Category Archives: Testimony

Immeasurably More

By Kristen Entwistle

I was cleaning out my desk the other day and found something pretty amazing: God’s provision.

I’m packing up my apartment to move a few hours away, and so, naturally, I was cleaning out my desk – you know, throwing away old papers that I really shouldn’t have kept in the first place, getting rid of the things that I just threw in the drawer over the last four years…and I came across some old cards.

I tend to keep things…probably longer than I should. But be that as it may, I’m glad that I kept these.  They’re cards from very dear friends that were written as I was graduating college and moving to Michigan.  I opened them up and started reading them…smiling at the memories and laughing at the inside jokes from long ago.

And as I opened each card, the same thing kept staring me in the face.  Each of these people who were so dear to me had written similar things, among the jokes and stories and laughs.  Each of them had said that they were praying I would find a good, Godly church in Michigan.  That God would bring me good friends at all of the right turns in my life.  That God would provide.

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And He has provided – all of those things.  More than I could ever have imagined.

He brought me to a church, where I have been able to serve and love and grow, where I have been blessed with a family of God that is so dear to me.  It’s been a place where I have seen the kids I watch grow up and change and learn.  Where a Sunday doesn’t go by that I don’t get a hug from at least one of my little ones, brightening even the darkest week.  Where I have been encouraged to lead and to write and to serve.  Where I have been loved.  Where I have walked life with some amazing people – the hard times and the good times.

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God has not only brought me good friends – He has brought me great ones.  Friends that I am going to miss terribly, but who will remain friends for the rest of my life.  Friends who challenge me, encourage me – friends who have changed me for the better.  Friends who let me love their kids – and who love me.  Friends who share life with me – and I with them.  Friends who pray with me and for me and let me pray for them.  Friends who have shown me the love of Christ.

When I read those cards four years ago for the first time, I trusted that God would provide through the prayers of my friends.  But I didn’t know until now, reading them again, just how much He has provided.  So if you’re wondering if God is good – let me remind you.  He is.  If you’re doubting that He can provide what it is you need – let me remind you.  He can, and He will.  If you’re in the middle of a trying season, and you’re hanging on for dear life – let me encourage you.  He’s got you.  He’s not gonna let go.  He will provide – and He will do immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine.

When God Is At Work, And We Just Have To Stand Back And Say Wow

By Kristen Entwistle

Sometimes I just have to stand back and marvel at how God works.  It’s pretty amazing.

In late October, I came across Simple Moments Stick, where they were pairing up bloggers from around the world for the month of November to encourage one another.  I ended up getting paired up with Nichole from My Anchored Life.  I must admit, I definitely went into this whole thing completely on a whim, not really knowing what to expect.

And God blew away my expectations.  Big time.

I started by reading through some of Nichole’s blog.  God has certainly given Nichole the gift of writing, and she is using it for His glory.  Her blog is anchored in Christ, as is her life, and she seemed like an awesome person that I really wanted to get to know.

nicholeWhen I first e-mailed Nichole, I was afraid she was going to take one look at my e-mail and ask for a different partner.  Not because I’m scary or demanding, but because she wanted someone who was more on her level.  You see, Nichole’s a home-school mom of four kids, while I am mom of none.  Nichole is married to her military husband and has moved many places over her life, while I am…not.  Nichole spent the month of October blogging EVERY DAY, while I definitely did not.

And then…she e-mailed me back.

And God did something amazing.  He took two totally different people from two different stages of life and gave them connections – connections that are no coincidence.  Nichole and I both went into this blind.  We both have busy, full lives that allow us to correspond during the week.  We both started writing and blogging as hobbies and have watched it turn into something more.  And Nichole has known two people with CF throughout her life.  And she lives in a state that I am going to visit this month – which means we actually get to meet face to face.

Coincidences?  I think not. 

I’m still a little floored by the fact that God orchestrated this, and that He knew what I needed before I even needed it.  I’m so grateful that God has brought Nichole into my life and that we have the opportunity to meet face to face.  She has been an encouragement and a friend to me in this last month, and I couldn’t have asked for a better ‘sister.’

The Hollywood Version

By Kristen Entwistle

We all face battles in our lives, struggles, suffering.  It’s different for each of us.  For me, the looming giant in my way is a little thing called cystic fibrosis (and all it entails).

I’ve often told people that I can’t do the ‘sick kid’ books and movies – you know, the tear jerkers like My Sister’s Keeper: the girl who dies in a car crash, giving her organs to save her sister with cancer; or The Fault in Our Stars: the two cancer patients who fall in love and then one of them dies; A Walk To Remember: the handsome young man falling in love with the sick girl, giving her the ability to make the most out of her last days; or even the Fox TV show Red Band Society: the teenagers who live in a hospital and become fast friends because they’re all sick.

I’ve read those books, tried to watch those shows.  But they don’t really depict real life for those of us with any disease, at least in my experience.

The reality is that life is often hard physically – the treatments, the demands on our bodies from the therapies – it can take a toll, sometimes ones that you can see, but many times ones that you can’t.

The reality is that life is often hard emotionally – only people who have been through what we are experiencing can really understand.  And though you try to sympathize and understand (which we appreciate greatly) what we are going through, the reality is that we often go through it alone.  We don’t want to burden you with our fears, insecurities, and all of the baggage that comes with a chronic illness.  We’re trying to spare you – but it often means we are left alone.

The reality is that life is often hard Spiritually – reconciling our struggles with a good God, the creator of everything, and why He is allowing these things to happen in our lives.

The reality is that life is often hard mentally – having few people to lean on because they are scared away by your disease, storing it all up inside and only falling apart behind closed doors.

The books and the TV shows almost make it look like it’d be fun to be sick.  They romanticize it.  They say that you’d be unique, different, and everyone would just love you for who you are, no matter what.  That living in a hospital would be cool.  That it’s not scary to have a real idea of how long you’ve got left on earth.  That no one treats you differently.  That your life isn’t different from anyone else’s.  That people will fall in love with you in spite of your sickness, never rejecting you for your disease.

Pardon my French, but I call BS.
Complete and total BS.

Life is not often like it is portrayed in movies and TV shows – sick or not.

Real life is often messier than the media portrays it. 

Real people aren’t stick skinny and eat ten calories per day.  Real people play in the dirt, and that’s okay.  Real people don’t have it all together all the time.  Real people struggle, fail, fall, and scrape their knees.

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Although my life has not been as pretty and prefect as the media may portray it, it’s actually been so much better.  Because I live alongside other real people, who help to pick me up when I fall down, and who take my hand when they fall down.  I live alongside people who are struggling with hard things, and get to watch as they grow in faith and shine His light so brightly even in the midst of all of it.  I get to invite people into my life, and get to pour into theirs.  I get to play with kids, who bring genuine smiles to my face no matter what else has happened that day.  I get to see God work in amazing ways through my friends, and get to let Him work through me.

I’d rather have real life with Christ any day of the week than the romanticized version we see on the screen, no matter how hard it is. 

Wouldn’t you?

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Loaves And Fishes

By Kristen Entwistle

On the first Sunday of every month, you’ll find me at a local physical rehabilitation center in the early afternoon.  Along with other talented musicians and speakers, we lead a short worship service for the residents.  Last month, our normal speaker was out of town, and our back-up speaker was ill.  It looked like our entire worship team was going to be our lead guitarist and myself, and that the speaker…well, it was going to be me.

I should probably tell you at this point that I had lost my voice due to the cold I had, and so I couldn’t sing, let alone be heard by the residents.

Yeah, I thought.  This is going to work out well. 

We had many, many people praying for us during this service.  We had faith that God would provide, and that He would be glorified, no matter what.  But God provided more than I could have ever imagined.

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Not only did He provide a pianist, and two other vocalists, He also gave me enough of a voice to be heard for just 15 minutes. 

God bulldozed barriers last month.  He steamrolled my expectations.  He made a way when I thought there wasn’t one, parting the Red Sea right in front of me.

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And true to His sense of humor, you know what the message I gave was on?  Faith. 

Having faith in a God who is able to move mountains, and to use the ordinary for His extraordinary purposes.  Faith in a God who took the sins of the world upon His shoulders, and paid the ultimate price for our sins.  Faith in a God who has conquered death and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

God reminded me through this short service that even faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains.  I took what I had – a barely-audible voice, an imperfect message, all my doubts that I wasn’t the one who should be speaking, but a willing heart – and He made it so much more.

The mere loaves and fishes that our team brought were multiplied a hundred fold, all for His glory. 

So I’m going to keep laying down my loaves and fishes at His feet, asking Him in faith to take what I have and use it for His glory.  No matter how useless I may think my loaves and fishes are, He has a purpose for them, and I can’t wait to see what He does with my humble offering.

When I Don’t Know The Answer

By Kristen Entwistle

I was sitting on a bench outside today, waiting for a friend.  While I was waiting, a man came over to me and asked if I could take a few photos for him.  I was happy to oblige, and after taking the pictures for him, I went to sit back down, and he sat down too.  He looked at me and asked, “I have to ask, are you married?”

Slightly taken aback, I answered, “No, I’m not.”

“Beautiful girl like you, how is it that you’re not married?”

I have a million answers to that question, but I simply answered, “I’m just not.”

If it hasn’t become clear to you yet, this guy was looking for something other than just a polite conversation.  After a few more questions, when he asked me for my phone number, I politely declined and he decided I wasn’t worth his time anymore, walking away.

This guy’s not the first one to ask me why I’m not married.  Nor will he be the last.  Truth is, many of my friends are married, having children, and moving forward with their lives.  Truth is, I haven’t ever had a date for a plus-one at a wedding, and that makes weddings…well, lonely.  Truth is, I haven’t been on a vacation this summer because I don’t want to go somewhere by myself.  Truth is, I’m feeling a little like a seventh wheel in my family right now, and a lot like a failure.

Truth is, I don’t really know the answer to that question.

I can come up with plenty of reasons why I think I’m still single.  Most of them I’ve heard from ex-boyfriends before.  No one wants to deal with your disease.  You’re not pretty enough for someone.  You’re too fat, too needy, too independent, too headstrong.  No one actually thinks you’re worth their time.  You’ve got too much baggage – no one wants that.  You’re not smart enough.  You’re not enough for any guy to care about you.  

But the truth is, although I may have it in my head that what I want is best, God’s will is better.  And right now, His will is not what I expected, but it is where I am.  And as hard as it may be sometimes, I have to find a way to be okay with where God has me right now.

So I pour into those around me, and do my best to be a blessing to them.  And in turn, they have been a blessing to me.

I may not have a good answer to that question, but I do know that God’s not finished with me yet.  His plan is infinitely better than anything I could ever dream.  And whatever that means for the future, I know that He is good, and His love endures forever.

You Forgot That You’re Beautiful

By Kristen Entwistle

When I look in the mirror, I see a tired, worn girl who is overextended, overworked, and often lonely. I see the bags under my eyes and the lines on my forehead, the unwanted pounds and pale complexion of a girl who feels twice her years. A girl who struggles with questions of worth and usefulness and if anyone would miss me if I was gone tomorrow. I don’t see myself as beautiful when I look in the mirror. I see the flaws and the cracks and the bad things. I’ve forgotten that I am beautiful in the eyes of my Savior, my God. That I am loved beyond measure, saved by grace through faith.

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There was a man, once, who reminded me that I am beautiful. He wasn’t a boyfriend or my father. I don’t even know his name. You see, I was walking through Aldi, our cheap generic grocery store one Sunday after church. I stopped by the toilet paper to check my list before I continued down the aisle. A man brushed past me on his way through, and I apologized for being in his way. “I think you forgot something,” he said as he passed. I looked over my shoulder to see if I had dropped something, looked down at my skirt to make sure it was still intact. I checked my purse to make sure I still had my phone and my wallet. I couldn’t find anything that I was missing. I shrugged my shoulders and looked down at my list again, seeing what else I needed to pick up before I could check out and head home. I started to walk forward as the same man was coming back up the aisle. I smiled politely as he passed and he leaned toward me as he passed. “You forgot that you’re beautiful.” I was dumbstruck for a moment. Totally baffled. It took me a moment, but I turned around to see if perhaps I knew the man, could place him. And he was gone.

You forgot that you’re beautiful, he told me. Not, “You are beautiful.” He said, “You forgot that you’re beautiful.”

You are beautiful. You may not see it. You may not see beautiful when you look in the mirror after you roll out of bed, or even after you put on makeup. But God made you beautiful, and that’s not going to change. One of a kind. Loved more than you will ever know.

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Don’t forget it. Remind yourself that God made you beautiful, and nothing can take that away. Not a failed marriage. A past abortion. A troubled home life. A terminal cancer diagnosis. Nothing can take away the fact that God made you beautiful. Nothing.

You may have forgotten that God made you beautiful. You may not see it in the mirror, even now. But you are beautiful. Priceless. Forgiven. Loved.

You are beautiful. Don’t forget it.

Hindsight

By Kristen Entwistle

I was walking around my undergraduate alma mater a few months ago. I was there for my sister’s graduation, but I took a few minutes to walk around my old science building. As I walked the near-hallowed halls of Ken Olsen Science Center, I was overcome by how far removed I feel from a place that used to feel so much like home. How many changes have occurred since I graduated three years ago – both in faculty and staff as well as the infrastructure of the building.

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As I walked around, I remembered first classes and last classes. Beloved professors and presidents. Botched labs and failed tests. Successful research and fond memories of classes. The cold days and the hard days, the warm days and the easy days.

I’m in the middle of graduate school right now, and it’s amazing to look back and see where I’ve been. It’s hard to believe that three years ago I was graduating on this very lawn. That I had no idea what lie ahead for me, except where I was attending graduate school. I did not know what God had in store for me, and looking back now, I could not have ever guessed that I would be where I am right now: working in a lab on the disease that I have, funded by a group of parents of kids with CF, part of an amazing church where I can serve and grow and love people, where I have the opportunity to babysit some wonderful kids who I can honestly say I love with all of my heart, where a place I knew nothing of and knew no one could feel so much like a home.

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It’s true. I’ve lost much, struggled, been frustrated and beaten down in these last three years. I’ve had PICC lines and more antibiotics than I can count, but I’ve come out swinging on the other side. But I’ve also seen God do some amazing things with what I’ve been given and where I’ve been. I have seen him use my CF to change people’s hearts and lives. I have seen God use me in ways I never thought possible – leading a Bible study and leading worship from the piano. He’s provided me with friends who lift me up and encourage me, challenge me and love me. He’s blessed me with so much.

I never saw any of that coming three years ago. All I saw was the great unknown, the strange state of Michigan and the weird mascot of my school – the Spartan. The headache of changing doctors and hospitals and the anxiety of living on my own. I was heartbroken to leave the place where I had grown so much, devastated to leave a church that I had come to love, people I had grown to love as well. I couldn’t see past the here and now, couldn’t see that even as I was leaving a place I knew so well and loved, God had great things planned. He was going before me, preparing a place for me even then. And he was preparing me.

Even now, when the future is unknown and I’m not sure how God is going to work things out, I can trust that He is faithful and that He will go with me, wherever I go. Hindsight may be 20/20, but God’s vision is always 20/20. So no matter what you’re going through right now, no matter what unknown you’re facing, trust in the One who can see it all, who’s got you in His hands, and who will never fail you. His sight is better than hindsight.

Even If…

By Kristen Entwistle

Have you ever prayed for something, something big – and waited and waited and waited for God to grant your request, and then been devastated when it felt like He didn’t come through?  Maybe you’ve been praying for the financial means to buy a house, healing for a child or a parent or yourself, for the opportunity to change jobs, for God to bless your family with a child, for God to bring a friend into your life that might become something more, for that ministry event you’re planning to be well-attended.

Let me be abundantly clear:

God ALWAYS answers your prayers.  

ALWAYS.  

It’s just that He doesn’t always answer

the way that we want Him to.  

Sometimes the answer we get isn’t what we think we need.  But it’s what God knows we need.  With whatever is going on in your life right now – whether it is big or small, wonderful or difficult – take heart that He does hear your prayers, your cries, your praise.  Remember that His time is not ours, and that He has a bigger plan.

Kutless sings a song called Even If.  The chorus says these words:

Even if the healing doesn’t come

And life falls apart

And dreams are still undone

You are God, You are good,

Forever faithful One

Even if the healing,

Even if the healing doesn’t come.

Even if…

…you’re still renting an apartment and can’t afford a house right now, He is working in it for His glory.

Even if…

…the new job doesn’t pan out right now, ask for God to use you where you are right now.

Even if…

…God doesn’t heal your son or daughter, put your trust in Him and ask for His strength to get you through each day, and to see the good that comes of your struggle.

Even if…

…you’re still single and alone, God’s got a plan.  And His love is one that will never fail, never disappoint you, and never run away.

Even if…

…you haven’t been blessed with a child, run to God, who has it all in His hands.  Find comfort in Him today.

Even if…

…one person shows up to that ministry event, remember that God has used you in that person’s life.  And that was worth it.

Even if…

I will still praise You, because You are good.  I will still trust You, because You are faithful.

And I will actively look for the ways that You are working ALL things for the good of we who love you.  I will let you use my circumstances, my struggles, my life to bless others, and to work out Your plan in their lives and in mine.  Even when the healing doesn’t come.

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When Your Walls Fall Down

By Kristen Entwistle

When you were a kid, did you build towers with the big cardboard blocks?  Maybe you built the highest tower possible, or maybe you were the kid that ran around knocking down everyone else’s towers.

When I was a kid, I liked to build walls around myself.  Enclose myself in so that the walls were all around me.

And I’ve done the same thing with my life.

Maybe, like me, you’ve built walls around your life.  You convince yourself that they keep your heart safe.  You convince yourself that the higher your walls, the safer you are.  You convince yourself that the thicker your walls, the less people can see of the real you, and that’s a good thing.  Because if they were really to see your sin, your hurt, your brokenness, your pain – they wouldn’t want to know you.  They’d run in the other direction.

I used to think that my walls were my security, my protection from the world, from the hurt. 

That if I had higher, thicker walls, no one could see the real me: the ugly, torn, and worn girl who does not see herself as beautiful; the girl who struggles with feelings of worth and inadequacy; the girl with the life-shortening illness; the girl who is alone; the hurt, broken, sinner in desperate need of a Savior.

When we build up our walls, we end up pretending.  Pretending to be someone we’re not.  Pretending that those words didn’t hurt; that being rejected…again…wasn’t painful.  Pretending that it’s all okay on the outside but falling hopelessly apart on the inside.  Pretending that we don’t struggle with things, too.  Pretending that our past isn’t as checkered as the flag at the end of the race.  Pretending that we don’t have secrets we’d rather keep hidden.

Take a few minutes and listen to this song, from Tenth Avenue North, Healing begins:

So let ‘em fall down,

There’s freedom waiting in the sound,

When you let your walls fall to the ground.

We’re here now.

This is where the healing begins,

This is where the healing starts. 

When you come to where you’re broken within,

The light meets the dark.

So you’re telling me that if I let my walls down, let down my guard, let people see the real me, the messed up, broken me – that it will bring freedom?  Oh, more than that, dear friend.  It will bring healing.  Healing from the heartache, the guilt, and the pain.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed your sins from you (Psalm 103:12).  All of your scars, all of your sins – they are forgotten to Him.

The walls you and I hide behind aren’t doing us any favors.  They aren’t helping us or anyone else.  In fact, when people see the real you – the struggles, the brokenness, the weakness, the imperfection – they see the grace of our Savior.  They see a God whose power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  They see that they are not alone in their struggles.  They are reminded that He is faithful.

And letting your walls down reminds you that you are not alone.

Your Testimony

 

By Kristen EntwistleYour-testimony-300x150Sharing your testimony is a phrase that we throw around a lot in Christian circles.  For a long time, I didn’t think that I had a testimony.  When people shared their testimonies at summer camp, retreats, or from the pulpit, they were always testimonies that were so heart-breaking yet so powerful and moving that they spoke of a great God.  I didn’t think there was any way that I could measure up to that.

It was at a Christian summer camp in middle school that started to change my mind. Our group traveled into the city to a park, where we were asked to share our testimony with some inner city kids.

The guy before me pulled out one of those perfect testimonies
that left my heart in pieces on the floor
and my hands raised to our eternal God. 

His story: being misdiagnosed at birth with the very disease that I have.

Well, that put my “testimony” in the trash.  I took the paper out of my pocket and ripped it up.  I don’t remember what I said.  The one thing I remember is that I told them that I had Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  I’m pretty sure I started crying at that point and sat down.

But I still was convinced that other people’s testimonies
were better than my nonexistent one. 

It wasn’t until my senior year in college that God showed me how very wrong I was.  My pastor at the time asked if I would be willing to share my testimony during the service one Sunday.

I said no.

He kept asking, and eventually I said yes, just so that he would quit asking.  Having no clue what to say, I prayed and then sat down and started to write.  And as I wrote, I found myself being honest and vulnerable and I saw God’s hand in my life, leading me from before I was conceived until now.

I thought that I was just a person with an early expiration date that couldn’t do anything for the Kingdom.

I thought that my struggles were my own and that no one else struggled with them too.

I thought that God could never use a person so broken as me.

I thought that that I didn’t have a testimony to share.

I thought that my testimony was about me. 

But here’s the thing:

Your testimony is not about what you have overcome in life, though that is part of it.

Your testimony is not about what you have suffered in life, though that is part of it.

Your testimony is not about you, though you are the vessel through which it is brought to others.

Your testimony is about a God who has known you from before you were born.

Your testimony is about a God who has brought you through the fire so that you can be refined.  Your testimony is about a God who has been by your side and who has loved you even when you have walked away from Him.  Your testimony is about a God who sent His one and only Son to redeem the world.  Your testimony is about a God who chose you: a broken, beautiful, bold child of God.

So no matter how broken you think you are, no matter how far you have strayed, no matter how boring you may think your life is, God has done something in you.  He has redeemed you, and He is working out your testimony in His time.  You may not be able to see it right now.  God’s not done with you yet.  But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a testimony right now.

So share your life with people, share with them the God that has redeemed you.  Share with them the power of our great God.

Share with them the God who knows you and loves you no matter what. 

Because you are a testament to God’s great love, and that is a powerful testimony.  It’s your testimony.  

*This post first appeared at brokenbeautifulbold.com*