Dec 13, 2012

Thursday SHINE....

Today's Reading: Luke 11

Happy Serve Day Thursday, SHINE! Guess what we do today? We SERVE! 

If we serve those around us in small ways, it can make a BIG difference! Just think of a time when someone did a small act of kindness for you. How did it make you feel? 

See what I mean? :)

Today, my precious friend Michelle Chapman is posting her SHINE girls serving story.

I could literally write an entire blog about this sweet friend. She has been such a great friend to me over the years. I am incredibly blessed to know her and call her my friend!

Before you read, please disregard the embarrassing praise that she gives me. I blushed reading it, and begged  her to let me take it out of the post.  

We arm wrestled over it, and she won. (not really.) :)

Get ready to be blessed by Michelle's serving story. It's good, good stuff.

My Story
by: Michelle Chapman

Hi y'all!  Okay--I'm SO not a writer...when sweet, sweet Jill asked me if I would post (way back in October :/), I honestly thought she texted the wrong person (true story: )  I'm all over the place and go from one thing to the next, but I'm going to try really hard to keep it to the point and somewhat "together".  Praying God will just lay his sweet hands on mine while I type and my boggled mind just flow words of the Spirit not the flesh...
I can't sit here and type this without giving credit to Jill and this SHINE blog. It has literally changed my life. Jill has changed my life. I hope I'm not embarrassing her, but for all of those that know Jill, you know--she is amazing! Beyond A-mazing! I've honestly never met anyone like her! She inspires me. She loves me when I'm so unlovable! She is the epitome of a true spirit led and fed friend. She is so wise and always there for can see the spirit just radiating from her beautiful face! Jill & SHINE have been SO humbling for me. God knew I needed her!
Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" 
Where to start?  My testimony and life is somewhat of a boring one...It's kind of weird, but I feel like I have known Jesus my whole entire life.  We never attended church regularly, but Mom & I would go sometimes and I would go to VBS and to Church with my Aunt Lisa a lot when I was little.  I always LOVED church.  Adored church.  It always just felt right to be in the Lord's house and I always felt so loved by Jesus ever since I can remember.  Well--I was saved when I was 17.  It was truly amazing...y'all all know the feeling when the Holy Spirit stirs your heart and you don't remember anything after that moment but LOTS of tears and just pure joy and love for Jesus!!!  I told everyone...I wanted to scream it from the rooftops!  Well...of course I was on fire for awhile.  I attended church and read my Bible, but slowly stopped going to church and reading my Bible.  Then, I went off to college.  He never ever left me, but I left him : (  So sad to admit that, but all I was concerned with was the "college life".  Then I met my soul now husband.  Thank the good Lord he was a Christian and we talked about God A LOT (Although our dating years were NOT easy, I honestly can say it made us stronger and what we are today).  We got married In October of 2000.  Our first couple years of marriage was hard, but God pulled us through it and we moved to North Georgia where we live now.  We started a family and started going to an awesome church. 

Girls, I THOUGHT for so long that I was right with God...I am a natural law follower so that part is easy.  We went to church, I read my Bible(not enough), prayed(not enough) and taught my children about the Lord.  I had Faith and loved the Lord with all of my heart, but I never truly "Let go and let God".  I wasn't giving him my all.  I was miserable...FOR YEARS!  I would commit to changing during church and wanting SO bad to be all He has in store for me, but I just never seemed to change.  It just was never enough.  I know He expected so much more out of me!  I felt like a failure.  I just couldn't understand WHY I couldn’t change.  Why was I so desperately holding on to this ugly, ugly flesh of mine??  Ugh!   I would cry every single Sunday at church because my heart was SO heavy.  This is when he slowly and sweetly started teaching me obedience, the meaning of it and truly what it means to die to oneself.   HE patiently waited on me...Oh' girls, I just LOVE how He has SO much patience with us stubborn ones!!! He is just SO good!  I started fully understanding what these two verses meant:   
Galatians 5:16--"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."
Luke 9:23--Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
In complete honesty:  this has been SO hard for me!  Fully giving EVERY part of my life to the Lord.  It is a daily battle!  Struggling with my flesh and living in this world is hard.  There is so much darkness and sin. I struggle with this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I yearn Goodness. Happiness. Purity. for everybody. I want everyone to know the Lord!  REALLY know Him!  I have such a heavy heart for lost souls...I am burdened by it daily and it is literally the hardest part of my Christian walk:  Witnessing. Oh, I'm SO not good at it, but desperately want to be.  My prayer to the Lord daily, is to take this "world" out of me and live wholly for the "spirit". I long for this!  
Titus 2:12--"Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age"
Girls-I was so desperately holding on to my flesh and it was unwilling to let God in control for so long.  Even today, I still have A LOT of "flesh".  I have some major OCD and "Control issues" along with being a complete "germaphobe" (mainly just the stomach bug)...Ugh! He is again, patiently waiting for me to give all of that completely over to Him (the germ part is HARD)! I have come a LONG way though...Through much, much prayer, I, at least don't have the panic attacks anymore...PRAISE THE LORD!  Whenever I get that "hopeless" feeling of not being in control of something and anxiety starts seeping in, I cling to this verse: 
Matthew 17:20--He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Such power in His living word!  AMEN!!! 
Over the past year, I have grown more in my walk than in the 20 years that I've been a Christian.  It's been unreal!  I can't even put it into words...I yearn His word.  I literally soak in every single word and have such a hard time putting it down in the morning to start my housework.  I yearn for His presence.  I pray like I've never prayed before...I fall on my face in His reverence.  I was just telling my husband the other day, that I couldn't imagine living in that place again and being so far away from God and out of His will.  I never want to experience that again!  I know as a Christian we will have our "valley's" and "peaks" on the mountain, but I can't fathom losing this closeness to my Jesus ever again!  He is teaching me so much and has taken me out to the woodshed more times than I would like to admit over the past few months.  It's so hard to explain.  This past year has been hard, but a good kind of hard.  He is teaching me to lean on Him, to trust Him in everything I do.  Simple Obedience.  I pray before I do anything now.  I fall on my face in prayer...I cry out to Him and fall at His feet...I have conversations with Him all day long.  He is my best friend and He is showing me that my spiritual gifts of discernment, faith & encouragement means serving.  He has instilled in me a heart to serve which I am FINALLY pursuing fervently!  I am so sad that I wasted so many years not fully serving Him like I should have. 
I feel like sometimes we just kind of live in a little bubble...taking care of our own little life and going to church and serving in the church and it stops at that.  I always thought "serving" just meant finding what your gift is in the church etc. and donating every now and then to charities and shelters and tithing.  I have been desperately seeking what my duty in the church was suppose to be for over a year no avail, because I had it SO wrong...Oh my--SO wrong!  What He has taught me over the past few months is totally the opposite.  He has showed me that my serving is not in the church but in this lost and dying world...being the hands and feet of Jesus!  Making myself have a "witnessing" opportunity.  Just this past Thursday, my friend Nadine & I went and served at a local Homeless Shelter in Gainesville.  I was beyond humbled and everything about that night just felt right.  I loved every single second of it!  I couldn't believe how much He blessed ME by serving those sweet precious souls!!!  OH MY!  I am dedicated to serving there as much as I can now. That night changed my life.  I came home and wanted to give everything I had away.  I was just so distressed at how much "stuff" we had and these people had nothing!  I get SO attached to people and can still remember each face...I can't wait to go serve them again!  I now know what my Christian "serving duties" are--without a doubt.  I am fervently seeking to find other ways to serve.  My husband and I are starting to visit nursing homes every other Wed morning (you may be the only person that will ever stop by to see them and tell them about Jesus!  I have such a soft spot for the elderly).  I am collecting items for a local woman's shelter and donating weekly to our local community helping place, since we don't have a shelter here.  It's almost like I can't get enough of it!  I have found my JOY!  My life's "calling".  So humbled that he opened my heart and eyes...and so thankful that he was so patient with little ole' me!!!
Proverbs 22:9 “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.”  

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