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Archive for July, 2010

For most of my life I viewed God to be distant, moody, mostly angry and really just interested in throwing everybody in hell except for an elite few people who could earn enough favor while on earth to make it to heaven. In context to life my religion and concepts of God had absolutely failed me. When I was 18 a few friends of mine from college had invited me to go with them to North. To be honest they bribed me with dinner at Rosas and that was really the only reason why I even showed up.

By this time I was a bundle of shame, anger and pain. I had been abused as kid,
I was a cutter,

an alcoholic,

had horrible dating relationships,

had struggled with homosexuality

and suicidal thoughts,

tried a few odd drugs

and was at my absolute last straw in regards to God being good.

But God didn’t look at any of that.

I showed up to North believing that God wanted absolutely nothing to do with me but was so hungry for love that I figured this one last shot couldn’t kill me, plus I got a free meal. I spent all of worship seated in tears. For the first time I felt the love of Christ impact my cold, dead heart. I didn’t understand it at all but somehow someway The God that made the universe actually loved me… a lot.

For all of the attempts I had made at finding love, for all of the shame I hid myself in, even the anger that I had toward God, Christ looked past it all of it and began to write His love all over my heart.Shortly after that night I gave my heart to the Lord and He has been faithful with it ever since.

All of this happened about 2 years ago. Since then life has been more then I could have ever hoped for or imagined it to be. The Lord truly has given me life and life abundantly. His voice, His hand and His love have never failed me. There have been some really tough seasons but I have seen how He is always looking at me with Love and how He truly is faithful to complete the work that He started that night. It’s an ongoing process but He is more than worth it. He’s taken so many lies that I believed about who I was and rewrote my identity as His daughter and bride to be. As of now I am absolutely content in His arms and can’t wait to see what the rest of life He has in store for me 🙂

Clip from tomorrow’s Real Story:

At the age of 4, my father left my family and I, and never returned. He was an alcoholic and so addicted to drugs, we no longer mattered. The only memories I had of him were terrifying. If it wasn’t screaming and throwing things, it was threats or things of a much worse nature. Being a little girl without the love of a father definitely took its toll on my confidence and overall self-image.

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From the time I was 17 until I turned 20 I was held in bondage to Eating Disorders.

I struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and exercise bulimia; if I wasn’t ingesting up to ** laxatives at a time, I was spending hours in a gym. I may have had the “world image” of “beauty” but I WAS MISERABLE, LIFELESS AND DYING. On April 23, 2008 I nearly lost my life. My heart went into irregular rhythms due to electrolyte imbalances. I was shocked two times, intubated and sent to the ICU. That was the best day of my life because JESUS WOKE ME UP!

From a hospital in Lancaster I was sent directly to the Pittsburgh Psychiatric Center for Eating Disorders. Those were the best five weeks of my life; Jesus began to speak to me and tell me how I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Leaving there to come back to Ohio I thought for sure any type of struggle that I previously had would be gone. Hmm, that wasn’t so. Although I was delivered from a lot of my addictions, some slowly crept back in. If this has done anything it has drawn me into a deeper relationship with Jesus.I know that one day I will be completely set free.

I know that my Father works ALL things together for the GOOD and one day I will meet Him face to face.

Clips from tomorrow’s Real Story:

By this time I was a bundle of shame, anger and pain. I had been abused as kid,I was a cutter, an alcoholic, had horrible dating relationships, had struggled with homosexuality and suicidal thoughts, tried a few odd drugs and was at my absolute last straw in regards to God being good.

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“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.:” (2 Cor. 7:9-10, ESV)

As only Paul can do, he sums up my testimony in three sentences more adequately than I ever could. Those verses, in and out of themselves, are sufficient enough, but I was asked to share, so share I shall do.
My testimony starts with me having been brought up in the church. I was taught all of the rules and the doctrine: go to church on Sunday to avoid hell, say your prayers to avoid hell, pray for other people that they might avoid hell, etc. Being raised like this gave me the paradigm that God’s entire point of creating humans was to watch them jump through hoops to simply avoid hell; I missed the greater reality that is God’s love and grace.

I watched 18 years of my life pass by through this skewed image of “reality”. I was quite proud of having discovered the truth about God. “Haha!” I used to think to myself, “I have you pegged you arrogant s…” Schopenhauer was secretly my hero for having the knowledge and prose to elegantly put my thoughts on paper and, more importantly, for having the guevos to tell it like it is to God in a fashion that I was scared of. He was able to rationalize the brokenness of the world and blame all pain on a malevolent creator.

This view of God lead to a lifestyle that is all too familiar with college students. I was drunk every weekend and staying sober only long enough to make it through the week. Two years and a couple hundred beers later, I got burnt out. They were the same faces, same stories, and same parties; it was stagnant. My Sunday routine shifted from dreading to wake up and being dragged to church to dreading waking up and having to get rid of the hangover. So, I transitioned out of this into the even more addicting lifestyle of petty theft and vandalism. The adrenaline rush lasted for awhile, but it got to a point where I either had to choose to stop or steal a car in order to get a bigger rush. Grand Theft Auto is a cool video game, but is not feasible in real life. This left Plan Z: edification and fulfillment through knowledge and power, but I soon discovered that this only led to an oversized ego and a depressed disposition.

I had run out of options and was left with two choices: either God was the jerk I thought He was and nothing in life would truly fulfill me, or I was wrong about Him. I like to imagine God doing a happy dance in Heaven when this revelation hit me. Around this same time, my older sister tricked me into going to a college group that she had been attending for a while. It was in that moment that I felt the true overwhelming love of God and a desire to have the peace that I saw in those around me. Finally all those cheesy cliché: “God is Love” plaques made sense.
I suffered much loss, much heartbreak, and much liver damage on the road to God, but I was finally grieved to a point of repentance. “Indeed , I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8, ESV

Clip from tomorrow’s Real Story:
“On April 23, 2008 I nearly lost my life. My heart went into irregular rhythms due to electrolyte imbalances. I was shocked two times, intubated and sent to the ICU. That was the best day of my life because JESUS WOKE ME UP!”

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My story began when I was ten when my grandma sent me to a weight
watchers meeting because I was “overweight”–

like most ten year old girls I still had baby weight I guess but not in her eyes. Embarrased and never measuring up to her “standards” I started to binge to block the pain I felt and this continued until I was 15.

Entering highschool as a very overweight teen was not easy. I dreaded everyday and often ate my lunch in the bathroom stall so I wouldn’t get laughed at. I got so tired of being made fun of that I couldn’t take it anymore and at 16 i went on a diet. A diet of not eating and I went from 192 pounds to 112 in a matter of 6 months. At this point I was anorexic. I had many trips to the hospital because I was passing out, my hair was falling out, and my pulse was very low. I started to gain weight slowly but I couldn’t take it. That’s when I became bulemic. I would eat to please people but throw it up, I was bcoming a master manipulator.

At 18 I moved out of my house because I thought I would do better not in my childhood house. The memories that went along with
it were hard to handle. I had an alcoholic dad who was verbally abusive and my mom worked all the time an then dealt with my dad when she came home. I eventually spiralled out of control with my eating disorder and spent all of my money on food, neglecting to pay car and rent. So I had to find a job that paid alot. I ended up workig in a strip club as a waitress— one night a customer came In and invited me out. I went because I really didn’t have any friends and it was st patricks day.

On march 17 2008 I went out and my life would never be the same. I was 20 years old and went to a bar with a group of guys and ended up getting raped and beat up, slapped in the face and such.. I didn’t know where I was and I was scared. After that I quit my job at cassidys

and stayed in my apartment scared of everything. I eventually started drinking and moved back in with my parents—I started a new job in
may of 2008 as a secretry of an office.

I went out with some people I worked with one night an that was my first encounter with cocaine. I got very addicted after that night and started spending everything I had on it. It was the answer to all my problems… Little did I know it was just the begining to ALL my problems. I started stealing money and pawning my parents stuff for money to get more drugs. I was spending around 400 dollars on drugs a week– which I couldn’t afford.

I overdosed on january 3,2009 i had already been up for 72 hours having the time of my life snorting lines about every hour. That when
I started to feel it- I couldn’t breath and i felt like I was dying & I WAS— I drove myself to the hospital because no one else would and the only thing left to my name were three rolled up dollar bills and half an eight ball of cocaine, I HAD nothing else to lose. I was
admitted at 8 am that morning. About three hours later my parents walked in—- this was my lowest of lows. This was the worst point in
my life. Tears of dissapointment in their eyes as I puked blood all over myself and a heart rate above 200. I started deotoxing that night
after leaving the hospital and that week was terrible. No phone, doors locked and no car.

I HATED god! How could HE let this happen to me?! I went to rehab on a Friday and spent 45 days in Arizona…. That’s when
my life started to change. I found god and he embraced me fully. I never had a relationship with him but I knew this was the start of
something beautiful. The doctors at the treatment center showed me who god was.

God is a man of forgiveness, love, and grace. After all the terrible things I have done in my life and everything I have been
through he gave me a brand new blank canvas and he let’s me paint a new materpiece of life on it. That is the best thing I could ask
for– I was so broken and filled with shame & He took my guilt and shame and replaced it with love and Grace.

______________________________

Coming tomorrow: Real Stories: Graham (Here’s a clip)
The adrenaline rush lasted for awhile, but it got to a point where I either had to choose to stop or steal a car in order to get a bigger rush. Grand Theft Auto is a cool video game, but is not feasible in real life. This left Plan Z: edification and fulfillment through knowledge and power, but I soon discovered that this only led to an oversized ego and a depressed disposition.

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I love C.S. Lewis, as you may have noticed. I’ve spent a lot of time reading & rereading The Chronicles of Narnia, but I’m just now diving into who he was as a man and some of his other writings. I am finishing up Mere Christianity. (book review coming soon) Highly recommend checking it out! But in order to stop myself from reviewing it right now, I’ll get to where I am going.

Sometimes I see the atrocities in this world, and it’s very hard not to just be disappointed. I look at things like the oil spill in the gulf, and I wonder why the earth has to suffer. I think about the people in the world struggling to have enough food, and I’m sad. And I’d love fix everything that is broken, but wonder if there is anything I can really do. Even in my own life sometimes the joy, peace, power, and confidence promised me by God are at times so attainable…and at other times just out of reach. This week, the Lord has really be challenging me to see the world from a broader prospective.

Lewis writes:
“Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God. A statue has the shape of man but is not alive. In the same way, man has the ‘shape’ or likeness of God, but has not got the kind of life God has.”

Such an interesting thought, we are “made in the image of God” ; yet we are not God….rather, a beautiful picture of worship to Him.


“The David”

A lot of things go wrong when we think we are God. Take my life for instance, a lot of anger and bittereness and ugliness fosters inside of me when my life doesn’t “turn out” the way I think it should. I quickly become angry at myself for failing, others for getting in way or not serving my needs, and especially God for not fulfilling some promise that he never really made me. Somehow I always make God into a weak, servant “god” that somehow makes me comfortable. So what’s reality? God didn’t promise me a life of ease and zero speeding tickets. And the pain and hurt in the world isn’t from Him, rather it’s a result of a fallen, broken world. God begets God. God is good. Sin begets brokenness, pain, and hurt.

Check it out.

Genesis 1:1-3 ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

Genesis 2:7 “…then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

But then sin entered the world, people wanted to be like God….and part of the result of that…
Genesis 3:19 “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

You see, in the beginning, it was the Holy Spirit of God that created life and existence. When we were created, made from the natural dust, God breathed that His Spirit inside of us. Now we could live forever, eternally in friendship and intimacy with our amazing creator. But we did the very thing we always do. We try to make ourselves our own gods. We wanted what we wanted, instant comfort and control, never looking at the big picture. And we lost the very life inside of us, the breath of life.

Decay, disease, death entered the world, entered us.

Humanity was always striving to become clean enough to enter into God’s Presence again, reaching for God. Always failing, never faithful.

Then there was Jesus.
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:5-8)

And the whole point of Jesus’ death and the cross, was the to make a way again for life. You see, yes, our debt was paid…but more than that, Christ’s righteousness now blankets those who believe. That is why, we must make Him King of our lives. That is why we must turn our lives completely over to God. Don’t you see, we must reject our sinful nature to rule ourselves. It is the very essence of sin, the very thing that killed us and broke His heart of love.

It is when you put your faith in what HE did, you receive your life back.

When Jesus ascended back into Heaven, He didn’t leave us to once again suffer this broken world. Now His Spirt dwells in our hearts. It’s just another step in our restoration? Jesus isn’t just up in Heaven floating on a cloud, playing a harp! He’s making the next step possible, while we carry out His mission on this earth by the power of His Spirit.

The next part of the plan:
Revelation 21:1-5
“…Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them…”

One day the work will be complete.

What does this mean to you?
-If you have not put your faith in Christ, do so. Jesus is not a fairy tale, this is the greatest story, it is the story of the whole universe.
-If you have put your faith in Christ, is He your King? Or do you still live your life as your own. Open your eyes to the greater picture.
-If you are suffering on this earth, Jesus’ work is not finished. He has not left you as an orphan. He sees you. He is not the cause of your suffering, in fact, He is your only hope!

“ And this is what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.” — C.S Lewis

Also, check out the latest North sermon by clicking here for more on this topic.

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In six days, I will be venturing south with 30+ other folks from the ministry of North to that most dangerous city across the border. It’s best I’m not too specific, but you probably get it. Anyway, we will be spending just under a week building houses for 3 homeless families. This is my third build; I can’t wait.

Tuesday after North, the team met to put faces to names, get our packing lists, fill out our medical information, and learn about the families. Our team will be partnering with a wonderful organization, Casas por Cristo, and further splitting down into 3 teams. When we arrive in the slums of the town, we will have a few tools, wood, a pile of gravel, and some sand….and what will take place is an amazing miracle. When we leave, somehow, a house will stand. It’s an amazing thing to see. Even better a family that doesn’t have a house right now as you read this blog, will sleep under a roof. It’s the gospel in action…shelter from the storm…love that no one deserves….grace no one can’t repay.

Please, PLEASE, pray for us, and especially for our families.
Family #1: husband, wife (ages 41, 40) and 4 kids (ages 8 to 13), weekly income $70
Family #2: husband, wife (early 20’s) 1 small child, weekly income $0
Family #3: husband, wife- factory workers (ages 19,18) 1 small child, weekly income $60

Some exciting blog news!!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been putting together a blog-miniseries called “Real Stories”.

I asked several of YOU readers to write down YOUR stories and email them to me. I kept it pretty open. I really just want to hear from some of you what Jesus has been to YOU in YOUR life. The stories are phenomenal! I can’t wait for all of you to get to read them!

Starting next this coming Wednesday, a “Real Story” will post on my blog for every day I am gone. Here is a clip from next Wednesday’s first “Real Story”

I overdosed on january 3,2009 i had already been up for 72 hours
having the time of my life snorting lines about every hour. That when
I started to feel it- I couldn’t breath and i felt like I was dying & I
WAS— I drove myself to the hospital because no one else would and
the only thing left to my name were three rolled up dollar bills and
half an eight ball of cocaine, I HAD nothing else to lose. I was
admitted at 8 am that morning. About three hours later my parents
walked in—- this was my lowest of lows

So check back every day starting next Wednesday, and read the stories of people just like you who read this blog!!!!
KR ☺

Enjoy these pictures from my previous house building trips!! Lots of love to you!






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Last week, I blogged about Edward’s 5 Romantic Promises to Bella. If you haven’t caught up on that blog, click HERE to read it. Today, I want to build off of that blog a little bit with some ideas that have been floating through my head this week.

Let’s pretend.

Let’s say you are a ruler of a medieval city, and in center of your city is a castle. (that’s where you live) All your loyal inhabitants live around your castle, and being the good queen that you are, you surrounded them with a thick stone wall. It was very nice of you to protect your people. Now, in medieval times, every city had a stronghold.

Stronghold: a defensible place; fortress; a major centre or area of predominance; into which people could go for shelter during a battle reinforced for protection from enemy fire; a structure used to defend against attack a main tower within the walls

Now if your city were attacked by impending doom and destruction, everyone would run to the stronghold. Here they would hoard up against a waging war or attack. The stronghold would keep everyone together and safe. It would be their defense, something you could depend on during instability. You could say that every individual in the community, as well as the community as a whole, put their trust in the stronghold.

Communities and generations of people have their dependencies. I look at the generation of parents and wonder if their stronghold and hope for salvation was politics. I wonder if my generation depends on feeling comfortable. But that’s another blog. I want to narrow this down today to the individuals; to Edward and Bella, to you and me.

It’s so interesting how dependent individuals are. We all have our strongholds. Here’s how it plays out for each of us. Our stronghold is where we go to feel secure. It’s the first thing OR person we turn to when things are difficult, scary, or unstable. It could be a job, a skill, something your good at, something that makes you feel good, or a person. We go to that stronghold pleading for stability, escape, and protection. We come with questions in our minds… “Am I significant enough to protect?” “Can you tell me I’m valuable?” “Am I worthy enough to be safe?”

Most of the time, for us women, our strongholds are our men. (our dads, brothers, boyfriends, and husbands) Here are some examples:
-People know me as “the athletic girl”, when life feels out of control, I go run until I can’t. It clears my head, makes me feel good, that’s what I’ve always been good at.
-After my last breakup, I decided to completely change my look. I went on a diet to loose 15 lbs, died my hair, and went out with the girls.
-When I’m down I love to bury myself in the fantasy of a book or movie or just go drown my sorrows in some alcohol.
-If someone is not pleased with me, I will do whatever it takes to make it better.
-When I feel terrible, I wish I was invisible to everyone.
-I thrive on attention. If I don’t have it, I will find it.
-I don’t know what I would do if my boyfriend or husband cheated on me: I can’t live without him.

Bella’s stronghold was Edward. The thesis of what he promised…

“I have chosen you from all other women to fight for, defend, and protect. I will love you so much that you will become something new (all your flaws and aging will be changed and made better). Our love will be eternal.

Ladies, let’s face it sometimes we think we are searching for some achievement, or some love, maybe a perfect romance, or the perfect guy; but we are really searching for the perfect stronghold. We are looking for protection, something to say that we are valuable, significant, and worthy. We have spent our whole lives trying to depend and trust in SOMETHING, and it has always, eventually failed us. Think about it.

Remember my very first post, the very first lines?

“Love cannot exist alone. It must be experienced. It must be shared.”

We weren’t created to live independently and alone, in our own strength, as our own stronghold. We were created to be dependent. We were created to have a stronghold in a perfect relationship with the real eternal love. We were created out of love for love. But we broke that relationship, when we chose to walk away from it.

The crazy thing about our quest for security, is that it is really our quest for GOD. The amazing thing about it is, that when we turn to him in our troubled state, when we see our need and put our hope in Him, when we run to Him for safety, when we make Him our TRUST that relationship is restored. Ladies, that is FAITH! I’m not telling you that you need faith. Because the the truth is you already have faith—your trust—in something.

My question to you is this, is Jesus your stronghold? Maybe He is not because you’ve never considered. Maybe you call yourself “saved”, but you are still trusting in something other than Him. Maybe you haven’t yet been saved from anything at all.

Romans 10:8-11
“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

KR:)

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