Today's post is written by Sheryl Turner. Sheryl and her husband J.T. founded OneWay Ministries, an official evangelistic association for the express purpose of boldly sharing the message of Jesus with impoverished, forgotten, and desperate people groups. Sheryl is the mother of five children and is a small group leader at Brook Hills.

The memory is still very clear. Someone from the office used the intercom system to call us all to the office: "Bill, Sheryl, David and Daniel, please come to the office." I was only in eleventh grade.

My first thoughts: "What now? Did she kill herself? I wish I could stay in class. God, when will this stop? Why doesn’t anyone else have to deal with this? Why can’t I have a NORMAL family?"

I slowly traipse out of the chemistry lab and head toward the front of my high school. I see my brothers coming from the other direction, and we meet right outside the door of the main office. I don’t recall the exact conversation, but it seems like we were all bothered by another interruption in our day.

Schedules were our friends. Any control would have been welcomed! You see, we lived in a home with a mom with multiple mental illnesses. She was bi-polar manic depressive and had Munchausen’s (by proxy for several years). It was a home out of control, which left me feeling insecure, unsure, and certainly unwanted.

From an early age, I realized that something wasn’t right. We didn’t have much money and lived in a mobile home. There was paper thin carpet and even holes in the subfloor (it’s hard to get the memory of a raccoon running through our house out of my head). I might still be a little scared of critters.... My friends’ mothers came to school to help with class, packed their lunches with notes, and cheered them on at field day. I had no one. She was in the mental hospital AGAIN. And I was thoroughly embarrassed and humiliated and ashamed.

Every year she would try and kill herself at least once and would check into a mental hospital two or more times. As you can imagine, my life was in chaos.

We went to the local doctor a lot...a lot. I recall many visits to the local physician as well as numerous trips to Mobile to see the ENT. Those were always preceded by an extended visit to the library. You see, my mom was a nurse at some point in her life (before all of us children came on the scene). Logically, now I can see that she was looking up illnesses and the symptoms. Then, I didn’t see it.

I do remember when I had a large boil on my leg. It extended from my knee down to my ankle. My father took a hot rag and rubbed it down my leg causing the infection to come out. What mother does that to her child? Mine did.

Looking back, I can see God’s gracious hand of mercy and love all over my childhood. We lived very close to a church, and we were there every chance we could go. Many, many women and men in that local body of believers loved, encouraged, and cared for me so well. They challenged me, raised me, and believed in me. It was discipleship and love from them that kept me in church and growing in Christ.

Because of those Christ-followers, my life began to focus on God instead of on me and my circumstances. I was introduced to people who were far worse off, shown the joy of studying God’s Word, and found the contentment in belonging. God became the Father that I needed and filled the many holes in my heart. He showed Himself as the One who “fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).

I was a self-absorbed, needy little girl who was clearly not the most popular or pretty, yet God had a plan for my life. There are many of “me” running around in our churches today. They grasp for attention and are begging for someone to love them. Let us be the Body of Christ to them today, showing the ways of the Lord that they may walk in them. May we be known as believers who invested in the next generation in such a way that they see Christ crucified, risen, and glorified more than their circumstances any day.
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