Friday, September 30, 2011

Bumpy Ride

Dear Readers,
One of my best friends is getting married today. We've been friends for over six years now. I've been friends with his fiance for over 4 1/2 years. It's so strange to think back on how we've changed. How we've grown. I'm excited for this journey they're about to take, but at the same time it just makes me think of the journey that's already been taken. I'm such a different person than I was six years ago. My priorities are different. My beliefs have changed. My heart is transformed. Some of these shifts have happened overnight. Some have occurred over time, through heartaches and heart breaks. Through brokenness beyond what I'd ever thought I'd experience.

Six years ago I had a fresh wound from a break up that tore me to pieces. I'd put my identity in a man who never knew how to love me. It was six years ago that I began a roller coaster of mistakes and disasters. I would fall flat on my face just to get back up and do it all over again. I lived in a dream world of musical theater and quasi hippy culture. It took me two years of self destruction before I would finally let go of my past, and be present with the now. I let myself love again, though it was still not as healthy as I know God intends for me. I could be a support to my friends who desperately needed me to be stable. We were growing up, but I didn't have all I needed. At that point I was living a double life. At home with my family I was a good Christian girl that went to church every Sunday and had all the right answers. With my friends I hid my faith, but out came a bit of a rebel. Bars and parties that allowed me to "let loose" filled my Fridays and Saturdays. I remember being so drunk once that I laid out on the front lawn so Jake and my boyfriend at the time, Josh, had to carry me back in the house. I was still broken, but I didn't really know it.

About a year after I allowed myself to move on in my life I began searching. I knew that I had a faith that was falling apart, and I became desperate to put it back together. I began to desire God. Having had an immense church background because of my father's profession (pastor) I decided to take a job as a youth director at a church. I even took a class on the history of Christianity. I knew that these things had to have some effect on my faith. They did, but not in the way I thought they would. I had some strange preconceived notion that these things would make me the good Christian girl again and that I might feel better about myself. But what was about to unravel before me was nothing I could have ever foreseen. God was shaking me out of this idea of complacency, and ripping away a veil that had been in front of my face my entire life. I learned to ask questions. I began doubting things I had always believed in. I wanted to look deeper inside the heart of God.

In early 2009 my sister presented the idea to me that I could move up to Rochester with her. The thought rocked my world. As scary as the thought was, it just made me think that I could start all over. The broken pieces of my broken life would be left in Jamestown, NY. I was planning to move there in May or June, but my world was shaken again. In early April my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Postponing my trip to Rochester, I quit my jobs and moved back home to help her out. I can't say was that I was much of a support, but I was able to babysit my nephew because my mom couldn't lift him. But my own unsorted emotions and living with an adopted sister with a lot of baggage were too much for me to stay long. I found myself falling into a deep depression again. I slept late into the day some days. I was ready to leave, and so I did. I set off on a new journey filled with something I hadn't had in years. Hope. I moved to Rochester with little expectation, but found there something far greater than I could have imagined. New purpose. A life lived for God through the blood of Jesus Christ. On October 28, 2009 I surrendered my life and was baptized into the body of Christ as a new disciple. Of course it didn't end there. A transformed heart takes time to heal and to be built into one ready for God's will to be lived out. And it has been.

So it's been six since the downward spiral that has brought me to the place I am today. A place where I can finally live for something bigger than myself. I have a heart to love like I never had before and a sense of peace that drives my very being. Thinking about the wedding I have today gives me the opportunity to be thankful for my friends who were there for me six years ago to soften the blow of the fall I had taken. And I'm thankful for them standing beside me still today even though we live so far away from each other. I'm also thankful for the friends I made in Rochester who took the time to show me what living for God looks like. It's been one bumpy ride, but in it all I've simply been blessed.
With Love,

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart"
Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Sunday, September 25, 2011

God's Weekend Plans

Dear Readers,
Just to warn you that I've never been good at this. Keeping a journal of any kind. In my old journals I have entries next to each other that are chronologically several months apart. But I've been inspired and just want to give a try. Blogs are really fascinating. They tell you so much about people. Is she an optimist? What is important to him? They are subjective yet informative. They can be categorized or very general. So why have I decided to write a blog? I want you, the reader, to know my heart. If you're reading then you've made some connection with me. You may have met me or you may have just run across my blog and something caught your eye. Either way we have a connection. So in light of that connection I want to offer you a piece of me. A piece of my heart. So here goes.

This past weekend my dear friend, Leigh, and I visited another dear friend in Akron, Ohio this weekend. Cassie is attending school at the University of Akron in pursuit of her masters degree in music performance. God blessed her with a beautiful talent for the flute and other various instruments. It was a last minute trip for me, and I am so grateful that my plans changed and I had the opportunity to see her. It was so clearly orchestrated by God. My friend Leigh wasn't to find anybody available to go with her. My plans for the weekend fell through early in the week, and I had forgotten that Leigh was planning to go to Ohio. On Friday, seeking something to do on Saturday night, I asked what she was up to the next day. She replied, "I'm visiting Cassie." And it dawned on both of us that I was free the whole weekend. I'm so thankful I was. We had a wonderful weekend with her. We also spent time with Cassie's friend from school. We even studied the Word with her. It was such a blessing. It was so clear to me that this was how God had intended for me to spend my weekend all along. The love I have for my spiritual sisters has grown, and I have met a new friend to love as well.

Lately, I've seen God's orchestration in my life so vividly lately that it is almost overwhelming. How could God even have time for the little details of my life to be worked into His big plan? He's God, that's how! I have truly been in a state of pure amazement lately at God's glory. It is a perspective that I want to hold onto for as long as possible. I can never forget how God has worked in my life in such a way that a veil has been taken off from my face and allowed me to see a new day filled with His promised. That is all for now.
With love,

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:2-3