Reason to Trust #30 [Christina]

Christina MunnsFavourite Food: Mexican. // Dream Job: Too many to decide! All creative & epic. // Current Season: Wife to a Creative (enough said!) Mama, Dreamer, humbled by the mercy & grace of Jesus more & more each day. // Met Jesus: At a very young age, but made many refreshers in various seasons! // Favourite Verse: Luke 1:45 – Blessed is she who has believed that The Lord would fulfill His promises to her. // Website: www.thelukasband.com // Instagram: @christinamunns

‘Congratulations Mr Munns, you’ve WON!!!’

We have been joking about how we should buy lottery tickets for the amount of things we’ve experienced over the past few months defined by statistics such as ‘one in 5,000 chance’ or… ‘A very small percentage of people may find…’

So playfully one night I entered my husband into a competition on TV… and wouldn’t you know it, we won the consolation prize!

It wasn’t the $250,000 main prize, but the consolation prize is something to be excited about! Instantly a feed of grand ideas ran through my mind. How exciting, how much could it be?! $15k? $10k? With a young family, new business & many dreams (& uncertainties) of the future, maybe this was God’s way of turning things around for a refreshing change!

You can imagine my excitement as I opened the letterbox to see an envelope containing a cheque. I opened it up and finished the sentence.‘Congratulations Mr Munns, you’ve WON!!! Please find your cheque for $25 & be sure to keep tuning in for more chances to win!

Twenty. Five. Dollars.

T w e n t y  f i v e  d o l l a r s.

Is this a joke?

My heart sunk. Needless to say I was slightly underwhelmed.

Actually, I was mad.

It wasn’t about the money. It was the fact that I was receiving another blow to my heart on the most intense ride of hope and disappointment it had been on for the last 9 months. It represented something that I was trying to resolve with God, and I wasn’t quite there yet.

I’ll explain.

One in 5,000 babies are born with a condition called Hirschprungs disease. It’s even less likely to be a girl who has it (one in 20,000) and in which case, it’s a lot more severe. Surgery can be successful to remove the affected part of the bowel missing essential nerves, but a very small percentage of babies will still have complications after.

Our baby girl was born 9mths ago after a perfect pregnancy. She fell chronically ill & they finally discovered she had long segment HD. Longer than they’d ever seen without removing it completely. They surgically removed almost half of her bowel & it was successful, although there have been some complications (so that’s a jackpot for us!)

The months following have been a blur of confusion & uncertainty of her specific case, ambulances, emergency departments & long hospital stays. The list is endless of procedures we’ve had to learn to keep her alive, sleepless nights of comforting her through intense pain & days on end of throwing up.

The kicker for me was this… From the minute I knew I was pregnant I fervently prayed for this little person. I spoke the Word, I believed God for the wildest things, even a pain-free birth! Crazy hey! But I have friends who have & I decided that I could too because I would have a God-glorifying birth. I imagined sharing my testimony to other girls to ‘just declare the Word & you TOO can have a pain-free, God-glorifying birth!’

The birth hurt.

I prayed through the surgery. There were complications.

I prayed in the turbulent months to come.

And God’s answer in the highs & the lows… ‘Trust Me. I’m with you’.

…The T word.

So I’ll admit I’m still learning to nail this one.

I love Jesus with all my heart & I truly believe that I trust Him. I trust our Heavenly Father. But it’s amazing how much I still find myself walking around with anxiety & fear & questioning everything. Why, God? Why does this have to be such a struggle? And where are You? Didn’t you hear me talk about God-glorifying? And what if… what about…? and so on.

It’s also amazing how God finds ways of answering those questions I don’t even realise I’m asking.

Recently while feeling especially exhausted in this season, my husband and I went away for our anniversary. Away to a little country town in the middle of nowhere. Running ridiculously late we checked into our hotel, the receptionist helped me set up a cot for Olivia & we talked about nothing in particular. I said goodnight & that was that. However I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a reason I was meeting this woman.

A while later Luke had to organise details at the front desk. He hurried back with a message from the woman to come see her and talk!

Turns out her daughter had the exact same condition as Olivia, and not just long segment, but her whole large intestine removed. There were complications but they were eventually solved, & today she is gorgeous and 21, married and living in New York with no trace of the struggles from her first few years of life.

So… I sat with her. I asked her to share her story. I asked her so many questions that surgeons didn’t have time for. She enlarged her world to include us on this journey so at any time I can draw from her 21 years of experience with this rare condition. She cried for me, she totally understood.

Most importantly, she told me answers to questions I was too scared to ask & hadn’t spoken out loud yet, not even to God. I didn’t even have to ask specifics, she just shared about so many things that were silently weighing heavy on my heart. I knew this was God’s way of providing answers for my questions that in reality only time could have told. Finally some hope was breathed upon the places where our future felt so insecure.

It was like our magnificent God who is not bound by our time, stretched open my vision & showed me glimpses of what’s to come. He showed me our God-glorifying story. The story in a world with an enemy who invades, steals, kills & destroys, that God’s hand is not short & is on every detail; that what the enemy means for evil He will turn it for our good. The surgeons might be unsure sometimes, but God is not. He is awake to our hearts’ cry, & He is forging a way forward as we trust in Him.

In the faith gap, He can also hook up a meeting for me in the middle of nowhere to speak into my completely random one-in-20,000 case to give my heart peace. He’s not off on a coffee break. He cares about these things.

Although there’s still a journey ahead, & some days feel nearly impossible to get through, we have seen the faithfulness of God at every turn as His story of hope & healing through Olivia unfolds, which is glorious, whole & complete, in Jesus’ name.

What Olivia lacks in some nerve cells in her bowel, she sure makes up for in personality. It’s like God has given her a double portion of joy. She has the happiest spirit I’ve ever encountered. Her laugh is wild and contagious & most people wouldn’t have a clue as to what she’s gone through. This girl is the most God-glorifying creation I could have imagined.

On the journey there’s much to be thankful for, and evidence of God’s daily provision. We are positioned amongst such loving & generous family & church family, our Specialists are near, and we’re surrounded by the most authentic friendships that we’ve ever known who constantly remind us we’re not alone. God is faithful.

As for that $25 cheque, it didn’t take long for some perspective to set in. After all, in primary school that would’ve bought 2,500 of my favourite carob buds! Or more importantly, to remember that $25 can feed a family elsewhere for a month… So we have set ourselves a challenge to make it the best $25 we’ve ever spent. Not sure exactly how yet, but open to ideas!

xx

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Reason to Trust #29 [Dee]

Dee KleynAge: 73 // Favourite Food: Real curry yum! Pancakes mmmm! Wait there’s more…………. // Dream Job:  Prima Ballerina, it’s now up to my granddaughters, either Lacey or Madeleine. // Current Season: Now where did I put my keys? Glasses? Park the car? And just loving God.  // Met Jesus:  At 30, through my Mum. // Favourite Verse: Numbers 23:19 – God Is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent, has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken, and shall he not make it good.

In the beginning of February 1972 (I know, it seems like centuries ago ) we arrived in Australia to begin a new life me, husband and two of the cutest little blond boys you have ever seen, one was nearly 3yrs the other 4yrs. I met my husband while we were both visiting South Africa, we married and settled there but when we had children we realized it wasn’t the best place to raise them, so decided Australia would be a great place to start a new life.

Little did we realize what “a new life” would mean for us?

Within three weeks of arriving as heathens, both of us met Jesus in a small Pentecostal church my Mother was attending.

Wow! What a way to start in a new country, born again Christians, surely life will be absolutely great from now on. We had Jesus and trust that our marriage would be restored, it hadn’t been in a good shape for quite a while, but with this new hope I really wanted to have a baby and fell pregnant quite quickly. However I miscarried at 11 weeks which was a time of great sadness but was helped through it my new church friends.

But the months went by and nothing happened and we prayed and prayed and the months went by.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way WE plan and we now faced a time of learning what overcoming  and walking in faith and trust meant. I mentioned how my marriage wasn’t so great BC (before Christ), it was in such a state that when I discovered I was pregnant again shortly after my second child I was in despair. I was only just coping with life as it was, how was I going to manage with another person to love and care for?  I didn’t want this baby and made a decision to terminate the pregnancy, let’s call it by its proper ugly name- abortion – and that’s what I did and was seriously ill because of it.

Now AD, (after Christ) as I was hoping to become pregnant again I was struggling with guilt and that maybe God was punishing me, but there was a chorus we used to sing that kept coming into my mind “Be strong and of good courage, be not afraid neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua1: 9 so I would sing it over and over , I would also declare “Greater is He in me than he that is in the world ” 1 john 4:4 and so, I got through the condemnation knowing  I was loved and forgiven.

As the months became a year, 2 years, I kept praying and praying and praying and then one day no different to any other day a prayer no different to the other prayers I just KNEW that my prayer was answered I had the desire of my heart, that I didn’t have to ask again but to TRUST.

And so the years went by and I trusted God after all I knew He didn’t lie ……”has He said and shall He not do it?”  And then after 5 years of waiting I found I was going to have a baby at last, the joy, the elation to this fantastic news.

Of course in those ancient days there was no ultra sound technology if we wanted to find out the sex of the baby, but we knew it was a girl and that God would bless us abundantly with all our desire, and our desire was, we wanted a girl and Jessica was born in October 1977.

This was fairly early in my journey with Jesus. Through it I learned how much God cared for me, that despite my past mistakes, He loved me unconditionally, that I could trust God no matter what other challenges I may encounter. Through the years I have faced small, big and very big challenges and God has remained faithful and trustworthy every time.

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Reason to Trust #28 [Candy]

Candy BrownAge: 29 // Favourite Food: Good Mexican // Dream Job: Professional Shopper? Ha // Current Season: Stay at home Mum. // Met Jesus: At age 3. // Favourite Verse: Psalm 27. // Instagram: @candygirlb

I’m a structured, organised, control freak type. I love plans and goals. Every January growing up I was taught to sit down and write goals for the year ahead. I’ve always known exactly where I was heading, the steps needed to get there and which one was next. Life was not without challenges but generally speaking things just worked and flowed.

They say you never know what a day will bring and seven years ago the world as I knew it changed completely in virtually one day through circumstances beyond my control (but that’s a story for another day).

Every aspect of my life was affected. I found myself suddenly no longer able to travel on the path I was on. In the midst of this I also became a Mum. Anyone who has had kids knows you can plan all you like but sometimes the plan goes out the window. My husband changed careers and his work schedule is very spontaneous and unplanned and often involves travel (and that’s an understatement). So here I was everything different, at home with little kids and a hubby that is often away and absolutely no plan at all.

I still had goals but I was really struggling feeling like I was cooped up at home going nowhere and certainly not making my mark on the world. Truthfully it’s something that I still struggle with and have to keep in check.

I’d love to say that I heard an audible voice or some super spiritual moment that was my turning point but it wasn’t like that, for me God spoke through Oprah.

Yep you read that right, Oprah.

I was home alone one night, put the kids into bed and sat down to watch Oprah’s final show that I had taped and not had a chance to watch. I knew I would be inspired watching it but it was so much more than that.

I had spent four years in complete confusion. Not knowing what I was meant to be doing, what my purpose or calling was. Complaining and whinging at my husband and being grouchy at my kids while I looked elsewhere for the big, amazing thing it was that I’m called to. It wasn’t until I watched Oprah’s show that I realized, like a slap in the head, that the big thing I am called to is right in front of me.

All the stuff I was doing before my ‘storm’ was over, gone, the season was finished. The ‘big’ ‘important’ thing now IS supporting my husband in his career and all he feels called to AND most of all raising the three amazing children God has given me! They are in this next season my calling. Raising them to be the best they can, to know love and security. It had been in front of me all along but until that night I didn’t SEE it. I almost instantaneously no longer felt sidelined and like my life was on hold.

Sometimes I can’t see past the day in front of me but I have learnt and am continuing to learn (because I am really good at forgetting) to just trust and rest that He’s got it sorted. I don’t have to run around like a crazy woman trying to ‘make’ it all happen because I might ‘miss out’.

 I have to rest and trust.

He knows the dreams I have and his plan and timing is perfect.

So for now I am doing what is in my hand to do – support my hubby and raise and love my babies. AND I have made a promise to take opportunities, like this one when they come my way.

I am definitely no expert on trust, infact I feel like the least qualified person to be talking about it BUT I am learning, as we all are to let go of the reins because lets face it, we’re not actually in control anyway…..are we? Haha.

Prov 3:5 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

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Reason to Trust #27 [Patsy]

Patsy Kittrell.jpgAge: 24 // Favourite Food: Steak // Dream Job: Yet to be decided // Current Season: Newlywed, youth pastoring alongside my husband, recent college graduate, beginning first “big girl” job… // Met Jesus: at 17 years old, on a Sunday morning in church // Favourite Verse: Isaiah 43:18-19- “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” // Instagram: @patsykittrell

As a senior in high school, anticipating graduating and beginning college, I was sure that I would attend out of state. I had never even considered any local college in my search over the past year. I applied to six schools, all out of state, and when I gained admittance into my first pick, I was so elated I cried as I broke into celebratory laughter and exclamation with my mom. The school was a large research university and provided a highly regarded program for the area of study that I was interested.

As my senior year progressed, I finally ended an on-again-off-again 2.5 year relationship with a boy I had dated through much of my high school career. At this point in time, I re-committed my relationship with Jesus and was fully committed to not only recognizing Jesus as my Savior, but also, allowing Him to be Lord over my life, and in every area of it.

As summer progressed and the time neared for me to make my big move, I began seeing the reality of the choice to attend college out of state in a new light. After a little research, I realized the local church I would want to join would be about a forty-five minute drive from my University. While this was not the major issue, other factors weighed in on my mind. Not only had I only recently re-committed my relationship with Jesus, but I felt a stirring and calling to remain planted in my local church at home, and to not uproot myself from the valuable relationships and accountability I had established.

After making lists to measure pros and cons, talking to my parents and my church leaders, praying to God, and after countless tears and passionate conversations with my parents, I realized that only I could make the decision of whether to go or to stay.

I remember when I timorously told my dad that I had had a change of heart and would be staying home, he sternly looked at me and said, “Patsy, I will never think that you’ve made the right decision about this. You are throwing away an opportunity.” –The truth is, my decision made no sense in the natural. I was out on a limb, trusting God with what would come of this decision I believed He was leading me in.

About six years later, I can now see more reasons than what I was even aware of at the time, for what I believe, drove the decision I carefully made as an 18 year old that would change how the course of my life and the lives around me would be chartered.

While my undergraduate college career was no walk in the park, I truly believe that I learned more at a community college, as well as the Christian university from which I graduated, and perhaps more so from the obstacles I’ve had to overcome along the way, than I would have otherwise. Not only have I just graduated a few weekends ago from Regent University, which has been such a phenomenal fit for myself, but also, it is through the University as well as a church connection that I have been able to land a perfectly suited job in the school’s Marketing Department. I am excitedly beginning in just a few weeks.

Moreover, I believe my staying at home to pursue my education, has impacted my parents’ marriage in a way that perhaps I will not fully recognize the benefit of until I get to Heaven. My individual relationships with my parents have never been stronger, and more importantly, their individual relationships with Jesus have evolved and grown. I am also coming up on nearly a year of marriage to my best friend, who is one of our church’s youth pastors on staff.

I get the feeling that I am entering upon a new season in which God will call me to trust Him in new ways that are unfamiliar to me. I am so grateful that God calls us to trust Him from what may seem as minor details, to bigger, weightier decisions. I am more in love with my God now than ever, and I reckon that is in part, because I have learned to trust Him and have experienced the beginning of His faithfulness outworked in my life and others’.

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