Secret Society

Lately every Sunday is the same for me…

I spend a couple of days before talking myself into going to church on Sunday.

Being raised in the church, my “christian-ese” mind-set tells me how I need to not forsake the gathering of the brethren,

how going to church will help me get through the week, and worse of all my mind plays the trick that I might be missing out on something.

All of these are true in a sense…

But what if right now for me the church is not the safe place I always wanted it to be…

What if instead of forcing myself to go to a building that is not safe, I instead rested at Jesus’ feet like Mary?

What if in the quiet of my own room I poured out my alabaster box and with my tears washed the feet of Jesus and found peace, healing and wholeness there?

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Like I mentioned I grew up in the church and any time the doors were open our family was expected to go. To be real and honest right now I know that my family thought that best for us for many reasons but I can see where many painful events happened for me in the church.

In my personal growing up years the church has wounded more than it has healed.

I need to process through those things, wrestle with it all if I am going to find true healing in this area.

This has always been my place to wrestle.

Most of the time I avoid it because I feel too raw to wrestle through the painful things

but on days like today I know that I need to write.

So Sunday morning dawns,

 and I find I hit the snooze button one to many times.

Then I jump out of bed, get some breakfast, take my vitamins and take a cup of coffee out on the front steps so I can enjoy and calm my nerves with my first cigarette of the day.

(That fact may cause people to stop reading now and that’s ok… this is my real place and

I am tired of hiding from people because I think they won’t approve me which is what I sought after for so many years)

As I am sitting outside dialog-ing with myself on why Sunday is so hard for me right now,

and why all the self-talk in the world can’t work to get me ready in time to go to church,

why my prayer for a will and want too has still gone unanswered in my mind.

And the words start flooding in my mind for this blog post.

I get frustrated with myself

because I want to get them down right away knowing I will forget them

if I logically say I will wait until after church to write.

Again all the “reasons” flood in my mind about why I shouldn’t write instead of go to church

but then…

It’s as if a tiny small voice says… those are the law sweet child.

And its true!

~I should go to church because I need to for my salvation

~I should go to church because what are they going to think if I’m not their for the 3rd week in a row

~I should go to church because what would my mother say

~I should go to church because it’s what the bible tells me to do

And in that moment the still small voice reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha.

Mary was sitting at Jesus feet in a day when men and women did not sit or even eat together.

For Mary to be welcomed and encouraged to remain at His feet went against all cultural norms!

How out of character that must have been!

How our minds want to go with the things taught to us because it’s what has been done for years and years,

But what if we stop and ask ourselves if that is working for us?

I would have to answer a very loud and resounding NO!

The list below is what my church going years have consisted of mostly:

(Again understand that there has been many good times in church and a lot I have learned)

I have been in multiple churches ever since I was 3-4 years old.

My parents allowed the church to raise us when it came to biblical teaching.

A Sunday school teacher told me when I was little that God lets everything happen in our lives.

I was touched inappropriately by several boys growing up while at “church functions”

When I got sick as a child, people came to pray for me, because there was no healing I was told I didn’t have enough faith.

My extended family did not approve of, understand or like our church going practices.

At 16 my parents felt led to leave the church we had grown up at and attend another church.

People who had been like family to us told my parents if they left they would no longer speak to them again.

I was told many confusing things by several youth pastors thus continuing my misunderstandings of God.

Boys at the christian school I attended were cruel, joked about my size and picked on me if I ever liked someone.

When I was rebelling growing up, Pastors basically washed their hands of me because I couldn’t put a finger on why I was so angry

I would search for ways to serve, through youth groups, worship team etc. because I was told that’s what good Christians do.

When I was in need of help, direction, mentoring or anything I was told that wasn’t a possibility

I have been told over and over to be the change I want to see.

I wanted to share my testimony at a church about what God had done for me and the pastor told me that it was just too much for the congregation to handle.

A youth pastor that I liked accepted my help with the youth, flirted with me and then lead mine and many other women’s hearts on until he found his “sugar mama”

I would seek help and healing from all of the above things over and over again through out the years.

And sadly this cycle continued to play out for me over and over again.

Even the ministries I worked at told me that I didn’t have a servant’s heart.

Life fell apart when I found out about Phillip’s death, when I went to the staff vulnerable asking for help to get through the trauma I was advised that I wasn’t there to get help I was there to serve and if I didn’t think I could do that then I needed to go.

When I transferred to a different ministry center and asked questions about pay, living expenses and what my original job description was supposed to be and how it changed once I arrived, I was dismissed and told I wasn’t the one for the job.

So how do I heal from all of this pain and trauma????

I definitely don’t think it’s by making myself go to a church that has not reached out so much as a pinky finger for me to grasp on to as I drown in all that I am going through.

I don’t write all of this out to bash churches, pastors or the people in the church.

I write it to help people to see that the church is supposed to be for…

Original photo not mine. Edited via picmonkey

Original photo not mine. Edited via picmonkey

Yet we are wounding the very ones that Jesus is instructing us to love.

We tell people that they have to get involved in the church and serve if they are to get help

but how can we expect someone to give what they don’t have or haven’t been shown?!

We sit in our fancy padded seats and raise our hands to worship

but are scared to abandon all and do what our heart is prompting us to do for fear of what people will think of us.

There have been more Sundays than not

that I could have just sat at the altar and wept,

times of worship that I could have knelt down, arms lifted in abandon and worshiped,

yet my fear of expectations and what people would say robbed me of the pure joy my heart was yearning for.

The law and the whisper of the rules  kept me in line like the good little christian I was playing to be.

I can’t keep doing that any more

I don’t want to live that way any more!

We sing songs like:

 You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Or

Shane & Shane – Yearn [Lyrics]

 

How can you listen to these songs and not want to kneel down in holy abandon

crying out to God for the desire to yearn for Him and more of who He truly is?

We can’t expect people who are emotionally, spiritually or physically sick

to walk into a church and instantly have it all together

or to know how to insert themselves in what they feel is a

SECRET SOCIETY

that they will always be on the outskirts of.

Relationships, Guys have their “lists” too!

As I sit listening to my sweet dear friend tell me how this amazing Christian guy broke the news to her that he just sees them as “friends” and how he went about breaking the news, a sadness and let me be honest, an anger entered my heart. After months of them hanging out and the awkwardness of trying to figure out if they liked each other more than friends his response to her question was both out of character and upsetting. They had been on several “outings” and hang out times, so it was NOT like her question of “Do you want to go out for coffee?” was out of line. Honestly I think that his blundering response saying that he just saw her as a friend was totally out of line. Not only that but the timing, way it was handled and his ineptness at respecting her is what can hurt a heart and ruin what could have still be a great friendship.

I just finished the book Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris.  Though there are many things I liked and agreed with in the book having it written only from a male point of view was challenging to read for me. I do think he did an ok job at telling the girls how they need to let the man take the lead and to wait for a good christian guy to approach them or their parents in request to court them.

The problem however from my point of view is I think he lost sight of and really didn’t address the audience of “good christian guys” and how they need to step up and be the man.  Not in a conquer the world, rude way but in a gentle, humble way seeking God for the right time and way to speak to a lady about where things are going… or not going in this case.

My friend lamented that if he had just given her the respect and honor of  having coffee with her and during that time had a conversation about how he was feeling that it was just staying at friendship level then it wouldn’t have been so hard as the awkward, almost disrespectful way he blurted out over the phone that he didn’t like her THAT way! It hurt my heart to hear the way he flipantly communicates with her even still and talks down to her. She not only does not deserve that, it is not how a christian man of God should treat a sister in christ at all.

Men of God have this unrealistic list of what their future wife should look like, act like and be. I swear in their mind they are combining the Proverbs 31 women with their sunday school teacher, add in the Victoria Secret model into the list of physical attributes on the list, with someone that can cook like Martha Stewart and serve like Mother Theresa, be good in bed like the greatest porn star and you might just begin to touch on what a christian guys expectations begin to look like. UNREALISTIC!

To shorten the phrase “good christian fella” I am just going to use the acronym

“GCF” and in the same respect I will use will use “GCG” for good christian girl….

It has been talked about and made fun of in movies over and over again about how women have this “list” of what she wants in a man and how this list is not only the majority of the time very unrealistic but can be hurtful to others in her life and potential dates.  I would like to argue, however that GCF’s have way more ideals and expectations of what they want, the  must have’s in a christian women or they will not even consider getting to know her. In doing that men are not only hurting their christian sisters but also forming the belief in these beautiful women of God that there is something ultimately wrong with them.

They not only allow these ideals to enter their attitudes towards their christian sisters but they also use the bible as a weapon against them to support their reasonings for having these specifications. The bible is NEVER to be used as a weapon against our fellow flesh and blood but to fight the war against the evils and principalities of this present darkness. I do believe that there is a need to be spiritually equally yoked however I have seen so many GCFs with there expectations so exponentially high that not only could no women be all that they expect but they themselves are not willing to be the man that a women that amazing would want to be with!

A Proverbs 31 women is a great ideal to want to work towards as a christian women but for men to use that as their checklist on what these young christian women should be like is not only wishful thinking but impossible to accomplish. We are all in the process of growing into men and women of God but if we are expecting each other to have already reached perfection  before we will date or marry someone, this is not only so totally flawed but hurting others.

Jesus didn’t tell the women caught in adultery or the women at the well that they had to clean themselves up before they could come to him for healing, rest, love and acceptance. He loved them in spite of their imperfections and saw the beautiful creations that God had formed with his own hands. He did tell them to go and sin no longer which I believe he made possible through divine intervention in their lives, not just by saying the words and expecting them to accomplish that themselves.

He isn’t a God that just leaves us where we are,

He always loves us where we are.

He  transforms a willing heart and works through others to allow us to become better and more than we could ever ask or imagine. Honestly in the based on the times these stories were written and  the society they lived in, those women COULD NOT have “cleaned” themselves up by themselves. Maybe that is what is so beautifully messy about these women’s stories! In and of themselves there was nothing they could do to change their circumstances. Jesus provided them an alternative and the early church provided a safe place for these women so that they might not have to go back to their life. What if men in the church had refused to help these women based on their stereotype or the women of the early church had shunned these women for the life they had seen as their only means of survival?

I am seeing more and more men in the church becoming complacent, wanting a women to take the lead, then allow animosity to grow when women do that because men are truly built to lead.

 God designed us with specific roles and traits so that we would compliment each other, join together in a marriage and make a difference for His kingdom. GCF’s say that they want a women that will stand behind them and help them with the ministry that they are called to, however I do not think that was ever God’s desire for how relationship should be. He made women to be man’s helpmate side by side with himhaving the same vision and calling. Even when it is in separate areas of ministry I believe that they should complement each other enough that together they are doing more good for God’s kingdom than they could do being single.

I see GCF’s seeking out women they think their ideal wife should look like and shallowly discounting amazing christian women who do not fit in their mindset of what their “perfect” is. Don’t get me wrong I am not discrediting attraction and the need for it however when that is the top priority on their list they are allowing the worldliness of unrealistic body images to form how they react, interact and treat their sisters in Christ. If she is not the correct height, weight, hair color or body shape then they automatically discount her a possible candidate. That is not only hurtful but also not biblical. In fact if men truly read all the way through Proverbs 31 would find out that in verse 30 that it says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a women that fears the Lord is to be praised and esteemed as a reward.

This attitude of worldly attraction creates issues in your fellow sisters lives that cause them to fall into the worlds issues of body image problems like bulimia, anorexia, and a hurt that is not easily remedied. In our country alone over 7 million women have an eating disorder and they estimate at least 2 million more that have never been diagnosed. You can bet that it is NOT just something outside of the church that people struggle with. I am not putting the blame fully on christian men so please understand that. A mixture of society expectations, self- expectations placed on herself mingled with rejection from men equals a recipe for disaster in a woman’s life.

According to C.S. Lewis,

Image not mine. Image found via Time Warp-wife on FB.

Image not mine. Image found via Time Warp-wife on FB.

So what am I suggesting or what is my point, you ask?

I would ask that if you are a true man of God reading this that you will prayerfully consider and examine where you may have placed high, unattainable expectations on christian sisters in your life.

If you have hurt one based on those unrealistic expectations then I would encourage you to man up and apologize to your sister because guarenteed you have left a scar on her heart whether you intended to or not.

And lastly, when in a pre-courtship friendship with a girl don’t lead her astray with extra words of affection or compliments. Especially more attention and affection than you would show to any other sister in Christ.  Women are wired to accept compliments, words of the future or anything more than you would offer a sister as a form of affection and when her heart hears those words then she begins to open her heart up to the possibilities of something more than just friendship. Guard your sisters heart and truly learn to live out 1 Corinthians where you learn that love does not insist on its own way, it rejoices in the truth that we are all intricately made, fashioned and loved by the creator of the whole world! If you view each sister as such instead of in the categories of haves and have nots then you will begin to see the beauty that God elaborately instilled in each and every sister you come into contact with.

Who knows you just might find your compatible and have an attraction towards someone you never thought you might!

I know this post may seem that I am bashing on men and godly men at that but I would tell my sisters to guard themselves on these things also. Your “lists” should only be a guide and reminder of the Godly traits you desire, be willing to strive to grow into the women of God that would attract a man that has those traits and be willing to give each and every person you meet grace, love and acceptance knowing that we are all works in progress!

When life gets messy

I have felt pretty messy lately emotionally and spiritually

so in a lot of ways I have steered clear of writing about it

because its hard to do, right?

Its easier NOT to share the messy-ness with others,

instead we hide out and lick our battle wounds by ourselves.

We wonder…

What if the wrong person reads this post and the real you is revealed but not understood?

What if people who don’t understand all that you have been through read it and

jump to conclusions?

Or worse yet what if the one you have learned to open up to and care about so much

learns more than what they are willing to deal with and they walk away?

I grew up in a family where it was NOT acceptable to share anything negative or any struggles you were having with anyone outside of the family or let anyone know that you were sinking emotionally or physically. You were expected to put a smile on your face, and long sleeves on ,if necessary, so that for appearance sake everything looked perfect to anyone from the outside looking in.

I have lived with all of this “fear” in writing this process out and today I realized that everyone has some sort of fear or thing that they are hoping won’t happen. If we live our life in that fear or hope then unfortunately we miss out on so much of life and that kind of negative hope some how ends up coming to pass because it was the thing we feared, pondered and clutched the most.It is not what God wants for us because He says “Perfect Love casts out ALL fear!” and His hope does not disappoint according to Romans 5.

But the worlds fear and “hope” it can be…

Kinda like a self- fulfilling prophesy. I love the definition of this phrase!

Definition: becoming real or true by virtue of having been predicted or expected; a prediction of something to come

I am realizing just how much I did this in my life due to growing up in dysfunction but not knowing it was a malfunctioning environment. You begin to fear these things happening but have a hard time putting your finger on why this is a fear or where it came from. It may be a distant memory that triggers a response you never thought you would have, a scent that takes you back to a place and time or even a fleeting thought in your mind that ignites the fear in you.

So now you know its a fear and you know it comes from somewhere in the past…

What do you do to break the cycle that is in you that you have now identified as being completely unhealthy and dysfunctional?

I am still learning this process so please do not think that I am a professional in any of this or that I in some ways have all of the answers. I am looking to God and Him alone to help me learn how to break this cycle so that I do not take it into this next season of my life or a new relationship.

I am learning that I grew up in a very legalistic family even though it was the last thing that my mom would have wanted for us if she had truly known what law produces. She was radically saved when she was going in the opposite direction. For my mother, hearing from a pastor that she was going to hell based on the fact that she was an adulteress and pointing out scripture to show her where she would go should she die right that minute worked for my mom to turn her life over to God. My mom is very black and white and I believe that God created her that way for a reason, purpose and plan. I love my mom with all my heart and God has restored our relationship beyond what I could ask or imagine! She is my cheerleader and love me so very much!

The thing I never understood growing up was why I shouldn’t do things. Just the fact that adults said what the do’s and don’ts were and I should obey them because they said was how I grew up. There was no talk of an authentic relationship with God before the rules were laid out but first the rules and then an attempt at relationship with this scary God that may get mad if you did something wrong, which always ended up failing because we are humans and prone to wander from the constants in our lives.

In the book Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson says “We take constants for granted. And that is the “problem” with God, if I may say it that way, God is the ultimate constant. He is unconditionally loving. He is omnipotently powerful. And He is eternally faithful. God is so good at what God does that we tend to take Him for granted.”

Not only did I take God for granted for so long but I didn’t truly know who God was based on childhood perceptions that were flawed. If your first baby steps as a baby christian and child is based on the law you are prone to get to the point where you learn that performance based on law is impossible to live by! You will either spend a life time trying to be good enough working for your salvation or just throw your hands up after so long and give up even trying because you think He is a God that can never be pleased and just wants obedient servants. You know that in your own strength you will never be able to measure up. Look at what living a life by the law did for the Pharisees and tell me that’s how its supposed to be? Jesus came and called them white washed tombs! He tried telling his people that He came to abolish the law but we still want to live by it… why?

Matthew 23:27

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.

I viewed God as this Big scary Guy in the Sky that was happy with me when I did right and mad at me when I did bad. When things would happen to me that were bad and it was when I was living a rebellious life I truly believed that it was because God was angry with me and taking away my husband because I “chose” him over God and worse I truly believed that God had taken away my babies in my womb because He wanted to show me who was in charge! All of this because I had taken my life in my own hands for a short time. Did someone in your life teach you that as well? You better not do anything bad this week or you may loose God’s presence in your life or be separated from the love of God! How flawed is this thinking!

It says in Romans 8:38 that:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

And I have learned in this process of learning who God really is, that he is not this schizophrenic God that is sometimes angry and sometimes happy with you based on your performance. If the last statement is true and God has moments of anger when you are doing wrong and happiness when you are doing right… then it is by works alone and not the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us. Yes in the Old Testament it talks repeatedly about God being the Mighty  Judge whose wrath was stirred by the Israelite disobedience. That God, however, poured out His wrath on His Sons body on the cross.

In the book Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince he states,

Many Christians have been robbed of fellowship and intimacy with God because they believe

the lie that God is still angry with them because of their sins. They avoid contact with God,

thinking that He gets angry with them whenever they fail. So instead of going to God when

they fail, they run in the opposite direction. Instead of running to the solution, they run

away from it. The truth is: God is no longer angry with you! His wrath towards ALL your

sins has already been exhausted completely on the body of your Savior Jesus Christ. ALL

your sins have been judged and punished in the body of another. God IS (PRESENT TENSE)

LOVE (Emphasis mine) Stop being robbed of true intimacy and a relationship with your

gracious and forgiving Savior Jesus Christ. His grace is greater than all of your failures.

He loves you perfectly, so go to Him with all your imperfections.”

I truly believe that if you want to heal the present and future you have to take the time to look back at the past long enough to identify those lies and inaccuracies that you have built your foundation on, process them effectively and any attachment you may have with the lies and inaccuracies, then allow God to heal them through renewing your mind with God’s truth in your life. Many people don’t want to go back so that they can go forward. They are told you can’t blame what happened to you on others but only deal with where you are at now. The misconception there is that those ties are still holding you back from living a life set free and whole whether you want to admit it or not.

I agree that you can not stay in the past or cast blame on others in your past. You have to understand that people did the best they could with the information, knowledge and upbringing they had available to them and release it. It is walking through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” that God wants to bring us into a life of healing, wholeness and breaking those cycles you have gone through over and over in your life.

Sometimes I feel that I should be further along than I am but I have to remind myself that

I am having to sift through 30 years of information and place it in one of 3 bins:

Truth= Keep

Inaccuracies= find the faulty belief and replace it with truth

Lies= throw it away and break the tie!

This process takes time to rummage through and find the nuggets of truth that you want

to build your new foundation on.

The cornerstone of your foundation has to be the one that the builders rejected!

(Psalms 118:22 and Matthew 21:42)

It is chaotic and messy to others around you.

It is tiring and taxing to you emotionally.

It is inconvenient and disorganized to those who crave order.

It is uncomfortable and agonizing to our flesh.

In the end though….

It will be so worth it!

Based on 2 Corinthians 5:21

(NASB)

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,

so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

I have been made righteous through His blood on the cross,

Now I just have to learn to live that life out,

Not letting the devil take me back,

But pressing on to the prize!

I want my self- fulfilling prophecies to be that of-

love, grace, joy, peace and an abundance in God’s blessings

because I have spent the time to seek Him and find Him.

I have learned to rest in the shadow and comfort of His wing.

I trust that He is a good God that wants to pour out more and more on His precious Beloved!

Lies that I believed about God

The lies I believed about God

As you grow up from a child to an adult many things can shape your view of life in general and also what you believe to be true about religion and God. The people in your life play a huge part of shaping what you will believe as truth. If their views of God and life are distorted it goes with our saying that your views will most likely be tainted.

I grew up in a newly Christian home that was based on many lies, secrets and law. My mom was always told that our business as a family was no one elses business and you were to never let anything “out of the bag” because others would view you in a bad light. The problem with that view was that nothing was ever done with the dysfunction and it just left the family members to sit around and gossip about each other instead of actually seeking to help each other.

As a child I would view these things when the aunts got together to visit. One aunt wouldn’t be there so they were the topic of discussion. They would sit there and bash anything and everything that they felt was going wrong in this aunts life but never try and help her to see the problem or help her. When that aunt was present and another one gone then they became the topic of discussion. I remember my mom sitting out there until every aunt went to bed, making sure she was the last one to bed so they could not or would not talk about her. I then followed in her footsteps as I got older and was invited to sit in on the aunts/ grandma’s adult “discussions”. By then it began to include the cousins and what they were doing to mess up their lives.

In this instant, my young mind came to the conclusion that NO ONE was trustwrothy, not even God. If he was trustworthy then why would he give me a family that hurt each other so much? Even as a young child I saw the harmful effects that gossip caused and knew that if family did that to each other then no one was safe.

Another example as a child that I see shaped my view of God was in my relationship with my father. My father was a great provider for our family. He worked a job that he absolutely hated for 30some years just to put food on the table for us, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. He was affectionate at times but it was usually when he wanted something. If you did something wrong you then had to earn your standing back with him over time. He tried to buy our love as children and that confused me very much. After he “bought” our love he would remind us of all the things that he has done for us and provided for my siblings and I. It was always conditional and our faces were rubbed in it to remind us that he was the one that could give and take away. He had my sister and I convinced that my mother was emotionally unstable, unfit and treated him horribly.

My view of God then became that God was a conditional, easily angered if not obeyed, provide for your needs, some of your wants but then would remind you of this when you did something wrong or worse would take it away from you kind of God. Again this type of God could not be trusted but was feared wondering if I could please Him enough to keep his love and affection.

My mom used to tell me a story of how every Sunday when they would give an alter call in childrens church I would go forward to get saved. We laugh about it now but tonight I want to weep because even as a child, I yearned for a God that would love and accept me unconditionally. I was so scared that I may have done something to sin against God during the week and not be in right standing with Him, like I so easily messed up and became out of my earthly fathers love so often.

I have written before about my childhood illness and how that affected from age 6-12 years. Honestly the aftermath of those years played out into not only junior high and high school but my early adult years and now. During the illness I gained a large amount of weight very quickly and let me tell you that children are so cruel… though I am sure you know this already as you may still have scarres that remain from things said to you whether you were too skinny, too fat, too short, too tall or anything else in between that someone could use to put you down and hurt you. I know the wound is probably still there because as a child we are never told how to let it go… other than to scream back “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!!”

FALSE!!!

It says in Proverbs 18:21

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

The tongue can speak words that bring life or death.

Those who love to talk must be ready to accept what it brings.

So my view of God was that He would not be my protector. My view was that He was this distant old man up in heaven that couldn’t even stop mean children from saying such hurtful things. I believed I some how deserved what the kids said about me, my weight and who I was. If I wasn’t so horrible then God would love me unconditionallly and protect me from the words spoken that pierced my child like heart with each word. I learned to beat kids to the punch line and put myself down first. That really made them gawk, not knowing what to say in response!

Again with the sickness, we had prayed for healing more times that I can even remember or count. It never happened. I was told by those people that as a child I must not have enough faith…

Again this tainted my view of God and how it says in the bible that He sent Jesus to heal us. Yet again I internalized this thinking that there was something I did wrong or could have done better to earn his favor and healing.

Lastly for tonight is the lie that I believed that other people were allowed to touch my body as a child in inappopriate ways and that this was ok. Even though in my heart and mind it did not feel right, as a child you come to the point where you wonder if what you think is right and wrong is totally wrong because these people in your life wouldn’t deliberately hurt you would they?? I was so disillusioned that my early pre-teen and teenage years were filled with such anger, rage and a deep desire to be loved, even if it was just one person.

Again this lie that I believed was that God did not care about what was happening to me and that this was just the way that people showed love and affection. If you loved a boy then you let him touch you in places because then it showed them you cared. This is such a lie from the pit of hell and the sad thing is that there are so many women in the world today that this has happened to and think the same thing.

What I am learning is the truth of who God is…

God is my perfect heavenly father that loves to give His children good gifts!

James 1:17

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same.

Also from the verse above.. He is never changing! HE is the same yesterday today and forever!!

I also know that He was there when I was in pain, sad, angry, hurt and alone…

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous.

Do not fear or be in dread of them,

for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.

He will not leave you or forsake you.”

I know that my name means “beloved” and that is no coincidence!

Romans 9:25

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

I know that there is nothing that I can do to make God love me more than He already does!

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I know that I am saved by grace and that nothing I could do could make God love me less or more.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves;

it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.

And above all, I know that God can redeem those years that I believed lies and walked in darkness.

Psalm 31:5

Into Your hand I entrust my spirit;

You redeem me, Lord, God of truth.

So when I start to go back to those old lies that I believed as a child I can now read this and continue to learn from God’s word who His real character is. The more that I learn about His character the more I will walk in the righteousness that He has already bestowed upon each and every person who believes on His name!

God’s perfect team includes you!

Intern Intensive- What I learned

God made us for teams- His team Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Devil tries isolating us from others to reduce our effectiveness.

God has invited us to join His perfect team!

As a child in gym class there was such an anxiety that came with gym class let alone when it was a class that involved the choosing of teams! Due to a sickness and Dr.’s error when I was little my body took a hit in many ways. One of them being physically and the gaining of quite a bit of weight in a very short amount of time. I spent most of 5-6 years very sick and attempted to find out the reasons by going to pretty much every Doctor in the Waterloo area. In 4th and 5th grade I can vividly remember my gym teacher making comments that broke my child-like heart. He would say that I was going to end up pregnant by the time that I was 16 years old, that I was worthless, fat, lazy and not worth being on any team because I would just mess up, hold them back and make them loose.

Imagine as a child being told these things! Then one experience after another happening where I messed up, or held a team back, or as I gained more weight how those words just solidified in my mind as truth.

What were you told as a child?

It may have not even been someone super influential in your life but for some reason their opinion of you stuck out in your mind way more than any positive affirmations and shaped what you thought of yourself.

How did this lie that was believed shape your view of team work?

For me I didn’t even realize that it had shaped my view of teams and how much I hated teamwork because I didn’t want to be the reason a team failed. I truly believed if failure happened it was all my fault, no matter how much I had done to avoid it or how hard I had worked. In my mind it was better to be a lone ranger, independent, self-sufficient, self-reliant and disconnected to anything group related. If I did this then it really was no bodies fault but my own if I failed and I wouldn’t have to see the disapproving looks of a team who wanted to point out how I had failed them.

I see how this also affected many areas in my life currently. As an intern in the Teen Challenge program there are many aspects and teams that I am a part of. As an intern I am a part of the Staff team. It has been a challenge for me to effectively be a solid part of this team completely because of my childhood fears and lies believed coming back in the corners of my mind.

What if I fail them, or do something wrong?

What if I disappoint a staff by saying I can’t do something they ask me to do?

How can I possibly trust them with every aspect of my life when it was my “leader” who said such horrible mean things to me as a child?

So for some time, as I learned that I needed to learn to trust I fought that internal voice and attempted to reach out in faith and work as a team. An assignment we had to complete for the schooling part of this internship was the book 17 Principles of a Team Player and it was an amazing book! I really did learn so much from it however not having this insight to my childhood memory soon made it easy for me to point fingers at how other team members didn’t appear to me as being team players. I never realized I was becoming resentful that I had to be the good team player while everyone else continued in their “dysfunction” as I saw it.

During the Intern Intensive I was told that I have to be the change that I want to see and that hit me square between the eyes! At first I was offended and began to write the comment off, however God spoke to my heart before I could completely disregard the comment. God said to me that it is only my responsibility to do my best, to be the best team player that I can, to trust Him and leave the rest up to Him! It is when we get our eyes off of our self and start comparing that the devil gets a foot hold in to make us ineffective. We are so focused on what others are or are not doing correctly and usually undermine them because of our superior belief that we have it all together! How far from the truth we are! Every individual is growing and at different places spiritually than we are. Every person has their own thorn in the flesh that they are dealing with and striving to overcome. In such a close knit setting as Teen Challenge these thorns or struggles are magnified a hundred times over because of the bubble affect we are in.

As an individual I need to be willing to open my hands and say God, “ Use me each and every day for your glory! Teach me to keep my eyes trained on my own faults, hang ups and insecurities, not pointing fingers at other team members but instead lifting them up in prayer, interceding on their behalf. Lord help me to be the change that I want to see!”

As a team member of the most amazing team alive, I need to seek to know this team intimately. I need to understand that Team God wants the best for me, even when His best is painful, lonely and refining. When I seek to know this team to the best of my ability then I am able to work best with all of the other teams that God has placed in my life. I have to learn that Team God is all powerful, perfect in all ways and He resides in me!That though I have those memories of always being chosen last in gym class that God first chose me! While I was imperfect, a dirty mess and unlovely, He saw my true potential because He made me.

God has given us more power than we even know or are willing to admit. All He requires is that we ask, seek Him and He will give us the desires of our heart because those desires become His desires when we learn to abide in Him.

Oh… and the other thing that He wants is for us to ask and not doubt or waver in our asking. What child do you know that when coming to their loving parent hemmed and hawed when asking for something, fearful that their parent wouldn’t provide their request? If the child is truly loved and abides in their parents home they are not going to ask for something that a parent wouldn’t gladly accommodate if they could! How much more would a perfect heavenly father desire and anticipate His children to ask?

girl

Lost source link (Copy righted- Rights and picture not mine.

He wants to show his love, lavish it upon us yet sometimes we coldly keep him at the door of our life. He has knocked and you have opened the door to him, however you stand there talking to him with your hand on the door handle, feet right at the threshold, fearful if you let God in the home called your heart that He may see something that He doesn’t like and reject you.

Or you don’t want Him to see the former you, which in our heads we know he already knows about, yet we still cling to the past self saying, “But God take the new me, I’m all cleaned up now just for you!” He sweetly and tenderly is asking to come in an have supper with you, or tea time and tell you that it doesn’t matter that the room is cluttered with the trash of the former life. He wants to clean house but only if you are willing. Thank God I am finally willing, I have thrown open the door and said thank you God for taking me as I am!

Missoula Update

Hi all!
             I have been slacking on updates lately and I am so sorry for that! It has been a crazy couple weeks and months however it has also been an amazing adventure as well!
           Mother’s Day marked the end of my 4th month here in Missoula, Montana interning for Teen Challenge Women’s Center and I was blessed to get to spend the time with my mom and step-dad as they had driven out to spend some time in Montana. It was great seeing them and a time of refreshing for all of us as we took a few days away from Missoula and hiked around Glacier Park. God’s creation is so breath taking out here! We were blessed to be able to see lots of wild horses, the tail end of a bear, a moose and a herd of elk! The visit flew by and I wasn’t ready to see them leave when they dropped me off on Wednesday the 15th however they had a long journey back to New York that they had to get started. I am so thankful that they were able to come out here and cherish the time that we were able to spend together.
           God is doing a lot of work in my life during this time. It is an interesting mix of lessons! As I have shared before I am learning what authentic love looks like as 1 Cor. 13 describes, just how hard that is to live out, how we can’t do it in our own strength, only God in us can work through us to love others effectively, learning to trust, lean on God and rest in Him yet learn how to let Him take you further than you ever thought you could when you are at the end of your rope and unable to do any thing more in your own strength. Im learning to find my value in God and not in others, what they think of me or whether I perform well enough for them. I am learning to try and take each day, asking God what His will for me that day is and trusting Him that He will open and close doors as needed. He’s teaching me that I don’t have to be all to all yet be willing to be used by Him when I don’t necessarily feel like it. Its a combination of resting yet acting when God is calling me to. This is a whole new concept for me as I walk this out. There are days that I find I have to say “no” to things asked of me and that was always so hard for me to do as I thought people would think less of me, that I was lazy or disrespectful if I needed to say no. I grew up in a very active, works based family activity dynamic and I am learning to find a balance in that. In some ways I went to the extreme the other way and I am seeking God to find a perfect balance in my life. There is also times like today where I was technically off and yet found myself helping the volunteers get newsletters ready to mail out. It wasn’t something I had planned for my time off however it was a great time of fellowship with not only some of the ladies but also the volunteers who work so hard every month to get our newsletters out the door.
           My class work is going great as well! I just finished the work book for Experiencing God. It was a challenging work book for me yet I finished the course with an A-. I had some amazing “Aah- haa” moments with God through out the work book so I feel that is what was important. The next course I am taking is Discovering Your God-Given Gifts and I am super excited about this!! I leave this Sunday to fly to Oregon for an Intern training and I am so excited about this! Its a great time for us interns to rest, learn from the teachings they have planned and to communicate with others who are going through the same trials and struggles that I am. We are going to a retreat center out in the country and I am so ready! =)
           Some prayer requests would be continued stamina as the summer months bring about more activities and keeping busy. That I will continue to find a routine to be able to accomplish my school work, plus internship work, ministry to the women, quiet time, and the flexibility to allow change as needed when God says. When you feel pulls from every direction it can be hard to discern which one is God and which is the people pleasing tendency to perform. I not only have the expectations of 16 women that I live with to jump and serve when they need but also the expectations of the staff as well. Living on site is very challenging in this aspect. Please pray that I can continue to work towards a balance.
           Also please keep the ladies in your prayers. We have had some ladies complete which is wonderful! They are now starting their lives over in various places and need the covering of prayer even more as they work to apply the things they have learned during their time at Teen Challenge. We have also gotten some new ladies in this last couple weeks. It is a challenge as new women come into the center it shakes up the dynamics of the center. Truly God uses it for His good each and every time however walking through the times of friction, stress and upheaval can be tiresome for the ladies and myself. It does push the ladies, stop their complacency that can creep in and lead them back to the cross to learn just how broken we all are. Please pray for them during this time!
           The last prayer request is a combination of thankfulness for those who have teamed up with me financially and a request that if anyone else would love to join this amazing opportunity God has opened up for me that would be awesome! God has provided for me each and every step of the way and I am so thankful for His unending supplies and resources. Recently I met a man at a bookstore and got into a conversation with him about how I had always been against the “Prosperity Gospel” type message. He agreed that we should not just have a “give me” attitude when coming before the Father, yet he set me straight on a couple of things. For a long time now I had been living under the spirit of poverty. I didn’t believe that I should have a lot of worldly possessions as my thinking was that was what would corrupt me.
           Also having been to India it was hard to accept having things as so many people around the world live without. This mindset is false though. It says in Matthew 7:7
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
            God is our awesome Heavenly Father that wants to bless His children abundantly. He is extravagant in His giving and wants to give above and beyond what we could ask or imagine. I inhibited this by not asking Him because of those lies that I had believed. In James, though the context is in asking for wisdom it goes to show that our God wants to bless us but we obstruct God from answering our prayers when we doubt the very thing we are praying! James 1:5-7 says:
           5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
            I am not asking to be a millionaire, yet even if I was this would not necessarily be a negative thing because God knows my heart. My heart and desire is for others, to help others, to give abundant gifts and to use my finances for good. I had always read the verses about the rich young ruler or how it was harder for the rich man to enter the kingdom of God and stopped there. It is true that it is harder for rich people to see how blessed they are some times and to lean on their own understanding letting money become their idol. However there are many amazing Christians in the world today who are being blessed financially because of all the things that are giving to further the Kingdom of God. How can I help others or give gifts if I only have enough possessions or finances for myself and nothing more? Do you live like this as well? Im hoping I am not the only one! I am learning to break this poverty mentality, to understand that I am a child of the MOST HIGH, and that He wants to bless and fund the things that I want to bless and fund just as much as I do!
           Back to my story though, the man that I met at the bookstore shared with me this book he had read years ago called the Merchant and the Monk. He explained that it was about these to men that were best friends from birth. As they grew up they had two different callings on their lives. One felt the call to go into ministry and servitude. The other was great in business and became very successful. God made both of them for a purpose and plan! For as the story unfolds you find that the Merchant loved his friend and the friends calling. He was blessed with the opportunity to provide for his friend financially so that his friend would be able to walk out his calling of serving others.
          It really hit home for me! In this world we have to have both types of people. I have the calling to be the servant but was trying to, in my own strength, be both so that I didn’t have to depend on others. In doing this I am robbing someone from getting the blessing, that wants to be a part of something great however is called to a profession or work. The work takes up their time and inhibits their time to serve. Their way of serving IS financial and that was an epiphany for me! So all of that to say, that if you would like to partner with me I would love to have the opportunity to allow God to bless you in that way. You would be helping so many people continue to grow in their faith and knowledge of how big God is and how he will bless his children. Many of these women are coming from a life of prostitution where they averaged $200 an hour. Or they have never had to provide for themselves financially. Many have hopped from one man to another just so they knew they would have a roof over their head and a bed to sleep in. During this time they endured unmentionable emotional, physical and psychological pain from the men that promised to protect them. They are leaving that life and wondering how God is going to provide for them when they can only get a minimum wage job or are called into ministry after their time at Teen Challenge.  How easy it is for the Devil to get in if that trust hasn’t been established in their year here. It would be awesome to be an example of what it looks like to trust God that He will not only provide for his precious daughter but wants to bless her abundantly beyond all that she could ask or imagine!
I would also love to get mail and to send mail to others as well! If you would like to correspond please send me a message and we can coordinate addresses privately! If you would like to team up financially it is tax deductible and can be set up through private messages as well.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I pray that God will continue to work in each and every one’s lives!

Third Month in Missoula Montana

3 months!
How time flies when you are doing God’s work!

I don’t even know where to begin as so much has happened in the month that I have written. I completed my second course through the TCMI training that I am taking and finished with an A+! I started a new course doing the workbook Experiencing God and am working on my orientation course work that every intern must complete. That alone has kept me pretty busy.

God is really teaching me so many things! I am unearthing the authentic meaning of love according to 1 Corinthians 13 and boy is it a challenging verse to learn. People in our society throw the words “I love you” around so flippantly however few can truly say that they live out the majority of the characteristics of love that are mentioned in that verse. I know I haven’t been able to! I am a runner! When love gets hard I flee!

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
How many times have I quoted this verse? A hundred.. maybe more!
How many times have I thought that I am loving others like this yet in my heart I am jealous of where God has them in their life?

Or wished something upon someone that did something to me that hurt?

This world views an enemy as someone that we no longer have to love however it says in Luke 6: 27-28

But to you who are listening I say
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

I don’t know what I expected coming out here but God opened my eyes to the fact that these women, myself included, are broken, hurt, scared, and scarred individuals who don’t know what it means to give or receive true love. Many of us have not been shown authentic love by anyone in our lives or only by one or two others and the bad has out weighed the good.

This season of my life I am learning to love women who don’t trust, who struggle with wondering what others intentions are every time someone does something and who quite frankly have a hard time loving me back. Which is a challenge for me as being loved and accepted has been a life long pursuit that I am learning has to be filled with God first before anyone else can be let in to fill the rest of our heart. The God shaped hole has to be filled first before we can truly love others authentically and completely!

Another lesson that God is teaching me is in light of the devastating bombing that happened in Boston yesterday. The women at the center that I am interning for can not watch anything on TV other than the news and a few other center approved things. Though I had seen it plastered all over Facebook I didn’t want to tell them what was going on partly due to wanting to protect them from heart wrenching news like that and also I didn’t want to voice what happened. I could feel my emotions going on auto-pilot and this feeling of apathy coming back. One of the ladies came and said she heard about the bombings on the radio and wanted to watch the news. I cringed at the thought and didn’t want to watch knowing that my heart was hurting with the little amount that I did know. The ironic and sad thing is that we turned on the news and the story allotment the local news gave it was about a minute but no more than two minutes! They assured Montana residents that no person from Montana was hurt at the race and all were accounted for. Then moved on to Grizzly football…

As I lay in bed last night and prayed about my response to all that had happened God prompted my heart that I should have hit my knees with the ladies that were in the house and we should have interceded for the families that were affected! How quickly I am to try and sweep my emotional hurts under the rug, not wanting to break down and feel the pain of what happened.

Romans 12:15 says

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

God wants us to experience life with each other and share in those emotional things that touch those around us or even affect a nation. It is healthy to mourn the loss of a young child that was waiting for his father at the finish line! That child’s life was cut short due to an evil person doing a heinous act. The light at the end of the tunnel is to know that there are more good people in the world than the few bad people. The amount of people that rushed to aid others was awe inspiring! These people know some form of love and I want to be more like that!

Those lessons are some pretty big things! On top of all that is my daily responsibilities or what the ladies hate to refer it to but what others would know as my job. We had our annual banquet this last Friday which was my 3 month “anniversary” here in Montana. Our annual Banquet is the main event that helps us to raise as much money as possible to continue the ministry through out the coming year. It is a stress packed time making sure we have as many items, donations and package getaways as possible to make the silent auction and live auction the most successful it can be. At fifty dollars per seat we have to make it as much as possible worth someone paying that much and showing them how we are using their hard earned money for the good of each and every women that comes to our Center. The weeks preceding the Banquet were jam packed with tasks and assisting where needed. It also marked the end of the other interns time here and the start of God teaching me what it looks like to be the only intern. All in all you can say it was a challenging couple weeks!

Through it all God was faithful to show up! Even down to the night of the event and the hotel calling the house to tell me, the measly intern, as all the staff were home getting ready themselves, that the power was out at the hotel and they didn’t know when it would come back on!! Oh Lord! Boy did the girls start praying and reminding the devil that he had no place not only at the house but also at the hotel where the banquet was being held. It was so awesome to see the women praying as they were getting all dressed up, putting on makeup and getting their hair done! I am so blessed to be able to see awesome moments like that and so many more. It makes it all worth while when I see the ladies who are new creations in Christ exerting their God given rights to tell the devil where to go!! =)
I am honored to be learning all of these awesome lessons God is teaching me right along side these women who remind me so much of the way that I was and in some areas still struggle. I am learning though that God is not finished with us yet and together we will run the race set before us!