Jul 7, 2009

100

The pressure's on...

It's my One Hundredth Blog Post.

I had big plans.

One Hundred Things You're Dying to Know About Minister Grace
or
I {heart} Minister Grace t-shirts for all commenter's,
or
Minister Grace's Favorite Posts by Other Bloggers,
or
a Minister Grace Blog Button.

But then I examined my motives and my heart.

All of these ideas brought glory to me me me.

And that's not who deserves the glory.

All I've got to share with you that really matters is my testimony.

I've never done this all in one paragraph, so, here goes.

Deep breath.

Rewind to July 1997. CA Camp. Early Bird Hike.

That's me. Red sweatshirt and large glasses.
(I have no excuse for my outfit except that it was early and we'd stayed up late. Sneaking around camp, I believe.)
**Hey Kami! Sorry to ruin your day by including you in the picture!**

With the sun coming up behind the minister (John Rumble, I'm pretty sure) as he gave a talk on Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint, it hit me pretty hard. I was a sinner. I wanted forgiveness. I wanted salvation. I wanted my strength renewed. I wanted to not be so weary. (Remember, it was like 6:30 AM California time.) I wanted the LORD in my life. I was tired of hearing about him. I wanted to know Him. I remember staring into the sunrise and begging (silently, of course) for Jesus to change my life.

And then I got up.

And walked down the mountain.

And never said a word to anyone, because I had a plan.

Baptism could wait, because I wanted to graduate high school first, and get married, and do this, and do that.

Almost one year later, I couldn't wait any longer, so I got baptized.

But this is where the problems began.

I still felt like a sinner. I was a sinner. I didn't feel forgiven. I still felt like me. Not renewed, not strong, still weary, definitely not mounted on wings like an eagle.

Okay, now fast forward eight years.

July 2005. Now I am living in VA, I've had both boys, my family and friends feel like lightyears away, I was sorting through some church issues, and I was in a pit. Not happy, feeling sorry for myself, smiling through some mild depression, and still feeling like a sinner. I didn't know what to do.

So I cried out.

To the Lord.

Silently, of course.

And slowly, but surely, he started lifting me out of the pit.

And He whispered,

I love you. I forgive you. I always have. I died for You!
Now get busy and get to know Me so that I don't have to keep telling you. You'll read all about it in your (practically untouched) KJV.


So I dug in. And read my bible. Really, soul-searching, Spirit-led reading. And praying. And studying. And jotting down prayers on scrap pieces of paper. And rejoicing when He heard my prayers. And getting excited about bible verses. And hugging everyone. And listening to people. And forgiving. And spending hours talking to Regina who was dealing with the same issues...

And so now...

It's 2009.

And I'm still learning, and I'm still soul-searching, and I'm still sinning...

BUT

I am forgiven! Colossians 1:12-14
I am renewed! 2 Corinthians 4:16
I am loved! Galatians 2:20
And I am saved! Romans 10:9-10
And I am confident (Phillipians 1:6) that He's not finished with me yet.

I've got a lot more to learn, and do, and say, and read...

But if He can leave ninety-nine sheep to find me, and reach way down deep into the dark hole I was in so that he can save my life, the bleating one-hundredth sheep, he can save yours.
And he died to do it.

Speaking of one-hundred....
Back to my blog.

Thanks for listening, and reading, and commenting...

I am nothing without Jesus Christ.

So, forgive me for times that I've let blog popularity go straight to my head and taken the glory for myself...

Because it really is the Holy Spirit's work in me that deserves it.

So, no t-shirts. No sirree.

But I really want your stories, your testimony, your nerdy pictures.

So comment away.

7 comments:

Betsy said...

WOW! I'm at that point in my life (my husband and i)! we love what you just had to say! it's so true!
THANK YOU!

Kami said...

Exactly what I needed to read today, because I battle with those same struggles! But...the picture was not exactly what I needed to see! I think I could have found one for you from that morning that was "maybe" a little more flattering! Ha ha...anyways, I know I never leave comments on here, but I do love reading your blog! Just wanted to say thanks for sharing and being such an inspiration! Love ya and miss ya!

Amber said...

Thanks for sharing! And just want you to know that your family here and your dear dear favorite sister in law (ME) is here for you anytime! I know the tough depression and fake smiling!! But through Christ alone we can SMILE and REJOICE!!! I love you and we all love you down here! Have a great day and keep SMILING and REJOICING for the ONE who set you FREE!!!

Amber said...

A few songs for you to look up and listen to.....Ginny Owens, FREE.....Stacie Orrico,I promise and Don't look at me.....Out of Eden, Window.......Jaci Velasquez, You're my God. Artist first and then the song!!! Enjoy!!!

alee said...

Hey Joni -
A little late but I still want to share :)...
On June 1, 2005 {when I was 8.5 months pregnant} my father was killed {pick-up accident}. I went into survival mode & surviving meant completely depending on the Lord. Every day, every hour every minute. HE WAS ALL I NEEDED. Seeking Him was my oxygen. Those days were the absolute hardest days to date - but I wouldn't trade them ...Close to the Lord is where I want & need to be still..
I still have lots of struggles & trials but I am encouraged thru them - I know that the Lord is faithful & He WILL lead me if I only let him.
{& I find that I struggle the most when I slack off reading HIS word or praying!}
Praising Him that He is merciful &
patient with us...
Congrats on your 100th post!

kelly said...

hi joni! i stumbled upon your blog throught other blogs. love reading your inspirations/testimonies. so encouraging! this post really hits hard. i felt the say way on those early bird hikes, and still struggle with it to this day. thanks for your words and posts!!
also i have a pic i'd love to send you on facebook(as soon as i send you a friend request) btw this is kelly harris(well it's hale now) =)

kelly said...

wow just reread my comment...excuse ALL my mistakes!! ;) hehe