Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Here's My Story

Hello blog readers

This post is going to be much different than my usual posts but I invite you to read along. My hope is that by sharing all this that some may feel inspired... ask questions... and cheer along with me as I know all of you are from different walks of life.

To know me completely is to know my story. I grew up in a pretty great home. Supportive parents and always had a roof over my head. While I didn't always have the luxuries I saw some of my friends have, looking back now, I can honestly attest to how blessed I was. At a young age, however, I was sexually assaulted by a family member. While recovery didn't come until later in life, my growing up years were very supportive.

But along with that was severe identity issues. I wavered between all kinds of "cliques" and groups because I was searching and trying to identify with something. Made choices that were not good and all the while having this nagging self-conscience telling me what I was doing was wrong. But I did it anyway because my friends were and I wanted to be liked.

I grew up going to church and I know, now, that it was the Lord "nagging" me. Nagging isn't the right word. He was trying to talk to me but I kept shoving him away. Ignoring him. Pretending I didn't hear him. I just figured the way He wanted me to go was boring and too "goody two shoes" and I was having too much fun.

Can anyone identify with this? Probably. :)

One day I got tired of fighting it and gave in. While still sitting on the fence so I could keep partying and go to church, I slowly began to realize that being a believer and follower of Jesus wasn't a "goody two shoes" thing. In fact, He loved how broken I was because it made me acknowledge that I wasn't strong enough. I needed someone (a Savior) to carry me, heal me, walk beside me and accept me.

Please read this from someone who has lived a life that was NOT sheltered or a life of naivety... God is real and He is who He says He is. Over and over I have experienced His healing, love, forgiveness, acceptance, accountability and .... LOVE. The LOVE is a big deal. And I'm not a dork. Well... okay I am a dork but I know and have experienced the terrible things life can throw at our face. I've tried the self-help and the woman empowerment approach and it just doesn't work. Straight up ladies. It doesn't work.

Fast forward to today. I'm skipping a lot of things but it mostly consists of growing closer to Jesus, leaving the country for a year and continuing to deepen my relationship with the Lord - learning what the Bible has to say and understanding that the BIBLE is the ONLY source of wisdom and guidance I need (that is in print) from God. I know that is a risk putting that out there but I'm being real here and am ready to support that statement. ;)

Last year I felt a prompting to move to Chicago. I love Chicago. It captured me in 2005 when I went with a young adult group to do some inner city ministry work. It captured me again when I visited in 2010 for my very first CHA. Last year when I got off the airplane I felt like I was home. This year I've been praying and seeking wisdom on when I should move. About two months ago I decided that I would move in a year. That way, some debts would be paid off and it would be a natural transition. I'm so responsible, right?

Well, this past weekend God told me, "nope... you're moving a whole heck of a lot sooner lady."  Like THIS July. I'm flying to Chicago for CHA (Craft & Hobby Trade Association Trade Show) and I'm not flying back. I'm staying. Some things haven't been finalized yet such as those little things like a job or a place to live. Ha... little things.
But they are little things to God because He already has it planned out and I know that I can trust Him completely. There is an overwhelming peace that I feel whenever I think about it. The right people have been placed into my sphere of communication and I'm not worried. I'm not stressed out. I should be! I should be totally worried about having a roof over my head and an income. Right??? I mean... I don't want to be sleeping on the streets!

But God has always provided exactly what He knows I need. In HIS perfect timing.

I know that this can be difficult to comprehend for some. I wouldn't have understood 15 years ago. I would have laughed and mocked and judged. Rolled my eyes. Said, "good luck to ya!" And shrugged and walked off. But after going through all of what the last 10 years has brought me through... I get it.

My prayer is for others to get it too!

I've always been very clear about my faith and will never waiver of that. I'll never apologize for it. Instead, I'd love to share more with you. Hear YOUR story and have a virtual cup of coffee with you.

And that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Good for you girl! That's awesome!

Djhs said...

Proud of you for following God and knowing He is in control of your life. God be with you in your journey!

Bernice Hopper said...

Fantastic blog post. I am sure God will give you the desires of your heart

Annette Witherspoon ♥ said...

I am in love with this post!! What a beautiful story!! I'm honored to know you. And, yes, God I'd so good!!


Thank you for sharing your story!! I love the layouts so amazing!! I love the song "Grace Like Rain" by Todd Agnew (Don't know if that is how you got the title for the layout or not). God's timing is perfect and he doesn't always give us what we want He gives us what we need!! Take Care

kellystar said...

what a beautiful testimonial~ enjoy the process

Jackie said...

What a wonderful story. You will be blessed for following the Lords plan for you. Stepping out in faith to follow him is the hardest part. He will continue to show you the way. Blessings to you on your new adventure :)

Beth Hallgren said...

I love reading your blog posts Melissa. You are so honest and true to yourself :) I only live 2 hours from Chicago and I have a Niece and Nephew that live there. Maybe we can meet for lunch sometime!

Jennifer Matott (Sigmagirl) said...

I am so happy for you and in awe of your strength in faith and belief. I totally believe things happen for a reason and I know that you will find that purpose in this move. I wish you many great things and hope they come at the right time! Sometimes the wait is hardest.... but KNOWING that the right thing will present itself in due time makes it easier! HUGS!

Pam said...

When God leads you're going to know it. Stay in the Word. Watch for the God moments. I am excited for you and will pray for you. Please follow my blog so I can share with you what God is doing in my heart through the arts.


chksngr said...

OH, Melissa...I LOVE this post! I'm so excited for you! Cannot wait to see what God has planned for you! This is precisely how we ended up across the country in NC from CA...God said "go" and he has blessed us so mightily since!!! WOOT!!

tnt521 said...

Really excited for you and your step out in faith! We felt the same way when Steve and I moved here and everything fell into place so easily it had to be God! Will be following your journey, and cheering from the sidelines. And thank you for being brave enough to share your story.


Rose said...

amen sister!!! you have a wonderful heart touching testimony :) and yes, i can identify with a lot you have said!!!
keep on letting God "drive" and i will add your move to my prayer list :) so excited for you!!!!

JulieJ said...

OK so it's scary but I'm sure it will work out for you. The people at your church won't let you sleep on the street. Good luck

Suzanna said...

Good luck aren't the words; Go in Faith!! There is nothing about luck here, it's your faith in God and his goodness! May your journey be a joyful one!

soapHOUSEmama said...

AMEN! A wonderful testimony!!! I will be praying for your move :)

I'm just a simple gal said...

Your post gave me goosebumps. The Lord works in some mysterious ways and you are so right... he doesn't stop until we listen! I TOTALLY believe... I think it was a month ago when I posted on my blog about my experience and listening to the Lord... it's an amazing experience!! You will be fine. I believe it in my heart because he is with you.