Sunday, November 8, 2015

#Thankful Sunday

Thanking God for hymns writers and musicians for creating a wonderful way for us to worship our Savior!
We sang "Only by His Grace" by Ron Hamilton and Cheryl Reid this morning and my heart was truly blessed by it!

"I found grace to save my soul; at the cross grace made me whole
when my Savior took control and washed my sins away.
Now the fellowship is sweet as I worship at his feet.

Only by His grace, I have found this holy place,
underneath His wings of love, trusting in my Lord above.
Grace for every need, grace that overflows and far exceeds,
lavished on my soul at Calvary, only by His grace.

Every valley I have known, such compassion I've been shown.
Giving strength that's not my own, it's only by His grace.
Every burden that I bear, Jesus comes and meets me there.

Only by His grace, I have found this holy place,
underneath His wings of love, trusting in my Lord above.
Grace for every need, grace that overflows and far exceeds,
lavished on my soul at Calvary, only by His grace."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Check it out!

"I’ve been learning over and over that unless someone is willing to see the unwieldy plank in their own eye, it’s absolutely impossible to help them out of their destructive patterns and self-deception.You can yell and grieve and make a scene. You can spend hours in gentle counsel and eloquent exchange and loud weeping and tongue-biting patience. But unless that person wants to change, it’s not happening. No argument or mercy or fervency is enough. They’ll need to be pierced by their own convictions, or in the worst case, they must come to their own ruin and see the miles of hurt they’ve caused. Otherwise, you’re only reinforcing their pride and building their defenses and rationalizations. Often the only thing we can do is to pray and humble ourselves. To look at our own plank first. To expect the best, even if the other person is taking no strides. To keep the door open. To keep serving. And maybe it’s not about the other person anyway. If they don’t change, you will."— J.S. Park

Holly Stratton wrote a post on .  She talked about how we protect our hearts and build walls because of how much we fear vulnerability.  I couldn't resist sharing it with all of you and I highly encourage you to click the link above and read her post!

Hope you are all enjoying your September!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Past 7 Years...

How does time fly by so quickly?  How does it also seem to crawl as slow as a turtle at the same time?

As I look back at the last few years and all the twists and turns I have taken and look at where I am today... I never would have guessed where I've ended up!

For all of you out there who are wondering what the plans are that God has for you, I just want to say that they are better then you could ever imagine!  I know you probably hear that all the time, but I can honestly say that I have seen it play out in my life...

Wherever He has you right now, no matter the circumstance, no matter the training, no matter the situations you are in, all of it is being used to prepare you for the next step in life.  It may seem that you're stuck in a rut, or your dreams seem so unattainable or (if you are like me) you don't seem to have a specific goal in life to run towards right now, God is preparing you.

Graduating with one of my best friends!

When I graduated from high school in 2008, I seriously thought that I would take a gap year, work and hopefully in that year, figure out what I wanted to get a degree in at whichever college I felt God directing me towards....  I seriously had no idea what I wanted to get a degree in or how I was going to pay for that degree... but I was going to go, because, well that's what everyone expected of me.  That's what the norm was...


After 9 months of working at an alpaca farm, I became so sick that I could no longer work.  I was exhausted all the time and as soon as I would eat I would have to take a nap because my body was working so hard to just break down the small amount of food I was eating!
* (this was the first time I saw a reason why God had me stay home... if I had gone to college I would have most definitely needed to drop out.)
After lots of testing and going different natural routes we figured out that I needed to drastically change my diet.  Without going into a lot detail, suffice it to say, that within 3 weeks of changing my diet I was off all medication!  However, this diet was going to be with me for the rest of my life.  Yes, I can eat a little bit more "out of the box" than I used to.  But for the most part I have to eat only what God created and placed on earth for us to processing involved!


Due to the diet, this brought up more complications as far as going to college.  I still didn't know what I wanted to go for and now, how was I going to have time to cook all this food I needed while still trying to live a regular college lifestyle.  It looked like another year at I decided to take some high school classes in apologetics, Christian worldviews and the Life of Christ.  Over the next 4 semesters I took 5 classes from Apologia Academy! 

God was definitely at work, I was soaking all these classes up like a sponge and absolutely loving what I was much so, that I asked my teacher to come up at do an apologetics conference at our church after the first year of taking classes! 

However, during that first year of classes, we watched the movie. "Return of the Daughters" and it made a huge impact in my life.  Our family truly felt that God was calling my sister and I to stay at home and find places to serve in our church and family.  THIS WAS NOT PART OF MY PLAN...but again, GOD'S PLANS ARE NOT OUR PLANS! :) 

Staying home provided me with ample opportunities to spend with my grandparents and other family

Playing with our cousins kids!
members.  For example, my cousin has 6 kids, so I was able to help her with homeschooling them.  I was able to be involved with our church youth group and just all around serve wherever I was needed... 

However, I was struggling with depression...I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy being a stay at home daughter, when everyone expected me to go to college.  I knew God wanted me to stay at home, but nobody else seemed to understand that!  Going to college was the norm...and if I wasn't going to go to college, why wasn't I getting a job that would support me enough so I could move out of my parents home??  I am a people pleaser and the thought that I couldn't live up to the expectations of the people who I loved so much hurt and caused me to be constantly second guessing myself.  My parents supported me and they were in 100% agreement with my decision but there were a lot people who felt I was wasting my life.  I began to agree with them and feel like my life had no purpose...sure I could help people out when they needed it, but I didn't have a goal I was working to accomplish, a purpose in life that I felt I needed. 

Picture Scavenger Hunt W/ the Youth Group!
This went on for three years, where I would be thrilled with the freedom I had to serve in ways I never would have if I had gone to college.  Thrilled that I could spend time with family and friends and build relationships with people I never would have had the opportunity to...and then the pendulum would swing in the other direction, I wasn't fulfilling the expectations of the people I was around.  What was my life purpose?  Why did God put me here?  Satan used my uncertainties to flood my mind with lies, I was worthless, stupid, unneeded, a get the picture.  It got to the point where I didn't have any dreams that I felt I could pursue because I was too scared I would fail or that I wouldn't be able to do.

Then God led us to a WIT Conference (Whatever It Takes).  This conference changed my life.  Yes, I had a hard time opening up, but God gave me a group of young ladies that were all at the same point in life as me.  Most of them had decided to stay home as well, but most of us had contemplated that unmentionable thing...suicide...because we had all been listening to Satan's lies.  We were worthless, we were unlovable, we would never be good for anything, etc.   We could never live up to the expectations of the people around us.  If there was one thing we all learned at that conference, it was this... Our validation is to come from Christ Alone!  His expectations of us are the only ones I should be concerned with.  Not trying to please my parents, grandparents, church family, aunts and & uncles, friends... Pleasing God alone.  If I do what God calls me to do than the rest of my life will fall into
WIT Conference
place.  It shouldn't matter to me if I'm not fulfilling the expectations of others, God is calling me to something different from everyone else and that is ok...  Yes, I may like to be in the background and just blend in with everyone else and not draw attention to the fact that I may be different, but God is calling me to something else and He has a purpose for doing that...  He created me PERIOD.  He saved me PERIOD.  He has a purpose for me PERIOD.  They had us write out a statement stating who we are in Christ.  Not who we thought we were, but who God had called us to be and what He called us.  We were to find Scripture to back up these "Being Purpose Statements".

This was the best thing I could have done.  I came back from that conference a changed person. Was life perfect from then on, no.  Did I still struggle over the next year, yes.  But there was improvement and I wasn't having suicidal thoughts.  I knew who I was in Christ, and I was seeking his validation NOT seeking validation from the people I was around.  Did I have a purpose, not necessarily, not by the worlds standards.  But I did have a purpose, to know my God and to make Him known to others.  To serve others in order to make Him smile, not anyone else.  To fulfill His expectations of me, not worry about the expectations that other people were placing on me.

We went back to the WIT conference the following year, and although I was no longer struggling with fulfilling other people's expectations of me, I was struggling with the expectations I was placing on myself and I was having a hard time communicating with my parents.  Truly opening up to them and talking about heart issues, simply because of lies I had started believing again. Lies about them and about myself.  I was struggling with assumptions.  Assuming they felt this way or were thinking certain things. I assumed they were disappointed or upset with me.  I assumed a lot and  I needed to be reminded of the truths found in God's Word.  I needed to be reminded to communicate rather than hold everything inside!

I say all this because after four years of questioning, doubting and struggling things started to change when I truly accepted who God was calling me to be... 

Sorting Food at the Church in NYC
That fall of 2012, my sister, Dad and I visited a church in NYC.  It is a wonderful church whose passion is to preach the gospel and serve the people.  They have a food pantry that serves several hundred people each week.  My main spiritual gift is service, and this church needed people who were willing to serve wherever and I absolutely loved it down there!  Following that first visit, we have tried to visit every 3-4 months since then.  The Pastor and his family became wonderful friends and the opportunities we have had to serve down there have been incredible.

That following spring (2013) my Grandfather passed away.  I was the closest to him out of all my grandparents...and it was really hard to see him go.  However, I saw what a blessing it had been that I had been home those last few years and had been able to spend time with him.  Six months later, my Nana passed away, again I was reminded how fortunate I was to have spent all that time with her.  4 months later my last Grandparent passed away, my Mom's mom.  I had spent a lot of time with Grammy throughout my childhood & teen years and to see her go was really hard.

As I look back at that year, I can see how God gave me so many opportunities to spend time with them that I never would have had I been away at college.

At this point God started bringing little ways here and there for me to bring in money and for that I was extremely thankful.  My health was doing better and it was neat to see how my change in diet had brought other sick people into my life who I was able to send to the same person who helped me with my diet.  One of those people happened to be a very close friend who I had grown up with and
she was battling cancer.  She wanted to go the natural route, but the medication just wasn't stopping the cancer fast enough or killing enough of it.  As I saw this cancer pulling the life out of her, I saw
Celebrating my girlfriends birthday after hearing her
cancer was in remission!
another reason why God had kept me at home and caused me to be sick... I had the opportunity to talk to this girlfriend about the diet and send her to the person that helped me and within a few months of changing her diet the Doctors were seeing marked improvement.  Wow, my sickness that I had seen as "evil" was in fact being used to help other people... Isn't there a verse about that? :} 

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."  Genesis 50:20 (Joseph speaking to his brothers)

Btw...that girlfriend is now cancer free!!!  God is good!

Over those next few years, I had lots of opportunities to get involved with political campaigns, serve several times a year down at that church in NYC, build relationships with family members that had been strained and stretch myself in ways that made me depend on my God even more.  Those 6 years out of high school really helped me build a foundation for my adult life.  It made me question my
Serving At Samaritan's Purse
with Operation Christmas Chld
faith, which in turn strengthened it as I searched for answers.  I could help people that I never would have been able to, had I not gone through it myself.

Between 2012 & 2013 there were several ministry internships that were offered to me or ones that I was thinking of applying for and I would pray over them, get some know, look for the Lord's direction and each time either my parents or myself wouldn't have a complete peace.  There was one internship in particular that I had complete peace with, I felt it would be a safe environment but yet would definitely stretch me, while being able to serve God in a unique way... However, my parents did not have peace with me taking the internship.  We prayed about it, I kept asking and they kept saying no.  I knew after a year that I needed to settle this.  As I prayed, the Lord brought to mind the verse,

"Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."  Deuteronomy 5:16

as well as,

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.…"  Ephesians 6:2

So, I made the decision that day, that I would honor my parents.  If they didn't have a peace about it, then there was reason for that and I needed to trust the guidance that God had given them...  About a year after that decision, I discovered that the ministry had some core beliefs that were very different from my own... God used my parents to protect me from a situation that I would not have wanted to be committed to and then found out later on that it wasn't where I needed to be...

During the summer of 2012 I started working at a horse stable.  Working as a stable hand, but also riding and training whenever I had the opportunity.  God used this job to grow my confidence in so many ways and also provide some income...  By the end of 2014 however, we had to put down the

Competing at my first Dressage Competition
horse I was riding and the position I had been holding at the barn was not going to be available... I was again at a crossroads in life...  Where did God want me?  There wasn't a ministry internship I could go to at that time.  I was out of a job and to some degree a dream...I had hoped to do something with horses in my future.   So I started praying again... Trusting in God's timing...I had seen Him at work in other ways, I could trust Him to still be at work.

That December, our church secretary announced she and her husband were leaving for FL the following spring.  Our Pastor approached Dad to hint that if I was interested the job could be mine... Of course I was ecstatic, this job, was something that would be part time, so I could still serve in the ministries I was already serving in, it would bring a paycheck in and it would be another way of serving in the ministry.  I started training mid-December and was full time by January!  God can work quick and unexpectedly....

By February I was settling into the job, still learning a lot, but loving it, when I received an offer to become a part-time assistant firearms and defensive tactics instructor for Critical Defense Institute....Ok..a bit of a shocker!!  I had been attending the self-defense classes for 10 months at that point as well as taking their defensive pistol classes...

Let's take a step back...I grew up riding horses, then training alpacas, we were raised in the country,
Target Shooting
but I love the city and had looked at internships that were all located in large metropolis's (ie. NYC, Boston, Houston) you get the picture.  I had only started target shooting when I was around 21 just for fun and something to do with my Dad.  I was looking for a place to serve in the ministry, but some things had happened in the city that had caused me to want to take some self-defense classes so I had started taking them since May of 2014 and had been going twice a week since then. 

What did I say earlier?  GOD'S PLANS ARE NOT OUR PLANS!  The self-defense classes had awoken a side of me that absolutely thrived under the training!  I loved both the self-defense classes as well as the firearms training.  I truly felt alive and the more I learned, the more I wanted to share this training with other ladies.  Could I use it in a ministry setting, absolutely!  Could I use to earn money, absolutely!  Could God's plan for me to be a reflection of Him in the lives of so many people that have never even met a Christian be played out in this setting, absolutely!

So guess, where I am today?!  A secretary at our church and an Assistant Instructor at Critical Defense Institute!  I've been certified as an NRA Basic Pistol Instructor and I'm looking to hopefully someday be an actual Instructor at CDI!  Could I have foreseen where God has lead me, I would have laughed outright...and yet, I couldn't be happier!  I'm still living at home with my parents and my
Another Trip to NYC!
sister and the four of us are super close!

I write all of this to hopefully encourage all of you out there who might be battling any of the things I talked about.  Staying at home and meeting the expectations of others.  Getting sick and the many challenges that that brings.  Going through depression and suicidal thoughts.  Inability for find your purpose... Oh and did I mention that I'm still unmarried :]  yeah, another expectation that has come from both the outside world, our church family, family & friends...ourselves.  I want to wait and date the young man that is the one for me.  Not just date because it's what you do to get to know someone.  I can get to know someone serving in a ministry and know enough to decide if they are someone I want to spend the rest of my life with! :)  God has those of us that are still single, single because the plans he has for us will be best done as single people.  We can do the jobs he is calling us to perform better in the relationship status we are in now!  When and if he calls us to marriage, we can know that the jobs he will call us to will be better done as a married lady.  I am really ok, w/ not being in a relationship...yes, there are days I wonder...I am human and I know God has built within every young lady that desire to be married, therefore there are days that I look to the sky and ask God, what's up with the whole relationship thing?  But if my purpose is to know God and make Him known and I know that God is calling me to do certain things, then I can trust that my purpose on earth is being fulfilled without a marriage partner at this time.  And that is great! You and I don't have to worry about God forgetting about our relationship status...
Believe me, there are plenty of people out there praying for us about that ;}

Please, believe me when I say, GODS PLANS ARE BETTER!  My parents and sister know that there are days when I question everything I just wrote about, but deep down I know God has a plan and when you or I hit "waiting periods of life"...we need to see them as "training periods of life".  Where you and I are at right now, is where we can do the most damage to the enemy and have the most victory for our Savior!  God knows and is training us for the next step!

Best friends!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More Like Christ...

"The purpose of our suffering isn't to have a great testimony.  It isn't to point the finger of accusation at ourselves and say we brought on our calamity by our lack of faith.  No trials and struggles and distresses simply help us become more like Christ Jesus.  More selfless.  More giving.  More hope-filled.  More forgiving.  More abundant.
Life in the spirit, in the realm of spiritual warfare is not about a simple formula of you being good, God rewarding you w/ a happy life, and then telling everyone else to do the same.  It is a holy interaction with a-not-so-easy-to-understand God.  It's being near to Him even when it looks like He has forsaken you.  It's discipleship.  It's learning to have joy in pain.  That's the kind of life that stands out in a crazy, needy world."  - Mary E. Demuth, Beautiful Battle