Thursday, April 30, 2009

I work at our church in the Preschool two days a week. On Thursday before school starts, all the staff have chapel time, and each one of us throughout the year have to do the devotion. I was able to go the entire year without going, but today was finally my day. I have known what I wanted to share for a long time, but was trying to second guess God. I knew that he was calling me to share part of my testimony, so I did, and I also felt God telling me to share it with whoever would listen because someone else might need to hear it. So here it is. The grammer may not be pretty, and my spelling might be bad, but this is it none the less. Oh and the picture has nothing to do with it, I just wanted to share my cutie patootie daughter and I fishing. I guess only the girls in this house like to touch worms and get dirty. The boys were shooting golf balls instead.
My Testimony
I have always been a worrier and been very fearful, even though if you looked at my life I really have never had anything to worry about. I lived a very safe, secure, non dysfunctional life. My parents are both very strong Christians, and I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at a young age, and have loved Him ever since. I grew up in AK and my family still lives there. I had great friends, a great church, and a wonderful family that loved and supported me. I don’t know where this fear and worry comes from, but for as long as I can remember I have had it.

To give you just a little glimpse into my strange mind, I remember a time when I was pretty young and a family friend was joking around with me and my sister. He made a comment about dreams, and asked, how do we know we aren’t dreaming right now? It scared me so badly that I cried and worried over the idea of being stuck in a dream for about a year.

Another example, my mom had a best friend when we were growing up named Piper. The year that I started Kindergarten, Piper was diagnosed with Lupus. My mom sat my sister and I down and told us that Piper was probably going to die. The thought that she was going to die terrified me. I was only 5, but when I think back on this time, I can feel the icky fear and anxiety that I have come to know all to well in my heart.

Piper ended up recovering remarkebly. I praise God for her recovery and can’t imagine having grown up without her, but that moment in time stuck with me for a long time. From that day on I cried every day in Kindergarten. From the moment my mom dropped me off until she picked me up at the end of the day. I was my kindergarten teacher’s nightmare. I couldn’t tell anyone why I was crying, because even from that young of an age, I was embarrassed and ashamed of my fear. It wasn’t until years later when my mom and I were talking that I told her what was behind all the crying. The reason I cried when she left me at school was that I was absolutely terrified that she was going to die while I was there. I was so scared anytime my mom left me somewhere that she wouldn’t come back. Satan had a hold on my little tender heart even at the age of 5, and that year started many years to come of living a life walking in fear and worry.

Over the next years of my life, I grew with the Lord and for a long time I could control my scary thoughts. As I got older and my thoughts got a little stranger, I began to get embarrassed to talk about most things I was afraid of. I would try to pray about them, but I even felt embarrassed to tell God about the silly things that made me afraid, because I was fully aware that most of what I worried about was ridiculous.

In 2002, I met and married my husband Chris. He is in the Air Force. Shortly after we were married, we found out we were moving to Germany, and right after that found out I was pregnant. This was not in our plan, and it added a whole slew of new worries to my plate. I was very attached to family, and hadn’t cleaved to my husband yet. The thought of having to raise a child without my mom absolutely terrified me. I was also very naive to what being a military wife was all about, and I really didn’t know what I was getting into. The first year in Germany was terrible for me. Our marriage was struggling, and we were on the verge of separating. This was the first time in my life that my relationship with the Lord was really tested, and I was failing miserably.

Chris and I went to see our Chaplain about our marriage and received some really good solid counseling, and things started to look up. I started to dive back into the word and find comfort and guidance from the Lord again. Things were going better for us, so we decided to have another baby. We got pregnant right away , but when I was about 24 weeks pregnant, I started having some problems. I went to a ladies retreat and started to feel sick even before we left. I thought it was just pregnancy related, so I went anyways, but by the time we got there, I knew something was wrong. When I got home, I was admitted to the German hospital and at this point I was overcome with fear. The Drs. All spoke in German to each other and had very serious looks on their faces, but really couldn’t tell me what was wrong. My body was going into sepsis. My liver, spleen, gallbladder and kidneys were all inflamed and starting to shut down. They finally diagnosed me with a severe kidney infection, and did a very painful procedure that required putting two stints through my bladder and up into my kidneys. This helped to open up the blocked ureter which had caused the infection, and let the infection out and the urine flow. I spent the next six days in the hospital on IV antibiotics. For someone who struggled with being a hypochondriact this was not the place for me to be. I lay in that bed worrying day and night. I was worried I was going to die. I was worried my baby was going to die. I was worried about how I was going to make it through the next 3 months peeing constantly. I was worried about how I was going to take care of Cailey, wondered who was going to take care of me? I was so scared I couldn’t even pray. This was my darkest hour, but it also began a journey that I can look back upon and see that God was using to work powerfully in me. He was breaking me so that I could finally rely fully on him.

After I got out of the hospital, the decision was made for me to go back to AK to finish out my pregnancy. I needed help that I didn’t have in Germany, and was nervous about the healthcare system in Germany. I gave birth to Caleb on July 25, 2004. He was a very robust and healthy 9 lb 10 oz baby boy. I am still amazed that after all of what I went through, I gave birth to such a perfectly healthy baby.

You would think that after watching God take care of me and Caleb, my faith would have been renewed, but it wasn’t, it was only the beginning of an even bigger battle for me. My faith suffered through that time, because I realized how little faith I actually had.

After returning home to Germany with the kids I began to have severe insomnia. I would lay in bed at night worrying about everything under the sun. I could not shut my mind off. I would lay there while everyone else slept and felt trapped in the prison of my own mind. This went on for about 8 months. I pretended I was ok, which I now realize was prideful. I had plenty of friends who would have helped me, but I wasn’t one to ask for help. I thought I was too good for that. I would lay in bed at night and pray and pray and plead for God to help me sleep. Nothing I seemed to do would help. I was miserable, exausted, depressed, and could barely function.

There was a pivotal day of reckoning for me. Chris was working the night shift, so I was alone at the house. The kids were asleep and I Had been laying there trying to sleep for hours. I started to go crazy. I couldn’t stand to listen to my thoughts another second, I couldn’t stop thinking and worrying, and I felt like I just couldn’t take it another minute. I went to the kitchen to get a knife. I didn’t want to kill myself, but I wanted to hurt myself badly, so that I could be admitted to a hospital and someone would finally take my sleep problems seriously. I didn’t know what else to do. Thankfully I got scared at the last second, called Chris and he came home. He took a week off of work to stay home with me and sent me to see the pysicatrist. The pysciatrist suggested I stop nursing Caleb. He thought a lot of my problems were due to post partum deppression and he put me on an antideppresent that also made you sleepy. Within 3 days I was sleeping a lot better, and within a couple of months I was sleeping well. I started opening up to my friends, about what I had been dealing with, and they started praying for me and encouraging me. During that time my dad e-mailed me this scripture, which spoke to me.

Lamentations 3:22 “ Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed. For his compassion’s never fail. They are new ever morning; great is your faithfulness.” Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed...that is powerful to me. I was so consumed with my thoughts, with my fears, and God was right there waiting for me give them to him. So often I felt like I had given it to God, but I never fully did. For some reason I hung onto those thoughts and fears, and they ate their way right back into my mind every time.

Philippians 4:4 says Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again :Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving , present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This is a verse that I still have to recite to myself daily. God tells us we have to give our fears and our worries and our thoughts to him. The verse doesn’t say give part of your requests to me, it says give them ALL to me. I had been holding on to my worries and when I would pray for God to take them away, I never truly let go.

Going through these past few years has made me realize how powerful our thoughts are, and if we aren’t careful our thoughts can get us into so much trouble. God tells us in philippians that, He will guard our hearts and minds. That shows me that there is something to guard against. Satan attacks us at our weakest points. My thoughts, and fears and worries, are my weakest point and that is how Satan feeds on me.

I can now say that Satan does not have control over my thoughts. I finally was able to hand my thoughts to God to guard and protect. That doesn’t mean that I am not afraid anymore. I am fearful about things everyday, and sometimes I have to say out loud to Satan, “I will NOT let these thoughts into my head. Get out, I rebuke you, because I know these thoughts are not from God.” The bible speaks so much about the power of our tongues, and how important our words are. I believe that when I say those words out loud to Satan, that that is powerful, and also when I speak out loud to God, and ask Him for help, ask to take the ick out of mind and put in the good, that that is also very powerful.

I can now confidently say I am child of God, who been redeemed, and I no longer walk in fear, but rather I walk in the truth that God’s mercies are new every morning, and Great is His faithfulness.


The Redenius Family said...

I'm so glad you shared. You brought tears to my eyes.

kh123 said...

Loving your honesty! Praising the Lord in your freedom!

The Parkers said...

Wonderful testimony, thanks for sharing :)

Tammy said...

Wow! Thanks so much for being vulnerable and real. It is so encouraging to hear how God has been real and active in your life. One of the best parts of CDC this year is having you as my daughter's teacher. You have such a sweet and compassionate heart that just makes me want to be around you and get to know you more. It is contagious! I love the picture of your boots. I know Cindy is jealous she didn't get to go fishing with you!

The Zinn family said...

Christina, To think of you going through all that just kills me. You are such an amazing Christian friend to me, and I have learned so much through you, even when it wasn't fun to hear. I am so blessed to read this. Remember in our Daniel study, she said that God either saves us FROM the fire, THROUGH the fire or BY the fire.
Sounds like the past few years were very hard, but it also sounds like you learned so many amazing things that you never could have without this journey.
I know that your pain will never be in vain. You have already helped so many people and I know your expiriences will help so many more. I love reading this, and it also brought tears to my eyes.

Shannon said...

Wow, Christina, thanks for sharing that. I had no idea! Thank you for sharing what God was teaching you through an incredibly hard period of your life. I'm glad He kept you from being consumed!