Friday, July 10, 2015

Freedom in a Beautiful Paradox

What a sweet reflection and update from 2014 Mercy Graduate Kimmie.

"I wanted to share something that I have been thinking about tonight...
So I leave for Africa tomorrow!!!! And I'm so excited.
I realized I was weighing my bags on the exact scale that I use to weigh my self worth on. What a beautiful paradox.  The very thing that dictated my day, the very thing that I sought my value from is the thing I am using as a tool to chase the dreams God placed in my heart, so very long ago. This scale that was once bondage is now being used to prepare for my mission trip to serve the beautiful people of Niger. The thing that I allowed Satan to use for evil, God has turned into a beautiful paradox.
Just like my story."

Friday, July 3, 2015

Step by Step

This week, 2010 Mercy Graduate Sarah shares about her recent trip to Haiti. I love when God uses beautiful Mercy grads to spread His love all over the globe!! Freedom begets freedom...begets freedom...
Pa Za Pa is a Hattian proverb meaning “step by step.”
As I stood on the top of a massive hill I had just climbed in Port au Prince Haiti I couldn’t help thinking, “How did I get here?” And I felt Jesus whisper “Step by step.”
5 years ago, all I could think about was ending my life. From depression to a disability, life didn’t seem worth fighting for. In the hope that someone else would show me how to fight, because I didn’t know how anymore, I stepped foot into Mercy Ministries, and began a journey that would change my life forever.
While there, I encountered Jesus like I never had before. I discovered the joy of His love and plan, and we have been on an adventure ever since. From Mozambique Africa to Port au Prince Haiti, this journey has taken me places I never could have imagined.
Across from where I stood on the hill was a mass grave where 200,000 unidentified people were buried – people who had lost their lives in the earthquake Haiti experienced in 2010. While in Haiti, I saw so much beauty alongside so much heartbreak, and I couldn’t help but think, that’s like life when Jesus comes. He uses all of the things that break your heart to show you who He is. It was easy to see the heartbreak in the poverty and hunger, and lack of education, but the beauty was still there.
I saw beauty in the kids I got to love, who had lost their parents in the earthquake. Kids like Ricardo who though he had special needs, had one of the brightest smiles I’ve ever seen, Gessica, who though she was 7 preferred to be cuddled at all times, and Wilson who wanted to be my walking buddy all week long. I saw beauty in the way Haitians were rebuilding their country and encouraging each other every step of the way. And all I could think was, “if I had taken my life all those years ago, what an adventure I would have missed out on.”
I was in Haiti to discuss moving overseas with a missions organization to teach English as a Second Language when I graduate with my Master of Arts in English in December. The closer I get to this dream, the more thankful I am for my Mercy journey. Though I am still not sure where I will be in December, I can say with certainty it will be an adventure, life with Jesus always is. And I will get there Pa Za Pa, step by step.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Piling Rocks

We are so excited to share this blog post from Mercy graduate Andrea on her 3 year graduation anniversary!!!

Have you ever wondered why God commanded Israel to pile up rocks? God does explain himself (which I am so thankful for). God says it’s to remember. The simple pile of rocks will cause you to remember. So when your children ask you can tell them the story of the redemption. I have piled my own rocks in the past. I have written journals and taken photographs all in hopes of one thing. To never forget and always remember the faithfulness of God. 

Today is one of those days where I look back and remember. I don’t often do this because my past no longer defines my future. However today I celebrate the memories. I am no longer in that place of pain. Three years ago I graduated from Mercy Ministries and am forever thankful to the staff who believe in God to do a miracle when I didn’t have the faith to believe for myself.

As I look back I see a girl who was caught up in her emotions. I was a girl who had given up on herself. I remember a girl full of anger and bitterness. A girl who had lost all hope.

I may have given up, but God didn’t. It was not easy and healing is not for the faint of heart. It was in my moments of greatest weakness that I found God. The deepness of the hole can be overwhelming. Instead of fixing my eyes on the obstacles and pain I choose to take it day by day. 

When you hit the bottom there truly isn’t any where to go but up.  

I learned that freedom came in a moment, on a cross. I was so enamored with a love that I had never experienced before that I prayed a very dangerous prayer. I asked God to heal my heart. I told God I would stick it out and go through whatever I needed to. Then life got hard. Very hard. Bad things started to happen and I made very bad decisions. I had crawled into a hole so deep that I couldn’t see the light of day anymore.  

I learned that freedom came in a moment and is kept through small decisions. 

Since walking out the doors of Mercy Ministries I have made small decisions. I have photograph, documented and shared the faithfulness of God. I have witness the heights of the world mountain climbing. I have faced fear head on while whitewater rafting and zip lining. I got married to my best friend, a man who I never dared to dream of because he is that amazing. I have chosen to forgive, love and trust. I fought for peace. I have made amazing friendships. I have loved my family and paid of my school loans. I have learned to laugh again.
In the last three years I have lived a life I could only dream about. I am free. 

I like to think that my life is simply another pile of rocks. A pile of rocks that people will want to know the story about. This plain old pile of rocks will continue to point to the one thing that matters most.  Because the girl who couldn’t keep food down or laugh has been transformed into a confident, loving woman who is no longer afraid of failure. I am simply a pile of rocks and ove it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Using Your Authority Over The Enemy!

2015 Mercy Graduate Courtney shares a little of her heart and a great video to put Satan in his place! thanks Courtney! I can't stop watching this video! 

I have noticed that our thoughts can get somewhat out of control if we aren't careful. The devil is really sneaky and he’s constantly just waiting for that perfect moment to interfere in our lives and rip us to shreds. I mean the Bible clearly tells us in John 10:10 that the thief comes ONLY to steal, kill, and destroy. 
To me it seems like mostly all of us have at least that one sin that is just super hard for us to get away from or avoid. Whether it be self-harm, looking at pornography, dealing with an eating disorder, promiscuity, drugs and/or alcohol, etc. Nobody makes a sudden drastic decision to become a slave to a certain sin. It's baby steps. We get trapped in these things and then try to convince ourselves that “it's not that bad,” or “ it won't lead to anything worse.” But in reality, we at this point don't even feel like these sins are avoidable. We feel as if we have no control. 
If we start tracing back to how these things get started, it usually starts with something like- “just this one time,” “just this one website,” “I'm just gonna self-harm this one time,” “I'll just skip this one meal.” Isn’t it crazy how that's all Satan needs though? All he needs is that one step at a time, and then soon enough he leaves us feeling stranded, in a world of sin just wondering how on earth we are ever going to find our way out. When Satan gets his hand in on a situation he just leaves us feeling guilty, abandoned, unsatisfied, shameful, hopeless, etc… Because that's all he has to offer. When our happiness and wellbeing become based off of these addicting sins, we will never be truly happy because sin is not satisfying. 
I know this because I have been there. I allowed a long period of time in my life to be filled with and revolve around addicting sins.  For the first twenty years of my life I had no clue that I had authority over the devil. I didn’t know that I could tell him in Jesus’ name to go away and that he had no other option but to leave me alone. I was believing all the lies and wasn't quite aware of the truth. I knew a few things the Bible said, but I didn't dig into it, persistently filling my head and heart with the truth. Which made a lot of room lies. 
Thankfully though, Jesus gave us authority over the devil. Yes, the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy; but if we are on guard his schemes will no longer get the best of us. We have choice. We get to choose whether or not we grant the devil success in our lives or not. Jesus is right there by our side with the power and the truth to help you overcome! We do not have to live in shame! His truth is able to keep us from stumbling, and when we get weak He will give us the strength to tell Satan to go away because we are fighting the good fight and we are on our way to victory! Jesus is on our side!  
Before Mercy I had never heard God speak, I didn't know I was even capable of hearing Him speak, and when I prayed I always felt like I was talking to a brick wall. It didn't feel like a relationship and it was exhausting. But now that I know that He speaks, He is like a chatter box and He is my constant helper. He helps me recognize the lies now and then acknowledge the truth. Satan has no power over me now, I am an overcomer! 
While at Mercy, we watched a teaching and the speaker said something along the lines of, “You can't work out and build your muscles up for a year and then think you're good to go for the rest of your life. You're gonna soon be back at square one if you do that. You have to keep working out building those muscles in order to keep them strong.” That stuck with me as I approached graduating from Mercy, because it is the same thing with the Word. I knew that if I stopped carrying out all that I learned at Mercy once I left, then I would most likely fall on my face. I couldn't think that since I had learned the truth, pressed in, listened for God’s voice, and grown so much at Mercy that I was good to go. I knew that I was going to have to continue doing everything I learned at Mercy once I got home so I wouldn't end up back at square one.  
I am home now and I am pressing in more than ever. I am being intentional about filling my heart with the Truth and staying in the Word because I don't want to give the devil any wiggle room. I am speaking truth out loud over my life, reading my Bible and GCP, and making sure to listen to God’s voice everyday. Hearing God’s voice is something I am very passionate about because it is ALWAYS the truth and it brought me out of bondage. I also like to make sure the devil knows what God is saying to me, too. He tells me I am beautiful, and I thank Him out loud for it. He tells me that I am literally the most adorable little thing to Him and I can't help but get huge grin across my face. I know now how precious I am to God and I like to make sure the devil knows too.  
Of course lies still try to steal the stage sometimes, but I can assure you that they aren't stealing the spotlight. I am able to recognize those lies now before I allow them to cause a scene. I do follow the Good Shepherd and I know His voice and the voice of a stranger I will not follow (John 10:4-5).
So this what I tell Satan when He tries to get at me now…