EVERY STORY HAS A BEGINNING, AND THIS IS MINE... I'm Wanda, a speaker, author, and blogger who loves life and likes to keep things simple. There was a time when loving life was only a dream for me. I was born and raised in an alcoholic home with an angry father. When I turned age 14, I would foolishly sneak out of the house to drink and party because I thought somehow it would bring peace and joy into my life. It didn't. At age 18 I believe I had become a full-blown alcoholic. Almost every day I had another drink in my hand and another hurt in my heart. Soon after graduating from High School, I discovered I was pregnant and rushed into marrying my baby's father because I thought it was the right thing to do. Although I grew up knowing about God, I was far from living for Him. I thought to myself that somehow my life would now change for the better and that I would start living the life I was longing for - even though I really didn't know what that looked like. Somehow I immediately found the strength to stop drinking for the sake of my unborn child. This was it. I was now starting a new life, and my future was bright - or so I thought. Not long after saying "I do" to the man and life I thought would bring me peace and joy, I was devastated by the reality I had said, "yes" to his adultery and abuse. Yes to betrayal. Yes to mental, emotional, and physical abuse. Yes to long nights of crying. Yes to more hurts in my heart. After seven years of marriage and desperately trying to find a way to fix my broken life through marriage counseling, psychiatry, medications, and just about every self-help group you could think of, I realized nothing was going to change. In fact, things got worse. I knew I had to escape with my children if we were ever going to have a fair chance of finding the peace and joy I was longing for. Don't get me wrong, counseling and seeking the help of professionals is wonderful but both people have to want it. I wanted it more than he did. Much more. I learned many valuable lessons and things about myself throughout the process, including how to find the strength to say, "No more."
A NEW CHAPTER IS WRITTEN... With the help of family, I was able to take a new path and start a new life with my children by my side. I found I dared to start over in life and this included finding the love of my life, my husband, Fred Harris. So this is what normal feels like. This is what it means to be cherished, loved, and adored. This is the real thing, and he's the real deal. That was over 24 years ago, and I've never regretted for one moment saying, "I do" to him because it meant saying "Yes" to everything good, decent, loving, and safe that life could offer when two people say, "I do."
Not long after we were married, my parents started going to church, and they convinced us to give it a try. I am pleased to share that before my father passed away at age 59, he gave his life to Christ, stopped drinking, and ministered to inmates at the local jail. Trying church was the best decision we ever made although for me it was not an easy decision. As we walked up to the church doors for the first time with our children by our sides, I suddenly froze with fear. Thoughts flooded my mind of how I felt too unworthy to go inside. I told my husband to please take our children inside while I go back out to the car and wait. "Maybe next time," I told him. It took three different Sundays and three different times of me walking up to the church doors before I found the courage to go inside. Each of these Sundays Fred would send the pastor's wife out to my car in hopes that maybe she could talk some sense into me. She would knock on my car window with a great big smile of love on her face. Hesitantly I rolled down my window, but honestly, I just wanted her to go away. She would say nice things like, "Please come inside, you are welcome here, and we love you." Each time I would respond by saying, "I'm not good enough to go inside. Those people have lived their entire lives growing up in church. I don't deserve to be there with them." With huge tears racing down my cheeks, I was embarrassed by my feelings. Thankfully she was persistent enough to not give up on me, and after three Sundays and three different attempts to go inside, I finally found the courage to enter the church doors. Looking back I can clearly see how it was partly the enemy lying to me to keep me from going inside and partly me lying to myself because of my shame and guilt. The enemy knew that once I stepped foot inside the church doors, I would discover God and His healing power to forgive, save, and heal me. God suddenly interrupted my life with His all-powerful love, grace, and mercy.
Although I was now living a happy life, my heart was not healthy. I was still carrying a lot of heavy baggage from the past and I didn't know how to stop carrying it. As much as I wanted to put it down, I couldn't. My baggage was stuffed full of hurt, disappointment, rejection, shame, guilt, unforgiveness, brokenness, and feelings of unworthiness. My future was bright, but it was time to deal with my past. My journey had led me to this very point in time that would be one of the most defining moments in my life. Through a series of events and God placing loving people in my life, He gave me the courage to confront my past and remove my heavy baggage. God healed my hurting heart, and in January 2001, I answered His call on my life to share Christ's message of healing and hope; restoration and victory with all who will receive it.
My ministry journey began with sharing my testimony in local churches and serving in my home church. Four years later in 2004, I was ordained, and doors were opened for me to serve in the capacity of an associate pastor. Over the years God has used me to encourage women, equip leaders, author books, plant and pastor a church, minister to inmates at local jails, and hold church services for clients at the Oklahoma Forensics Center. My heart's desire is to help others overcome the pains and trials of life so they too can joyfully finish the race God has set before them.
My mom is one of the biggest influences in my life. She taught me how to use wise words with a warm heart and how to be strong and share unconditional love.
THE STORY CONTINUES... In 2017 God moved our family from Oklahoma to Virginia where we now make our home in Chesapeake, Virginia. We are proud members of Wave Church under the leadership of Pastor Steve and Sharon Kelly. God has blessed us with five children, two sons-in-law, and ten grandchildren. My proudest accomplishments in life are my beautiful children, and my happy place is now a day on the beach with my family.
Copyright 2019; Wanda Harris.. All rights reserved.