Tag Archive | Baylor University

Be a Missionary On the Field

My eldest daughter, Erica, has always been quite an adventurer. Even from an early age there was talk of her becoming a missionary. I used to cringe at the thought of her going to a far away land; but, I quickly realized that it wasn’t my choice. .

Erica used to play softball many years ago. Her pitching coach at the time, said that Erica could be a missionary on the field. Coach Kay told Erica that you don’t always have to go to a far away land to be a missionary…that she could be a missionary on the field.Be a Missionary on the Field

Years later, the summer between Erica’s junior/senior year in high school became a turning point in her life. It  was when she heard the explicit Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her initial understanding of what it meant to be a Christian was that she needed to go out preaching on the street corners of foreign nations. Erica’s adventurer spirit, met with the passion of the Gospel, was a little scary. Then she found out quickly that was not the most feasible, or effective, way of doing things. Better news, she found out, according to Colossians 3:23 that ALL things can be done as a way of being a mission for God.

This was not her choice! God had chosen Erica to be a witness for Him…to further His kingdom. God wanted Erica to take the road of Acts 1:8.

Missionary: in Erica’s case, it is a person who received power to promote Christianity through everything…even on the field.

Later that same summer, Erica attended the Baylor University Softball Camp. She loved the sport, but more importantly she loved the Lord because He first loved her. While at the Baylor softball camp, Coach Glenn Moore and his staff, not only provided guided softball practice…they also provided an optional Bible study for the girls.

I remember picking Erica up at the end of the week and sitting in the stands with one of my former professors, Dutch Schroeder. We were listening to Coach Moore speak to the families who attended the visitor’s day to pick up our girls. Coach Moore was talking and said there was one young lady who had inspired him, and he continued talking. I wasn’t really listening well. I was busy looking for Erica because I hadn’t seen her all week, when Dutch said that Coach Moore was talking about Erica.

I thought, “How can that be? How would Coach Moore know Erica?”

I heard these girls cheering, and Coach Moore called her up. He asked her to share her testimony, and about what had happened the past week in front of a stadium full of people. She spoke wonderfully!

I had no idea what had happened that past week. Come to find out, Erica had taken advantage of the Bible study…and to be a missionary on the field. By the end of the softball camp, Erica had shared her testimony and helped lead over 40 girls to Christ. She came home from the camp, and made a special cd of Christian music & wrote each girl a letter of encouragement. She also decided that Baylor was where she wanted to go to college…even if she didn’t play softball.

Erica ended up attending Baylor because she was so impressed with Coach  Moore & his staff.  She was also impressed with the beautiful campus and what Baylor had to offer her. Erica recently graduated in May with a B.A. in religion. She has since become a youth pastor in Austin, Texas at the Austin Stone Community Church. Her time there is completely devoted to working with Middle School and High School students. Her goal is to share and grow in knowledge of the never-ending goodness of the Gospel with these kids. She will be doing that through Bible studies, having awesome paint wars, discipleship, attending church, eating dinner, going to football games, and spending time with students (particularly girls).

1669957_10153888297625249_599930412_o (1)Being a missionary “on the field” is definitely her dream job! Erica understands the importance of the eternal gift that God gives us, and she wants to tell all who will listen. This picture totally depicts Erica’s enthusiasm!  I know that God is smiling, and saying well done faithful servant.

Now, I’m going to get on a soap box. People don’t have problems sending monies to missionaries in a foreign country; but, some people seem to have problems sending monies (or partnering) with missionaries when they are local. I say missions are just as important locally, as in a foreign country. I’m not just saying that because my daughter has partners, but because God calls us to be witnesses…period.

My husband, and I, are educators in a public system. We don’t make tons of monies, but we have often partnered with local missionaries (RUF), as well as foreign missionaries (MTW). We think it’s important to further His kingdom where we are not able to go. We partnered as little as $25 per month, or $50 per month…if there was a spouse or family involved. It wasn’t much, but nevertheless, the missionaries appreciated it. We now partner with a missionary close to our heart…Erica.

This is what’s important to Erica. It excites her to no end because she first heard the explicit Gospel during her junior year of High School. Since then she has wanted to share the Gospel with everyone, especially those the same age as when she first heard. Erica’s passion is that young students would know Christ as their Savior, redeemer, and friend. She knows the pressures of this world all too well, and she knows what it’s like to grow up in today’s society. Erica also knows that the love of God is better than anything this world has to offer during those years, seemingly good or bad. She wants all of the students she encounters, by the grace of God, to know that as well.

As a new graduate, it’s tough beginning the next chapter in your life.  You have been independent for a while at college, but now you throw other factors in as well.  Erica wants to be the best missionary possible, but it’s tough being a missionary on the field.  The unknown of having to ask others to partner with you, either through prayers or  monetary partnering, is frightening.  People don’t know you, or maybe they  don’t understand the importance of partnering. Some don’t want to make commitments to partnering with local missions. It is very important though.

Erica has had opportunities to do missions in foreign countries as well.  She has been to Morocco, and this past summer she went to Israel. She shares a lot of her adventures on her blog called “A Freedom Ringer”.  You should check it out, if you have time at  http://afreedomringer.wordpress.com/,

Should after reading this blog about Erica  and her passion to be a missionary on the field, you may want to check out her link on how to partner with her.  It is a safe online link at https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=7ba521 .  Any type of partnering is appreciative: prayers, monthly, or end of year/one time gifts that are tax deductible.

Jesus said, “Follow Me!”

Erica stepped up to the plate…being a missionary on the field!

I’m so proud of my missionary for making a difference in His kingdom!

 

An Unexpected and Undeserving Gift

Courtesies to live by!

Courtesies to remember in our daily lives!

No one told me that when I turned 50, I needed to take out an extended warranty. I was the person who dove after balls, and lifted things without properly bending down. Yet, when I turned 50, I began to quickly deteriorate physically! It hasn’t been pretty, and I don’t appreciate what’s happening to me! Despite me seeming to be falling apart, I recently received an unexpected and very undeserving gift…kind of like grace. It was definitely God giving me a much needed wake up call.

I will admit, I have begun to lose track of what’s important, especially in my daily walk with the Lord. I have forgotten many of the common courtesies about how I should live my life. I should love generously, be happy, help others, be grateful, and above all…count my blessings.

On the other hand I say, “What you talking about? Life is hard!”

I know what I’m supposed to do, and yet I’ve been miscalculating, and missing the prize altogether. I’ve been literally, and figuratively, missing the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ. I’ve been stuck on family things, monetary things, not feeling well, and just not believing in grace…period!

I have posted the definition of grace before, but apparently I still struggle with its meaning. I’m like the prodigal son who hasn’t returned, and hoping to be forgiven.

Grace, n.: undeserved, unmerited, unearned, favor.

Grace is something that I most desire, but often feel that I’m not deserving of it for many reasons from past to present. I tend to forget that the amazing thing about grace is that it is an undeserving gift.

I know about God’s grace. It’s hard for me to fathom it at times. My daughter, Erica, is good about reminding me of this. She often talks to me, giving me pep talks, about how God’s grace is for the undeserving. Although it came at a big price, it’s freely given by God. His unmerited favor is that He sent His Son to die so we could live. He loves us unconditionally!

The word “grace” is music to my ears. Erica often makes me gifts with the words from the song “Amazing Grace” on them. I love it!

Now let me rewind to me turning 50, falling apart physically, and how His amazing grace has begun playing music to my ears.

I have had a mass in my stomach, and also in need of a hernia repair for a couple of years. I had been putting off surgery for many reasons: 1) I don’t like them, 2) I teach learning disabled children and they don’t like when I miss school, and 3) monetary reasons. I feel our monies could be spent better elsewhere.

Well, last fall things took a drastic change. The mass began to grow bigger, and was becoming more and more painful. I began to gain weight quickly. Then things took a twist. In December, I began to bleed. I ended up in the emergency room. The concern was endometrial cancer, and that took priority over the mass and hernia. Doctors began testing, but due to the holidays, appointments were hard to make with them. Early January, the doctor suggested I get a total hysterectomy. I was willing to do this, because I felt so bad. They would take a biopsy during this time.

I went to schedule the surgery, but to my surprise my insurance coverage had changed. My family pays almost $1,200/month for the various insurances we have. Yet to perform this surgery (because of the new laws), I was going to have to pay $3,000 up front for the hospital co-payment alone. This wasn’t including the doctor, anesthesia, and the rest of the hospital payment.

Tearfully, I had to tell the scheduler to stop! At this time we could not afford it. We are already in debt due to other family medical bills, and this would just have to wait. Since I couldn’t have the hysterectomy, the doctor said we at least needed to do a biopsy to check for cancer. I had cancer insurance, and if that were the case, then I could have the surgery.

Thankfully, the biopsy came back benign. We were relieved! I decided I would put that surgery off until a later date. In the meantime, the mass in my stomach continued to grow bigger. I knew it needed to be taken out, but we really don’t have the monies for that. We are just teachers, and we have a kid that was about to graduate college, one about to go to college, and one more at home. I just couldn’t think about it.

On Mother’s day, my oldest daughter texted me, and said she had a gift for me. She was about to graduate from college, and we would be going up for her graduation the following weekend. NOTE:Traditionally we don’t celebrate certain holidays, giving each other gifts, just because we try to save money. We are very blessed, and don’t really need some things…but family time is always good.

I texted back, and said I couldn’t wait to see her graduate, and that seeing her was gift enough.

I had no idea what was coming on the upcoming college graduation visit!

We arrived on Friday night, the night before Erica was to graduate. I dropped my husband off at the hotel because he was tired. My youngest, Jess, and I went over to Erica’s apartment to pick her up. I thought we might go out to eat. As we drive up to her apartment, I see Erica and her friend Kelli walking up. Erica had borrowed her whole graduation gown to save money and was walking up with the borrowed sash. She nonchalantly said let’s go up and get your mother’s day gift before we go eat.

I said okay, and we all went up. She put up her borrowed sash. As she was doing this, I saw on a table with a plaque that had the words from “Amazing Grace”. I didn’t think too much about it because I just figured it was some of their apartment decor.

I noticed Kelli beginning to film, but that’s not unusual. These girls are quite the hoot posting many a funny video online, or on Instagram. But this was to be no ordinary film. I was about to receive an unexpected, and very undeserving gift.

Erica picked up the plaque. I was kind of being silly quietly singing “Amazing Grace”, when Erica began telling me something that I never could imagine.

She said, “Dearest Momma! This gift is to show you one thing. ‘God loves you!’ Even if the mass were not removed we know that God loves you perfectly, but He has generously provided a way for your surgery through the body of Christ. No, you did nothing to earn it and that’s what makes His grace so amazing! I love you very much, and I know my love for you cannot compare to the perfect, unconditional, passionate, and proud love that God has for you!”

While this was going on, Kelli was still filming, and affirming what Erica was saying. Kelli was also telling me that God loves me!

Finally, Erica handed me an envelope, and in that envelope was the exact amount I needed for the hospital co-payment. I was going to be able to have my surgery! After paying the initial fees, I would be able to pay monthly on the rest of the bills.

I can’t explain what came over me in those moments. I began backing up away from them. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions: thankfulness, feeling guilty because I didn’t deserve this, excited, tears of joy, etc. .

I mean what does one do with such a great and undeserving gift as this?

Oh, but the story gets better!
Erica, and several of her college friends, prayed about needs and wants. She lifted me up in prayer with a need, and these beautiful students gathered up monies, among themselves, so I could have a surgery.

Mind you these are college students: some getting their masters, some about to graduate, and some returning to school next year. Most of these students have their own debts to pay off, and here they were graciously lifting me up in prayer, and giving me an undeserved gift.

I had the surgery almost two weeks ago. The mass was the size of a plum, and they fixed a hernia as well. As I lay here in bed, recovering from my surgery, I’m reminded of a Bible verse that I love so much!

“the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;” ~Numbers 6:25

The Lord has definitely shined down on me!

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting most of the students who prayed for me, and who made it financially possible for me to have the surgery. I still can’t stop feeling a little guilty for this amazing gift. I have always had problems with asking for help, or accepting such gifts; but, I have been truly blessed. That said, I thank these students from the bottom of my heart. I can never repay you all except with the pleasure of you all knowing that I better understand that God loves me graciously despite my weaknesses. Thank you all for sharing, caring, and showing me through your actions that God loves me perfectly.

Thank you to Erica Hairston, Kelli Stenke, Kaitlin Daugherty, Paul Feghali, Jacob Imam, Jeremy Feghali, Drake Osborn, Allie Matherne, Joanna Calhoun, Katy Craft, Haley Barton, Madeline Sneed, and Carly Beckham.

These young Baylor University students have taken Acts 1:8 to heart. They are making a difference in the world, and furthering God’s kingdom. They are witnesses for Christ, and will go to the ends of the Earth. They each have many different gifts that God has given them, and I pray that you will continue to share those gifts wherever He sends you all. God bless each of you in your journey to love the Lord, and the freedom that you will bring to others spreading His word.

God is truly amazing! These young people help to restore faith within me. It’s been a distracting few years. The best way to deal with these distractions is to turn to God, read the Bible, and remember the common courtesies to live by. I’m so very thankful, and count my blessings…especially for God bringing these young students into my life. These students who love the Lord so much that they gave me an unexpected and undeserved gift.

P.S. If you would like to see the link to part of the video of this gracious gift being presented to me, please check it out: http://instagram.com/p/qwqcwTmQsk/?modal=true

Are You a Question? Be an Exclamation!

This past weekend I went to Waco, Texas to visit my oldest at Baylor University.  We went to visit her church, Antioch.  The Senior Leader, Jimmy Seibert, asked the congregation this crucial and “radical” question, “Do you go around wearing a question mark, or an exclamation?”

Pastor Seibert says too many of us go around wearing a question mark. He says we spend a lot of time wondering… “Who is God?  Who am I?  Where am I going?”

It’s true!  I often wonder these things myself.  I wonder who I am in relation to God.  I wonder who or what does the relationship involve, where is the relationship going to take me, and how will I get what I want?

Guess what?  God has a plan for me.  Instead of worrying about being a broken person, and rather am I worthy of His grace, I need to focus on being transformed from the inside out.

In Psalms it says not to worry because at the end of the day…God is in control! When I doubt myself and I question God, then I am putting something or someone else before Him.  I lack concentration.  In essence, it’s like I become ADD in looking for Him.  [No knock to ADD because I truly have it.]

So who is God?

I loved what Pastor Seibert said, “Who’s the final authority?  Let it be Jesus…because in the end it will be Him anyway.

The whole congregation laughed, but it’s true.  HIS GRACE ALONE SAVED US!

For by grace you have been saved… ~ Ephesians 2:8

Like Saul/Paul, we are blind in our own chaos.  Fear is not spoken from the Lord. We don’t suffer apart from God.  He suffers with us! God wants us to see and understand that concept.  He wants us to know that within our own broken lives we are a treasure.  We are God’s treasure!

You see, God reveals within us our question mark that is so easy for us to wear and often worn; BUT, if we allow Him,  He will change it into an exclamation…an exclamation for Him.

Who am I?

I am His beloved!  I am adopted and loved by God! Yes, we all have family problems.  Some of us have our fair share; but, when we are adopted by God we move from one family into another family.  We move into the family of God.

Sometimes we act like we are not adopted; but, through Jesus we become “joint heirs” to the family of God.  We have a great inheritance!  Christ is the One who has vested great interest in us, and died for us so that we could live.

We are born again and made new in His image.  We are no longer chained to the past…to our family mistakes.  So stop walking around with a limp, and get into the real spirit. Start with walking from a place of victory—walking with Christ Jesus!

Where am I going?

I am free of my past.  My past, heinous secrets were getting me nowhere; but, through Christ, I’m free!  God brings about a conviction within me to confess my very sinful nature, and then be able to “move on” through the love of God. Satan brings about condemnation.  There is no condemnation in Christ who strengthens me—just forgiveness!

Now, I seem to be moving  at a snail’s pace; but, I’ve begun to inch forward since learning this revelation.  His desire for me is to know Him and to glorify Him.  I find it funny that he knows us more than we want to know Him.  He does know the desires of our heart. He makes a point of this.

After beginning to understand some of these questions, I should live  life with a new purpose.  My purpose should be to know Him with all my heart and all my soul.  My desire is to know and understand Him.  Through His grace and love becomes the reality of my faith and hope; thus, learning I have  received His grace despite my past.  I know that I have not received grace on my terms; but, His.  He loved me and showed me grace before I was born.

I should no longer wear a question mark.  I am not my own; but I am free to glorify Him.  He will lead me in the way I should go.  I should follow Him with exclamation.

Don’t be a question mark; but, be an exclamation…an exclamation for Christ!

“…and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.’ ” ~ Romans 15:20-1

Teach Me to Walk

My oldest daughter, Erica Hairston, is expanding her very own spiritual journey with our Heavenly Father.  It has been a blessing to watch her mature and grow spiritually, and all aspects of her life as well.  I often stand in awe of her.  She has a beautiful spirit about her, and tries to be a friend to all…especially to those in need.  She is a people magnet!  Erica’s gift from God attracts people to her…in which she is better able to share the Good News.

My other children, Jess and John, are just beginning their own journey making a difference in their own way to further His kingdom.  I’m so very proud of them all; each with their own unique God-given talents that they share with others on a daily basis…especially with me.  What a blessing to be called “Momma“.

I’m actually going to focus on Erica for this blog because of a recent event.

Here is a brief synopsis of Erica.  From an early age she  has  thrived on “being in the thick of things”.  She has a lot of energy, and knows how to harness it and channel it to work for herself, and others, and in a good way.  Erica has been in sports most of her life, and has proven to be a great leader on the softball field and mission field.  She earned  the title of best athlete at her middle school, and earned first team all district honors in softball for her high school team a couple of years.  Erica has made lots of friends, loves life, and truly cares for people.

Yes, she has faults.  I know I painted her better than Mary Poppins; but, she does have special God-given talents.  Plus, we already know that we are all sinners and fall short.

Erica has a mission, and it’s to further His Kingdom.  She puts her on twist on the way she furthers His kingdom with a  flair that only Erica can do.

This past year, Erica attended Baylor University.  She has made a network of amazing Christian friends, and it has literally pumped her up for Jesus!  They are a well oiled “tight knit” group ready to fight in God’s army.

Recently, in one of Erica’s quiet time, God revealed to her some of her strengths and weaknesses.  She told me that God had revealed to her–that He was going to teach her how to walk.  He was going to teach her His way, and it would be better than she has ever walked before.  They would start over and take it from the beginning.  Even though her spiritual walk is strong; He was going to make her walk stronger than it has ever been before, and all for His glory.

I work at a summer camp now, and it’s very hard to get a hold of me.  My cell doesn’t have service unless I stand on top of the zip-line on one foot.  Ok, that is a little exaggeration…but not much.

Erica finally got a hold of me to tell me what God had revealed to her; then, she casually added that something unexpected happened a couple of days later.

I thought, “I wonder what unexpected event?”

I knew she had gone to Minnesota to spend some time with one of her future roommate; and then she said, “By the way, I got to go jet skiing and tubing for the first time.”

I thought, “Awesome!”

Erica also told me that she went water skiing, and that the skis were too loose, and she had trouble getting up; therefore, she tightened the skis. The problem was the next time she was getting pulled out of the water (because she is strong) she was pushing harder with one leg, and the ski was under water slightly.  This is not a good thing while trying to ski on top of water.

I’m thinking this is all really cool!

Then, her next words were words that would pain any parent’s heart, and my very soul writhed with pain for her. Erica had an accident.  The iliofemoral ligament (the strongest ligament in the body, had detached from her hip, and will be having surgery on Tuesday.

BTW…prayers would be good now.  Prayers for the doctor and healing would be great; especially since she is a Packer fan and a Cowboy’s doctor will be performing the surgery.  She may have to change her allegiance after the surgery; but, she should see how it turns out first-hahahaha!

My eyes began tearing up as she told me what had happened.  I was trying not let her hear the pain in my voice; but, I’m not the best at hiding my emotions.

I immediately asked if she had a life jacket on, and she said, “Yes, she did”.  I was somewhat relieved.  I was happy that she had thought of safety first, and that it helped her to keep a float while writhing in pain waiting in the cold water.

Erica went on to tell me of the events that followed, and she felt certain that she would have drowned (because of the severity of the pain) if not for the life jacket she was wearing, and the other “Life Jacket” that covered her with strength and comfort.

A boat drove by and said they would call the sheriff to get help.  Those blessed people also drove around the lake to help clear it so that the waves would not continue to make her move so much…and cause her pain.

Her future roommate, Elizabeth Papetti, and another girl, Kristen Pool, dove out of the boat into the water, and each of the girls got on Erica’s side  to help support her until emergency service arrived.  I am thankful to God for all of their support to help their friend…their sister in Christ.

She told me about the air life that came; but, that an ambulance was actually able to get to where they were.  Erica said that placing her on the backboard was an excruciating pain that she will never forget.

My heart was hurting so bad!  A parent never wants their child to suffer such pain.  I wanted to be able to take it away, and there is nothing I can do.  Then I realized I can pray, and that’s one of the best things I could do for her.

All of the sudden Erica’s voice, despite being a little pain stricken, became more upbeat.  She said, “Momma.  I got to talk to the people in the ambulance about Jesus.”

My whole body became engulfed with a beautiful warm, spirit filled feeling.

Then Erica said, “Momma.  I’m going to have to learn to walk again.”

The realization of her accident came rushing over me again.  I felt sick to my stomach.

Then Erica said, “Don’t worry, Momma.  I have faith.  Plus remember, I told you what God had revealed to me that He was going to teach me how to walk.”

Ok…now, I really need a tissue.  This beautiful, sweet child of mine finds the beauty in her own pain.  What a testimony!  It’s true!  He is going to teach her how to walk in His truth and way.  How awesome is that?

Erica has made it back to Texas, and has a great support group of friends with her.  As a mom, it’s so hard not to want to know how everything is going.  How I wish I could take her pain away, and be with her.

Erica reassured me she was in the great hands with her friends, and of the best hands in the Father of the Heavens and Earth.  I have no control in th situation.  Not controlling the situation is a big leap of faith for me.  Since my mini-stroke in May, I have had to learn to let some things go, and not worry so much.  It’s definitely a test of faith for me, and being able to put my trust in Him…despite my weaknesses.

I truly can’t do much for her while I’m at camp, or any place for that matter; but, I can definitely pray.

I listen to K-LOVE Christian radio quite often.  Their link is also on this web page.  As I got off of the phone with Erica, I was reminded of a Jeremy Camp song that I really like.  It’s called, “Walk by Faith”, and a part of the song is below.

“Well I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see
Well because this broken road
Prepares Your will for me

Help me to win my endless fears
You’ve been so faithful for all my years
With one breath You make me new
Your grace covers all I do.” 

Those words are so true!

As my pastor, Tom Gibbs, has told me many times…even if I can’t see and I may be in a season of brokenness, God will teach me to do His will.

God will help me with my many fears that follow me from my past to present shame and guilt of abuse.  I must not listen to the lies.  I am His beloved.  He has made me new.  And the most important thing…His grace covers all I do…just like Jeremy’s song says.

If one looks closely…one can always find beauty from within their pain, or brokenness.

Tom has also told me, “You have to draw near, be patient, and listen to what God is trying to tell you.”

I suppose if I can continue to do those things then beauty will be able to spring forth from the pain that has built up over the years.

My new prayer for myself is for the Lord to teach me to walk…walk in His way of truth, and not my way of lies.  Praise His glorious name!

 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your steadfast love toward me;…”     ~Psalm 86:11-13a

When Did My Faith Become Real?

When did my faith become real?  I believe receiving faith is never-ending; therefore, my faith becomes more real with each “real” season I experience.  I recently told a friend that my current season of tribulations was like a bad reality TV show, and that I sincerely hoped that it would not be picked up for another season.

All joking aside, one of the worst trials I have ever had to go through was when I was a child.  I was sexually abused.  That terrible season has left many battle wounds and scars that still have not completely healed.

That experience led me to live a life that was not always conducive to spiritual growth.  I lived in fear of others…especially men.  My relational skills were lacking, and thus my communication skills followed suit.  Because I let my anger get the best of me, I became one who began to contribute to the pain of others.  The pain I caused was mainly due to my own selfish idols, and of my own making.

I was like a horse wearing blinders.  I could not see the pain I was causing others because of the pain I harbored inside, or even the pain I was causing myself.

As a result of my past abuse I have carried a backpack full of idols, pain, and fear.  I lack self confidence.  I am a skeptic when it comes to thinking that my Father could give me the grace of forgiveness that I so desire.  Even though I did not wish this abuse on myself, in the back of my mind I always wonder if I deserved it.

My husband, Sam, has explained his take on the situation.  If I had gone into the doctor’s office to get a physical, and several days later I got strep throat…did that mean I wanted to get strep throat?  Of course not, nor did I expect to get it.  Strep throat  causes many to become quite ill.  In fact, I usually get a headache and nausea along with it–making it a triple whammy!   Under the circumstances, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I never asked for the strep throat, and I certainly never asked for the abuse. My friend described the abuse like an illness that was given to me.  I couldn’t help it!  It was given to me.  I was so very young, and the abuser had no right to pin the abuse on me as my fault.  To threaten me with harsh words, and fists to body…warning me to never tell or he would beat me up.  No child deserves to be treated with such disrespect. To be made to feel like scum, and then told that no one will ever want them because they were tainted.

I believed him!

I have always wanted to run in a race; but, definitely lacked the passion to train.  Trust me, I am no runner.  When I was at Baylor University I was on the track team; but, as a javelin thrower.  Running was definitely not my forte.  In fact, one year I did not qualify in the javelin for the Texas Relays, so I had to run the 10K.  It took me an hour and six minutes to run that race.  The man who ran the half marathon passed me up.  BTW…now I would be lucky to walk a 10K.

Now I am remembering that I have this awfully heavy backpack, and I am thinking how do I run with a heavy backpack?  I see the military, or fitness gurus running with heavy loads to train; but, I don’t want to train with a heavy backpack.  I am not a fitness guru, and I definitely don’t want to train with a heavy load.  It would be extremely hard!

So how do I lighten the load in my backpack?  I have carried the load for many years.  I have become quite attached to my many idols, and I don’t know which ones should stay or go.

Then my Heavenly Father suggests to me to give Him my backpack.  I asked Him, “Why do you want my backpack?”

He answered, “Because, I love you, and I want you to run to me. I want you to fix your eyes on Me.  I have made a promise to  carry your heavy burdens, and I want you to run the race that is set before you.”

Okay, so even if I were to give Him my backpack, how would that help me to see Him?  How would that allow me a clearer vision to be able to run to Him?

I know now that I lacked a true passion for recognizing my Father, and his promise that He made to me.  I lacked faith and hope in the words He was telling me to obey.   I must really enjoy my bad reality TV show because that’s where I was headed…back to “seasons gone bad.”

I tried to focus on Him; but, I could not see Him at all.  I only recognized my stepfather, and all of the horrible things he had done and/or told me.  He was no father to me.  He did not protect me, or love me.  I became scared…so much so, that a couple of times during the race I considered suicide as an alternative to facing my fears.  Truth is, my own hindrances of my own  idols were causing  me to lack the faith I needed to run the race…to run the race with patient endurance.

I wanted to hurry up and train for the race my way.  I wanted to be in control.  In the back of my mind I wondered if I could run the race by myself?  Did I really need my Father?  Could I train without any help, because asking for help might mean I was weak?  I certainly did not want to look weak and unworthy to anyone.  I mean my stepfather did say that no one would want someone as worthless as myself.  I wanted to believe I could prove my stepfather wrong.

I learned quickly that training, and running alone, did not seem to be working for me.  Training by myself, I noticed that I seem to fail every time. I was extremely out of shape.

I wondered do I really  to need the “Author and Finisher” of my faith to help me train for this race?  Does He really know what path to take to get to the finish line?  Would He really be the only One who would be able to keep me from “jumping the gun” at the start of the race, and would certainly keep me from facing disqualification?  Would He do this for me just because He loved me?

I had to really dig deep inside to see what I really desired.  Did I want to continue carrying my heavy backpack, or give it freely to Him? My faith was lacking; but, He told me, “Come ye who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  He was telling me to cast my burdens upon Him, and He in turn would help me cross the finish line so that I could rest.  I definitely need rest.  I look horrible!

With His help, I found the faith, hope, and strength to go the distance…even when I could not always see the finish line. I knew that I would be able to reach the prize–which had already been fulfilled by Him.  I knew that He would give me rest.

I have decided that my faith in Him should not be just wishful thinking, but having a true passion; a trusting confidence that His promise of grace is for me–despite my past secrets, my present idols, or my future mistakes.  Through faith, God’s grace gives me freedom to be me—broken and scarred.

So when did my faith become real?  Every time I step out the door and experience various seasons.  Just putting one foot in front of the other, and walking out the door.  Now that’s having real faith to me!

 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.”  ~ Hebrews 11:1

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