Undone Redone

PIM_CLAYVILLEBrian and I have had the amazing privilege of being invited to participate in one of Traylor & Melody Lovvorn’s Undone Redone (Perfectly Imperfect Marriage Series) podcast. Episode #36 to be exact.

I am beyond humbled that our messy story of brokenness and restoration has brought us on the journey we’re on today.

Hope you take a listen… and subscribe to their feed while you’re at it. They’ve had some really great guests and have talked about some pretty uncensored topics! There’s something for everyone.

Check it out HERE.

It’s Been Awhile…

… since I’ve posted anything here.

I’ve not STOPPED blogging. I seem to be blogging on other sites  more than I do here so I’m not as out of practice as I may seem. However… We’ve recently been getting a lot of emails thru my “contact me” page from this site, so I thought I would write.

For some time, I’ve felt I had nothing more or new to say that I haven’t already said. But due to these recent emails and cries for help, I thought I would say this:

I know it might feel like the end.
I know it feels hopeless.
I know you feel like you want to go to sleep and never wake up.

I know how that feels. Consequences to human actions have a way of doing that.

BUT… once you’re in the light and out of the darkness, you have nothing to fear. Consequences will still occur but nothing can fester. The best part about light? There’s nothing left to hide.

This is where healing happens. And that’s good. 

With that said… healing hurts. There’s nothing about healing that is comfortable. But healing pain is a positive pain. Healing pain leads to restoration. Rest. Allow healing. Allow grieving. Move forward.

It’s NOT the end.
It’s NOT hopeless.
Your life is JUST beginning.

It’s been awhile…

Worship Confessional: 5.05.13

I don’t understand why boxing is a sport. But that has nothing to do with this post… so…

Today, we used a much smaller band to pull out the acoustic feel of our worship set. Our Sunday Setlist was:

Our God – Chris Tomlin
God of This City – Bluetree
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) – Matt Redman
Your Hands – JJ Heller
Be Thou My Vision
Glorious – Trent Smith

PaseoIf you guys haven’t heard my friend, Trent’s, music yet… you are missing out. Simply click on his name above to hear just ONE of his amazing songs.

Our team was simple: 3 people.
2 guitars (Herman Seufert & me).
1 keyboard (Ryan Ogletree).
2 vocalists (Ryan & myself).

If you’d like to hear the live house recording (mistakes and all) of the second half of our set from this morning, you can click on the link.

05.05.13-Paseo Worship 

It’s the last three songs on the list. For some reason… we had some technical difficulties and didn’t record the first half of our gathering… or the first 2 minutes of the sermon. Oops.

Anyway… this morning was really fun… even past my headache that hasn’t stopped for days. Before you lecture, I’m going to the doctor tomorrow. But it was fun bringing the team down to a more minimal sound. Even more fun to hear everyone singing back. I wish the recording would pick that up.

We wrapped up our People of the Second Chance (POTSC) series today so the last half of the set was specifically chosen to call glory to God for our second, third, fourth, millionth chances that we so don’t deserve but He so lovingly offers. If you have time, check out our podcasts HERE.

How was YOUR Sunday?

Asking

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” ~John 14: 13-14

I forget this all the time.
I forget that God wants to bless me.
I forget that when I pray according to His will, my asks will be granted.
I forget to ask.
I forget that I matter to Him.
I forget that He delights when I ask Him for anything.
I forget He already knows what my heart desires.
I forget He already has a treasure chest full of goodies for me.
I forget He wants to use me to glorify Christ.
I forget.

Today… I am remembering.
Today… I am asking.

… for effectiveness and efficiency in my work for His Kingdom.
… for JUSTICE and an end to human trafficking.
… for continued health in my family.
… for miraculous healing friends who battle sickness.
… that He kick cancer in the face.
… for His continued favor in our lives.
… for financial independence.
… that we are responsible with his financial blessings.
… for reminders of His overwhelming love.
… that He reveal his overwhelming love to others thru me.
… for brokenness that makes me whole as He intended.
… for refuge.
… for a journey worth journeying.

Today… I am asking.

What can I ask for you?

 

When Hurt Runs Deep…

As many of you know, I just recently returned from a mission trip to Moldova. One of my awesome teammates, Michelle Carlson, is guest-posting about some next steps today.

I have some deep respect for Michelle. In the time I’ve spent with her, I found myself captivated more and more by her passion, determination and heart for the broken. I got to help her train the girls at the Restoration Home in self-defense (which is an absolutely new concept to them). She’s an unsung hero.

Please read her story here and how it birthed the plans of “Next Step” that are coming our way… Here’s Michelle!

——————

Growing up I had a fascination with bubbles. I absolutely loved them. One could say I was borderline obsessed. They seemed so carefree and light, buoyant in the breeze and captured by the sun’s radiance. Over time I enveloped my own bubble though…one that was not so light or carefree.

It is easy for each of us to live life in such a hurry that we miss the realities falling around us. We can grow angry with the store clerk that moves too slowly or scream at the guy that cuts us off in traffic. We rarely think about the person behind the action. Our thoughts focus mostly on ourselves, our families, our needs and our lives. That’s the bubble I was stuck in, until recently.

Two years ago I knew God wanted something more from me. I just had a feeling that I was supposed to have another child. Keep in mind my children were 10 and 12 years old at the time. My husband agreed that was God’s calling and BOOM, I was pregnant in no time. An excruciating first trimester, with reports of a fast growing and extremely healthy baby, was followed by even more excruciating news. At my 16 week check up there was no heart beat. There was no more healthy baby or dreams of hugs and kisses. I didn’t even get a parting gift from the doctor. What I did receive was massive amounts of confusion, which I washed away with wine and vodka.

I didn’t sleep for days after that. To say I was angry would be an understatement. I felt lost. I felt like all purpose had been sucked out of my life and God had just dropped me here to wallow until my death. Drama, party of one anybody? Pity followed soon after and I became a piñata of emotion. God was ever patient with me though and after I had wallowed in my tears, He reached down. I felt as though He lovingly cupped my chin in His hand, wiped the yuck from my face and gently said, “If you’re done being a baby, we can move forward together.” He speaks to us all in different ways people!

I realized that yes, He did call me to do more; however, I hadn’t truly waited on Him to guide me. I did what I always have and just took off in the direction which seemed best. Through a series of most fortunate events, I found myself smack in the middle of Chisinau, Moldova with a group of hard-to-forget girlfriends. It took God taking me out of my bubble completely for me to truly listen. I never would have thought of myself as a missionary, but when God says “GO!” it’s best not to question the process.

During my stay in Chisinau, I was able to develop a friendship and partnership with Beginning of Life ministries. The staff here works tirelessly to rebuild broken lives of sexual abuse and trafficking victims, as well as bring awareness to the community. Together, we are building a house. Well, we’re building a gym really. Beginning of Life had a dream to have a wellness center that would aide in rehabilitation and restoration. It will also be a safe place for the youth to socialize and it will open many new jobs. But, why should I tell you? Here are the reasons straight from Vladimir, my sweet friend in charge:

  1. Prevention: Within the first 2 years the center is open, hundreds of girls will be trained in self defense. This will, for the first time, enable them to defend themselves from the abusers.
  2. Rehabilitation: Sports and fitness provide a very positive impact on people’s lives. Many of the girls suffer from heart problems, and the fitness center will offer a unique opportunity for recreation.
  3. Social Skills Development: This fitness center will serve as a safe place for the youth to spend time together, grow relationships and chat about future endeavors. It will be a place where they can dream and discuss making their dreams a reality.
  4. Reintegration: The wellness and fitness center will provide a brand new set of skills and jobs for the girls who have graduated the rehabilitation program. This will help to provide them with stability and a larger sense of self worth.
  5. Encouragement for staff: The staff of Beginning of Life works tirelessly to provide encouragement and safety to these girls along with education and awareness to an entire community. The fitness and wellness center will be a place for the staff to take care of themselves, just as we are instructed. It will provide stress relief, healthier and more energetic staff, team building and an opportunity to strengthen their shoulders for the load they choose to carry daily.

The pain that once ran deep through my veins has been restored to passion. A passion bent on making change and creating a difference. How can you participate in such a passion?

  • Pray for the people of Chisinau and all those involved in this project.
  • Spread the word! Share the site, share the story, encourage others to learn about what really is going on.
  • Give a gift. Hope chest has an easy-access donation page set up for this project. You can choose your donation and it’s 100% tax deductible! It’s a win/win for all. You will have played a HUGE part in the transformation of an entire nation,
  • Consider visiting :) I hope to have a team visit while I am staying in Chisinau. This team will be able to see what Beginning of Life does on a daily basis and be able to touch the lives of many. You’ll immerse yourself in the culture and even get to enjoy some seriously awesome food. Get your hands dirty for change and I promise YOU will be the one reaping the most benefit.

The link for the donation page is HERE.

Sex, Shame & Identity

My good friend, Makeda, has written this post. It’s brilliant. It’s raw. It’s real.

She doesn’t have the nerve to post it on her own sites because, let’s be honest, Christians in our own circles are often the worst of uninvited judges. So, here she is today.

I think she’s brave. If all of us were more honest and candid as she is here, maybe the church wouldn’t be as hated by the world as it is. Just a thought.

Without further adieu… Makeda…

———————

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”

A few weeks ago several blogs that I follow started writing about sex and purity in the church culture. It was random that so many of them were writing on this topic and it caught my attention. It has since turned into a very intentional conversation about how the church has historically handled the issues of sex and purity. You can go here to see a list of the blogs that are participating in this conversation. This post is not intended to add my voice to that conversation but rather to share the space I am in as God is working to redeem sex and sexuality for me.

I have a very skewed view of sex. I was not one of the girls who waited until marriage to have sex. There is a lot of shame for me around this issue. I grew up in a church culture that taught me I was supposed to wait and if I didn’t wait then I was a bad girl (who, by the way, was going straight to hell). I was a rule follower and a perfectionist as a child. I wanted other people to like me and I knew that if I was perfect, I could always guarantee they would love me. For this reason, among others, maintaining my good girl image was very important to me. So when I started wrestling with sexuality as a teenager, I didn’t talk to anyone; not that there was anyone to talk to but still I had no place to go to process any of this out loud. And when I eventually started having sex, I wore the bad girl label like a second layer of skin. It was my identity and I have stayed in that place of believing myself to be the unlovable bad girl.

I am 40 years old and still single. On really bad days, I believe my singleness is punishment for having sex before marriage. On the not so bad days I tell myself that I don’t really want to be married because deep down, I believe that no one will ever want the bad girl. It is the most consistent lie that the enemy has whispered in my heart over the years and the one I keep believing despite KNOWING it is a lie.

But with each blog post I read, I hear an echo of the Father inviting me into a story of redemption for this area of my life. I read Isaiah 41 a few days after stumbling on all these posts and verse 14 jumped out at me like never before

“Despised though you are, O Israel, don’t be afraid, for I will help you. I am the Lord, YOUR REDEEMER. I am the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:14 NLT. Emphasis added)

He is my redeemer and He wants to redeem every area of my life including this one. I read Romans 5 this morning and throughout the chapter I saw more echoes of His promise of redemption.

v. 1 “…we have been made right in God’s sight…”

v. 9 “…we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ.”

v. 10 “..we were restored to friendship with God”

v. 15 “And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gifts of forgiveness.”

v. 22 “…now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God…”

I feel the Father’s love in these words. I feel Him peeling off the layer of shame and rewriting my identity so I see myself as He sees me, loved so much I was worth dying for. I don’t fully believe it all yet but every day He draws me more and more to Himself. Putting the past and all my mistakes behind me and setting before me an invitation to step into this new story He is writing just for me. His love and His grace truly astound me and I am grateful beyond words.

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