Let Me Tell You About My People {on Being Thankful}

This time last year the world was shaky.  The church we were going to and had been going to for about 15 years had entered into a huge crisis because of a decision that was made.  As a result of that decision, fractures began to appear.  Imagine driving a huge stone into a mostly frozen pond, a gaping hole where the rock went through and cracks and broken places extending out like spider webs.  The rock, in this example, is the decision.  The cracks and broken places are the relationships that were beginning to crumble around me.

I talked a little about it HERE and HERE.

It's been a hard year of recovery.  When your world is completely changed and turned upside down, there are a lot of adjustments to be made.  When people you thought you knew, don't turn out to be quite the way they portray themselves or you watch your friends being hurt by those who should be loving them, it flips all sorts of switches in your brain.  Last January, February, March and April were intense.  The most difficult months emotionally that I have ever had in life.  I don't even know what to compare it to other that what it feels like to get out of an abusive relationship and finally claim the clarity you need to see all the wrong you have been dealing with for far too long.

I remember clearly back in January, I felt like I was standing in one place and watching all of my people walk away into different directions.  I felt helpless, like my world was falling apart.

Community, especially my church community, was a huge part of my life and now we were being told "If people leave, let them go" or "don't you expect that if they choose to leave, they know their relationships with you will be different?".

No.  No.  No.  No.  I knew that was wrong and not the Jesus I knew.  I knew that as I was watching people go, I could not give up on them.  That just wasn't going to happen.  I just can't reconcile that with Jesus.

So I started with dinner.  Once a month a girlfriend or two or three or four would get together and digest; food and emotions.  We had to purpose ourselves to be steady.  To choose intentional relationships and shut out what we were being told.  We had to choose one another in love over the turmoil around us.  Some dinners were harder than others,  we were all on the same path, just at different places but were were all extremely fragile.  We laid the foundations of truth telling and open air conversations where you didn't have to put on a fake Jesus smile and pretend to be ok.

We shared raw emotions and hurts and struggles and emptied out the depths of our hearts.  There were tears, a LOT of tears and we counted them dear.  Not knowing what the future held, we chose one another.  We have grieved deep loss together.  We have been angry and hurt and weak and completely undone together and all the while God was working.     

And we kept on choosing one another.  Slowly over time we crossed over.  From "yes, we are friends" to we are family forever.  We have walked through the fire with one another and that fire has melded us together.  We are welded onto one another's hearts by Jesus himself.

Where wrong and legalistic thinking tried to drive us apart, God himself stitched us together.

These are the kind of friendships you look for your whole life.  These women are my own personal super heroes.  This group of women, these faces and hearts are so very dear to me.  I hold them tightly.  There is no pretense.  There are no games.  No filters are required.  No standards of conduct, in fact.  We are honest and real and open.  We share all of our thoughts and hopes no matter their condition.  We rejoice together and still count tears when we need to.  They are the best, most authentic relationships I have ever had outside of my own husband and a tiny handful of friends before. 

Our recovery is still unsteady at times but together we have built an entirely firm foundation to work from.  Where we were told that community had become an idol, we have proved that God has used our community for healing, for hope and joy, for experiencing Jesus himself.

For it is in the fertile ground of real friendships that Christ can grow and flourish within us.  When one is hurting the rest of us rally, helping to brush away the debris and junk from the tiny flame and slowly encouraging the fire within us to roar.  Instead of walking solo with our tiny flickers, we come together and have a huge bonfire.  We fan the flames of Jesus in one another.  

Where a decision once scattered us to the wind, God has used that time to link us together eternally.

If you find yourself as I was last January, purpose yourself to be purposeful.  This group of women I described above did not happen on accident.  They are a result of looking around in the midst of my despair and choosing to be purposeful in my pursuit of community, following my heart and not my given instructions. Had I looked around and done nothing, nothing would have happened.

If you can do nothing else and all of your energy reserves are being used on survival...rally the strength to reach out to one, on purpose, and keep doing it.  Strength will grow there.

Though this past year has been downright hellish, these ladies have made it all worthwhile.  Proving once again that from the ashes, God will do amazing things.


What does the Bible say about ISIS? {guest post Monday}

  Another week, another post from Ryan.  I hope you'll enjoy this feature, a fresh perspective from someone who isn't me. :) I will admit that this post is a heavy one but I also think it is beneficial in remembering how to posture ourselves in this scary world we live in.  Feel free to leave comments with questions, Ryan is great to answer them.


First and foremost, nothing in this blog or in anything else I say is intended to lessen or excuse the acts of terror which have been wrought by ISIS.  They are evil.  They are evil of the highest order.  But how should Christians view them?  For that, I’d like to turn to Jonah.  I’ve recently been translating the book of Jonah.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a few verses of that translation at a time with some detailed explanation of my translation decisions.  Hopefully this will help substantiate some of the claims I’m about to make.  Here’s a link to the next post.

Jonah was called to prophecy to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, because their evil had risen up to God (Jonah 1:2).  Here are some of the things we know about the Assyrians.  They were evil.  They were evil of the highest order.  Nothing could excuse their actions.  This is helpful when we consider Jonah’s response to God’s call: he literally goes to the other side of the known world (Jonah 1:3).  He needs to head from Israel to what is now northern Iraq.  Instead, he goes to Spain.  Yeah, that’s a bit of a detour.  That’s the kind of response that was elicited by God telling him to go to Nineveh.

For a tangible example, let’s look at the Balawat Gates.  These imposing gates are intimidating enough on their own.  But let’s look at the bands that hold them together.  Basically, the Assyrians wanted to send a message, but the size of their gates wasn’t enough.  So they decorated those gates with artistic renderings of their cruelty.  They wanted visitors to know how they did business.  This included all manner of dismemberments, executions and tortures.

©Trustees of the British Museum

Notice the person being torn apart beside a person being impaled, beside ten severed heads that are used as decoration.  That’s how Assyrians decorated their gates.  So it shouldn’t be hard to understand why Jonah was a little reticent about approaching them.

But actually…that isn’t why he avoided them.  They are perhaps the most despicable people on the entire planet, and he doesn’t seem to be afraid of them.  He’s afraid of something else entirely.  He’s afraid that.... 

You can read the rest of this post HERE at Ryan's blog Home Cooked Jesus.

Ryan blogs over at Home Cooked Jesus {the Jesus you need for the day to day and not just Sundays}.  He is also what I consider a Bible scholar, though he would disagree on technicality.  He studies Hebrew and teaches at a local bible college while pursuing a masters degree in the biblical field.  

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