Thursday, January 23, 2014

Faith- How I Found it

So let me tell you about Saira.
 I had seen her before we met at work. I remember she was a trouble making basketball player in our high school team. I might have had an altercation with her once, and as I remembered her, she kinda intimidated me...
So when she approached me and a coworker it was almost frightening.
Let me backtrack- It was my first week working as a Cashier (at my local CVS Pharmacy). It was 2 months before my 21st birthday, and most of the people working there were "fun".
Now as I mentioned in my intro, my mom was a very Catholic strict parent ("Spare the rod, spoil the child") So I lived most of my life in fear of her and never really did much to upset her in my younger days.
 I had never been to a club, gotten drunk or stayed out all night to have "fun"-
BUT somehow I did manage to have a baby at the young age of 18 and had my then, boyfriend-now husband, move in.
Needless to say life at home was a bit hectic: I was working 40+hrs, going to school full time (12-18units per semester), had a disapproving mother, a baby & a live in boyfriend...There were good days, and there were days when all I did was cry.
Back to Saira... she was different now. She was no longer that raging troubled teenager I once knew, Now she was... peaceful... quiet... meek... it boggled me. She came in to work everyday with a smile and a electric fire I couldn't understand. No one could seriously be THAT happy.
It was a Saturday night, she came up to me & another coworker & asked "What are you guys doing tomorrow morning?" My co-worker said "I have plans!" and gave me a strange look.  I replied "I'm not sure, sleep in maybe" and then she proceeded to say "Here's my number! I'd like to invite you to my church, text me and I will send you the address. You can call me if you need a ride. It starts at 11, Hope to see you there!!!" And she walked away with a smile.
"She's a weirdo, don't listen to her, I think she had too many drugs"- said my co-worker.
I scoffed and paid no mind. I had finally broken away from church- why would I want to go to another church- and with a weirdo!?
On Monday morning, "Hey! I was hoping to see you at church, what happened?"- Saira asked. I turned around & speedily walked away pretending I didn't hear her. This was in August of 2009.For the next few months-  every Saturday, she invited me to church. Sometimes I made excuses as to why I couldn't go. Sometimes I'd say I'd go then cancel last minute, and sometimes I'd even volunteer for overtime or swap schedules JUST to avoid her. During those months life sucked. My boyfriend dumped me & joined the Army, I was a single mom, my mom gloated about me reaping what I sowed. My life pretty much crumbled and I turned to alcohol, even became a little suicidal.

Now I was the raging & crazed person I once knew Saira to be- all while she seemed to have such boring yet perfect life. She WAS weird though, kinda stalker-ish, She'd try to take her breaks at the same time I did, and she would ask "Do you mind if I read my bible out loud?" I was usually in a bad or depressed mood, at first her reading irritated me, then it started to make me wonder... So finally one Saturday in March of  2010 I asked "Why are you so happy?" "Because I have Jesus!" she said. "Jesus makes you happy?" I asked mockingly. "You would know if you came to church with me" she replied. "Here's my address, pick me up" I said defiantly- curious to see what this Jesus thing was all about. Her eyes widened with shock & relief "Seriously?!?!? I'll be there!" She said.
So I went & it was NOTHING like I expected. I twas  a Christian church... and if you've ever been to a Catholic AND a Christian service you'd know there are MANY differences. For starters there wasn't a little worship chorus, it was what felt & sounded like a rock concert.
This was a church? People were dancing and singing, smiling & crying in front of the stage. They had projectors with the lyrics on the screen- and if you read my intro you'd know- I'm musically inclined- so I started to sing along.
"Great is Your faithfulness oh God
You wrestle with the sinner's heart
You lead us by still waters into mercy
And nothing can keep us apart So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me
Great is Your love and justice God
You use the weak to lead the strong
You lead us in the song of Your salvation
And all Your people sing along"
-Chris Tomlin, Your Grace Is Enough

I felt it deep in my soul, it moved me, and before I could stop myself from looking a fool, (with extensions, heels, fake lashes & a mask of make up, hair products & perfumes) I was fell to my knees in uncontrollable tears... HE was there in THAT precise moment wrestling with MY HEART. I became overwhelmed by love & such a deep sense of security & serenity. "Here I am God, I'm a wreck, I'm unworthy, but if you want me- I'm yours" The pastor made an altar call "I know there's anyone here today, who feels an emptiness they have tried to fill over & over again yet still came up empty. If you feel lonely, like you don't know where you're going or you are simply  tired of running and you'd like to invite Jesus into your heart today to make him your Lord & Savior- come to the front"... without thinking twice, without caring that I mad mascara running down my face I raced to the front. We said the sinners prayer & were sent back to our seats. I remember Catholic services being an hour long and it feeling like foooorrreeeevvvveeerrrr... but before I knew it this service was over.
Over?! It can't be over, we've only been here for... *I look at my watch-12:45* almost 2hrs? I didn't want to go home. I've never felt such peace in my soul and joy in my heart before. Now I knew what Saira was talking about- I had been missing out!!!! There was a 3day women's encounter in April from the 16th to the 18th(Nevaeh's 3rd birthday) I got my ticket that very day. I gave my first tithe that day, used to the $1 donation in catholic church I was shocked when I saw her putting a whole $20 in an envelope during tithing. And that's when she explained to me what it was- 10 percent of the money we have earned or are given.
Saira gave me my first bible, I still have it today. That church set my soul on fire, and God moved in my life. I prayed for my boyfriend, I prayed for restoration of our family. I invited family & friends. My coworkers were now mocking me too. "You've turned into a weirdo like Saira!" "You've been brainwashed!!!"
I got encountered & my life changed forever- God answered my payers & my family was restored (not without troubles- read all about it in my next blog). I'm not perfect, there was a time when I backslid and paid for it. Living outside a relationship with Christ isn't living at all.

If you're still reading you may be wondering : "whats the moral of the story?"
Let me tell you- It's DON'T GIVE UP. If there's someone whom you've invited to church but hasn't got there- don't stop asking! Don't stop praying for them! Even if they start avoiding you- continue to live your life in a way that they see the light of Christ. I sometimes wonder- what would be of my life right now if there hadn't been a Saira in my life? Don't be afraid to be "the weirdo" and share your faith.

And if you are reading this and you are where I've been and you're sick of being empty, lonely and burdened- wont you take a chance and open your heart to Christ today and dare to beloved?
If you'd like more information on finding Jesus, or if you'd just like to talk to someone- feel free to reach out to me :)
 That's all for tonight peeps- God Bless you & yours

Matthew 5:3-16

New Living Translation (NLT)

The Beatitudes

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you[c] and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Teaching about Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

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