What does it mean to be an imitator of God?

I have been struggling with this phrase for some time now… It says in Ephesians 5:1-

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”

In my mind I always looked at imitation as a negative thing…

No one really loves imitation cheese, imitation sugar, imitation leather

or any other imitation thing but we all want the real thing!

So when I would read this passage I would always look at it in an incorrect or negative light.

I still don’t know if I have it right but what God is showing me

is that I have not been walking my life out as an imitator or mimicking Him through my life and walk.

The Message translation helped me with this verse.

” Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.

Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love.

Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant.

He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.

Love like that.”

How can you imitate someone that you don’t really know?

I can’t truly say that I understand or know who God is because I have spent so much of my time hiding from Him, scared that my thoughts, feelings or wants would make him unhappy. I have spent so much time trying to DO what I thought He would want that I have not sought out what and who He truly is so that I can emulate the love and life that He is calling me to.

Since my view of my earthly father has not been positive I still have a hard time understanding what proper behavior is that I was supposed to be learning from my parent. I learned manipulation, anger, fear, unforgiveness and loving someone only to get your needs met.

Yet at the end of verse 1 in the Message translation it says that He loved us, not so that He could get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. I don’t know or understand that kind of love.

But I want to!

And I want to learn to imitate that kind of love instead!

So where do I start?

“Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”
― George Bernard Shaw

When doing a word study on the word “imitator” I found an awesome study on the word and it helped me to understand it better.

“In order to add the background to Paul’s requirement, we must go back to chapter 4 and look at his previous argument.  Notice what he says:

Walk worthily of  the calling (4:1), be humble and meek (4:2), be long-suffering and bear with one another (4:2), chase unity (4:3), exercise your ability to provide for the body (4:11), seek perfect completion (4:12), be fully grown in faith (4:13), speak the truth in love (4:15), assist each other (4:16), be distinctively different from the world (4:17), put off the old man (4:22), be renewed in the Spirit (4:23), put on the new man (4:24), be a good neighbor (4:25), do not sin (4:26), give no opportunity for the Accuser (4:27), do not steal (4:28), domesticate your tongue (4:29), do not grieve the Spirit (4:30), turn away from unholy attitudes (4:31), be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving (4:32).

After all this, “then” imitate God.  Like most of Paul’s rabbinic instruction, we are not left in the dark about what to do.  If you want to imitate God, just do those things listed in chapter 4.”

Source: Skip Moen website

 

If you look at it closely it really does match up well with the well quoted 1 Corinthians 13 chapter in the bible, known by most as the love chapter.

I think so many times in my life when I find disunity in myself that it makes it hard to be unified with anyone else.

When I am struggling and wrestling with thoughts, feelings, emotions or life events that have unfolded, it keeps me distracted from walking this out. It keeps me from walking in unity with others and therefore keeps me from being an imitator of God to others around me.

I want to seek to know Him more,

to be content with the place He has me,

to learn from the past and let it go,

to look to the future with hope and thanksgiving,

knowing that as I continue this walk with Him,

He will reveal more and more of Himself

to me.

So I might mimic my perfect Father,

And even though His steps mammoth

compared to mine,

He will lovingly slow down His pace

so that my tiny feet can keep up.

 

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Letter to my babies in Heaven

Kierra Mae and  Kolten John

Kierra Mae and Kolten John

I just finished an amazing bible study called Forgiven and Set Free which helps people who still struggle emotionally, spiritually and physically with the aftermath of an abortion or miscarriage. Tonight we had our memorial service for our babies that are now in heaven being loved and taken care of by our Perfect Heavenly Father. This memorial service did not mark the beginning of mourning someone’s death like most service would portray , no this is actually an end to the mourning process and celebration of the life that was inside each women in the room at one point. It was a beautiful service with music, lighting of candles for each babies life, each lady explained their babies names, a bible verse that spoke to them and either read their letter or a poem.

At first I fought this whole process! Who wants to remember all of this???

What I was kidding myself on was how much I did remember and how it was affecting my life still.

There was so many things I had not let go of that was affecting not only me but others as well and my relationship with God. By going through this study it has helped me to find the truth and let go of the lies. I am renewing my mind with God’s promises and learning to forgive everyone involved.

It says in Psalms 139:13-18

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

I am so thankful that God loves us that much that he knows every detail and thinks of us so very much that they are as numerous as the sand!

So in this process I named my babies and wrote them a letter…

Dear Kierra Mae and Kolten John,

I have missed you every single moment since the first time I heard your heartbeat, could see you on the ultrasound screen but not hold you. I had anticipated that moment since I was a little girl and I was so very happy!

One of the things I never got to say to you was how much I loved you from the first second and how very much you still hold and have my love. In some ways a part of me, my heart and ability to love and receive love died that day they took you from my body. Your daddy and I tried so very hard to make it past the sadness and stick together through it all. He protected me from myself when all I wanted to do was be with you in Heaven. He just never knew it was in Jesus alone we would be able to find wholeness and healing. I still pray that some day God will open his eyes to that and free him from his sadness.

Some of the things I was never able to do with you was to hold you, to cuddle you closely as you slept contentedly in my arms. I never got to count your fingers and toes. I never got to rub your cheek with my finger and thank God for the beautiful gifts in my arms. I never got to see your face and find what characteristics were mine and which was from your daddy. I never got to bond with you or feel your mouth against my breast as it gave you nourishment and life. I never got to loose sleep as you would have surely needed me at night. I never got to lay with you as you slept on my chest. I never got to rock you to sleep or sing lullabies to you. I never had the privilege of hearing you cry for me or giggle with delight. I didn’t get to see all of those momentous occasions like you rolling over, sitting up, crawling or walking.

Instead of your first birthday being a joyous occasion filled with happy people celebrating your lives, flashes of cameras while you dove into your very own cake your birthday brings the pang of loss. I never get to laugh as you make a mess of your very first experience with cake and get that first sugar sweet taste of the frosting on your fingers. That day has been filled with a sadness and ache that I had feared would never go away. An intense longing to go and be with you. You were scheduled to arrive on October 31st and though I was never a big celebrator of Halloween, people just don’t understand the cloud that settles in each time around that time of year. I begin to reminisce how old you would be and what we would be doing based on how old you would be that year. This year you would have been turning 6 in just a month and a half.

It hurts the most when I think about how my life could have been so very different with you two by my side. I know people mean well and just try and help when they talk about the things that I have done since loosing you and how I wouldn’t have been able to do them all if you had been here. They say I have done so many amazing things like going to India and working at the orphanage. How torn I feel that part of my mind wouldn’t give that experience up for the world but that felt like I was saying I was thankful you weren’t born. That was so not the case as I yearn for you each and every day. If I had had you two in my life I wouldn’t have had the opportunity or desire to travel to India when I did and hold those precious babies that would have been the same ages as you two. Its hard to reconcile those two emotions and feelings. Even being in Montana has a bittersweet taste though I know God is working in my life, restoring, rebuilding, reconciling and renewing me!

For many years I have been mad at God, people, your daddy, the Dr.’s, our families, and myself for the paths, roads and highways that my life has traveled down instead of where it could have been.  Again part of my mind yearns and wishes that I had been able to be content with a life with your daddy, striving to live out the love for him that he thought he needed most. I was too broken to extend this love at the time as everything in me was draining to empty. Instead I held myself captive with the thought that when he needed me most I bailed. Part of me regretted not being strong enough to take the abuse, to stay and be submissive and prayerfully, lovingly draw him to the God that he snubbed his nose at. I held myself to the standard that I could have loved him enough to bring him back to the Lord. Part of me will always love your daddy. He had amazing moments of loving me however I know that most of our relationship was very dysfunctional and not healthy. Our love was not built on a strong foundation of God but on a shaky, fleeting sandy foundation of lust and desire. I know now there is a love that is so much better ad longer lasting than the intense but short fused bomb that was our relationship. How it exploded causing so much wreckage physically, emotionally leaving me a baron wasteland in so many ways for so many years.

Your father and I lovingly named you Kierra Mae and Kolten John Lough. You were lovingly placed in a wooden carved box that your daddy had made when he was younger. We put a mix of little mementos in the box with you. Some knit booties that a co-worker had lovingly made for you both and a little token of both your daddy and I. We buried you behind your grandparents house in the beautiful wooded area. We stole a large rock from the rock quarry not far from their house and I lovingly painted out your names on the rock and a saying that sadly, I don’t remember. I do remember that I cried the whole time I painted it out as my tears mingled with the paint.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t have gone to visit the place where we buried you more than I did. The fear of encountering your daddy kept me away for so long and then it just felt weird wanting to go after a few years had past. People felt I should have gotten over it by then, but I never had… Till now. I am going through the process and becoming free from all the sadness, depression, fear, anger, and I am learning to forgive.  It is so freeing when I truly walk in forgiveness. I still miss you with all my heart but I no longer blame myself, your daddy, the Dr.’s or God for not allowing you to be with me.

I know you are in heaven and though my time here on earth isn’t done yet I know I will get to hold you someday! And I can’t wait to see you face to face! Until then I will learn to remember you with fond memories instead of sad regret for what I don’t have. I will dream of the day with anticipation instead of holding myself in the prison of unforgiveness or longing and achingly desiring to end it all to be with you. Instead I will use this to help other women who have hurt like myself. I will be a display of a woman God let make her whole through his cleansing blood on the cross.

Thank you so much for your love and guidance! Have fun in heaven and I will see you someday!

Love you more than MOSTEST!!

Always and FOREVER!

Your Momma

When you can’t find God

When you can’t find God in a situation…

What do you do when you can’t find God in a certain time in your life?

You know it states in the bible that God will never leave you or forsake you…

So when you look back and can’t see Him what do you do?

I believe that sadly the church I grew up in would have said that when I was walking in sin and living the lifestyle that I was that God had walked away from me because He can’t stand sin or be in the presense of sin. However I beg to differ that opinion! Even when the Israelites where in the wilderness and bickering about what there was to eat or how they were going to get water God kept His presense there in the form of a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night.

He can’t lie so why would he say in…

Romans 8:38

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.

I am struggling to find God in the part of my life when I was married to a non-christian abusive highly addicitve personality type man because in my “churched” mind I chose Phillip over God so in doing that God must have left me. In my mind He washed His hands of me basically saying, “Ok this is what you want? You’ve made your bed now you sleep in it.”

My mind still viewed God as the old, mean judge in the sky that pounded his gavel and sentenced me to misery at the hand of the man I gave everything to and then took my babies as icing on the cake to show me that He was serious in punishing those who disobey Him so I better never do that again!

So if that was the view I am just walking through and identifying as inaccurate… then what is truth?

According to scripture it says something completely different!

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Isaiah 61:1

[Good News for the Oppressed] The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

If God would send His son to die for us while we were yet sinners and enemies to Him how much more would He leave the 99 to search for the one lost lamb?

So when I look at that season in my life with Phillip I have to see that God protected me and loved me right were I was at. He was close to me when I was in such despair that I didn’t even care whether I woke up the next morning or whether Philip made good on his promise that I would not be alive by morning. I have to believe that His angels were surrounding me when I was at my lowest, when I wanted to die and just be with my babies. He worked out the successful escape plan that got me out of the abuse, anger, drugs, alcohol and dysfunction.

As I renew my mind I can truly see how God’s hand was in the whole situation in a true and real way.

Not the legalistic scary fear induced way that I had been seeing it previously.

The legitimate way that my Heavenly Father grieved for my babies as they left earth and came to be with Him. The way that He rushed to wrap me in His loving and protective wings. The way that He sings over me and rejoices when one is returned to Him.

You see He didn’t go anywhere… He was right there waiting for me to see Him for what and who He really is and was. And He has not left you either. Where ever this finds you as you read these words please know that you are never to far gone for Jesus!

It says in Psalms 139:7-12

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You
are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You
are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall
on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light
are both alike to You.

He will meet you where you are because

He loves you that much!

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!

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!

Prone to Wander Lord I feel it…

Here I raise my Ebenezer, Hither by thy help I’m come
And I hope, by thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home,
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart. O take and seal it; Seal it for thy courts above.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand’ring from the fold of God,
He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed his precious blood,
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.
O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let they goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to thee

Hymn Come Thou Fount

Tuesday was a difficult day as it was my first day that one of the ladies chose to leave the center before their year was complete. I had heard stories of others before I arrived leaving but this was my first encounter and all I can say is it floored me! The emotions that I encountered today were pretty much every emotion God has every created all wrapped up in an emotional basket with a bow of sadness wrapped around the handle.

I wasn’t even aware that she left until another student divulged the information as I came out of my room. It was like a sucker punch in the gut!

I had gotten pretty close to this student in the beginning of my time here however in the last month or so I had noticed this student pull away from me. After several times of asking the student if there was something wrong or if I had done anything to cause tension in the relationship and her telling me there was nothing wrong I stopped asking. Of course my first thought when I heard the news was to belittle and condemn myself in that I should have known, done something more or pushed harder to find out what was going on in her heart and mind. In the process of my self-condemnation God spoke through to me several things and those I want to share with you.

Our hearts are prone to wander… By nature we as humans want to find the easiest, safest and quickest way through a trying circumstance and then find ways to justify our desire and attempts to get out of that circumstance as quick as possible. I see this process that the women go through in the first couple months of arriving.

At first they may be angry they are in the program.

They don’t need to be here.

There is nothing wrong with them.

Denial.

Then they accept that there may be something that they need to work on.

They have a breakthrough

An encounter with God, if you will.

Then they feel they have gotten what they need from the program to be able to continue on successfully. Maybe because they had been to other rehab centers and never had that encounter with God so they feel that is the key to it all. Since they have the key, to lets say the storage closet,  they feel they don’t need the people that God has set up who have the master keys.  However God wants to give them the keys to the whole mansion he has prepared for them in His timing.

The disheartening part is they only have the key to the storage closet where all of their baggage exists.

The only reason I can identify the above is because I did it for so many years! I would have a breakthrough with God and then think that I knew it all. I would continue down the path of life with out God as the pilot and get off track because my walk wasn’t an intimate walk with the King of Kings! I let my heart wander. I didn’t continue in the revelation to let it unfold completely in my life and with that I was easily swayed, led a astray or just plan chose what was bad for myself.

The other thing that God taught me is that we as people with having had addictions have a crack in our foundation that we need to identify and correct. If we don’t go through the hard process of examining each and every nook and cranny to find the hairline fracture we will continue to let the water seep in of going back to those addictions that have controlled our lives continually!

God is continually working with me in my time here showing me where my foundation was cracked and how  the elements of dysfunction found their way into my thinking and life.  An example of a crack in my foundation was that leadership was untrustworthy in general and didn’t always hold up their end of promises because they were in the leadership position and didn’t have to. Through a series of events here God has shown me how my distrust created and began to breed the same environment that I was fearful of. As I got to know the ladies and heard the rumors of the staff it was easy for me to be swayed in this way. God in his loving kindness showed me this crack and I was able to earnestly seek to submit to authority God has placed me under and to seek ways to lift up and support the staff. In doing so I have began to build relationships with the staff, learn their hearts and see how they love and seek to do God’s will! Does that mean they do everything correct?? By all means, NO! They are still sinners saved by grace and will let others down, however it teaches us to lean on God ultimately and not put leaders above or on the same level as God.

The last thing that God taught me today is that I am here to help the women but God is the ONLY one that can change a heart, heal a heart and transform a life. I can only be a willing vessel to be used by God to minister love and support to the ladies here. I can be a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold and a sister to pray with. I was never meant to be a savior or redeemer! That job was filled when Jesus came to die for me and each and every women that is here and will come through the doors. There will be more that will come and go before its time and all I can do is continue to intercede to God on their behalf.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart. O take and seal it; Seal it for thy courts above.