Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday : Jenny R.

Happy Tuesday sweet friends. I took a bit of a hiatus this summer from the blog. I didn’t really mean to. However, it was much needed. I’ll explain more in a post later this week, but for now – I want to share with you my friend Jenny’s testimony. I am grateful for her grace and patience – she wrote this back in MAY! God has blessed me an amazing woman to call my friend and I’m excited to be able to share her testimony with you today.


Jenny and her children.
Photo credit Emily Hildreth Photography

When I told Emily I would be willing to share my story, I warned her that it isn’t anything spectacular, though!  I hesitated to even share it because I did not have a big story to share. I think sometimes, myself included, seek out Earth-shattering, life-changing events as reference points for when we grow or change. A death in the family, a graduation, getting married, having a child, etc. These are all BIG stories that change us, and yes, these did change me. However, for me, my testimony of faith has been found in the most mundane, routine moments of my life, and that is probably why I’ve never thought to share my story before. 

I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church on Sunday, and I went to a youth group Wednesday evenings. Some of my fondest memories are learning to read during a church service, when my dad would attempt to challenge me with hard words out of the readings for the day. “Leviti….Levitic….Leviticus,” I’d whisper out in victory before he’d point to the next word. We said prayers before meals and prayers before bed at night. I am so thankful for my parents and the Christian upbringing they gave my sister and I. 

I can also confidently say that I’ve always believed in God and put my trust in Jesus. Sure, I had questions about it growing up. I couldn’t wrap my head around what the Crucifixion and Resurrection meant for me. I couldn’t wrap my head around a lot of things, but I figured I’d get answers along the way. 

Here, though, is where I reference back to these mundane moments in my life. See, while I claimed I was a “Christian,” and I believed in Jesus, a lot of my day-to-day life choices and actions did not demonstrate that.

This really came to light when I left home to go to college. Growing up, my parents had pretty strict rules. I had a curfew that I had to abide by (even though I broke it sometimes…sorry, Mom)! There were consequences for our actions if we broke one of their “rules.” However, for the most part, I was a good kid. I had a good group of friends. We didn’t drink or smoke. I got A’s in school. I was president of the student council, I participated in choir, and I played sports.  I’m pretty sure the most rebellious thing I ever did was tee-pee a friends house. I attribute this mostly to my parents and my upbringing.

Then I went to the University of Iowa as an 18 year old, and suddenly, I did not have a curfew. I was a good student and a good person…compared to everyone else. Sure, I played a game of flip cup every now and then, but I was still a good person…compared to what some other people were doing there. I figured I could break a rule and then ask for forgiveness and go on with my life. I’d break the rule again, ask for forgiveness, and I’d move on. It was a never ending cycle! I figured I was doing okay, though, because I was comparing myself to everyone else. Surely, I thought, God wouldn’t send me to Hell if I broke just a few of His commandments over and over and asked for forgiveness each time. However, one day, after listening to a Homily in church, I realized that God is a just and fair God. If I break a rule, there has to be a consequence. That is only fair.

It was then I realized the role Jesus had in all this. It was like I was standing in a courtroom, being given a fine for $100,000 for something I did, and Jesus walks in and says, “I am going to pay this on behalf of Jen.” The Crucifixion and Resurrection suddenly made a lot more sense to me. I started wrapping my head around it all. This realization was only exemplified after I had my first child and I realized that I would do anything…ANYTHING…out of the love I had for my son. I discovered that it must be similar to the love God and Jesus had for me…to be willing to do that for me. To this day, it breaks me every time I think about it.

After I began to understand the Gospel message, I began to actively try to act out what it means to be a Christian in the most mundane moments of my life. I tried to stop being envious over what my friends had. I tried to show love to my neighbor, despite who they were or their different beliefs they had. The more I focused on the small, mundane moments of my life…going on a walk…getting coffee with a friend…going to the grocery store…the more I understood what it means to walk a Christian walk. My life dramatically changed when I made that realization and started acting in line with that thinking.

Yes, BIG events have changed me. The death of grandparents…my wedding…getting my first teaching job…having my children..having a very sick child….dealing with extreme postpartum depression…leaving my job to stay home…going back to teaching…all of these events have dramatically changed me. Some of them have tested my faith…all of them have resulted in my faith growing stronger. 

But where my testimony really lies is in the most mundane, day-to-day moments. How I handle a conflict between my two toddlers. How I greet the cashier at the grocery store. How I ask for forgiveness from my husband. How I step into my classroom each day. The decisions I make in regards to what to cook for dinner each night. ALL of this can and should be done out of God’s love. I’ve discovered that in these mundane moments, I have an incredible opportunity to reflect on God’s love and show that to other people. 

It has also been in these everyday moments that I have seen God’s love more than ever. It is a friend showing up with dinner after a child is born. It is my three year old giving me a hug for no reason at all. It is my husband unloading the dishwasher when I didn’t ask him to. It is a phone call from a friend I’ve missed. It is Emily Brown herself offering to watch my kids, without hesitation, when I was in desperate need of daycare help. These small moments really demonstrate to me that God is everywhere, all the time–not just in the BIG moments of my life.

Yes, I still mess up in my walk…frequently. The difference now, though, is that I know it isn’t a cycle of messing up and asking for forgiveness. Now, I ask for forgiveness with the whole-hearted truth of not wanting to mess up again…how could I when I know the price Jesus was willing to pay for my sin? And I guess that’s my testimony…that in the small everyday moments of my life, Jesus presents Himself, and I am given opportunities to show that love to others. 

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Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday: Anonymous Wife

** Note from Emily – Todays’ testimony is one that many Christian women find personal shame and guilt from. It is one that doesn’t get spoken about openly often enough. I am proud of my friend for being brave enough to share this testimony. I know, however, that not all marriages that have this stumbling block in them turn out well, so please know that there is support for you- you only need to reach out. **


I wanted to share my story but didn’t want to tell my husband’s sins to everyone.  His sins have been forgiven by me, so I’d like to protect his name.


A year ago I did not feel this way. A year ago I wanted him to have to confess to everyone.  I wanted others to know I was suffering because of him.  Honestly,  a year ago I had written a list on if I should stay married because Biblically it was ok to file for a divorce and I didn’t want to live in the mess our marriage was. But now a year later, I don’t want to share his name because I don’t want anyone thinking less of him.  He’s my best friend, my husband. I’ve forgiven him and we have grown so much in this year. We aren’t perfect and our marriage is still growing. God has grown us both a lot.

This testimony is no praise to me for forgiving but to God for how great HE is!


Our child was having medical issues. Our marriage was struggling. We were in a high stress job and dealing with tough decisions. I felt attacked anytime we spoke. I truly felt God was telling me something and my husband did not see the same way. My husband was in a ministry role but something seemed off with him.  Our conversations would get heated and he seemed to always be SO angry. I began to not really talk to him besides small talk because anything deeper and he would shut down or get angry.  I prayed and asked God if He could help me to still be respectful and submit to my husband. But I struggled with how to submit  when my husband wasn’t making a firm decision on anything but just getting angry with me about any decision I made. I then discovered he was addicted to pornography.  Instantly I had my answer as to what was going on.  Why he was acting the way he was. Why he was treating me the way he was. But then I was stuck… now what? I was SO very angry with him.  


I wanted others to know so that they would know I was struggling. But felt like I shouldn’t tell anyone as something must be wrong with me for him to be looking at porn. I had so many mixed emotions from wanting him to suffer consequences to wanting God to restore our marriage and  for us to be in a wonderful redemptive marriage story(those take lots of hard work!)


Before I had found out about his porn addiction I had read the book “Boundaries”. It was God’s timing as when I found out about his addiction, I knew we needed more boundaries in place. Porn had been an issue for my husband from his teen years and though he’d tried stopping on his own he couldn’t.  He needed accountability and I knew it was unhealthy for me to be his accountability partner. So I put forth some boundaries in our relationship. I told him he must set up an accountability app on all his devices. And call and ask someone to be his accountability partner. The partner must be a Christian involved in a church. This partner would then receive all his activity reports from his devices. If he did not do this we were not going to move forward in fixing our marriage.

[There are ways around accountability applications and it might have already been in place in your marriage and your husband found a way around it. I’m very sorry if this is the case.  Accountability app is not the way to end a porn addiction, it is a tool to help. At first my husband and his accountability partner met together weekly.  Another tool we have used to help is my husband took a STEPS: Gospel- centered recovery class by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer. He has also attended counseling individually and we have gone together.]


I felt like God had laid it on my heart to give him a welcoming like the prodigal son after I hadn’t seen him for a while. When I saw him I gave him a hug and made small talk but it was SO hard to show love like the Father showed the prodigal son as I felt he still was not convicted of his sin. I felt if it wasn’t for me telling him to he would not be taking steps to be free of porn. It hit me that God loves us SO much.  When we are lost and in sin He still loves us! God is calling me to be loving like He is loving.  And this is hard! There are times when I want to throw myself a pity party because I have to be the strong one while my husband is dealing with getting over a porn addiction and depression. I need to keep showing love. But when I keep focusing on myself, I’m not looking to Christ and asking how I can be like Him in the situation. 

A year or more before this all happened I had done the study by Priscilla Shirer on prayer, “Fervent”. It changed my prayer life. In the book she discusses 10 strategies to pray over yourself and family. Strategy number 9 is: “Your hurts:  Turning bitterness to forgiveness”. After reading the book I made pages of the 10 prayer strategies and wrote down scripture to pray with each strategy. I also made cards for each member of my family. Each morning I would try to pray one strategy and for one member of my family.

A verse that really spoke to me from strategy 9 was 2 Corinthians 2:  5-11 
“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”


This was very tough for me but I knew I needed to forgive and comfort him.  And reaffirm my love for him. Again I wasn’t perfect at doing this but trying to really helped me forgive.  


Another thing that really helped me during this time is I studied Luke 24:13- with someone. She had asked how I thought the disciples had felt on the road Emmaus. A back story to this story is that Christ had just died. He was put into the tomb.  Then the women had just discovered that the tomb was empty.  When Jesus appeared to them on the road they didn’t know it was Him.  Their faces were downcast.  She asked what I thought the disciples might had been feeling?

Some answers I gave were confused,  lost hope,  defeated, wasted 3 years,  doubt,  unsure what to do next,  sad,  betrayed, shame,  abandoned,  lost, and lied to.  She then asked how I was feeling, many of my feelings were the same. At the end of the walk, Jesus acted like he was going to continue but the disciples urged him to stay.  When I’m confronted with all these feelings am I going to allow Christ to keep moving or am I going to ask him to stay with me and cling to Him? Christ then revealed himself in a familiar way to the disciples over dinner. During this time and many in my life I’m realizing all the familiar ways God is speaking to me and how God can grow me when I’m facing trials.


I never hoped my marriage would struggle with a Porn addiction or that I’d contemplate divorce.  I long for a marriage that others see and want. God brings growth through Hard times if we allow Him. Because my husband and I are both willing to aim for growth in Christ our marriage is growing!  It is not easy and it takes a lot of work but our marriage is SO much better.  A book that I read before all of this taking place in my marriage was “When God doesn’t fix it” by Laura Story. She also wrote the song Blessings.  This book and the song helped me a lot to focus on growing in my trials and not focus as much on my trials. 

*If your spouse has/had a porn addiction or an affair.  I highly recommend “Hope after Betrayal: Healing When Sexual Addiction Invades your Marriage” by Meg Wilson. 

Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday: Ben W.

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When Emily asked me if I would share my testimony I wondered, “Which one?”  I’ve got the foundational one (which I presumed she was asking for,) the one about falling into alcoholism in college, running away from God, and then finding sobriety, a wife, and a new calling to be a pastor.  That’s definitely a big one for me, but I’m pretty bored with it.  Can I say that?  It’s not that I’m not grateful.  God saved me there and I would have drowned alone in my own sin and disease without him stepping in.  But God was active in my life before that happened.  And he’s been active in my life since.  In fact, that’s always what I find if I care to open my eyes at all.  He’s challenging and changing me because my old sinful self needs challenging and changing.

So, I’m going to share about fatherhood instead. 

I’m a bit of an odd duck in my birth family.  I’m more conservative than they are; and I trust our culture less, especially the way it has been changing in the past few generations.  So, for example, I used to be a high school teacher, but my wife, Faith, and I homeschool.  We try to avoid processed foods as much as possible and buy our meat from local people.  We don’t watch TV (aside from some Netflix and This Old House) and, speaking for myself at least, it has more to do with avoiding the commercials that try to shape our kids rather than the programs themselves.  What I’m saying is that we both had some strong ideas about avoiding some cultural pitfalls in our parenting.  Back in the days before fatherhood I remember seeing parents in public places and I just cringed.  They talked to their children like the kids were the boss; they gave in to tantrums; they talked about “timeouts.”  Ugh.  “We’re not going to be like that,” I said to my wife.  Or maybe she said it to me.  Either way, we were in agreement on the matter.  We were going to be consistent; we were going to do the hard work when they were little to insist on first-time obedience.  We were going swat and spank, not to punish, but to correct.  We were going to be awesome parents and our kids would be shining examples of how smart we were.  I’ve intentionally put this in language that tips my hand.  You know what’s coming.

God is active in our lives.  He did not delay.  His goal is to grow us up into the fullness of Christ, so he sent us our son Benjamin.  We thought we were going to mold him.  Instead, God was going to use him (and reinforcements) to mold us. 

Benjamin was a pretty straightforward kid from the start.  He liked to be in charge.  My job, as I perceived it, was to correct him so that he would learn what was right.  This correction took the forms of flicks when he was a toddler (whenever he was touching something he wasn’t supposed to) and spankings later on.  The idea was to have the rules and to be consistent in following them.  This negative feedback would naturally lead him to obedience and good behavior.  Woo-hoo!  I would do the hard work at the start, because I loved him, and we would all reap the benefits later on. 

Fast-forward a couple of years.  Benjamin was exerting his will constantly.  Following our theory of parenting, I was spanking him multiple times a day.  And he had become defiant about it.  Without realizing it, our relationship was mostly about that dynamic of fault-finding and correction.  Did I love him?  Absolutely!  And I thought I was showing it.  But I was spending an awful lot of time spanking him, sometimes several times in a row because he wouldn’t knuckle under and change like he was supposed to.  And I was getting frustrated.  If I was acting in good faith and trying to be a godly parent, and if what I was doing was the godly thing to do, then the problem was clearly Benjamin.  (I don’t know that I ever put it that straightforwardly, but I think I began to feel that.)

Fast-forward a bit more.  As we had more kids, we began to understand that our theory wasn’t working very well for them either.  And so we mostly moved away from spanking.    But our third child John began struggling with weird outbursts and physical tics and we, eventually, came up with a plan to try to meet his needs.  We spent way more cuddle time with him.  When he had melt-downs I would remove him from the situation so that he could get some one-on-one time.  These things seemed to help some. But parenting was still more than we can handle.  Our original theory didn’t work, but everything else we tried was disappointing as well.  It was just hard all the time.

Several more years pass and, though we had made some progress, life was still really hard and Benjamin was still getting under my skin.  So many of the things he did are things that drive me up the wall.  He was bossy to his siblings.  He did stuff without asking.  He never seemed sorry about anything he did wrong.  I was critical of him all the time.  One day I noticed this, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. 

And now we’ve arrived to the recent past.  Benjamin is grouchy about stuff.  He seems like what I imagine a teenager to be, surly with a bad attitude for every occasion.  He’s critical of his siblings and often yells at them instead of encouraging them.  It begins to sink in, “This isn’t his fault.” 

One of the things I know from systems theory in psychology is that we can’t change other people; we can only change ourselves.  But for some reason that understanding had trouble sinking in when it related to the kids, especially Benjamin.  It’s not that we didn’t think of it sometimes, but it never became the real framework for how I could relate better to the kids.

Another thing that I should note.  It’s not that God was absent from all of our efforts.  I was praying for the kids.  We were trusting that even though we were struggling, that they were his kids and that somehow, someway he would shepherd them through okay, in spite of us if necessary.

Here is the insight that finally came arrived.  I began to think of this as more of a 12-Step problem.  The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous is, “Admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.”  What if I’m the problem?  And what if I can’t fix myself?  The next two steps are these: 2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

And now to take a big step back.  This testimony is almost entirely about failure.  And it hardly points to God.  There is no victory, no change that I can point to and say, “The problem is taken care of.”  I suppose my testimony is this: I am incapable of engineering things so that they’re awesome.  I struggle mightily.  My very best intentions seem to make things worse.  I think you could say that I have a Romans 7 testimony. 

“So I find it be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin…  Wretched man that I am.

This has been so much of my life as a father.  I’ve been so full of good intentions and I have worked myself to weariness in trying to do right.  And evil has been at hand.  Thank God that Paul continues,

“Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Paul is teaching in Romans about a complete change in paradigm from one that focuses on the right that we must do and on the wrong we must avoid (a paradigm of good intentions that relies on myself), to a complete trust that God is accomplishing that which he desires in us and that he will not be thwarted (a paradigm of desperate faith that knows that only God can accomplish what is needful.)   Looking forward, in my relationship to Benjamin especially, I cling to Romans chapter 8.


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.”

“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In so many ways I am a failure as a father.  I am a Romans 7 father.  But I trust a Romans 8 God.  And I trust that he will change me.  I trust that he will change Benjamin.  I trust that he will not be stopped, but will be at work in us producing good things for his glory.  And I give thanks that I haven’t messed it all up beyond repair.

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Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday: Kindsey S.

“I just heard back from the doctor at Mayo clinic and he thinks you need to come back to the States for a bone marrow biopsy on your daughter.” 


I was not expecting that on this phone call. I had spent the entire afternoon with my three kids at the pool. We had just been enjoying one of our last playdates with a friend before they were going to move back to the states. I had pulled into the driveway of our house I was going to run the clothes up and then we would head to meet up with my husband and have dinner with the team that was in town. Then my phone rang. It was the medical director and she explained to me what the doctor at Mayo Clinic shared. We determined I didn’t need to leave the country the next day but within the next two weeks, I would need to fly to the States. 

My daughter was five months old at the time. I had discovered a bump on her head when she was around 2 months old. That bump was found to be a sebaceous cyst(nothing to worry about). When we went to the doctor about the cyst they recommended blood work to be done. Her blood work revealed elevated platelet levels. We had been watching her platelet count ever since and sending the results to our medical director who then shared them with a doctor at Mayo clinic.


Within two weeks I was boarding an airplane with my 3 kids who were ages 4 and under to fly to the states for an appointment at a Children’s hospital to discuss if our daughter needed a bone marrow biopsy.  My husband stayed in the country we were living in as missionaries. God answered so many prayers the day of my flight! We made it to the States and the kids did well flying. I had people helping me along the way. Besides some tears, a busted lip, and a kid needing to poop as they were about to board the plane, it was a pretty smooth flying day.   


Once we were stateside, the appointment with the hematologist went well.  She chose to do a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration and also some genetic testing to try and find some answers before telling us we could go back. Everything came back normal from the bone marrow test.  Her bone marrow showed it was producing too many platelets and producing giant platelets but the doctors don’t know why. They said I could fly back and wait for the genetic test results. 

 
 I did not have peace leaving the States so the kids and I stayed waiting on the results of the genetic tests. Waiting for the genetic test results took a while. In the waiting, I spent much time in God’s word and reading Bible studies. During this time God was growing me and speaking to me. When things were happening and no one had answers I wondered why? Why did God put the cyst on her head? Why did we discover she has elevated platelet levels?

Why?


God spoke to me through my time in His Word, listening to sermons and reading other people’s Bible studies. I may never know the answers to my why questions. So instead of asking all these whys? I can start asking How’s. How can I use this situation to bring God glory?  How can I glorify God where I am? How can I grow in relationship with Him?  How can I use where I am to encourage others in their relationship with Christ?  How can I be a light? 

When I don’t understand things taking place I’m learning to ask fewer why questions and more how questions. In asking How instead of why I have found more JOY. God continually shows me ways I can be a light to my children and others, especially during difficult times. 


Now we are living in the states and our daughter’s platelet level is close to normal!  Praise God! God has grown me so much during this time and I’m so thankful for where my relationship is with Him and how He is using me in other people’s lives.  There have been tough days, there have been many tears but our God is faithful and has provided for our needs along the way.


Some verses that I held close during this time was: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2‭-4


Something that really helped me to encounter true JOY from Christ was being thankful and praying prayers of thanksgiving toward God. Even when things are difficult,  I can find things to be thankful for. “Praise the Lord . Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.  Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?” Psalms 106:1‭-‬2 

I hope that no matter what you are facing right now, you can know that God is good and His love for you endures forever! 

Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday: Caleb W

I remember exactly what happened and how I felt when it happened. The day I gave my life to Christ was one I will never forget. But before I tell you about it, I’m guessing most of you don’t know who I am. So, let me introduce myself and give you a shortened version of my testimony. 

My name is Caleb Wubben and I am currently a JH teacher and a JH football, HS boys basketball, and HS boys track coach at Manson Northwest Webster. I grew up in Manson my whole life. I graduated from ICCC with my A/A degree in December 2014 and then graduated UNI in December 2017 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary/Middle-Level Education and started teaching at Manson. 

Throughout my whole life, my family has attended church. When I was 5, my family started going to a Baptist church in Fort Dodge and my parents sent me to the Christian school. Going to a Christian school, I heard anywhere from 5-7 messages a week from church to Sunday School, to chapel, etc. So I had been instructed in God’s Word and received a Christian education. When I was in JH, I lived somewhat of a double life. Around my parents, the adults at church, and in public, I was this great young man that everyone liked. However, around some of my classmates I acted like I didn’t care about God and that being a Christian was boring and wasn’t for me. It took about two years, but I finally realized I was wrong and admitted it to my parents. In high school, I made a profession of faith, but it was more like a fire insurance policy. I treated God as an on/off switch that I ran to when things were bad but when things were good, who needs Him right? Outwardly, I was still this amazing young man that everyone liked and thought highly of because of what I knew about God and I didn’t party, smoke, drink, do drugs, etc. It made me feel weird knowing how I was using God and so when I went to college I thought I’ll get my life on track there.

In college, I really dove into figuring out what I believed. I thought I had given my life to Christ and I can honestly say my knowledge of God and the Bible grew. However, that’s what it was. It was just knowledge. When I got my first teaching job, I started going to my parent’s church again. At this time, my dad was one of the men teaching in Sunday School for the adults along with some other men of the church who were on staff. For two weeks my dad talked on salvation and then the next two weeks another man taught on something similar. Immediately after that, Billy Graham passed away and we discussed how he lived his life for Christ in our FCA. Throughout this whole time, I was convicted that I wasn’t actually saved and only had the knowledge of God, and that deep down in my heart I hadn’t given over my life especially some of the sins that I had hidden throughout my life. 

Finally, on Friday March 22, 2018, it all came to ahead. I couldn’t take the guilt and the weight of my sin anymore. I was sitting in the classroom I was teaching in at the time about 7:30 at night and called to tell my dad I was giving my life to Christ. I remember going to my apartment and asking Jesus to save me and forgive me for all the sins I had committed. I vividly remember after I prayed and accepted Christ that for the next half hour I listened to two songs on repeat and cried so much that I couldn’t cry anymore. I listened to ‘I stand Redeemed’ by Legacy Five and ‘I am Redeemed’ by the Dills. Both of the songs talked about being redeemed and how when God looks at me now He sees the nail-scarred hands that bought my liberty because I accepted Christ as my Savior. All I had to offer Christ was a broken life, and He forgave me and gave me hope. It felt like a weight had been lifted, and I didn’t have to carry my burdens anymore. From that moment on, I was determined to live my life for Christ!

However, as you can imagine, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. Because I belong to the King now, Satan knows that when I die I’m going to Heaven so he has to try and get me to be a bad example here on Earth. I have had to rely on Christ to help me stand against the temptations of Satan pertaining to some of the sins in my past. I’ve also had physical obstacles to overcome. This last summer, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer and underwent a couple of rounds of chemotherapy. At first, I was upset as to why me? But then I realized I didn’t have a right to be mad at God and that He would use my story for good. It has opened doors for me to connect with people I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to and has given me opportunities to then share my faith! 

I know this life hasn’t been promised to be easy and it’s going to be full of struggle. However, I do know that when my time comes to pass on to the other side, after my last breath here I will take my first breath in Heaven. It’s an amazing feeling to have that assurance. I will continue to live my life for Christ relying on Him to guide me and get me through every step of the way! I’m thankful for Calvary and that God never gave up on me!

I hope this gives you encouragement to continue to live for Christ and to never give up on someone who may have walked away from Christ because tomorrow could be the day they say yes to Jesus!

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