Hi Friends! This week I had the pleasure of writing a guest post for the Epiphany Station blog. Check it out here.
Tag Archives: music
In honor of my Golden Birthday (that’s when you turn the age of the date of your birthday) I have decided to go out on a limb and share something even more personal than my thoughts. So here’s a video for ya. It is from about 2 years ago and we are super boring to watch (my apologies. We never thought we’d show anyone the video so we didn’t think about an audience at the time) but the song is wonderful (originally by JJ Heller) and it often helps me to refocus on the Lord’s faithfulness when I’m having trouble remembering. I hope it does the same for you.
In the first year of my waiting for God to return to me my “Isaac,” I started thinking maybe the whole reason I needed to give up this relationship was because I needed to learn how to serve God fully on my own before I could be useful serving Him in a marriage. So I decided it was time for me to look into some missions opportunities. Now, this was a big deal to me because, when I was younger, for some reason I thought about missions a lot, but I always decided the Lord would never call me into the mission field because of my health. I simply assumed there would be no way I could survive a lifestyle of missions and keep up with the demands of my medical condition at the same time. I actually asked my aunt and uncle one time, when I was eight, if it was a sin that I wasn’t going to be a missionary. Very strange question for an eight year old to ask in my opinion, but I asked them specifically because they had been missionaries in Zaire for seven years. Their response to me was, “everyone is called to something different, but if you are called to missions and you don’t go, then that’s a sin”. I was ok with that answer because, again, my thinking was that my disease gave me a “get out of missions free” card. In fact, I hadn’t given it another thought. But the Lord has a funny way of moving us into places we never thought we’d go, and in 2004, at the age of 21 I went on my first mission trip with a ministry called CTI Music Ministries, and it changed the course of my life forever.
I was pleasantly surprised when the Lord led me to this particular ministry because it had to do with music. I had been under the impression that I was no longer allowed to be part of music, due to my tendency toward self-glorification, but the door seemed very clearly opened to me now. My audition to get into CTI was so vastly different form my experience with Disney World that there was no way I could deny the Spirit was at work in the situation. This time I sang with no practice, no notice even, and no mistakes. They accepted me into the program on the spot.
During my first ministry opportunity with CTI Music Ministries I had the chance to play concerts all over the country of Australia: in prisons, schools, churches, street corners, and the like, but more importantly I learned how to share my testimony from stage. The whole goal was to share our struggles and our sin and how God had worked in our lives despite (and sometimes through) those things, in hopes of relating to our audience and bringing hope where there may be none. It was incredibly freeing to be so vulnerable in front of thousands of people I didn’t know. Sharing my life like this was another way the Lord showed me how relevant my story is. People would come up to me after concerts and tell me their own story of how their father left them, or how they are sick or full of pride. They thanked me for being courageous enough to share because it encouraged them to seek out Christ and the work He may want to do in their own life.
Affects on Counseling
The hardest part of learning how to share my story was knowing that I needed to start sharing it with people I actually knew. It’s something I will probably always struggle with because it’s so humbling. I don’t want people to know I’m weak, or prideful, or hurt over my father abandoning me, but I tell people because it might help them not be ashamed of their own shortcomings. It will be the same in my counseling. If there is an appropriate time to share about myself and my experiences with the Lord I want to be a good steward of that opportunity, because it may be the thing that helps a client work through their own issues.
So about this seed of pride I mentioned earlier. It is probably the thing I am most
ashamed of, even now that I am well into my adult life. It is the thing that will instantly bring me
to tears thinking about, and bring me to my knees in praise remembering how the Lord broke me
of it. Here is how it happened.
It was 2001, I was 18 years old, and I was standing in Orlando, Florida about to audition
for a musical character at Walt Disney World. For the past several years all I wanted for myself
was to be famous. I wanted to be a singer on a big stage, in front of thousands of fans, and
this was my foot in the door. I was quite confident the audition would go well too. I had the
experience from high school performances, I had the talent, and I had a story of tenacity that
would bring people to tears. Not only that but I had an all-powerful God who would give me
anything my heart desired. (That’s what the Bible says right? Ask and ye shall receive). In my
mind and in my words my obsession with being famous was meant to draw attention to Christ.
On the surface I wanted a platform to share my story of perseverance-through-trial in hopes that
people would turn to Christ upon hearing it. I imagined myself being a role model to young girls
across the country. In reality though, my motives were less than pure. What I really wanted was
to draw attention to myself. I wanted to be in a position of constant accolades, I wanted to show
the world I had talents and not just a disease, I wanted to prove I had worth. Deep down I wanted
my birthfather to see what a great person I had become. I wanted him to realize it was him who
was missing out on me, not the other way around. And I was going to use God to give me all
those things. But in the audition room, where all my dreams were about to come true, the Lord
graciously crushed all of that pride and egotism, and brought me all the way back to my 12-year-
old-self, so I could get reacquainted with humility.
During the actual audition it was like someone else took over my body. I could not sing
for the life of me. The judges let me start over three times before they excused me and sent me
on my way their words, “this isn’t for everybody” ringing in my ears. I was devastated, and
angry at God, until His spirit gently rebuked me on the plane ride home:
Gretchen, you’re acting as though the gifts I give to you are meant for you. You are
acting as if I were some genie in a bottle waiting around to grant your every desire. You are
acting as though I owe you something. No. You have a sad life ahead of you if you think glory
belongs to anyone but Me. Choose this day whom you will serve: yourself or me. Then spend
your life on that.
Affects on Counseling
I am not sure whether this event will directly affect my counseling, but I can say this: if
I succeed as a counselor it will be because of the Lord’s mercy and not my talents. My decision
that day on the way home from Disney World was to serve Christ and His glory. I hope that
shows in my entire life, whether in being a counselor, a wife, a worship leader, or whatever I do.
I want more of Him and so much less of me.
I’m leading a team to Guatemala this Summer!
I am super excited about this. I will have the pleasure of taking a CTI team over to Guatemala and partnering with YFC-G (Youth For Christ Guatemala) during their 25th Anniversary Celebration. Their goal is to reach over 10,000 youth in the 3-4 weeks that we’re there. I will have more information for you soon, but for now, here are some specific ways that you can be praying for me and my coming team:
Health-Though I don’t like to talk/think about this a lot my health is a big concern whenever I go on these adventures, so I really do covet your prayers over that. However, please also pray for ALL of my team members, that no one would get terribly sick and we would be able to serve Christ by serving YFCG in our full strength.
People-Be praying that the Lord would send us (CTI) people for this team. We have some but not all that we need. Pray that those he calls would be quick to listen and come with high expectations to see Him move this summer.
Finances- I know it’s a touchy subject (especially now) but whether we like it or not, there is still a need. Each person is asked to raise $4,350 to go on a summer team. Aside from that, CTI has a goal to raise $14,000 in order to facilitate the ministry of the 5 teams they will be sending abroad this summer. Teams to Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Serbia.
Our hearts-my constant prayer for myself and for my team is that we would have hearts that are sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit; hearts that are prone to a servant posture. I want to bring a team to Guatemala to SERVE the ministry already happening in Guatemala. We don’t go to other countries to BRING Christ…Christ is already there. We want to become part of what HE is already doing. We want to be used by Him; and to be worthy of the calling we have received. Please join me in that way of prayer.
I pray that the Lord has changed you in the time I have been gone. In good ways of course! I hope you are nearer to Him. I hope you are more in Love with Him. I hope you are more excited about what He will do next in your lives.
Until next time my friends,