Remember the guy who came all the way from PA to NH to help us drive back to PA in a U-Haul while we were moving? Yep. That's this guy. A man who is so selfless and has a huge heart and will give without expecting anything in return. The funny thing is that Matt is one of my husband's really good friends that I came to know as Graham and I were dating and into our marriage. Over the last year I have seen God do incredible things through him and knew I wanted him to share his journey with us. So, brothers and sisters, Matt Kratz! Matt, can you share a little bit about yourself?
Matt-I am 27 years old and live in Pennsylvania. I am currently working for LifeLion EMS based out of Hershey Medical Center. I have been working in emergency services for just over 9 years. I started out as a firefighter and then continued on to get my EMT. I am currently engaged to an amazing girl that continues to help me grow as a person and with God.
C-I love hearing about the crazy things you see on the job! When would you say your faith moved beyond just knowing God to experiencing God?
Matt-I have always known God since I grew up in a Christian home and had the privilege to attend a Christian School. I never really experienced God until I was in college. I have had many ups and downs, but God has never forgot me. He has had his hand in every part of my life, even when I was trying to live life without Him. I am glad for the people that God has put in my life to encourage me and draw me back to God.
C-It's amazing how He does bring people our way to remind us of His presence! What is one thing God has been teaching you this season of your life?
Matt-During this time of my life, God is teaching me that His timing is always right. When things aren’t going the way I think they should, God has been showing me that he has sometimes has different and far better plans. I am learning to be patient and let God run my life. He has also been showing me the need to keep a consistent devotional life.
C-I feel like timing has been a recurring theme for so many; to really believe that His time and His will are perfect. How do you keep your eyes fixed on God when storms come your way?
Matt-I have found that the best way to get through the storms, is to talk to others. This has been a major struggle for me due to the fact that I am not the type of person to talk about my personal life. The more I have been able to express my feelings with others, the easier it has been to get through the storm. I have also heavily relied on my personal devotions to help in tough times. I can defiantly tell the difference in a day when I do not have time with God.
C-YESSS! Community and the Word itself are so key. What are some verses that you often cling to as a reminder of His goodness?
Psalms 143:10- Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your Good Spirit lead me on level ground
I Samuel 12:24- Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.
C-I love it when I see new passages each month I ask this question. These 2 are so simple yet powerful and call us to action daily. Thank you so much. Finally, if you could encourage those out there who are fearful of letting go and trusting God, what would you say?
Matt-I encourage anyone who is struggling with letting God have complete control to continue to actively seek God. God has in so many ways showed me that He has the complete picture in mind. A lot of times we get “tunnel vision” and get focused on what we think is important. I also find that it is helpful to surround yourself with Godly friends who you trust. Talking with others has allowed me to see how focused I was on myself and not what God had planned for me. God has worked miracles in my life, that may not seem like big to others, but have been mountains moved in my life. Finally, I encourage everyone to stay faithful and be patient; God is working miracles.
Thank you so much for sharing your heart Matt!
Friends, these spotlights are so special to my heart because it's an essential reminder that we are not alone in our faith journey. We all have different measures of faith and perhaps our journeys may look different but it's all the same race. Remember that you are so deeply loved and earnestly pursued by the Lord and that you never have to feel like you are running this race alone.
Give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
Whoa. As I began to pray I changed my attitude and my heart in my request. "Lord, today I see that we have enough for our daily needs and for that I want to thank you. Teach me to be content in the daily bread-to be satisfied by YOU who gives me life, joy, hope, strength, and purpose. I don't want to be satisfied temporarily by money and lose sight of you. And whatever money you do bless us with as the fruit of our labor, may it be used to advance your Kingdom and bring you glory."
I am weak. I run away. I hide. I try to fix it on my own. Before moving to PA I was known to overwhelm my schedule with demands and expectations that others place on me leaving my soul, as Lisa TerKeurst states "underwhelmed." In this new chapter I can see God calling me to stop, be still, and embrace Him in every possible moment. I am so blessed to be be able to now work from home as an online therapist, and a fitness coach BUT...going from a rushed 8-5 where my whole life as a blur to a sudden haunt where my life is slow, relaxing, peaceful, and quieter has not been an easy transition. Isn't that funny? It's such a BLESSING yet it's not easy to receive.
As I dig deep into myself I can see that I find my value and "use" in having an overwhelmed schedule...as if that's healthy and good. These next 3 months of my story are so unique and I can see it's being intentionally written by God before our son is born as a season of REST and STILLNESS that I may be closer to Jesus' heart so I can learn to discern how to make Best Yes decisions and recognize His still small voice. So I'm running to the secret place today and every day. Even when all my work is done and I have hours of "emptiness" it's never a waste when they are spent with Jesus. He has to be my reason, hope, joy, and all in all. As long as we are committed to Him, no day is a waste. I invite you to rest with me. Stillness is a struggle for many but it opens the door for clarity, freedom, discernment, and a deeper closeness to Jesus.
Those are the three words that God has been placing on my heart this week. To delight in Him, which means I must be spending time with Him. Think about it, how can you delight in someone you barely know or love? To love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength brings about a deep desire and craving to delight in Him, His ways, His truths, HIM.
Commit my ways to Him. This includes anything and everything: My marriage, baby, wellness business, counseling business, family, friends, dreams, ambitions, anything!
Succeed. Not only practical success but eternal success. God promises that we will inherit the Kingdom and that the greatest treasure of all will be ours when we submit to Him. The best part? This treasure just means more time to delight in Him!
My heart is still raw and I pray it stays this way; I pray against becoming calloused or hard hearted that I cannot hear the voice of God and the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit. I will remain open, quiet, and waiting for His next assignment for me.
Perhaps you know what I am talking about...
You are hyperventalitating while you cry, snot is everywhere, tears are streaming down your face, and no matter what you do, you can't stop. To make matters even better, it was on my husbands shoulders and nice shirt. He had never heard me cry in this way before. Completely loose with no restriction. The strong, confident, "got it all figured out" Caren was broken. Instead was in his arms a little girl afraid, consumed, and confused.
Let me start by sharing that I am not one who cries often. I have experienced this ugly cry perhaps 4 or 5 times in my 26 years of living and each time has been accompanied by God's still small voice speaking to my soul. Sure, you can say I am extra emotional and hormonal because of pregnancy and maybe that's how the tears started. With that said, to go from small tears to a complete break down seemed a bit beyond just pregnancy hormones to me. I tried to do a video about it but I couldn't seem to organize my thoughts nor really share about it vocally without breaking down again. But God gently encouraged me to write. After all, this blog was created to share my real and raw faith & wellness journey with you. I am not the best writer but my desire is that through my experience, God would become more real in YOUR life and you would see His tenderness, grace, presence, love, kindness, gentleness, and incredible patience with us.
Ironic, isn't it, that my previous post on here was calling us to decide if we will believe the Truth of God's Word or the facts of our circumstances. Yesterday was an overwhelmingly large pattern of decisions to see my physical reality and let go of God's promises which I believe became the foundation of my breakdown. Suddenly, things that used to rarely shake my faith were crashing down on me and I absolutely crumbled. Where was God? Oh, He didn't move...He was right there, speaking, guiding, instructing, reminding, all of it. I just wouldn't look at Him. Everything from:
When Elijah heard it (God's still small voice), he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?""
I couldn't even respond. I didn't know why I was here or what I was doing. I felt lost, confused, afraid, and consumed. He continued, "Caren, I am always with you, why did you stop looking at me? I have not left your side." Within minutes it seemed like God was answering prayers I hadn't even uttered yet. I was too busy worrying about what was happening in front of me that I didn't even stop and ask God for help. In His grace and abounding love, however, He answered. Without going into too much detail, let's just say within minutes financial stability was found (literally...like...our bank account's numbers were changing because of certain people, things), peace about my pregnancy flooded in, peace about my family's health was re-assured, and I was left there, raw, vulnerable, in awe, in shock, and overwhelmed with His love. I was not expecting grace. I was expecting rebuke; a "Caren you should know better" or "Caren because of your lack of faith I am going to stay silent." Clearly that is not the God we serve. Instead I was encountering my FATHER. "Caren, here...let me remind you who I AM and then let's have a soul conversation and see why you ended up here."
The ugly cry, my friends, happened at this point. It wasn't while I was overwhelmed by the circumstances, it gushed out the second I experienced this deep love I did not deserve. How could God extend that much love, grace, and kindness when my faith was so small and weak? Because God does not punish weakness, God extends grace to weakness. Rebellion is a different story for another time. So I fell in Graham's arms as I shared with Him what happened. A soul conversation was still happening, God was not finished (and is never finished). "Why did you look away?" Anyone else have a Peter walking on water in the storm flashback? The second Peter looked at the waves rather than Jesus, he sank. I was sinking. God, in His goodness, grabbed my hand and launched me into His chest and held me tight "Why did you look away?" As I was grabbing Graham with every fiber of my being, in my spirit and my mind I was grabbing Jesus. As I type this the tears are already flowing again. I can't.
If you have not had the best earthly father figure or experienced the love of a Father I am here to tell you GOD IS IT! He uses people, His Word, nature, anything to remind us of His presence but we have to look for Him. What we look for we will find. If we look for reasons to be afraid, anxious or depressed we will find them. If we look for Hope, Love, Peace, Joy, Strength, JESUS, we will find Him too.
I welcomed the ugly cry as I collapsed in my husband's arms. And still today I am running to Him and never want to stop running. I don't ever want to forget Him or lose sight of Him but it requires a daily commitment, daily mindfulness, daily choice to LOOK. SO let this be an encouragement to you. God is present. God is real. God is your Father. God is good. God will heal. God will provide. God is enough.
A Bit About ME!
Hey friend! My name is Caren and I am so glad you stopped by! This blog is a bit of my corner on the internet where I share honest thoughts about my faith journey, fitness journey, doctor wife journey, and motherhood journey. ALL of it! The good bad and ugly! I pray that something I share encourages you today!