’s Hand was in this. Once again, God was not interested in making Jacob happy, He had greater plans.

Then we have David and Bathsheba, David had many children, but Solomon was God’s chosen instrument, the child he had with Bathsheba, and blessed all generations to come through this union.

For God had great plans….

My point here is that my faith in God has been developing, growing and strengthening through the years, because of what God has done.

My testimony is not my story; it is God’s work in my life, He is writing my story. I’ve wrested the pen from God’s Hand numerous times, certainly not because I was strong enough to, but because He let me win. 

I believe He let me do this to teach me, strengthen me and make me the person I am today; for God has great plans for me.

The Scripture references previously mentioned have been inspirational for me, especially when I struggled to understand why God put me on this earth. I have had a real and intimate relationship with God since I was 7 years old. 

My relationship with my parents on the other hand was surface and forced in contrast. But I know that God has a greater plan. 

Years ago when I was a young adult my mother and I were in yet another argument and I asked her why she hated me so much. 

Her answer although hurtful was healing, she said, “you were just born at a bad time”. Not exactly what you want to hear, but my whole life I had been trying to earn her love, always thinking that it was something I could fix; if I just did better, if I was just smarter, maybe she would love me. 

But with this answer… I was off the hook; there was no way of fixing the circumstances in which I was born. I did struggle a bit with how to process this information and thanks to the Lord I was able to. 

He told me that I am His child, He loved me and my identity was in Him, not my genetics, not the earthly parents I had been born to.

Psalm 27:10

If my father and mother leave me, the Lord will take me in. (Praise God 💜)

Although my mother thought I was born at a bad time, I know that God doesn’t think so, His timing for my birth was perfect. God has a plan, a purpose, a reason for me to be here, just like Jacob, Judah and Solomon. God chose me, to be exactly who I am.

Over the years, God gave me a heart of mercy and forgiveness towards my parents, helping me to recognize their human frailty, by pointing out my own sin and brokenness and in turn helping me to see theirs. 

The difference though is I turned to God, I surrendered my will to Him, I accepted the purifying Blood of Christ to wash away my sin. I handed off my baggage to the Lord. My mother and father white knuckled theirs, as if it were something precious. The dysfunctional broken relationship that I had with my earthly parents, just made the relationship that I had with my best friend, my Lord, my Creator, my Savior that much sweeter. 

In 1988 I came close to yanking that pen out of God’s hand.

I left home because I couldn’t take the abuse any longer, I started smoking marijuana in order to ease the pain. I was cutting and burning myself because at least I had control over that pain. 

One night my father and I got in an argument, I told him I wanted out of his home. His response was that I could leave when I was 18 yrs old or got married. So I went and got married.

At the age of 16, I married a man that I didn’t like, that was 22 years old, a man who I had only been seeing for 2 months. But things were just getting unbearable. The feeling was mutual, I wanted out of their home and they wanted me out as well. 

I was a reminder to my mother of a horrible time in her life. And to my father, at least when he was drunk, I was just another women he could disrespect and make advances on in order to stroke his ego. Just another woman he could womanize. 

So they emancipated me. I stayed with my grandmother while I was waiting for the emancipation and the wedding license. 

While staying there I contemplated suicide and God in His mercy and grace, came to me, right there in the room. It was then and there after feeling so far away from God, I felt the closest I have ever felt to my Lord and Savior. He let me know that although I felt alone, I was not, He was here. Although I didn’t feel like I could go on, He let me know that I could, with His help. 

I felt like God made a mistake creating me, wrong time, wrong place, but I was wrong. God’s timing is always Right. After fully surrendering to Him, He strengthened, comforted and encouraged me, there on my knees, literally.  

God gave me worth again, I felt loved by Him, He gave me the strength to go on. I went on to get married, not the best decision but better than choosing to end my life. For God had so much more in store for me, although it was rough going for a while, I am so grateful to God and His divine intervention in my life, the first of so many.  

The man I married was abusive in every way you can be abusive. But God had a plan, and Sierra, the child I was pregnant with, was part of God’s plan. I had to protect her! So, got married in September, pregnant in October, left him in December. But… I got my beautiful daughter out of that whirlwind and nothing like having a child to bring you back into focus with God. 

Although I strayed off the path from God and His purpose for me, He never left me and He was always waiting for me to turn back to Him. He had the pen the whole time.

I met my husband in 1990 when I was 18 years old, and I must say that I know that God has a sense of humor. Bernie was and is perfect for me in every way, not ideal, or normal by any means but perfect for me. He is the love of my life and the instrument in which God has taught me so much. Unconditional love, patience, tolerance, compassion, mercy and strength. God has taught me to see things through His eyes; sometimes by sending people like Bernie, my Aunt Lorene and Uncle Jeff. 

Bernie in contrast to my parents love, loved with all of his heart. He had a passionate and unconditional love. And because of his love for me, he stood up for me, in turn teaching me to have the strength to stand up for myself. Aunt Lorene and Uncle Jeff were a blessing in my life and I know that God put them there to fill the void that existed. 

I saw unconditional love in action with them, they took in the outcasts. Made them feel loved and accepted and that is what they did for me as well. These three people were God’s hands, feet and heart on this earth, in my life and I am very grateful for them.

Through it all God has taught me that my identity is in Him. 

God has given me my value and worth; sometimes he used other people, as in the examples above. But one thing I have learned is that my value and worth are not determined by my past failures or my genetics. I am not a product of my parents, I am God’s creation, I am His child and He loves me. I am a child of God the Creator, a child of the risen Savior. God created me so only He can judge me, only He can give me my worth, my value. 

I went to Catholic School for 7 years; I was raised Catholic, thanks to my parent’s fear of raising dumb children. They put us in Catholic school for the academics; God had me there to learn about Him. 

They were impressed with academic recognition and scholarly awards, of which I did not receive. God was pleased with the Cooperation awards, always having a smile on her face awards and religion awards, of which I did receive. You see just like Labon had selfish intentions when he tricked Jacob into marrying Leah. In the same way, my parents had selfish and worldly intentions for putting me in Catholic school. But just like in the case of Jacob and Leah having Judah, God’s will was accomplished through this act. I am so grateful that I was introduced to God at the age of 7. 

I loved and continue to love the Lord with all my heart and even at that young age understood how much God loved me, through his life, death and resurrection. In Catholicism the way to fully dedicate your life to the Lord as a female, you became a nun. So that is what I wanted to be from the age of 7 until 12 years old. I was writing letters to the convent and had intended to graduate 8th grade then begin my journey into becoming a nun. 

Prior to going to the convent the nun that was Principal of the school told my mother that she should have a talk with me before I left. I really wanted to be a mother, but I really loved the Lord too. So after talking with my mother and Sister Etienne I came to the conclusion that I could have children and still live for the Lord. But I could not live for the Lord by becoming a nun and still have children. So I became a mother. 

As I mentioned previously I had strayed far from living my life for the Lord from the age of 13 to 17. But God is faithful, even when I am not. God is patient, even when I am not, patiently waiting for me to turn back to Him. I haven’t always trusted God to do what He has promised to do.  I have taken matters into my own hands, running ahead of God, trying to force His hand and doing things my way. 

But as you can see I just got in God’s way, but his promises always came through, His will ultimately prevails and His timing is always Right.

Our family had been going to Catholic church throughout the years. Well one Sunday in 1997 I left church just not feeling right about how things were……………………feeling empty, lost and confused. Back in 1994 I was given a Bible, but didn’t read it. Believe it or not, all those years in Catholic school and all those letters back and forth to the convent, I had never been given a Bible. But after leaving church that one Sunday in 1997 God lead me to open up my Bible and start reading it. I have to say at first it didn’t feel right, especially to write in it or mark it up. 

But once I started I didn’t want to put it down, it was a Daily Walk Bible so I read my daily reading and couldn’t wait to get to the  next day. I learned so much about God, His Love for me, His Character and Truths that I never knew. Stories that I had never heard, stories that were amazing. And let me tell you I adjusted nicely to highlighting, underlining and writing in the margins, my Bible is worn and torn. God’s Word spoke to me in such a significant way, it was supernatural. 

After taking that year off to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations I knew I had to get into a church, to be in Christian fellowship. My relationship with the Lord had been renewed I had an even more intimate and deeper relationship with my Lord and Savior. I got to really know Him in a real way; my relationship with the Lord had tremendous depth and meaning. 

So I was obedient to His calling, I got into a Truth teaching, Bible based church. I have been reading the Bible, doing Bible studies and going to church ever since that wonderful year in 1997.

I felt so privileged to be able to teach my children about the Lord. I was able to do this through home schooling, church, prayer and Sunday school. I was able to give my children the gift of encouragement, truth and placing importance on their spirituality and relationship with the Lord. I loved praying with my children and reading the bible with them. Volunteering at church in the elementary and nursery. I learned things that I never knew, songs about God, Jesus and bible stories that I never heard.

I wanted my children to know who they were, I wanted them to know their Creator, their Savior. I wanted them to know the Love of Christ, the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I wanted them to know their identity. My deepened relationship with the Lord has brought me through so much over the years. Friendships, Motherhood, being a wife, many times of trial, financial difficulties, serious illnesses that our youngest son experienced and so much more. 

I learned lessons in complete surrender and faith through Angelo our youngest sons illnesses and experiences. Back in 2003 after suffering and being diagnosed with asthma, dyslexia, a speech impediment, Tourettes and a few aspirin allergy scares, he suddenly started gasping for air. We just moved so we didn’t know any neighbors and my husband worked nights. So it was just the three girls, Angelo and myself, with a car that wouldn’t start. In all the commotion of us freaking out every time Angelo would start gasping for breath, and frantically trying to get the car to start. One of the neighbors heard us and asked if they could help us. So his wife took the other three children and the husband rushed Angelo and I to the hospital. No one knew what was going on with him, in my desperation I began to pray. While I was praying God revealed to me that I hadn’t surrendered the children to Him. I figured He could take care of the rest, but I was “mom”, I had this covered. But the truth is before I even surrendered them, they were His. In this moment of surrender I felt a huge relief, I knew everything would be ok, no matter what happened. I’m not saying that God caused Angelo to be sick, but He used this moment to bring me closer to Him.

They ended up stabilizing Angelo and got him breathing, then took him by ambulance over to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, he stayed there for 4 days. Turned out they had been treating him for asthma for the last 3 months, when he actually had, Pertussis (whooping cough), and his throat was spasming, and closing off his airway. 

That moment of surrender, of God having to pry Angelo from my hands, I learned that God wants it all. I don’t want to hold back anything from Him. He is far more capable than I am and He Loves my children more than I could even imagine. 

I got to witness the “Faith like a child” that Jesus spoke about in Scripture firsthand with Angelo. When he was older, I asked him “What were you thinking when that happened? Were you scared when you were gasping for air and couldn’t breathe?” His answer was, “No, I wasn’t scared, I just figured this was just another thing that God would see me through”. My faith was strengthened and grew not only from my own experiences through this, but by watching Angelo’s faith as well.

Through the years I’ve lost loved ones, some of whom I walked beside while they took their last breaths. Recently,

In 2013 I lost my mother to cancer; she was finally receptive to me speaking about the Lord to her, that last month or so of her life. I even received an apology, which was nice, but more for her than for me, because I had already forgiven her. 

My uncle whom I was very close to died of cancer in 2015, he was a great example of a man who turned his life around and fully surrendered his will and life to God. 

Then my father died of cancer June 2016, this one was hard for me to watch, not because I was close to him, because I wasn’t, but because I had an obligation to my heavenly Father, a commission.  And although I did my best to speak to my father about the Lord and His free gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ, I failed. I failed God, at least that is how I felt. I was there through all of his cancer and all the way up to hours before he took his last breath. 

He wouldn’t surrender to the Lord, I asked him over and over, I read Scripture to him, and he persistently denied and resisted, Jesus Christ as his Savior. The only comfort one can have when someone dies is where they will go next if they are a Believer; I did not have that comfort. He kept telling me God couldn’t forgive him for what he had done, that I just didn’t understand. My thought was, NO… you don’t understand!! You don’t understand who God is, you don’t understand God’s Grace and Mercy. Now I know that I don’t know if he made his peace with God in the end, but when he passed away, my chance to share Christ, to get him to understand who God is, passed with him.

God Moment!

I used to be the Volunteer Director for the FSB compassion Pregnancy Center from November of 2016 until December 2017. God had been urging me to volunteer at church for a while. I kept telling Him (God) that I would, “once things slowed down in my life”. Once I was obedient to God and His will for me, He had me right where He wanted me. The first day I volunteered at the “New Life” pregnancy center, we were told that their funding was being cut and they would not be able to keep the center open. Not unless they found a person willing to step into the volunteer director position….. I just smiled at God and said “Really???” Prayed on it a week or two, talked to my husband about it and… became the director of the pregnancy center.

I loved serving the women that came in for help, advice and to learn about God. There is no doubt in my mind that God put me in that position and placed my feet on that path as a stepping stone to a greater ministry for women. God has revealed to me that He wants me in women’s ministry and I’m looking forward to what God has in store for me concerning this ministry. I told Him (God) I couldn’t do it, and He showed me that He has been training me up to do this all along. He reminded me of…..Lori. 

God Moment!

In 2005 I was at church and a friend of a friend brought a lady to myself and a group of people that I was sitting with in church. Now if anyone knows me at all they know I don’t do well with emotions. Not my own or others. This woman was going through a very hard “emotional” time and her friend had brought her to church with her to try and help her. 

She was crying uncontrollably, she needed prayer. So we prayed with her and for her. 

One of my constant battles in my Christian walk is that I have social anxiety, so being around people, especially people I don’t know does not suit me well. So God placed a person who was very emotional, a person I didn’t know right in front of me and said, “What are you going to do about this?” But God knows that if He gives me a task, especially if it’s about Him then I’m all over it. She was going through a divorce and struggling quite badly. I know that our meeting was not chance that it was God ordained. That day, there were at least 5 women that prayed for her.

Out of all of those women she and I are the only ones still in contact, she became my best friend. And we still are all these years later, Her name is Lori Wiley and she has taught me how to be a friend.

It’s funny how God pairs people up. Two of the main adult relationships that I have in my life are my husband and Lori (besides my kids and Aunt Lorene). And both of them are just about my complete opposite. It’s kind of like when you’re a teacher in a classroom and you see 2 kids that have opposite strengths and weaknesses, you try to match them up. I feel like that’s what God has done specifically in these two relationships in my life. They’ve both been able to teach me in areas where God knows I have improving to do. I also knew in the case of Lori that in her weakness it was hard for her to see God’s strength. 

So he sent me with the strength He had blessed me with to help her to see God through her pain and chaos. And I am grateful for that God ordained meeting back in 2005.

God Moment!

We sold our home at the end of January 2017. I felt God’s leading in this as well, wasn’t sure why, but I do know to listen. We went through a company called Open Door, they purchase homes and flip them. We were considering selling but we really didn’t have a reason to. So we talked to our realtor and she said we had a lot of fixing up to do then we could start at $220,000 and go down from there. With that information, we scrapped the idea, but God was still urging me. 

So I looked up Open Door and just out of curiosity filled out the necessary information, they came back with an offer of $224,000, this didn’t make sense. My husband was skeptical, so he called some realtor friends of his and they all said there was something not right about that offer. 

It had to be a scam, something just wasn’t right. 

I said it’s a God thing, whenever things don’t make sense and God’s been speaking to me in this area, it’s definitely God. Bernie, wasn’t in the same place as me, he was told to proceed with caution, that something was going to fall apart in the end, there was a catch. In the meantime, we got a postcard from another person through Open Door offering us $198,000 for our home.. Weird, huh? No that’s God for you, I told you He has a sense of humor. Well everything happened just as they said it would, the repair costs came in, Bernie checked everyone, they checked out, as a matter of fact, some were even less than the quotes he got. Everything was legit, God spoke, this is the selling price, this is what you need to go forward. 

Now, do it, because I have great plans for you. 

The biggest stress was how fast everything happened, so finding a place to stay once the house sold was the biggest concern. We ran through several possibilities, but none of them worked out. God shut one door after another in order to bring us to where He wanted us. Not where I would have chosen if things were up to me, but they weren’t, this was God ordained. We moved in with our daughter, Catrina her husband and three children.

A full house to say the least, Catrina and her husband had been going through some tough times and we figured it would help them out financially. Little did we know, but God knew, things were about to come to a head. I won’t go into details but God placed us there not only to help financially, but for moral support, spiritual support and to fill needs that we didn’t even know would be there. But He did.

To be in God’s will even if it is not what you want is always better to rebellion to God’s will. I know this first hand. No more wrestling with God, He can have the pen, I don’t want it, i just mess things up. The way I look at it is, I can do things in God’s will or my own, but He will always lead me back to His will because He loves me. I don’t know about you but once I get there and have that aha moment, and realize what He was doing, I am humbled, remorseful and in awe of God’s plan and purpose for me. I know it is better for me than any other way; there really is only One way, One Love and One God. His Love is greater than any love I will ever experience on this earth. There should be a different word in the English language for the love others have for you in comparison to the Love of God. My faith cannot be shaken, I don’t think God loves me, I know God loves me. 

I don’t think God came down and lived, died and rose again to take away my sins through Jesus Christ, the sin that separates me from Him, I know this as absolute Truth.

I’m going to end with this: 

Psalm 98:7-8

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
    Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
    Let the hills sing out their songs of joy

Isaiah 55:12 

12 You will live in joy and peace. 

The mountains and hills, the trees of the field—all the world around you—will rejoice.

I know that I praise God when I am true to who He made me to be. Just as all of creation by just being what it was created to be, praises God. So I won’t let anything or anyone get in the way of my relationship with God, and His Plan and purpose for my life. And I will always look to Him for my identity because He is my Creator, my Father, and He Loves me.  

And because of that He will continue writing my story, so I guess all that’s left to say is……………To Be Continued… Thanks 

Hello, I’m Jennifer.

So nice to meet you. I am making this blog because I need an outlet for my transformative life. So I am grateful for your interest. I just ask that you be kind with any comments or remarks posted. Thank you in advance. I pray that somehow these words will touch you somewhere deep inside. Helping you with your own transformation. Love all and worship ONE.

May God bless you and empower you through His Holy Spirit. Amen

God Bless
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