Are Our Sanctuaries Really Safe?


It’s my favorite wednesday of the month, Wise Woman Wednesday. This one is extra special to me because this wise woman is extra special to me. If you know my husband, you know that there is a rockstar momma somewhere to be found. Men like that don’t just happen. I’m more than humbled that she said “yes” to my invite. I just can’t wait for ya’ll to see how smart she is. *Said in a really high pitched voice.* Without further ado, my mother-in-law Tammy Haney.

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My life the last three years could be categorized in huge highs and great blessings interspersed with great overwhelming loss. There have been times my faith has taken a severe bruising so that the only thing I could pray was “He restoreth my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness.” I have often taught that you need to have your relationship with God in place and know where your faith stands because when you are tested or going through horrific loss there is no time to start that relationship. I knew God was there and He was walking with me and all I could do was hang on.
I boldly proclaim the truth that what got me through that period was finding One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Learning to count blessings and looking for the small gifts God gives everyday helped me put one foot in front of the other when I really just wanted to lick my wounds and turn into a hermit.
The thing is we all have periods like that where life is hard and we are barely holding on. There have been times I put on the brave face and shared what I was going through with my Christian sisters (which is really hard for me because I am a very private person) only to be looked at like I had two heads. All I needed was someone to wrap their arms around me and say “I am sorry for what you are going through”.
In our churches do we offer comfort and hope? Is church or women’s Bible study a safe place to share or do we fear judgement? Is church a country club where we have to keep up appearances? In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul says God comforts us in all our tribulations THAT WE MAY BE ABLE TO COMFORT THOSE WHO ARE TROUBLED.
I am SO guilty of looking past people and rushing past people. But I am asking God to give me a sensitive heart and spiritual eyes for those who need just a hug and a word of encouragement and hope that the rough places do smooth and the road won’t always be so difficult.
Join me in being the change! Don’t just say “I will be praying for you”. Stop and pray with them right then. Give hugs. Send cards. Tell the hurting you are sorry for what they are suffering. Shed tears with them. Love them as Jesus does.

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A Purpose and a Place


The coffee said it right there on the package; Paradise is where I am.” Ha! Bologna! How can that be? It sure doesn’t feel like paradise when your heads spinning with the bewilderment of it all.

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It was time. After eleven years of youth ministry the job we never thought we’d leave was not our calling any longer. How did we know?
• We lost motivation.
• We noticed our conversations during the week shifting from child centered ministry topics to adult centered ministry topics.
• Unsettled feeling. We were growing uncomfortable in our comfort zone.
• Our productivity had dropped.
• A fire began stirring inside of us that we can’t quench but have no outlet of release as the pressure builds.

So with certainty, and I won’t lie – a bit of fear; Josh resigned youth ministry last fall.
Whew! That was a load off! You know that amazing piece God gives when you are in perfect obedience with Him.

Now?

Hmmm…
It feels more like we’re stuck in a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Blindfolded and dizzy trying to find our way.

If you think it sounds like I’m pouting you’d be right. I’m the grumpiest pin the tail on the donkey contestant you’ll ever meet.

I like to know where I’m going and what’s to be expected of me. I also like – no – need to feel useful. And doesn’t everyone need to feel they have a purpose and a place?

The aha moment hit about here. When I bounced my thought off a wizened christian woman she disagreed. While I respect her thoughts I still can’t shake the feeling that she’s wrong about this one.

Is this valley another lesson in serving because He loves me, not so He will love me?

I’ve learned of a couple of fine lines we Christians kinda have trouble finding balance on.
A. The line between law and love. We get hung up on one and forget the significance of the other.
B. The line between works and faith. Again, we get hung up on one and forget the significance of the other.

I don’t know about any of you, but I get to feeling like I am such a mistake that I go about trying to makeup for it. And if that isn’t an insult to the blood; I don’t know what is.

The wizened Christian doesn’t think God likes siestas. She likened it to car shopping. “Does God care if you buy a car? Yes”, she said. “Does he care what color it is? No.” So if I heard this right; God cares if we serve but, isn’t picky about how we serve? And that just sounded absurd to me.

I don’t know how this is going to all turn out. I wasn’t sure it was something I could write with authority on, because I’m still feeling a bit bewildered.

I started the coffee and stood at the sink to wait for the ready beep. The snow flakes were falling fine and fast but you know the way they slow and twirl right next to the glass of the window? It’s like they’re dancing for you!

I’ve got approximately 22 minutes and 14 seconds to be alone with God before the kids start trickling down the stairs, and the house is filled with “No! It’s my turns.” and “What’s for breakfast?”. I don’t think I’ll do a thing. I’ll just set and be with He who created to have communion with me. Paradise is where you are. Yeah, maybe so. So far as earth is concerned anyway.

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Love Is


I noticed this morning that I will be finishing the book of Daniel on Friday and starting Hosea on Saturday. Song of Solomon is known as the love book, but if you ask me Hosea deserves just as much credit. To say I am excited to start Hosea on Valentine’s Day would be an understatement.

Like most girls I’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day, but I’ve noticed in the last few years it has grown considerably less exciting and important to me. I still buy cards and candies to show those I love that I do love them, but honestly it all seems superficial to me. I thought it was because growing older has taught me that loving well the other 364 days is more important than buying into the hype of one day. That is true, but this year I have changed my mind about Valentine’s  Day.

For the last 5 years or so we have busied ourselves each year with our youth group and hosting a Valentine’s  banquet for the adults at our church. I often think and plan ideas for my own loved ones early then it flees my mind and I’m grabbing last-minute gifts, and few to none of my plans materialize. Since becoming parents, we have a traditional seafood dinner at home where we exchange gifts with each other and the children. It’s quaint but lovely.

Not this year though. Maybe it’s because we aren’t busy hosting a banquet at church, but I have been thinking a lot more and a lot deeper about Valentine’s Day.

The story of Hosea is the true definition of love. Humans define love as an intense feeling of deep affection. 1John 4:8 defines love as God Himself. If God is love, and He is; then we should look to Him for how to love. Hosea is the example of how God loves.

God told the prophet Hosea to marry and love a Harlot. He married Gomer and it wasn’t too long after what we will call the honeymoon phase; that Gomer was being adulterous. Hosea pleaded with her (2:2). Hosea threatened to leave her with nothing (2:3). But Gomer continued to seek other partners and sin (2:5). Hosea lovingly took her back, but her faithfulness was short-lived and she would be in adulterous relationships again. Gomer finally officially leaves Hosea.

This is horrible! Why would you want use this story for Valentine’s Day? Why would God ask Hosea to do this you ask. Hosea was our relatable symbolic example of the depth of love and loyalty God has for us.

Hosea ends up having to buy back his wife for 15 pieces of silver and some barley (if the sin itself wasn’t humiliating that would be). This all has me thinking; if Christmas is the when and Easter is the how then Valentine’s is the why. Love is not an intense feeling of affection. Love is sacrifice. Love is keeping your promises when they break theirs. Love is when nothing makes sense. Love is when it isn’t wanted or deserved. Love is God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1John 4:8

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