Category Archives: Testimonies

My testimonies or the testimonies of others

She Now Knew She was Mighty

As I sat there in the front row, literally one step away from the stage, my fingers fidgeted with the folded up piece of copy paper. I looked over at my friend as she twirled her pen with one hand and a lock of hair with the other. We were preparing to perform the very vulnerable task of sharing our original poems with an audience of mostly complete strangers. I had spent all day fretting over this moment that was about to happen, even while I was at work at the local hospital.

A coworker asked me how I was feeling, and I replied, “Freaked out, terrified!” I explained that I was about to conquer one of my greatest childhood fears, reading in front of an audience. You see, growing up I was a very slow reader and often I would be chosen to read in front of the class, a task that was not only daunting, but mortifying. I wasn’t dyslexic. I didn’t have any learning disabilities that I knew of. I just wasn’t a very skilled reader. I was such a slow reader I would have to lug home all my text books in order to get any of the class work done. That meant, not only was I doing homework, but the work that was intended to be done in class as well.

Back at the coffee shop 25 years later my knuckles are turning white from making tight, nervous fists. I get up to use the bathroom again, thanks to my nervous bladder. I see my tiny folded up poem almost slip from my pocket into the toilet but catch it just as it’s about to make it’s final dive to the great unknown. It occurs to me at that moment, ‘I’m going to open with this, and once I laugh I think I’ll be okay.’ People always tell me I have an infectious laugh, so I thought I’d just lighten the mood.

Finally the emcee announces that it is my turn. I take that one tiny step to the stage, grab the music stand, which will mainly act as a stabilizing device as my knees shake beneath me. In the other hand I grab the mic. This is my moment to prove my bullies wrong. “Hi, my name is Chelsea, and I’m going to share a poem I wrote, which I almost just dropped in that toilet right back there!” Laughter filled the room. A small bit of relief came over me. I started, and I could tell I sounded just like my elementary school self stumbling over each word, but by the fourth line something extraordinary happened. I looked up to see that the crowd was rooting me on with their encouraging smiles. Wow! It was no longer children laughing and pointing, but people of all ages and races smiling, giving me a thumbs up, and gasping as I read the last line, “she now knew she was mighty.” I did. I knew I was mighty. I was mighty enough to conquer my fear, and not only that, do it better next time, show fear who is boss.

I’ve heard it said that everyday you should do something that scares you. This was one of those things, and it felt so good to laugh about it afterward with complete strangers outside my favorite coffee shop last Thursday night.

I hope my story inspires you to conquer your fear, whatever it might be. Share it with me by clicking on “reply” at the top of this post, and share this post with others in your life that have a fear to conquer. You definitely know someone.

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Accepting that we are God-Gifted

A couple weeks ago I attended an open mic night where people shared songs, monologues, and poetry. It reminded me of a time when I wrote a lot of poetry, so I rushed home to read my old journals. I pulled the dusty container from the top shelf of the closet and opened it as if it was full of treasure. Unfortunately, as I opened each floral bound book it only revealed how lost I was at the time. All those years of writing poetry only to reflect how much I needed Jesus not as the big dictator in the sky but as a close friend and father.

Discouraged, for the next week I started thinking that maybe I’m not a writer, maybe I just like to rhyme all my hurtful memories. After days of doubting my God-given talent, God answered me with a poem, not to build me up, but to build up others and to glorify Him.

In Isaiah 61 God, through his prophet Isaiah, reassures the mourners that they will be comforted. He tells them they will wear a crown of beauty instead of ashes. The New Living Translation says “beauty for ashes.” Those words inspired my poem, but so did the life of my good friend and sister who’s name fits perfectly into the verse. For her protection I will not disclose her name or the title of the poem. I feel the poem is the words of the Holy Spirit written through me. What an honor.

They say she started as a seed. 
Funny how a sprout finds its way to the light,
Pushing through the surface, the barrier,
The very thing that protects it from the elements.
Its leaves appear to be carefully brushed with a fresh coat of paint.
What was once wrapped in a glossy shell, now reaches, 
Expanding toward the warmth of the sun.
Her days were spent leaning into the breeze,
Becoming stronger with every bend.
The tree saw many good days, 
Finding pleasure in many a passerby.
But winter came.
An icy layer coated her.
The tree, though, had learned to endure.
As summer came, much like this summer,
Her roots longed for the moisture they once had.
Not even a morning dew came to quench their thirst.
She had stood up to the harshest climates,
But nothing could prepare her for this.
Surrounded by dry brush, 
The tree’s leaves and bark built up a heavy wall of debris,
But the blaze could not be defeated.
Her rough exterior quickly bubbled under the scorching flame.
Her still-young limbs withered and became brittle.
When morning came there was only a heap of ash,
Smoldering and chalky, a cloud hung low over her.
No longer was the light to be seen.
The heat continued to fester beneath the surface of ash,
Until one day, just as the spark had been swept up,
The skies lit up and roared with thunder.
Not even the chalky ash, 
Blowing in the fury could escape this storm.
She remembered her resilience, her fortitude,
Slowly the smoldering ceased,
And the powdery mound transformed into clay.
As the winds spun over and around
The clay was molded into something extraordinary.
No longer could she be threatened by drought or by flame,
But the very thing that appeared to destroy her
Now brought restoration and strength,
For she was no longer an ordinary tree,
But a divine sculpture
Designed to overcome all hardship.
She did not always live a happily-ever-after life,
But she now knew she was mighty.

 

Sometimes when we doubt our God-given talents God gives us more to prove he was the giver, but we don’t always notice it ourselves. Maybe it’s time to step out in your spiritual gifts and see how people react. There’s no doubt that you will know right away which were God-given. When I wrote the above poem the words were pouring out of me. When I write in my own ability it doesn’t happen that way. As with all gifts we should not squander what God has given us, but show our gratitude through practicing our gift in order to grow it.

I know this is not my typical post, but I hope you enjoyed it, learned from it, and found comfort in it if you are like the tree in my poem. Please leave a comment by clicking “reply” at the top of this post or like my post on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. You may also follow my blog by clicking follow in the top right.

 

Find What Frees You

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn't we be slurping up the Spirit?

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn’t we be slurping up the Spirit instead of chomping on worry?

In our everyday lives we experience ups and downs, but as we experience them we often don’t consider their root cause. I have recently reached a three-year goal of becoming debt-free, and now I am embarking on a new challenge of tackling a life long struggle with stress-management. Since my financial plan worked so well, I am going to use the same ideas from that curriculum to develop my own stress-free plan.

The first step in my financial plan was taking an inventory of my spending for one or two months to find out where my money was going. In the same way, I will take an inventory of my energy. Where am I spending my energy? To do this I have begun using green and pink index cards. I record particularly relaxing moments on the green index cards and particularly stressful moments on my pink cards. At the end of this first inventory period I should have encountered many of each experience. I will collect the pink cards and match them up with scriptures that bring truth, clarity, and perspective to that stressful moment. With these recorded in such a practical manner I will be able to refer to them as they come up again during daily life. Will I encounter new stressors in my life?  Of course I will, but God’s Word can be applied to any life circumstance.

I hope that this technique will inspire me to seek God’s truth in times of tension, and to live a life of complete spiritual freedom. I will keep you informed of my progress and any tweaks I apply to my technique.

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:22-32

In all circumstances I will not be afraid, I will not worry, but seek His kingdom, and all these things will be added to me. Join me on my journey to becoming stress-free.

“More Heart, Less Attack”
Needtobreathe

Be the light in the crack
Be the one that’s been there on a camel’s back
Slow to anger quick to laugh
Be more heart and less attackBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attackThe more you take the less you have
Cuz it’s you in the mirror staring back
Quick to let go slow to react
Be more heart and less attackEver growing steadfast
And if need be the one that’s in the gap
Be the never turning back
Twice the heart any man could haveBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attackI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m nearly sanctified I’m nearly broken
I’m down the river I’m near the openI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m near the sanctified I’m near broken
I’m down the river I’m near the open

I’m down the river to where I’m going

 

Hide and No Seek

When God created man he was free to do anything but eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of course, we all know that they did eat from it, and then tried to hide from God. All too often we do the same.

I can think of 3 main reasons we hide from God:

1. We don’t want Him to see our sin. This is when we do the same as Adam and Eve. We hide because we are ashamed/guilty and afraid of the consequences. If you have been around kids you know this is often what they do. ‘I don’t want a spanking so I will hide under the table.’ Mom and dad are ripping them away from the table leg in order to properly discipline them. Why are we doing the very things we find so juvenile?

Lord, help me humble myself before you in confession and repentance (turning away from sin), that I may accept your grace and mercy to forgive me. May your Holy Spirit convict my heart of those sins I have committed but not realized, that I could confess and repent of even those. Amen.

2. We are afraid of our calling. If you’ve truly lived a life after God’s own heart he’s asked you to do some difficult things. I remember once I was at a conference of all pastors. I was the furthest thing from a pastor, but my pastor cared enough to take me with him that night. At the end of the service some of the pastors were going through the crowd to pray for each person. Suddenly a pastor stopped at me and placed his hands on my shoulders. He prayed in tongues so I wasn’t sure of what he said. Then he looked up and said, “God says… Does that mean anything to you?” At that moment I knew I had been healed from a condition I felt was destined to get worse.

Here I am in a crowd of people I don’t know. The service is ending. It’s late at night and people want to get home, and God calls me to go on stage and give my testimony in front of that huge crowd. I told God no, but just as the doors were opening for the crowd to leave I ran up to the stage and asked to speak. I faithfully gave my testimony, and I have been healed ever since. I don’t know why God called me to do that. Maybe it was to encourage someone in the crowd, or maybe it was just so I could hear myself say that God healed me. I will never know, but I am glad I had the willingness to obey instead of hiding from the call to share.

Lord, help me remember what you have already said to me. Let the Holy Spirit remind me of just how I fit into your plan. Help me except that my calling may seem impossible, but that it is also HIMpossible. I need not hide from what you know to be best for me. Amen.

3. We don’t know we are hiding. This past weekend I attended the BASS Convention at Redwood Chapel Christian Church in Castro Valley, California. I had the pleasure of hearing a message from Pastor Derwin Gray of Transformation Church, South Carolina. He said something along the lines of, if you are going to church four times a week you have to ask yourself if you are hiding in your church. God told us to reach the unreached and the Christ-less. So why are we hiding in church? It seems good to go to prayer meeting, Bible study, cell group, Sunday service, but when do you really reach outside those four walls to reach the brokenhearted, the needy, the abused? When was the last time you served someone outside your church, shared the Gospel through your actions, prayed for a coworker? God does not live in a building. When He talks about the church He is not referring to the building. He is referring to the people in the building who have the Holy Spirit IN them. In them. That means you can go out on the streets, whether it be in the inner city, overseas, or in your own neighborhood and live out the Gospel and make that your church.

I’m not saying to stop going to church. I’m only saying that perhaps Christians should change their perspective to see everywhere they go as a place needing God, needing the Holy Spirit, and since Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit lives in us, guess what, we get to it bring wherever we go. Let me say it again. Wherever you are is your church, is where you share the Gospel by your actions and your words, and where you give Him the glory. Notice Jesus did most of his teaching outside the four walls of a church. We find him teaching at a well, on a boat, at a home, (and yes) in a temple. Did He ever stop teaching?

Lord, how I want to step out of the safety of my church and into the mission field. I dedicate my time, resources, heart, and mind to the unreached and the Christless. Give me strength to face the unknown, the difficult questions, a cruel and unkind world, and live a life after Jesus, an extraordinary life where I can see your work unveiled. Amen.

 

If you are hiding you may as well give up because it just looks silly to God. It’s like hiding behind an open window. He is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-LOVING.

If you think of another reason people hide, or you would like to share your own struggle or triumph in this area, please leave a comment below.

Giddy God

God delights in you. You are His beloved. We have all heard it, but do we really believe it? Do we see the evidence in our lives?

I am part of an online prayer group that developed over the past several months. It started with just 3 or 4 of us and has developed into a group of 7 women. Some of us have never even met. We celebrate joys and cry for each other’s suffering, but most importantly we pray. Over the past several months there have been many answered prayers. Most recently one of the group members got into her dream school. When praying for her I didn’t know for sure that this was the school for her. My prayer was that God’s will be done and that he know the desire of her heart. It’s amazing that His will and her dream were perfectly aligned, and her prayer was answered in just the way she imagined. As she announced the news to the group she said, “I’m shaking!” As I read the news I imagined God’s response to His dear daughter’s excitement, like a parent able to give his child her dream. My response, “Imagine God shaking with excitement along with you.”

Every God-given joy is multiplied when you reflect on His response to your joy. It comes full circle. He gives joy, we show joy, He rejoices. Happiness doesn’t do this.

Last Sunday I met with my small group and discussed sin. It was the topic of our discipleship chapter. One person asked something like, “Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you weren’t a follower of God? Did you ever try it out even for just a season?” I admitted I had. In college I thought perhaps I could believe in God and still do whatever I wanted in pursuit of happiness. From that experience I learned that happiness is fleeting, but joy lasts even in our sobriety, even in our solitude. If you find you always need someone around, a drink in your hand, a comedy on TV to be happy then you aren’t experiencing joy. And one thing I’m slowly learning is that I can’t believe in God and do whatever because it feels good and be a follower of Jesus. For one it feels so double-minded, like multiple lives. Secondly, it snuffs out all joy. There are several other reasons, but these are most relevant to the topic at hand.

If you are seeking joy over fleeting happiness try this:

  1. Read a Psalm and underline every promise, every characteristic of God. If you would like to read Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Prayer click on the link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=NIV
  2. Write all the underlined words and phrases inserting the pronoun “You” for God and “I” for yourself. So that when you read it they are God’s promises specifically to you.
  3. Now sit back and experience the joy you have in hearing those words. Remember, they are for you, His beloved.
  4. Reflect on God’s response to your joy in hearing His promises. Is he shaking with excitement?
  5. Watch this video, read the lyrics, even sing or dance along. Revel in it.

Enjoy your day!

Resolve to Resolve

This past Sunday my church continued it’s tradition of having a giving thanks service on the last Sunday of the year. Pastor Joseph sent out an email a day or two before prompting us to come prepared with what we wanted to share with the congregation. As I reflected I realized the thing I am most thankful for in 2013 is the breakthrough I had forgiving my dad. From the outside it might have appeared that my dad and I had a great relationship. My dad always hugs me, we go father-daughter dates, we tell inside jokes, but inside I held on to the times my dad hurt me. To be close to my dad meant the risk of reopening past wounds. In Spring 2013 I was home for a visit with my parents. What started out as a lovely day of kayaking ended in the reopening of my festering wound. Even though my dad had been calm and collected most of the day one little bout of frustration brought back thoughts of unforgiven arguments.

I’ve heard people say, and probably uttered the very words myself, “Why should I forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it?” The very definition of forgiveness implies that the pardon is undeserved. Through the gentle guidance and counsel of my pastor’s wife Marlin I was able to recognize that much of my physical and emotional pain stemmed from the grudges I held against my dad. Not only was I holding him in bondage but myself. To break the chains of unforgiveness would grant us both freedom, but I could not gain freedom without also granting him freedom. It is like a prison guard shackled to a prisoner. In order for him to be free he must also set the prisoner free. What a predicament!

In my pain and struggle to forgive, in my moment of desperation on that spring day, I went in my parents’ guest room, opened my Bible, and prayed. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but when I came out I slowly ate my dinner in silence and let the Holy Spirit stir within me. Afterward I knocked on my dad’s bedroom door, “Can I come in?” I sat next to him on the bed and tried pouring out my heart in my own heartfelt words, but it didn’t seem to sink in to him how hard this conversation was for me. Finally I looked him in the eyes, I had no words to speak and yet my lips spoke, “Dad, you know the Bible front to back. You know the men of the Bible are remembered not for being perfect, but for being changed. I don’t want you to be remembered as a man who wouldn’t change.” I’ve never seen a tear come to my dad’s eye before that day except maybe one other occasion, but I like to think I saw a tear that evening. After our conversation I had to leave to make the trek back to the Bay Area. It hurt to leave it like that, but as I drove home I heard the song “Changed” by Rascal Flatts. I knew God had already begun His work in my dad’s heart, but just as importantly He had begun His work in my heart. Not only has my dad been changed, but we have both been set free.

Due to privacy I didn’t want to reveal what exactly I forgave my dad for, but I do want to clarify it was typical father-daughter stuff, nothing major. However I do want to stress that God wants us to forgive even the harshest of hurts.

My Aunt Wanda told me to watch the video clip below. She was very moved and inspired by this man’s ability to forgive. I hope you are too.

Is there someone deserving or, more importantly, undeserving who you need to forgive? Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to help you start. It’s the best New Year’s resolution. I guarantee it.

My Testimony – Part 1

As you may have read in “The Author” page, I have been in the church since I was about 7 years old. Though I have attended church for the past 25 years, my road has not been straight. As the Rascal Flatts song goes “God blessed the broken road.” Though I did not walk on a straight path, God was always with me and in the hardest of times I found that He was the only constant, my loyal partner and guide. It’s hard to admit you are wrong, to accept His grace and mercy, but when we enter into a place of humility we can fully experience the depth and width of His love. 

Always an innocent and a late bloomer, college hit me like a ton of lead. If you throw a ton of lead onto a paper boat what do you think happens? That’s kind of what happened to me, but as I was sinking I always looked up through the layers of heavy water to the one thing I knew was true. Temptations and peer pressure sunk this paper boat, but at the floor of this ocean people gathered around me to push me back up to the surface. A great mentor, Kim Davis, who I showed little to no appreciation to at the time kept me from scraping my hull on the ocean floor. And as she exited another Kim and her husband Michael entered giving me the most non-judgmental encouragement possible. This refining process was not an overnight job. It took many years, many miracles, and many people to bring this boat to the surface. 

Now that I am back afloat God is strengthening this paper boat through His Word, His children, and prayer. God knows I have a long way to go, but he uses this paper vessel everyday, if I allow it, to speak life and truth into others. Who knows? Maybe one day this soggy paper will be a giant barge for Jesus.