my story, finale

my beautiful mentor

During the summer of 2009, God opened my eyes for the second time. I desired to be sold out for Him like I was initially, but I was starting to allow doubts and guilt to creep in. Satan was on the prowl and I was starting to allow him to affect me. I can remember thinking that I wasted so much of my life and influence for temporary fixes. I allowed my heart to harden because of petty hook-ups. I thought of myself as filthy and unworthy of the salvation that He wanted to pour onto me. I was discrediting His love and grace tremendously.

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Ephesians 5:14

He got a hold of my heart at the Student Life Camp of my 11th grade summer. The pastor [who I can’t remember his name] spoke about Galatians 5. He preached about the freedom that Christ brings. He told me that I am no longer a slave to sin. Christ’s death on the cross set me free from everything. Free from present temptations, past sins, and sins that I will commit in the future.

God no longer sees me, rather He sees His Son. When I became a Christian, there was a transaction that happened. Christ took my heart and my life and placed the Holy Spirit within me. He guides me, leads me, and is the face of my soul. Because of that, God sees His Son when he looks at me. God sees my heart and if God sees my heart then He sees Christ within me.

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17

This was a complete mind grenade for me. I tried to erase my past. I tried to find a way to forget everything that happened. When in reality, only Christ has the power to erase my past and redeem me. I was hoarding on something that was already complete. The moment I turned back to Him, my past was gone! No longer did I have to worry about it.

I picture a treadmill. I was sprinting and getting nowhere. I was only wearing my Spirit down and allowing Satan to win the battle. The pastor spoke distinct words that have stuck with me for 3 years now. He said that as a Christian His blood COVERS me. I am beautiful to God because He sees the blood of His son on me. I am beautiful through and because of Christ.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Ukraine, Summer of 2010

At that moment, the pain and the guilt of my past left. I felt it no more. It was as if God said, “Finally my daughter, I’ve been waiting for you.” He poured so much love and grace into my heart at that moment. Since that night at camp, my walk has not been the same. I still fall, but when I do I don’t hoard on the sin I’ve just committed, rather I run to Him. He shows me how without Him I can do nothing. I fall and rough myself up pretty badly, but now He is there to pick me up and shed His grace on me.

That is redemption. It is not just a single moment in a Christian walk. It is a daily cry to the Creator of the world. It’s daily falling on my face realizing that I am a wretched person in need of His daily love and mercy. [Here’s a blog post that deals with similar topics discussed tonight. Find it here if you’re interested]

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. John 15:18-19

Much more has happened in my walk after junior year, but I won’t lead you on too much longer. I’ve talked a lot about my body issues on here. You can read about my journey with that here and here . Since the year I gave my heart to Christ, He has enabled me to go on mission trips to Ukraine twice and Prague for a whole summer. He has placed me in a group of friends that has a heart for the campus and the world that reflects His. He has shown me the importance of community and mentorships. He has brought a fella in my life that treats me with respect and love and pushes me to further my love for Christ.

on a tram in Prague

I appreciate your thoughts and kind words in reply to My Story. I do not want you to read my testimony and look down upon yours if you are a Christian. Everybody’s story is different, that’s the beauty of the Gospel. It reaches everyone from all different places. The one commonality between everyone’s story is the redemption Christ brings. Do not let Satan steal you from that. You are a new creation in Christ. Grasp that and embrace the freedom you have in Christ. Quit condemning yourself and allow God to work in your life like never before.

If you have any questions about what I have said or if you want to know more details about my story please email me! I am not ashamed to tell you what God has done for me.

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my story, pt 5

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10
It would be rude of me to tell you how Christ changed my life and leave you hanging. I would be lying if I finished my story there. That was just the beginning of the changes He began in me.

I had to confront my fears next. The only way I knew how to get out of the lifestyle I was living was to just stop. Stop going out, stop drinking, basically I had to start over. [I know you are probably thinking: “Yeah well you just don’t understand how far into it I am.” Well let me just say, if you keep that mindset you will never allow yourself change. That thought process is a lie straight from Satan. Soap box over] This was the hardest part of the story. I looked like a bad friend. I seemed like a stickler for staying home on the weekends, but that is what I had to do. I had to go “monk-mode”. I don’t recommend that for anybody. It was hard without community around except my family, but I had no friends that I knew I could go to and trust their influence. In the past, I blocked out anybody and everybody that tried to help me or pour into me. Now, here I was crawling back to the very people who I pushed away. Humbling, to say the least. This was about a six-month process. I never built up a huge crowd of friends, but that was because I rather quality over quantity. I’ve always had a solid group of about five friends that I was able to trust.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Ukraine 2008, looking up inappropriate Russian. Like I said, I had a lot of maturing to do:)

I began to journal about the emotions I was feeling.  I can recall thinking about issues in a new way. As if God allowed me to somewhat see things the way He sees them. It was bizarre. The first year after accepting Christ was truly a huge wake up call. I went to Ukraine that summer and became hooked on serving Him through oversea missions. It was the first time I experienced God as an international God.

I remember standing in the auditorium hearing the Ukraine kids worship along with the American team singing in English and I only heard one sound. He blew my mind. God taught me my first major lesson there. He is not just an American God; He is international. America is just a speck on the huge map of His galaxy.

Ya know the part of Aladdin when Aladdin and Jasmine are riding on the carpet and they both begin to sing “A whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew…”? That’s the only way I can describe my life after becoming a Christian. I realized that  I have so much more to live for. I didn’t feel the pressure of having to get drunk or act crazy to seem fun. I was just myself. Still silly, rambunctious, and at times crazy, but it was different this time around. He stamped my heart with His  love and acceptance. I didn’t care about impressing the people I was around. Impressing Him was the only thing I worried about, which was easy considering His love is unconditional.

Fall of my Junior year with my best fwend

After my 10th grade year, I started to have doubts. They were out of the blue. I started debating on whether or not I made the right choice. I began thinking back on past weekends and events, reliving them over and over again in my mind. Sometimes envying my former friends. I wanted to be the center of attention again. I didn’t want to stay at home and I certainly didn’t want to run this race anymore.

I began to stray spiritually. Don’t misunderstand me when I say that. I was still doing the right things. I wasn’t drinking or smoking. I wasn’t going out. I wasn’t doing the “bad” things, but I certainly wasn’t doing the “good” things. I just existed. I stopped praying because I was angry with God. I couldn’t understand why I had such a fire in the beginning and then all the sudden felt washed out and just blah.

I wanted be awakened again. I desired to be full with Him. My prayer was answered, sooner than expected.

Breaking Free v. 3 {lack of communication}

I’m sorry I’ve been lacking in posting about my journey with Breaking Free. I’ve been distracted and busy, but I have been journaling like crazy so this is more of a reflection post on what I’ve learned. Remember when I said there are 5 obstacles in the way of allowing God to set you free? If not, i’ll remind you what they are:

  1. pride
  2. prayerlessness
  3. unbelief
  4. idolatry
  5. legalism

Those 5 obstacles are detrimental in many ways to being set free. Two that I have looked further into so far are prayerlessness and idolatry. The more I read about these two subjects the more I was convicted. If I put something ahead of God it means I’m trying to find satisfaction in that object. This doesn’t seem so bad right? Well I’m basically telling God that He is not good enough for me. Rather than seeking the Creator have looked to the creation. I’m wasting my time trying to find satisfaction in things that can’t possibly satisfy the void the only God can fill. This is huge. God desires us to run to Him when things are going great and when things are not so great. He wants us to seek Him rather than something else.

Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say,
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” Isaiah 44:20

That verse hits home to me. I worry and fuss with so many “ashes” (purposeless things of this world) rather than accept the truth and freedom Christ has waiting for me.

Onto prayerlessness. Reading this convicted me so much. How do I expect to have a relationship with God without actual communication with Him. I can read and study all I want, but that doesn’t make up for a rich prayer life with my God. I have sat down and wondered why things have been going the way they are, but it wasn’t until I read this chapter that I realized I’m lacking in prayer. It’s not that I’m being punished because of my lack of prayer. Any relationship is built on solid communication. What makes this relationship any different? God desires for His children to talk to Him. He desires that I come to Him with my concerns and needs even though He already knows them. Here are three areas in our lives that become targets when there is a lack in prayer:

  • Discipline– Even though you make think you have self-control and discipline that can fly right out of the window when prayer is lacking and satan is attacking. Trust me!
  • Lessons from the past– We get so distracted with what is going on and the battle that we are fighting; we forget what God has taught us in the past.
  • What’s best for us– Our human nature is too self-destructive to choose what is best for us during times of vulnerability.

As I read this it all started to make sense. The frustration and vulnerability I’ve been experiencing is due to a lack in communication with the One that provides life and security. So I’ve challenged myself. In order to hold myself accountable with maintaining a healthy prayer life, I’ve made a list of prayer requests. I think of it as a map for my prayers. It’s easy to get lost in a prayer and just ramble or push it aside. With a list at hand, I can remember what is going on in my life that needs prayer and I can look back to see what God has answered. I challenge you to do the same!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Interview: Mandy of She Breathes Deeply

Who doesn’t like hearing from other bloggers? The cool thing about blogging is being able to chat with ladies from all over the nation. I discovered Mandy’s blog through Top Baby Blogs. I branched from high-fashion blogs to lifestyle blogs that I can actually relate to. The first thing that caught my attention about Mandy is her awesome style and story. With all that being said, I asked Mandy if she would be willing to answer a few questions for me. I am so happy she agreed and can’t wait for you to meet the sweet gal behind She Breathes Deeply.

Introduce yourself:

>>Hi!  My name is Mandy from She Breathes Deeply.  I am a blog obsessed, tattoo wearing, tea drinking, Christian yoga practicing, fashion loving, wife to an amazing man named Kyle, and momma to a beautiful girl named Lily Beloved.

How did you get the title “She breathes deeply”?

>>I have a tattoo on my collar bone that reads in french, “Elle respire profondément.”  It means “She Breathes Deeply.”  The inspiration for it came from a French film I watched a long time ago about a girl coming into her own, so to speak.  She is about to cross a “bridge” in her life to better herself, and the narrator says, “She Breathes Deeply” as she crosses the bridge to a new chapter in her life.  I named my blog “She Breathes Deeply” because of my tattoo, and how it signifies all the new chapters in my life.  Consequently, I recently was certified to teach Christian Yoga, which is all about breathing deeply.  So, in essence the blog name had kind of come full circle in describing my life.

What was the reason you began blogging?:

>>I LOVE to write.  I have been writing stories as long as I can remember.  I have been blogging here and there for years… But I started “She Breathes Deeply” a couple months after I was married two years ago.  At first it was just a personal blog; full of poetry and thoughts… When I found out I was pregnant, it became a journal to remember my pregnancy.  From there it has just evolved to become a spot where I can let write about all the things I love: my faith, my family, and my hobbies; such as fashion and christian yoga.

What were some of your challenges starting out in the blog world?:

>>The biggest challenge for me starting out in the blog world, as well as presently, is the time commitment.  Keeping up a blog is a part time job.  It really depends on the lengths you want to go with your blog.  I call myself a SAHM (stay at home mom), but blogging is definitely a part time job.  But, it is a job I love- so it doesn’t really seem like work.  The challenge is just finding the time being a new mom.

Were you ever intimidated by the success of other bloggers? If so, how did you overcome it?:

>>Yes!  It is hard not to compete in the blogging world.  But the truth is, we are all individuals with our own personal story.  It would be boring if we all wrote about the same thing.  Success is relative.  I get the chance to write about the things I love, as well as tell people about Jesus… In the end that is all that really matters.

What advice would you give to someone like me that have just started out blogging?:

>>Write out goals for your blog.  What demographic are you trying to reach? Once you decide that demographic, be consistent with what you write.  Be active in the blogging world.  That is one of the best ways to advertise your blog.  Also, write what you “know.”  I think the best bloggers are those who write about where they are in their life presently.  Lastly, be aware that if you write about anything that is “controversial”, you will come across some negativity.  I try to have “tough skin” and “a graceful heart” when it comes to blogging.  There will ALWAYS be someone who disagrees with me.  I cannot let their negativity get to me, but I also do not want to be so tough skinned that I become jaded.  I want to show Jesus, and be an example of His grace no matter what I am writing about.

From a Christian’s perspective, what would you change in the blog world?:

>>Hmm…  It is really hard not to be “politically correct” sometimes.  Yet, as Christians- we simply cannot be quiet about Jesus’ beautiful love- whether it is politically correct or not. If we do not speak- the rocks will cry out!  : )

Will you begin incorporating Lily more in the blog as she gets older?:

>>Of course!  My daughter is the love of my life!  I am excited for when she is older and can read back to all the blogs I wrote dedicated to her during pregnancy and her early years.  I just want her to know how much her momma loves her and cherishes her.

Enough about blogging…

You have a unique, encouraging love story; what would be your advice to the single ladies?:

>>Don’t waste time while you are single.  It sounds silly, but when I was single I wasted SO much time trying to find “mr. right.”  It was all futile, and honestly left me very hurt and jaded.  I met my husband when I least expected to.  I truly believe that he is the only man on this earth I was made to love and be committed to for the rest of my life.  Looking back to before I was married, I could have spent all my single time doing useful things that I love- like writing- instead of spending years searching for someone only God could lead to me.  You can’t rush God…  Until you are ready, and your husband is ready- you will not be meet.  So, why spend so much wasted time looking, while you could be enjoying life serving the Lord and doing all the things he has put in your heart to do!

If you could think of one piece of advice for a relationship what would it be?:

>>This may sound cliche’, but the only thing that can keep a relationship healthy and growing is to put the Lord in the center of your relationship.  Unless the Lord is the very center of your relationship, it will be SO hard to be self-less and understand what true love really is.

What’s a lesson that God has been showing you?:

>>Something the Lord taught me last year is (I feel I must learn over and over again)  learning to be still and know HE is God.  It is such a discipline to just “be.”  Yet, it is SO vital to your relationship with the Lord.  He is God, and we are not.  It works out so beautifully that way, doesn’t it? :)

Now let’s get to know you better!:What’s your favorite guilty pleasure food?

>>Chocolate.  I. cannot. say. no.  Yes, I am that girl. : )

If you could be two animals, what would they be and why?

>>Hmm…  I was a horse lover growing up…  So, maybe a horse.  And I love my fat gray cat.  He has a pretty good life.  Maybe a cat?  :)

What is currently playing on your iPod?

>>Adele 21.  Her voice absolutely AMAZES me.  She is such a talented musician.  And I am a HUGE Sigur Ros fan.  I walked down the aisle to one of their songs when I was married.

What inspires you to keep doing yoga and pushing yourself to that goal?

>>I LOVE feeling strong physically.  I LOVE feeling healthy.  It is hard to be motivated some days to work out, but it becomes easier and easier the more you do it.  Yes, there is also a part of me that wants to lose my extra “baby fat” from pregnancy… but I also want to feel good.

Thank you so much. If you have any closing comments feel free to share it‼

Thank you so much for allowing me to talk to you and your lovely readers!  Feel free to e-mail me at Shebreathesdeeply@gmail.com, or stop by my blog www.shebreathesdeeply.com to say hello!
Love,
Mandy

Now, do yourself a favor and head on over to Mandy’s blog to learn more about her and her beautiful family!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have!

-Kristen

Waging War

I wasn’t supposed to post today..or for a while, but I posted this on my Tumblr last night and it’s easy to copy and paste so technically I’m not working too hard on this post:) Here are my thoughts from last night/today:

I hear so many Christians murmuring about their imperfections and their failures and their addictions and their short-comings, And I see so little war! ‘Murmur, murmur, murmur… Why am I this way?’ MAKE WAR! ~ John Piper

The Christian walk is tough guys. It’s not supposed to be easy. As Christians, we are battling two forces, the flesh and the spirit. The world is throwing stuff at us everyday and spiritual warfare is constantly going on as well. Keep these verses in mind, and keep fighting the good fight. Remember who has already owns the victory.

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 1 Peter 2:11

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5

God is always faithful. Push your faith past the moment of giving up hope and forgetting what this life is for. Ultimately, this life..your life..the life Christ has given you..is to glorify Him.

xo,

Kristen