"There is no FORCE more POWERFUL than a young woman determined to RISE."
This quote embodies Makenzie Sprouse. I have had the honor of knowing Makenzie for more than a decade now. She was a funny, and full of life young girl. Her and her sister Morgan were awesome girls in our student ministry. Now all these years later she is a Young Adult running hard after God's will for her life and focused now more than ever on investing in others and serving at her local church.
Makenzie hit more than a road block in 2015. She hit a complete life change. Makenzie found herself in a bad relationship with a boy her junior year in high school. She started experimenting with drugs, and going to parties. The Fall of her junior year she got the news that she was not ready to hear, she was pregnant.
Her family and her were shocked by the news. But it wasn't the end. It was actually the beginning to a new story. Makenzie sat down with me and shared how she has navigated depression, loneliness and shame and how she has allowed God to use her story to changed those she comes in contact with daily. This has been more than a hard road for Makenzie, but it's one she has leaned into because she knows that God never wastes our Pain.
Regan: What is your Passion? Makenzie: Ministry. I feel called to Worship and I love encouraging young girls to find their purpose.
Regan: How do you over-come self-doubt and discouraging thoughts? Makenzie: My mom always told my sister and I growing up that we were "strong, confidant girls and we could do anything we put our minds to." Honestly, my mom has been my best friend in this season. When I found out I was pregnant, she was so sad. I was really sad that I had disappointed her yet again. I have just been determined with God to choose Him. He helps me so much when I get in the comparison trap. I tell myself, "Makenzie you are still young, just because you have a child doesn't mean your life is over." I do have to tell myself daily that God has my future and Everly's. That gives me peace in the moment.
Regan: In your struggles before having Everly what made you not believe the statement your mom told you, "you are strong, confidant woman of God and you can do anything you put your mind to?" Makenzie: I think it was always there under the surface, along with all my convictions but I just pushed them down. I really chose not to listen to them. My mom's words were always there and now what's really great is that the voice of encouragement is so loud. I feel like even if I think about doing something wrong or inappropriate, I'm almost sick to my stomach. I find myself at home with family and Everly, or at church serving, I just want to choose right and it's so important to me who I surround myself with.
Regan: You were recently accepted to Bethel's Worship U experience, how excited are you about that? Makenzie: Beyond excited. It's really a miracle. My pastor came to me and told me about it. He personally invested in me to go and I have worked and saved all my money for the other expenses. I'm open to what God wants to show me while I'm there. I thought my days of ever leading worship were over. I really thought my mistakes had taken me out, but God has a very amazing way of restoring the dreams and parts of us that we feel are lost or broken when we surrender them to to Him.
Regan: You were a Embrace Grace leader for a couple years, how did that program change your life? Makenzie: When I found out I was pregnant with Everly, a close friend reached out to me and gave me the Embrace Grace information. I went with a friend the first time and it wrecked me. The ladies leading the one I went to were so genuine and loved me the moment I came in the door. Their stories were similar to mine, but they were just farther down the road than me. They spoke so much life over me. I finished the program and knew that God was calling me to lead my own Embrace Grace group at my church. It was hard, and intimidating but I was so committed to the girls God brought to my group. I wanted to see their lives changed. One girl in particular who came through my group lost her baby at 10 months. She was already struggling and I knew I needed to stay in contact with her. She was so hurting, so I was just going to KEEP PUTTING MYSELF IN HER WAY. She is a hairdresser and I still go and get my hair done by her.
Regan: What do you want to be known for after you are gone? Makenzie: I want to make in impact on people. I want to share my story and encourage the next generation. I want to share with girls the difference between love and lust. I want them to know there value and to never settle.
God has a beautiful way of taking our mistakes and hurts and working them for our good. I love seeing young people not give up. I have felt so burdened by the school shootings and young people taking there life. We now more than ever need to be the church to the hurting. We need to tell people they matter and get close enough to hurt again. We can make an impact, we just need to show up and be present.
I'm so honored to know Makenzie and to watch how God is using her gifting's and talents and purpose for him. The future is bright with our Next Generation. Let's keep believing and investing in them. Isaiah 61:1-3
If you know a teen mom that is pregnant Embrace Grace is an amazing starting place for healing. Go to www.embracegrace.com to find a group near you.
Thank you for letting me share your YOU ARE VALUABLE story!