Monday, October 28, 2013

My Walk with the Lord

This has been on my heart so I wanted to share a little about my testimony.

I came to know Christ at an early age. I didn’t really “grow up” in church. My mom was Baptist and my dad was Catholic, so we really only went on Easter and at Christmas. I loved going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve because it meant I could stay up later! But I didn’t pay attention at all. I had no idea what it meant to have a personal relationship with the Lord.

Every summer my neighbors (Wanda, Shawn, & Kristi) invited me to go to Vacation Bible School with them at Mt. Zion. I went every year and LOVED it. I will never forget the summer when I was 8 years old though. I remember the invitation at the end of one of the services that week and knowing I wanted Jesus in my heart. I didn’t really know what it meant to “get saved,” but my heart was pounding and I knew even at that young age God was speaking to me. I talked with one of the counselors who explained it to me to make sure I understood, and at that point I accepted Christ as my Savior.  I will never forget that moment.

After that, me and my mom started attending church more regularly, and my mom was baptized shortly after. She served in our church, and I became more involved in children’s church. I was baptized when I was ten years old, and am so thankful for some Godly mentors I had as a young girl (Stella & Tammy). They definitely had a MAJOR impact on my life and I am so thankful the Lord put them in my path to guide me, encourage me, and help me grow- especially during the tough middle school years.

I had some rough patches in high school. Some times I was obedient and some times I wasn’t. Same in college. (Unfortunately it had a lot to do with who my friends were…I was solid as a rock when I was surrounded with Godly friends, which is why I pray DAILY for Jase’s future friends.) I do not like that I waivered so much, but that’s the way I was.

After college, my parents both started to grow more in their faith. They became more active in their church and my Dad was also baptized. Praise the Lord! I loved watching my whole family grow in their faith after seeing both of my parents set that example in their relationships with the Lord.

I continued to go to church each week and I truly loved the Lord. I read my Bible sometimes and prayed, but I wanted MORE. A deeper relationship.

I started to REALLY grow the most in my faith when I joined Hopewell. I visited several churches, but knew that was where I was supposed to be. I got involved in some incredible women’s Bible studies and began teaching Sunday School. I studied the Word a LOT and was surrounded with some incredible best friends (Brian, Chelsea, & Laura) who helped encourage me. Finding a church body to be a part of is SO important(Hebrews 10:25). It encourages you, provides accountability, gives an opportunity to serve and worship, and gives fellowship with other believers. I am blessed with MANY friends who love the Lord and encourage me in my own walk.

Still, my walk has been far from perfect.  I know there is no condemnation in Christ, and I know those times are all a part of my testimony, but I am still not proud of the times I have strayed. There have been several times I have “backslidden,” given in to peer pressure, and done things I know did not honor God. It almost makes me sick to think about the missed opportunities- the times I could have shared with others or been an example, but I wasn’t. I almost would rather be able to say I came to know Christ as an adult so that the times of my life I wasn’t following Him would “make sense.” But that is not my testimony, and all I can say is I am SO thankful we serve a God full of grace and mercy!! And I’m so sorry to anyone to whom I may have ever been a stumbling block or seemed like a hypocrite (because I was).

I will say I was never comfortable in that sin.  I always had the conviction of the Holy Spirit, even if I tried to justify and smother the conviction. I always desired a more personal relationship with the Lord, and had so much more peace in my life when I kept Him FIRST. Thankfully the last few years the Lord has helped me become more consistent in my walk….no matter the circumstances. But I still have a lot of growing to do and a lot of maturing in my faith and my walk with Christ that needs to take place. I am so thankful God never gives up on us and is always working on us!!

I still stumble DAILY. I fail miserably and fall short a LOT. I have to ask for forgiveness a good bit, and that is not something I am proud of by any means. But I am real. I am human. And just as Scripture says, I have to be okay with the fact that none of us are perfect. Thankfully we are created in His image and we can always strive to be more Christlike, but it is just that- a journey. I am not a Christian because I am strong; I am a Christian because I am weak and need a Savior. Daily.

I wanted to share that because I am afraid sometimes people think I think I am perfect or my life is perfect. And I know I am FARRRRRR from it. (Just ask my hubby or my mom! They get to see me at my worst!) When I rave about my hubby and my sweet baby, it’s because I absolutely ADORE them and am so thankful for the blessing they both are in my life. When I share a devotion or lesson, it’s usually something the Lord has taught me and been showing me in my own life, so I want to pass it on to others who may be dealing with something similar. I try my best to focus on the good, the positive, and the blessings because God has been SO very good to me. Even though my life is not perfect, I feel as if I’d be slapping God in the face if I complained. (I still complain sometimes, but I try not to.)

This past few weeks, God has really been showing me more and more that my fulfillment can come ONLY through Him. In Christ alone. Not through any job, any relationship, any material thing.

We are called to be “aliens” and “strangers” in this world. To be set apart. And if I’m not receiving some persecution for my beliefs, that tells me I am not being bold enough in sharing with others. The way I act, the things I say, do, and teach, are not and should not be popular by the “world’s standards.” And that’s okay. I cannot take that personally, and I have to keep doing what God has called me to do. My heart is in ministry (not 100% sure where or how yet) and teaching God’s Word. But according to James 3:1, that also means I am held to a higher standard. I need the Lord’s help daily to remain on the narrow path so the Lord can use me to bring HIM glory. That means I need Him to cleanse me of sin and help me look more like Him.

Being a Christian is NOT easy, and if you’ve heard someone preach about how great and perfect your life will be as a Christian, they are lying. It is absolutely, 100% the BEST decision you will ever make in your entire life you follow Christ. Your life will never be the same, and what an incredible gift knowing you get to spend eternity with our Savior!! But it will still not be easy because we live in a fallen world and human nature is sinful. We are called to be like Christ, and in Jesus’ short time on this earth, he encountered a lot of persecution. What we will go through pales in comparison to what Christ did for us, but is a reminder that our life is not meant to be all sunshine and roses. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am so thankful and blessed to know where I will spend eternity. We will endure trials & hardships. We will run into people who don’t like us and who don’t agree with our views. But God will bless us with exceedingly, abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine if we are faithful and obedient.

Easier said than done, which is why I am always a work in progress. Striving to be more life Christ. Working to empty myself of “me” so I can be filled with the Holy Spirit. I want to be so FULL with Christ’s love that it pours out of me and overflows to others!!! I want others to be drawn to Christ in me because He is so evident in my life. That means I have to begin every day in prayer and in the Word. With a thankful heart. Putting on the full armor of God. (I don’t always do that, and when I don’t, I can SO tell. My life feels full of chaos rather than peace. I am moody, irritable, and easily annoyed.)

The truth is, the only outward evidence of salvation is fruits. It is between a person and God if they are saved, but if there are no fruits, it may be time for some self-examination. (John 15:5) Sometimes we are just in a backslidden state (as I have been a few times in my life), but I’m afraid there are so many people who think they are a Christian, yet lack that personal relationship and have never truly given their life to Christ.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ –Matthew 7:21-23

I don’t  really have a “conclusion” for this post. I just wanted to say that I never intend to offend anyone with any posts on here. I feel strongly that we should honor God with our bodies because they are a temple. I feel strongly that we should use the power of the tongue to bring LIFE and not death. I feel strongly that we should honor our husbands and make our families and our homes our number one priority outside of our relationship with the Lord. I will not apologize for that because it lines up with Scripture. I will say, I have found that the times I have been “offended,” it’s usually a direct reflection of an insecurity or truth I am not living out, so I mask the conviction with becoming defensive. It’s a lot easier to get mad at and blame the messenger than receive correction. Just a thought.

Thank you for allowing me to share my heart and a little of my testimony. And thank you for following along in mine and my family’s journey as we strive to serve the Lord.


Katie said...

Love this post. Thank you for sharing and not being ashamed or hiding His light within you.

P!nky said...

What a wonderful story and testimony. Interestingly enough our service yesterday had to do with people sharing their testimonies.

Your faith is inspiring.

Newlywed Fun said...

This really hit home. I was baptized at a very young age and followed Christ for a few years afterward. I have strayed away and I know he is still in my heart just having trouble getting back to that place. Your post are so inspiring and you bless so many people. I needed to hear this. God bless you!

jackie said...

Thank you for sharing this!
I went to see Beth Moore at her confrence in Springfield, IL this weekend and it was SO moving!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony! I love reading your blog because you are a Godly woman who obviously loves the Lord and your family with all your heart and it is evident in your posts.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Your faith and testimony are always a huge help for me. I'm in the sometimes obedient, sometimes not college stage, and I can honestly say that your testimony helps to build me up. I always leave your posts feeling incredibly inspired to know my Savior better. Thank you for your faith

Mindy M Gray said...

Thanks for sharing! Have you read Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman? It is an amazingly convicting book about what it means to truly follow Christ. We are doing it as community groups for the second year in a row, and it is just as powerful the second time. The verse you shared goes straight to the heart of the book; I think you would love it and grow so much from it. I love reading your posts about sweet baby Jase, and I have a daughter who is just a few weeks behind, so it is great to see what the next phase might look like :)

Andrea said...

Thank for your inspiring post! I'm 29 years old and was not raised in a Christian home. My husband and I started going to church a couple of years ago...but as new Christians trying to find our way, we didn't feel fully loved by the church community where we attended. We have fallen out of faith in the past year but I am really hoping to get involved again soon.

Anonymous said...

Great post....thank you

Beth B. said...

Written beautifully Danielle.

Unknown said...

this was really beautiful thank you for sharing! I really enjoyed reading it. I'm still really looking forward to reading about your adoption story :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was really beautiful & sweet. Maybe, you can preach this message/testimony? Anyways, I was thinking about your statement on not being bold enough for Christ. Any tips on being bold for Christ at a public university? (I am also a student leader of a Christian organization on my campus.) Thanks and God bless!!!

Erin Weathers said...

Danielle, I appreciate your honesty. I myself have had thoughts in the past about assuming people think they are perfect simply because they only state the positive. But I also know that I was never happy around someone who complained all the time. We should honor our husbands and families, and not give in to the nasty cruel world that wants us to be "slightly miserable" like most are. Being a Christian is a GIFT. How blessed are we that we can live at the end of every day knowing we have eternal life. I often times forget that, and I want you to know that reading your devotional posts help inspire and encourage me in my own walk with the Lord. I finish reading feeling refreshed and content with my blessings, so thank you. Been following your blog for about a year now, and I'm certain I've read every post from day 1, and I am glad that you are knockin' out posts so often lately! I look forward to reading every one. Thanks!! Erin Weathers

Unknown said...

WOW! Danielle! So grateful that you shared this! On fire for the Lord! Scripture is TRUTH! 100% agree with you on finding a church family and the friends we choose to surround ourselves with! Starting the day IN PRAYER and IN THE WORD together have helped Markeith and I grow by leaps and bounds in our daily walk with Jesus. Seeking God more and more, we always want to know Him more! His love will fill you up and it is all you need! THank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What a great post and what a great reminder that Christ is where our fulfillment is, not anywhere else. I think I really needed this!
Thanks :)

- said...

i love your blog and your honesty in it all. Keep it up :) :) and amazing testimony