I read Scripture. I prayed the prayers. I poured out my heart in my journal day and night. I knew of God, but I never really knew God. I spent most of my life running, chasing high hopes and flighty dreams. In my most vulnerable place, full of defeat and devastation, as a last resort, and after all of my personal efforts were exhausted—I tried to call on the one who I read about—God.
“In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles.” Psalm 34:6 NLT
But He didn’t save me from all my troubles. In fact, they seemingly got worse. Our family of five experienced a financial hardship so severe that we lost our home, all of our personal belongings, and our dignity. We moved our family south and tried to make peace with this new normal—two adults, two teenagers, and a toddler snuggled up in a one-room, extended-stay hotel. We entered into a very dark and desolate place. Everywhere we turned for help, we were denied. We lived in a grey area, not enough of one thing and too much of another thing. We began to lose hope. Replaying all of our mistakes and recounting our steps, we believed this was our punishment for each and every mistake we’d ever made.
Our daughters were able to adjust, and they allowed this opportunity to strengthen their relationship. They soon began making new friends. One night, they were invited to attend a youth night at a local church. They came home full of excitement and enthusiasm, but I wasn’t drinking the water. My daughter must have seen it on my face, so she did the only logical thing she could do. She said, “There’s an event coming up called Grow, and we should go.” I reluctantly agreed, and she made sure to keep it fresh on my mind right up until the day of the event. When we entered through the doors, I felt something I’d never experienced before—I felt seen and welcomed. The next couple of Sundays I found myself sitting alone in the sanctuary, surrounded by hundreds of people worshiping and praising God. The pastor preached a sermon entitled, It’s Not What It Seems, and at the end of the service, they asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Before they could finish, I leapt out of my seat in tears. The pastor challenged: If you will commit yourself for just one year to all that we have to offer in Jesus’ name, I can guarantee your life will be forever changed.
So I did. I followed all the steps in this new thing called obedience. Wherever He led, I followed: the first step, water baptism; second step, join a small group; third step, serve; and last step, freedom. I did it—I did it all. I checked off all the boxes, and as I sat in the row, a voice said, “You’ve been praying for a house, but what if God wants to give you a home?” It came full circle! My heart was changed, I was forgiven, I was redeemed, and I exuded pure joy! My focus was no longer about having a house, it became about salvation. I loved watching others receive the full measure of Christ. Week after week, I got to pray for those who were lost just as I once was. Sharing my faith was more powerful than sharing my defeat.
“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13 NIV
The more I gave to God, the more I got to see things fall into place. Our two eldest daughters accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and our daughter-in-love did as well. Then all of this movement started to work its way through our family. That’s when God said the harvest was RIPE. Through His grace and all for His glory, after 3 years, He moved us into a home a few months after the birth of our youngest daughter, Selah. Selah means to praise, to pause and reflect on what has been said. Praise for sure!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” It is our command directly from Scripture that we encourage and build one another up. That is what we began to do. We shared our testimony, and we helped encourage others who were experiencing similar challenges that we once faced. God continued to present opportunities to be His voice and mouthpiece, and that’s when I stumbled upon Mary & Martha. I’d heard the Bible story of Mary and Martha presented in many different sermons recently, and as I began to learn more about the company, I found myself drawn to the sisterhood. While there are so many benefits to being a part of this Army of Women, I realized God had created me for such a time as this—community, bonding, strengthening, encouraging, inspiring, loving, praying, and building one another up in faith and in business. I finally have purpose and passion, and I have experienced inexplicable joy, even in the valley.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NIV
God uprooted our family, and He reminded us that we needed Him. He used our daughter to extend an invitation to a place full of life and the Holy Spirit. He taught me how to pray. He helped me to find freedom. He encouraged me to use my voice and share my faith. He allowed me to experience “home on earth,” and He did all of this to remind us that we are seen, heard, known, and loved eternally by Him.
ROSE POWELL lives in Virginia with her husband, Ryshine, and two of her six children. She’s a grandmother, a blogger, a Team Leader with Mary & Martha, an avid planner, a journal fanatic, and a self-proclaimed encourag(her) who enjoys sharing God’s love and truth.
You can find this article and more like it in the new Spring 2022 edition of Everyday Faith Magazine by DaySpring.