*HAPPILY EVER AFTER*
I MUST SAY, IT FEELS INCREDIBLY FITTING THAT THIS IS THE DEBUT BLOG POST OF MANY MORE TO COME!
AFTER MUCH LABORING OVER WHAT THE LORD WOULD HAVE ME SAY, ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 30 I HAD THE HONOR OF DELIVERING THE 35 MINUTE MESSAGE BELOW TO 250 MEMBERS OF THE THE WOMENS MINISTRY OF JEFFERSON BAPTIST CHURCH IN BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA!
(THANK YOU FOR ASKING ME TO SPEAK AT YOUR EVENT, LADIES!) I WAS ABLE TO PRAY WITH AND SPEAK TO SO MANY LADIES AFTERWARD, AND THE OVERALL FEEDBACK LEFT ME SPEECHLESS. I WAS SO HONORED WHEN THE 13 ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE LADIES IN ATTENDANCE HAD THE TRANSLATOR ASK ME IF THEY COULD HAVE A COPY OF MY MESSAGE IN SPANISH BECAUSE THEY WERE SO BLESSED BY IT. ONE OF THE ESL LADIES WAS FROM HUNGARY AND ASKED FOR A COPY SO SHE COULD TRANSLATE IT TO HUNGARIAN AND SHARE IT. SEVERAL ENGLISH SPEAKING LADIES EXPRESSED INTEREST IN HEARING/READING THE MESSAGE AGAIN AS WELL!
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JEFFERSON BAPTIST WOMENS TEA EVENT
GOING ALONG WITH OUR HAPPILY EVER AFTER THEME, LET'S TALK ABOUT FAIRYTALES, GIRLS!
OUR FAVORITE FAIRYTALES COME DOWN TO THE LOVE STORIES, OF COURSE...
WE ALL WATCH THESE DISNEY MOVIES AND JUST SWOON OVER THESE GIRLS GOING FROM RAGS TO RICHES…THEIR PRINCE CHARMING (WHO IS ALWAYS STRIKINGLY HANDSOME AND USUALLY WEARING TIGHTS FOR SOME REASON??) FINDS THEM SINGING TO SOME BIRDS OR LOCKED AWAY IN A TOWER, YADA YADA YADA AAAAND COMES TO THEIR RESCUE AND MARRIES THEM - REDEEMING THEM FROM THE HARDSHIP THEY’VE WALKED THROUGH. AND SUDDENLY THEY’RE ROYALTY. THEN THE CREDITS ROLL AND WE’RE LEFT TO ASSUME THAT THEY HAVE A LONG BLISSFUL MARRIAGE, AN EFFORTLESS LIFE, AND A HUNDRED BABIES.
WHAT A LIFE! :)
BUT LADIES, WHILE WE MAY NOT BE GOING TO AN ELABORATE BALL EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK IN A HUGE GOWN AND OUR PRINCE HOPEFULLY ISN’T WALKING AROUND IN TIGHTS AND PUFFY SHOULDERED JACKETS (THANKS FOR THAT TOO, DISNEY?).. . .THE GREATEST AUTHOR OF ALL TIME HAS WRITTEN OUT A BEAUTIFUL INCREDIBLY PERSONAL FAIRYTALE, AND HE WROTE ME AS THE FEMALE LEAD. AND YOU. AND YOU! AND YOU! WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN STORIES THAT HAVE BEEN OVERSEEN BY THIS AUTHOR EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. HIS WORD TELLS US THAT EVERY DETAIL OF OUR LIVES IS BEING ACCOUNTED FOR! AND DO YOU KNOW THE MOST FANTASTIC PART….EACH OF OUR STORIES END WITH A HAPPILY EVER AFTER :)
NOW THAT DEFINITELY DOESN’T MEAN THE JOURNEY BETWEEN DAY 1 AND THE END IS A CAKE WALK.
LET’S LOOK AT TWO OF OUR DISNEY FRIENDS WHO’S LIVES CERTAINLY HAD THEIR BLEAK POINTS:
SNOW WHITE & CINDERELLA
….HUMBLE HEARTS, CARING HEARTS…THEY WERE BEAUTIFUL ON THE OUTSIDE AND THE INSIDE.
AND YA KNOW WHAT? THEY WERE BOTH PURSUED BY AN ENEMY.
SNOW WHITE’S STEPMOTHER SENT HER MAIN DUDE TO CUT…OUT…SNOW WHITE’S HEART AND PUT IT IN A BOX FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!! THAT’S INTENSE! OF COURSE WE ALL KNOW OUR GIRL ESCAPED - THANK YOU, JESUS! - BUT THE SECOND SHE REALIZED SNOW WHITE WAS STILL ALIVE, HER STEPMOTHER BECAME EVEN MORE DETERMINED TO DESTROY THIS GIRL.
AND CINDERELLA….CINDERELLA DIDN’T GET A FEW MONTHS AWAY IN A SWEET LITTLE COTTAGE WITH WOODLAND CREATURES HELPING HER DO HER CHORES LIKE SNOW WHITE. HER ANTAGONIST RELENTLESSLY DEMEANED HER EVERY DAY AND THERE SEEMED TO BE NO ESCAPE FOR HER.
WHY DID THE STEPMOTHERS HATE THESE GIRLS SO MUCH? DO YOU REMEMBER? A LOT OF IT SEEMED TO COME DOWN TO JEALOUSY!
IN OUR STORIES….IN OUR “FAIRYTALES-IN-PROGRESS”… WE HAVE AN ENEMY TOO. AND THERE ARE SOME VERY COMMON THEMES BETWEEN THOSE STEPMOTHERS TOWARD OUR PRINCESSES (THOUGH THEY WERE HUMAN, BLESS THEIR HEARTS) AND SATAN, OUR ENEMY. THE BIBLE SAYS THAT HE COMES TO STEAL, KILL, AND DESTROY. PERIOD. AND YOU ARE ON HIS RADAR.
SATAN IS: THE ENEMY OF OUR BEAUTY, THE ENEMY OF OUR POTENTIAL, AND THE ENEMY OF OUR BIRTHRIGHT.
Looking back now, I can see that from a very young age my enemy was trying very hard to rob me of my beauty, my potential and the birthright that God was freely offering me (I just didn’t know it yet).
Kelley asked me to share my testimony with you ladies today…and this feels like a good spot to go into that…
I remember contemplating taking my own life on a very regular basis back as early as kindergarten. I had never been exposed to the concept of suicide, but it was a regularly captivating temptation in my mind. I would fantasize about taking my own life. That stupid devil was trying to take me out of the race before my race had had a chance to begin! I had such low thoughts about myself and such a distorted self esteem, with no reason to have thought that way! I had no previous trauma, my parents were still married back then….Why would a kindergartener think that way?…
When I was 10 years old, my parents went through a divorce and it exacerbated the losing battle that had been secretly raging in my mind since my early childhood. We went to a very small school back then. No one in my grade had divorced parents. And even at 10 years old, the popularity race among girls was ruthless. I had a hard time handling it all. I didn’t want to admit to anyone what was going on at home. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I thought I might be literally going crazy. So….I lied. I lied and said I couldn’t go over to play at a friends’ house because my dad was taking me to the zoo on Saturday. In reality, I hadn’t seen my dad in weeks. I got really good at lying too. So good that I couldn’t stop. I lied about everything. About anything. About nothing. John 8:44 says, “There is no truth in him [the devil]. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The funny thing is, and i’m SO grateful for this!! Fast forward for a minute with me…the Lord has SO delivered me from that, that when I TRY to lie about ANYTHING I start smiling and often times laughing as well almost immediately. My husband can ALWAYS ALWAYS catch me in a lie because I start smiling like a goof and can’t do anything about it!! Haha But I thank the Lord for that often. I truly do.
By the time I got to High School, I had past the days of crying out to God begging for Him to be real to me…to be real in general….to heal me of my depression. The struggles continued and I truly didn’t give Him any room to touch my hardened heart. My freshman year was my first year in public school and I spread my rebel wings, immediately connecting with all of the “bad kids”, the gothic scary depressed kids. I felt at home. Oh how the enemy must have been smiling back then. Thinking he’d won. I started doing drugs, forming reckless habits, sneaking out every night and staying out all night at the community drug house, drinking, intentionally harming myself, dabbling in Wicca and other occult practices, being sexually promiscuous…. In my mind, I had nothing to live for… and anger was the only consistent emotion that could tunnel its way through my numbness. I was arrested my Sophomore year, and it should have been a wake up call for me. Nope.
Finally, in an act of desperation, my parents cornered me early one morning, forced me to go to the airport, put me on a plane and said we don’t know when you’ll be back. I will NEVER forget the look on their faces when they said the words before taking me to the airport that rippled down to my core…”We know everything.”
They sent me to the good ‘ol Bible Belt south: all the way from Maryland to Louisiana. When I arrived I was still in my pajamas, and all I had in hand was a bag that had my toothbrush, toothpaste and a letter from both of my parents in it. They’re both from Louisiana and my dad’s Brother-In-Law was a pastor of a prominent church there. He had begged him to put the fear of God in me and save me from myself. And try they certainly did! The church had a full-time ministry school attached to it. None of my family members wanted me living with them. I definitely don’t blame them. So they put me in the dorms with all of these people who were on fire for God and were ready to step into full time ministry! And I’m a little angry, stone cold gothic northerner who hates God, hates everything about everything and wants to get the H out of there at any cost. It was an interesting pairing, to say the least :) After a long time of being forced to sit in hour long morning prayer every day, Biblical classes every day, countless services…all of which I was just blocking out but pretending to listen to with the hopes that they’d say I was cooperating enough to be sent home. But you know what….I thought I was blocking it all out, but the Holy Spirit had already begun a beautiful preparation in me for the life change that was just around the corner. I will never forget the day that I FINALLY gave my life to Jesus. Even several months into being there, I was still barely speaking to my parents but that particular day I agreed to talk to my mom. She told me that our town had the Grand Opening of their new performing arts center, and that my art 4 teacher had showcased my painting as one of the main showcase pieces. I was….speechless! I had been pulled out of school months before, without explanation. The only person I ever cared about disappointing was my art teacher because of the way he encouraged and believed in me. When my mom told me that he showcased my painting….the CRAZIEST thing happened! All of a sudden, in a blink, the Gospel became real to me. I had a true revelation of Jesus for the first time in my life!
I KNOW IT MAY SEEM LIKE A STRANGE CATALYST FOR REVELATION. MR GOLDMAN WAS ONE OF THE ONLY PEOPLE IN MY LIFE THAT I TRULY FELT CHAMPIONED WHO I HAD THE POTENTIAL TO BE. . .AS AN ARTIST AND AS A PERSON. HE KNEW THE MESS THAT I HAD ENTRENCHED MYSELF IN. . .HE SAW EVIDENCE OF THAT EVERYDAY AT SCHOOL IN OUR CONVERSATIONS AND IN MY ARTWORK. I REMEMBER HIM HAVING A SERIOUS TALK WITH ME ABOUT NOT SQUANDERING MY POTENTIAL, AND HE ENCOURAGED ME THAT LIFE CAN OPEN UP TO SOMETHING SO MUCH GREATER. ANYWAY, WHEN I WAS SENT AWAY I REMEMBER FEELING DEEP REMORSE AT THE THOUGHT OF LETTING DOWN MR. GOLDMAN. MY PARENT'S DIDNT PROPERLY WITHDRAW ME FROM SCHOOL SO NONE OF MY TEACHERS HAD ANY EXPLANATION AT FIRST. WHEN THE PERFOMING ARTS CENTER OPENED AND HE WAS CHOOSING THE PIECES TO SHOWCASE, HE HAD NO REASON TO DISPLAY ANY OF MY PIECES. I HAD MESSED UP HORRIBLY, AND HAD LET HIM DOWN TREMENDOUSLY. BUT WHEN MY MOM CALLED AND TOLD ME WHAT HAPPENED, I HAD A REVELATION OF GRACE AND A COORELATION BETWEEN THAT AND THE UNMERITED GRACE THAT CHRIST DEMONSTRATED ON THE CROSS BECAUSE HE STILL BELIEVES IN US, STILL PURSUES US, STILL WARS FOR US DESPITE HOW MUCH WE'VE MESSED UP. . .IT BECAME REAL TO ME. SO INCREDIBLY REAL LIKE NEVER BEFORE. IN THAT MOMENT MY HARDENED HEART WAS SOFT AND I FELT THE PRESENCE OF GOD FOR MYSELF.
When I gave my heart to Jesus, a lot began to change in me…though it WAS a long transformation and deliverance process! But the enemy wasn’t ready to give up on his investment that easily.
A few months after my salvation….I found myself being taken advantage of sexually by an older male in full-time ministry. It happened multiple times. I couldn’t tell anyone. I was DEVASTATED on so many levels. The proceeding days were very fragile ones.
….And my enemy laughed and rejoiced at my steep fall from the beautiful place of healing and trust I had just found in Christ.
Let me just say…Maybe a devastating trauma was a part of your story. I stand here today as a living testimony to the fact that there is no wound too big, and no scar too deep that the Lord can’t heal.
Truly. Maybe you haven’t healed. Maybe the wound still feels very fresh, maybe after many years. If that’s you, I’d love to pray with you after this if you’d like me to.
Let’s FAST FORWARD through a long journey of hurt, backsliding, and surrendering again to our loving Father to THIS scripture! The devil HAAAAAATES this scripture, I can promise you that!! The Bible tells us distinctly that the Devil and his demons KNOW God’s Word. And they hate it! And you know what? That makes me LOVE THIS even more!
BUT AS FOR ME, I WATCH IN HOPE FOR THE LORD; I WAIT FOR GOD MY SAVIOR; MY GOD WILL HEAR ME. DO NOT GLOAT OVER ME, MY ENEMY! THOUGH I HAVE FALLEN, I WILL RISE! THOUGH I SIT IN DARKNESS, THE LORD HIMSELF WILL BE MY LIGHT.
That scripture PUMPS ME UP! :)
I came back from that devastating hurt and entered Masters Commission as an official student, and then became a Masters Commission support staff member. I have traveled across the US, and a few places overseas as well, leading worship and putting on student and adult services with our ministry teams. I went directly from Bible school to being hired in to full-time ministry. Between my time on staff in Louisiana and my current position at Woodlands Church in Texas, I have been in full time ministry for 10 years. I am in LOVE with my God and truly delight in humbly being used by Him….it amazes me incredibly how He has chosen to use me…ME. He’s blessed me tremendously, and given me an incredible godly husband as well. Hallelujah…that’s all I can say. It takes my breath away to consider the journey in its entirety…
I am a daughter of the King who is seen, valued, known and cherished by my Father. Christ is my redeemer….he gave His life for me and waited patiently to marry me to Himself until I could see how much He loved me and fall in love with Him in return. My enemy continues to try and pursue me, trip me up and rob me, but just like those step mothers’ terror didnt stand a CHANCE anymore after Cinderella and Snow White marry their princes and become shielded royalty….YOU AND I are shielded royalty in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:22 says, “He has set his seal of ownership on us and identified us as His own…”
I have gone from rags to spiritual riches. I have found my Prince in Christ and He had been watching me for so long, counting down to the day when I’d TRULY take notice of His wooing….Dreaming of the day when I would receive His love for me that only CONTINUES to grow. You and I are ROYALTY. RECEIVE THAT TODAY. Your fairytale is still being written…..don’t allow your enemy to cheat you out of your Happily Ever After.
THE FALLEN AND SCARRED WAYS OF THIS WORLD ARE NOT THE END OF THE STORY FOR YOU AS A DAUGHTER OF THE KING. THAT’S RIGHT, YOU’RE A DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH KING, THE MOST HIGH GOD & YOUR DADDY HOLDS THE KEYS TO THE WHOOOOOLE KINGDOM….HE HOLDS THE KEYS TO GRACE AND MERCY, THE KEYS TO PROVISION, THE KEYS TO HEALING….AND WHEN HE UNLOCKS THOSE STOREHOUSES HE SAYS IT’S ALL YOURS, AS MY DAUGHTER. YOU HAVE FULL ACCESS. YOU DONT HAVE TO GO WITHOUT ANY MORE. THERE’S A SEAT AT THE TABLE FOR YOU….YOU DONT HAVE TO STARVE FOR ATTENTION AND AFFIRMATION ANYMORE. THERE’S A WARM BED FOR YOU….YOU DONT HAVE TO TOSS AND TURN UNDER THE PAPER THIN SHEETS OF ANXIETY ANYMORE. YOU CAN LAY YOUR HEAD DOWN IN PEACE WITHOUT FEAR. YOU’RE SAFE UNDER YOUR FATHER’S CARE.
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