Winter Wonderland

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We got our first big storm of the season the other day! I keep saying I don’t like and didn’t miss the snow but…. I wouldn’t have an amazing shot like this if it weren’t for being where I am right now! I have had a great holiday time spending it with my family as I get ready to say farewell for a time and venture out on my own again. I’m so thankful for this time with them!

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Proof of God answering prayers!

Proof of God answering prayers!

*** I wrote this blog October of 2010. I had just a few months before moved down to South Carolina. It was such a challenging time in SC but God really prepared me for this next season in my life during that time. My prayers have been answered as I re-read this blog and I want people to see that when we put our faith, hope and trust in God and ultimately His Son Jesus, who died to take away my sins, then we have the promise that He will not leave us or forsake us but will finish the work that He has begun in us!!
Im so thankful that I wrote this out and can re-read it at this important time in my life! I hope and pray it touches someone else’s life also!

When is the past really the past??

Gods Redemptive Love!
Since I have recently moved to South Carolina I have had many struggles and God has been working in my life a lot. I am learning more and more what this verse means in my life…”Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”Wow! I had written those words in my missions support letter for India in 2008 and they still have soooooooo much meaning in my life even today!I have been struggling with a past that is never quite in the past. Though I know I am forgiven and free in Jesus name according to society I am still a felon…. this may come as a surprise to some that know me and yet others who have walked the path of life with me know that it was a very rebellious sad time in my life! I have tried to hide it many times as people who don’t understand where I came from have tried to use it against me… but I am sick of hiding!

God can not be glorified if I hide my light… my story…. can He?

Luke 8:16
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.

When I was 19 years old, I was a wayward rebellious young woman that was looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. I was with a drug dealing ex-boyfriend when he and his friend carried out an armed robbery against 3 gentlemen that I had been acquainted with. Due to the men knowing me, I was then arrest the next day. I spent 108 days in the county jail, 90 days in prison and on probation for 2 years after the incident.

At that time in Waterloo, Iowa the DA personally told my court appointed lawyer that he was going to make an example of me to the people. He was going to show what happens when a white woman gets taken advantage of by a black man running from the law,  a Chicago thug.
(For those of you reading I mean no disrespect to anyone’s color, race or any thing… this was the DA’s words not my own.)
The District Attorney stated that this was happening too much in Waterloo.  His plan was going to send a message to any overweight white women who dated men of color and/or questionable character so that they knew that the DA’s office would no longer be lenient towards these women.
I surrendered my life back to God in a solitary confinement cell on my 104 day in jail. I cried out to God and told him I was so sorry for rebelling and told Him that I surrendered all. Four days later God provided a miracle and I was able to get out on pre-trial release.When first arrested, my charge was 1st degree Armed Robbery. The guys that I had been with told me that they would have alibis and I would be the one going down for this. Twenty-five years of my life! The charge carried a 22 year mandatory  I knew that I couldn’t get myself out of this. Though I was not the one holding the gun to the guys heads I was still in the wrong place at the wrong time.
God was so gracious and saw my repentant heart. The day that I got out of jail I attended a small group that had been praying for me during my time in jail. They were an encouragement and support to me.God accomplished so much in my life during this pre-trial release so when I met with my lawyer and he told me what the DA was offering for a plea bargain I was so mad and hurt. The DA’s plea bargain was what they call a 90 day shock with a sentence that added up to 25 years, theft 1st, burglary 2nd and Extortion. If at any time during this “shock” period I did anything to get in trouble or responded the wrong way to an inmate that attempted to cause problems I would then have to serve the full term of 25 years.I questioned God… Why do I have to go back?! I have changed my life!And His still small voice said, ” I know and I am proud of you. There are consequences to actions though and I am not finished with this. I have more for you to learn…”So knowing I was in God’s hands I willingly submitted to the plea bargain and turned myself back over to the Waterloo Police Department. During intake, a deputy officer asked if I had considered running during the time between court and when I had to surrender myself? I looked at him puzzled as if he had asked the strangest question ever.

I replied, “No! They would just catch me and then I wouldn’t get just the 90 days but the 25 years when they caught me!”
He just laughed. A few days into my intake I found out why he had laughed…. No one that anyone knew of had EVER actually gotten their 90 days. Either they messed it up for themselves or if they had truly changed someone else that was incarcerated would attempt to mess it up for them. My next miracle was that not only was I granted my 90 days but a judge ruled that I could get out 2 weeks early due to my mom’s persistence and hard work! During this whole ordeal my mom was my biggest cheerleader! She was my bull dog when it came to hounding my lawyer and she was my biggest prayer warrior!As Paul would say…”But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”I have spent the last 10 years changing my life and working hard to be a better person. I have volunteered in India at an orphanage, worked at a not-for-profit assisting individuals with disabilities and volunteered in many various aspects. I have soooooo many people who could attest to all the changes my life has produced over the past 10 years.I had paid my “debt” to society when I completed the jail/ prison/ probation and restitution however I find in my life a constant struggle and feeling that the past is never the past. Any time that I look for employment that would better my life and build up my resume my back ground comes back to haunt me. I dream of the day that I can go into an interview confident that the past is just that, the past, and a future employer will look at the great things I have accomplished wanting me to complete their company with my skills..

The government wonders why the recidivism rate is out of control! People are never truly given a second chance by society or employers but even years later still has a shadow over their head of past mistakes!

My dream job would be to advocate for people who have a past that they may not be proud of, a God who has changed their lives completely and a hope for a future they can be proud of!
I am currently job hunting as I have recently relocated to Columbia, South Carolina and every turn I make I am getting turned down for a job based solely on my background check and finger printing. I had been offered a position as a supervisor in a house for UCP ( United Cerebral Palsy) and knew that it would be a great fit for me to be able to take the things I had learned for the last 2 years of employment working with people with disabilities. Yet due to me not having a valid SC Drivers license and not being able to successfully pass a background and fingerprinting they retracted their offer and didn’t even allow a chance for explanation on my part. In NY State I was cleared by the OMRDD (Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities) and given a chance to prove myself worthy to be a part of the agency The ARC of Steuben… however this new company down here would not even budge or consider the life changes I have made.SO…..I have created a petition by emailing the Governor of Iowa, the US Government and any one else that can help in my cause to have a mistake that happened 10 years ago no longer hinder my future!I want to be able to be an example of God’s amazing grace, love, protection and favor… I want to be able to be an encouragement to others who may not have a perfect past to know that there is a God who loves them so much He sent His only Son to die for their sins!

There has got to be a hope and a future for people who look in their past and wonder how there could possibly be any hope!

These experiences have been a constant thorn yet I know that just like the first verse I put on here states that my sufferings are not in vain but they have brought about a character and a hope that I would not have had if I had not been through all the trials. Not to give room or permission to sin but to know that God is a God of redemption and love!

Winter has arrived

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On schedule since today is the first day of winter, the snow has arrived with flourish! I told myself I did not miss the snow at all but I have to admit that wintery scenes like this I did miss. Just not the cold, high winds and freezing temps that usually go with the snow! I will have to learn to embrace winter though as my journey takes me to Montana! I’m sure seeing the snow on the mountains will make it all worthwhile!

Wish you all a Merry Christmas!

It’s OFFICIAL!!

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Today made it official, kinda set in stone type thing because I got a non-refundable one way ticket to Missoula, Montana! It has been in the works for the last couple weeks but this makes it so real. I have been yearning to work with an organization that helps others overcome their hurts, habits and hangups. I desired to use my life experience to help others and bring glory to God. Gods timing is not our own ! There were many roads I had to walk down until this most amazing door opened up! It feels surreal to have others excited and anticipating my arrival so much they are painting and getting ready for me. I’m at a lose for words…

So instead I will tell you more about my opportunity! I will be doing a year internship with an organization called Teen Challenge. This ministry is a Christian based organization that helps people free themselves from addictions. They don’t just deal with the addiction but the underlying things that lead to the addiction. I will be helping wherever needed monitoring calls, helping in the classes and transporting the women to their jobs. This Teen Challenge has a thrift store and coffee shop that the women work at and I am so excited about! I spent some time in SC working at a consignment shop so I know God prepared me with that experience! And I have always wanted to have a coffee shop so I’m super ecstatic to be a part of all this! It is going to be a busy time as along with working full time I will be taking their online classes. However by the end of the year I will be able to be a counselor in any Teen Challenge nationally or internationally! I have also always wanted to be a counselor and help others but didn’t want the school debt that would go along with that plus I’m not the best at traditional schooling!

This is the road that God has me heading down and I hope that you will continue the journey with me as I write about all this new stuff!

God bless and Merry Christmas!

So much to do, so little time to do it!

With all the changes that have happened this week and my up coming move to Montana, I sometimes feel myself getting overwhelmed with all of the details and preparations!

What should I take? How am I going to fit everything in a “dorm” room sized room that I will be sharing with someone? What might I need during the year internship?

How am I going to get out there? Are we going to drive out? 2,195 miles… maybe not! Fly out? What are the prices for flights?

SO MANY questions whirling around in my head and people asking me all the details…

And let me tell ya I am a detail person, I want it all laid out and planned down to how many pairs of underwear I will need!

hahaha… ok maybe not that bad!

Through all the questions and preparations, God is reminding me to rest in Him! He has brought this opportunity to me, He has prepared the hearts of the people who offered me the internship, He will take me through the rest of the this process!

Yesterdays devotion from Sarah Young’s, Jesus Calling spoke so much to my overwhelmed soul!

The first words were… “Rest in me, my child, forgetting about the worries of the world. Focus on me- Immanuel- And let my living Presence envelop you in peace.”

How fitting in the light of such sadness, terror and evil that transpired yesterday in CT.

It is so easy for people to question God during these times and ask where He is?

He is where He has always been… Dying to show a world who rejects Him how much He loved them that He would send His only Son as payment for your and my sins. He is right next to you waiting for your to cry out to Him. He is a gentleman and will not enter a place or person that He is not welcomed into.

It is easy to let the events of yesterday do one of two things to us…

1) We become fearful to live or leave our homes. We let the event paralyze us from doing anything because we are so afraid.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Or…

2) We become complacent. We say what do people expect when they want to take God out of everything. We get angry with the humans whose eyes are not opened to God’s grace, love and mercy.

I found myself becoming apathetic when I heard about the shooting and it really scared me! It is a coping mechanism to deal with trauma such as happened yesterday. I don’t want to be apathetic, complacent or fearful because none of the above is of God! He yearns to heal a world that hurts, bleeds and dies without knowing Him. He mourns for each and every person that is going through hard times. It is not His will that these things happen.

I want God’s eyes, ears, hands, feet and heart for the world. I want to cry with those that mourn, rejoice with those that rejoice and love a world that doesn’t understand it all. I don’t want to harden my heart to be able to effectively deal with bad things that happen. Emotions are a way for us to display what is going on in our minds, hearts and bodies. When we attempt to turn emotions off we loose the ability to adequately love those that are lost and hurt.

Lord,

I pray for each and every family that has been affected by the terrible events that happened yesterday. Instead of pointing fingers Lord I pray that we will throw our arms up in the air, head up, heart abandoned and intercede for this world. There are so many that don’t know you Lord. Help us not to dwell on our day to day lists of things to do but to focus on the things that are important to you and furthering your kingdom!

Romans 5:8
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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Riverbanks Zoo

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My all time favorite animal has always been giraffes! I once heard a sermon about when a mother giraffe is getting ready to give birth she doesn’t lay down like many animals but remains standing so that the baby giraffe falls like 6+ feet!! The mother then will kick and nudge the baby giraffe until it finally gets up on wobbly legs and learns how to walk and run. This process is fairly quick in the wild for several main reasons. The mother is attempting to create a strong baby and one that can move quickly away from dangerous predators! Many times in my life I have felt like this little baby giraffe getting kicked around by life’s circumstances.. Through this process though it has made me stronger and more reliant on God for his protection and provision! I hope you will see giraffes in a new unique light now! 🙂

Changes, excitement, missions and all that fun stuff!

God never fails to overwhelm me ( in a good way! ) with how amazing His love is for us!

When we seek HIM with all our hearts we will find Him, His will and abundant plan for our lives!

Often times when there is silence, from Him or others we think that they have forgotten about us or that they don’t care. Yet with God its NEVER that! His ways are not ours neither is His thoughts… even my best laid out plan pales in comparison to the story He wants to unfold in my life!

And my plans were pretty good too! I wanted to take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in the next couple months and eventually go back to India in the next year or so. Noble desires so I figured and trusted that all would fall into place. That I would move back up to New York, have the church starting the orphanage reach out to me in the moving process, get involved in the church that helped start the orphanage,  and eventually minister to the beautiful girls of Pune, India! However, things didn’t play out as I had anticipated. Though there was a few times of contact with the church there was no continuous communication like planned, no reach out of welcome like I had prayed for and desired, and most of all when I finally mentioned it all to them there was absolutely NO response. It was a hard things to swallow Im not even going to lie or sugar coat it!

For those of you who have read my other posts you know my past and the struggles I have overcome with God’s saving grace, mercy and love! Yet through it all I still have struggled with the emotional aftermath of going through those things. One of my big struggles is feeling that I am unworthy of pretty much anything let alone any kind of ministry!

In my head I knew God saved me.

In my head I had read how God used the unlikely-est people in the Bible!

In my head I knew that I was willing and wanted to be used by God.

But in my heart I still felt dirty and unworthy.

In my heart I always felt just on the brink of being exposed as a fraud… for who I used to be.

Those things in my heart affected how I went about seeking ministry opportunities and ultimately whether I felt worthy of being a part of them.

Their silence only intensified the feelings that they must not find me worthy either thus perpetuating the cycle of feelings of unworthy-ness and ultimately abandonment. Whether this is what they intended or not it is what went on in my head and emotions. I’m sure they never intended for me to go through all of that.

Let me just say though that it was NEVER GODS INTENTIONS FOR ME TO FEEL THAT WAY!!

He is a GOOD God. There is no evil in Him!

The world however is filled with evil, heart breaking moments, that tear a person down till there isn’t much left to work with.

God is the only one that can take the pieces of our broken heart, life and emotions. He slowly molds them and shapes them so that we see His truths and not the worlds lies. He begins to heal the past hurts, hangups and uses it for HIS good!

I am praying for just that!

About a week ago after really understanding that the India door is closed right now, I started looking into other ministries that I felt God could use me in.

Whenever I am in my car I listen to KLOVE christian radio station as it is encouraging uplifting music that speaks to my soul. Several times in the last month there was testimonies about how Teen Challenge had changed a persons life who was addicted to drugs or alcohol. I would find myself wishing there had been something like that when I was going through all my struggles. I would feel a pull to look up their website and research it more. May be even see if they had any openings in the area.

I would get distracted with life and the day to day things that take over.

Well one day last week I decided that I knew God had more for me than what I was settling for right now… Don’t get me wrong some people are called to work regular day jobs such as Wal-Mart, grocery stores, gas stations, fast food  restaurants and even hotels! We definitely need those people and there calling or desire to do them, either for a season or for a career. There is nothing wrong with that at all! I totally respect them and sometimes envy people like that because I am not hard wired that way!

There is something in me that knows I am supposed to be ministering and serving others though its not to ask them if they would like fries with that! As the body of Christ we are all called to different things and to be used in different ways. We couldn’t have all feet as the body or everyone would be going and no one staying to minister to the people in their area needing to know of God’s amazing saving grace!

I know God wants to take all that has happened to me and use it for His good and His GLORY! The only way that He can do that is if I am willing to go where ever it is He wants me.

The cool thing that I am learning in this process though is He even takes the littlest pondering and likes that we have deep in our heart and considers them too! Its like an extra bonus to show us and continually remind us that HE made us! He knows the number of hairs on our heads so wouldn’t He even more know that I am more of a mountain girl than beach? Of course He does!!

All of these ramblings to say that He has directed and opened the doors for me to possibly minister to women doing an internship through Teen Challenge! I am SUPER excited about this opportunity and anticipate seeing God work out all the details! Because like He keeps reminding me… He’s got it!

Romans 8:28 says….

” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,  

for those who are called according to his purpose.”

In Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Calling, December 11th says it so well!

“I am working on your behalf. Bring me all your concerns, including your dreams! Talk with me about everything, letting the light of my presence shine on your hopes and dreams. Spend time allowing My Light to infuse your dreams with life, gradually transforming them into reality. This is a very practical way of collaborating with Me. I, the Creator of the universe, have deigned to co-create with you. Do not try to hurry this process. If you want to work with Me, you have to accept My time frame. Hurry is not in My nature. Abraham and Sarah had to wait many years for the fulfillment of My promise. a son. How their long wait intensified their enjoyment of this child! Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. “

“For with you is the fountain of life: in your light we see light”

Psalms 36:19

Lord,

I want your will and I want to be where you want me! Shed your light on my path and direct each step I take! Thank you for showing us that though the world may think we have failed for not knowing what we want to do or where God wants us your timing is not our timing and if we want to work with you we have to accept that You are the one that knows the time frame! Keep me trusting you that all things will fall into place in the right time. Your will be done!