Ii grew up in the Midwest and was raised in a middle class blue collar family. We lived in a rural area in the country. My upbringing was very sheltered, born in 1978, we had a TV but only 3 channels.
Both of my parents are deeply religious but do not share it openly. My father's family was very religious also but were forceful about it. My father is Methodist and mother Lutheran.
I went to Sunday School, Confirmation, and church as a youth out of duty. I did believe in God, but had no experiences to convince me or strengthen my faith.
My first spiritual experience came at the age of 15. I was just learning to drive a car. I was dropping off a friend. Just before I dropped her off I felt a presence in the car. My body became hot to the touch as if I was being covered by an invisible wall of heat. I saw nothing but will never forget the intense heat that enveloped my body. I touched my clothing and it felt as if I was being blasted by a large heater.
The temperature out that day was 45-50 degrees and my car was functioning normally. I was in awe with some apprehension of what this heat source was. My friend noticed nothing and I did ask. Without wanting to sound "crazy" I just said "strange" and dropped her off.
What happened next is scary! My car was clipped by an 18-wheel semi at full speed and the entire rear end of the car demolished. The car was pushed into the ditch pretty quickly. I sat there stunned at what had just happened. My friend and her family came running down the road as they witnessed what just happened.
As I sat there, I still felt the intense heat around me. As my friend and her family approached, I felt a tingle go up my spine and I felt the heat rise and disappear. I began to shiver, from shock and from being cold suddenly and missing the warmth of the heat source.
Being 15 and confused, I developed insomnia from the event. I did not understand what had happened or why I was able to walk away without a scratch with the force I was hit by.
I sought advice from my pastor and my story brought a tear to his eye. He told me he believed I was being shielded by the Holy Spirit and/or angels to protect me from the accident.
I never spoke of the incident again until I became an adult.
My next experience was at the age of 25. I had finished college and moved for a new job 5 hours from my hometown. I joined a new Lutheran church in my neighborhood. I was single and alone.
I was invited to Sunday service for new members to be welcomed into the church. The ceremony was simple. They invite you to the altar and say your names and a prayer is said for you.
I walked up to the altar and kneeled at the altar with the others. The senior pastor placed his hand on top of my head and repeated my name with the prayer. It seemed simple enough.
As the prayer started, and he placed his hand on my head, I felt an enormous "energy" travel through my body. It felt like electricity and a shiver up and down my back. The prayer lasted for 15-20 seconds.
I stood up in a daze and went back to my pew. I broke down crying and I wasn't sure why - I still felt the presence and was blown away by the intense love and energy I felt but could not put it in words.
An elderly couple holding hands a couple of pews over, looked over at me, bowed their heads and smiled at me. They knew why I was crying. I felt incredibly fortunate to have experienced the Holy Spirit yet again in my life.
My next experience happened when my husband and I were planning our wedding with my pastor in my hometown. My pastor was suffering from a brain tumor. I had known him most of my life. We took the church's marriage survey and passed with flying covers.
The pastor was counseling us on our relationship, our relationship with Christ, and our future. The conversation was casual and the topic was not heavy. Without any explanation, all three of us began to cry.
The pastor stopped, tears streaming down his face, and said "Do you feel that?!?" We did! None of us spoke of what had just transpired but we knew the Holy Spirit was with us at that moment.
The pastor ended up not being able to officiate our wedding ceremony. Due to his health, he opted to spend time with his family and bring his son to his first day of college.
Since giving birth to our first son, I've experienced 2-3 small moments where I felt the presence of angels, or other spiritual beings. My son as infant was sleeping in the bassinet next to our bed and I heard a voice whispering hello to him. The presence touched my back and sent electricity through my body.
My husband and I also experienced a bad time in our lives due to external circumstances, life was exceptionally hard. I felt depressed and in a helpless place. I cried often and one night I prayed out loud for guidance and for help in getting through these hard times.
That night I had a vivid dream of a man approaching me and telling me to give him my pain. I do not know who this man was but I hugged this man and felt all of the pain, helplessness, and despair disappear. I awoke with a warmth around me and felt better about life in general.
The problems didn't disappear but I felt better able to cope.
These are my experiences as I remember them. I feel very blessed and my faith is very strong.