My Broken, but Beautiful Journey

The past few years have been the hardest out of my entire life. I have suffered family tragedies, health complications, and tensions in my life with personal struggles.

It has been a long and rough road: my parents losing their best friend in a tragic boating accident; my uncle from defeating cancer only to sign previously a DNR and the hospital giving him too much medicine, slipping into a coma, thus dying; my mother losing two aunts in one week; and just recently, my grandfather passing away just last month from congestive heart failure.

I was diagnosed two years ago with a syndrome that disables me to have children on my own; when the time comes to have a child, I will be required to use extra help and medicine to help my reproductive organs actually work. I was only 18 at the time, and the thought that having a child was taken away from me before it was even an option was devastating.

And in the midst of it all, I went through times where I was slipping into depression and loneliness. It was brutal. I felt alone, broken, and needing something radical to change it.

It was as if a darkness followed me wherever I went. I tried to engage with people even though I didn’t enjoy it. I tried to do activities that I enjoyed to make life seem a little less dampening with everything going on. However, there is only one thing that ever gave me constant hope…

Jesus Christ.

He gave me grace to go through the road I went through

because

I’m

still

standing.

Coming out of the dark time with tragedy everywhere I looked was a slow process; it wasn’t overnight. I had to seek God and only his “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Doing my devotions was the ONLY amount of hope. It was the only thing I knew to do that would help me. And that was because I knew the promises of God, not because I felt like it. I felt like life was bad, but I knew God was good. So I sought Him and the only fix to my broken road.

Through that long, cycling healing process, God taught me some things.

He spoke to me that He was my only hope. I had to stop looking to friends to make me feel better or aid my happiness. I had to look to God. I asked him to show himself to me. Instead of focusing all my efforts on the things going wrong, I focused on finding more of God, and leaning into him for my breakthrough.

I learned also that once you’ve been broken you can there is a new connection to reaching other broken people. I don’t want to go through trials and not be able to help someone else that is hurting. I want my struggles and experiences to help people.

I have found that such hope is found only through Christ. And that only pure joy comes from diving into God and his presence. 

Ultimately, my circumstances did not change, but rather my perception of God. He isn’t a God somewhere far, not moving in real time. He is a God that is right beside you, seeing you at ALL times.

He saves us from destruction and has plans of hope for our lives, but allows us to go through difficulties to become a better person and to trust Him more fully. Easier said than done, but when you lean into God and searching for him, breakthroughs are sure to come.

Not only that, God is preparing you for greater things. You can do this. 

Now I am the happiest I have ever been. Of course I have days that are terrible, but I know that I have ope in the Lord, trusting that he never gives me more than I can take, and never leaving my side. I am not affected by my circumstances, because I have a Lord that is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Take hope. For the hope we have trusted and joy found in the Lord shall not return void, neither will his promises. I pray that you are encouraged today, and realize that trials are a part of life, but knowing Christ, Earth is the only hell you will know. Heaven will be glorious, and all that time during our life that was rough, will be rewarded with eternal presence of the most high.

You can do this. You were given this life because you can handle it.

As always, be blessed.

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Personality Profile: Pastor Ronnie Reid

On any given Friday afternoon, you can expect a certain Crystal River man riding down a back road through the hills on a bright red and black accented Harley Davidson. The air is crisp, the leather jacket is in tow, and for him there is nothing but road for miles. On the flip side, every following Sunday morning you can find him preaching and pastoring a congregation

Pastor Ronnie and Sherry Reid

Pastor Ronnie and Sherry Reid

of about 600 members, leading the people, and having a laugh with members in the lobby about the latest family outing.

Senior Pastor Ronnie Reid is a highly respected member of the town, having influence among the city. This last October marked his and his family’s 19th year as being Senior Pastor of Crystal River Church of God, and he and the family couldn’t be happier.

The Reid Family of Crystal River Church of God

The Reid Family of Crystal River Church of God

“I feel like I am doing what I was created for, and certainly right being in Crystal River,” comments Reid. “I am beyond blessed for being asked to come here so long ago, and I look forward to the coming years.”

Coming in 1993, Reid came to the church as the new pastor with a congregation of about 40 people; he knew he was supposed to come here, but not without some concern.

“Moving here and not knowing anyone, I was pretty nervous about the people liking me and the way I preach,” chuckles Reid. “But I suppose they did because 19 years later I’m still here.” The church often has more than 600 attendees on Sundays

There are many ministries that have bloomed from the leadership team led by Pastor Reid. When he first arrived there was only a youth group, now the

Crystal River Church of God

Crystal River Church of God

church proudly has a variety of ministries that includes married couple classes, a food pantry with weekly free food distributions, a nursing home ministry, KIDS Church, a women’s ministry and others as well.

One of his most relaxing ministries to join in with is “Riders in the FOG”, a roughly 50-member motorcycle group from the church that rides together at least once a month.

“We created the group for some of the congregation to ride their bikes in a fun but healthy environment,” explains ministry leader Jim Hajek, who usually co-leads the ride Pastor Reid, each with their own red Harley. “The group always has a good time in fellowship. We start before the ride with a devotional and prayer, and then we hit the road for the day.”

“I love that Pastor Ronnie can come ride with us. It shows that he’s a normal man that not only leads his people, but has fun with them too,” states Personal Care Pastor Roger Cash. The simplicity of the day is what the group enjoys the most: the relaxing ride, the beautiful scenery, and the good pit stop food and fellowship. Pastor Reid’s face lit with a smile, his heart for his ministry shines through.

Pastor Ronnie relaxing in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Pastor Ronnie relaxing in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Pastor Reid has such a heart for this church, and it shows everyday when he comes to work and every time he steps up in the pulpit,” comments Youth Pastor John Herndon. “It’s a pleasure to have the chance to serve with him.” Pastor Reid holds great responsibility on himself to do good works; he doesn’t want to “just preach.”

“I have a passion for this,” smiles Pastor Reid, as he explains the different duties he has. He has opened himself up to meet with congregation members, martial counseling, hospital visits, and more. Some people may think that he only works on Sundays and Wednesdays when he preaches, but that is not so. In reality, he works 24/7, on call every day with some days good, some days difficult.

When asked about the hardships of the job, Pastor Reid explains, “Of course it’s hard; nothing worth doing for God goes without trials. Only by the grace of God I can do what I do. By my own strength I would fail, and even sometimes I still do.” Those likewise in ministry or those closest to him can only truly feel the pressures and responsibilities. “He holds the burdens of the congregation and takes their lives seriously,” says his first lady and wife Sherry Reid. “He knows he is called for this, and ultimately the blessings and joy outweigh the hardships.”

“Growing up as a rebellious pastor’s kid myself, I would have laughed if someone would’ve told me I would be a senior pastor at a church,” grins Pastor Ronnie Reid. “It was until I accepted God in my heart and got my life on track that I could see his faithfulness. And thought I never would have believed it, I couldn’t be more thankful for being here right now. It really goes to show that his plans are for our good, and he is our ultimate Shepherd.”

Cherish Your Loved Ones

Today is a day I know all too well.

A day like any other day. You smile, you eat, you breath in and out. Then it happens. In an instance.

Today my close friend’s best friend’s grandfather passed away. We dropped our plans and rushed to the family’s side to offer our condolences and care. Arriving at the home of a family I did not truly know, it reminded me how very real this same situation was for me just under a month ago.

My grandfather passed away suddenly and turned our world upside down. The only true comfort we had in moving forward was knowing he was right with God and he was free of pain. It did made things easier, but it never takes all the pain away.

Adapting and finding the new normal after a loved one passes away can be the hardest thing to find. To find that balance. Sitting in that house, with people bringing food and love, was all too familiar.

Above the hurt, the sadness, and memory flooding and rushing back to mind from losing my beautiful grandfather, like this family did today, I was reminded that God is good and can give peace that surpasses understanding.

In the same token, I was reminded just how precious and short life is. You never truly know when a phone call can change your life in a mere instance.

So please, for the sake of those unable to hug their loved ones, for the ones that seldom visit their family, but for your sake, cherish your loved ones and your family.

Tell them you love them all the time. Get off your phone if you’re supposed to be spending time with them. And love them. Because you never know when your time is up.

But. Through it all. Know that when that time does come, you are not alone. A wonderful counselor named Jesus will be by your side if you let him.

Hug the ones you love today. Or call. Or write. Do something.
Please. Time is precious.

Show love, and be blessed.

When All Hope Was Gone

Have you ever felt like all hope was gone? That there was no way to come out of the situation you were faced with? Sometimes that how we feel in crises that surprise us and even those we see coming.

Louis Giglio

Louis Giglio

As I was doing my devotions this morning I came across something that I would like to share. I was reading my bible in the book of Acts chapter 27, where Paul was sailing to Rome to be tried for a crime aboard a ship with +200 people. In their journey, the chapter shows that their course on the sea was altered a few times in immediate direction due to harsh winds and difficult storms.

After some time, the storms grew more frightening that ever before for the ship and its passengers. The crew was trying to throw things overboard, even valuable food, just to keep from flipping the boat over in the large waves.

So as I have set the story up, I would like to show you where we pick up.

Acts 27: 18-26, being wrote by Paul the apostle, taken from Bible Gateway in the New International Version….

Paul on the Stormy Seas in Acts 27

Paul on the Stormy Seas in Acts 27

18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advicenot to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

In the face of adversity and complete hopelessness, God is still present and his name prevails! Just when you run out of hope, God steps in. His ways are higher than out wats. With a great anointing and call, you can no longer stay comfortable with the familiar.

For the glory and call of God will draw you from the shore of certainty and into the sea of the unknown. Truly, God is the absolute only certain thing in life. Everything can change in an instance, and I have experienced this many times myself. So don’t put your hope in worldly things and people, because they are as wavering as a leaf int he wind, while the Lord Almighty is a strong stone tower; unmoved by outside elements and forces.

Take heart, because the Lord I serve has overcome the world. Everything comes under his power. 

So in life, full of uncertainties and troubled times, be like Paul! And know that our God is able to be exceedingly and abundantly more than we can think. In our darkest hour, he’s at his brightest; it doesn’t always feel this way, but firsthand experience has shown me he is always right there.

And as always, be blessed.