By Terryl Anderson
One day last week I was driving to the grocery store in the evening after work. Suddenly, God said, “Terryl, how was your day?” I immediately started sobbing uncontrollably. I had to pull over to the side of the road where I cried and cried (rarely do I cry on the outside for I have learned to keep it bottled inside.)
What came flooding back were memories of my family eating dinner in our small dining room when I was 4 through 14 years old. Every night my dad would long complain about his job but, also, he would tell my younger sister, my mom, and me about his round of golf - every single one of his 68-70 golf shots. He would rant and rave for he considered himself the unluckiest man in the world as only his golf ball would always end up in a divot, someone’s footprint in the sand, up against a small twig, etc. (Yet, if you know about golf you know 68, 69, or 70 are very good scores that most men would give anything to shoot even once.)
The rest of us were not allowed to talk – not about our day, our week, our friends, our wants, our needs, or our dreams. Except at the end of each meal we would plan who went where the next day (there are no emotions in tomorrow). You see, there was a 5th person at our table every night, her name was SUE – SHUT UP and EAT!! I remember one dinner where my sister (4 years younger) simply sat down and blurted out something that happened at school. I was stunned. “WOW,” I thought, “That’s the way to do it!” However, when I tried the next night I was immediately shut down – SUE! I was shut down so often I lost my own voice. I died inside for I lost ME. By age 15 I kept too busy to eat with the family.
I cannot describe the tremendous flood of love and care and deep, deep healing I felt when God Himself asked me, “Terryl, how was your day?”
"If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up." - Psalm 27:10
Abba/Jesus, you are amazingly wonderful!! You know us SO intimately and yet you love when we share every detail of our lives with you. One of your great desires is for us to live healed and whole lives as your children. Thank you! Praise the Lord!
God wants to hear about your day.
Written by Alexis E.
Before attending affirmation class, I always believed in God. I went to Sunday School when I was younger, attended church, prayed to God, and went to youth group. I also attended Beauty Projects through my Aunt April’s “Her Life Speaks” Ministry, and went to Christian Camp every summer. I knew that God was present in my life, but I didn’t actually know how to have God WITH me during my life.
Everyone goes through ups and downs in their lives. Whenever something good or bad would happen to me, I would just wonder what God’s purpose was it for. I desired a strong relationship with God and wanted Him to speak to me directly, so I would include that in my prayers.
I used to hear stories where people had heard God talk to them personally, or felt a dramatic change in their life once they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. I wanted a story to share with people. I was once asked if I wanted to write my testimony and share it on this website. Of course I wanted to, so one night I sat down and wrote up some events that had occurred in my life. I stared at it, and realized there really wasn’t anything major I could share with others. I hadn’t gone through a struggle I thought I needed to in order to have a story.
Then one day my parents told me our church pastor was starting affirmation class. I was really excited because I thought that this was finally my opportunity to grow in my faith. And honestly, it was. During those months I felt my relationship with God change as I learned the answers to my unanswered questions and learned how to defend what I believe. I am here today affirming my faith because I truly believe that Jesus Christ died for me and my sins, and I accept Him as my Savior.
“For we live by faith and not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7
First, I now talk to God like He is my friend. I tell God everything on my mind because I know He is listening to me, and wants to be involved in my life. I learned not to block God out when I am struggling, but to invite Him in, to let Him feel it with me.
“I have called you friend” Jesus John 15:15
Second, I now know how to backup what I am saying in a conversation about God. In school, it is hard to find Christian friends. I am faced with the challenge of being excluded by peers because of what I believe.
I used to be scared to speak up about it because I wasn’t sure if I was saying the right things. I realize now that it isn’t about getting embarrassed if you don’t know something because no one has all of the answers. It is about saving someone’s soul for eternity, which is most important. I can now use this to defend my faith and share it with others if the topic of Christ is brought up.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15
Lastly, I know there is only one way to get to heaven. You don’t go to heaven by simply doing good works. You can still be a good person, but there is more to it. You have to accept Jesus Christ as your savior and believe that he died for your sins.
Overall, after attending these affirmation classes, I realize that this is my testimony. My story is MY story. I grew up in a Christian household, and found a way to grow in my faith, and truly believe what I have been taught. I feel like I have the real relationship with God I always longed-for. Affirmation class was an answer to those prayers. So, thank you God for always watching over me. Thank you, Jesus for dying for me so I can be saved, and go to Heaven.
How about you? What’s your story? Did you always believe in God? Are you still trying to find some answers? Or did you have a dramatic experience that started your faith?
Alexis is a frequent attendee of Her Life Speaks Beauty Projects for teen girls. Interested in joining and meeting other Christian girls? Sign up here for the next one on February 9, 2019! https://www.herlifespeaks.org/events.html
by Pat Cocuzza
I'd like to begin my praise story with; I am a breast cancer survivor of 16 years. I say this right away so that you won't feel sorry for me because it is past history.
Prior to 2002, I had begun a closer relationship with God. I had been attending bible studies and realized how much God loved me and how important He is in my life. So when I was told that I had breast cancer, I admit I was shocked and afraid. I pleaded with God to let me live, I wanted to see my grandchildren. It was too soon. Though that afternoon was full of fear and uncertainty for myself and my family, the day was over and a new day began. My life had not changed. I still got up made breakfast and continued my day and the next and so on. I thank God that I had people in my life that I turned to for prayer and support.
God was and is my strength.
God is always there waiting for me to realize that I can always turn to Him. "So be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you or abandon you." Deuteronomy 31:6
Right after I was diagnosed, I was at a church service and one of the readings were Psalm 103:1 and 3 "Let all that I am praise the Lord with my whole heart. I will praise His holy name. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” I felt God was letting me know He heard me.
It has been many years since and my relationship with God has grown. Spending time with Him in prayer and attending bible studies has increased my joy and faith in God and my Savior Jesus Christ. One of my studies and book that I read was the "The Circle Maker" by Pastor Mark Batterson. I learned to circle my family and friends in prayer for their redemption, health, protection, etc. One of my prayer requests was to be blessed with grandchildren. My faith and trust continued to grow through my prayers and time spent with God. The first prayer asking for grandchildren was in 2002 when I was diagnosed and neither of my sons were married. When I prayed again asking God to circle them with blessings, protection and health and praying for a grandchild, God answered my prayer. Within a year of my prayer requests, I was blessed with the announcement that I was to be a grandmother and my grandson was born on January 1st, 2017.
God hears our prayers and answers in His time. I had learned trust and patience.
One final note on God answering prayers. My father's name was John. He passed away when I was very young. I thought it would be nice to have the baby named John though I never mentioned this to my son and daughter-in-law. They told us of their decision to name the baby Ian Tyler when we were vacationing together. When I returned to work I told my friends the baby's name was Ian Tyler. We decided to look up what the name means. Ian is Scottish for John. And the name Ian means a gift from God. What overwhelming joy I felt when I heard this. To know God hears us and answers our prayers. Only God can grant our prayers when we are faithful and if it is for our good. Isaiah 30: 18-19 "So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion for the Lord is a faithful God."
Have you had a time in your life that you had to put your trust in the Lord and patiently wait for His answers? Have you experienced God's answers and was it the answers you wanted or needed? Comment below.
What is your Assignment?
Have you ever been called to do something in your life that ROCKED YOUR WORLD?
EVER. When you were little, a teen, young adult or now? EVER? Has something happened to you that you had no control over that changed your life forever?
Did life happen to you, the life you didn’t plan for, expect or want? Some of the things that come to mind are;
- job loss
- you thought you’d have a child by now
- expectedly become a widow or divorced
- sexual abuse
- health issue
- single longer than you thought you’d be
- or are you a single mom, something you didn’t expect
- rejected by your mother
- rejected by your father
- your church disappointed or judged you
- betrayed by your husband
- maybe you betrayed your husband
- maybe you have experienced lose from someone close to you
All of these things could rock a woman’s world. They could bring consequences, shame, guilt, sadness, depression, anxiety, pain, suffering. We don’t expect any of these things to happen but they could, they are the reality of life. Suffering and pain are real and they happen. Christians are non-exempt.
I’d like to challenge you, through the lens of Mary’s story to consider your own story and your assignment.
This is Mary’s story:
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. For the word of God will never fail.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth and says: Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. Story from Luke 1 (I added the bold).
God’s assignment on Mary’s life was to have a baby, our Savior, while she was still a virgin and engaged to Joseph; (a story for another day).
What options did she have? Would she have taken them and gone out of God’s will for her life? How would she be able to handle the unknown? What would everyone say? Did she feel shame or fear?
There’s no mention of her mother or father in this story to support her. Was she alone in her assignment? How would she be supported financially?
Would she become homeless? Friendless? Hopeless?
I know I pose a lot of questions, but I can’t help to think about them. I’m being honest. What would I have done?
Mary was a sinner, Romans 3:23, but God still shows his mercy and extends his favor on her. Mary needed a Savior just like each of us. She glorified and worshiped Jesus her Savior over her position as the mother of her Savior in verse 47: “My soul rejoices and praises my Savior.” She acknowledged Jesus as Savior, worthy to be praised and worshiped. Even in uncertainty.
Mary trusted God in her assignment.
The scripture says she was confused and disturbed. She didn’t understand the fullness of her future. It was probably shocking! But in her confusion, she was calm, faithful and obedient.
Mary trusted God in her assignment.
She had faith in God with her future even though she didn’t know the whole story.
This was something out of the ordinary which resulted in something extraordinary.
What we know about God:
God knew Mary before the foundation of the world for this assignment; Psalm 139:16
God provided confirmation for Mary through her cousin Elizabeth’s acknowledgement of who she was
For God, nothing is impossible – his word can never fail
God will show mercy from generation to generation who are in awe of him
God cared for Mary and provided for her
God’s grace has been with me every day with my health. He’s sustains me not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually. I trust God with my future and acknowledge the merciful miracle which he granted me which I will share at the annual retreat on March 16, 2019. I’ll tell my story then.
Now, this is Christmas and I want us to end on a note of joy and hope.
A Savior was born.
Jesus Christ is our Savior.
As we think about Mary’s story and legacy as it relates to our own assignment, we can rest in knowing that God will give the mercy and grace to endure it. I don’t know how. But I have to go on his promise, vs. 50. Whatever God has called you to, he is in it with you. He loves you and knew you before the foundation of the world was created. He knows every unborn child just like he knew his own son, Jesus. John 17:24
God said the Word would become Flesh. And it did. God sent us his son Jesus who had an assignment:
- To heal the brokenhearted
- To proclaim freedom to the captives
- to comfort those who mourn
- to give beauty from ashes
- to give joy for mourning
- the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
If God has given you an assignment, he will bring you through it. Relying on the Truths of God is where our hope is. God is Provider, Merciful, Love, Gracious, Caring, Healer, Omniscient.
“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor. Instead of confusion you shall rejoice in your portion. Everlasting joy will be yours”
Jesus is our hope.
We can trust the same God that Mary did in all of our circumstances.
We are not called to understand everything. God tells us that his ways are not our ways. We don’t see things the way God knows them to be. Isaiah 55:8. God sees the whole picture. He sees it and knows all of our circumstance from afar and from before the foundation of the world was created.
Emmanuel means God is with us. He’s with you.
Will you trust God with your assignment?
Merry Christmas and may our very alive and real God make his presence known to you in your assignment.
I have to admit that on a daily basis I always wonder what struggles or challenges I will be facing next. With fight and survival skills learned from a very young age, I have not had an easy life. I am the oldest child, oldest of my cousins, and a single parent. I have always found myself protecting, caring and putting everyone else and their needs first.
"My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.” Ezekiel 34:6
There are so many hills and valleys that I have had to overcome, but the latest knocked me to a place I thought I would never survive. About six years ago, I started losing everything that meant anything to me. It started with a fight with family I have not spoken to since, a second divorce that led me to leaving behind my home and community I grew to love for ten years, and dropping my only child off at college for the first time. As a tough, strong and independent woman, I kept telling myself ‘I got this, just another hurdle and fight I will have to overcome!’ Little did I know that I was also turning my back on the God that I knew who had always protected me.
Four years later, I lost my job that I absolutely loved and thrived on. This is when it all came crashing down. I had already felt alone and as though I had no purpose in life as I used to. I was no longer a mother, wife or daughter on a daily basis, and now I had no job to support my child and myself! Getting out of bed every day became difficult. As a strong woman who already has issues with anxiety and depression, I was ready to give up, as I had no fight left in me. I did not feel wanted or needed by anyone. I searched and searched for a job, love, purpose and joy, only to find anger, emptiness, and loneliness at the end of each day. This was something I had never felt before!
"What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost? And if it turns out that he finds it, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be lost." Matthew 18:12-14
This is when God started knocking on the door…
“Are you going to come back to me, Candy”
“Are you going to stay with me, Candy?”
“Do you see and hear me, Candy?
“Where is your faith and love in me, Candy?”
I was later introduced to a Christian counselor and invited to a Her Life Speaks retreat simultaneously. The day of the retreat I did not know what I was walking into or why God had me there. From the moment I walked through the doors the women at the retreat were so loving, welcoming and nurturing to ME, a stranger. The message that day was to connect your heart and mind to feel His love, presence and to know Him.
It was as though God was speaking directly to me. A few weeks earlier I had said to my best friend, ‘It does not seem like my mind and heart are on the same page or that I matter to anyone”. She watched me as the tears ran down my face.
I realized later that by attending this retreat, God showed me everything HE wanted me to see and hear in HIS perfect timing. After the retreat I joined one of the small groups that Her Life Speaks was having. I cried the moment women welcomed me with a hello and a hug and any time a testimony was shared.
I kept telling myself, I want to be like them. I want God to finally get me through tough times and never look back. Why do I keep getting junk thrown at me? Am I not worthy of being loved? I surrender! These ladies prayed for me, they loved on me, they made me feel like a daughter and sister. They helped me connect both my heart and mind back to God and to see how he was with me and guiding me all along. I just wasn’t paying attention.
Today, I still wake up and most times feel alone or unwanted but then I turn to The Lord. I am learning who I am in God’s love! ** Who are you? Loved? Worthy? Daughter? **
God is within her, she will not fall
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.