God Heals a Blind Woman!

I alluded to this story in my initial post about my Honduran experience titled Healing in Honduras. My most treasured experience from Honduras was during the visit to Catarina, a local hospital. Our team of fifteen split into three groups to visit different areas within the building. I was placed on the team heading to the maternity ward. Allow me paint the scene for you:

It’s a balmy 95 degrees and there isn’t any air conditioning. The hallways buzz with shuffling nurses, doctors, patients, and visitors. If the patients want cool air, they must bring a fan, otherwise they just sit and sweat. I’ve never been pregnant, but I imagine that heat exacerbates the discomfort of being nine months expectant. Each hospital room had four beds, but there weren’t any kind of dividers between the beds.

The plan was for the four of us teammates to take turns praying for the women as Jake translated for us. We had gotten into a rhythm of asking about the woman and her pregnancy, how her baby was doing, and what we could pray about for them. We had been through two rooms when we got to the room with the blind woman.

She was groaning in agony; she immediately caught my attention. She was not like the other women in the room. She was trembling. She was thin. She was frail. She stared at the ceiling but saw nothing. I whispered to my teammate that I thought she might be blind. I’m apologetic to admit that I wasn’t echoing the prayer of my teammate as they prayed for the first woman we visited in that room, but I was completely captivated by the blind woman. My heart and mind was churning. Something in my soul was pulling me toward her. When it was time to pray for her, it was not my turn in the rotation to pray, but our leader, Maggie, asked if I would. Thank you, God! She was a sweaty, sticky mess despite her feeling cool to the touch. She was saying a phrase over and over, and Jake translated to me that she was asking to see her baby.

“That’s odd,” I thought, “she literally cannot see her baby. She’s blind.” But I knew what she meant. It turns out that her baby had been born three weeks prior to our visit. The grandmother to the baby and mother of this sickly new mom sat at the foot of the bed. We asked her to elaborate on the situation. She informed us that her daughter delivered a healthy baby, but the process made her incredibly sick. Complications led to infections, and the doctors had no hope for her recovery. This woman was waiting for her daughter, this new mom, to die.

I found my fingers running through her matted hair; my hands ran down the length of her arms and back again. All I wanted was to take her pain away. I began to pray for her, but her wails for her baby continued. Our time with this patient ended and my team moved to the next bed, but my feet were planted in place. I was bound to her for the time being. My team was ready to move on to the next room, but Maggie recognized I needed to stay, so they moved on without me.

I got so lost in comforting this poor young woman that it felt like we were the only two people in the room. My eyes searched her body: open sores on her lips, bruises from IVs, arms and legs that had dwindled to mere flesh and bone. I could not bare her failing physical appearance any longer, so I closed my eyes and prayed. When I ran out of things to pray, I began to sing:

You are good / You are good / When there’s nothing good in me

You are love / You are love / On display for all to see

You are light / You are light / When the darkness closes in

You are hope / You are hope / You have covered all my sin

You are peace / You are peace / When my fear is crippling

You are true / You are true / Even in my wandering

You are joy / You are joy / You’re the reason that I sing

You are life / You are life/ In You death has lost its sting

I’m running to Your arms / I’m running to Your arms

The riches of Your love / Will always be enough

Nothing compares to Your embrace / Light of the world forever reign

 

I barely got through line “on display for all to see” before I choked back tears. Despite my valiant effort, I wept over this poor woman as I continued to brokenly sing this song. I sang it a few times through before I realized I had actually drenched this girl in my tears. It was freeing to be so wrapped in worship, but I did know how long I had been there, so thought it would be best to rejoin my team. I turned away from this dear young woman, but met her mother at the end of the bed. She stood up to hug me. We could not verbally communicate, but we wrapped up each other in a tender embrace. We held one another, and we both began to cry. We held onto that moment for a few minutes. I felt the release of her tension as she let out a sigh. I do not think I have ever experienced such a pure moment in all my life. It felt like she somehow endowed me with her mother’s heart. I felt her pain. I felt her heaviness of losing her daughter. I felt her receive peace. She pushed me away far enough to look into my eyes, and she told me she loved me. That was when I was healed of my blindness.

 

I am the woman that was healed from her blindness. I did not previously truly see how Jesus is peace when we have crippling fear. I had not seen how Jesus was the light when there is nothing but darkness shrouding a situation. I had not seen before how the sting of death could be lessened, but I saw it in that mother by her carrying Jesus’s peace deep within her soul despite her daughter’s pending death. Jesus is life. I see that clearly now.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Ingram, Jason and Reuben Morgan. (2009). Forever Reign [Recorded by Hillsong Music Publishing]. On A Beautiful Exchange. USA: Shout! Publishing.

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Healing in Honduras

Before I get into the exciting Honduras details, you’ve got to patiently wade through the muddled details of the story leading up to the healing. We’ve all had those experiences that cut so deeply that we avoid any conversation or thoughts about it. For me that experience was the World Race in January/February 2015. I identify that experience as my greatest failure and hurt. Now don’t misunderstand me- I said it was my failure, but God didn’t fail in that experience. He was with me every step of the way into getting on that plane to India as well as on that flight back to the States nine and a half months earlier than anticipated. He’s faithfully used my mistake to cultivate humility in my heart that otherwise I would have been lacking. Something that he taught me from this wounding experience is to ask myself this: Will it be easier to stay or easier to go?

When I came home in February 2015, it was painful. I remember asking myself before I left, would it be easier to stay and finish the next 9 months or return home to face how I’ve been running away from what to do with my life? I struggled with talking to the people who had sacrificially donated to my trip only for me to squander their money by quitting the mission trip. I abused sleep-inducing cold medicine for my first week home because I’d rather sleep than face my reality. It would be easier to sleep than to face my problems. My reality was that I had been a poor steward of money for a mission trip, and I had never let down so many people at once. Nobody was personally upset with me but more with the situation. I also was terrified because I had some ideas about what I wanted to do when I returned home and was terrified when I actually sat down to further investigate that path and felt God telling me “no”. I thought I had clearly heard God calling me into something, but I was wrong. It would be easier to start a new career path than to turn back and humbly accept that I had made a mistake in quitting the teaching program. I was left to sit in my mess of confusion. I remember the heavy snow that same down during that February. I remember singing about how Jesus washes us whiter than snow. In that moment I remember that nothing is untouchable or unchangeable by Jesus’s blood… not even the mess of a life I had created for myself. You see, the reason I had signed up for the World Race was because I was running away from some things. I was scared and a year of traveling around the world seemed like a great way to simultaneously escape my fear as well as serve God, so I signed up. My life was in such disarray because I had spent the entirety of 2014 earning my Master’s degree… It would be easier to spend a year serving than figuring out what to do with my degree. I worked on my Master’s degree because I was running away from what God had first called me to: teaching.

It was August 2013. I sat in a Newport News elementary school classroom for a day of professional development. My heart raced, I grew flushed, and I fled the scene. I got in my car, drove a teary-eyed hour to my parent’s house, and declared I didn’t want to teach anymore. I reckon that is what is referred to as a panic attack. Unfortunately, I ran away from teaching and never looked back. If I had, I may have been able to recognize that it was simply the age group that freaked me out, not the profession of teaching. I eventually figured that out, but I took the long way around… as in India. It took me seventeen months and being halfway around the world to realize something God has already laid on my heart: teaching was what God had for me. That was my vocational calling. My dad gently reminded me of my love for teaching and encouraged me to apply for the open position at the high school in my town. Long story short, I got the job and fell madly in love with teaching again. However, while my heart was softening to teaching, my heart was hardened to mission work.

In my mind, I wasn’t cut out for missions, especially internationally. I spent the last half of 2015 and the entirety of 2016, as well as the present, pouring into ministries and discipling people in my community, but my heart remained hardened to the call to go past the borders of the good ole U. S. of A. Not being designed to serve in international missions was a lie I chose to believe because I didn’t ever want to ask anyone to financially support me ever again. I chose to believe the lie because I didn’t ever want to leave for another mission trip and quit. The way I see it, you can’t quit if you don’t try, so I fell into contentment of being within my comfort zone. Every time I heard the announcements for the Honduras trips at church I felt that tinge… you know, the warm feeling within urging us to “go”. I was so wrapped up in believing the lie that I ignored it for two years. One Saturday I was serving at the Coastal Food Pantry and a dear friend made it known that there was an open spot on the 2017 Spring Break trip to Honduras. My heart sank. I told him I’d think about it. You see, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. If I was going to be an international missionary, I was going to make sure that I was running toward something and not away from something.

Around that time Coastal had a sermon about restitution. It came to mind that weekend as I was praying about the decision to go to Honduras. As I listened to the leaders describe the details of the trip, I felt my heart softening. Could it be that going to Honduras might bring restoration for the pain of the World Race experience? Could God possibly want me to be a missionary for him outside of my community? As I prayed for direction, my hardened heart turned to putty. I submitted my deposit the next week. I had to face a myriad of memories and emotions from the whole process of prepping for the World Race, going to training, the highs of leaving, the lows of returning, and how it had taken every bit of the past two years to resolve the pain from that hurtful experience. Being in Honduras last week definitely assured me that I am cut out for international missions. However, I didn’t become fully healed until this past Sunday when I returned home to my church family. I had a brief yet tremendously significant conversation with the friend that had invited me to Honduras. My friend told me he was glad that I went, and he could tell that God used our time in Honduras to return me to another call in my life: international missions.

I do not know the capacity of this calling yet. I know that last week I encountered God in many beautiful new ways. I know that leaving Honduras was harder than leaving Nepal and India. The ministry I did in the latter two countries was enjoyable, but serving the community in Honduras changed my heart. Would it be easier to stay in America or jump into ministry in Honduras now? It would be easier to leave everything behind and run to Honduras now, but I know that God has made it clear that I shouldn’t take the easier road. I trust that God has softened my heart for Honduras for a reason, and I trust that he has a purpose for me there in a capacity that is yet to be determined. Pictured below is a snapshot of the ministry that captivated my heart.

 

praying Honduras hospital.jpg

 

I was deeply in my element at this hospital in the *non-air conditioned* maternity ward. I couldn’t wait to visit each woman and get in there with prayer. Pictured above was one of the women I was able to pray for concerning her pregnancy. I deeply enjoy engaging with people and God in prayer. It is a beautiful intimacy, and I cannot get enough of it. The presence of the Holy Spirit was with me! I felt led to do many things, but that’s a story for another blog! To be continued…

Oops, I Did It Again! (Major Fail)

Can I be completely honest with you? I don’t mind failing. Truly, I don’t. I appreciate learning things no matter what form or packaging the lesson comes in. Here’s the most recent lesson about God’s merciful love:

For a few years I had been convicted to try out as a harmonizing vocalist for the worship team at my church. Singing in front of people is entirely out of my comfort zone. Over the years, I had friends comment about my voice being beautiful and encouraged me to try out for the worship team. I KNOW, I KNOW- it freaks me out too, but I did it! About two weeks ago I had an audition and…

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REJECTED!

No worries ya’ll! It was just a window that God closed so that a new, better door could be opened. I am fortunate to be a member of a church that focuses on discipleship and continual growth in cultivating one’s talents to bless others. I am glad to fail at singing because it has created an opportunity for my natural gifting to be used.

The opportunity has been extended to me to co-teach a spiritual formation class at Coastal this winter. I am beyond excited to be stretched by this new challenge! Man, it feels good to be encouraged to pursue areas in which God has gifted me so that more glory is given to God.

In what areas are you convicted to travel outside of your comfort zone? I encourage you (yeah, YOU!) to at least try. What’s the worst that could happen? Being rejected isn’t the worst thing to happen because you get to refocus and find the next thing to work toward. God uniquely gifted you to be a blessing others. Are you keeping those gifts all to your self or are you obediently using them to further the Kingdom?

 

“God’s plan for us is usually where our passions, our purpose, and our abilities intersect.”

-Bob Goff

Above All Else, Guard Your Heart

By merely having a brief conversation with me, it will quickly become apparent how much I love people. I take Paul’s words in Roman 12:9-10 seriously:

 

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

Romans 12:9-10 NLT

 

Other translations say, “let love be genuine.” At times it can be difficult to genuinely love someone, especially when you feel that they have wronged you. Jesus teaches us to love them anyway. Consider for a moment all the times in your life when you were truly unlovable. Jesus genuinely loved you even then, when you were at your worst and least deserving.

 

Most of the time, loving others brings joy and happiness into life. Genuine love involves sharing meaningful moments together, helping them, serving them, and interceding on their behalf. But, as a human being, you know that life has a few bumps in the road because as humans, we are imperfect, which makes loving people very difficult.

 

 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:23-27, NIV

 

I appreciate this scripture from Proverbs because we think that love comes from the heart, which we are supposed to keep guarded, but the author also mentions our mouth, eyes, and feet should be guarded as well. We love others by what we say (or don’t say!). We love by looking to see what God sees in people, but also by choosing to keep only pure things in our sight and thoughts. We love best by walking by the example set for us by Jesus, which, by the way, is communicated to us through Scripture and convictions by the Holy Spirit.

 

Love also brings restoration. Restore is defined as bringing something back to its intended shape or condition. Being made in God’s image, we are made to love others with pure hearts. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we have any hope to be restored by God’s love and to have to the opportunity to let that love overflow to love others.

 

Sometimes loving someone leads to you being really hurt. Do not let that hinder you from giving your best in loving people. God gave you the capacity to love others, and you shouldn’t deny other people that blessing because it is actually Jesus who is showing them love through you.

 

God so generously and genuinely loves us. It is truly astounding. What can you do to love others the way Jesus loves?

Honor Thy Father and Mother

I know the commandment is to honor your father and mother, but what about honoring the children? I am fortunate to live in a community where most people know who I am, primarily through my parents. There are countless times people have come up to me to share the impact that my mother has had in their life since she was a teacher for 40 years in this community. People also tell me all the time about how my dad influenced their life when they were on his basketball youth league team or just as a member in the community.

It is truly a blessing to know that my parents are out there making a difference in the world and it sets an example for my siblings and me. I’m not a parent nor am I anywhere close to that stage of life, but it is encouraging and sets up a mindset for me to start building that kind of reputation for myself now for the children I hope to have in the future.

Definitely honor thy father and mother all the days of your life, but parents must also remember to honor their children.

I spoke with both of my parents today. On a phone call with my mom I was greeted with, “Do you need something?” She was implying that she was busy with Meals on Wheels, and did not have time to talk. As I mentioned, my mom retired from teaching after forty years, and how does she choose to spend her retirement? Serving the community. She is constantly setting an example for me. Monday I made a surprise visit to my parent’s house where I found my mom sitting at the kitchen table reading her Bible and journaling. What is better than knowing I was raised by a Jesus loving woman who has been faithful to growing in her relationship with Him her entire life? I am truly blessed.

This afternoon I received a phone call from my dad. No big deal, but he’s in Japan right now serving a community of long-term missionaries. What an adventurous way to serve God! I’ve watched him over the past few months struggle with the call to exit his comfort zone and to walk into ministry in a completely foreign capacity. It is incredibly encouraging to have a God fearing father who walks in obedience to Jesus Christ.

More is caught than taught,” is something I often hear from my wise pastor. What are your children catching from you?

Maybe you don’t have any children or your parents are no longer a part of your life. Even still, everything you do as a Christian should have Jesus’s name on it. All the days of your life you are still representing the name of Jesus wherever you go. Whether it’s in our community or across the world, my parents are honoring God. I am beyond proud to be in their family.

Regardless of your status as a parent, and whether you’re cognizant of it or not, you are influencing people around you. More of what you do and say is caught through their observations of you than by what you say. What are people catching from you?

 

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What Do You Do When God Answers Your Prayers And It Breaks Your Heart?

When it comes to God answering prayers in my life I’ve learned one thing: it’s never delivered in the same way twice. God is so good and faithful! I could give you a book full (technically 6 journals full) of ways God has intervened in my life, but today I want to focus on my prayer life that concerns the most popular topic of my life: relationships (or lack thereof).

All the time I hear it at weddings, holiday gatherings, seeing old friends, at the grocery store…

“Where’s your boyfriend?”

“You’re next!”

“Who are you dating these days?”

“Can’t you get a date to a wedding?”

“You’re the last (single) one!”

Being single has its advantages. It frees up a lot of my time to surrender my dating life to God. I have had many “date nights” with God praying for my future husband as well as men that have entered my life. The best part is that even though I remain single, God has been moving through my prayers!

I got hit pretty hard recently with an answer to prayer. Man, it really hurt. It has made me realize some things. I had feelings for someone but those feelings are not reciprocated. No worries! That’s nothing out the norm. But I heard this nagging voice in the back of my mind point out something that stung… “Over the past 3 years you’ve had feelings for 6 men… Where are they now? One is married, one is engaged, and four are in serious relationships. What about you, Laura?”

My initial reaction is to collapse onto my couch and weep. It hurt. It hurt so much because it’s true. But my tears were not tears of anguish. They were tears of relief. I sat there with tears streaming down my face and praised God.

You see, for each of these 6 men, I had prayed my heart out for them. However, I didn’t ask God to give them to me to date. I asked God to lead them to their future wives. I asked God to protect their hearts from the enemy, as well as from me, so that their love would be pure for their wife. I asked God to pursue their hearts and pull them into a closer relationship with Him.

This weekend I was reaffirmed about praying by an incredible sermon entitled “Practical Powerful Prayer.” I was reminded that prayer is not about getting what we ask for, but it is to be brought into a closer, intimate relationship with the One who is King of our hearts. It makes my heart full to the brim to see how God has worked in his life and the lives of these 5 other men who have grown closer to God as they’ve found godly women to date.

I simply cannot be upset about people finding love. I can neither be upset about how God answers my prayers for them. My prayer for you is to have your eyes opened to see how God moves in all situations. He is faithful to the prayers of those who call him Lord.

 

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 14:13-15

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I want to encourage you to live out the command to always praise and continually pray because God answers prayers. More importantly, I want you to pray so that you may know the freedom in completely surrendering everything to God and his plan for your life.

 

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A Simple Picture with a Complex Message

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The notion struck the evening before as I crossed the York River on the Coleman Bridge. As I approached the pinnacle of the bridge I found myself at a loss of words and nearly my breath. The moon hung in the sky begging for my attention. I was unable to take a picture at that time since I was driving, but I decided I would wait for the next night to capture that brilliant moon.

It was a placid night with temperatures flirting with the idea of dipping into the 40s. I awaited the rise of the waning moon over the horizon. The nearby marina’s dock seemed to be the most suitable location for me to wait. I sat at the end of the dock and faced the direction of where I thought the moon was sure to rise and softly played music on my phone as I waited. And waited. And waited some more. At last I decided that the moon wasn’t going to rise for me that night so I leaned against the wall of the boathouse in defeat. With the music still quietly playing and my line of vision shifted slightly to right of where I had been focused, I finally saw it. At first the moon peaked at me from behind the trees on the not so distant shore, but soon it burst forth to fully show off it’s luminous glow.

I had almost given up and was on the verge of leaving my post, but at the brink of my defeat was when the inevitable appeared. The moon is constant. It rises to give off the light reflected by the sun, then sets. It does this every single day. It doesn’t ever take a day off. Even when it has completely waned or when we can only see it’s partial form, it’s still there. That’s just what the moon is and that’s what it does.

 

Isn’t God the same?

 

I had almost given up and was on the verge of leaving my post, but at the brink of my defeat was when the inevitable appeared. God is constant. God does this every single day. God doesn’t ever take a day off. Even when we can only see God’s partial form, God’s still there. That’s just what God is and that’s what God does.

 

It was my folly to look in the wrong direction, which is reflective of what human beings consistently do in our lives. We try to do life according to our plan but our attention is affixed in the wrong direction. Even when we’re off by just a smidge; it’s a smidge of imperfection that needs to be reconciled. Jesus does that for us. He comes into our lives and cleans us up, leaving us with the Holy Spirit to guide us in the right direction. This seemingly simple picture reminds me of how easy it is to settle for having my attention off of God. Though my focus may be near the right direction, if I fail to have my eyes completely fixed on God I will miss the beauty and pleasure that he has for me.

 

Like A Bird

I’m going to say something crazy…

I think that God has called me to be a bird.

Things we know that birds do:

  • Hatch
  • Perch
  • Sing
  • Fly
  • Nest
  • Migrate

Hatch

God has brought me out of a season of incubation. After training camp I have seen how seemingly random things were actually interconnected. God has written a beautiful story that I am proud to read.

Perch

Birds take time to be still as they observe their surroundings. They are resting in a safe place so that they can prepare to use their potential energy that they’ve conserved. It could be argued that they are making a game plan for what their next series of events may be. I think that I am in this stage. I am perched in my safe home, getting to be with family and friends, regrouping from camp and tactfully preparing for Launch in January. It is an intense calm, but I can feel the excitement brewing. It makes me want to…

Sing

I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 104:33

Fly

I want to stretch my wings.

I want to soar over the world.

I want to see what God has to show me with my bird’s eye view.

I want to dive headfirst into the ministry opportunities that await me.

Nest

It is the nature of the World Race for someone to not stay in one place for an extended period of time. Did you know that most nests are only used for 3 weeks at a time? Sounds quite similar to how long I’ll be staying in each country before moving on to the next.

Migrate

I consider my squad to be a group of people with whom I will be migrating with for eleven months. Something noteworthy about migrating is that the cycle typically starts and ends at home. Even though I am choosing to leave my home to travel around the world, God willing, I will return home.

I’ve been caged for so long and now that the door to my cage has been opened all and I want is to taste that sweet release.

From laurarogers.theworldrace.org

I am ready to get be a bird and fly.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

DANG, I’m Hungry!

I’ve been home from training camp for 10 days and I am starving… for intimacy with God. While I was at camp I went through various challenges including:

  • Foods that my body wasn’t accustomed to eating
  • Food portions much lesser than my body was used to consuming
  • Less sleep than usual
  • Experiencing different sleep, as in I would pass out because of my body’s exhaustion from the day’s activities
  • My head aching due to lack of caffeine
  • My body being physically pushed to new limits

It made me realize how weak and broken my body is and that I am in dire need of someone to sustain me because I cannot do it myself. Thank God I have a Savior who adores me and is my Comforter (John 14:26) and Sustainer (Psalm 54:4). During camp I was constantly worshipping God or talking about Jesus or getting to pray and engage with the Holy Spirit, but being back home has proved to be a challenge of finding time. I noticed that in the time that I’ve been home I’ve grown unsettled, and at first I thought that it was due to being separated from my new family [shout out to Q SQUAD!], but I’ve come to realize that my soul has actually been aching to spend quality time in God’s presence.

“We are designed to be close to God. Just as our bodies hunger and thirst for food and drink, our spirits hunger and thirst for His presence.”   -Joanna Weaver

I didn’t realize how famished I was for God until I got a taste of what He has for me at training camp. Fasting is a concept that I’ve read about but never put into practice… until now. As a squad, we have decided to fast to bond with one another as we are dispersed throughout America (and Canada!), but more importantly to deny ourselves food so that our souls can be rejuvenated in the Lord.

STAY TUNED FOR…

“Man Does Not Live On Bread Alone… But I Really Want Some”

The Little Moments

Life is comprised of a sequence of moments. In each there is something to be valued. Sometimes it is what you see, do, or learn. Sometimes it is about who you share the moment with. These moments are linear in time but they fit together like pieces of a puzzle to make up our life experience. What you do and what happens to you does not define who you are. What defines you is, at the end of each moment, who you are bringing glory to.

I find myself having a lot of little moments lately. I’ve been given a gift of knowing how much time I have left to spend time with the people I hold dear to me before I have to depart for 11 months. There are so many times when people suddenly have to move away or pass away and it tears at my heart when I don’t get to properly say “goodbye” or at least “see ya later.”

Rewind to 2012 and you would have found me having a ton of moments that were fueled by frustration, loneliness, and shame. I let those experiences define me and I grew to have disdain for the person I developed into during my college years. When Jesus shed his light of grace and mercy in my life, my experiences became better. I started living for Jesus Christ and I began to have a fruitful life. The best part of this transformation is that the “bad” moments of 2012 are no less valuable than the bountiful “good” moments that I have experienced over the past two years.

The late Maya Angelou articulated it perfectly when she said,

Life is cumulative, and you can’t devalue any type of experience.

I think that this is true about living as a Christian. You may be someone who has recently become a Christian or you may be someone that’s been a Christian your entire life; either way, don’t cheapen any of it. Consider how God has used your life and how it influences His kingdom. Don’t be worried if you find that you bring more glory to yourself than to Jesus- in fact, it’s a beautiful thing! Because now you have a starting line. When I found out that most of my life was bringing glory to myself I prayed through Psalm 139, particularly verses 23 and 24. I want to encourage you to ask God to help you live your life for Him.

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have examined my heart

and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel

and when I rest at home.

You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say

even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night—

12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.

They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them;

they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!

Get out of my life, you murderers!

20 They blaspheme you;

your enemies misuse your name.

21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?

Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?

22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,

for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

   test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you,

   and lead me along the path of everlasting life.