Thank you for stopping by! As I rarely have time to update this blog anymore, please come visit me at my new photoblog, Cari Berry Photography where I'll blog the occassional Beauty and the little Beast story, as well as post sneak peeks and stories from all my photo sessions. I try to give return blog love to all visitors over there, and hope to start giveaways there in the very near future!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Testimony: True. Tearless. Tribute.

I usually try to keep my blog posts fun, humorous and short, so if that’s what you came anticipating today, I apologize for throwing you a curve ball, but I think if you stick around you will get more than you were expecting from me.

In recent weeks I have had guilt on my heart for allowing my blog to distract me from more important life tasks, so I have been praying that blogging would become an edifying experience for me, and that God might use my blog in an authentic and natural way to bring glory to Himself. Several things have happened in past days that lead me to believe now is the right time for a serious attempt to do so.

Yesterday, I read an amazing post by Angie over at Bring the Rain about how her current intimate relationship with God was formed. You should all take a moment to read it, as it is one of the most beautifully written pieces I've ever read, and I was an English major and English teacher once upon a time so I've read a lot. Angie's post spoke so loudly and directly to my heart that I have been inspired to share my own testimony about how God recently changed my heart and my life forever.

Last summer, I went through what I call a Spiritual Crisis. It was a depression actually. I was expecting a second baby and was terrified about how I’d manage to be a successful mother to two kids under two. I felt like my life was without purpose or direction; that I was stumbling through it accidentally when what I really wanted was to live - and parent - with intention. I needed a stronger relationship with my God. I did not want to be lukewarm, or distracted, or worldly. I wanted my love for Christ and commitment to his commandments to be like a fire within me, overpowering my sin nature and the temptations of this world with its intensity. I wanted my every action to be motivated by love for Christ, and I wanted to be an example of Christ-centeredness for my children.

I began desperately and frantically searching for the right book that would tell me how to achieve this, or for a Christian women’s seminar that would light this fire in me, teach me how to be a woman of Christ. I cried, and prayed, and Googled until all hours of the night for days on end. And then an epiphany dawned, not suddenly like the proverbial light bulb going on, but slowly, layer by sweet layer, God’s truth unfolded itself for me. I was making this so much harder than it was. I did not need a book, or seminar, or song, or person to teach me how to follow Christ. All I needed was prayer and God’s written word. How simple! In Angie's words, what I needed to do was "Disregard the manuals and pick up the brush."


So I began to pray and read the Bible regularly. I set aside time every morning and evening for devotionals. I would bring my failures and fears and weaknesses and wants to God, and I would beg for him to fix me. I would plead with him to show me what to do. And the most amazing thing happened. Everytime I finished praying, then opened the Bible to a random place, the Scripture that was before me was a direct answer to a question or worry weighing on my heart! And those answers began to change me, though I was still struggling with how to become the person I wanted to be. Part of me was still looking for that one perfect book, or person, or seminar that would do the work for me.

At this time, I was also feeling a burning need to go back to church (we had let sleeping in, running errands, home improvements keep us from church for months). For several weeks worth of Sundays, I ignored the need for a morning of worship in favor of doing other less important things. But one Sunday, I could not quiet the desire, so ended up at church in spite of the million other things we had planned for ourselves that day. That particular Sunday, there was a guest speaker, a missionary from Africa coming home to report on his experiences in Senegal. His sermon was titled, “Finding Your Way Through the Fog,” and started with this verse:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5

And there it was again. So simple. The direct answer to my most fervent prayer. How?

Trust the Lord
Lean not on your own understanding
Acknowledge him in all your ways

I connected to that sermon more powerfully and intensely than I had to anything I’d ever heard in my life before. I was beyond moved; lifted up. It was as though that man was speaking directly to me. And I thought to myself, “Maybe he is.” In fact, maybe God was speaking to me through this man. This was a shocking idea to me. Though I’d casually believed in Christ as the Lord all my life, I didn’t believe that God still spoke to people, or performed miracles, or really showed himself present in the lives of us mortals at all. But every time I prayed for direction through the Scripture, a perfect set of verses presented itself when I opened my Bible. And when I didn’t want to go to church, an irresistible need to go drove me there. On the exact day that a man preached about how to find my way out of the fog of depression and inertia I’d been lost in.

And that’s not all. After the sermon, the missionary said, “If you are feeling lost in the fog, please do not leave here today without coming forward to speak to me, and letting me pray with you.”

I started to leave, then stopped mid-step and considered turning back and going to him. I had never, ever gone to the front of church to speak to the preacher in my entire life. I liked being anonymous, filing out and disappearing among the crowd without anyone even knowing I had been there. I was certainly not going up there today, when I didn’t even know what I’d say to the man, who was a perfect stranger, for crying out loud. I started to leave again, then stopped. I was in the midst of internal struggle. I kept hearing his words again in my head, “do not leave without speaking to me”. But I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want other people to see me going up there. And I didn’t know what to say once I was before this obvious Saint of a believer. In the end, my feet carried me to the front of the church against my head’s wishes.

When I got there, to my complete and utter humiliation, I burst into tears. I was crying so hard I could not even tell the man why I was standing there. I could only choke out an embarrassed apology. Try as hard as I might, I could not curb the tears, and could not find my voice. He said to me, “It’s okay. You don’t have to say anything, but would you allow me to pray for you?” No one had ever prayed for me before as far as I knew. I nodded my head yes, and he put his hands on my shoulders, then bowed his head. I bowed mine too, my shoulders still shaking with sobs. And when he began to pray, I was washed with amazement because his prayer was exactly what my heart would’ve prayed had it been able to speak directly to God without my clumsy words and thoughts getting in the way. I had not said anything to this stranger, but somehow he knew exactly what to ask God on my behalf. Again, I was struck by the thought that God must be at work here, helping small, broken, unworthy, little me.

I left feeling hollowed out, in a good way. Emptied of all the weights I had been carrying in the pit of my stomach. God had washed me clean somehow that day, and left a blank canvas that He could paint His will on.

For weeks after that day, God continued to work visible miracles in my life, even more astonishing than anything I've shared in this post. I want to tell you about those, too, but this post has gotten so long, and it matters deeply to me that you witness all the evidence of God's grace, power and mercy that I can present. So I will finish my testimony next Tuesday, if you all would be kind enough to join me again then. Thank you.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday's Tribute
A Jay and Deb Production.

33 comments:

Sheryl said...

funny that i've never been here before but i would land here now! it's 6am and i have yet to fall asleep. God has me all over the place tonight! it's so great to hear of how you came to REALLY know Him. i, too, remember wanting something more from my relationship with Him and going everywhere but right to Him.

there's nothing like it, is there? i think it's so great that you are sharing this here - where you say you are usually more light hearted. looks like God has entrusted you with quite a following. maybe for such a time as this. looking forward to the rest of your story. (sorry to have written a novel here!!)

The Blonde Duck said...

What a inspiring post.

Cole said...

Great post! I loved reading it!

Melissa B. said...

Well, talk about "edifying experiences": You're the winner in my Silly Sunday Sweepstakes caption contest! Please drop by today to see about collecting your $50 Tar-Jay Gift Card!

BlogBaby said...

Carebear,

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Your posts are always a great read but this...this is beyond words. I am so deeply genuinely glad to hear how our Lord has pursued you. Isn't it wonderful when he makes himself so clear in our lives!

I can't wait to read the rest of your testimony. I know you are touching many people with your honesty and humility here.

Blessings. Always.

BlogBaby

Rachel said...

Keri -

You just blew me away.

Talk about amazing.

How absolutely sweet - the tender way that God pursues us (as BlogBaby said) and meets us in our need.

Insane how we struggle so much with trying to "find" Him so many other places - when all He wants is a personal relationship with us where we realize that He created us - intentionally, lovingly, and where we respond to that need to be a part of Him.

Thank you so much... I was teary eyed reading this this morning.

I cannot wait until next Tuesday.

Christina said...

What a lovely, heart felt post

Military Momz said...

Great post! A true inspiration! I have seen God working in my life lately and it is a blessing! I have had 2 recent episodes of what I know God has put before me, just at those particular times, because he knew I needed to hear it!

Lolli said...

Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your testimony with us!!

Heather @ Sugar N Spice Mostly Nice said...

I posted a few weeks ago about The Hubby and I getting baptized again. It truly is an amazing thing when you give yourself to God entirely. I can't wait to hear the rest of your story.

Alexia said...

It's amazing what God can do in our lives. One of my biggest "challenges" lately has been to just let go and let God be who HE is. I'm always looking for that complicated quick-fix.

Milles Family said...

It is amazing what God places in your life. I am proud of you for going to the front of the church. I totally get how hard that must have been for you...I hope that I would've been able to do the same thing!

God Bless!

Nikki B. said...

beautiful story. thanks for sharing!

Miss Mouthy said...

Wow. What an amazing post. Thank you for sharing your heart, which can be difficult to do in a public fashion. I had similar feelings last year before I went to the MOPS convention...once I get there, I'll be filled up and not dry and wandering. It was like God said, "I'm with you. You don't need to catch a plane to find me." I still struggle. What sort of devotionals are you reading? See, there I am trying to find the right "thing." Hmmm. Maybe you shouldn't tell me! Thanks again for your post.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

I saw your comment over at AP re writing your first serious post, so I clicked my way over to your site today. So very glad that I did, Carebear.

Your spiritual journey is truly humbling and an inspiration to us all. A sincere thank you for sharing it with your friends in the blogosphere. I look forward to reading more.

-Francesca

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

Thank you so much for this post! You said some things I really needed to hear, and the timing was perfect.

ElsklingDyr said...

You are a sister after my own heart!! Your story could be mine and is pretty close except for the blogging part. I just let everything else get in the way. Thanks for visiting my blog and hope you'll visit me again. I'm so new to this and HTML and just haven't had the time to make my blog as beautiful as yours!! But I do hope you'll visit again anyway.

Kristen said...

Hi! I happened upon your blog today but now I believe that God needed me to read this. All of the things you struggled with (spiritually) I am struggling with now. Thank you for your post, it has spoken to me and I cannot wait to hear more of your testimony!

Angie said...

Beautiful.

Brandi said...

Through you sharing this there will be many lives touched by God. You have an amazing testimony and please share it often. Thank you for so very much for sharing this!

Shanda said...

I absolutely loved Angie's post too! I am planning to link to it tomorrow.

Thank you for sharing your testimony. There is such power in transparency. I pray God will use it mightily!

Carrie said...

Thank you so much for such an inspiring testimony! I feel so much of the same :) I also read Angie's posts, and I NEVER once thought when I started my blog, which was just for family to share pictures, that I would find so many inspiring testimonies along the way! I think blogging can definitely become a distraction, but I've been led to some amazing scripture and life stories! thanks again :) God has a way of working in all of us and allowing us to share his Word and actions with others! Beautiful post!

Candice said...

I got here from the comments section over at Angie's blog. I think that there are so many of us in the same boat - maybe different circumstances getting us to that valley, but always the same answer to our troubles...a God that loves us enough to wait for us to find Him. Thanks for sharing your heart!
Blessings,
Candice from Kansas

Becky said...

I also just read Angie's post before coming over to yours. This brought me to tears because I have also been there. There have been times in my life that I have sat in Church and cried without knowing why. I think at times that I wasn't seeking him, I didn't WANT to know why! I cannot tell you how much I have grown since entering the "blogging world" because there are SO MANY Godly women on here that have been through so much! I also have been seeking a stronger, more intimate relationship with Him lately (it's so easy to look at your life and realize the fire has died down!!)and I think it's great that we can all be there for eachother for support! God bless your journey!

Natasha said...

wonderful testimony to how things seem to fall into place at a time when you need them to the most....When I have had a hard day or a trying time I randomly open the bible and read where I land..It is usually a scripture that feeds my soul...
((HUGS))
take Care
Natasha

lisalyn said...

I haven't been over to read Angie's post at Bring the Rain yet, but I think I just read the most beautiful written blog post ever! I'm in tears as I read this. God is not only speaking to you and changing your life...He is USING you to reach people like me who are searching for Him too!
I heard every word you wrote.
It went to my heart.
I am there.
I want more.
I am CONSTANTLY amazed at how God works!!! I absolutely love it when God makes Himself so real to us in our ordinary lives.
Thank you ~ Thank you for sharing!

Domestically Disabled Girl said...

What a sweet post, and thank you for sharing your story. It hit me in the right spot.

Mr. Daddy said...

I don't think that what you were experiencing in gender specific. I really enjoyed reading your post.

I read the book the Shack awhile back, and it really brought back the truth that God really does love us, more than we will ever know, and that we will never be perfect, but we are perfect for him.....(when we surrender to him)

Brittany said...

That Angie ALWAYS gets to my heart. God truly uses her as a vessel to share His truth.

This post is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your relationship with God with us.

I ditto Mr. Daddy, if you have not read "The Shack," it is a must-read that will leave you looking at God and His relationship a bit differently.

Good Stuff! :)

nikkicrumpet said...

What a beautiful testimony of the power of the spirit. And the way God works with others to answer our prayers. And how wonderful that he would be spiritually in tune enough to know what your heart needed. Thanks for sharing this with us. I was truly touched.

Susie said...

Bring on the Rain will do that to you. She is one of the most inspirational things I have ever encountered. I wish you well in your journey.

Mighty M said...

Great post. I am still working on faith and the role that is plays in my life...so reading this was very inspiring for me. Thanks. ;-)

AP said...

hey!! you commented on my blog when I was FB at SITS.
wow, you said it!! It is something GOd has been showing me and my husband this past year. All we need is His word and a relationship with him. Not all these how to books. WE have to search Him first. wow, awesome post