Hi friends (and yes, I consider you readers my friends)! I am starting something new and asking you to join me for a virtual "cup of coffee", aka a heart to heart talk. As my blog has progressed, there are many of you who I do not know personally, and who do not know me. I want to change that!
I do not want to seem like some distant "blogger" girl who has it all together.
So if you will bear with me through this post, you may find that we have a lot more in common than you thought!
Yes, I do have an About Me section that if you want to get to know me a little better you can head on over and read! But for today, I want to get even more personal and share with you more about the real Faith.
I would love to talk with each of you in person, but since that's very nearly impossible, I'm going to imagine throughout this post that you and I are sitting across the table from each other just having an honest chat about life.
I would begin by telling you that it's hard for me to be honest because being honest means being vulnerable and I don't like getting hurt. In fact, I actually began this blog a few years ago and kept it a secret. I was afraid everyone would laugh at my posts and think I was stupid for trying to share my life like this.
I would tell you that I opened my blog to the public when God convicted me that I was not living out Matthew 5:15-16 "Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
But then I would clarify....there is nothing good in me that I can boast. Who I am today is only because of the grace of God and nothing more. 2 Corinthians 10:17 But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." I truly want my life and this blog to be about my boasting in the Lord.
I will be the first to admit that I fail at that. I easily become self-focused and lose my vision for sharing Christ. I get caught up in the number of followers I have, how many sales I've made on Etsy, the awesome comments that you all leave. I look at my life, my amazing hubby, the education I'm getting, the life we have been blessed with and I so stupidly begin to boast in myself and my accomplishments. But God always so faithfully reminds me of where I was just a few years back...and where I probably should be now.
You see, what you probably don't know about me is that I grew up very differently than most of you might expect. I seem like your average, have-it-all, happy go lucky girl.
And that's exactly what I'm comfortable with people believing about me.
But it's not the truth.
In reality, I struggle with many insecurities, emotional issues, confusion, and so much more as a result of bring raised in a very legalistic man led organization..To put it simply, it was a cult. So much so, that we didn't even realize we were a part of one! The lifestyle I was raised in was accompanied by harsh discipline, as well as large amounts of false indoctrination that my family blindly followed.
Well before you get any crazy images in your head, let me explain. To avoid hurting my parents and other loved ones around me, I will spare a lot of details, but will briefly share with you some of what we experienced.
We considered ourselves Christians, read the bible, prayed, and everything associated with that.
But it was all a show.
We were led by a man who told us how to look at the Bible.
Verses were twisted with such skill to mean whatever our leader wanted them to mean.
The Bible was used to abuse rather than heal.
We kept ourselves separate from the world, so separate that I never knew I was different. I thought all little girls had to have long hair, wear long dresses, and work in the house all day. We didn't listen to music, watch TV, or play normal kid computer games. I never attended school...my sisters taught me at home. I learned how to grind wheat to make homemade bread, skim the cream off the top of the milk to make butter, use our old sewing machine to make dresses,, cross-stitch, knit, be quiet, and and all the other things women were supposed to do.
This organization had a military academy, and other training seminars on how we were to live. These trainings were one of the few places we were allowed to go when we left the house. There were so many specifics on how we were to live...all set up by the organization rather than Christ.
I was taught that it was wrong for me as a woman to go to college, work outside of the home, or live on my own. In our world, I was expected to grow up, have a man chosen for me by my father, start a family, and live as a part of the organization for the rest of my life.
As you can see, life has turned out very different for me.
My family left this organization when I was about 14.
I wore my first pair of jeans on April 18, 2005.
Talk about culture shock.
I went through a time of inward rebellion. We left the church we were going to, I lost everything familiar to me and felt as though my whole world was turned upside down. I was confused, hurt, alone, and mad at God for all he had allowed me to experience during those years as a part of the organization..
I was emotionally scarred and it took me a long time to get over my bitterness at God and my parents.
It is by nothing other than the love and grace of Jesus in my life that has healed me from my past. It is not explainable.
It has taken me years to learn about life and what a true relationship with Christ is like. Some things still don't come easy for me.
To this day, people still get a kick out of the things I haven't seen and done because of the way I was raised. But I love it. It's who God has allowed me to be and I wouldn't have it any other way.
So you can see, friends, why I believe it's a miracle that I am where I am today. When I share my story, people tell me that I should probably be a bitter atheist with severe emotional disabilities, living in sin, and miserable.
But God used many people in my life (my hubby being one of them) to teach me about true love, forgiveness, and true Christianity. I'm still a work in progress and learning how God wants to use me and my life.
One thing I know, is that God did not allow my past experiences for me to hide them and pretend I'm something or someone I'm not.
I've been hurt, confused, lonely, and lost, just like most of us have been at some point or another. I'm struggling through this life just like you and I'm blessed to have the friendship and support of so many of you.
I am a work in progress. Aren't we all? I'm so grateful for the work God has done in my life and is continuing to do even now. I hope you were blessed and encouraged by my honesty.