Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

Our Financial Testimony on becoming debt free

Apparently we live pretty differently than the rest of the world.  We have lived debt free and without credit cards for so long now I forgot we are “weird”.  The average American a.k.a “normal person” is carrying roughly $25,000 worth of debt not including their mortgage…I’m glad I’m weird. 

It wasn’t always that way…

When my husband and I were engaged he heard about Dave Ramsey.  It was PERFECT timing for us to get on board with a PLAN for our money so I was all for it.  We got the book total money makeover.  And we were hooked! 

Our marriage started with about $20,000 dollars worth of debt between a car loan and 2 school loans.  We decided to live off of the smaller of our two incomes and put everything else toward getting rid of debt. 

That meant NOT buying a home when we first got married like everyone else I knew. That meant NOT eating out much, NOT buying clothes (that we didn’t need anyway) and living as if the larger of our two salaries didn’t even exist.  We were “weird” we lived in a little duplex for two years when people with less money were buying big beautiful brick homes.  We lived like “no one else, so later we can live like no one else”

Although I had house fever I am FOREVER grateful for my husbands patience reminding me it will all be worth it in due time. 

In almost exactly two years of living solely off of our smaller income we:

Paid off ALL $20,000 worth of debt
Saved up a fully funded emergency fund (3-6 months worth of expenses)
Saved up a large enough down payment for a home that we were able to avoid the PMI loan

It wasn’t long after we bought our home we found out we were having a baby.  I worked throughout the pregnancy and until the baby was about 6 months old.  That gave us time to pay for a few household projects and save for the job I always wanted, to stay at home with our children.

If not for a PLAN for our finances, Dave Ramsey’s principles, and my husbands patience, this dream would have never been able to come true. 

Getting used to living off one income from the beginning of our marriage made it no big deal when we REALLY were living off just one income.  I am working a little on the side doing promotional items (if you need your logo on shirts, pens, hats, cups etc. email me) but for the most part I am able to be at home with our two children. 

Are we Rockefeller’s?  Hardly but we have learned how to make our money work for us.  Instead of living paycheck to paycheck. 

I’ll be talking more about money this week so come back as we discuss how to better manage our finances.

I’d love to hear your comments!  Do you carry debt? 

del.icio.us Tags: Debt,frugal,finance,simple living

Grit and Glory Alece Ronzino’s story

Today’s post is from Alece Ronzino.  She is in the middle of the biggest Plan B of her life, enduring infidelity, divorce, and the loss of her ministry in Africa. Now she’s rediscovering what faith really is, trusting God to redeem the broken pieces of her life and make something beautiful out of her ashes. Alece blogs candidly about the grit and glory of her journey. Mostly grit. Here is her story:

My husband’s heart walked out first, when he chose to begin an affair with my friend. The rest of him followed 18 months later as he filed for divorce.

I’ve grieved so much loss in the past several years. Loss of my husband. My marriage. My home. My ministry. My identity. My dreams.

I’ve bounced between denial, anger, depression, anxiety—sometimes all in the course of one day. I’ve cried. I’ve cursed. I’ve questioned. I’ve surrendered. I’ve taken back. I’ve begged. I’ve raised my hands and closed my eyes and said absolutely nothing.

And through the din of my own heart noise, I hear God’s whispered promise of wholeness. Nothing missing. Nothing broken. Life as it was meant to be.

He is making all things new in me. Not just fixing them. Not repairing, rebuilding, or even renewing. He is redeeming. And making me new.

But some days, I feel far from that redemption. My husband’s choices left me completely broken. I struggle with feeling unlovable and undesirable. Not enough. Not worth fighting for. More replaceable than keepable.

I hate that it’s easier for me to believe the lies of man than the truth of God.

God tells me that I’m enough, lovable, worthy… just as I am.

And I want to believe Him above all else.

I take heart knowing that God isn’t done with my story yet. He’s still writing. And He is the perfect author. He needs no editor. He needs no second draft, no backspace. He writes it perfectly the first time.

And He always finishes what He starts.

No abandoned writing projects. No half-hearted attempts. He is writing my story all the way to the end.

And that gives me hope, even on my darkest days.

To find out more about Alece Visit her blog or Follow Alece on Twitter

I had to “Be Still” Carrie Cooper’s story

Today’s post is a personal testimony from Carrie Cooper.  I hope you enjoy how God took her from “too busy” to sitting as his feet.
Rated G

“Carrie, when will you make time for me?” My husband’s words rang in my ears.

My thoughts raced. I don’t have time! I have so many project deadlines I can’t count them all. I was just too busy. Somehow, despite my good intentions, I was consumed with meaningless activity. It was all just fluff—things that kept me busy as a stay at home mom, but did nothing to mature me spiritually.

I don’t remember what I said to my husband that night, but I do remember turning him away. It breaks my heart to write those words, as it must have crushed him to be rejected for a To Do list.

It was crystal clear: my heart was divided. I loved the Lord, but just like my husband, I put Him on the backburner while I sorted through all of my projects. Deep in my heart I knew He was calling me to lay things aside and fully devote myself to Him, but I couldn’t escape the cycle of busyness. I was stuck.

So, the Lord rescued me.

It came in a way I never imagined. It started slowly and mysteriously: stiff neck, swollen knee, and contracted elbow. By the time my doctor saw me he knew I was in trouble.

“I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t good,” he warned.

Ten months later, in the fall of 2006, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. It causes hardening of the spine, hips, joints, and major organs. In my case, I was crippled. I couldn’t stand, sit, or walk without excruciating pain. It was unrelenting and ever present. I couldn’t lift my arm or leg without waves of fire spreading through my body, so I spent most of my time immobilized on the sofa.

My To Do list fell by the wayside. My sewing business—gone. My position as Bible study teacher—reassigned. My part-time consulting job—lost. Even simple duties and tasks were given to loving relatives eager to help: folding laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, and cooking.

Everything that had defined me was stripped away. God had my attention.

Lord, I don’t know who I am anymore. You have taken everything from me. I am broken before you.

 

The Bible became my lifeline. Countless hours lying in pain afforded the perfect opportunity to pray and meditate on Scripture.

 

Listen, O Lord! Answer me! For I am oppressed and needy.

O Lord, teach me how you want me to live!

Then I will obey your commands.

Make me wholeheartedly committed to you!

Psalm 86:1, 11

In the midst of gut-wrenching suffering, God rescued me, but not in the way you might think. He didn’t heal me or make the pain disappear. My circumstances didn’t change, but my heart did.

God used illness to reveal my desperate need for Jesus Christ. Like a gardener of my soul, He weeded out my independence and self-sufficiency; instead, He instilled a desire to wholeheartedly follow Him. Gone are the days of fluff: self-centered time wasters and late night distractions. My priorities have been rearranged–the Lord is my life.

Now, several years later, God has allowed the disease to go into remission. For the past year I’ve been able to sit, stand, and walk again—it’s wonderful! With that newfound physical freedom I sensed the Lord leading me into full time ministry. In 2009 I started Comfort & Compassion Ministry to encourage hurting and broken women with the hope of Jesus Christ.

Amazing things have happened in this past year. Last summer I won first place in a writer’s contest. Through my blog, www.comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com, I reach out to struggling women with the comforting words of the Bible. More recently, God has opened doors for me to host a radio show called U2HaveHope. The program shares true life stories of women’s struggles and offers tangible ways Jesus Christ carried them through and gave them eternal hope.

When I look back at my life before illness, I didn’t even realize I needed rescuing. My life was filled with distractions, which kept me from focusing my time and energy on pleasing the Lord. I can honestly say, although I hate the disease itself, I’m so thankful that God used it to draw me closer to Him. I never want to go back to the way I was before.

Now, it’s my turn to ask you a question: do you need rescued? Do you need God to draw you out of mediocrity and pull you into a thriving relationship with Him?

My prayer for you,

Lord, please break down the walls the separate us from you. Help us to want you. Give us an insatiable desire for you and remove anything that distracts us from loving you wholeheartedly. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray, Amen.

For more information about Carrie’s ministry and radio show, visit her at www.comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com and http://tiny.cc/4mb42

del.icio.us Tags: testimonies,Christian

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!

One Family’s radical evolution from the American Dream

Today’s Post is a family testimony.  They took a look at their cultural Christianity and asked themselves, “what if Jesus really meant all that stuff?”  Here is their story:

Rated G

We were taught from a very young age to do well in school, get good grades so we could get into the best college, or to try hard at a particular interest or activity to get into the best college, so we could graduate from college, get a high paying job, buy a home, then buy a larger home with room for the growing family and all our stuff, then buy more / better stuff, make more money, get more stuff… You get the picture.

Our family was living this lifestyle. Always trying to upgrade our things; car, furniture, landscaping, etc. We found that we were spending 60 hours a week in an office, 30 hours a week maintaining (cleaning the pool and house, mowing, weeding, trimming, fixing up, re-arranging, decorating, and entertaining), blah, blah, blah….

Is this the life that God intended for us? There are only 168 hours in a week. Were we really supposed to be spending over half our week working to maintain this lifestyle? The “quality time” we spent with our kids was usually while we worked in the yard or did other chores together. And whatever we had left, that tiny bit of energy at the end of the week, we would give to God on Sunday morning. Woo-hoo. How could we possibly sing those hymns on Sunday morning: “Here am I, all for Thee, take my life, it’s all for Thee?” We were giving the Lord our leftovers. He is worthy of all our first and best! In November of 2009 we sold everything and moved into an RV, our ministry command post. This lifestyle change enables us to move and serve at His will.

As we listened to God’s voice with our families call to service the name He gave us for the ministry was “Wear Gloves”. We put on our gloves when the work is hard and as the Apostle put it in Matt. 9:37 “the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few”

Now, without the distractions of maintaining that suburban lifestyle we now find time to hit the streets and serve wherever needed. We work food pantries, clothing distribution, interfaith kitchens, International missions, child care facilities, nursing homes and with local groups to better serve their communities.

Over the past year we have worked with groups and individuals being obedient to God in loving others. We have taken almost 200 people through a curriculum called Dignity Serves which attacks the status quo in today’s church attempts to serve the needy. Dealing with tough questions such as; Do I give a homeless person money? , when is it appropriate to help a family with housing needs? Do I look down on anyone because of their position in society? Do I value myself because I was made in the image of God or because of my job, family, church, home, etc.? When I give distressed family money for food, what are the unintended consequences of that action? And more importantly do I care? Is our service about actually loving someone or about me feeling good about what I have done?

Please visit us at www.weargloves.org. We are in great need of financial and prayer support.   Invite us to work with your small group or speak at your church. We are mobile and willing to serve where the Lord leads us.

As the Lord is shaping and focusing our ministry, our daily prayer is that we continue to offer Him our first and best of all that we have.

Peace in Him,

Ken, Wendy and Madi Kebrdle

 

You can find out more about the Kebrdle family on their Twitter, facebook, familiy blog. and of course their website www.weargloves.org

 

Am I really saved? Jennifer’s Story

Continuing our week of testimonies today’s post is from Jennifer Elam writer of the Christian Beautician.  Rated G

 

I was raised a Baptist pastor’s kid.  There was a heavy influence of legalism in my life as both a kid and a teenager. Rules and expectations led my “spiritual” life for many years until at last I abandoned my search.

I used to wonder how people knew if their faith was real. I used to wonder if I had ever
really been saved.  I was sure there must be something that I had not “gotten.” There must be some feeling that would assure me that I had the real thing. I spent countless nights and days with the feeling of horrendous dread hovering over my soul but never the feeling of peace and assurance. I was certain if I could just “feel” saved then surely I would know if I were…or not.

There have been periods of time in my life where I was so frustrated with not “feeling” faith that I decided that there may not really be anyone to have faith in in the first place. I would walk a path that “felt” right to me. I would sin, to put it bluntly. Gross sins. Sins that have left deep, colorful scars.

Filled with guilt and shame, I confessed to God how far I had gone from everything I thought was true. Immediately, I was hurled right back into the search for feeling. I couldn’t find even a shred of feeling.  I couldn’t pretend to have peace, I couldn’t eat, sleep or even work anymore. It was do or die for me, finally. I either had to know and have peace or ….I can’t even imagine the “or”.

My precious Daddy said something to me that made me realize at long last that my faith was exactly that…mine. He couldn’t fix it for me. He couldn’t believe it for me. He couldn’t know it for me. He couldn’t give me peace. It was up to me and God. I either believed Him or I didn’t.

In His great mercy, God prompted me to read my Bible. He led me to Romans. I devoured the entire book several times over. He lifted the words off the page and tucked them deep into my heart. He even taped them to my bathroom wall. ( I must confess, it was I who taped them to my wall) I read the words from Romans 4 and 5 over and over…in the morning, in the middle of the day, at night, during the night.

At some point, I began to take God at His Word. I made the decision to believe what He says. I believed that He died to save me. I believed that He rose again to freely give me new life. The Truth sunk itself into the little room I made for it in my heart and like Truth will do, it began to grow.  My doubt and questions fled for the hills. My search for feeling came to an end. My quest for “proof” of my salvation suddenly became a desire to please God.

In the last few months I have realized that Faith is totally believing what God says. If the Word of God says He died and rose again, then He did. If it says He did this for ME, He did! If it says I am a new creation because of that, then I AM. Since it says that nothing can separate me from the Love of God, then nothing can!!  If it says I am forgiven, then I am! I accept what He says as absolute Truth.

The power of God’s Word brought me out of the darkness of doubt and fear and has set me on firm ground. My feet may be shaky and my ankles weak; but the Word is still the Word.

Lately, through the Word, He has taught me that every thought I have must be based on the Truth of His Word. I cannot believe the lies that I or the Adversary tell myself. If I feel one way or think something, and God’s Word holds a promise that is contrary to my feeling or thought, then I must capture it and do away with it. The Truth is much easier to live on.

I want the Truth. I want to shine the light of His Word into my thoughts and feelings. I am finding Him and His Word to be very faithful. My Faith is growing.
My faith is real, finally.

A Modern Reject Nicole Cottrell’s Story

Today’s guest post is the personal testimony of Nicole Cottrell from Modern Reject

Disclaimer:  In effort to keep testimonies real and the audience prepared, I will be “rating” each testimony for age appropriate content.  This post is rated PG-13. 

 

At 16, just two months shy of my 17th birthday, I met the Man that would change my life forever.

I had been invited to attend a conference by my friend. She said I needed to be there. I had to be there. I sat there in a stadium teeming with junior high and high school students. Thousands of whispers sounded like one collective hum.

The man on stage spoke about second chances. He spoke about new life and change. The man said that He was calling us, that He wanted us.

I knew what it was to be wanted—that is, what it was to be wanted by men. At age 13, when grown men would hit on me, I knew what they wanted. I knew what they were after.

I also knew what it was to not be wanted. I had a dad who was young and alcoholic—or so my mother says—who couldn’t be bothered to clean up his act fast enough to keep his wife and baby girl. A dad who forgot birthdays and holidays. Who said one thing but never followed through.

I also knew what it was like to not be wanted by another man, my stepfather. He would scream and occasionally hit. He seemed to tolerate me, but not want me.

By the time I sat in that stadium, surrounded by thousands of young people listening to the man speak about the One, I had already lost my virginity, done drugs, stolen, and lied too many times to count.

I knew the man’s words were somehow true, though. It was as if he was speaking to me and no one else. He asked me to make a decision. He said God was calling me. Who would be first? The stadium fell silent and out of the darkness I heard a voice yell out, “I am Yours, Lord!”

Another teenage boy near me cried out to God, “I am Yours, Lord!” Then another voice, “I am Yours, Lord.” Then another and another, until the stadium filled up with cries of the brokenhearted and the desperate, the needy and the forgotten.

I felt myself rise from my seat. It was as if I was being pulled up out of it. I felt the words escape my mouth…

“I am Yours, Lord,” I whimpered.

Then I sobbed.

In that instant—less than an instant—something changed.

My parents immediately took notice of the change in me. My mom assumed it was a phase and that I would soon outgrow it. My senior year of high school was filled with rumors of how the “girl with a reputation” suddenly became “holier than thou.” I felt free for the first time. I knew that I no longer had to sin. I could finally stop doing all of the things I had always hated. Now I had a reason. I quit having sex. Quit drinking. Quit smoking, swearing, lying. I had peace for the first time in my life.

College started and I was in a healthy relationship with a young man who loved God. He encouraged me to grow more, read my Bible more, pray more, and live a life worthy of Christ. And yet, long distance and my weak roots took their toll.

I found myself thousands of miles from home attending college, in a new city, feeling utterly alone and hopeless. I quickly fell back into old patterns.

I found the familiar feelings of being wanted by men in the form of an unhealthy boyfriend. I started to drink heavily and use drugs here and there. I had tried finding Christian friends in college, but there weren’t many. Good churches in Boston were even harder to come by.

I decided that the Christian life, the one I had been told about, was just too hard of a life to live. It was impossible, in fact, and so I quit. I quit trying to “be good.” I quit feeling guilty for not reading my Bible, or not attending a Sunday service. I quit pretending.

Two years into my destructive choices, I found myself in a pit of despair. I wanted to die. I was homeless, depressed, imprisoned to my own thoughts and behaviors. I was not attending school and found myself instead emotionally chained to a man who was toxic and harmful.

I had nothing. Not a home, not a dollar, not a sliver of hope, or a thread of dignity left. I knew that I needed to go home. So I boarded a Greyhound bus and travelled from Boston to Phoenix over three days.

After a very long and dark three days, I arrived home. Broken. Desperate. It would be another year of destructive living before I would begin crawling back to God.

Finally, I started crawling. Not because He made me feel guilty or because I felt I owed God something. I slowly began the process of repairing my relationship with Jesus because I knew the Truth and I had never escaped it.

In all of my horrible choices, after three years of destructive living—spitting in the face of my Lord—I had never once felt that Jesus Christ was anything, but Truth.

From the moment I had stood in that stadium and cried out to God, I had always known that He really is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

I slowly started attending church, but this time, something was different. I was different. This time, I began to understand God’s grace and mercy.

I began to realize that I did not need to “be good,” because I’m not good. He is Good. I began to understand that all of the times I woke up and felt like Christianity was an impossible way to live, it was impossible, in fact, without the Holy Spirit.

I saw my life begin to feel empowered and hopeful, triumphant and victorious, as I daily heeded the Holy Spirit and His promptings. I also, for the very first time, experienced the need for fellowship and accountability. I knew that I could never again be a lone Christian, but that I needed the body of believers.

The things that once seemed impossible or forever broken were restored and given new life. My relationship with both my dad and stepdad were both restored. I was able to forgive them thanks to the forgiveness the Lord had granted me through Christ. I am able to walk in love, knowing that while my fathers here on earth may not be perfect, my Heavenly Father is perfect.

I lost the need to feel loved by a man sexually in order to feel worthwhile. Instead I am loved by my Lord and my husband. I know, thanks to my wonderful marriage and Godly husband, what it is to be fulfilled, loved unconditionally, be serve and to serve wholeheartedly.

My children have shown me even more of God love for me, for each and every one of us. How giving His son away to die a cruel death on a cross is the ultimate sacrifice of love.

I entered into God’s grace and have never looked back. I still hold hurts and pain, scars and wounds from my former life and my childhood. However, I now know that God is bigger than all of those hurts. And not only that, He can redeem them.

He has taken my broken life and used it to glorify Himself. He has allowed this messed up, too often prideful, selfish girl, to somehow display His love and redemption.

I have a husband and two children, a ministry, and a future. I have a hope that can never be stripped away or forgotten. I have a God who says, “While you were yet a sinner, I died for you.” I have the promise of Christ and His unfailing love.

You can find out more about Nicole at her website or her twitter.

Thank you for sharing Nicole!

LiveJournal Tags: testimonies

 

 

Churched, but not Changed. Rachel’s story

Today’s post is personal testimony of Rachel Ineus.  You can check out more about Rachel at Annointed Beauty Ministries.

Born into a STRICT Christian home, my parents raised me to follow all of the commandments of God and to devote myself to his service. From a very early age I understood that the work of the Lord had priority. I was already a very active member of the church @ the tender age of 4. I was the little poet, story teller and star dancer at our cultural programs.

As I got older, I continued on in the way that my parents and church leaders set out for me. At 14 years of age, I held the title of Associate Youth Leader and have since been through the ranks of Senior Adult Sabbath School Secretary, Young Adult Sabbath School Associate Director, Family Life Youth Liaison, Women’s Ministries Council Member, Singles Ministries Coordinator, Communications Council Member and a member of the church and school boards. You could say church was my life. It was all that I knew.
I was brought up to always be doing something for God. If you weren’t active in church and in the limelight, you were treated as a nobody and looked upon as “not-there” with God. The church seemed to have my whole life planned out for me. I was to become a nurse or doctor and marry a pastor and boy did they have quite a few in mind. I felt like I was a pawn in a game and I had no say in the matter. Their crazy plan almost worked until it ALMOST GOT ME KILLED. It was at that moment that I decided to live my life for God and no one else.
As the years went on, i remained active in the church. However, I started to feel like something was missing. I kept saying to myself, There just has to be more to God than this.

There has to be more than just an emphasis on a day of worship. I kept asking myself, “Was God only focused on when you worshiped him and what you ate? Did he not want more than rituals and traditions? Why were they making him appear to be so shallow?”

The more I searched within my heart, the more I kept hearing that still small voice whispering to me – THERE’S MORE TO ME THAN THIS. One day as I communed with God, I realized that I was keeping the rules of the church, following the doctrines and living up to the expectations of the “church family” but I didn’t know GOD as my personal Savior.
The realization that I had been working the gospel instead of living the gospel inspired me to plunge into the Word of God. I was determined to get to know HIM. I continued to study and soon realized that I had a religion but no relationship. Yes i prayed, yes I served, yes I knew the Word but, I HAD NO PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. This was my turning point. I decided that I wanted a relationship with God and set out to develop one. As I got deeper in the Word, the Spirit of God made the Word of God plain. I realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ wasn’t as complicated, complex and vague as I was brought up to believe. It was simple. IF I AM TO BE A CHRISTIAN, I AM TO LIVE LIKE CHRIST. IF I LIVE LIKE CHRIST, I WILL KEEP GOD’S COMMANDMENTS (and not just the 10 in Exodus, but also the one that says LOVE THE LORD WITH YOUR EVERYTHING AND LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF which is the greatest commandment of all). IF I LIVE LIKE CHRIST I WILL SERVE GOD WITH ALL MY HEART.
Since this revelation, God has worked wonders in my life and I am extremely grateful. I have a deeper understanding of HIS Word and now have a personal relationship with God. He has changed my life and is taking me on a journey that is calling me to leave everything I thought I knew, everything I’ve ever known and FOLLOW HIM. This journey has been rough. Through it all, one thing keeps me stable. It is my conviction that God is calling me to reject all I have ever learned to learn ALL THAT HE HAS TO TEACH ME. I am amazed by the new things I learn everyday.

I am humbled that God is willing to use my broken vessel.  I am on a journey with God that is leading me to where He wants me to be. I am now a vessel in the Hand of the Almighty God.

Rachel also has a ministry of “breaking free devotions” you can subscribe to here.  Thank you for sharing Rachel!

 

Kristen Anderson Suicide Interrupted

Kristen Anderson is writer of “Life in Spite of me” and founder of Reaching you Ministries. Her story has touched millions, she is a sought after speaker against  depression and suicide.  Here is her story:

She grew up with a very ideal childhood.  Her parents stayed married, they were very loving, they grew up in church and life was care-free.  In Junior high she started to become aware and burdened by the suffering in the world.  She wanted to do something to make a difference.

Every Friday she started volunteering at the local homeless shelter.  After a while, it became discouraging.  She felt like she was not making any difference so she stopped with that effort.  She then focused her energy on making those around her happy.  Her friends all knew she was reliable, her boyfriend was the prom king and things were looking happy and care free again as they did when she was a child.

Then, her world started falling apart. she lost four friends—one had a brain tumor, two died in a car accident, and one hanged himself in a cemetery. Later, her grandmother died.  She was stalked by two men and one of them raped her.

Although she didn’t realize it at the time she feel into a deep depression.

One cold January night at age 17 she was grounded in her room.  Telling her parents she was going for a walk she made a few stops then found herself sitting on a parked train car thinking about her life.  She kept thinking about her friend Brandon who had recently committed suicide.  His death really shook her and she couldn’t imagine how or why he chose to do it that way.  She then began to think how she would commit suicide.  It was really just a hypothetical thought.  How would it make people feel? How would she do it? She had this same thought process about 3 months earlier. She wondered if there was a reason she was here.

She didn’t want to go home because she knew she was in even more trouble at that point for being gone so long.  She just didn’t want to deal with any of it!  Then she saw a train coming.  She knew she needed to decide something.  On IMPULSE, she laid over the tracks.

“The police report says that 33 freight train cars went over me at 55 miles per hour. I remember at first feeling myself being sucked into the force of the train which is what I’m told should have happened but a few seconds after the initial pull I then felt a heavy push holding me down to the ground which I believe now to be the hand of God that saved my life. 

When the train first stopped I didn’t know if I was dead or alive.  I looked behind me on my right about ten feet away, I saw my legs. And I knew they were my legs because I had these new bright, white tennis shoes on them that I had just gotten for Christmas, and it just seemed unreal to me. It seemed like it was a horrible nightmare.”

She started to cry like she had never cried before.  The only way she could describe it is like a child weeps for their mom. And then felt an amazing peace come over her.

“The song Amazing Grace kept playing in my head over and over.  God was showing me how he is so REAL, so FAITHFUL, and so BIG.  I was so at peace.  I laid down ready to die.  But God had other plans.”

Next thing she knew a firefighter was brushing the hair away from her face.  She looked up at him which he didn’t expect.  He thought she was dead. She was rushed to the hospital which is normally a 45 minute drive took 8 minutes.  Every doctor and nurse stared at her like they were seeing a miracle. She had lost 8 pints of blood.  Medically speaking you should be dead at 5 pints lost, yet she was completely conscious answering questions about phone numbers, names and addresses.  After hours of surgery and an unsuccessful attempt to reattach her legs she woke up.  Her family was all around her holding hands praying.  She woke up thinking, something must be wrong!  Am I dead?  Her mom then rushed to her side and she realized she was alive and this was not all a bad dream.

Talking on the phone with a friend at the hospital she said, “I’m okay but my legs are cut off”  Saying it for the first time was so hard.  It made it real.  Her family and friends kept telling her she doesn’t need her legs and she is supposed to be here.  She later found out they were right.

 

After 3 months in the hospital a woman came up to her at church, who she didn’t know, who had heard about what happened to her.  The lady told her that if  she would have died that night she would have gone to hell.

This sent her searching for for the truth. She had grown up in the church, but God always seemed far-off. The concept of a “personal relationship with Jesus” and a loving God was totally foreign.

A family friend came over to dinner one night who was in seminary.  She thought, “he knows the Bible and maybe he would know the truth of what would have happened to me had I died that night”. He told her we are all created to be in a relationship with God it is our choices of sin that separate us from him.  He showed her John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

“In my parents dining room that night I prayed.  I told God that i knew something was missing from my life.  I know my sin had separated us and I didn’t want that any longer.  I apologized, telling him I now realized my life wasn’t mine to take.  That he is the giver and taker of life.  That night i went to bed knowing that I was a child of God.”

One of the first verses she remembers reading after becoming a Christian is Romans 8:1  “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ” Reminding her that she is a whole person with or without her legs.

The more she sought after Christ the more she came out of depression.

“I learned that I really needed to let him be my best friend.  To turn to him when I was hurting instead of turning to others.  He cared about all the struggles in my life, large and small.  The closer I got to Him the more in love I became with my Savior.”

She was able to get off all the anti-depressant medicines which she was told she would have to take the rest of her life. 

 

At this point she was helping out with our church youth group.  The youth pastor asked her to share her story for the first time.

“I was very nervous sharing such vulnerable things but I was overwhelmed at the people who came up to me afterwards saying they had struggled with suicidal thoughts and depression and my story encouraged them.  That was the beginning of the ministry God was starting through my life.”

In 2004 she started Reaching you Ministries to help people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.   As she realized she couldn’t possibly go to all the places she was requested to speak, she wrote her story in a book. “Life in Spite of me”  was published in May 2010.

Having the privilege of speaking to Kristen over the phone I can tell you she is truly in love with Jesus and is such an encouragement to everyone she meets.   I love how she wanted to make a difference in the world while she was young trying to volunteer at the homeless shelter and now she is making a HUGE impact on the world sharing her story.  God works in amazing ways!  The book has so many more details about her amazing story that would not fit on a simple blog post. 

 

Thank you Kristen!  You have blessed me!  You can learn more about Kristen at her website and her facebook page

Rebecca’ Carnes: one little girl fighting TWO huge battles

Today’s Post is written by 14 year old Rebecca Carnes.  Rebecca is an amazing young lady born with Spina Bifida and at the beginning of this year was also diagnosed with leukemia.  That’s right, one little girl facing two huge giants.  Here is her story of survival…

Hello, my name is Rebecca (Becca) Carnes. I am 14 years old.  I am Survivor like many of you of life and its journey. I survive with God as my guide. My story starts before I was born. My mom knew when she was 16 weeks pregnant that I was going to be born with Spina Bifida. She decided to not abort me.  Over 50% of mothers faced with this news abort and this makes me a survivor for the first time. I am thankful that she decided my life had value and that is because she knows God.

Then, I survived again when I was born and after 5hrs of birth survived my first 8 hour surgery to close my spine. Spina Bifida is a kind of spinal cord injury. I am survivor with God. I survived again at 6 days old when I had my second surgery to place a shunt in my brain to drain the fluid off, which I still have to this day. God has been with me every step that I take. 

The doctors said that I wouldn’t walk and at 18 months I walked with a walker.  By two, I walked on my own with the help of leg braces. And today I still walk with leg braces but get around just fine!  I have been very sick at times and have had over 60 surgeries. I have had brain surgery, several back surgeries, leg surgeries, gut surgeries, and bladder surgeries to name a few. I have survived them with God. God placed me on people’s hearts and when we didn’t think I was going to make it God always showed up. God has blessed us financially, with a car, and the cards that I receive knowing someone is praying for me.

On Feb. 3, 2010, I am surviving those dreaded words of Cancer. I was diagnosis with a rare leukemia call Acute promyelocytic leukemia, which is a subtype of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. If you have seen the movie or read the book, “My Sister’s Keeper” that is the kind of cancer that I have. I am surviving. I am not telling you my journey has been easy because it hasn’t. I have almost died. I have been sicker than you can imagine. God has been with me every step of the way. I see him perform miracles in my life. Philippians 4:13 reminds us that ” I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”

Having the pleasure of knowing Rebecca and her family I can tell you they are an amazing testimony of strength in hard times.  I specifically remember her mother’s post on their CarringBridge site in March shortly after Becca had started chemo.  Becca was extremely sick and we didn’t know if she would fight through it.  Her mother posted this:

I know that everyone feels helpless in regards to how to help us, but we also have that feeling of helplessness, especially as we see her suffer day in and day out.  We cherish the small moments where she is smiling and giving everyone a hard time.  We cherish your prayers despite as many maybe feeling that God is not listening.  I hold fast to scriptures that tell me that God is there despite whether we “feel” him.  I know that He hears everyone’s prayers, but God has a reason and that is to bring Him glory.  I hope that if anything that this is drawing everyone closer to God.  I know that I am holding on to the hem of His garment.  God Bless

Matthew West song “survivor” was dedicated to her at his concert in Augusta, GA.  This verse in particular reminds me so much of Becca…

For the cancer that stole all your hair
For the smile like you just don’t care
For your hope in a midnight prayer
You’re a survivor!

She is an amazing girl and teaches me so much just by being herself.  You can find more about Becca at her CarringBridge site and Jay’s Hope has 2011 calendars on sale to benefit children’s cancer.  Becca is in the calendar!