Sons of God's Generals: Unlocking the Power of Godly Inheritance (8 page)

Rebecca looked at me and said, “Something has happened to your mom.” I was worried, but she told me it was a good thing. I was confused. When I opened the front door I heard my mom laughing, which was not out of the ordinary, however, it was
how
she was laughing. I walked into the kitchen and saw something crazy. My mom was rolling around on the floor, laughing, shrieking, screaming, and crying.

I was confused.
“You left me at school because Mom was laughing?”
She seemed drunk. Which she was—drunk in the Spirit of God. Somehow she got up off the floor and began dancing around the kitchen. Then she took a piece of paper, tore it up, grabbed a jar of confetti, ran into the backyard, and threw them all up into the air, showering the grass below her feet. I didn’t understand what was happening. Later I learned that it was a party. It was a celebration. God had wooed her back to Himself and she was His again. She had returned to her first love and this was the dawning of a new age. On that paper was written the names of major cities around the world. As she threw the confetti and torn-up pieces of paper in the air, she was “sowing” seeds of the cities that God would take her to—and ultimately us, as a family.

After that, I saw my mom change more. She was happy, really happy, laughing and crying at the drop of a hat. I remember one time I heard her screaming from the other end of the house. I ran to her room where I found her, stiff as a statue, eyes as wide as plates. She gasped and said,
“He’s heeeereeee!”
After a brief moment of terror, assuming that there was an intruder in our house, I realized she was having an open vision of Jesus. I don’t know what scared me more—my mom screaming or the thought of Jesus manifesting Himself in my house. Another scary encounter happened one morning when my mom was driving me to school. While we were on a bridge I saw her frantically looking back and forth between the rearview mirror and the side-view mirror. Then she started screaming her head off. I was absolutely freaking out. I was yelling,
“Mom! Pull over! Stop the car!”
but she couldn’t because we were still on the bridge. Once we got to the other side she pulled over. After a few minutes she could finally speak. She told me she had seen two angels. One was sitting in the back seat and the other one was hanging outside of the car, flying alongside us, hair blowing in the wind. Her two angels made repeat appearance often. Crazy things were happening.

My mom was not the only one who changed. My dad was different too. He also had an encounter with the Lord and he had changed. Both of them were so happy and in love with the Lord that it manifested a renewal in their marriage. A reawakening. My parents were happy, in love, and loving God together. That made me realize that they weren’t happy before. Shortly after that, my life totally changed. My parents decided we would travel as a family. They took me out of school, began to homeschool—or as we affectionately called it, “road school”—sold my childhood home, relocated us to Florida, and began our life of full-time ministry as a reunited family. Things were completely different.

What did my new life look like? We began to spend more time in planes, trains, and hotels than we did at home. We ate more restaurant meals than home cooked. Ministering at churches for extended periods of time—days, weeks, even months! God was moving so powerfully in my dad’s meetings that one weekend of revival meetings turned into nine months. I spent my 13th birthday in the Philippines, my 16th birthday in Toronto, my 18th birthday in Mozambique, and my 21st in South Africa. We spent almost every Christmas from 2000 to 2008 in Nicaragua with orphans. Holidays and birthdays were not off limits. It was an exciting, relentless schedule that required a lot of sacrifice. While I never had a high school graduation and I didn’t go to prom, I did have unique life experiences. I was comfortable in a room full of strangers; I could make friends anytime, anywhere. I tried to be as open and accessible as possible with everyone I met, which at times left me hurt when others judged me. There was an element of needing to protect myself and not let my guard down
too
much. A challenging part of being in the public eye, being “famous,” was that people felt like they knew me and knew my family. The reality was that only a few people knew me on a deep level. I wanted people to know me in a genuine way, but we weren’t in one place long enough for that to happen.

I had the privilege of growing up with a broad worldview. Most children in America are shielded from suffering. They do not have the opportunity to see more than their own city. I saw a lot of poverty, pain, despair, and sorrow. That caused me to be tender, aware, sensitive, and have a heightened compassion for others. My compassion for others’ suffering was overwhelming at times. When I was 18 we went to Mozambique to visit Heidi and Rolland Baker’s orphanage. I sat for hours with a teenage boy who was lame and prayed for his healing. Another time I prayed and wept for a lame Roma (gypsy) woman in Kazanluk, Bulgaria. Once my parents and I were in Ethiopia and a little boy was begging at our taxi window. He was missing a hand, his eyes were sunken in, and his eyelids were hanging down. He was so close to the car that his tears were dripping onto the window. I remember lying on my hotel bed crying out to God, “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” I felt powerless. That moment still makes my heart hurt and brings a lump to my throat.

Not everyone I prayed for received healing, but I’m certain that each person I hugged and cried with experienced the love of God in a tangible way. While I have felt immense sorrow and empathy for others, I’ve also experienced incredible joy. I saw a blind Mozambican woman receive her sight. I saw two deaf and mute boys hear and talk for the first time. I have danced with Bulgarian Roma (gypsies) in the rain. I have given orphans toys on Christmas. I remember an adorable Mozambican orphan girl named Paulina wandering into my room. She must’ve been about three years old. I shared my Starburst candies with her and her eyes lit up like stars. That was a precious moment. It was that same morning that I woke up to the sound of African women singing and praising God outside my window. I will never forget the sound of their voices. I’ve seen Mama Heidi Baker sit down in the garbage dump dirt with her “children” and hold them, pray for them, and eat an offering of cashews one of them had found in the trash and given to her. She was an inspiration to me then, and still is now. So many beautiful moments of joy and pain are etched into my memory and ingrained on my heart. I believe that the extreme joys and pains I have felt for others have made me a very compassionate and empathetic person.

Throughout those years of relentless full-time ministry, there were moments where I wanted something different. A more “normal” normal, where I didn’t have to live on planes, trains, and automobiles. Where I could make friends and keep them for more than a day, and where I didn’t feel sacrificed for the sake of the “ministry.” As a teenager, missing my home church’s youth retreats, celebrating birthdays in a foreign country without my friends, and wishing that holidays could be spent with our family back in Washington was very hard. There I was, blessed beyond measure, with more unique life experiences than many adults, yet I felt that I was missing something, and that little something was balance.

I was 18 when I approached my parents with the idea of not traveling with them anymore. They thought I was crazy, but they agreed. I got a job at a clothing store, went to youth group, sang on the worship team, and lived at home by myself while my family was gone. The grass is definitely greener on the other side, and I quickly realized my idea wasn’t as great as I had thought it would be, but my pride didn’t want to admit that to my parents. (How often are our greatest strengths our greatest weaknesses?)

Instead of going back on the road I decided to try my hand at college. That first year was very challenging. More than just typical freshman jitters, this was the most outside of my comfort zone that I had ever been. For the first time in my life I found myself surrounded by people who didn’t believe what I believed at all, some who did, and everywhere in between. This was my first real step into the world, outside of my Christian bubble and away from my parents. This was my chance to see who I was raised to be and what I was made of. But I wasn’t sure how to do that. Did I need to be really zealous for God? Did I need to read my Bible outside on the grass for everyone to see? Did I need to get up on the table at lunch and preach Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”? Did I need to wait up for my roommates to get home from partying so I could tell them I was praying for them and God loved them?

I was concerned that if I wasn’t obviously, overtly, and proactively “Christian,” then they might not know; they wouldn’t see who I was. I wanted so badly to represent who I was and who God was that I tried too hard. It was a rocky learning curve. I didn’t know that just being myself, loving God, and operating out of that love was all I needed to do.

Another thing I learned—English Literature bores me, and I’m even worse at Algebra. Oh, but the arts! That’s what made my heart tick. Armed with the knowledge that academics were not my strong suit, I switched gears. I heard about a small ministry school with an emphasis on music and art in Croydon, England. I found my bags packed again and headed across the pond. During my four months there I made deep friendships with my 12 schoolmates. It was a pressure cooker. We lived together, played music, sang, cried, laughed, learned about the Lord, and challenged each other. It was real community. For the first time in my life I opened up my heart and was truly vulnerable and transparent with my friends and leaders. When they responded with love and acceptance, it changed me. I was set free from the fear of rejection. There were no expectations put on me and I was not afraid to be myself. It was evident to me that the students and leaders alike were a demonstration of God’s great love.

My time in England was an amazing season. I highly recommend ministry school to all young people. When that was over, I moved back home with my parents. I had come full circle. I went from traveling full time with my parents, left home, gone to schools, and then moved back. They welcomed me with open arms and offered me a position on their staff to be their missions coordinator. I would plan the trips with my parents and help the groups get their tickets, passports, hotels, and travel details sorted out. It was a perfect scenario for me because I finally had balance for both—ministry and the stability of planting roots and being grounded somewhere safe. I had time to invest in my friendships at our new home church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and twice a year I would travel overseas with the missions group to Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Romania, and Nicaragua. It was a win-win. I absolutely love short-term missions trips. They are the perfect opportunity to see the Lord in action, to give to the poor, and even to fall in love. Yes, I fell in love with my husband on the mission field.

One perk of traveling the world—meeting boys. Even a minister’s daughter has a one-track mind. I had met my fair share of great guys, but none of them captured my attention. I knew what I wanted, and my standards were high. So when Chris, my friend’s younger brother, approached me on a missions trip to Turkey and confessed that he had liked me since he was 16, I was shocked. I was flattered, but shocked. We had known his family for years. His parents were pastors and we had been to their church countless times, his sister and I had been good friends for many years, and I had known Chris since he was 13—barely old enough to see his head over the drum set on stage! Because of that, I had never pictured him that way. In my mind, he was young and kind of dorky! I told him that we should just be friends, and it broke his heart. He told his parents, “If Yana is not God’s will for me then I don’t know
what
is!”

We didn’t talk much until a year later on another missions trip. When I saw him again he was so different. He had changed, matured, and his heart for the Lord was so apparent, but I still wasn’t giving him an inch. He had to win me over. We had another talk and he told me that he still liked me and that he would continue to pursue me. He was persistent. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I am so glad he didn’t. We began to email each other a few times a week. After four months of emailing we had become great friends. I realized he was everything I had ever wanted and more. He asked to court me and a week into being official I knew I had found the one. This is who I would marry.

For the first time in my life, I opened up my heart to love and I fell head over heels for Chris. We dated long distance from Pennsylvania to Maine for nine months. On the same missions trip that we fell in love on, a year later, Chris stashed an engagement ring in his suitcase. On our day off Chris took me to our favorite coffee shop in Istanbul near the Blue Mosque and he proposed. After my shock wore off and I exclaimed “
Yes!
” we were interrupted mid-kiss by our waiter. Apparently, PDA is not allowed within a certain radius of mosques!

A year later, in June 2008, we were married in a small park with 29 of our closest family and friends surrounding us. Even the scorching 98-degree weather couldn’t put a damper on our beautiful day. I was a blushing bride, and quite nearly a sweaty one! We quickly settled into married life, but not before tackling a total home renovation. A few months after we moved in, we found out that we were pregnant with our first baby. It was sooner than we had planned to start a family, but we were equally excited and scared out of our minds to become parents. Our son Ruehl Grayson was peacefully born at home and changed our lives. Two years later, with another home birth, we welcomed our daughter Amelie Fiora. Our family grew leaps and bounds, as did our hearts. Christopher and our children have enriched my life deeply and given me a new stability and purpose.

So now I find myself in a very new season—motherhood. And just like I did in college, I am learning to navigate my way through this season, but this time with more grace and understanding. I’m learning consistency, contentment, and purpose in who I am and what I do. When people ask me what I do, I say, “I’m a SAHM—stay-at-home mom,” but really, what I mean to say is, “I am a loving, hard-working, rockin’ mom, dedicated and committed to raising my children in truth, with the understanding that we are God’s love in action.”

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