Monday, September 27, 2004

Opening the Eyes of My Heart

Of all the awesome things that Jesus Christ has done in my life, what He did for me in July of 2002 will be one of the most memorable.

Ever since 5th grade, I had to wear glasses. I started getting bad headaches, and it was discovered that I was nearsighted. It wasn't very bad at first, but it slowly grew worse as I got older. I never liked glasses, but I had no choice but to wear them. I switched to contacts when I was in 10th grade, and even though I liked those a lot better, I still didn't like that I was dependant on them. Unlike some of my friends, I wasn't blind without them, but things in the distance were very fuzzy and the headaches would be horrible.

In January 2002, our Sunday school class was given the opportunity to go on a mission trip to England. Only ten to twelve would get to go, and almost instantly I felt like the Lord wanted me to go. So, I applied and was selected.

About a year prior, the Lord had been working on my heart regarding my career choice. I had received my Associates degree in 2000 in Graphic Design/Multimedia, but, to be honest, I had absolutely no passion for that line of work. I just knew that you could make a lot of money in that industry, but the Lord had other plans. Right after I got my degree, I started looking for a job, but there were none to be found. I remember praying one night and venting my frustration to God about the lack of job oppertunities, and suddenly, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me, "Wendy, what are you doing to advance My Kingdom?"

That stopped me in my tracks. He had cut straight to my heart. Advancing God's Kingdom had never entered my mind. I couldn't think of a single excuse. So, here I was with a degree in something I didn't want to do, and now I had no clue what God wanted me to do. I had only one choice. I asked God, "Ok, Lord, what do You want me to do?" He didn't answer me immediately, but by the end of the year I began to feel that He was calling me to be a missionary. I still don't know where He wants me to go, but I'm confident that when I'm ready, He'll let me know.

So, in Jauary 2002, when I was selected to go to England, I was very excited and looked forward to what God had planned for our trip.I began to pray for the trip, and I also prayed that God would show His power while we were there. Little did I know what He had in store.

Not long after I was selected, I began to feel even more frustrated about my eyes because as I contemplated going into foreign missions, I began to see my vision problem as a potential hinderance to my calling. One thought occurred to me:
What if the Lord calls me to be a missionary in the middle of a jungle in Africa? There's not gonna be a convenience store around the corner where I can get contact lense solution. What was I gonna do then?

Shortly afterwards, I remember hearing a sermon on the power of prayer and how our unbelief is one of the main hinderances of seeing the Lord's supernatural power in our lives. God immediately convicted me about my unbelief. "Why do you doubt Me?" I felt the Holy Spirit ask. "You can trust My Word. Believe without doubting. Ask and ye shall receive." So, I did. I searched the Scriptures, and what I found made my heart begin to swell with the faith that God really could heal my eyes, if it was His will.

So, everyday I prayed and ask Jesus to heal them, and I read, claimed, and believed the Scriptures of God's promises to His children:
"…by His wounds you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24 NASB)
"And Jesus said, 'Go on your way. Your faith has healed you.' And instantly the blind man could see!" (Mark 10:52 NTL)
"… He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases." (Matt. 8:17 NLT)
"Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart's desires." (Psalm 37:4 NLT)
"… No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11 NLT)

I'm sure my family thought I was insane. May of them actually told me so. My parents reminded me that they both had vision problems, so it was only natural that I would have vision problems too. They told me that was just the way I was and that I just had to live with it... but I refused to listen! After getting such a negative reaction from them about my prayer request, I told no one else. I just kept praying and kept reading God's Word. I believed God! I believed that if it was His will He could heal me. Nothing is impossible with Him. Nothing is beyond His power!

Seven months later... still no change.
In fact, the week before our trip, my vision got worse. I had to get stronger contacts. These, however, were unusually uncomfortable, like they were too big or something, but my work schedule was so crazy that by the time our departure came, I couldn't get replacements.

Well, our long flight overseas was very uneventful. When night came, I took out my contacts so I could sleep, and when the plane landed, we were all in such a rush that I decided to wait until we were settled on the ground before I would try to put my contacts back in. After claiming our baggage, we went to the train station, and while we were waiting for our train to arrive, I decided to put my contacts back in. I made sure to thoroughly clean my hands and my contacts, and then put them in. They had been in my eyes for less than five minutes when suddenly my eyes began to burn. It was a painful, stinging burning that I had no choice but to take out my contacts. I could only figure that they were somehow dirty despite my cleaning.

Our train arrived seconds later, and to make matters worse, my eyes turned red and blood-shot and then they began to weep profusely. Everyone in my group was concerned about me and asked if I was all right. I had no explanation except to blame the contacts. When my eyes did finally stop watering and the redness had gone, I decided to try to put my contacts in again. I cleaned them thoroughly, but the same thing occurred. My eyes burned horribly and began to water incessantly.

At this point I was at my wit's end. I didn't know what to do. I remember desperately praying, "Lord, please help me! What am I going to do? This is my only pair of contacts, and something is wrong with them. Lord, please help me!" After I prayed, I felt very tired, and with my eyes still watering, I curled up in my seat and went to sleep.

I had slept for quite a while, and when I awoke my eyes had stopped weeping. A lot of my friends were still sleeping, and so to pass the time, I looked out the window. Everything was going by so fast, but as we began to pass through a stretch of pasture, I began to notice that the green blurs in the distance were now recognizable. They were trees with leaves all over them. I could clearly see the trees in the distance and their details. I turned back around and realized that I could read a sign at the end of the train-car.

I sat there in shock, and suddenly doubt filled my mind. "This is impossible. This has got to be a fluke," a voice inside my head said. "This is too good to be true; it's got to be just temporary. Just wait. Soon the headaches will come."

I never said a word about my eyes when we reached our destination, and it was not until that night as I was getting ready for bed that I realized that the headaches had not come. I had gone an entire day without my contacts and no headaches. My vision had been restored. I could see! God had answered my prayers! I am healed, and since that day in 2002, I have never worn my contacts again.

Praise be to God! Thank you Father for hearing and answering your servant's prayers.
To You be the honor and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Miracles & Blessings

Today has been a good day.
To start off, I got to sleep in this morning. Woo hoo!
I just recently quit my job. I had been working as a sales person for a tuxedo rental company. I worked 6 days a week, and I'd been with the company for the past 3 years. However, I've been working in retail since... wow, let me think. I started in 1997, and only took one year off to go to college. That would be 7+ years. Wow! That's a long time, but praise the Lord, I start my new job on Monday. Now I don't have to work weekends anymore. Yeah!

Anyway, I just really realized today how much the Lord has blessed my life and the lives of others, and that He does miracles every day, though many times we don't realize them or dismiss them. For example, A good friend of mine, Taylor had to have surgery on Friday to have a giant cyst removed from one of her ovaries. When they did an x-ray of it the week before it was the size of a lemon, but when they actually opened her up they found it was bigger than the size of a pear. I was actually in the hosptial room with her when her doctor showed her the picture of it and my mouth dropped open. I could not believe how huge this thing was. What also worried the doctor prior to the surgery was not only the size of the cyst but also he found that it had completely surrounded and encased the ovary. At first he feared that he would not be able to save it, but God performed a miracle, when the doctor made a small cut on the cyst and it practically fell off of it. The doctor was able to remove all of the cyst and her ovary is perfectly fine. The Lord totally answered prayers that day. She left the hosptial a few hours ago and is resting at home.

Another miracle that the Lord is showing me is through another friend of mine, Tanya (27), who is battling anorexia. She has been coming to my church now for a few months, and I've been able to form a friendship with her through a Bible Study, Believing God that a small group from our Sunday school class is going through. She is about 5'3 and weighs about 59 lbs. When she first started coming to the Heights, she was barely weighing 54. I'm so thankful that the Lord brought her to our group. She is a walking miracle. She will tell you that it is the Lord who has kept her alive and is giving her the will to live and to get better. Though she still struggles with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the Lord is continuing to transform her mind and her heart. He's helping her to realize that He thinks she is beautiful and special no matter what she's done and that He will never give up on her no matter what she's become. As I've spent time with her, she has really touched my life. She takes nothing for granted anymore. She reminded me tonight while we were having dinner that every flower that grows is a miracle. All we can do is plant the seed and tend the earth, but it's the Lord who makes the flower grow and bloom. Every snowflake is a miracle because each tiny speck is unique and totally different from any others that fall from the sky... just like you and me.

And as for God showering down His blessings... wow, where do I begin. He allowed me to wake up this morning, to live, and experience another beautiful day. He continues giving me air to breathe. "He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to my God." (Psalm 40:3) He gave me patience to deal with some annoying family members. He provided me enough money in my paycheck to take care of my bills. He showed me that I have friends who love me, care about me, and want to spend time with me. And there are so many more, I could tell you about... I like how the apostle John put it when he wrote, "And I suppose that if all the other things that Jesus did were written down, the whole earth could not contain the books." (John 21:25) That's how I feel. Like all the books in the world couldn't contain all the blessings He has given me.

What amazes me even more is that God doesn't play favorites. He loves you and adores you just as much as He does about me. And He wants so much to pour out His blessings upon your life, but you have to allow Him to have control over your life. You've got to step down as the Boss and let Him take the reigns. I know that's not easy. I can testify that turning over control of your life to God is not always painless, but it sure is worth it. He is so much Bigger than we try to make Him. He is so much Stronger than we could ever imagine. He is the God of wonders and of miracles.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Dear Reader:

I must apologize beforehand. I have a tendency to be too serious and often long-winded. I'm working on not being so. I also have a tendency to be a bit corny at times (and lame jokes are not far behind.) But, hey, I figure that's what makes me unique!

Anyway, this is my first blog. Not quite sure what I have to talk about or, more accurately, what to write about, but I'm sure inspiration will come eventually. Though she is taking her sweet time... oh, well. Only time will tell!

I guess I should start with my story:

I was born and raised in the Dallas area. I'm the eldest of three kids. My two siblings are Thomas, a sophmore at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and Susan, a freshman at Richland College. I had a fairly normal childhood, though I did struggle in school a lot and had to deal with some family issues (who hasn't?). Yet, unbeknownst to my family, I suffered from depression for many years and even had thoughts of suicide, but even though many times I felt completely alone, I know now that I was never alone. Though I did not know it at the time, there was Someone who was watching over me, and He loved me so much that He refused to leave me alone.

When I failed two classes in 7th grade, it was discovered that I had a learning difference. After going to Sylvan Learning Center for eight weeks, my grades dramatically improved as well as my self-esteem, but I still felt like there was a giant aching hole inside of my heart that I did not know how to fill. In the summer of 1994, my mom found the Heights Baptist Church and my family started attending. For the longest time, I thought church was stupid and boring, but the first sermon I heard amazed me. I remember sitting in the pew in stunned silence as Pastor Ron explained how that "The Lord's Prayer" was not just a prayer, but that it was an instruction manuel on "How to Pray." I grew up going to a Methodist church and, even though I slept through most of the sermons, I had never heard that before. That just blew my mind, but what impressed me most about the Heights was the overwhelming kindness and genuineness of Pastor Ron, the church staff, and especially my Sunday school teachers.

The most important decision I ever made was during the summer of 1995. It was during the last night of Camp Fish (a youth beach retreat in Florida), the speaker, Voddie Bauchan, started taking about what Jesus Christ, God's only Son, actually went through the day He died. If you've seen "The Passion of the Christ," you'll know exactly what I'm taking about. The speaker left no medical detail out... from the horrific, brutal beating, to having to carry His cross through the streets of Jerusalem, to being nailed to the cross, and then what He went through while hanging from it. I couldn't stop the tears from running down my cheeks. It was that night that I finally realized that what Jesus chose to go through... was for me... that should have been me. He took my punishment. My sins had separated my from a perfect, holy God, but "God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) Jesus died on that cross so that I could be reconciled to God. Not only had Jesus paid my sin debt, but He also proved that He now had power over sin and death when He rose up from the dead on the third day. The speaker told us that all we had to do was to admit your a sinner, believe that Jesus is Lord, and confess your sins. "For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." (Romans 10:9-10) So, that night I prayed, asked God to forgive me of my sins, and asked Jesus to come into my heart, to be the Lord and Savior of my life.

I won't lie to you. When you become a follower of Christ, you are not guarenteed instant gratification or an easy life. There will be hard times and pain, but the blessings you will receive will be too numerous to count. Just to name a few: You are guarenteed that Jesus will give you His Holy Spirit, to dwell inside of you and to be your constant companion. "He will not abandon you" (Deuteronomy 4:31), and "He will never fail you nor forake you." (Deut. 31:8) He will give you "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding." (Philippians 4:7) You can have a personal, love relationship with the God of the Universe, your perfect Heavenly Father. You are promised that you are not an accident. He created you and know everything about you. (Psalm 139) You were planned by God for a wonderful purpose! (Jeremiah 29:11) You'll also be entrusted as one of Christ's ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to tell others about the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to top it all off, you are guarenteed that you'll spend eternity in Heaven with God when you die.

As I look back on my life, I don't know how I lived a single day without Jesus, but I am so thankful that He didn't give up on me and still doesn't give up on me. And guess what? He hasn't given up on you either!