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MY SUBSTITUTEA True Story of a Miraculous Healing Today
By Angel-heart Garrison
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Angel-heart Garrison
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Mercy Seat
Even though the foundation of Jesus Christ had been established in my life, somehow I managed still to grow up with unscriptural values. I grew up a very judgmental, argumentative, spoiled, stubborn person. Now as I look back on the days when these characteristics consumed me, I am ashamed that I even considered myself a Christian. In looking in that mirror, as I reflected back to my high school years, I noticed one thing about my personality into my Young Adulthood that I am grateful to God that He worked out of me in the fire as He remolded and fashioned me into what I am today. Although I had a positive and willing Christian attitude, I had a very bad habit of judging others. I judged people using myself (rather than Jesus) as the ruler or guideline. Although I had a charitable personality, I gave only to those I judged to be worthy of my "good deed".
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you." II Corinthians 10:12-13
I assumed that if others of my peers were not like me or had not attained a position equivalent to mine in monetary or worldly perspective, that they, somehow, were if at all, a tiny bit less than me. I looked down on those less fortunate than myself and ignorantly accused them of bringing about their own self-destruction.
I just "knew" that God loved me more than He loved them because it was obvious they had given up on life and themselves; and had fallen victim to poverty because of their own greed or laziness. And I, unlike them, was an affluent secretary, financially set and a professional in my field. I was a self-made woman.
I often relive a moment in time that comes back to me often like I'm watching it at the theatre. I remember one rainy night as I was riding home with my first husband, before there were any children, just he and I. When out of the blue a transient (a homeless man) stepped out in front of the car pushing his grocery basket filled with his things. It was pouring raining, and he was walking around, with his "things" in all this rain. And I said to myself, I can hear me now, "he did that to himself. He doesn't have to live that way. It's his choice. I'm not going to feel sorry for him, he's that way because he drinks!"
I arrogantly and pridefully judged him. And I will never, to the day that I die, forget that night, because I believe with all my heart, that those words set my life onto a course that has made me eat those words.
I needed to understand that man and see him not as a transient, but through God's eyes. In my own way, I became that transient one day (through one of my wildernesses) and through that experience, because of him, I learned to be caring and compassionate, and to love my brother as I so longed to be loved when I found myself wearing his shoes.
Now, as for my own worthless, mixed-up beliefs, I stood up for "whatever" I believed in (right or wrong). It was not so much the issue that was important to me, rather that I come out the victor in the argument. This characteristic, I've since learned, runs like a free flowing stream in my family tree, which roots, in my Irish heritage. My stubbornness and pride would not allow me to consider any other opinions. Thus, my mind was not open. My motto might as well have been, "seeing is believing", because that was the only way I would change my stance under any circumstance. You'd have to "show me".
So, although I went to church on a regular basis, kept "good" company with "Christian" friends and tried to abide by the Ten Commandments, unbeknownst to me, my way of thinking and my heart were just not in line with the Word Jesus taught before He was crucified. Although I had these faults, I was truly unaware that my attitude, feelings and words were contrary to scripture or the will of God (as to how I, as a Christian, should view others and myself as well). With only a glimpse in the mirror thus far, I was not even aware how ugly I truly was.
I was a self-righteous and spiritually proud person. I was unaware of the sinfulness of my own heart because I did not read the Bible to know that I was walking a deadly and crooked path. I based my religious beliefs on hearsay rather than reading the word for myself and allowing God to show me His truth in His word. But to be perfectly honest, when I tried to read, I could not understand (decipher) the words. It was all Greek to me. To me, the Bible was a book of stories like the fables that my sisters and I would read when I was a little girl. I did not realize its true worth as a Covenant or even appreciate its value as a book of promises.
But what is so ironic is that as Salutatorian of my high school graduating class, I based my speech on the book of Matthew 5:13-6 which was more of a prophetic word to myself as well as my graduating class.
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
I did not know that my life would be interrupted and I would be repositioned on my path to one day become that salt and that light. Funny thing, I cried through that whole speech and when I returned to the podium immediately after the ceremonies to retrieve what I'd inadvertently left behind, I could not find the speech. All that I have are the rough drafts and have never found the final. I even went back to my schools' office to see if it had been turned in; to no avail.
My first real job, which began the Monday following my high school graduation (May, 1975), was with the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest which at that time was located on Figueroa and 8th Street, in downtown Los Angeles. Working there availed me the exposure to many different ministries within the Baptist denomination. It started out as a full-time summer job. I began in the Camping Department and transferred into the Men's Fellowship Dept., and, oh yes, the Business Department. I later worked part time and enrolled at Cal State University Long Beach in the fall of that same year (1975).
While in College, I was approached with the opportunity to join the U.S. Peace Corp. I was elated at the thought that I could go to other countries and help people however I would be needed. But I declined the opportunity for only was reason ... I did not want to be restricted to doing only what I would be ordered to do. Seems silly now. But that was my reason. I felt that if I wanted to be in a dictatorship, I could get paid to join the military. And I surely didn't want to do that. This was the 70's. They told me I could not come and go as I wanted to. So I got married instead to my high school sweetheart who had just returned from the U. S. Air force.
Now, you would think that a good job, working with good Christian people, a good school, a new husband. You'd think I'd be satisfied. But there was still something missing in my life.
I attended a very good church in Los Angeles, Macedonia Baptist Church. I joined when my family moved to California to reunite with my father, in 1971. That's where most of my old friends are from. Well, now, here we are, 1976. I've been a member of the churches' choirs since I joined the church. I love to sing and know that the songs that I'd learned and sang from the depths of my heart at that church inspired something in me; for those songs are still with me to this day. And I use them during my personal praise and worship time; and as a reference during my wildernesses and trials. And maybe those songs were a reminder to my spirit that something was missing in my life. [I'd like to take a moment to express my personal appreciation and gratitude to both (the late) Director, Dave Weston (Youth Choir) and Director, Mrs. Olivette Hester (Young Adult/ Inspiration Choir) Music Ministers whose devotion to ministering God's Words through music helped me through each and every trial and tribulation I have endured as I walked forward in my journeys with the Lord. Music IS a ministry!]
The deeper or more sincere I became to committing myself in church, it seemed, the further away from God I became. I would sit in church hungry for the Word—no longer requiring a salvation message. Unfulfilled and unsatisfied; not even another solo in the choir could make me ignore this hungering. I soon left my Baptist church in search of any church that could fill my spiritual emptiness. I visited church after church, received some meat but not enough to keep me filled. I was searching for something and didn't even know what that 'something' was.
Even after having children, I remember turning to religious programs on television; one for instance is Dr. Fred Prices's, 'Ever Increasing Faith Ministries' program. Even though at that time I did not believe some of the things he said, or his approach in doing so, I was fascinated by his congregations' enthusiasm. They would appear to be "intense" in the Word; and also when in personal conversation with some of them, I noticed they could answer quite a few questions (with intelligence).
Although my membership and church attendance had lapsed, I continued to pray to God for help in filling the void in my life.
Dear God, please have mercy on my soul. Amen
Chapter TwoMy Babies
My first husband and I were married in 1976 after dating for about 4 years. We were high school sweethearts who met when I was in the 10th grade. He was a younger brother of my older sister's boyfriend who'd told me he had someone special for me to meet. He was very entertaining and I was immediately swept off my 'school girl' feet. When he returned from the service after I'd graduated high school, we announced our elopement and were married in San Diego by one of the Ministers associated with American Baptist Churches. We weren't seen together much. And even my friends at church were surprised that I had married this young man whom they, too, did not know. Yet, I was in love. And I thought it would last forever.
We lived in the Casa del Sol apartments in Hawthorne between El Segundo and 135th Streets. We later bought our 1st home in Los Angeles on 88th & Plevka near Manchester & Central. It was a fixer-upper; but we were young and both working and had plenty of extra time to give a home our personality. The house was old and I know it was full of lead paint. So, I spent a lot of time scraping window seals, painting walls and wall papering rooms. We had the carpets replaced, insulation pumped into the attic and we did a lot of work in the yards. We worked hard on refurbishing the house. However, it soon came to a sudden and unexpected halt.
I had a dream about a catfish in the early months of 1979. When I was growing up in Tennessee, my (maternal) grandmother often talked about dreams and their meanings. She said when you dream about a naked baby, it means someone will die soon. If you dream about a wedding; it means, there's going to be a funeral. I didn't pay much attention so I could have it all mixed up. I was just a kid overhearing. But I do remember she also mentioned fish dreams. But when it came to my little dream, I thought it was just a fluke. And even though I couldn't forget it, I didn't pay it much attention.
I remember it (the catfish) looking at me as though I was looking at it from the other side of a deep-sea fish tank window. He came up close to the "glass" and looked me straight in my dreamy eyes, as though he wanted to make sure I noticed him. He had some thick long whiskers. And once he was sure I had gotten a good look, he just darted off and swam around in the distance.
When I first found out I was pregnant with my first child, I remember driving home from my doctor's office in shock. I had not even fathomed that my obsessive sleepiness and cramping stomach had anything to do with a baby. I had called my ob/gyn for a prescription for some type of Iron to help me stay awake. He suggested I come in for an exam. So I did. So as he was talking to me and asking me questions, his nurse was doing some kind of test on my urine. And I remember wondering why they were discussing it. "Why couldn't he just write a prescription and send me on my way?" By this time, the nurse said to him, "it's positive". And I thought, "positive for what?" And he turned to me and said, "just as I thought, you're going to have a baby." So, to my glorious amazement, I came away with a baby. I was happily in shock.
My husband though, was not as happy with the news as I. He asked me what I was "going to do about it"; as if there was something wrong with me, a healthy married woman who'd only had one sexual partner in her life, giving birth to her first child. A woman, I might add, who as a young girl prayed to have 10 children when she grew up. And I looked at him adamantly and said, "What are you talking about?! I'm having this baby!" And he didn't speak for 3 days. Even his mother tried talking to him; but, to no avail. He simply wouldn't talk. And I guess, finally he just gave in and accepted the fact that he was going to be a father. And after 3 days, he started speaking again.
And when I told my own father my baby was due in October, he said, "Oh, it's going to be born on my birthday." I said, oh, no it's not! Well, you'd better believe I went into labor on the day before his birthday. As a matter of fact, he coincidentally called me just as I was walking out of the front door headed for the hospital. And he laughed. My labor lasted a total of 13 hours; just long enough for her to be born early the following morning on my father's birthday. We named her Kenya, which means, "virgin".
Shortly after her birth, Kenya was dedicated to the Lord in our church, Macedonia Baptist in Los Angeles; and her godparents who were both single good friends of mine and like brother and sister with one another.
From the time she was just a few months old I would take her to the doctor for fever and stomachaches, which each time her Pediatrician's diagnosis would be that she simply had a little virus. So every 6 months or so, we'd find ourselves in his office picking up another antibiotic for this virus thing.
A few months after her birth, I dreamed about a catfish again, but this time, it took on a human characteristic. As a matter of fact, it looked like Kenya except its face was not as round and the fish was longer. I inwardly knew I was pregnant again, and I suspected a boy this time.
The birth of my second child was a gift from God without the prenatal drama of the first. He looked like his sister, except like in the catfish dream, his face was not as round and he was much thinner and longer in his body than she was. She was born 21-1/2 inches long vs. the 23 inches he had up on her. They used to say, that the birth height determines ones adult height; whether you will be short or tall. I haven't done any research on this hypothesis; although, I have taken notice to it being quite accurate just in talking with people and watching my children grow.
We named him Chané, which in my book of Swahili baby names, means 'dependable' and his middle name, Jamil, means "handsome". And he has proven to me to be both. (Don't you think he's cute, too?) At the time that my children were born, their father wanted all his children to have African names. Chané was born in 1981.
From the day he arrived home from the hospital, Chané and his older sister were like glue. She helped me with him, watched over him and kissed him all the time.
Of course, Chané was also dedicated to the Lord in our church, Macedonia Baptist in Los Angeles. His godparents, who stood for him, were his father's brother and his wife who at that time had no children together.
Excerpted from MY SUBSTITUTE by Angel-heart Garrison Copyright © 2012 by Angel-heart Garrison. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Mercy Seat....................1
Chapter 2: My Babies....................7
Chapter 3: For Lack of Knowledge....................14
Chapter 4: Conversion....................24
Chapter 5: Revelation....................33
Chapter 6: Conviction....................44
Chapter 7: Rightstanding....................50
Chapter 8: Hunger & Thirst....................56
Chapter 9: Rhema....................63
Chapter 10: Resurrection Sunday....................68
Chapter 11: Growing In God's Grace....................77
Chapter 12: 2010 Update....................85
The Collective Works of Angel-heart Garrison....................106