I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I love testimonies of God's love and faithfulness. Being an empathetic person - they get me every time.
One of my favorite verses is Revelation 12:11.
They triumphed over him (Satan)
I love this verse because it reminds me that even a testimony as simple as mine can be used to defeat Satan. Let me clarify what I mean by simple. My story lacks a definitive before and after Christ moment. My story is more one of progression than sudden or radical transformation. There has been a lot of transformation and will continue to have a lot more, but it has been slow and steady, probably because the Lord knows the pace I can handle.
One of my earliest memories, around four, is praying with my mom to accept Jesus. I was raised in a missionary family so from an early age I witnessed countless miracles. We were taught to pray for and expect them. The God I grew to know was and still is magnificent! It amazes me how God cares about the tiniest, most intimate details of our life. Yes, even close parking spots!
My parents did deputation and by age seven my family was living in Zagreb, Croatia but at that time it was Yugoslavia. We simply did life as we learned the language. My parents modeled how to be a friend first before sharing the friend, Jesus.
When the war broke out we briefly stayed in Vienna. My brother had scarlet fever and I learned how God is our healer.
Returning home to Massachusetts we had a year to reconnect with family in the States, raise puppies and build forts in the yard by the parsonage. By opening the doors in hospitality, my parent's made the scripture about entertaining angels without knowing real to me. I know one of our guests was an angel for certain!
From there my family went to Moscow for a two-year assignment. My parent's had met on the Russian floor at Colorado University so this would be an easier assignment at least linguistically speaking. My siblings and I learned Russian by playing in the courtyard with other kids and watched my parents work really hard. They were always being called to translate for everyone involved in the team. After two years we came back to the United States to help family in need of healing. It took us all a while to adjust, but it was a break we all really needed.
At this point in my life, I started to ask harder questions. I wanted to understand God deeper. I was starting to see the difference between loving Jesus and what some people said you had to "do" for Jesus. I needed to know that God wasn't just there for my parents but if He was there for me.
When I brought my doubts to my parents they weren't disappointed or angry in any way, actually, they were quite the opposite. They encouraged me to take all my questions to God and seek out my answers. What I didn't really understand at the time was that they were also doing the same thing in their own lives. (Now, I see this should be a constant in the life of a Jesus follower!) They showed me where David cried out to God, how David wasn't always polite. Despite David's lack of respect or reverence, God didn't strike him down with lightning like he may have deserved.
God wants an authentic relationship with us. I was assured that He was big enough to handle anything I could throw at Him, so I started my own search into what God was really like. This is where I deepened my relationship, from God being my Savior to Him being my Lord.
After a season of helping family back home and some soul searching my parents signed on with a different organization who had us going back and forth to mainly Ukraine for the next few years. My heart fell more deeply in love with the Lord but also with anything Slavic. By the time I graduated high school my heart was set on moving to Ukraine and studying the language. Living in America and doing the 9-5 Monday through Friday desk job literally terrified me. I saved and saved so I could afford to do it. I'm not sure if I would have heard God if He had said no to my plan. I think the majority of my prayers were begging Him to allow me to have the life I wanted. I was also infatuated with a Ukrainian boy at the time, so that didn't help my clarity of thought either.
God is good. He gave me exactly what I asked for and it only took me about three months to determine that it wasn't everything I dreamed it would be. I loved aspects of my life in Kiev. My studies were going well. I had even found a job at another University, but my heart was incredibly homesick. I had always had my family bubble in the midst of a different culture, being completely alone in it was a lot harder. Plus, being on the outside of the US when September 11th happened was terrifying. To hear that America was closed and you are on the outside of it didn't feel good. I wanted to go home.
Once I returned to Massachusetts, I was finally able to see how I hadn't really allowed God much room to speak into the decision. Maybe I had to knock my Slavic idol off the shelf so God could have his spot back, but God was a total gentleman about it. I had been so blinded by what I thought was best instead of trusting Him to know what was best. My family moved to Florida, so I came too. I still find it funny that now I live in Palm Coast where there is a nice sized Russian community and I get to hear Russian every time I am out at Walmart.
So, I struggle with perfectionism. Nope - so not perfect, but wish I was! Sitting still and waiting is also so hard for me. It is tempting to get the plan and rush out and do it on my own. God has given me a good head on my shoulders, so I should use it, right? But not without Him. I am trying to learn how to let God have the lead.
God unexpectedly brought a great guy into my life who helps balance me. I think I do the same for him because God is smart like that. My husband speaks his mind and loves God with great passion. I know being empathetic makes healthy boundaries hard for me to set, so I am thankful for the love and protection of a strong spouse. Makes me feel safe, loved and heard! God is still working on my people-pleasing ways. I not so secretly love that being a counselor keeps my husband sensitive to following the advice that he gives out. Ten years and I still like the guy! Our three kids and I pray for protection over Daddy and discernment from the Holy Spirit for the people he sees. It is important to us that they know they can make a difference even at a young age!
I am grateful for being able to stay home, teach our kids, read lots of books and write some as well. Life is busy, but I know God is directing our days. I am beyond grateful for those in our lives who journey alongside us. We now get to fellowship as a family at Celebrate Recovery every Friday night as well. I love watching and hearing how God is setting his people free, so in obedience, I wanted to write out a bit of my story.
Feel free to share a bit of your walk with Jesus with me in the comments below. I would love to hear it!
A year ago my husband left the security of a job he had worked for over a decade and switched to full-time counseling. Our God is faithful and our trust in his provision has been tested and grown. I am happy to report that not only did God keep our lights on He also helped us pay down debt, pay off cars and increase our giving - so much more than we could have imagined this time last year!
Thank you to the churches that believed in healing this community so much they helped sponsor our kick-off year. Thank you to all the amazing individuals that rallied around us on this decision; your encouragement and support was and is priceless! From prayers, pep talks and living in loving community, we are richly blessed. Your love and prayers relieved a lot of the fear of the unknown.
We did have a few naysayers who were convinced this change was foolish, but God's plans often look like foolishness to those who aren't walking them. Each journey is unique! We hope they have seen God's power and glory through our testimony. The fact that Josh's schedule has been filled strictly by word-of-mouth is a testimony to how God brings His people for healing.
This year has been a faith journey for all of us.
In all honesty, there was some trepidation at first with graduating clients. When a client's hurt, habit or hangup is healed it is time to encourage them to fly. When a lull in clients came we would pray and choose to trust. It is easy to let fear creep in, but we continue to trust God to bring in the clients in His timing. All we can do was be faithful in prayer. The fear is less now a year in and we are learning to take advantage of the lulls for our own rest as a family.
As a wife, I can tell when my husband walks in what kind of day he has had. Counseling is not for the faint of heart. The stories he hears weigh heavy at times. I gratefully watch as the Lord balances his plate of sessions with wins to keep Josh's faith and smile strong. Josh's love for people has grown and his trust in the Spirit's guidance has strengthened. I do my best to cheer him when he is down or send a little one to chatter away the blues, but mostly I feel it is my job to pray for his spiritual protection. Being a light in dark places means needing God's direction and protection. Ask for it!
We all need someone to speak hope into our lives. Jesus loves you and doesn't want to leave you hurting. He has come to heal, restore and set you free. Come visit celebrate recovery on a Friday night and you will learn the steps of healing Jesus left for us in His sermon on the mount.
We have discussed with our children often what Daddy does and why. We try to invite our children into meaningful discussions about life and be examples of loving people like Jesus. They are so excited to be able to attend Celebrate Recovery with us. The Lord has provided some amazing childcare to love on our kids in the back and allow us to be together. We are aware of the fact that they observe way more than we realize, but we trust that having them in the midst will only show them how much God loves His people. As we continue to help those God brings across our path, we strive to remember our children are our first ministry.
We have received so many answers to prayer since instilling family prayer circles. (This is simply a practice of writing out things you need or want and praying faithfully as scripture encourages.) We want to show our kids that God is a God of details and he loves giving good gifts to his children. From horse camp, to dance camp, opportunities for renewing travel as a family and starting new projects or ventures, God has been in it all. It has been a learning curve along the way of placing boundaries to keep God first and our family healthy. Homeschooling has really allowed us to work around Josh's business hours to stay close as a family.
So, at the end of year one, as we step out from some financial support, we have full confidence in the prayer support! God will continue to lead us. He is our Jehovah-Jireh - the only secure place to rest.
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....