Sunday, July 24, 2011

Celebrating TWO Years!

Well, today marks TWO YEARS since I walked out those doors. So much has happened since entering the "real world," and yet it feels like just yesterday that I was there. I can honestly look back on my life and say that the day I graduated from Mercy Ministries was one of the best days of my life. Aside from training for and running a half-marathon, graduating from Mercy Ministries has been one of the greatest accomplishments in my life--and one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The Lord used the five months I spent at Mercy to fill me with Truth, put to death so many lies, challenge my thought patterns, immerse me in God's Word, and most of all it was during these five months that I fell in love with Jesus Christ. Apart from that love, I am hopeless in this world. Praise God His love never fails, even when I do.

The past two years have not been easy by any means--life is full of hurts and heartaches, challenges, unexpecteds, disappointments, and evil. I will not sugar-coat the past two years into this victorious parade of pure bliss. I have fallen, messed up, forgotten the Truth, and doubted far more times then I would probably like to admit. This I will say--I am not who I was. By the pure grace and mercy (new every morning!) of Jesus Christ I will never be that broken, miserable, hopeless, dying girl again. And let me just tell you--this is something to celebrate!!

So today, two yeas after walking out the doors of Mercy Ministries, I am still not perfect! I have not yet reached that seemingly unattainable place we all desire to get to as know the one where we are in the Word for hours each morning...the one where we forgive the murderer...the one where we don't lash out at our husbands and children after a long day of work...the one where we truly love the unlovable (even if that is simply a bitter grandmother or nagging mother-in-love)...the one where give away our tithes generously without the "If...then..." games echoing through our ears...the one where the scale finally rests on that magic number...the one where we can confidently answer the tough questions about this world and God...the one where we only feed our family the best organic and wholesome foods...(the one where we can afford to feed our family organic and wholesome foods!)...the one where we know everything there is to know about supplements, medications, and vaccines...the one where dinner magically appears on the table and tastes as if it came from a five-star restaurant...the one where we wholeheartedly trust His will to be done in the midst of tragedy and heartache...the one where we are so consumed by the love of the Father that we cannot wipe that smile off of our face.

As I have been reflecting on the past several years and a so-called "theme" to my life after Mercy thus far, I think I have realized more then anything else that I am constantly striving to attain something that is unattainable, and all the while forgetting to be okay with where I am at, how I am serving, what I know and don't know, what I do with my time and money and even what I still struggle with. If I should choose to be discontent with anything in my life as a believer, I think the only appropriate (and even necessary at times) discontentment in my life should be in hungering and thirsting only to know Christ more. While this not easy to confess, I think it is even more difficult to live out when my flesh so easily gravitates towards achieving all the rest of it.
The precious girls I graduated with!

This is my prayer—that in the next year, two years and the rest of my short life here on earth that I would not only understand but hunger for Christ above all else. It is so easy for me to get caught up in all of these good, but worldly things—health, nutrition, human sex-trafficking, couponing, being a godly wife and mom one day, ministry to the homeless, running marathons, and even graduating from Mercy Ministries—apart from Christ, none of it really matters. And in comparison to knowing Christ more, none of it comes close. Lord, I want to know you above all else. Show me the areas I need to surrender for a time that I might not get so carried away with living on this earth, that I might seek you more. Thank you for your patience and new mercies over the past two years as you have watched me learn and grow through the ups and downs of life on earth. The more time I spend in this world, the more I ache for my heavenly home with you. Until that day comes, captivate my heart, my mind, my eyes, my ears, and my feet that I may follow the plans you have laid out since before I was even a day old, that I may not deviate so far from your will in all of my sinfulness.

Lord, thank you for placing me, in your perfect timing, at the doors of Mercy Ministries. Had it not been for the season of time I spent at Mercy, I know that I would not know you intimately nor would I understand what it is like to fall in love with you deeply. Thank you for surrounding me with such incredible staff, women who offered so much wisdom, encouragement, challenged me, and showed me your love in such a tangible way during such a demanding period of my life. Thank you for the life-skills you provided me with which I use daily. Thank you for the indescribable sisters-in-Christ I got to spend those months with—the ones who always understood. Thank you for the men and women who so generously provide the funds needed for me to learn about your character, sleep restfully, eat wholesome foods, and always feel so valued. Thank you for Nancy and her heart to see girls like myself experience your love. I know it is only by your sovereign grace that I made it to graduation day—there were so many times I was ready to take off down that hill and never look back. Thank you for surrounding me with family and friends through whom you kept me just where I was supposed to be…on top of that hill, in that big white house, surrounded by the Truth that continues to set me free today. Lord, thank you for Mercy Ministries—thank you that you do not change in life after Mercy!!    

"For I am the LORD; I do not change..." -Malachi 3:6

Here are some pictures from my graduation day 2 years ago:

Sweet sisters in Christ

Oh Holly...what a blessing our friendship is in my life!

Three of my siblings who frst loved me like Jesus and havn't given
up on me since...the Lord really did set me in the most incredible family.
I love you with all of my heart.

Two of my best friends who continue to enourage, challenge,
and love me (even when I mess up)!! Couldn't imagine my life without you two.

Could not have made it through that first year in the real world
without this incredible woman of God...what a gift.
Dad, thank you for supporting my time at Mercy
and being such an encouragement. I  love you!!

My spiriual "mom and dad" who continue to teach me so much
 about doing life with Jesus, marriage, and raising babies.
Words cannot begin to express my love for this family.

My mom and stepdad who have continued to support me and
love me as I pursue my degree...I could never thank you enough!
They have loved me through the most challenging times of my life--
and probably hurt the most over the years...
thank you mom for never giving you! 

Oh have the most special place in my heart--
you will never know the impact you have had upon my life. I love you.
And of course, to all of the incredible staff who devote thier lives to seeing us girls walk in freedom and know Christ more--you are precious to me, especially in life after Mercy and words could never express my gratitude for you everyday!!! Thank you...

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