The Story of Us: Part 2

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Aaron knelt on one knee, pulled out a beautiful ring on stage in front of the whole congregation. Our pastor was laughing and clapping, the whole church was celebrating with us. It must have been plain to them that we were destined to marry too, despite our age, in a society where statistics aren’t in our favor, God had a plan to bring us together at such a time as this.

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Engagement photo

It took a while for some to accept our decision, meanwhile, we began pre-marital counseling, devotions, and having serious conversations about our past, present, and future. We vowed even before our wedding day that the word “divorce” would never be a part of our vocabulary. And with all the foundation blocks in place, we finally began to build our dream. I planned a simple wedding, God and family provided everything we needed, and Aaron started moving into our own apartment.

After a year of engagement, we married Feb. 22 2014. And traveled to Gatlinburg, TN for our honeymoon. It was a beautiful ending to one chapter, and a joyous beginning of another. We were halfway through our week vacation when the phone call came. Our pastor, the one who mentored us and married us, had left the church (I won’t go into detail here). We immediately rushed back home and from there on, tried to keep a broken church together, even though we were broken beyond words.

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Honeymoon at Westgate Resorts: Gatlinburg, TN

There was no reconciliation, only a farewell note. And while some encouraged us to stay and keep things running, their words followed them out the door. Finally, we became so exhausted and burned out that Aaron and I finally gave up. At this point, the congregation had dwindled down greatly, and no one wanted to serve or even worship with all the pain and resentment in the air.

It was this decision that led us to Zion Christian Fellowship and our degree at the Columbus School of Supernatural Ministry. Both of which transformed me into the writer I am today. Aaron and I went on a second honeymoon, staying at a cozy cabin in the woods for a couple days. There we talked through our struggles and read God’s Word.

Throughout the past few years of marriage, we have overcome obstacles, matured in our Faith and understanding of God, have discovered more about each other and how God sees us. We have received direction and have come to recognize callings and giftings on our lives. Those who doubted our relationship in the past have come full circle, truly seeing God’s hand at work in our lives.

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Aaron singing at IMPACT Next Generation youth camp, 2018

We bought our first home 3 years ago and after graduating CSSM, we felt called to return to our hometown and make a difference there. Now, at Hope Family Church, our family, we get to see all the hard work and blessings of God come to fruition. Aaron is the worship leader and serves on the board, I serve on the worship team and I’m director of our preschool-kindergarten class.

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The City of Marion: As seen from the belfry of Hope Family Church

And that’s our story, so far. I know God is just beginning and I can’t wait to see what He does next in our lives. So what’s our secret? After 5 years of marriage, what have we learned? First, never grow up! The playfulness and romance we displayed at the beginning of our relationship are still very much alive, don’t get so caught up in life that you forget to have fun with your spouse (photos below for emphasis). Second, goes hand in hand with the first, laugh every day! I believe that laughing together is just as important as hugging/kissing each day. In other words, your spouse should be your best friend, and best friends enjoy each other when they get together. Lastly and most importantly, God is number one! Aaron and I are first and foremost His children, and our marriage should reflect His covenant. With this in mind, marriage remains something far deeper than any of us could understand and when problems arise we can just surrender them to Him.

Looking back has been so much fun, all these photos are only reminders of how very blessed I am. Aaron, this love story of ours…nothing compares to it. I love you forever and always ❤

For my followers! Thank you for reading, and Happy Valentine’s Day! God bless you all

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At a wedding, enjoying the photo props…I should frame this.
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Army of Two: Paintballing at Splatterpark 
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Halloween Party: I’m an Andorian, Aaron “claims” I ran over him on the way to the party…oops.

The Story of Us: Part 1

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Throughout the years, my relationship with God has grown and matured in so many ways, and it would be a shame if I left out the very person who helped me on my journey. And so, with our 5 year wedding anniversary only 10 days away now, I thought I would share our story, and some pictures/videos as well. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

It all started my freshman year of high school. I was part of a young Christian rock band and really believed that someday it would take off. We performed all over Ohio at church youth events and locally at the Popcorn Festival, Marion Palace Theater, Brookside Pool, and every Sunday at youth group, to name a few.

Things were great, but as I’ve often discovered, my idea of “success” doesn’t always line up with what God has in store for me. The band fell apart, leaving me and our bass player to continue leading worship at our youth group. We changed our name to One Way Worship, and style of music to contemporary. At that time, around 2010-2011, I met Aaron.

 

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Ohio State University: Marion Shining Stars

Little did I know, he had heard of me long before I ever met him. His dad was leading worship with me at church, and Aaron’s sister was always involved with the major youth events. Aaron picked up the acoustic guitar and it wasn’t long after that he joined our small youth band. Oh, how I teased him! playfully of course. I remember our violinist and I drawing funny pictures on his sheet music to make him laugh.

 

I only thought of him as a friend back then, since he was dating someone at the time and I was just getting over a relationship that had really damaged me. Not to mention the fresh sting of having the rock band dream crushed. I had decided to stop looking for “the one”, and finally released it all into God’s hands. He must know who’s the right match for me right? As time passed, even that band fell apart, leaving Aaron and I the last ones standing.

 

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Radio Station: 95.1 The Rock

 

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Marion Talent Show: Blue Fusion
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Opening for Kerrie Roberts

He became my best friend, and to my amazement, he always wanted to be where I was. He was a Godly man like his father, kind-hearted, not easily angered (still have never seen him truly angry), and funny! Talking to him was as easy as breathing, and worshiping together, despite all the band failures, just seemed right. It was our common ground, something we shared and enjoyed fully.

With Aaron on acoustic and me singing, doors just seemed to open for us. We played on the radio, our local TV station, opened for Christian singer Kerrie Roberts, continued playing at the Popcorn Festival, led worship for One Plus God (mission group), and signed up for local talent shows when we came across their flyers. Eventually, we even wrote and recorded our first song, “Someday,” as well as a few others. My aunt, Kim kindly created a video for the song and posted it on youtube.

December 2011, with our past hurts behind us, we started dating. It was just the next logical step, we were already inseparable and people began to associate us accordingly, speaking to us as a whole, always assuming we were both coming, leading, going, serving etc.

I graduated high school in 2012 and from there, time began to fly. Aaron and I were leading worship at our new church and were quite involved in its other functions and events as well. I was attending college for a social work degree and Aaron was going through pastoral mentorship.


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In all that busyness we still found time for each other, and on one such occasion as I was dropping him off at his apartment, he paused and asked, “if I asked you to marry me, what would you say?” I remember smiling and without a doubt replying, “I would say yes!” It wasn’t a question, God had brought us together and Aaron was the one I couldn’t imagine life without.

 

 

 

 

 

A Gut Feeling

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“Never ignore a gut feeling, but never believe that it’s enough.”

-Robert Heller

It was a feeling that became a thought. As I entered the room I could sense it, this anxiety. Like electricity in the air, or a bomb about to go off. My body tensed, and I felt the need to escape, to protect myself from whatever impending chaos awaited between these four walls. Is this intuition? A gut feeling? I forced myself to wait and sure enough, a fight ensued and everyone turned in shock at the sight as two men tackled and fell to the floor in a mess of limbs. Didn’t the others feel the violent emotions beforehand? The negative energy? The men were pulled apart and the feeling of anxiety ebbed away with the calming of their emotions. The room was at peace again.

As a child, I remember what it felt like to have these feelings of intuition. And now, as an adult, I’ve become even more aware of the emotions at work around me, in the seen and unseen realities. Can we always trust our gut? I don’t believe so, there have been many times I had needlessly worried or felt some sort of dread that ended up being baseless. I believe that our emotions can easily take over and if we allow them they can even obscure our ability to reason and think clearly. In other words, balance is key.

God created our minds, our hearts/emotions, and our senses that take in the information around us. The natural body reacts emotionally toward circumstances, while the soul, surrendered to God, filters emotion through the lens of its beliefs, such as Faith and Hope. Therefore, we can experience momentary sadness or worry toward a circumstance, and yet deep down, be hopeful and certain of the Truth we have stored there.

When it comes to intuition, the Bible does warn us of it’s potential to be misleading. Without the Holy Spirit as our guide/filter, we can be swayed by another spirit, the devil who loves to stir up such emotions in the hopes that it will lead us away from the truth.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” –Proverbs 16:25

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” –Ephesians 6:16

That being said, a gut feeling from a heart surrendered to God isn’t something we should take lightly. The Holy Spirit often speaks through stirrings of the heart, and He gives us a sense of discernment. The more we become aware of Him and the unseen reality where angels and demons exist, the more we become in-tuned to those powers at work to either protect and build us up or attack and tear us down. Nothing is superficial, we aren’t fighting against people, the flesh and blood, but against the evil ones in this world seeking to take us captive (Ephesians 6:12). And so we must listen to our feelings and bring them before God, that they would be passed through discernment and weighed as either inconsequential or a window into something more.

“Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy. The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don’t know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.”  –C. Joybell

“When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.” –Kahlil Gibran

Keep a journal, pause and reflect when you feel that “gut feeling” and don’t be tempted to let those feelings take control of you, but pray and seek God’s guidance, dismissing what He dismisses and digging deeper when He says, “there is more to discover here.” Who knows, perhaps you will begin to catch satan in the act before he even has a chance to strike. Ignoring the reality of God, the unseen spiritual reality, doesn’t make it go away but ultimately cripples us. We become blinded to attack and those who are blind to an attack may just strike the wrong people in defense. Becoming more aware is always a good thing, so long as we realize our place in this realm as children of God. No demon has the power to destroy our inheritance, and any power they have at all is only what we give them. Therefore, remove the veil from your eyes and prepare to fight the very one who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. Fight him right where he is, in the spotlight, no longer whispering in the shadows, the true enemy of mankind.

Have you ever had a “gut feeling” that came to pass?

Do you have the gift of Discernment?

 

 

Chosen to Lead

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“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

-Romans 13:1

Lately, I’ve been reading the book of Daniel and I am amazed at not only Daniel’s faith but his respect for King Nebuchadnezzar, a vile ruler who hardly deserved such treatment. Especially after conquering Judah and taking its people captive. He was a man who loved power and was all too ready to destroy anyone who challenged his authority.

Over and over we see King Neb challenge Daniel’s faith and threaten his people’s lives over decrees, dreams, and even a manmade god of gold. And the outcome? Daniel and his friends always overcome, proving that our God is supreme. Even King Neb cannot ignore God’s power and he rewards Daniel for his prophetic abilities and his unshakable faith. Daniel, throughout all of this, remains respectful to the authorities in his life, both God and King Neb, with God as the supreme authority.

King Neb was an evil man, he believed in pagan gods and yet our Lord sought to remind him that his title as ruler was ordained by God and could be taken away by God. I thought He only ordained the good rulers of the world? Apparently, this isn’t so, and we must be careful that we do not judge our rulers or disrespect their authority over us because in doing so we go against God’s divine rule.

“Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:2-4

First, I want to clarify that no ruler has been perfect, just as no man is perfect. Just look at King David? He made some rather impeachable mistakes and yet God used him despite this and through David’s reign, the Ark of the Covenant was returned, King Soloman the Wise was born, by which the land prospered, and construction of the new Temple was completed. I also want to clarify that no matter what, God is our supreme ruler. Daniel obeyed his king only when the king’s decrees didn’t go against God’s, and even still he didn’t slander the king.

God only uses broken vessels to lead, why? because that is all He has to work with, we are all broken, sinful, and not cut out to lead on our own. A divine plan is at work around us, and even though our prayers and our votes hold power in this matter, God’s ultimate plan, events as prophesied by Daniel, will come to pass. Our job is to save souls, to pray for our chosen leaders, and to repent on behalf of our country/leaders sins. We are to plead with God just as the prophets of old did for the forgiveness and grace of their people.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  –1 Timothy 2:1-4

The reason I share this is that there are a great many Christians who withhold their prayers and refuse to submit to the present authorities in America. To submit, I do not mean we must “agree” with every decision made by our leaders, however, their ruling gives them the power to make decisions we cannot, and our job as Christians is to pray, offer divine counsel when it is asked of us, and to respect the ultimate authority of God who ordains every king.

We are not Christians simply living in America, we are American Christians, that means we identify with the people of America, we are patriotic in that we stand for the values and morals America was built upon, and we seek repentance, we pray for our country because we believe in it’s potential and are willing to fight for it.

When we pray we shouldn’t say, “God forgive them…”, but, “God…forgive us.” That may seem like a bold statement, and to be honest, it is hard for me to grasp. How can we repent of sins like abortion, when we have never committed them ourselves? We cannot call ourselves Americans, taking up the title of a country that has committed those crimes, without taking such sins upon ourselves. When we say the pledge of allegiance, we make a vow to stand for our country, regardless of it’s spiritual and political state.

Not born in America? Even if you are an immigrant or refugee, the moment you submit yourself to a specific country and it’s government, you are, even if temporarily, considered a part of its people. Through honor and hard work, Daniel won favor and experienced divine provision and success under King Neb’s rule. Jeremiah 29:7, though speaking about exile, shares an interesting perspective.

“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

God doesn’t pick sides, He doesn’t love one country more than another, He responds to those who pursue Him, those who cry out to Him. No matter where you are, you are surrounded by God’s children, unique in their own ways, and yet, all created by the same hand that formed everything else. Don’t forget that! The reason America has prospered is because of the great men and women of God who established her. I believe that if we continue to erase the fundamental values that America was built upon, we will see less of God’s favor upon our country. Why has it taken so long for us to start to lose favor?

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…” -Deuteronomy 7:9

Are we still living in the promised blessings of the faithful Christians who started America? Maybe, it could be a possibility, and yet that does not mean God is blind to the societal changes, the murder of innocent babies, the destruction of morality and family. All of these sins can only be made right through true and utter repentance.

So I challenge you, instead of judging America, instead of posting our political opinions on the social web and spreading slander about President Trump, let’s try a different approach, I mean let’s face it. Has doing any of the above made any difference? If anything it has just stirred the pot of hatred and derision instead of love and hope. The new approach is this, and it’s the most important commandment in fact, as one man answered Jesus in Luke 10:27-28:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

We should be above offense, above arguing and having the desire to be right in the sight of man. What does it matter if we are right? if that fact doesn’t save lives than it only boosts our self-esteem. Where is the love behind our words, our actions, and our thoughts? How can we change a world if we are also one with its tactics? Christians should stand out, not in voice and angry judgment, but in love.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:35

Love has always been the answer, mirror Jesus in this and many lives will be transformed, truly. Pray for your country, it’s leaders and your fellow people, be a voice of love in a place that is devoid of it, and it will shine brighter than anything else, drawing hungry souls, thirsty hearts, in ways only the love of God can. This is how we transform the world, this is how we bring heaven to earth.