Thursday, August 18, 2016

When life just doesn't go as planned....

Have you ever looked at your life and thought "Well, this wasn't the way I thought it would go?"

Maybe not even in a negative sense or maybe with some disappointment...regardless, it wasn't the way you envisioned it all playing out.

This is where I have found myself over and over during the past 7 months. Looking at some things in our life and just crying out to God "This wasn't the way I intended this to go, this isn't what I planned." As I have thought about it, prayed about it, complained some about it, and most of all just worked on embracing it - God has revealed Himself in so many ways and I am learning that isn't what I had planned BUT it IS all a part of HIS PLAN!

Let me explain...

January of this year was turmoil for our family. We suffered a GREAT loss in my mom's death. I am not going to lie or mince words - it shook both our immediate family and extended family to the so many ways, we are still regrouping from this. Yes, we know where she is, yes we can rejoice in that and yes there is still a sadness and void in our family. This was NOT part of the plan. My plan was that she would recover, that she would be here when we moved to Delta, that she would see all of her grandchildren graduate and be a part of that...It didn't go as I planned.

In conjunction with the loss of mom, our oldest struggled emotionally in coping with this loss and the pressures of college and just in general. So much so that by Spring Break she made the decision to withdraw from college and come home to heal and regroup emotionally. This was NOT part of the plan or the way I envisioned it. My plan was that she would blossom and thrive at college and it would be an amazing experience. In MY plan I would be taking her back for a glorious second year....It didn't go as I planned. She is living with us and working at McDonald's.

By May we were supposed to have locked down a sending church for our church plant here in Delta, we would be moved by early June, Joel and I would both immediately find jobs and things were just going to blow wide open in regards to planting a church...We still are working on the sending church thing, Joel did find a job immediately but that was followed by becoming seriously ill and ending up in the hospital, I just now have a job and we are just now beginning to put the pieces together for the church plant...This was NOT my plan or how I envisioned it. In MY plan we would be already meeting and have a solid base and my husband would be 100% healthy.

Now, before it sounds like I am disappointed and discouraged let me say - God has shown up BIG TIME in every one of these areas! Yes, I have struggled with discouragement, disappointment, and even depression the past several months BUT I serve a REDEEMING God, a God who is MORE THAN able to turn these meeker plans of mine into GRAND plans of HIS!!!

Let me tell you how....

Yes, the loss of my mother hurts and it is a DAILY battle to not give into the sadness of it. However, through her death I have had the opportunity to talk with SO MANY women that she touched and invested in. I have had the opportunity to walk alongside others in the loss of a parent and truly say - I know what you are feeling. My kids weekly mention something Mimi taught them or a fun memory of her or see something that reminds them of her and makes them smile. See, God's plan in this was so much BIGGER than my selfish desire. He wanted to reveal to me the impact of a life well lived for Him!

Yes, Hannah IS living with us and working at McDonald's - by FAR her least favorite restaurant. However, she is healing. She is learning to step out of her comfort zone BIG time for a far greater purpose. She is slowly embracing joy in life and learning to forgive herself and to be okay again. God's plan was BIGGER than mine..He wanted to stretch her in ways I never would have imagined and His plan for her is STILL unfolding!!! Words cannot express how proud I am of her and how she is allowing God to mold her.

We ARE in the final stages of lining out a sending church and it has taken MUCH longer than I planned. Yet, the relationship with us and them will be so much sweeter having gone through this time of processing, sharing, praying.

Joel IS healed and doing great but had he not been in the hospital we would not have had the opportunity to encounter so many people and share with them about our mission here and the church plant. God wanted to expand our territory into a place we never may have gone had he not been sick.

I did just now find a job but had it been earlier I would have missed out on an environment and position that I am EXCITED and PASSIONATE about! God knew my heart and HIS plan was to place me in a position that would bless me!

Here's the deal friends...Reality is that life rarely goes as WE plan it to. The unexpected, the unthinkable, the unforseen happens and when it does we find ourselves at a crossroads. We can choose to be upset, depressed, angry, disappointed or even bitter OR...

We can choose to stop, take a breath, look to Him and ask HIM what HIS plan and purpose for it all is. We can choose to CLAIM Jeremiah 29:11 and truly embrace it over our lives...

This second choice is where I have found myself...claiming and believing that God's BIG plans for me are so much greater than any I can drum up for myself. This is where I would encourage YOU to be as well should you find yourself as I have saying - "This is not at all what I had planned." 

Cause you know what? NONE of this is what I had planned and I am SO THANKFUL that HIS PLANS are much greater and higher...I am choosing to EMBRACE HIS PLANS!!!! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's get real about FEAR...

So, apparently dealing with FEAR is an ongoing theme with me...just realized that my last post had to do with fear and yet here I am again...

First of all let me begin by stating - fear is real, fear can mask itself in many ways, and fear can be well - scary! Over the past month, I have seen and experienced fear in multiple ways and in regards to multiple areas. I am not talking just about the fear of the dark, or fear of strangers, or fear of goblins in the closet - although these can be real fears. No - I am talking about fear of the future, of the unknown, of the what ifs....

Just this morning, as I opened up my Facebook and began reading posts and articles shared by various friends I sensed this overwhelming fear that we as a nation have in regards to the upcoming election, politics, etc. One post even went so far as to state that if Donald Trump isn't elected, America will no longer exist? What?? Now if that isn't designed to scare you I don't know what is!!! Another statement said that really, there isn't hope for America at all regardless who wins - it's all a conspiracy anyway. WOWZA!!!

For me personally...the fear has been a little more personal. If you have talked to me or followed my Facebook posts you know that the past 7 days have been quite the roller coaster for our family! Last Sunday night, Joel came home from work with a mild fever and just feeling blah...long story short by Tuesday morning it had progressed to a 103.8 fever, no energy etc. I took him to urgent care, which then ended up with us in the ER and eventually by Tuesday afternoon he was admitted to the hospital! Result...he had an extremely low white blood cell count (as in 68 when normal is 4000), dehydration, and pneumonia. To sum it up...there was and still is not an explanation as to what happened to his body. As I sat in that hospital room and listened to the Doctor explain the gravity of the situation, FEAR overcame me! Fear of what does this mean? What if he has cancer? What if he is in the hospital for weeks? Fear of what does this mean for our family? What does it mean for our church planting plans? Can he still even work? Yesterday, he was back in the ER due to some pain issues which again caused all this FEAR...(he's better today) You get the idea...I was AFRAID.

If that isn't enough, Satan had to go a step further and remind me of moments in the hospital with my mom throughout her last year of life. Emotionally it was draining....

Take it a step further - we are still waiting on some key beginning pieces of the church planting process to fall into place, pieces that we REALLY thought would be in place back in April or May and here we are almost to August and they are still unknown. Fear of did we miss God? What if this all falls apart? What then?

Combine ALL of this with fears of my earlier post about changing careers, etc and well...I think it is safe to say I was ALLOWING myself to be overcome with fear!

So, back to this morning...after looking at Facebook I KNEW where I needed to go...I needed to go to the one place I KNOW has an answer...The Word of God! God's Word has LOTS to say about fear and being afraid...Here are just a few that I found.

"After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great." Genesis 15:1

"Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

"He is to say to them: ‘Listen, Israel: Today you are about to engage in battle with your enemies. Do not be cowardly. Do not be afraid, alarmed, or terrified because of them. 4 For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’" Deuteronomy 20:3-4

"Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

"When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Psalm 56:3

"There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love." I John 4:18

These are just a few of the verses on being afraid and fear...there are more. However, here is my conclusion... As believers, we CANNOT be overcome by fear, we can't let it dictate our decisions our thoughts or actions. We have to go to the ONE who is so much greater than all our fears. Believe me...I don't have this perfected, in fact I pretty much feel like I am typing this for myself more than anyone else!

I can't tell you what tomorrow will bring or even what the rest of today will bring...I can only say that MY HOPE, MY STRENGTH, MY FUTURE rests in Christ and Christ alone! This morning as I have been working and researching for this post this song has been playing in my mind...

Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

Yes, God knows that the way to speak to my heart is through music that reminds me where to place my hope..."I find my peace in Jesus Name"

My prayer this morning, is that if YOU find yourself afraid or consumed with fear for whatever reason, you will RUN to HIM!!!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fear, Change, New Beginnings

As I look at my calendar I can hardly believe that it was just 3 weeks tomorrow since we pulled into Delta Co.! What an adventure it has been for sure!

To start off with, here is a recap of the past three weeks. Joel, Hannah, Tyler and I arrived here on June 25th. We unloaded some basics that evening (beds, clothes, etc) and then finished unloading the remainder on Sunday June 26th. We all LOVE our house, it is by far the biggest home we have ever lived in, is old and fun, and just great!

On July 4th, we met up with my Dad, Malachi and Kestra in Silverton (they had been at youth camp with Levelland church). We had a great time celebrating this amazing nation with my cousins, aunt, uncle, etc and then headed back - our entire family together - to officially begin this church planting journey!

Joel was hired at Wal-Mart and began on July 1st. It has been an adjustment in many ways for our entire family. He is working from 2:00p.m. to approximately midnight stocking shelves and unloading trucks. For him, the change from primarily an office job to manual labor has been rough but he has adjusted really well! For our family, it takes some getting used to having Dad home in the mornings but not home at night...however, we are starting to get the hang of it!

Hannah was just hired at McDonald's yesterday and will officially begin July 24th! I must say I am SUPER proud of her!!! She literally hates McDonald's food but knew she needed a job to earn money for Youth With A Mission - so she took a deep breath and went for it!!! Pray for her to have a great attitude and to shine for Jesus in her workplace.

As for me...well, that is where the title of this blog comes in. Fear. Change. New Beginnings. It pretty much sums up me emotionally the past few weeks. You wouldn't know it on the outside but really moves cause me MUCH fear! Even when I KNOW they are of God and that He has gone before us!

Let me back up a bit to Levelland. There was so much to love about our time at FBC Levelland - great people, great church, a fun and fulfilling ministry but for me PERSONALLY was the finding of my purpose, a passion and an excitement in a career. I LOVED my job at King's Kids Parents Day Out! I loved that I could combine my business degree and human resource passion with my passion for preschoolers and their families! Joel and I have commented many times that this was a defining time for me - a time where I could truly say "this is IT".

Which brings us to Delta and wondering how I would  be able to be that excited about a job again. The childcare laws in Colorado are much stricter and require a lot more to work in the childcare field. In order to do what I was doing in Texas, I need to take 9 college courses and work 12 months in a licensed day care. To just teach in a preschool/daycare I need at least 2 classes. This is one area where fear has crept its ugly head - how can I do THAT and earn money? I already have a college degree, just use it and get a pay check - you can't afford college again! Who changes careers over 40 anyway? You get the idea....
Yet - I know where my heart is, where my passion is, etc...I just tend to go back to the "safe zone" my security - get an office job and be done with it.

Listening to this fear, I sent out several resumes to some office administrative type positions. I even interviewed at one in Montrose (a 30 min commute one way). Joel encouraged me to be patient and wait for the Lord...not something I am good at. The more I began to think about it, pray about it, etc I knew that I really should/needed to wait for something here in Delta to open up. Not only do I need to meet people here (after all, we DID move here to build a church in Delta) but I just didn't have a peace at all about this interview.

Change - I KNEW I needed to overcome my fear, stop playing the "what if" game in my head (which I have banned from our home), and just take a step of faith and trust God. So...that is what I did. I got online, applied to an online community college, Joel helped me apply for Financial Aid, and now I am just waiting to see what God does with it. My Mom once told me that when you are struggling with a decision and you have truly laid it at the feet of God - let it go and let Him work. I have no idea if/when all the pieces to this puzzle will come together but I know they won't if I don't take that step of faith and start the process!

New Beginnings - in the meantime, yes I do need to eventually earn SOME money! So, after talking with a friend, my Dad, and Joel I decided to once again overcome my fear and do it. I have started the process to be a substitute teacher here in Delta County - in Colorado, you not only have to apply through the school district but also get a sub license from the state. Thankfully, I have had one before in Colorado and so other than updating my information the process was fairly easy but now I wait...I had interviewed with the school preschool director over the phone awhile back and that went well and although I didn't get the job she really wanted me to sub and spend time there for future openings - so, that is my plan!

I am choosing to overcome FEAR...embrace CHANGE...and look forward to NEW BEGINNINGS! It may seem crazy and illogical to turn away from job security in a field with my degree (ok, it DEFINITELY does) but for lack of a better way of explaining it, I am just having to trust that God's got this, He called us here, He has a purpose.

One side note: Delta has a HUGE shortage of quality childcare options. Every person we have talked to about needs in Delta County has brought this up. We believe that long term, our church plant will be able to meet this need and thus an additional reason I am pursuing the education and experience to be ready for such a time as that door may open. Pray for that!

Here are some ways you all can be joining us in prayer (be sure and join our church planting prayer team for weekly updates as well):

1.) Joel is already having meaningful spiritual conversations with the men at work. Several have expressed interest in knowing more about the church plant, why we would come here, etc. Pray for those doors to continue to be open, relationships to be built and more.

2.) Pray for the door to open for me to take these classes, financial aid to be available, to not give into the fear of going back to school (it's been 20 years!).

3.) Pray for lots of substitute opportunities in the schools that will lead to not only financial benefits but also meaningful relationships!

4.) Our family has begun the process to be a mentoring family to a local child in need. We don't have a lot of details but pray for that child, the process and our family to be ready to show the love of Christ!

5.) Pray for Hannah as she prepares to go with YWAM for 6 months - she still needs about $2500 in financial needs, she needs boldness and confidence.

6.) Pray for our other three to meet friends and have a great school year!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Heart to Heart....

So, I know that I haven't blogged about our move and our first week here in Colorado - I will I promise but for now...I want to just be open and speak from my heart to the heart of the average church member, the one who attends, helps out here and there but mostly is just in the background.

If I could sit with each of you, the average American church member, in your living room or mine - this is what I want to say to you....LOVE ON YOUR CHURCH STAFF, LOVE ON THEIR FAMILY, PRAY FOR THEM, LOVE ON THEM...this, this sums it up!

You see, just like in our American political system, often times it is the LOUD minority that is directing the goings on of the church - not the silent majority. I truly believe that the hearts of the majority of members within our churches are GOOD...they love the Lord, they love people, and they even love their church staff. The problem is that they don't speak up...mostly because honestly I don't think they know they should but also because they get busy, they are tired from just doing life. To go to that church business meeting - well that is just ONE MORE THING on the already booked calendar. Of course I think of my Pastor or his wife and I really MEAN to call them but then we are off to practice or a game or vacation etc. You know what...TAKE THE TIME! Your church staff and their families NEED to know that you are there. They NEED to HEAR you say you love them, to pray for them, to MINISTER to them!

Friends...our church staff and their families are on the front lines day in and day out. They are taking a beating from without and within the church. They are weary. They are worn, They are persecuted from all directions. They are suffering from depression, loneliness, hurt, anger, and more. They need friends. They need to know YOU CARE.

Just is what I have heard from minister's wives and families (and this is ONLY today, not what I hear on a weekly basis) - "Pray for (insert name) and his family. They just got on their feet after being discouraged by goings on in the church and now their family is the target of retaliation, bullying, etc from a family upset with the church."
"Pray for us. My husband was basically fired today - he resigned rather than get voted out. We don't have a plan."
"Pray for (insert name) our Pastor's wife. She hears daily criticism and judgement about her, her husband and kids"

THIS IS THE NORMAL! Do you hear my heart? This is happening EVERY DAY in churches all across America and it is tearing up our ministers and their families. Like I said at the beginning - I HONESTLY believe that this is NOT the majority of church members treating ministers this way - I believe that a VERY LOUD, minority is what is being heard and a VERY SILENT majority needs to speak up, love up, and ACT OUT in love to church staff.

It has been suggested to me through the years that I am bitter towards the church, that I focus on the negative, etc. Please please hear me and listen up to my heart - THIS IS NOT THE CASE! I LOVE the church, I love serving within the church but I also believe that some things (ok, maybe a lot of things) in our churches need to change and it begins with this - LOVE YOUR STAFF. This doesn't mean agree with them all the time, it doesn't mean don't ever question or challenge what they may say or suggest but it DOES MEAN LOVE!!!! Let them know that even when they are wrong - you love them. Show them you care by calling, taking them out to eat, dropping a meal by, babysitting for a date night, send them a card, etc. Joel and I have a heart for the church - if this wasn't the case, we would have walked away years ago...believe me, the money isn't great and the hours are far from convenient! However - that silent majority - THEY ARE WORTH IT!

From my heart to yours....if you have EVER wondered how you can serve within the church or how you can support it - make it your mission in life to reach out and serve, love, minister to those who minister. Be a friend to your pastor's wife. Send them an encouraging note every month to counter act those negative ones they are getting. SHOW UP at the business meetings and smile at them - better yet SIT BY THEM in the business meeting. Pray and ask God to reveal to you how YOU can LOVE your church staff and their families....I bet He will be happy to oblige!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Reflections on the journey...

On the eve of our last day of ministry here at First Baptist Levelland, there are so many emotions, thoughts, memories, and feelings that have passed through my mind the last few days. We have just completed our final VBS here and it was a crazy busy week where I honestly didn't have much time to stop and think about what lie fact, it really wasn't until yesterday that it really "hit" me that this was our final Sunday....June 12th it's always been that date out there, several months or weeks away and BOOM here it is....

Today, I was trying to summarize my thoughts, my feelings and...well, it is all so different than ever before. It finally dawned on me...

I remember how I felt the few weeks prior to going off to college at Wayland Baptist University. Here I was, this small town Colorado girl preparing to go 8 hours away, live away from friends and family, and begin preparation for "the real world" On the one hand - I was SO excited to get started on this grand new adventure, there was so much to look forward to. On the other hand - I was trembling with fear of the unknown that this new adventure would bring, so much uncertainty! I had been on my own somewhat that summer working at a resort - but this would be different in regards to getting up for class on time, being responsible for my grades, my schedule, etc.

This journey that we are venturing out on evokes much the same feelings. In many ways, it is similar - we are still doing ministry, we will still be reaching people for the Lord and discipling families. In so many other ways it is WAY different; we have always gone to an established church, with an established congregation, an established and defined ministry plan. On a more personal note - any time over the past 20 years that we have changed jobs/ministries I have spent countless hours in conversation with my mom - expressing my fears, my concerns, my excitement, my anticipation... I am thankful that the last conversation I had in person with my mom was about our ministry opportunity in Delta but at that time, it was still in the application process and we didn't know for sure if it would happen. Now that it is here - I find myself daily wishing I could pick up the phone and chat with her, to share with her where we are at, things that we are needing prayer on - my mom was an incredible prayer warrior - and just wanting to hear her words of encouragement and wisdom.

This brings me back to my original thought - trying to summarize my feelings and here it is - nervous anticipation! I am definitely anticipating the joy of meeting new people, getting the church plant up and going, and ABSOLUTELY looking forward to returning to Colorado! However, there is  A LOT of nervousness, anxiousness, etc. As of today, we do not have a place to live, we do not have jobs (both Joel and I will need to work secular jobs to supplement until the church plant is up and going strong) and the economy in Delta is struggling to say the least. It is frightening to leave a place where you have a home, a job, friends, and things are going well to the unknown and uncertain - and yet even that is somewhat exciting!

As I have been praying through these emotions and thoughts - I was reminded of the story of Abraham in Genesis 12. God commands Abram "Go out from your land, your relatives, your father's house to the land I will show you..." At this time, God doesn't reveal to Abram where exactly he is to go, where he will live, how it will all play out - He just tells Abram to GO!
This is where we find ourselves - there are a lot of details that we thought would already be in place that just aren't. We DO know that God has called us to go. We have spent countless hours in prayer, have sought out wise counsel in regards to going, have had it confirmed in so many ways. So, even in this time of uncertainty and unknown; I am choosing to trust Him, to GO out from the land in which I am comfortable and move toward the land in which He has shown us.

Here are ways in which you can join us in prayer:

1.) Joel will have a phone interview with a possible job opportunity this week. This particular job would also be a GREAT ministry opportunity and tie in well with church planting.

2.) There are some homes opening up - pray for the house that God would have for us and the details to come together.

3.) Financial support team - we are working with individuals and churches to put together a team of financial supporters who have a heart for missions and church growth.

4.) Economy in Delta - recently the only remaining coal mine in the area laid off 80 workers, including a family who will be in our church plant, pray for jobs, provision and needs to be met.

5.) A job for myself

6.) Our kids as they adjust to a new town, school, friends, etc.

As always, we are so thankful for our many friends and family who support us in prayer and encouragement!

Monday, May 23, 2016

2015-2016 School year....the year of the OVERCOMERS

Seems like every year when May hits me "Where has this school year gone?" Weren't we JUST buying the school clothes, chatting excitedly about class schedules, making plans for road trips to sports? When did I blink and it disappear?

Why even wonder...because the end of the school year, marks one year closer to that time when I will look and realize "I am an empty nester." fact, Tyler - MY BABY - will start High School in the fall! Say WHAT?

As I look back at the school year of 2015-2016...all I can say is growth through pain. In so many ways, that is what has summed up this school year for our family. By far, it has been one of the most difficult school years for us...what started out as a year of exciting new adventures, turned into some serious pain filled moments, tears, disappointment, and wonder... It wasn't ALL hard...definitely sprinkled in were moments of joy - like making the JV softball team and being a starter, scoring a 1 on a UIL solo, and making progress in reading.

Let me just share with you some HARD things that have happened in our family...the reason is I want you to see that despite being a "ministry" family, life isn't all roses for us. Nope. Not a bit. We are a real family just like anyone else - the only thing that makes a difference - JESUS!

1.) Our oldest went to college in the fall. We were excited, she was excited, it was EXCITING! We loaded her up, we decorated the dorm room, we had some high hindsight, maybe TOO high. She struggled. She experienced some growth pains. She wanted to give in and give up. She pressed on through the first semester. It didn't look exciting any more. It wasn't exciting. It was HARD. Second semester would bring more pain, more hardship, and the need to step away and retreat for a time...It was HARD.

2.) Our second one started his Junior year with high hopes. Looking to begin a new sport. Getting a glimpse of the end.... He was excited. We were excited. It was EXCITING! He struggled. He faltered. He fell. The grades plummeted to an all time low. We lectured. We encouraged. We begged. We cried. it was HARD. Second semester would bring the chance to begin fresh with a brand new slate....It wasn't exciting. It wasn't glamorous. It looked bleak. The finish line was no longer in sight. It was HARD.

3.) My mom started off with some great medical reports in early fall. Looked like victory over cancer was on the horizon. She had some challenges, but surely they would be overcome. By wasn't great any more. It looked bleak. It wasn't looking very victorious. Second got HARD. It went downhill. It wasn't looking good any longer. It was painful. It hurt. It was HARD.

These are just the big highlights of the HARD of this school year. There were others...medical issues with Joel's Dad, ministry struggles, hardships with friends close to us.

HOWEVER....that is NOT THE END OF THE STORY. We chose not to remain in the HARD. We chose to look to the ONE WHO HAS OVERCOME THE HARD - JESUS, the NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES.

1.) Our oldest has overcome some serious amount of depression. She is getting stronger every single day. Yes - she still has some growth to go through but she is on the way! God has BIG plans for her and she is OVERCOMING through HIM!

2.) Our second one has learned the reality of choices have consequences. He is working toward recovering some grades and getting a brand new fresh start. He is OVERCOMING through HIM!

3.) My mom...she won the ULTIMATE VICTORY of healing...she's at the throne of the KING OF KINGS! It's still hard for me at times. It's still painful A LOT OF TIMES and BUT GREATER IS HE WHO IS IN ME!!! I am healing. I am growing, I am going to be VICTORIOUS and overcome through HIM!

Here's my point....Life IS HARD. It isn't all roses. It doesn't always work out the way WE want it to work out. It has times of PAIN, times of TEARS, times of  DISAPPOINTMENT....but we don't have to let that be the end of our story. That doesn't have to be what sums up our life! Through Christ...we can REJOICE and be called....

John 16:33 states:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Light Comes's time to speak out

Reading James 1 this morning and hit over the head, toes stepped on, light bulb pops on...
You see, for the past 3 years our family has dealt with a "trial" of sorts, or a thorn in our side. We, and I say we because it has been multiple members of our family attacked, have been the recipients of anonymous letters arriving on average every 2 months that have been down right mean, hateful, full of lies, hurtful. Although we haven't read them all, in fact many have just gone straight to file 13, we have read some and believe me they were not oozing with praise, encouragement or uplifting words...they were literally HATE mail.
Now, before you get all defensive and on the war path, STOP. I have BEEN down that fact the majority of the past 3 years in regards to these letters and the person that we are fairly certain sent them, I have been negative about, ready to tell them a piece of my mind, etc. I have heard every recommendation regarding how to handle them, as I have shared this with a select few, from reading them out loud in church, to posting them on Facebook, to not reading them and throwing them away, and more. I have had COUNTLESS conversations in my head with the author and let me tell you....they have never heard such a lecture!!!
However, my Proverbs 31 devotional this morning in my e-mail was from James, a different direction in James but there any way. I decided to just begin reading this book and was stopped in my tracks after the first 15 verses.
"Consider it a great JOY, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces ENDURANCE. But endurance MUST do its COMPLETE work, so that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing..A man who ENDURES trials is BLESSED, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."James 1:2, 12
"You are BLESSED when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in Heaven." Matthew 5:11
My attitude in this situation has been one of anger, frustration, hurt, and more. I can say that I have honestly tried to pray for the author, I have prayed to have an attitude of forgiveness for a person that I can't even really go to in person, and yet I have still struggled with this entire situation.
We have encountered a lot of hard times in ministry but this one has definitely been hard. It came to a head a few weeks ago when a card was mailed and addressed to one of my children. From the outside, it looked just like any other greeting card with the exception that a return address was suspiciously missing. Thankfully, I checked the mail that day instead of Tyler, he would have handed it straight to the person it was addressed any normal person would. Yet, I had a check in my spirit that something wasn't right....I opened it to see and I am SO thankful that the Spirit gave me that prompting. It doesn't matter how old your children are, your mama bear instinct is to protect them from hurtful words, etc. I read the letter and my child never has! It was after this letter that I knew SOMETHING had to be done, it had to be dealt with.
I had honestly thought that with the announcement of our resignation these letters would stop, it would just go away. It hasn't, they didn't. Today it hit me WHY...because I needed to re-examine MY attitude towards them...I needed to see them as a BLESSING, as a growth opportunity, as a way in which I can learn ENDURANCE! Don't get me wrong, I am not sure the letters will stop...or they may...that isn't the point. The point is that I PASS THE TEST that God has allowed to come my way!
So...why be open and share about this? Why a blog post?
1.) Our journey of faith, our lives, are to be used to encourage and spur one another on. I felt so alone in this situation until I began talking with other ministers and their wives about it and realized that THEY TOO have had it happen. So, if someone reading this is experiencing a similar situation...I want them to know they are NOT alone! They have someone who gets it, who understands.
2.) I want to be open and real and transparent in what the Lord is teaching me and showing me.
3.) It is time that the person responsible for these letters know that they are HELPING me in my journey of faith because I am learning more and more about how to deal with "ugly" people in life because of THANK YOU for teaching me to bless, to endure, and to let go.
4.) We are also called to confront and call out sin within the body of Christ. Although this HAS been a learning and growth opportunity for me...I believe that 3 years of public silence in regards to it is ENOUGH! It is time that we call it out. We are not called to judge but we ARE called to confront one another's sin. Due to the fact that this is an anonymous person, I can't go to them one on one or even with a small here it is. I can say I forgive you, I can say I love you, and I can ALSO say you are sinning and wrong and it needs to stop for the sake of the body of Christ.
5.) If you have a problem or concern with a fellow need to go to them one on one in LOVE and for the purpose of building them up and encouraging them...not to hurt them or destroy them or tear them down.