Redemption

TRUE LOVE

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It was 23 years ago that I crossed the line of faith. I was 14 years old and it was Valentines Weekend. All my friends were going out and partying, but I decided to stay home. My mom worked 18 hour day’s at the salon so I was home alone. I felt such a heaviness. I had never noticed the lingering feeling of hopelessness before, because I think when things are broken in your life and it’s survival you don’t realize you need help until its overwhelmingly apparent that the way you have been living is just not working anymore.

My mom had started following Christ and she was praying for each of her kids. We didn’t grow up in church, nor did we have a bible, the way she was living was so very foreign to all of us. Nevertheless, the feeling of desperation were there. I wanted something more. I had made so many poor choices I just wasn’t sure how to get out of them.

All of the sudden I felt an overwhelming feeling to pray. I had never prayed. That valentines weekend I ask God into my heart and I have never looked back.

I was eager to know Jesus. I was hungry for this HOPE.

Since my decision to follow Christ I have only wanted to grow more. I have wanted more resources and more tools to navigate life.

One way I have navigated my way to freedom is by letting go of my past.

The only way to freedom is letting God into the most painful parts of our lives. When I decided to let him in to my abuse, to the ache of wanting a father and to the areas where I have felt most insecure, he has helped me. Prayer has been a gateway to my freedom.

When I have feet anxious or lost, I PRAY. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” 1 John 5:14

When I feel insecure, I PRAY. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of LIFE has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

When I feel unqualified, I PRAY. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13

Prayer has been my GRID to FREEDOM in Christ and now it’s my opportunity to give FREEDOM away.

The freedom we experience in Christ is not just for us, it’s for others. The truth I found changed me and it keeps changing me. So, in a cool and cheesy way, I found my TRUE LOVE one VALENTINES. He has never disappointed me, and HIS love is unconditional. I’m grateful, I guess the Chocolates are a bonus!

My Story Part TWO

Redemption

“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” John 4:28 NIV

My mom is a real modern day woman at the well. The moment she said yes to Jesus, restoration began and the result of her redemption has changed so many lives. (Read about the Samaritan woman in John 4: 4-16)

Going home to my mom not drinking and reading her bible was a definitely my first sign of a miracle. I was so hesitant to trust the God she had found. I was a little confused about where God had been my whole life. My mom was radically changed and  she began to live her faith out in front of us. All of us kids were a little apprehensive of the change. It was drastic and real and raw. She had ups and downs and still would drink a beer every now and then. She was laying down years of hard liquor so this was more than progress, this was change. She was committed to her healing and search for hope.  Everyday she went to work and instead of pouring her wild turkey into her pink, little glass, she poured coffee. She used to make her clients specialty liquor drinks, and instead she started making fun coffee drinks.

She began to use her little shop after hours to do bible studies with her clients. One book that made a significant impact on my life right away was Joyce Meyer’s, ‘Battlefield of the Mind.’ Oh man, this book was medicine to my ill thinking, my rejection and father wounds. If anyone had broken down the process of renewing your mind, it was Joyce. I really and truly do not believe I would be where I am today without vital books like Battlefield of the Mind to go along with my everyday bible reading.

When you have lived so many years with brokenness, the only way out is through embracing the pain, seeing it for what it is and giving it to God. Joyce’s book illustrates that this is a war you can win, even though it may be a battle you constantly fight. I found hope in Joyce’s words, and understanding that what we were facing was a real enemy and that he was defeated, we just needed to OVERCOME him by rebuking him.

Joyce says in her book, “The devil will give up when he sees that you are not going to give in.”

Get your copy of Joyce Meyer's Book, Battlefield of the Mind right here!

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The enemy lost his battle and his control the moment my mother surrendered. Living almost 50 years in the slavery of sin, we all felt that this newfound faith in Jesus Christ was not going to be easy. We found opposition almost immediately. Things in our life did not change rapidly it was a process. We had so much to discover.

My Moment

My salvation came with a fight. I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. I had decided to stay home one Friday night and not go out with my friends. My mom was at work late and my sister Rachael was at her shop. My brother was at a friends, so the house was empty. I was sitting in my room on my bed and I began to feel a strong feeling of sadness.

The Lies

I immediately began to have thoughts like,

“You are never going to make it in life.”

“Who do you think you are?”

“What if people find out about your abuse?”

“People are going to make fun of you at school if you read your bible?”

“You can’t change who you are Regan, something is wrong with you?”

I remember my mom talking to me about spiritual warfare and the devil. After reading, Battlefield of the mind, I was convinced that this was the enemy. The oppression felt so strong on me. I was gripped with fear.

This was the first time I understood that the enemy was using my past against me to forge confusion in my mind, so I could not see a path to freedom.

I immediately began to think thoughts that where horrible about myself. The enemy spoke intently to my weaknesses. This is what he does.

I literally felt my body shake as I cried. I felt anxious, but above all else I felt condemned and accused. As if everything in my life was my fault.

I called my mom hysterically crying. My sister answered her phone at her shop. I told her to get mom on the phone,  I needed to talk with her. She asked me if I was okay, I said no.

My mom got on the phone and told me to calm down. I told my mom all the thoughts that I was thinking and how I felt so discouraged and sad. What my mom did next changed everything. The hope she offered me shifted the atmosphere and calmed my spirit.

She rebuked the enemy on the phone with me. She told me that she was interceding in prayer for my salvation. The enemy was pulling out all the stops he had and did not want to lose me. My mom came home and took me on a drive. I’ll never forget this drive, cruising in her white thunderbird with the sunroof down, listening to Point of Grace. I laugh now, but this was my moment.

My mom walked me through the salvation prayer and told me that there was nothing ever that I could do, as long as I trust Jesus that would cause Him not to love me. She told me that GOD never accuses, he never lies and He only thinks the best thoughts about us. She told me to be reminded that the enemy does not know our future. He doesn’t know how or what we will choose, but that he does know the end of the bible and, he looses. He does know his time is short and he wants to take as many people with him as he can.

She told me to never give up trusting in God. God was never going to give up on me.  He loved me and He was proud of me. This was the beginning of the rest of my life. This was my TRANSFORMATION MOMENT. 

I'm here to tell you, you can be restored and made new too. Don't give up! God isn't hiding from you and he isn't punishing you. He made you and loves you. Don't believe the enemies lies any longer. Run to Jesus right now and give him your pain, rejection and all your disappointments. 

I love how the woman at the well, left her jar that she would have drawn water from after talking with Jesus and RAN to her city to tell everyone to come and meet the messaiah, the son of God who restored her. "Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the tow and said to the people, "Come, see the man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the messiah?" John 4:28 NIV

He is a restoring God and the hope you have is not just for you, it's for others. Live in freedom and go and offer your freedom to those who are suffering. You can do it. You were made for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In HER WAY on PURPOSE

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"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. 

INTERVIEW:

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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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!