Baptism

Well, I did it! I was baptized! What a beautiful, emotional, experience shared with a loving church family and friends that came to support me. This act of obedience, this outward sign of my inner change, was a long time coming for me, and something I said just two years ago that I would never do if it meant getting up on that stage. I was wrong. Thank you Jesus! Below is the short testimony I shared, along with photos a friend took to capture this moment for me.

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I was raised in houses devoid of faith and crumbling in brokenness. Addictions, neglect, abuse, and abandonment were the foundation of my childhood.  He who knit me together in my mother’s womb, carried me safely through and gifted me with the desire to seek love, security, and safety. The world told me where to find it. I went to college, married a wonderful man, was blessed with two happy, healthy children, had a comfortable home, two new vehicles, a savings account, college funds, the privilege of staying home to care for my family, and plans. A life better than I ever dreamed I could have.  FB_IMG_1458346556622

Imagine my surprise when I was still plagued with terrible anxiety and depression.  I was led to a therapist, Believer, and now beloved friend. Who used her gift of compassion, patience, and love to, over time, chip away at that decaying foundation to make room for something more solid. She encouraged me through the doors of the worship center where the Holy Spirit opened my eyes for the first time to the gospel, with a heart finally ready to receive it. For several years He worked in my life, laying a new foundation in Christ; A carpenter, creating a new structure of trust, faith, and belief through His word and His church. He even added a surprise room for a third happy, healthy child.

Almost two years ago I was hit by a storm in the form of genetic disorders that I know, had that new foundation not been laid, would have taken down that new structure and I would not have survived the fall. Those transient, worldly things that I had held so tightly to and was so terrified of losing? The things I was sure would bring me love, security, and safety? Some of them were washed away. Healthy kids, financial security and plans made way for true love, security, and safety in Christ. Surrendering everything I have and everything I am to my Savior (sometimes on an hourly basis) has freed me from overwhelming fear. His blueprints for my life may look vastly differently than the plans I had, but He has shown me time and again that He and His promise are trustworthy. And the love, safety, and security I searched tirelessly for can be found seated at the right hand of God. I will follow Him, wherever He takes me, all the way Home.


Acts 22:16

16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’


 

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Spring

Darkness, defined, is the absence of light. Buried deep within it, immobilized by the weight, you lose sense of up or down, left or right. Scents and tastes do not penetrate. Why am I here? What do I do? How do I get out? There is a penetrating coldness that seeps in and permeates your deepest corners.

Just when the isolation threatens to consume you, you start to hear. You’re not truly alone. The warmth of the Son thaws and softens the weight. The reassuring stirring within you brings an awareness of life. In the absolute stillness you listen thoughtfully and prayerfully and gain a sense of direction. HandsThere it is, the hand to guide you. It’s been there all along, holding onto you. You just couldn’t see it. But now, you can feel it. You grab on tight. And hold onto the promise that He will never let you go. Fall

Hands and prayers lift you up. The process is painstakingly long. You’re in too deep and you’re not strong enough to make it on your own. You lose your grip. Your process is slowed. But He hasn’t lost His. Powerful, loving hands still hold yours. Words written on your heart become a mantra in your mind. Phillipians

 

Hold on.

Follow Me.

You can hear the soft rain of truth gently poured out, raining down and saturating the dark around you.

Tighten your grip.

Light

Now you can see it. The light of the Son, penetrating the darkness and overcoming it. Your path is becoming clearer and you are pushing through.

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You were not buried at all. You had been planted. You weren’t just struggling to the surface, you’d been laying roots. Roots deep enough and strong enough to hold fast to the truth planted within your heart. Tenderly sprouting to the surface, buffeted by the cool winds of spring, soaking rains and thawing snow, you strain towards the light of hope in the Son.

Roots

And rejoice in the roots sewn so deep there is promise of the strength to endure, to persevere, to grow in Christ, and bear much fruit. The darkness is fresh in your memory and there are some bruises from the battle to the surface, but the darkness did not overcome!

And now! Now you can see the beauty of His grace surrounding you. His creation coming to life, blooming in a palette no artist can capture. You can hear His birds singing His praises and smell the damp earth shrugging off the last remnants of frost.

I will bask now in the warmth of the Son, soak in every last drop of truth poured out onto me, grow roots ever deeper in Christ and bear as much fruit as He calls me to. For today is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it for His glory, and my good.

 

Food For Thought

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I encourage you to listen to the above podcast of a great message from our pastor, Mike, a few weeks ago on 1 Peter 2 in it’s entirety. However, if you are short on time, for the purposes of this particular blog, at the very least skip to about 31:45.

At about 34:20, if you listen closely, you might be able to hear me giggle and clap. Convicted. Because this image came into my mind.

birds

I’m convinced that our beloved pastor has, on occasion, looked into our congregation and seen this. If you look closely, that is me, the one on the right screaming, “feed me!”. I spent years (I know, right?) walking into that worship center waiting and begging to be “fed”. I longed for pure spiritual milk. I was dependent on someone to take a chunk of the meat of the Bible, dig into it, digest it for me, and feed it to me on a weekly basis.

This, in itself, I don’t think is a bad thing. We have all been places where, consumed with trial or suffering, we require a helping hand to “feed” us. And there are people perfectly gifted to nurture us in this way. But what happens when this is our only source of nourishment? We will have a “failure to thrive”. If you’re a parent, you know those are some of the worst feared words of a parent. There comes a time when milk is no longer sufficient to sustain your child’s growth. And, there comes a time in your walk of faith that it’s not sufficient to sustain your spiritual growth either.

So, what had stunted my own spiritual growth? Me. I had some ill conceived notions that my only source of nourishment was supposed to be corporate worship. That instruction manual was huge, and was surely meant for people gifted to read it, interpret it, and translate it into layman’s terms for “the rest” of us. Thankfully, I was pressed to take a Bible 101 class and with my first true step of obedience, I signed up. I learned some incredible things. First, I can read it. Second, He intended me to read it. And third, the more I read it, the clearer it becomes!

Another blessing in that step of obedience was the encouragement from those that were gifted to teach it and obedient in using that gift for His glory. They provided me with resources to give me the confidence to dig in on my own. Our pastor, Dave, shared a “light bulb” moment on a verse he had read just that morning for probably the hundredth time. They, too, looked up answers to questions they didn’t know. If these people still learned something new after years of study, if they still had to look up answers to questions, and still used tools to find them and consulted other Believers, then maybe I could too! Suddenly, this very large book of instructions seemed manageable and not so intimidating.

I like to think that I may have now progressed to toddlerhood. I still require supervision. I am still learning the rules and gaining the self control to follow them. I have a lot to learn, but I do know where to look for help when I need it. Some of my steps are clumsy but there is so much joy in the successful completion. I have days, okay sometimes weeks, where because of circumstances I still require a good deal of hand feeding. But now there are also days that I rejoice in some newfound taste and texture that He has revealed to me and the discovery only whets my appetite for more! Those days, I am praying hard for the next “growth spurt”!

Have you ever experienced a “plateau” of your faith? If so, what helped you move past it? What was holding you back? If you are currently, I challenge you to step out, however wobbly, in obedience. If you are actively seeking Him and His truth, He will meet you where you are, with the nourishment you need!


1 Peter 2

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Hebrews 5:12-14

12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.