Private: blog

let the redeemed of the lord say so

march 6, 2011 – march 6, 2012

i’ve been looking forward to this reflection, but now i’m hating it as i’ve been sitting here for over two hours with nothing written.  lsfj;lf.  i just have to go…

this past year has been the most significant so far in my life, hands down.  i take no credit for anything that’s happened, though, but i praise god for doing it all.  i’m happy about the things i’ve been through, but it’s all been god’s work and by his grace.

i’m still struggling with what to say.  i guess i just start with the beginning.

a year ago today, i moved from miami, fl to jacksonville, nc.

actually, let me back up a little bit before that.  (haha, here’s where i take off.)  i don’t know if some of this stuff is significant or not, but i feel like it will make the story more complete.

in the fall of 2010, i put all of proverbs (audio bible) on my mp3 player.  why i chose proverbs, i don’t know.  since i didn’t have a car, i did a lot of walking/public transit, and i always had my headphones in.  for three months straight, no joke, i had proverbs flowing through my head everywhere i went: to this job, to that job, to the store, to the beach, anywhere.  i really, really, really, really think — know — that proverbs had a big impact on… all of me.

proverbs:  wisdom -vs- folly.  check it.

but i don’t know.  i feel like that’s when things started to change.  at least in my head anyway.  i was hearing over and over that wisdom leads to this and this and this (all goodness), and folly leads to this and this and this (all destruction.)  …and i was living a foolish life.

…but it’s not like i had just realized that, though (that i was living foolishly.)  but just hearing and listening to proverbs daily, things started to get uncomfortable, and i felt like i was looking at my life with different eyes, and i started to become a little concerned about where i was headed.

but that was all just in my head.  i mean, no action was being taken.

when i went home for christmas that year (2010), i remember telling a few people that i was feeling like miami wasn’t the place to be, wasn’t the right move.  but it was all just talk.  nothing was being decided.  i was just putting it out there.

in february 2011 (so a year from now), my poor little heart was broken.  lol.  AND i praise god for it.  seriously.  if this hadn’t have happened, i wonder, wonder, wonder where i’d be.  it needed to happen.

i was rejected.  i needed jesus.  i was sad and hurting.  i needed jesus.  i was embarrassed.  i needed jesus.  i had little hope.  i needed jesus.  i was disappointed.  i needed jesus.  i had crazy anxiety.  i needed jesus.  i could go on and on.  i just needed jesus.

i feel ashamed that this is what it took for me to come back to the lord (the fact that i lost a boy.  yeah, a boy.  rascal.), but whatever, that’s what it took for me to come back to the lord.  he had to break me, and i became desperate for him.  god removed that guy from my life to get my attention and bring me to my knees, and despite the heartache, i praise him for it.  seriously.  i PRAISE him for it!

so february was… crazy.  i’ve never dealt with so many emotions in my life.  i’m not kidding when i say that.  the beginning of february was mostly anxiety and dealing with rejection, and then towards the end of february, it was a combination of things: sadness, fear, anxiousness, disgust, stress, anger, pain, just a lot of things.

but mannnn, i had terrible anxious feelings, CONSTANT anxiety.  as i think about it now, i’m confused about what that was.  i don’t understand the anxiousness.  yeah, i was hurting, but i just felt wired constantly and extremely anxious.  i’d be sad and cry sometimes, but it was really the anxiety that was killing me.  i don’t know how to describe it.  i could not rest.  i remember waking up over and over and over in the night feeling panicked.  it was awful.  that feeling.  i remember it.

but what’s cool, though, was every time i woke up, proverbs 3:5-6 would come to me immediately.

trust in the lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

thanks to AWANA, i had that down.  (:

…so that was comforting me.  i guess.  in a way.  i mean, it didn’t take the anxiety away, but.. i don’t know.  god was just trying to get something through to me.  i remember reciting that until it put me to sleep, and i’d go through that routine several times per night for a few nights.

i knew god was doing something inside me.  my past experiences would tell you i’d be bed-ridden over this kind of thing, lol, or have like no desire to eat, but that wasn’t happening this time.  i mean, i definitely felt pain and sadness and so much freaking anxiety, but the lord was sustaining me.  i just knew he was doing something in me.  being able to function properly through this just kind of confirmed (in my mind) that god was behind it.  and “trust in the lord, trust in the lord, trust in the lord.  do not lean on your own understanding,” that’s all that was running through my mind.  i felt like that was holding me together.

but it was weird.  i remember thinking, okay, trust in the lord, fine, but time is really what takes care of these kind of things.  i mean, i knew god was a comforter and all that, but i was pretty positive he wasn’t going to just take away my hurt and anxiety.  i didn’t really understand what trusting god had to do with it.  what was he going to do?  kill him for me?  haha.  just kidding.

i remember brushing my teeth one of those mornings as i was getting ready for work, and i just broke down because i couldn’t get over the anxiety.  i just prayed and prayed and prayed that god would help me with that feeling because… i don’t know.  i hated it.  i was handling it okay, but this constant feeling inside me… ugh!  i can’t really describe it.  it’s not like someone could look at me and know anything was wrong, but i just felt so… i don’t know.  i don’t know how to describe it.  but it wasn’t right and it wasn’t good, and i just wanted to figure it out and have it go away.

after praying i decided to read all of proverbs 3 to… i don’t know.  i just needed more comfort.  i just needed to read my bible.

…trust in the lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  be not wise in your own eyes; fear the lord, and turn away from evil.  it will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones

now, that’s not all of proverbs 3, but when i read the next two verses that came after “trust in the lord, da da da…,” i was just like… i don’t know.  but they hit me hard.

be not wise in your own eyes; fear the lord, and turn away from evil.  it will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

this is when leaving miami started to become a reality.

be not wise in your own eyes; fear the lord, and turn away from evil.

it just made me think.  and actually, at that point, i knew it wasn’t miami i needed to leave.  it was like… my whole life.  ):

so it’s symbolism now.  okay?  miami = my life.  …old life.

because this is a blog post, i’m not going to go into detail about my sinful life and explain everything i needed to get away from.  i don’t mind sharing one on one with people who really care, but i don’t know all who will come across this, and you know, i’m just not comfortable with that.  i’m sure some people are disappointed and think that defeats the point of a testimony, but, eh… sometimes i’m disappointing.  (:  chances are, though, that if you’re reading this, you know me; and if you know me, you know my life.  and if you don’t know me that well, i mean, you can imagine.  ivy.  female.  20s.  america.  lol.  you know?  …it’s really not funny.

this is basically what my life had been though: i knew better but i didn’t do better.  i knew jesus, but he was not my lord.  i was married to the world.  an affair.  i lived selfishly.  i didn’t want to submit to god’s will.  i mean, i did want to submit to his will, just “not right now.”  i lived a very conflicted and uncomfortable life.  i’d do what i wanted to (sin), and conviction would follow me.. sometimes immediately, sometimes not.  i’d go through seasons (days, weeks, months) where i’d try to shape up or thought i had repented, but — i don’t know — it didn’t last.  nothing ever REALLY changed.  why?  because i was never willing to change my surroundings.  i wanted to live a godly life but keep everything around me the same.  either i was living in sin or i was tolerating sin all around me, which, i mean.. it’s all sin.  godliness and worldliness cannot co-exist.  i was trying to do something impossible.  i was really digging my own grave.  read proverbs.

and that was my life.

back to february.  middle of february.  god started making it clear to me that he wanted me to leave everything… NOW.  it was urgent, it was urgent, it was urgent.  why?  because!  look how i lived for 26 years!  i changed nothing and nothing changed.  changing my mind wasn’t enough.  EVERYthing needed to change.  i needed to remove myself from my influences and temptations NOW or i’d be convincing myself yet another time that “i’m serious this time” and be stuck going through the same routine for i don’t know how many more years.  i needed to make BIG changes NOW.

there was this one night i will never forget.  wait.  you should play this song while you read this paragraph because it’ll set the mood.  i’m gay like that.  lol.  but this song came on during this night, and i feel like it tells my story a little.  maybe it provoked all that happened this night.  i don’t know.

but anyway, this night… something happened.  i woke up sometime around three in the morning to this song, and i remember my heart being calm.  my attention immediately went to the lord as was normal for that time because, like i said, he was really all i had.  i sat up in bed and just knew that my life had changed.  this is hard to explain.  i had not actively or consciously said or thought anything like “i surrender,” but i just knew that i had done that in that moment– surrendered. (and i know that doesn’t make sense, but i don’t understand a lot of things that really happened, so just take my word for it.)  god knew and i knew, and the holy spirit like freaked out.. happily.  lol.  not really.  but maybe.  (:  i remember a flood of emotions coming over me and out of me, and i sat there and bawled like i was just born.  oh my gosh.  i cried like the biggest baby ever.  but it was healing.  i knew in that moment my life was going to be totally different, hence the tears.  i knew my sin and shame and that i had grieved the holy spirit for a lot of years, hence the tears.  i knew that the holy spirit was relieved and was rejoicing, hence the tears.  i knew repentance was real, hence the tears.  i knew i was experiencing an outpouring of god’s love, hence the tears.  AGH!  i mean, SO MUCH was coming in me and going out of me.  i’m not sure how long i sat there and cried, but it was just… so needed.  i wish i knew the exact date that that happened because i feel like i should celebrate it.  it was just like… a big moment.  i was restored.  (:

okay.  moving on.  i had to tell my roommate of seven years that i was leaving.  PAIN.FUL.  this girl… she deserves her own blog entry from me.  we’d been dOwN tOgEtHeR since day one.

letting resa know i wanted to leave was difficult, but i got it out; and being the g that she is, she heard me and loved me still, and it was all okay.  …except it wasn’t.  neither of us were okay.  the rest of my time with tk was just pain.  too much was said, and not enough was said.  too many emotions came out, but not the right ones.  hurt feelings, confusion, abandonment, anger, conviction, fear, resentment, distance… ugh.  from this point until the time i moved is probably the only experience i had with resa that i wish i could re-do and change.  ):

so okay, lord.  …but where am i going?  i had NO plan.  i spent about two weeks talking with and e-mailing my family trying to figure out what the heck i was going to do.  i was planning on leaving at the end of march and hoping that would give me enough time to figure out where i was going to go, find a job, and find a new roommate for tk because i couldn’t just break the lease and ditch her.  this was STRESS.

i know you’re just reading this, la la la, but it would make me feel better if you would just imagine trying to figure out all the above-mentioned things (moving, job-searching, roommate-searching: stress) while dealing with a sad heart and deep bff pains.  i was OVERWHELMED, extremely tired, very emotional, and just felt crazy.  ask my mom.  she dealt with me the most.

over the next couple of days, i got things narrowed down to either iowa or north carolina.  i knew i had to go somewhere where my family was because i needed support, for one, but more importantly, i needed to be around people who would not let me fall back into my old lifestyle.  i needed to be held accountable.

of course, going to my mom’s was an option, and then one of my sisters and her husband welcomed me to come stay with them in davenport, ia.  they offered their basement to me until i could find a place to stay in the city, or because they’re so kind, they were also open to the idea of me renting a room from them.  at the same time, my brother and his wife in jacksonville, nc were offering the same package.

this is where i get a little excited about how freaking cool god is and how he works things out and directs everything.

as far as court reporting went, i was trying to figure out where i could start working right away.  in order to work in iowa, there are speed tests to pass to become certified, which is fine and good, but i wasn’t really feeling like my speed and accuracy was all that great at the time (or now, even.  lol.  i need to practice again.)  i knew if i went to iowa, i’d be stuck practicing on my machine until the next test opportunity came around, and i wouldn’t be able to start working until i passed the test.

after looking at north carolina’s requirements, umm… there weren’t any.  so.. cool.. you know?  i felt like that was an open door.  i could go there and begin working immediately.  so okay, lord.  is that where i should go?  he was quiet and i was frustrated.

then… there were these two angels.  lol.  …who are not angels at all but in fact humans because i’m pretty sure they’re still around.  i just like to call them angels.  prophets?  eh.  people that god used?  probably more accurate.  anyway, within a ten-day period, i had conversations with these two random ladies, and i feel like god — well, can i say that?  or was it coincidental?  is anything coincidental?

wait.  i just thought of something off topic.  a couple of weeks ago, mitch, nancy, and i were all chillin’ in the living room, and we all had boondocks shirts on.  lol.  (coincidental?)

anyway, i’m just going to say it was god because he directs everything anyway, so whatever.  i feel like god used these women to hint something to me.  i won’t go into much detail, lol, but just briefly…

the first lady was a paralegal i was visiting with before a depo started, and she was inquiring about where i was from and why i was in miami and blah blah blah.  and not knowing anything about what i was currently going through, she told me i needed to get out of miami.  her message went straight to my heart, and i just felt like god was like, yes, yes.  go.

then about ten days later i was visiting with this interpreter before a depo started, and she was telling me how she was trying to line things up with her citizenship (i don’t know; irrelevant) because she wanted to leave miami.  she was telling me all the things she didn’t like about it and why she thought it wasn’t smart to live there.  she was telling me she really liked texas or “somewhere up north” or possibily europe, blah blah blah, and at some point i asked her where she really would prefer to go.  she was quiet for like six seconds thinking, and then she said, “north carolina.”  ;aldfjal;d!!!  i was like, …lord?  and she was like, huh?  haha.  just kidding.  but in my heart i was like, okay god.

sooo… this is so long and i’m sorry.

anyway, just after thinking and praying, going over things with my family, weighing my options, i decided to go to north carolina.  not only did i want to go there over iowa, but that route seemed a little more wise, reasonable, and guided.

on february 13, which occurred after one lady-angel convo and before the other lady-angel convo (if anyone has a timeline going), i found a roommate for tk to take over my share of the lease.  a total god-answered prayer (and believe me- all my peeps were praying.)  there was no way i could have continued to pay my share of the rent after i moved since i had not been promised a job anywhere, and there was no way resa was going to let a craigslist roommate move in (and i would not have allowed that either), so finding a roommate at that time… i just didn’t know how that was going to work out.

i’m seriously just blown away by how god put this together.  and to think he does this daily…

but okay.  after talking back and forth for a couple days with a close friend of mine in iowa, she finally confirmed that she would come take my spot.  i knew she had always wanted to come to miami, so i let her know what was going on with me, and after doing a little planning and figuring, she decided she would make the move.  LORD!  thank you!  he was totally doing this.

things were moving fast.  on or about the 28th of february, jessica (replacement roomie) moved in, and i was still planning on leaving at the end of march.

a lot happened in the first three days that jess had arrived.  jess was really sad about just leaving iowa (among other things), and she started to question whether or not she should stay or go back home.  tk was still dealing with everything i dropped on her lap (among other things), and i was now adding jessica’s indecisiveness to my list of everything else that was weighing me down.  if she decided to go back to iowa, then i wouldn’t be able to leave.  theresa couldn’t have handled that apartment on her own, and there was really no one besides jessica to take my place.

this was hard because i had to be a good friend to jessica, and as much as i wanted to beg her to stay so i could go, i had to tell her that if she didn’t feel like she could swing it in miami, then she should go back to iowa.  i just knew god was working this out.  if he really wanted me to go, something would get worked out.

and then oh my gosh.  lol.  things just never got easier.  certain things were going on, and i’m not comfortable putting it out there because they’re not my issues to share.  but it suddenly became even more urgent that i go.  this time it wasn’t out of fear of falling back into my old life, but it was more like i couldn’t handle what was going on around me.  i felt like i was going insane.  i was a mess.  mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

seriously, everything was overwhelming, and i just felt attacked.  by this time the tears far outweighed the anxiety.  and they weren’t tears of sadness; they were tears of craziness.  lol.  i was nooot stable.  i was calling my mom all the time because i felt like i kept needing to be put back together.  i was panicked, i was in shock, i was frustrated, i was angry, i was disgusted with everything.  ugh.

i turned into a real brat and was kind of just all around crappy.  i remember my mom just speaking love into me and kept reminding me to love, love, love.  i knew that was exactly what i needed to be doing at that point, but everything but love was coming out of me.

…i’m just sad.  it’s crazy how you can go through so much with the lord and immediately turn around and act so unloving and resentful.  or maybe you don’t do that.  but i did.  ugh.  …but like i said, though, i felt under attack.  and i know that’s no excuse to act any kind of way, and i do take full ownership for my poor behavior.  but looking back, although i feel like satan lost the big fight here — over my life — the next best thing he could do was take something god was doing and distort it so my friends couldn’t see god in any of it.  i feel like he made a MESS of things in me and in that apartment the last couple days i was there.  no, he didn’t make me act the way i did, but i feel like he provoked me and won.  ugh.  i really screwed that part up.

and maybe i should go back and take out my references to satan.  i do take the blame for the way i acted, so please know that i don’t blame “the devil” for every wrong thing i do.  i realize i have a sin nature, and i’m sure that 99 percent of my bad attitudes and wrongdoings come out of my own heart.  but honestly, in this instance, during this time, i feel like a lot of spiritual things were happening, and i feel like the evil on the outside of my heart played a big part in it.

on march 3, three or four days after jessica moved in, lol, i sent my brother a text and asked him if he could come get me.  (i don’t know why i laughed.  everything was just happening so fast.  believe me.  it was crazy.)  i received a text from him saying he’d check with nancy (wife), and then i received another one shortly after saying they’d be there the following night.  !!!  NUTS.

so blah blah BLAH.  i had to pack in a day and a half, let my boss know i was done, and tell tk and jess i was leaving the next night.  that was hard.  jess scolded me, lol, and theresa was silent.  ):  pain pain pain.  and of course i handled it all wrong.  all wrong.  ):  like i said, those past few days with tk… i wish i could change them.

anyway, two days later, i was gone.

despite my poor behavior and the manner in which i left, i still have no doubt that i was doing what god called me to do: leave.  i had a really bad headache when we left mia, and about an hour into the drive, i threw up.  and in my head, that confirmed that everything was good.  like god’s way of saying “it is finished” over my old life.  lol.  can i joke about that?  /:

but really and honestly, i feel like there may have been some spiritual war over all this.  i don’t know if people like to hear that, but that’s what i think.  and if i’m wrong, i’m wrong, and that’s okay.  but it’s happened a couple other times where i know god was trying to do work in me and i would end up throwing up.  i can’t explain why that’s happened other than maybe the spiritual stuff affected me physically.  i’ve just kind of always figured it was satan’s like.. final attack or something.  “fine.  but i’m going to make her puke.”  lol.  i don’t know.  but when this happened in the car, i was not at all surprised about it and celebrated a little over it.  god had gotten to me and satan lost.  i was happy.  what upset me, though, was that i barfed on my butterfinger.  ):

and god spoke all these words, saying, “i am the lord your god, who brought you out of the land of egypt, out of the house of slavery.  you shall have no other gods before me.  you shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for i the lord your god am a jealous god…”  exodus 20:1-5

and that’s exactly what happened.  god delivered me out of egypt, miami, my past, and i turned my back on everything.  it was no longer my life, but his.  i was – am – the lord’s completely.

so here i am, jacksonville, nc… somewhere i’d never choose to come.  lol.  but it was god’s plan, no doubt, so i’m cool with it.  he’s done (and is doing) awesome things in my life, and i’m confident in saying that because i know i would never choose on my own to do some of the things that i’ve done this year.  and on top of that, he’s taught me so, so, SO much, and i LOVE it.

i seriously just lived the best year of my life so far.  my desire has been nothing but to live a life pleasing to the lord, and i’ve never been so satisfied.

…but don’t mistake that for a perfect life.  that wasn’t promised.  i’ve definitely made mistakes since being here, gone through some sucky situations, dealt with sin, missed (longed for) parts of my old life– all that stuff, but the lord’s still just got me hooked.  no matter what happens to me, i keep falling in love with him.  my life, i’m just happy.  i love the lord.

and i want to know him more and more and more.  i’m amazed by this ongoing hunger i have to learn and know him– for a FULL YEAR.  i’ve NEVER had that before.  i can’t quit thinking about him and trying to learn.  i’ve gone through periods or phases in the past where i’d try to study the bible or just read it, but i think i was just doing it out of “because you should read your bible.”  but now.. that’s not the case at all.  now i’m like LORD!  what is IN here?!  who ARE you?!  i’m just loving this.

since being here, i’ve been through proverbs, philippians, 1 or 2 timothy (maybe both), and genesis.  genesis is really cool.  one of my favorites.  right now i’m going through luke, annnd i’m not sure what’s going to come next.  i’m not sure what got me to philippians.  i got into 1 and/or 2 timothy because i wanted to learn how churches are supposed to do things, and i did genesis because i felt like doing something from the old testament (and loved it.)  and my pastor got me going on luke, and i’m almost done.  what should i do next?

so okay.. when i first got here and for the next couple months, peace seemed to be the recurring theme.  i remember talking to my mom and trying to explain to her how i felt about my life compared to what i used to feel about it, and i finally rested on peace.  like i said about eight hours ago, i lived a really uncomfortable life.  it just didn’t work to know god’s ways and then choose my own.  i dealt with a lot of guilt, and that was just life to me.  and since being here in north carolina, that’s all been removed, and i think that’s where the peace came in.

i also had a peace just from trusting in the lord.  i knew i was being taken care of.  i knew god wouldn’t bring me here just to desert me.  i was trusting in him to get things up and running.  i mean, there were times i felt a little nervous about what was going to happen or how they were going to get worked out, but it was just something i gave to god, and he always reminded me that he brought me here and he was still taking care of things.

joy came in around this time as well, which was cool because through the world’s eyes, i had nothing to be joyous about.  man, god is freaking cool.  (:  i remember doing a proverbs study when i got here, lol (i was addicted), but after that i was brought to philippians, and it was then that i began to learn (AND experience) finding joy in the midst of hardship and suffering.

i didn’t have much going for me.  i was dealing with things like where in the world am i anyway?  when am i going to find a court reporting job?  should i start looking for jobs outside of reporting?  how do i get a car?  lol.  i mean, with no job.  um, what else.  it seems like there was more going on.  maybe not.  i don’t know.  but any other time prior, any of those things would have stressed me out terribly, but i learned to find joy despite my circumstances.  this is what i can tell you: basically, nothing matters.  quit worrying.  jesus died for you.  there’s your joy.

okay… what else.  so god did provide a court reporting job about three months after i was here ANNND… a really cool thing: photography.  (:  HERE is where i got to have my first “official” photo shoot — not family, not friends, not for practice, not for free — a job.  (:  this past year now he has blessed me with ten photo shoots.  the lord put the desire in my heart to do it, and here is where he let me go with it.  so thankful!  i LOVE it and am excited about learning and growing in this field.

he also blessed me with a car, which was something i was VERY excited about because i hadn’t had one since i left iowa.  actually, i should say that he blessed me with an awesome brother who totally worked this out for me.  i think i told him i wanted a black car, and he did everything else.  (:  and i was and am so grateful for this because i’ve always been fearful of car shopping.  i’ve never done it.  the thought of doing this always made me a little uneasy, but mitchell took care of it all for me.  i love my family.

i got to keep on mooovin…

church.  when i got a car, i knew that finding a church was my first priority.  i had been attending a church with m&n, but, eh, i wanted to venture out a little bit once i got some wheels.  …and honestly, i should have ventured a little longer because i stopped looking after the first church i visited.  lol.  but it was recommended to me, i went there, liked it, so cool.  and it’s a good church.  i mean, i’m learning.  i’m being challenged.  i’m meeting people.  it’s all really good.  until i feel the lord leading me elsewhere, fbcjax is where i’m at.

here come the cool things though.  …for my life anyway.

finding a church wasn’t that big of a deal to me because church has always been a part of my life.  i grew up in an e-free church, i went to a baptist church while i was in college, and yep, i was still going to church in miami.  i miss that church actually.  it was the best ever, and it too had a big impact on me while i was down there.  but anyway…

since being here, i’ve been baptized, joined a small group, found a mentor, and started serving within in the church.  i know that doesn’t seem like a big deal at all, but if you know anything about me, you know that fear controls a lot of what i do (and don’t do.)  and i know.  it’s a sin.  i should be praying about this actually… ):

baptism.  AGH!  my WHOLE LIFE i’ve wanted to be baptized.  my WHOLE LIFE i knew i needed to be baptized.  the lord commands us to.  but my WHOLE LIFE i’ve been afraid to do it.  i wasn’t afraid of the water or anything, lol, but i was afraid of talking to the pastor.  i was afraid of sharing my testimony.  i was afraid of getting up in front of everybody.  those were the things i was afraid of.

but when i got here, whatever, i was going to do it.  yes, i still had those fears, but i suddenly had feelings of needing to obey.  and oh my gosh.  this is just the best thing.  i’m sad those fears held me back so long, and this confuses me a little, but i feel like somehow it was maybe god’s plan that it happened this way.  i don’t know.  i know it wasn’t god’s plan that i be disobedient for a lot of years and be fearful, buuuuut… it just totally seemed like this was the year i was supposed to be baptized.  because listen.  baptism is a demonstration of christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, right?

wait.  i just got confused.  is it a demonstration saying, hey look, i believe christ died, was buried, and rose again, or is it a demonstration saying, hey look, i’ve died with christ (old life) and am now living a new life?  …or is it both?  i think it’s both.  dang, i’m a little ashamed i don’t know this right now.  maybe i will tomorrow.  lol.  i should look it up, but my bible is over there.  you should actually just read about it in your own bible.  it’s probably in galatians.  (lol.  JUST KIDDING.  shout-out to helg.)  but anyway, i’m just going to go with both so my story makes sense.  lol.  shoot.  this is actually a serious thing, but i’m in a funny mood and ruining it.

but okay.  listen though.  it never would have made sense for me to be baptized at any time prior to this year because of the way i was living my life.  it would have been a total misrepresentation.  and this all occurred to me as i was waiting in line to be baptized.  it all just made sense, and i just felt like it was planned to be that way, and it just made me like, wow, god.  just wow.  actually it made me cry (along with all my nerves, i’m sure), and it confused the pastor, lol.  he was like, no, this is a GOOD thing.  lol.  i know, duh.  my tears are happy.

small group.  which, actually is called “life group” in my church.  my specific group is called “cross trainers,” and it’s a singles group for ages 30+.  don’t ask.  i love this group, though.  at first i was really uncomfortable with it because everybody was old (haha), but you know, with time it got better, and now i totally appreciate the people i meet with.  they’ve been through life.  they talk.  they know stuff.  some are wise.

like the baptism thing, joining a small group is another thing fear kept me from doing.  people make me nervous.  i hate that, and i like almost don’t want to talk about it.  well, i totally don’t want to talk about it, lol, but i will a little bit.

some of the things i’m fearful of are people listening to me (i know; i don’t get it either), not knowing something, not coming across the right way, being held accountable… um, and i’m sure there’s more.  i’m pretty sure this all boils down to pride ):, but that’s deep and like.. not the point right now.  lol.  eh.  ):

…so i’ve always been afraid to join a small group.  it’s gotten WAY better as i’ve gotten older, but it’s still a problem nonetheless.  after i started attending first baptist, though, i forced myself to join a group.  i was a little less eager about doing that than being baptized, but i still knew it was important.  i needed people to know who i was and what i was about (jesus.)  i knew i’d be less likely to fall into sin being part of a group.  i mean, they don’t all know my struggles and the details to my past, but i know i’d be less likely to go back to selling crack for fear that one of them might pass me on the street one day.  lol.  just kidding.  but do you know what i’m saying?  i just needed people to know me.

my mentor.  <3  am i too old to have a mentor?  NO.  i’m still able to sin.  god told me to seek wise counsel.  pretty sure that’s in proverbs.  (:  after a couple of months in my small group, i felt like the lord was pushing for me to be a little more intimate with someone who would listen and could give [wise] advice.  so okay.  that was new to me.  didn’t ever really see that coming, but whatever.  find a mentor.  okay.

i just continued to pray about it and kind of started to think about this lady in my small group.  anneliese.  every time she talked, i was like, yeahhh (on the inside. lol.)  she spoke from her heart.  she referred to the word often… and without looking at it.  (:  (i’m not very good at that.  yet.)  and here and there, i picked up little things she shared about herself with the class.  she’d been married (she’s a widow) and she raised children.  (which were all important things to me: female, authentic, knowledgeable, married, children.)

so i just started asking god what he thought about her.  well, he never answered me really, which is a very common thing in my life.  (LORD!  I CAN’T HEAR YOU.  WHAT?)  so i just decided to be as wise as i could be and go with the flow, and i just let god know if it wasn’t meant to be then he needed to not let it be.  i talked to my cousin (who is a mentor), and one of my sisters about it, and they both thought anneliese seemed like a good match.

i asked anneliese if she would meet with me occasionally to go over life, and she told me she was honored but wanted to pray about it first  (which i LOVE.)  and sho nuff, it all worked out.  i meet with her about twice a month, and OH MY GOSH do i love this woman.  seriously.  she LISTENS and she SHARES.  she’s honest and unashamed.  she deals with god.  she prays.  a lot.  she gets me to talk.  she still loves me when i’m done.  she’s seen my tears.  i’ve seen hers.  she cooks.  <3  i love her.

i started looking for a place to serve in my church shortly after getting together with anneliese.  again, this was something i was always afraid of doing.  i don’t know why.  you just tell someone, hey, i want to help.  want to put me somewhere?  lol.  i mean, and that’s basically what i did.  and everyone was helpful and led me to the right people.  i told someone i like to do this and this and this, and they were like, i think you would go good here, and what do you know, i got put in the coolest place ever: slide flipper.  you laugh, but i love this job, and i’m seriously not kidding when i say it’s always been a dream of mine.  i know this is a lazy move, but if you want to read more about it, check it out here because i blogged about it once:

okay.  what else.  this house.  here.  with the murphys.  i’m here in this house specifically with these people for specific reasons, all of which i’m not sure of.  a few, yeah, but not all.  and i don’t think i’m supposed to know all the reasons or will get to know all the reasons, and that’s okay.  when i was leaving miami, i knew i was leaving for specific reasons (and i was aware of what reasons), and i knew i was coming to north carolina for specific reasons (but i wasn’t aware of what reasons), but it didn’t occur to me until after i had been here for a while that these specific reasons were within this household and not necessarily so much within the whole state of north carolina.  lol.  i don’t know what i was thinking when i moved here, but i remember when it dawned on me that, OH!  you wanted me here in THIS HOUSE.   okay.  OH.

like i said, i don’t think i’ll get to know every reason as to why god brought me here just because, you know, there’s three of us here… and until the other two get their own blogs and write about their own lives, you know, i’m just not going to know everything.

this is what i was let in on, though, and do know.  (:  today before i left for my job, i asked m&n why they think god brought me here.  i asked them what they’ve seen change or happen in my life, and i asked them if anything’s changed or happened in their lives.  i got their permission to share this, and this is what they said:

“tried to send this thru facebook but it wouldnt work.  i really dont know what you are looking for!  its the truth..your rent income helped us afford our IVF treatment…that was a total blessing to us….we’ve watched u stay committed and grow in your relationship with jesus which has motivated us to do the same..brought us to the church – got baptized..introduced me to pastor mark as well and now I’m learning what my life should be as a man/husband/dad (which i was scared i wouldnt know how to do)…ur testimony has been inspirational to both of us….now since we have been growing so has our communication and love for one another…….i’m not sure about the changes that you’ve experienced…we don’t really know what you were like before??? hope this helps a little.”

lol.  that was mitch.  nancy wrote me a letter back in september that went straight to my heart, and she said i could share it.

“Ivy, I’ve been trying to write this note for some time, so now more than ever I had to do it.  I just want to thank you for being here.  I strongly believe in my heart that God brought you here for a purpose, either it be to marry a handsome marine (: or to re-shape my faith.  I thank you for inspiring me.  You inspire me to want to fall completely in love with God every day.  There is something about how you view God that makes me want to be like that.  (:

I had a hard time trying to figure out my feelings with God when our infertility started.  I struggled and lost focus on him.  It was the hardest and lowest time for me in faith.  It wasn’t until my last surgery that things changed.  I felt awful, scared, lost, and confused, but all these things brought me back to God.  I began looking to him.  It’s like he opened my eyes and touched my heart again.  I began to love him again and started accepting his will.  I surrendered myself to him and he changed me, and when you got here I saw how you devoted yourself to him and then you changed me.  I just want to honestly thank you for your spiritual inspiration because you inspire me whether you realize it or not.

Love you tons, Nancy”

awh, (:  i love nancy!  and mitch.  i just thought of this: it has been a blessing to get to know nancy, and i now know her better than everyone else in iowa.  HA.  before i moved here i knew she was cool person, but now we have a relationship and she’s so much more than my brother’s cool wife.

and what’s REALLY cool is this year spent around my brother.  i’ve always been very close to my sisters, but mitch was a butthead (as was i) growing up, and after i went to college, i didn’t see too much of him anymore.  he graduated, joined the navy, went to japan, and then was stationed in north carolina.  we would keep in touch a little through e-mail and facebook, but phone calls were very rare, and there just wasn’t much of a relationship at all.  i knew my brother changed after going through boot camp, but i was never given an opportunity to really spend time with him after that and get to know him, you know, as an adult.  i know people think mitch is a mute, lol, but he’s really not, and i think i’ve been around long enough now that we can talk about whatever.  mitchell’s awesome, and i need to be thanking the lord tonight for the relationship i have with my brother.

annnnnd… i don’t know… that has been my year.  now that i’ve gotten it all out, it doesn’t seem it’s as much as i was feeling it would be, but it is what it is, and i’m happy about it and still in awe over it.  like i said earlier, this all was god and by his grace alone.  he’s done some major work in me.  …and it’s still not over.  lol.  agh.  there are still things to work out.  i mean, i’m sure my whole life there will  be things to work out.  but he will finish…

and i am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of jesus christ.  philippians 1:6


  • Mollie Lyon on May 10, 2012 reply

    Ivy!! I read this entry throughout my day at work. It’s the first of your blog posts that I’ve read. I loved reading and learning more about you and how you are doing these days. So happy you are happy 🙂

  • Lacey on Mar 09, 2012 reply

    Ohhhh….Ivy! I just love you so much. In your story you have reminded me so much of Moses. Seriously. He was willing to follow God, but was afraid of what others consider ‘the small stuff.’ Like talking in front of pharoah. But he obeyed God as you have and what an impact he had on this earth! I loved reading every word on this page. I’m glad it was so long.

  • Nancy on Mar 08, 2012 reply

    Ivy, I’m so glad you were able to finish this in time. I LOVE everything about it, and GOD is so amazing! You made me cry! =) Happy tears of course! Mitch and I are so proud of you!

  • Mitch on Mar 08, 2012 reply

    Quit telling people I’m not a mute – they might start talking to me…

  • Sarah Hensley on Mar 07, 2012 reply

    Ivy, it is such a good thing that you are telling what God is doing in your life!! Just think, this past year is just one year– very significant– but it has come and gone, and there is so much more life yet to live and to see God continue to work.
    Now… as for this next year… I am hoping the next thing God has in store for you is to meet the love of your life! You are like a precious gem… somebody out there needs to enjoy the beautiful (inside and out) and hilarious- good-times- woman that you are!!

  • Jesse on Mar 07, 2012 reply

    Wow! What an awesome testimony of God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness to his precious daughter! The Holy Spirit extremely evident in your life and your words! I’d read Romans or Ephesians next. Probably Ephesians. Chapter 2 is pretty insane! Well, Romans can hold it’s own too. You decide.

  • mom on Mar 07, 2012 reply

    oh! and one more thing..u know how i like to count answered prayer. esp from waaay back, and see how God brings His word to life.. when u (kids)were little, I would pray daily for God to bridge the gap of my mistakes in parenting (and boy, has HE..more grace..)and i would always pray for those who would have influence in your life..teachers, friends, husbands, wives, etc.. so thankyou, lace,andy,sarah,nathan,mitch,nancy,gpa,gma,haley,bunny,all cousins,aunts, uncles,pastors, SSteachers,the angels in miami,the church there,too,annaliese, i dont even know evbody God used, but thank you God for these ppl and answering my prayer. it makes me cry.God is so good to us. the answer’s not in for the husband yet, but i know God is preparing him as your family ‘prays him in’ 🙂

  • mom on Mar 07, 2012 reply

    wow. it’s so good to take a look back once in awhile to be able to ponder our Father’s good work in our he saves us from ourselves over and over if we will just take a step in faith, trusting Him. As I started reading this, you emphasized how u would listen to Proverbs. How important to remember that His Word is LIVING and POWERFUL and sharper than a two-edged sword…and will not return to Him void, but will fulfill HIS purposes! How awesome is that?! What a great testimony to that Word, His Love for you, and that you are giving your life as a living sacrifice to Him! That all brings this mama to tears of thankfulness for God’s answered prayer, and His everlasting mercy and grace toward us! HALLELUJAH!(a lil shout out for gpa, cuz i know he does..hehe). Just keep on keepin on, ive. Keep preaching the gospel, and if necessary, use words… Love YOU! –ma

  • Haley on Mar 07, 2012 reply

    This was one of the best reads of my life. Some (but not all) of my favorite parts…when you rocked “rascal”, barfed on your butterfinger and when you metaphorically sold crack.

    Now, seriously. I am so proud of you. I am proud of you for following God’s lead and allowing Him to work in your life. I am proud of you for being brave and courageous, stepping out in faith, in obedience…and then sharing your story. I love your heart and your face. Ich liebe DICH, noch ein mal, gleiche um die ecke fur du geburtstag! 🙂

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