August 16, 2013

#KingdomWoman... Her Courage

Has anyone ever told you to keep the faith in the midst of your storm? It's not enough for us to have faith. We have to also walk by faith. We have to boldly share our faith. Whether it's with our immediate family or complete strangers, we have to have the courage it takes to publicly proclaim what Jesus has done for us. You know - be a living witness?

You can't be afraid to share how God has rescued and delivered you or blessed you beyond measure. Your testimony could be just the spark needed to give someone the strength to make it through whatever they're going through. Your testimony can help someone push through strongholds and overcome obstacles that are holding them back from knowing and experiencing their purpose and possibilities as a Kingdom Woman

That's why I recommend this book wholeheartedly because it does just that. The combination of Pastor Evans' sound biblical teaching coupled with Chrystal's true life experiences as a woman of God empowers and inspires us to be who we are destined to be in this life.

Now, my closest friends know that I'm really shy. It's true! When I first began speaking publicly, I had to pray for the courage to make it through my allotted time without my knees knocking, my heart jumping into my throat, cold sweats, or fainting. 

My first true experience speaking was during a Young Careerest contest at a Business & Professional Women's Organization. I ended up winning first runner up! But I was so scared. My mom was there to encourage me and as I prepared for the moment, I thought about the first time I felt that fear. It started with my first piano recital. I was 12 years old. I remember walking across the stage with my black patent leather shoes, knee high socks, red plaid skirt, white shirt, with yellow vest. I looked great on the outside but inside my heart was racing and when I sat down at the keys, I felt my knees knocking so hard I thought for sure the audience could hear them. I swallowed back the lump in my throat and looked out in the crowd to find my mom. I focused on her smile and then everything was alright. I made it through my piece and accepted the applause but I was still only looking for that smile on one face - my mom's. I was happy to give her something to smile about and I was encouraged because she was there. 

My mom has always been my inspiration. I call her the wind beneath my wings and every time I hear that song, I think about her.  I don't tell her often enough how much I appreciate her example but its because of her faith and her testimony that I've been able to endure some really tough times in my life. Why? Because when I got older, I realized how much my mom had to sacrifice and humble herself to give me and my brothers the life we had. She trusted in the Lord for everything.  She walked in her faith and she shared her faith - first with us and then with others.  It is because of her example, as well as my grandmother's that I can stay steadfast in my faith. Even when I strayed away, I never got far because they didn't just tell me, but showed me how to be a woman of God. 

I remember my mom never wanted us to feel like we were missing out on anything. It was nothing but the favor and blessing of the Lord that we were able to do things that most kids in our situation weren't able to do. For instance, she was blessed with a scholarship to enroll all three of us in a prestigious college prep school. She was able to save so we could take a vacation to Six Flags over Texas (that was like Disney World coming from Oklahoma!) I was able to be on the school pep squad and my brothers got to play sports and all that comes with it - the uniform, shoes, etc. Every Christmas we had lots of gifts. I don't remember one time not having a nice Thanksgiving or Christmas. I do remember that sometimes my brothers and I would be eating a full meal while my mom would sit in the corner eating a piece of bread. She was content and I didn't hear her complain. 

Some days I found myself in the same situations my mom faced, but even when I wasn't able to pickup the phone and call her, I remembered her faith, her struggles, and that it didn't kill her- it made her stronger and we made it through. She never let us see her sweat. She thanked God for all the blessings - big and small.

Although I tried to make my mom proud, there was one moment in time that nearly cost us our relationship - when I got pregnant at age 16... I believe I caused my mom to nearly have a nervous breakdown. A series of events came after my pregnancy was revealed and ended with me being sent to a home for pregnant girls. The goal was to put my son up for adoption so I could go 'back to the way things used to be'. But when the day came to sign the adoption papers, I made the decision to keep him. My mom felt my life was over and she was very disappointed. I know this situation tested her faith. She turned her back and walked away and I was whisked away to live with my grandmother. I believe my mom and I didn't speak to each other for at least six months.  It was tough to reconcile but we did and we began to rebuild what was lost.

That time in my life was something I never thought I would speak about to complete strangers but one day, I was given the opportunity to speak with teen girls who were either pregnant or already had a baby. I was so nervous!  It was almost 15 years later when I finally spoke about my story and shared it with these young ladies. I wanted them know that no matter what society said about them, if they trusted in the Lord, they would be able to make it through the struggle and the stigma that surrounds their current station in life. The Lord hates the sin, not the sinner. I told them, WE made some bad choices - not mistakes, because God doesn't make mistakes - and you make it through by picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and learning how to make better choices. 

I said a lot to the girls that day. We talked about finishing high school and going on to college so they could provide a better life for their child.  We talked about abstinence and getting the assistance they needed spiritually, financially, and healthwise.  However, when I finished speaking and it was time for the Q&A, I was asked about my current relationship with my mom. It appeared that a number of the girls were struggling in this area. The relationship they had with their moms was few and far between and their pregnancy caused a rift between them. I was able to share with them that my mom was smiling. I made her proud again because I did exactly what I was telling them to do. I continued to hit some bumps in the road but I made it through. I could hear some sighs of relief. That part of my testimony was just as important to them as it had been for me when I was going through it. I needed to regain that bond with my mom and so did they. I thank the Lord for giving me the courage to speak up to encourage them that day and ever since that time.

As women, and as Christians in general, we have been given the tools to succeed in our Christian walk. We have been given a path to travel that we may not always understand and it may not always be a path through a rose covered garden. But, like Chrystal stated in the book:
The only way to live is to choose a path and follow it. Simply put: Choose to walk the path God has placed in front of you, and put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, we don’t know what our paths hold; in fact, most times we have no idea what our journeys will bring. These are the pathways with a direction and end you cannot see. The way ahead may seem blurry, but you know deep within you that God has asked you to travel this path.
Don't be shy. Take courage to speak about and walk the path the Lord has asked you to travel. Have faith, trust, and believe that He's got you covered to do His will.
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