Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

Personal testimoney of love and loss through infertility and adoption Bessie’s story:

I am honored to share with you, my dear friend, Bessie’s story. She has been such a picture of Jesus to me and everyone around her as she has walked through the painful and beautiful road of love and loss through infertility, pregnancy, and adoption. Here is God’s story, in Bessie Cameron:

I’ve always had a heart for children, a desire to one day be a Mom was in my heart since I was much younger. When I married, my husband and I battled infertility. During this time when we kept trying to use medical technology to start a family, we also felt led to become foster parents. Our lives were touched by several beautiful children we had in our home, in October 2009 we were able to adopt our first child, Leila Bess. Just prior to her adoption, we also FINALLY achieved a pregnancy thru in vitro fertilization (IVF)! It was more than we ever dreamed! We were blessed with a precious new baby AND I was pregnant! But at 20 weeks devastation occurred. My body went into labor far too early and we lost our precious son, Jameson. Over the next two years we took a break from medical treatments and prayed about God’s plan for our family. We still had many embryos frozen, and we were not sure whether IVF or maybe another option like surrogacy or adoption was our calling. We even had a dear friend offer to carry the baby!

Towards the end of this time we gave a few more attempts at IVF- many that had to be canceled due to my adenomyosis, and we had two failed transfers.

We decided to take another break and really pray about the will of God in our lives and for our family. During this time I read the inspiring story- Kisses from Katie. We discussed it and prayed nightly. That’s when Gods will was clear to my husband and I…adoption. It was a way we could help out an unborn baby, a woman with an unplanned pregnancy, and expand our family. We did a home study and spread the word amongst friends and family.

Within a few months we found a young woman who needed us. She was all alone in her pregnancy with no support. We began walking with her and helping give her our support and leading her to resources. I knew all along that there was always a chance she could change her mind, but I felt we were walking with her and that we were right where God wanted us to be. I knew He would be faithful.

Lily was born in late May; I cut the cord after helping the mother, with my sweet friend who agreed to be her Doula, through an all night labor. We took Lily home and were thrilled to have a new addition into our family. We loved on sweet Lily for 12 days and then the unimaginable happened: the birth mother texted me to tell me she had changed her mind.

She wanted to parent Lily. I lost it, and I panicked! I was filled with fear. I thought and said things I shouldn’t. There was some question as to whether the change of heart had come too late for us to have to legally return her. Some people advised us to fight for her, saying it would be in her best interest in the long run. After several days of meeting with counselors, the birthmother, and consulting with Godly friends, I realized what we needed to do.

During one of those early morning feedings I examined the word of God, the ultimate resource for all of life’s problems, for how to handle disagreements and whether going to court was the right answer. I knew all along the right answer, and in retrospect I know that the reason I knew it was because the Holy Spirit resides in me. That night I read of kindness, forgiveness, and I knew what the next painful steps would be. At the same park where we first met, 2 months prior, we gave our precious Lily back to her mother. Not only was this a devastating loss emotionally, but financially as well. We lost the baby we thought was ours, but we also lost the money invested in lawyers, counselors, travel and other expenses. Much of that was not refunded. Not only that, I was worried we would not be able to now afford another adoption.

A week past and I returned home to Florida. I got a text from a dear friend asking if I had read her emails and texts and what I thought about this new situation. I went back and read them and couldn’t believe my eyes! When I had asked her to pray for us in the midst of our crisis- she had responded that God may already be moving. There was another baby!

She was to be born exactly 1 month after Lily’s due date. My husband and I prayed about it, and decided we would again open our hearts and our home. This birthmother needed us even more, and was so grateful for us to adopt her baby girl. Baby Libby Grace was born on July 4, 2012.

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She has been in our arms ever since! The birth mother signed over her rights in the hospital. I have hesitated to tell our story, because until recently we were still waiting to see if the possible birthfather had registered to claim paternity. He did not! After this there will be several other formal steps of adoption to go through before it is final. We look forward to that day, when we know for sure she is ours to keep!

We’ve built our family through adoption and have been blessed beyond belief! We are so grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve found in friends and family along the journey! It is so worth it!!

Thank you Bessie for sharing your beautiful life story with us. I am excited there is a fun (and stylish) way we can help support Bessie’s family through their journey of adoption! These adoption tee’s sell for $15. ALL PROCEEDS go to help support domestic adoption!

100% cotton tee designed by Catalyst Promotions. The front reads: “Love makes a family” and the back reads, “I didn’t give you life, but life gave me the gift of you” Support Adoption. You know you want one!

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Kisses from Katie

Today’s post testimony of Katie Davis.  Recently Catalyst conference couldn’t keep her book on the shelves!  It  has become a NY times best seller.  Read her story to find out why:

Katie Davis, beautiful girl next door from Tennessee.  She was homecoming queen, drove a convertible, and planned to go to college.

After high school she went to Uganda for an opportunity to teach kindergarten at an orphanage in a small village.

It was supposed to be a 10 month commitment.

She experienced  poverty, hurt, and oppression on a whole new level.  She knew she had to do something, anything, to help. 

“Mothers feed their children dirt or the dregs from the local alcohol distillery, or they sneak out at night and sell their bodies in order to put a little food on the table in the morning. Babies are left in pit latrines. People are degraded, robbed, raped, and lied to, and a large yellow sun sparkles on the vast expanse of the Nile River. It is horrifying. And yet God is before all things and in Him all things hold together, and even in the hard and the ugly there is beauty.”

-Katie Davis describing Uganda (source)

One night, in January 2008, a mud hut down the road from the orphanage collapsed on three small orphans during a rainstorm. Davis couldn’t find any living relatives willing to take any of the girls, and she refused to send them to an overcrowded orphanage.

Three days later, the youngest called her mom. 

Davis then rented a house to accommodate the three girls. Over the next 18 months, 10 more girls moved in, all from different circumstances. 

Today, 22 year old Katie is the mom to 13 girls and living in Uganda.  Believe it or not, that is just the beginning of Katie’s ministry!

 

She has established a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Amazima Ministries International.  In the Luganda language, Amazima means “truth.”

Amazima offers a child sponsorship program, matching orphaned and vulnerable children who are unable to afford schooling with sponsors anywhere in the world. Sponsors pay $300 per year to send one child to school, providing school supplies, 3 hot meals each day, spiritual discipleship, and medical care.

Originally planning to have 40 children in the program, today the program sponsors over 400 children.

Katie also reached out to the Karimojong people of the Masese community. The poorest of the poor, and losing their children to malnutrition and starvation at an astounding rate. She started a feeding program to the community, nourishing over 1,600 children. This allows the children to attend school and therefore not go to the street to beg. Also provided is medical care, Bible study, and general health training.

As friendships developed with the Karimojong people, Katie wanted to help the women in the village provide for their families. She initiated a self-sustaining vocational program to empower these women to make unique Ugandan magazine bead necklaces. They are also taught money management skills. The necklaces made by the Karimojong women are purchased and sold in the United States. (Christmas gifts anyone??)

 

 

Katie says, “People tell me I am brave. People tell me I am strong. People tell me good job. Well here is the truth of it. I am really not that brave, I am not really that strong, and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of His people.”

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Living by faith alone Kevin’s Story

Today’s post is testimony from Kevin Adams from “Wake up my faith”  After losing almost all of his possessions he learned what really does and doesn’t have value.  He know writes about his journey on living by faith alone.  I hope you enjoy his remarkable story!

In the fall of 2008, after a decade of hard work, I had a successful business, high income, great investments and no bad debt. By January 09, within 100 days, I’d lost it all, was in overwhelming debt, and my entire financial structure had collapsed squarely on top me and my family. It’s a common story these days, but still uniquely and personally devastating. Ten years of effort left me with nothing it seemed but guilt, fear, and shame. Over two years have passed and my journey continues to unfold. Day by day we press through new obstacles, new threats of lawsuits, foreclosures, and various other collection tactics. And with little income, nothing regular, despair is sometimes only inches away from devouring me.

As a way to remind myself to hope, I began to express in writing what has sustained me, kept me from suicide, and still encourages me to press on with confidence. I began my blog with little expectation that anyone else would read it. But people are reading it and sharing it with others who are hurting. And through it God is revealing His will for me to write, encourage and minister to hurting believers, even at the expense of leaving my business career dead on the floor. When this trial began, I’d been a believer for 24 years. But not until it happened did I learn the value of suffering or understand that even Jesus had to learn obedience through it. It’s the process for all who are being prepared for the work of the Lord. And it differs for everyone depending on that work. For us, there have been days with no groceries and no way to buy them, days of not knowing where we would live, days of marriage struggles and depression, and even days of seeing extended family place material wealth above our need. But in these days I learned something astonishing, something that will forever keep me passionately defending and praising our God to all who will listen.

I learned that He loves me and made me priceless. I learned that His word is the bread of life that most believers never truly feast on, and I learned that He wants to talk to me every day about my life through that word. I began to study fervently and write from what I learned. The most important thing for a believer is to get close to God so he can hear His voice. This level of intimacy comes through the word by His spirit. By this means we can be led through the trial toward the daily work He has planned. I’ve seen His mighty hand feed us and clothe us when we could not. He stabilized our finances when we had nothing. Over and over I saw His hand moving at precise moments. But it took steadfastly staying in His word to open my eyes and understand what He was doing and why. God never wanted to crush me, but it was the only way to get the wine flowing from me that He intended for others. So my pain has become my passion and my former idols of fear and pride have become a condemned enemy. I never realized how useless my life was as a man striving in my own effort to sustain a decade of hard work. Now, through His word, I hear His voice just as the sheep who know the sound of it. After months of living in moments, at my lowest place, God revealed to me that I would now be free to live for Him and His purpose while resting in our impossible situation.

Kevin documents his journey on living by faith alone at Wake up my faith.  Feel free to check him out on twitter!

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Marriage beating all odds : Heather’s story

Today’s post if testimony from Heather Benton.  You will love it!  Grab a tissue!

I decided after much contemplation to share my story in hopes that it might inspire. My story is not a fairy tale.  It is in no way the story that I would have ever imagined. I have always drifted towards taking the long road, and this story is just that. The long road that ultimately lead me to God, and myself. Strange how that happens.

Nick and I were married on May 21st 2005. I was pregnant. A few long months later our son arrived in December. We bought a house, had a baby, and were newly-weds. Life was moving very very fast. We ran into all the struggles you could imagine during those first few years. Financial issues, struggles with being new parents, struggles with being husband and wife. 

About 5 years into our marriage neither of us thought we could live with each other anymore.  We discussed just calling it quits. We were driving each other crazy, we were miserable, and we were making our son miserable in the process.

Nick came to me one day, serious this time, about getting a divorce.  A part of me was relieved.  This was my way out. I was tired of arguing, tired of bickering, tired of the screaming matches.  The other part of me was hesitant. I kept asking myself what was the point in the last 5 years if it would just end like this?

Nick was on his way out and I confronted him. “Who was she,” I asked? I wanted the truth. I was tired of the secrets.  He told me he was going to see a girl he had met on the internet and that he was in love with her.  And away he went

I was left at the house alone and bitter. Down right angry on my bad days. I had been betrayed and was using that to justify my anger. I decided that if Nick could meet someone online then so could I. 

I started looking around. Online dating sites made meeting people easier than ever. I made a profile and began talking to other men. I met John.  We dated for a few months.  All of a sudden things were seemingly “not working out.” He was distant and I wasn’t going  wait for him to come around.  Then I found out something that absolutely turned me world upside down. I was pregnant.

The reality of it hit me like a tower falling on top of me.  I was pregnant. And John made it clear he was not interested in a happily ever after.  What was I going to do?

I had pretty much made up my mind to do something that in my darkest hour I never thought I would even consider…I was going to abort the pregnancy.

I made all the plans to have the procedure so no one would ever know.  One day after Nick picked up our son he called me.  He shared with me how it seemed to be God moving him to call me. He knew me so well. He figured out I was pregnant and even figured out I was considering an abortion…and he also knew that I could never do something like that. He was right. I was going against everything that had ever been ME. He was the only person that called me out and outright told me that, that decision would be wrong. No buts, no ifs, no excuses.

I thought about what he had said all night.  I resolved the issue to keep my unborn baby. Suddenly the tears stopped. I had cried non stop for almost 2 weeks and suddenly all the pain had been lifted. I knew I had made the right decision. I called John to let him know my decision.   After a very childish  episode he informed me that he was done and never wanted to see me or the child.

I was at square…nothing. I had no idea what I was going to do, or how. All I did know is that I had a tiny little baby growing in side of me.

 

God decided to hit me with a brick, or 3 or 10 of them.  All the grief from the divorce that I had kept running from, pieces of relationships that hadn’t worked, fragments of a marriage gone bad, pieces of my child’s world turned upside down. I was alone.

 

God did a number on both Nick and I at the same time.  We ran from each other, and God for quite some time. We were trying to do things our way. But God had other things in mind.

Despite all odds, Nick and I decided to give “us” another shot.  I had been reading Love and Respect and was suddenly faced with my part of the blame of the problems of our marriage. Suddenly it wasn’t all HIS fault. I had fault too. Nick and I found ourselves coming back together, kicking and screaming (at first). Neither of us knew exactly how God was going to make it work. We just knew that we were supposed to listen and follow.  Each day got better.  A little frayed and faded, a few scratches here and there, but they are back together and now, more solid than ever.

Our worst days now are better than our best days were then. We keep God at the forefront of our lives…where he should be.  He leads us and we do our best to listen and follow.

We got re-married the day of  my scheduled induction

Now I have my husband and family back.  We have a beautiful little girl that I didn’t let go of. She has an amazing daddy who loves her dearly, and our son has a beautiful sister who he can’t seem to get enough of.

No, this is no fairy tale. There is no happily ever after. Just a man and a woman and two tiny blessings from God. And a strange sort of miracle.. that happened just the way God intended. Its hard to look back sometimes and even fathom that I thought of not having this beautiful little girl, and my wonderful husband in my life. There have been days of guilt and outright shame. God’s strength keeps my head on straight. At the end of the day I get to kiss my son and my little girl goodnight…and I get to snuggle up next to the husband that I never thought I would be able to look at the same way again. God is good. No.. God is AMAZING!

You can follow Heather at her blog hbdocumentary. Thank you Heather for sharing your story! Please leave a comment to encourage Heather for sharing her story!   

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*Names changed

**Special thanks to  Megan Hulsey photography for capturing some of our family’s special moments!! 

Trading Pounds: Stephanie’s story

Today is a testimony by Stephanie Wetzel.  Stephanie is a writer and entrepreneur on a mission to help women trade in their excess pounds for the life they want to live. She has lost over 145 pounds by eating real food, changing her habits, and blogging about it all on Trading Pounds. Here is her story:

By all accounts, I should not be here today. I weighed in at 411 pounds, trapped in a private hell where no outsider was welcome. My body was a prison; my soul rotting away within that self-created cage. For years I tried to control the outcome of my story, attempting one restrictive diet after another to lose the weight. I did lose on occasion, but would eventually gain more back because I couldn’t sustain the rules of whatever diet I was on. In the end, those old habits would win out and I would be right back where I started. I kept everything bottled up inside.

The emotional and physical tolls of this weight roller coaster left me broken and alone.

I had pretty much given up my life so that I could be fat, accepting my fate and preparing for the inevitable outcome of early death. One cold January day, I finally came face to face with the girl in my mirror. She was scared because she didn’t want to die. She wanted to know what it felt like to be alive. She had sacrificed over twenty years of her one precious life to the weight, and she didn’t want to do it anymore. She wanted to be saved. There are moments when God’s voice is but a tiny whisper in our ear. It’s then that He reveals to us His greatest plans for our lives. Standing in my bathroom, looking upon the face of the girl in my mirror, God told me to rise up and fight for her. I didn’t know how, but I knew that I would help save her life.

No One Said It Would Be Easy

It started out with the tiniest of steps. One little shift towards a better life. I cleared out the junk food and brought home more vegetables and fruits. For quite some time, I felt like I was doing what needed to be done, making positive shifts on my own. But something was missing. I kept pushing forward, recommitting each day to eating right and learning how to care for my body. I wasn’t really tracking how much I ate or exercising, but I was losing weight because of the new foods I was eating. Somewhere along the way, God started building a community around me. He started giving me the courage to let others in on my journey. Little by little, I started opening up more and more to the people closest to me. I still protected my number—hiding the reality of how bad things had become over the years. Honestly, I was ashamed of what I had allowed to happen. I wanted to “fix” it before I opened up about it. I want to say to you that my positive attitude and commitment to healing brought me here today, but that wouldn’t be the truth. While I was focusing on food and nutrition, God was rightfully steering my path.

Giving Up Control

Although I have always been a person of faith, through the years my relationship with God had become almost non-existent. It was about mid-way through last year when I realized how much influence God had used to get me back on track. In this time, I felt my relationship with Him growing stronger. I wanted to trust in Him with all of my being, but I was still very scared. I can only describe it as being trapped between an old and a new life. He showed me the way. He asked me to have faith in Him. And when I didn’t take that leap of trust, He had to push me off the cliff. Around September, my entire life changed.

I had just started working with a life coach when a seed was planted in me. I was overcome with the idea of using my personal weight issues to help others in the same situation. The mere idea of it terrified me. To do this meant to open up about everything; to share my number with the world. The more scared I felt, the more I turned to God for strength. The more I turned to God, the more strength I was given. I knew what had to be done. In reflecting on all the days of my life, I could see how this was God’s plan all along. Every moment, every job, every experience gave me the skills and understanding to take on this mission. That night I said one simple prayer, “God, please use my life to serve others.”

A Greater Purpose

By all accounts, I should not be here today. I shouldn’t be telling you about how emotionally and physically challenging it is to be an obese person. Or sharing with you that I’ve lost over 145 pounds in the last eighteen months. Or writing about how much my life has changed as I’ve healed my body. Or working to teach others what I have learned along the way. But God had a greater purpose in mind that cold day in January 2010 when He told me to fight for her. As it turns out, He wasn’t just talking about the girl in my mirror.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9

Learn more about Stephaine at her blog: Trading Pounds. Download her free guide full of details on exactly how she did it. She’s also chatting away on Twitter and Facebook.

Journey from Islam to the father Ayla’s story

Today’s testimony is from Ayla.  She has a beautiful blog where she writes about her “journey from Islam to the father.”  I will always be my daddy’s girl

I was born and raised in England to a Pakistani-Muslim family.  While my parents were relatively liberal, their religious expectations were clear: we were to follow Allah and Muhammad; pray five times a day; fast during Ramadan; learn how to recite the Quran; and earn our way to Heaven by accumulating good works.

Still living in England inadvertently shielded me from the bondage of Islam and it was not until we moved to Pakistan while I was in middle school that I was exposed to and became uncomfortable with Islam’s true nature.  While I never voiced my concerns, I internalized thoughts like “I have no purpose,” and “I’ll never be good enough for God.” Those years living in Pakistan were perhaps the most tumulus years of my life as I was anxious, depressed and suicidal trying and failing at earning acceptance and love from a non-existent god.

In the fall of 2000, I had the opportunity to attend college in the US where I gradually started drifting away from Islam and its unrealistic expectations.  While I did not come to accept Jesus until after I graduated, God had been planting seeds during those four years: I was the only Pakistani-Muslim at my college and all my friends-American and international-were Christians who openly exhibited their faith.

Post-graduation my parents were increasing the pressure on me to return to Pakistan so they could arrange my marriage but having experienced the freedom that came from making my own choices and having my own thoughts and opinions during my four years in college in America; I was petrified to go back and have my parents decide my future for me. I had dreams and aspirations to pursue graduate school; to help the needy; to marry someone I knew and loved so out of desperation of not wanting to go back; and a lack of knowledge and wisdom from not knowing God at the time, I agreed to marry my boyfriend to be able to stay in the country. The marriage was strictly “legal” in his eyes for the first three years; however, I struggled with the idea of legally being married to someone without any strings attached. Especially since we were already romantically involved I considered the marriage to be real from the very beginning and spent three years being emotionally and mentally exhausted as I continued to pursue a marriage that technically did not exist and that no one other than my “husband” and I were aware about.

During this time, a former classmate asked me if I would babysit her son while she went to work.  From there on we developed a close friendship during which I shared my faith struggles with her.  She invited me to her church which I was initially hesitant about as I knew it was a sin against Islam; however I agreed.  The pastor preached on God’s unconditional love and grace that day.  I started attending regularly after that because of the loving atmosphere and the compelling messages about Jesus.  My friend continued to encourage me, patiently answered questions I had, and loved me unconditionally while I was seeking.  Finally, on the night of January 31st 2006, God led me to Romans 10:9 and I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior and invited Him into my heart and my life.

God spent two years preparing my heart and mind to reveal my new found faith to my family.  While my parents had been liberal, they had never dealt with a converting daughter which according to Islamic law is punishable by death so I did not know what to expect other than the worst.  One Sunday morning in January of 2008, I revealed my faith to my Dad in an email that was perfectly orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.  The rest of the day there was silence as God was giving me the opportunity to rest; and spiritually and mentally prepare for the upcoming warfare.

And unfortunately it was a war.  The following months were full of difficult conversations with family members as I faced multiple verbal, emotional and spiritual attacks and threats.  When no attack or threat was able to change my belief, my Dad sent me an email saying that I had died for my family and that they would not communicate with me anymore.

During this time I attempted to reach out to my family with emails and cards but to no avail.  My Mom did communicate with me once in a while but our conversations were uncomfortable and stressful as she continued to attack me for my faith in Jesus Christ; so eventually our communicated ceased as well.

The first time I heard from my family after that was on the day my Dad had been in a car accident; his car had skidded into a river and his body was nowhere to be found.  The following 24 hours were spent talking to, crying with, and reconnecting with my Mom and sisters over the phone and email.  My Dad’s body was found 48 hours later after which I traveled to Pakistan to attend his funeral.

Daddy’s death was the most challenging time in my faith walk.  I struggled greatly with the fact that I did not have the opportunity to reconcile with him.  His death led me into a year-long valley of depression and doubt during which my marriage took an even deeper plunge as I no longer had the spiritual strength to hold it together on my own and eventually led to a heartbreaking divorce that left scars of guilt and shame for a long time.

Still, God used my “Nazareth experience” to bring some good: I was reconciled to my Mom and sisters and thus began a journey of healing and restoration in our relationship.  While being the only Christian in a Muslim family still has its fair share of challenges; my family is more tolerant of my faith and I am more confident about walking in it in front of them.  Our interaction continues to be more positive than negative compared to a few years back.  God is doing a mighty work through all of this and I praise Him for that.

To this day I am amazed at all that God has done in and through my life.  As unworthy as I am; He had a plan to save me all the way from Islamabad, Pakistan, to a small town in Michigan.  He has blessed me with a wonderful man after God’s own heart who adores me and an adorable baby boy who is the most perfect gift from above.  I am convinced that in these “short” six years of being a Christian God has taken me from faith to faith and glory to glory and will continue to do so until His return; hallelujah!

The little missionary girl all grown up Lindsey’s story

Today’s post is by Lindsey Van Niekerk.  She grew up in Haiti as a missionary kid for the first 16 years of her life.  I hope you will enjoy her story of the seemingly perfect girl getting exhausted with “perfect” and embracing her true self.

I am the good girl.

I got that expression from Emily @ Chatting at the Sky, but the meaning behind it, I learned that on my own, because you see, I REALLY have always been “the good girl.”

Let me explain…

I have always wanted to do the right thing.

I have always wanted to be pleasing.

I have always wanted to have approval from those I love.

I have always wanted my life to be successful.

So, I was the good girl.

I did what was asked of me…for the most part…probably all the way through college, and I didn’t JUST do it to please others. I truly felt GOOD about ME when I was….well….GOOD!

However, you know what happens when you try so hard to be good and right and perfect {oh that’s almost a dirty word for me — PERFECTION!!}?? The result is someone who is on a never-ending cycle of proving one’s self.

Each achievement has to out-do the last.

Each kind deed has to hold more meaning.

Each event has to outshine the previous one.

And so on, and so on.

Even after college, when I started to “find my voice” and “be more of myself,” I STILL wanted to “have it all,” “be it all,” and “do it all.” So the cycle continued, but now with more vigor and determination.

But a year and a half ago, I found myself over 30, childless, battling with my health, contemplating taking indefinite time off from full-time ministry, fighting depression, and feeling like a failure.

How did this “good girl” get into a place like this?

How do I trust a God who could turn His back on me like this?

I mean, “Doesn’t He remember? I’m the good one. I’m the one who has ALWAYS tried to do everything He has wanted me to do. I pray for His perfect will for my life. I give of my time and my money to help others. I live a life worthy of Him – or at least I try. So WHY is this happening to ME?? It’s just not fair.”

It’s been a LONG journey since that time, and I wish I could say that I have completely overcome every one of those old patterns of behavior, but I haven’t.

But you know what is different now.

I am okay with being imperfect {did I just say that??}, or at least CLOSER to being okay with it.

You see, I figure, when I don’t have it all together, when my life feels like it is on shaky ground, when I am ready to throw in the towel, I have a GREAT, BIG, AMAZING DAD who has been faithfully waiting for me to let go….really let go….and truly let Him guide my life.

So I think I have to change my name….

….from GOOD girl….

….to GRACED girl.

I think that has a nice ring to it, don’t you?

Romans 7:14,18 & 8:1-4″So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong….So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.  So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”

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The mask of a good girl. Jennifer’s Story

Jennifer Camp author of you are my girls is sharing her story of teen pregnancy, and the difficult choices that followed.  Rated PG-13

When I was fifteen years old I started having sex with my high school boyfriend. I grew up being told that sex was something “good girls do after they get married”. So, okay, then, I wasn’t a good girl. But it was critical, more important than anything to me, that my image, my family’s and friend’s perceptions of me as the “good girl”, not change.

My pride was more important than anything to me. I struggled to create the image people saw of me; I cared desperately about others’ approval, and I couldn’t bear the thought of my parents ever knowing, my friends knowing. That wasn’t something Jennifer did.

Jennifer was the girl with the good grades — meek and shy in social situations — and strong in sports. In the yearbook of her rural high school of 240, she was the girl voted “most likely to succeed”, “best dressed”, “best smile”. She worked hard to be liked, to be accepted. So, when she. . . when I . . became pregnant when I was sixteen years old, just before Christmas of my junior year in high school, the image of myself, my idol — this false life that I worshiped — was the only thing I felt I needed to preserve.

I was so swallowed in darkness that I made the choice to look away from the horror of what I had decided to do. In the darkness that I chose, where I wanted no light to penetrate, something was going to have to die, and I didn’t choose me.

The images that I remember — the visits to the counselor to get approval for the abortion, the procedure itself, the lights in the room, the noise of the machine, the rows of other girls, the afternoon after, all while my parents thought I was Christmas shopping — open and close like the shutter on a camera. There are two moments that I remember, though, as the most vivid, the most horrible.  The first was when I sat alone, under the cold December sky in my family’s almond orchard, and made the decision to do it.  The second was when I was at basketball practice the day after the procedure and felt such relief that no one, except my boyfriend, ever knew.

Darkness.

The choice I made, at sixteen years old, to have an abortion, represents the darkest part of my heart. It was my choice to end a baby’s life for the sake of preserving the life that I thought was mine. But that was the lie. I wasn’t fighting for my life, I was fighting for death. And my heart died that night in the orchard — the night I made that decision to choose darkness over light.

I lived for years ashamed, while still justifying my decision to myself. Oh, but how God is beautiful and gentle and loving!  Since I made that heartbreaking choice, my Father has dealt with me in layers. The immensity of what I did could not be taken in all at once.

Two years ago, the Father came for me, and I began to pursue Him with my whole heart. I wanted more of Him, more of His truth in me. With that truth came the reality of what I had done, the lies I had surrendered to and put on the throne instead of Him. In making my heart fully surrendered to His, He wanted to show me what my darkness looked like in the light.

The verses in the beginning of Colossians 3 pour over me:

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  . .  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.

And so I lean into Him now, seeking Him with a grateful heart, a new life. I no longer walk in darkness. He has led me into His light, where I walk with Him, looking to Him to continue to reveal to me any darkness in me. There is no room for that in me anymore. Get it out, God. I am willing. Come.

Thank you Jennifer!  You are an amazing woman!  Do you have anything in darkness that needs to be brought to light?  Don’t miss a post! Have Imperfect People delivered to your inbox or your RSS reader!…Don’t worry it’s FREE!

A mother’s heart Rebecca’s Story

Today’s post is by Rebecca Allen author of She Becomes blog. 

Today, as I sit down to write, it is Mother’s Day. I have been blessed with a wonderful loving mother, a beautiful step-mom who loves me as her own, inspiring God-fearing grandmothers, as well as several other women by whom I have been blessed to have walk beside me and share their wisdom with me on this journey called life.

I know I have been given so much. God has blessed me in so many ways. But still, this day stirs a bitter-sweet feeling in my heart.

It stings as I sit in church, and the mothers are asked to stand, their arms full of babies, their hands holding little hands. It hurts to sit there with my arms empty, hands clinging together, eyes fighting back tears.

It is one of those humbling moments where God reminds me, “You are still being molded, your heart is still being changed, you are still learning how to delight.”

Many of us know the verse found in Psalm 37 verse 4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

It is a verse so many of us cling to. It gives us hope of dreams come true. But to be honest, at times it has seemed more like an empty promise.

Growing up my childhood was anything but ideal. By the age of 12, I had seen my mother go through two divorces. We had moved countless times. I had attended 5 different elementary schools. And by the age of 13 we were living in a women’s shelter.

It was not the first shelter we had stayed in; it was at least the third. But it was the first where we stayed long enough to call home. This shelter was specifically for women and their children who were escaping abusive relationships. By the time we reached the shelter we were broken, scared, shamed, and scarred.

Thirteen is a fragile age. I know that satan intended for every moment of abuse and every second living in that shelter to weaken me more and more. But God did something beautiful in me while living in the shelter.

He gave me a mother’s heart.

In that shelter there were so many little children whose mothers were emotionally absent and whose spirits were broken by years and years of abuse. And in special moments they allowed me to hold and feed and rock their children. They allowed me to throw them birthday parties and give them baths, change dirty diapers and braid their hair. They allowed me to love them.

Since those months in the women’s shelter, I have had an overwhelming and unrelenting desire to be a mother.

I am turning 29 in a few short days, and while most of my friends have full and happy homes, I am left waiting. Waiting to be a mother, and waiting for the man who will walk beside me for the rest of my life.

As I continue to grow and learn, God continues to reveal to me his heart.

He has shown me that there is opportunity all around me to be a mother.

He has honored me with the opportunity to help poverty stricken youth with their homework, take them to baseball games, and take them shopping for prom dresses. He gave me a whole family in Zimbabwe filled with orphans hungry for a mother’s love. He allows me to wipe the noses and hold the sticky hands of precious children with special needs every day. And he has blessed me with four beautiful Compassion (link: www.compassion.com) children who I am able to encourage and pray for and love.

He has also shown me that He will give me the desires of my heart, but first I must learn to delight in Him.

And as my delight becomes more and more in Christ alone, He does not just make my dreams and my desires come true, but instead my dreams and my desires become His own.

If you are waiting for God to fulfill that desire, learn to delight in Him while you wait. Be romanced by the sunset, allow Him to whisper to you through the gentle breeze, stare out into the crashing waves and stand in wonder of his glory, witness the new life of spring and be overwhelmed by His beauty.

Although some days are hard, His desires for me are slowly taking shape. They are slowly forming my heart. And I know they are bigger and better than I ever could have dreamed.

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Surrendering the Secret of abortion Ginny’s story

Today’s Testimony is from Ginny.  It will bless your socks off!
Rated PG-13

My testimony is a testimony about forgiveness. Let me start off by telling you a little about my childhood.  My father was an addict and was never really around much. He would get paid on Friday and we would not see him again until he ran out of money. My mom is a wonderful mother, so I at least had one great parent!  They got a divorced when I was 11 years old.

I got saved during this time in my life and my mom and I started getting involved in church. They were so good to us, buying us Christmas one year and food when my mom couldn’t afford it. Really showing us God’s love.  I still talked to my dad pretty often after the divorce, mostly through letters since he was in jail most of my teenage years. It was during this time that I really fell away from God. I always longed for a guy to love me, because my dad always loved drugs and alcohol more.

When I was 15 I “feel in love” or as much as you can when you are 15 years old. I got involved in sexual sin. I only had sex one time, nothing could happen right? Well, I was late on my period. I just blew it off because I cheered and we were getting ready for a huge competition, and I was stressed. But after I was a few weeks late, I knew that something was not right. I went to the health center to get a pregnancy test and it was positive. Yes, the first time I ever had sex I got pregnant, something I thought would NEVER happen.   I had to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done and tell my mom. The look of disappointment on her face is something I will never forget. We cried for hours wondering what we were going to do. Then we decided…abortion.

We never spoke of it, I never went to counseling, we didn’t tell anyone & we “pretended” like nothing ever happened. Yeah, nothing happened. Funny it’s been 15 years and it has not gone away, I think about it everyday. I prayed for forgiveness all the time, everyday, but just could not see how God, or my mom could forgive me for something so horrible.  I went on with my life PRETENDING like everything was OK.

I went off to college where I got involved in Campus Christian Fellowship  and my relationship with God was stronger than ever. I sang in the praise band and was taking mission trips.  I repented to God about my sexual sin and always stayed too busy to date. In high school I felt I needed a guy to love me, but in college I knew that all I ever really needed was God’s love. He showed me that he was my father here on earth as well as my heavenly father and God filled my void.

I trusted God & I told Him that I think I could be single my whole life and be OK with it because He is all I really needed. I felt like God was waiting on that…because it was only about 3 months later that I really started noticing Jason, the man that would later become my husband. He made me laugh and we always had a great time together. When he finally asked me on a date, I was scared to death. I didn’t want to fall back into my old life and he wouldn’t want to date me anyway if he found out about my past. He was an awesome Christian guy who I didn’t deserve. These are the lies the devil always puts in my head. We went on a few dates and I was really starting to fall for this guy. This dating relationship was so different from my past ones, he never really tried to “make a move”, just seemed like he really liked spending time with me.

About a month after we started dating I went home to spend Easter with my mom. She had gotten some tickets to go see a play at her church.  We went not knowing that this would change our lives.  One of the scenes a girl talked about her abortion and how she didn’t deserve to go to heaven. Then the trumpet sounded and Jesus walked out on the stage with her baby in His hands. My mom grabbed my hand and at that moment I knew that my baby was in heaven walking the streets of Gold with my Heavenly Father.

That evening my mom and I cried and we finally talked about the thing we had tried to forget.

My mom and I both said we had forgiven each other and that night I knew that God had truly forgiven me as well. It was the first time I felt a burden lifted off of me, after 8 years I had finally forgiven myself.

I knew I had to tell Jason so he could decide how he really felt about me. I could not hide from my past.  I told him about the abortion and about the awesome experience I had the night before with my mom. His eyes filled up with tears and he hugged me saying, “I forgive you too”.  He continued to tell me about someone close to him who also had walked through an abortion and just told him 2 years prior to this.  God knew in advance to prepare him for me. We dated for about 2 years then got married in 2005. In 2007 we decided that we wanted to try to have a baby.  I was very nervous…not sure if God would bless me because of my past, thinking we might have a hard time because of me. But after 3 months, I became pregnant & my emotions were everywhere.

Would I be a good mom?  Would God really bless me with a healthy baby?  Why do so many people have a hard time getting pregnant and I didn’t?  Our baby was born Sept. 2, 2008. She was perfect. God had truly blessed me. I still have my moments after 15 years. But I know that God is with me and I have to remember that the Devil prowls around like a roaring loin looking for someone to devour and I have to use God’s armor to protect me.

Just in the past few months I have finally gone through the counseling I needed for my abortion. I walked through a Bible Study at Choices of the Heart Pregnancy center called Surrendering the Secret Healing after an abortion and I am finally FREE. I realized that forgetting about my abortion only numbs the pain temporarily and to be healed you must remember…and that hurts, but it’s necessary.

I had a memorial service for my little boy, who I have named Andrew. I was finally able to go through the grieving process that I needed. I am ready to use my past hurts for God’s glory. And that is why I’m volunteering at the Pregnancy Center.

My prayer is that girls who are in a crisis don’t make a fast decision. That they will come and learn their options. Abortion does not “get rid of the problem.” It stays with you forever. I also pray that if you’ve had an abortion and you’ve stuffed it deep, sealed the lid and put “things to forget”, that you will open it up, remember and be healed.

Let’s Surrender the Secret together. Scars remind us where we’ve been. They don’t have to dictate where we are going.

I would like to close with a poem. I dedicate this poem to Andrew….

The Babe I’ll Never Hold

If I knew then

what I know now,

You never would have died.

I’d have held you close

And nurtured you

And kept you by my side.

I’d have sung you songs

And treasured you

More than silver

More than gold:

But this song is all I’ll give

To the Baby I’ll never hold.

I’ve never written poetry

That hasn’t been a praise

To the Lord Who wept with me

And held me through those days.

Jesus, now I’m asking.

I know you hear my plea.

Won’t you take that child in your hands

And hold my Babe for me.

– Anonymous

If you would like more info about healing after an abortion Ginny freely offers her email address Thank you Ginny for using your biggest hurt for his Glory!