Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's My BIRTHDAY!


Today, on October 9th, 2013, I am 14 years old. That is, it was 14 years ago that I was reborn in Christ. What exactly does that mean? I laid down my old and sinful self (which we are all born with) and clothed myself with righteousness through Christ (Isaiah 61:10 - He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness. ). The term "righteousness" simply means that we (believers of Christ) follow His commands and do His will for our lives. The Christian life is not easy if we live according to God's will, but I have never regretted my decision to surrender my life to the Lord - never.

Something happened to make me realize I was a sinner. Was it knowledge, was it a person in my life or godly parents? I think it was a little of all of this. I will say that I firmly believe that God runs after us, even before we run to Him. I believe the Holy Spirit was the biggest contributing factor in the opening of my calloused heart to hear and receive the truth of God.

As I gathered at a church lock-in with a youth group and my best friend (I was a guest at her church that night), something began to lay heavy on my heart. I was 13 years old at the time. At 8 years old, I had said the sinner's prayer with my Mother and been baptized. So why was I having such strong feelings of doubt? As the youth minister began talking about Jesus' amazing sacrifice, the truth began to resonate within. I knew at that moment that 5 years ago, I had simply said a fancy prayer and gone for a swim in the baptismal. It meant nothing when I was 8, simply because I had not yet been able to comprehend the immense torture, pain, sacrifice, grace, forgiveness and love that was centered around the symbol of the cross. Now, at 13 years of age, I finally understood enough to truly believe and be a child of the true King. I felt, for the first time in my life, the presence of God fill my life. It was the most indescribable joy I've ever felt, and I wept in awe of the Holy Spirit's presence that immediately filled my soul.

14 years later, I look back to see everything God has done through my redeemed life in Christ. I have completed my bachelors degree in music education, taught elementary music education for one year, began a family despite the risks involved due to my conditions (a set of twins, which are our miracle babies - click HERE to see our testimony of the twins), I was baptized by immersion in February 2013 (I had not been baptized after my sincere decision to follow Christ when I was 13 - I made this right in February), I am privileged to be a volunteer counselor and Earn-While-You-Learn mentor with our local crisis pregnancy center (Sav-a-Life), my husband has been placed in a stable job (as a math instructor at JSU), I am a stay-at-home mom and wife (which i love), and we are now in the process of jump-starting a Chronic Illness Ministry for Women: Sufficient Grace Ministry (click HERE for the link and to see more information).

One of the most challenging, yet rewarding times in my spiritual walk would be that of my chronic medical conditions. I thank God for the opportunities He brings through my pain and turmoil. I praise Him for the intimacy that many do not understand, simply because I have had to learn to lean on and trust in Him more. How would we ever begin to understand the sufferings that Jesus was put through on this earth (preceding death and on the cross) if we ourselves were exempt from pain and hardships? It is a pure joy to be able to help others that struggle in similar ways (through chronic illness or pain) and be able to encourage and relate to them with genuine understanding and compassion. It doesn't make tribulations in life easy, but it certainly makes them possible.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Thank you, Lord, for yet another year under your wings. I love you, with all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind. You are my Romancer, my Great Redeemer and Savior, and there will never be another like You.

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Mental Illness and the Church