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.