No longer half baked

“Having no idea what the future would hold, knowing the doctor’s were coming to no conclusion, the only thing or person we had to lean on was Jesus.”

Whoa. I never thought I would be in this position- telling my story to everyone. I mean I knew I would have to give my testimony to people I date, close friends, or people I’m “discipling” but all of you at once? This is huge for me. It actually completely broke me down writing it, I stared at a blank page for about 2 hours pacing back and forth while I thought about where to even begin. I also started writing this back in September when I was told I would be sharing my testimony in November.

I have a past. I’ve done things I’m not proud of. I’m broken. I’m a mess. My soul rots away with all of the sin that corrodes my body. I am unworthy, undeserving and sinful. But because of Jesus, I have been washed white as snow because he died for me. I am a daughter, friend and sister in Christ. I have been made whole. I am renewed, restored and beautiful in the eyes of my God. I am His and His alone. I am loved. I have been saved by grace and kindness. I have been born again in Him. I have broken commandments time and time again, I have turned my back on God, and yet-

“His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”

I grew up in church my whole life. I worked VBS, taught Sunday school, participated in the church choir and rarely missed a Sunday. I was baptized on May 3, 2005 and was saved at Kanakuk on July 5, 2005. That’s great, sure, but let me be the very first to tell you I am filthy with sin. I’m not about to hash it out on the internet, but just realize the gravity of the situation. I have sat in church on Sunday morning after a Saturday night of partying underage. I have been the goody-two-shoes Church girl that I wanted everyone to see me as, but beyond those Church pews I was the farthest thing from being an example and a light of Christ. I was, as they say, a half-baked Christian. I could recite the books of the Bible, in order. I could quote verses, I could pray over you and be there for you when you needed it, but I couldn’t even face myself in the mirror. I mean this literally and figuratively. I came to see mirrors as a place for judgement, a place for me to rip myself apart and everything that was wrong with me- I had acne, my hair is weird, I don’t look “womanly” enough, why do I have such an awkward personality? Why do I laugh like a hyena when I’m being tickled? How come I enjoy the late nights with friends in places I probably shouldn’t be? Why doesn’t anyone (excluding family) love me? Why am I not beautiful? Why don’t boys like me?

I tried to rationalize with myself and make my actions “okay.” I have never done drugs, I don’t smoke, I’m not sleeping around. I must be okay.

NO. No, no, no. Just because I wasn’t doing those things didn’t mean I was living out my life fully for Christ. Because, quite frankly, I wasn’t. It took a few close friends, Kanakuk, a few heart-breaking sermons, and some family things in high school to really show me where I needed to go- the woman I wanted to be. I’ve had hiccups since then, I’m still making mistakes daily, but now I strive to be a better woman, a sister in Christ- somebody people want and can look up to.

Now, there is one life event of mine I believe needs to be shared- the hardest for me to ever be vulnerable about. So I’m going to just put it out there- I was given 3 months to live the day before I turned 16. TIME OUT. PAUSE. WHAT. No joke, guys, so serious right now. When I was 15 (the summer between freshman and sophomore year) I started not being able to keep down food- any food. By September of that year I had seen 2 doctors, neither could figure anything out and after a 6 day long headache I was put in the hospital and basically knocked out with Benadryl and pain medicine. By Christmas you could see my ribs in my chest, food was still not an option and my Mom was packing salt into tablets to keep my blood pressure at a normal level: a normal blood pressure is 120/80 and on a GOOD day mine was 72/40- again, I wish I was making this up. I have danced since I was 3 and played piano since I was 8 and I was so incredibly weak I had to quit both. The day before my 16th birthday in January I sat at the Children’s Hospital in St. Louis awaiting test results that came back (yet again for the 10th time) non-conclusive of anything. Because of my blood pressure and seemingly dwindling disposition, I was given a death sentence- literally. Now, let’s fast forward 3 months- April. I had missed SO much school my teachers would leave things for me in the office every morning, knowing I probably wouldn’t be in and my ‘goodbye’ date was right around the corner. My church had a prayer ceremony with a lot of women, men and even my youth pastor praying over me for probably an hour. My Mom was there with me, and we wept, and we wept and we wept- we could do nothing else. Having no idea what the future would hold, knowing the doctor’s were coming to no conclusion, the only thing or person we had to lean on was Jesus. The 13th doctor and 10 months after this began, Jesus finally answered our prayers: it was in my teeth. Alright, alright- CRAZINESS. Trust me, you don’t even know. Ends up when I had my wisdom teeth removed the summer before instead of getting a dry socket like a normal person, my infection went internal (it’s called osteomyelitis)- into my jawbone then eventually traveled down my esophagus, through all of my organs, and into my blood- so now it makes sense why I couldn’t keep down food, why it felt like knives were constantly poking my body and why I felt like I had nothing to live for. SO, I had another surgery- they went in and opened up where my wisdom teeth were removed and scraped and removed parts of my jawbone. The surgery was supposed to be a quick in and out 20 minute ordeal. I woke up about 2.5-3 hours later the infection had spread rapidly throughout my body. Within a few days I was able to eat real food again… within months I actually put back on the 15-20lbs. I lost.

Let’s fast forward to March 2014. Ever since that surgery I had IV’s of vitamins, yearly check-ups to make sure things were in order and FINALLY, FINALLY this year over spring break my doctor told me the ONLY thing out of check was my liver (I had just turned 21 two months before, so this made sense). No more teeth problems or any other organs- I was free. PRAISE JESUS. Again, I cried- but this time, tears of joy and love for all I’ve been through. 5 years of ups and downs, doctor’s visits, medicine, body cleanses, and now, now I have no worries. I am healed. After years of fervent prayer, sacrifice and love- here I am healthy as a horse, as they say. I am forever grateful and thankful for God’s grace and Him allowing me the chance to still live everyday- life becomes much more precious once you have a timeline on it… then you realize how important and significant every moment, every detail and every day are- never lose that.

I am a work in progress and always will be, but I am saved by a God greater than anyone or anything, and that- that is what raises me up any time I am down, that is what reminds me, Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you -Hebrews 13:5.

I am no longer half-baked.

I am full out racing toward God as hard and as fast as I can, all the time. I love Him, and He loves me. That’s never a question anymore. His love in unconditional, undeniable and absolutely incredible. I am a beautiful mess, but I am forgiven and redeemed. I’m also alive, something I wasn’t even supposed to be- and that is one of the greatest forms of grace and love God has ever shown me. God is good, ALL THE TIME.

I encourage you, if you do not know this God, if you cannot fathom the love, forgiveness, grace, healing and comfort He has to offer, come talk to me, my door is always open. I’ll tell you more of my story, all the way down to the dirty, rotten things nobody wants to hear- but then I’ll tell you about the grace and love that has come from everything Jesus did for me.

I love God, and I don’t want to force it down your throat, but man: you’re missing out.

-Elisabeth Ragan

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