Today, I turned 31

Yup, even though I look like I’m in my low to middle 20’s (really depends on who you ask) I am now 31!  My friend Lisa sent me a happy birthday message in Facebook messenger and I realized there was an older message I never acted on.  This past October, I went through a financial struggle and I almost gave up on coming back to Alaska.  During that time of uncertainty she challenged me to reflect on all the ways God had provided over this past year to encourage myself that He indeed provides for all of our needs.  As I’m facing a month with a lot of unplanned medical expenses, I am once again looking to God to provide for my needs.  So, for those that may not know this part of my story I wanted to share a little bit about God’s faithfulness in my life this past year.  No worries, I’ll keep it condensed and highlighted 3 four month periods with one life lesson.

January – April: Life
Starting January 1st, 2016, I was reinstated as the Marketing Director of Chick-Fil-A Berkshire Mall.  I had originally given up that position to pursue working in Alaska for the summer of 2015 and when I came back, my boss was approved for his own store!  I was very happy for him.  The new owner that took over saw my experience and leadership as an asset and we began to work well together.  The first two months or so it felt like I could do this for the the long haul and as a career.  I was being paid well, and given fair benefits.  I was a full-time manager, loved the company, loved the marketing field, and was genuinely all around happy.  That is, until about end of February and the beginning of March.  When I took this position, I was asked to give it my all and commit fully – meaning I needed to put Alaska on hold.  This didn’t mean I couldn’t do a short missions trip like before, but I couldn’t leave the store for 4 months and expect year round benefits and for my job to be held for me.  I made the full year commitment even though deep down, my heart didn’t want to give up Alaska.  Once the initial awesomeness wore off and the weight of my decision began to set in, part of me on the inside died.  Again, I loved my job and the company, but there was something deeper going on.  I just want to make it clear that it was about me, honestly it was.  Even back in December 2015, come the Spring of 2016, I had wanted to take all my essentials that would fit in my car and drive all the way to Alaska.  I knew this was crazy, and I knew some would be against it.  I listened to the advice of those around me that taking this job for a year would be a good thing, help pay off all my debt and create a good savings for the trip to Alaska.  Sounded great, but my heart knew what it wanted.  The more I worked, despite the extra hours and even increase in pay, the more I became frustrated.  I was no longer working under the grace God had given me.  He gave me grace to pursue a wild dream.  After experiencing the worst bout of depression in decades, I decided to put in my two weeks at Chick-Fil-A and follow the desires of my heart.  So in these first few months how did God provide?  Through my job of course, and amazing friends and family.  But most importantly through LIFE.  He kept me, and held me, and helped me push through a terrible time.  I often considered hospitalizing myself because I got to the point where I didn’t know if I could stop myself from giving in to my suicidal thoughts.  I am thankful for my friends like Pamela who knew about my struggle and knew when to get in my face and ask hard questions.  I am thankful for God for giving me the strength to fight on and stand during a turbulent time.

May -August: Faithfulness
God was certainly faithful by helping me live past a dark time and providing the necessary friends and family to get through it.  But I began to see His faithfulness in all aspects of my life, especially in my finances.  “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV).  That first part is key, we need to delight in the Lord.  We need to fellowship with Him.  God is someone that has a Father’s heart, who sent His only begotten Son to die for us and sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us.  He desires a relationship with us.  After putting my two weeks in at Chick-Fil-A, I began to pursue being a missionary full time.  I am still living this life of faith even as I write this.  The transition was exciting as I went to Ethiopia for 3 weeks with my good friend Hennock.  Shortly after that trip, I got in my car with all of my needs for the summer and fall and drove about 6,000 miles across the continent to Alaska!  I visited friends, family, and sights as I traveled Northwest from PA to Washington, and then through Canada to Alaska.  During these four months I saw God’s provision and faithfulness like never before in my life.  It wasn’t just that the right amount of funds were provided when I needed them.  You see, God cares about every aspect of our lives.  He also provided warm places to stay, good food to eat, and friends to fellowship with.  Even things you don’t realize are ‘needs’ are ‘needs’. For example, being able to machine wash your clothes instead of hand washing them in the shower or sink as you travel.  Being able to take a warm shower or sleeping in a comfortable bed.  I have given testimonies of these provisions over this past year in various churches where I have preached.  It would make this post too long to account for all the miracles ways things were provided.  But in short, if God has birthed a dream in your heart and you are fellowship with Him and listening to His voice, even if it’s crazy like Noah building an ark, or Abraham leaving his country with no final destination – with God, it’s possible.  I know, because I’ve lived by faith for 8 months now.

September – December: Victory
My birthday has come to an end and 2016 isn’t over yet.  As I reflect over these last few months, there were times when I felt like giving up on my dream, even after I got here.  I faced heavy opposition and life trials that made it seem like it was no longer possible.  It was during this season that my friend Lisa encouraged me to reflect on all the things God has provided for me.  If you didn’t hear when it happened back in September, I had lost nearly everything.  After driving here this summer, I bought a round trip ticket home for my cousin’s wedding and to spend some time with friends and family since I would be away for the holidays.  While I was home, I made time to visit churches and encourage people with the testimonies of everything God had been doing in my life.  I did my best to cast vision and explain what I would be doing here in the Copper River Valley this winter.  Shortly after flying home, I received a phone call that my car was involved in an accident.  A few days later, I further learned it was totaled.  Long story short, I lost my car that I left here in Alaska due to actions beyond my control.  I had to pay money out of pocket just to be able to see my car that was impounded from a DUI incident.  I also didn’t receive enough from insurance to pay off the amount I still owed on it.  All of my insurance money went towards my car debt, as well as the rest of my funds.  I was up against the wall and nearly gave up hope.  I began questioning a lot and why this was happening.  However, I continued to press through.  Despite a hard two weeks and another battle with depression, I was able to overcome this personal trial.  I was thankful for my friend Nate that tells it to me straight and encouraged me to not give up; to trust in God.  There were also moments of encouraging conversations  I had, like with my sister Becky.  I realized not only how much God had provided throughout this year, but also how many people were behind me and my vision for Alaska.  Why was this so difficult for me when God had provided throughout the whole summer?  For starters, would you fly back to Alaska and face up to negative 40 degree weather with no car?  It was the biggest personal loss I have dealt with regarding my possessions that did not involve my own actions.  It seemed my only way out was a large sum of money which was bigger than anything God had done for me so far.

Fast forward to now, I am the proud owner of a used 2006 Honda Accord that I was able to buy here in Alaska through a very generous donation.  I was given enough money to buy it outright, add a remote start, a light bar for the longer nights, and pay for the first 6 months of car insurance.  I have overcome this trial with God’s help.  Once again, I continue to press in, seeking out my dreams of helping those in need here in Alaska.  I know God has a lot in store for me and has already given me the victory.  I just need to continue to press in and receive it.  I listened to a sermon recently that really encouraged me from Bethel.  We are living in a world that is physical and spiritual.  Often times the trials we face are because of the forces against us in the spiritual realm.  Sometimes to obtain our promise land, we have to kick someone out.  If God is calling you to something and the enemy is throwing everything it has at you, it’s because it doesn’t want to let go and you have to kick them out with the authority you have in Christ!  I hope my story encouraged you today.  Thank you for reading along!  I would love to hear how God has provided in your life this year in the comments below.

Recap of God’s Provision in 2016:

  • Dreams
  • Finances
  • Friends and Family
  • Life, and the ability to overcome hard times
  • Protection
  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Work
  • Victory in Christ
  • God’s Faithfulness to provide

4 thoughts on “Today, I turned 31

  1. Thank you for sharing God’s faithfulness to you with us. I have struggled with clinical depression as well and God has seen me through. I do believe the enemy oppresses God’s people as well. But Jesus is victor as Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust, declares, I praise God you are pressing through and finding God’s strength made perfect in weakness. I will pray for you Andrew! Your thorn in the flesh will be the very thing a God uses to show His glory in your life I am sure many people in Alaska share the same struggle. The sunshine is healing like the Son when you suffer from SAD. Jesus is the light of the world and He lives within all believers to dispel the darkness. God bless you brother.

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