Since I can remember I’ve always been a competitive person. I remember in elementary school, there was always a competition between my peers to see who was the tallest, or had the longest hair, or who had the best sneakers. In later years like high school, the girls would compare who had the biggest chest, or the skinniest legs. It seems like our minds have been programmed to have this competitive edge on us as humans and most times, it’s about characteristics that we are born with. All over social media there are ads and internet famous individuals who are trying to endorse their diet plans, work outs, and supplements. They tell us if we make their food, do their work outs, and take supplements that we will be skinny, happy, and beautiful. These dramatic lifestyle changes may work for some people, but I don’t see my thick thighs going anywhere anytime soon.
I have had personal struggles for most of my life with body image. Throughout my high school years, I went through multiple seasons of losing and gaining weight. I truly believed that the definition of beauty was based on the size of my thighs and the number on the scale. I remember spending hours at the gym running on the treadmill while I calculated exactly how many calories I consumed that day. It’s a scary life when your reflection in the mirror is distorted by temptation from the enemy. This on again off again relationship with food and weight loss is what consumed most of my high school years.
At the very beginning of the bible, God tells us the story of Adam and Eve. Two people who were created completely naked and free. Can you imagine that for a second? If sin had not entered this world, we would all be running around with no clothes on. Crazy. Anyways, this story is very interesting because it reveals the first time that human kind felt body image issues and food happened to be the first temptation and sin ever. That delicious looking piece of fruit that looked desirable to Eve, was the beginning of our sin in this world (Genesis 3: 6-7). She shared it with her husband and they both became ashamed of their bodies, just as the enemy wanted.
The enemy loves hearing those awful things we think and say about ourselves. After all, it was the first thing human kind was sinful of.
We admire the beauty of the sunset in such adoration. We take pictures of it, and sit in awe at this Godly creation. If we can sit and admire the colors of the sky that God has hand painted, why can’t we appreciate the beauty of our bodies that God breathed life into? Don’t think for one second that you are worthless, unloved, ugly, or not good enough. You are created on purpose by a perfect heavenly father. The same father who paints the color of the sky, handcrafted every hair on our heads and every curve on our bodies and it’s the same God that is alive in our hearts today. No number on the scale, or hours on the treadmill will take this perfect love away.
In first Samuel it explains that God doesn’t look at the things people look at. Rather He looks at our heart. People of this world will judge your body, including ourselves. But it’s God that will judge your heart, and at the end of this life that is all that is going to matter. After all, beauty is fleeting.
I can only imagine what Jesus would be saying to us if He were still walking on the earth. I can picture Him embracing His daughters with such love and adoration, the words beautiful and worthy would not even begin to describe the love God has for us.
Every single day we struggle with temptations from the enemy. God never said our lives here on earth would be perfect. His ultimate desire is to see us free from bondage. As we lay down our cross every morning, I encourage you to strip away the desires of this world, don’t be envious of the bodies of others, rather learn to appreciate the beautiful structure that God has given you. From the beginning of time, the struggle of body image has been alive in this world. Take a minute out of your morning before you eat your breakfast, before you step on the scale, before you begin your run, and before you scroll through social media, and pray to God. Become in touch with your heavenly father and ask Him to protect your mind and heart from these worldly cravings.
I would be lying if I said I never go a day without thinking about my appearance. There are seasons in my life where I struggle immensely. But it’s that amazing power of Christ that truly pulls me through these time. He is a good father; he guides me through those dark seasons so that I can walk confidently back to the women He created me to be. Your perfect size will be the one you have when living out your life with Christ.
This is a question that I’ve struggled with my entire life. Frankly, I believe that I’ll never not ask this question. I’m gonna make ya'll a deal; if I give you some past scoop and some present dish (four course meal if I say so myself), promise me that you’ll be honest with yourself as to where you stand with this question. These next few things I’ve learned have become concrete to the foundation of my life. It’s a lot to feast your eyes on so choose wisely. When I was a wee lil gal, I was insanely quiet. I would only follow people around and do what I was told. As most people would blame this on being the middle child, I blame it on myself and my bangs (they’re not for everyone, folks). I’ve been ‘5”6 since the fourth grade and was super chubby when I was young. I wanted to be popular and have friends and the only way I found that was through following others footsteps. I took acting as a child. After getting out of my comfort zone that I practically hibernated in, I figured out that I could be whoever I wanted and I loved that. I didn’t like the sad, quiet giant I was in any sense, so I changed. Making friends no longer became a priority in my life. It was a “light bulb” kind of moment. Suddenly the stage was set and I couldn’t care less as to who was watching. I heard this sweet lil line and I’ll never
forget it: Living your life to gain friends is a very lonely life to live. In trying to please others, you will never satisfy yourself.
Fast forward to kind of having my life together…??? (That’s a lie, will explain later.) Anyhoo, I’m in college now so I definitely know what I’m doing and who I am (again, sarcasm heavily intended). Being completely honest, I went through a process called “Rush” or “Recruitment.” It’s basically a week where I get to know all the sororities on campus and they get to know me. At the end of the week, I choose my top favorites and they choose a select few girls that they want in their sorority. If they choose me, by God I made it, Mom. Its low-key like matchmaker for groups of girls. I walked into Zeta thinking, “Wow, these girls are all beautiful and know what they are about.” I was terrified and insanely insecure. At this point, I wasn’t about to change myself to fit the mix so I was undeniably Audrey. They were loud and fun and I
loved it because that’s who I am (mostly, loud). Then, I got my letter from them. They chose
me… ME. Wow, I was not ready for that. There I was comparing myself to everyone physically
and yet they chose me along with all the other sweet, beautiful girls I know have to privilege of
calling my “sisters.” People try to stereotype us in many ways. We are all similar and yet so
different and that is why we are beautiful. From the outside looking it, I could’ve sworn it was
because of their Instagram feeds. From the inside looking out, let me tell you, it is because
those girls aren’t afraid of being vulnerable and broken. The exact reason why you needed to
hear these stories.
Let me repeat myself, I will probably never not ask myself the question of “Who am I?” In
a world that is constantly changing, I am constantly moving and molding, too. I will never be one
person. There is always so much to learn. If I ever believe I have my world together, it’s
probably because I’m the farthest from that. I quickly realized that I’m a mess and there’s
nothing I can do about that. I’m loud. I talk even more when I’m nervous or I don’t talk at all. I
like to be alone sometimes. Sometimes, I’m insanely needy. Ultimately, I’m super duper broken.
I have so many health issues and I’m the clumsiest person on the planet. Somedays I’m a
morning person. Other days, I refuse to speak to people prior to 10:00AM. I’ve been frequently
called a Jesus Freak and learned to freaking love it. My personality really cannot be pin-pointed.
There’s one reason and one reason alone why I’m content in not having a definitive answer as
to who I am. If I know who my King is, I know my name.
I know Whose I am.
I am a daughter of the One true King.
We must find solace in the sense that God is and always will be strong enough, brave
enough, and mind-boggling well… enough! I was made in His image to be like Him. We are
striving ever to be like-minded.
Not to show Christ to the world but to be Christ to the world.
It’s not “playing God” when God came down to live within you. There Holy Spirit is alive in you,
friend. A living breathing flame of God is burning inside of you. Read the scriptures. Learn the
fear of the Lord. When God brought Heaven down, He tore the veil and came to call you
“friend.” He dwells inseparably within us. This Love is who you are. This Love is what makes
being broken so beautiful. This Love is the spotlight of our lives so play your part. This Love is
undeniable. This Love is the composition of your very being. From your hair to the work of your
hands, from everlasting to everlasting. This love is mine and I am His.
You are a product of your Creator.
This Love is yours to have and to hold, forever.
This Love is your life. This Love is you. You are the light & salt to the world.
Who are you?
I am continuously overwhelmed by the goodness and grace of our Father God. Recently, I overcame something. And by recently I mean like last week recently. I struggled with the idea of comparison and wasn’t even aware of it. I am in a totally different season and place then I thought or imagined I would be. Instead of finding the joy and embracing the season, I was comparing myself to those around me who were where I wanted to be or God was already using in incredible ways. Needless to say, it’s been a very joyless time full of anxiety and tears. The old saying goes “I’m not sure who discovered water but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the fish,” sometimes when we are in our own bubble we don’t realize what is actually happening in us. We get so used to our own struggles and trials that we neglect to see our circumstances as they truly are. This was my case. I didn’t realize the problem of comparison and the way in which it was springing up a root of pride or envy within my own heart.
However, God lovingly revealed to me my issue a matter of days ago when I was having coffee with two very good friends, one of whom I had not seen in awhile. This friend excitedly told us all about her new job as a youth director and how God had been teaching her a lot about running the race set before her and chasing the life God had given her. In John 21:21-23 Jesus reveals the way in which Peter will glorify God and the first thing he does is ask “what about John?” Immediately Jesus basically says, “what’s it to you? You walk in your calling.” That hit home for me. For the next several days this passage, along with others about finding joy in trials and not losing heart showed up everywhere. The final driving point for me was while reading a daily devotional (Arise by Melodi Hawley).
One particular day was all about being faithful in the little and finding joy in normalcy. Why chase the glamorous when God calls us to the normal? Why pursue the calling of another when our sweet Father simply whispers, “be faithful in the little things for now (Luke 16:10).” I came to realize I wasn’t exactly doing that. Instead I was prideful and questioning the path and season God had placed me, basically telling the Savior of the world that I needed to be doing something else or living a different life. I wasn’t choosing joy or letting my light shine. I wasn’t being faithful in the mundane and the normal, working at everything as if I were working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23 & 1Timothy 4:15).
Today I want to encourage you to do the same. Find joy in the mundane. Remember that we are called to be faithful in the seasons God has placed us. He is good, loving, and cares far more about you than you ever could. He sees you. He knows you. He is lighting your path. Be faithful and let your light shine wherever you are.
Written by: Kristen
Ever since I could remember, I have struggled with worrying too much. I worried so much that it began to take a toll on me. I became anxious, nervous, and I had trouble catching my breath. It started to affect me until I started placing my cares and my burdens at the feet of Jesus. Once I began to do that, the less and less I was anxious or worried. Every so often, I do have nervous breakdowns and struggle with anxiety, but when I do, I realize that it is because I have not fully surrendered it to Christ. I can fully say that because of what happened to me this year.
It was the day after New Year’s and I was in deep distress. I was sitting on my couch watching TV, but I couldn’t focus on the show in front of me. I was so overwhelmed, anxious, and nervous about the situations in my life, and the idea of going to school the next day, was absolutely terrifying. My dad was beginning to have trouble seeing in one eye and the idea that he could possibly lose his ability to see in that eye was scary. My mom was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and it was starting to affect her. She was, in a sense, depressed and as her daughter, it was so sad and awful to watch her joy dwindle down. On top of that, I had friendship troubles, and we did not leave on good terms before Christmas break. I was afraid of what people would say about me, or how they would treat me. I did not know what to do. I was worried, and on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. I was pacing back and forth; my heart was beating faster and faster with just the thought of going back and facing all these people. I struggled with these emotions almost half the day, until I stopped and took a deep breath. In that moment, I realized I was going about this the wrong way. I closed my eyes and I prayed. I prayed that God would fill me with His peace, and give me guidance on what I was supposed to do. When I started to worry, I prayed. When I began to feel anxious and nervous, I prayed. I prayed every second of the rest of the day because I felt that one prayer wasn’t enough. I did not think that God was listening to me, so I prayed again and again. But God did hear my prayers that day. As I was sitting on the couch, waiting for dinner, I opened the Bible app and you wouldn’t believe what the verse of the day was.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I felt as though a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I read this verse. I cried tears of joy because God heard the cry of my overwhelmed and troubled heart.
“From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
The more and more worry I found within my life, the more I began to doubt God. Worry can be compared to a tire stuck in mud. You can try and try to spin the wheels to get out of the mud, but it’s useless. You will not get anywhere unless someone comes in to pull you out of there. Ladies, the more worry you have, more “stuck in the mud” you will be because you are not letting God help set you free from the stress of life.
The minute you take your eyes off of your situation and place them upon The Lord, the smaller your problems become.
When the disciples were in the boat in the raging storm, they were afraid. But when the disciples saw that Jesus had the power to calm the storm, their fear diminished. When the troubles of life are overtaking you, know that God has the power to calm the storm and He will give you His peace to endure.
Worry, stress, and anxiety are all sins. Why? Because it makes you doubt in who God is and what He is capable of. I encourage you to give it all to the Lord. There are so many situations in our lives that are too big for us to handle. In fact, when these problems get so huge and out of control, it’s because it isn’t meant for us to solve. God cares and loves each and every single one of you, His beautiful daughters. I encourage you to read Luke 12:22-28. My beloved sisters, the Lord has you in the palm of His hand! He carried all your burdens to the cross and crucified them, so that you don’t have the slightest worries. Whether its financial issues, family, friendships, God knows. He will give you exactly what you need.
He is always faithful!
If you ever find yourself worrying, stressing, or doubting God…..
Written by: Kimberly
My parents have reminded me since I was a young girl, that they often pray for the man I will end up with. I never truly understood why they did this. I thought it was my decision who I dated, married or if I decided to stay single. Due to my little understanding of this and my naïve heart, I dated who I wanted and I dated too young. It seemed like fun and games, spending time with my “boyfriend”, going out to eat, having double dates, texting all day long. Before getting serious with someone, you can be blinded by the fun and not realize the hole you’re slowly digging yourself into. It could be months before you find out this person is not a believer. And then what happens?
Your first thought may be, like me, “I am a strong believer and will not let the opinions of my significant other diminish my beliefs”. Unfortunately, no matter how strong your faith may be, the bible says very clearly “Do not be deceived; bad company ruins good morals”. In other cases, people believe they can do “missionary dating” which is exactly what it sounds like. Date someone who is not of your belief system, but believe you can change that. Sometimes this interaction does work, and I think that would be amazing to fall in love with someone while teaching them to also love Jesus. But I believe that loving Jesus comes first, and God demanded that we not be unequally yoked with our significant other (2Corinthians 6:14).
God did not create dating to fill a missing gap in your life, he doesn’t want you to abuse the company of another to reduce your loneliness. God wants us to find an equal match and use it to his benefit. If you are feeling lonely, seek Him, if you are tired, seek Him, if you are weary, fearful, sad, hurt, SEEK HIM. Your partner should not replace your love or desire for God. He has a plan for all of us, this includes our person to be. Do not grow weary, continue to seek Him and trust in His plans for you. God has greater things in line for your life then you can even imagine.
You may be thinking I’m jumping the gun here when I’m talking about the future and marriage, especially if you’re only young. But if you can’t see yourself marrying your partner in the slightest, then you're in the wrong place. You are setting your heart up to be hurt or you’re intentionally hurting another. I cannot imagine sitting in church on Sunday morning as a married woman without my husband or having my children ask me “why daddy doesn’t have to go to church”. Relationships whether just friends or more than that, can be very complicated things. We were born to be creatures of comfort and to interact with other humans. I can guarantee you cannot think of one day in your life that you didn’t interact with anyone. Whether via txt or in person, it seems like we can’t go very long without seeking the attention of others. Let’s ensure we are implementing responsible decisions when making our hearts vulnerable to another.
Finding someone special can take time and patience. If you are feeling weary about who you are currently with or maybe discouraged about your lack of companion, I’d advise you to bring these concerns to God. Only He can reveal the truth about your future. Be cautious, guard your heart and let the Lord guide your path.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22
The Notebook, Titanic, Phantom of the Opera, even The Last Song are all classic tales
of the boy and the girl falling desperately in love. As a little girl, I grew up believing that all I had
to do was have a fairy Godmother hook me up real quick with a cutie prince. The reality of my
Prince Charming hasn’t been so charming. Unfortunately, love isn’t like the movies. Loneliness
is a real thing. It’s tough being the girl who is in love with the mere idea of love. Even if you don’t
bawl your eyes out watching every proposal video ever (I feel no shame), most of us have a
desire to be loved. Ya’ll, I never thought I’d be that super chill girl who was so cool and calm
about being single. Luckily, God is real and I began thanking Him for not making me kiss a frog
or lose a cute glass shoe or ya know, sleep for an eternity… okay that one’s debatable.
I’ve learned a load of things this past year but I’m no dating genius. Believe me, I want to
be with someone, too. You see, that’s the thing. I’ve dealt with a lot of insecurity in my life to the
point where I even compared myself to a fantasy of my own: the perfect Christian girl. She’s got
She’s gentle, kind, caring, speaks with wisdom, and is just the most Godly gal around.
She’s beyond content with her relationship status, while boys’ hearts drop like flies for this gal.
She knows God has a time and reason for everything and never questions it. Honestly, the
whole package. Did I mention she’s drop dead gorgeous? Here’s the thing, I began to believe
more in the fantasy of this girl than I did in the fantasies I grew up watching. This girl doesn’t
even exist. The reality is that I’m a complete mess most of the time but I am not alone in that. I
got to the end of myself and just started admitting it, I want to love someone so bad. I do. When
I decided to be translucent, I realized that every girl around me feels the same way.
You’ve got to remember,
The devil is a liar.
You are not alone.
After that brick wall hit me, my mentor dropped a bomb on my beautiful idea of marriage.
She handed me a bible and said, “Audrey, can you show me where marriage is promised?”
**brain shuts down** WOW OK. Believe it or not, Song of Solomon did not pull through for me
on this one. Neither did Genesis, Galatians, Corinthians, or Ephesians. Nope; Matthew, Mark,
Luke, or John didn’t do the either trick. As scary as it is, marriage isn’t a promise that God has
made to us. Singleness is either there for a lasting season or a lasting reason. Before you
absolutely flip, much like I did, Paul does speak about a peace that will be given to those who
aren’t called to marriage. Marriage and singleness are both equally righteous and both give God
glory. However, I believe that a big part of me has just banked on being married. I was more
concerned with who my future spouse was than how I can uplift my brother in Christ. While not
a promise, a righteous marriage is one of the many gifts we can be given. As much as I love
Thomas Rhett’s “Grave” (disclaimer: I’m obsessed), marriage is not something that will follow us
to Heaven. Idolizing “love” is a serious struggle. We cannot love the gift more than the Giver.
For this reason, that KB so creatively explains,
“Never put God after another man or
another man will become your God and
God will become another man.”
Pre-sin, Adam and Eve never questioned who they were made for and Who they were
made from. They loved each other but never even questioned if God was above it all. By the
three of these, their world was made whole. Then, sin crashed the party creating in us a “hole,”
a black hole that constantly needs and desires more. We’re going to constantly want love but it
cannot be all that we want. God is the only thing that can truly satisfy my craving because He is
boundless (shocking, I know; chocolate is not boundless). Finding a blue-eyed babe won’t fix
my desire to be loved. The desire in our hearts cannot be satisfied by marriage. Love is greater
than we can understand. Love is a real Man, one who died to tell me He loves me.
Do I often forget literally all of this and still feel lonely and search other places for
contentment? Great question! Absolutely. This is why it is so vital to seek Him daily. Memorize
scripture. Pray and talk to God. As He says in Psalm 34, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will
teach you the fear of the Lord.” In seeking Him, we will “lack nothing, no good thing.”
A single Cinderella can be satisfied, too. Ultimately, Cinderella tried her best to
hide her brokenness. In the end, Prince Charming loved her within every bit of it. Broken
is the new beautiful, babe.
With every bit of love,
When God created us, he created us with a desire for relationships. We are relational people because that is how God wired us to be. Look at Adam and Eve. God created Adam first and God saw that Adam was lonely, and created all the animals and gave Adam the authority to rule over them. But God still saw that it wasn’t good.
“So Adam gave names to all the cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field . But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.”-Genesis 2:20
Adam needed a helper that complimented him, and when God created Eve, she also needed someone to compliment her. You see, since the beginning, God designed us to have the desire to want a relationship. Sometimes our society wants to say, “Dating is bad, don’t date.” Reality is, it isn’t a bad thing! When you date God’s way, it is a beautiful thing.
Many people in their time of singleness think that being in this stage of life of waiting on the Lord is a burden and a waste of time. This is far from the truth! Time spent waiting on God, is time never wasted. I used to view singleness with a bitter heart and I never thought that God would ever bring me the man He created for me. But I remember my Bible teacher telling me that singleness should not be looked down upon. Rather think of it as time to devote yourself to Christ, to completely seek Him, and to serve Him in every capacity you can.
I want you to know that the Lord is always faithful and He keeps all His promises!
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” -Numbers 23:19
Do not be discouraged in the season God has placed you. Always remember that through this time, God is preparing your heart and molding you for a relationship. God knows the desires of your heart and what you long for. But He also knows what you need and do not need in a future husband. He knows you better than anyone else in this world, because He is the one who created your emotions, your soul, and your heart. Your entire being was created in his very hands! I know it’s hard to understand why God has us in the season of waiting on Him, but be encouraged to know that His timing is always perfect.
“ Delight yourself also in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
Written by: Kimberly Matute
Photo credit: Amanda Hammitt and Debra Hart Photography
I didn’t start dating until college. Yep. That’s right. My first ever time out with a boy happened in college. In fact, other than my fiancé, I’ve only ever dated one other guy. I chose not to date in high school because, truthfully, I didn’t believe I, or the guys around me, were ready to date. In my high school years, God taught my a really important truth about purity and dating that shaped the way I chose to approach any relationship with a guy.
That truth is found in Ephesians 5:25-33
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[g] her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.
32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
God places a very high standard for marriages to the point that the author of the passage goes as far to say that a man should love his wife just like Christ loved the church (his people). Christ completely emptied Himself of Himself while on earth and ultimately died in the place of His bride (that’s us!) to make her spotless. In the same way, a husband should love His wife so far beyond how he loves himself and this will be reflected in his actions toward her and how he encourages her walk with God.
I believe we as Christians often sell ourselves short in the idea of purity and dating. Purity goes so much deeper than the popular Christian mind set of, “sex is bad until marriage so don’t do it.” That mindset then leaves believers asking the ever so popular question of “how far is too far?” or, better put, how close to the line can I get without crossing it?
1 Peter 1:14-16 says:
“…do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
See, I think many believers don’t quite grasp these two passages in Ephesians and 1 Peter.
Purity is so much deeper than just not being intimate before marriage. Our purity is designed to go hand in hand with the holiness of God and ultimately our future marriages are designed to be the greatest testimony of the sacrificial love of God here on earth. We as women of God, the spotless bride of Christ, are called to be holy as Christ is holy. We are called to a totally different level of living than those around us.
During my high school years when it seemed everyone else around me had someone, I clung onto that truth and instead of dating just for the sake of dating, I kept, and still do keep, my focus on the fact that ultimately marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church and unless a man was ready to encourage me in holiness and treasure me in a sacrificial way that mirrors the love of Jesus, then he wasn’t for me.
I want to encourage you, wherever you are with the dating scene, to remember your worth. God sees us as a beautiful, spotless bride if we trust in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the perfect groom, who, through the ultimate display of love, laid down his life for his treasured bride. No matter what we have or haven’t done nothing can change that in the eyes of God. We are dearly loved and treasured women through the love of Jesus who are called to live holy lives. Whether you choose to date or wait, look for the man who recognizes and treasures this amazing truth about you! You are worth it.
Written by: Kristen Porterfield
Photo Credit: Brittany and Nicholas Liberto
It’s a miracle I’m alive today. I was born 1 pound and 5 ounces; I was born severely premature. I was 3 ½ months premature with several different complications. The doctors thought I was not going to survive When I was born, my eyes were closed shut like a kitten. I needed to have surgery on an inflamed intestine. I have a large surgical scar, a permanent reminder of the miracle, still across my stomach 22 years later. I heard that story growing up and I knew there must be a God if I survived, there is no other explanation. I believed there was a purpose for me, a reason for why I was created and lived despite the odds against me. I grew up believing there had to be a God, but not knowing Him.
Not everyone has a birth story like mine, but each of us does have a purpose from God for each of our lives. He has given us each gifts and talents to be used to show love to others and to glory himself. If you think you have no purpose, don’t believe that lie. You were created for great and wonderful things, specifically for you and no one else. There are words only you are meant to say that will open people’s hearts to God. There are things that only you were placed on this earth to do. Remember and pray that this verse is written on your heart, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:28-29). That is you, dear sister in Christ! If you don’t know Him, seek Jesus and you will find him.
Growing up my family was a part of a Lutheran Church, where I learned about God but I didn’t have a real relationship with Him. I learned all the Bible stories and I learned that Jesus forgave me of my sins, but I didn’t see and experience the relationship part of it. I wasn’t exposed to the everyday relationship with Jesus because my family went to church, but didn’t talk about faith outside of the steeple adorned building. We were a family of believers, but seemingly doing our own thing on the earth. My family and I didn’t invite Jesus into the good and bad moments of each day of our lives. I knew there had to be more to life. There had to more to God than just on Sundays.
In seventh grade, I started at a new school. It was a faith-based Christian school. I thought I was going to make friends quickly, but that was not the case. In my mind, I imagined all the kids at this school to be caring and wanted to help and love the new girl. The girls I tried to become friends with seemed to exclude me. I found solace in the teachers and the other misfits of the school instead. They showed me what a relationship with Jesus really can look like. They illustrated the walking with Jesus like I never saw up until that point in my life. It wasn’t just saying ‘I hope you get better,’ but actually digging deep into the Bible and praying through issues. They showed me the genuine kindness of Jesus. Through the teachers and mentors at the school, I saw Jesus’s real love for the first time and desired to know Him. I learned that God is after our hearts most of all. I realized and I continue to understand that God wants to walk with us through each day and night. This passage Psalm 139:7-12 illustrates the everyday moments with God to me. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” God wants to be a part of everything in your life, the big and the small moments of life.
My junior year of high school, I liked a guy who didn’t know I existed. I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s true that we had no social interaction in classes or outside of school whatsoever. It was a crush, but that infatuation was controlling everything about me. The way I thought and what I did all centered around this guy and getting his attention. As upperclassman, we all went on a “junior/senior retreat” at a camp. This retreat was a time where all the juniors and seniors of the high school would go with teachers and chaperons to a camp to get out of the mundane school routine and seek God. It was a weekend gateway around this time of year. One night, a pastor told us about the gospel. That night was different for me. I had heard the gospel before, but that night I knew I needed to give my whole life to Jesus. I remember looking over at the guy who I had a crush on during the service. I knew in the deepest part of my heart that he couldn’t satisfy me like my savior Jesus. I saw my sins for the first time that night as true sins against the God of the universe. All the lies I ever did, all the lusting after my crush and others, all the jealousy of other girls separated me from the God who created me. That night I truly accepted Jesus as my savior and the Lord of my life. I believed that He had forgiven me for every sin I had committed and every sin I will ever commit through Himself paying the penalty of my sins. Jesus being my satisfier is a concept my mind was opened to that night. He satisfied the judgement of my sin on the cross and He started to satisfy my heart that night. We as humans crave love and acceptance, that’s how God created us. We go to all these things of the world that we think are going satisfy us like boys’ attention, fame and recognition and perfecting our image. In those things, we always going to come up empty because Jesus is our only and true satisfier. “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:9). Six years later after I fully accepted Jesus as my savior and Lord that fall night, I am continuing to grow and experience Jesus being my true satisfier I have been following God ever since and seeking Him every step of the way. I’ve definitely had good and difficult moments in my life since then, but God has been with me through it all.
I like to begin my story with discussing my parents because, lets be honest, our families have huge influences on our lives. My mom grew up in a catholic household in Detroit where she believed being a good, moral person was all one needed to be a Christian. My dad on the other hand grew up in a Christian home in southern West Virginia in a tiny town with more cows than people. My parents met and married later in life and, several years after, my mom came to know the Lord in a real, life changing way that is reflected in every aspect of her life. Growing up, my parents, primarily my mother since it was so real to her, taught me no prayer is too small and that God is a living and active presence in our lives.
I came to know Christ as my personal savior at the age of four during a Christmas Eve service. It was at that time I grasped the words of John 3:16, every child’s first bible verse, and came to view God as a loving savior who could not be in the presence of my sin and lovingly died to be with me forever.
I’ve been extremely blessed in the sense that the Lord has spared me from a lot of pain. In fact, I used to discount my story because, to me, it seemed not enough. Oh, how Satan desires us to believe we are not enough as if we could ever be enough in ourselves. It is the Lord’s work alone that makes me what I am today.
Many of the trials and temptations I faced revolved around turmoil in the lives of my friends or the presence of my own anxiety. I began struggling with anxiety as a young child and- the crazy part- it came from seemingly nowhere. I still struggle with the tendency towards anxiety even to today. However, during the years of middle and high school, the fear was overwhelming.
“…for God did not give me a spirit of fear but one of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7
“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ –Philippians 4:6-7
Verses such as these are my anthem. I’ve come to know God over the years as comforter from fear.
During my freshman year of high school, my best friend at the time experienced the horrific reality of sexual assault. Around the same time a close family member began battling with addiction. I felt seemingly helpless to do anything but watch this person’s life spiral dangerously out of control and hurt those most near and dear.
These instances sparked in me a desire to stand for those who feel they cannot stand on their own. God cares far more about our hurts than we ever could. His heart breaks for those who hurt and His anger runs far deeper than ours ever could. Therefore, God wants us to stand with the broken all the while knowing he is a protective Lord.
“Be still and know that I am God.”-Psalm 46:10
During my early high school years I suddenly had to transfer schools from my safe little private school to a public school because they had lost funding. What at first seemed like a curse quickly turned into a huge blessing. There I came to meet lifelong friends and establish connections with people who continue to shape me into who I am today. I then chose to attend Liberty University as many of my older friends from church spoke so highly of the school. My nearly four years at Liberty have been some of the sweetest and dearest. Yes, adjusting to new life changes brought a whole new set of anxieties, but I’ve learned to rely on God in more ways than I can count and He’s blessed me with some of the sweetest friends and neatest opportunities.
One such life changing adventure came in the summer of 2016 when I was selected to complete an anti- trafficking internship/training in the heart of the sex world: Pattaya, Thailand. It was here I learned God can and will use anyone. He doesn’t just save the coolest callings for those who’ve been through the most; all He desires is a willing heart and a humble spirit.
“Lord, you are our father, we are the clay, you are the potter; we are the works of your hands.” –Isaiah 64:8
Something my fiancé has taught me is that God loves, cares for, and desires each and every person. We are the works of His hands. Every one of us. Nothing that happens is a surprise. God cares for, knows, loves, and values each and every person. No story is better or worse in His eyes. He, through so many different ways, wants to use our experiences, hurts, victories, and everything in between to help us grow in Christ like holiness. We all have stories of how the Lord has carefully worked in us to make us useful tools in His kingdom and this is mine of coming to know God as lover of all who wants to use me and the rescuer of my fears.