You ALL know our sweet friend today. In fact, she’s been here before. We know you will be encouraged by her own story of how the Lord not only saved her, but continues to walk with her today. Please welcome Susannah back as she shares about God’s goodness in her life.
In September 2015, I was 34-years-old and had just self-published my first book, “Ten Years Taken”. It was a joyous time because my childhood dreams were finally coming true! Since I was a little girl, I’d wanted to be a writer. And finally, after many years of writing and editing and ripping up manuscripts, everything was coming full circle. I was travelling around the state to speak at book clubs and libraries, appearing at book signings in community centers and churches, giving interviews to local newspapers and radio stations and recognized as a real author. People even stopped me in Target to talk about my novel and the characters I had invented! It was such a surreal time, and I was ecstatic when “Ten Years Taken” was listed among the Top 30 best-selling self-published books on Amazon.
My mother was truly my biggest fan. She was on the front row at every event, first in line at every book signing and she bought 18 copies of each newspaper or publication I was featured in. She constantly advertised my book and shared my blog posts on social media and continually told me how proud of me she was. She said she’d always known I’d be an author.
One cool Saturday night in September, my mama hung the next day’s church clothes on her closet door. She placed a cup of water on her nightstand next to my novel and climbed into her plush bed. And sometime during the night, while my mother slept, her soul went to be with Jesus.
I watched my young father die of a heart attack when I was eleven, and when my mother passed away, I suddenly felt like an orphan. I felt like a 34-year-old orphan. I was so utterly lost and alone and without any roots. I didn’t know how in the world I was expected to live a lifetime without my mother because she had been my rock, my friend, my spiritual mentor, my everything.
Of course, it is normal for a daughter to mourn her mother’s death, but I went beyond typical grieving. I spiraled down into a dark, deep pit of despair. I knew my mother was resting at our Savior’s feet, without the cares of this world, but I couldn’t even find joy or peace in that beautiful truth. I just so selfishly wanted her here with me. I needed her advice. I wanted to hear her laugh. I wanted to feel her fingers running through my hair. I wanted her by my side. I just wanted my mother.
As the months passed, I was still unable to get out of bed many days. I was unable to cook dinner for my family or attend my children’s ballgames. Not only was I devastated at the void in my life, but I was bitter and angry. While spending so much time in my bed sobbing and hiding from the world, I mourned my father’s death all over again. I didn’t foresee my joy ever being restored.
I’ve been saved since I was a little girl. My mother was a great Godly woman and raised me on the promises found in the Word of God. I knew all the Scriptures about hope and restoration and how Jesus was near to the brokenhearted, but still I was utterly broken.
And finally, worn and weary and heavy-laden, I could no longer bear the burden. I was exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually, and in a moment of sweet surrender, as tears fell from my eyes, I gave it all to the Lord. I told Him, “God, I cannot do this anymore. I cannot continue living in this dark pit of grief. I need you.”
When I finally let go of the rope ‒ when I finally surrendered the hurt, the ache, the void ‒ my Savior was so gracious to catch me. He came to me right where I was and gave rest to my weary soul. He gave me peace that passes all understanding. He gave me light in the darkness. He restored my joy.
The Lord has even revealed great purpose in my pain. I’ve been able to show the comfort that He has shown me to others, just as we are instructed to do in 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7. I’ve continually drawn closer to Him and relied on His sweet grace and mercy, and in turn, He’s called me to do things I never thought possible. He’s called me to speak His promises of life and hope to those who are grieving. He’s called me to point the hurting and the broken to Him. He’s called me to use my writing for His glory. He’s given me beauty for ashes not only concerning the deaths of my parents, but also infertility and alcohol abuse and many other trials.
Jesus was battered and beaten and bloodied. He was mocked and ridiculed, and then He hung on an old, rugged cross to die for our sins. What incredible pain and sorrow He went through! But the purpose, the beautiful purpose, was revealed three days later when that tomb proved empty.
And like Jesus’ pain, our pain has great purpose, too.
Of course, I still miss my parents every day. Lord, what I wouldn’t give to be able to pick up the phone and call my mother and ask her to make me a Mississippi Mud Cake. But if my mother was still here, I wouldn’t be commissioned to point others to the Great Comforter. I wouldn’t have experienced His agape love and been proved time and time again that He truly is near to the brokenhearted. I wouldn’t realize so fully how our Father truly works ALL things together for good.
No matter the pain or sorrow or longing we experience here in our temporary home, if it points us to Jesus, it’s worth it.
Do you ever sit around and think about what happens after you die? Hang with me here, this isn’t a morbid post! I pray it’s a post that will bring joy and hope to those that have put their faith in Jesus, but also a wake up call to believers that our work here on earth is not done!
Although there are many Scriptures that talk about Heaven and Hell, the book of Revelation was instilled in me when I was in high school, so that’s where we will camp out today. I wish I could tell you that I know this book from front to back, but that’s sure not the case. Our Associate Pastor at our home church, Topper, taught our youth group every Sunday; and to this day, I am not sure I know anyone who knows Revelation better than he does. What I wouldn’t give to sit under him today, now that I am older and appreciate his wisdom on this book! I would love to one day be as knowledgable as him!
Revelation is so interesting to me! Hollywood couldn’t even attempt to make movies this good, and it’s the complete, inerrant Word of God. My husband and I went to Israel back in January and when I am asked what my favorite part was, my answer is...The Valley of Armageddon! That may seem odd to most people, but I know that’s where the very last battle will take place and that excites me!
So what is it about Revelation that is so intriguing to me? Well first off, it’s a book filled with HOPE and it’s the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to those who listen to its words and do what it says.
There are two things I want to look at today. The present and the future. But before we do that, we need to back up and start at the beginning.
Who is writing Revelation and how did this book come to be?
The apostle John, while in exile on the island of Patmos, received a vision from Christ. He is the only one of the original twelve disciples that was not killed for his faith. John was sent to Patmos by the Romans for his witness of Christ. Isn’t God creative on how He reveals His plan? God first revealed it to Christ, who in return revealed it to John.
God always has a unique way of uncovering His plan
I don’t have time to go into great detail about the entire book...that would take many blogs, but maybe one day that will happen! So, I am jumping to the end of Revelation and sharing my favorite Scriptures with you today.
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what He has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolators and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
In these Scriptures, we can see the HOPE and FUTURE we have as believers! We also see how we must live for Jesus now! When we talk about salvation, it’s very easy for us to just think about heaven, which is great expectation! But...we have a responsibility in the here and now as believers, to build His Kingdom here on earth. How can we live for Christ now?
In verse 15, Jesus says, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolators and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
2. How living for the future affects our present:
In verse 12, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon!”
In verse 14, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
As much as I love to think about Heaven and standing in the presence of my Savior, I am burdened for those that don’t have this hope. It’s not a topic we like to talk about, but Hell is a very real place. I pray that we see the importance of having Jesus as Lord of our lives, right here and now as we live our lives day to day; and in our future home in Heaven. Who do you know that will not be joining you in Heaven if they were to die today? Is it you? The By Faith She girls would love to discuss this further with you and pray with you! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
As this Easter season came to a close yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, “What’s next?” After all, it was such an amazing week of celebrating Jesus life, death, and resurrection. It was incredible to see so many people share about how Jesus changed their life for the whole world to see. It was an awesome time to worship The Risen Savior with my people at our Easter church services. And, I have to mention, I love seeing Facebook flooded with pictures of families dressed in their Easter best. It was a week of highs, fun, excitement, thanksgiving, remembrance and worship. And now its over…so what’s next?
Let’s pick up at this same place in the Bible. The weekend is over. People are beginning to hear that Jesus has risen from the grave. Some believed and were amazed, while others needed to see it for themselves. He appeared to them and gave them a mission. He sent them out to a hurting world to share the hope of the gospel.
The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So the Lord Jesus, after speaking to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the accompanying signs.
So, this is what’s next! Although the hype of the holiday is over and the pretty Easter pictures will soon fall to the back of our newsfeed, our purpose remains! Jesus is just as alive today as He was yesterday! We must keep sharing our testimonies and keep talking about what new things God is doing in our lives. Keep sharing the hope we have with this lost world so that they too may know Him personally. They need to know the truth, that salvation comes in only one way, through our living Savior Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday, today, tomorrow, and everyday forevermore!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
This is my story of how I came to know Jesus as a child and then again as a woman. I would LOVE to hear yours! If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
You know those iconic small stain-glass windowed churches nestled in rolling hills? I was blessed to grow up in such a church in upstate New York. A myriad of memories flood my mind as I think back to my growing years in that church. Such memories as being baptized in a nearby very cold creek and yearly Easter sunrise services held in the back field followed by a yummy breakfast.
The most important memory, however, involves summer camp. Every summer the church members made sure we kids went off to church camp for a week. Amidst the greased pig contest and polar bear swimming club, my heart softened and permanently declared an eternal relationship with the Lover of my soul, Jesus.
I remember stepping outside that night after my decision to trust Jesus as my Savior. I looked up at the starry expanse spread like a canopy above me. I was overcome that the Creator of the starry realm loved me. Little ole me. I felt like Maria in the Sound of Music just singing and spinning with a soaring spirit. I was so filled with joy I could burst! I felt sure Jesus and I could conquer anything that came my way.
Years slowly slipped away and that night at camp became a definite but distant memory. My adult faith roller-coastered from joy-filled to joyless. Soon, my cup of joy was depleted. While I was active in my local church and wearing my joyful Jesus girl mask so skillfully, deep down I was miserable.
Miserable looks different for each of us but for me, it was as if a toddler had taken paint and splattered it over a beautiful masterpiece. There was splattered paint of anger, depression, and abusive and erratic behavior. I staggered from the high of Sunday morning worship to the deep valley of despair by Sunday afternoon. I was on and off anti-depressants and sleeping pills. My marriage was rocky, and my children trembled in fear at my sudden rage.
Something needed to change.
The joy I experienced that night years ago seemed so elusive now, possible for others but not for me. When I looked at much of what was wrong with my life - my marriage, my parenting, my friendships - I realized I was the common denominator. I had lost the joy of my salvation. I was the Titanic headed for the iceberg.
I needed to change.
I was in the midst of a Beth Moore study. I had always been in awe of her vibrant, radical faith and wanted it, but thought she was blessed with something special, something that was not obtainable for the average follower of Christ. But during one session, it finally clicked! Christ’s abundant life is a promise for all believers, including me!
The smoldering ember of my faith caught a flicker of air and started to burn!
Like a marathon runner, I began to train my flabby spiritual self hardcore. Instead of just a Sunday morning accessory, my Bible became my constant companion and lifeline. I asked the Lord, “Change me. I am willing to do whatever it takes to have the abundant life You promised in John 10:10.”
The Four Steps I Took to Turn My Titanic Self from Destruction:
1. Developed a Personal Bible Study Time
I was as inconsistent as an unreliable car with my quiet time. So, I determined to get up each morning before my family and spend time with the Lord. When my rebellious flesh wanted to stay in bed a little bit longer; I would pray Psalm 42:1-2,
“As the deer pants for the water, help me long for You.”
2. Studied and Applied God's Word
I dug deep into James 3:13-18 and into the Proverbs, like Proverbs 29:11, longing to be counted among the wise instead of the fool who is controlled by anger. My constant prayer was:
“Make me wise, Lord. Help my tongue speak words of life, not death. Allow my hands to be hands of healing, not hurting.”
3. Really Fell in Love with Jesus
I asked the Lord to help me fall deeply in love with and trust Jesus. With a renewed hunger, I studied the four gospels and every account of Jesus’s interaction with everyday people. With new eyes, I saw His love and compassion and miraculous healing of EVERY kind of sickness and disease. I prayed,
“Help my unbelief! Help me know you love me as deeply as those You walked with all those years ago."
4. Claimed Resurrection Power
I understood Christ's power to overcome death was available to me as a believer, yet I let that power lie dormant. I knew the only way to overcome my angry, depressed, abusive self was to pray Christ's death-defeating power over myself and my weaknesses. My steady prayer was:
"I'm weak and helpless to change myself. Lord, please help me believe Your resurrection power can save me from myself!”
And slowly, unlike the Titanic, I veered around the iceberg and started to feel a change in me.
- I started having joy which lasted longer than a worship service.
- I was experiencing peace that no pill or brownie or latest purchase could bring.
- I began to love being a wife and a momma and a friend.
I. Am. Changed! (Happy dance!)
Finally, I am experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised in John 10:10! All because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is still available to us today! I just needed to receive it and believe it! Life has not become a bed of roses since my radical transformation. But now the joy of the Lord is my strength! His strength makes me strong where I am weak!
Just like that night long ago, the Creator of the starry host still loves little ole me. Just as important, Jesus and I CAN conquer anything that comes my way. When given the chance, I tell all who will listen,
"Jesus saves, not only from the literal hell, but also from the hell inside of ourselves!"
That is the victory of the empty tomb, my friend. That is the victory guaranteed to each person who humbles themselves, confesses their sin, and accepts Jesus as Lord.
Oh my friend, it's NOT too late! You are NOT too far gone! The victory of the empty tomb is possible for you, also. If He can save me from a Titanic-like existence, He can do the same for you!
May you believe it and walk and flourish in the power of Christ's empty tomb this Easter and beyond!
This is my story of how I came to know Jesus. I would LOVE to hear yours! If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
My salvation story started when I was ten years old. I was raised in church and I sat under an amazing pastor that boldly preached the Word of God. I can go back to the time like it was yesterday that the Holy Spirit was tugging on my heart! It was during the invitation at church one Sunday, as I was sitting next to my granddaddy, our pastor asked if anyone wanted to come forward and receive Christ. I couldn’t stop my feet from walking that aisle! I took my granddaddy’s hand and told him I wanted to go. So we went to the altar, I prayed and asked the Lord to save me from my sins and to be the Lord of my life.
Now I don’t have some great transformation testimony, but as I got older and the world started throwing things my way, I wasn’t always faithful to my Lord. The Holy Spirit was so real and present in my life that when I would stray from Him, such heavy conviction would come over me. When I began to question my salvation, I could always go back to that time that I gave my heart to Jesus. You see, Satan wants to make us doubt, he wants to make us believe that we are really not a child of God. We see early on in Genesis 3 how he is so deceitful. So, how do you know your heart belongs to Jesus? Well, for me, it was about the conviction I would feel when I sinned. It was the guilt that would come over me when I would disappoint my Heavenly Father. He never left my side, it was me moving farther away from Him.
When I was twenty-two, I was tired of riding the fence. I was tired of trying to please both God and man! He wanted ALL of me and I wanted ALL of Him, too. Scripture tells us in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other. So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” How dishonoring and displeasing my life was to my Savior, the ONE who gave me life!
I am so thankful the Lord never gave up on me! Even when I was running, He pursued me with a love that no one or nothing else can give. I surrendered everything over to Him; my life, my job, my friends...it was all His. He has blessed my life more than I can ever imagine and much more than I ever deserve. He has made Himself so real to me that I will spend all of my days pointing others to Him and sharing the amazing love and redemption that can only be found in Christ.
Look, no matter what you have done or how far you have strayed, Jesus loves you! If you have not given your life to Him, He is waiting with arms open wide. If you are a believer, but you have strayed from the Lord, He is wanting to restore you into a right relationship with Him. Once you have given your heart to Christ, He promises this; “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10: 28-29)
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!