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Community, Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, Relationships

Why the Church Is Messed Up

October 6, 2015

While you get ready in the morning, in the car, cooking, or in your waiting today, I hope you will listen.

I pray you will listen with an open mind as I know that some of you have been really hurt by the church and some have misconceptions about the church.

My desire is that you will understand what God intended the church to be, that it is FILLED with sinners, and that it is a beautiful gift that God has given us to understand more of forgiveness, love, and encouragement with one another.

Faith, Forgiveness, Relationships, Spiritual Life

She Loved Much!

July 29, 2015

Continuing to share BIG news with you about A Girl Like Me!! I am super excited, humbled, and a little nervous for this responsibility and PRIVILEGE to walk along side of you girls even more deeply! THANK YOU for loving us, all of the AGLM writers, so well and encouraging us to continue in ministry!!!

Would love to hear from you! and again sorry about the lack of video quality and that I retreated in my bedroom to make this… you will find out why :-)

– Allison

Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption

Hope For My Enemies Brings Freedom For Me

May 27, 2015



Today I was a witness to a crime. I had left church and headed to the gas station to fill up my tank. While standing there I began to hear screaming. I looked up to see a man choke-holding a woman in a car, silencing her as she is screaming for him to let her go. Men rush to her aid while I promptly called 911 to tell them what was happening. The husband sped off in his car, and I stood alongside his terrified wife as we waited for the police.

“He’s never done that before.” she tells me. “He was mad. I just wanted to give him space.”

The police finally arrived and I was told my 911 call was my statement and was free to go. I left the woman, thanking God she was alright.

As I was pulling away, I found my thoughts wandering to the husband. He was a monster. How could any man ever treat a woman like that? Better yet, how could she somewhat defend his actions? She should leave him. He’s an abuser and abusers deserve no mercy.

This reminds me of this past week, reading about how the oldest Duggar son on that TLC show 20 Kids and Counting was exposed to having molested his sisters and some other girls when he was younger. The internet and social media have blown up, calling him, yes, a monster. People have told his wife she was letting her kids be put in harms way and she should leave him. He’ll always be a sicko, they’d say. And the hateful speech goes on.

At some point in our lives, we’ll all encounter the consequences of the fall.

Our broken world gives way to broken people who sadly make broken choices. Whether it’s to beat their wife or abuse their sisters, people make wrong decisions. But the thing I’m coming to wonder is, do bad choices, no matter how severe, make one eternally evil?

Almost thirteen years ago I fell victim to the poor choice of a broken person. My boyfriend molested me. As I spent the better part of last year finally starting to deal with the ramifications of that moment, I found myself caring about my abuser. I wasn’t worried that he was out there hurting more people or angry that he was some sociopath with little to no remorse, instead, I found myself hoping he was ok. I wanted to know that somewhere in his journey, he found healing. Healing from whatever broken place lived in his life that made him make that horrible choice so many years ago. I wanted to know he had somehow run into Jesus and found redemption.

Just as much as I wanted myself to be better, I also wanted my abuser to be better.

So often Jesus spoke of loving our enemies. Even when nailed to the cross, Christ took a moment to ask for forgiveness from the Father for the very men who had put him up there. When the guilty criminal who hung next to him sought redemption moments before he died, Jesus forgave him. He didn’t tell the man he had made too many wrong choices or that he was too messed up to receive such a pardon- no, Jesus gave grace and he gave it freely.

I think so often when we are wronged we’re quick to label the one who wronged us as forever a villain. We blanket them with descriptions, damning them to a future that we believe is fitting for them. We make ourselves judge and jury, when the truth is, that job is given solely to Christ and Christ alone. What we can’t see is that in choosing to believe the worst in them, choosing to cast judgement and wrath upon their soul, we are fastening our hearts to the chains of resentment, anger and bitterness. Our enemies may become an earthly prisoner, but we become a spiritual one.

Seven years ago my good friend Tony was shot to death while out as a police officer doing a routine traffic stop. The man was cold and calculated. Even during his trial, he showed no remorse and even clapped when the jury pronounced he’d receive the death penalty. My heart wanted to hate him. To be honest, there are some moments that I still do. But I also pray for him. I pray that in the quiet darkness of his lonely prison cell, Jesus’ light will shine upon him. That maybe, just maybe, the man I believe to be the lowest form of human in the world could be offered grace and found forgiven.

If I can’t believe that God can forgive and redeem the worst of people, then there’s no hope for my own redemption.

Girls…some of you have known great pain. Pain that reaches to depths of darkness I cannot even comprehend. And for a lot of you, that pain was given to you at the hand of another. A broken human, who in a dark moment, made a wrong choice. A horrible choice. Yes, their actions were most certainly wrong. Yes, you have every right to feel the feelings you do. Your hurt is real and understood and appropriate and I stand with you in it. Let that be clear. But please, let this be clear as well.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the broken places I’ve been, it’s that hoping for God to redeem my enemies allows for freedom for me. When I can believe that God is big enough to change the heart of my enemy, then I’m also able to fully believe he is capable of healing me. If I know that God will reach to such hellacious depths to rescue someone I felt was so horrible, then I know there is no place I could ever run to where God would not seek me out to redeem me.

I’m not sure if the husband I witnessed today will hurt his wife again. I’m not sure that my abuser won’t molest another or that my friend’s killer will ever repent of his actions. I can’t say that whoever wounded you, whether big or small, will ever regret what they did or even apologize. I’m not sure we’re ever meant to know. But I do know this, tonight I will say a prayer that God will meet them in their dark places, hoping that they will accept grace,  while I thank Him that he so lovingly meets me in mine. I hope you’ll do the same.

Faith, Forgiveness, God, Redemption, Uncategorized

A Bear Introduced Me to Jesus

February 11, 2015

Young woman waiting for the train

I began my relationship with Jesus via a bear…not a real one but one that was a man dressed up like a bear. Now that is not the way most people start their journey with Christ, but what I know is that when I was 6 during a show at church for kids, God drew me to Himself. That’s where it began but certainly not where it ended.

We all have struggles that we just can’t seem to get past, sins that we pray would go away but are still lurking in our minds every day, and the guilt of that specific time when we really messed up. Or maybe it’s something that happened to you that wasn’t necessarily your responsibility, but you feel like you’re still tainted, scarred, and you just want it to be erased.
I grew up being the church girl, and I really did love God! I wanted to to grow in my relationship with Him and tell my friends about Him. But, probably just like you, I still remember the countless times in high school and college when I thought to myself, “Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I stop? If others only knew how bad I really am for what I do and think…”

I wanted to obey God because I knew he saved my life when I was 6 years old. But still I would have selfish, lustful, straight-up-mean girl thoughts about others. I knew it was wrong because it wasn’t “Christian”, but I didn’t know how to stop.
I would fight myself to get rid of these “dirty” thoughts. I hid my sin because I knew it was not honoring to God, but it was just making me feel worse and worse.

I wanted a way to restart. I wanted a way to go back when I first decided to follow Jesus, to be able to STOP doing what I didn’t want to do, and to erase all the sins I kept committing. I wanted to be the girl that God wanted me to be. I knew that I would find joy and freedom there, but I didn’t know how to get there.

I began to really search what it meant to be a follower of Jesus despite my sin and the struggles I faced. I read a lot of books on what the gospel really means. I went to a church that explained the gospel so clearly in a way that I had never understood it before even though I grew up being a “church girl.”

Something began to click and I felt like I had been given a restart every single day and even every single moment. Even on my worst of days, God revealed to me how I could have a clean slate, a do-over. I knew I would still struggle with sin, but I realized that even in the midst of my struggle, Jesus gave me a gift when I first received him when I was 6 that trumps any gift I could ever receive.

One of my favorite Christian authors explained the gospel in a way that made total sense to me…

When you make the decision to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, he not only forgives you by wiping your “slate” clean, but then he takes your clean “slate” and writes on it “RIGHTEOUS”. So not only have your sins been completely forgiven, meaning God chose to completely remove your sin, but then he chose to mark you as PERFECT!

Stop for a second and just think about that paragraph above as deeply as you can. If you understand it, it should revolutionize your entire LIFE!

He doesn’t just forgive and forget. He literally makes you a perfect daughter in His sight, and he wants you to believe this even more so on your worst of days when you feel like a complete mess up because those days will still come.

It’s ok if you don’t have it all together. It’s ok if you mess up and just don’t understand why you still struggle even though you pray every day. God knows your struggle. He knows your pain. And he is with you the entire way. It’s a journey, and it’s all for your good.

The difference is that you no longer have to feel guilty because you aren’t!

You no longer are damned or screwed because God sent Jesus to die in your place so that you could receive Jesus’ perfect life AS YOUR OWN! There is nothing you can do to screw it up once you are His. The gospel is a mystery and entirely beautiful because through the gospel, Jesus gives us a new life, a do-over, a restart forever.

I want to end with what the Bible says about this since it actually has power compared to my mere words :-)

Here is what Romans 8:22-25 says about this with my added comments in parenthesis,
“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction

(no matter how bad you think your sin may be or how good you think you are):

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified

(or made “right”)

by his grace as a gift

(nothing we could have ever done on our own to earn this),

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation

(which means Jesus bore all God’s wrath IN YOUR PLACE)

by his blood, to be received by faith.”


This amazing news will change your life the more you begin to understand it and give God the praise and glory for it.

Will you let it change your life?

Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, The Friday Overflow

The Friday Overflow: Ministry Spotlight- Epic Beauty

June 27, 2014

10380129_741059635932254_4318560271331148500_oHere at AGLM we have the blessing of getting to meet a lot of amazing ministries that are serving a need for women unlike any other. One such ministry is Epic Beauty. Operating out of West Palm Beach, Fl they seek to be a ministry to women in crisis. Whether it’s women in the sex/adult entertainment industry or victims of domestic violence, they strive to be a place of hope and refuge for these women. They do this by doing street outreaches and even visiting adult clubs to share the grace of Jesus to the women who work there. They even started a flower shop called Epic Arrangements as a place for these women to find healthy employment and a means of income to support the ministry.

Kim Gomez, one of the founders (and future mother-in-law to our very own Tenth Aver Brendon) shared this amazing story of how God is using Epic Beauty within their community. She writes:

For the past 18 months Epic Beauty has been visiting an establishment in West Palm Beach.  I hesitate to call it a “Club” honestly I’m not sure what it was but every time we entered through the door, it felt like the pit of hell.  The women that worked there were worn, beyond middle aged, outcasts, and many had numbers tattooed somewhere on their body.  Those numbers identified who owned them.  Hitleresqe style…  We never saw anybody dance.  We never even saw many customers.  The oddest thing about it was that we were always welcomed in, the Lord went before us and made a way.  Over time, we got to know the manager, the security guy and some of the ladies.  They were working people with families, stories and dreams.  Just like us.  The first night we visited, the manager set up a small table with 2 chairs in a back room.  As Melissa and I unpacked our gourmet cupcakes, baskets of books and Bibles, and our hot pink Epic Beauty cards, the manager sent in, one by one, the ladies.  They filed in and stood before us, trying to smile and act like this was normal.  They were in all states of undress, wearing barely more than tattered underwear, trying to cover themselves with their hands or cellphones.   They were mostly older women, dark and unhealthy looking.  Many of them were missing teeth and smoking cigarettes, their eyes constantly looking at the curtain that hung in the doorway, they were anxious to get away from us, wondering how long the manager would make them stand there, exposed.  

There are so many stories being silently told in strip clubs, the tattoos are the storytellers. The tattoos quietly cry out details about the girls belief in and need for God, their regrets, their treasures, their dreams, their loves, all these messages written on their bodies, waiting for someone to notice. The one tattoo that has pierced my mind and heart and spirit, was a dark and muddy number written across a woman’s neck, she was my age (50ish) and I wondered about the grace and mercy that left me on one side of the table and left her on the other side.  Someone had tattooed that number into her flesh, so that she and the world would never forget to whom she belonged, which gang owned her. That night, when I got home, I was at a loss and cried out to the Lord, “God, how do I pray for them?  What do I pray for in that place?  How has our city let them stay in business for so long?  It’s a brothel!  One must only walk in to see that!  Are these women too far gone?  Has the degradation erased any hope?  What can we do???”   I needed to hear from my Father. I felt too small, not tough enough for the task, I felt a little scared because we had been warned by so many people to stay out of this dangerous place.  Should we stay away Lord?  One of the women in our ministry had a dream about this place, a dream where we had walked into the front door and they locked it behind us.  We considered not going any more but I knew that was not the Lord’s direction;  Mark 16:15 says to go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone, everywhere.  If we didn’t go, who would?  So I turned to the Word of God and in my weakness I became strong.  His word is my sword and the source of all knowledge and wisdom.  He led me to a scripture in Ezekiel 26 where God himself sent a message to the town of Tyre. Tyre was a city in Babylon that was extremely offensive to the Lord and God sent this  prophesy.  Ezekiel 26: 3-6  “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I am your enemy, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the waves of the sea crashing against your shoreline.  They will destroy the walls of Tyre and tear down its towers.  I will scrape away its soil and make it a bare rock.

The island of Tyre will become uninhabited

So Epic Beauty started praying this scripture over that club, this place was so dark, so sad, and so offensive.  And the Lord does Reign.  For the past 6 weeks I haven’t been able to reach the club by phone to schedule a visit, when we would stop by at night during an outreach, nobody was there.  And yesterday, praise God, we pulled up to the door and found this sign on it…  

PERMANENTLY CLOSED.  The Mermaid is uninhabited!  It’s permanently closed!  Yes, He Reigns and I will never stop praying as long as I have breath.  And the message here is this;

He calls us to call on Him for help.

If you’d like more information on Epic Beauty or would like to get involved or even start your own branch of the ministry, please visit their facebook and websites for more info.



Forgiveness, God, Judging, Redemption, Relationships

Thoughts at a Funeral

February 12, 2014

It’s very rare that I find an urge to write.  It was on my way home from a funeral it happened, in the rain, in the car. The drive couldn’t seem to go fast enough for me to find myself here… writing my thoughts.  You ever notice how the thoughts come quickly when despair is knocking at your door or when joy is filling up every corner of your room?  I often find myself reflecting most when I whiteness a change in one’s life… a wedding, a funeral, the birth of new life…

In this case a death.

I thought about her as I sat there looking over the sea of black.  I took my seat in the last row, my heart heavy and my thoughts wondering.  I thought about how she woke up this morning and the ache that must have hit her in her chest as she had to force herself out of bed.  I thought about how she looked in the mirror and asked herself what she should wear to the funeral.  Her daughters funeral.   Something dark to represent the mourning she feels? Or something bright to bring about the celebration of knowing her sweet babe is in the arms of Jesus?  She chose bright… which in some way tells me that she has a spark of hope that still rests within her weary soul.  I sat there seeing just the very top of her head and began to feel the tears well up in my eyes.  How do you say goodbye to a precious baby?  How is she sitting there in front of all these people?  Is she wishing this would just be over with?  Is she glad we’re here or does she wish we would all just go away?  Oh how her heart must be feeling so many emotions all at once.

I looked out the window of the church and thought about how fitting it was that the skies were grey and the rain was falling heavy.  Almost resembling tears from Jesus’ eyes.  I thought about Him up there and how His heart must be feeling so much the same as hers.  How His heart is crying out in pain for her as he watches her below breaking and fighting to stay strong.  And yet at the same time rejoicing to have this little child in the very hands that had created her- looking up and smiling into His eyes.  So many feelings.  So so many feelings.

And somehow… these feelings brought us all together today.  Some people I recognized and some I had never seen before.  But we all had this common thread.  Her.  She is our friend, our daughter, our wife, our mother….  We all knew her and we all were there to support her.  This thought amazes me.  God created us so that even just our presence in a room can be a support to someone else.  Oh God you are good.  I may not have the right words to say or be able to carry her every time she falls. I may not be able to be a strong foundation for her when she is weak in her knees… I can’t be the perfect support beam or nail to keep everything together when its all in pieces… but through my friendship I can support.   He will be her foundation, He will be her nail, He will be her true support whenever she needs. “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”- Psalm 145:14   I will be her friend.

I watch from the back as one by one each person hugs her on their way out.  Everyone so different.  Everyone with different stories to tell, different joys and heartaches they have felt themselves…

And then I see him.  This man who I have strongly disliked for years.  This man who hurt my other friend so deeply.  This man who I couldn’t really look in the eyes before.  But as I watched him hug her and the family.. something in me changed.  I didn’t know if it was the tone of the day, or the smoothie I had for breakfast .. .but just then I felt God say… you must forgive.  You must not let his past mistakes keep your thoughts towards evil.  For I can turn evil into good. Even here.  Even in these dreadful moments.

We are so different.. he and I.. but there was something the same.  We were both being supporters.  We were both being a friend to the same person.  I’m not called to know his motives or even to know his heart.  God knows.

And so, in that moment I watched him and I forgave him.  I buried my anger and my accusations at that funeral.  I buried my lack of faith that God could change someone at that funeral.  And I buried every right I thought I had to hate him in that funeral.

God saw me in the chair in the back row and called me to die.  1 Peter 2:24- ” He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By HIs wounds you have been healed.”  To die is gain.  It hurts a lot to die to ourselves.  It’s painful to let go of sins we hold onto sometimes.   Especially when we feel entitled to hate, entitled to be angry, entitled to think of ourselves better than someone else.  There’s even a comfort we find in our evil thoughts sometimes.  How twisted am I?   But when we surrender them over to death… we find that our hearts start to beat again in a new way.  We begin to see that we are no better than anyone else.  And it is only because God has had to forgive me over and over and over do I find that I can extend the same grace.

Her eyes were heavy and I cried as I held her.  His eyes were indifferent and I forgave him.  I turned my back to the sanctuary and walked away with so many feelings.  I walked away with the ache of a child gone yet the hope that she will be reunited with her lovely mom again.  I walked away with the ache of confession and yet the hope of redemption even in death.

A lot of times I find healing through joys and life.

But in this case it was death.

” In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.”- Ephesians 1

Oh God, come lavish your grace on me so that I may lavish your grace on others.






Faith, Forgiveness, God, Identity, Redemption

Where are you running?

January 15, 2014

” Tis not that I did choose Thee,

For Lord, that could not be;

This heart would STILL refuse Thee,

Hadst Thou not chosen me…

My heart owns none before Thee,

For Thy rich grace I thirst;

This knowing, if I love Thee,

Thou must have loved me first.”

  • Josiah Conder, 1836

I look in the mirror and I see my flesh.  I see my eyes and the shape of my nose.  My hair and the way it falls.  I critique the outward appearance, every flaw, every wrong line, every aspect that bothers me.  What I fail to see is the pride that enflames with every negative thought I have towards myself.  What I fail to really see beyond the face is the sin.  When I look into the mirror there is the heart… the thing that will never measure up, the thing that will never become perfect, the very thing that I cannot improve or change on my own.  I am a sinner.  I fail to meet the mark every day.  I fail to believe that I am loved by God.  I fail to see that I have been made in God’s image physically and spiritually.  I tend to want to be my own master.  I actually desire separation from community when I choose to be my own God.. and therefore I choose separation from God.

And who is this God whose image I am made in? God is made up of the Trinity.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  He does not exist as one, rather, exists as a community.  Something our little minds may never fully come to understand.  But because God is made up of three-  God is love.  If it were just Himself, his love would not exist until He created someone to love, but because He is community, His love is passing through them and overflowing with its perfection and glory!  So why did God create us?  Not because He needed us, or because He was lonely, but because His love was so beautiful and so wonderful that He desired for US to experience this love as well.  So He created you and He created me to be poured out into.  That is my God.  The God who created me so, He could love me.

Who is your God?  What do you seek in order to feel loved?  What are you running towards to be saved?  Whether you know it or not you’re running to something for salvation. We all are.  We’re all in need of saving because we are all broken.  But why?  If we were created for love, then why are we so screwed up; failing time after time?

In that beautiful Garden God first placed the ones He created… Satan desired to stop the love story.  “We” believed the lie that we could be our own Gods.  We could be happy without Him and we only need to trust in ourselves rather than Him.  So we sinned, we lost our trust in Him and we fell short…  we broke.  “And that terrible lie would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children- “God doesn’t love me.”- Sally Lloyd Jones The darkness crept in and God’s perfect world began to unravel.

We chose darkness over light.  We chose ourselves, rather than our creator.  We chose to stop trusting and start running.  Isn’t that true in us today?  Are you still running?  Are you still searching for what your heart has lost?  Are you still seeking to be loved?

In spite of our evil hearts.. God chose to love us still.  He would not leave us to the darkness, but He would rescue us from ourselves… and so He did the one thing that would bring Him most pain.

Jesus came into the world.  God’s Son.  The one that is a part of His perfect community.  The One who His love would not be complete without.  His own self, brought to a broken world and He became just like us.  Heart beating, flesh and bone, eyes to see… and He experienced all evil and all that God Himself could not be near because He was too perfect and too beautiful.  He stepped over the barrier to be near to us so that He could save us.  Matthew 1

God looked at you… and He couldn’t leave you to your brokenness.  He couldn’t just let you fade away into lifelessness.  He had to do something. He had to intervene. Even though you chose to run away… He still loved you.

Sin is separation from God.  Sin is moving away from God.  And God is life.. therefore if we are moving away from life then we are moving towards death.  You could even say running towards death.  In order for God to forgive us there had to be a death to take our place before we reached it.  He had to take on the pain it is to feel when we forgive and instead give us the grace and love that we don’t deserve.  The consequence to our sin is for our blood to be shed and to die.  But instead.. God sent His Son to shed His blood in the worst way possible so that we might live.

Jesus hung on the cross… ” and cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit.  And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”- Matthew 27  The fullness of God’s anger at sin was coming down.  On His own Son instead of on us.  Instead of on the ones who truly deserved it.  “It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy HIs children whose hearts were filled with it.”- Sally Lloyd Jones

” For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by HIs blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”- Romans 3  “Therefore, wince we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!!!  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into His grace in which we stand and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God!”- Romans 5

We can now have peace with God!  We can stand in His presence, and when He looks at us He no longer sees a sinner… He sees a daughter who is clean and pure because of the blood of Jesus.  He chose to save us, He chose to love us, and He is still choosing you.

Are you running from Him?  Why do you think we are so desperate to be loved?  So desperate to be noticed?  So desperate for ‘likes’ on our instagrams, friends on our facebooks, followers on our twitter feeds??  Because we were created to love and be loved.  We were created to be in community with God!  You just need to ask yourself… what are you searching for to save you?  Everyone is looking for a savior… but Jesus is the only Kind One.

The gospel is not about religion.  It is not about self discovery.  It is not about you.  The gospel is about redemption, about grace, about love…. about Jesus!

In the book “The Insanity of God” Ripkin says something like this-

”  The reason that the people sitting around me in church that Sunday were not getting excited about the Gospel story was because they had heard the story so many times before.  Maybe they had heard the story so many times before that now they saw it as… just a story.  I am sure that they believed that it was the truth- but it was truth that had very little to do with real life.  Evidently, it was a story that did not demand much excitement or response.  Evidently, it was just another good story, maybe even a great story.”

Don’t let this story remain just a story.  Let God speak to you.  Let God give you life.  May your inner spirit soar with gratitude as you come to see just how much grace we have been given.  Just how much love we are born into and yet continually run away from.  Run to Him.

I can’t help but feel a little sad that this is just a small little post to this story!  There is so much more to behold and experience… I can only write so much.   I encourage you to read in between the lines and crevices of the Bible.  There is so much more beauty to behold than what I have written here.

When we look into the mirror… we can now see redemption. We see a life that deserved death yet lives! We see grace upon us and love flowing deep. We see ourselves no longer a failure, but a child of God’s who holds the very key to His heart.  We no longer have to measure up… we belonged the minute that Christ died.  The verdict is in, and that verdict is life. And even when we mess up, and fall apart..we will still belong to Him.  Because He thankfully saw you and fought for you.  He ran to you to save you.

And “all the fitness He requires is to feel your need for Him.”
-Joseph Hart

Faith, Family, Forgiveness, God, Identity, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Who’s Your Daddy?

November 19, 2013

If someone were to ask of you what your definition of a father was, would you have an answer? Would your answer change if the perspective altered from an earthly father to a heavenly father?

I want to share a story with you.

Over the last several months I have had the privilege of mentoring a young woman from my church. Within the context of what we have been working on, the lead topic by far has been the rationale of what a father truly is. This young woman has grown up in the church, leads worship, and her grandfather is the head pastor. This young woman fits the typical church family. When we walk into a church we all (myself included) tend to judge without hesitation when it comes to perfection. There are those times we have all said “I wish I had a family like that” or “What makes that family so different, how they seem so perfect.” This young woman fit into that category. It was not until she reached out for help that I knew anything to be different. You see, little did anybody else know that the life she lived at home was far different from the life in which she was daily being judged for.

Through her heavy heart I learned that what was being portrayed on the outside, was far different than what she was feeling on the inside. As we sat leading an all-night worship and prayer set I closely watched as this young woman’s heart began to shatter into a million pieces. What I was oblivious to was that on the inside she was desperate for a fathers love. Little did I know, her entire life was consumed with negative comments, feedback, condescending lies and overall disgust by her father. She was never good enough, never smart enough, and never well off enough to live up to his PERFECT perception of what a daughter should be.

As I began to pray with her and for her; spirit led, I began to ask her some very tough questions. I realized that through every answer she gave me, she was responding through a lens. What lens might you ask? Allow me to elaborate. Despite having a loving God who accepts her as his own and calls her by name as his daughter, this young woman’s perception of God has been dramatically altered due to the hurt she has seen and experienced by her earthly father. As I began to ask her questions regarding God has her ABBA FATHER, she began to answer with a lens. Her entire life she has viewed God not as her heavenly father but as her earthly father. This lens she has placed over her eyes has caused her to see God as everything but good. Her judgments, reactions, feelings, emotions and thoughts towards God have all been viewed as if God was in the same category as her earthly father.

Fast forward now to a few weeks ago. This young woman through prayer and time spent in the word has had her world drastically changed by a living God. I asked something of her (and she has given me permission to share such knowledge with you wonderful ladies) and the results astounded me. I asked her three questions. Question one was “what are your defining characteristics of a good earthly father?” question two was “what are your defining characteristics of a bad earthly father?” and question three was “what are your defining characteristics of God as father?”

Her responses were as follows:

Good earthly father- A man who is secure in who he is; this would be due to the fact that he has a good self-esteem. This also includes a man who builds up his children, encourages them in their walk with God. A man who is supportive. A man who is not looking for his child to make himself look good, but rather simply looking out for his children’s well-being. A man that forgives easily and is quick to ask for forgiveness. A man that acknowledges his imperfections and prays to God for wisdom. Finally, a man who gives his children a home of peace.

Bad earthly father- A man who is so insecure in who he is and so hurting inside that he hurts his children. A man whose hurt spills out upon his children. A man who is selfish and just wants his children to make him good. A man that may tell his children that he loves them, but his actions don’t ever seem to back up his words. A man that doesn’t see when he is in the wrong, and if he does he would never admit it. A man who creates chaos, tension, and anxiety. A man that is not emotionally available, but rather is cold and stoic. Finally, a man that does not show emotions other than anger.

God as a father- A father that tells me I am worthy of the best. A father that is proud to have me as his child. A father who is always love. A father who is not looking for me to perform. A father who is not looking for me to be good enough, for he says I am enough. A father who gives peace. A father who is tender and compassionate. Finally, a father who is a lot of FUN.

After realizing the growth that she has gained in the last few months, I asked her one final question. I asked of her “where did you perception of God as a father arise from?” Her answer was so beautiful.

She simply stated God is a Luke 15 type of Father. In Luke 15:11-31 it talks about the parable of the lost son. She began to explain to me, Heather I am the lost son. I have sinned against my Father in heaven. I have been angry with him, I have hurt him, and I have run in every which direction solely to avoid him. She continued with saying, despite my disobedience he calls me his beloved, despite my ignorance he calls me his daughter. He runs to me with open arms waiting to treasure me for my worth.

This young woman explained to me that all too often we as children of a Godly father feel as if we need to prepare what we are going to say, practice how we are going to present the information, and essentially have everything perfect before we come to God for forgiveness. She states that we feel we are already in the wrong, therefor when we come for redemption, we must come in with perfection. When in fact God calls quite the opposite. He calls the broken of heart so that in him, he is perfection is made piece.

I share this story with you wonderful ladies for no other reason than to say often times we are so hurt by the people around us that we often times look at God through this imperfect lens.

I want to bring back my original question for you ladies. “If someone were to ask of you what your definition of a father was, would you have an answer? Would your answer change if the perspective altered from an earthly father to a heavenly father?”

I ladies am just like you, I am just like this young women. I have been deeply wounded by people in my life. These people have caused my perception of God to be altered. I too have looked through a lens of something other than God. I am here to tell you ladies that it does not matter what has been done to you, WE serve a PERFECT GOD. WE serve a PERFECT FATHER.

I have not a clue writing this who has hurt you in your past or present, or who will hurt you in the future. I am here to tell you however that you are a treasure in the kingdom of heaven. You are never too far gone for a PERFECT GOD to pick up the pieces that have wounded you. I encourage each one of you to look at how you view God, are your views altered because of the wounds that you still carry? Drop them at the foot of the cross and allow a perfect FATHER to hold you tight, and say “YOU ARE WORTHY, YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER, and I LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY.”

HeatherHeather lives in a teeny town in North Dakota where she works with women who have been victims of domestic violence and rape. She loves softball, dogs, music and working with youth. Heather is a general, all around, amazing gal & a special friend to the girls of AGLM.

Faith, Forgiveness, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Fleeting Feelings

September 27, 2013

I love my feelings. Too much.

I love watching Nicholas Sparks movies and feeling when the guy tells the girl exactly what you would want him to say and it makes your heart melt.

I love the feeling I get when I have a free afternoon to go to my favorite coffee shop for some glorious alone time and a vanilla almond milk latte.

I love spending time with my friends who encourage me and after I leave, I feel so fulfilled and loved from the time with them.

I like good feelings, of course. Bad feelings are a different story, but good feelings make you FEEL alive and that whatever you’re doing in the moment is right. Feelings motivate us.

This is the hard thing about forgiving… a lot of the times when we need to forgive, we don’t feel like forgiving. It’s probably a really rare time that someone offends us and we then feel good about forgiving them.

Feelings are fleeting. God’s Word is true and will never be disappear. So we can’t depend on our feelings, but we can always depend on God’s Word.

If we had good feelings about forgiving someone, then it would be so easy, so we wouldn’t need Jesus because we could do it on our own.

We either feel negatively when we think about having to forgive someone or we don’t feel anything at all.

So you don’t FEEL like forgiving the person? Here is what Jesus says about forgiving.

In Luke 17:3 he says to PAY ATTENTION, if your brother (or sister) repents, forgive him. Jesus knew that forgiving would be hard for us because we aren’t perfect; we are all sinners. That’s why he says to pay attention or be careful to this command.

Jesus doesn’t say, forgive him once you feel like forgiving him.

Jesus says “if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:4

So even if your brother or sister keeps offending you that day, and maybe it’s the same sin, Jesus says you forgive as many times as he says he repents (repenting means he wants to turn from his offense and do the right thing).

Right after Jesus tells them this, the disciples say to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” because they know this command he is asking of them is going to be hard.

So Jesus tells the disciples that if they believe, he will give them faith they need to do greater things than they could imagine!

In the scriptures, God doesn’t call us to feel his commands and then obey. He just tells us to obey.

This is what is so awesome about Christianity. Jesus lived the perfect, sinless life for us because he knew that we could never live the life God calls us to live on our own. We need a Savior. We don’t have to try to earn goodness or salvation. He FREELY gives it to us! (thank you, Jesus!)

Jesus knows that we can’t forgive others on our own. We won’t feel like forgiving others because it’s hard and naturally we are selfish and love ourselves more than we love others.

We just need to believe and ask him to help us forgive! (even though we probably don’t feel like forgiving)

He helps us in our weaknesses! (Romans 8:26)

And this is the confidence we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will (forgiving our neighbor) he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

We can’t wait for a feeling; we just need to forgive! Rest in the promises God has given us in His Word and believe that He will give you the power to forgive because he has already completely forgiven you!