By Shannon Cagney

I grew up in a house with no God.

We never talked about Him, never prayed, never even ever referred to any God. Ever. Not even on Christmas or any of the “those” holidays. The religious ones.

My grandma once tried to get me into catechism but nope, didn’t work out. I sort of knew we might be Catholic only because my mom is Mexican and my dad is Irish and that’s what they were “supposed” to be.

I sort of knew we might be Catholic only because my mom is Mexican and my dad is Irish…

I then had a child at a very young age (17) and married young (20) had two more babies (by 25). We (my first husband and I) never went to church or knew God in our home with our own kids. That marriage lasted 15 years and ended in divorce in 2007.

Within one year of my divorce, I was re-married again to husband number two.  Within that same year I was divorced again. Over a four-day weekend, I decided I had to get out of the house shared with number two. I woke up at 4:44 a.m., packed all my personal belongings and by 8 a.m. I was gone. In the end of that crazy time, I came to find out he had molested my daughter.

No place to go, no money, no car, no job.

My first mother-in-law and ex-husband took me and our kids in until I could get on my feet. It was another crazy time for sure. Somewhere in the middle of my wild year between marriages, I had purchased a Bible and a book called, The Seven Great Prayers. So here I was trying to “do life” and figure stuff out. I opened the book and started reading about the power of prayer.

WOW. What a life-changing experience!

Over the next few months of getting my life back in order, we’re trying to figure out something to do to have fun and my daughter said to me, “We should go to church.”

”Pff! What? Church? Why?” I said.

That weekend passed and here it came again the next weekend.

“Momma, let’s try church!”

Oh geez, there she goes again, I thought.  But what I said was, “Okay. Maybe.”

This went on for a few weekends and then I started researching churches. I looked online trying to figure out if we should try Catholic or Christian or one of those “other” churches. I called my dad (a believer) and got some names of local churches until I had three churches on a list.

“Momma, let’s try church!”

I started out with great intentions to go and then I got scared. I tried to go again the next weekend and failed again. Week three we drove into Journey. I made the list because we did have some family there and a friend who attended Journey.

We were completely out of our element.

My girls and I entered the main area and my blood was flowing hard in my veins. My eyes were filling up with tears. We were confused. FINALLY we made it to our seats. The worship started and we were still scared. When it was over, we rushed out.

“Ok, not too bad,” one of us said. “Let’s try again next week.”

The whole process started up and here we were again doing this “church thing.” By week three my girls started going their age appropriate areas and I was alone in this big ol’ church with strangers, trying to act as though I knew what I was doing.

I distinctly heard the words, “You’re here. You’re safe.” The song “10,000” was the worship song and the message was about Forgiveness. Not just for our enemies but for ourselves.

WOW!!!, I thought. I’m IN. I felt God’s presence that day like no other and I have decided to follow Jesus. I have surrendered, am forgiven, and have invited God into all areas of my life.

Shannon & Daughters

The three of us were baptized the same year on June 10, 2012. We became regular attenders at Journey and have missed only two Sundays since.  I now lead a life group, I have been serving in many areas for over two years. I’ve met a God-loving man I hope to marry, just finished up a missions effort and have dedicated my whole life to honoring and serving God.

My younger daughter leads worship every weekend and we take missions trips frequently. My older daughter has a new found love for God and actually has her own great story to share.

I look back at my 43 years and I am in awe of how He works. I know I cannot do this life without Him. My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. ”Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “

This verse totally brings me hope, comfort, and joy knowing that He has a plan for each and every one of us. I strive every day to glorify Him in all of my works and know that even though my life has not been “perfect” and I still have a lot of work to do in this journey with Jesus, I am a new creation in Him. God is good. Always.