When you want to trade in a blessing

 

When you want to trade in a blessing

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The anticipation had been building for almost a month as I tried to patiently wait for the “new” car I was being blessed with.

Friday was finally the day that I was to meet my new car and as I pulled around and took the first look at it my heart dropped as I read the bumper stickers that were plastered on the back. The “BUZZO” sticker stood out like a sore thumb and though I didn’t know who this Buzzo guy was I could feel the weight of it all crashing down on my shoulders.

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My mom tried to make light of the situation as we moved the young college kids stuff from the car that would now be called mine to the beautiful Impala I was saying good-bye to after driving it for a couple of days until he could meet up with us.

As I got into the driver’s seat of my new car I could feel the sour taste of reality coming up in my throat and I thought I might be sick. I looked to my mom with a petrified look on my face and said I didn’t want to touch the steering wheel. What was supposed to be a gold color when it came off of the showroom floor in 2002, was now black with leftover grime from a college student who clearly had never washed his hands a day in his life.

With a smile my steady mom said “this is a college area so there must be a dollar store close by, let’s go get some antibacterial wipes and get her cleaned up.” Her calm demeanor was keeping my passionately over the top personality in check for the moment.

I wish we had taken before pictures…

Most people I know wouldn’t have set foot in the car let alone wanted to call it theirs!

And while all of this was transpiring I could feel my ungratefulness and ugliness shine through,

I could feel it starting to steal my blessing,

I could feel the anger rise as I silently yelled to God…

I trusted you

And once again I got the raw end of the deal!

Our human nature leans to, yearns for beauty.

For a blessing that is pretty, new and well taken care of.

So what happens when the blessing that we think we wanted is less than what we get?

The past three days I have spent warring with myself and the emotions that this event brought out in me.

As I drove home in silence last night..

(due to the stereo’s non-existent ability to producing music even with the duct tape holding it in to place)

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I carried on a dialog with God that looked something like this..

This may not be pretty to most, could be considered rude by others to talk to God this way… but here is the honest truth of my struggle and talk with God.

God, I trusted you to provide for and bless me above all that I could ask or imagine,

and this is what you give me?

Is this a joke?

What sort of lesson is this?

Why in my life do I always seem to strive to trust you to show the world that you are a

good God and will provide for me only to have them laugh at your provision?

Why is it that others get brand new cars given to them, others who believe in the

prosperity gospel seem to get the best blessings but don’t even see the value of those

blessings yet I am yearning to trust your promises,

to hold your hand through these trials

in life and I get this car!?

And as my rantings calmed and I took the time to listen…

His still small voice said to me…

I did bless you.

No it was not what you thought it would be.

It’s not a shiny new or even taken care of car but I want you to see the value in this!

Will you trust me?

My little girl mind cried out, how?

How do I trust you and what am I supposed to learn?

He calmly held me in His arms and said my child, this car runs unlike the last car that people you trusted tried getting you to buy for 4 times the price. And this car is 20 years newer too dear one.

The other thing He pointed out to me was how He wanted my ministry and business to be taking things that are ugly, used, abused or mistreated and make them of value. Yet, He asked, how can you truly have eyes for that if you can’t even see the value in my most important blessing of transportation.

He reminded me of the story of the faithful servant in Matthew 25. He asked if I was willing to be faithful with just a little or whether I was going to let my natural tendency to continue to use and abuse that which had not been cared for in a good way. Was I willing to clean up “Goldie”, to peel off the crazy bumper stickers, show her some love, TLC and be proud to have transportation or was I going to continue to be ungrateful and angry?

He also reminded me of the verses in Philippians 4 about learning to be content. Am I willing to be in this state where He is the only thing of real value that I have and find contentment in that?

Am I willing to learn to be content with little?

Another sweet truth He wanted me to learn if I would listen, is that if I am really wanting others to love me through my brokenness, mess and weaknesses then I truly need to learn to love others when they are at their worst. Yet if I can’t even learn to value a thing that is messy, in need of care and TLC then how was I ever going to learn to see these things in people that God brings into my life and offer that love, acceptance and grace?

 I say that I want to minister to those who have been through the same heart ache, pain and background that I have yet how quickly I steer clear from someone who is needy because I feel that I am to emotionally drained to offer anything at this time. How quickly do I seek friendships right now that will help me during this season instead of laying my grief down and helping someone through their grief. Its our human nature to gravitate and want to connect with people who can offer something to us in return, but how often do I seek out friendships where the person has nothing to offer me in return and how often am I ok with that?

I said about 6 months ago that I wanted to learn the true meaning of what love is, God reminded me that if I am wanting to truly learn this then I will have to go through the training ground to learn this.

That is not learning the hard way but that its learning God’s way.

Its being willing to truly live out that love does not insist on its own way but rejoices in the truth!

How quickly did I want to stomp my feet in a tantrum with God and say that this was not what I asked for.

How many times have you heard people say, “Never pray for patience! God will give you instances in your life where you cultivate and learn patience!”

We should be wanting to learn things God’s way.

We shouldn’t look at hard times as though we did something wrong, didn’t pray hard enough or trust God enough for the right thing. If that were the case then it would be based on what we can do the best instead of what God has already done for us on the cross.

Its learning that His blessings come in some of the craziest ways…

Even a BUZZO bumper sticker, non-working radio car that is less than perfect!

And being willing to be content and thankful in the unexpected or less than perfect.

 

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!

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.

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!

Ever been in the Hot Seat?

Today marks my second month in Montana and oh boy has it been a roller coaster ride!

God is stretching me more than I have ever been stretched before! I have felt like Gumby on more than one occasion these past 2 months!

Source unknown

Source unknown

Today I had my second experience at something they like to call the “hot seat”. During this time the ladies go around and point out areas that they see that you need to work on. It can be a stressful and hard experience to take in and digest especially when our human nature is to hide or not admit our faults but to find an excuse or a reason for why we did things the way we did. At first you want to justify your actions but then something from my child hood comes up. It has been long since healed in many aspects but it was always a longing just to have my emotions and feelings validated. Whether they were what the other person meant to say or do it made me feel a certain way and the only thing that would have helped was to hear, “I am sorry that it made you feel that way, I could see how it might and I am sorry.”

When we let go of the being right, the deflecting of fault or the explaining away things we are just left with what happened whether it was intentional or not. I have learned in most cases it is definitely not intentional but a series of events that causes a person to react to a trigger that sets them off verbally or emotionally. To that person that is the injured party they don’t want to hear the series of events that caused the outburst upon them but only the apology. The desire to have a trust in someone that can admit when there has been a violation to what is right and good.

Some people go through their whole lives with no one that will do that for them. So during this time, God is putting me in the situation to be willing to understand where these women are coming from. To apologize for what I have done, though I started out giving explanations and reasons for my actions, God brought me to the place where all I could say was “I am sorry”. I didn’t want to make a long list of promises that it will never happen again because I am human, I am processing through an organization where I wasn’t a student first and then became an intern, and because it is hard to get training for a job that is mostly hands on.

However I do feel that today marked a turning point for several reasons. The staff offered an apology that really helped me to see that I am not alone in this. Though there was things done or said that I felt had broken trust, I in my brokenness did not address it the way that I should but began the shutting down process I am striving to identify and overcome. By them humbling themselves in the area of failing it opened up the door for me to freely receive the guidance and suggestions from the women and staff.

It is amazing how the devil tries to create discord, dysfunction and eventually the unraveling of an organization. However if you are willing to sit in the “Hot Seat” and learn your strengths and areas needing improvement, take what is said and have a teachable spirit to know it is done in love, then change can be born. Not only change but what the devil meant for harm and to destroy an individual God can turn it around for good and to help grow a person when they are willing. By allowing people to speak into your life it helps to create an atmosphere of grace, love and forgiveness.

One Month in Missoula!

Tomorrow marks my one month in Missoula, MT! 

 

So much has happened and yet I know it is just the beginning! I was able to sit in my first staff meeting last Wednesday and it is awesome to see how so many of the giftings and things that God has placed in me will help the ministry here. I am so excited to be heading up Ministry day for the ladies and finding volunteer opportunities for them to be a part of. I am a strong believer in reaching out to others when we are hurting because for one it takes our focus off of ourselves and the pain we are feeling. Secondly it helps you to see there are others out there who are going through difficult times also and your not alone. 

 

Another awesome opportunity my program coordinator and I just spoke about today is the opportunity to be on a planning committee to help birth some new programs and plans. The way the center is set up is that the women complete a 12 month rehabilitation program based on christian beliefs and principles. During their stay they switch off in groups who has kitchen duty and who goes to work at the Teen Challenge Thrift store. We also have a drive thru coffee shop that only 2-3 girls work at once they reach a certain level and are approved by the coffeeshop manager. These girls have to be able to work under pressure as it gets busy and be trustworthy enough to be able to work unsupervised. Only a select few girls get to that level during their stay in the program. 

 

What we are working towards is more job opportunities for the ladies while they are in the program and as they graduate to be able to work at and transition out of the home to living on their own. We want to have a christian gym here in Missoula, a dog grooming, boarding and training place along with a sit down coffee shop/ bakery and a boutique thrift store with higher end clothing. This is all a process and still in the prayer stages of existence.  Along with the job opportunities we are also praying in to existence transitional housing for the women that want to stay in the Missoula area and build a life. What that would mean is God raising up some people that would be willing to house a girl in their home or would have an apartment like area in their home already that they would be willing to rent out to a women coming out of the program. We are also hoping to expand on the land that we have our home on already and put an “apartment” like building behind that would house the interns and the “phase 5” graduates. 

 

God is doing an amazing work in this place and I am so excited to see it starting to take root and bloom! We have several women who are graduating within the next month or so! This will be the first women to graduate from this program in over a year! When the new program coordinator came in there was a huge transition from works based rehab to one that focused on the heart of the matter and it has been a process. 

 

In Isaiah 66: 9 it says~ Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

 

In the same way, I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.”

The Lord says this: “I promise that if I cause you the pain of birth, I will not stop you from having your new nation.” Your God said this.

 

Though this is going to be a time of growing, stretching and birthing this new vision for myself and this new Teen Challenge I am confident that the above verse still holds true today! God will bring something new and I am believing that our vision for the future of the center will start out small but will grow into some of the above endeavors if not all and then some! God has a way of taking our dreams and doing something beyond what we could ask or imagine when we diligently seek His face and plan! 

 

So this is what has been going on in my life in the last month! I have also started my courses through the Teen Challenge Ministry Institute (TCMI) and am about half way through my first book. I along with about 20 students learn online via Blackboard where we answer questions for each chapter and complete discussion board questions as well. I work 40 hours a week plus have been helping out at the thrift store as they have been short staffed and have been doing my school work also. Along with this I have been trying to build a relationship with each girl and get to know them on a personal level in order for me to effectively help encourage them through the program. It has been a challenge to build relationships as they are all broken women who have a hard time trusting. I learned this the hard way a couple weeks ago. I came in and easily fit in with the women, creating a pseudo sense of connected-ness. However because I was just thrown in (they do that in TC to see who’s really going to stay and who’s not cut out for this) and since I was just treading water trying to keep my head above, it made it difficult to know what I was and wasn’t supposed to do. Me being the kind of person that unless I am sat down and trained I will try and figure out everything on my own, I didn’t call, text or ask the program coordinator anything because she was so busy and didn’t have time for me (so I thought.. lol) Fortunately she functions much the same way I do and so she could identify with what I was doing and knew that once I reached the end of myself that I would either quit or come to them for help. I did come to them and it helped shed alot of light on the way that I do things, helped me to see how I function and it helped the girls to confront me on ways that were not effective with them and what their reality of the situation was. Because I had the support and backing of the program coordinator (her nickname is Red by the way) Red was able to explain to the women that I had never been through a TC program so I wasn’t aware of all the rules and needed grace given to me because I was learning just as they were. Put all that on top of me quitting smoking cold turkey and she was very understanding of all the changes that I was attempting to work with plus all the new people and being in a leadership position. Wow! It was alot to take but God was there through the whole thing and because of the house meeting it cleared the air with the women and helped us to truly begin to build trust, not just fake masks of friendliness but the kind that the bible talks about where iron sharpens iron! I am so thankful for that!

 

So in the coming month please keep the below things in your prayers!

 

-As relationships continue to build that God will work in me and use me to help each women grow deeper in their walk with the Lord.

 

-Please keep our new girls in your prayers. We got one new girl the week after I got here and a new one today. They expect there to be 3 more by the end of the month. This can cause chaos in the home as it changes the dynamics of the home and each bedroom. 

 

-Keep the women that are graduating in your prayers as their future unfolds it is both exciting and frightening at the same time for them. Please pray that God will open doors for them as they look for housing, jobs and provisions. 

 

-Please pray for health energy and stamina to be able to do the things that God has called me to do this year. 

 

-Please also pray for the other intern and I as we go to Eugene Oregon  February 24-27 for the Intern Intensive. It is a 10 hour trip and we are driving. We are praying about possibly breaking up the trip and leaving Sat. night and staying in a hotel so that we don’t have to start the evening of Sunday tired out from the long travel.

 

I look forward to hearing back from yall if you have any extra time! 

 

God bless and thank you for your time!

 

Amanda 

Teen Challenge Intern