Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Story....Part 1

Since I have been back from Africa, I have been able to share my story with a select number of people who have been willing to sit down with me for an hour or so and listen to it. For the past week, God has really put it on my heart though to share it with more people but because it is such a long story, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to do that. So, I have been praying that God would give me an opportunity to share my testimony with larger groups of people. I mean that is what our testimonies are for. God teaches us things not just to make us better but so that we can further His Kingdom here on earth! Don't forget...it's not about you. It's all about God! :) So anyways, as I was praying about this, I realized that a great way to share my testimony would be through my blog. Obviously, since this is somewhat of a long story, this will be a series of blog posts so as not to overwhelm you...whoever you are :) Also, I have some challenges throughout the series that I would encourage you to pray about as you read it! I have no idea what God may do in you through this but I believe He is faithful and as long as I follow His voice then I know He will continue to blow my mind!! So here is my story…..

Where do I even begin? God has done so much and shown me so much! I feel like I could sit here for hours explaining it all….But if I had to summarize it in one word…..FREEDOM!! I AM SET FREE!!! I guess that about sums it up. Of course there is a bit of a story behind it but I just want to start off by declaring that I AM SET FREE! Woop Woop! It feels good to write that and actually believe it. Now here is the cool story that God gave me….

Before deciding to go to Africa for two months, I was in a really crappy place and by crappy I mean pit of hell. I really could not have felt any worse about myself. I had been in a relationship for about a year with a great Christian guy….well started off great….then satan decided to take over and everything started to turn well….not so great. We got way to physical, started to grow jealous of each other, started lying to each other and just stopped listening to God’s voice all together. Okay, now I want you to stop reading and go read Romans 1:21-32. That is basically my story last year. By the end of it all, I was broken-hearted, depressed, alone, feeling unworthy of anyone’s love, angry and confused about how someone I loved so much could cause so much hurt to me. How could someone who claimed for an entire year to love me more than anyone and promise that he would love me for eternity, make the choice to do things that would blatantly destroy me? I didn’t know how you could claim to love someone one minute and then in the blink of an eye begin to tell that same person that they were undesirable and you never wanted to speak to them ever again. I guess that is how the devil works though. He uses those closest to you to bring you down. For a while, he was winning. He did a great job using this man to completely tear me apart and make me feel as if I was the most worthless human being on earth. Let me just say though. I don’t blame the man. Sure, he was the one saying terrible things to me and he was the one causing the pain through his actions but in the end it is Satan who is to blame. I forgive this man for what he did to me but I will not forgive Satan. Satan knew what he was doing. The guy didn’t. So basically before leaving for Africa, I was really in need of some Jesus and love. I’ll tell you what. God does not disappoint. I remember talking to my mom before I left and I told her that I really wanted to come home a brand new person. I wanted joy in my life again. I wanted healing from my past. I wanted freedom. She told me to be careful because what if none of that happened this summer? Then I would come home disappointed. But looking back now, that is a silly thing to say. I have a father in heaven that freaking created the universe!!! Of course I can expect GREAT things to happen! Actually I can expect more than great! God promises me in Ephesians 3:20 that He will go beyond my beyond! “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen” Man, God is just so awesome. By the time training camp happened, I was ready for some awesome encounters with the Lord. I was ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit and I was ready for whatever God had in store. Ps. Don’t feel like you have to read this all at one time…it’s kind of a long story and I would encourage you to pray as you read it. I firmly believe that God placed your name on my heart for a reason but it’s your job to figure out why. So please STOP and PRAY that God would speak to you, whoever you are. Basically training camp was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. God began to fill me up so much and began to teach me what it means to be BOLD in my faith. By the last night of worship, I was so overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit that I couldn’t keep it in. I was literally screaming my declarations and prayers to God and continued to do so throughout the summer. Let me encourage you reader. When you really begin to be filled with the Spirit of God, the only thing you can do is fall to your knees and scream praises to Him. It may sound weird and over the top but I don’t believe worship should be controlled or tamed because with my experience with the Holy Spirit, it is definitely not something that is tamed. It is an uncontrollable spirit. So be bold my friend. Allow the spirit of God to overtake you. Don’t worship or pray to God like He is not in the room. He is with you right now. Believe that. Think about it for a moment before you continue to read. GOD IS WITH YOU! That should overwhelm you. It sure did me. Wow, I just got way side tracked but I really felt like that was something you needed to hear. Okay back to my story…..

So after 4 days of ridiculous God encounters, I was ready for Africa. I was so filled up and I was ready to pour out. I was ready to jump into ministry. I was ready to be used by God! So off to Africa I went. After 20 hours of plane rides and a few hours of bus rides, the team finally arrived in Uganda. I was so excited! Uganda really was an awesome experience. Ministry consisted of praying in hospitals, door to door evangelism, playing with children and giving hour sermons at churches. We basically just did a lot of learning and getting used to the culture. Honestly, I didn’t grow much spiritually while in Uganda. My faith wasn’t really tested and that did frustrate me a little bit. I had so much fire at training camp and here I was only 2 weeks into the trip still waiting to really feel God’s presence in Africa. I began to get discouraged and satan really used that time to distract me. He began to put lies in my head and instead of my thoughts being on God and ministry, they were on my past, my relationship with my ex, what I was going to do about it and how I was going to bring change to the situation. Controlling my thoughts and not worrying about certain situations in my life has really been a big struggle for me this past year and satan knew that. He really used that to bring down my spirit. By the time we got to Kenya, I was broken. Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t experience God in Uganda. God definitely showed up and I really learned what it meant to let the spirit talk through you. I learned that the fun way when I was at a church and all of a sudden the pastor called me up to give an hour sermon that I was not aware of beforehand. But once again God came through. So God did teach me a lot in Uganda but I was still really struggling with truly being consumed with His love and understanding what it meant to be a child of God. My prayer for whoever is reading this is that you begin to understand that you are a child of God and you deserve to be treated like one. You are a beautiful creation and you are worthy to be fought for. You are loved by your Heavenly Father and don’t allow anyone to tell you any different. I would like to ask you right now, do you really believe that? Does your life show that?  I thought I did but come to find out I didn’t. It only took one person to make me lose my identity. If I really believed that I was loved by God, I would have cared less what that person thought of me and I would never have spent months chasing after someone who was willing to throw me around like I was nothing. I would never have been destroyed. So I want to ask you once again to STOP and PRAY. Ask God to pour His love on you. I don’t care if you have to pray about this for an entire week or month before you continue reading but I want you to really believe it in your heart that you are loved. Be confident in your identity in Christ. Please learn what that means. Say out loud right now who you are. Declare it out loud! Don’t say it quietly. Declare it over yourself who you are in Christ and be specific! Do you get it? I pray that you take this seriously. I pray that as you read this God overwhelms you with His spirit. I pray that He breaks you like He did me. Let go of your old beliefs about yourself and allow God to refine you and make you new. PRAY. FOCUS ON GOD. Do not go on today until you have begun to really declare that truth. Do not be timid. Be bold my friend!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just A Little Something

So I was reading in Galatians in my quiet time this morning and wanted to share a short thought that I had.....

"So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?....Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith....Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because 'the righteous will live by faith'. The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, 'The person who does these things will live by them.'" Galatians 5,8,11-12

We are justified simply by believing what we have heard through scripture. Some Christians, I think, try to make their faith so much more complicated and stressful. We think that by doing good things, we are going to grow closer to God. Scripture teaches us the complete opposite. I can say that it wasn't when I was trying to observe the law that I felt closest to God. It was when I stopped trying to be the "good Christian" and began to simply believe with all my heart what I read in scripture that I really began to connect with the Holy Spirit on a level that I never thought possible. Yes, reading your Bible everyday is important but until you really begin to have faith like it talks about in scripture, everything you read will just be words on a page. Yes, praying is important but until you begin to have the faith that God will answer your prayers, your prayers will seem like one way conversations. Live by faith!

 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." Galatians 3:13-14

Christ, the Son of God, came down and became a curse so that I could be redeemed!!!!! Christ died so that I could live by faith!! As Christians, I think we take that for granted all the time. Christ died so that we could live by faith, so let's live by faith! Let's live like we believe in God! Don't just say you love God but show you love God. Why is it that when we love someone here on earth, we will spend every waking moment trying to show them that we love them but when it comes to God, we think that just saying it is enough? I don't want to live like that. I know without a doubt that God loves me. I want Him to be able to say the same thing about me. I want Him to look down from Heaven and say, "That is my daughter and I know that she loves me, not because she says she does but because through her life, she shows me she loves me."

Well that is my quiet time for today. I pray that it encourages you to live by faith. I mean that is the whole reason Christ died on a cross for us! =)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Being back in the states is pretty weird. It is so different than living in Africa. I mean for the past 2 months  have been living in community, sleeping on the floor or in tents, taking bucket showers maybe 3 times a week, eating basically the same thing every meal, and waking up doing ministry everyday. My first day back home consisted of a hot shower, picking out which restaurant I wanted to eat at for lunch, getting a manicure and pedicure with my mom, buying some books at Barnes and Nobel and sleeping in a huge comfortable bed. I could get a glass a water from the sink, use a toilet, sit in an air conditioned house, drive my car around, use internet in the comfort in my own home, and wash my clothes by just putting them into a machine. For the first time in 2 months, I didn't really have to worry about anybody else but myself. It's strange....Honestly, I am not quite sure how I feel about the transition home yet. I really want to try and figure out the best way to bring the things I learned in Africa back to my life back at home but I can already tell this is going to be a little difficult. I have had all of these amazing, life changing experiences and God has filled me so much with the Holy Spirit. It is really hard to explain that to people and have them be able to relate to my experiences and share in my excitement.
I don't want this experience to leave me. I don't want this to just become something cool I did one summer. I don't just want to go to people and say "Look what God did!" I want to tell people "Look what God is DOING!" God giving me freedom was not a one time act. Every morning I wake up, He is freeing me. I could choose any moment to go back to my past and continue to believe the lies Satan tries to tell me. Instead God is giving me strength everyday to walk in my freedom. I can not do this alone. If at any point in my life God left my side, I would crumble in a second. I need His truth whispering in my ear every moment of everyday. Without that truth, I am nothing. Without the freedom that is brought through truth, I will only begin to be emprisoned by lies. God is my stronghold. He is my love and I want these truths to continue to be a part of who I am. I want to continue with daily worship. I want to continue to ask the Lord daily what He wants from me and follow whatever He says. I want to continue to boldly declare who God is and who I am in Christ. I want to continue to dive into God's word and learn what it really means to die to self and be a servant of the Lord. I want to search for God's will and follow whatever He has for my life. I want to continue to be a light in the darkness that surrounds me. I want to bring change to my community and challenge those around me to follow the Holy Spirit and be bold in their faith. I know life won't all be the same and I know it won't be easy but if there is one thing I learned in Africa, it is that God is faithful! He will continue to walk with me and lead me. The God that I served in Africa is the same God that I serve here in the United States. That means that although I may be home, I can encounter God each day in the same way that I did while in Africa. Ephesians 3:20 holds just as much truth here as it did this summer. "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen."