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Posts Tagged ‘God’

Russia!

If you know me, you know that I love Russia. My heart is for the people there to reclaim their identity as children of God, though long-buried and seemingly irreparable to men. Going to Russia in 2009 changed my life, for the better, forever.

Last week, I had lunch with Ransomed Grace. She and I got together to talk about her trip to Russia last month, chat about church and life and kids and, well, you get the picture. To catch up. And it was lovely.

While we were there, she told me that the non-profit she started during their time in Russia is celebrating its tenth anniversary next spring, and the Russian women asked if she would come back and lead a conference dedicated to training those on the front lives of caring for women who choose to keep their babies. Also while she was there, the women’s ministry leader along with the pastor’s wife asked her to lead a retreat for the Vineyard women of Russia.

I was getting a little melancholy hearing all of this because I love Russia, and it was one of the hardest things to give up when we changed churches. But I surrendered that dream because I knew God had a bigger dream for us than a biannual mission trip. He wanted us in community. Anyhow, so RG described the vision for the trip, and then dropped this bomb, “So would you pray about it, or is it just out of the question?”

Wait, what?!

I have been formally invited to join a team going next April to Perm, Russia. And I really think I’m supposed to go, but I’m definitely still praying to hear more. So if you know me offline, expect that I’m going to be talking about it, writing a support letter, and asking for help with my kids. It’s a huge undertaking, raising more than two thousand dollars in support, finding people to care for four children a few days while the Music Man is at work, preparing and meeting and praying and hearing from the Lord for the Russian people.

I couldn’t be more excited.

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Bold title for me, no? Rest assured, I still have no idea if that’s a place I want to find, but at least I’ve been exploring what it means to seek it out.

It was a long time between sessions, and I felt like I was sinking. Desperate, even. I contemplated calling the Not-So-Casual Observer to see if I could set up a phone session or SOMETHING, but I didn’t want to bother her with her crazy busy schedule. The good thing that came of that was her telling me of course I could call her if I needed to, and we’d do our best to schedule something if I was in a really bad place. Good to know going forward.

We talked a great deal about a new memory that popped up since last time, and how I struggled with believing that God allowed everything in my life to happen, and that it was all in His control. It makes me crazy, knowing that I was little and helpless and abused and exploited. All the while, He could’ve stopped it but didn’t.

And then she shared this gem. In light of Rom 8:28, she said, “No amount of evil has to live as evil for the rest of your life.” I’m letting those words wash over me, the possibility of deep redemption, of redress. Hopefully it will melt some of the rage in my heart.

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At my last session, the Not-So-Casual Observer and I were discussing a conversation I had with Jesus earlier in the week. She “suggested” that I write what I’d just told her and submit it to the church newsletter (apparently there ARE weird things about being in the same church as your therapist; if I were still at AVC, she couldn’t have given me that homework).

That led to a conversation wherein she casually said, “You’ve always had a good relationship with Jesus, but . . . ” and went on to say that now it’s really rich and defined, strong. It made me smile, but not for the reason she thought.

I doubt that she remembers asking how I experience God a few months back. She had asked about my relationship with Jesus, and I told her that He and I were getting acquainted. I had just expressed that, having daddy issues, I don’t really do well with God as Father. She asked if I related most to the Holy Spirit, but wasn’t true, either. I just sort of experienced the totality of the godhead as Creator, distant and powerful. Interesting what a difference a few months can make.

I’ve know Jars of Clay’s “Love Song for a Savior” since the first days of my faith, but now I get it. I’m now in a place where I can’t imagine going back to the religion I gave up just four months ago, because I’d have to give up the vibrancy  of my relationship with Jesus and, you know, that’s just not an option. Wow. I think that’s authentic transformation.

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It’s been  a roller coaster of a year for my family. We lost lots of friends in a church transition (people left, but we’re not calling it a church plant or a church split. Call it whatever you want). We had a baby. We got jobs, lost jobs, started counseling, heard from a father, and were called to a new church.

Today I was thinking about a father’s blessing. In the Old Testament, a father’s blessing told you who you were. We crave this, need it, and so often miss it.

When the church transition happened, my family was promised a blessing as we  followed God by staying at our church, but it never came. Someone important in our lives, powerful, and significantly opinionated told me that he didn’t believe we’d heard God, that I was just leading my husband by the nose because I wanted to stay with my “new friends.” Ouch.

I spent months doubting my ability to hear and follow the Lord. This man, who I love and admire and respect greatly, stole my blessing and stripped me of my confidence. Such is the power of our pastoral leaders, if only they knew.

Today we got word from our pastor; he believes this is a God-lead move, he wants to release and bless us to go to our new church. I find myself sobbing at the thought, not only of leaving my church family, not only at getting the blessing I was willing to wrestle for, but of the absolute gift of those lies coming untrue (Listen to Jason Gray if you don’t understand this expression).

We DID hear God correctly a year ago. My HUSBAND is leading our family into this move. JESUS is my confidence. God is restoring what the locusts have eaten. And even though I count this a joy, I’m still haunted by the fact that my blessing is coming from someone other than the one who promised it.

“There’s no wound that love won’t mend and finally redeem” says one of my favorite songs. I’m seeing that happen, seeing the Kingdom come today. For me.

We’re given the choice: bless or curse. What do you choose?

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First of all, I forgot that people who actually know me read this blog. Someone had to remind me of the personal connection in an email yesterday. So, uh, hi. And welcome and all…

I thought this was going to be an easy week. I didn’t have counseling because the Not-So-Casual Observer is on spring break, so I figured there wouldn’t be too much emotional drama. Ha, ha, and ha again!

This has been a week of pretty serious revelation, and much of it has cut me to the quick. It’s required some good old fashioned honesty. In my last session we were talking about how to dismantle my harboring self-hatred. Doesn’t that sound passive and removed? I feel like Jesus said, “The truth will be your saying, ‘I hate myself.'” It’s jarring. It’s emotional. It’s hugely exposing, and ultimately true.

I hate myself.

He told me to make a list of everything I hate about myself. It is a long list, and not finished. I wish I knew what the purpose was, what I’ll have to do with the list when it’s done, but I think if I knew, I’d be apt to keep the harder stuff off the list. Arg.

On the flip side, there have been things that have been difficult but ultimately lovely. Remember when I talked about the Joy Project? My wonderful friends have all responded, and I was blessed by what they had to say. Then one day I felt God asking me to ask Him the same questions.

Um, gulp.

I’ve gotten through the first two, and they were significantly sweeter than I expected. I’ll never forget what my friend Lu said in an inner healing class a few years ago, “You’ll know it’s the voice of God because it’ll be gentler than anything you’ve ever said to yourself.”

Amen, and thanks for the wisdom.

 

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Wow, it has been a packed week! Three birthdays to prepare for (my Joyful One is turning THREE tomorrow!), the baby isn’t letting me sleep (nearly delusional from deprivation), and the usual busyness of life seems to be overtaking me. And y’all know about counseling, which is already kicking my butt. Things are just a bit tough all around. Not bad, just complicated.

Anyhow, on Thursday God woke me up at 3:21 am. I prayed, I sang worship songs to myself, I watched my baby’s sweet face and murmured mama love to her for three hours. Somewhere in that time, God spoke that we were about to leave our church, the ONLY church I’ve belonged to as a believer. He showed me a picture of deep roots, gnarled together, knit tight. Community.

My first thought? “Um, no.” Seriously, I thought I was losing it because I’ve been just so sleep deprived. Not wanting to miss what God might choose to speak to me, I asked the Music Man to be listening for anything the Lord may want to tell him during the day.

He came home and said, “I feel like I’m supposed to ask you if we’re changing churches.” Gulp. Well, ok then. We were in agreement, but felt we needed to wait for one more confirmation because it is such a hey-uge decision. It came first thing Sunday morning.

We discussed a list of possible churches, and the top of the list is another Vineyard church, just 30 miles closer (each way) to our home. On paper, this close Vineyard looks perfect. There’s just one leeetle issue, and that’s that the “new” possible church is the church the Not-So-Casual-Observer belongs to. So she and I will have to have a chat to discuss what that would look like.

After church, I went into a meeting with the women’s ministry team and was absolutely blown away by what I heard. Ransomed Grace just came out and asked if I had anything to say to the team. I told them what God was saying to the Music Man and I, and time stopped as I awaited her answer.

She said, “Well, the reason I’m not upset (I was crying by this point) is that God’s already told me that it’s time for your family to live in community. And I think you’re supposed to stay in the Vineyard. Community. Vineyard.”

Did I mention that the church we’re most considering is called the Vineyard Community Church? I see God’s fingerprints all over this situation. I’m giving up my leadership position, my teaching, essentially all my service, but I have perfect peace.

I’m so sad, but feel like this mourning is a good thing. I’m feeling something, and that’s better than I was doing when I started counseling four months ago.

We went to talk with our pastor today, because we feel strongly that we should not leave our current church without his blessing. I want to be sent out, for there to be no question that we’re following God’s call. I want my old pastor and my new pastor to be able to have a chat about where we fit into church life. I feel like I finally understand why the Bible says “A good name is better to be chosen than great riches.” I care so much about maintaining my good name, and want to be bridge builders within these two churches.

After talking with Johnny, the plan is to do a week on and a week off at a new place, then talk with him about how we feel after we’ve gotten the lay of the land. This is sacred ground here, and I want this to go exactly the way God wants it to.

We’re so excited, even though this comes at great expense. Please pray that God would help us know that we’re home the minute we walk in the door, and that our kids would transition seamlessly.

It’s time for a new adventure!

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