Learning to Live in Prayer

praying_woman_in_churchDuring our monthly prayer focus last Tuesday, we were blessed to hear the story of one of our MUMs, Julie Braunsroth. If you missed it, don’t miss this opportunity to read how prayer has influenced her life. Also, if you have been downloading our monthly prayer verse onto your mobile devices, here is our verse for March: image1

By Julie Braunsroth

I’m originally from Colombia, South America. My country is mostly Catholic, but I didn’t grow up in a Catholic home. My mom is a Protestant Christian, and she was always the one giving the example. No one else really had a relationship with God in my family. I was born when my mom was 40 years old and joined my other 4 sisters who were a lot older. My mom and dad were always working, and we lived with one of my sisters who exposed me to bad situations all through my growing years. My mom still did her best to take me to church with her at least two or three times during the week. I was always around some kind of Christian influence, but my mom was my biggest influence. I remember seeing her reading her Bible all the time and always found her on her knees praying for us. She was always loving and caring of me.

When I was 21 years old, my dad passed away. He and I didn’t always have a good relationship, but at the end of his days, the Lord gave us the opportunity to come together as Dad and daughter. He suffered from lung issues, so I would take him to the hospital every time he was out of oxygen. Through this, we started talking and building our relationship. The week before he died, he told my mom how excited he was to see our relationship growing. He felt really happy to know we had forgiven each other. That was the best gift my dad ever gave me, telling my mom those words.

After Dad’s passing, my life changed completely. Now I had to take care of my mom since she was dependent on my dad for everything. I had a good job so I was able to start paying for my college and help my mom. But when the reality that my dad wasn’t there any more hit, I started going downhill really fast. I was already living a life out of my own desires, and now I was trying to calm my pain however the world could offer. My mom was also in much pain from losing my dad, but she would always be praying and submerged in church. She would let me know her concerns about me, but of course I would not listen. So she just kept praying and praying for me. She knew the Lord was listening. And He protected me in the midst of my worldly life.

About a year went on, and I wasn’t doing well. My older sister, Betty, noticed it. She told me I needed to go back to church and change my life style. I wasn’t interested in going back to church. I just wanted my pain to go away. But one day I attended a church event with her in downtown Bogota. I didn’t want to be there that day, but the Lord had a plan for me. He used my sister so I could meet Justin. When we met Justin for the first time, he was very excited to know we were with a Christian church because he was also a Christian. We were very impressed he wanted to talk to us and ask questions. When he told us he was from Nebraska, we were very confused. Did he mean Alaska? Or maybe somewhere in Miami? He kindly explained that Nebraska was in the middle of the United States. That afternoon we exchanged emails and invited him to come to church with us that following Sunday. At the end of that week, I got in touch with him again, and we talked for hours.

Finally, Sunday arrived and we met at church. My sister and I couldn’t believe we had an American friend. After that Sunday, Justin and I met every single day. After two weeks of meeting, Justin decided it was time to get serious. Justin said that since the first time he saw me there at the event, he wanted to be with me. He was a very devoted young Christian man and had been waiting for a wife for 5 years. He said whoever was going to be his girlfriend was going to be his wife. Then he told me, “I want you to be my girlfriend!”

I was so shocked. I wasn’t expecting anything like that, so I said no. I wasn’t ready to get married, and I didn’t want anyone controlling my life. But two weeks after that I said yes!  After I said yes, we were married in 6 months. We started the process to get my visa to come to the US. We thought that was going to be hard, but as in everything else the Lord was in it, and we got my visa in less than 2 months. Justin was very ready to come back to his country after spending 10 months with me in Colombia.

You might be wondering why I told you all this about my past and how I met my husband. I see now that God was right there in control of every single detail that happened during that time in my life. He knew my dad was going to die, and he gave me the opportunity to reconcile our relationship. Not long after that, he brought Justin into my life. I didn’t deserve it, but He knew I needed him. He is a God of redemption– full of grace and love–and I give all the Glory and Honor to Him. But my story didn’t end there. One of the hardest parts was just coming. I thought I was just going to go to another country start a new happy life with my new husband and everything was going to be perfect. Well I was wrong!

We got to Nebraska 8 years ago in a very cold January. When I got here I didn’t know any English. I didn’t know how to drive or any of the customs of this culture. Everything was so new for me. Justin started working right away, and we lived in my in-law’s basement since we didn’t have anything. They live out of town where there are no neighbors–only a big house with no one else around. Every day everyone would go to work, and I would stay by myself in that huge house with the dog barking outside. I thought I was going to die soon. I come from a house full of people all day and a neighborhood with lots of noise and lots of people walking around at all times. Bogota, the city I come from, is a city of 10 million people and now I was in Denton, Nebraska where I could hardly see my neighbor’s house.

The learning process of language, driving, and culture was hard, but went fast. My new in-laws were a big help for me at all times. They taught me how to drive and helped me with my English. I love them dearly. But still it was really hard missing my family and home in Columbia. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so sad and with so much pain. I started researching how immigration affects people’s lives and found that when a person is away from their home country, their traditions, and everything they know, they go through a process of mourning. People can enter in deep depression because of the big changes. In my case, I came here following my love. I was so naïve that I didn’t know what was waiting for me. When I understood I was depressed, I went to the doctor and told her how I was feeling and the thoughts I was having. She immediately said I needed medicine. I wanted help, but not medicine. I told her I didn’t want to go that route. So, not knowing any other way to go, I decided my medicine was going to be God!

I started asking for help in the church and met with the counseling pastor on a weekly basis. Every time I met with him, he would declare to me who I was in Christ and the truth from the Bible. He would repeat truth over me again and again. During the time I saw him, I also started reading my Bible every day. I read Hebrews and the Psalms and every day I would be on my knees crying out to God to take away this depression. When I prayed, I felt that my prayers didn’t even pass the ceiling. I felt it wasn’t going anywhere and no one was listening. I didn’t pray with much excitement about anything because I wasn’t excited about life. I just prayed because I didn’t have any other place to go. That was the only thing I could think of, even though I thought nobody was there. The God I knew was very far away, and I was sure He was happy to see me going through pain. I thought He was making me pay for all I had done. Yet, in the midst of my disbelief and accusing the Lord for all my depression, He was still faithful and heard my cries.

Every day God kept showing his love for me though I couldn’t see it at that time. One of the ways He kept showing up was through my husband. Justin would always show me grace in the midst of all my craziness. He would always be a representation of love and patience to me. Seeing that in Justin really made me wonder–what does he know or have that I don’t have or understand? So I started opening up more and more with him and having honest conversations about my situation. This is when I discovered how Justin loved the Lord and how much I could learn from him. To this day I keep learning from him. He is my first source of advice when I need it. I call Justin my spiritual leader.

I began to understand the concept of grace and God’s great love for us. Back in my country most of the teaching I received was very legalistic, so I thought that every time I committed sin, I would lose my salvation. So with the combination of what I had learned back in my growing years and the pain I was having, I needed to meet a different God. And I did! The Lord became the person I needed the most.

I also started to be more involved in the women’s ministry here at Berean and took one of Sara Eyster’s classes.That class also changed my life. Sara talked about the importance of older women mentoring younger women and that was something I had in my heart for a long time. I wanted a woman to mentor me and help me walk this journey. When I asked Sara if she knew someone who would mentor me, she said, “I will mentor you!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!! She said she would do it?? Wow!! That was very big to me. I thought of her as this wise woman who would never care about a person like me, but she did and still does. She has been my mentor for about 5 years. God has brought to me many people who have poured out truth into my life and who love the Lord. I’m so thankful for that.

With a combination of God’s grace and His hand guiding every step, Justin’s family, the counseling from Gary, Sara’s mentoring and my husband’s love and advice, today I can say I’m free from depression. It was a really hard process, but also a process where God was real, even when I felt He wasn’t. I couldn’t call this place home for about 5 years. I wanted so bad to go back to my country. Now that we have 3 beautiful girls and are expecting number 4, it is easier for me to feel more at home. I stay home and homeschool the girls. God is teaching me to be content at home, to understand that my ministry is my family and that my most important call is to find security and acceptance in him and nowhere else.

Today, I have learned that a legacy of prayer is powerful. My mom is a prayer warrior and that’s what I saw growing up. Because of her example, in the midst of my great need, I would also go to God in prayer because that was the only place I knew. All the godly people God has brought into my life have taught me as Paul says in Ephesians 6:18:

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

Now I pray at all times in my mind and also in different settings. I can say today that all those challenging changes and tears I went through were worth it, because God uses all things to work together for our good. Still today, I see the power of prayer and how it affects my family. I hope that Mom’s legacy of prayer continues in my family for generations to come, and I pray the Lord will keep guiding my path to get closer to Him and know Him better.

That’s my prayer for all my brothers and sisters in Christ too. Below are the words to one of my favorite songs. I hope they will be a blessing to you.

 

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