The Turning Point



The Turning Point

Debbie BatchelderThe thing that changed the direction and focus of my life happened when I was twelve years old. Up to this point I was lost, felt insignificant, unwanted and unloved. It is quite strange how it all came about in a most unexpected way and through the choices of my father. I must forever be grateful to my father for this turning point in my life. The sad thing is he does not understand it. My own birth mother was lost as well, unsure of herself, confused and searching for love in all the wrong places wandering from relationship to relationship never finding true happiness and satisfaction until much later in life. My Mother was probably right, that the four of us would be better off growing up with our father. She had no direction, no stability in her heart and mind. I am grateful for my father although I disagreed with how he handled most matters. My home life growing up was not the best situation but it was stable with a woman at home and a working father to provide for us. It is sad though that eight people living in the same house over the years never really learned how to get along as a unit. There was no glue to bind us, that is the role of a Mother in the home. The spirit of a woman has a great effect on the family unit for good or for bad. As the children grew up we became even more distant from each other because there was no lasting relationship established among us, only disharmony, hurt, anger, and bitterness separating the family. We all bore the emotional scars but I found healing.

Part 4

Go Back Read Part 1 The story of my birth mother

Go Back Read Part 2 The story of my parent's divorce

Go Back Read Part 3 The story of my step-mother

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Ellery Batchelder Sr.My father will be the first person to tell you that he was no religious person. He claims to be an athiest. In fact he was down right rude to preachers or any barers of the good news. I can remember times when a man dressed in a suit and tie would knock on the kitchen door. My father sitting at the opposite side of the room refused to open the door. I am sure the preacher could see my father sitting there just looking at him through the glass. After a while of recieving no answer the preacher left and my father would laugh about it. He assumed the man in the suit was either a preacher or a salesmen and he would have no interest on what either of them had to say. My father took the position that all Christians were hypocrites so he would refuse to hear the gospel. That is about as narrow minded as one can be. That would be like saying I am not going to the grocery store because there are dishonest people that go there, or I won't take the advice of my doctor because I don't believe what he believes.

 

When my father was not out working a job he could be found in his garage tinkering on some peice of equipment. He ran his own construction company and vehicles were always breaking down so there was almost always something needing repairs. He spent hours working in his garage. I am not exactly sure how the events unfolded so I am speculating at the manner in which they happened knowing how my father hated preachers. Never to my knowledge had he stepped foot inside a church, and refused to hear the gospel if anyone tried to speak of it. I imagine that when this preacher of our local town church came by my father was probably under a vehicle and did not see the preacher come in. I am also guessing that perhaps the preacher was not wearing dress shoes and a suit and tie. My father was a bue collar worker, a Democrat, with an almost hatred for white collar workers as if they never knew a hard days work. The garage door was often left open when he was working in there so anyone could just walk in. The preacher must have been friendly and started a conversation with my father perhaps about the job my father was presently working on.  Whatever he did he made a positive impression on my sceptical father because he listened to the preacher and agreed to send his six children to church that next Sunday. The church was starting a bus ministry and was going door to door seeking children to ride the bus to church. The church bus would come by and pick us up and then bring us home again after church. My father came into the house and told us all that we would be going to Sunday School this Sunday and told us to get dressed and be ready for the bus at a specified time. He made us go to church for one full year and then gave us the option to quit if we did not like it after that. I really have no idea the full agreement my father made with the preacher but I am grateful for his visit to our home that day because it changed the direction of my life.

 

Hermon Baptist ChurchI loved Sunday School and the small group classes. My Sunday School teacher was Mrs. Robinson of Hermon Baptist Church in Herman, Maine. She was a nice lady and a great story teller. I enjoyed the Bible stories immensly and the flannel graph pictures to illustrate the stories. It was all so new and so uplifting. The church people were so nice and kind. Going to Sunday School became the highlight of my week. As a matter of fact I loved the stories so much, and listened to them so intently that when we got home from church I would set up a classroom of my own and make my sisters and brothers to sit and listen while I taught the lesson that I had just learned. My two step-brothers never liked going to Sunday School and were such brats on the bus. They would give the bus workers such a hard time. They didn't want to get off the bus once we arrived and then after class did not want want to get back on the bus to go home. I was embarassed by their bad behavior and was glad when my father finally let them sit out going to church.

 

The church bus would bring us for the Sunday School hour and take us back home after the Sunday School class was over. After a while I caught on that there was more to church than Sunday School. Debbie BatchelderThere was a church service, a worship service. I asked the bus workers if I could stay for the church service but was told only if I could get a ride home after church because the bus would only run after the Sunday School hour. When I asked my Dad if I could stay for the church service he agreed. I informed him that I would need to be picked up afterward so he sent his wife to pick me up. She felt it a great inconvience to have to come and pick me up after church. I think she felt embarassed even driving into the church yard. I could put up with her grumblings and complainings because I really liked going to church eventhough there were times I remember trying so hard not to fall asleep during the sermon. I used to underline verses in my little New Testament and try real hard to listen to the preacher. I enjoyed the song service and the offering time. I used to ask my father for a quarter to put in the offering plate and was excited when he gave me two quarters to give.  A few times my brother and I sat up in the church balcony which we thought was a real treat. He seemed to always fell asleep in church. I also learned that my pocket size N.T. was not the whole Bible. I told my parents that I wanted a full Bible. To my surprise my step-mother had a full size KJV Bible which she let me use but told me not to write in it. I never knew a time when she ever went to church or ever spoke about God or Jesus except as a curse word. She also had a cross necklace with a magnifying stone in the center of it. If you held it just right you could read the Ten Commandments inside of it. She let me wear that cross to church sometimes.

 

The Sunday School story that stood out to me the most was the story of a pilgrim on a journey. There were two paths a wide path and a narrow path. The flannel graph pictures illustrated the pilgrim carrying his burden. She told about how different the two paths were. The wide path was the path most chosen by many people because it seemed easy but only a few chose the narrow path because it was hard and challenging but the narrow path led to the happy ending and the wide path led to the bad ending. I determined during that lesson series that I would choose the right path, the narrow path. Those series of lessons reminds me of the timeless Christian novel "Pilgrim's Progress" which I later read to my children as a bed time series. I know now that she was teaching from the gospel of Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Little by little I was learning more about the wonderful story of Jesus and how he loved me and gave his life a randsom and paid for my sin debt. Then one day someone gave me a Chick Tract titled "Somebody Loves Me" That cartoon picture story was similiar to my own life story. I felt like the child who was abandoned, unloved and cast out into the street where nobody cared but Jesus. I never forgot that story that was illustrating the love of God through John 3:16 "For God so loved the World, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."


Highlights of the Chick Cartoon that I related to

Unwanted Child Love Message Jesus Loves Me
Unloved
Message
 Jesus God's Angel

 

My Salvation Experience

Then it happen on a Sunday morning in my home town church of Herman Baptist Church. A missionary was preaching on that day. He was telling a fantastical story from the following verse

Art Lesson of Mother Hen
I developed an Art Lesson based on this verse which I have used to lead children to the Lord for Salvation

 

The missionary dramatized the story of a burning barn where a mother hen with her baby chicks were in danger of the fire. He compared that mother hen to Jesus how He is waiting and wanting to save us from the fires of Hell. He compared those baby chicks to us who are lost and bound to die in an eternal Lake of Fire for eternity if we do not come under the wings of Jesus. Growing up in the country I could relate to the story of the burning barn because I had seen so many barns burn up in a firey blaze. I could visualize the dramatized story in my own mind. For the first time I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me and convince me that I was lost and bound to Hell unless I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.  When the invitation came at the end of the service I knew that it was time to make a decision. I did not hesitate. I must accept Jesus as my Lord, and Savior to make sure my place in Heaven and spare me the punishment of banishment to an eternal Hell. So, I stood and walked the isle to be met at the alter by my Sunday School teacher who opened the Bible and shared the gospel message to me. I do not remember what she said, or the verses she shared. My decison was already made when I stood and responded to the invitation. Jesus was seeking me and I responded by choosing Him. My brother also followed me down the isle and that day she led both of us to the Lord for Salvation through prayer.

 

The church did not have a baptismal in the building so they would do all their baptisms at the lake during the summer during the week that they attended a summer camp. They invited me to go to the church camp which was held at a lake with a very long name. I cannot remember the name or location of the camp. The camp just happened to be two weeks after my salvation. I asked my Dad if I could go to the week long camp and to my surprise he allowed me to go of which I am sure he had to pay for. I am sure my step-mother did not mind me not being home for a whole week. That week of church camp left an impression on my heart and mind that inspired me for the rest of my life. I was baptised in the lake along with several others. We were dressed in long white robes with our bathing suits under our robes waiting in line for our turn to be baptised. It was marvelous to be surrounded with all Christians immersed in Biblical activities all day, every day, all week long. I had never experienced such a thing in my life before. We started the morning with Bible devotions led by our cabin counselor, then a group physical exercise to get our blood flowing, followed by breakfast in the large dining hall. During the day there were Bible classes, craft classes, a swim time, snack shop, and camp wide sports event. In the evening there was a chapel service and then back to our cabins to finish the day with another devotional time and prayer. I never knew that you could serve God all day, every day, all the time. The Christian life was not reserved for just Sundays. It was a way of life and I liked it. So different than the existence that I had always known growing up.

 

During the evening services we sang songs, gave testimonies, and listened to a message preached. On the last night of the week we participated in a skit that we had practiced all week and performed it for the congregation. There was this one lady who kept urging us to stand up and give testimony of what the Lord had done. Every night she harped and encouraged us but I was too shy to stand up and say anything to such a large group. Her words each night urged me to be bold, push Satan off my lap and testify. It took me all week to muster up the courage to say anything. Finally on the last night of the camp I stood and said, "This is a wonderful camp and I have enjoyed this week but if Heaven is better than any place on earth, I am glad I know I am going there some day." It is true, that when we have the Lord working in our heart and life, we can have a little bit of Heaven on Earth. We can have that in our families too. I wanted that kind of life for me and my future family.

 

Relapse

But at last I had to go back home to the same empty oppressive life at home. I continued to attend church, even attempted to start reading my Bible. I decided I would pray every day and read my Bible.  I began with Matthew chapter 1 but I got hung up on the word "begat" I did not know what that meant. I read chapter one over again and again trying to get something out of it. The reading was so hard I was quickly discouraged thinking if I cannot understand it why bother to read it. I would pray, "God help me be good today" but nearly everyday something would go wrong. I would get in trouble. No matter how hard I tried I could never be good. I also began praying for my father's Salvation with a heavy heart and many tears. I firmly believe that if he were to ever get saved it would change our whole family. But with no positive encouragement, no Christian influence, I eventually fell away from the church and stopped trying to live the Christian life. The name of Jesus, and God was a common curse word heard in my home all the time from my parents and their friends, like every fourth word. It really is a stupid way to talk and makes no sense at all.

 

My teen years were filled with more sin. My parents gave me no moral guidance in fact they led me in all the wrong things. My father introduced me to alcohol. His thinking was that if we drank we would not do drugs. Wrong. My step-mother put me on the birth control pill at age 17 even before I became sexually active. They made it easy for me to dabble in deeper sins. But there was no joy, no peace, only temperal pleasure in those things. It did not take me long to learn that the ways of the world were empty, non-satisfying, and vain pursuits. Sometime after I graduated from high school and moved out on my own I took myself off the pill. I did not want that life style anymore.

 

A New Beginning

When I was age 21 God's providential hand moved me to Plattsbugh, New York. I was to be a manager of a Bass Shoe Store moving far away from my family, friends, and the old influences from Maine. It was a chance to give me a new start on life. One of my employees was a Mr. Carl Small, a humble and Carl Small & Debra Carmonaa timid man who loved God and was a faithful servant of the Lord. He spoke to me about the Lord and I told him that I was already saved, that I knew for certain. I later learned that he put my name on the church prayer list, that I needed to get back into church. Carl invited me to his church. I did not go right away but eventually I did visit his church, Bible Baptist Church of Plattsburgh, New York.  The preaching of Pastor Dart was strong and convicting. Once again I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to my spirit again. At first, I resisted but it did not take me long to come under the convicting power of the preaching of the Holy Scriptures. At first I did not want to make friends with anyone at church because I did not want anyone to say to me, "We missed you last Sunday" if I did not come sometimes. But it was such a friendly church, the most hand shaking church I had ever known. Carl Small, the dear man, became my new Sunday School teacher and I was his boss the rest of the week. After a while I became a member of the church, joined the choir, and became active in soul winning, attending all the church functions. We got a new youth pastor, Guy Solarek, who took over the College and Career Sunday School class. In a short time the class grew from five to fifty members. We had an awesome group of young adults with monthly activities. We often would have "After Glow" services after the Sunday night church service. One of us would share a short testimony and then we would do some activity or go out to eat such as Pizza Hut. We never had a function without some spiritual time in the Bible or a testimony time.

 

Bible Baptist ChurchThrough that wonderful church I was inspired and encouraged to live the Christian life on a daily basis. That church helped me to gain a solid foundation. I had good friends and a wise preacher that taught from the life transformational book, the Holy Bible. Sunday nights were family nights. The pastor would deliver a message about relationships, marriage, morals, raising children, and great stuff like that. At age 21, I realized that I had been taught all wrong. I didn't know anything. For the first time in my life I was learning wise, practical things on how to live, how to build a happy and successful family. I began to soak it all in. The preacher often encouraged us to get into our Bibles and read them every day, and pray every day. He said prayer and Bible reading are like two oars on a boat, you need both of them to go anywhere, with only one you would go in circles. So, on January 1st, 1983 on my knees, at home, beside my bed, I redidicated my life to the Lord committing myself to begin reading my Bible daily.  That was also the same year that President Ronald Reagan had declared that year to be The Year of the Bible. I began with the book of Genesis reading about three chapter each day. I completed my first time reading through the whole Bible in December that same year. God began working His transformation in my heart, and life over the course of that year. I was a changed person inside and out that would set the stage for the next chapter of my life. These changes in me would give me all the things I ever wanted, love, peace, joy, happiness, and contentment. There is true satisfaction in living a good life, the Christian way. My life is wonderfully blessed with all that is good. I have a bit of Heaven on Earth in my life now. I now know what was missing in the lives of my parents, and siblings. The love of Christ makes all the difference in the world. I have witnessed to every member of my family. Some of them have been saved. I am still praying for my father's salvation and I am currently reading my Bible daily. I am living the abundant life. All the pleasures this world offers cannot satisfy like Jesus can.

 

The next installment of my story is the love story of how I met my wonderful Christian husband.

Look for part 5

 

Special Dedication

I want to Dedicate this page to all the angels God sent my way that was intrumentally used of God to set me on the path in which I now live.

My Mother ~ Betty Luckich (Bradbury) who gave me life

My Father ~ Ellery D. Batchelder Sr., who sent me to church

The Preacher of Hermon Baptist Church (unknown name) Hermon, Maine

The Bus Workers of Hermon Baptist Church of Hermon, Maine

My Sunday School Teacher ~ Mrs. Robinson of Hermon Baptist Church

The Visiting Missionary (unknown name)

Chick Tract ~ "Somebody Loves Me"

Church Camp ~  staff and camp councelor (unknown name & location)

Carl Small ~ My employee & faithful servant of God & S. S. Teacher

Pastor Dart ~ of Bible Baptist Church of Plattsburgh, NY

Guy Solarek ~ Youth Pastor and S.S. Teacher of College & Career Class

President Ronald Reagan ~ helped me understand Conservatism, convirted me to the Republican Party

The KJV Bible ~ transformed my life

And most of all

Jesus Christ ~ who paid for my sins on a cruel cross that I might have eternal life in Heaven, and experience the abundant life on earth

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