Please introduce yourself to us
My name is Mandy, and my husband Michael and I live in Minnesota. We've been married for seven years and have two toddlers named Wesley and Carter. I also teach and perform as a flutist in the Twin Cities area. In 2019, my book Already Beloved was released by Focus Publishing.
How did you come to Jesus?
I had the great gift of being raised by parents who fear the Lord. At the age of four, I learned of my need for a Savior and responded to the message of the Gospel. I was then promptly baptized. Ever since that moment of salvation, God has never ceased drawing me closer to Himself. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I recognize my need for His sustaining grace.
While I walked in the truth from a young age, it would be several years before I began to understand my deep need for daily dependence on Christ. One wintry morning in 2003, I woke up with debilitating pain in my lower back. Instead of getting better, the pain remained constant for days, which turned into months, which turned into years. During this period, I desperately cried out for God to give meaning to the pain I was experiencing. The promises from His Word assured me that He would never leave or forsake me. So I learned to cling very close to Him during this time. As a result, I tasted the realness and nearness of His presence as I couldn’t have previously understood.
Thankfully, God eventually brought healing to my back. But He had more lessons to teach me in the form of chronic illness. When I was first diagnosed, I walked through some times of true struggle and emotional pain. As a result, I had to ask serious questions about everything I had believed about God and His Word. However, God, in His grace, was patient with me, and He brought me to a place of peace and stronger faith in Himself. As I look back, I am amazed at the riches of what God has taught me through my pain. He has given beauty for my ashes (Isaiah 61:3), and has proven Himself so faithful and joy-giving in all circumstances.
What are practical ways the Lord has given you to help you grow in Him?
When I was twelve years old, I started prayer journaling. Each day I would write praises to God as well as confessions, thanksgiving, and prayers for supplication. Through this experience, I have kept track of God’s continual faithfulness to me in all areas of my life. It is such a blessing to look back at a written record of God’s sovereign hand in my life!
Also, the Lord has helped me to grow in Him through the area of mentorship. I am so blessed to have been mentored by some exemplary older Christians. These men and women have reached into my life with compassion and patience as they have taught me what it looks like to walk with Christ.
As I have gotten older, I have also developed a heart for discipling girls younger than myself. In particular, I really enjoy small-group ministry. As I teach others, I find that the Lord convicts and instructs my heart most of all.
Can you share 1 example of how the Lord is currently growing you in Him?
Right now, the Lord is teaching me the importance of "taking every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:3). So often, I find myself “listening” to my own fears and emotions. Instead, I need to be “preaching” to myself. I need to constantly remind myself of God’s faithfulness in the past, and His promises for the future. Whenever I am successful in this area, I am filled with the joy and peace that only He can give.
Is there any additional encouragement you want to share with our readers?
It is so important to use your youth for God’s glory! When I was a teenage girl, I realized that the pursuit of Christ is very often a lonely road. However, it is so worth it! As I sought Christ, He became my closest friend and my deepest satisfaction. You will never regret using your youth to grow deeper in the knowledge and imitation of Christ.