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.
“Great is his faithfulness, his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
Ever since I attended a private Christian school at the age of 5, my life has radically
changed. Before I went to private school, I knew nothing about Christianity. My parents always
taught me that there is God, but I was not raised to know more than that. They never took me to
church, or read me the Bible. I was lost and blinded to the things of God, until I went to
kindergarten and that is where I was introduced to God more and more. As I became older, I
began to comprehend who God was and what the Bible said. When I got into the 3rd grade, my
teacher would always set aside a time dedicated to listening to worship music and spending time
in God’s Word individually. She called it ‘Jesus time’. She would turn off the lights and let us
have our alone time with God. During one of our Jesus times, my teacher’s aide would always
ask me what was going in my life and if I needed prayer for anything. She was the type of person
that you knew Christ was within her and that she loved the Lord with a passion. I was so inspired
because of her passion, that I asked her “I want to love God and tell others about him. How can I
do that”? She asked me if I was saved and I told her no. “Do you want to be saved?”, she asked
me and I said yes. And at that moment, in my 3rd grade classroom, I gave my life to the Lord. But
this is barely the beginning.
I went through the rest of my elementary years and through middle school, walking with
the Lord, but as I was transitioning from middle school to high school, I slowly began to fall
away from my relationship with God. At the end of my 8th grade year, I started dating a high
school boy. At first the relationship seemed innocent, but we continued to date throughout my
freshman year, and that is where things started to go downhill. After a couple months into my
freshman year, I found out that he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend and wanted to pursue a
relationship with her, even though he was still with me.
We broke up and days later he was texting me saying that he messed up and he wanted to be with me. Of course, I believed him and I gave him another chance. After months and months of this relationship, I found that I was not following the Lord. I began to compromise my beliefs. I started to settle for less and degrade my value, just to please a boy. I did things that I am not proud of, all because I wasn’t heeding the voice of the Lord. Eventually this toxic relationship came to end, and I was completely broken. I fell so far away from the Lord and I questioned whether God was going to forgive me or even if he still loved me. I looked at myself in the mirror and I broke down into tears.
The girl that was staring back at me was not me anymore and it terrified me. In that
moment, in my bedroom, I fell to my knees and I begged the Lord for forgiveness. I pleaded with
him to transform me and to make me a new creation. That night I gave my life back to God. The
healing process was rough. I degraded myself so much, that I lost respect for myself. But the
Lord was there. He continued to be faithful, when I wasn’t. Piece by piece, he redeemed me and
restored me. He is the reason why I stand in victory over my sins today. Since that night, my life
has completely changed and taken a 180 degree turn.
Throughout these times in my life, God revealed to me two big lessons that I didn’t
understand at the time, but I do now.
1. No matter what you do, good or bad, the Lord loves you the same.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither
death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our
worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s
love.” Romans 8:38
Whether you are at the highest mountain or in the lowest valley, God’s
love for you will never waiver. It remains the same and so does He.
2. Things of this world will not satisfy. “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the
hungry with good things.”
Psalms 107: 9
We were created with a God shaped void, so when we try to fill it with
worldly things, we still feel empty. Be filled with everything that God is
and you will be so satisfied and full of life, rather than chasing things that
will leave you more unhappy than happy.
As I look back on my life, I see that God was there even when I didn’t feel like he was or
when I thought I was far from him. “I can never escape your Spirit! I can never get away
from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are
there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your
hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” Psalms 139: 7-11. There is nothing
quite like being with God and having that relationship with him, so I encourage you to pursue
God and the things that he offers because that is what we were created for. Always know that
God’s love will never leave you and he won’t either. He is there with you every step of the way!
“He who started a good work in you will carry it to completion.” Philippians 1:6.
Since the young age of 5 years old I have had the Holy Spirit living inside of me. My parents, and other family members have never failed to influence my walk with Christ. Going to church, reading my bible, and praying in the car were family norms for me. These initial years of my life laid the groundwork that started my walk with faith.
As the years went by, I continued to do what I thought was good but my personal connection with Jesus wasn’t really there. I didn’t have that deep relationship with Jesus that enabled me to completely trust in Him, and I wasn’t laying myself down in the way He wanted me to. My faith was based on the sole fact that it was a family norm to believe what I was believing. Without this key relationship component, I was missing out on all that God had to offer for my life. I was unable to tell others about the greatness of God because I wasn’t entirely sure all that He was capable of. Most importantly, I didn’t understand the depth of my faith.
Due to this misunderstood faith, my walk with Jesus became broken in high school. I had some really hard times where I thought, “God are you even there?”. It was some of the most difficult years in my life thus far. I was criticized and patronized every single day for my beliefs in Jesus. I had a nickname of “Church Girl”. I was insecure and I didn’t want to be looked down on, or picked on for believing in Jesus. This made me want to rebel against it and hide my identity and I did just that. I acted out and did things I never imagined of doing just so that I could lose this image my peers had made for me. Saturdays I found myself sinning with my friends and Sundays I was repenting with my family. I had little to none Christian friends to relate to. This loss of identity made me feel worthless and confused.
After my four tough years of high school, I found myself working at my church as the summer ministry student. Funny the way God works. That summer, God pulled and tugged my heart in directions I never imagined of going. My relationship with Jesus had been on the rocks for so long I had sort of given up. My youth pastor and I worked side by side all summer and he pushed me to grow, change and become more confident as an individual and as a child of God. At the end of the summer I made a promise to myself and to God that I would not be shaken by the norms of society and what my peers think of my beliefs. I remember sitting in church one Sunday morning when my pastor shared this verse in Matthew 9:37 “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”. He reminded me that God needs us to get out there and work in His mission field. Souls won’t be saved on their own. All those years I was angry at God for not blessing me with nice Christian friends, when in reality, God was using me as a key component to bring those non-believers to Him. God's ultimate mission and desire is to hear every pair of lungs breathe His name. That verse in Matthew reminded me that it wasn’t going to be easy, but it’s exactly what God wants from us. He reminds us all throughout the bible that we will have hard times as Christians, and that the world will be against us but His promise is so much greater. So the night before my first university class, I found myself on my knees begging God to take over my life yet again, I told Him I was ready to be His child.
God has blessed me with the opportunity to speak publicly about my faith, share my love for Jesus with Haitian people as a short and long term missionary, and I have been able to express His goodness through writing for a magazine and having a column on “Surviving University as a Christian”. It’s amazing what God can do in your life when you finally lay yourself down and let Him move.
Something that I am still working on in my life is my happiness. Every so often, I go through phases where I am just so discontent with how my life is. With my body, my friends, the way I’m acting, or just generally discontent. I’m sure we’ve all been there. After being so unhappy with my life and never understanding why, I realized I was wanting more of what this world has to offer rather than what God has to offer. Over this past year, God has taught me that I don’t need a whole lot to make me happy. I don’t need an abundance of friends, the perfect body, the coolest Instagram page, or the nicest clothes. In fact, God calls us to live simple lives, to have a childlike faith. It’s not easy stripping away these worldly desires. Every day I find myself falling into the trap of what this world is trying to offer me. Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Life can be very complicated, and life with Jesus isn’t always going to easy. But my biggest lesson in life thus far is that He is worth it. The feeling of experiencing His grace and love for me is far better than any substance, any amount of likes on Instagram, and any human being can possibly give. We will always have things in our lives that we need to work on but I am so excited to see what else God has planned for my life.
Written by: Abigail Morgan
One of my very favorite questions just so happens to be the one I’ll be answering right now so that’s super cool. What’s the question you ask? Possibly the broadest, yet most important question you could ask: “What’s your story?” My story is full of twists, turns, triumphs, and mainly me tripping a lot (its casual). If you like sweet tea and sweethearts, buckle up because we’re about to go on a blast through the past, my friend.
One score and minus one year, this chick over here (*insert Adele’s “Hello”) was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Miss Audrey SarahAnne grew up going to Chamblee United Methodist Church as a youngling. My story takes the first rise of tension in Pre-K. I was diagnosed with Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome and lost 75% of my hearing. As my doctors say, I’m a giraffe in a room full of horses. Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome is quite a story so honest, WebMd is the best but only in this one situation; otherwise, you’ll end up self-diagnosed with every disease ever. Losing my hearing shook my tiny world. I remember what it felt like to not hear anyone. It was beyond confusing. I had a few surgeries done. By a miracle, six years, and some physical therapy sessions, I slowly gained back 90% of my hearing which wasn’t even remotely possible then.
Rewind a few years, this Georgia peach became a Florida orange (still a peach at heart). It was the middle of my first grade year and my thick southern accent didn’t necessarily make me “cool.” I quietly followed people around all through elementary school. Meanwhile, I attended a small traditional Methodist doing whatever I could anywhere I could. I’m still not really sure why but I fell in love with serving the church and craved being there constantly. If Jesus was involved, it was my jam. I was an acolyte, usher, and helped with the Sunday school kids spending approximately four hours at church every Sunday. Again, I really have no idea why I loved it so much but I kind of never stopped. In fourth grade, the same year I got my hearing back, I was told by my music teacher that I could sing. All it took was one soul believing in me and I’ve never stopped since. I began writing everything any human could ever feel. In sixth grade, my tiny traditional church went to a local contemporary worship event. To get this, the point should be made that the only way I knew to worship God was through hymns and prayers. Arms were raised, spirits were lifted, and I was completely confused. A good pal explained that the people were raising their hands to get closer to God, almost like a kid reaching out for their daddy to pick them up. “Rad,” I said as I squeezed my eyes shut and raised my arms as high as they could get. It was then that I knew that there was something bigger out there than just doing my YouVersion devos, quickly praying before I eat (sorry God, ya girl loves food), and shaking hands with people before we sit down at church. Whatever it was, I wanted to be a part of it.
All of my sixth grade year, I began going to youth group with my British neighbors. Yes, they have accents and yes, they’re the coolest people alive, pinky promise. They loved on me and pursued me as a daughter of Christ knowing that my God was only just beginning His work in me. March 17th, a week after my birthday, I attended a conference in Orlando called 678. It was there that I took my first breath as a believer, my first time inhaling and exhaling love. The message was on the foundation of life and how we cannot stand on anything that is not God because He is our firm foundation and the rock on which we stand. Little did I know that the rollercoaster had only just begun. I hate rollercoasters so please keep all hands inside the blog, we’re going for a ride today, folks. Two months after I was saved, my grandfather passed away. I’d never experienced death but now it seemed closer to me than my dog (aka EXTREMELY close). The idea of it lingered in my heart and its shadow haunted me covering the “Sonshine.” My sister’s friend passed away and a few other relatives. My world was in shambles. Everything I had built up into that year was demolished. My new-found confidence, my ever strengthening joy, my pure happiness, etc. I couldn’t sleep well or at all some nights. I couldn’t just be “normal” (whatever that means). I couldn’t just “fit” anymore. Suddenly, I was broken; genuinely, whole-heartedly broken. But for some reason, I prayed every single day. No matter how worthless I felt. No matter how “alone” I was. No matter how much I wanted to sit in a corner and completely disappear. I still prayed. A year or two later, I ran into my room and fell on my knees behind my bed helplessly sobbing. “God, I’m so alone. I’m so alone. Why am I so alone? Why do they not like me? God, where are you? God, what do you want from me? Do I deserve this? Help, please. I can’t even breathe. Please God help.” A light came over me as I cried out this pridefully pained prayer. I breathed in and asked the question that saved my life,
“God, if I’m so alone, then who am I praying to?”
In a snap, a weight was pulled up off my chest and this daughter of God fell face first bowing before God as I felt His warmth inside my soul. The rays of light shooting through my blinds looked like golden light beams and streamers strung dancing around my room. God tore down what I had built-up so that I could see what I was standing on. My foundation was built on insecurity, comparison, self-doubt, the opinions of others, and the weight of self-given worth. The lies that Satan so graciously whispered in my ear for years upon years. Those prayers weren’t for nothing and it was only by the grace of God that I kept doing it because there was no reason in this world why I would’ve even kept believing in a God. However, I believed in myself almost more than I believed in that rugged cross. I sat upon my own throne until God said no. You see the cross isn’t just a gospel story. The cross is real and what’s realer than that is that Jesus died for you. The shadow of death was holding a gun at your head. Jesus pushed you out of the way and said, “No. Not my children,” letting the bullet draw out His blood. With one bang, it was finished. Even after I was saved, I didn’t know the weight of that. We cannot comprehend how much God loves us. He said I was called even when I refused to call upon His Name. He remained sovereign and into my life, He came.
So this is it, friend, that’s my story. What you can’t see is that the place I wallowed in behind my bed is now where I bow in prayer every night. Remember how I fell on my knees crying? Yeah, I use to do that everyday because the weight of my sins, my pain, and my past was all too much to bear. My lowest points were spent on my knees and now Satan can’t even touch me. When I’m on my knees, the only kind of fear I am worshipping is the fear of God. Friend, I gotta tell you something. I’m not about gossip and ratting out others but you should know this bit. The worst lie that Satan can ever tell you is that you’re alone. You are NOT. I repeat, no go, Satan. Not today… or ever for that matter. If you haven’t read Isaiah 43 lately, I highly recommend it. In fact, it’s now your homework. Better yet, I’ll do your homework for you, no charge.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name,
YOU ARE MINE.”
You my, sister/brother in Christ, were ransomed and adopted. Deemed an heir and loved despite your differences. You are more precious than rubies, stronger than stone, and loved out loud. Abba, is proud to be seen with you. You are His and nothing, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else, can take that away.
You are loved.
You are a child of God and don’t you ever forget it.
Written By: Audrey