Meet Kalen Marie: A Testimony

wpid-wp-1427292386523.jpeg As a new writer with “Veterans to Christ”, I thought the best way to get started would be to tell you about my journey. Military friends planted seeds of my faith, with one specific friend, a Marine Corps veteran who prayed with me to my salvation. Not only did the military give me confidence in myself, but it helped me to find God in more ways than one.

The Lord tried to reach out to me so many times during my life, but I somehow always managed to push Him away. I was raised by a father who did not believe in God and a mother who once believed but whose parents took her out of the Catholic Church amid allegations that their priest was harming children. My parents never sought after another church or taught us about God. During my childhood, the church, or living a spiritual life was never spoken about even when my mother was in incredible pain from Lupus. I look back now and see that God had his hands on all of this, but at the time I felt like I was living in a foggy nightmare, as my family continued to break away from the rest of our family and community — something we desperately needed.

My mother passed away when I was just fourteen years old and I remember crying all night long asking God why He would take her away from me. In a vision, I woke up in the middle of the night, and saw my mother in my room standing over me telling me that everything was okay, that she was okay, and that it would be okay. This vision didn’t give me any comfort. My mother had been my best friend and she was gone. If there was really a God in heaven, why couldn’t He bring back my mom? Then I began to ask Him to take me to Heaven to be with her and eventually these thoughts became more intense and more of suicide than begging for God to save me. At the age of seventeen I found alcohol and it became my escape.

I was married at age nineteen to someone I deeply loved. He joined the Army and we ended up at Fort Campbell. We were the military stereotype of naïve youngsters getting married without proper counsel. The invasion of Iraq and my fear of losing him over there only spiraled my thoughts and destructive behaviors. I was drinking, smoking cigarettes and hiding my pain by being the life of the party. That lifestyle was taking a toll on me emotionally and physically, and coupled with my ex’s drug use and partying ways, our young marriage fell apart.

Following my ex-husband’s lead, in 2003 I joined an ROTC program at my college. One day during a trip to the range with my reserve unit, Matt, a fellow cadet and I were “stuck” in his car on a really rainy day. We couldn’t shoot because it was too wet, so we all had to wait in our cars until the range could be reopened. God was working His ways, but I didn’t realize it. Because Matt was from Massachusetts and I was from Rhode Island, it was a comfort to me because I felt like an outsider living in Tennessee. I was trapped in a car with the perfect person to show me who God was and fortunately, I listen with an open heart. I saw his prayer request journal and he told me how he had been an atheist who found God and it turned his life around from being angry and bitter to being hopeful and full of joy. I will never, ever forget that day, even if Matt did. Today I realize that it was the Holy Spirit trying to communicate to me through Matt but at the time I was too afraid to accept what God was offering.

When you see a glimpse of what God can do and you are not ready to entirely accept it, you will make any excuse to go back to your familiar ways. The devil knows that the longer he can keep you in your sin, the more likely you are to self-destruct through the choices you make. Satan will try to convince you that you don’t have to worry about the small sins done once in a while. The devil desires your tiny compromises to become deadly lifestyles. I kept making bad choice after bad choice, ultimately affecting my friends, my family and myself in ways I would not fully understand until much later.

kneeling Fast forward through two failed marriages and the birth of my amazing daughter. Christ found me again in June of 2013 when a friend of mine saw that something was just not right with me. I was helping with the photography at the Gold Star Wives of America conference in Denver, Colorado. She pulled me aside and asked me to pray with her. In that small hotel room I knew I needed to give my heart and soul to the Lord even though I had no idea what that meant. I did everything in my power to move past the pain, hurt and anger over my past but it left me nowhere. Now I understand Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

I have felt the Holy Spirit, I have seen numerous miracles, and I have seen what God has in store for me through different dreams and visions. Once you understand that you have value in this life and that you were created for a purpose, there is no one who can take that from you. God is so much greater than any evil force on this earth, and he is your copilot (even when you don’t believe it). Looking back, choices of good over evil would have been easier to make. Even making bad choices did not make me happy in those times. In the moment, I would brush aside my uneasy feelings and the next day in sobriety, the guilt would build up. I should have died multiple times, had it not been for angels above protecting me. Truly, truly, truly I have been in some hellacious circumstances and though I had thought I was alone, now I know that He was there.

I’m so thankful for everything He has blessed me with and I commit to using any success in my life to help others with their dreams. I have so much hope in my heart for my life and my daughter’s life. He showed me that money, alcohol and isolation will not cure you of your problems, nor will it help you forget. Not only does He give you the strength and power to tackle your demons head on, but also to thrive.

As for my father, he was saved last year and his back was healed after 40 years of pain. I am seeing God move the mountains in my life and it makes me sit in wonder as I live each day in His grace.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41:10

Kalen Marie
Founder and owner of Stars and Stripes Marketing LLC, Kalen Marie is a 10 year US Army Reserves veteran. During her military service, she deployed to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom V supporting the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the 3rd Infantry Division.