Oh friends, I need you to stop what you're doing right now. Grab a fresh cup of coffee, light a candle, turn on a lamp and get under a cozy blanket because I have a treat for you today.
I want to introduce you to my friend Amy who is such a wonderful follow over on Instagram. Her feed oozes Jesus and feels like a warm hug all at one time. I can't wait for her to share with you.
Amy, tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
If I tell you I am a Tennessee girl born and raised, that might go ahead and tell you a little about me. I have a strong southern accent. I love country life. I was raised saying yes ma’am and no ma’am and will hold the door open for you and let you go in front of me.
I don’t drink sweet tea but I do love pinto beans and turnip greens. I love country roads and country music and if I could have met anyone before they left this earth it would be the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. I consider myself young at 53. I’ve been married almost 32 years and have three adult children who I homeschooled from start to finish minus one year of a Christian school when mom needed a little break. Yet I still volunteered at the school. Yes, I love being a mom.
And I also love Jesus. I know you expected me to say that, but I do. I really love Jesus!! And the older I get the more in love with Him I fall and the closer I want to walk in fellowship with Him. Not just knowing Him with my head but knowing Him with every ounce of my being. Did I mention that my husband introduced me to Jesus? Thank you Lord for my husband.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you had to choose to believe God - even when you didn't want to or feel like it?
If I were to give you one word to describe me it would be encourager. I would, in fact, go as far as to say that I am pretty darn good at it. My boldness in being able to say that comes from the pure fact that encouragement is a gift from God. It is He who gave me this gift.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. It has always been easy for me to see the good in others and the beauty in those around me. God has put in me a strong desire to call that out in people.
I am thankful that I am able to offer my words in a way that people receive as a gift and not as someone who is just throwing out half hearted compliments. I often thank the Lord for giving me eyes to see people the way He does and for helping me to present what I see in a loving and understood way.
Now, let’s take this a bit further. As good as I have always been at seeing the value in others, it took me a number of years to see my own value. I struggled with not feeling good enough in so many areas of my life. I compared myself to others. I spoke down about myself. I had a hard time receiving compliments even though I loved giving them. I didn’t want a birthday celebration because I didn’t feel worth being celebrated. I hung onto things I had done in my past and let them somewhat define me even though those things were nowhere in my life anymore.
I began to set standards for myself that God hadn’t even put on me because I was trying to fit a part that I thought I was supposed to be playing. You know the one…”oh she’s a good Christian woman”. She doesn’t swear, doesn’t drink, yet she judges people who do. She never yells at her children and would never go to bed angry with her husband. Yes, that lady. The one who pretends to have it all together but inside she is a big fat mess with chains wrapped around her struggling to find freedom. That lady was me.
And then I heard a sermon!
The sermon was talking about living in bondage. Living with chains. My pastor actually had chains on the stage that day. I bet you already know what’s coming, don’t you? This girl was about to be set free from the chains of perfectionism, people pleasing, shame, guilt, and pride. Yes, most of this was rooted in that terrible sin of pride.
I was hearing things I had never heard before. I was living in a man made box of trying to please others, trying to be the perfect wife and mother, and trying to achieve a level of perfection that I thought I was supposed to achieve because it’s what I thought other people were living. I wasn’t trying to live a life pleasing to God. I was trying to live a life pleasing to what I thought others expected of me. Boy, was I missing the mark. And I was missing living the fruitful and abundant life God wanted me to live.
I was walking around with chains on struggling to survive spiritually and absolutely not growing in my relationship with Christ. Why was I put on this earth and what was my purpose if what I had been doing wasn’t it? I had no idea that the very things I kept hidden for so many years would the very things that helped others find freedom in Christ. I had no idea that the things in my life that I had covered up with spiritual makeup, were the very things that would become part of my testimony.
Then he dropped the chains!! The chains fell on that stage with a sound like I’d never heard. At that moment, when those chains fell to that stage, they also fell off of me. Scales fell from my eyes and I began to see what the enemy had been doing. He was trying to keep me a prisoner to my past mistakes by keeping them hidden and not using them for the glory of God. He was trying to keep me in chains of pleasing man. He wanted me to stay in the bondage I had been in for many years. But, that day, the chains fell. I was set free and I have never looked back.
I began using the Word of God as my standard for life and not worrying about what people thought. If God was good with me, then everyone else was just going to have to fall in line with Him. I began learning for myself what the Word said about things and not just relying on others for their interpretation. I began making God Lord over my life and not man. We must remember that God is a jealous God and will not compete with anyone. (Exodus 34:14)
On that day, I found freedom. I found my worth. I saw myself as valuable. I realized that my purpose on this earth was to bring glory and honor to God. On that day, I was set free. And according to John 8:36, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”