Sunday, March 27, 2011

a happy one...

I mentioned a few posts ago that it was the first night of the small group i was leading... well. i started with 5 girls - i'm now up to 7 regularly and they're totally stoked about it. They talk about it to their friends, they bring friends, they're excited, they're participating... it's really fun!

today the girls were talking about the book we were reading in their sunday school class - so the teacher came up and asked for a copy of it so she could help talk about it with them too. SO COOL! it was so encouraging today! (especially after i started the day off at 7:30 by not being able to get into my office cause they changed the locks).

And -church attendance was up almost 30 people today. it's kinda back to normal, but after 2 weeks of around 40 - it was nice to see 70 people sitting in the pews participating in worship - even a handful of faces i've never seen.

i had two new teachers in the preschool class today - not only was their class size doubled from normal - they ROCKED IT! they taught about abraham and sarah and had them wandering through the desert (the church) looking for a tent which was their home (a table with a sheet over it). it was so fun to see them wandering around the hall :)

things are lookin up - it's fun. and a relief after a really hard season!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

big decisions...


that's a lil sneak peak into what's going on inside right now. I met with someone today and talked with them a little bit about where i'm at, how i'm doing, what's been going on... and now i have some real big decisions to make... one i don't want to make - but i know i will...

go big or go home.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

cry of my heart

Here's the lyrics to a song that i really feel a few of us need to hear - and rest in - and let our souls drink the truth of. 
(forever reign by hillsong)
You are good
You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love
You are love
On display for all to see
You are light
You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope
You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace
You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true
You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy
You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life
You are life
In You death has lost its sting

Oh I'm running to Your arms
I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more
You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord
You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here
You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God
You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

My heart will sing
No other name
Jesus Jesus

Everytime i listen to this song it drives my heart nuts. i know that it's full of the truth that i need to hear EVERYDAY and it's truly the cry of my heart. God is our Peace, our Hope, our Light, and our Love. Lately i've been fighting hard for the smallest glimmer of truth. it's been a real battle in my head and heart. Pain, Fear and Doubts have been gaining a foothold in my life again - and I DON"T LIKE IT! Every once in a while i listen to this song and it just stirs up this feeling in my soul - my chest gets "tight, jumpy, & fuzzy". I've learned that this is the feeling i i'm hiding or shut down and get confronted with truth, love, or care. It's my body's way of letting me know something is going on - even though i can't feel it. When my emotions need some time to catch up my body steps in and give me a physical attention getter - a "slap in the face" if you will - letting me know to pay attention to what is going on. 

listen to the song - it's an amazing and simple reminder of truth. let your heart rest in the words. "your love will always be enough - nothing compares to your embrace". 

Friday, March 18, 2011

it's about time...

it's about time i've blogged again...

the last few days have been rough - and by rough i mean, i've had a couple of the hardest days i can remember (seriously).  The kicker is that it's been because things are going good. I was fighting hard - believing truth, my girls group is amazing, my work at the church is gaining momentum, things are changing, people are getting on board, it looks like the church itself is moving forward - we've been talking about moving to sunday nights - which will drastically change the contemporary service and how many people we can reach with it... thing are going good - the Lord is doing big things in Salem in and through and around me -

and then satan got pissed.

i had been sleeping - the nightmares came back
i had been believing truth - the lies started SCREAMING at me
i had been happy - i stopped being able to think straight
i could concentrate - i feel like i'm stuck in a fog
i was opening up and being vulnerable with a new friend - i started being afraid

i hate it. there have been day's when i don't even want to get out of bed... i'm scared to death to go to bed, but i feel like i can't handle the day... i completely believe the truth that i'm worth a lot, that i'm a beloved child, that i'm valuable - but i just have this heaviness weighing me down and it's easier to believe the lies than to fight for the truth sometimes...

and then i feel like a failure.

i want the Lord to be able to work through me. To use me to further the kingdom. To use my story/my pain to bring light and life to others.

I'm not exactly sure where i was going with all this - i just felt like i needed to tell someone - and since it's after midnight - it goes here.  so, there ya have it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

a glimmer of redemption...

So - i got this random email this morning...

it was from a lady in ohio who is the mother of a lady in my church that is on the worship team... the lady in ohio is the head of their deacon team and apparently gets a copy of our "communique - the thing i wrote that article for" in the mail. So - i wake up to an email from this lady explaining who she is and asking permission to use my story from the communique at the opening of their next deacon meeting - and she wanted to know what happened to the girl...

so i got to tell her the rest of the story - and now some people in ohio get to see hear the story of God redeeming my life for him - SO COOL!

but - i was texting with a friend and told her about it... she got excited, and asked how i felt about it - and without thinking i said i was stoked - my dream is that the pain i went through on this journey will be able to be used to bring the light and life of Christ to the lives of many - and then a few minutes later it kinda caught up to me...

1. i shared my story really easily in an article that loads of people are going to have access to
2. someone on the other side of the country read it - and wants to use it to hopefully challenge people in her church
3. i wasn't even hesitant to say yes - or that i was stoked that my story was out to so many people...

that my friends - (and if you've struggled through life with me at all should know this) - that is some mighty fine redemptive love that our Papa has... i had dreamed of this day - when i would be able to freely share my story in honesty and truth - and have it be used to bring new life to others - but it always felt "inconceivable" (name that movie) and so far away... but that day has come!

i pray that the words i wrote will be used to further the kingdom - that they can help break the bonds of satan and give hope to the brokenhearted...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

walking in the rain...

I absolutely LOVE walking in the rain. walking, running, biking - who cares - if it's in the rain it's amazing. conveniently i live in oregon - so it happens a lot. Most of the time i fall into the groove of being an oregonian and complaining about how much it rains... but then someday's i find myself completely amazed at the rain - and just want to spend hours just standing in it.

i had an incredibly hard day today - i'm not entirely sure why - just one of those day's when emotions catch up with you and you're just not yourself... ever have one of those? Yesterday i had a good talk with a friend - i came to realize something, said it outloud, talked about it - but didnt' feel the emotions behind it (and there should have been a lot) so i think today it just caught up with me...

So, i got a bunch of work done and then decided i needed to be out of the office so i walked across the street to the ike box (a really sweet coffee shop right next to the church) to grab some coffee. while i was walking back feeling the rain fall on my head, listening to it tap on the top of my coffee cup, i was blown away by how long it had been since i had enjoyed the rain...

Last week at church we sang "Grace Like Rain" and walking in the rain today feeling it fall on my head is like a million little reminders of God's grace - and how freely he gives it to us - and how much he loves us. That's why i like the rain.

so when i stop for a second and enjoy, it's a small (almost daily) reminder of how much God loves me - and how he pours his grace out on me... he doesn't hold it back - it falls freely and completely washes over us.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A story...

So, we have this thing called a "communique" at church - it's kinda a mix between a newsletter and a magazine - i think. it's articles about what's happening in our church, more at a relational and spiritual level rather than a programatic level... anyhow - i had to write an article for this month's edition and i wanted to share it, cause i think it's a pretty big deal that i wrote it. I was suppose to write about my ministry and what's going on - so i tried - but it was boring and more about program really... so i changed my direction. 

i recently changed the volunteer schedule (well, i'm in the process of changing it) so that people sign up for 1 service a month to work with the kids - seems like it would make ppl want to sign up more right - only 1 service a month so simple (compared to the every service for 3 month commitment they had been use to) but instead, people seem to get caught up on the idea that they can't possibly make an impact in just an hour a month... so - i wrote an article about a girl who's life was changed by somebody believing in her in one simple moment, things started changing. 

So - check it out - let me know what you think. 

One Hour a Month - how you can change a life. 
So, you’ve seen the posters, you’ve heard noises coming from down the hall, and maybe you’ve even heard rumors of kids running wildly through the halls during quiet moments. But what’s really going on? If you’ve stopped to read the revolution posters you’ve noticed that it talks about a community where kids know that they are unconditionally loved, safe, cared for, and believed in. Well, that is exactly what is going on. So, what can you do? Get involved. All you have to do it sign up to help for 1 hour a month (one sunday morning service). That’s right - ONE hour a month. 
Right, so now you’re probably thinking - an hour, that’s pretty simple, but I can’t make a difference in just one hour a month - can i? Well, i have a little story to tell you that should clear up this mental predicament you’re in. 
Once upon a time in a land far far away (2,500 miles is “far far away” right?) there lived a girl that had lived through a horrific childhood - parents’ that were totally absent and ignored her even when they were around, family members that beat her, verbally tore her to shreds, used her body for their sexual pleasure, and in every way treated her like she was worthless. She was a strong kid, but didn’t really know it, she had been told lies for so much of her life that they had become her truth. She believed she was worthless, used, ugly, would never succeed at anything, and that no one would ever like her. She learned to put on a smile, laugh, and to become invisible in every way. But all of this was a secret to the people she went to school with, and the people who she interacted with - they only saw a girl who smiled, got good grades, and had a home with two parents to go home to every night. No one knew the secret nightmare that she lived in every day. 
One day, when she was about 16, her and her friends had found a “coffee house” to hang out at. A place where they could go to get away from the worries of their lives, play cards, drink soda, and just be kids. This coffee house was staffed by volunteers from local churches, but everyone went to church in this town, so they didn’t really think much of it. The workers at the coffee house became friends with this group of kids, especially with the girl. They would talk, play cards, and just hang out with the kids while they were there - and they treated them like normal people, not like kids (like most adults did in this town). 
There came a time when this girls life got so hard, with pressures of school, and friends, and the nightmare that was her “home” that all she wanted to do was die - it had to be better than going home. One night, in particular, her whole family would be at her house  and she knew that when she got home she would be treated as property and forced to do unspeakable things. That very night, she was at the coffee house waiting for her friends to come and save her from having to go home - but they never came - with the fear of going home had her almost in tears. At that moment one of the coffee house staff came over, sat down at the table she was sitting at all alone, smiled at her in a way no one had ever done before, asked if she was okay and gave her a hug - something so simple but something that no one had ever cared enough to do before. In that moment, something inside her changed. It didn’t happen all at once, but knowing that one person cared about her was enough to give her the strength to make it through another day. To face the fear of walking into the nightmare she faced at home, and to start fighting for truth. 
What can one hour do? What can one small moment of belief in a child do? It can change their entire life. 
What happened to the girl? The Lord is using her life and her story in big ways. If you want to know more, just come ask me. I’ll tell you all about my story - and how one moment one someone caring for me changed my entire life. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

sounds to feelings

It is amazing what sounds and sights can do to take you back to an exact moment or a series of moments from the past. I just got back from a church "ministry summit" we spent the weekend talking about personality types and how to work with other ppl - basically how to help our church catch up with the change that's happening and how we should field their emotions and reactions to be the most loving and helpful that we, as leadership, can be. So i get home, completely wiped, my brain is spent - all of a sudden everyone is gone and i'm left at home with no car and so what do i do... watch bones of course.

i turn on an episode and as soon as the intro credits and theme song start playing i'm instantly sitting in the Bertz's living room, AC on, looking out into the summer heat, recovering from an exhausting but awesome week of camp, sipping on some coconut ice tea, and prepping to go back and do camp all over again. In a split second my thoughts, fellings, and emotions are all swept back to this summer (when me and sarah spent our weekends catching up on the first 4 seasons of bones during our few precious hours off each weekend).

This isn't the first time this has happened. If i hear a Rodney Atkins song, i'm instantly in my car, driving with the windows down and the smell of the northwest summer air coming in my windows as i'm driving down 84. (i drove from gresham to multnomah a lot one summer). The smell of campfire smoke takes me right back to summer camp when i was a kid at camp Lutherlyn sitting on a bench out by the lake, knowing that i was, at least momentarily, safe and cared for for the first time in my life. When i smell popcorn i'm instantly back to the JamHouse from highschool, where i hung out with college kids till 3 or 4 in the morning playing Euchre ... those are some of the happy ones, not all of those "instant trips down memory lane" are quite as happy. There are words, smells, sights, and emotions that take me right back to when i was a kid, sitting the woods crying because my brother beat me and there was no one to take care of me, when i was curled up on the floor between my bed and the wall hidden underneath some blankets while my cousin talked his way out of getting caught molesting me, spending hours in my car driving around avoiding going "home" to a place where i would be abused and abandoned...

the way the Lord has built us, to remember - not only with thoughts but with feelings, smells, sights - it is so amazing. Even in times where it hurts like hell - there are times when it is so precious to have those memories come fleeting back - campfires are my favorite, to instantly be reminded that i am safe and deeply loved by my papa, and that he has big plans for my life - it is such a precious gift that the Lord has given us...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

i don't wanna!

so far this week there have been 2 funerals at church. i havn't had to go to either (i watched an incredibly cute lil boy while his grandparents helped with the services) BUT that doesn't mean that the Lord didn't use the fact that there was a funeral to stir up some pain that has been shoved deep deep down in my heart. 

I wasn't able to mourn my dad's passing when it happened (i was running a camp and a few retreats) and even if i hadn't been doing that - i'm not really sure i would have even known where to begin - cause i still don't know where to begin. the concept of mourning the loss of someone you loved - i sorta get. the concept of mourning the loss of someone who hurt you and abandoned you, or mourning someone i didn't have - yep, i have NO CLUE where to begin. 

it feels so weird to be sad, to start to cry when i hear a story of someone's loving father (or parents), for my heart and emotions to go crazy when there is a funeral happening at the other end of the church, to lay in bed at night trying as hard as i can to think of a good memory of me and my dad but only remembering pain, to have someone ask if your okay and not really know what to say back... it's kinda wearing me out.

The Lord is good, he is the father i never had, and never will have - and he wants me to heal - and he keeps pulling up the emotions to try and help me push through this, but i just feel so lost. everything hurts, i have no words for it, and i just don't wanna deal with it. 

but then i remember that i don't roll that way anymore, i should be running hard to my papa's arms, letting it hurt, letting myself cry, letting him into the dark scary parts of my heart where i've shoved all this pain. 

Lord - help me run to your arms.