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Made For This MomentOur Time, Our Life, Our Legacy
By Connie Friend
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Connie Friend
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMade For More
"To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted" Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (AMP)
Gianna Jessen, a beautiful, articulate young woman, stood before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on April 22, 1996. This is her testimony.
"My name is Gianna Jessen. I am nineteen years of age. I am originally from California, but now reside in Franklin, Tennessee. I am adopted. I have cerebral palsy. My biological mother was 17 years old and seven and one-half months pregnant when she made the decision to have a saline abortion. I am the person she aborted. I lived instead of died.
Fortunately for me the abortionist was not in the clinic when I arrived alive, instead of dead, at 6:00 a.m. on the morning of April 6, 1977. I was early, my death was not expected to be seen until about 9 a.m., when he would probably be arriving for his office hours. I am sure I would not be here today if the abortionist would have been in the clinic as his job is to take life, not sustain it. Some have said I am a 'botched abortion', a result of a job not well done.
There were many witnesses to my entry into this world. My biological mother and other young girls in the clinic, who also awaited the death of their babies, were the first to greet me. I am told this was a hysterical moment. Next was a staff nurse who apparently called emergency medical services and had me transferred to a hospital.
I remained in the hospital for almost three months. There was not much hope for me in the beginning. I weighed only two pounds. Today, babies smaller than I was have survived.
A doctor once said I had a great will to live and that I fought for my life. I eventually was able to leave the hospital and be placed in foster care. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of the abortion ...
I am happy to be alive. I almost died. Every day I thank God for life. I do not consider myself a by-product of conception, a clump of tissue, or any other of the titles given to a child in the womb. I do not consider any person conceived to be any of those things ...
All life is valuable. All life is a gift from our Creator. We must receive and cherish the gifts we are given. We must honor the right to life."
Gianna Jessen expresses courage every day of her life. She is walking, talking, living, breathing, evidence that God creates us with purpose.
You were created with a purpose as well. By virtue of your birth, you have proof that you are destined to fill a place in history. There's no denying it. You are here, and nothing can erase the fact that you have existed. You didn't choose it, you didn't ask for your place of origin or condition of birth, you had no control over it, but still, you are here. You were specifically created by a loving God with a plan.
Breath of God
You are breathing. You have the very breath of God in your lungs. When God created human kind, he finished his masterpiece by breathing His very own spirit, (in Greek, the word is "pneuma" which means breath) into us from His own being. Stop and take in that thought for a moment. The holy breath of God is within you! It is sacred. It is holy. It is powerful. The fact that you are breathing in and out right now as you read this, means you have supernatural, holy, sacred potential residing within you.
When Moses asked God His name, God responded with the word Yahweh, which translates, "I am who I am." The word Yahweh is composed of the Hebrew letters, YHWH. These letters coupled with the appropriate vowels sounds imitate the sound of breathing. In both Hebrew and Greek, the word for spirit is the same as the word for breath. Our God is present in all things, and our God is present in us.
When a newborn infant draws their first breath, they speak the name of God. Yahweh. When a person on their deathbed draws their last breath, the name of God is on their lips. Yahweh. Even those who say there is no God speak His name of the very act of breathing. Yahweh.
Jason Gray wrote lyrics to a beautiful song that depicts the breath of God upon us.
"The Sound of Our Breathing"
"Every one of us is born of dust but come alive with heaven's kiss
The name of God is the sound of our breathing Hallelujahs rise on the wings of our hearts beating"
God created you and breathed His own divine breath and life into you. This is your time, and this moment will never pass again.
In contrast to Gianna's story, my story seems rather insignificant but that is precisely the point. None of us are insignificant. Each one of us is precious, planned for, and purposed by God.
From Wandering to Wondering
What are you going to do with the time you've been given? That is the question I began asking about the time I turned forty. I began wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Sadly, I realized my life was probably half over. Would the second half be better than the first half? Was it going to matter to anyone that I was here? And even more importantly, was I going to do anything to make a difference in someone else's life?
I had been studying the book of Exodus in the Bible about that time. The striking comparison was hard to miss; the children of Israel, though they belonged to God, had wandered and wasted forty years. I was feeling like my life was wasting away as well. After my 40th birthday, I realized I was experiencing such a deep feeling of dissatisfaction. I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized that all my life I had been overwhelmed with a feeling of shyness, a lack of confidence, and lethargy of purpose, and I was not willing to wander in the desert one more day!
I think this feeling hits different people at different points throughout life. John Mayer wrote about it in his song, "Why Georgia." A quarter life crisis can be a very real and challenging event in young people too. Some experience it as they finish high school or college. Others experience this kind of crisis while waiting to get married or waiting to have children. For others it's while going through a divorce or a demise of a dream or a death of a loved one. It doesn't always hit you at mid-life, or when you're 40. I've had friends go through similar experiences even in their 80's. It is a universal part of life, but this stress and fear of stagnation can actually keep us growing and moving forward.
A Point of Reference
We all go through times in our lives when we wonder "Why was I born?" and "Why am I here?" and "What is my purpose?" Rick Warren jumpstarted a huge discussion in our culture when he wrote his best seller, The Purpose Driven Life. He launched his career, expanded his church, and opened fresh dialogue across the American landscape. The book sought to answer these very important questions we face. In it he states, "But there is a God who made you for a reason, and your life has profound meaning! We discover that meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives."
Is God the reference point of your life? How do you know?
My children are nearly grown now, and I'm beginning to see the fruits of my investment and of pouring my life into theirs, which is a wonderful thing for any parent. I don't negate the value of motherhood, or the investment that I poured into the life of my family for a second. My search for deeper meaning did not negate the amazing gift my family has been in my life, I just mean that at some level, I wanted more.
I vividly remember when my children were young and every day felt like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day. I would wake up every morning feeling exhausted, only to repeat the same tasks and chores of the day before, feeling caught in the cycle of daily maintenance routines and constant care of little ones. "Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat." Have you ever felt like this?
I remember occasionally looking in the mirror, seeing fatigue on my face, burnout in my eyes, and frequently, a serious case of bed head, saying to myself in dismay, "Woman, who are you, and how did you get here?"
As my kids began physically needing me less and less, it gave me time to start asking the question, "Is this all there is?" I began feeling that I just wanted more even if I didn't know what more was.
To begin answering any of those questions, I had to realize who I was. This search led me on a quest that began in 2004. I felt driven to find answers, driven to my knees, and driven to change. Appropriately, I began reading Purpose Driven Life. I took notes and I did some sincere introspection and analysis.
In 2005, I was able to go to the Hillsong Conference, put on by Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. While in Australia, I saw modeled before me women who knew and understood that they had a responsibility as the female half of God's church, to BE the church. I caught a real glimpse, for the first time, that I too was intended for a purpose.
I listened to one of the women on staff at their church, Pastor Donna Crouch. She told the story of finding Jesus and beginning to work at the church. She told of her growth and evolution from shy girl in the background to a leader of multitudes. She began speaking out all the excuses I had in the running commentary in my head. There were so many reasons why I wouldn't do anything for God, did not take risks, could not speak up. I couldn't tolerate the mess of failure, or the loss of control. She said things like, "So you're not qualified. Get qualified!" A statement that hit me right between the eyes ... Get qualified ...
Did you know that the Bible is completely full of God's thoughts about you? I once attended a prophetic worship class, not knowing at all what that title meant. The teacher said, "Just start worshiping and praying, and begin stating what God says about you."
"What does God say about you?" the teacher asked. I must confess, I was stumped. At that time in my life, I was clueless. I mean, I knew that Jesus died on the cross to save human kind, and I was one of those, but what did He think of me personally? I wasn't sure.
So I came home and began to research what God thinks and I started to devour the Word of God. I was blown away by what I found.
He says we are complete. "So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority." Colossians 2:10 (NLT)
He says we are saved and called. "For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from the beginning of time - to show us his grace through Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 1:9 (NLT)
He says we are guarded and loved. "He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as he would guard his own eyes." Deuteronomy 32:10 (NLT)
He says we are loved. "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)
He says we are blessed, happy and favored. "So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as a partner in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham." Galatians 3:9 (Amplified)
He says we are victorious. "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." Romans 8:37 (NLT)
He says we are beautiful. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11 (Amplified)
Complete, saved, called, guarded, loved, blessed, happy, favored, victorious and beautiful! Wow! How much more evidence do we need to realize He is head over heels, crazy about us?!
The Love Letter
When I began reading and understanding God's Word as a love letter to me, my whole perspective began to change. I began to look for the things God was doing. I started to realize that I didn't have to reinvent the wheel or find some magical potion that would complete me and add meaning to my life. I also began to comprehend that I already had everything I needed to be His girl.
God had already been working, placing things within my hands, within my sphere of influence and my realm of responsibility. I no longer had to wait for the perfect time. This was it!
I started realizing what Jesus meant when He said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it to the full." John 10:10 (NIV) A full life. Not a routine, not drudgery, not a hold-your-breath-and-get-through-it kind of existence? I wanted it. I looked for it. I began reading God's Word more, letting Him breathe His life into me once again. I began reading other books by authors who were full of passion and zeal. I surrounded myself with people going in the same direction I was going.
Committed to the Journey
I actually didn't know where I was going, but that wasn't as important as being committed to the journey. I began to see that I didn't have to justify my existence or feel guilty for taking up space because I had a reason for being here. God gave me breath for a reason, and I no longer had to wait for permission to speak.
Perhaps you too have found yourself waiting in the wings for any number of reasons. Perhaps circumstances just seem too difficult. Maybe you have been taking care of others for years, and there's no time left to even consider your own calling. It could be that you think your past is too terrible to overcome. The weight of the guilt you carry is so heavy you think God wouldn't (or couldn't) use you. If the guilt and shame weren't enough of a burden, you wouldn't want to submit yourself to the scrutiny or the attention that comes from being in the forefront and the pressure of everyone "seeing" you. Standing on the edge of stepping out is an intimidating place to be.
We were created with great purpose, skill and intentionality. We have been watched for and waited on. We all have a certain amount of time allotted to us. We all have a certain number of days scheduled for us in this life. We can waste our time or we can spend it, but we cannot save a single day by waiting. God is able to give us more. He delights in making us into more. Stop doubting and know that you were made for this moment.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Maryanne Williamson
Ale's Story In Her Own Words
I was born January 16, 1988 in Mexico City. I came to America in January, 1990 with my mom, my 8 year old brother and my 10 year old sister when I was 2 years old. I grew up with a lot of love but lacked attention. From as long as I can remember my parents were always gone. They worked so much, and it was not unusual for them to work through the weekend including Sundays. They worked overlapping shifts so that we were never all home together as a family.
When I started school I did not know any English, so I remember coloring a lot and not having many friends. I graduated from ESL (English as a Second Language) in the third grade and also received my citizenship and my first F in school that year. When my mom changed jobs, she began working from 3pm to 12am, and that dramatically changed my outlook on life.
I was 8 when my sister was 16. She always had friends over and locked me in my room. She would go to parties and lock me in the car for hours at a time by myself and then threaten me later not to tell my parents. I wanted her to like me so I never told on her but the longer I was abandoned in cars or in my room, the more I felt like I was just in the way. I started losing my value during those years. My family was too busy for me so I turned to friends. I met two friends when I was in sixth grade and we became best friends. I felt like I finally fit in. We dressed in matching colors, spent every recess together and talked on the phone after school. We were pretty popular. My mom was very strict and never let me hang out with friends or have sleepovers after school though. I loved to run and play sports and it was the only thing my mom allowed me to do after school. I was running for Silver State Striders, an after school running program, every day until about 7pm.
One of my friends had a brother that was in a gang and he picked her up from school every day with his friends, which part of me thought it was scary, and the other part thought it pretty was cool. I was invited on a Friday to hang out with my friend at her house because she said she would be home alone, but I said I couldn't because of practice and my mom wouldn't let me. But she insisted and started teasing me. I was afraid not to be accepted by her anymore, so I decided to go to her house instead of practice after school. As long as I was home by 7pm I thought I could get away with it.
Excerpted from Made For This Moment by Connie Friend Copyright © 2012 by Connie Friend. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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