The Power Of Your Story

There are only two things that qualify me to have worked as a Social Worker for the past 10 years; a college degree and a heart for service. I love helping people. I love serving people. I love to see their lives transformed when they are given much needed love and attention.

No matter what struggles I’ve endured though, fighting the temptation to eat a pint of ice cream isn’t the same as struggling through fighting the urges to use heroin. The emotional abuse I’ve endured in past relationships doesn’t compare to the physical and sexual abuse the clients I’ve worked with have suffered. The only time I’ve been inside a jail was worked related and I’ll never know what it feels like to be abandoned and not have anyone to call family. My experiences just aren’t the same.

One approach to case management however attempts to close this gap with the utilization of a “Peer.” Also known as a Peer Specialist, a “Peer” is someone who has endured similar life challenges. Maybe they have been through addiction and are now sober. Sometimes they have been institutionalized for mental illness but now understand the balance between medication management and support. Because of their testimony, the Peer is able to relate to the client through the power of life experiences. They understand what it’s like to travel the road to recovery. They know what it’s like to carry the emotional scars of the trauma life deals. They know what it’s like to spend time isolated in a cold cell enclosed by the walls of a prison. They get it.

There is power in the peer approach because of the relatability and connection that bonds two people who have traveled a similar path in life.

While I may never have been to jail or be able to understand the stronghold of addiction, I have another testimony — the testimony of the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The last five days have been amazing. The Lord has revealed strongholds, broken the chains of bondage and freed me from myself. He has filled the places of my spirit once inhabited by lies from the evil one with security of the Holy One and he has healed me from physical wounds. I’ve been overwhelmed by the intense emotion and closeness I’ve felt with the Lord and I can’t stop sharing about it.

As I’ve shared, I’ve realized there is incredible value for the Kingdom when we speak about the things the Lord is doing in our lives.

We live in a dark and broken world. A world filled with hate, murder and war. A world filled with pain, brokenness and retaliation. A world filled with desperation, suffering and longing. A world filled with emptiness, confusion and void. A world that needs the testimony of a Christian. A world that needs comfort, good news and hope.

So, I’m writing this today to encourage you to share. Share how Jesus has freed you. Share how Jesus has healed you. Share how Jesus has redeemed your story.

Just as Jesus instructed the Demon-Possessed man He healed in Mark chapter 5, I would like to challenge you to, “Tell them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had compassion on you.”

Your testimony is far reaching, our world needs hope, the story of miracles are powerful, and light kills darkness.

Will you be courageous today and share the goodness of the Lord? Will you be vulnerable, transparent and raw and let the Lord use you to reach the broken, hurting and hopeless?

Remember, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11)

He put your story in the same sentence as the blood of the Lamb. There is power in your story when you share.

Walking Blindly In Faith

It’s no secret I’ve battled depression, I’ve been very open with you all about that through this blog. Partly because it is an explanation for why I am so emotional all of the time, but mostly because though I continue to struggle with it from time to time, God has equipped me with the tools to overcome it and I want you to be encouraged knowing that you too, with the help of our Lord can overcome it.

I was terrified to come to Korea because I knew the depression would creep back into my life and my family and friends would no longer be just a phone call away when I needed them. When that fear crept in, God reminded me that I should not be turning to them first but to Him.

 
Ready to embrace the big change and take the leap of faith I knew He wanted me to experience, I was hit with a tornado, hurricane and tsunami of emotions far beyond my control. I’ve never felt the intensity of emotion I felt weeks before I left and continue to feel today. Honestly, I have been a wreck a lot of the time I’ve been here and have spent many nights crying out to God for comfort. While my support system back home continues to be amazing, it is extremely difficult to be in a foreign land and not have them readily available when I need them. God has taken me away from my comforts and my support and thrown me in a situation where I have no choice but to turn to Him. 
 
Today in a moment of searching for answers, I turned to the story of Ruth. When we think of the story of Ruth, many of us think of her being referred to as a women of virtue or excellence. Other’s think about when Ruth as she lies at the feet of Boaz and asks him to take her as his wife.
This story has brought me comfort many times during my singleness but today God spoke through this passage in a different way. He reminded me over and over again of Ruth’s blind faith. After the loss of her father-in-law, brother-in-law and husband, Ruth’s mother-in-law told her to return to her home and find a new husband. Ruth refused (1:16) and made the choice to follow Naomi to a land foreign to her.
In my bible, the commentary reads
“Ruth, A Moabitess, did not have Israelite culture to guide her actions.
She had to rely totally on God for wisdom.”
She had to listen closely and patiently wait on the Lord to direct her. She had to trust in the discernment the Lord gave her as she choose to follow Naomi’s advice and sit at the feet of Boaz.
 
There are countless verses in the bible about having faith but as the Lord stressed the significance of Ruth’s faith, He reminded me of Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” I know living by faith is difficult at times, I have had a really hard time lately as I’m blindly walking into a lot of things and not understanding the Lord’s plan. However, I am reminded of two things. First, He has a plan and knowing that brings a lot of comfort. I may be walking blindly but He knows where I am going and will not lead me astray. Second, the Lord calls us to live by faith. As difficult as it may be some times, He calls us to do it and He wouldn’t have done so if it weren’t possible. So, under the Lord’s wings I will continue to fly, knowing He will protect me and guide me through what is to come. 

You’ll Be a Better Wife Because Of It

Hello my name is Brandy, and I am a control freak. I want things done the right way and by the right way I mean my way. I’m a tad bit OCD, my shirts get hung on white hangers and my pants on blue hangers and if you try to help me and mess it up I will be kind to you but will secretly go back and correct every single thing that is wrong when you’re not looking. 

In past blogs I’ve mentioned my struggle with releasing control of my singleness and lately God has certainly been testing my ability to let go. A couple weeks ago I met with my friend Kristin for tea. Right before speaking to her I had an uncomfortable conversation with the man who has my heart and I was telling her about it. After listening to me rant, Kristin said some very powerful words, “Brandy, the Lord is shaping you to become a virtuous woman who will be an amazing wife, stop interfering with his work.” God used Kristin to speak right to my heart and convict me of something I needed to release. I went home that night and spent hours in prayer and confession asking God to take from me the thing I couldn’t release. My heart has gone through an emotional roller coaster over the last year and I have invested so much time, energy and emotion into something and I don’t want it to go away. I want it to flourish and grow. My controlling self wants to keep investing and keep pouring into it but I’ve realized that I don’t have the proper tools to nurture the growth it needs, only God does and realizing that has made the process of letting go a little easier. 
 
While visiting with my friend Andy, who I haven’t seen in over 8 years, we began talking about relationships. I was telling him that my heart is stuck in Dallas. Physically, I may be leaving for Korea in a couple of weeks but emotionally, my heart is not ready to go yet. As Andy and I were speaking, he really encouraged me by reminding me that in the next 12 months, God is going to do wonderful and amazing things in my life. My walk with Him will be strengthened and my heart will be changed and transformed and when God is done writing this chapter of my life I will have so much more to offer the man I will marry because I will be a much better woman than the one I am right now. I love thinking about how God is going to grow me over the next 12 months. I know He has a plan far greater than anything I can imagine and I am so thankful. In everything we go through we are to praise the Lord and be thankful because it is all a part of His plan for our lives. So, in the midst of the hurt and heartache, I will continue to be thankful for where the Lord has me right now and where He is taking me next. 

The Power of the Over Analytical Mind

Currently in my community group we are reading a book about the lies and deception we believe from Satan. The author of the book starts by taking us back to the first lie, the story of Adam and Eve. She speaks about Genesis and how the serpent tempts Eve. We’ve all heard the story, probably many times. But something stuck out in my mind this time, something I hadn’t really paid much attention to in the times I’ve read this passage in the past. Take a look and see if you can find it.
Genesis 2: 15-17 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 3:1-3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ”The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Did you see it?? Look closely. Satan uses the tactic of planting a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind, “Did God really say?” Eve begins to think back on what God said, and as her mind is processing she beings to question whether or not God said what she initially thought He said. She replies to the serpent “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it.” But God never said that! As I read this passage again I could feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me about how often I, like Eve, “misinterpret” what God is telling me. How many times, I, like Eve, have justified my own decisions by saying God said something He didn’t really say.
Fortunately, God continues to grow me in my walk and the lies I believed in the past or the things I justified in the past are no longer a part of my story but I know this is not an area Satan is going to just bow down to and leave alone. He knows I have an over analytical brain, and he knows I process through things way too much and second guess myself and he uses that area of weakness to cause me to second guess my convictions.
That is not okay. God promises to give us a helper who will convict regarding sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16) and when that helper lays something on our hearts we need to STOP and LISTEN. Don’t think about it, don’t over analyze it, don’t try to figure it out. Just be still. If God is stirring something in your heart, He is going to reveal to you in complete clarity, black and white, what He wants you to hear. When we allow room for our own interpretation of the word, we are also allowing room for the father of lies to squirm his way in and begin to deceive us.
Pray that the Lord will help you see in black in white and not gray. Pray that he will take self out of the picture because our human nature will always deceive us. And remember when you get an instinct that you should say/do/believe something. Don’t ask yourself “Did God really say” just remember that He did!
Psalm 139:24 – See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Who Will Be Your Plus 1?

I am no stranger to inviting people to come events I know about. In fact, many of you probably get annoyed with all the invites I send you.
While the eagerness I have to connect people “within” the church is great, I’ve been feeling convicted lately about why I no longer have that same eagerness to connect people “TO” the church. There was a time, not too long ago when I was constantly inviting people to come to church with me. One week, I invited almost everyone I knew from one particular group of friends I had and 7, (yes 7!!!) people came to church with me that night. We took up an entire row at the Porch and I was so excited to have them there to hear the message. 
This past Thursday I showed up to play tennis with a friend of mine. There was a big group of us and they organized people according to their skill level. I was super excited to play, and as I eagerly awaited the organizer to call my name, he went through the entire list and accidentally left me off! At first I was a little upset, I had driven all the way out to the court and thought I wasn’t going to be able to play. Just as I was getting ready to leave, I realized there was another woman there who had been left off the list.
I offered to play singles with her and the gentleman who was organizing said “I don’t think that’s a good idea, you are a 4.0 player.” That was his nice way of letting me know this other lady was not quiet at the same skill level I was. We got on the tennis court and I quickly realized we weren’t going to be playing much tennis. So, I started talking to her and getting to know Ms. Thelma, and boy was she a treat 🙂 Such a sweet lady. We started talking about Jesus and I ended up inviting her to church with me. We didn’t exchange contact information, honestly I didn’t even think twice about it until I showed up for the 530 service at church this past Sunday and there she was! How exciting it was to see her. God used that opportunity to help me realize that I have been lacking, big time in the department of growing his Kingdom!
Jesus urges us to “Go into the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16), to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28). I know when we think about witnessing sometimes we feel insecure or inadequate. I’ve been there before, many times. I definitely hope we can all get to the point that it just comes so naturally to us that we don’t even think about it. But until that time comes, there is one thing I’m sure we can all agree is not to difficult to do… Invite them!! Invite them, and they will come! 
So, I encourage you friends, set a goal for yourselves to invite 1 person to church with you this week. Seek God and ask him who He wants you to reach out to this week, and be faithful when He gives you an answer. Because trust me, He will give you an answer.
Happy fishing!!