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. 

Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday: Giovanna V.

Can I trust God? I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t asked myself that question over a million times. Walking by faith and not by sight is no easy task, and even though I grew up in a Christian home, it’s something I still struggle with. I’ve always believed that “God will carry you through the storm” (Isaiah 43:2) and I’ve heard countless testimonies that confirm that He will make good on His promises, but I lacked that one-on-one experience with God, which made it so hard to trust His word, to trust Him.

The time between 2015-2017 was filled with some of the best and hardest times in my life. I graduated college, moved from Iowa to California, and got married. In the midst of those big life-changing events, I was having a really hard time finding a job. In college I discovered a passion for journalism and TV production. I worked hard to gain experience while in school that would hopefully propel me to an amazing work opportunity following graduation. Internships and assurance from professors and mentors that I would be just fine, made me feel confident that I wouldn’t have an issue finding a job. Boy was that not the case.

When I first got to California, my now husband and I moved to his hometown, and after a month of us living in the same city, he decided to move an hour away to live with his dad. So there I was, in a small town by myself, living with strangers I met through a Craigslist ad, and struggling to find a job. After months of rejection e-mails, I was blessed to have gotten a job working at a popular fast-food chain in the West Coast (Jack in the Box).  At the time, it didn’t feel like a blessing. I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that my first job right after college was frying chicken nuggets and mopping bathroom floors. My friends were off achieving big things, and I was dealing with rude customers and getting paid minimum wage. It was an extremely humbling and confusing time for me. Humbling because I felt entitled to bigger and better things, and confusing because I thought God had a purpose and a plan for my life. None of it made sense to me. I felt abandoned, ignored, and hopeless. Suddenly, I found myself questioning God.

My mom has always been all-in on Jesus, but I can’t say the same for me. I had relied on my mother’s prayers and closeness to God for my own benefit for many years, and I reached a point where I knew that was not going to work on its own anymore. I had to turn to God because this was my journey, not hers. Quite honestly, I felt like that was my only choice. I was ready to walk by faith, and I was hungry to hear God’s voice. I was ready to have my own experience with God and witness His power and His love on my own.

I remember texting Emily a lot at that time. Em knew my background and knew I had strayed from God. She would send me suggestions of churches she found online that were walking distance to where I lived at the time (I didn’t have a car back then). I think she knew it was time for me to get serious about my spiritual growth, and so did I. I found a church, committed to working on my spiritual life, and prayed this simple prayer everyday, “God, I want your will to be done in my life, whatever that is”.

After getting married in 2016, my husband and I moved in together and started a new chapter in our lives. I moved to where he was living and got two part-time jobs at the local mall. We joined an incredible church and slowly but surely I felt a change in my path. Spiritually, I never felt as close to God as I felt then. But with all the incredible changes that were happening within me, there was still resounding doubt and fear in my heart. At that point it had been almost three years since I had graduated, and still, no offers for a job in journalism. That was hard to grapple. “God, I am doing everything I feel like I should be doing. I’m applying for jobs, and I’m pouring myself into you. What is left for me to do so that you keep your promises?” All I got from those pleads was silence. Stillness. Absolutely nothing.

In the many months where I felt so close but so far away from God, I rediscovered the story of Abraham and Sarah. Sarah laughed when God promised her a baby, for which God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at that appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:13-15). That right there reignited my faith.  With tears in my eyes, I prayed, “God, do to my life as you did to Sarah’s – what seems to be the impossible.”

On December 13, 2017, I was on my lunch break at one of my part-time jobs and while checking my inbox, I came across an e-mail from a recruiter at a big TV network. The e-mail read, “I sourced your resume off our job website and I would like to move your profile to the next step in the interview process. I am scheduling 30 minute phone screens for this position next week on Monday. Can you please send me a reply with the time that you are available to chat?” I was floored. All the hours and tears I put into applying to over 500 jobs over the course of 2-3 years, and I was being invited to interview for a position that I didn’t even apply for? I knew that was all God’s doing. On February 16, 2018 I got offered the job.

Even a non-believer would agree that that was a miracle, something with no logic behind it, something that did not make sense. A girl whose first job out of school was working in a fast-food restaurant and most recent work-experiences included folding clothes and selling body lotion – that girl getting offered an extremely competitive job at a big company? What CAN’T God do? And the way He did it really showed to me how perfect He is. He prepared an opportunity for me better than any other job I had applied for. He set it all up so that I didn’t have to lift a finger. He carefully and lovingly wrapped this gift and gave it to me when the He felt I was ready to receive it.

I haven’t lived much, but I have witnessed the miracle-maker God that loves us unconditionally, moves mountains and parts waters.  The hardest part about being a Christ-follower for me is realizing that God operates on His time, and no matter how impatient we get or how hard things become, that won’t ever change. Every single thing He does has a purpose, rhyme and reason. It may not make sense to US as to why we’re in a middle of a desert with no end in sight, but it does to GOD. I believe God wanted to teach me to have the faith and patience of Sarah. I believe I was being crushed so that I could be created.

I’m reading a book by T.D. Jakes, and this stood out to me, “Could it be possible that your current predicament is the winepress God uses to transform your grapes into His wine? Could being crushed be a necessary part of the process to fulfill God’s plan for your life? Could you be on the verge of victory despite walking through the valley of broken vines?”

God never promised the journey would be easy, but if there’s one thing that is certain about the journey we’re in, is that we can trust God because He’s a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. His love never fails and neither does His promises. If He performed a miracle in my life, I know He can and will perform one in yours.

Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday: Jessie P

Testimonies are unique in every way. Some take many words to verbalize – some take just a few. Both can be powerful in innumerable ways. I am grateful for Jessie’s testimony today. Read it a few times and let it soak over you. Marinate in it.


It doesn’t look like the others, but this is where my solid ground comes from:

I’ve been to the deep dark place. The godforsaken pit of no light, no joy, no hope.

Following the birth of my second child, I entered this suffocating void. Yet Christ came to me in a dream. He held out his hand out to me- an invitation to flee the place of drowning. I ran to him, my eyes only looking up, and he walked me out.

As we walked, I was filled with calm, warmth, and absolute peace. He rescued me from the place of death and decay and nothingness and washed me over with light.

I struggle to adequately explain this feeling- it goes beyond words, beyond my understanding. It was then Jesus reassured me, “You never have to go there again.” I suffered that night, after giving birth. I carried the pain and trauma of bringing that one little life to the world.

Yet my Jesus carried the weight of the entire world as he died on the cross. He immersed in 3 days of true hell. Yet he conquered death and walked out of the darkness that third day. Absolute suffering and destruction have no grip on him. And because of this, I walk freely too, in free forgiveness and light. He walked me out. He lived to walk each one of us out of the bonds of sin.

He took the pain, every single blow, for you and for me. He didn’t have to. This is love in the most profound way.

Each year on Easter, my heart bursts with equal parts sorrow and joy.

I know the place of the deep dark. And the same words he told me, I share with you – You never have to go there again. He has walked you out.

Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday: Janna S.

Cherry Snow. It was the color of the new nail polish I applied that morning. I had a slice of toast and listened to my Steven Curtis Chapman album. It was cloudy and a bit cool for the end of April, so I slipped on a jacket. Two surprise pink tulips greeted me in my front flower garden as I left the house.

Remembering or even noticing details has never been my strength, but on April 30, 2001, God granted me an exceptional memory. 

I woke up that Monday morning and put on my cutest maternity clothes. It was our first visit to the perinatologist. Our baby had measured small at the appointment four weeks before at my 23 week appointment. As a precaution, I was sent to see the specialist.

My nerves were fried from worrying, but I knew I shouldn’t panic. After all, this was most likely just an unnecessary visit and, as a bonus, I’d have another chance to see our baby on a more sophisticated ultrasound. It was also a much needed “skip day” from teaching. Never having used a personal day, I actually felt a little guilty about it. Plus, my mom and I were going to enjoy a lunch out before she went with me to my appointment at the hospital.

In normal circumstances, my husband would be with me. However, the police academy was two hours away and, again, there was nothing to be concerned about. He kissed me and assured me that God was in control before he drove back to Des Moines early on that same day. 

As I got ready, my tummy started to feel tight and squeeze intermittently. Being a new mother, I didn’t realize that I was having contractions. The tightness continued in frequency and length throughout lunch and grew even stronger as the ultrasound tech performed measurements in complete silence.

My mom looked concerned, leaning forward in her chair, but remained her constant comforting and calm self. “Can you see her moving? Is everything okay?” My voice sounded like an echo.

“Your baby is not alive.” I don’t know how my doctor sounded so loving and kind saying those words, but he did. 

This is when God sharpened my memory to a level that can only be explained as divine. I needed to call the police academy to speak with my husband. I wanted to call my mother-in-law’s office so she could pray. I felt like my school needed to know that I would be taking some time off. Every single number from every single contact that I would possibly need rolled off my tongue.

I was taken to a delivery room to be prepped for delivering a baby. My water broke on my own and there was no time to start an IV or any pain medications. All of the nurses were amazing as they navigated an inexperienced 25 year old through the painful delivery of a stillborn baby.

Chad raced to the hospital from the academy, but didn’t make it in time for the delivery. Ava Faith was born at 27 weeks with my mom and dad by my side. (I’m so thankful they were there.) She was 13.8 oz and 11 ¼ in long. 

That’s when my memory took a turn. The rest of the evening was a blur. I’m told I cried continuously for the remainder of the hospital stay. I don’t remember. I know I held her and she was beautiful and then somehow I was home. Home with an empty uterus, no baby, and breasts full of milk.

I didn’t think I could survive this heartache. Managing life seemed impossible.  This is where my testimony of how God helped me through begins.

Pretending like I was the picture-perfect woman of faith would be a lie. It was hard. Becoming a mother was what my heart longed for, but trusting His timing was a hard lesson. After many months of tears and even yelling at God, I surrendered. I felt His embrace and just let him hold me. My faith grew and His faithfulness throughout my trials was revealed.

One clear lesson I learned is that when you go through tough times, you can either choose to run from God or run TO Him. You can be bitter and angry for the rest of your life or you can listen to His leading and let Him mold you into the person He wants you to be. Keep going to church. Maintain friendships with like-minded people. Read the bible. Don’t run away….it’s so easy to want to do that.

Am I the same person I was before Ava went to be with Jesus? No. Am I thankful? Absolutely. I’m so humbled to know that God loves me enough to shape me into a better person.

1 Peter 1:7 says, “..that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

My faith was tried. For sure. But that verse brought me comfort along with the Ginny Owens’ song, “If You Want Me To.”  (If you haven’t heard it, look it up.) She sings, “So if all of these trials bring me closer to you, then I will go through the fire if you want me to.”

Going through the fire is not something that anyone ever wants to do. But I know that God loves me. He has used my trials to refine me and I’m forever changed. And forever grateful. 


Friends – Emily here. Janna’s testimony – m o v e s – me. I am grateful for her bravery and obedience to share how Goad can work through any circumstance to make it for HIS good. NO matter what you are going through – or have been through – I want you to know that you are NOT alone.

Every single person who has shared their testimony on this site would be more than happy to walk through your darkness with you and give you guidance through prayer. I myself – and I know many of my friends agree -that God allows us to come through these trials we face not only a stronger human but also closer to Him. And we are called to share these stories with you so that you are so aware that you are NEVER ALONE.

You, friend, are loved by the most amazing Lord of All. And no matter what, He is for you. He accepts you right where you are and will walk alongside you through your troubles and tribulations- ( the good and boring stuff too). Would you allow me to pray for you?

Father God.
I thank you for my friend reading these words right now. I thank you for their willingness to open themselves up to hear someone else’s story, and how you moved in their lives. Father, I ask that you work in their lives and carry them through their darkness. I ask that you bring people into their lives that would help keep them on the path that YOU have laid out before them.
Father, You are worthy of all of our praises. You are good and mighty. Thank you for the blessings of life that you have poured out on us. Open our eyes to see how we can share these blessings with those around us. Place people on our paths that will help lead us to you.
Amen.

Categories
Faith Testimony Tuesdays

Testimony Tuesday : But what is a Testimony?

17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. – Revelation 12: 17 NIV

We’ve been doing #Testimony Tuesday for a few months now but I know that some of you are still asking “But Why?”
“What are testimonies really? Why do we share them? Why is it important to our faith? Does it really matter anyways?“
Today, I want to answer those questions and I’d also like to invite you to share YOUR testimony.

What is a testimony?

Definition of testimony
1a: a solemn declaration usually made orally by a witness under oath in response to interrogation by a lawyer or authorized public official.
b: firsthand authentication of a fact EVIDENCE
c: an outward sign
2a: an open acknowledgment.
b: a public profession of religious experience.

Now that we have the TECHINICAL definition from good old Merriam Webster out of the way, lets chat about that it means in Christian Terms.

A testimony is God’s Story in your life. It’s the answer to “ What has God been up to in your life?” It’s your personal evidence that God is real and active. Sometimes, our testimonies can be ginormous and life changing/saving. But there are also smaller ways that God works in your life daily that are a testimony to His grace, goodness and steadfastness.

Most of the testimonies on this site so far have been of the BIG and LIFE CHANGING variety. But some of them – like Faith’s – have been not as life changing but no less important. So when you think of testimonies, don’t just think about the GIANT super visible total 180 degree changes that happen when someone goes from prison to evangelist. Think about all the other things too. Like someone bringing you a meal when you really needed it. Or when you left the house a little bit late and missed the big accident on your way to work. Or even a little bigger – $100 showing up in your mailbox at Christmas time when you needed it.

OR MAYBE you were on the giving end of that $100. Maybe you felt God nudging you to give to someone at the grocery store but it seemed weird and you did it anyways and that person was overwhelmed with your generosity. Maybe you smiled at someone on the sidewalk and it made their whole day better. Or you prayed for someone who was telling you their problems. All of these things are testimonies of God’s goodness. Whether you are giving or receiving, these events all play a role in your relationship with Christ.

Why do we share them?

We share our testimonies to show others how God is moving and active in our lives. It is like standing before a judge and saying “ I know God is real because……”. You fill in that blank with how God has worked in your life. You are TESTIFYING to His LOVE, Grace, Mercy, etc. You are testifying that He is REAL . By sharing our testimonies we have the unique opportunity to encourage other Believers to notice the things God does in their lives. And to show non-Believers what they may see as a coincidence or Karma is actually God at work.

Why is it important to our faith?

Testimonies are important to our faith because they are EVIDENCE that God is real. They are a way for us to look at our lives and see what God has done for us. In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel sets up some rocks into a pile and declares that they are an Ebenezar – a monument to how God has helped him. They are a memorial to the TESTIMONY of Gods people. Every time someone walks by that stack of rocks, they will see it and remember what God has done for them.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[a] saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

When we collect our testimonies and share them, its like setting up our own Ebenezar. People will see and remember what God has done. They show that God is faithful in all circumstances.

Does it really matter?

YES! It really matters that we share out testimonies with each other. In the good ties and bad, we need to be sharing.

Often times, in our trials and tribulations -we feel isolated and alone. That no one else in the world knows how we are feeling. Sometimes, we even feel unlovable – by our family and by God. But when you share your testimony – someone will read that and glean encouragement and hope from it. They will see that they are not alone in this bad thing they are in the midst of right now. Your testimony will show them that they are still loved.

In the good times, its just as important to share our testimonies because we can often overlook the blessings that are happening and write them off as *Good Luck* or a coincidence. But theres no such thing as coincidences or Good Luck. God has a purpose for everything. And when she share these testimonies with people, it allows us to more easily identify the amazing things God is doing EVERYDAY.

SOMETIMES- and this is my personal favorite – we can start seeing patterns in the things God is doing in our life. When we start seeing patterns and we maybe even see the same pattern in other peoples lives – it can be a signal that God is working on something BIG. It’s like a heads up to start praying about something super seriously and to get your friends involved too. Let me tell you an example.

A Shared Testimony

Last summer, I felt like God was preparing me for something big but I had no idea what it was. I could see Him doing things in. my life to make my faith in HIM stronger. I found myself being broken down in the best ways to see what my foundation was really built on. He was doing this in my marriage too. So many little things that felt like they were going to become one big testimony. I kept praying about it and kept seeing that I was supposed to be sharing something, somehow. But it would involve my voice and my creativity.

I chatted with one of my friends and she had been having the same things happening in her life. So we started praying for each other. She sent me a message one Saturday evening that said, ( essentially) “ I think we’re supposed to link arm and run together towards this ministry God is calling us to.“ I wasn’t so sure so I said I’d pray about it and let her know. Well you guys – the sign came to me LITERALLY the next morning when I got to church and our Music leader at church LITERALLY had a shirt on with one giant word on it RUN. It BLEW MY MIND because On the wash there I had said to Jacob, I wish God would just give me a sign, I’m so confused. Well, as I dont believe in coincidences, this was amazing. And it‘s a testimony to Gods faithfulness. And now we have this Ministry, this site you’re on right now is the thing that these small testimonies were leading to. THIS!

And you know what’s even more awesome? God was leading my friend into an amazing ministry of her own! She is helping all these women who have been called into ministry. She found a handful of women who were all called into the same thing, but separately – who needed guidance and direction and SHE IS DOING THAT! God did that! He called us into ministry and then blessed us with this amazing woman as a resource and guide. He is SO FAITHFUL.

So, what now?

What now? You may be asking. Well, a few things can happen now.

  1. I am asking you to start to notice the blessings in your life. Big or little, what are some things that God seems to be doing in your life?
  2. Write these things down. Keep a record of your testimonies.
  3. Ask the people around you what God is doing in their life. It is good to share.
  4. If you feel comfortable, I would love for you to share these testimonies with me. I love to see how God is working in our lives.

Can I pray for you?

Father God, I ask you to be with my friend – open their eyes to show them what you are up to in their life. Allow them to see things no longer as just coincidence but as something you’ve done to show them your glory. Father, you are good, you are steadfast and you deserve all of our praise. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Amen.

Until Next Time,
Emily B.

%d bloggers like this: