Today, Kristen speaks to us about her passion for equipping the next generation to defend their faith, God’s healing in her life and how listening to God’s voice recently relieved her anxiety.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a small town in Virginia. I had a wonderful childhood with a loving family. My mother took me to church and kept me involved in the youth group.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I have several inspiring Biblical, but I guess the one that strikes me at the moment is Isaiah 5:20 because it’s happening right in front of our eyes. It keeps me motivated to spread truth and light in a dark world.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah 5:20
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I am currently studying the book of Jeremiah and Matthew. The book of Jeremiah speaks to what we are going through as a world and country right now, and I am excited to study the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew with my daughter soon who is getting (or will have already gotten by the time this is published) baptized tomorrow.
Profession: I am a photographer and did have my own photography business but now am blessed to be able to stay at home full time with my kids.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? “Outside of the Box”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I first truly encountered God when I was 28 years old. The Holy Spirit had been tugging at me, and it hit me that I didn’t exactly know where I was going to spend eternity. I prayed for wisdom for God to show me if Jesus was truly His son, and He did. I received Him as my Savior at 28 years old.
“It hit me that I didn’t exactly know where I was going to spend eternity.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? My relationship with Him has changed me 100%. I used to only live for myself and life’s pleasures. I thought the definition of success was how the world defines success. I now not only have a new purpose for living but am able to truly love others as God wants me to. I’ve also been able to overcome anger issues, anxiety and jealousy within my marriage only by the grace of God.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? The darkest time of my life was when I was going through severe anxiety and OCD issues at the age of 28 – right before I accepted Christ. I didn’t know what the mental illness was at the time and was suffering silently until well, it all came out into a perfect storm per say. Through my darkest, scariest moments where I felt alone, I found God. I cried out to Him for wisdom, for help. If Jesus were really His son, would He let me know? I hadn’t been saved and wanted to be saved. I accepted Him as my Savior, was baptized and He has relieved me of my anxiety and almost all of my OCD symptoms.
“I accepted Him as my Savior, was baptized and He has relieved me of my anxiety and almost all of my OCD symptoms.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Being given more time during this season has been such a blessing. Before, I admit as a Type A personality, it was more about checking things off the to-do list: Have a read my devotional today? Have I prayed and thanked Him? etc… But in this season, I have not only had more time but also not known what the future holds (not that we ever do, really) and have been led to spend meaningful time with Him in prayer, meditation on Scripture and truly listening to what He has to say to me. It’s been amazing and my relationship with Him has been strengthened immensely. He has also taught me about the little value of material things and what really matters in life.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I am currently reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. I’m reading it to further my ability to defend the faith and be able to teach it to others. It’s taught me that the evidence of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and that He is who He says He is – is astounding. It’s hidden from us of course by mainstream, secular society but is there if we only know where to look.
“He is who He says He is.”
Top three essentials:
1. The Bible
2. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
3. Talking with Your Kids about God by Natasha Crain
4. (Sorry I had to add a fourth) – The New Answers by Ken Ham
How did God speak to you recently? Recently, I found myself spending lots of time on a series on Starz, and I was getting sidetracked away from God’s Word. I felt a tugging at my heart and something didn’t feel right. I’m not much of a television fanatic as it is, so binging on series was unusual for me. I felt God telling me that I was using way too much of my mental energy on things that didn’t have to do with Him. This happened to me as well about a month ago when I felt myself watching too much of the news. I developed anxiety due to it and felt God telling me to spend more time in the Word than watching the news. Once I listened, my anxiety vanished.
Hobby: Photography, spending time in the outdoors with my family
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
1. Meditate on the Word on a regular basis
2. Stay involved in your church family
3. Test everything in the world up against His Word – if it doesn’t match up, it’s not truth.
Favorite person in scripture? David
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? The ability to truly love others only comes through knowing Jesus and accepting His love.
How do you engage with your community? I am very involved with my church family. I teach Sunday school to 8th graders alongside my husband. I am also the cheerleading coach for Upward Cheer, which is a sports-based ministry for grade-schoolers.
Favorite holiday? My favorite holiday is Christmastime altogether. I love the time with family and friends, celebrating and teaching my little ones about the birth of our Savior, getting to see the joy on my family’s face when they open their gifts, and of course, getting to eat lots of yummy treats.
A goal you have? I am passionate about apologetics – being able to defend our faith. We live in a society that is no longer Christian, nor is it neutral – it’s against Christianity. Kids are being taught that the Bible isn’t true. There is so much evidence for the truth of God’s Word and my goal is to give parents that evidence so they can teach it effectively to their children. We need our next generation of Christians to be apologetics-warriors – to be able to defend their faith when questioned.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: On every school night before bed, we all head upstairs to our bedroom as a family and read a book together. Then, before we put the kids to bed, we all go around and name three things we are thankful to God for that happened that day. When I go into the kids’ rooms to tell them goodnight, I pray out loud with them for God’ protection and that they will always follow Him.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? What would the history of Earth looked like if Adam and Eve never sinned?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I am passionate about teaching the next generation (and our generation) to be able to DEFEND their faith. When someone comes at them with a question or objection to the faith, I want them to be able to defend Christianity and have a good answer. As Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine differs depending on the day of the week. Monday through Friday, after getting the kids ready and sent off to school, I work on content for my pages, @raisingfaithwarriors and also my page @kristenclay_photog_lessons, where I give Biblical evidence along with my photos. Several mornings a week, I take my Bible and coffee outside and have time with God where I meditate on Scripture and ask Him to speak to me through it (which He does). On Saturdays, we as a family all get up and have waffles together (a tradition) and on Sundays we go to church together.
What is on your nightstand? Books that we read to the kids before bed and my husband’s phone (which has our alarm).
Define Christianity in a sentence: Believing we are sinners and the only way to reconcile with God is to repent of our sins and accept His Son, Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
For more Kristen:
Until next time, keep witnessing!