Monday, September 8, 2014

Decisions by Karleigh Suderman

When do you know what you are supposed to do next when you have two or more options in front of you? How do you know which way is God’s will when none of the options seem to be out of his will? This is what I am daily walking through right now.

My husband and I have been married a few months past four years now, and about three years ago we started a part of our lives that I feel that no one should have to go through. I am not God, however, and I cannot currently see why he is allowing me to go through this. What I do know is that it will not be in vain.

Three years ago I started slowly piecing together symptoms and issues pointing towards my eventual diagnoses of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It’s pretty common and you probably know someone who has it, or perhaps you have it yourself. However, as common as it is, PCOS—or any infertility issue— is still entirely aggravating and discouraging because it usually means that it won’t be as easy to have a baby as almost everyone else in the world.

And believe me, it feels like everyone else in the world can have a baby except for you. Upon the realization that this might be a difficult journey, suddenly you are getting phone calls or texts or emails or reading Facebook posts every other day that someone else is pregnant. Sometimes they weren’t even trying, and those stories can really get to you. You find yourself asking, “How, God, is this fair that you gave this person a baby who wasn’t even ready, but I have wanted, prayed, prepared, planned, cried, bargained, begged, longed for a baby and you won’t allow me the same thing?” It sounds somewhat childish, like a little girl being jealous of a friend’s new baby doll at Christmas when all you got was a pair of socks. It seems silly, but these feelings are quite real.

Sometimes other people have babies that they planned for but had difficulty conceiving, too. Please, please understanding I know that they have the absolute best of intentions because they want you to have a baby as well (and I love them for it), but it can be overwhelming at times when they tell you to try whatever they did, or even to stop trying because that’s what they did right before they got pregnant. Or perhaps, they suggest to start looking into adoption, because once they decided to adopt, they got pregnant (or knew someone who did)!

That’s where the other side of this comes into play. I have always “planned” that I would have two biological children, and would then adopt a third. Adoption has always been something I’ve been drawn to. I have planned my life and I am supposed to complete my little family with adoption, but now it sometimes feels like adoption is my only hope at having a family at all.

My husband and I have previously discussed and decided on a “deadline” where if we are not pregnant by a certain time, we would begin the adoption process. It’s so scary to consider. Every angle is intimidating, so intimidating that you aren’t sure if you’re ready to jump in just yet. Am I ready for this? Why do I have to do this now? Why can’t I just have a baby on my own? Why can’t I do what a woman is supposed to be able to do?

I know that God put these desires in my heart to raise and love a child, and he put those there for a reason. I know that he has called me to mother children, but I do not know why he is allowing me to wait.

So this is where I am. Do I try more infertility treatments? Do I choose an adoption agency? Do I wait? Is any one of these options more correct than the others? Or are none of them wrong?

I recently attended the women’s Bible study at Crosspoint that used the book “Restless” by Jennie Allen. In a moment that I wasn’t expecting, Jennie wrote this:
“So rather than be paralyzed with fear that you may move when you should have stayed or you may stay when you should have moved, pray and commit your ways to the Lord. And then go do something…don’t be afraid. God’s will is moving, and if we will just jump, his will is going to catch us. Let him be God; move on with what you know and quit overanalyzing what you don’t” (p 122-123).

I believe that this excerpt applies to many of the varying points in our lives where we are standing at a fork in the road and cannot choose which path to take. Maybe, just maybe, we are at a moment where no matter if you go to the left, to the right, or straight ahead, all of the roads will intersect again. Maybe God isn’t wanting you, or me, to make the right or best decision. Maybe he just wants us to make a decision, and be able to trust that He is our shepherd, the Light unto our path, and he will not forget us as we walk through it together with Him.

Maybe it’s time to stop staring at the different paths, and it’s time to just start with one little step, and then another, and then another. God will catch us and lead us, love us and guide us, because we are his children and we place our faith in him. May I one day teach my children, no matter how they become mine, to do the same.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kay Bateman

Thoughts on Psalm 103

As I have grown older, and started forgetting things I began developing a mild fear of getting Alzheimers.  Actually, it was more of a severe, all consuming fear.  So turning to the all-knowing internet, I learned that doing memory exercises could help or slow development of dementia, according to recent studies.  The exercises that were recommended were: crossword puzzles, and picture puzzles.  Unfortunately for my brain cells, I have an intense dislike of crossword puzzles. They are a cruel, taunting kind of game, giving me the word that’s perfect for the space until I later try to do the across word and it JUST WON’T FIT.  As far as picture puzzles, I like to WATCH my daughter put them together, but I just don’t like DOING them myself.  I don’t think watching someone else do a puzzle counts as far as my brain cells are concerned.

So one day, after forgetting something completely ridiculous , I realized that I had to try something.  As I mulled over my limited possibilities, God in his gentle mercy, reminded me of memorizing scripture.  This was kind of exciting to me, because I thought I could “ kill two birds with one stone”---improve my memory, and grow spiritually.  After rejecting the old standby of vacation bible school days (“ Jesus wept”, remember that one?), I stumbled upon Psalm 103.  As I read it through, it was such a blessing, encouragement, and lesson on God’s love and compassion, I knew this was the psalm for me. 

Baby steps.  The first four lines imprinted easily on my mind.  I thought with a burst of confidence that I should probably pick out the next psalm, since I would be needing it soon. But my grand beginning fizzled quickly, and I found myself again and again having to start over.  Oh, what wisdom God has for a child like me.  Over and over, I would start:

“Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits---
Who forgives all your sins,
And heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit…”

As I would stumble to a halt again, and restart again, I began to truly meditate on those words of praise and love and forgiveness. Each time I said them, their meaning seemed more intense, helping me to start my day and my prayers now with praise and to spend some time just being thankful.

“and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.”

Even on those days when I don’t feel compassionate towards humanity or loving toward my neighbor, God reminds me that I have been crowned with HIS love and compassion. He has made me able to love with HIS love and live out HIS compassion.

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel;”

Really, Lord, in this world of injustice and wrong?  As if He hears my question, He reminds me of how He led Moses and the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt,  through the parting of  Red sea, and brought them to the promised land.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

What a loving reminder of His forgiveness, repeated to me several times until I really start to believe it must be so.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” 
God knows how very hard it is at times for me to truly accept his complete and unending forgiveness and love.  So He paints me a picture as one would for a child.  As high as the heavens are, and as far as the east from the west--- it doesn’t get any higher or farther away than that.

 His message of love continues-----

“ As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and it’s place remembers it no more.” 
At first when I studied this, it was kind of depressing.  I guess we all long to think that we are always remembered.  As I contemplate not being on the earth a whole lot longer, I think,” but my kids will always remember me.  And my grandkids will always remember me.”  And that is true. But the generations after that will never know me, so that’s where memories of me in my earthly being will pretty much stop. 

But wait, for the next words---
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children--- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”

From EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING---it doesn’t get any more eternal than that.

“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”
Whether we always acknowledge it or recognize it, HE IS IN CHARGE.

How fitting that this beautiful psalm should end with words of praise.

“Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.  Praise the Lord, O my soul.”

I hope this psalm will be a word of life to you, as it has been and continues to be for me.

Thanks for letting me share,

Monday, June 23, 2014

Christan Smith

"Just tell my story."

I was asked awhile back to start thinking about what I would put on the women's blog so I thought I would have plenty of time to produce a well versed, mind blowing, uplifting and downright awesome piece of literature.

"Just tell my story."

I want to tell my testimony about how I was an only child who grew up with great parents who taught me great morals. About how even though they divorced when I was very young, they both kept me as their number one priority and loved me even greater than their differences.

"Just tell my story."

I want to tell you of my journey through having a child young, being a single parent, going through college (the 7 year plan), starting my career, marrying the love of my life and having our child.

"Just tell my story."

That's what God was telling me. And by "my" story he meant His story.
Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
That's what I am right now. Poor in Spirit. When I first gave my life to Christ, I was on top of the world. Nothing was going to bring me down. I finally found something to live for that isn't going to leave me or give up on me. It was a new found peace from my old life and finding myself renewed in Christ.

And guess who found out? That's right. The enemy. Don't you hate that? When you are in such a good mood and somebody comes along and just brings you down. What's up with that?

My husband and I had our first child together in August of last year. I have an (almost) 8 year old from a previous marriage. As most of you know having a child is an amazing experience. You finally get a glimpse of how much God loves you because all of the sudden you find yourself completely in love with someone you just met. And with new life in your arms, a new life swarms around you and you find yourself in a world completely different than before. Sleepless nights. Sleepless days. Emotional melt downs. Worries that you never thought you would worry about.

How often should my child be eating? For how long? Are my nipples supposed to hurt this much? What happens if I drink this cup of coffee? What temperature constitutes a fever? Why can't I be a stay at home Mom? Why do I have to work? Why is day care so expensive? Why can't my husband put the baby to sleep as fast as I can? Should I make my own baby food? Why don't I print out all those thousands of pictures I have on my phone? Am I loving my older child as much as I do this one? So many things running through my head at 100 miles an hour, I can't keep up. And at the bottom of my list of things to worry about...My husband.

Through this wonderfully, fast paced transition of family of 3 to family of 4, I put my husband in the back seat. He was experiencing new temptations from old habits and I had no idea. While it makes sense that my focus was on our baby, I lost sight of everyone else. And there goes another worry. Bring the perfect Mom, wife and daughter of a King all at the same time.

However, through this time I have found that the only constant is God. He loves me and I have to remember that. He loves me when I’m happy. He loves me when I praise Him. He loves me when I’m crying my eyes out because I can’t understand why circumstances arise. He loves me despite my doubts and fears. He loves me when I am on my knees begging for things to be different. And He loves you. That’s what His story is all about. Love.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Julie Walker

Hello. My name is Julie Walker. I’ve been coming to Crosspoint for over a year now after being invited by my son and daughter-in-law. After being at another church for over 20 years, it was a hard decision to make, but I believe it was the right one. I would like to share my testimony with you.

I was raised going to church up until my pre-teen years when my family gradually just dropped out of going. I think that it partly had to do with work schedules, and then it just got easier not to go. During my high school years I became a bit rebellious and sought peer acceptance above all other relationships. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I was not really abnormal in my overwhelming focus on acceptance and peers. It is a pretty normal adolescent condition. Be that as it may, I made some wrong choices. But as you will see, God turned them into the greatest joy imaginable.

I was married at a young age and was quickly blessed with two sons. Unfortunately the marriage lasted only about 8 years and being a single mom was difficult, but I had great family support. However, it was during the 2nd half of married life, during the time that I was raising my sons, that the testimony of how God has lead and brought me through so many changes becomes really relevant to others, I think.
When the boys were elementary age, I began homeschooling them. As I look back, I don’t believe it was the wrong decision for our situation, but there are many decisions and attitudes that I should have modified. Now that I understand things a little better, I think that I was still seeking that peer acceptance during these years. Except now the “peers” were followers of a system that was pretty legalistic and inflexible. Therefore, I became extremely legalistic and tried to force my children into a mold that didn’t fit either them or me! But I was convinced that this was the right way, and couldn’t even give place to the reason of my own heart. This made life pretty hard for all of us, I think, but especially for the boys.

Well, through many trials and difficulties, mostly of my own making, God brought us through. Once the kids were grown, they found their own ways to modify their walk with God into something that was more reasonable, and a fit for them. I don’t mean that they set the terms on their relationship with God, only that they were able to shed the legalism and harshness and come around to a personal (and not an enforced) relationship with the Lord. It took me a little longer. But eventually, my desire to continue a positive relationship with them softened me up a bit. Gradually, the Lord showed me that even though there were commandments that were absolute and not to be broken without consequences, other demands that I had been making on myself and my children were mere preferences and should not interfere with relationships. And you know what? Once I understood that, I found that I actually enjoyed relaxing a bit and that my relationship with God was greatly enhanced by the new sense of f
freedom that He always intended for us.

I have purposely left out the specifics of the legalistic ways that have been shed. That is because what is a point of conscience with some is a point of preference with others. Only God can lead in those areas. On the other hand, he gives us clear direction on how a Christian is to live. To thwart his direct commands is wrong and invites trouble (I have enough trouble without inviting more). I’m still learning the balance, but I am full of confidence that God will lead me into all truth in spite of myself. And that gives me unending hope!

God bless all of you ladies at CPC!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amy Wallis

A year ago, my husband of 19 years, Keith, and I moved to Pearland. We have no children of our own but blessed by 4 beautiful godchildren.Sean 23(married to Maegan), his sister Rebekah 17,. Brenna 7, and little brother Zeke 3. They come from 2 different families who are our close friends.

Before coming here we lived in the Bryan/College Station area for over 15 years. Pretty much lived in that area all my life. Never thought I would leave. Thankfully, God had another plan. I've been a hairstylist for 25 years. God has blessed me greatly! Since moving, I've been able to retire from doing hair on a daily basis. In doing this, it gives me the opportunity to volunteer and serve.

A Jesus follower since the age of 8, most of my dark days came after becoming a believer. At the age of 25, I started having panic attacks and depression. Depression came earlier in my life from being molested by a neighbor and living with a terminally ill parent. Roller coaster life events... I've had a few. Through them all, Christ was near as my next breath. He carried me all the way. Now he's asking me to step out on faith to serve in ways and in areas I've never known. I know I shouldn't be afraid but, at times, I am. Oceans by Hillsong United is one of my favorite songs that reminds me to stay focused on Christ. No matter what my circumstances are, he is there leading me.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine.

Even as an adult, I tried to equate my Father in heaven's love with what was love from my earthly father. Yep, now it's clear which is perfect. My earthly father loved as much as he could through lots of his own pain, which wasn't very loving. So, that's what I expected God's love to be like. Wrong on so many levels. I finally surrendered to stop labeling God. He opened the door of my heart to show me his love. He healed my brokenness.

“And now, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to start all over again. I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her. I’ll give her bouquets of roses. I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She’ll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt." (Hosea 2:14, 15 MSG)

This passage showed me how much God loved Israel and loved me.

Crosspoint Church was like coming home. I only visited one other church but,  CPC was clearly where God led me. I started coming by myself last May or June. My husband and I grew up in church and both had bad experiences. So, when I asked Keith to come, the answer was no. We did join a Life Group. He loved it, but still no going to church with me. Then Tom was starting the I Want A New Marriage series. I asked again. This time he said yes. Did I mention that several folks were praying for him? Yeah, prayer works!  Now, Keith comes regularly. Tall bald guy, holding a door greeting, driving a cart or just being that guy who helps. Love that man! God has transformed our marriage. We pray together! That didn't happen before! Over meals, before bed, for each other and for many folks. We date again! Yes, no phones, just the two of us. Gave our finances over to God's direction. Working on getting out of debt and being good stewards of The Lord's money. Thank you God, Dave Ramsey, and Financial Peace University! This is an exciting season in our lives!

So here's the stepping out on faith part... I joined Love146 Taskforce to help stop child sex trafficking and exploitation. WOW!!! God's growing a love in my heart for these girls and boys! Freedom for them is attainable! Abolition can and will happen! I've been asked to liaise between Love146 and the women's ministry here at Crosspoint Church. When mission opportunities come  through Love146 that may be a good fit for women, I'll make sure they are presented to Susan Allen our Director of CPWM and Becki McAuley our Leader of Women on Mission.

What legacy do I want to leave? Just this... Love God, Love People, Do it!!

 Ladies of CPC, may what we do for women point them to Christ. May he receive all glory, honor and praise, for he alone is worthy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kristal Maris

Howdy! My name is Kristal Maris. I am married to Steve Maris. I have a 14 year old step-daughter, Stephanie, and an almost 1 year old son, Joshua. I’m originally from Brenham, Texas. Yes, the cows really do think Brenham is Heaven, and in case you are wondering, us Brenhamites really do “eat all we can and we sell the rest… Blue Bell IS the best Ice Cream in the country.” Now that we all have a nice little jingle in our head, I will continue.

I moved to Houston to go to college and have remained here since 1997. I have worked for more than 13 years in the medical field as a surgical technologist. But as of last year, I landed my dream job as a stay at home mom.

Back towards the end of 2008, I was looking for a church, and a co-worker mentioned her “Awesome” church and even more “Awesome” Pastor, and so I gave Crosspoint [Fellowship] (at the time) a try. It only took ONE service for me to know this was my new home. But boy oh boy did the road to get me home have some ups and downs, some bends, and seriously BAD detours.

This is where I have stalled on this blog for months. I have been so unsure where exactly to go from here. What part of my road has God shown up and made the most profound impact worth writing an entire Blog about? What part of my road do I feel lead to share with all of you that may have some sort of significant impact, even if for just one person? What part of me do I want exposed? Is this writer’s block? Surely no…how can I have writers block when it comes to writing about the one thing I know the most about, myself? And as I write this sentence I realize the problem…talking about myself is not something I am comfortable with.

Just like anyone, I have a lot of life I am not proud of. I have had many, many years where I was living by my own rules and agenda and not God’s. I have been dealt a hefty hand of hardship. A lot of which was not of my own making, and was just sort of the life I was born in to, but I will claim it. There was plenty that was of my own making. Simply put, I am such a sinner. Try as I might to avoid it, it is still there, to this very day. It makes me angry, sad, disappointed, and quite frankly I would really like to kick Eve’s butt when I get to Heaven. Genesis 3:1-19

I’ve been through a broken home, death of both parents before 30s, poverty (true undeniable–by-definition poverty). I was one poor chick growing up…like no car and not even a telephone kind of poor. I’ve been rejected by the church. I was judged harshly by the church, which somehow turns a person off of church completely. (Imagine that.) I’ve been divorced. I struggled for 10 years to get pregnant. I’m a step-parent…which could be an entire book all by itself. I have fought, won, lost again, won again and am currently losing again with the battle of obesity. That battle has turned a severe back injury in 2003 into chronic back pain and limitations. I have had a disease in my intestines since I was in junior high that caused me to be homebound for 75% of High School…talk about a long story. That one is a dozy. I have had a history of “sex, drugs, and rock n’roll”. I literally went through about an 8 month period of life that I felt like I was having an out of body experience, because I didn’t even recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. I have been verbally, emotionally, and spiritually abused.

So what happened? How did I get where I am today? Well…looking back, the pivotal moment in my life was when I met Steve. Steve Maris rescued me from myself. God reached down from heaven, and through the physical body of Steve, He yanked me out of the pits of my own mess, shook me a little and placed my soul back into my body again. The irony of it is I was to be a physical hand of God for Steve as well. Until we met, Steve and God hadn’t been introduced. Steve wasn’t saved, and while I was saved by Grace I was not living according to His will and in no way nurturing any sort of relationship with God. God put two very messy people together.

God is genius. He has proven to me over and over and over again how that His plan is better than mine. My all time favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11For I know the plans I have for you,” says the lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. It goes on to say in verse 12, In those days when you pray, I will listen. During all my low points and high points, one thing that has remained is I have always prayed. Of course I have had my fair share of selfish prayers and well. Those get answered accordingly. But I have always felt that one of my spiritual gifts is the ability to pray. I feel like I have literally nailed Christ back up on that cross so many times, testing him and seeing if he was ever going to fail me. I have felt so undeserving of His mercy and yet every single time He doesn’t just come through, he blesses me. ME? Of all people? If you keep reading on it says in verse 13-19 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14I will be found by you,” says the lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” So there you have it. That is how I got home. God promised to never let me go and he didn’t. No matter how many times I strayed, he kept me in his embrace and brings me back to the exact place he wants me to be.

Since we started off with a jingle I will end with a song of reference. (I love music by the way…such a wonderful means of expression) One of the first songs we sang in church, the first Sunday service after the loss of my best friend/mom was ‘How He Loves Us’. There is this line in that song that rips me every time I hear it. Tears stream down my face (which is sort of bad because KSBJ plays this song often and I hear it while I’m driving). But the line, “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about, the way, He loves Us…” Man, oh man is that true.

So to answer the question I graveled with for so long trying to write this: What part of my road has God shown up and made the most profound impact? Well…it is all of it. The answer is D, all of the above. My entire life is an example of God showing up and making profound impact. It has just taken me a while to learn to accept it. For a long time, even with a wonderful husband, I still prayed for Joy. I can honestly say, I have Joy in my life because of the Grace of a Loving and Forgiving God. Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stephany Allen

When I was asked to write on here, I thought of a lot of things I could write about, but I figured I would write about the thing that is most recent in my life.

Since I was very young, I have struggled with anxiety. It has come and gone in different phases. At some points in my life, it sits on the back burner, there every now but not overwhelming, not something that consumes me. Then, sometimes it’s so obvious in my life that I am ridden with anxiety, it affects all aspects of my life, my relationships, my sleep, everything.

About 4 years ago, something significant occurred and to say that anxiety was overwhelming me would be an understatement. After a lot of thought and prayer I decided to get on anxiety medication. It helped a lot. I had taken it pretty consistently, trying every now and then to wean off of it. I would get off for a couple of weeks and end up back on it, realizing it was necessary for me.

Well last year when my husband and I decided we wanted to have a baby, I knew that taking the anxiety medicine wouldn’t be an option for me. So, I got off of the medication and took the plunge. I have always known that my anxiety was a battle of spiritual warfare. So, I decided I would just pray through it, cling to the Lord and hope for the best. Things were great for a while. My anxiety was on the back burner and I was handling everything well. About three months ago, it slowly became stronger. I could easily say that it felt very much out of my control.

The crazy thing about anxiety is that it can be present even during the best circumstances of life. I have
literally never been happier in all of my life. I am living the dream that I have always prayed and hoped
for. My husband, Samuel, has the job he had been wanting, I get to stay at home to take care of him, our home and just be a wife. And to top it off, we are welcoming our first baby so soon! Anyone that knows me knows that since I was very young, the thing I’ve wanted more than anything is to be a mom. So to say that life is good would also be an understatement, I really have nothing to complain about. And yet, somehow among all of this, anxiety had its grip on me.

Now let me say this. It is really hard to explain what anxiety is like to someone who has never
experienced it. Depression and anxiety are very different, though they are often coupled together
because a lot of people suffer from both, not just one or the other. I however, haven’t ever really
struggled with depression. I say this to say that, it is possible to be very happy, not the least bit sad, and
still be very anxious.

Anxiety can stem from a lot of different things. Some people get social anxiety, some people get anxious about certain situations, and some people have anxiety that stem from fears of the unknown.
For me personally, my anxiety has always been fear of something horrible happening to me or to
someone I care deeply for. When I was a child it was my mom, now that I am married it is my husband
and even my unborn child. Fear that something or someone will take them away from me and I will
be cut short of my time with them. My husband has tried many times to understand, he is always very
sweet and sensitive to the situation. But, he always tells me that I just need to “not think like that”.
I’ve told him several times, it’s not a rational fear it’s irrational. But as irrational as it is, it very real, for
me. I wish so much that I could just NOT think thoughts like this. I wish I had the power to squash every thought and every fear that comes to mind. But I don’t.

About a month ago, my doctor wanted to put me back on medication for anxiety. Samuel had
mentioned that he had never seen my anxiety “this bad” and was very concerned for me and for our
child. I prayed and prayed for a few days asking the Lord to show me what to do. I knew that medication wasn’t the answer, I felt like taking medicine that could harm my baby was selfish and definitely not the answer. At the same time, I knew I couldn’t keep going on living so anxious, being paralyzed by fear of the unknown. One morning my sister in law, Gretchen, said she had been praying for me, and that when she did God kept revealing the word “fast” to her. She encouraged me to fast. Realizing quickly that fasting food wasn’t an option for me, being pregnant, I asked the Lord what he wanted me to fast. I immediately told God, I’m not going to fast food and I’m not going to fast TV. TV is what gets me through the day when Samuel’s not here, the noise helps stifle the fear in my mind and noise that comes with the quietness of an empty house.Well, God said, "you’re wrong. I do want you to fast from TV. I want you to turn it off, and trust me. Every time you get scared that something bad is about to happen, every time the enemy plants an evil thought in your mind, I want you to read the Word and pray."

At this point in life, I wasn’t praying much about my anxiety, because it almost felt like a lost cause, I had kind of just let it take over. But, I obeyed. Well, about 45 seconds after I turned off the television, I was scared. So, I opened the bible to Psalm 91. A passage I had read many many times before. When I got to this part I got very emotional:

V11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the
cobra; you will trample the great lion and serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue
him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him. V16
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

As I was reading this, a peace came over me that I had not felt in a very long time. My muscles loosened, my heart settled, my mind felt at peace and I felt safe. It was such a reminder to me that even when I struggle with something as constant as anxiety the Lord is ALWAYS there to rescue me, help me and lift me up. I love the part that says “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways”.

I wish that I could say I am completely free from all anxiety and it has no place in my life what so ever.
Well I can’t do that, but I can say this. That moment was a turning point for me. I am moving forward
knowing that the Lord is with me and he will protect me and the people that I love. The Lord’s plans are not to harm me, but to give me a future and a hope. And even though I personally do not have the power to squash every thought and every fear that comes to mind, God does. I need
Him. I think he has let me walk through this little valley, to realize how much I need him. There are
always going to be moments of the unknown in my life where I have to trust the Lord. Moments when I don’t have the answers and I can’t see the future, so I literally have no other choice than to trust Him.
My cling to verse is:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kristen McGinn

Psalm 103:1-5

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you
with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires
with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

God used my pain for His glory. He healed my disease and redeemed my life from the pit I had created. He took off the old life of sin and destruction and gave me a new life. A life so much better than I could have ever known on my own. My house burned down on November 29, the day after Thanksgiving. It was shocking, and sad, and traumatic to watch your home burn to the ground. Standing out on your neighbors driveway as your life changes in a matter of minutes. My first thought was "how will we do this?" As in “how will we ever navigate through the mess and the disaster that had become ashes.” But then I had an overwhelming peace and comfort. I knew that it was going to be alright. It was going to be beautiful in the end. Beauty from Ashes.

Two weeks before our house burned I prayed for Boldness. Pastor Tom did a sermon called My Church Prays Big Prayers. During that sermon something was stirring in me. Every word that was said was spoken directly to me. At the end we prayed together as a church. The prayer was this. "God allow me, your servant to speak your word boldly. Do something in my life that's so obvious it's from you that others would notice and Jesus would get all the glory."
I prayed this simple prayer. In church on an ordinary Sunday. And then God answered me. 

Here is the thing about me. I was living my life just like everyone else. I was baptized at age 17. I thought I was living the life that a Christian was supposed to live. I had my moments of being close with God, but for the most part I was consumed with ME. Everything was about living the way my flesh wanted to live. I had accepted Christ as my savior but did not want to lay down my life for Him. I was consumed with anger, bitterness and rage. I struggled with relationships and being closed off and insecure. I did not want to be close to people. I felt like the minute they realized who I was they would not like me. Why put yourself out there when rejection was going to be the end result?

Don't get me wrong. I could fake it better than anyone. I put a smile on my face and pretended I was alright. But I was far from alright. I was dead. I craved something more than that, but I was so comfortable in my mess that I really didn't know it could be better. I build up my fortress and did not want to come out. And all along the God of faithfulness was pursuing me. He was calling to me even when I did not want to hear.

After I prayed that prayer something drastic happened to me. It was like the Holy Spirit gutted me. Jesus was alive in me. I started reading the book of Acts. It became alive in a way that I have never experienced. I started obeying immediately when I felt the Holy Spirit convict me. I was reading the Bible and praying constantly. I started to share my belief in Jesus. My entire existence was seen from a new perspective. All I wanted to do was let people know that they could have this freedom. Free from all the bondage that was my life. I lived my life for 33 years thinking that I knew God. But I had no idea the relationship He desires.

God spoke to me one night a week after my prayer and put on my heart to tell my husband some things that I had been lying about. I did not want to tell him because I thought it would be the end of my marriage. I thought he would leave me and I asked God why now when everything was finally going so well in my marriage. God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

I confessed to my husband and he forgave me. With open arms and open heart he forgave. As soon as I obeyed, God gave me a vision of helping the least of these. A very clear vision. A vision to have housing on our property for those that are lost and need hope. To be the hands and feet of Christ. We live on 1.5 acres of land. We have room to provide this for those that have nothing.

Then one week later our house burned down. Through this experience I have seen God take something we think is a disaster and turn it into beauty. If our house would not have burned down we would have never experienced having nothing. If our house had not burned down we would not have received the outpouring of love from the community, friends, church and family. If our house would not have burned down we would not have seen the hands and feet of Christ. EVERY SINGLE NEED WAS MET!

Even when you think you are in the absolute worst circumstance of your life, God takes that and uses it to His Glory. You just have to say Yes. We are in constant prayer over the next step of our lives. I strive only to do God's will and not a single ounce of my will. I pray that His desires would be my desires. I pray that I never lose sight of what God has called me to do. To help the lost get found.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rene Cross

Well 2013 has come and gone and has brought 2014 upon us. This last year has probably been one of the most challenging ones for me..and as we all know, challenges can break us and at the same time make us.

My prayer for a long time (and still) was "God just do something in my life, use me". I didn't know what I wanted to do, all I knew was I wanted to love God and love his people. I told him "I don't care how that looks, just open a door no man could have opened without you".

One of the biggest situations I found myself in was in June. I was working at a local consignment store for 6 months when my current boss approached me about a huge, life-changing opportunity...she asked me if I would take over the store. I was shocked, surprised, honored, and excited that she would even consider me. I quickly shrugged it off as a "cool" thought. But the more I thought about it and talked about it, the more I considered, "what does it hurt to look into it?".  I sat down with my boss, we talked many, many times. We prayed and with much consideration, I decided to take the offer (also knowing I was leaving for Haiti just one month after I would have taken over the store).

The first month was a mess with processing my LLC, DBA, business accounts, setting up taxes (ugh!) and every little thing you don't see up front or as a customer. While I was undergoing all of Restyle's newness and responsibility for keeping it running, I was also responsible for organizing our first mission trip to Haiti.
I have a heart for missions and people. I looove to go out and meet people and their culture. I went into YWAM right after high school and was able to go to South Korea and fell... in... love. with not just Christ but his heart for his people and learning how to find Him in other places, not just when I'm comfortable or when it's convenient for me. When the opportunity for Haiti came, I was sold. At the time I had no idea what my life would look like when we went.

I found myself an owner of a small business at age 21 and scheduled to  leave the country in a month. I was a mess and times came, where it was easier to say no to Haiti. But I said yes to the call to go long before being a business owner was in the works and I'm pretty sure God knew what my life would look like. So I freaked out many times (thankful for a very understanding and patient family, friends and boyfriend) and God orchestrated all the pieces to fall in place, while supplying me supernatural peace for my frayed mind, of everything that had to get done.

We went to Haiti, sweated, cried, got bit by alien-like mosquitos, saw the most beautiful sunsets and rises, held babies, played with children, painted houses, met and heard unbelievable people, ate a million PB&J sandwiches and grew so much closer as a body of Christ to our Lord and rekindled my love and passion to "go into the nations".

When we came back, (the store didn't fall part, YAY, thanks mom! ;)) I found myself confused and honestly, discouraged. I started thinking of how different my life looks from what I thought it would and feeling like I wasn't really doing anything that mattered for God's kingdom. I knew the church answer and I knew what I would have told my friends if they said that to me; my heart wasn't there though.

I was convicted immediately. I've been praying for God to move in my life and to use me and he opened a crazy big door that doesn't "just happen" and here I was complaining on how I thought it would look. It was a hard pill for me to swallow. But his grace and mercy is sweet.

Intentional living”was our phrase and heart for Haiti and to remember when we arrived back home. When I came home, I was reawakened. The life Christ has given me is far greater than I could even imagine and how much more he truly knows my heart better than I do. Where else could I be surrounded by fashion and SHOESSSS, and love people? I had no idea that God would use me, of all people, and Restyle as a place where we can help women find their true beauty, love them for who they are and show them how to embrace their body image and that you don't have to be a size double 0 to feel beautiful. Beauty is already in us. We are created in Christ's image and HE is beautiful; so, therefore, we were created with beauty. It is the very backbone of who we are and it looks different for every individual.

We are called to recklessly abandon all we know and follow Him. Not follow Him when it's what we want or think we want. Reckless means without caution, no matter what. He abandoned His throne for the sake of me for pain and death, He's asked us to abandon our lives for an abundant life. Who am I to question Him? To abandon ourselves to Him we have to be completely surrendered, including the way we want our life to look and to trust in Him knowing His way is the best for you (not always the easiest but always the best).

To intentionally live with complete and reckless abandonment and be moved by the love of Christ is what we were called to do. God gave me the mission field I was always meant to have, it may not be what I thought, and it doesn't look like yours...but it matters just as much and I wouldn't want it any other way.

He has you where He wants you and has equipped you for such a time as this.

- Rene Cross