Tag Archives: Teach

A Different Kind of Goodbye…

2015_ADifferentKindofGoodbye

This past weekend, I had what I’m going to call an opportunity.  I had a chance to turn my life around.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are made new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

His mercies are made new every morning.

Each day is a chance to live again, to start fresh, to lay down the mistakes of the day before and walk a new path.  I’ve known for years now I was on the path God had led me to.  It has been quite the journey, filled with many aches and pains.  There have been years of suffering and darkness, nights filled with terror and hopelessness, but through it all, one thing remained.

He is faithful.

God never abandoned me, never once.  He was always there.  In the middle of the night when I little girl cried out for someone to rescue her, He was there.  As a teenager begged for someone to hear her cries, He was there.  As a young woman drank to numb the pain, He protected her.  As a young mother believed her child would be better off without her, He brought them peace.  As a woman struggles to heal from a broken past, He continues to fill her heart and mind with His love, His truth, His tender guidance, His mercy, and hope.

My life hasn’t been headed in the wrong direction…in fact, I’m quite sure I am exactly where God wants me to be.  I feel quite certain of God’s calling on my life and He’s planted the desires in my heart to follow His calling.  The issue comes in with my inability to say no.  I’m a fixer and a helper.  I want to do everything and I hate telling others no.  It stirs up something inside me and makes me feel less than.  This past weekend, I learned to let go.

There’s a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiates 3:1

My dearest friend loves to talk about seasons.  Sometimes, I think she does it just to stir me up.  I’ve been in a season of doing everything I could to keep busy.  I thought it was helpful.  I thought I could handle it.  I thought I could do it all.  In trying to do it all, I left little time for writing, teaching, and loved ones.

For months now, I’ve allowed things to get in my way, causing me to get lost or off track, distracting me from what I knew God was leading me to do.  I need to write, speak, and teach.  I’ve neglected this blog and I’ve neglected the books my heart aches to write.  I poured my heart into many things, all of which were for good reasons but when you pour into too many things, there’s little to offer each of them.

Let me just say, losing it all brings a whole new perspective to one’s life.  When you have nothing, you quickly realize the things you miss the most and I can say with certainty those things that caused distractions and left me feeling lost and worn down, they were no where near my thoughts when I was stripped of everything.  Honestly, the first thing I thought of was a pen and paper, the comfort of my stuffed dog, and God’s word, followed closely by the people I love the most, my family and friends.

So now, I am choosing a different kind of goodbye.  I’m saying goodbye to all the things I thought were filling me with joy, made me a good person, or gave me life.  They were suffocating me.  When things get too heavy, there’s no room to breathe.  Breathing is difficult for me anyway so I need even more breathing room.  I’m saying goodbye to the distractions and road blocks and I’m saying hello to what matters most…writing, teaching and loved ones with God at the center of it all.

I look forward to writing more here…to putting what fills my heart into words.

I pray this brings me back to life.

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Oh the lessons…

Lessons

My heart sank when I walked in the room.

It was the first night of new Wednesday classes at church.  My class … a women’s Bible study on forgiveness.  (Insert big WOW here for – nothing like a big topic, right?!)

The book we are following, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller, is simply amazing.  She does a great job of writing so that no matter what your story is, you can relate to the thoughts and feelings expressed in the book.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  So for the past few weeks, I’ve been so excited about how God is going to work in the lives of the women who come to this class, myself included.  I can’t wait to see how he works and the amazing things he will do.

As excited as I was to start this journey, I was filled with anxiety and fear.  I had spent the whole day fretting over praying out loud.  A few weeks back, I shared a little here about how God was working on me with prayer.  Surely I could tackle this praying out loud thing, right?  I was going to do it this semester in class – I would take the reign and pray for the women in my class.  After all, God has been preparing me for this.  Still, I was afraid, nervous, anxious.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Instead, I walked in with nerves raging and quickly noticed an unfamiliar couple sitting in the room – a man and a woman.  Immediately, my heart dropped.  My class was suppose to be only women.  In my head, there was simply no room for a man.  We were facing some really big topics, the possibility of deep, intimate conversations, some that simply wouldn’t be possible with a man in the room.  Without asking him to leave, I gently warned him that the class would probably be all women and that he may feel uncomfortable as well as the women who attended and hinted that he might want to consider a different class.  In most ways, you could say I handle the situation fine but the outcome was not at all what I had hoped for.

The couple left.  Not just left my class … they left the church.  If I had to guess, I’d say they left angry.  Angry that they had made the effort to come.  Angry that they needed my class and didn’t feel welcomed.  Even though my intentions were right, they left angry.

What was suppose to be a light and fun evening quickly started off totally wrong.  I managed to somehow pull myself together enough to get things going.  The class went on, women came, women opened up, we passed the tissue box around on the first night!  It was great and I am absolutely looking forward to the next 11 weeks with this wonderful group of ladies, getting to know them and seeing God working in their lives.

Why did I share the story above?  Well…if you’ve read many of my recent posts, you know that God is really teaching me.  Sometimes, lessons are pretty hard to learn.  Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn from them.  It’s like riding a bike, sometimes we have to fall before we learn to ride.

This morning, as I’m sitting in the Sunday service, listening to our pastor talk about the man that was born blind that Jesus healed, my thoughts went elsewhere and I thought about the couple from Wednesday night.  Sitting there in church, I kept thinking about what I could have done differently.  Did I really handle it the way I should have?

The answer was simple – it was NO!

I did not do anything wrong by the way I addressed this couple but that doesn’t mean I did it right either.  Perhaps instead of standing across the room and going on and on about how uncomfortable he and everyone else would be, instead of suggesting he go elsewhere, perhaps I could have first of all introduced myself.  I did not even introduce myself.  Here was the this couple I had never met before, in my class, and I didn’t even take the time to welcome them or introduce myself.  Secondly, I could have gone over to them and after introducing myself, I could have leaned in close to inform them that this was really suppose to be a women’s class, however, they were welcome to be there if they choose.  Basically, I could have shown them kindness and acceptance, even if it went against the rules I had placed on the class.

Proverbs 21:13  Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

Philippians 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The thing is, we have encounters like this every day.  God is trying to speak to us and teach us new things every day.  I am so thankful that through this, I learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned to be still, to take the time to acknowledge people, to welcome them, to show them kindness.  I learned not to be so quick to react.  I learned that even when a choice seems right, that doesn’t make it the best choice.

How many times has God tried to teach me something and I failed to see?  How many times have I turned away from his lessons?

While I am so sad that this couple left and the weight is heavy knowing that I am the reason they left, I walk away thankful that through this difficult situation, God is teaching me and that I am able to see it, able to learn from it and hopefully it will prepare me to handle situations better in the future.  Let my mistake be your lesson!

And while you’re here, can I ask you to pray for me?  You see, because I allowed anxiety and fear take over, we failed to pray at all Wednesday night.  I did ask the class to keep the couple that left in their prayers, but I failed to pray for our class and I didn’t even take the time to ask someone else to pray.  I allowed fear to get in the way and that’s not what I want.  I know God has been preparing me for this and I know that it’s not about me, it’s about him.  Please pray for me, that he will use me and give me the words of prayer that my class needs.

 

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When You Seek Me…

SeekMe

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

Several weeks ago, in preparation for the women’s retreat our church was hosting, a group of women’s ministry leaders had gotten together to finalize some things.  Each meeting had been filled with prayer over who would be impacted and affected, how God would work in their lives and ours and more, who would lead the sessions, etc.  Our meetings are always very centered around prayer and God.

During this meeting, the topics for different sessions we would be leading went around.  I quickly offered to do “games” because I’m so good at hiding anything real behind laughter and fun.  As soon as I saw session 4, I knew I had to lead it.  That session was on forgiveness.

I have struggled with forgiveness my whole life.  I have been torn on the idea of forgiving others and forgiving myself.  It’s a constant battle and in many different situations I have faced it seems nearly impossible.  For me to choose this session was very much stepping out, but I knew I had to do it.

As I prepared for my session, I spoke with our women’s ministry leader who suggested another verse to me that was not included in my guide.  The guide followed the story of Malchus, one of the guards who would haul Jesus off to his death after Judas lead the guards to him.  In the heat of the moment, Peter slashed off the ear of Malchus.  Instead of Jesus cheering him on and giving him a big “Kudos!”, Jesus stopped to heal Malchus.  This man, who was getting ready to help put Jesus to death, was healed by Jesus.

Jesus didn’t stop to tell him how awful of a person he was or how wrong he was.  He didn’t fight him or laugh at him.  He didn’t ignore his suffering.  No, he forgave him, for no reason, and healed him.

I can’t imagine how I would feel in that situation.  Terrified?  Angry?

The verse we included to go along with that story was, 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24

When I studied this story in preparing to lead my session, I knew God was working in me.  He was leading me, guiding me to something more.

I lead a Wednesday night class and had already chosen a book for the class that will begin this fall.  A few days after the retreat, I stumbled across a book on forgiveness.  I knew right then, it was the one we needed to do this fall and quickly asked to change my class.

I’ve been reading this new book.  Guess what was the main story in the first chapter?  The story of Malchus and Jesus healing him!  And later in the first chapter, is the verse from Matthew.  I don’t believe that’s any coincidence.  In fact, it’s reassuring to me that I am following God’s lead and that He is working through me and in me.

With all that said, I imagine there will be a bit more to come from me on the topic of forgiveness, considering that seems to be where God is leading me right now :)  Stay tuned!

What a blessing it is when we can clearly see God work in our lives and the lives of those around us!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

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There is Hope…

Hope

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

I am learning, day by day, that my life does have a purpose.  For so much of my life, I felt invisible and worthless.  I thought I was simply taking up space.  I was a burden. 

I have never felt usable unless it meant caving to what everyone else wanted, bending over backwards to help everyone else, giving in to people even when I didn’t want to or have to.  It never had a good meaning.  It was just something else that meant I was broken.

I am learning that even though I may not know a lot of fancy words, I don’t have a real education past high school, God can still use me and he chooses to use me.  The fact that he chooses me, it’s a hard one to accept.  I still find myself questioning what worth I have or why he would want to use me and my brokenness but then I just know that’s exactly why – because of where I have been, what I have been through, lived through, because of my brokenness.

Even though I don’t have a fancy degree, I have something better.  I have a life, one that God has rescued me from and one that he can use!  I am usable!  In my brokenness, my sin, my shortcomings, I am usable. 

When I began this journey a couple years ago, I felt God was leading me to teach, speak and write.

While I could write just fine, I didn’t write well.  As I said before, I don’t know fancy words.  Often times, I see a word and have to look it up.  In high school, I was so numb, so flooded with memories and trauma that I couldn’t focus on school.  I don’t think I learned much past noun and verb.  There’s simply nothing eloquent (ooo, big word – I hope I used it right, lol) about my writing.

As far as teaching and speaking, well, writing only involves me which is why I think I was able to do it.  When teaching and speaking came into the picture, I wanted to laugh at God.  I thought, “He is crazy if he thinks I am qualified to teach or speak.  What a joke!” 

Did I doubt God?  Yep!

And guess what he did?  He laughed back and said, “You are crazy if you think I can’t work through you!

Woah!  He sure did!

So I started teaching – I wrote about that experience here.

And next on the list is speaking.  Being in front of people is very much out of my comfort zone.  I have spent all my life being invisible or trying to be invisible.  I don’t like attention on me.  It feels awkward.  It’s uncomfortable.  It makes me feel guilty like I’m taking light off someone else.  There’s all kinds of emotions that come along with the idea.

So, God still has some work to do on me.  A lot of work!  But…

He is so clearly present and working in my life and I am so thankful that he is giving me these stories to encourage me to keep going.  He has put the right people in my path.

I feel that my ministry is teaching, writing and speaking to other women, to share that even in our brokenness, he can and chooses to use us, if we let him, that they are not alone, that it’s okay to not be okay and that God can take even the most broken and bring them to a place filled with hope, love and peace.  Having leaders who encourage my ministry has been such a blessing.  Seeing now that he has clearly given me a family that I can call on in my own times of need, that can extend arms of safety and love, who can try to understand me, who want to get to know me – the real me and not some fake face, is such a blessing!

All of this is more confirmation that I am on the right path.  I am not confident in myself or my own abilities but I am confident in God.  I am confident that I am doing what he wants me to do.

So far anyone who has ever struggled with a broken home, the absence of a parent, sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, adoption, foster care, the court system, suicidal thoughts, depression, cutting, alcohol, smoking, promiscuity, rape, death and loss, marriage, finances, infertility, children, fear, shame, guilt, worry, jealousy, worth, trust, insecurity and more, DON’T GIVE UP…THERE IS HOPE!

I don’t have a pretty degree that qualifies me by any state or government on any of these issues, but I have a heart that has been impacted greatly by every one of these things and so much more.  There’s no doubt in my mind that God will use my story to shine his light onto someone else.  That’s worth more than any piece of paper :)

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Yes to God!

YestoGod

It’s that time again!  It’s blog hop time with Proverbs 31 and Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible studies!  Yay!

This study is Lysa TerKeurst’s book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.  We had four choices on topics this week.  Here’s mine:

4. #yestoGod. Share a time you caught a “glimpse of eternity” as you said yes to what God was asking you to do.

Back in July 2011, I had just joined in with the P31 online Bible studies.  The first study I followed was Wendy Blight’s book, Hidden Joy.  Wendy is a very gifted writer and her book absolutely impacted my life in a huge way!  Around that same time, I began feeling this overwhelming desire to pour myself into Scripture and anything that kept me in God’s word (keep in mind, this was very unusual as until then, I hated to read anything – even or maybe especially my Bible).

As I went through the study, I just felt like God was leading me to teach.  I have to explain this for you to understand how ridiculous that idea was in my mind.

First of all, I has spent the past 10 years hiding out in the church nursery.  It was a safe place where I could hide any real feelings or emotions from everyone else.  I could spend all my time at church focusing on these kids and not myself.  It was my escape from real life.

Also, I am not at all good with Scripture or memorizing, knowing much of anything about the Bible.  At the time, I knew Jesus, knew of Moses, Jonah and a few other folks from the Bible but that was just about the extent of my knowledge.  (How sad that is now!)

I wasn’t good with prayer (still working on this one) and had never, ever prayed out loud.  In fact, until this past weekend, I could still say that.  God was certainly working on me this weekend and had me WAY out of my comfort zone when I was finally able to pray out loud in front of a group of women.  He’s still got a lot of work to do on me in that area, lol!

I had never, not once, attended a Bible study or class – NEVER!  The only Bible study I had ever done, I was in the middle of and it was online!  I had no clue how it worked to actually be in person, what teachers did or even what those who were there to learn did – nothing.

But still, I felt that’s exactly where God wanted me.  I couldn’t understand any of it.  Why would he want me to teach others?  I don’t even know my own way but he wants me to lead someone else?  “This is insane,” I thought.

These feelings were so strong, I knew I had to act on it and in a moment, I chose to say YES to God!

I emailed our education pastor at church, fully expecting him to laugh right out of his shoes and reply back with a big fat “No!  I’m sorry, but who do you think you are even considering this silly notion?!  Not no but NO!”

The thing is, that’s not the reply I got.

He said, “Yes!”

At that point, you can imagine I was a little extremely shocked.  I couldn’t quite understand first of all, why he would even consider the idea.  Second, what was I doing?  I had no clue where to go from there.  I had no idea what I was doing and what was I thinking getting myself into this?  It didn’t matter because this was it, I was doing it.

I said Yes to God!

I taught my first Bible study class, on the book Hidden Joy, in the fall of 2011.

That first class will always, always be such an important part of my story.  The women who came gave me hope.  They gave me confidence in a God I wasn’t sure I wanted to trust.  They encouraged me, supported me and even thanked me.  It seemed like they actually enjoyed it and God really worked in all of us.  I couldn’t believe it!

Still filled with doubts, I continued to feel this strong desire to teach.  I wish I could really make you understand just how crazy this thought was in my mind, but it would not let up.

The next semester, I asked our education pastor if I could continue teaching.  Still filled with the same insecurities, this time I feared now that folks had taken my class, maybe someone didn’t like it, he’d have doubts about me and tell me no.

He said, “Yes!”

I went on to teach the winter 2011/12 semester, spring 2012 and fall 2012.

At this point, I started feeling like if I didn’t take a break I might get burned out.  So, I for the winter 2012/13 semester, took a break and took my very first, real, in person Bible study class.

In the spring 2013, I was back to teaching.  This summer, I took a break from our church to take a class with my sweet sisters at another church.  My second in person Bible study class :)

Come September, it will be back to teaching for me.  I’ve just gotten the okay from our education pastor to keep it up and with his support and encouragement, along with the support and encouragement from our lead pastor, I know I am doing exactly what God wants me to do.

I am this wounded, broken girl who doesn’t know Scripture very well, very much out of my comfort zone and who is not, in the least bit, confident about her ability to teach, but I am absolutely confident that God can use me, even especially in my brokenness and that he can work through me.

Because of that, I say YES to GOD!

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