Our #IKnowHim story today was submitted by Bailey Aguilar, who shares how throughout the different circumstances of her life, God’s goodness was evident in the freedom and healing she found in Him at every turn. 

From the time I was a little girl I knew that God was real and that He loved and cared for all His children. As I got older, however, I really struggled with the idea of truly feeling loved and cared for, even with a huge support system around me. When I was about seven years old my parents divorced, and I struggled with that all my childhood and even into adulthood. We spent many of our days fighting custody battles in the courtroom. To be honest, my brother and I have had to go to court for custody battles more times than I can even count. The divorce and the trauma caused me to struggle with the idea of a loving God. I questioned time and time again why God would let these things happen to us if he really loved us. The thought of overcoming my circumstances or seeking truth and a lesson from God in the midst of pain never even crossed my mind.

When I turned 16 I decided to move in with my dad. At first, everything was great and it seemed perfect. Once the initial excitement of this big change wore off, it took a turn for the worse. My dad started making me feel bad for who I was. He would constantly degrade me and discourage me, speaking lies and planting such negative thoughts in my mind. He would tell me that I was worthless “just like my mother” and other negative things. I consistently felt that I had to earn his approval and his love. I desperately wanted these two things from him, I wanted so badly to have that special relationship that so many girls have with their dads. I turned myself inside out trying to be everything he wanted me to be, but it was never enough. He always wanted more or something different. He mentally, emotionally and verbally abused me to the point where I just started secluding myself. I started staying at home because I didn’t want anyone to know how bad it had gotten. I had become anxious about  everything. I stopped eating because I was so stressed out and overwhelmed. After turmoil and so much pain caused by my father, I had had enough and decided I wanted to leave. However, I didn’t think I had anywhere to go because my mom and step-dad were out of the country. I was scared, and I didn’t know what to do, where to turn, or where to go. I reached out to my grandma, and she graciously allowed me to live with her temporarily. I stayed with my her until my mom and step dad came back from Africa. She was just one example of the people God had given me to show me is unconditional love.

It took me years to really heal from the abuse. I ended up with extreme anxiety, causing panic attacks particularly when he attempted to speak with me. As I got older and became an adult, my anxiety then turned into depression. I thought I had overcome everything that he did to me, but in all reality, I just avoided dealing with the issue, which made my anxiety and depression worse. Now I know that God used my anxiety and depression to help me heal and overcome the things that I had ran from for so long. Now I can live in God’s freedom and can see the way that He loves me. He has continually proved Himself to me through the way He uses others. For example, years later, my “step-dad” adopted me. He went through the whole process and made sure that he could “officially” call me his daughter even though he had always thought of me as me his daughter from the time he and my mom got married. He has continually showed me Christ’s love and what love looks like coming from our Heavenly Father. He has always made sure that I felt loved and adored. Through my now “official” dad, I have seen God’s faithful love and how God continually pursues us no matter what we have done. His love is not conditional. What I realized through all of this, is that even though I didn’t see a way out of my situation God had a plan much bigger and better than anything I could’ve imagined. No matter how bad the situation was, God proved Himself to me through others by showing me how much they loved me and how they wanted the best for me.

Nahum 1:7 God is a Refuge

Flash forward to a year ago to when I was engaged to my high school sweetheart. We had been engaged for a little over a year and were planning on getting married in August 2017. I was incredibly excited and couldn’t wait to get married. From the time I was a little girl I had always dreamed of one day getting married and starting my own family. I was still in college and about to take the last of my finals when I found out that I was pregnant. I was honestly devastated. I was terrified. I was scared of becoming a mother at only 21 years old. I was scared of what my parents would say, and I was scared of what others would think of me. The only thing that I held onto to encourage me was Nahum 1:7 which says; “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him,”. I was really struggling with the idea of being pregnant, but I kept having to remind myself of how our God is a good God who takes care of us gives us refuge. My husband and I ended up getting married in June of 2017. After the wedding, I moved to Vernon, Texas, with my husband where he had a job at the fire department. I felt lonely, secluded, and was still terrified of being pregnant. I fell into a deeper depression, knowing that I didn’t have anyone around me that I knew or loved when I was struggling. I was filled with shame and guilt because of what I did. I also struggled with the fact that I didn’t want to be pregnant because I knew that so many women struggled with infertility, and I was lucky enough to not be going through that. I also would get frustrated with myself for being so depressed about the situation because this was something that I had dreamed of my whole life, and it was finally here and I couldn’t get myself to be excited. I felt like there was something wrong with me.

I found myself becoming very frustrated with God again, wondering why He would allow me to be in this situation. During our time in Vernon, God worked in my heart and helped me heal and overcome the things that I was holding onto. I was finally able to surrender the things that God had been asking me to surrender to Him for a long time. He had asked me to surrender those things so I could live in freedom. I finally learned that I didn’t have to carry around my guilt and shame that I had been so burdened by. It sounds so simple, but it was such a hard thing for me to learn and come to terms with. Through my loneliness and struggle while we were in Vernon, I was able to see what God had been asking me to do for a long time. I was able to surrender my burdens and start living in joy and freedom.

Since my daughter has been born, I have learned about a whole new kind of love. I have learned what true and pure love looks like, and that’s the kind of love that Christ has for us. Pure, true, unconditional, and holy love. The kind of love that overwhelms you. Throughout my life, God has continually used others to show the kind of love He has for his children, and it has been an incredible journey. Here’s my challenge to you, one that I wish someone had challenged me with a long time ago – instead of asking God why he is letting something happen to you or why God is doing something to you, ask God what He is trying to teach you, ask him how he is trying to grow you, and ask him to show you his love for you.

If you are struggling with anxiety/depression I would love to talk with you about it and pray with you through it. You are not alone! If you are thinking about suicide, call this is the number 1-800-273-8255. Don’t go through this alone – you are loved!


Our #IKnowHim story today was submitted by Bethany McIlrath. She shares how she has experienced God in the form of friendships with others. If you have been praying for holy friendships, be encouraged by the words of her testimony and God’s goodness. Leave us a comment below so we can be praying with you! If you have ever prayed for friendship, we’d love to hear your experience in the comments as well to encourage those still seeking. 

With one semester left until I had a bachelor’s degree in hand, I donned a wedding band on my ring finger. All my friends were off to internships and first jobs hours or states away. My groom had led me to Christ a year prior. He and I were going to live in an inn and work there while my studies wrapped up.

Even with my new faith, my first “grown up” job, a marriage license, and the freedom to choose which drawer holds the silverware, I felt like a freshman all over again.

My most fervent prayer in the turbulent time of scraping by as a young newlywed, taking 18 credits, and talking with my husband about what in the world would come next?

God, give me a friend.

Silly as it may sound, for me, everything other concern paled in comparison.

I felt ridiculous.

As I understood it, God was mighty. A provider. The rescuer. He was my Savior, my Lord, and my master. The world, my world, was full of problems and lost people and sin and so much BIG stuff. In my still-new relationship with Him, I knew I served a BIG God.

Up until that time, I’d only prayed for the “big stuff.” My plate had been full of hard-to-swallow problems. So feeling desperate for a friend didn’t seem like something a Christian girl (or God!) should care about.

But for as BIG as God is, He really cares about the small things too.

Scripture doesn’t just say God is with us in huge battles. Instead, He’s with us always. We’re told He doesn’t just watch us when we’re out and about, prone to sin and failure- He watches us when we sleep. God, who is everywhere all at once, also became man. He can identify with being in one place, at one time, with a tangle of emotions and temptations. Jesus even knows what it is to hang out with a friend.

As I read the Bible and adjusted to the season of life I was in, I clung to getting to know Jesus as my friend.

Jesus Himself said it: “I have called you friends” (John 15:15.)

I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the closeness of friendship I enjoy with Christ, some of which formed through that season. However, I’m also thankful for the curly red headed gift He gave me back then.

Our friendship’s beginning was unexpected.

My husband knew my desire and my prayer. He asked me if I’d met her yet. He said her name and described her by her bright, corkscrew hair. I told him she wasn’t friend material. She was a co-worker at the inn. Plus, I’d crossed paths with her years ago. We didn’t hit it off back then (due in part to her poor taste in sweaters.) Why would we now?

When she and I interacted at work, I was polite and friendly. Co-worker pleasant. It didn’t cross my mind she might be an answer to prayer. It didn’t occur to me that God might be showing His care for my little longing. I didn’t even realize that bit by bit, I wasn’t so lonely.

I didn’t even realize we were friends.

Then one day I was reading the Bible. A minute late for my shift, I finally put it down. It was the first time I’d read Hosea and I just had to tell someone about the epic illustration of God’s unrelenting love.

She was waiting in the office to clock out. As I apologized for being late, I offered up my explanation. Feeling like a weirdo, I admitted “I was just wrapped up in Hosea.” Her eyes got huge. She exclaimed, “I totally understand!”

Taken by surprise, I leaned against the wall, replying, “It’s the craziest story!” She agreed. We went back and forth. The inn was quiet so I grabbed my Bible. We sat down and read passages and reviewed the story- and God’s love got personal.

The people whose stories are recorded in Scripture sought God for the big- and the little. God delighted to make Himself known to them in the big- and the little.

My seemingly small yearning was met with a friendship that has remained a big part of my life. And alongside that friend He gave at just the right time, I’m still getting to know God more and more.

Sometimes God answers us with just His self and His sufficiency.

But, sometimes He wants us to know that He also loves to share us. He loves introducing His friends to His other friends.

I know Him- and as I get to know Him, I find out more and more that His love for us is so personal that He actually does care about the little things.

Godly Friendships

Have you experienced God in your life? Click HERE to submit your story to be shared on the blog!

On today’s episode of the #IKnowHim podcast, Reid and Aimee Christner are sharing how their experiences with God have called them to live a life of servanthood and obedience. They discuss how fear and surrender have played a role in their faith journey, as well as how coming to Christ in adulthood influenced their faith. In this podcast, they talk with host Rachel Sweatt about how obedience in what God has asked them to do has built their faith, strengthened their marriage, and cultivated a life of purpose and intention.

Looking for God


Here are the resources mentioned in the podcast:

Seamless by Angie Smith

End of Me By Kyle Idleman

#IKnowHim Podcast with Aimee and Reid Christner

We are excited to welcome Laney Wooten, a long time follower of Jesus, who is giving us a transparent look at how she has experienced God as she wrestles with hard questions about her faith, and struggles with the doubt that so many Christians experience in various seasons of life. Laney also shares how God has revealed his goodness and his nearness to her through the tangible hope that sustains her every day as she points her family to Jesus through the countless hardships that come with having a child with severe autism.

#IKnowHim Podcast with Laney Wooten

Today’s guest is a wife, mom, University professor, engineer, world changer, and fierce Jesus follower. We are honored to share this conversation with Emily Hunt, who shares a raw look at who Jesus really is to her and how she and her family are experiencing God first hand as their unsuspected fight against the cancer in their seven year son old brings them to the front lines of their faith. 

Emily and Zander

#IKnowHim Podcast with Emily Hu

Brooke and Sarah, founders of Partners In Hope, are sharing how they have experienced God in their own lives and how they continue to see His goodness in hard places. On this episode of the #IKnowHim Podcast, we are talking about how they have seen redemption and restoration offered to prisoners and how they take the Light of the Gospel into hard places, as well as how they see the goodness of God firsthand in the lives of the children they serve through their program. 

Partners In Hope #IKnowHim

For more information, visit their website here.

To partner with them financially as they continue to serve children and prisoners in Uganda, click here.

Partners In Hope #IKnowHim Podcast

Today’s podcast guests are newlyweds Mikey and Cicely McDowell, who are experiencing God in their lives after recently beginning a new season in their lives in a new place, with God being their only familiarity. A law student and a musician in Nashville, they are sharing ways they are actively seeking God and seeing Him move when everything else is uncertain, and how they are pressing in to making Him known in their new spheres of influence.

McDowell #IKnowHim Podcast


Our guest today, Whittney Grizzle, is sharing the message that God has given her as a result of her experiences with Him and how God’s relentless pursuit of her is evidence that He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. She discusses how she has seen God’s hand of protection and how the prayers of a woman she wouldn’t meet for 22 years changed her life. Her story is one of hope, redemption, and coming to Jesus just as you are, but never being the same after meeting Him.

#IKnowHimPodcast with Whittney Grizzle 

#IKnowHimPodcast with Whittney Grizzle

Our storytellers today, Kevin and Cindy Tuttle, are talking about specific ways they have experienced God in their lives and how they are continuing to see God pursue them in every circumstance. Through adoption, an economic crisis, their marriage and in their day to day lives of so much unknown, they have seen God reveal Himself in ways that changed them forever. 

#IKnowHim Podcast

#IKnowHim Podcast


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