Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week 11: Jodi Cross

Pastor Dean Cross & Jodi Cross
I have been racking my brain as to what to share with you.  There are so many different directions I could go in.  I also would like to make a great impression, since I am meeting many of you for the first time.  ;)  I would love it if you were here in my kitchen right now sharing a cup of tea with me (I just made chamomile). 

 I come from a big, loud, crazy Italian-Jewish Family from New York.  We put the fun in dysfunctional.  Dean comes from a large, quiet, sit-around-and-not-talk family from Maine.  Yup, that was interesting!  It was a “cross-cultural” marriage.  We will be married for 24 years this September.  We have 4 kids: Ben (22), Rene’ (20), Jessi (18) and Nicole (16, this September).  We also have 2 dogs, Ziva and Remy.  So, our house tends to be more on the crazy and loud side.  It is definitely not for the faint of heart.

 If I had to sum up my walk with God with one word, it would be trust.  Trust has never been easy for me.  When I accepted Jesus at 16, it was life-changing in so many ways, but when I read that He called me His friend (John 15), I felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time.  We walked through healing me of the effects of an abusive, alcoholic father and the insecurity that crippled me in many areas. 

I went to Youth With A Mission, where I did things like drama, public speaking, traveling to other countries, changed oil on a school bus, digging ditches ~ things that I thought I could never do.  I met Dean there.  We were serving God and changing the world.  Six months after we were married, my mom died from an aneurism.  It rocked me to my core.  My mom was my best friend and my rock. 

I couldn’t trust God anymore.  My mom LOVED Him!  She was a worshipper, not a great singer, but a worshipper.  She served God and others with complete abandon.  Oh, I still did all that I was supposed to, but deep down inside something died with my mom.  An underlying fear was there.  I held back from God.    
Since that time, we have faced the ups and downs of life as we served in churches, cried as our girls fought for their lives in NICU, said goodbye to Dean’s sister as she ended her fight with cancer, celebrated milestones in life, planted a church, moved from New England to North Carolina to Texas, serving God, His people and loving our family.
 When we were asked to be house parents at LifeHouse, I didn’t want to move again.  I didn’t want my family split up.  (Ben couldn’t live with us)   It was another major trusting moment.  For me, I had to totally trust that God knew what he was doing.  It was one of the best and hardest 2 years of our lives.  While at LifeHouse, I was diagnosed with MS and recently Lupus, which could be a blog all its own.  J  We also starting attending Crosspoint and bringing the girls.  Crosspoint has been a place of restoration for our family, as well as our LifeHouse girls.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Week 10: Deb Myers

Deb Myers - Wife of Pastor Mike Myers
Have you ever wondered why your life took the path that it did? Ever wish you had “do-overs”?  Ever questioned certain events or why some people ever crossed your path?  Struggled with choices and consequences?

This is what 2 Corinthians 1 says; (verses 3 & 4) – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  (verses 8b & 9) – “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”  (verses 10 & 11) – “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 

Let’s break down the 3 reasons why we struggle with things of life.

1.  So we can relate and be a comfort to others.  I look back and see low self-esteem, weight struggles, eating disorder, alcohol, and date rape and wonder how I could’ve avoided all that.  I wasn’t supposed to.  How can I relate to any of those issues unless I’ve lived them?  God in His wisdom (thank heaven, not mine) knew where I was headed and who I would come in contact with.  His plan is always perfect.  It all made me who I am today and I wouldn’t change that!

2.  To realize that it’s God who changes and rescues us – not ourselves.  I tried for a while to take care of things on my own but as we say many times to people stuck in denial “How’s that working for ya?”  It wasn’t and not until I turned it all over to Christ by praying to receive him on July 13, 1983 did I realize the truth and the freedom that came with that.

 3.  To give God all the praise and glory. He is our deliverer, healer, comforter, shepherd, father, the same yesterday, today and forever.  I need to keep searching and learning from His Word and through prayer and to practice Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” Not to say that there haven’t been struggles and pain but there is a peace that passes understanding that permeates it all.  I’ve learned to turn to Him in all circumstances for guidance, reassurance, and the ever present love and forgiveness.    

Now I see clearly why we go through the things we do.  It all happens for a reason…God is in control and will never waste a hurt.  Keep your eyes fixed on Him – He knows your path much better than you do!  


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 9: Diane Elder

Nathan, Ashton and Diane Elder
  I always knew I wanted to be a mom.  When I was younger, I would constantly carry around a baby doll.  I even had a legit diaper bag...if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right.  My neighbor was constantly over at our house playing with me, and about a year ago, she told me that she thought something was wrong with her because she DIDN'T want to play babies as much as I did.  

  My husband and I tried for months to get pregnant before we had our son Ashton.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have fertility issues.  Nobody I knew really did.  So when we struggled, I didn't know what to do.  I went to the doctor and found out after some testing that I had something called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS.  It is where your ovaries produce little cysts instead of follicles, or in my case, they just shut down entirely.  We did one round of medication called clomid and it was unsuccessful.  They bumped up the dosage for the 2nd round, and Voila! I was pregnant.  Easy enough!  It made me think that when we were ready to have another one it would be just as simple. 

  After Ashton was born, I was in a very dark place.  Post-partum depression hit me very hard.  I looked at this baby that I just gave birth to, and didn't feel all warm and fuzzy like I thought I would.  All I could think were things like, "What did I just get myself into?" Why in the world did I want this baby so badly?" "I am never going to sleep EVER AGAIN."  I thought I was a terrible mom and an even worse person for thinking these things instead of being so excited that I just had this perfect little boy.  I was numb all over.  I felt totally alone and abandoned because the day we got home from the hospital, my husband rushed back to work, and my mom left a few days later.  I ended up having a c-section (I will spare you all the details!) and my recovery was AWFUL to say the least.  It wasn't until Ashton was about 8 or 9 months old before I decided that I needed some help.  So with much prayer, counseling and anti-depressants (ha!), a few months later I was feeling more like myself.  I actually wanted to talk to my husband again.  It was so much better! 

  When Ashton turned 2, we decided maybe we should give it a shot for another baby.  Nathan was kind of skeptical because he was afraid that I would slip away again, but I assured him that I was much better now and I would be fine.  So I went to the doctor and got a prescription for clomid again.  I got pregnant right away, which was something I didn't really expect!  About a week after we found out I was pregnant, I began spot bleeding.  I read in my books that it was a pretty common thing in the beginning of pregnancies, so I tried not to freak out and just took it easy.  A few days later, I began having some pains on my right side.  So I kind of panicked and we went to the ER just to make sure it wasn't ectopic.  They did all sorts of blood work and ultrasounds, and said that my numbers were a little low and it was too early to see anything on the screen.  So I just went home and waited.  The following Sunday I was walking into Bailey road for church, and I physically felt something go wrong.  I went straight to the bathroom and saw that I was beginning to miscarry.  I was so confused.  Why would God give us a baby just to take it away again?  And I slipped right back into my dark place.  I didn't get out of bed for an entire week, crying the whole time.  I didn't think I would ever recover from this.  About 4 months later, I had accepted that my sweet baby was with God, and I couldn't be upset about Him rocking him or her to sleep instead of me.  So we decided to try again.  Again, first round of clomid, I got pregnant.  Everything seemed to be going pretty good with this one.  And again, about a week after we found out, something went terribly wrong.  It was a Thursday night.  I had just gotten home from work, and Ashton and I were outside watering the garden.  I suddenly felt very strange, so I decided to go inside.  All of a sudden I was in so much pain that I couldn't even stand up straight.  I couldn't walk.  I was so scared.  Thursday nights Nathan has rehearsal for worship team, so I called him to see if he could get someone to come over to help with Ashton since I physically couldn't move.  He rushed home to make sure I was okay.  He somehow got me to bed and if I laid still enough, I felt ok.  I called the doctor and they said to come into the office in the morning just to check and see if everything was okay.  I didn't sleep at all that night because of the pain.  We went to the doctor's office the next day and she did an exam.  She found out that there was blood in my urine and diagnosed a UTI.  She also said that she couldn't feel that there was a mass in my abdomen so there was no chance that it could be ectopic.  She said that it was probably a cyst that had ruptured, and that if the pain gets too bad over the weekend, to head to the ER.  Otherwise we were going to do an ultrasound on Monday.  So I went home.  I spent the day in bed, trying to tell myself that everything was going to be fine.  That night, Nathan went out with a bunch of his buddies to celebrate him finishing his CD album.  I went to bed that night, but the pain just intensified.  I called Nathan and asked him to come home because I couldn't take it anymore, that we needed to go to the hospital.  He did, but we weren't exactly sure what to do with Ashton since it was the middle of the night.  So we waited until the next morning.  It was agonizing.  We finally headed to the hospital on Saturday morning and when we got there, they immediately took me back.  More blood work, more ultrasounds.  They told me my numbers were great and Nathan said he could see the baby on the screen, so I was thinking I was in the clear, that I just needed some relief from the pain and I could go home.  Boy were we wrong.  They came into the patient waiting room where I was at and pulled me into a private ER room.  They asked me to put on a hospital gown and undress so they could put heart monitors on my chest.  Nobody would tell me what was going on.  Finally, a physicians assistant came in and said, "Did they tell you?"  Um, no.  So he proceeded to tell me that my pregnancy was ectopic and my tube was ruptured.  I was bleeding internally and I was going into emergency surgery to remove the tube and possibly the ovary.  My baby was gone.  I wasn't sure how to process all of this information since it all happened so fast.  All I remember was trying to tell my mom to fly down here. That we needed her help, but I couldn't form the words.  All I could do was cry.  For days.  For weeks.  I had lost so much in such a short period of time.  It took me almost a full year to mostly recover from that.  Not physically.  Within a month I was cleared to do all the normal things I was supposed to be able to do.  But mentally and emotionally, I was broken. 

  Fast-forward.  7 months later we decided to see a fertility specialist since I was sort of "handicapped" from having only 1 tube, but 2 ovaries.  We did several tests and multiple rounds of clomid, but nothing worked.  Again, I was so confused why the medication had worked so well and so quickly the first 3 times that we had used it, but since then nothing was happening.  After about 6 rounds and another hospitalization from an infection, we have now decided to take a break.  And that is where we are right now.  Some days I think that we are done. That Ashton is all we need. But other days I long to be pregnant and hold another baby so badly that it hurts.  I don't know what God's plan is for our family, but I know that it is perfect, whatever it is.  I have grown so much closer to God through all of this.  I have felt His arms wrap around me so tight and that has been so comforting.  Through all of this, I knew I wanted something good to come out of the pain.  There had to be something positive come out of this, if not for me, for other people. 

  About a month ago, I talked with a few of my friends about maybe starting an infertility support group through our church.  They were very receptive to the idea, so we had a planning meeting.  After our brainstorming, I met with the women's ministry at Crosspoint.  This idea has grown and blossomed into something I am so very excited about.  Hopeful Hearts is the new ministry, and we are starting in October!   It is going to be a place for women who have suffered infertility, miscarriages, infant death, or even abortion.  I LONG for people to come and feel blessed by this, to cry with other women who have gone through the exact same thing.  I know I needed it when I was in that place.  I want women to come and find their identity in CHRIST and not in their fertility problems.  He is the healer.  He is our comforter.  He has the perfect plan, even when we think our plan is better. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Week 8: Jan Rohr

Jan Rohr
I remember well when my parents purchased a different car.  I was devastated, sad, crying because I did not want to change vehicles.  It seems silly now, but to a young child it was a real experience of sadness.  Changes continue to be one of my biggest challenges of my life.  It is a process that does not feel good, is not exciting and can be very depressing for me. 

     In 1986 my husband and I made the decision to move from Oregon to Texas.  The job market was not doing well and I was a “stay at home” mom with our two little boys.  The move proved to be long and difficult.  I was no longer in the company of my parents and sisters.  New friends, new church, new location was all very overwhelming.  Jobs finally came into place for both of us.   I experienced depression and emotional upset that lasted many months.  My feelings added stress not only to my life but to the well being of our marriage.   I was continually looking forward to the time when we could move back and life would be “normal” again.   

    We stayed in the same church for over twenty years.  It was my life line to my family at home….the denomination of my youth.  My husband and I both had both attended the college sponsored by our church.  All four of our children also graduated from the church sponsored schools.  The whole experience brought security of my past. 

     Four years ago we started to attend Crosspoint.    My husband made the decision to leave our other church and I reluctantly followed.  The whole process was very difficult, much like previous experiences. 

     Jesus has spoken to me through this entire experience.  He has to be my family, my security and focus.  He is the only one that can fill my every need.  He is the only “constant” in my life.  He is the answer to all adjustments. He uses this experience for me to run to him only.

     Recently I found a very special verse.  …..he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”  Acts 17:26-27

    *Just this week I had some of my “Crosspoint sisters” to my home for dinner.  My heart was full of peace and contentment.  What a blessing this has been in my faith walk.  God is good!!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Week 7: Delia Blair

Delia Blair
I’ve spent weeks, probably more than a month thinking and praying about what I would write. A few days ago I began doing some reading to help me figure it out. I came across one of my favorite quotes: “You can’t pray and worry at the same time!” I also had penciled next to it: “If you’re worrying, you’re not praying!”

  Wow! That was a reminder of a time in my life, nearly twenty years ago when I was all but crippled by worry and fear. To the point that I was hospitalized and no doctor could figure out why I was having such severe abdominal pain. It subsided in about 48 hours and I was released. I have no doubt today that it was a physical symptom of pain and brokenness in my heart, soul and mind.

Yes, I was a Christian at the time. Before the hospitalization I sought Christian counseling, prayed and read scripture looking for the answers to the problems that were destroying me and my family. Some of the scriptures the counselors and I used then are still some of my favorites. These are just a few:
Matthew 6:34-

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

John 14:27-

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 121:1-2-

I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Proverbs 3:5-6-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.

Unfortunately after speaking with someone, praying or reading scripture I was right back to the worrisome and fearful thoughts that plagued my mind every waking moment. I would even find that my thoughts had wondered to the worries while I was in counseling, praying, reading, talking to a friend, cooking dinner or giving my baby a bath. I could concentrate on nothing. It seemed as though I could not escape them for more than a few seconds at a time. This affected every aspect of my life.

Then, by the grace of our almighty Father I met a group of women who became and still are today my angels on earth! I believe the Lord saved my life, my family and my marriage through them. They taught me how to live out those scriptures. I was desperate and willing, so I did what they said had worked for them.

My prayers changed. I started by only asking God to help me. Those “angels on earth” were sometimes rather rough. They basically told me I was such a mess that I really didn’t know what I needed or wanted, so to simply ask that He would help me and give me the strength and peace to live according to His will. In the past I would tell him what I needed Him to do. I began praying that He would give my husband the same peace I wanted for myself.

It was suggested that every night I write down five things I was grateful for in that day. After a while I decided to always make sure at least one of those five was something about my husband.  I eventually added a prayer of thanksgiving for those things each night too. This one act was crucial in changing my attitude.

My biggest obstacle was my thinking! I was told to read scripture and/or from one of my inspirational daily readers each morning. Here was the key part to that morning routine…After doing so I was to choose a part of what I read to repeat to myself alllll day long! For example if I read John 14:27 I may decide to “think” on “do not be afraid” for that day. As the day went on and I would realize I was worrying I would just start saying to myself, “do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not be afraid…” I sometimes repeated it out loud if I was alone. I learned that it was possible to control my thoughts and therefore I had control over my serenity. This behavior allowed me to begin to understand and feel the peace Jesus had left for me.

Although it’s been many years since I began to make these changes, I do not live a worry and fear free life. However, I can confidently say that even through some tough times that followed I am no longer controlled by worry and fear. No matter what may happen I trust the Lord’s will in my life today. My life is His anyway!