Testimony Time: From identity crisis to transformation

“The power of satan is in an identity crisis.”  That one statement made by Kynan Bridges zeroed in on my life in one sentence.

I once thought, in my younger years, that I was a good christian.  I loved attending church, helping with sunday school, the attention I received from the church staff concerning my spiritual maturity and “specialness,” the words that people used to describe me: so innocent, so kind, so gentle in spirit, so talented, so this , so that.  Those things defined my identity.  So even when I started doing not so innocent and kind and gentle things, I excused them all because, hello, everyone said I was so good.  My twenties were similar to many other Christians.  I strayed.  I strayed A LOT.  Something was stirring in me, that was making me confront my co-called “not so bad” life that I had been living.  And I couldn’t face the facts so I fled.  Literally.  I moved in with a friend far away from my parent’s home.  Like, a couple of hours, but to me it felt like the other side of the country.  To be honest, there really was nowhere else for me to go anyway.  So to my friends I went, thinking I had escaped condemnation.  No church, no old friends, no guilt.

It wasn’t too long before I began experiencing some strange behaviors.  My once incredibly self controlled self had become uncontrollable.  Fear gripped me like a possum to a tree.  I would drive to school only to circle the campus for an hour before giving up and heading back home.  I was physically unable to turn the steering wheel into the direction of the parking lot.  On somewhat better days I made it into the parking lot, but couldn’t get out of my car.  On even better days I made it to the classroom door, but the conditions had to be perfect in order for me to enter.  If I was late I never went in.  If there were too many students inside then I didn’t go in.  If I just felt ugly or fat I didn’t go in.  So, I’m sure you’ve guessed that I only made it into class about 25% of the time.  Miraculously, I passed my classes.  If I made it into the classroom I always did well.  I got perfect scores on my exams and the information entered my brain easily.  I loved school.  But my attendance brought my grades down to C’s.  At some point I realized I was really “off.”  Mind you, there were no drugs, eating disorders, alcohol or anything like that involved.

Have you ever looked outside and thought everything looked like a hologram?  I distinctly remember looking at trees and thinking that if I tried to touch them that my fingers would glide right through.  That was my vision at that time.  Everything was cloudy even though it was Santa Clarita and 100 degrees and blue skies everyday.  Well, somehow I managed to see the school nurse because I didn’t know where else to go.  And bless her heart, she seemed like the most wonderful person in my life at that time. The Prozac she prescribed help a little.  I managed to start dating.  I even made a friend in one of my history classes.

And then my life spiraled out of control.

My boyfriend and I were both depressed (though it didn’t occur to me at the time) and his background was everything that stood against my background.  I began believing him and his philosophy that Christianity was for stupid people. During those three years I had an abortion that drove me further into depression.  I began drinking alcohol.  I began using obscene language.  And the sensitive nature that my mother had tried so hard to cultivate in me completely broke.  My heart couldn’t take it anymore.  I finally believed that I no longer deserved the air I was breathing.  That I was a waste of space.  That people in my life would actually be relieved if I was no longer a burden to them.  So, one night while at my parents home, knowing no one would be home memorial day weekend 2007 but myself, I tried to end my life.  After what seemed like an eternity of vomiting red liquid I heard a small voice in the hallway.  Without even knowing what I was doing I answered that voice.  I blacked out after that and woke up to bright lights in the ER.

Friends, I want to say my life was perfect after that, but I would be lying.  I want to say that I at least came to my senses and I repented and turned back to the way I should go, but that would be another lie.  I was disappointed, quite honestly, that I had been “Saved.”  I’d rather be dead.  But life had to go on now.  I didn’t have it in me to make another attempt, after seeing what this had done to my parents.

The next few years were eventful but not terribly important to this part of my testimony. Though I began attending a church with a friend I didn’t really have any direction in my life spiritually.  The questions of who I was in this world, what I was made for, nothing was any clearer.  Other than, I now have to be alive.

I’m sure you can guess what transpired during those years.  The spiritual warfare that was raging.  I did realize that satan had quite a hold on me.  I believed all of his lies.  And running from God, separating myself from him, had had an impact on my whole body.  But it wasn’t until recently that I realized what had really happened the night I was admitted into the hospital.

The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
12 From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
14 He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

16 He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
19 He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

psalm 18:4-19

God was angry for me?  He delighted in me?  He heard my soul cry out to him?  This truly brought me to my senses.  Every verse I read in the Bible mentioned how precious I am to him.  Why hadn’t I seen those verse before?  Or rather, why had they not been known to me before?  I had prided myself in knowing the Bible before, yet I realized none of it had entered my heart.  Then the transformation began.  I became more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Bible started making sense and I began to start fully realizing God’s faithfulness.  His love.  His grace.  The Gospel became exciting again.  And all those old evil feelings were diminishing before my eyes.  It was at this point that the Bible became so real to me.

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”

15 While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. 16 Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. 17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. 19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”

Daniel 10:12-19

Becoming fully aware of the spiritual warfare going on in the world gave me peace.  Without the knowledge that our physical world is in a constant state of battle because of very real, very intense, spiritual forces, then we cannot become fully transformed.  To not be completely aware of this is to not be completely aware of what our roles are in this world.  This is the identity crisis that satan excels at producing.  We have whole generations lost to identity crises… let us battle for their lives.

And deliver us from evil,

for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Amen.

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Is there room for fear in God’s world? Part 1

Recently, I started watching the news.  I’m 35 years old and I used to hate watching the news because the horrific things people would do would send me into a tornado of depression that I couldn’t control.  But one day, last week to be exact, I decided to see what all the commotion was about.  There were shootings.  There were murders.  There were kidnappings and rapes and countless other wicked things.  And for once in my life I had the strength to watch all this evil and not be tormented with helplessness and fear.  For once in my life I realized THERES SO MUCH TO PRAY ABOUT.  For once I knew what I needed to do, what God wanted me to do.  I asked God how on earth I could dedicate enough time to pray for everything and all these hurting people.  After all, I’m a mom of little ones, a wife, friend, etc.  I was already overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” I needed to pray about.  And in that moment of hesitation my mind started grasping for the familiar.  Fear and worry.  The fear of moving to a rural area (which is my husbands dream) where wild animals and big bugs live (I’m not a fan of bugs AT ALL), the fear of what America is going to look like after the new president gets elected, the fear of more bombings and shootings and mobs, oh my.  Mostly, it was fear for our future generations and how they would handle what situations would come.  

And can you guess how God responded to my fears?  

He whispered.  Just like he did to Elijah.  (1 kings 19:11-13). He whispered his promises to me, to remind me of who is in control.  

“But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant,  Israel my chosen one.  The Lord who made you and helps you says:  Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one.  For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched field.  And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.  They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank.”  Isaiah 44:1-4

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”  Isaiah 41:13

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

How can I not cry out “you are so good to me!”   So I brushed off the fear by commanding the evil spirits away, and I sat down with my bible and started to make a list as I prayed.  The list is no joke, there’s a lot to pray about.  But the God who made this world sees me and hears me.  And when he asks “who will we send?” There’s no other answer but “here am I, send me.”  

And with continued prayer there’s really no fear.  No fear because the bible clearly states God’s promises to be our healer and protector.  And the evil one cannot stand tall when we talk to God and he talks to us.  

So, do you have fears?  Then what are you waiting for?  Drive them out with prayer.  

Working for the Lord… the sainted way

This whole idea of working for the Lord no matter what has been a bit of a hindrance for me.  Thus my one year hiatus from posting on my blog after only publishing, what, five times I think.  And I deleted most of those anyway.  Eh, what can you do when three little toddlers are having fun making messes and wanting to be held?

Initially, I wanted to start a blog because the idea of making some money from home by writing a blog seemed easy.  And simple.  And in no way time consuming.  Man, was I wrong.  Not only did I discover that I had no writing skills, but I also discovered that I am not technologically inclined… AT ALL.  And all the different social media platforms, photography expertise to pull in viewers through Pinterest, networking with people all day long… let me tell you, it was just overwhelming for me.  In short, it really wasn’t what I was meant to handle at the time.  Mostly because I had my priorities all wrong.  Like so many other young moms with little ones running around, I wanted something creative and fun and seemingly relevant to do, and make some money too.  That is definitely God ordained for some.  It is not for me.  And I’ve come to accept that.  I now fully realize my life is not my own.  No, it is Christ’s and wholly for the glory of his kingdom.  What words pop up on this screen is meant not for my glory and popularity, but for the expansion of his family.

Throughout the year I had ideas for posts.  Posts that I felt pertained to the Bible and christian living, but none of those ideas really manifested themselves into anything WORTHY OF MY CALLING IN CHRIST.  Recently, though, I began sensing the Holy Spirit working on me concerning this blog.  To take a different approach.  No focusing on homeschool curriculum and schedules, no pretty recipe posts, no beauty posts (kinda makes me sad), nothing devotional intended.  Just the nitty gritty reality of getting through the eye of the needle.  I am not promised recognition.  I am not promised financial gain.  I am not promised forever friendships made through the comments section.  I am not promised anything other than that “the Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8 ESV)

So family, with grace please accept my humble offerings.

 

 

Homeschooling : the adventure begins

Well, friends, I’ve done it.  I’ve made the decision to homeschool my children.  I needed some (a lot of) prodding from God, but you know what????  through this decision many prayers have been answered for our family.  My daughters constipation, my own anxiety about the public school system, my sons potty training, my husbands walk in faith…  people, IT IS AMAZING how everything fell into place.  And ultimately, my entire being was at peace with this decision.  The anxiety I had about teaching my children all sorts of subjects I had no confidence in, paired with my notorious lack of discipline and overabundance of flexibility was washed away with this message from the greatest dad ever:

And he said unto me, “MY grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then am I strong.  2 Cor 12:9-10 NKJV

And also:

All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.  Isaiah 54:13

I have never been more glad to be all the flawed things I was ashamed of.  The success of our little homeschool is absolutely contingent upon God’s grace and power.  And that, dear sisters and brothers, is the perfect place to be.

The Sainted Life

Are you a saint?

I am and I’m not.  I mean, I’m certainly not perfect.  I’m no Mother Theresa.  BUT apparently God thinks I’m a saint.  

1 Corinthians 1:2 (ESV).   “… To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Since we’ve been sanctified and made holy we are now “called to be saints.”  Whoa.  Is that life changing or what? Am I the only church attending christian that did not know this???  I’ll tell ya, it certainly changed my attitude and the way I view other Christians.  Let’s face it, we women can be catty and a teeny weeny bit judgemental, but knowing that God see’s me as a saint made me start to see others in a different light.  I started TREATING them differently.  Rather than noticing their accent or haircut or political views, people just looked more beautiful and kind.  My heart wanted to embrace them so my voice took on a more kindly tone.  I went out of my way to sincerely connect with them in conversation.  And I started PRAYING for them.  

Yes, I know we all pray for people, things, circumstances, but I really didn’t know what it was to pray for people until I saw them ( almost) as God sees them.  This is when I started a serious prayer journal.  And I started writing my prayers.  Through these prayers I realized that no matter the difference in lifestyles we are all the same.  The same daughters and sons of God that are here for one purpose only, and that is to build up the kingdom of God.  

In short, we Christians are all saints.  Therefore, rather than focusing on the differences we have and pointing out differences we should be cultivating a life in common.  The sainted life.  

Dear Lord, though I am far from perfection you called me to do your work.  Thank you for continuously molding me and shaping me to be what you meant for me to be.  Bless the connections we make in this life and help us to cultivate them to always be uniting rather than divisive.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

The Ministry of Motherhood

Hello fellow mothers!

I assume you are here because you too want to take charge of this ministry of motherhood that you were blessed to be given.  This is not a ministry I always knew I would be leading until I was fortunate enough to come across some studies and books that opened my eyes to it.

What is the ministry of motherhood?  Quite simply, it’s how we raise our children.  For many years I prayed about a ministry I could be a part of, not realizing I had an important one that I was already in the middle of. Now, many women raise their families with excellent christian standards and they don’t consciously need to acknowledge that it’s a ministry.  I, on the other hand, needed to see, hear, and know that my work as a mother was a ministry in itself in order for my attitudes to change and for me to grow spiritually.

Through this blog I pray that we can learn, share, pray, and grow together as mothers.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (ESV).  You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them in the door posts of your house and on your gates.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this ministry that you have given me.  Without your grace and mercy I would not be on this earth  today.  Prepare me daily for the spiritual battles that come my way.  I know you are always with me therefore I have no fear of the future.  I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.