women in ministry

The Power of Your Story

Currently, I am working on a writing project about transformation, which I hope to share with you in the spring.  In review of my life in recent years I find myself nostalgic.  Old photos remind of us of a time when --- who we were, dreamed of becoming, and who we are today.  Photographs are moments caught in time, that now flood our minds with memories of seasons, heartaches, heartbreaks, and joy!

In particular, this photo (below) reminds me of how far I have come in the last 10 years.  Today, I have hope anchored in my soul knowing how far God will take me.  God has no limits in his dreams for his children.  How far he will he take YOU? 

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What Is your story?

(Stay with me).

I have shared before from ages 19 to 30 my life became very messy. Nearly, the subsequent decade, would be about me healing, pursing faith, letting go, and stepping into confidence. I think most of us have a story of transformation. 

My life became immeasurably whole when I committed myself to prayer, to encourage others, and to tell my story of what my belief and practice of Jesus’ life has done in me.

If there’s ever a time to boast it is in all God has done and who HE will always be!  I love old photos of when my siblings and I were kids because I am reminded of the joys in my childhood.

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Now and then...

The picture below is from earlier this year and reminds me of the work and healing in me.
What physical picture or memory reminds you of the miracles in your life? Change doesn’t happen overnight. Healing takes time, but the fruit is peace, joy, and hope anchored beyond circumstances.

I think for my friends who do not believe in God or have a rocky history with church —- I get it. I think there is more than enough happening in our world that may lead you to think faith is not helpful. Lots of people speaking on 'behalf of Jesus' and often things church leaders say can smell a little like pooh. I am a pastor and I get it.  Yet, in my experience I know so many faith leaders who are honest, vulnerable, and have INCREDIBLE stories of God's goodness in his or her life who speak truth.  YOU have those stories.  

I leave you with this picture of me declaring to a room of people not that I am awesome. Instead, that I have failed...been hurt...hurt people, and have been disappointed —- but God rescued me. This has made my life awesome!

My rescue didn’t start at church

My surrender started in my bedroom at my parents house with a single prayer asking God to help me.

I still make mistakes. I have bad days. I long for things that have not happened yet and become disappointed.....I cuss a little....nobody’s perfect. But I am trying. I know you are trying to live your best life everyday and God sees us!  Maybe you do not have a blog or platform but you can and should declare to others the things God has done in and through you! Your story will encourage someone and we are at a time when encouragement is necessary.  We need authentic stories of what God is doing in your life. 

What God has done in me has made me feel MORE like me! I have so much more room to grow, but growing in Christ has made me more like myself.  I pray you feel the same!

The prayer I prayed at my parents house when I was broken and all of the prayers prayed since -- He heard me.

I listened.

(As a lover of literature) to quote Robert Frost “...that has made all the difference.”

Why I Jumped

I was scrolling through Instagram probably for the thousandth time today.  My thumb has become conditioned to quickly swiping up with a quick tap, that I almost missed something amazing. “Great things never come from comfort zones” my friend posted.  The soft pink graphic post with calligraphy gray writing looked like a print I should order off of Etsy and frame on my wall. The graphic was subtle but it may as well have been a lion roaring in the road:

“GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE, Kristy!”

There it was in gray and pink --- the answer to my recent anxiousness.  Opportunity was knocking but the comfort of routine had become more attractive than what was fresh, new, and life-giving.  Something was wrong.  Since when did muddy waters prove appealing over crystal clear water?  Do not let your comfort zone trick you out of what is good for you. 

Is there a potential promotion?  Maybe you have desired taking a class, or working out.  Has there been a desire to volunteer, but having to do research and meet new people seems like too much work?  Maybe you see the potential for a new relationship, but fear and reminders of the past keep you stuck in neutral calling it comfort.  I love a Netflix and a (lactose free) ice cream day --- that’s comfortable.  But my body, soul, and mind appreciate when I switch out the Netflix for a good book or a power walk at the beach.  Sometimes the effort is just getting past my thoughts and hang-ups.

About seven years ago I was the young adult pastor at my church.  I took a group of college-aged students 13 hours north of home, deep into the mountains, to what looked like a scene out of “Legends of the Fall”. I was far from home and out of my comfort zone.  During that time I had been struggling with a diagnosis of myelopathy and undergoing further tests to rule out Multiple Sclerosis.  I was committed to this trip, but my sorrows, couch, pajamas, and a large pepperoni pizza were calling me.  I wanted to be anywhere other than on this trip spiritually leading students.  My spiritual health was languishing over the weight of the diagnosis.  My body was acting in ways that I had no control over.  Nevertheless, I persisted.

The beauty I witnessed on that trip I will never forget for the rest of my life.  The beauty of nature spoke of God in a way that made my soul come alive.  I climbed, leapt, and swam further than I ever had before.  I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and God met me in the wilderness. I never knew I could jump off the side of a mountain and not only survive but love it!  I rafted and flipped into a roaring rapid. In each moment God met me.  

Now, I am not suggesting you jump off the side of a cliff into a river.  But I am praying that if you are lost, unsure, or feeling afraid that you will step out of your comfort zone into the areas Jesus is calling.  Maybe it’s going back to church, or trying church for the first time! Maybe it’s taking that dance class you keep talking about but never sign up for.  Maybe it is starting a blog, or seeking out a mentor.  Whatever that MOMENTUM CATALYST is for you….SHAKE things up so you can SHINE!

We have to wake up friends.  This is a GOOD time to be ALIVE.

Social media makes it so easy to compare our lives to others.  Leaving us feeling insecure. Instead, give your thumbs a rest and take the first action step toward that thing you KNOW will make you feel alive.  Shake off that comfort.  Soon the comfort might turn into chains, if you are not careful.

Shake so you can SHINE!

 

Klamath River

Klamath River

My Struggle with Fear and Anxiety

I had a panic attack on a Texas highway.  I cannot recall the trigger.  In 2007, I was driving along on a warm day with my windows down.  The sky was changing colors from blue to Sunkist orange across the planed horizon.  As I turned up the music on the radio, I could feel a slight edge of anxiety that had been chasing me on and off throughout the week.  First, I had a sudden sense of nervousness.  Next, my neck stiffened.  Followed by my fingertips becoming numb and tingly.  Suddenly, my breathing became shallow and I could not take a deep breath.  My eyes darted from the road to the rear view mirror.  I had an overwhelming urge to cry due to the simultaneous chest pains that felt like fists pounding on the bones of my chest.  

I thought I was having a heart attack.  

Eventually, pulling over I leaned my head against the steering wheel and said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” over and over again until I could feel my heart rate slow and my mind begin to soothe.  When my hands finally stopped shaking I pulled back onto the highway, and drove to my destination weeping.  I had never experienced a panic attack before or since.  My experience left me with a depth of compassion for those who struggle with ongoing anxiety.

During that season, I lived with a lot of fear.  Because of past failures --- I began to fear future decisions.  Caution and second-guessing are not synonymous words.  Caution guides us to make smart decisions based upon previous experiences.  Second-guessing ourselves highlights our insecurities and dredges up fear.  I was ashamed of my fear and overwhelmed by regret.  I did not talk to anyone or process my feelings.

What was I afraid of?

I feared change and opportunity; although, God was opening many doors.  I had become comfortable in the safety of my routine.  I had chosen the comfort of routine over joy, surrender, opportunity, and the dreams that are formed out of a surrendered life to God.  I was afraid of attention.  Would people still like me if I were to succeed?  It is my experience that people are often drawn to light as long as your light does not shine brighter than his or hers.  I was afraid that I would remain trapped in the mud of my past mistakes.  

Fear will attempt to grip and snuff out what God has for YOU. Fear attempted to cripple me through anxiety.  My faith began to languish.  I began to prefer days in bed with curtains drawn.  Encouragement felt like a tinge of lemon on an open wound.  

“God, where are you?” I cried out in my journal post anxiety attack.

I was afraid to experience another attack, therefore, I began to pray (I should have started there --- live and learn).  God’s response surprised me.  

I was drawn to scriptures like:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Deuteronomy 31:6

“....do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are mine.” - Isaiah 43:1

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8

God’s words were all a reminders:

1. I will have times when I am afraid.

2. I do not have to live in that fear.

3. Press into my faith through prayer and surrender.  

God will exchange your fear with peace.

I know anxiety is not simply overcome.  There is no magic wand. Often, resources like therapy and/or medical professional advise from a licensed doctor are necessary.  In my case, I had to go through a journey of release (forgiving myself), acceptance (learning to love myself), prayer (seeking God above all else to find peace and my purpose).

I still worry.  I still get nervous.  I still become afraid.  But now I FIGHT BACK.

You are more than enough.  You are capable.  You are loved by God. Surround yourself with people who love you and seek the best for you. 

Thrive.   

 

(photo by: Evangelina Rivas Photography)

(photo by: Evangelina Rivas Photography)