Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pray and Obey...What is God asking you to do?

by Kim Salter
Pray and obey - what we are called to do.  A little over four years ago that is exactly what I did and God has been truly blessing my husband and I since.
 We moved to Pearland 5 1/2 years ago from the Beaumont area when my husband accepted a promotion with his company.  I began working in the Medical Center as a medical sonographer with a Perinatology group, which specializes in high-risk obstetrics.  I loved what I did and enjoyed helping women who had high-risk pregnancies fulfill their dreams of motherhood.  After about six months of working there I began to realize there was just something else I was supposed to be doing.  And the nagging, gnawing at my gut began.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but I just knew.  Something deep inside kept telling me to help women and young girls in crisis.  Unable to shake that feeling, I started praying and asking God for clarification because it just wasn't making any sense to me.
One day on my way home from work I was listening to Amanda, the afternoon show host on KSBJ, talking about volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center.  I thought to myself how cool that would be.  So I searched online for one close by and the first one to pop up was the Beltway 8 South Crisis Pregnancy Center.  I called and expressed my interest in volunteering one evening because I worked during the day.  The receptionist kindly took my name and number stating they would get back with me.  Several months went by and I never heard from them so I assumed they didn't need any more volunteers.
In the meantime I asked for prayer from my lifegroup for discernment because things were still not making any sense.  My leader and dear friend, Randy Hufstetler, told me the story in Matthew 14 about Peter getting out of the boat.  After finishing he looked me in the eyes and said "so Peter get out of the boat".  Well of course that petrified me, but it got me to do some soul searching.
 We went out of town to see my son in college several weeks later and went with him to church that Sunday.  I opened up the church program and what was the first thing I see but a flyer about a crisis pregnancy center in that area. OK God again you're showing me this- is this what you want from me?  After arriving home that evening I was doing my daily bible reading and what was my chapter to read for the day - Matthew 14 - Peter get out of the boat. Wow- coincidence?  I think not.  Within 30 minutes my phone rang and it was the volunteer coordinator from the pregnancy center apologizing that she hadn't contacted me sooner.  She had misplaced my telephone number and was just now finding it again.  She asked if I was still interested in volunteering after all this time.  Of course my answer was yes!  I think by this time God was trying to hit me over the head with a hammer saying are you getting it yet?  This is what I want from you.
 After lots of prayer, talking, tears and laughter my husband and I decided to be obedient and do what we felt God was calling me to do - leave a good paying, full-time job to volunteer my time with girls in need.  How it was going to work?  We had no idea. With children in college and me adding up the numbers based on my husband's salary alone it wasn't going to work.  But we had faith that God would provide.
It hasn't always been easy, but He has always taken care of us.  Now I still get to do ultrasounds on the clients, but even better, I get to minister to them, share the gospel with them and just love on them. Everyday I'm there something happens that confirms I'm where I'm supposed to be and I love it.  Pray and obey.
 My name is Kim Salter and I am a child of God and a real Crosspoint Woman.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week 24: Jodi Rohr

Tyler, Jodi and Zolie Rohr
Growing up in the church and surrounded by friends and family who are believers has been a tremendous blessing.  I know that I was taught the gospel of Christ at a very young age. So young, in fact, that I don’t remember not knowing about the powers of Jesus and the love of God.  There was always someone to pray with me, give me guidance or show me the love of Christ.  I am so thankful that God allowed me to be born where I was, when I was and to the family I was.  He further blessed and protected me by allowing me to marry my husband, Tyler, and guiding us to Crosspoint.   At Crosspoint, we have met the most incredible friends and have been involved with ministries and life groups that have REAL people to walk through life with us.  Now, by the grace of God, I am a mother and pray every day that my daughter (and son on the way) will make the choice to surround themselves with believers as they grow. As long as I have a choice in who they are around, it WILL be around the body of Christ!  We need all the help we can get to bring up our children in an atmosphere of love and the truth of Christ.

Despite that stability of a Christian community, life is not all rainbows and sunshine.  Sometimes it is hard, heartbreaking and difficult.  There have been moments where I have felt abandoned by God and lost to His purpose.  My Dad was diagnosed with cancer the year I turned 21 and after a horrible year of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries, he lost his battle.  It was a complete shock because we are a praying family and we KNEW that God was going to heal my Dad.  We had 100 % faith that he would be healed and his story would be a testimony to others of how the power of prayer works. It broke me and shattered me that God didn’t heal my Daddy.  When my husband and I decided to start our family, I had 2 miscarriages (and a third after my daughter was born) that absolutely rocked my world.  Not in the “rock on,” life is good way, but rather the “rock the boat” until it fills with water and starts sinking way.  I had NO idea that having a baby would be difficult for us.  I believe that life starts at conception and that God is in love with our babies in the womb before we even know about it.  I am certain that my three precious angels are in heaven with my Dad waiting for me to come join the party on the streets of gold.  But the fact that they aren’t here, in my world, playing in my house and getting my hugs and having their earthly Daddy bathe them at night and rock them to sleep is more than sadness.  It is a physical pain that, if I allow it, will bring me to my knees and incapacitate my ability to live.

The crowd of believers I have been surrounded by has always been there. And for that I am eternally grateful.  I can only imagine the dark hole I would be in without them.  They have been praying, guiding, leading, crying with me and for me, listening and offering the best words of encouragement they could muster.  But, as many of you know, there are times when that all seems empty.  Times when I have begged God to take away my pain and hardships. Like the thorn in Paul’s side which God refused to remove.   In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Paul says he “...pleaded with the Lord [three times] to take it away.”  But God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul says that because God refuses to take away the thorn that he will boast in his weaknesses, and find delight in hardships, in and through difficulties.

Now, I am not as strong or wise or far along in my sanctification as Paul, and finding “delight” in my hardships is not something I have been able to do yet. However, I have come to a place that allows me to use my weakness and my story to provide strength for others, or to, at least, try. Because of my experiences, I am aware that for others, there are times when my words seem empty. Times that the hurt is so deep and the pain is so profound that you can’t hear the comfort of scripture and you can’t feel the arms of God wrapping around you and giving you sustenance.  But as a Christian  and as a woman who has more than a few thorns, I know that once the pain begins to fade and the healing has a chance to begin, that the hugs, tears, and prayers of a friend will do so much more than comfort. I know that the word of the Lord will be salve on a wound, cleansing, healing and soothing the pain.  Once your heart has a chance to begin its mending and your brain begins to process the words and scriptures God provides for us through family, friends and mentorship, you are able to find power and strength in your weakness. Like Paul, we can begin to realize that not in spite of it, or because of it, but through it, God IS power. God IS sufficient. God IS perfect.  He will use our hurts. He will not let hardship go wasted. And he will never, no matter what we feel, let us go. He will teach us, for as long as we learn it, he will continue to teach us that when we are weak, we are strong.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week 23: Julie Berry

Julie Berry

It was a lie. A huge, ugly lie.
I was walking through the halls of the church on a busy Sunday morning and being bombarded with friendly, empty greetings: “Hey, good morning. How are you?”, “Good to see you. How are you?”, “How was your weekend?”.
I smiled and nodded and uttered the tried and true “I’m fine. How are you?”. But I wasn’t fine. In fact, I was as far removed from fine as a person can be and still function. I wanted to stop each and every time and say “Do you really want to know? I’m not fine. I’m falling apart.”  But I knew no one wanted to hear that.
My family attended church regularly when I was growing up and I was involved in every aspect – Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, choir, pianist/organist, youth group leader.  My parents were always there and great providers but emotionally closed off. They never, in our whole lives, told me, or my two siblings, the three words we all need to hear in order to thrive – “I love you”.   As the child of an alcoholic mother, I was an overachiever and the peacemaker in our home.
I became a Christian at the age of 16. I had grown up in the church but am sad to say never heard the gospel. I thought I was a Christian but after meeting the real deal,
I discovered that I was SO wrong. I asked Jesus to be my Savior and left behind a sinful, messed up life.
I always knew music would be a mainstay in my life. I graduated college with a degree in Music Education and spent the first several years of my career as a public school band director. Eventually, I left teaching to go on staff full-time with Campus Crusade for Christ.  My experience with CCC led me to the position of Director of Music Ministries at a large church in Beaumont, TX. I recall vividly the night, in all my spiritual arrogance, that I knelt beside my bed and thanked God for His call on my life and asked that He remove any “garbage” that would prevent me from being as close as possible to Him. I got up off my knees, went on my way and quickly forgot my prayer.
A year later I knew something was very, very wrong. I sought help and eventually began counseling with a Christian therapist. My first session went on for three hours and I learned I was suffering from depression.  My counselor had me read life-changing books, begin applying scripture, and met with me at least twice a week but it was all head knowledge and my condition worsened.
I had been in therapy for over two months and it was a normal Sunday morning but
I cried all the way through both worship services. I somehow managed to make it through the remainder of the day but upon entering the bustling, noisy church office as I arrived at my job Monday morning,  I knew it was over for me. I consciously thought, “I can’t do this anymore.” I muttered some excuse and headed home.
The emotional pain was so palpable that it was now an excruciating, physical ache and I was exhausted from the constant hurt. I wanted relief. I wanted to stop crying. I couldn’t sleep or I slept all the time. Inside my house, I paced and worried and panicked. And if you asked me why, I couldn’t tell you. I just needed it to cease, to end, to be done.
I took out a bottle of sleeping pills and in one last desperate cry for help, I called my closest friend and told her what I was going to do. Within 24 hours I was in Rapha, a Christian psychiatric hospital, on suicide watch.
It was the most difficult two weeks of my life, but I wouldn’t change one single, solitary thing because I finally learned who I am in Christ.  The real Julie, for the first time in my life, emerged.  The incredible pain I couldn’t grasp in my thought process was now being vocalized and healed.  I simply wanted someone to love me. I had spent every day of my life manipulating and pleading and begging, without even realizing it, for someone, ANYONE, to love me for me.
My daily experiences and all my relationships had been wrapped up in the Four False Beliefs as explained in Search for Significance:
#1)Fear of Failure       -  I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.
#2)Fear of Rejection -  I must be approved by certain others to feel good about myself.
#3)Fear of Punishment  - Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.
#4)Shame                    - I am what I am; I cannot change; I am hopeless.
God began showing me, one by one, all the bondage upon my life as I lived in constant fear.  What freedom it was to finally grasp the truths in God’s Word and to understand I didn’t have to live like that anymore. Romans 12:1-2 took on a deeper meaning as I truly was “transformed by the renewing” of my mind and thought process.
It didn’t happen over night. Thirty years of “wrong” took much work to correct and heal but God was and still remains faithful.
Two years had passed and my life, my relationship with God and all those around me was so much better and finally “real”.  I often read and reflected on Psalm 30:5 – “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” and Psalm 30:11 –
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing”.  I had met so many people along my journey who had experienced abuse and addiction and false beliefs of their own. Some wanted help, some had incredible testimonies of healing, and some seemed content to remain in their misery.
One day I was praying and talking to God and remembering and thanking Him for healing me.  I asked Him “why me”? Don’t get me wrong. I was extremely grateful and would go through it all again, as painful as it was, to learn all I did and come out of it all healed and whole but I was curious. There are many people in the world, many Christians, who struggle and wrestle with false beliefs. So, again I asked, “why me?”
And as clear as day, God answered. He softly and gently spoke to me and said “Because you asked me to.”  And in a moment, in a flash of time, I remembered.
It was that night I had knelt and asked Him to remove the “garbage” in my life. Honestly, I didn’t remember because at the time I thought I had arrived – that I was all I needed to be as a Christian.
But He listened. He heard me. He was waiting for this spiritually arrogant know-it-all to come to Him and ask to be made whole. And now I know I’m worthy to be loved. Not for anything I had done or will do, but simply because the God of the universe loved me enough to send His Son to die for me.
I’m reminded of the new song we learned a few weeks ago, All He Says I Am.  Powerful lyrics that resound in my heart:  “I am all He says I am. I am all He says I am. I am all He says I am and He says I am His own.”
When I stared into that bottle of sleeping pills so many years ago looking for a permanent escape from the never-ending sadness and pain, I never had a thought that God could bring me through it all to where I am today.
Now, many years later, a damaged, wounded soul has been restored and renewed.
A child who matured into a young woman struggling for attention and acceptance walks in the peace of knowing she is eternally and wholly loved. A person who feared she’d never have a family of her own has been married to a wonderful, godly man for almost 19 years and has three incredible sons.
If you struggle, if you hurt, if you seek to know God more, simply ask Him for whatever you need and give Him permission to go to work in your life. I’m living proof that “He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” – Philippians 1:6


Monday, November 19, 2012

Week 22: Linda Nix

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The Lord gave me that verse many years ago when my husband and I were going through some very difficult times. I return to it so very often. We often hear the phrase, “He won’t give you more than you can handle.” I know that is true but I have often felt that I can’t handle another thing. At that point, the verse comes back to me from God to remind me that He is with me and will take over and I can rest. You see I am the type, as many women are, that want to take care of things myself. I can take care of everyday things such as washing, cooking, and cleaning but I have come to realize that God is with me in EVERYTHING! The times I notice the most is when those huge things happen in your life that are totally out of your control.

My life went through a huge change eight years ago and only God could get me through it. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a lumpectomy and radiation. God was with me through all of that. Two months after the radiation was finished, my husband of 40 years, had a massive heart attack. I found him in the backyard and had to begin CPR until the EMT unit showed up. It was critical and I wasn’t sure at that moment if my husband would survive.  He had to have triple bypass surgery and suffered a brain injury due to lack of oxygen. He had to go through many weeks of rehabilitation and learning about his life again. There are certain things he cannot remember, but overall he is recovered. God was with us through all of it and there are too many prayers answered to name.  Through all of that, God would remind me to let Him carry the burden. It is a great relief to know that our God is so loving and kind, he will get your through the toughest of times and give you rest.

I am thankful every day for what God has done for me and my family. I am truly thankful for a healing God who also gives me much needed rest so my mind and heart can heal also.

My name is Linda Nix and I am a child of God and a real Crosspoint Woman.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 21: Rachel Sanders

Rachel Sanders
Funny that I am writing this blog... I never thought that I would be so involved in a church that I would be asked to write a blog for their women’s ministry. Even more of a surprise to me is that my family is alongside me in this wonderful church we call our family.

I have always been a daddy’s girl (still am really). I grew up with Christian parents. My dad was Catholic and my mom was Methodist. We went to a Catholic Mass on Christmas and Easter every year. When my sister and I were old enough to drive we started attending church on our own. Our mom joined us soon after. The three of us started seeing the transformations God was making in our lives. Soon after experiencing God’s forgiveness and grace, my sister and I decided to get baptized. This was my dad’s first time to walk into our church home. A few weeks later our dad decided to come try out the church for a service. The pastor seemed to speak to my dad this Sunday, and my dad started attending every Sunday after.  This was a huge start!!!

A few years later, I met the man I now call my husband. Again, God amazed me at how he could soften a man’s heart just by praying for them! Before I knew it, both of the men in my life had joined small groups. I was in awe of the transformations God was making in my father, my husband, and myself. Soon, we all ended up here at CrossPoint Church. Now we are all active members and loving it!

This season of my life is about recognizing how far my family has grown together. It is about being grateful for the smallest of things (like seeing my dad set up signs on Sunday mornings.) It is about developing a home with my husband that shows what my amazing family has grown to be. It is about showing thanks to God for transforming my family into loving servants!

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28 TNIV

My name is Rachel Sanders, and I am a CrossPoint Woman!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week 20: Pam Noey

Henry & Pam Noey
Change – The only thing constant in our lives is change.  I have always believed this and have always adapted to it.  However, I had no idea how big a change God had in store for me until recently. 

I have always felt in control of the changes that were made in my life.  It started when I was 17 years old and had just graduated from high school.  I decided to change my life and move out of the home with my mother and siblings and live on my own.  At 21, I decided to change my life by moving from New Orleans, leaving all of my friends and family, to Houston, where I knew only the girl friend I moved with.  After two months of being roommates, I was forced to change apartments and live on my own again.  At 35, I decided to change not only my life, but my son’s as well by leaving the man I had been married to for 11 years.  At 39, I married the man of my dreams and we continue to have the most full-filling life together.  The most amazing change occurred was when I was 44, when my son introduced Henry and I to Crosspoint Church. You see, church was not part of my life or my son’s.  You may be wondering why I mentioned all of these things.  You see, the only thing that remained constant during all of these years was that I always had a full time job; through many changes in companies; always employed….from age 17 till recently.

The newest change began late last year when the person I supported for 13 years retired.   That meant there were major changes coming for me and the people I worked with. This September, Susan Allen asked to meet with me to discuss joining the leadership team of the Women’s Ministry at Crosspoint.  I have always been “too busy” to attend the evening functions, the retreats and holiday dinners so I did not believe I was “qualified” to be a part of this team.  She asked if I would assist with a special project that had come to the attention of the church.  I thought it would be difficult to take on this project and figure out how I would adjust to a new job role at the same time.  However, God decided it was time for him to take control of the changes in my life. 

You see, just two days after the discussion with Susan, I hiked the Grand Canyon and had about 12 hours to talk and pray to God as to what change He wanted made in my life.  I was giving it all to him and would follow His lead.  During the next few weeks, He was sending me little hints in emails from friends, devotionals and daily bible readings.  He was ready to make a big change in my life.  For the first time in 34 years, I am not employed.  A change I never thought would happen to me.

Matthew 21:22 “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”  This has become my favorite verse and I have to admit I am terrified and excited about the change He has in store for me but have faith that he is in control of things.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Week 19: Lisa Blomstrom

Lisa Blomstrom & daughter Stephany Allen
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a girl that loves words - I love to use lots of them when I am talking and when I am writing. In fact I have always dreamed about one day writing a book. How cool would that be? I have even thought of possibly writing a blog. But, then the whole fear of rejection thing pretty much took care of that. So, when I was asked to contribute to the Women's Ministry Blog, I was excited in theory, but, when I was given a deadline, my brain suddenly went blank. I have struggled for 4 days about what to write. I was told to just write about what God was doing in my life. You might think for a girl who loves words this would be an easy thing to do. No problema. Not true.
The Lord is doing many things in my life and trying to narrow it down, well I was going to just email them and tell them it was impossible. I needed more than just 4 days to make this the most inspiring, spiritual, uplifting, wise, motivating blog that ever was written. This was my big opportunity, I needed time to think and reflect and write and rewrite and perfect. But, the Lord in His infinite wisdom and mercy and grace and knowing me the way He does, rescued me from the abyss of "it’s all about me" and gave me a topic: Fear. I am not exactly sure what about fear, I just know that I am to write about fear. So here goes.
Here is what I know:
Fear destroys hope, innocence, opportunity, courage, trust, plans, dreams, desires, and relationships. At the root of every fear is a lie. A lie is the most oft used and most effective tool that the enemy uses on people period. He is no respector of age or gender. In fact the younger the fear is introduced the better; the more time the lie has time to root and for fear to grow and spread.
I also know that fear has been the driving force behind most all of my decisions in my life.
Who I married.
Parenting my Children.
Most all of my relationships.
My financial decisions.
My career decisions
You name it and pretty much fear was at the root of it. Now the enemy did start pretty early in my life. I was sexually abused as a child. I think there are a whole host of fears that move in with that. My home was completely destroyed by a tornado when I was 12 and everyone but my dad was in it. I was 9 ft tall when I was about 6, so bullying was a large part of my childhood, it didn't help that we moved, ALOT. Nor that we didn't have any money either. Fear of rejection was a huge hit with the enemy and he never tired of using that one. It was very effective. Still is sometimes. My father, though he never beat me, was emotionally abusive and I lived in irrational fear of my father. It wasn't until I was 37 that I began to realize I didn't have to be afraid of him any longer. I married someone I had no business marrying but, yep you guessed it, fear, is what drove my decision to marry a man that I knew was not the right one; but, my fear was that he was the only one that would ever want me. Once I had children, my fears became magnified. All of the fears from the past became so irrational. If there was a storm warning, I would put my kids in the car and drive to a store that was open (it didn't matter the middle of the night or day), so that we would be around people and not be alone. I was afraid that I would die and leave my children motherless, I was afraid they would die, I was afraid that someone would take them and hurt them just like they did me. FEAR, FEAR, FEAR. With all of this fear, there was no way that I could possibly live life, and most certainly not one that was based on a healthy relationship with God. Even after accepting the Lord as my Savior, fear drove me. I was extremely legalistic. Irrational in some of my thinking. I loved the Lord very much; my life was radically changed when I was saved. But, when you view everything through the lens of fear, if that is what colors your world, then everything is very skewed. Now this next part is my favorite:
BUT GOD..... But, God is faithful. He who began a good work in me October 30, 1984, will complete it. And in I John 4 it says: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. The Lord has pressed upon me the importance of His word. That is where I have learned WHO he is, what His heart is. Everything that I have studied over the last couple of years has led me to the same spot. Smack dab in the middle of his Word - His letter to me of His perfect love for me. Without it - I will continue to wrestle with what it looks like to walk out my salvation, without it - I am at the mercy of my enemy. With it, I can stand firm with the belt of Truth around my waist - the truth is that God is trustworthy and that He loves me. Period. No if's, I am His, He has chosen me. He knows all of my faults and failures; even better than I do (and I catalog mine quite often). When I am in His Word I can see where the path to freedom from fear is. It is trusting my Father to do exactly what he says He will do and that is forgive me when I fail and allow the fear to creep in and effect my decision making, to cast it as far as the east is from the west once I have confessed it; and that it is okay to move forward after that, focusing on what lies ahead and believing Him when he says "I know the plans I have for you Lisa, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope. I have learned that He IS perfect love; that He is always with me, driving out that fear, I just have to follow in his footsteps as he goes before me, just like he promises He will. I have learned that doesn't mean life isn't going to happen and scary things aren't going to happen; but, that He will never leave me nor forsake me and He means it. He has shown it over and over and over and over again. He longs for me to trust Him to be my provider and my protector and my redeemer. He calls for me to be strong and courageous. It takes courage to leave behind your failures and to press forward towards the goal. He longs for me to trust Him to not only take care my enemy but to fix all of my boo boos as well. He doesn't say that there is a time table to the completion of the good work that He began, only that HE will finish it in me. When I am thinking on these things there is no room for fear. When I am thinking of these things I can dream and believe that I will be free of all that entangles me and that He is going to use me to show someone else what it looks like to be a Woman after His Own Heart, warts and all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Week 18: Vickie Collins

When I was asked to write this blog my first reaction was fear. Then I thought, really? My story is boring! Plain.
I was born into what most would think of as a Christian family, we went to church, ALOT. We were there every single time the doors were open. My siblings and I would tease my dad and ask if he needed to let the janitor in. I grew up without much drama. Had both sets of grandparents until about 2 years ago. My parents are still married (52 years and counting) I have a great relationship with my brother and sisters and thier families. I met my husband of nearly 33 years in English class our 9th grade year of high school. We have raised 4 boys, have 3 amazing daughters-inlaws and 5 much loved grandchildren. See. Plain. Boring. Right?
My God and my husband have ever so gently reminded me that I've been blessed. Protected even. God has walked with me my whole life! He has NEVER left me. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses.
I will not fail you or abandon you. Joshua 1:5.
As I think back on my life, God takes me on a journey through my Blessings....
My husband and I have raised 4 healthy boys that have grown into fine Godly men. He (God) reminds me of all of the "near" misses with these same boys. The "I'm in jail" phone calls. The ER visits, car wrecks, girl trouble and so on..... He walked right beside me.
My husband is self-employed in the construction industry. I think that statement says it all. We've seen some highs and some really low, lows but my God has met and continues to meet our needs. He's even thrown in a few "wants". God carried me through my dad's colan cancer, never failing to comfort me. He was even with me in my car when my then 15 year old son proceeds to tell me that he is about to become a father. This blessing has not been an easy one but I've never not felt His hand all over it. My God has been with me even through life's stuff that I have not even thought to include Him in.
So I'm praising my God for my plain, boring testimony.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Week 17: Becki McAuley

Greg & Becki McAuley

When God Whispers…

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Was that God or just my own silly voice?” I truly believe that God speaks to us in so many ways, and one of those is with His still small voice which whispers to my heart.
In January 2011 I started reading a little book, Radical by David Platt. I was almost immediately captivated by what he was writing. He was challenging me in new ways about my relationship with Christ and how I was living that out on a daily basis. Also in January, I began to feel unsettled at my job. I chalked it up to simple restlessness and moved on. I have always loved working, and I especially loved my job at our church. I had prayed for this job back in 2001, and God had been so faithful to answer. My position had changed and expanded over the last 9 years. I was finally doing the things I had always seen myself capable of doing.

 Enter in God’s small voice…I began having this thought about staying at home and taking care of my family and house full time. WHAT?!?!? You see I’ve never, not one time in 18 years, had a thought about being a stay at home mom. I believed that I was a better mom because I worked. (I still believe that was true for those 18 years.) I completely put this thought out of my head thinking for sure either I was crazy or God was. When God is speaking to you, I’ve found, you can try to put the thought away, to file it in your crazy file or you can just listen. I did my best to put this thought away but God would not quit talking to me. My idea of staying at home was so outside my “norm” that I didn’t even want to talk to my husband, Greg, about it. I did the next best thing…called in my praying friends and asked for them to spend some time praying for clarity and discernment. Surely I was not hearing God correctly, and they would confirm that for me.
You really need a great group of friends that will pray for you when you need them. I’m so thankful and blessed for these ladies. And one by one they confirmed what God had been telling me for the better part of a month now…I was to resign my position and stay at home. Greg was a shocked as I was by this whisper from God. I asked him to pray about this decision and we could talk about it again after a while. I felt like we needed to each seek God’s direction separately. I believed that if He wanted this for our family, He would also speak this whisper to Greg.
To this day I still cannot believe the direction that God has led me in. Back then I believed God wanted me to be home and more available for my family. While I still believe that is true, I now see that He had other plans for our family that required me no longer working for our church.
On January 1, 2012, Greg and I felt like a change in churches was becoming necessary mainly for our children but maybe for us as well. We knew our teenager really needed a new student ministry to participate and worship with, and we believed this was the reason for visiting new churches. What we didn’t realize was how our passion for God and his people had waned over the last few years. We first visited Crosspoint Church on January 8, 2012 and became members soon after. Since joining CP we feel a new energy for serving, Bible study, life groups and for how we are living out our faith in our community. I see and feel it in each member. How amazing that God would bring us to a new place that honestly at the time we didn’t even know we needed.
About 6 weeks ago I was reflecting back on our year and all the changes that have happened for us (changing churches after 16 years, daughter’s engagement and upcoming wedding, father-in-law’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and the list goes on), then I heard God whispering again. No, it wasn’t another change or move for us but an acknowledgement and understanding for me. He showed me how my obedience back in early 2011 allowed for our family to be in the sweet space we find ourselves in today. God doesn’t always reveal His plans to us but oh how I love it when He does!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 16: Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson
I missed the summer Women’s Ministry meetings where they discussed this new blog (which I love reading and getting to know more of the CpW) and who would be writing for the blog and THEN, the September meeting rolled around and I was excited that I was finally going to be there to be a part of the “new” stuff I had only heard bits and pieces about UNTIL, they started to discuss who else was left to write for the blog…YUP, you guessed it, there I sat, “deer in the headlights”…HELP!!! Our fearless leader (Susan Allen) patted me on the arm and with her sweet smile said, “Oh it’ll be fine, you’re not getting out of this one” and without skipping a beat went onto the conversation she was having……
I was raised in a religion where every Sunday was a constant routine; church then, lunch at my grandmother’s house with the entire family and play with the cousins all afternoon. I loved Sundays because of that yet, had no clue what Sundays and being a Christian were like until I came to Crosspoint.

 I started attending Crosspoint with The Roberts family (whom I’ve known for 20+ years) back in early 2010 and kept coming back because for the first time in my life, at age 38, I was getting something out of the messages that this really funny yet serious, bald-headed guy standing in front of the congregation was lecturing on and I loved it! (Sorry if you are reading this Pastor Tom but it’s the truth!) I attended several of the classes, got plugged into a Women’s LifeGroup and eventually involved in the W2W mentoring program. Somewhere in the middle of all that I was baptized at the last service held at the Old Alvin Road Campus and it thrilled me to know that I was finally getting “IT” as an adult. I know now that this commitment brings pure joy into my heart, let’s me shine as a light I didn’t know existed and totally glorifies our Father!

After attending a month of my Women’s LifeGroup (that Susan Allen and Lisa Blomstrom lead), I was warned by many – “you have chosen the path of Christianity and it’s not going to be easy”; “you have a target on your back for Satan to attack”; “things may get tough before they get better”; and boy were they right on. All kinds of things in mine and my family’s lives started happening (4 very sudden deaths, illnesses, you name it-it happened) yet, I know I had the number one guy on my side, GOD! I can’t say there were big strikes of lightening or messages that said, “It’s God, listen to what I have to say...” – I just know that He held me in the palm of His hand through it all and that these events, were truly God working through me and for that I am eternally grateful and forever His.
My husband and I have two grown children who do not attend church with me. Although, over the last couple of years they have come to church when I’ve asked them to join me (I don’t push it) and support all the things that I am involved in at church – God things and seeds being planting. My son, who is now a Marine, has a 2.5 year old son himself. He was baptized while going through boot camp in San Diego this past March and I pray that he will continue to grow and lead a Christian life that he will share with his son. As for the other two in my household that I love so very much, I will continue to pray for them – that they will one day want to walk this path with me, these God things, and eternally be together.

I am by far still a “rookie” when it comes to the bible, still uneasy about speaking during our LifeGroup, and have not gotten to the point of praying out loud in large group settings YET, I know all of this is OK cause He knows the plans he has for me (Jeremiah 29:11). My spiritual journey continues…

Hi, my name is Jennifer Anderson and I am a real person seeking to do life together with other real people who want to follow our real God!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 15: Kelly Kersten

Kelly Kersten

Denial.  Anger.  Bargaining.  Depression.  Acceptance.

You might recognize that list of words as being what is generally accepted as the five stages of grief.  We have all lost someone precious to us – parents, friends, and even pets.  The loss that I’m currently dealing with is the loss of my job.  You see, in July of last year I was one of thousands of people who were separated from employment (a very PC term for being laid off) due to the retirement of the Space Shuttle.  Or, as my co-workers and I preferred to think of it – we were freed up for further opportunities. 

Losing an income is certainly hard enough, but it also brought the loss of friends, many of whom I had worked with for 20 years or more.  Many relocated to find a new life for themselves and others are still searching for new jobs like me, so it’s hard to get together.  It brought about a certain loss of identity as well.  I was one of the truly lucky ones who could honestly say, “I love my job!”   I had been involved with the Space Shuttle for over 27 years.  The home that I grew up in was literally across the street from one of the first NASA buildings and we were occasionally able to see some of the original 7 astronauts, so I had been around the space program my whole life.  So what am I now?  I still don’t know the answer to that question.

There were, of course, things that weren’t great like personality conflicts, the ever-present deadlines, and the tragic losses of the Challenger and Columbia.  In spite of those things, I enjoyed going to work and there was nothing as thrilling as seeing a successful launch or landing.

While I have been able to move through some of those stages of grief fairly quickly I will confess that I’ve not dealt very well with the job search issue as a whole.  Because of that I am trying to turn more and more to the best teaching tool that I know - the Bible.  The Bible isn’t just a bunch of words that were thrown down willy-nilly on a piece of parchment.  Those words were put there for a very specific reason.  God intentionally fed those words to us to use and to rely on.  I grew up listening to a very traditional pulpit pounding, Bible thumping Southern Baptist minister, so I’ve heard the words before.  The trick is to apply them.

Denial – this can’t be happening to me.  This was a very easy stage to move through because it wasn’t happening to just me.  On the day I checked out of work, over 900 others walked out with me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Anger – How could they do this to me?  How could I stay angry when there were so many others going through the same thing? 

Psalm 37:8 - Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

Bargaining – maybe if I just . . . Yes, I tried to bargain with God, but not successfully I must add.  Really not a smart move to try and bargain with Him. 

Psalm 78:41 - They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

Depression – I’m never going to get a job.  This is probably where I am now.  A very dear and caring friend recently asked me how I was doing, and how the job search was going.  I started blubbering like a baby.  How lame is that? 

Matthew 6:34 - Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Acceptance – well, that stinks.  I’m not fully there yet.  I know that God has a plan for me and the journey I’ve been on during the last year is only a tiny part of it. 

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

So, as I continue my job search I pray and give thanks for the job I had, what I am going through now, and for whatever the future holds. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I wrote the first part of my blog in early August as I was struggling to find peace again and to fully move into the “acceptance” phase. In the months before my separation date I really wasn’t worried about what was to come, because through my belief in God I knew that everything was going to be OK. Many of the people I worked with were finding it difficult to come to terms with. When I was asked how I was able to maintain a sense of calm, I was given the opportunity tell people about my faith in God and how I knew he was going to provide for my needs. Unfortunately, as the year progressed I lost that peace.
I tried to find it again in the best way I knew, which is prayer. Over the past year I prayed for many things – specific jobs, particular locations to work in, specific salaries. I prayed over job applications, and that my resume would be perfect. I finally let all that go and my new prayer was that I would get the one job that God wanted me to have and that I would get it when He wanted me to have it. Nothing more. I turned it over to Him and stepped back. By doing that I found my peace again.
Joshua 1:5 . . . Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
In mid-August, my sister-in-law was in a conversation with one of subcontractor’s that her school district occasionally uses. As they talked, Glenda mentioned that I was looking for a job. A day or so later, this gentleman – a man I have never met - came back and told her that he found me a job. Very, very late on a Friday afternoon she contacted me and gave me a name and a phone number of someone who had an open position that I might be suitable for. I immediately called and left a message that day, and again on Monday. When I didn’t hear back I thought, “OK – it’s not the job God wanted me to have”.
On Wednesday, I was talking to a good friend, Mary (a woman with a true, deep, and spiritual faith) from my old company. As we talked I brought up the story of this potential job opening that my sister-in-law found. I told her about the new focus of my prayers, and that I was OK with not having gotten a response from my phone messages. Mary encouraged me to stay faithful and to continue turning it over completely to God.
And then a God thing happened.
Before I even hung up the phone completely, it rang, and on the phone was the man I left the messages with regarding the job opening. After speaking for a couple of minutes, I offered to take in my resume. This was at 4:30 on Wednesday. At 9:30 the next morning I met with him and at 11:30 I walked out with a job! Praise God!
I have been at work for three weeks now and love it. It is the complete opposite of any of the specific things I had prayed for during the year, and I finally filled out a job application on my 3rd day of work. My resume that I wanted to be perfect? It was only glanced at briefly while I was in the interview. Also, looking back, I can see how each of the jobs I’ve ever had, contribute to the one that I have right now.
It’s a God thing.
Exodus 15:2 - The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week 14: Jackie Villejoin

Pastor David Villejoin and wife Jackie Villejoin
I grew up with my Dad saying he was NEVER going to a nursing home as long as he lived. I have learned many times in my life to NEVER say NEVER.

I could see my Mom's mind deteriorating. Then others were seeing the same. But not my Dad. He was in denial.

The day after Christmas 2007 one of my parents neighbor called me to tell me that my Dad was in the hospital. My Mom couldn't be alone all the time anymore. So my brother and I took turns taking care of our mom while my Dad was in the hospital for 7 weeks. He was suffering from congestive heart failure. The doctors put in a pacemaker. The pacemaker was defective. It had to be removed. It was hospital then physical rehab. When my dad finally came home, he couldn't do anything for himself neither could my mom.

Families have an obligation to provide for their aged members. My brother and I had a decision to make. It was not an easy one. When our parents start to lose their physical and mental capacity's with age, one of the hardest things we may have to do is to take the role of the leader in these situations over our parents. 1 Timothy 5:8 says "Now if anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever". With prayer and God's guidance as children of aging parents, we have a responsibility for their well being at times. 1 Timothy 5:4 says "these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family". The decision was made to put them into a nursing home where they could get the care they both needed. There are decisions in life that are difficult. The first time I left the nursing home I cried. I felt like I was leaving my "kids" behind. It's been four and a half years. Lots of emotions have been shown over the years of living in a nursing home from my Dad. My mother hasn't spoken in 2 years. This is one of the signs of Alzheimer's.

When we obediently seek the will of God, we can be sure that He’ll hear us and give us the wisdom we need to make the right choices.

James 1:5 says
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you". And once we know His will, we have a responsibility to embrace His direction and obey Him completely.

I found great peace and confidence in knowing that the choices my brother and I made were based on God’s guidance. Perhaps no one else will understand or agree with our decision—but we have heard from the One who matters the most.

It's so hard to watch my parents age. These are the people who taught me my moral foundation and was obedient in raising me. Yanking your parents freedom is hard, but necessary for the safety of everyone.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Week 13: Jeni Bateman

Pastor Adam Bateman's wife
Jeni Bateman
I've been reading “A Pilgrim’s Progress” with my kids. I home school, and the longer I do so, the more I realize just how many amazing stories I missed out on growing up. Stories captivate you…they have a way of drawing you into the lives of the characters. The Bible is like that...full of stories about imperfect people and their attempts to follow God.  These stories can be sad or hard, frustrating or even shocking….but always beautiful because God is always God, He always comes through even “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful for he cannot deny who he is.” (2 Timothy 2:13) It's the same with us. Each of our lives tells a story.

My name is Jeni Bateman, and this is part of my story….

I was always a daddy’s girl. I adored my dad. When I was seven, I remember driving out to Longview with my Mom and sister. We met up with my dad and I jumped at the chance to ride with him to the restaurant. He had a truck, and I guess seat belt laws weren’t as strict back then because I remember laying in his lap studying his face as we drove. He had just gotten a haircut, and I was drinking in the differences it made in his appearance. When we got there, we were seated at a booth, and I sat next to him. During the meal, I saw my dad’s hand reach for a chip from the basket and then pause. He began to shake…violently. He banged his head against the big wooden post separating the booths. Then he fell to the floor, his body still shaking.
I’m not really sure how we got to the hospital because I don’t remember leaving the restaurant. I remember being in the waiting room. My grandma, aunt, and uncle were there too. I remember the doctor coming out and talking with my mom. My dad had suffered a major heart attack, and just like that, he was gone.

I’m not sure my seven year old brain was able to fully comprehend what happened. I don’t remember all the details that followed, but I do remember what all the well-meaning church people told me. They told me that it was okay because God needed my daddy in Heaven more than I needed him. Or they would tell me that God needed more angels in heaven. As I grew up and developed my own faith, I realized there was no truth in these statements. In the Psalms, David cries out, “What good am I to you dead; how can I praise you from the grave?” We don’t become angels when we die, and family was God’s design…with a mother AND a father. Little girls need their daddies...period.  I wanted to believe that God was good, but to me, losing my dad did not seem “good” or “okay”.

Most of my 20s I spent on a quest for truth. I spent some time in Bible College. I studied theology... original sin, Calvinism, and free will. I studied creationism and debated with evolutionists. It was fun and I enjoyed flexing my intellectual muscles. I’ve spent time in churches of different denominations and differing theologies.  I had a sense of pride in all I knew about God, the Bible and I was developing my own strong opinions on theology. However, when I started experiencing the hard things of life, all this knowledge left me empty.

About 15 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with early onset, atypical Parkinsons Disease. Nobody really has an instruction manual on how to live with a terminal illness. The doc passes the diagnosis and gives a brief description of what will most likely happen as the disease progresses. The patient goes home and reads all they can find on the details. Then they attempt to figure out how to make the most of life while they can still walk, drive, and go to the bathroom unassisted. This was apparently too much for my step dad to cope with because he ended up having an affair...with a church member.

But this wasn't just any church member. My step dad played drums in the worship band, and she sang in the choir. Her parents, who were elders, had been in a Life Group with my parents for over ten years.  We were all friends.  They were the ones I had gone to when I was having a faith crisis at 18. I remember sitting in their living room and crying as they walked me through the “sinner’s prayer.” They told me to remember that date so Satan could never steal that away from me. This time it was different. “Go home, Jeni.” They told me.  “Mind your own business. Go take care of your own little family.”

In the divorce my mom lost her husband, her life group, and her church. Not one person from that church was there to help my mom walk through the divorce or the progression of her disease. A few years later, this same church was in the news. They had taken pictures of cars parked in front of a nearby “adult toy store.” Then they used the public DMV records to access the addresses of each car owner so they could mail the incriminating photo to each address. People were outraged at the violation of privacy. I was dumfounded by the hypocrisy. Thus continued my search for what was real…

I was doing okay. God was speaking to me. The Bible was alive when I read it. I’d spend the kids' 2 hour nap time journaling, reading and praying. I was slowly healing. This went on for years. But life continued to happen. I couldn’t quite keep up with the hurts I was experiencing. I was overwhelmed and afraid to trust because a broken trust just hurts. I remember looking out the back door while I was supposed to be starting a load of laundry. My mind started playing tricks on me and I remember thinking that I could just leave...start walking and not look back…leave everything that pained my heart. But that would also be walking away from everything I held most dear in my life. I recognized the whisper of God in that moment, “These thoughts are an attack on the way I designed you. Do not listen to them.” I snapped out of it. I finished the laundry. My heart swelled with gratitude for the four beautiful, healthy children in the next room.

Over time, I began feeling like the Bible was not opening up to me. I kept journaling and reading, and going over things that had spoken to me so clearly in the past. It became frustrating honestly, so for a while, I gave up. I started reading C.S. Lewis, Andrew Murray, Brother Lawrence, Brennan Manning etc., but despite my searching, I felt God’s voice and presence fade. I kept reading and praying and crying out. At one point I was convinced that everything I did was sin and thought that was why I could no longer hear His voice. I called my husband, Adam, at work and cried. At first, he laughed at me and told me I was being ridiculous, but then he came home and just held me. He told me I had the night off to go spend time with Jesus and to come back when I was ready.

I drove around aimlessly. I cried. I tried processing what was going on in my head. I've always been a quiet person, but I felt the need to just yell at the dark, black sky in front of me. I wanted to know what sin was keeping me from hearing him. When I became still and quiet again, I heard so clearly my answer. “The world’s sin is unbelief in me.” I knew what He meant. My trust in church and people had been broken and it was affecting how I viewed God. I pulled into the nearest parking lot and took out my Bible and journal. I turned to a passage that had walked me through so much of the last few years.

   Joshua 1 “…I will not fail you or abandon you….Be strong and very courageous….Study this Book of instruction continually…Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Peace swept over me and my soul sighed in relief. I returned home. Adam took one look at my eyes and he knew.

Months later, I was still painfully aware of God’s silence.  The Bible had not yet reopened to me. My mom was in the hospital with her fourth back surgery. I had been driving back and forth between Tyler, where we lived, and Ft. Worth, where my mom was. She had contracted a staph infection and we thought we were to losing her. As a family we were beginning to talk about what would have to happen if we did. It was scary.

I had just finished reading The Great Divorce and The Problem of Pain, both by C. S. Lewis.  I came across a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer called, “Being in Balance.” It appealed to me because I felt so unbalanced. I devoured the book. My spirit recognized truths and my parched soul was drinking them in. I wondered why this guy, who was not a professed Christian, could have so much peace. I grew frustrated that no matter how hard I tried to press in to God...and at a time when I felt so desperately in need of Him...that I was left with very little peace in my soul. I stopped reading. I was too tired and too busy driving back in forth, trying to still educate my kids and maintain some level of sanity.

All of this was happening while Adam, my husband, was attending Youth With A Mission’s (YWAM) “School of the Bible.” While he was learning and growing in his faith, I grew more and more weary and exhausted. I told God one day, “I’m done. I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of believing. I’ll keep teaching my kids about you because I want them to have the chance to know you if you're real. But as for me, I’m just done. I’m too tired to believe any more.”  I kept this all to myself. I didn’t journal it. I didn’t tell Adam. I had grown up in church and this felt like blasphemy, but I was too empty to do anything else.

About a week later, a couple made a surprise visit to Adam's school. They were big believers in the prophetic, something Adam and I were leery of because we had seen it so misused and abused in the past. The school set aside a morning of class and allowed this couple to minister prophetically to each student. They prayed for Adam, and it was so encouraging and in line with what was going on in his life. Adam knew I was struggling and asked if they would pray for me too. I had never met these people but this was a part of their prayer for me:

   “He knows where you're at, your situation. There is hope. There is courage. What the enemy wants to do is steal your courage to follow God but the Lord says ‘be encouraged because I delight in you. I’m doing a good work in you and so trust Me. And know that I’m doing a good work in you because you are mine. You belong to me. You’re not a stranger or a step child, but you are Mine. You belong to me.’”

The entire prayer was written down and Adam brought it home to me. I cried. I still cry when I read it. It didn’t fix everything in that instant, but those words never drifted far from my heart.

My search for God...the real God, continued. I picked up a few books by Buddhist and Taoist monks. Their writings seemed to offer so much peace, and I recognized truths in them. I knew that was why they were such popular religions. After all, people, created by God, are not going to be attracted to an obvious lie. We were designed to be in a relationship with our Creator, that is cry of humanity’s soul…that connection, that relationship. We just miss it…a lot...even as Christians.

I knew I was connecting with God, as the lover and creator of my soul, but my quest for truth went on. I began doubting the very fundamentals of the faith…all the theology stuff that had left me empty, even things like the infallibility of the Bible and the deity of Jesus. Christians and the church had so often failed me, and I wanted to know why. I knew that God was real, and I believed that He was good. But I also knew that people messed things up. My thoughts grew dangerous… “So what if there were mistakes in the bible? Aren't the truths of God indisputable, even amongst historical discrepancies or what appear to be contradictions? What if Jesus was just a man, like Gandhi or Buddha? And what if Christians were his followers because his life was truly amazing and he seriously revolutionized the way we view God?”

I decided I would still call myself a Christian, despite the hurt and pain I’d experienced from the church because I liked who Jesus was. Even if he wasn’t truly the Son of God, I could follow his example as one of the best I’d ever seen on being in a relationship with God.  I kept this all to myself because I didn’t want to freak people out. The last thing I wanted was a theological lecture trying to prove something I felt like didn’t hold any real answers...or people fearing and praying for the salvation of my soul.  I didn’t want to mess up anyone else’s faith. I wasn’t out to start a new religion or anything. I just wanted Truth.

During this time, my mom was preparing for yet another surgery. Because of the previous staph infection, her spine healed crooked. She was extremely hunched over, and no level of medication could touch the pain. The surgery was extremely risky with her compromised health. We tried to make the most of the day, but as night came, my brother and sister and I were all too aware that this could be the last time we would ever kiss her goodnight. Part of me wanted to pray that this would give her a new lease on life and part of me wanted to beg God to just take her home already. We had tried so many things…we'd prayed for her healing, gone to healing conferences,  tried alternative therapies and natural “cures”. I'd read passages like this one:

 “He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness! Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!” (Luke 13:11-13)

My questions about the deity of Jesus were amplified during this time and I was left wondering, “Why did she have to go through all of this? Wasn’t this enough suffering for one person.”  I knew that while Jesus walked this earth, he was known for encounters like the one in Luke.  I didn't understand and my heart just hurt.  I wanted to cry out to him but if Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, I wasn’t sure how to pray.

My mom survived the surgery.  She is no longer on pain meds except for the occasional Advil. That was over a year ago. However, her level of care has far exceeded what my sister can handle. It is no longer safe for my mom to be in her own home and we had to make the decision to move her to an accessible living facility. It makes me sad because I know this is not how she wanted to spend her years as a grandmother. She could hardly wait for my sister, brother, and I to get married and give her grandbabies. This is not what any of us planned on.

So where am I in my faith journey now? Well, not too long ago, I decided to read through the gospels with my kids. I was still trying to figure out this Jesus guy. When we got to the story of the Mount of Transfiguration and I read these words, ““This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” It was like I heard the audible voice of God myself. I knew, in that moment, who Jesus was. He was the Jesus I fell in love with in YWAM. He was the lover of my soul that could bring a smile to my face and cause my lips to spontaneously announce, “I love Jesus!”  to whoever happened to be standing around me. This journey of mine is far from over, I’m sure. I don’t have it all figured out, but I'm okay with that. Yes, there are things that have affected my trust in the church, but God has never once let go of my heart. I have come to Him and blamed Him, accused Him, questioned Him, cursed Him, beat His chest with my fists, and screamed in His face...all the while, tears streaming from a heart that has been broken. And when I was too tired to fight anymore, it was at His feet I fell. He’s still not saying much, but I feel him. I feel Him scoop me up and hold me close. I feel His breath on my face and His heart beating so close to mine...and I get it. Years ago, I asked for Him to cause my heart to beat with His and what I’ve found is that He knows. He knows the brokenness and the pain of this world....oh my God, how He knows. He took my blame, my anger, my questions, my frustrations, and my doubts because He can. He can take my broken heart. He can because He knows....He knows on a level I  could never understand because I would die under the weight of that knowing. But I feel like I’ve gotten a peak into the heart of God.

Something feels special about beginning to know God in this way. I have found my favorite place to be is still in the arms of my Abba and I am content to be still and wait for a while…to just know that He is lay my head in His lap and drink in the differences in His appearance now that much of the rules, misconceptions and religion have been cut away. This is the face I have been searching for.