Firsthand Faith [no. 3]

March 13, 2014

WW - testify with verse blog series.png This crew here is precious to me in such a mighty way…  I have been blessed by their presence in my life.  They have been a source of strength and encouragement in my life, in my marriage with Andy and my walk with Jesus.  All three of them were part of a precious group who helped Andy and I lead our first small group in our home, Couples Who Pray.  I can’t even begin to explain the seeds that were planted because of their obedience to Him!  Like ripples in a pond… thank you Lord.  

Beautiful people with a beautiful heart for Christ.  I do believe when you look for Christ, you will see Him.  I can’t help but  see the beauty in His “divine alignment” with these precious folks in my life!  I am blessed to call them my friends… 

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What has He done for me lately?  I once was lost and now I’m found! God has been working on me for years and I didn’t even know it.  I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to fill a huge hole with everything but Jesus!  Things would be bad I would go to church pray about, get churched up and start the vicious cycle all over again on Monday!  A monster is what I was!  A monster after drugs,alcohol and anything else to kill the pain of my shame from the weeks and years before!  Luckily I had a Godly wife that believed in me and loved me just like Jesus did/does when I was doing my best to kill myself!  She didn’t even know but she was the spiritual leader in my family.  She never gave up on me!  She knew but I still lied and manipulated her and I wasn’t foolin’ the BIG GUY either! He had more in store for me!  Divine alignment!  That’s God putting people in my life that would slowly but surely help mold my life!  I was told to TESTIFY but its hard to tell a short story about what God has done for me and my family!  It wasn’t until I forgave myself and received His grace and mercy!  I still have some growing to do!  I received all He had but still didn’t feel right.  It wasn’t until I surrendered ALL and I mean all that I truly got freed from years of bondage to 20+ years of tobacco and drug addiction from still wearing all those chains.  So I asked what has He done for me lately? The question is what hasn’t He done for me lately?  I am free!  I am forgiven!  I am a redeemed child of God no matter what I’ve done! He loves me just as I am right where I am!  For the first time in my life I am humbled by something bigger than me!  Thank you Jesus!

Much love to all,

Chris Carr

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. || Genesis 50:20

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Forgiveness, what does it mean to you? To me it means to truly be free! Free from guilt, shame, disappointment, anger, hurt & and all the things that held me back from being FREE!! It wasn’t until my husband and I went to our first LIFE (Living In Freedom Everyday) Group that I could really let it all go and give it all to God. I had tried for so long to forgive but I was never able to truly forgive for one reason or another. I learned that I had to forgive myself and others before I could be set free and when I did oh my goodness how great it was!! I give all the credit to My God, Your God because with him ALL things are possible!!  ||  Nichole Carr 

But with you there is forgiveness,  so that we can, with reverence, serve you. || Psalms 130:4

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Jesus just radiating from these two!!

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Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.  He does or praying in and for us, making out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.  That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.  (Romans 8:26-28 MSG)

Years ago, “in the throws” of some personal trials which culminated in the end of my almost 35 year marriage, God had a plan.  

Divorce being something I had never wanted or thought would ever happen to me, I spent lots of years trying, by my own power, to “fix it”.  And although I prayed regularly for God to change my circumstances, I prayed He would change them the way that I wanted Him to.  When my adult children said to me, “it is time for you to get out of this, Mother” I finally took my hands off and truly let God be God.  Only then, when I fully surrendered my “self” did I actually hear and see Him working in my life.  Now I can’t keep-up with all He does for and through me as I seek Him first in everything.  Too many examples too share, I’ll “testify” of but a sample of obvious pieces of my puzzle that have blessed me exponentially!

Soon after we married, through Kenny’s and my role on the launch team at Highland’s T-town for over a year, I was acquainted with a young woman from Tuscaloosa.  By unimaginable coincidences orchestrated only by God Himself, almost a year after church launch, this woman saw us our Grants Mill campus one Wednesday night.  She sat with us at the service and I commented that she looked as if she had lost weight!!  Weighing barely 100 pounds soaking wet on a good day, she shared with me that she was going through a “nasty divorce”.  Having been there, done that and designed the t-shirt, I could speak LIFE to this young friend!  Having ministered to and grown to love this young woman, we are now spiritual Mama Titus (she has dubbed me as her encourager) and Titus Tink (aka, Tinkerbell, I lovingly call her because of her very petite size).  Now several years out, “As iron sharpens iron”, we love and encourage EACH OTHER on a regular basis.  And I count it all joy to have overcome and been able to testify to her of God’s Amazing Love and Faithfulness, and she in turn now brings me joy like no other as she selflessly loves and serves The Lord in ways far above anything she could ask or think.  

God has a plan.

Now, for another, very recent revelation of God’s working all things together for good.  This week at my first Women’s small group in my home, co-lead by my sister-n-law, Debbie, and my daughter, Traci, (also evidence of God’s Plan in my life), God was moving and shaking!  Traci had prepared a few “ice-breaker” questions that she randomly asked each lady in the group.  after each answered the question she asked them Traci said, “That’s everyone”, to which I replied, “Everyone but YOU!”.  I asked one of the other young women to look at the list and pick a question for Traci to answer.  Traci’s question was, “What’s the hardest thing you have ever done?”  I immediately said, “I KNOW what that is!”.

Traci went on to share that the hardest thing she had ever had to do was put her dad, who had a devastating stroke not two years after I had remarried, in a nursing home!  Another young woman in our group had been at the hospital until 3:30 that morning with her 60 yr old mother who is in end-stages of Alzheimer’s and was just recently placed in a nursing home.  These two precious, godly women embraced and wept on each other’s shoulder!!

God had a Plan

When I revealed that my thoughts about what my daughter’s hardest thing in her life was, was her cutting daddy’s toenails while he was in the nursing home, she replied, “That wasn’t really hard!”  Then, I wept!!

But, the very next day, Traci called me after serving her regular Thursday morning 4 hours as a volunteer nurse at Christ’s Health Clinic at the Dream Center in Woodlawn, and said, “Mom, guess what I ‘got to’ do at the clinic this morning!”

“No clue!” I answered.  Traci softly answered, “I cut a little old lady’s toenails!”

My heart overflowed, and I wept… again!

God has a Plan!!

When we can get to the place where we realize that our trials are not about US, but about how God wants to USE us as His hands and feet, to minister to another of His own, then and only then, in the throws of the storms, will we rest in His Peace that passes understanding, and we can truly count it all joy, because we KNOW, God has a Plan. || Donna McLeod

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 I just want to thank Laura Snyder for her magnificent double rainbow photograph pictured at the beginning of this post.  This beautiful picture was taken as she looked out towards the Sea of Galilee.  So grateful she is sharing her photographs; I have been enamored by the images captured as she tours through Israel.  I leave you with her thoughts on the promise she captured… “To experience a rainbow you have to stand in the rain!”  I couldn’t agree more Laura!  Thank you Father God for the RAIN! dot divider.png

 

testify || trust in the Lord is part of a Firsthand Faith blog series here in Word Warrior.  If you would like to read more of these testimonies you can find them here…
Firsthand Faith || testify… He has given us a story
Firsthand Faith || testify… freedom in being found
Firsthand Faith || testify… peace in raging seas

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Author: Natalie

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