Preparation: Donna’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Donna Bostick…

A Love Like His

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 57:8-9)

It was late October 2008. My first missions trip to a third world country. Haiti bound. Approximately forty-five days after the hurricane. A team of fifteen. The goal to visit orphanages to love on the kids including dispensing of clothes, shoes, medicine, toys, colors, and of course candy to the kids.

The prayer of my heart – to love without hesitation. An easy task for most – right – not so much for me as we were told that some of the kids might have aids, some of the kids might have sores covering their little bodies, and some of the kids might have oozy eyes and noses. Not exactly something that I was looking forward to – not sure what I was expecting but the thought of contracting aids during a missions trip – not at the top of my bucket list.

It was mid-day when we landed in Port-au-Prince via an American Airlines 757. We then took a bus across town to a smaller airport and were loaded onto a tiny plane with 18 seats which was to fly us to Les Cayes located along the coast in southern Haiti. Upon landing, we were carted off to a white van, our mode of operation the rest of the trip.

As we bounced along the make shift once flooded roads, my hands began to sweat and my heart began to pound as we inched closer and closer to our first stop – our first orphanage. As I crawled my way out of the back seat, the kids swarmed us! I had no choice but to love without hesitation. They were crawling, hugging, tugging and loving on us like crazy! It was so amazing to experience the love of Jesus from these kids – kids that loved like Jesus.  And this scene played out for the next four days with each visit to a new and different orphanage.

“God does not ask of us that which does not ultimately benefit us. Regardless of what kind of change God asks of you, and no matter how difficult what He asks may seem, obedience to His voice will always result in blessing in the long run. That’s just the kind of God we serve. He wants to give us marvelous things and experiences that we perhaps never dreamed of, but first we have to let go of our own little world and begin to venture into His.” ~~ Shannon Ethridge

I read the above quote on the plane ride home from Haiti and it sums up the trip better than I ever could. You see, God did that for me – He gave me marvelous things and experiences in Haiti that I could have never dreamed of! He let me venture into His world. I was truly blessed beyond measure and comprehension.

I left Kansas City with the attitude of what I was going to do for the kids – I was the one with plans to love unconditionally – plans to love without strings – plans to love like Jesus – but God totally had something else in mind for me. It was not about what I could do for the kids – but was about what the kids and the team did for me.

I was on the receiving end of “agape” (unconditional) love – up close and personal from everyone that I touched, saw and hugged on the trip – from my friend’s 15 year old son to an 86 year old grandpa who had an orphanage built in memory of his wife to two little Haitian girls that stole my heart that I affectionately named Silly 1 and Silly 2. (Partly because all they did was giggle and laugh with me or at me plus the fact that French Creole is not my second language with English barely being my first.)

I experienced the love of Jesus in the flesh! I experienced unconditional love by orphans – children without homes, children without parents, children without families, children without clothes to call their own, and children without food. It was through these orphans that God taught me how to receive. God taught me how to open my heart, my mind and my life to what He wanted to teach me about His love. He taught me that His thoughts were so much higher than mine and that His ways were much higher than mine. I experienced Haiti as God saw fit for me to see Haiti. And trust me; it was a far better view through His eyes.

As I think about how God is preparing me for the Living Proof Live event, it’s all about Him transforming my heart into a heart like His – step by step – day by day – experience by experience with Haiti being one of those experiences. It’s all about Him drawing me closer to His heart as He chisels away making me more like Him. It’s my responsibility to “Be still, and know that [He is] God.” (Psalm 46:10).

It’s in our being still and abiding in His word that we begin to know who He is. By knowing His voice, we will hear it more clearly which in turn will prepare our hearts to receive Him and His teachings in and through Beth Moore and others that He will place in our paths as we journey toward His heart.

Father God, open our hearts to what you want to teach us along this journey to your heart. Give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and a desire to obey you. Transform our hearts along the way into hearts that desire you. Hearts and minds that desire to obey you and become more like you. Thank you for loving us and for calling us to follow you. In Jesus’name. Amen.

haiti grandpaHAITI DJhaiti blog 1How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Dinah’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Dinah Cook…

God called me to leave California and relocate to Raleigh, North Carolina, about eight years ago. I didn’t really understand why God asked me to leave everything that was comfortable for me and follow Him, but I was obedient and did what God placed on my heart to do. I left everything that was dear to me, and it was not an easy decision. I left my family, friends, and a global management job that I enjoyed. No one understood why I made the decision to leave, but I knew if God called me to relocate, then I had to do what He said. I was a single mom who was recently divorced and I was carrying a lot of hurt, but I was ready for a new change and determined to see what God had planned for me. After hearing from family, friends, co-workers, and my boss about why I shouldn’t leave for North Carolina, I stood firm on what God told me, and I trusted Him.

God confirmed to me the week before I had to get on a plane to North Carolina that I was in His will to relocate and that He had a ministry for me in North Carolina. He also told me that the journey would not be easy for me. I left my job, sold my house, and prepared for my transition with my son. When I arrived in North Carolina, I knew God went before me. God blessed me with a new home and lined up a global management position for me, which was a job that was created for me. My new company presented me with a job offer when I arrived at the Raleigh, NC airport.

God showed me when he provided employment that He is never late and always on time!

I found a church home for my son and I and decided to become a greeter, because it was safe ministry for me. I had been a greeter in California, because it was something I felt I could do even though I was timid. Even serving as a greeter stretched me.  I didn’t have enough confidence to do more in ministry. I later joined a small group, but I didn’t do more than just silently pray for the women that came into the sessions and observed the leaders of that ministry to learn. When I was asked to pray out loud for the women in the counseling sessions, I panicked and couldn’t do it. When I was asked to prepare some words of inspiration and discuss it for a few minutes in a counseling session, I again panicked and couldn’t do it. I knew if God wanted to use me in a greater way, He would have to chase away my insecurities. God later told me through a visiting Pastor that it was time for me to fly on wings like eagles and not stay hidden and afraid any longer.

I didn’t know exactly what God was saying to me but I knew He was about to push me forward in ministry.

After three years of serving in hospitality and sitting in counseling group sessions to silently pray, God showed me where He wanted me to serve. I was called to start and lead a women’s ministry called Girlfriends. I didn’t know what the Girlfriend ministry was, but I felt if God called me and chose me to lead, then He would help me to overcome my fears and chase away my insecurities. I jumped in to launch the women’s ministry and had the pleasure to see women’s lives changed.

God showed me that if He worked through me that I could do anything.

Through this ministry I was not only called to organize women’s ministry events at my local church, but I had the opportunity to help other women at other churches throughout North Carolina to launch their women’s ministries. I was blessed by God to speak at a few conferences about the Girlfriend’s women’s ministry, and I did it afraid but was excited that God was using me for His glory. God amazed me as He chose to use me, a woman so timid and who was too afraid to be out front. God saw something in me that He could use for His glory, When others didn’t believe I heard from God when He called me to leave California, God proved that I did hear Him and that He had a ministry for me.

In 2012, I was given the vision to launch a women’s ministry called Kingdom Mindset Women International and I launched a Christian life coach business for women, called Changing Your World Coaching International. I also held my first women’s conference under the new organizations that I founded.

I learned from this journey that when God chooses you, He will equip you.

He will place the right people around you to encourage and help you, He will provide all the resources you need, He will be your personal coach, He will chase away your insecurities, He will remove the obstacles that try to hinder your purpose, and He will go ahead of you to pave the way for His purpose to come to pass. God amazes me, and I am in awe of Him. He is still teaching me and maturing me in women’s ministry, and I believe He is just getting started in how He will use me this year and beyond for His glory.

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

DinahCookYou can find out more about Dinah Cook at Changing Your World Coaching. Be sure to look out for Dinah Cook’s first book called Fixing a Broken Glass, testimonies from ordinary women who God has used to do the extraordinary. This book will include testimonies from 12 women that God has placed on Dinah’s heart to tell their stories.

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Sheila’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Sheila…

I discovered a statement that I now have as my Facebook picture. It says “Sometimes we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned to have the life that is waiting for us.” I guess it goes hand in hand with the much quoted Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In the past I have just skimmed over that Scripture thinking it sounded nice and made me feel happy that God was giving me hope and a future. But now, after my life took a pretty hard blow, I can’t just skim over such life-giving words.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. As a child I was molested, physically and emotionally abused, immersed in a sex-addicted, drug-using family. I knew early on I didn’t want to be like anyone in my family, but I didn’t know how to get out of it. In the sixth grade, I went to live with my grandmother who provided a stable home, even though it was full of tremendous verbal abuse. During junior high, I met a girl who introduced me to Jesus and all the pieces came together for me. Here was what…WHO…I had been searching for.

Jesus was what was missing from my heart.

I desperately clung to him for the next 7 years while living with my grandmother. Through those years, despite immersing myself in Church and learning about Jesus, I struggled with depression to the point of attempting suicide. I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to be molested when I was just a child.

Why did He allow my mom and dad to abandon me?

Why didn’t He intervene in the abuse I faced with my grandmother?

I was a follower of Christ but still very broken and hurting, not seeing that God was walking with me and had a plan and a purpose for me….

In my life, God seems to use pain a lot to prepare me for the future. It’s one of those things that I can’t ignore and forces me to take action and change. I’m a firm believer in the Scriptures like “In this world you will have sorrow, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” Pain is part of life. Without it we would never change…I would never change. God allows the pain, and even at times has brought the pain into my life for that very purpose…to change me, to make me more like Him. I used to get greatly disturbed by this. It “pained” me to think a loving God would bring/allow pain into my life. I held a grudge against my own Creator as if He was out to get me. I couldn’t see that He allowed the pain for a purpose.

Fast forward to the present….I am a Christian mom, my husband a pastor, and I had all but abandoned that life I once lived. I worked hard to forget everything. I was being “good” now and “doing” so many things for God that I knew nothing really bad would happen. God had a plan to prosper me, right? I cannot say how many times I have heard/learned in church that if I just live good enough or work at the church hard enough, everything in my life will just” fall in place,” God will ” open the door if it’s His will,” or (fill in whatever other lie that has been told). I bought it, even though I wouldn’t have admitted it.

Then came the shocker: my husband admits to a moral failure. He quits his job, I have to start working, and we lose friends and feel completely alienated by the nature of his sin. He can’t find a job for months and during this time we are forced to talk to each other about his sin, our commitment to one another, and our faith. At first I wanted to give up, just be done with life in general. I was drowning in the messes others had made, much like when I was a child. Several friends e-mailed and said “If you and the kids need a place to stay, you are more than welcome here.” I know they were trying to be loving, but it hit me hard that they were giving up on my marriage and assumed I was too.

Was I? No, I most certainly was not.

It hadn’t even crossed my mind! If I had learned anything from my childhood, it was how to be strong and push through the pain–that the most important “things” in life are usually the hardest and worth fighting for. I looked over at my husband, and despite the pain in my heart, I loved him more than I did the day I married him.

Through his time off, we dug into Scripture like we were spiritually starving, being sustained spiritually and emotionally by God’s promises. I had never before felt like the Bible was so relevant. Everything was jumping out at me. All the things we had “preached” to others, we had to accept into our own lives. Messages of God’s abundant grace, His mercy, faithfulness, and mostly, His forgiveness, we embraced fully…feeling as if our lives depended on it. My husband and I were sharing and praying constantly. The emotional and spiritual intimacy that had lacked in our lives, God was, and is, slowly building.

A few days after my husband’s confession, we walked into a church, broken, weeping, and feeling alone. For weeks no one approached us or even noticed us. God spoke volumes through the message and the music, though, enough that we kept going back. Because of this experience, we are seeing that in the church, and everywhere, people are hurting, dying inside and have no one to walk with them through it. God has grabbed our hearts and shown us what it is, how scary it is, for someone who is so broken to walk into a church. We don’t know what He has in store yet, but our hearts are aching for those people that need to hear the message of Jesus without judgment or condemnation.

I can’t explain how I started having a fear of having no faith at all, before our life -changing event, a fear that I would do nothing of importance for God in this life. Now, because we had to rely solely on God, His grace and forgiveness, I have a peace and security I never had before, knowing God is before us and behind us with His plan. God asked us the question, “If everything is stripped away from you (or there is a possibility of if), is MY love enough, am I enough?” We had to truly examine our hearts and dig into God’s Word to see that YES, He truly is enough, no matter what.

My faith and that of my husband is being renewed day by day. Even though our world crumbled, our faith was rebuilt. My husband is now a “regular” person working a normal job, and when I see Jeremiah 29:11, I truly see hope and that we will have a future because of Jesus and his amazing grace…maybe not a future of financial stability and a comfortable home, but a future with faith that cannot be shaken, a strong marriage based on true gut-wrenching love, honesty, and forgiveness, and a peace knowing our loving God is restoring our lives, not taking them away.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. But if we have hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)

So, How God is using my today to prepare and purpose my tomorrow? I truly don’t know. I am completely open to His will and done with my own. If He wants me to  remain a stay-at-home mama to my kiddos, I will. If the biggest thing He ever calls me to do is forgive and love my husband, I feel blessed to have that opportunity. God’s plans and purposes exceed anything I could dream or imagine. Through the pain we have endured, He has shown me deep-seated joy, a peace in which I truly feel the presence of God walking with me through the struggles, and a love for His people that I never thought would come. I don’t want to go back to the way we were “before.”

 

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Kimberly’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Kimberly Price…

My youngest daughter is nine years old, soon to be ten, and I’m constantly telling her that she should not be discouraged by what she sees as failure or not “measuring up.” I remind her that she is a work in progress and that God will use everything she has learned about herself and use it for his Glory!

How often I need that reminder! I’ve been blessed with a variety of positions and responsibilities I’ve had, both in and outside of ministry. I’ve made lifelong friendships. I’ve learned new things. And I’ve been asked to step out of my comfort zone more often than not.

KimPriceI believe that through all of my experience, God is continually preparing me for what comes next! I may not see the “big” picture but he does. I, like my daughter, have to tell myself that I’m a work in progress. I have much more to learn and many more lives to love. I can never be finished…until I am face to face with God, and he tells me I’ve done my last job.

How excited I will be when I know I’ve finished the race that was set before me! It’s certainly been an interesting journey so far!

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Diana’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Diana Vocks…

Go Where……Do What?

“He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Psalm 40:2)

Whenever I read this verse my heart cries from pain and joy at the same time. The past is the pain and the present and future are the joy.

My husband and dearest friend Greg live and work in Austria. We work with TCMII at Haus Edelweiss. I won’t tell you we are on the Mission Field because that is where we all are: God’s Mission Field. This wasn’t always our life. We lived very comfortably in Illinois with our sons and their children in close proximity, a big old house, my little Pomeranians, a big yard for the kids to play and to have friends and family over, and a great church. It was a great life. So, how did we get to Austria! Well… that is another story. The story I want to share with you is the pre-story, the one that has shaped many things that have lead me/us here….to this part of my story. The part that few people know about me.

To help you understand me; I am a perfectionist in the truest form, I am an oldest child, and I am a nurse. I am a fretter. I need order, structure and information, and I am an extreme introvert. That says a lot about me. Drives me crazy! I can kick into overdrive very quickly. So here goes: the words I need to share with you today.

In my experience as a nurse, I really engrossed myself in my work, giving it my all, trying to be everything to everybody. When I was put into a situation where the circumstances directly involved me, trying to be everything to everyone became horrible. I became so compulsive and overprotective to those I was caring for, the staff, and my family. I felt I had to protect others and make everything perfect again. Months past, and I maintained my need to be the strong one.

Then it happened: I broke, literally broke.

The mirror in my mind shattered into a thousand pieces–Shattered!!!–and each piece said NO! in every shape and form. The stress of trying to be so perfect and to protect everyone but myself. I failed! For me, that was not an option. My heart, soul, mind, and body all broken, I remember driving (only by God’s grace) to my sister’s house, asking her to call my dear Nursing friend. I crawled into my nephew’s bed coat, shoes and all.

Empty, Empty, Empty. I had no more to give.

I realized that I needed some care and with my dear husband’s love as he stayed beside me, I chose to admit into the hospital for a few days. This is where God met me again, in my brokenness, my emptiness, my horrible pit. I had cared for all other aspects of my life, except Him. I forgot to!

I thought I was the stronger one. There in that room I reacquainted myself, reestablished, and recommitted. Jesus took me by the hand and lead me slowly back to a place of restoration, healing emotionally, physically, and socially. I changed–my relationships, my family, my work involvement, my Christian walk all changed. It was oh, so painful. But growth is painful.

I remember my boys would complain of their legs hurting, and I would blow them off, saying “It’s just growing pains.”Life has growing pains; God did not blow me off. (Sorry boys. I wish I had been more empathetic. Love you both!)

In that dark pit, when I reached out–and I remember physically reaching out to Jesus–He took my hand, He led me, and I followed. He took me to places I never dreamed I could go. He led me to the CPC ministry for seven years. What an adventure that was! He led me to TCM where we are today and minister with hundreds of people around the world. He is leading me through events in my family and personal life that are hard and frustrating at times, but  I know in the end, if I follow, it will be okay. It might not be what I wanted, but it will be okay.

I have to keep reminding myself that I am not in control. GOD IS.

He recently showed me that very fact again. The one thing I said I would not do in order to stay here in Austria was to take another language course. Well, I went kicking and screaming. God is where I had to place my trust. He knew what was best, and I followed. Three weeks of intensive German, test passed, and visa requirement met.

I followed, and I submitted my will. That’s all He asks of me. Why do I so quickly forget He loves me?

God is waiting, He is aware and wants to help. When you allow Him to LEAD YOU, hold His hand tightly, because you can go really fast. So, when you are walking with the Lord and He says “go,” we need to say “Go where ….and let’s Do!”

Hugs to you all,

Liebe Grusse

Diana

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Gloria’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Gloria Lee…

My childhood was far from perfect. My mother passed away of an aneurysm when I was eight years old, which was just the beginning of the biggest transition of my life. Within 12 months, I found myself with my single dad, soon to be followed by a new step-mom, immigrated to the States, dropped off in the middle of the United States (literally, I was taken to Olathe, Kansas, to live with my maternal grandparents), taken to a school filled with people who didn’t understand a single word I said, and had to say good-bye to my dad who went to go live in Los Angeles. That’s a lot of changes for an eight-year-old in 12 months! I was too young to process any of this as a young child.

The next few years weren’t any easier. I lived with my relatives in Kansas for four years, moved to Los Angeles to live with my dad, step-mom, and half-brother at the age of 13, started new school at the height of puberty, went through many identity crises, and struggled through my relationship with my step-mom throughout high school. Life wasn’t easy: I had many tearful nights as a teenager.  My big saving grace was that God had surrounded me with amazing family members who got me through the very tough, emotionally-charged times. However, I often questioned God about why my life was the way it was.

Fast forward to Father’s Day 1994. I was in college, and a few of us had volunteered to lead kids in a Sunday afternoon program at church. We had decided to do a special project on this Sunday, probably the most popular craft that is done on this day every year: A TIE-card for Father’s Day! We probably thought we were brilliant to come up with the craft. As we passed out the cut out tie-cards, a third grade boy with the cutest chipmunk face you’ve ever seen looked up at me and said, “Teacher Gloria, do you have a dad?” I felt blood rushing to my face. How could we have been so insensitive to this kid?  We all knew that he had lost his dad not too long ago. Our conversation continued:

Me:  You know what?  I do have a dad… but you have something I don’t have.

G:  What?

Me:  You have a mom…. I don’t have a mom.  I have a dad, but you don’t have a dad.  Why don’t we go to that bench and talk?  You don’t have to do this craft…

This conversation with an adorable third grader forever changed the way I interact with kids. That evening, I realized how God used my past experiences to talk to him, and it was even healing for me. The following year, I began an internship in children’s ministry and have been in vocational children’s ministry since. Countless times, I have been able to talk to kids about death, absent parents, stepparents, pain, and the not-so-perfect life! I have become a lot more sensitive to kids who are hurting, and I also learned to share the hurts in my life with the kids I minister to so they can know that they have someone who understands hardship. I’m sensitive to the hurts and baggage kids carry, and I understand that some of these hurts never go away.

I believe that God used my childhood experiences to prepare me for my ministry.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go into ministry to children, but as I look back, I believe God had been preparing me all along.  Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else but to minister to kids and share the love of Jesus with them.

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

GloriaLeeGloria S. Lee is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Talbot School of Theology and has been committed to Children’s Ministry for 18+ years.  She’s led workshops at conventions including CPC, NWMC, CMTA, and BASS.  She has contributed to INCM’s Insight newsletters, Trust Us, They’ll Ask, and If I Can Do All Things Through Christ, Why Can’t I Find My Car Keys?, VBS curriculum, and global sports ministry curriculum.  Her all-time favorite food is crab, and believes in trying everything at least once (as long as it’s not illegal nor immoral).  She currently leads children and family ministry in Los Angeles, Ca. Connect with Gloria via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and her blog.

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Cheryl’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Cheryl Meakins…

A Date with a Time Machine

Time. It is persistent and consistent. I am constrained and defined by time. But God is not. Though I know it in my head, I often act as though God is limited by time.

When I consider how God has prepared me for my purpose, I easily slip into a linear box. I assume I am prepared and then live out my purpose. If you had asked me a year ago how God had prepared me for my purpose I would have answered in a time-line. I experienced childhood abuse, God healed me throughout my twenties and thirties and then he broke my heart for the cause of human trafficking. It makes sense right? First I was hurt, then healed, then called to heal others!

But God turned the tables on me.

God arranged a date with me and a time machine.

I stood lost in worship on a Sunday morning. Everyone else faded away and it seemed to be just me and my Lord in a melodic dialogue. The lyrics caught in my throat as I prayed the last half of Hillsong’s Hosanna, “break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for your kingdom’s cause.” I had no idea the magnitude of that prayer.

Within a few months, I was confronted with the horror of human trafficking. My heart truly broke as I came face to face with this inhumane scourge across our nation that also reached every shore in our world. I saw what broke my Father’s heart.

It seemed as though God had woven all of my experiences and education together for this call. Opportunities for awareness talks began to pop up, but there was always this nagging idea that I was supposed to do more. I was supposed to get my hands “dirty” in this fight.

I began to read books on healing from sexual abuse so I could better understand the trauma that human trafficking causes within a woman’s soul.  But as I began to read, I found myself on the edge of a panic attack. I began to wake from dreams that seemed all too real. I was rattled, shaken up, struck to the core of my being! Did it mean I could have been sexually abused and not remembered?

Over the next six months, while in the care of a counselor, I began to experience flash-backs. Repressed memories were fighting their way to the surface of my mind, a clinically significant sign of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

My little brain, at the age of five, could not comprehend the horror of sexual assault, so it shut down. Disassociated is the clinical term. My mind shut it out, until it felt safe enough to bring it to my memory at the ripe age of forty! One of the hardest parts of the journey into my past was comprehending how the emotions, concepts, facts, lies, shame, and guilt of the assault never got processed at the time of the trauma because my mind wasn’t mature enough to do that work. Though the trauma had physically happened 35 years ago, for my mind it was as though it happened yesterday. Time warped.

Traumatic flash-backs were not what I had in mind when I asked to move forward in my purpose.

To heal from any abuse is a life long journey. Layers of shame and guilt get replaced with anger as the perpetrator is finally seen as the guilty one. And anger gets replaced with acceptance. It happened, it was, but I am here today. The past eventually loses its power to manipulate my present, as lies are silenced with the truth.

Though I was processing the grief of my childhood, my present life suddenly made sense! No wonder my heart broke for those women and children suffering sexual abuse in slavery. No wonder he had called me to fight for them.

In the time travel God had performed, he took me forward in purpose to bring me back to my past. And out of the new review of my past came a broader, deeper, and wiser purpose.

You see, human trafficking lies at the far end of the continuum of abuse and 95% percent of the women and children being trafficked have been sexually abused as children.

This is where he has asked me to pound some stakes in the ground and stand, in the land of healing from abuse. My healing continues while I begin to get my hands “dirty” with the work he has called me to. He has planted a vision for a ministry to heal abused women by providing resources and services that address the wounds of their body, soul and spirit in the safety of restorative community.

Preparation doesn’t always happen before the Purpose. Sometimes the Purpose reveals the preparation.  And the journey? It might feel a bit like having a date with a time machine!

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Cheryl Meakins Close UpCheryl is passionate about strengthening women to courageously face their wounds and become the healers and warriors God made them to be. She shares her journey on her blog and at speaking events. Cheryl has published several articles across cyberspace and print and has recently been published as a contributing author to two devotional books. If I can do all things through Christ, Why can’t I find my car keys and Big Dreams from Small Spaces by Group Publishing.  You can visit her ministry at www.MeakinsSpeak.com.

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)