I have been hesitant to talk about my life with God on here. I chalked it up to my music being more secular than sacred. I also blamed it on you. I figured it would annoy someone or make them uncomfortable.....make my life less enjoyable for the reader. I apologize for that. Lucky for you, I have realized that it's not fair of me to guess your response. I have also realized that being people of integrity, respectable and apparently slightly interested in my ramblings, you might want the whole me. Who am I to withhold such a huge piece of pie from you (imagining my time spent as a pie chart)? Well get ready to devour a delicious piece of pie.....A LA MODE :D If you have found enjoyment in my other posts, I promise this one will not disappoint....full of silliness as well as seriousness.
It all started around the age of fifteen actually. I obviously lived for fifteen years before that, but I'm gonna do my best to skim this life story down for you. At fifteen things were surprisingly good. I had a best friend, my older sister had a boyfriend in a band so I got to go to shows all the time, my two years of braces had come and gone, I was on the dance team, I had a family that raised me to see the beauty in myself, and somehow for a period of time I had a group of guy friends that saw me as the "cool" girl that could "hang" with the guys.....amazing right?
Well my best friend sort of shook things up, and believe me, I am forever thankful for it. I grew up in a church-going family. I remember my Mom praying with me before bed as a child, and knowing my Dad was very knowledgeable in Christianity. I think every kid reaches a level of maturity that requires them to step away from their upbringing long enough to make a decision for themselves. That was fifteen to sixteen for me. I saw the part God played in my best friend's life, and that there was a personal passion in it for her. I had too many doubts just leaning on my upbringing. So I started asking questions.....being the devil's advocate in more ways than one I'm sure. My best friend, a fiery redhead with a temper to match, fought with me on several occasions but I can see now that she was fighting for Truth. I didn't experience a traumatic event or lose everything I had, but I finally recognized the Truth of God. And if I believed it was Truth, that meant God had plans for me while I was here on earth. So.....in the summer of my sweeeeeet sixteen, I made a decision to follow Jesus Christ.....not based on my family, not prompted even by my best friend, it was just between God and I.
A few years later in college, I was introduced to a song. I immediately started crying because my best friend, mentioned above, was this for me. She labored in Love with me through that time, and my life is forever changed. The lyrics were "I wouldn't be here with the Lord if you hadn't stayed by my side through and through. Faithfully, you carried me on as my tears and my joys were shed and told. Night and day God heard my prayer, and a blessing was the answer to my call. And it was you." (song by Shannon LaBrie Whitson) My family was obviously a huge part of this decision as well. They laid the foundation. As a typical adolescent, I didn't go to my family with my doubts. I went to my best friend. I praise God for her wisdom at such a young age.
I made my decision on July 24th, which means I just celebrated my 12th anniversary of walking with God! Life has been anything but boring. There have been periods of waiting, but in retrospect I see that they were times of preparation. God has taken me to the tops of mountains literally in Colorado, huffing and puffing in the elevation and singing silly songs to motivate the group to endure and persevere. Any of you who have hiked to the top of a mountain know how worth it it is. God has taken me to the tops of metaphorical mountains, one in particular was hiking to the summit of emotional healing. Sheeeeesh, there is freedom there that I had never ever known. God has taken me to Green Bay, Wisconsin to lead nationwide youth groups through week long mission trips. When God puts you in a leadership position, get ready to have Him download wisdom and knowledge. Sidenote: Followers of Christ, we should ALWAYS remain teachable. God had taken me to Greece. I spent three months in churches only in Greek, and in a community of almost no other Christians. Huge impact on developing my personal devotion to God with no encouragement or "Christian bubble" (as I'm sure many have heard this term). God has taken me to a children's home in Pennsylvania working with troubled youth. Maybe the toughest six months of my life so far, but I wouldn't trade it. God has taken me to Memphis. I went out of obedience and had the experience of truly starting over. I continue to see fruits from that adventure. God has taken me to Missouri where more things happened than I can record. I learned how to walk with God in Missouri. I learned about His true Love for us. I learned how to serve in the Body of Christ. I learned how to listen for His Voice.
So to come clean with all my dancing around the truth of the matter. I did not come to California a) solely for music or b) to make it big or c) to find a husband (I know I know it's crossed my mind, but laughable when next to Truth) My latest adventure has been God taking me to California. I live my life according to His Word and hearing His Voice leading me. I spend time with God almost every day. Yes, those people do exist. :) God confirmed for six months that He wanted me in Los Angeles while I complained and squirmed saying, "I don't want to live in LA." I finally said, "Yes, I'll go." I spent the first few months being surprised at how well everything was going and at how much I like it here. Now, I just smile because every day God is showing me that He is my Provider, and He is faithful and a giver of good things. It doesn't surprise me anymore. I live every day expecting Christ to show up.
This may be too much for some people. It's easy to get Christian-y and cliche. You may be thinking, "Why bring this up now after almost two years of blogging?" Well lately my music, my life, and my God have been intertwining in a whole new way. I can't separate them now! It's been a new level of deep rooted joy and blessing beyond measure. And all I'm doing right now is working, singing at church, and reading the Bible and praying.
Amos 5:4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, "Seek me and LIVE."
The reason I decided to blog this is because I had kept this part of my life evasive on here and I just can't anymore. Also because my pastor out here said in a sermon recently, "No one can debate your story." This is just my story, a HUGE part of my life, but not up for debate and not meant to rustle any feathers in YOUR story.
So life is good. Right now I'm focused on being humble, fearless, and LOVING.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Yup, that's in the bible.
Well, I loved having you over for pie. I hope you are pleasantly surprised by its richness and depth of flavor. Sorry I hid it in the fridge for awhile, only hinting at its existence. hm hm hm I told you silliness would be in here. But seriously. :)
More updates coming but this post is already looooooooong as usual.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
"When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He Himself will give us the love with which to do it. We are neither factories nor reservoirs of His love, only channels. When we understand that, all excuse for pride is eliminated." -Corrie Ten Boom
"But the consummation of the marriage does not come to pass until the soul is so melted, annihilated, and freed from self that she can unreservedly flow into God. Then that admirable fusion of created and Creator is accomplished, which brings them into unity, so to speak, though with the same infinite disproportion that exists between a single drop of water and the ocean. The drop has become ocean yet it forever remains a little drop, though it has become assimilated in character with the waters of the ocean, and is therefore fit to be mingled with it and to make but one ocean with it." -Madame Jeanne Guyon
“Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and behold, it has not been bound up, to heal it by binding it with a bandage, so that it may become strong to wield the sword. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt and will break his arms, both the strong arm and the one that was broken, and I will make the sword fall from his hand." Ezekiel 30:21-22
I'm reading these three books at the same time. One day they all matched up on the subject of pride. Suddenly, I saw pride popping up all over the place in my life. I realized that in most cases of pride personally, I am simply using it to mask different fears. In response, I've been attacking fears lately. It's exhausting but worth it!
Anywho, I have been busy with weddings, visiting family in Kansas City, surviving in LA, making new friends out here (yay!), having old friends visit (yay yay!!), and helping with my ten year high school reunion. yes.......Here's a pic of me in junior high on the dance team. I'll let you guess which one is me. :) I could not attend the reunion since it was back in Arkansas and I'm in California, but had the opportunity to try and round up as many of our classmates as possible. I don't have a yearbook with me out here so this was quite a task. As I reconnected with several high school classmates, I recognized that I could only think of them as the eighteen year old version of themselves. For some, I have obviously kept in touch and still know them today but others I only saw through high school graduation. I found out that ten of my classmates have passed away. That's one per year. I only had around 300 in my class so I at the very least knew everyone's face. How much does everyone change in ten years? It made me wonder how much I've changed since high school. Me as an eighteen year old vs. Me as a twenty-eight year old. Yeeeeeeesh. I've lived with the changes so they don't seem as significant or drastic, but I hope someone that knew me at eighteen would notice changes in me now. I just thought of how everyone writes in your yearbook "Don't ever change." Oops! haha
I have to confess that I was kind of glad that I couldn't get back home for the reunion. I haven't taken one of the normal routes at this point in life. I didn't get plugged in to a career and climb the corporate ladder and I haven't gotten married either. Not to stereotype too much but being from the South, most of my classmates have done one or both of these by this age. Many of the girls have multiple children!!! So the "What have you been up to for the last ten years?" question seems quite daunting. I don't have a short, chit-chat, answer for that question. Yet again, pride rears its ugly head because I fear that I haven't "done" enough with my life. :( I do wish I could go and ask all of them tons of questions because I like listening to people. But I'm pretty sure I couldn't dodge every question directed at me.
I have been playing a few more gigs here as well! Here's a video of me performing a WIP (work in progress) at one of my recent shows! Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by! If you want to connect with me elsewhere online, check out my website! It has all the links to my other social media. www.leeellenstarks.com G'night!