"I did all the right things as a young person but looking back, I realize that I didn't know God"
Carlene has a strong work ethic. She is entrepreneurial as evidenced by the diverse and successful businesses she has started. Today she is a small business owner and a Certified Financial Planner. She loves helping people develop a clear understanding of their goals and supporting them in implementing a path and actions to achieve them.
Most importantly, Carlene has very strong faith. Here's the story of her journey:
Raised in the church, oldest in a family of 8, she attended church regularly, never missing a Sunday morning and evening or Wednesday evening service. She lived in a family-church clan. As a caretaker for her siblings with significant household and farm responsibilities, she was terrified of her father who was physically abusive and she was terrified of God. She believed that God, like her father, was waiting for her to do something wrong and that then He would crush her.
Married at 17 to a 21-year old man who was a member of the church and a farmer, she graduated from high school and had her first child, a son, followed soon by a daughter. She was a stay-at-home mom who deeply loved her family, raised a huge garden, canned vegetables all summer, sewed her children’s clothes, and did oil paintings. After her children started school, she got her first job. As a result of problems on the farm she became the sole support for the family.
Problems in her marriage eventually caused her to do something that conflicted with everything she had been taught and believed. After 10 years of marriage, at the age of 27, she decided to divorce her husband. This resulted in losing her relationship with her family, his family, and all her friends who were a part of the church, because they believed God condemned those getting a divorce.
Determined to make it on her own and provide a great life for her children, she was proud when she took them camping and repaired the tent when the wind blew it down. She felt satisfaction at building a picket fence with her children and having it stand in the powerful West Texas wind, while her neighbor's fences were blown to the ground. She was working a full-time job as well as having a paper route and waiting tables.
She eventually started dating and doing many of the things she had never experienced. She thought life was good, although it was not the life she had been taught. Her religious upbringing had been abandoned.
Things started falling apart and everything seemed to be going wrong. There was always something that would not work. Expenses were tight.
Then there was the final straw. Driving into Lubbock, a car turned in front of her. Unable to stop, she swerved into the next lane and broadsided an inattentive and uninsured driver. Luckily no one was hurt badly. Not only was the accident horrifying, it left Carlene with more financial problems and a cancelled insurance policy.
Carlene tells her story:
"A few weeks later, I was driving in the replacement car with my children. I realized that a disaster was happening - we were about to unavoidably hit the car in front of us and the car behind us was going to hit us. There were cars on both sides of us and there was nothing I could do. I was freaking out when I felt a force inside my car. It felt like the car lifted off the ground. There was a calmness and suddenly the traffic was going smoothly. There was no collision.
I knew it was a miracle. I knew God had intervened for me. He had rescued me from the collision. I knew that He was listening to me. I knew He was telling me that He was there for ME!!!
I could see that God had been seeking me!
"I was lost. I knew that my answer was in God, but I was sure He wanted nothing to do with me. I felt that my prayers would not be heard. I even asked a preacher to pray to God in my stead."
"I believed that I was going to hell, so I should have a good time along the way. That is when everything changed!"
This event changed my life. I committed my life back to Him, but this time I knew Him and I knew Him personally. I had met him face-to-face.
This was the beginning a journey of faith for me. I continued to have difficult times, but He was always there. Many years later I could look back and see how He had been involved in all the directions my life had taken.
I got a job in Albuquerque and made Montgomery my church home in 1983. Members of Montgomery welcomed me and drew me in.
My faith continues to grow. I Trust in the Lord with all of my heart in all things and through all things. I know He is there, He guides me and has a plan for me. I feel like the prodigal son. No one can ever take me away from the Father!"
A bible verse Carlene memorized as a child is her lifeline - keeping her grounded in God's power and love, seeking Him and trusting His plan:
"My experiences have given me a strong, strong faith."
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV