Monday, July 12, 2010

My Heart Spilled

     Warning: This post became much longer than I originally intended. It's really long, but I would love it if you would read it. It is the foundation for everything else that I write on this blog. This is my heart spilled.
I'm sitting at the computer making graduation invitations. It's hitting me. I'm sixteen. I'm graduating. This fall. The goal I've been working towards for as long as I can remember is soon going to be completed. And then what? With no school to do...what will I do? Everyone keeps asking me what I will do next...and I don't know what to tell them. I learned the hard way not to make plans on my own(James 4:13-16). As of yet, the Lord hasn't really said, "Hey, this is what's next!" I go day by day, walking in His will and trust that He will show me day by day the choices I should make, but until the next big choice comes along, what do I do? I struggle with knowing who I am. Everyone I know has something that defines them. They are seamstresses, they are cowboys, they are tomboys, they are scrapbookers, they are gardeners, they are something. Me? I don't fit in with the girly-girls--I don't sew, cook, or garden for my enjoyment. I really don't have any hobbies--well, except for reading. Do you know how that sounds? "So what do you do?" "Well, um, I read." It's not that there aren't other things that I don't enjoy...I just don't have the opportunity to do them. Everyone thinks I'm a calm, demure, girly-girl. Ha. Haha. Hahahahaha. Okay, you get the picture. I actually love getting dirty. I love my boots. I enjoy hard work. Fixing fence is really fun. Seriously. I really enjoy it. Working cows is fun. Pigs..well, not quite fun, but better than nothing. I totally love four-wheeler riding. Horses are heaven. There's one problem. The fence doesn't need to be fixed that often. Cows need to be worked maybe for an hour a month. My four-wheeler is broken. God asked me to give Him my horse. So even the things I know I enjoy and am good at, I don't really get to do that often. So I really can't count them as what defines me.
     This spring I was planning on getting a horse. I saved and saved and saved. Finally, I could afford it. I dreamed and dreamed. This was the horse that I had prayed for, hoped for, loved, and longed for. I even knew what I would name it--Sonrisa(Sonny for short), the Spanish for smile, which also looks really amazingly like sunrise(Which is my brand, by the way--Sonrise Savanna).  This was more than a horse, however. I planned to spend hours with Sonny. I'd ride him every day I was home, rain or shine. I read all sorts of material on horse language and training. I wanted to accomplish something. I was setting a goal of spending time with him every day and I planned to stick to it. I wanted to show myself and everyone else that I could do it. I now realize that Sonny was also going to give me an identity. I was going to be a horsewoman. So when people asked me, "So what do you do?" I could say, "I spend time with my horse." All this to say, Sonny was very important to me, before I ever bought him. Which, I didn't.
     In February, God started tapping on the doors of my secret places, asking me to let Him have full control. First, it was my desire to marry and have a family. It started with Katie. Reading her story was convicting and challenging. It caused me to think, "Jesus, would I be willing and able to give up everything I had hoped for for You?" I sat in the Aldi's parking lot and cried as I told God that if He asked me to, I would give it all up. The next weeks were challenging as I read Leslie Ludy's articles and felt God tugging on my heart. I was getting scared that maybe God would ask me to never get married. It really, really, scared me to think about that.
     One evening near the beginning of March, I had some long conversations with friends talking about this very thing. The next morning I spent quite a while talking with God and questioning whether I could really live my whole life without a man by my side. Through a time of prayer and tears, God assured me that He would always be by my side and would be everything I needed. With tears pouring down my cheeks, I surrendered my dream of marriage and family to God. After I surrendered my heart's desires, God confirmed it in so many ways. Through songs(like "Break my Heart" by Kathy Troccoli), scripture(Like Matthew 10:37-39), and other ways, He brought peace to my heart. Then He took my freshly surrendered heart and began to do wonderful things with it. I started suddenly hearing about His heart for the poor and orphans and my responsibility to them. God began bringing them to my attention in very obvious ways. I could see Him asking me to reach out to them, I just didn't know how. God made it possible for us to go to a conference on doing the dirty jobs, which only impressed on me the things He was saying even more. 
     Several days after the Transform conference, I began to read Leslie Ludy's books and listen to David Platt's sermon series on radical living. By now I'm sure you're wondering what all this has to do with my identity and Sonny. Don't worry, I am going somewhere with all of this. As I listened to the first sermon in the Radical series, God gently but firmly began to nudge my heart. At first, I tried to ignore the small voice as just my imagination running wild. God wouldn't ask me to do that. No way. Of course not. I couldn't ignore it. God made a very clear impression on me that I needed to take the money I had been saving for Sonny and the money I would have used every week to feed him and use it for the Lord instead. I cried and pleaded with God to ask me to give anything but my horse. This was my horse. (I know this might be a little hard for some to understand, but this might put it in perspective. As I talked with a very good friend a few days after this, she said, "You know, I think you giving God your horse is about like if I would have to break up with a boyfriend, " to which I cried, "He was going to be my boyfriend!") However, as much as I did not want to give up Sonny, I did not want to be like the rich young ruler who "went away sad" because he did not want to give everything. I knew that this was what God was asking me to do, and, by His grace and strength, I obeyed. I cried..and cried. For a couple days I fell prey to Satan's trap of self-pity. Then God showed me where I was wrong and I began to look for good in the situation and to pray for wisdom on how to use God's money. As I surrendered all of myself to God once again, He brought me joy and peace. He touched my  heart, and made me able to thank Him for taking Sonny.
     My faith was at a new level. Practical. Painful. Real. Worth every minute of it. I began to realize what it meant to truly give everything I had. The words, "Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold," suddenly were real.
     The effects of giving God my Sonrisa were far-reaching. Without him, I am much more available and easy for God to use than if I would have spent the money and time on my horse. And now, I have nothing I can find my identity in. Nothing. (Told you I was going somewhere with this story. =) I realized that I was trying to find my identity in Sonny and that perhaps that was one reason God took him away. I now have only one choice. I must find my identity in Jesus Christ. He is now all I have and am. The things I am passionate about are the things He is passionate about. When I have free time, instead of riding my horse I spend my time learning more about Christ. He has given me such an amazing joy each day and I can't begin to tell you how much I love Him! As I let go of my desire for an identity that I could create and instead find my identity in my Savior and Prince, I find that I have never been so fulfilled and on fire! When Jesus defines me, it is so freeing! I do not have to live up to an image. Jesus is my life!
     So I guess I've answered my own question. I suppose that was really the purpose of writing this. I needed to sort my thoughts out. So what will I do?
This is what I seek:
       that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
       all the days of my life,
       to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
       and to seek him in his temple. 
Psalm 27:4
I will seek my Jesus. I will let Him shape me. I will let Him live through me. My life is no longer my own, I am bought with a price. Therefore, I will seek to glorify God with every breath that I take and to day by day walk in His will. I do not know what the future holds, although I have some ideas. I do know, however, that Jesus will show me each day what I should do. I will live in Jesus. 

Oh yes, their names are Sarah and Irene. They live in Uganda. They are orphans that now have three meals a day, an education, and someone to show them God's love. The opportunity to give them that does not even compare with feeding a horse. Their priceless faces are more beautiful than my Sonny could have ever been. ♥


  1. Tonya! WOW! It is wonderful to see that you are so willing to live your life for God! And that you are so sensitive to His calling! Very encouraging to read your story!

  2. W.O.W.

    It would be hard to give up My horse(if I am ever lucky enough to own one).
    Tanya...You are a wonderful example of giving to God!

  3. Tanya...can I use this for a Article in a newsletter me and Joanna A. are writing? or if you could write us one? that would be awesome!
    You can PM me on Way walkers,and I'll give you my Email.

  4. Beautiful, Tanya.

    Well written, full of emotion and clarity. Keep going girl! Give it all to him. Eternity is all that 'really' matters.

    Thank you by the way for your encouraging letter to me. I will be replying by letter as time allows me.

    You are a wise young woman and fully able to be used by God. Expect big things!!

    Sending you my love and applause.


  5. Wow...just read your most recent post after you sent your new email address to us at Amazima. I am touched and inspired by your sincere devotion to Jesus. Bless you and thank you for your obedience to Him. This makes the reality of sponsoring a child so profound, not just for the child being sponsored, but for the sacrifice of the sponsors. Thank you for sharing your story. May God continue to bless you with a heart that is broken and spilled for Him.

    Renee Manuel
    Sponsorship Coordinator for Amazima Ministries

  6. Thanks for all your sweet words. I really don't deserve them. Ashley, I don't have time to write an article right now, but it's fine if you want to use this. All I ask is that you not edit it(print it like it's written)and that you give the address to my blog.

  7. I'll do that Tanya..Thank you!

    BTW, would y'all like a copy?
    If so, can you PM my your address on Waywalkers?
    The newsletter is sorta like 'Princess' was.
    (I've still got all my copies to that by the way as well! ;-D )


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