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.

 

9 months down… 3 months to go!

Today during my quiet time with God I was reminded how it had been a long time since I have written an update letter to the people who have diligently prayed for and supported me through this season in my life. As I sat down to write this I looked at the date in the bottom right hand corner of my computer and chuckled at God’s sense of humor as today marks exactly 9 months here in Missoula, MT interning for Teen Challenge Montana Outreach Women’s Center!
Boy oh boy what I ride!! This has been the best and the hardest 9 months of my life thus far! I am learning that when you start a prayer like I did so very long ago asking God for more than just a basic Christian life that I would have to strap in for this ride and hold on tight to His love, grace and provision. He has a way of working, the twists and turns can sometimes cause butterflies in your stomach that won’t go away until His peace fills you and reminds you that its never in your strength but His alone!
So that is what He has been teaching me these past 9 months. First He has taken me on a healing journey that has helped me to identify the ways that I had misjudged His love, grace and hand in my life for that of a strong angry judge based on the Old Testament God that I had learned so much about growing up. What He so lovingly has been showing me is that when we go through the fires of life that He is there, it wasn’t necessarily Him that put me through the fire but usually my own rebellion and sin, that He never wastes any experience but instead uses it to purify us, cleanse us and make us extremely effective for His Kingdom work through it all!
I know I had arrived in Missoula thinking that I was going to spend all my time ministering to others and demonstrating God’s love but as I ran headlong into the walls of my own building, I learned that before I could effectively minister to others I had to let God truly minister to my broken and mangled heart. When I arrived I had been told to set up boundaries so that I wouldn’t get burnt out working in ministry (especially when living on site) however I had never been taught how to set up boundaries or what that looked like. So instead of a gate that would allow others to come and go as I deemed, a deep mote with a broken draw bridge went around the walls I had already erected unknowingly to protect my bruised and battered heart. As God lovingly wooed me with his grace, mercy and tenderly ministering to the one who so desperately wanted to be used, I could feel that brick by brick I was dismantling the protective shell I had placed around myself. God has shown me what unconditional love is and through 1 Corinthians 13 I am learning to effectively walk this out each day. Im definitely not perfect at it, nor will I ever attain perfection however I no longer fear that. I no longer have the attitude that there is no use trying if I can not be perfect in my actions, thoughts and deeds. Instead God is showing me that it is in my weakness that He is strong and uses me for His good and glory!
As my internship comes to a close, with only 3 ½ months remaining it is with anticipation and a tiny bit of trepidation that I look to the future and wonder what God has for me next. A normal life is definitely not what I prayed for so long ago, which can be both an adventure and a challenge all at the same time. At age 34, I know that I have done more than some and yet there are many things that I desire that I have not done like be a Godly wife and mother. I know that as I remain focused on furthering His kingdom that he will one day honor the desires of my heart so I will not rush ahead of Him or lag behind dragging my feet in the feeling of defeat of the what might have beens. I will know that as my Heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts, He will in His time bless His faithful daughter with a life better than she could ask or imagine! While living in South Carolina I had started writing a book of my life and all of its twists and turns. My adorable loving Momma keeps asking me if I have wrote anything in it since then and I would continually tell her no. She would ask why and I couldn’t always answer her but now I know… Its not the end yet! I know it will never be then end until I pass away but with this book I want to show people and be an example of how God can take a messed up, mixed up felon of a person and redeem their life story to one that honors and glorifies Him. The story is unfolding and I can’t wait to see where He is taking me! Maybe I will pick the proverbial pen back up again as this season has taught me many things!
As a prayer warrior for me during this time in my life I can offer up several specific ways that you can direct your prayer time.
  • I may have a couple opportunities with different Teen Challenges in several different states and I am praying that God will guide and direct whichever is the one that I need to be at, if that’s the direction that He is sending me.
  • I also ask for prayer as long repressed dreams of having a coffee shop/art studio/ transitional housing place keeps surfacing but nothing tangible is presenting itself. It may be God is bringing it to the forefront of my mind and dreams as a vision for the future down the road so I am praying for contentment with that and give it to God knowing in His timing He will work wonders!
  • As some of you may know I don’t have a vehicle right now as it just wasn’t workable to have here during the beginning of my internship. I know God can provide above and beyond what we can ask or imagine so please pray that God, in His perfect timing, will provide the perfect vehicle for me that will be a beautifully dependable, low maintenance, good in adverse weather, good on gas and last me for a long time!
  • As I finish that God will give me the strength and stamina to run the race well and give Him the glory through it all!
I know I am horrible at writing snail mail letters, or these update letters for that matter =) but I do love to get an occasional note or letter of how others lives are and how I can pray for you as well.
If you want to correspond my address is 3815 S. 7th St. W. Missoula, MT 59804
I would love to hear from everyone but I also know how crazy busy people’s lives are now a days!
An email or facebook post would be just as good too! =)

 

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.

Art project opportunity

“It can be coins or sports or politics or horses or music or art or faith… the saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there’s nothing to make it last.”
― Nicholas SparksDear John

I love this quote because it is so true! A person needs something in their lives that reflects their own personality, passion and uniqueness. Many people go through life just surviving the 9-5 work life, interaction with family, eat, watch some T.V. and then go to bed so they can get up and do it all again.

I look at the people in my life that have interests and passions seeing people that are more well rounded and happier when they have time to pour out their day through exercise, painting, writing and serving others in the church.

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
Pablo Picasso

I have the opportunity to bring this view into women’s lives that have seen the side of life that is anything but beautiful. My internship is unfolding and I am finding an awesome fit for myself and all my God given talents! It is so amazing to see all of it fall into place and how they had prayed for someone with my talents for about 6 months.

One thing I want to set up is an art and crafts program for the women who come to this rehab program. They need beauty, color, and a way to express all the things that have been bottled up for so long.

Instead of me writing my thoughts I have found tons of great famous quotes that speak exactly what I am trying to get across.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
Thomas Merton
Read more at

This is so true! In this program I hope to help the women find who they are through art and also to be able to loose themselves by pouring their hurt, heartache and sadness into their art projects. By doing this it will free them up to be able to be filled with love, acceptance and freedom from addictions.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Scott Adams
Read more at

Many of these women have had to be so hard on themselves due to life circumstances and the stresses of life. I want to inspire them to see their life as a tapestry of color weaved together by an amazing and artistic God who takes our hurts, habits and hangups and uses them for good to make a beautiful masterpiece!

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
Aristotle
Read more at 

Their world right now coming to this program is a mixture of the only peace some of them have known while others it may feel like total chaos. Art can be a way for them to find inner peace in the midst of the chaos their world is producing by dealing with the emotional struggles of why they used and became addicted in the first place.

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Read more at 

Each women coming to the program is working through and learning many things. Most is a new relationship with God and learning to be grateful. Again many of the women have had a life that most would understand as nothing to be grateful for in all outward appearances, to this world.  However I want to help the women to be thankful in the small things in their lives. When you start thanking God for the small things it starts to build an attitude of thankfulness which can totally transform a persons world.

15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit.

When we learn to give thanks IN all circumstances, not necessarily FOR all circumstances it changes our perspective. God is not telling us to be thankful for the pain, struggle or hurdles that we have to jump. He is not telling us we have to be thankful for the people that have hurt and scarred us. He wants us to learn to be thankful during that circumstance by focusing on whatever we can find thats good, right and uplifting to get us through the circumstance. By helping the ladies to pour out their thankfulness and gratitude in their art they will be a light to others who see their work.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
Georgia O’Keeffe
Read more at

Each women is learning to deal with and process through things that up until now they have either never wanted to or known how to deal with. The need to self medicate and numb was so strong that an addiction occured to keep them in a state that they were able to at least survive life. I want to help them to put on canvas or through art projects the things in their lives that they have no words for.

So you may be wondering why I am writing about this in my blog or what this has to do with you the reader…

I need your help!

Before I present my ideas to the director I need and want to have some things put in place. At this time there are many projects and ideas that they have for the center. With each of these ideas comes a need for finances to come in to make it possible and people to come along side and offer their time and resources.

My project is no different. It costs money to buy the canvases, brushes, paint, craft items and everything needed to start this endeavor. However where I want to be unique is to have a support system already set in place of artists and people with a heart to help lives change. A group of supporters who know the importance that art plays in a persons life.

This is where I am hoping and praying that you as the reader will come in!

Whether it be a package of brushes or wanting to donate a whole box of canvases and paints.

The smallest item is sometimes the most essential so don’t underestimate the gift you can provide.

Some of the projects that I want to start are…

-painting acrylics on canvas

-painting on glass and ceramic

-drawing on gift bags.

-Doodle type art work on canvas and wood.

I have a couple of books that I have picked up and gotten ideas from and have pictures of them. I am also a Pinterest-aholic… Maybe that’s why God brought me here, to deal with my Pinterest addiction! haha… But seriously, I have so many ideas of things that we can make with the women. The ministry has a thrift store and I am excited about being able to repurpose things that come in there and sell all of the things made at the thrift store.

A goal for me is that I want to be able to have enough commitments of donations and sponsors that I will be able to present this to my director with in 2 weeks time. At that point I want to be able to get things rolling and projects to begin so that in April when they do their Annual Banquet and Silent Auction the best of the best of the women’s work can be part of the Auction. This only gives us about a month span of actual work  time.

 Another thing you could do is share this endeavor with your blog friends and work together to bless the lives of these women who are striving to overcome addictions and change their world one day at a time!

Book by Stephanie Corfee

Book by Stephanie Corfee

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