Today I’m spotlighting two excellent blogs: His Beloved and Looking for the Blessed Hope. Enjoy!
Kayla Rivers (His Beloved) is passionate for the Lord Jesus, and serves Him and others with her blog. Please take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with Kayla’s blog. I’ve included her story, as well one of her posts that I find especially and inspirational!. There is a link to her BlogSite above which is clickable, as are all titles in blue for sake of ease in accessing her site. Enjoy!
Beauty Out of Ashes: My Story
We’ve all heard the phrase “Beauty Out of Ashes” before. When I heard it the first time, I thought “that’s a cute phrase.” I kept going, though. Not even really thinking about the depth of the meaning.
Here’s my story:
From a young age, I heard the name Jesus. I knew Bible stories, I had heard the Gospel. Though my family didn’t attend church regularly, I had heard about Jesus through many forms.
My grandparents took the role as my parents because I came from a childhood of abuse from my parents. Violence and dishonesty were a part of our every day life in my family. Normally your family is your safe place. I longed for that idea as a child. My trust was completely broken. I thought, “if I can’t trust my family to be loving, then who can I trust?” At 12 years old, I had made up my mind that I would never trust anyone again, and then I decided something else as well: that I didn’t want to live anymore.. I shared with one of my friends my thoughts of suicide, and by the loving grace of Jesus, she made me talk to my school counselor. From then on, I received counseling from all of the abuse I was facing. I was diagnosed with depression, and received treatment. I still wasn’t satisfied, though.. I didn’t have Jesus.
When I was in 6th grade, I started playing tennis. I played throughout middle school and high school. My freshman year of high school, I wanted to play singles. I decided that if I couldn’t find my worth and value at home, I would at least find it on the court. If I could play tennis well, I would be good enough, right? Not quite. Though I wanted to play singles, I was actually placed in doubles for the first few matches. If you’d like to hear a little bit about the humor of God, here it is. [Many, many times I had been invited to church by individuals, but I always said no, because I refused to build relationships with anyone else. I was afraid that I would get hurt again the way family had already hurt me.] Guess what, my tennis partner, Sara Freeman, started inviting me to church! I thought, “this is just great…” But it truly was great. It was more than great. After several times of declining her invitation to church, I finally agreed to go. Honestly, it was just to say I did it. [BUT GOD]. He relentlessly pursues us, doesn’t He? After a few months of attending church with her, I was actually at another church when I accepted Jesus. It just so happened that my family had been invited to another church one Sunday. On that Sunday, April 24th, 2011, I gave my heart to Jesus.
You see, God had been pursuing my heart for a really long time. Through my friend, yes, but He had also been pursing my heart through my family: the hardships, the abuse, the pain. Though I know that God did not intend for me to face abuse, what I can tell you is that He had every intention to use it, and He most definitely has. On April 24th, I realized one important thing: that God never intended for me to carry my burdens on my own. For years I never shared with anyone that abuse I faced, because I was ashamed. What a lie from satan! I asked for forgiveness of my own sins and gave my heart to Jesus because I realized that He died for me: He died for my pain, my struggles, my sin. I was in need of SAVIOR. I was in need of REDEMPTION. Through Jesus I was able to see His steadfast love for me, that He was for me even when I wasn’t for myself, that my sins were forgiven. I was able to see that He was faithful and gives grace beyond what my mind could comprehend. Praise God for His grace and mercy. Praise God for His pursuit of us.
Right from the start, my faith was persecuted. Other than my grandfather, my family did not know Jesus. Many times they did not understand why I chose to live for Him. They persecuted my desire to go on mission trips, asking, “why would you go on the other side of the world? How do you know ‘this Jesus’ will take care of you over there?” God quickly taught me stand up for what I believed (and please know that He is STILL teaching me that!). When I was 17, God put on my heart to start praying with patients in my nearby hospital. Trust me when I say I was a nervous wreck at first, but I was so restless that I could not ignore the prompting on my heart by the Holy Spirit. Through praying with people in hospital, I was able to see many hearts encouraged, and many people come to know Jesus. I was blown away by what God had in store. He had a plan. He knew that there were broken hearts that needed to be healed. A few months later, God also put on my heart to start praying with my family. My answer was quickly, no..NO..NOO. How could I do that? They already call me crazy! God had been using His prompting for me to pray with people in the hospital to also strengthen me to pray with my family. Something you should know is that I always pray for God to make me restless until I listen to Him. [Bold, I know. But it works!] Believe me, I was completely restless. I knew that I had to start praying with my family. One small bold step after another, I started to pray with them. Night after night, over the course of a few years, it got easier and easier. After a while, my family started to say, “we should pray tonight, something different happens when we pray.”
One night in March of 2015, I was talking to my grandmother. She said, “you know, we can never be sure that we are going to Heaven when we die, but I sure hope that I get to go.” In that moment, I was able to share the Gospel with my grandmother again, and that night at 67 years old, my grandmother decided to give her life to Jesus!!! In the same year, August of 2015, I invited my mother to church with me again. On August 2, she, too realized that she was in need of Savior and was transformed by the Gospel!!! I remember my mother saying, “I finally understand why you want to serve Jesus. I realize that I cannot make it without him.” I have 3 little sisters, and since then, I have also been able to watch them come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior one by one. GOD. IS. GOOD.
I could never be more thankful for Sara and her family for pouring into my life, especially my spiritual life, from the very beginning. Her family was a true picture of the Gospel, that what satan intends for evil God can make good, no matter what it is. Her family took me in as their own, and are still a significant part of my life today. I pray that everyone has a family like Sara’s in their life.
Though I faced many hardships as a child, it was beyond any reward that I could ever dream to be able to watch my family come to know Jesus. I could never take credit for the transformation that God has done in my family. Only He gets the glory. God has also taught me what true forgiveness is, both His forgiveness towards me, and my forgiveness towards my parents. This is a true testimony of the power of God: that He does whatever He pleases, and that He can save anyone.
Though I know Jesus and realize more and more each day that I am desperate for Him, I still struggle, as we all do. I have still had to receive counseling and medication for my childhood and depression. I have realized that sometimes God shows us His healing through physical forms of treatment, whether that be counseling, medication, or whatever it takes. It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way. Sometimes we need help. Through my healing I have experienced a deep understanding of God’s heart towards me, and in a way that I would have never experienced outside of my hardship. I’ve experienced the saving grace of Jesus. He has taken my pain and made a beautiful story.
When I think of my story, I think of Hosea 6:1-3 which says,
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.””
Through my grandparents and Sara’s family, I have seen a sweet picture of grace. They have showered me with love that I could never earn, and reminded me of the truth of Jesus over and over again.
Along with my grandparents and Sara’s family, there have been many, many more that have an encouragement in my walk with Christ. Thank you to you all, your encouragement has meant more than you know!
God can use hardships to draw us close to Him. Through hardships we realize how desperate we are for the love and saving grace of our Lord. I could never be more thankful for my story, for God has used it for His glory, and His glory alone.
Now, I desire to encourage broken hearts who are lost and in need of someone to speak life into them. God reached down to save me and mold me into His image (and is still doing so!) He can do the same for you. Whatever you’re facing or have faced, God sees you. He hears you. He plans to make beauty from your ashes. That is what our God does best.
Just a reminder to you that satan has not won, God has. God’s Word is not bound by anything /2 Timothy 2:9/. His is the name above all names.
© Copyright Kayla Rivers All Rights Reserved
If you’re anything like me, I always sit and ponder on all of the things I could have done differently: things I should have said differently, things I should have done “better,” ways that I could have made myself appear better.. God has a message for people like you and I that’s pretty simple. [Move on]. Satan loves to attack our minds and our spirit with guilt, shame, doubt and fear based on something in our past. Let us rise up in the spirit and power of Jesus, let’s not give satan that power. My friend, your mistakes don’t define you. Your weaknesses have no dominion over you when you truly surrender them to Jesus.
God does not get anxious when we make a mistake. Trust me when I say that He is still on the throne, and that He is functioning full well. // God is not afraid of our weaknesses. // If you could have done something better or different, make sure you do. However, don’t live in your past. Don’t live in the lie that God can’t use you. He can. He desires to. Move on. Move on from whatever is holding you back from pursuing God’s plan with your whole heart. Sometimes I think we just sit around and wait for God to use us when we feel like we have punished ourselves enough for our mistakes. What I know is that we could never ever pay for our own sin, Jesus already did that.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
This is GOD’s promise! That He has already moved on from our past, but many times we are still stuck there. Whether big or small, remember that God is greater than any mess up.
God is waiting on US to get up, to remember His promises and to be strengthened by Him. He has already offered Himself to us, but we must receive Him. It’s time to move on. Don’t be so distracted by your mistakes that you miss the beautiful story that God is placing together in your life. God loves you. He relentlessly pursues you every single day. He has not removed you from His grace. He knew that you would need it, so He made a way for you from the very beginning.
Copyright © Kayla Rivers All Rights Reserved
Looking for the Blessed Hope is a blog dedicated to teaching God’s prophetic word through the lens of a proper understanding of current events and Israel’s place in the prophetic timetable. Please take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with Looking for the Blessed Hope. I’ve included their story, as well one of their posts that I find especially exciting! There is a link to their BlogSite above which is clickable, as are all titles in blue for sake of ease in accessing their site. Enjoy!
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Looking for the Blessed Hope was born of a God-given passion for Israel and Israel’s Messiah. Kindled by extreme interest in Bible prophecy, and set ablaze by several visits to the land of Israel, that passion has prompted many personal projects (multiple Bible studies, a narrated tour video, and various speaking engagements), and now this blog: Looking for the Blessed Hope. Initially, the purpose was to share my experiences leading up to, during, and following journeys to Israel, but it now has a different purpose.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus is returning soon, and today’s events are quickly lining up with Bible prophecies. He is our Blessed Hope…indeed the only hope, and it is my desire that everything found here brings glory to Him while challenging us all to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age.
Beyond that, the Bible teaches us to BE READY for Jesus’ return! My mission is to provide resources and insight into how today’s events line up with Biblical prophecy. I will do my best to bring understanding to God’s Word as it relates to the Lord’s return, and these last days leading up to His return.
Finally, developing a right understanding and a right relationship with Israel is critical to fulfilling the call to bless her. Learning about the land of Israel and the people of Israel is important in building a right understanding. To rightly relate, we as Christians must realize and appreciate our Jewish roots. Prayerfully, I endeavor to provide some direction that enhances a right understanding and a right relationship.
Thanks for reading, and until Jesus returns, let’s keep…..
Looking for the Blessed Hope
I am very excited to announce a life-changing EXPERIENCE ISRAEL TOUR on November 13-24, 2019, and I would love to walk where Jesus walked with those of you who share a passion for Israel! Whether you live in the US or around the world, you are welcome to join us!
Designed to go beyond simply seeing the sights of Israel, to actually engaging the people and the culture, this tour is customized to allow you to experience Israel! We will connect with the land and the people in ways typical tours do not.
We also worked diligently to make this trip as affordable as possible without losing the quality such an investment deserves. Total cost of the tour is only $3,450 (including airfare from Phoenix). Search around for similar tours in length and quality of accommodations, and you will find much higher price tags. (In fact, this trip costs less than my first trip to Israel in 2008!) We cut unnecessary expenses, scored great deals on plane tickets and scheduled during a less busy time of year…all to make the experience more affordable.
Also, as a “Welcome Aboard” gift, I have a limited supply of the new I Am Israel video that will most definitely get you excited to experience the beauty, the people, the land, and the God of Israel! (See the trailer here.) I am happy to send one to each party that registers, while supplies last!
For more information, here are your options:
- In the menu above, click on “EXPERIENCE ISRAEL TOUR”
- Email: Looking4theBlessedHope@gmail.com
- Private Message via Facebook: facebook.com/LookingfortheBlessedHope
- Informational meetings will be held in the Phoenix area, so be sure to ask about dates and locations if you are in the area
- If you live elsewhere, information will be provided and assistance will be given in making arrangements as smooth as possible for you to connect with us
It is a privilege and a blessing to visit the land of Israel and, whether it is your first or tenth time there, I assure you it will be time and money well-spent! We have space for 30 people, so invite your family and friends and let’s fill it up!
I look forward to experiencing Israel with you!