Oct 3, 2013

Thursday SHINE....

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 12:1-32

Happy Thursday, SHINE girls! I have a very special guest post today, from a very special girl.

Amberlee is my beautiful niece. I was just a teenager when she was born, but I have claimed her as my very own since laying eyes on her. We have always been told we favor, and I happen to think it's true! :)

She is growing up, not just physically, but spiritually. Watching her journey with Christ is breathtaking from a front row seat. 

Be blessed, encouraged, and spurred on today by her post. She's leaving a legacy of faithfulness for many around her. 

Spiritual Facelift
by: Amberlee Crowe

Hello SHINE sisters! I hope this post finds you well. I am Amberlee Crowe. I am 19 years old and currently a Sophomore Musical Theatre major at Anderson University in South Carolina. I also have the privilege of being Jill’s niece (and what a privilege that is!).

Me and my Aunt Jill

I am honored to get to share with you today about what God has been doing in my life as of recent. So, here it goes…but first, just a little bit about how I got from there to here.

After a couple weeks of auditioning at different schools, I knew that Anderson University was where I wanted to be. I immediately felt at home. Anderson is a private Christian school that promotes faith in every aspect of education. I loved the idea of being in a theatre department that lifted up the name of Jesus. On top of all of this, my best friend was going here too. AND we were rooming together…yes, a dream come true.

I began the transition. I jumped in full force. I was in the fall musical, I landed an on campus job, I had a social life, I made killer grades. So many “good things”. Why wasn’t I satisfied? Something was missing. But, what? I am just going to cut straight to the chase: I turned to people throughout my freshman year to fill myself up. I found my identity in friendships and relationships. I was selfish and was pretty consumed with stupid worldly desires. Sounds like I’m being harsh on myself, but I promise you, that is the cold hard truth. (Ask my mom if you don’t believe me…I was a joy to be around during this time…)  

Spiritually, I was numb. I quit seeking God all together because I knew as soon as I did God would do His thing and put me in my place. I was holding out on God so I could experience the world.

I was self seeking and my pride was blinding. Did I want God telling me what to do? Heck no. Because I knew I was in the wrong. I knew that His plans were different than what I wanted for myself.

So to wrap up freshman year…it was fun, it was filled with great opportunities, but I was totally and undoubtedly just not in a good place. My thoughts were at a constant battle. I had something in my head saying “Wake up, Amberlee. What are you doing? You have the potential to impact lives, but instead you are so focused on yourself that you cannot see that” and another louder voice saying “Keep doing what you are doing. The only way to feel loved is to be wrapped up in a relationship. Your worth comes from your successes, Amberlee”.

Summer time came at the PERFECT time. I was ready for long days at the pool and sleeping in until 10 every day (that didn’t happen…these little things called siblings made sure of that).  Summer time came with a lot of free time. That free time turned into me having my nose in books. I spotted “Captivating” in a basket in our den. My mom and every other girl on the planet had recommended I read it and now was the perfect time. I was weirdly nervous about reading the book. I knew that God was going to “call me out” if I started this book. BUT, thankfully, I opened it up by the pool one afternoon and was immediately swept off my feet.

It was like a switch flipped. No…it was like getting hit up side the head with a cinder block. I heard Him loud and clear.

He called to me. “You’re the crown of creation, Amberlee. I will do everything it takes to set your heart free. You sparkle like jewels in a crown (Zech 9:16-17). I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). How beautiful you are, my darling (Song of Songs 1:15)”.

Wow. These simple truths overwhelmed me. In the best way possible. I experienced His presence like never before. This set a fire in me. A fire that I was determined to spread.

With this new state of mind I began to dig deeper in the word and every day Jesus knocked me off my feet. I finally was beginning to wrap my head around that my satisfaction comes from The Lord. I was understanding that peace and joy come from The Lord. Not things of this world. I recognized that whose you are is who you are.

God took me to the book of Matthew and once again did His thing and slapped me in the face. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24-25, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Holy cow. My eyes were open. My ears heard. (Fun fact: this verse made such an impact on me that I got it tattooed on my foot…sorry dad…)

My reminder.

 “Follow YOU? Yes. I’m in. You have me. I’m yours. Now take me.” I refuse to just believe in Jesus but to believe and FOLLOW. I don’t want to just think, I want to experience.

Starting my sophomore year of college I am a completely new person. Now this year has already had its challenges, but I firmly believe that the more comfortable and the closer you are with The Father the more He stretches you.

One way that He is stretching me is to be intentional. My purpose is to teach the kingdom. How can I do this if I’m not intentional with people? How can I do this if I’m consumed with myself?

I am challenged daily by God to reach out, to pray for the broken, to pray for the oppressed, to teach the kingdom. When I made that shift from “all about me” to “how can I further the kingdom of God?” all my troubles, burdens, and issues seemed to diminish.

 What does it look like to wholeheartedly follow Jesus? What changes when we make the shift from “me me me” to selflessness?

I challenge you to allow the Holy Spirit to stretch you. To use you. I challenge you, like I have been challenged, to step into brokenness and pray for wholeness.. Walk in love towards others.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters. Wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” (Oceans—Hillsong United)

These are not only lyrics to my favorite worship song, but my daily prayer.  I’m praying that God would ignite your heart and that today you would choose to follow. Take up your cross and follow Him.

All in for Christ,


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