Share Your Story Sunday

Share Your Story Sunday #15 -- Joy Pedrow

Share Your Story Sunday #15 -- Joy Pedrow
Happy Sunday, friends! It's been forever since I've had a Share Your Story Sunday post, so I'm super excited that Joy Pedrow is sharing her story today. I love Joy's passion for the Lord and the way she uses every encounter with people as an opportunity to share her story. I encourage you to check out and subscribe to her blog -- she posts lots of topics that speak straight to my heart. The post below is no different -- enjoy!

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Share Your Story Sunday #15 -- Joy Pedrow

Hola friends! My name is Joy Pedrow and I am a college senior at the University of South Florida and a blogger at joypedrow.wordpress.com. In this post and my blog, I hope to help women discover the life changing love of God.

In high school, I wanted to feel loved and beautiful. Culture and media told me that prince charming would fix that, so I turned to guys. This “love” was never enough. During this stage of my life, I called myself a Christian, but that just meant I went to church and tried to be a morally good person. I did not actually know God or have a relationship with him.

In the beginning of my freshman year of college, I was still looking for fulfillment. Again, I turned to guys. This time I was left even more broken and empty. I was date raped, and I entered into a hole of depression. I began to question everything.

What is real love?
Why did this happen to me?
Is there anything more to this life?

From reading the Bible, I discovered answers to my questions. In about a year, God changed my life. God used my brokenness to turn me to him. I learned that God’s love was different from every other love I had experienced, and that only through a personal relationship with Jesus could I find complete satisfaction and the love I was searching for. God’s love is satisfying, saving, and constantly pursuing! God rejoices over me with gladness, quiets my heart by his love, and exults over me with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) God’s love is more powerful than any prince charming!

God’s love redeemed me.

It is unbelievable how many women God has put in my life who have similar stories. God can and will use our stories, every detail of them, for his plan and purpose. I get to use my story to bring God glory, and what an incredible journey it has been discovering that.


Share Your Story Sunday #15 -- Joy Pedrow

I invite you to join me on this journey. Check out my blog. Share it with the women in your life. Share it on social media. Most importantly, if you know any women who has been through sexual abuse, tell them to contact me. I have created resources to help them in their journey to healing. You can contact me through my blog or email me.


My name is Joy Pedrow and the best decision I have ever made was to become a follower of Christ.

Share Your Story Sunday #15 -- Joy Pedrow

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I encourage you guys to follow Joy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too! 


If you would like to share your story, please contact me. You don't even have to be a blogger -- I just want individuals who are willing to share about their love and passion for Christ!

Share Your Story Sunday: One Thousand Gifts + a Giveaway!


Happy Sunday! Today Share Your Story Sunday will look a little different. I was contacted by Shelton Interactive to review the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I plan to do the review portion first, but I also want to share what the Lord taught me through this book. To top it all off, Shelton Interactive is offering to giveaway a copy of the book for you to read, too! So, let's dive right in!

Overall

I loved it! I was a bit nervous about reading the book because of some bad reviews. Yes, the main theme of the book is thanksgiving, but I don't believe that Ann believes it is the key to salvation. May I also say that I was discouraged by other believers that continually tear this woman down in reviews? Yikes!

I will also say that this may not be an "easy read" for some. While I adoreeeee Ann's poetic writing style, I had to re-read some things to kind of "get it." My writing heart loved her style, and I actually appreciated that I had to re-read some sentences-- it allowed her words to really sink in. And oh my, do they sink in, guys. 

As a whole, Ann talks about how she starts a journal and begins to list all of the gifts God has blessed her with. She gives thanks, eucharisteo, in the everyday.  Here are a few examples of her first ones:
1. Morning shadows across the old floors
2. Jam piled high on the toast
3. Cry of blue jay from high in the spruce (45)
Simple things that we often take for granted. Through the act of giving thanks, she challenges her readers to "live fully right where you are."

There are so many incredible topics that Ann touched base on, but here are 3 things that really pricked my soul (which, surprisingly, isn't completely focused on thanksgiving):

Perspective

One Thousand Gifts Quote Ann Voskamp

"Without God's Word as a lens, the world warps" (91). Many times my perspective is clouded by my will and what Satan tells me.  

“All God makes is good. Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God? That which seems evil only seems so because of perspective, the way the eyes see the shadows. Above the clouds, light never stops shining” (88). If I don't see the world through God's Word and His heart, my very world will warp. My life will become one big mess and it would be a Bonnie pity-party every day and all day.

“Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perseverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?” (90). Praise God for the shadows that have fallen over my life, for they have shaped me into who I am today and have strengthened my relationship with Christ. In the same way, when I'm faced with trials and temptations, may my perspective go to, "Lord, teach me something through this. You have a plan even in this." Therefore, I can give thanks in every circumstance (1Thessalonians 5:18) because I know He is in control and He has a plan to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11).

Seeking God

One Thousand Gifts Quote Ann Voskamp

"Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don't see God, I'll bow down before something else" (110). When I read this, I had to ask myself, "What do you bow down to?" Facebook/social media, TV, music, writing, and even... this blog. I have to shift my focus, and like a friend once said, "Who gets the glory?" If it's not Him, I shouldn't be doing it. I have to daily, intentionally, seek Him.

Another topic that Ann talked about is her anxiety and fear. This is another thing that I feel like I "bow down" to. Then, she hit me with this one: “If authentic, saving belief is the act of trusting, then to choose stress is an act of disbelief... atheism. Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism” (148). Do I believe you're an atheist if you're stressed? No, but choosing stress is an act of disbelief in God and who He is. Do I grasp this entirely? Not. at. all. I'm constantly "stressed" and full of anxiety about life, bills, the every day crap-o-la that gets in the way. But I want to trust Him. I want to trust Him so much that people think I'm weird.

"If I deep trusted God in all the facets of my life, wouldn't that deep heal my anxiety, my self-condemnation, my soul holes? The fear is suffocating, terrorizing, and I want the remedy, and it is trust. Trust is everything" (149). Fear suffocates me. It keeps me from doing what I'm called to do, what I want to do, and who I want to be. I have to work on this, or I'll forever be paralyzed.

Humility

One Thousand Gifts Quote Ann Voskamp

"To receive God's gifts, to live exalted and joy filled, isn't a function of straining higher, harder, doing more, carrying long the burdens of the super-Pharisees or ultra-saints. Receiving God's gifts is a gentle, simple movement of moving lower" (171). In traveling to other countries and serving in music ministry, I've already had to learn humility. "HE must become greater, I must become less" (John 3:30). Why is it so hard to grasp that? If I would become less, He could do His thing and it would be so.much.better than anything I have to offer or could even imagine.

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I hope I haven't overwhelmed you with my thoughts! I really enjoyed reading this book and reflecting on everything that God "nudged" me about to say, "Hey, that means you too." He has unbelievable patience with me. With us.

I am so encouraged by Ann to continue to focus on what I'm thankful for and the many gifts that the Lord gives me. She's even created the One Thousand Gifts app that you can download (for free!) to document and share your own list of gifts.

If you would like to win a copy of One Thousand Gifts, enter through the rafflecopter below!

*Giveaway has ended*


Disclosure: I was given a free copy of One Thousand Gifts in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are my own. This post also includes an affiliate link through Dayspring.

Share Your Story Sunday #13 -- Nicole from Delia Jude


Hi, friends! How are you doing this lovely Sunday? I can't wait for you guys to read this week's Share Your Story Sunday. When I read Nicole's blog, Delia Jude, I feel like I'm part of her family and I get to see a glimpse inside their life together .. and I just love that! Today, she's sharing her story with us :)
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When Bonnie asked me to submit my story I was thrilled, and after I committed I was nervous and then downright terrified.  What could I possible write that would make any difference to anyone? Procrastination reared its ugly head and the trials of life and death occupied my mind and my heart.  The truth is, I have a story.  God has handwritten a story of my life—compiling and editing each and every chapter—whether I like it or not.

My literal life story began 41 years ago on a cold spring morning in the heart of the Canadian prairies. But my sense of family history takes me further back in time than that…many generations of brave, courageous and God-fearing women.  A legacy in Christ—a heritage.

The storyline is made up of all the bits of parts of a full and blessed life; a life story that drops me off at the doorstep of where I am today.  On paper, I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a volunteer, a colleague and a child of God. But those are simply defining titles.  The adjectives might list: dog lover, artist, writer, chef, gardener, hiker, lover of color and so on…you get the idea.  I could tell you wonderful tales of great goodness and horrid moments:  my ugly sins, my deep longings, my pains, my sorrows, my mistakes and my joys.  I could regale you with anecdotes about my charming husband John and my amazing kids Jude and Delia. But really those are just the bits and pieces of my blessed life.  The patchwork, so to speak.



Last year, I learned more about life stories than I ever thought I would and in a seemingly unlikely way. During our two-year stint of home school we listened to the audio books of C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia”.  Sacrilegious as it may seem, I was not a Narnia fan as a child.  Though I loved to read, I did not ever enjoy fantasy novels.  And Narnia is a land of fantasy. Then last year, famous Brits reading aloud brought the stories to life.  Suddenly, as adult I understood the allegories of Narnia.  “The Horse and His Boy” forever changed my life and in particular, my story. 

“The Horse and His Boy” is about Shasta, his talking horse, and a young girl named Aravis.  At a crucial point in the story, after a long hard night, Shasta meets Aslan (the Voice):

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
“Who are you?” asked Shasta.
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.

A little bit later in the story, Aravis meets Aslan and hears a similar response about her story:

“Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

The idea that God is telling me my story, not your story; the idea that I can be part of someone else’s story but not know their story; the idea that my story is still being told and that I may never know the whole story—this baffles and intrigues me but also gives me great comfort. If I trust God as the Author then I must sit and listen to Him tell me my story.

Part of my story happened two years ago, as our family went through a season of great trials.  The kind of trials that multiple and divide and layer pile upon pile.  Our neighbor, with whom we shared a backyard, who we knew and shared meals with, chose to end his life.  Late one evening, he overdosed on pills and died, and the next day our children found his body.  Our sweet children were suddenly faced with suicide, mental illness, death, depression and all the baggage that accompanies such a trial.  As we were reeling from this tragedy our dog bit a child and we had to “give up” our beloved canine.  At this time there were many other relationship fallouts and to top it off our family was undergoing a big, sweeping, church-changing season of our lives.  This story, this life, suddenly became so overwhelming and sorrow filled.  Daily pleadings with God, the heaviness in our home and the sense of pity I felt from others weighed like a stone upon my neck.  Yet, there we were and there God was. For me, I trusted that He would never leave us or forsake us. For good or for bad, in peace and confusion, we prayed that the light of Christ might shine.  As we prayed and as we struggled we saw the light shining. The Christ light.  Through tragedy came healing.

As the healing came, I revisited the idea of getting a tattoo. There it was before me…the idea of love and forgiveness.  A daily reminder of how God forgave me and loves me and how I should love and forgive others…even in the hard times…rather, especially in the hard times. As the tattoo idea grew and changed, I knew the words I really wanted inked upon my heart and stamped into my soul were LOVE and GRACE. So last summer, my sister and I marched ourselves into a little tattoo parlor in downtown Vancouver and my sister wrote the text, I paid the fee, and the lovely artist tatted me.


There the words sit, on my forearms. Daily reminders of God’s goodness to me.  Daily reminders of how my story needs to be told.  Daily reminders of how I should respond to the world.
Grace .  Love.  Love.  Grace.
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Want to share your story? Please contact me.