Emotions

When Grief Knocks, Answer the Door

When Grief Knocks, Answer the Door

Grief. Many of us experience this dreaded and often very intense emotion more times than we hope to in our lives. It can set in after unforeseen changes arise; transition, death, loss, break-up, divorce or any other life-altering event. How do you handle it?

Many people think the clock to getting past grief starts at the time tragedy.  However, I disagree. Typically…

From A Heart Of Stone, To A Heart Like Jesus

From A Heart Of Stone, To A Heart Like Jesus

Community. Love. Relationship. Authenticity. Comfort

In my opinion, these words should always coincide. When you have a community of people, you should feel loved. When you are in relationship with others, it should be unashamedly authentic. You should feel safe and cared for. You should feel as though you can open up the deepest and darkest parts of yourself and still be loved for exactly who you are. Sadly……

What to do When You Encounter Discontentment

What to do When You Encounter Discontentment

But, the real purpose of this post is about the time leading up to the decision to change things… maybe you have experienced something that you knew needed to change. How did you handle it? What did you do? Many times we have a feeling deep in our core that we need to do something, take a risk, stick up for the right thing. Unfortunately, all to often we let…

Conflict Management

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Everyone loves conflict right? Well, some people seem to enjoy it more than others. If we are all honest most of us would rather avoid conflict if at all possible. And truthfully there is no way to avoid conflict as long as you are around people! Marriage, parenting, your job, the church. There are literally hundreds of opportunities for conflict every day and in my opinion how we choose to act in those moments of confrontation determine our views of ourselves and other people. We can begin to see ourselves as greater than or as less than or unworthy. Both are dangerous and incorrect views.

For the sake of this conversation let's define conflict as a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someone's goals or desires.

This is where I hope we can begin to change how you view conflict. There are two terms that are often taught. One of them is conflict resolution. Any time a conflict can be resolved we should absolutely celebrate! However much of the time there is no resolution to a conflict, therefore it must be managed. This is why I prefer to talk about conflict management rather than only resolution because many times we set ourselves up to fail when conflicts don't always resolve we can give up or give in to our fight or flight responses.

Here are some examples of conflicts that can't be resolved:

1) I am a male. My wife is a female. That can't change, we must learn to manage our differences by understanding one another with enough grace and love to see the strengths in our differences.

2) Chris thinks abstract while I think linear. This can be a very frustrating conflict and one that if Chris and I weren't mature enough to manage would have already resulted in one or both of us leaving the church. We now sit in a loving, trusting relationship in which we both appreciate one another's gifts and passions! (side note: this took a lot of effort from both of us and I think this is one of the things that makes our church great!)

3) Gifts and Callings: This conflict is what I believe has resulted in the numerous Christian denominations and para-church organizations. People that are gifted in certain ways felt that their way of viewing things wasn't welcome and thus left to go start their own thing. And while I'm all for starting new things I do think that more unity should take place. I personally want to lead a church where you can be passionate about what God made you passionate about and I can be passionate about what God made me passionate about. That doesn't sound all that confrontational until five voices begin to speak their specific preference into the priorities of the church! It can, unfortunately, get really messy really fast if we think that the only resolution to the conflict is that our way is the way. We must instead view this as a beautiful conflict that is to be managed. A good tension that creates positive momentum for all five very necessary voices to be heard and valued. (Find these five gifts in Ephesians 4:11-13)

Here's the bottom line: Conflict always provides an opportunity to glorify God, that is, to bring him praise and honor by showing who he is, what he is like, and what he is doing. The best way to glorify God in the midst of conflict is to depend on and draw attention to his grace, that is the undeserved love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom he gives to us through Jesus Christ. 

- Excerpt from Peace Maker by Ken Sande

I'll be the first in line to admit this is not something I have always been or am currently perfect at, but by God's grace, I hope to continue to navigate all of life's conflicts better and better as I grow in maturity in Christ. 

Redeemer

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I recently attended a funeral for a baby who was born in a very traumatic way that caused her to be without oxygen for an undetermined amount of time. She entered the world at 33 weeks gestation. She fought hard and lived for 12 days. Attending a funeral for a baby will break your heart in a way you may have never felt before. As I think about how my friend and her family are feeling during this time, the pain I feel for them is so intense I can hardly stand it. I would do anything to take their pain away and allow them to have their little girl back.

I would never wish pain and suffering on anyone, but in our broken world we have pain and suffering. It is unavoidable and necessary. Without pain we would not be moved to action. Without pain we would not turn to Jesus. Without pain we would not grow. God does not cause our pain, but He does allow it and He uses it for His purpose. If we run toward our pain and not from it, God can mold us and shape us through the pain. We can come out on the other side stronger and with a new purpose that God can use. We must use our pain to help others and point them to Jesus. Until Jesus comes back we have a purpose and we can not just sit on the sidelines. People will always be watching to see how we handle the pain and suffering in our lives and what we do with it sets us apart from others.

My prayer is that Jesus will be our redeemer in times of pain. We will never understand why things happen on this earth, but Jesus can make anything new. We only need to turn to Him and allow Him to heal our hearts.

They remembered that God was their Rock that God Most High was their redeemer”

Psalm 78:35

 

I Lived Through It But How Can I Live With It?

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Recently I have spent a lot of time thinking about my answer to that question. And here’s why --

I am 35 years old and have lived the majority of my life as a surviving victim of sexual abuse. I was 11 years old when I was molested by someone close to me and I have lived with it every day since. I won’t ever be able to escape the memories. The fear, the shame, the embarrassment and the lack of understanding will always be a part of who I am. And I am finally okay with that because I know God is working in my life!

I have struggled throughout the years with being depressed, anxious and angry, but more than all of that, I have struggled with being okay. As a teenager and young adult, I really didn’t know how to deal with feeling happy or content, so I created chaos in my life because that was more comfortable to me. I pushed away anyone who tried to help me and clung to those who used me. I had a distinct pattern of toxic, unhealthy relationships.

If you’re reading this, maybe you can relate in some capacity. Whether it’s abuse you’ve suffered (like me), a loss of someone you love, or some other type of hurt that has consumed you for far too long, you understand what I mean when I say you can’t really make sense out of it. How do you accept it and move on when there are reminders everywhere?

I have lived the last two decades of my life regretting what happened to me, how it changed my family and how it changed me. I was 16 years old the first time I forgave. I say the first time because I have to forgive often. Not only do I have to forgive him, but I also have to forgive myself. Forgiveness has been the beginning of moving on and releasing the regret. It’s not easy when you relive it all the time and think about how you should have done things differently. “What ifs” are difficult to live with!

God has given me the chance to start over...more than once! He has put people in my life who love me to the best of their ability. He has loved me and been the security I craved and sought after for most of my life. He has given me the ability to love others the way He loves me. He has has given me salvation through Jesus.

I don’t shy away from telling my story. It’s the best tool I have to share how God has worked in my life. I don’t credit myself with anything other than being willing to let God heal me. It’s ongoing, I’m not done yet, but I’m closer now than I ever have been before!

-Amy

 

Reframing Regret

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Regret.

Six small letters that can hold the weight of the world. I don’t have many regrets in my life that I haven’t been able to redeem in one way or another, but as I was sitting in church last Sunday listening to Zak preach about Father’s Day and being able to make peace with regret - specifically surrounding fathers and dads... I was brought back to the last time I saw my dad awake and alive.

I was a freshman in college, attending K State and I had come home for the weekend. I was visiting my boyfriend and my family and (sadly) at 18, the boyfriend took precedent. He was my high school sweetheart and very much a part of the family, so of course he was with me when I visited my parents. I’ll never forget when we arrived at my my dad’s house, it was blazing hot outside - September in Kansas, but inside the house it was quiet, dark and cool. My dad was in bed, not feeling well and my boyfriend had things to do, so I was in a hurry. I only had a couple of days in town and I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. I went into my dad’s room to chat for a few minutes. (I’m a daddy’s girl and even if a few minutes was all I that I got this time, it was a enough for me.) A few words, a kiss on the cheek and hug goodbye - that’s how I left.

Regret.

I regret not staying longer.
I regret not saying a prayer.
I regret not knowing that it was the last hug. The last kiss. The last “I love you.”

Had I known, I would have stayed. I wouldn’t have had plans. No plans were more important than the time I’ll never get back.

After listening to Zak preach on Sunday, I have started the process of forgiving myself for being selfish with my time. My dad knew I loved him. He knew he was my hero. He knew he was my best friend. I don’t regret our memories together, only that there aren’t more of them. When my dad left this world and went to Heaven, he went with a full heart, knowing he was loved. He wasn’t regretting our last time together. He loved me and he knew that I knew it!

Reframing the reality of our last memory together has been a catalyst for healing. It was full of love, of him for me and me for him. There is nothing to regret about that!

-Brooke