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Post From: karlaoliver-ayala.myadventures.org

The journey between receiving and accepting God’s love

Have you ever felt unloved, unwanted, or unworthy? Have you ever wondered if God cares about you or has a plan for your life? If you have, you are not alone. There are millions of people in the world who struggle with these questions every day. They live in pain, fear, and hopelessness.

I have felt like that too…

People need to hear the good news of God’s love and redemptive power!

That is why I love Beauty for Ashes! We believe that every woman’s story matters and that every woman can step into the freedom that only God can provide with His redeeming power, grace, and relentless love.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to be the mobilizer and the host for the Beauty for Ashes Northeast Georgia Mission trip. The trip’s goal was to share God’s love with women who have been victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, or any who struggle with addiction. We wanted to show them that they are not forgotten, that they are not alone, and that they are loved by God!

I felt a strong connection to this mission because I have a personal story of how God rescued me from the bondage of alcoholism and abuse. I was once trapped in a cycle of sin and suffering. I grew up feeling dirty, ashamed, and unlovable. I tried to numb my pain with alcohol, food, and suicide attempts. I felt hopeless and worthless. I didn’t think anyone cared about me, not even God. But God saw my brokenness and reached out to me with His love. God did care!  He loved me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for me on the cross. He forgave me of all my sins and gave me a new life. He healed me of my wounds and restored my dignity. He gave me hope and purpose. He made me His beloved daughter!

For years I have felt compelled to share my story with others who were going through what I went through. I wanted to tell them that God loves them too, that He has a plan for them too, that they are His beloved too. And that if God can redeem my story, He can certainly redeem anyone!

So along with 10 other women from all over the United States who had similar stories or passions and 2 fearless leaders, we arrived in Georgia. We were all ready to serve God!

The team arrived at the Atlanta Airport Wednesday morning -by the way, ATL Airport is one of the biggest hubs for Sex trafficking in the US. I greeted them and drove them to the Adventures in Missions base in Gainesville GA. Where the leaders welcomed them warmly. They prepared for ministry in prayer, fellowship, and worship!

On the first day, they went to clean up a Women’s shelter home. While they were cleaning, they engaged in conversations, invited the women who were currently in the program to attend one of our retreats, and prayed for them. Later that day, we went to their thrift store to help sort donations.

The second day they prepared to host a retreat for women who are currently enrolled in an addiction recovery program. There were women of different ages, backgrounds, and races who were struggling with various addictions.  Some of them had been there for months, some for weeks, some for days. The team spent a couple of hours sharing their testimonies of God’s deliverance and how He has transformed their lives. We listened to their stories, prayed with them, and created a space to listen to what God had to say about their identity. During those couple hours, we allowed God to use each team member as His vessel to outpour His love and His heart for His daughters.  We shared with them about God’s unconditional love for them how He can set them free from their bondage and how He can give them a new future. The same woman who walked into the retreat downcasted and skeptical, left our grounds filled with joy and hope for their future.

On Saturday the team hosted a retreat for a couple of sisters in Christ from a local Latin American church and a group of women from a local shelter, they have been victims of domestic violence,  who had escaped from their abusive partners or families. Some of them brought their children with them.

The team spent a couple of hours interacting with them, ministering, loving on them, and playing with their kids. Once again they shared their stories and reminded them that the same God who rescued them from abuse can restore their dignity. They told them that God values them highly, that He can heal their wounds, and that He can give them strength and courage to continue to press forward.

As they all worked through the topics of worth and forgiveness, I could see their spirits being lifted. After leaving their hurts and burdens at the cross, we all celebrated with bubbles! The fruit of God’s work was evident! I could see the hope in their eyes, and I knew that God was at work in their hearts. Some of them twirled around filled with pure joy and with happy spirits!

God never ceases to amaze me…Once again I witnessed God’s miracles and transformative power take place in the lives of these women and in the lives of the team. One of the things that struck me the most was how many of these women had been told that they were not loved or valued. They had been abused, neglected, hurt and abandoned. But in the midst of all their pain, God was there. He was whispering words of love to them. These women had gone through unimaginable hardships and trauma. But instead of giving up, they chose to trust God and seek His healing and restoration. These women are just a few examples of how God is reaching out to His beloved daughters amid their pain and brokenness. He is calling them to Himself and offering them His love, forgiveness, and redemption.

Throughout the mission trip, God kept speaking the word “beloved”. After the  trip, God highlighted a verse in my heart:

Romans 9:25 says, “I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, ‘MY PEOPLE,’ AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, ‘BELOVED.” This verse served me as a reminder that God’s love is for everyone, regardless of their past or their circumstances. He sees us as His beloved children and He wants to have a relationship with us. In that moment, I realized that throughout the mission trip, God was calling these women and I BELOVED, even though we all had been told that we were worthless and unlovable. He was reminding ALL of us of our true identity as His daughters.

He used this mission trip to remind me again that I am not defined by my past mistakes but by His grace and love.

You see… God has rescued me, pursued me, blessed me, and HE has truly lavished me with HIS love…

The issue is that for years I struggled to receive it… I felt unworthy of such love. I was taught as a child that love must be earned and deserved…

A couple of months ago while praying He gave me a picture of a bag of seeds- those that you get in Home Depot when you dream about planting a vegetable garden or a flower bed… and He also reminded me of a time when someone gifted me a little bag of sunflower seeds. When I opened it, I was so excited! I could picture in my mind the flowers blooming… but instead of planting the seeds, I put them away in a drawer…. And needless to say, I forgot about them. I prayed and thought long and hard about why God was showing me this memory. It was then that I comprehended that is not enough to receive God’s love. We MUST accept it! We must take ownership of it and we must let it take root in our hearts!

My prayer is for the woman that we served and for the team to continue to receive and accept God’s love and for it to take root in their heart, so I can produce good and abundant fruit!

I pray that they understand that no matter what they have done or what they have gone through, God loves them unconditionally and calls them  His beloved (Romans 9:25). God can turn our ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:3) and use our testimonies for His glory (Revelation 12:11).

I pray that we don’t forget that we can receive and accept His love even when we feel unworthy or unloved by others.

God wants us to bear fruit and outpour his love and redemptive power with others.

And today He wants you to know that you are deeply loved. That YOU ARE HIS BELOVED. God loves you more than you can imagine!

Prayer Requests:

  • Please pray for me as I lead a woman’s mission trip in Costa Rica from Nov 29, 2023 – Dec 5, 2023. For the team to serve from their anointing of the Holy Spirit and for the Costa Rican woman to be receptive to the good news of the gospel and the love of Christ.
  • Please pray about what is calling YOU to do next! Is HE calling YOU to intercede in prayer? Is HE calling YOU to GO? or is HE calling YOU to give?

Would you consider partnering with me in what God is doing in the mission field? A monthly contribution ($10, $15, $25 or more) will make a huge impact for God’s kingdom on earth.

To partner with me financially and to donate click here

To learn more about Beauty for Ashes click HERE

To read my previous blogs CLICK HERE

To check out all our mission opportunities Click HERE

As always THANK YOU SO MUCH for your love, support and prayers!