CHAPTER 2 – Copyright 2023 Carla J. Wood
Evidence of Him
All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing
I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life, all over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life, all over my life
By Ed Cash, Josh Baldwin, and Ethan Hulse
I was born in 1961 to newly committed first generation Christians who were eager to point us children to Jesus yet were struggling to figure out how to lead a Christian family in the last half of the 20th century. My parents liked to tell me God really wanted me to live because, after 36 hours of labor, without an epidural, my mother lost it and they had to knock her out and push on her belly to push me out. I was born completely purple/blue and my great Aunt Anne, the nurse on call, was afraid I would have brain damage. While some would like to call me crazy, I didn’t have brain damage, but was the ugliest baby I have ever seen. Really!
Due to financial problems, I spent the first six months of my life living with my parents from Friday night to Sunday evening, then at my Grandma Barkley’s from Sunday night to Friday evening. I bonded deeply with my grandmother who had always wanted a little girl. My mother, already struggling with a mental illness, probably from her childhood trauma and/or a high functioning autism, did not bond with me. While growing up, I knew there was a wall between me and my mom but didn’t understand why until I had my first child, Shawn, and she told me about our first six-month separation and how blessed I was to be able to stay home with my baby. This sad lack of bonding would be what would later push me deeper into the arms of Jesus in my childhood.
One of my earliest memories involves our move from Seattle to Santa Maria, California. Along the way we stopped at hotel for the night. Mom stayed in the room with my baby sister, Carolyn, and Dad took me to the pool. He visited with some other travelers while I played on the corner steps of the pool. I slipped into the water and, twirling around, clearly saw the drain at the bottom of the pool. It seemed to me I was floating down towards the drain. Fear was not part of this experience; instead, I felt peaceful, but it was seasoned with a little concern that I might go right down that drain. This experience of peace came back to me clearly when Taylor drowned and was a great comfort to me. Dad noticed I was not on the steps and reached in for my hand. While in the water, I didn’t sense I could not breathe, but as he lifted me out, the choking began. After clearing my lungs, I asked, “Daddy, who pulled the plug?”
We lived in California for two years, then moved back to Seattle because my dad’s father, Grandpa Matt had a stroke and Grandma needed help with his care. I loved being close to the two people who I had spent most of my beginning of life with.
For the first nine years of my life, aside from our California years, I grew up in a wonderful grace-filled Bible-believing church in southwest Seattle. It was a loving, caring, fun, musical church and my dad was one of the worship leaders, playing his trumpet when not singing. This church taught in a real-life way how much God loves us, no matter what, and how to walk with Jesus in His truth. I knew unconditional love in this church and others to come.
During my first Vacation Bible School experience, at the age of five, our pastor taught our Bible lessons. It was the summer of 1967, and I was completely taken with the fact that Jesus loved me so much that he died and suffered so I could go to Heaven someday. I remember thinking my pastor was so kind to share that with me. I pondered the rest of the day how amazing it was that a loving God would send his Son for me. He cared for me as an individual and wanted to be my best friend! I couldn’t wait for prayer time that night.
“Mommy, I want to ask Jesus to be my friend. I want to go to Heaven!” With my mom’s quiet tears flowing, we kneeled near my bed, and I told Jesus I was sorry for my sins and wanted to go to Heaven. I could tell Mom’s tears were happy tears and even at that young age, the Spirit showed me why she was happy. Shortly after this, I would experience Mom’s joy myself.
We didn’t have a television, but our neighbor lady did. I thought it strange when my mom mentioned to her that she wanted to see Billy Graham that night. We usually went to my grandparents’ house when we wanted to watch something. The kind lady was not particularly interested in Billy Graham, but perhaps she was a little curious – in any event, she was kind enough to let my mom and me watch the preacher on her TV. Before we left for her house Mom sat me down and suggested we pray to ask Jesus to touch our neighbor’s heart when she heard Billy Graham speak. That sounded good to me, but I wasn’t sure this lady would listen. She was nice so I doubted she would need Jesus. My Grandma didn’t like to talk about God either, but she was a good lady. I had been concerned that Grandma and Grandpa, and people like our neighbor would not get to go to Heaven. It seemed to me that people who were pretty good on their own didn’t feel like they needed Jesus.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 TLB
At the end of the show, when Billy prayed the sinner’s prayer, our neighbor bowed her head and asked Jesus right then and there to be her Lord. I was amazed. Jesus let me be a part of sharing His love and I liked that. I began to pray even more for my grandparents and family who weren’t sure what to do with Jesus.
Two months later, my Grandpa Matt had another stroke. He was moved to their home from the hospital after a couple weeks. Then for my birthday, I opened my grandparents’ memorable gift next to Grandpa’s in-home hospital bed. Grandpa Matt and Grandma Bernice gave me a beautiful shiny floral raincoat, rain hat, boots, and matching umbrella. These were very necessary items for Seattle school girls. I loved my outfit, mostly because Grandpa and Grandma gave it to me. However, I had just seen Mary Poppins that year and knew that if God wanted me to, I could fly with my umbrella. I prayed before one windy school day that Jesus would help me fly just a little. Waiting for the crossing guard at the school corner, the wind was blowing hard. “This is it!” I told my friend. I caught some wind under my umbrella and really believed I lifted off the ground. I’m not sure if I did, or just slid off the curb, but I believed my umbrella was very special because my grandparents gave it to me.
A couple days later, Grandpa got very sick. His liver was failing, and he entered the hospital again. A week before Christmas, our pastor accompanied my parents to the hospital on December 18th. He asked Grandpa if he believed in Jesus and wanted to go to Heaven. Grandpa cried, nodded his head, smiled and a few minutes later took his next breath in Heaven.
When Dad came home and told me what happened, I was really happy for Grandpa. He got to be with Jesus! I couldn’t understand why Grandma was so sad and didn’t like Christmas very much that year. I tried to help her understand but of course as a child, I didn’t understand her sorrow – and she didn’t understand my hope. We both did understand, however, that we loved each other, and we grew even closer as she kept me each day after school and on holidays. I never stopped praying she would make Jesus her best friend. Now, I’m in awe of how much faith I had when a man, whom I loved so deeply was taken from me.
Soon after this, my faith began to grow as I saw God moving in my life. I began to look for more opportunities to see what God would do and how I could help Him.