The Hero of Your Life Story, Continued | Guest Post

Thursday, 12 November 2015

via Pinterest
Hello friends!
I am so thrilled that you are here.  Joy is away at the moment, but she asked me if I would be hostess for the day, and I happily said yes!  We may have met before– we may not have.  If not, I am so excited to make your acquaintanceship.  Allow me to introduce myself.   My name is Emily and my usual blogging home is over at Amity.  I live in a small-ish country town in Australia with my parents and my seven younger siblings – one brother, and six sisters.  

When Joy emailed me and asked me to pop over and host a little for her while she is away, I was excited (I always am – I love Joy heaps and always feel so honoured to write something to put on her beautiful blog!) but – also per usual – I sat there, my mind swimming, thinking What on earth am I going to write about this time???  After pondering for a while and coming up empty-handed, I got on the blog and looked up the post I wrote for her last year.  It was titled The Hero of Your Life Story.  As I read it, I was taken aback a little.  I realized that, though I had written it a year ago, I was only really letting it be true for me in the last few months, and am now on the next step, so to speak. 

This Sunday – the first day of November – I have been asked to share my testimony with the church at our family church camp.  I am also going to share it here.  I don’t want this to be about me – it’s not.  The Holy Spirit has been doing some amazing things in my life over the last few months and so this is really just a continuation of what I wrote last year.  I pray you are encouraged by it, and all glory be to Jesus.

My testimony really begins when I was born, for if the Lord had not tuned the ears of a doctor to a strange gurgling sound around my heart, I would not be here today to tell you the story.  I am always amazed and so grateful for that doctor – I don’t even know his name, but he saved my life.  Because he heard that noise, I was diagnosed with having holes in my heart, and was immediately scheduled for surgery.  Sixteen months and two open heart operations later, I was declared to be ‘good for now’.  I would probably need further surgery later in life, we were told.  I am believing otherwise. 

I have been blessed to have grown up in a Christian home.  I don’t remember it myself, but Mum tells me that I first asked the Lord Jesus into my heart when I was three years old.  I am thankful to have parents who have always endeavoured to instil the word of God in their children.

Allow me to insert a very important note right here: Your testimony – the story of where you used to be, how God saved you, and where He has brought you to now – is powerful.  You might think much of it, particularly if you have ‘always been a Christian’ or grown up in church.  That is a lie from the enemy.  Any life that is a testament to the goodness of God is a testimony worth telling and celebrating, because the same grace that saved the John Newton from slave trading, Mary Magdalene from demons and prostitution, and the drunkard and the addict from their past and their sins, is the same grace that protected you from similar evils in the first place. 

Growing up in a Christian home – and knowing that I had asked the Lord to forgive me at a young age – I took my salvation for granted and stuck to the very minimum of Christian living.  Actually, not even that.  As a girl, I hated family devotions – they were incredibly boring, in my opinion.  I never read my Bible or prayed except for when Mum figured out that I hadn’t done it that day and told me to go and have my Bible time.  It would usually run like this:
·      Read the devotion page in my kids study Bible as quickly as possible, skipping the scripture reading.
·      ‘Pray’ – “Dear-Lord-thankyou-for-today-amen.

Done.  I was free to go and do what I wanted to do. 
In the middle of all this, when I was nine years old, I decided I wanted to be water baptised.  Looking back, I’m not really sure why.  I think I was trying to convince some people – myself, my friends, and God – that I was a really good girl.  Somehow, I don’t think I fooled God, even if I managed to convince myself and those around me.  One thing I do know, is that I did not understand the significance of what I was doing.   I knew in my head what baptism was and what it represented, but I did not have a spiritual revelation of what I was actually doing. 

When I was about twelve or thirteen, I decided to become more faithful in my walk with the Lord.  Once again, I do not remember the exact moment, or what made me change my heart attitude.  It was probably a quiet movement of God in my life, gently moulding me, making me pliable.  At that time in our family, we were attending a different church and I was intrigued by the simplicity of the teaching that they presented.  Perhaps God used those messages to speak to my heart.  I rededicated my life to the Lord and strived to follow Him… on conditions.

In my defence I didn’t realize that I had a set of conditions that I has holding God to.   I am, by nature, very unobtrusive.  I hate to be the centre of attention, and I hate to put people out on account of me.  Somehow, though, I applied those tendencies to my spiritual life.  I didn’t want to ask God for anything and I didn’t want to grow in the spiritual gift He has given me because I knew that when the Holy Spirit starts growing and showing in someone’s life, it becomes noticeable, and I didn’t want that either.  I developed a strange sense of fear that was very strong and controlling.  It wasn’t what people would think of me, so much as it was I was scared God would use me in bigger and bigger ways that would make me unavoidable to the notice of others.  It sounds terribly silly like that, but it was very real, and I struggled against it for a long time when I recognised what it was. 

But praise God, He didn’t let me stay in that place.  With a little shove I found myself stepping forward at youth camp in August when the speaker called for all those who were afraid.  Normally I wouldn’t go forward for prayer because I was too scared, but I knew there had to be a change in my life somewhere and, praying for strength, I stepped forward. 

Another important note – God wants to use you.  Every single person has the potential to change the world, it’s just very few take their opportunities.  If you want God to use you in amazing ways, just step out and say yes.  Really.  It’s all you have to do.  James says to draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Step out and step into what He has for you.  You don’t have to have all the answers – or any at all – but just releasing yourself to the guidance of God will be so freeing and you will be amazed at what happens when you do.

I was prayed for at camp, and then I went home.   Three weeks later, I went to a women’s conference and once again, they called for people to come forward for prayer.  The speaker – Ps. Margaret – came and prayed with me.  To my amazement, she spoke exactly the same things over me that the speakers at camp had.  She was a little more detailed, but they were the same messages coming back to me three weeks later.   The main points were:

·      That old dreams I had buried and let die would come back to life.
·      That my hands would be powerful and would heal the sick and the hurting.
·      That I would receive power

And then Ps. Margaret added something else.  “You probably won’t thank me for this later,” she said with a smile as she embraced me.  She then spoke boldness into my life.  I was excited – but terrified.  I went home and thought about what it for the rest of the day.  When I was in bed that night, I wanted to pray and pursue all that had been spoken to me that day.  I was so distressed that I could feel my stomach churning and twisting.  I started to cry.  “Lord Jesus, I just need to not be afraid for one minute,” I prayed.  Instantly, everything was calm.  I was at peace both mentally and physically and I began to pray for those things I wanted to see in my life – boldness, courage and God-inspired dreams.  Since that moment, fear in prayer has not been a problem for me.  

The word about dreams and healing people was an especially exciting thing for me.   I have had some big dreams in the past involving children and orphans and adoption and so, and have been told to my face by well-meaning people that they would never come to pass.  Discouraged I stopped talking about them.  Instead, I decided to become a nurse – a paediatric nurse.  Still working with children, but more realistic for those who ask me what I plan to do.  When I got the word about healing I was thrilled.  Great!  I thought. I’m on the right track here.

Then a few weeks after that, I was talking to a friend about ministry and supernatural healing.  Something jumped within me.  I started praying and knew that God was telling me to give up the idea of nursing and pursue ministry instead.   I was so happy about that – looking back, I can see now that nursing would have smothered me.  But still, I waited.  I wanted to be sure – after all, I had been working towards nursing for some time now, and what if it was imagination running away with me?
A couple of Sundays later, the sermon at church was about worshiping in the middle – you have a word at the start of your journey and a word at the end, but where do you go in the mean time?  People were encouraged to go forward for prayer and once again, feeling lost and unsure about everything, I went.  It was our own Pastor that prayed for me this time.  Once again, she prayed for the dreams that I have tucked away.   Then she looked at me and said, “You think you’ve heard wrongly, don’t you?”  I nodded.  “You haven’t,” she said.  “You heard right.” 

That is pretty much where my story is at the moment, but how amazing is God??  Now, with ministry in mind, I am planning on begin a course at Harvest College next year called Bachelor of Arts in Ministry.  (Look it up – it’s awesome!)  Opportunities have also come up for me to join the ministry team at church.

My most common prayer at the moment is “What are you doing, God?”  I look at myself in the mirror and laugh.  Who would have thought that in such a short amount of time (not quite three months) I could go from who I was to who I am now?  I can only say – God.  Only God could have changed me the way He has. 

As I said at the beginning, I have not told all of this for attention – attention like that is something I am still find difficult to handle – but rather to encourage you, my fellow Pilgrims, and to glorify God who has redeemed us and brought us to Himself through Jesus and given us the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us.  Praise His name forever!

I am a stay-at-home daughter, home-school graduate, piano teacher, big sister to six sisters and a brother, and a follower of the Lord Jesus.  I spend my days studying for my diploma, babysitting my little sisters, playing music with my siblings, scribbling poetry, writing on my blog Amity, and doing life with my family.  In the near-ish future, I hope to do paediatric nursing and, Lord willing, get married and have (and adopt) a whole heap of cute kiddies to keep me on my toes.  :)

#DesertIslandReads | Blog Update

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Would my desert island have such a beautiful view as this little bay near our home? Please say it will!
Hello, lovely readers! Here I am at last, scribbling away at a long belated post! First of all, I've got a little blog-keeping update to share with you all. 

It's that time of the year again - November - the year is swiftly coming to a close. It's the month of scribbles, mad studying and a general determination to finish the year with some important goals tucked under the way and with a happy bang! :) Sadly, I'll not be doing NaNoWriMo this year, much as I'd love to, because of an intense study-month (cheers to all of you doing it, fellow inklings!). However, I will be taking an online-break during November, just to focus on my studies and get in those extra goals before the end of the year. I haven't been that much around blogger-land the past few weeks, so I already feel like I haven't been contributing much to my blog (which makes me sad, because I love blogging and have so many blogging ideas to share with you all!), but every now and again I just need a total break from the internet to get the job done, stay focused and think through things, enjoying living daily without other cyber distractions and procrastinations :). I look forward to coming back in December, though, Lord willing, with lots of posts to share with you, my lovely enthusiastic readers, a good amount of studies done and dusted (they're a LOT!), and with a renewed creative inspiration/enthusiasm for this happy little corner of cyber-space :)

Throughout the month, I will be off facebook, instagram, google+ and blogger. . . I'll also be mostly off my email as well, though occasionally I will check them throughout the month. If I haven't responded to your messages/emails yet, that's why, but please know that I hope to get to them soon and appreciate them (and you!) so much <3. 

Through November I will be featuring some lovely blogging friends of mine on Fullness of Joy blog who will contribute some delightful guest-posts, so please stay tuned for that! ^_^ 
Pendragon's Heir and Gilead were the biggest highlights of October!
October was a huge-reading month for me with lots of fantastic novels read - I can't wait to share them with you on Fullness of Joy, but you can check my updates on Instagram and Goodreads for mini reviews for now :D. For November, I'm hoping to predominantly read non-fiction and poetry - mostly because I feel the need to really refresh my heart and mind spiritually and emotionally, but also because. . . well, non-fiction is not quite as distracting as my fiction reads and therefore I feel less likely to procrastinate ;). Some of the books on my November TBR are Notes from Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson, The Cost of Discipleship by Detriech Bonhoeffer, Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Eliot, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Silas Mariner by George Elliot, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coldridge (both books for school), Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot, Beowulf translation by Burton Raffel, Hamlet by Shakespeare, and Recapture the Wonder by Ravi Zacharias. . . quite a pile! ;)

Speaking of books and what to read, there has been floating around the internet a hashtag called #DesertIslandReads where you share 8 of the books you'd wish to have with you if you were deserted on a desert island. I loved the idea so much, I thought it would be fun to do it as a sort of tag and share with you what books I would wish to have with me in such a dire situation. I've modified the number to 10, actually, just because I couldn't help it. . .

The whole idea is quite novel - because if I were stuck on an island with no internet/communication, my first thought should be for a way to escape or get out of my predicament  - maybe a practical handbook or guide to how to build a boat or build a shelter for myself out of palm-branches and find food (head-nod to Chesterton). But as I have a bit of an imagination, we'll pretend there's no means of escape and that I'm provided with the basic needs of life, and nothing more, and that all I really need is companionship and something to keep me engaged. Without further ado, here are the top 10 books I'd wish to have with me on a desert island!

-The Bible
God's Word is all and enough for all my longings and needs, and if I had no book on earth, but the Bible, I'd be the happiest person, because His Word is rich and powerful and Life itself! How wonderful it would be to dig up and read all those glorious chapters and study the Bible in-depth for hours, if I were on a deserted island! I've been struggling with distractions and wanting to read more committedly in my Bible-devotions lately, and I really am hoping that this online break will be an encouragement to me to set aside more time, especially in the evenings to meditate on God's Word. Daniel, David and Joseph are particular accounts that have been dear to my heart lately, and I want to revisit them so much. 

-The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I think you all know by now my love for J.R.R. Tolkien's books, and what a powerful and inspirational blessing they've been in my life. If I could have no other book aside from the Bible and one other, I'd most positively would wish to have the Lord of the Rings with me on a deserted desert island. It would be so hard to not be able to come back and read quotations from the books and reread my favourite passages and spend time in the wonderful company of my dear fictional companions - Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippen, Gandalf and Aragorn. . . Eoywn and Galadriel! As C.S. Lewis said in praise of Tolkien's book, "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart."

-The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien
I think I will need to have some Hobbit cheer in such a dire circumstance, and oh, The Hobbit is such a cosy, comforting and encouraging book! I could not part with it, I don't think.

-The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
I am positive I need Tolkien's full legenderium with me in my life, and The Silmarillion would be no exception. I read it a few years ago, but I so want to go and read it again, and just treasure the stories and characters and themes! As it also is a bit of a challenging read, it would be a perfect companion for me and give me that little bit of hope in the dark, and a refreshing ointment to a weary heart. 

-North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
While technically this may not be the most appropriate desert read (it's all about people and relationships!) this book is so beloved to me and so close to my heart, I'd so want to have it with me, and just be able to reread it again and treasure this beautiful, moving, gripping classic. It would also remind me of what life with people is like, and all the dreams and struggles and heartaches and lessons, both painful and beautiful in life. I'd want to have Margaret Hale and John Thornton as people I could revisit and see come alive on the pages while alone on an island by myself. . .

-War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 
This is rightly an epic! I've been so wanting to read this humongous classic for a while now, and so intrigued by Russian literature and Russian authors (Tolstoy, Dystovosky, etc) that this would be the perfect opportunity to dig into a story with such scope and magnitude. I loved the miniseries I watched for War and Peace, and though it had some tough themes, I was deeply moved by it as well. I like Prince Andrei especially, and Princess Maria. . . 

-Bleak House by Charles Dickens
I've been in such a Dickens roll lately, with reading David Copperfield and watching most of the period-dramas available for Dickens' book adaptions that I had not already seen before (Nicholas Nickleby, Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House. . . ). It's been EPIC, folks! I'm coming to really love Dickens' novels, and am constantly amazed by how he draws his plots together and all those characters! Wow. Bleak House BBC miniseries especially moved me - it was at times so miserable and heartbreaking, but so worth all the tears I cried! The plot, themes and characters were so rich, and the episodes so beautifully acted and filmed! I want to read all Dickens' novels now, but most keenly "Bleak House" I think. Also a perfect read because of its size #lovepicbigbooks.

-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coldridge 
I first heard about this poem recently as an assigned piece for my literature course, but I read it this month and loved it so keenly, I'd definitely like to have a piece of poetry like that with me in an island alone - it would comfort me with a reminder I'm not the only one going through a horrific odyssey, but it would also keep me from shooting beautiful albatrosses for food! ;)

-A Collection of 19th Century Poetry
Lately I've been getting more keen about reading poetry, with sampling small bits of Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, and T.S. Eliot's poetry. Much as I appreciate the lyrical beauty of poetry, it's always been something of a challenge to read and grasp fully, so I really want to develop a keener taste for poetry, an appreciation for reading it, and for the understanding of its themes. I think I'd especially appreciate a collection of 19th century Romantic poetry, and would love to dig more into such poets like Christina Rossetti. A big collection like that would be a beautiful thing to have to read and treasure on an island.

-"Morning and Evening", book of daily devotions - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
There are so many devotional books I want to read and treasure, and Elisabeth Eliot was definitely vying for a place on this list because I love her writing so much, and her books are such an encouragement for me in many of the daily struggles of my life, just in learning to wait silently and rest in the Lord patiently, learning Christian obedience and joy in Christ, the meaning of love and sacrifice. . . however, I thought perhaps something even more appropriate on a desert island would be a daily reading by Spurgeon. What gems and true spiritual encouragement/edification can be found from this giant of the spiritual faith! And look, he wrote something about solitude and silence which I think would be a great opportunity if I were on a desert island. . . ;)

"There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . " - Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

So, dear friends, that is my list of books that I'd take with me on a deserted island! Out of necessity, I've left out some of my favourite authors and books - C.S. Lewis, Rosemary Sutcliff, Patricia St. John, Jane Austen. . . but it was definitely fun to try and think of the kinds of books I'd wish to have close to me in such a circumstance. What books would you wish to have with you if you were all alone on a deserted island without any internet or form of entertainment? I tag Schuyler, Annie, Emily D, Mirriam Neal, Emily H, Cait, Ana, Jessica, Suzannah, Sarah, Joy, Jenelle, Esther, and Dani to do the #desertislandreads challenge as well, and have fun with it :D. Also if any of you would like to do this tag, please feel free to be tagged and go right ahead and do it. I'd love to see your book-lists!

Until my next post though, I'm off to my own island of studies and books and solitude. Please pray for me that the Lord will help me accomplish all my study-goals, as I'm feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment. It's going to be a busy November. . . 

Lord willing, see all in a month!