By: Melanie Reeves
I was saved in my late 20’s and was delivered from many things: years of cocaine and marijuana addiction, alcohol abuse, extreme anger, depression and anxiety (I was able to get off of prescription medication after almost 10 years), In addition, I had a failed marriage restored. There are so many testimonies of the goodness of God in my life, but perhaps my greatest testimony is how He taught me obedience; one step at a time, like an “obedience staircase.” As I learned obedience, I learned one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned as a believer: God’s ways are greater than my ways, and if I decide to follow Him, blessings will follow.
Obedience in the everyday, small things leads to us obeying Him in bigger things. This took me a long time to learn. Looking back, I believe my pride was the thing that hindered me from submitting my choices to His will. I had my own plans and goals and did not need God to lead my life for me. It sounds a bit like I had some stubbornness issues as well!
Walking in obedience does NOT come easily, or naturally, but it is what we are called to do as followers of Christ! In doing so, God assures us that we will be blessed.
“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25
Walking in obedience is like building muscle, the more you use it, the bigger and stronger it becomes. Even Jesus struggled with obedience in doing the very thing he was sent to do: self-sacrifice.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood hitting the ground.” Luke 22:42-44
As a mother, I expect my children to obey me (in love, not fear) because I am looking out for their best interest. I have rules and ways of doing things that are in place because it is what is best for THEM. If God loves us more than we can even possibly love our own children, can we not expect the same thing of our Lord? He wants us to walk in obedience because He truly loves us and wants the best for us.
"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." -2 John 1:6
We won’t always understand or want to obey! However, we need to obey ANYWAY, because God's commands are for our benefit – even if we don’t see the “why” immediately. Sometimes we won’t see God’s “why” for months or even years; I know I didn’t see it for a long time.
Six years ago, I had finally gotten to the “place” in my career; the place I had worked tirelessly to get to for five years. “I have arrived,” I remember thinking proudly to myself. A year after taking that position, I was radically saved and beginning to transform my life, doing my best to shed my old ways to become more like Christ. During that same time, my youngest daughter began a rapid decline in her overall health, her recovery is another testimony in itself! I took her from daycare to daycare due to the inadequate care being provided. Eventually, I decided to keep her at home, a friend and a relative alternated weeks caring for her.
During this entire process, I began to hear a voice tell me that I needed to be the one at home with her. At the time, I did not know this voice was God and I did not know it was the first step in a long staircase of obedience that would completely change my life and my family's life as well.
In those years of career planning, my mother-in-law asked me if I could ever see myself as a stay-at-home-mom. I remember laughing out loud, literally. I remember saying, “that life isn’t for me, I have a five year plan that is almost complete”. Little did I know, God had a completely different plan for me. In fact, it took a year to take that first step in my staircase of obedience.
Initially, my husband was not on board at all, with me quitting my successful job to stay at home with our youngest daughter. It took an entire year of prayer and back and forth with my husband before coming to this difficult decision. It would require sacrifice and honestly, my career was something I did not want to lay down.
As the year went on the desire to obey God became so loud it consumed my everyday life. Finally, I took the plunge and gave a one month’s notice at the beginning of May 2015. A year later, God put homeschooling on my heart. I have a degree in Education, but I never saw myself as a homeschooling parent. I felt comfortable teaching other children, but college didn’t prepare me on how to teach my own children at home. The next step in my staircase? I brought my oldest daughter home from a private Christian school and began to educate her at home.
The following year, God gave us a desire to grow our family. Next step? New baby! The next year, God REALLY challenged my faith in obedience. At that time, our third child was 9 months old; I was giving away all of my maternity and baby items. God spoke to me and said our family was not complete. This was a complete shock to me. Honestly, I thought my “big life transitions” were behind me and I certainly didn’t have a fourth child in “the plan”. After a year of praying with my husband, we finally obeyed and became pregnant our first month trying to conceive. Baby number four is due on November 1st, 2019.
This journey has not been easy, in fact, there have been many moments I’ve spent crying out to the Lord asking if this was His plan. However, despite the challenging times, the fruit of my obedience is indescribable. From the moment they wake up, to the moment they lie their heads down on their pillows to fall asleep, my husband and I are able to model a Christ-like lifestyle for our children. They are with me during the day when I read my Bible, pray, and worship. I even invite them to join me! When we go for walks in the park, they are able to see their momma pray for whomever the Holy Spirit guides me to pray for, and they join. Throughout the day running errands, I am given numerous opportunities to talk with them about what Jesus would do in various situations. Our lives were once filled with so much “busyness,” now they are filled with precious family-oriented time. This includes spur of the moment visits to the museum or zoo. I am able to guide my children in their education and help them learn from a Bible based curriculum. When they are struggling with a subject or concept, we can slow down and take as long as they need to master it. When they are excelling in a subject, we can accelerate! My children now spend a small fraction of their day learning and the majority of their day playing together and truly growing up with one another.
Obedience has shown me my true identity in Christ. I don’t have to strive for my place in life, because His way is better every time. I may never know why He called me to become a homeschooling/stay-at-home mother of four, but I do know our lives and hearts have never been more full or complete.
Beloved sisters, our staircases may look completely different, (they probably do) and that's okay! You may be single or married with no children, or even an empty nester. Where ever you are in your life, the Lord is wanting to take your hand and lead you to live in His will. What areas of your life has He been drawing you into obedience? I cannot tell you how to walk in obedience to our Lord, but I can testify that you will be abundantly blessed in doing so!
About the Author:// Melanie has served on the NL Prayer Dream Team for several years, and has been married to the love of her life for 10 beautiful years. She is a mother to, soon-to-be, four children, and is now a stay-at-home/homeschooling momma. She has a degree in Elementary Education and in her free time loves to play board games, read books, is an amateur gardener, nature lover, and documentary watcher.
By: Marlaina Capetillo
You ever have those eye-opening moments where you couldn’t see the elephant in the room and then BAM, it comes out of nowhere? I had that moment in 2015 when I realized I’ve always had a boyfriend or an emotional attachment to a boy since I was 10 years old. Yes, you read correctly, since I was 10!
At first the relationships were innocent enough. But, then physical boundaries began to be pushed, and I realized I was temporarily filling the emptiness in my heart with guys and sex. At first it felt good, but then my soul would begin seeking the “next”, even while in an existing relationship. Let’s just say I gained a few too many soul ties during my high school years.
After graduation I was introduced to yet another guy, and this relationship landed me with an engagement ring on my finger! (Anyone else singing Beyonce right now?) Sex was normal to me in relationships, but not to him. I was his first, and we quickly got pregnant. Life was great! We were young, happy, pregnant, and engaged! But, our relationship took a turn for the worst when outside influences began to negatively impact us. He began to stay out late, smoking weed and drinking, altering his “good guy” personality to absent and angry. I wanted OUT! I was good at running from relationships and this one needed to end, quick. This time it wasn’t as easy to get out because I had a baby inside of me.
I wrestled with every option I knew of at 19 and decided my best alternative was to have an abortion. I made one phone call and within the week I was at the abortion clinic. I still remember the layout of the waiting room, the smell of the office, and the 14-year-old girl next to me begging her mom not to make her abort her baby. I was in and out. Once home, I called my fiancé to come over. He sat by my bed crying as I told him that I had a miscarriage and wanted out of our relationship. He begged me to stay and was heartbroken by the nuclear bomb I dropped on him. My heart was cold. I turned him away and never looked back.
Within weeks I was in another relationship that lasted three years. This guy was good for me because it was a healthy relationship, at least as healthy as I’d ever known before. But, my soul kept crying out for more. I broke it off in July, and by October of that year, began dating my now husband Jacob. Jacob and I started hot and HEAVY! He was a hot “drug dealer” by society’s standards. In my head he wasn’t a dealer. He grew his own weed and sold to a small elite group of guys, so he didn’t fall into the “drug dealer” category to me. He always had a gun on him and a fat wad of cash. Dating him was new and FUN!!!! Within six months of dating we were pregnant. But, considering a future with him made me realize he was not the man I wanted to have a child with. Behind all of Jacob’s cash and flashy lifestyle was a broken man. Like me, he did not know how to have a healthy relationship. I called my sister to vent about Jacob. I told her I was going to abort this baby because I needed OUT! I already knew how to fix this problem! My baby sister was the angel that I needed. She had value for my unborn child in a way that I didn’t. She talked me off the ledge and changed my heart. I decided not to have an abortion.
I’m sure you’re thinking “Come on Marlaina, where in the world does Jesus enter the mix?!?!”. I know, it took me a while! We had Madelyn and decided after six years together to get married. As new parents, we thought the right thing to do was to go to church. So, we attended a church, but it was just a building we went to each Sunday. Nothing came home with us or entered our souls. Our second year of marriage we changed churches. It was here that I encountered the reality of God's love through his Holy Spirit for the first time, and I was shook! Romans 6:11 says “consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus”. That’s exactly what I felt….alive, and a strong desire to kill off all sinful ways. For the first time in my LIFE I felt the power of love in a way I’ve never experienced.
From here on out, Holy Spirit continued to work on me and uproot deep seeds of sin I had planted in my soul. I attended a week long fast, and one night the pastor asked us to look deep in our soul for any hidden sin or unforgiveness. I thought I was good and I had nothing hidden in my heart, and then BAM, a train hit me. I forgot I had an abortion. Did you hear me? I FORGOT I KILLED A BABY IN MY WOMB! I moved on so quickly from the day I aborted the baby that I forgot that day ever happened! Once I was reminded, I repented. I repented HARD! For the first time, I mourned the loss of my baby, leaving everything I had at the cross. For the first time my thought process changed from “a baby” to “my baby”. I realized my baby would have been 10. My heart was softened, and I felt the power of forgiveness for the sin I committed when I was 19. I was so thankful for God’s promise in 1 John 1:19, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Not only was I forgiven, I was purified from my old sins!
From the day I gave my life to Jesus I’ve been on a non-stop journey to freedom, healing, and redemption. Twenty-seven years of no Jesus allowed lots of sin to enter my temple. Part of my healing journey involved sessions of inner healing which allowed Holy Spirit to gift me with peace and freedom from my abortion and all past sin. I didn’t realize I was missing peace until I experienced it! I was freed from shame, lies, grief, hurt, and removed all soul ties from my past. I encountered the mighty power of Holy Spirit in a way that lit a BLAZE in my soul that is still blazing to this day!
Jesus was the one true love my soul longed for from the age of 10, and I found it! I found my prince charming that has never let me down, and continues to chase after me when I want to run. I am humbled and thankful for the power of the cross. Jesus has been so good to me and my marriage. He has redeemed all those lost years for both me and Jacob. Today we are influential in our environments and have the opportunity to share God's love and our testimony with others!
The relational female inside of me wants to stand on the hilltop inviting all my hurting sisters over to my house so we can drink coffee and have a raw conversation on these areas, but unfortunately that's not realistic. But the reality is you too have access to the same freedom that I do. There is hope. There is redemption to your past (or present!). Jesus has the power to heal and mend the broken areas of your soul. You are His Beloved and He desires to restore you, all of you!
About the Author// Marlaina Capetillo lives in Euless, TX along with her husband Jacob, and their two girls, Nevaeh & Madelyn. She is a member of New Life Family Church where she is part of Beloved's Dream Team. She and her husband are part of North Texas Tres Dias ministry where they serve twice a year. Part of her freedom journey is her workday ministry where she meets a girlfriend for lunch once a week building relationships sharing her redemption story. She holds a degree in Interior Design but has spent the past 10 years in healthcare. Her hobbies consist of hosting parties at her house, helping others design their homes, getting creative with Young Living Essential Oils, Bible journaling and watching MMA fights.