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Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Reality and My Faith

 If you've read my blog at all, you may have seen the "About Me" section on the sidebar. It says that I'm married to a pastor, but don't have a perfect life. (Who does, right?) But I wanted to share a little bit more about myself and why I had wanted to share those particular words.

 We have had had seven children. Our second son passed away when he was four, due to respiratory complications associated with cerebral palsy. His twin sister is now 22 years old. She too has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. Our youngest child, who is 8 yrs. old, has a rare, genetic disorder which requires him to have a g-tube to help with his nutrition and medications. Other than being very thin, he is a normal, happy-go-lucky little boy who loves NFL football and NBA basketball. Even though I am married to a pastor and have a personal belief that God still heals today, I find myself in this situation with the health of my own children. I have shared before that I have struggled with despair and doubt, but ultimately, my faith rests in the character of God. I know Him, and I have experienced His kindness and beautiful mercy in my life. Have my personal faith struggles ceased? No! I would never mislead you that I have it all together and have this heartache all figured out.

Can I share an example with you? 

Just a few weeks ago, I stood in a hospital room with my husband to visit a baby in our congregation. My heart was so heavy as we stood in the room. He was just the most beautiful little baby who was born with serious, life threatening medical issues. We gathered around to pray for him and as I earnestly prayed for his healing, I was suddenly bombarded with this thought..."Will God heal this child, but not mine?" I pushed that thought out of my mind, but it came back with a vengeance. "Will God heal their child, but not yours?" Inside my heart, I had to stand back a moment to try and answer that question. I hope that you believe me when I say that with all my heart,  I was (and am) praying for this baby to be made totally well. But, what if he was healed? And what if I went home to my daughter who still sits in her wheelchair - unchanged. What then?

This terrible pain seemed to settle on me. I didn't know the answer to the "What then?" except that I would have to walk it out. There just wouldn't be a way around it. There would be rejoicing in my heart for someone else's child, but it would coexist with pain for my child.

I have to keep coming back to this one thing. When I strip everything else away, and I just look at Jesus, my heart is comforted. He has made Himself very real to me, particularly in the last four years. I used to try my best to know Jesus, but it seemed I kept running up against a religious figure. My reference point to Him was more or less at the point of my salvation experience. That just isn't enough. He needs to become a real, living person to us who walks with us and holds our hand through every experience of our life. I know this very well, that over the times in my life, when I felt truly alone, He became a powerful presence that comforted me and stayed with me. I know that I can trust Him.

A couple of weeks ago during the worship service at our church, people came up front who needed prayer.  I usually don't go and pray for people unless they ask me to. Part of the reason, to be extremely honest, is I wonder if my prayers may be a little faulty. I've laid my hands on my daughter and prayed with all the faith I have, but haven't seen any changes at all.  But as I sat with my little boy, I suddenly saw such a clear picture in my mind. I saw Jesus walking among the people and so joyfully touching them. I can't emphasize enough the word "joyfully". He would throw His head back and laugh with joy. Sometimes I get pictures like that and I am always surprised that this would happen with me. I just seem like an unlikely person to have these experiences. But that image has stayed with me for days now. On that same morning, a little eight year old girl also shared before the congregation that she felt God was saying that this was a day of joy! She had no way of knowing what I had just experienced and seen.

 I think I know why He wanted to show this to me.

I know that sometimes we pray for so long for someone and we become disappointed that nothing happens. I do know that feeling. It's also easy to slip into thinking that God has forgotten us, or He is busy, or we are unimportant to Him. But none of that is true. He so joyfully is on the scene. Even if it seems otherwise! (Faith is the evidence of things not seen...how often have we heard that phrase until it has almost become meaningless. But faith really is the evidence of things not seen! Just because we can't see it with our physical eyes, doesn't mean that something isn't happening. It is so easy to convince ourselves otherwise. But this is the crux of our faith.)

Here is the best way I can explain this whole situation. Sometimes it seems that in front of me is this very ugly curtain. I've seen it so many times that I know what it looks like by heart.  I think the curtain represents very real situations that I've cried over and prayed over, but have seen no tangible answers. But then God suddenly lifted up this drab curtain and lets me see what is behind it...and it is beautiful! What I see or think is oftentimes incorrect. It is filled with pain and questions. But then for a moment, I see a glimpse of what is real - what is on the other side of that curtain. I see Jesus as He really is. He is there with great joy. He is there with great joy beside me.

Does this description of this curtain that make sense or resonate with you? Maybe you have sensed the same thing.

So, I guess my answer lies in this. I can completely trust Him. I may not always understand, but I know that He is very acquainted with me, my thoughts and my ways, my fears and my dreams. I am not anything special because I have children with special needs. I really don't like it when people imply that. It makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes I am a really good mom, and other times I really stink at it. I  often feel exhausted and can cry at the drop of a hat. Other times, it's like, I can do this today!" God gives me strength when I need it and at other times, I think He is just like, "You need to cry a little bit today. It's okay. I'm not busy. I'll sit here with you while you cry." Sometimes I just have days where I see once again that a dream I have had for my daughter will not come to pass - at least, not as far as I can see today. It is a gut wrenching pain that is just as fresh as when I first heard the words in a neurologist's office, "Both of your children have cerebral palsy."  I don't think the pain of those words ever completely go away. But I have found that joy can coincide alongside pain.

There's a song from my childhood that comes to mind:

Many things about tomorrow. I don't seem to understand. But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand.

I have good days and bad days, but I think the bad days are giving in more and more to good days. Sometimes, there are days when I feel like all my hope is gone and I need to just settle it that there won't be any miracles for me or my kids. But then, the tiniest little flame of hope will burst forth once again. It isn't much, but it's there. It begins to glow and become stronger.

If you are going through a crisis of faith, or a dark time with your spouse or children, let me encourage you as someone who is also in the middle of a long war that I wish was over. (By "over", I mean that I want to see my daughter walking and my son totally healed.) Jesus is there beside you with great joy over you. He understands the hurts and questions of your heart. Even if it doesn't feel like He is with you, He is. In His presence is fulness of joy. Let Him fill you with joy even though your circumstances seem to remain unchanged. Ask Him to show you that He is there. He will.

I send much love to each one reading:) - Kathy

















Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'd Like You to Meet...Matt Cook





I contacted Matt a couple of months ago to see if he could share his testimony on my blog. I'm so pleased to be able to introduce you to such a godly husband, dad, and friend. He is another one in our church that my husband considers to be like a son.

 I remember seeing Matt years ago when we were at Teen Challenge. (My husband Dave is now a pastor, but at that time he was a counselor at T.C.) Matt was in our front yard playing ball with one of our children. I had no way of knowing then that years later, he would be one of the elders at our church. Matt has a beautiful wife, Laura, and three adorable girls. He is one of the finest men I know. I believe his story will have a great impact on each person reading today.


Matt and his three girls


Where Jesus Found Me


Six months before being born, my father was killed in a car accident. My mother was
pregnant with her second child from her second husband. She had been a single mom
once before after her first marriage ended in divorce. Now pregnant and raising a 6
year old son she found herself in that situation again.

As little boys, I remember my older brother always looking out for me. Within a few
years of my father’s accident my mother remarried. My mom and her new husband had
a baby boy about a year later. Our new dad adopted my older brother and me and
raised us as his sons.

We were not a Christian family, but both of my parents worked very hard to provide for
us. Always supportive, they spent countless hours, days, and weeks at all of our
sporting practices and events. My parents loved us and did the best they could for us.

As hard as my parents tried to provide a good life for our family, horrible things were still
done to me by neighbors as a very young boy. The abuse brought much shame and
hurt into my life that I never talked about with anyone until I was in my twenties.

Our home grew less peaceful as the years passed. In junior high, home began to feel more
like a battle zone until my parents finally divorced sometime during my 7th or 8th grade
year. Instead of turning to family or better yet to God during this difficult time, I began to
turn to drugs and the lifestyle that music videos portrayed on MTV.

Even as a young boy I excelled in sports. I made varsity in baseball, football, and
basketball by my sophomore year. I had shoe boxes full of letters from college scouts.
I believed I would be a professional athlete one day because many coaches throughout
the years told me that I had what it took to be one. Drugs and sports proved to be a bad
combination, though. While snow skiing during my junior year, I injured my back in an
accident. Juggling the pain from my ski accident and deeper drug use, the reality of my
dreams seemed to be slipping further and further away.

During my senior year of high school I inherited $200,000 from my biological dad’s
parents. It was at this point that I decided if sports could no longer be my number one
choice in life, then drugs and living the “high life” would be my back up. Within three
years most of the money was gone, I had been arrested four times, and had basically
hit rock bottom. I found myself sitting in a county jail in Colorado facing 7-10 years in
prison.




That’s where Jesus found me. I wasn’t looking for Him.

A Hispanic man came to the jail one day and talked to a small group of us about “the
Lord”. The way he talked about “the Lord” intrigued me because he talked about God
as if he actually knew Him. God used this man to get ahold of my heart. He was talking
to us about what it meant to be born again, explaining that it is the Spirit of God coming to live inside of us. He told us that God changes us from the inside out giving us
righteous desires. At that point in my life I knew my desires. They were anything but
holy. I also knew in my heart that what this man was saying was truth.

Questions raced through my mind as he spoke to us. They were questions such as, “If
God loved me and cared about me so much then why am I a strung out drug addict
facing hard prison time?”. This man, unaware of my mental questions, replied to me
quoting Isaiah 53:6 which says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has
turned to our own way: and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” How did he
know to quote that Scripture when I hadn’t even expressed my question to him? I
intentionally asked a few more questions in my mind which he again answered with
Scripture. I recognized in that moment, God was giving me an opportunity to accept His
forgiveness - to be born again. We prayed, and life came inside of me. I felt clean. I
felt peace, and joy flooded my heart. I had a radical conversion in that little Colorado
county jail.

Shortly after, I was transported by the sheriff to the main jail. As we were driving, I
remember an excitement in my heart knowing that what God had just done in me was
going to change everything about life that I had known up to that point. But, never in my
wildest dreams could I have dreamt what my life would be like today.

Nearly twenty years ago in that jail, my life took a 180 degree turn.

My prison time ended up being shortened due to good behavior. After one year in
prison, I went to a program called Teen Challenge to be discipled. Teen Challenge was
a safe place. It was a place where men and women of God could teach me, pray with
me, correct me, and show me in very tangible ways the love of my Heavenly Father.
Through God’s love and patience, through renewing my mind in His Word, and through
repentance, the roots of my faith grew deeper and deeper.



Matt at his Teen Challenge graduation (with Dave Olson)



God saw value in me even at my lowest. Before being born again, I had been despised
by many and felt like I had hurt and disappointed my family beyond the point of repair.
The pain of knowing that was unbearable at times, but even in those relationships God
made all things new. Relationships with my family have never been better than what
they are today. I even had the privilege of leading my mom’s parents to the Lord on
their death beds ten years ago.

Throughout my nearly twenty years of living life for Jesus, I have had the opportunity to
be discipled at Teen Challenge, to be a student at the Brownsville Revival School of
Ministry, to work on staff at Teen Challenge, to do jail ministry, as well as go on several
mission trips around the world. I have had the privilege of seeing hundreds of lives
changed by the Lord. In all of this the thing that has had an impact on me the most,
though, is God’s unconditional love.

Outside of being loved by Jesus, the joy of my life today is being married to my best
friend, Laura, and raising our three daughters together. Being a father has really made me cling to God, learn how to be fathered by Him, and in turn trust that He will help me raise girls
who know they are loved by their earthly father as well as their Heavenly Father.

Following Jesus has not always been easy, but as I’ve trusted him and submitted my
heart to the process of becoming more like Him, I’m finding my true identity in Him. I’m
discovering the depth of His love. I’m experiencing the freedom and healing that’s
found in Him.

Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The greatest miracle that God can do today is
to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into
that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”

I’m thankful Jesus found me.

Matt and his beautiful family



Thank you so much, Matt! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Pin-Spired!

Happy April! It's time for Pin-Spired and What I Wore Wednesday!

I hope you are all having a good week.

Alison from Get Your Pretty On inspired the outfit below (she is also on Pinterest).




This one is also from Pinterest.







Hmmm...I feel a little like I should be showing you where the emergency exits are located. And also,would you like tea or coffee, sir? lol

I think a more colorful cardigan would work better with the scarf.

What did I wear Wednesday? It's about 47 degrees here today and so I wore a scarf with my military jacket.  I had to take my littlest guy out today to get his hair cut. Of course, we had to swing into Target, too, just to wander around aimlessly. I don't know why that is so fun, but it just is!

Alison inspired this outfit, too.
She has beautiful style! Her blog is one of my favorites. (getyourprettyon.com)


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And now, I wanted to share something with you that I hope will help you, too.

I'm a worrier by nature. I always have been. I tend to lay awake at night, worried. What about? You name it and I have probably worried about it.

Things like, "Are they learning what they need to in school?" (I home school.)  "What if Nathaniel's condition gets worse?" (Our youngest son has a genetic disorder and has a g-tube. He looks healthy, but it is a serious condition that requires monitoring). I spend a lot of time just worrying about him, and really, all the kids. Our oldest daughter has cerebral palsy. I sometimes worry what would happen to her if something happened to Dave and I. What if my prayers are never answered? What if..what if..what if...

The other day I felt like the Lord asked me, "What if you didn't have to worry?" In reality, I know, we don't HAVE to worry. I know what the Bible says about casting all our care on Him for He cares for us. I know these things, but I have trouble doing them. My answer to Him was, "I wouldn't even know how to not worry, to be honest with You. It's like breathing." I felt like the Lord answered with, "Why don't you pretend that you don't have anything to worry about today. What would that feel like? Do you think you could try?"

And so for one day, I did TRY. For that day, I pretended that I had no worries or cares. When a thought would creep in of, "You'd better worry about this one.", I would dismiss it and think, "I don't have to worry about that." I not only felt happier that day, I felt just plain old happy! Worry drains us of all hope and energy, doesn't it?

Does that mean that I've stopped this crazy worrying that takes so much of my energy? Not entirely, but it has been getting better. It will be a continuing process to break a life long habit. But you know, I've noticed something else. When I let go of the worry and the responsibility of having to control everything, things started changing that I had been praying for. Two prayers were answered on the same day! I think worry was getting in the way of seeing answers to my prayers. It's hard to pray in faith and then sit and stew over the very thing I'd been praying about.

I hope this helps one of you reading. Just try and "pretend" for today that God has "got you covered" where you are concerned.(Even if, like me, you know He has you covered as far as head knowledge, but maybe it has never rung true in your heart.)  He wants to teach you to trust Him and truly know that you don't have to fret. Try it for one day and then ask God to help you to continue in small steps. He wants to set you (and me) free from worry. Worry seems almost like an innocent kind of thing, but it ever so slowly kills our faith. It is like my eyes are opening to all the possibilities of not worrying. You've heard that scripture that says:

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?


28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Why does God tell us not to worry? Because we really don't have to.

God has you in the palm of His hand. Live your today and even if it just seems like you are "pretending" for now, don't worry about tomorrow. He has got you covered.

I send love to each one of you reading today. Have a blessed day!

Linking up to:  pinteresttoldmeto.blogspot.com  shullfamily.blogspot.com  thelarsonlingo.blogspot.com  thepleatedpoppy.com  astrollthroughlife.net  savvysouthernstyle.net  impartinggrace.com  stylelixer.com  twothirtyfivedesigns.com
pennilesssocialite.blogspot.com  thelaurenelizabeth.com  chantillysongs.com  musingsofahousewife.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What I Wore Wednesdays





Happy Wednesday! I'd like to say that spring has arrived, but it hasn't really. It's still pretty chilly here in Iowa. I hope it's warmer where you are.

In case you are looking forward to me smiling cheesily into the camera, this is your lucky day!

I was just thinking about something the other day. My husband used to say to me, "Are you going to wear that to the store?" He would say it in a nice, yet concerned voice. Usually it was because my jeans had a hole in them or the hems were raggedy. I would always think to myself, "Who cares?", because, I didn't. I don't know if I was just tired or because I hadn't shopped for clothes in months. Dave is a great husband. He was always encouraging me to shop. I just didn't. (I think I saved him a ton of money now that I think about it.) I would almost have rather done anything than walk around a mall and try on things.

Now with the internet, I still don't have to walk around the mall. It's awesome. I wait for sales online and just shop at T.J. Maxx and the like when I absolutely have to try on something. Hopefully, I still save us a ton of money.

All of the below came from things I already had and please ignore the state of the bathroom behind me. I tend to forget all about that when I'm in the zone, you know. lol







Now that I look at this collage, I can tell you that most of it did come from T.J. Maxx, Old Navy, and ebay. (The coral scarf was something my husband brought back for me while on a ministry trip to the Philippines.)

Enjoy the cheese-y smiles. I always laugh when I'm doing this. It really is helpful, though. Sometimes I'm surprised how really bad something might look on me or be pleasantly surprised. It's always fun, though.

Have a great week! I especially bless all the moms reading. You are wonderful!

Linking up to:  thepleatedpoppy.com  becauseshannasaidso.blogspot.com  stylelixir.com  impartinggrace.com  frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Spring Mantel

I have a confession to make. Up until last Saturday, I still had leftover Christmas greenery on my mantel.  I didn't have a baby Jesus or a Santa Claus up there, though, so I told myself it was my "winter mantel". Ha!  I really loved the green with the contrast of the red amaryllis ( a Pottery Barn Christmas markdown from several years back. I have two on each side of the mantel). There is something about the color red that just makes me happy when I see it. It doesn't look too Christmassy does it? I guess as long as it doesn't scream, "Ho, ho, ho!" it can work.




I finally got with it, though, and brought a trash bag in and took all the greenery down. I looked around the house and placed some new things on the mantel. I found some spring branches at Michael's and put them inside this black urn. Here is the finished product.











I was surprised at how fresh the room felt with this change.


I've also been loving these...



Don't you love fresh flowers? I found these at a flower shop here in town - 2 bunches for $10.







I brought out my Easter bunny, too. (T.J. Maxx purchase from a few years ago)

Now for a few random comments...

I've been looking around and pricing monogrammed pillow shams for our bedroom. This photo isn't our bedroom, but I love the look. (photo courtesy of Traditional Home April 2014). There is just something so crisp and fresh about those shams. It's just a little touch, but it makes a big impact.





I posted this photo of the front of our home on instagram today. I need to blog about how we came to build this home. It is truly a testimony to the kindness of God.


I would love to show you inside!


Finally, even though I said I took down all the "Christmas" greenery, I couldn't quite part with my amaryllis...here they are in the dining room! You can see now how much I really do love the color red.





Have a happy week!

P.S. Thanks go to simpledetailsblog.blogspot.com for mentioning me in her awesome blog. I love her style! Thank you, Pam:)


Linking up to:  momstheword-livingforhim.blogspot.com   frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com  homestoriesatoz.com  savvysouthernstyle.net  myuncommonsliceofsurburbia.com  impartinggrace.com  livelaughrowe.com

Friday, March 14, 2014

5 on Friday!

Good morning!  I'm linking up with A.Liz Adventures for 5 things I'm loving on this Friday.


#1. This photo:) My oldest son (who is an aspiring photographer), took this picture of our youngest son a couple of days ago. Isn't it great? We actually hit 65 degrees that day after a long, hard winter.









#2. This is one of my favorite drinks - Propel Zero in Peach. I'm pretty partial to anything with a peach flavor.





#3.  Laura Geller - Spackle. A little goes a long way!



#4.  This dip. I'm hoping the Greek yogurt qualifies it as a healthy snack.




#5. I'm excited to see this movie again that comes out on dvd soon. I really enjoyed it when I saw it back in December. If you haven't seen it, be sure and check it out. Tom Hanks is fabulous (as always) as are Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell.





Have a wonderful week!

Linking up with:  alizadventures.blogspot.com  northcarolinacharm.com  hellohappinessblog.com

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What I Wore Wednesday

I'm linking up today with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday. Hope your week is going good so far!





Lauren Conrad blazer and top - Kohls
necklace - ebay

I love seeing what you are all wearing!
Have a wonderful rest of your week! - Kathy


Linking up to:  thepleatedpoppy.com  stylelixer.com

Sunday, March 2, 2014

About This Blog

Hi! I hope this post finds you all well!

I am writing to share with you that I am a little unsure of what direction to take this blog. I love writing, but haven't had a lot of time to consistently devote to writing.

Sometimes, I know exactly what God wants me to share. There are other times, that I am not sure at all! I want to make this blog count and in some small way, minister to those of you that take the time to read.

This little blog also shows up on our church website (www.heartlandassembly.org)  I think that has made me feel a little stilted in writing. Sometimes I've shared deep things from my heart or hard experiences we have went through, and other times things that are more light and not serious at all. I'm always aware of people looking for a church, coming across our church's website, and perhaps finding my blog. That may sound kind of silly that this would even concern me, but it is always in the back of my mind. I want to represent our church well, but it also makes it harder for me to just write what I might be feeling on any given day.

I'd like to continue highlighting testimonies of people that I know and that I'd like you to know, too. I have also enjoyed these fashion link ups with other bloggers. It's kind of crazy because that has never been "me" in the past. But I have so enjoyed meeting young moms through this. I am a lot older than most moms who link up, but it has been lots of fun meeting them.

I was reading an article this morning about blogging and it posed the question of, "What are you most passionate about?" The article pointed out this this is a good indication of what you should be writing about. I thought about it this morning and then was about to talk with my husband, Dave, about it. I couldn't even get out my first sentence because of all this sudden EMOTION. I cried because in my deepest heart of hearts, I want to encourage other moms - especially those who may be struggling. I want so much to encourage, encourage, encourage them!

I'm not really even sure HOW! But I am willing for God to show me.

Would you pray that God would make it very clear to me as to what He wants me to do and how to even do it? I really would appreciate it.

I bless each one of you reading this today!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pin- Spired in February









It's hard to believe that March 1st is tomorrow! This has been a long, hard winter. Even though spring comes in March, we may not have nice temperatures in Iowa for several more weeks. You are very lucky if you are reading this in a non-northern state! I envy your nice temperatures:)

I'm joining The Larson Lingo, Pinterest Told Me To, and Mix and Match Mama for their monthly pin-spired party.

I was very blessed on my (February) birthday to receive some very lovely things from my husband. I received not one, but two Fossil watches! He has great taste! I haven't owned a nice watch since my oldest kids were young (at least 15 years or so). It's funny how dressed up I suddenly feel wearing one.





Top: Kohls
At least we can "look" like it's spring!






Bauble Bar necklace




Bauble Bar necklace
(another birthday gift)
I sometimes see something I like and ask my husband if he minds if I "gift" myself for my birthday. Do any of you do that, too?



Another necklace from Bauble Bar...maybe Mother's Day?





 I love Alison's tops on her blog (Get Your Pretty On)...she was my inspiration for this one.



Top: H & M online


getyourprettyon.com
 And this look from Pinterest is similar...I keep forgetting that this is the whole point of Pin-spired!




In other news, our oldest daughter had her hair cut this week and donated it to Locks of Love. I didn't measure how long it was, but this is a lot of hair!!

She is in a wheelchair and washing and combing it out was becoming a very big job. Thankfully, she looks cute in her bob and it is easier on both she and I when it comes time to do her hair:)

I hope your February was a good one and that your March will be even better. I really hope the polar vortex will be swept away to Antarctica! But, you know, I was talking to a sweet, elderly lady at church last week and she said that she doesn't wish for the warmer weather, but just enjoys the season she is in. Those are wise words for all our seasons, and not just the "weather" ones. Enjoy the season you are in right now with your little ones at home. It is such a precious time. You are doing an amazing job, moms! Much love to you all:) - Kathy

Linking up to:  pinteresttoldmeto.blogspot.com  thelarsonlingo.blogspot.com  shullfamily.blogspot.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

I'd Like You to Meet Series...Tesir's Story - From Refugee to Royalty



Tesir and Kristi
Tesir is a dear friend of our family and someone my husband loves like a son. He and his beautiful wife, Kristi, have attended our church for several years with their three little boys.  I know that his testimony of his Muslim upbringing and his encounter with Jesus will touch your heart.  

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My name is Tesir Alhussaini.

I was born in Baghdad in 1984. I was the middle child in a family of seven children.

At the beginning of the Gulf War, we fled Iraq and went to a refugee camp where we lived for the better part of five years.

After some time, my father decided it was time to move. He had received several death threats against himself and our family, because of his involvement with the rebellion against Saddam’s regime.

We left the refugee camp and came out to the United States in 1995. We lived in Arizona for six months, before making permanent residency in Seattle, Washington.

I always watched my parents fight for our lives. They always worked so hard to provide a better life for us. When I was young, I would watch my dad work three jobs, while at night, I would help my mom with a newspaper route.

Compared to Iraq, I felt like life was so much simpler in the U.S. I remember thinking that if you wanted something, it was yours for the taking – as long as you worked for it. My dad would always say, “Anything you can set your mind to, you can accomplish in America. It’s one of the few countries of the world where you can fail and, the next morning, get back up and try again. So it’s pointless not to at least try.”

I grew up in very devout Muslim home. But I will always be thankful for the things my parents taught me -lessons from the Koran and from their own lives. They always made sure we kept our culture alive within the confines of our home. We kept speaking our language, we kept practicing our religion, and they always taught us to honor those who didn’t deserve it. We were taught to go above and beyond.
They taught us to love. They taught us to extend our hands. They always taught us to help your neighbors and to stand by your family. We were taught to help the poor and to watch over the widows and the orphans.

I saw my mom and dad work so hard and then, turn around, and give their earnings to the widows and the orphans. At times, when there was very little to give, they would still give all they had.

Little did I know, but they were teaching me a way of life that I would encounter years later….

Meanwhile, I was very involved in wrestling and it was there that I encountered many men whom I looked up to. One of them was a man named Brandon who was a gold medal Olympic star. I looked up to him so much and he always told me, “God is proud of you and loves you.” Because of him, I ended up attending a Christian wrestling camp. Remember, though, at this point I was still very much a Muslim. He respected that, though.

Right after high school, though, I stopped pursing wrestling and became very involved in the family business – even, though, I had scholarships. It was an honorable thing to do, to stay and help my father with the business that he built from nothing.

But, at this time, I began to run into some problems with the family. Some of the problems weren’t my family, but from my own life and my friends. I began to drink heavily, even though I had grown up believing alcohol was strictly against Muslim law. I also began to get into drugs. It was a very dark time in my life. There would be days when I would wake up somewhere and not know how I had gotten there.

This was heartbreaking to my parents. They reached out and tried to help me. I remember my dad crying and asking what he could do to help me. It was one of the few times I have ever seen my father cry.
Then, in the midst of this time in my life, I got a phone call from a man. His name was Anton. He asked me how I was doing and I trusted him enough to give him an honest answer.

There was a reason I trusted him, though. I had this distinct memory from years ago, when I was still in high school, and our coach asked the team, “Who wants to grow up to be like their dad?” And out of the fifty guys in the room, only one person raised their hand. It was Anton’s son. I never forgot that. So when Anton asked if I would come work for him, my answer was yes.

This put me on a path that would end up changing my entire life. As I worked with Anton, we developed a relationship, and through this he invited me to his church. At this time, I was still a Muslim, but I was no longer drinking or doing drugs. When he asked me to come, I said yes out of fear - fear that I could lose my job, but also out of honor for him. I didn't want to disappoint a man I looked up to.

Up until that point, Christianity was strictly a Western religion to me. It was nonsense. Jesus was not a god and, even if He was, He should have never died on the cross for us. We didn’t deserve it.

I ended up attending church with Anton and his family and, my girlfriend at the time, Kristi. She and I were going through a very difficult time and the speaker that morning was giving prophetic words. I wasn’t even sure what he was doing or what this was all about. My thought process while he was prophesying was, “When did Kristi get a chance to talk to him about our problems?” Meanwhile, I would watch people fall backwards, laugh, and cry – for hours. I thought to myself, “This is totally different kind of bar scene.”

Then the speaker called me up. I remember thinking that he if were to try and touch me that I would punch him. Before he even laid a hand on me (I believe he never did), I fell backwards and was completely out. I was in another place.

I was lying on my back on an ocean shore. I felt like a bottle being washed up on the sand. I could feel the waves hitting up against me. As they did, I heard a voice and all it said to me was, “Tesir, I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m well pleased with you. You’re my beloved son. I will never leave you or forsake you….”
Suddenly, I woke up. I was in the middle of the church, lying on the floor. But I could still feel the waves hit up against me. I went to get up and someone came over to help me. His name was Sean. Little did I know, he was going to father me into the ways of the supernatural. He took me to every crusade and conference where the presence of God went far beyond anything I’d ever experienced.

I came to a fork in the road. The vision on the beach was my conversion experience and that night I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I knew I had to tell my parents, but I was very aware of the consequences. I struggled with it for six months. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents or bring dishonor to our family. But I knew that they needed to know. It was the right thing to do. I couldn’t disown my family, but I also couldn’t disown Christ.

I’d seen Christ in a dream. I’d seen miracles. They were things I’d never encountered before and it made it impossible to deny Christ.

So I told them. After the cat was out of the bag, I lost everything I ever had or ever knew.
My family, friends, and community disowned me. All I could do was turn to Jesus. He would take me through seasons of my life where I would have heavenly encounters, where I would see angelic activity in my room, and, on the flip side, very strong demonic activity, as well.

I was unaware that this was all preparing me to minister to others. The seasons I endured, the areas I kept hidden, he walked through with me and, in turn, it showed me how to walk others through it. Because of what I have went through, I’m able to walk besides others through difficult seasons of their life.

One very important example is a time in my childhood when I was raped over the course of three years by three different men. It began to warp my understanding of sex. I thought any and all kinds of sexual intercourse were permissible. After the abuse ended, I hid this whole experience from everybody for many years. Until, I heard Father God tell me, “Tesir, the very thing you’ve hidden your whole life, is the first thing I want to do deal with….” I had no problem listening to this and obeying him, but I was very scared of God the Father. I wasn’t bothered my Jesus, but Father God scared me. This had a lot to do with the experiences I had with my own father.

Because of myself allowing Him to heal me, I’ve learned to commune with God and to be vulnerable with Him. It has changed my life.

Looking back, the things my parents taught me, the values they instilled in me, were the very things Christ would teach me. All things do work together for good in the end.

As the years went by and I walked more closely with the Lord, life continued to change. I married Kristi and  we have had three wonderful boys together. We moved from Seattle to Des Moines, Iowa in 2009. Out of all the places in the nation I had to ask why Iowa?

All I knew was that I was supposed to go. He never told me why.

But then, one morning, we drove into the state limits. And we saw the sign that welcomed you into the state and it said Iowa: the Land of Opportunities. Then I remembered that crazy movie where they said, “If you build it, they will come.” Then I said, “God, my life is in your hands.”

I was unaware that the next few years would involve more difficulty, more pain, and more uncertainty. I can’t even tell you how many times I questioned God about why we had moved to Iowa. I remember three or four guest speakers at our church and whenever they came, they always picked on me and said that Iowa was my home. It always upset me, but I knew that they were right.

Then, one guest speaker, Bob Hazlett told me, “Son, eat your spinach.” I knew exactly what it meant. I needed to follow what God was telling me and do what He told me.

We have been in Iowa for almost five years, now. I have my own business, I have many friends, and I have learned to love Iowa. It is home to me.

Looking back on my life, I’m thankful for what God has done in my life and the things He has walked through with me. We have three wonderful sons who love Jesus and talk about Him all the time. But it is also on my heart to be a father to the fatherless. I feel God has put this on my heart and it is what I am trying to walk out in obedience to my heavenly Father.


Years ago, in the refugee camp, we had very dry pita bread and watermelon. My dad would take the bread and try to wrap it around the watermelon to soften the bread for us kids. I remember him saying, “Remember this moment. One day you will eat like kings.”

And, right now, I can truly say, in more ways than one, we do live like kings.






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Thank you so much, Tesir, for your transparency and for sharing your testimony.   I appreciate the love and honor you have for your parents and for all the beautiful things that they instilled within you. Your life has blessed our life in so many ways. We are so thankful that God led you and your family here.