Testimony time finally came last night at church. Joe has been telling us teens to always be ready with a testimony. I had one I'd been wanting to share for a few weeks, but didn't want to go first. There were only a handful of people in church last night, and most everyone had already said something. So I guess it was my turn. I asked the Lord for strength to get through what I felt like sharing with my friends, my church family. Standing up slowly and taking a deep breath, I began. And that was about all I did. After the first two sentences, all my emotions swirled around inside and I couldn't go on. Making what seemed like a good ending, I sat down - utterly frustrated with myself. All the rest of the night I kept thinking to myself, Why couldn't I just say it? Why?
Which is why I am writing now. Words come easier for me when I don't have to stand in front of people. I can express myself much better this way; plus, not only you get a chance to read it, but hundreds of others. Here is what God truly put on my heart ...
Being homeschooled makes it somewhat difficult to find good Christian friends. As you know, our church youth group is rather small, and it just got two people smaller (if that makes any sense!). Which is one of the reasons yg has started canvassing once a month. We will go out every first Wednesday of the month with fliers for our next teen activity, and invite our friends. Then we are hoping they will get interested in coming to church. Chelsea and Kay, the two girls who left for college recently, were some of those good Christian friends. I didn't want to let them go, but there was nothing I could do to stop it either. Actually, I didn't really want to stop them from going where God wanted them, just keep them here for a while longer.
The minute I said my goodbyes to my two amazing friends isn't when the pain settled in. No , I wasn't thinking yet about how long they would really be gone for. I pushed all thoughts of them from my mind and got busy with other things. I wanted to forget. But being the human that I am, I couldn't cut off the thoughts that came rushing to my head Thursday night. My friend told me that whenever I started thinking about Chels or Kay to pray for them. I began in prayer, ended in tears ... if you could call it an ending. The next few days were terrible. Every time I wasn't doing something they would come to mind, and the pain came back.
That's when I finally went to the Lord for His help and strength. I can't put into words the peace He's put in my heart this past week. I've been reading my Bible in the morning before school. Not just flossing over it like I used to, but really understanding each individual verse. I try to pull out a verse each day that sticks out to me at the time, write it on a sticky note, and put it on my desk. After I read I pray. My prayer life has grown tremendously since the mission trip this summer. I can talk to the Lord about anything - absolutely anything - and He's there to listen. God had a purpose for my friends leaving, and I'm seeing that now. Most importantly is so that Chelsea and Kay can become more independant and study what they will need for their life. Personally though, is so I can draw closer to the Lord. I was telling this to Mrs. Latham last night. When my friends were here and I was having a rough time, I would go to them for advise and answers. I would pray, yes; but not in the way I should be. My prayers would go something like this: Lord, please give me the right words to say to my friends so they can help me through this. I should have been coming to Him first, asking for HIS help. Now that they are gone, all I have is the Lord - and He is all I need!
As soon as I realized this and began asking for His direction is when the healing came. There were so many adults who cared enough about me to say something of encouragement. Becca said to reach out to others who are hurting and be a friend to them, which is my goal for this new school year. Meredith gave me the idea to write each friend at college every other week, and to keep busy. Tammy and many others said they would be praying for me. Then there were people that came into my life that I never dreamed of being friends with. First was Molly. She accepted my friend request on Facebook a while ago after seeing her at Lizzie's graduation party. That's about as far as it went until a little over a week ago. I posted a status message on Facebook, and she commented on it. So I sent her a message, and she sent one back offering her friendship. Then there's Claire, Chelsea's friend from back home in Wisconsin. She was the only one willing to keep me posted on how Chelsea was doing, and I hope to be better friends as I get to know her better this year. Javier is another blessing from the Lord. I miss Mexico more than I can say, and was discouraged when I wasn't getting any replies back from people I had met there. I looked through the Latham's friend list (can you see now the reason I said I was Facebook crazy? lol), finding everyone I could remember meeting. A few days after I got back home from the trip, a friend request came from Javier. I never really talked to him while in Mexico, but he was always helping with projects or VBS during the week. We started talking over fb chat, and are now using MSN - mainly because it works better :) From talking to him for just a few weeks I can see the Lord in His life. He has a heart for missions, and wants to do whatever God calls Him to do. Last but certainly not least is Linda Garrison. She also sent a friend request just a few days ago. She seems to be related to half of the members in our church in one way or another! But what a blessing. Goes to show that others ARE watching what you do, many times without your notice. Mrs. Garrison sent me a message about a family member she was concerned about, as well as encouragement to keep walking with the Lord.
God has given me above and beyond what I deserve, and for that I am thankful beyond messure. I want to keep growing in prayer, through reading my Bible, and in talking to friends who will be there when I need it most ... even sometimes when I feel I don't need anyone. Thanks again for taking time to read this. I hope it has helped you to see a bit more into my life and heart.