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 Savior...it 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