I was asked if I would share my testimony at Ellerslie and I, of course, said YES! It is so humbling to think that the Lord would speak through my life and story and give me opportunities to share! I know He is giving me these smaller arenas to share and if I prove faithful, He will give me more.
When I went out to Colorado, it may have briefly crossed my mind about sharing because I did last semester. But, I didn't give it much thought. I just leave it in the Lord's hands and if He wants to give me the opportunities to speak, I just say yes, Lord, I am willing. Then, when they asked me, I was delighted! What an honor and joy it is to speak of how He transformed my heart and saved a wretch like me!
As I thought more and more about sharing, I started getting extremely nervous. One afternoon, I was talking to my friend Sarah about this and the Lord really spoke through her. I realized that even though being nervous seems like the natural human response, as I began to examine the reasons for why I was nervous, I realized it was of the flesh and very selfish. I was afraid of what people would think of me. I wanted to preserve my name and reputation, as if there is anything to preserve! I wanted to sound like an eloquent, fluent speaker and was afraid of making a fool of myself. I found myself in this place of surrender and asking the Lord to use me and break me so that I cared not at all about my own name or what others thought. This is about His name and His glory! An Ellerslie audience can be a bit intimidating because not many people there have a past like mine and it can make me feel uncomfortable. Yet, the Lord has shown me that this is the best place to start sharing! These people may not have a past like mine, yet they love with the love of Christ and show His mercy and forgiveness! They see the beauty in the story and how Jesus rescues triumphantly! No matter how many times I share my story in the future, what a gift to know the first couple times were at Ellerslie to my precious brothers and sisters in the Lord. Ellerslie and the Ludy's have been such an instrumental part in my story and it is so precious to be able to share my story there.
I have been reading the book "They Found the Secret" by V. Raymond Edman, which is AMAZING and you should read it too :)! I read about the life of Samuel Logan Brengle and came across this quote:
"His ambition was to be a great speaker; and he sought the power of the Holy Spirit to that end. He rationalized that a great speaker would do more for the glory of God than one who was mediocre. Finally, in utter desperation, he prayed, "Lord, I wanted to be an eloquent speaker, but if by stammering and stuttering I can bring greater glory to Thee than by eloquence, then let me stammer and stutter!" (speaker was actually preacher in the book)
I read this and realized at a deeper level that this is not about me and sounding/looking good to the world. This is about my King's glory and His Kingdom! What a glorious revelation and freedom to say to the Lord, "Use me! I don't care how I look or sound! As long as I am in Your perfect will and bringing glory due Your name!"
I have spoken to an audience three times in the last six months. And I realized I didn't attempt to get myself any of those opportunities. It's when it's in the Lord's plan that it works. I was asked all three times to speak. And I have come to realize, He is building me for something. Something more and beyond all I can dream right now. It was so sweet to be so well received in my sharing. And I realized it won't always be this way. This story will face opposition because it represents Christ and LIFE. But, I know I must stand firm and go where He is calling me. I must share when He asks me to. In my own plans, I picture sharing at pregnancy center banquets and Pro-Life events, yet I am not sure if that's entirely the direction the Lord is leading me in. This story is about Jesus and His name being high and lifted up and I will never change what I share, depending on the audience. This is a Pro-Life story, but more than that, it is a story of LIFE IN HIM. Being Pro-Life only matters because Jesus is the Author of Life! I will never take Him out of the story, for He is the story! So, who knows...I may share at Pro-Life events, churches, youth groups, etc. But, one thing I know for sure, this is a story about the Author of LIFE!
There's nothing in me that desires to show what a wretch I am. Yet, I share because I am compelled. I was made for this, to glorify my King! I was created for such a time as this, for this battle for unborn life, this battle for eternal LIFE. And He is equipping me to fight. I know full well that as I raise my sword, the battle has already been won! Victory is His, therefore victory is mine! All things are under His feet, so all things are under mine! He has crafted me for this specific day, for this specific battle. And so He has made you for such a time as this, for whatever battle He is calling you to fight for His name and glory. Oh, may the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!
On the day that I was to share, I was feeling so nervous that it almost made me physically sick. All my thoughts were scattered. The Lord allowed me to come face to face with my own inadequacy. I knew it would only be Him that gave me the strength. I was on my face, tears streaming, and begging Him to give me the strength to stand up and be His voice, as well as the voice of both my children. I begged Him to be with me and give me boldness and courage to expose the deepest parts of me. I asked that He would take away the nerves. I asked that this would only be about Him and everything about me would fade away. I asked that others would walk about thinking Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus and Hannah Rose wouldn't even be a thought in their minds! I didn't feel the strength, but He was asking me to step out in faith, fully trusting and knowing He would give me what I need, the moment I needed it.
I got up on that stage and as soon as I did, the nerves melted away. I have always been a shaker when I am in front of people talking. The Lord did not make me a natural speaker, so that I would need to depend upon Him. I knew it was His strength alone that swept through me as I stood up there to share. He chooses the weakest and least likely among us to showcase His strength and victory! In that moment, I felt so at peace. I thought to myself, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. This is where I belong, sharing my Jesus and the legacy of my sweet babies. I was overwhelmed with the power of the Cross. I saw myself, three years ago, in the depths of the darkness, having an abortion, living rebelliously. And I never could have dreamed in that moment where the Lord would take me. How He'd use my sin and sorrow and turn it into a glorious display of His power and sovereignty. I never could have imagined that one day, not too far away, I'd be standing on the Ellerslie stage, sharing my story!
If you know me well, you know that I can be a fast talker and if I get nervous, I talk so fast that I become breathless. Well, I didn't have trouble with that at all! I was talking slowly and distinctly, without a problem. The Lord gave me the words to articulate my experiences and what He's done in my life. I also had to rely upon Him that He would show me what details to leave out and what to keep. I had an hour to share and had never practiced sharing in a formal way, let alone in a specific time slot. The Lord gave me exactly what I needed and everything ended at the exact perfect time! I had also never shared my testimony in front of guys before, so I had to trust that the Lord would make me sensitive in what I said. Since my story is so close to my heart, it can be hard to "hold it together." I want to show the emotion behind it, but not crying hysterically, ya know? The Lord really gave me the grace to share and show my heart, yet not too much.
Oh, He is so good! If He asks you to do something, trust He will give you what you need! At the end of my talk, I shared the video tribute I made for Lily. Then, my sister got up and shared a little from her perspective. Then, it was closed out in prayer. It was such a special time. I truly felt the presence of the Lord sweep through the room after the video ended. It was such a sacred moment, for this is such a sacred story. A story that He takes very seriously. It is the living power of the Gospel displayed in my life.
During my talk, I wore my Lily footprint necklace (with her actual footprints engraved, scaled down of course.) I plan on wearing this each time I speak, holding her close to my heart. :-)
It was so neat to meet several people that have been following my blog! How special that they got to hear my story in person, with true emotion, rather than just reading it. It was such a blessing to hear the feedback and how the Lord was using His story of life and redemption in each individual life. I also got to share my testimony with numerous people individually (or with a couple people) throughout the week. Thank You, Jesus! It was extra sweet that my sister got to be there and Bex, who has been such a big part of my story. I got to hear her share her testimony last semester and she missed mine last semester, so I was so incredibly thankful she could be there this time around!
My talk was audio recorded and as soon as I figure out how to upload it somewhere, I will share it here on my blog! A few months ago, when I told Eric Ludy that I had shared my testimony, he said I should record it every time I do so I can see how the Lord grows me as a speaker. :-)
My sister snapped a couple photos for me. :-) Too bad it's not a wide lens, so you could see everyone in the Chapel