#61 “Rediscover” Coffee



Photo by Ashely Brown, Shining Light Photography 

I grew up in Vermont not going to church until sixth grade when my mom met a Baptist pastor that lived down the street from us. We started attending his church, but when he moved south we stopped going.

I knew there was something bigger, but God wasn’t significant in my life until my early thirties. I started to feel something was missing in my life. I felt like God needed to lead my life and I began to go to church. In 2008, the company I worked for offered me the opportunity to go to Australia and work. I immediately said yes, as I felt God was calling me to go so that he could heal me and prepare me for my future.

Meanwhile, one of my business clients who lived in California kept talking to me about a man she felt God was leading her to tell me about. I knew I would be moving to Australia soon so I really didn’t think it was a good time to meet someone. But on Valentine’s Day I was out with friends and they talked me into texting her and asking her for a photo of him. He was with her at the time and she sent his photo and I sent my photo back to him. I told him I would be leaving for Australia in just a couple of months. But we began communicating often.

Then my paperwork for departure was delayed and so he flew to Rhode Island, where I was living, to meet me. It was the most magical weekend of my life. I knew I had met The One. In May, I flew to California to see him and he proposed. Shortly after, my paperwork was approved and I moved to Australia.

I knew no one, but I found a church and went every Sunday. I woke up every morning and read Scripture, walked to and from work praying, and then read Scripture again at night. There was so much healing, forgiveness, and acceptance during this time. I don’t think I could have had a healthy relationship if I hadn’t had time to heal. In December 2008, I returned to the states working for the same company, and in January 2009 we were married. I was able to work from home so I could live in California with my husband who was a winemaker there.

Two sons followed and I continued to work from home for the same company, which was a true blessing. But my husband and I felt that someday we would work together in hospitality. We thought it would be in the wine business, and our church family had prayed for us and told us the same thing but that it would be something parallel to winemaking.

In 2010, we went to visit his family in South Africa. We visited wineries and one had a coffee roastery. While we sipped our cappuccinos and looked around, we both felt “This is it. This is what we are supposed to do.” Then somewhat randomly my husband met up with a friend from high school that he hadn’t seen for years and he told us about a man who was opening a coffee roastery in Cape Town. We went to Cape Town and ended up touring some very hip coffee shops. In the airport on the way home we were thinking about what to name our coffee business. There was a sign that said Daily Offerings. That was it.

In 2011, we bought a coffee roaster, put it in our kitchen, and began roasting. We both completed barista and roasting training. I began selling coffee at farmer’s markets and wine events. Interestingly, coffee roasting and wine making are similar (parallel, you could say). My husband is a soil scientist, and for both coffee roasting and winemaking, you must know about the type of soil and growing conditions and how this impacts the flavor. For both coffee roasting and winemaking, you must be able to execute the right process to bring out maximum flavor, and finally, you must have the palate to be able to taste and pick out the notes in both coffee and wine.

By 2014, we had decided California was not where our new coffee business would be. My grandparents and uncle lived in a small town in Kentucky and we visited regularly. We really liked Kentucky and felt sad when we had to leave. It felt like home. We decided Kentucky was the place and both felt Lexington was the city. My husband found a space downtown across from the convention center. After we opened, we really saw what God’s intention was. We never set out to become a “Christian coffee shop.” Our business plan was to teach people about coffee and our tag line was “rediscover coffee,” but “rediscover” meant something else. God led us to start worship nights. Some people have even accepted Christ here. One particular day we had about 15 customers and every one of them was focused on God. Pastors meeting, people praying over one another, another reading the Bible. One of the customers said to me, “Do you feel it? The Holy Spirit is so thick in here right now!” I just started crying. Even non-Christians say they like the feeling here.

We left our financial security, our jobs, our home, our friends, to start over completely. We were operating on faith. We trusted that God brought us to this place for a purpose and we see Him daily working through our business. We pray, believe, and trust in Him—and He is faithful.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#60. Bible Study Friends

Photo by Ashley Brown, Shining Light Photography 

Some people have a large group of close friends. I had one girlfriend. One. She had been my best friend for my entire adult life, which was no easy task. Being a wife, mother, teacher, and volunteering in my community and church—all while suffering from a chronic illness—had taken a toll on “girlfriend time.” Catherine had been my friend for 25 years, and while we often went months at a time without seeing each other, we spent hours on the phone at every opportunity. She knew my struggles and health issues, and she loved me anyway.

Although I had been a Christian since I was 10, I had spent little time on my own in the Word. I was busy and exhausted, but I suddenly had a strong desire to read the entire Bible. My mother encouraged me to do so by buying me a special Bible that was marked with a passage to read each day, starting at the beginning. Halfway through Leviticus, I was ready to quit. The book of Numbers sealed the deal, but God wasn’t finished drawing me closer to Him. I was invited to a Bible study during lunch at work. The leader, Faith, used a Bible reading plan called Life Journal, which included passages from both Old and New Testaments in the daily reading. The plan included journaling. I was to write down one verse each day, make an observation, and record how I would apply it to my life, and end with a prayer. By the end of the year, I had read the entire Bible once and the New Testament twice. God had begun to weave his Word into my heart, and I still continue to use that method daily.

Oh, how my relationship with the Lord changed from that time spent daily with Him! I felt Him speak to me through the passage each day. The reading was so closely related to my situation or needs each day—it was like He wrote it just for me. I felt like I finally grasped His love for me, and appreciated what a wonderful God He is! I wanted to be more like Him. I wanted everyone to know Him better. Why had I gone so long without caring to read this wonderful book and spend time with Him?! I wanted everyone to read it!

I felt God nudging me to start a Bible study in my home using this plan. “Lord, are you serious? You know how tired I am. I don’t have room for company. Why didn’t you want me to do this last year before we moved and downsized? I haven’t even painted here yet. What do I even really know about the Bible? I just started reading it.”

But quickly, my shock turned to submission. “Okay, Lord. Today, I will lay down my pride and be obedient. I am going to call my friend Catherine and get on Facebook and invite all my Facebook friends to come to my house to a Bible study. Please blind their eyes to the dog fur tumbleweeds in the corners. Please give me the strength to clean the toilet.”

I began to pray and prepare, and I invited everyone I knew to Bible study. A few weeks prior, a group of high school classmates was planning to get together for dinner and a movie. The morning of our outing, I was so convicted about the movie choice, I decided I would leave after dinner and not see the movie. Sabrina had made the same decision, and during dinner we bonded over not seeing the movie. A horrible storm knocked out the power to the mall, and no one else was able to see the movie either, which still to this day gives us the giggles. When I posted the Bible study invitation on Facebook, Sabrina heard God tell her, “You need to do this.” After some protest of her own about going to a Bible study at my house, where there would probably be “a bunch of cheerleaders from high school,” she obediently messaged me for details. Isn’t it funny how the devil constantly whispers insecurities into our ears?

At about this same time, I was feeling led to invite another former classmate, Kathy, through private message. She had just moved back to town and her girls and mine were very close in age. I could tell by her posts on Facebook that she loved the Lord. Her husband is a pastor, so I invited her with a few insecurities of my own. Who am I to ask the pastor’s wife to a Bible study? Will she be offended by that? I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years, but she came also, as did my friend Catherine.

Over the next few months, I was hit with several incredibly difficult challenges and life changes. I became more ill and had to take a medical leave of absence from my job. Then, tragically, Catherine was killed in a horrible accident. She was only 42 years old. I can’t tell you how many ways God worked tangibly in my life during this difficult time. I feel like I could write a million God stories of my own if only I could recall the many details. The most profound way He worked was providing through that Bible study, two godly, precious girlfriends that bless my life in countless ways. I often think about what I would be missing had I not put away my pride and fully relied on God to give me the strength to have the Bible study. What He asked me to do to “serve Him” was really for MY benefit!

During the dark times that followed the beginning of that Bible study, I was blessed with friends who would hold me up and pray with me and for me even when I was unable to pray for myself. He blessed me with the responsibility of a group meeting in my house that kept me committed to spending that precious time with Him. God provided every need I didn’t even know I had, and He continues to bless my life with the friendship of these beautiful, God-fearing women. While He brought one friend Home to be with Him (praise the Lord, hallelujah, thank you, Jesus!), He already had worked a plan to bring two friends into my home to minister to my broken heart. What an awesome God He is!

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#59 Resting In His Love, Trusting In His Plans

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

Undesirable, unlovable, worthless, ugly, sinful, never good enough…

What do all these things have in common? They are all LIES that have been whispered in my ear for years by the Devil—lies which I wholeheartedly believed. I’ve grown up knowing in my head that these are all lies and that my Father in heaven adores everything about me—but believing this truth was a totally different story.

I grew up singing along with Veggie Tales, chanting John 3:16, and saying my prayers before bed. I knew that Moses parted the Red Sea, Noah built an ark, Esther saved the Jews, and Joseph had a really awesome coat. Most of my life these were just stories holding no truth or evidence to how powerful, loving, and simply amazing the Lord is.

As I grew up, I was able to put on a mask and be a “Super Christian” by day, and a girl with an empty and broken heart by night. It was almost like I possessed a superpower, knowing exactly what to say in small groups, going to the right church events, posting the most inspirational Bible verses, and knowing all the words to worship songs on Sunday. Nobody knew that behind closed doors there wasn’t a girl with a heart full of joy and laughter, but a girl who was drowning and desperately needed rescuing.

My junior year of high school I started battling with depression and feeling weaker than ever. I would go to school with a smile on my face each day, and come home feeling defeated. Crippling insecurities followed me everywhere I went, a feeling of worthlessness consumed me, and my heart was absolutely empty. I was diagnosed with a mood disorder and prescribed medication, which I thought would surely “fix” me. The medication helped lessen the constant sadness, but the emptiness in my heart remained.

I realized that I needed more. I needed my Father. I came to a breaking point where I knew that no amount of medication could “fix” me and that only my Father could heal, restore, and rescue me from the life I was living. I finally took off my mask and exposed my weaknesses and struggles. It was amazing how freeing it felt to be a woman who was finally living for the Lord. I started to listen in small groups—not just focus on saying the right things, not just memorize words to worship songs but understand them, and not post inspirational Bible verses on Facebook but onto my heart. I needed to learn who I was in the Lord, and fight the lies the enemy had fed me for so long.

The Lord’s presence, guidance, and love became so evident in my life as I continually pursued a relationship with Him. I am now a senior at the University of Kentucky, and looking back at both the trials and victories I’ve faced, I see how God has always been by my side. I’ve gone through really low valleys and high mountains, but I know that I was never alone, and that the Lord has always been fighting for me. He knows my every thought and intention, and sees all my failures and sins, but loves me unconditionally. His love has healed me, given me comfort, strength, and peace.

I had let my problems and fears hold me back from glorifying Him and being the light that I was created to be for so long. I am now able to rest in His love, trust in His plans, and glorify Him in all that I do. My prayer is that through every season of your life that you passionately pursue the Lord and stand strong in your faith. You are saved, adored, and loved beyond measure.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#58 God Reached Down And Said, “I’m Here.”

 Photo by Laura Rush, Esther Bloom Photography

I was 27 years old and pregnant with our second child, already having an energetic two-year-old daughter, Lise, brightening up our lives. We had moved to Vermont from Wisconsin where my husband Jim did his medical internship and residency, so not only was I far from my family, but my husband spent long hours at the hospital.

We had joined a wonderful, new little Methodist church, and I enjoyed directing the children’s choir. As my pregnancy progressed, with each doctor’s visit my blood pressure was rising. Finally, two weeks before my due date, I was diagnosed with alarmingly high blood pressure, signaling the dangerous situation called “pre-eclampsia.” At the appointment, my doctor told me I was to go directly home and to bed where I was to stay. As a nurse, I was stunned and scared as I picked up my daughter from a sitter. I knew that this lively two-year-old wouldn’t understand my needing to be in bed. And it was only 3 p.m.—long before my husband Jim would be home.

I took Lise out of her car seat, went in the house, and sat down on the bed. I gave a simple cry out loud, a prayer of just seven words—the only ones I could think of: “God, what am I going to do?” Within literally a couple seconds, the doorbell rang. I went to answer it and standing there was a woman from our little Methodist church, Bev. Bev had never been to my house before. I didn’t know her well. But there she was, saying, “I was just driving down Williston Road (a main road that went by our neighborhood) and something told me to stop in and see you. Can I take Lise outside to play until Jim gets home?” So she did, and I laid down until Jim got home and we could make some arrangements for child care.

I truly believe every so often God reaches down into our lives to tell us, “I am here!” And God knows what we need even before the prayer comes out of our mouth! We just need to be open and alert to the possibilities. This story took me a long time to share, because it was so deeply and profoundly special to me, that it felt almost a breach of privacy to tell someone about it. The first time I told it, it was with tears. Now I love to tell it! And to this day I call Bev my angel.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#57 Rejoice And Do Not Fear Broken Things


Photo by Madeline Trent, Frames of Grace Photography

“Knowing you’re in the arms of the One and Only makes my heart ache a little less. We knew from the beginning that you were His, and we placed you in His loving hands. He alone knew the number of days your darling heart would beat, for He created it after all. I’ve never seen Jesus face-to-face, but I know He’s infinitely grander than I could ever imagine. He is so good, trustworthy, loving, and kind—but you already know that! One day He will wipe away the tears your daddy and I shed from having to let you go before we wanted to. I have big faith in the Jesus you see. He healed you right into glory, into His embrace.”

These words of love were penned in my journal on December 13, 2015 after experiencing a miscarriage the day before. Psalm 139:16 says, “You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.”

With this as our starting place, it would be my joy to have your company for a few moments, to share His grace in the brokenness.

There were some concerns with this pregnancy, and my husband and I knew our option was to trust Jesus with the worries, fears, and unknowns (Prov. 3:5–6; Phil. 4:6). Because of the concerns, I got to have multiple ultrasounds that allowed me to hear that precious heartbeat! I didn’t realize in the moment the gift that truly was, until later in the week when the labor pains began and the sight of too much red indicated there was no longer a heartbeat. December 12, 2015 was an unusually different day, a day that began with death, but a day that was hemmed in—beginning to end—with His grace and mercy, since He already knew “every detail” of my life in advance. The Lord had prepared me, through His word and the wisdom of others, to step forward into a day that I didn’t want to embrace. As the reality of our loss took root, the Lord reminded me of the powerful words of Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Years earlier, a former Bible study teacher of mine had shared how Jesus would have said those words during the Passover meal with the disciples. If Jesus could declare those words, knowing He would be shedding red on a cross soon after saying them, then He would give us the strength to live into this day. We purposed in our hearts that the day was still worth living in and rejoicing in simply because God had created it.

Months before, that same Bible teacher had also admonished us to have the audacity “to hold tight with all your might to Romans 8:18—‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’” Holding that verse closely was a soothing balm to my aching heart. Jesus knows it is scary to be us, and it was so kind of Him to have the Apostle Paul remind us that there is indeed something gorgeous in store! Also, a friend had shared with me, long before my experience with miscarriage, about a friend of hers who had lost a child at 16 weeks. Even though the loss was enormously hard, that dear woman chose gratitude. She chose to see His fingerprints of grace as she thanked the Lord for giving her that much time with her child.

As that detail of her story wedged back into my mind, I was able to see how much grace He had lavished on us as well (and I wish I could share all of it with you)! It was such a gift to be reminded to be thankful for the time God did give me with this little life. I share this story with you one year later. By the unbelievable grace of the Father, I share this story with you as another darling baby grows inside of me! I share this story with you thinking about a girl named Marie, who celebrated her birthday today in Africa (a girl we sponsor through Compassion International as a result of her sharing a birthday with our little one). I share this story with you knowing His arms of love are under me and under you.

And, do you have a moment for me to share a tad more about God’s goodness? The same month our little one would have originally been born is the exact same month that Jesus opened my womb with the gift of another life. My husband and I were stunned by the perfection of God’s timing and His sweetness to the details. As a dear woman shared with me after hearing I was pregnant, “We rejoice in the choices of our Lord! Knowing that the ones that hurt have the Healer beside of them. And the ones that bring joy have the Rejoicer beside of them! Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice!” Ann Voskamp wrote, “Never be afraid of broken things—because Christ is redeeming everything.

And Jesus is doing that right now in my story, in our family’s story. There’s so much more I’d love to share, but by now our lattes are getting cold, and the Lord has more moments for us to separately pursue this day. While it can be scary to share a glimpse of personal pain, knowing that on a human level we have a tendency to rank and compare our pain to each other’s, I pray you leave our brief time together feeling encouraged—loving Him more and trusting Him more. “O Israel, stake your trust completely in the Eternal—from this very moment and into the vast future” (Psalm 131:3).

In the words of Elisabeth Elliot, “I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.”

So, dear friend, let’s clutch our Bibles tightly, live from the truth of His promises, and love Him large through all the moments He gives us this side of eternity. You are loved beyond measure, and I can’t wait to hear your beautiful and miraculous story someday!

“May grace and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One] envelop you” (Col. 1:2b).

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#56 The Matriarch in Columbia

 Photo by Ashley Brown, Shining Light Photography

In the summer of 2015 I traveled to the mountain village of San Cipriano, Colombia. The village is secluded and there is no way to get there by road. Our plan was street evangelism and we brought 40 bags of food with us. When we reached the top of the mountain, we began sharing the gospel and passing out the food, but we quickly noticed that there were many more houses than we had planned for—60 or 70 houses, and we had food for only 40 houses. I thought about counting the bags to see how many were left, but then thought of the story of David when the Lord told him not to count his troops going into battle because the Lord was bringing the victory. God multiplied the food so that we had enough. The last house we went to received our last bag of food.

On this same afternoon, God highlighted to me a woman washing clothes on the roadside. God said, “Tell her I have called her my matriarch.” I went to her and told her I was on a mission trip and I asked if she had heard of Jesus. She had not. I shared the gospel and then told her what the Lord wanted me to say, “The Lord has established you in your house and you are looked to as your family leader—like the boss lady. The Lord wants to do a good work in you and through you and your decision to follow Christ, all of your family will follow, and through your family, your community and the nation will be impacted.” She immediately accepted Christ. She said she knew I was coming that day because she had a dream the night before, and in her dream a man told her that a man would come to see her the next day and that he would tell her about the one true God and she was to believe him and that God would do great things through her. Thank you Jesus for provision, for dreams, for pursuing us, loving us, and using us.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#55 A Daughter Of The One True King

Photo by Morgan Worley Photography

Today I decided to take the first step in faith toward taking control of my future. However, the most important thing to note is that I am NOT in control; I have absolutely NO control over how my life turns out, nor do I have any control over the circumstances and situations that have happened in my life thus far. I can’t turn back the clock and make things change and manipulate them to work out the way I wanted them to originally. And that is okay.

For the past several months or longer, I truly struggled with feeling God’s love. I could pour love out to others all day long, but I always felt so lonely, so unseen, so undesirable and unworthy of this thing called love. I would walk around with a smile on my face all day when I was with friends or family—and while I was truly happy during those moments, I always felt that something was missing. I fought my battles with that darkness in the dead of night—fighting back the LIES the Devil was placing in my head. During these moments, I never would allow my joy to be touched by this darkness that lurked in my life.

If you don’t already know, there is a difference between joy and happiness. You see, joy is eternal. It is the hope that we hold onto that we will one day see our Great Creator’s face, that peace will one day not only be something we’re searching for endlessly but that we get to feel every day we live. Happiness is temporary. You know that moment when you see a really cute dog and you get overly excited and ask the owner if you can pet the really cute dog? (P.S. you always ask to pet the dog, but that’s not the point.) If you get to pet the really cute dog, you become filled with this sense of happiness, but soon you’ll forget the dog and the feeling that you got when you petted it. Happiness is temporary; it fades. Joy does not. Joy is an all-consuming, never-ending, hope and peace within your soul. It’s that moment when you take the first sip of your hot coffee (or tea) sitting on your front porch at 6:30 a.m. when the birds are chirping, bees are buzzing, sun is rising, stars are fading, and the world begins to wake up, yet all seems still and calm.

Through my recent struggles, I began placing my worth and value in this person, or that job, or this grade. I viewed who I was and who I am through the lens of this world—wanting to be accepted by people or family, essentially holding onto the old and letting the new slip between my fingers. I began believing the lies this world told me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in the last couple of weeks—but I was beginning to have to use my toes for help.

So today, I took my first step in faith to begin living my life the way God has intended me to all along. It’s a blind walk; I don’t know the treasures that are set before me, but I do know that whatever it is, it will be magnificent. I was always that girl who believed people around me are worthy of SO MUCH; that they are worth everything the world has to offer through God’s blessings; that they are worth the best of the best. But I never believed that for myself. Today that changed. As I prayed this morning, I dropped the weight of my burdens at the foot of the cross and asked Jesus to pick them up once and for all, because I could no longer carry the hurt and the weight that was pressing on my heart. I could no longer bear being sick to my stomach, not being able to eat, because I hadn’t said my peace to that person; I could no longer bear feeling like I was worthless and undesirable. And in that moment I heard the words, “You are the daughter of the one true King; walk with that knowledge.”

God and I have played tug-of-war with control here lately. “I am strong,” I would say to myself—but in all reality, I am the weakest link, and the only reason I am as strong as I am is because I have a God who loves me through my hardheaded moments, who goes to battle for me when I don’t even know it, and who carries me when I am not even strong enough to stand on my own two feet. When you only see one set of footprints in the sand, who do you think did all the walking? I promise it was not you.

Today I found the love I’ve been longing for. In Romans 8, God shows us the extent of His glorious love. The beginning of Romans 8 talks about our sinful nature, stating that because of Jesus being sent to die on the cross for you and I, we are no longer condemned if we belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). By letting our sinful nature control our minds, this can lead to death (if we do not repent of our sins and ask forgiveness, we can be condemned to live eternal life in hell), but by letting the Spirit control our mind, this can lead us to life and peace (if we live to reflect God’s Spirit and give God the glory in all the things we do, this will lead to a life of eternal peace in Heaven). God’s Spirit joins with our spirit when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, affirming that we are adopted as His children, and that because we are adopted as His heirs together with Christ, we share in His glory—but we must also share in His sufferings (Romans 8:16–17).

These few verses showed me that even in the midst of my sinful nature (i.e., trying to take control of my life, creating worry, letting my anxiety and depression defeat me and not allowing God to do His job), He still loved me. He waited patiently for me to turn back to Him with full force. From Him constantly poking me on the forehead saying, “Sydney, I’m right here; hand it over, let me take care of it. You can’t handle this on your own”; to Him literally picking me up and carrying me when I felt like I just couldn’t get out of bed; to this point, right here, where I’ve handed my life back to Him—He loved me through it. He didn’t walk away when I got mad at Him; He didn’t leave me when I constantly doubted Him.

Today I allowed myself to “be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10b), and by doing this, I heard God speak truth into my life: Romans 8:18–19 “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are,” and Romans 8:38–39 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I found God’s love and I am so excited to pursue Him as the one true King. Today I found my worth; I found my strength, my hope, my one true love—and though I know times will come where I fail Him (in fact, daily), I am finally able to stand firm in the belief that I am not alone. I know that I am truly loved and that my future is secure. It is okay to walk a blind walk; in fact, while it is definitely scary, it is also fun. I am the daughter of the one true King, and I deserve to be treasured as such. So do you! To the sons of the one true King, you are just as treasured, just as valuable, and just as worthy of a love so great. “Only in darkness can you find the diamond.” Persevere in the darkness; allow yourself to grow closer to God in a time where there seems to be no light. It is always in the times when God seems so distant from us that He is truly just holding out His hand waiting for you to let Him help you up. Matthew 11:28 NLT says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#54 Should I Ride?

 Photo by Lang Thomas Photography

I was training for a three-day bike ride with lots of hills. The trek to Shakertown covers 100 miles and ends in Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. From over-training, I ended up with a bulging disc in my back. It didn’t look as if I would be able to ride.

In my disappointment, I kept begging God to make me well. After several days of praying, I realized I had been telling God what I wanted, rather than asking for His will to be done. I confessed and prayed that my desire was to bring Him glory. If He wanted me to stay home that was fine. But if He wanted me to go, I needed it to be abundantly clear. It was down to the wire. Would my back be well enough, and should I ride?

I prayed these prayers with tears of confession and submission to His will. A few minutes later, I opened my morning devotional to my bookmarked place. To my astonishment, in Liz Curtis Higgs’s book, Rise and Shine, I read these words, “Welcome to Simplicity. Come with me to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.” Blown away by God’s direct answer to my prayer, I went. I rode pain-free each day and was able to share the story many times with my fellow riders. To this day, I always marvel how personal God is and how He is involved in every detail of our lives.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#53 Listening Taking A Leap Of Faith

Photo by L. Smyth Photography

I have recently been praying and asking that the Holy Spirit would move in me by revealing opportunities to love others, and that when those times come, to give me the boldness and conviction of heart to act.

I am a freshman in college and over winter break I had the privilege of being able to go on a winter retreat offered by one of the campus ministries. I knew that this was a chance to have open ears for different things the Lord might want to show me through worship, fellowship, and messages, and to refocus to keep my eyes on Christ as I headed into the second semester. I was tempted to think it was a chance to get rest that was much needed, but I have been on retreats before with friends, and I knew that there would most likely be very late nights and little sleep.

During one of these late nights, I sought out one of my friends who is a staff member at this campus ministry to pray over me before I returned back to school in the spring. She pulled in another staff member to pray over me as well. Right when we were about to start, three girls whom I had never seen before approached us to talk to one of the staff members they knew. Due to the fact that we were about to start praying, the staff member asked if the three girls would like to join us in prayer. Initially I did not know how I felt about this, but it was not a huge deal. If they wanted to join, why not? There was no harm in it.

The two staff members began to pray over my life. These two have prayed over me before and when they did, I could hear the Lord’s voice and His direction over my life because of their incredible gift to hear from the Lord and speak His truth. Once again, God blew me away with the things He wanted to reveal to me through the prayer of these two.

But the Lord was not finished working in that moment. After the group had finished praying over me, one of the staff members began to speak directly to one of the three girls who had joined us. He said he felt that the Lord was telling him specific ways in which He viewed her and how she was going to serve Him in the future. She replied that he was spot on and that she had been working through these same things he had mentioned.

He then asked if we could pray over her, and she agreed. This is where I witnessed God move and work the most. People in the group begin to pray different things over her including the identity that God has given her. As we prayed, I recalled how I had been asking the Holy Spirit to move in me. I did not know this girl at all and was content to listen and not pray out loud over her. As people continued praying over her, they were saying various things that had to do with the Lord being pleased with her. I kept waiting for someone to actually say this phrase—that the Lord was pleased with her just how she is. No one ever did.

I felt my heart begin to pound and my chest get tight. I really felt like this needed to be said, but did not know if I had the place to say this over someone I had never seen until 30 minutes ago. That was it—I made up my mind that this was placed on my heart for a reason and that I needed to say it. I spoke up and said, “I know I don’t know you very well at all, but I feel like the Lord wants me to tell you that He is completely and fully pleased with you. You can stop striving. He loves you for exactly who you are and where you are at.”

As soon as I said it, the girl burst into tears. She had heard exactly what she needed to hear from the Lord in that moment. I had never experienced anything like this, where God used me so directly to influence another’s life to reveal His truth in their life. I was stunned and filled with joy. Not only did God answer my prayer to fill me with the Holy Spirit so I may be led by Him more, but He showed me that if I would just be willing to be aware of His voice, listen, and take more leaps of faith, He would show up in big ways.

I am extremely encouraged and thankful for a faithful, attentive Father. I am grateful for the prayers of the staff members who spoke truth over my life and convicted my heart. God was certainly glorified in that. But God had even bigger plans that night. He orchestrated every person in that group to be brought together for a specific purpose so that His will would be done and His Holy Spirit would move, calling His children back to Him in love. It was not I, but He that moved in hearts that night and was faithful to my initial request to be moved by the Holy Spirit to act. He is worthy of our trust, faith, and praise.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#52 You Have Never Been Alone

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

When I was 15 I fell into a relationship. Being so young, I never expected that what was about to happen over a span of three months would completely change who I thought I was. As the relationship fell into unhealthy patterns and abusive ways, I unknowingly went into a quiet and dangerous submission. I was pushed and pressured, and eventually my body was completely exploited. At the end of three months, he decided he was done.

I never spoke about what happened, and I let the shame and guilt of what we had done lay silent. I quickly accepted the lies that I could never be pure again, which caused a very deep chasm of depression and loneliness. I was overflowing with hate for myself, and as high school went on, I figured I had already done the “biggest” sin, so why does it matter what I do now? I turned to drinking, hating my family, and receiving “love.” I don’t think words will ever suffice for the drowning feeling of shame I felt.

My junior year of high school I went to a Young Life camp, and there God started to tell me the simple, clear fact that I have never been alone. I was never alone in his basement; I was never alone in the brutal fights that went on in my house; I was never alone when I was too drunk to see or when I felt like I was dying of hunger pains from not eating. His words, “You have never been alone” have carried me through the years and I am constantly reminded that I will, forever, never be alone.

In the spring of my freshman year of college, I had been on depression medicine for a year and decided to switch because of insomnia. The weaning process was one of the worst experiences of my life, but because of it I was debating if I had enough energy to go on a campus ministry spring break trip. I thought going home and watching TV for a week would cure my anxious mind and unsteady thoughts, but for some reason, I decided to take the 16-hour bus ride. I was immersed in love from people who told me truths about myself, and after a friend prayed over my depression and my brain, I played with the thought of not going back on medicine. Ever since sitting on the hard floor crying with her, I have been free and at peace for seven months.

I finally know what peace is. God has done incredible and amazing things through a girl who was too afraid to speak because of shame and guilt. But now I am free and am waiting for what my God will do through a girl who is no longer silent—who knows what true peace and love is. I have awakened, and I have a voice because of Him.

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Matthew 6:26-27

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.