Ivanna talks worship and healing with us and has some books you will want to add to your list.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: Part of my childhood was in Caracas Venezuela; my family was a Christmas/Easter Catholic family. I didn’t really know God, much less that He wanted to have a relationship with me. I thought He was distant and mean. I moved to the states when I was 9, and my mom encountered Jesus when I was 13 years old. But growing up in Miami was what you can expect; growing up in a party city, I felt that “I wasn’t ready to give my life to Jesus.” I didn’t know that He had been pursuing me, and I was afraid to give up my lifestyle to know Him. My mom prayed every day for 13 years for me to find Jesus, and when I did, it was a testament of His faithfulness, because Lord knows I had done a lot of wrong.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I have been meditating on Revelation 4, thinking about the throne room and how Jesus is there now but also here with me. It is something that really has helped me during prayer, to picture where He is and where I’ll be with Him.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I think my biggest challenge is always to remain focused and aware in His presence. Not just in a prayer meeting, or worship but to be aware that He is always with me. This season, specifically re-centering my heart to Him and only Him, no matter what I am contending for.
Profession: Currently, I work full-time at a Church in Mississippi as director of first impressions. But I am also a Christian Lifestyle blogger which takes a lot more time than I thought, but I absolutely love it!
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? “Ivanna: Not Sure How I’m here, But By The Grace of God.”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I first encountered God when I was 25. I was very jaded toward the church. I thought they would judge me and that they were fake. I was going through a very rough season personally and had a friend invite me to church. When I finally decided to go, I found a community of people who knew how much they needed Jesus themselves. People who were vulnerable and loved me before I “fit” in to the Church mold. About six months later, I ended a very toxic relationship and fell into a severe depression. During that time, I found that all I had was God, but I didn’t know Him very well. I only knew how to “do” church… Little by little, I came to know more about Him and Holy Spirit and four years later I can say I encounter Him all over again He never ceases to amaze me and I know He never will.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? This is a great question… I actually had a friend from the past reach out and let me know how it could only be God that did this work in me. I was very broken, partied, I looked for my affirmation in relationships, I was very reckless. Today, I see that although I am nowhere near perfect, I can love others because of how He loves me, my life has purpose, and I am constantly growing into my identity as His child, His bride, and His friend. Now, I find satisfaction in Him, and I can actually love from an overflow and not for affirmation.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? As I mentioned earlier, I was in a severe depression with suicidal thoughts; I had an idol in my body (I used to be very fit and compete in NPC); I was developing eating disorders, and dealing with body dysmorphia; I was broken– I had no clue how I was. I saw God’s hand in redeeming me from all my bad choices. I saw how He used it all to strip me and bring me into the one real thing which was Him. He showed me the love I had looked for in all the wrong things.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? It changes by seasons, last year I read about 32 books that was A LOT of growth. This year, I haven’t read a ton, but I attend a prayer meeting every Tuesday, and we pray and worship together. This has helped me to grow in my relationship with Him, with the body of Christ, and even prophetically. It’s such a special place for me, also worship and prayer the more I do it the more I notice I need it more and more.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): This year I am re-reading Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. This is such a tough book but there is so much freedom in it. It has taught me that God wants all of us, not just parts of us and he wants the ugly parts, the ones we hold onto the ones we’ve been carrying around for years. And when it seems toughest we see that it’s only through His grace that we can even give it up. Also highly recommended is How to Worship A King Zach Neece.
Top three essentials: Bible, guitar, a notebook.
How did God speak to you recently? We were at a worship night, and while singing I could picture the throne room and it looked like millions of people were between Him and I as we worshiped. But the more I praised Him, the less space there was between us. It was really special, He reminded me of His nearness no matter what I think is before me.
“The more I praised Him, the less space there was between us.”
Hobby: I really enjoy learning languages for missions!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Pray and be vulnerable but listen don’t just speak, read the Word everyday, worship like He is in the room because He is.
“Worship like He is in the room because He is.”
Favorite person in scripture? John, I am a hopeless romantic and the way the epistle and Revelation is written makes me swoon.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He loves them and sees them.
How do you engage with your community? I absolutely love street evangelism, there’s something about seeing God encounter people that makes my heart move. Also through my Instagram; I get to minister to so many in different places!
Favorite holiday? I had Passover dinner with my family this year for the first time ever, we were really intentional about passion week and Easter, and it was beautiful!
A goal you have? I want to travel the world doing missions.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We don’t have a lot of traditions, but my mom and I FaceTime multiple times a day. She’s my best friend, I miss her big time.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Jesus, when did you know that you were the Messiah, did you always know, or did Abba reveal it to you somewhere along the first 12 years of your life?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Jesus, praying for Israel and the underground Church.
What does your morning routine consist of? First thing I do is play worship music the moment I open my eyes. I have a playlist called “enter the throne room” on Spotify. Then, I usually get up and moving, make myself a celery juice while thanking God for waking me up. I have a list of confessions I say while I get ready. Then, I have a devotional or two (I absolutely love prayers on fire) I like to sit and read and ask Holy Spirit what He wants to say.
What is on your nightstand? Four books I started and haven’t finished, a hair tie and a spray bottle for my kitty.
Define Christianity in a sentence: The revelation of Jesus and His sacrifice and how we are now His children.
For more Ivanna:
Facebook: Ivanna Medina
Twitter: @ Ivannamedina__
Until next time, keep witnessing!