“What’s Your Story?”

People are always asking, “What’s your story? How did you get to where you are?”


Really, what is a story? One of the definitions on Dictionary.com defines story as “an account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something.” But when I tell stories, I don’t want to just recount something. I want people to EXPERIENCE something, or rather SOMEONE. When people read my story, I want them to know that God exists, or at least that I believe He exists. I want people to know that I’ve experienced healing through my faith in Jesus Christ and that He has been more than faithful when I was the worst person on earth. I want people to know that they can experience this same thing I have and it grieves me to see so many people, especially my friends on Facebook, continue to live life half-heartedly or in total darkness.
There’s a funny thing about darkness though; you don’t know it’s dark until someone turns on the light. I’ve been called to turn on the light, to help people see what God is truly desiring them to do. I’ve seen what He has for my life and I FEEL Him with me every moment… and then I turn around and see someone so bound up in their past mistakes that they don’t know how to function. They don’t know how to go from darkness to light. I’m realizing that my job is to lovingly and gently take their hand and lead them to the light. To the Only Light.
I know everyone doesn’t want to go, and that’s ok. I can’t fix the world. But I can fix MY world. If I can make just ONE person in my life happier and more free, have I not done that? Because one person meant the world to Jesus, so one person means the world to me.

Your story matters. Your life matters. Let your story shape your life, and let your life change other people’s stories to be visions of hope for the future of the world.

My pain and healing 

I’ve experienced a lot of pain and hurt this year. The loss of my dad being on the top of that list.
But lately I’ve realized that I don’t feel a lot of that pain like I used to. Sure, I still think of my dad on a regular basis. I imagine he’s watching over me and laughing and crying right along with me. I imagine he’s sad that he left me, my mom, my brothers and everyone else behind. But that pain I had those first few months isn’t really there. 
Talking about it so openly like we did prior to any deaths happening helped a lot with the coping process, but (and I’m about to get super spiritual right here) I believe the biggest reason for me was the presence and power of God in my life. 
I moved to Kansas City, MO to go to World Revival Church and to be in the presence of God. To learn more about Him and His ways and to draw closer to Him and learn how to really maintain that relationship no matter what.
I was in the last quarter of my first year of going to their School of Ministry when my dad died, and I had lived in KC and been going to the church for a year and a half almost before that. That’s a year and a half of losing myself in the greatness of God; of learning to trust Him and to find peace in Him no matter what the circumstances. 

I looked back over the confessions of faith I had to write for my first quarter in one of my classes and realized all of them had to do with me trusting God and resting in Him. I used Psalm 63 more than any other verse or passage of Scripture… And this was around 7-8 months before my dad died. 

Even then, God knew what was coming. He knew that I would need to trust Him wholeheartedly and rest in Him and He helped me know where to go in His Word to learn about that. 
For the entire first week I cried just about every night after my dad died. I couldn’t understand why he did it. Why didn’t he reach out? What could I have done differently? Didn’t he realize there were SO MANY people that loved him and cared for him and were touched by him? I could go on for the rest of this blog with the list of people that helped me and my family cope, whether individually or as a family. 
Just in the last two months I realized I haven’t cried because my dad’s not around. At first I thought it was because I had become calloused… And then realized calloused people don’t usually see their callousness, or have as much joy as I do. I wake up in the morning and I’m excited to face the day, no matter what comes. Because I know Who my Daddy is and He’s gonna be there for me every step of the way. Because He’s always been there for me, and He will never leave me. Earthly people will fail me; it’s a fact of life. But my Heavenly Father, my Papa, He’s always there for me. 

Encounter Retreat 2015

 

I had signed up to go on this retreat at church and all the way to the campground the car I rode in was full of excited girls. After we got to the campground and got “registered” with our respective houses, we decided to go see our cabins. I was so excited! I’ve only been on one, maybe two, “retreat” trips with my church and I enjoyed those times immensely. And then I walked into the cabin. Oh boy, I thought. It was probably my worst nightmare in regards to living quarters and it was small to boot. I knew there were going to be 8 young adult women sleeping in cabin that was probably smaller than my living room at home. And then of course there were the bugs… And spiders… And more bugs. I had originally wanted a top bunk prior to knowing what exactly I was walking into. Hesitantly, I picked a top bunk, but then one of my cabin mates (who had been there slightly longer than I) mentioned rat droppings too. I shook my head remembering all the times I told God I would never sleep in a place I knew rats lived. So much for that, I thought.

Basically just the first afternoon was super character building as I had to learn to get over my irrational fear of bugs and spiders and just enjoy myself and receive what God had for me there. That was hard, but by the end of the first day, I was noticing the bugs… But not being quite so freaked out about them. I knew Jesus would keep me safe because He allowed me to go there. So I overcame and remembered that I am MORE than a conqueror in Him.
The second day… Heh, well the leaders didn’t hold anything back activity wise. We had an “Amazing Race”, and I can probably speak for the group when I say that we were all amazingly tired after that… And most of us are definitely still sore. At the end of the Amazing Race though I noticed a shift in the way we all spoke to each other. We had been put into teams simply for the games we played, but by noon on Friday (closer to the end of the Race), we were all helping each other get to the finish line, we were all spurring each other on, and we were all very tired. Haha! There was an “event” within the Race where each team was supposed to pick five fit people to run and do something… I was one of the five. And that was a really bad idea. And that was only the second event out of ten. I felt like I was gonna die. My teammates were amazing though and they definitely helped keep me going. 

Friday afternoon’s service many of us were struggling to stay awake because we had done the race and then eaten already… But it was really powerful. In fact all of the services were. Friday night’s service was when an even stronger shift happened and we went somewhere together in God. I can’t completely explain it, but “unity” comes to mind for sure. 
Saturday was the day everyone had been waiting for, but after the race on Friday, no one was as ready for it as we all thought we would be. However, when we went up the hill for our next event, we were ready.

  
What was this event you ask? A paint war. We had made shields and talked about it all weekend. Finally the time had come. It was an epic two hours… And it certainly did not feel like two hours. 
The highlight of Saturday for me though, was the afternoon service. One of the leaders was speaking and she felt that we should put into practice what had been instilled in us by prophesying to each other. Because prophecy builds up the body… And that’s what the whole weekend was about. It was about unity in the body and especially among the young adults, since this was a young adults retreat. It was so amazing to see the people that I’d come to know on a deeper level get words of encouragement or words of affirmation from God through their peers. 

Everything else that happened would take a much longer post than I want to post right now, but the last thing that stuck out to me was when the awards ceremony was taking place, we all cheered each other on, because we all worked hard to get there and we did a really good job of pulling together trough the games and events and services and learned how to be a group and be a body moving toward God and running in the same direction.
** I wrote the bit about the first day at the end of the first day and I don’t know if you can tell, but the style of writing is different. It went from “what can I get” to “what did the GROUP get out of this”. And really my mindset was totally rearranged and the difference this time is that this isn’t a one-time hype thing, the church we all attend is this way all the time. Now all we need to do is follow through and make that mark on our church. It’s our time and I know it will happen very soon… Because it starts now. **

My “new” brother

  Tonight I was sitting in my grandparents’ living room with my grandma and my mom and we were talking about the guys that live with my parents. One of the guys, Micah, has been living with them for almost 4 years and even changed his name because he loved our family so much and wanted to be associated with us.

My mom was talking about how Micah gave his heart to Jesus and about some of his story. I’m not going to give so much of a story that’s not mine, but there was a situation where people used to talk about another family member badly and one day Micah discovered this person wasn’t all that bad because HE decided to go talk to them and make amends to a relationship that almost didn’t exist.

And then I realized something: I’ve done the same thing to Micah. A while back even my brother called Micah his brother and at the time I was like, “Why would I call him MY brother? So what he has my last name? Anyone can do that, especially since he’s an adult anyway.” Part of my thinking was because of the stigma a former friend had put in my mind about how “wrong” the relationship with Micah and my mom was because they were so close due to their similarity in personalities, and the other part was because it just felt… Weird to me to “adopt” someone into my family that was an adult. 

 Even now as I’m writing this, it’s still weird to say that Micah is my brother, but don’t I accept new people into my Heavenly family everyday? So why not into my physical family line? I’ve been talking badly about him to coworkers and even to fellow church members without realizing that I was doing the same thing as that one person in Micah’s blood family who caused him to think badly of that other member. Not only is he technically part of my physical family, he’s part of my Heavenly family, so I should accept him as my brother anyway!

In a sense this is an open journal entry telling everyone that I do forgive my former friend for sowing those bad seeds of thought. Although I gardened them and helped them grow, they planted them and that’s wrong… And I forgive them. I also want to apologize to all of my friends that I’ve talked badly about Micah to. That’s as bad as my former friend because I was spreading lies and rumors of someone I haven’t come to know. Finally, I want to apologize to Micah because although he may or may not know it, I have held back so much love that I could give him because of the stigmas I continued to hold onto. No more will I hold onto them; I let them all go and I accept him as a member of the Henning’s. I accept him as my brother, because regardless of name, he’s a Believer.

Matthew 25:45– “I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.” (The Voice)

I don’t want to be the one that misses out on Heaven because I ignored my own brother, and I have in many ways by not even calling Micah my brother. 

 I’m changing that now. Today is a new day.

How flying relates to life and situations

  I took my first flight today in almost 7 years. I was a little nervous at first, but shortly before we took off I felt a peace about everything and knew we’d be ok. Most of the people around me looked at ease and that helped some too. All backstory aside, as we were flying, we flew over what looked like a plant of some sort with smoke coming out of it (we were hundreds of feet above the earth, so I can’t be completely for certain). As we flew past it I thought of all of the people who say that that little bit of smoke is polluting the earth and causing it to die.

I’m not gonna say that’s not true because that’s not the argument I want to tackle today (it is my vacation after all). What I do want to talk about is the fact that people make such a big deal out of something that’s so small compared to the size of the earth and that can be tied into situational and spiritual aspects as well.

So often we have something come up and instead of being like “oh it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of life,” we MAKE it our life. We think about it until it consumes our entire minds, we lose sleep over it, we might even lose friendships. Whatever “it” is, we let it win… In the moment. As people we do get over things eventually, and that is absolutely fantastic. In the moment however, we lose a lot over this little bitty situation. 

  There was a conference at church recently about warfare and deliverance (I’m not going to be talking about that either), but I love what one of the speakers said. In essence he said as Believers we should be looking DOWN on our circumstances because we’ve been raised up with Christ, and many times we’re looking up at them as if they’re giants when really they’re ants. We so easily forget Who is on our side and Who we belong to. I am SERIOUSLY flying above this earth and I can tell you, it’s pretty big. If God made that and it fixes itself pretty well, then I’m sure He’s got your back… No matter what your situation is.

“Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you.”

I have been called to write?

 

Writing is teaching

 
A little while back, I posted a blog called “I have been called to teach” talking about how God has been calling me for years to be a teacher, but I essentially ran from the idea because I pretty much am afraid to have the title “teacher”. Mainly because in the Bible it says teachers will be judged more harshly than anyone. I’m not running from that so much anymore… I teach when I can, although the times are few right now.

However one thing I’ve been struggling with lately is being a writer. Somewhere in my silly little head, I felt like I could only have ONE calling… Being a WRITER and a TEACHER would, in my mind, make two. 

And that’s not completely wrong. They CAN be and many times are two different callings.

Then there are people like Heather Eschenbaum. She doesn’t like being called a “teacher” for the same reason I don’t WANT to be a teacher, so she calls herself a “sharer”. Unlike me, she’s written and published a book on fasting– about the right and wrong way to do it– called Fasting Is Not About Food.

I have to be honest, I have yet to read the book all the way through, but I have had the honor of sitting under her in the World Revival School of Ministry this past year and I’ve gotten MUCH if not ALL of the teaching that is in the book. Along with my classmates, I’ve had the privilege of hearing how the book has changed lives already, and not just in how to fast, but also in how to walk with God and experience freedom.

A series of events from last night and today have helped me realize that I can have “two” callings… Because they are the SAME calling. I have been called to teach THROUGH my writing! (Did you feel me get slapped in the face?)

Now that’s not to say I won’t also teach without it coming from a blog or a book, or I will only write non-fiction books and not teach (besides, I’ve read quite a few fiction books that have helped my spiritual walk more than most non-fiction). I’m just starting to realize that it doesn’t have to be either/or, because the Kingdom of God is a both/and Kingdom.

I am both a child of God AND a warrior princess. I am both a spirit being AND a physical being.

I know I’m not the only one to struggle with this. Even being a wife AND a mother are two “different” callings but they come from the same person and both require all of that person’s strength, loyalty, wisdom and love… Just in different ways. Or being a husband AND a father. Or a student AND a teacher.

Which is where I’m at. Therefore, I have been called to teach… And to write. Many times those will intersect I believe… And maybe there will be times when they won’t. No matter what, I will always write what God has put on my heart.

 

Be A Chair

recliner

On Friday, school did NOT go according to plan, but it was very powerful and exactly what we as a class needed. It started off with a classmate talking about how he had a vision of God telling him basically to be a chair. There is no need to fight, now is just the time to sit and do nothing. Just enjoy God and Who He is and what He’s done. Through that, there would be freedom from some of the addictions this man was dealing with. The teacher made mention that this period of time was a time for a lot of people (in the classroom, but I’m noticing for friends in my life) to just be a chair. “What do chairs do?” She asked us. “Nothing! They just sit there.” There is a time to fight and fight, and even to claw tooth and nail for something, but then there are just times when God says, “OK, you’ve done enough. Now just sit there and enjoy Me. I’ll handle the rest.”

Then Autumn started talking about the verse in the Bible that says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” Christ set us free so that we would have the freedom to choose. If we have addictions, we aren’t in control of them, they control US.¬† When we are set free, of course we have the freedom to choose, but we are meant to use that freedom to choose LIFE, and not death. Being freed from an addiction or thought is like being freed from jail: we now have all the freedom in the world. The real question is how are we going to use that freedom? The main thing is we give Christ the keys to that jail cell. Sure we have control of our lives, but by having the freedom to choose, we as Believers should choose to let our King Jesus Christ have the keys to our life.

One of the few notes I have down almost word for word that Autumn said is: “Pursue until you get Jesus and if you slip up, then oh well.” The point is to keep going NO MATTER WHAT.

Bondage is not a reality, it’s an addiction and one that many Believers struggle with. One that Jesus died to set us free from. We don’t need a 12-step program to break free, we just need to be a chair. I was texting a friend who’s been struggling with an addiction for some time and coincidentally (not really, but I can’t think of a better word) texted me on Friday evening about how they felt their life was headed in the direction of one in bondage. I told them something from class that goes a little like this: “By saying no to our addictions, we give them more power over us.” My pastor preached on it some time ago (I need to see if I can find it) on the power of “no”. What we need to do INSTEAD OF saying no to the addictions and bondage is to say YES to Jesus and to who we are in Him as children of God who are saved, set free and set apart for His use only. I don’t really know (I only know what I’ve been told over text) how well it helped my friend out, but I know if this is really applied it can change your life just like it did my classmates.

Speaking of which, I will finish telling you the rest of Friday’s story as a nice way to close out this post. After having taught on addictions and freedom for over an hour (which is nowhere close to what she had intended to talk about), she finally decided (contrary to my classmates’ view, it only took Autumn about 30 seconds to decide if she was going to teach or minister to those who needed it) to push the tables and chairs back so she would have room to pray for those who needed it. I love how she worded the “altar call” too: Who wants to be free for Christmas? I was honestly shocked to see how many people responded and how quickly. Because I was not one of the people needing any ministry Autumn “deputized” me and a few others to be intercessors and to stand behind her and to help give the extra push. Almost as soon as she started praying I almost fell over because of how strong the Spirit of God was in that room. Within maybe 45 seconds no one who was being ministered to was left standing and a few of the intercessors helped take a few of them deeper into freedom by going over to them and holding their hands and praying specifically with them. Autumn was still ministering to a few people so I stayed up and did more of a “general” prayer, where I wasn’t over any one person but I was still pushing for the presence and power of God to touch and change lives. It was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC to see God work that way and I even started laughing while still in the room thinking about how awesome God is and I was even humbled that I got to be a witness of what He did that day. It was great to hear testimonies from a few of my classmates in their blogs (which I will link to in a moment), but don’t forget the reason I wrote this blog.

It was for you; the one struggling with that addiction, the one struggling with those thoughts of inadequacy. Just stop. Don’t struggle, and don’t fight. Just be. That’s all God wants you to do right now. Tell Him: God, I don’t want to live like this anymore. I choose to just be in You. You have called me and set me apart and I set myself apart for Your use only. Thank You for setting me free, Father. But don’t use my words. Use your own. Write out a confession of who you know you are in Christ. Print 10 of them out and put them in places you’ll see them so whenever you feel yourself start fighting, just remember who you are in Him and He will do the rest. Be a chair.

Links to aforementioned blogs:

Stephanie Carr:

Danielle Collins: