My Testimony

The first time I heard the Gospel is a vivid memory in my mind. I was 8 years old and had been brought to a small Southern Baptist church by my grandmother. I remember the preacher talking about a free gift from God to all who believed. He explained that we were all sinners, but that Jesus’s death on the cross had paid the debt for the sins of all who believe. All we needed to do was as simple as ABC: A- admit that we were sinners, B- believe in Jesus as the Son of God and sacrifice for our sins, and C- commit our lives to follow Him. The alternative to this was hell and eternal separation from God. I don’t remember the Scriptures he shared, but the ABCs were very memorable. To my young naive mind the decision was easy enough to logically make; I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t do those three things and be saved. So I walked down the aisle to the alter, kneeled, and silently prayed the prayer that the preacher led us in. In a few weeks, my parents also began attending this church and had given their lives to Jesus as well. I was baptized alongside them. As I grew through all the stages of childhood and adolescence, I recall feeling so torn about what my heart really wanted. I believed that I was a Christian because I had walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, and had been baptized. I knew that I was to live my life for Jesus, but this was increasingly in opposition with other things I really wanted. The other side of me wanted to be popular, beautiful, desired by the boys, and envied by the girls. I wanted to have fun, and lots of it. I wanted to do the things I saw on television shows and movies. I wanted to go to parties, have a boyfriend, to sneak around, and break the rules. All of these desires were waging war against my desire to follow Jesus, By my actions and meditations of my heart and mind, evil within me was the true driving force. As I got older, I gained more freedom. With each opportunity to do a little more on my own away from the oversight of an adult, I practiced evil in every way my young mind could come up with. I had plenty of fuel for inspiration from television, movies, and music. By the time I hit my late high school years I was known as one of the “bad girls”. My life was completely characterized by drugs, alcohol, lewdness, corrupt speech, and promiscuity. And yet somehow, I deceived myself into believing that I was still a Christian. I began to justify my actions with Christian catch phrases like, “once saved always saved”, “it’s by grace, not works”, and “everyone sins”. While there is truth to be found in many of these statements, my wicked heart had twisted these things and built up a false Christianity and a false Jesus that was not the Faith spoken of in the Bible. 

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:1-2‬ ‭

Even though I would attend church on Sundays and Wednesdays, my life began to spiral into more and more darkness. I finally hit such a low that I no longer desired to attend church or talk about God at all. So I just stopped. As I dove further into an increasingly wicked lifestyle, I began to reap some of the evil I had sown. I had a near death experience that was a result of my own foolish behavior. I increasingly felt a sense of being dirty, used, and worthless with no way to get clean or start over again. I began to desire to be a different kind of a person; I was tired of being “the bad girl”. I hated the shame of the “scarlet letter” I wore. Everyone knew what kind of person I was, and even though I still loved my sin, I didn’t want to be that girl anymore. 

The summer after high school graduation brought with it some new promises. Maybe I could turn over a new leaf, but I was still enjoying what remained of “high school life” for the summer. I had not been attending church for quite a while, but with a desire to turn over a new leaf, when my mom asked me to attend with her one Sunday, I agreed. I remember distinctly what took place there, I sat by her weeping. At age 19, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. My shame and my guilt were so heavy. I wanted to know true joy. I wanted purpose for my life. I wanted out of the destructive patterns I had walked in for so long. The Holy Spirit speaking gently to my heart, beckoning me to come out of the darkness and to walk in the light. He was the path of life and I knew it. The conviction of my sins had laid heavy on me for years no matter how I tried to suppress it. Every youth conference, church revival, Bible camp talk, left me knowing that there was a part of me that wanted to be good, but time always revealed that there was another part of me that did not want to change at all. I wanted my sin more. I believed Jesus was God. I prayed all the sinner’s prayers, walked the aisles, raised my hand when no one was looking thinking in my heart, “me, I want to be saved.” I was very sincere in those acts, and each time I was told “you are saved”. If you have confessed your sins and believe in Jesus then you are saved, but I continued to walk in darkness.

“For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:7-8‬ 

This morning weeping in the church was unfortunately no different although from the outside looking in, this is the place where most people thought I was truly saved. It is honestly the place and time that I thought I was saved. 

Once again; I prayed, confessed, and recommitted my life. Afterwards, I went home and contemplated participating in a party that had previously been planned with my friends. “Just one more time”, I thought “then I’m going to be done with this lifestyle”. And even though it truly was the last time I participated in that kind of sin, I should’ve known that there was still something amiss. How very different than the men who immediately left their nets to follow Jesus. I was still secretly holding on to my sin. I wanted the benefits of being a Christian, I did not want to deny myself. I did not forsake my sin. I continued in my darkness. 

After that final night of debauchery, I told my party crowd high school friends that I was ready to clean up my life. I wanted to make something of myself. I wanted to go to college, make my parents proud, get married, have children. I wanted to be a good person. I was tired of living in a mess of delinquency and debauchery. I didn’t want to be the “bad girl” anymore. I wanted to be a good Christian girl that made everyone proud. I was tired of feeling ashamed of the person I was, I wanted to be admired and respected. 

To the surprise of many, I did clean up, at least on the outside. I was good enough in the eyes of the church culture around me. I exchanged the drugs and promiscuity for a steady boyfriend and very occasional social drinking. I went to college and made good grades. I joined the college Bible club, went on mission trips, attended church and Bible studies. I volunteered at a local middle school youth ministry. My life had finally changed, I was finally following Jesus. I was sincere in all of these endeavors, in no sense did I ever feel fake. I had a good bit of confusion about when I actually was saved though. I wasn’t sure if I had been saved from eight years of age and just needed to “sow my wild oats”, then come back to God or had I just been saved for the first time? I wish that at that time I would’ve searched the Word of God for the answer to that question, but instead I looked to the other Christians around me. We all thought it would be best for me to get re-baptized since it did seem like something different this time, so I was baptized again on a college mission trip at Panama City Beach, FL. At times I was on fire for the Lord, praying and reading my Bible. Other times I was given to drunkenness, sexual immorality, and selfish ambitions. Still the war within me was waging. I wanted to do good, but I also wanted to do evil. These things were not as easily detected by others, so I was still thought well of by those around me. This was always very important to me. I cared a great deal about what people thought of me. I had found more socially acceptable ways to feed my fleshly desires. And although I often felt guilty, I was attending church and Bible studies, praying, and involved in ministries and missions, so I felt sure that I was truly a Christian. The real truth was, I had not denied myself. I had not forsaken all known sin. It was worse really, I had found a way to be outwardly good enough to be approved by other church goers and to soothe my conscience, I no longer felt that weight of guilt and shame because of my sin. I was still walking in darkness though, and on top of that, I was completely deceived. I truly thought that I knew God. How I wish I had read 1 John 1:6 and that the Spirit would’ve opened my eyes to see myself as I truly was. 

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

‭‭I John‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭

By my junior year of college, I had hit a low that only I could see. I was hurting deeply because I had given so much of my heart and emotions to two separate failed relationships. The compromise of purity I had made because “ I was in love” laid heavy on my conscience, but it was a very worldly sorrow. I at least began to see that I was just as sinful and wicked as I had been back in my wild party days, it just looked different. “If only I could get married”, I thought. That would solve this problem. Most of my sin was linked to romantic desires, wanting to be in love, and to give myself to a man who would appreciate me and not leave me. So many seeds planted by media and our culture from a young age had taken deep root in my heart in this area. I was done being hurt and feeling the guilt of sexual immorality that inevitably was a part of these relationships. Marriage was surely the answer. I reasoned this even from Scripture, “but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (I Corinthians‬ ‭7:9‬)

It was always a part of my plan, and it was almost time in my opinion, after all I was about to be a senior in college. I began praying for God to send me a husband. Surprisingly, the answer to that prayer came quickly. 

The next month, at my parents’ church I crossed paths with Nick Blevins, the man who would one day soon be my husband. We had dated in high school, and he had a similar past life of sin to my own. He was in the process of cleaning up his life. We immediately hit it off, and a relationship was quickly formed. We were both very serious. We communicated clearly that we had no desire to date for fun, if we were going to be more than friends it was to pursue marriage. Five months later on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Nick got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him, and I gladly said “yes”. We were married less than two months later. We did love each other, that’s for sure, but our motivations for our marriage were not aligned with God’s purposes for marriage. We were doing the right thing as much as we could understand it, we both wanted to make our parents proud, to be good Christian people. We attended church together, discussed theology, and lived our lives in a way that anyone from the outside looking in would have thought well of. We both absolutely believed ourselves to be saved. A year later we were expecting our first child and I graduated college. Another year later was bringing another baby, and my husband began working a much higher paying job than he previously had. We bought our large dream house in our hometown community, and decided two kids was enough for us. We would keep them at home until they started school, and then I would go to work and use that degree I worked so hard to earn. By 6 years of marriage, we “had it all” it seemed, but behind the four walls of our home our marriage was unraveling. Our own sin and selfishness kept us in a constant state of discord. We both wanted comfort and fun, and many times family and marriage life challenged those desires. He wanted to go hunting and fishing with his buddies, and I wanted to go to the gym, the hair dresser, the nail salon, and mom’s nights out. My desire to be beautiful and admired in the world’s eyes was still quite present, and all of my pursuits outside of our family life revolved around those things. As crazy as it sounds, I wanted to be a sort of trophy wife. My husband worked many long hours and was often out of town and away from us. And when he was home he wanted to spend his free time with his guy friends, and did not seem to love being with us. If he was with us, he wasn’t really present, instead he was on the phone or playing video games. Other times if he was more engaged, he was angry and harsh with us. I felt crushed that he wasn’t the family guy husband I had hoped for, and he was often upset with me that I was not the wife and homemaker he had hoped for. I began to feel like he didn’t love us at all, and I clung even tighter to my ability to be beautiful and talented. It validated me to be praised by others at I time that my husband was often displeased with me. It was the place I found my peace, I could make myself more beautiful by going to the gym, eating small portions, coloring my hair, and applying make up. I could make myself more talented by practicing my music, giving it my all, and putting myself out there performing around town and posting music videos on YouTube. But no matter how well I attained in those areas, I was still hurting deeply. In the midst of these struggles I attended church and women’s Bible studies all the more. Usually, my biggest objective in these activities was to discover how to make my marriage better. I would often find myself weeping and praying for God to heal my marriage, to give me the good family life that I was longing for. The thing I thought would make my life good a few years back, getting married, was now making me miserable. We had both meant it when we said, “til death do us part”, and in those most painful months of my life I began to pray that God would take one of our lives so that we could be free from our covenant. I was that miserable. Little did I know that very soon, He would answer that prayer in a different way than I had meant it. Nick and Stacey were both going to die to self and sin, and be raised to life as new creations in Jesus Christ. 

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭4:6‬ 

The Lord began shining the light on my darkness, opening my eyes to His truth. It did not happen all at once, it happened over time. 

First, my husband and I had been given a sermon on a CD by a man named Paul Washer. Perhaps you’ve heard it, it was called “The Shocking Youth Message”. He preached through a passage I had never really noticed before, but when I heard it, it’s words terrified me:

““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭

I finally understood that there would be people standing before God on the day of judgement who believed that Jesus was Lord, and who believed they had done many things for Him, but they had not done His will. They practiced lawlessness, and Jesus would declare that He never knew them. “Could I be one of those people?”, I would wonder. 

Another passage from the sermon that stuck out to me was:

““Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ ‭

It was becoming more and more clear to me, that a life truly built on the rock of Jesus Christ was a life lived in obedience to His words. And when I was really honest with myself, I knew that much of my life had been in disobedience to the things in Scripture. Even still as a married woman with two children who had cleaned up her life and forsaken the party scene, I still loved the world and the things of the world. I loved the way the world dressed, the music of the world, the television shows of the world, and I wanted the comforts of the world. I wanted the admiration and approval of the world. And Jesus was just something I had done because in the Bible belt, that was just a part the path to approval, admiration, and my own personal happiness and peace. Atheists and backsliders were looked down on in my culture, but people with a Jesus fish on the back of their cars and Bible verses posted on their facebook feeds were praised. 

I was slowly beginning to see  the truth though: that the sinner’s prayers prayed, the aisles walked, the Jesus fish on the back of my car, the Bible verses on my Facebook feed, having my quiet time, going to church on Sundays, volunteering at VBS each year, and going to women’s Bible studies did not make me a Christian. I could do all those things, but if I still loved the world and the things of the world, the Bible was clear on that, I was an enemy of God. 

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

‭‭I John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭

Another big eye-opener was in a casual conversation at a women’s Bible study. We had been working through the book: “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace. The book was Biblically solid and I was learning a great deal about what it meant to be a Godly submissive wife. I was attempting to do these things in the book, and was increasingly getting frustrated that they were not getting me the result that I wanted: a good marriage. A sweet lady said this simple sentence to me and I will never forget it: “Stacey, God is not a vending machine.” I nodded and agreed politely, but on the drive home and for the weeks following, I contemplated this statement over and over. It was becoming increasingly clear to me that I had wrong motivations for wanting to obey God. I only really wanted to obey if it would somehow benefit my life on earth. If a command or principle in Scripture did not improve my life, then I did not obey it. 

As I began to see these things, I felt confused. I wanted to do something to clear my head and to help me see my heart and the Lord rightly. I decided as a New Year’s Resolution to not listen to any secular music for 30 days. This was a big deal because I was a music lover, and almost always had a favorite playlist or CD going in the background. It was during this time that I had a final class to finish up at Liberty University for my Master degree in Education. The class was a weekend intensive which was a five hour drive from my home. I had no idea how I was going to get through this drive without my favorite music, but a few hours on my way I suddenly had an idea. I would look up that Paul Washer preacher on YouTube and see if he had any other sermons. The first one I clicked on was on the topic of Biblical womanhood. I was eager to hear what this man had to say about being a Godly Woman. He touched on many aspects of being a Christian woman that made me very uncomfortable, but I knew they were true. He preached on modesty, purity, meek and quiet spirits, submission to husbands even when the husband was disobedient, and more. It hurt, but also I felt such a hunger to learn more. What else had I been missing? These were not things I ever heard in my women’s Bible studies or retreats. I always heard that we should obey God, but it was more along the lines of avoiding sins like adultery, lust, drugs, alcohol, outbursts of anger, etc... Very outward and destructive sins were addressed. I wondered just how far off my thinking really was, and I eagerly listened to more. I also stumbled on another preacher on this trip that was recommended for people who liked Paul Washer, his name was Voddie Bacham. I listened to some of his sermons on these topics as well. By the time I arrived to Lynchburg, VA and walked into my hotel room, I knew my life would never be the same. I saw that my love of worldly living and pursuing beauty and fame were in direct contradiction to what the Bible laid out as Godly womanhood. I began praying and asking God to direct my life and to free me from the desires I had for these other things. I did not want to be found among those who said, Lord Lord...” on the Day of judgment and that he said “depart from Me you who practice lawlessness.” I wanted each decision I made to be guided by the Scripture, not by my own ideas or traditions. I was ready to fully lay aside my sin and follow Christ. I knew it was only His power that could truly change me, and I began asking for that change. I wanted to be made new. I wasn’t sure if I had previously been His or not, but I knew that I wanted to be sure. I wanted my life to be like the house built on the rock. I wanted to look at my own heart and see only one desire, to seek and follow the Lord with no other sinful desires that I was clinging to and making excuses to keep. I asked for Him to forgive me for my hypocrisy and love of the world. I believed with all my heart that He would hear my prayer. I clung to the passage where Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”” (Luke‬ ‭11:13‬) I was asking for the Holy Spirit to do a work in me that I knew I could not do in myself. This was not a simple, ABC prayer, this had to be a work of God. Only He could take a dead and sinful thing and make it alive. Only He could turn darkness into light. Only He could take out the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh. As I began to see the depths of my love for sin, I also saw the depths of His mercy and grace towards us who believed. Jesus’ perfect life of obedience, death on the cross and resurrection from the dead made it possible for me to become perfectly righteous and unblemished in the sight of God, and for all of the wrath my sins deserved to be poured out on Christ instead. He loved His own so deeply that He drank the cup of God’s wrath towards our sin on our behalf. He had worked a perfect salvation, and the outcome of that work would not be half-hearted people who said they believed, and still loved their sin. His work was bigger, better, stronger, and much more certain than that. 

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1-10‬

The Lord had brought me from death to life apart from any work I could possibly do, and now He had put it in my heart to be His workmanship, to be created for good works that He had prepared for me. 

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-5‬ 


Something different than ever before began to happen. I began to bear fruit. The Lord began pruning me, teaching me, and growing fruit in me that came from the inside my heart and worked its way out into my life. Each day I could tell my heart was changing more and more. My desires were changing and aligning with God’s will for me as outlined in His Word. The things on the television shows began to repulse me, when once they had delighted and intrigued me. I could see how much those shows and movies had infiltrated and misguided my thoughts and understanding of the world. I nolonger loved secular music like I did before. It seemed so vain, empty, and prideful. I no longer wanted to use my musical talents for my own glory. I wanted to use music to worship the Lord and to turn my heart towards Him. I no longer wanted to go to work and send my children away to school, now I wanted to be their mother and pour into their lives each day teaching them about the Lord and showing them by my example how to follow Him. I no longer viewed children as a burden, instead the Lord opened my eyes to see them as blessings and precious gifts from Him. I no longer desired to be beautiful in a worldly sense, using immodesty, fitness, and fashion as a catalyst to display “my worth”. I wanted to dress in a way that was pleasing to the Lord. I wanted to represent Him well, so that when people saw me they wouldn’t notice how fashionable and fit I was, but instead would be able to see Jesus working in me. 

I was truly becoming a new creation, the old things were passing away. I was not trusting in my works to save me, I knew that it was by grace alone that I was saved, but I no longer used that truth as an excuse to hold onto my sin. I finally desired to walk in the good works He was calling me to. 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

My marriage did not immediately change, in fact it was a difficult test that the Lord had planned for me almost immediately so that I could more fully surrender everything to Him. He was using this trial to prune me so that I would bear more fruit. 


The climax of this happened on a day I remember well. The girls had a birthday party to attend, but that morning Nick was very angry with me over something. I don’t even remember what it was, but he was even more worked up than usual. I sought to be submissive and patient, I prayed silently, and still I was hurting deeply. As I left the house after the intense morning, I began to pray and cry out to the Lord. Even with my girls in the back seat, I was praying out loud to Him. “Why is this happening? When will you fix my marriage? Please help me! I really want to follow you, and I don’t want to be selfish, but I also really want a peaceful marriage. And. Godly husband who loves me and loves our children.” And there in the car, in the silence, I felt the Spirit speak to my heart, “If I never change your marriage, will you still follow me? Do you believe that I am enough for you?” And in that moment I knew that He was. I knew that He loved me perfectly, and that was all the love I really needed. 

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1‬ 

Previously I had wanted God for what I  could get out of Him; I could get out of hell, I could get a better life, but this time was very different. This time I wanted God because I wanted God. There was only one thing I wanted to seek, and nothing else mattered. 

“One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:4‬ ‭

“When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.””

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:8‬ ‭

I could end this story here and it would be enough to rejoice over, but the Lord had more blessing in store for me than I deserved or even thought possible. Within a few months, God had miraculously saved my husband also. Our lives were forever changed, and our marriage has not been the same since this time. The Lord has redeemed us and brought us up from the pit. It is nothing we have done or that we deserved, but our merciful God is the one who saves. He is the one who calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. It is His work from first to last, and He deserves all the praise and all the glory! 


“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

‭‭I Peter‬ ‭2:9‬