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A Letter to the Grieving

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First of all, I wanted to acknowledge that I have been quite distant the past 3 years. It’s taken me this long to get healthy enough to write anything publicly. Why, you may ask?

 

 

Grief.

 

Now, let’s be clear, I haven’t been blotchy, snotty red faced sobbing for 3 years. But I have seen some of my darkest days that I thought would never end. There are still traces of the past season I believe will mark me forever. And in this moment, I turn my attention to you.

 

 

Last weekend, an announcement was made at a local mega church that blindsided a congregation. These people  that had been faithfully attending since its inception 30 years ago. What started with an announcement which felt more like a eulogy as the elders on stage announced the retirement of the founding pastor ended with statements as great things in our future still lay ahead.  Shock, disbelief, anger and confusion do not even scratch the surface. The well intentioned passage spoke just minutes after the bomb dropped on the congregation was on the Great Shepherd in Psalm 23 and “lets just look to our Shepherd now!”  while the majority of people sat unhearing, untouched, in disbelief. Sheep are dumb, but they ain’t stupid. Classic bait and switch. Like visiting an emergency room, they sat numb and motionless with their gaping wounds and dazed expressions.

 

It’s like telling a child their parents have died…. but don’t worry, we got you new parents!
-Maria Mormile

 

 

Although the transition was in discussion with leadership for a number of years, this upended the church because they were not privy to these convos  and so has caused incredible division. The comments which started on the Facebook post were pretty mild at first and have grown to be more vitriolic by the hour with “let’s start a demonstration!” or the bold assumption it’s an elder takeover/ church coup, that they (the elders) are of the devil, or suggesting that this founding pastor who is pushing 80 years old should start a church elsewhere. The bewilderment mixed with vicious attacks has added fuel to the acidic fire and the crowd unfortunately has grown wild with over 1000 comments from all over the country in less than 48 hours. It’s a collective knee jerk reaction to something so disorienting- the people just want answers; they want to hear about the retirement of this pastor from his own mouth. With plenty of room for imagination, the narrative is this was a powerplay, a force out.

 

 If truth was clearly told upfront as people are bleeding out their heartache, there would be tears, sadness, but more understanding and peace. Because there are more questions than answers, many are left feeling angry, without a voice and without their shepherd. The rug has been swept  out, from the surface it doesn’t seem fair, or even decent human behavior, especially in the church. 

 

And as hard as this is to say, there are two different sides of the story.  Brace yourselves. 

 

For those on the receiving end of this news, the wave of grief and disbelief is more than one can bear. The questions coming in are more abundant than one can sort out alone.  One cannot get the deep comfort online that’s so desperately need in a time like this. And when the world already feels unsettling, a church that has projected stability all these years is comforting. Now the veil has been pulled back and what’s been seen cannot go unseen. The positive remarks from those in leadership or on staff regarding this decision seem to overlook the grief of those now receiving the news. What gives? The feeling of being lost or disillusioned is this deep  dark cloud looming ahead, and no one can escape this storm.  Have we been blind to something? Is there more to the story?

 

 

Yes.  

 

 

This church in particular has struggled in the past with being honest and transparent with transitions.. So this new reality is shocking, and disorienting. I feel for you. You loved your pastor, have followed him all these years and have seen him through many seasons. There is a deep connection and gratitude people have with a person who has shared the gospel with them, transforming their minds, their lives and families. This cannot be overlooked. I am one in that number. 

 

 

For those who have been on the inside, this comes as a relief, an answer to prayer.  It’s like someone finally did something. 

 

 

The only thing I can truly say that brings comfort to those in grief is a verse that the Lord clearly showed me as I was in the season of blotchy red faced, can’t-get-off-the-floor tears- In His gentle kindness he brought me to  Jeremiah 6:14. It came the morning the church finally made the announcement about my husband’s departure, two plus months after we’d left. There was a picture posted of him spliced in with next upcoming worship leader with the caption: “The best is yet to come!”

 

We were devastated. 

 

We felt forgotten, swept under a rug. Bewildered. Silence from those we’d been in ministry with for over a decade. Didn’t get to say goodbye, share our story. Left those we worked with closely  confused, hurt and some even angry. The conflicting turmoil we felt was on another level. Yet no one knew the category 5 devastation we were experiencing on the inside. 

 

 

Silence. Broken to the core. 

 

 

The Lord must’ve known that day among many, many others was going to hit us like a high speed train going southbound to nowhere but He wanted us to know that we were seen by Him. And it was not ok. The specific verse He gave is sobering, calling out God’s people who have been ordained as leaders over His people that had grossly mishandled them. This was offensive to God and He was going to bring a severe judgement.  (*I highly encourage you to dive deep in the book of Jeremiah)

 

 

 

 

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush. 
Jeremiah 6:14-15

 

 

I’m sorry. I really am. It’s not supposed to be this way. Your wounds need tending to on a deep level, don’t sweep this under the rug. Lamenting is a Biblical concept and although we in America enjoy an “overcomer” narrative to skip over the hard parts, so much of the psalms are dedicated to seasons of mourning. Time and space are needed for grief or disillusionment to be fully processed, wisdom to be cultivated within the questions unanswered. Reach out to a friend, a counselor. Bring your heartache to the Lord.  You have a Shepherd who is near to the brokenhearted and can lead you well especially in the darkest valley. You are not alone. 

 

 

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 Now we take a look at a different perspective from those within the walls of this particular church. This is the room of the fortified castle you may have thought existed but you were never allowed in. It was safe to not know, might I add comforting, knowing the servant were catering food, and the king was giving orders, everything humming along like a well oiled machine.

 

To those on the inside, I see you, you’ve suffered. So the news of this may even come as a major relief, God has finally answered the prayers you’ve been begging Him for years.  

 

 

Are you fearful when you go to work? Can you be authentically yourself and are your gifts and ideas welcomed within this church? Can you say what you feel without being fired or gaslighted?  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case. Many on staff have been limping on eggshells for years, trained by the culture within to do nothing and say nothing. There’s a real fear of losing a job if they speak out against “God’s anointed”. Red tape everywhere. 

 

Was this a power play? Yes, it actually was. The redemptive part is that the elders (who loved this man dearly and walked with him for decades) finally did something about it. What goes on behind the scenes has not been ok for a number of years and only recently have these men been aware.  It’s been toxic, unhealthy and may I be so bold to say spiritually abusive. There has been very little direct confrontation of the elephant in the room.  Unfortunately, if you remove one person, that are still quite a few people that have let this continue, unchecked for years. Like clockwork in an abusive family, one person strikes the hammer and the rest scurry around enabling the behavior. Now the congregation is fully aware that something isn’t ok but can’t quite put their finger on it.  When you tell the people “everything is fine”, yet not even address their brokenness, nor the health of those on staff, it’s unbearable. 

 

Disfunction

Narcisssism

Isolation

Manipulation

 

 

What happens when a pastor refuses to heed the elders? Upon this exodus, the great and powerful Oz may have positioned himself as the victim and unfortunately,  taken the community down with him. 

 

Now who is to blame? 

 

In the fascinating podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, following the story of against-the-grain Mark Driscoll and his explosive megachurch in Seattle that came to a sudden collapse, the question goes back to: Who killed Mars Hill? 

 

We all did. 

 

Maybe WE ALL have been a part of the problem, played a role in a man’s demise, never questioning his decisions, unbridled authority or isolation, left following the spirit of God to set up our own safe and comfortable kingdoms. We’ve succumbed to image management, bowing the knee to formulaic Christianity and didn’t even know it. 

 

What do we do now?

 

 

 

Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,
and You teach me wisdom deep within.
Psalm 51:6

 

 

 

Repent, therefore, so that times of refreshing may come. Direct people towards Christ not application theology. How many times do we teach a formulas within church walls, only for it to fail? Do they then walk from Christ and say He has failed?! If we’re teaching on Acts, are we not living it out?  Tear the whole thing  down, right down to the studs, only then will there be a chance to rebuild anew, by His unmerited and exceedingly undeserved grace alone. Is there any other way that would touch the heart of God quite like repentance? Judgement begins with the house of God, right? It’s up to Him to have mercy. Let’s not turn a blind eye to reality. What if chaos was created so that there could be order? 

 

 

 

Restore me, and I will return,

For You are the Lord my God

Surely, after my turning, I repented. 
Jeremiah 31:18

 

 

 

Quick caveat, there are real pastors who have been truly shepherding their people within this church, I wholeheartedly believe that. Pockets of solid, truly gifted, compassionate pastors that have been crying out, authentically broken over the years over the disfunction, over the bodies left in the wake of destruction, but have continued on being faithful with what’s been entrusted to them. God bless them, truly, truly. They remain because they have hope for the God’s people and He hasn’t forgotten them. 

 

 

 

With that, we take a moment to acknowledge the REAL work that has been done within the church and more importantly, the soul of the believer. What’s eternal matters. His word doesn’t return void, ever.  God chose to use an imperfect man to share His message of redemption and therefore changing the trajectory of a person’s life. Doesn’t His grace go farther than our own imaginations?! Could we throw really the baby out with the bathwater? I think not. May God use each of us, as imperfect as we are, to share His kindness and redemption with others. 

 

 

 

 

Although we are no longer present, we still feel deeply for those we love and can empathize with those walking the dark road of disillusionment. My husband was a pastor on staff there for a number of years.  The shepherds heart he has for the spiritual health of these people scattered is overwhelming. The show cannot just go on. These are real people, with real issues that must be addressed.  If you want to have a healthy church, talk about the things that matter.  Our culture is shifting so quickly- racism, gender issues, abortion, politics, segregation of the vaccinated/unvaccinated, the church could be the safest place on the planet with REAL answers: one’s identity in Christ, the REAL GOSPEL- to be outspoken in preparing the parent to be the pastor at home, for a pandemic or persecution.  Biblically speaking, what  does transparency and role of repentance look like moving forward?

 

 

 

 

This is what the LORD says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is,

and walk in it,

and you will find rest for your souls…
Jeremiah 6:16

 

 

 

 

For those of you who left the church last week or years ago, hurt, confused, angry… I see you and more than that, He sees you. 

 

 

For those whose faith, marriages, jobs have been shipwrecked over wounds inflicted by this church, He sees you and hasn’t forgotten you nor any of the things that have transpired between then and where you may find yourself now. 

 

 

 

Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love;

Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt…
Jeremiah 31:3-4

 

 

Those who are staff at the church now, feeling battered yet relieved, He sees you. A new day has come! Your faith is precious in His sight. 

 

 

For I have satiated the weary soul,

and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
Jeremiah 31:25

 

 

 

For those who celebrating now that the guard has been changed, let me gentle caution you: don’t forget His people for your personal gain.  Sure, branches may be pruned but does God not leave the ninety-nine to go after the one?  Who is that one person now? What does real care look like to a hurting body?  Again I ask the question, what does transparency and the role of repentance look like moving forward? Listen carefully to His leading, these are His people. 

 

 

 

But this is what I commanded them, saying,

‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people.

And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’
Jeremiah 7:23

 

 

 

He still and always has been El Roi, the God who sees.  When the time is right, may He fill you with His unshakable hope and  lift your head as He is beginning to lift mine. 

 

 

Gripped by His Grace,

 

 

 

 

 

Love Thy Neighbor

Our neighbors are Muslims…

and we love them.

No, seriously…

 

They moved into our neighborhood about 2 years ago when Jet was born. And Jethro was the type of baby that tortured us with sleepless nights and colick so we could hardly leave our house, much less walk across the street to meet them.  He held us hostage for almost a year. But I digress…

The Courage to Let Go.

Oh boy, I can’t believe I’m writing this.

 

A few years ago, I stepped out into a new opportunity, unfamiliar territory, the world of business owning. There’s something about owning business that will supercharge your personal development skills faster than anything else. It will make or break you. And I’ve been broken so many times, I lost count.

 

I made so many highs and lows in the business.. And being a pastor’s wife, I get to balance ministry along with business. I hardly talk about what I do at church to not use my “name” as a pastor’s wife to bump up business.   I love people and want to help them naturally but I struggle with the balance. Out of respect, I go elsewhere and I believe it’s a wise decision. I’ve take it as a compliment when others don’t even realize I am a “mom-trepreneur.”

 

In the past few years, I’ve also had some great people walk out of my life. Quality friends that for some reason or another, we are not longer connected except in passing. I’m loyal to people that I love, whether they walk along side me or not.  I think of them often, looking for opportunities to rekindle the flame of friendship I once had with them. In the past few years, it hasn’t been reciprocated by some that I dearly cherished. Ouch.

 

Back to business, my job is to mentor and build up people to do what I do. A lot of effort, training and may I say, TIME is involved with this. I have made so many mistakes that bit me in the butt later about investing in people that aren’t invested in me. Ouch again.

 

Recently, I had a crucial conversation with one of my would-be “leaders”. One I would pour my heart into, my efforts for the last 3 years had come to this moment- would she take what I’m offering or walk away, leaving me to work even harder and potentially collapsing a great part of my business. She said yes, she’d take my offer and we’d move forward quickly.

 

That night, I couldn’t sleep.

 

Although I wanted this badly, I knew she didn’t. My hard work and efforts were evident to both of us but were not enough. I couldn’t convince her to commit. I felt like I was asking her, even begging her to “marry me” in business for just a season.

 

I wrestled all night with the Lord about this situation. I’m begging God for wisdom at this point because I’m physically spent by  running my own business with some that are not committal while caring for two small boys,  I desperately need an answer from the Lord because this is not working.

 

Well, 2am came and I got my answer, not what I wanted to hear: I need to pull the tooth. Cut my losses and walk away. I cried til 5am- I’m talking about the blotchy-red-swollen-face-ugly-cry. Slept an hour then cried the rest of the day. This is a devastating loss to me. I can’t take back the hours of investing, working hard, and the evenings spent away from my boys that I can’t get back. I’m grieving a major loss.

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You won’t see this on instagram! #uglycry

 

 

Through my 5am tears, I grabbed my Bible. I’ve neglected His Word lately as I’ve been juggling everything else. I’m begging God for forgiveness and wisdom. I’m asking Him to speak to me so clear. A ‘lil Russian roulette with the Word gave me this:

 

 “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,’ declares theLord…”

 

The next day, the business partner I had asked to commit “broke up with me” over a text.  I’m so so thankful that I got the answer from the Lord before I read that message.  I spoke to her later and we parted ways cordially. She apologized because she knows my loss is way greater than hers.

 

Physically I’m exhausted and emotionally I feel like I’ve been in a major car accident. Overwhelmed yet learning very quickly. In business, I’m learning to cut out what’s not working and focus on what IS working, as well as invest in the right people. But right now, I feel like I’m starting over.

 

All this mirroring the friendship world, in some ways, I’ve also felt like I’m starting over. There is a handful of people that I care for, think about, and yet I’m  casually not included in their lives. And after this much time, I should take the hint and see that if I haven’t been welcomed back by now, it’s just not gonna happen. It’s time to invest that energy elsewhere.  The loyalty in me hangs on waiting for a door to open. I miss them dearly. Yet my reality is I need to deal with the dull ache of this rejection, make like Frozen and let it go.

 

And through these first painful weeks of March,  the Lord is still speaking to me.

 

” When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked are no more. But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.” Proverbs 10:25

 

Praise God that He speaks. I’m beyond thankful for His Word that gives me real Hope. Through the storms and losses, the Lord still is an ever present help in times of trouble. I’m thankful for His leading and the ways He encouraged me in the storm. I’m thankful for the new people I have in my life, those that are willing to dig deep with me. I will always cherish friendships of the past.  I’m thankful for the firm foundation that only He can give!

 

I hope this post encourages you to seek His face about the specific things in your life that you need His wisdom on. Oh my, does He give it! In every area, may you please Him and be following His lead.

 

In His Grip,

Amy

 

The January Rollercoaster

I have to admit, the last few weeks have been like a crazy roller coaster and we just passed the half way mark with January!

 

It was 3 days before Christmas, I ran into a (former) friend at the park. When I asked how she was doing, she rolled her eyes and during this brief altercation told me she “just wants to be selfish right now.” My heart aches for her. I miss her tremendously. She told me that I hurt her. She  told me to leave her alone. So painfully, I will respect her wishes. I’d yell “fire!” for  anyone walking down a path of self-destruction. I’d do it all over again, yes, even at the cost of our friendship. I grieve for her.

 

Earlier that week, I found out that a grade school friend was gunned down outside of San Fransisco in a drive-by shooting. She was 33 years old.

 

Fast forward to January, I headed to that funeral while Jonathan spoke to the congregation over the weekend on Choose Today– and the rollercoaster went up, up, and away! Story after story piled in- we almost didn’t have time to absorb each one! With all the incredible testimonies of neighbors coming to the Lord, families changing their lives and to the girl I sat next to in service saying she’s going to recant her divorce after hearing the message. Jonathan was beyond privileged to be asked to speak at a prison on Tuesday and the stories kept coming in. God is good!

 

That same weekend, another death. Oh, my heart ached to hear of the loss of 2 1/2 year old Ella Harper, the sweetest Trisomy 18 sassy-pants that ever graced anyone’s presence. She was a miracle baby from before birth, and when doctors encouraging to terminate the pregnancy, my brave friends Matt and Chelsea trusted God for the miracle -and He gave it and then some! She was a rockstar champ who surprised everyone. After a risky surgery this past weekend, that brave little toaster took her last breath and met her Creator. I could not hold back the tears today at her service thanking God for the miracle while grieving the loss.

 

I just needed to rest today. Sometimes we all need a little time to rest and reflect. {I find that gardening gives me solace. There’s something about digging into dirt and the possibility of growth that is renewing for me. I always thought that I had some ‘farmer’ in my blood. Don’t judge me for asking for earthworms for Christmas a few years ago.}

 

As I sorted out the herbs, I was reminded of a conversation that was delivered to me during prayer week. Through the highs and lows of this week, there was a day in particular I was wrestling in frustration about two different issues, wondering when a breakthrough would happen. God is so good that He would even consider me. I think there is nothing in the world He hasn’t already given so my goodness, why am I in such need, over things so trivial? But as extravagantly gracious as He is, He sent some encouragement my way. A friend approached Jonathan during the 6-7am prayer sessions at church and asked him to relay a message the Lord wanted me to know — that He will perfect that which concerns me. One of my favorite verses. He’s too good.

With all that’s transpired this month, Jonathan’s message, the two funerals, I’m confronted with the whole “life is short.” theme  again. No one knows their own day or hour when it’s over. I don’t know where I’d be without His presence daily correcting, encouraging, guiding me. How good He is to speak to His people, whether we are in desperate times or just need a good word. But even more than that, eternity is forever– we can hardly grasp the concept. What are we doing that will last? Are you ready? Am I?

 

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The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
Psalm 138:8

In His Grip,

Amy's Signature

Let No Man Separate.

This post should’ve been published 6 months ago! Apologies!

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage these days. With the Supreme Court ruling recently, things are quickly shifting in our culture much faster than they once did. Regardless of these changes, people continue to search for answers.

 

Men and women are different. The way we communicate astounds me sometimes. Check out this convo I had with another musician a few months ago- I asked a question on what sound I needed to use on the keyboard and thought it would be a simple answer, like the “Pad” “Strings” or “Rhodes” sound, yet it was wayyy outta my mental league, more  like gibberish to me.

 

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So I don’t think it takes much convincing to say that we’re all just different.

 

I have a friend that is getting ready to be married. She wants to have a successful marriage but what does that look like? Where’s the manual? Is it possible to be happy with just one person for the rest of your life?

 

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I haven’t read this book she’s speaking of. But I can say one thing: I don’t think “feminism” ruined relationships. I think  selfishness and pride and sin did.

 

It goes all the way back to the Garden, people.

 

Once we broke God’s law, we were separated from Him. Shame, guilt, pride, blame- all that entered the picture and that’s why it’s called the Fall. Because of God’s holiness, we couldn’t go back to perfection.

 

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

But the best part is this: God, who is rich in mercy, made a way for it to work. He orchestrated a beautiful plan of redemption, strung from the beginning of time until now.  And He loves us that much to give us free will. A choice! Brilliant and devastating at the same time! Obviously, the effects of sin are still very much evident today. Hurt people still hurt people.

What makes a good marriage? Fun, teamwork, intimacy,vulnerability,  humbly submitting to one another.

What destroys a marriage? Pride, unforgiveness, anger, resentment, loneliness… feminism.

I am thankful that through the pages of Scripture, He has given us the “secret” code to a great marriage. (Be wary of those who twist Scripture to fit their fancy.) It doesn’t contradict nor is burdensome. And when done right, brings peace. Can I get a witness for some PEACE these days?!

My Pastor recently shared on marriage. He spoke on how to do life right and  the the 3 different types of love needed in a marriage. One of the first things he said was:

“Marriage is a lifelong commitment to an imperfect person.” 

Isn’t that so true?

I went out with a friend of mine who just finalized a painful divorce. As she knocked back a corona, tears spilled down her face about what she’s experiencing is worse than death. She screwed up. He screwed up. And instead of covering with grace, they both pointed fingers.

“You don’t wanna be me. No one wants this.”

She talked about how she feels like she and her husband were like two pieces of duct tape stuck together and it feels like it’s being painfully ripped apart. That was the same analogy my pastor used in his marriage teaching. Heartache.

Marriage is tough. Something that became so much more clear to me recently is when it’s looked at like a contract, it won’t work. A contract meaning, “you keep up your end of the deal, and I’ll keep up mine.” If you treat me well, I’ll do the same. If things go downhill, I’m outta here.

 

Seems like even maintaining a friendship can be a lot more difficult now that we live in a throwaway culture, much less a marriage.

 

This summer, as we were treading this season of marriages and the difficulties within them, the Supreme Court made it’s ruling about same sex marriages. My husband came across this video by T.D. Jakes that I thought was spot on. Take a look. I thought it was encouraging.

 

 

 

Jonathan and I have a healthy marriage but I’ll be so honest to say we still go through seasons just like everyone else. This summer was particularly difficult. We had been involved with a few others who’s marriages were crumbling. And it seemed as if they didn’t want the help we so badly wanted for them. I tend to want to jump in front of a train for people and can get burned in the process. With that, along with other stresses we faced, we began turning on one another.

 

But God, so rich in mercy, knows how to gently restore. I’m thankful for so many of His promises about leading us by still waters, His promises of restoration and healing that’s so desperately needed. Not only for my own life but those same promises are available for anyone who chooses to follow Him. Don’t we all need a little restoration at times?

 

Wherever you’re at in marriage, I pray you would give the reigns over to Him who can work all things to the good of those who love Him. He’s so good and He cares so much for even the details. Would you trust Him with your marriage? The good, bad and ugly, He knows. He’s so faithful to see you through every season in life, I pray you’d trust Him.

 

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:14

In His Grip,

Amy's Signature

The Lion’s Den

Romans 15:5-7 “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Christ Jesus. Therefore accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

 

It’s been one year since I walked into the Lion’s Den. Let me retrace the story.

 

I was running errands when I received a text. I saw who it was from and immediately put the phone down. I need to get home, to a safe place before I read this.

 

To say that this text was important was an understatement. The timing of it, however, was more than I could bear: Adjusting to two children was more difficult than I could’ve imagined, and my infant son was not conforming to any kind of sleep schedule (waking up 3-5x a night was the norm), all while I was trying to juggle a new business. I was thin from exhaustion. Just earlier that same week, there was a conflict with a family member which knocked the wind out of me. Words were spoken that I didn’t see coming, that had my head spinning. How am I destroying her family, one which I love dearly? I was devastated. Needless to say, with the lack of sleep, responsibilities juggling and emotions shaking, my circuits were fried. And this was leading right into Thanksgiving week!

 

I knew this day was coming. I had been praying for it for close to 4 years. But why now? I was not to question the timing but be faithful to walk through this door that He set before me. That weekend, I took up running that weekend to handle the stress.

 

The text was sent on a Thursday. We would meet on the following Monday with a mediator.   Countless thoughts plagued me. Harsh words were spoken in the past when I tried reconcile in the past few years, I don’t think at this point in my life I can handle another wound.  “Will I be safe at this mediation?”  I had not felt protected the last time we met with a mediator on church property, affecting me greatly. “What about all the things I wish she knew about my side of the story…”

 

I know I am an emotional girl. How can I contain these emotions in the mix of this crazy stress? Oh Lord, I need you to guard my mouth and my heart more than ever before. I know the Lord will do His part, but can I do mine?

 

“How you respond will determine the outcome.”
-Cindi Killen

 

That weekend, another friend randomly sent me a text: “I had a dream about you last night. You and me and Gary were there, singing the song, “When you don’t know what to say, ‘Say the name of Jesus‘.

 

 

Hmmmm, say the name of Jesus…

 

I can’t even describe  how perfect the LoRd’s care is. That’s exactly what I needed. I didn’t know what to say at this Monday night meeting, or what logic could come out of my mouth at all during this season of my life.  And when those thoughts plagued me of all the million different ways this meeting could go, and throughout yet another  stress-relieving run, I kept saying the name of Jesus over and over again.  He’ll be my Rock and my Defender, like He promised. Though my knees are knocking, I’ll trust Him. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

 

It took forever to get to Monday. And all the while knowing I wasn’t emotionally ready. In fact, I called the mediator hours before the meeting to call it quits. I can’t go through with this. No one would blame me for backing out.

 

As the Lord would have it, our mediator never called me back, and I knew this needed to happen.  At the end of the day regardless of surrounding circumstances, I was just being chicken for trying to back out.

“You are going to feel fear when you rise up in faith.”
-Levi Lusko

 

It’s go time.

 

I arrived after her. When I walked in, our mediator was making pleasantries and showing her around the house. I didn’t know if this meeting would take minutes or hours but I figured if it’s taken us this long to get here, this might be awhile.  We all sat down in  the den. After our mediator prayed, she began with her Bible in hand:

 

“You both know the Word of God.. You don’t need me to read verses about the importance of forgiving one another..” And just like that she turned us loose to face one another. Heart pounding, I’m holding my breath, anxious of what might be said and yet at the same expecting God to make good on His promises.

 

“We don’t need to get into the details,” she started. Then with tears in her eyes, she told me that the Lord has shown her so much. How she misunderstood what I was doing.  And how it was through one of my blog posts that she realized that this conversation needed to take place. And she was sorry.

 

I sat silent for I don’t know how long. Maybe it was 5 seconds. Maybe it was a minute. In my mind, it felt like a hundred years. Phrases I rehearsed from times past if I ever got the opportunity, and yet all I knew He wanted me to say was,

 

 “I forgave you a long time ago.” 

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…

 

And just like that, the tension in the room had lifted and we were talking like old friends, even laughing about the ways God was working on us behind the scenes to bring us to this point. It was strange for me to be in the same room with her and to think this chapter of our history has finally closed.  We hadn’t been able to look each other in the eyes in years. Now, we’re chatting like old friends. Only because of Jesus.

 

I went home that night physically exhausted yet emotionally victorious, beyond relieved. And yet questions lingered in my head, “Is it really over? Really??”

 

In my few short years of following Christ, I’ve come to realize some of the devil’s schemes. Understanding the enemy’s tactics can be key, yet overcoming them is another. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. And might I add, bring a side of confusion. He’s pretty lame if you ask me, but deception and division is what he’s good at and none of us are immune.

 

Even after it’s all said and done, thoughts began of, “Well, you didn’t really get to tell her your side, did you? Now she’ll never know!” or  “This will be just like the other times we tried to reconcile and it came back around.” “You both lived  so comfortably with the tension, are you really ready to let it go?”

 

Oh, just join me now as I punt the devil in the face and invite this girl over for a playdate with our kids a week later. And I knew, this might be the most awkward, nerve wrecking playdate of our entire lives but I’ve gotta squash this thing until we’re “normal”.  I have a million questions about who she is now and what the Lord has been teaching her.  {It says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! I must believe that He who began a good work in both of us, will be faithful to complete it.} Or maybe instead of going “Level 10” which I tend to do, we should just keep our conversations “vanilla” and just work on  being in the same room together. Yes, that’s probably best for now.

 

Fast forward a month or so, an extended invite for dinner, our family over to hers.  Followed by future birthday parties and playdates. And praise God Almighty, He can make friends out of enemies. Only He can change a heart. The past is truly the past and it’s only because of Jesus, I can look at her in the eyes and see her for who she is now, not what used to be between us.

 

So today, November 24th,  I am truly thankful. Thankful for my friend who is dearly loved by her Creator, who is talented in so many ways, a great wife and mom, and a friend whom I can learn so much from. Thankful that He made good on His promises He gave me throughout this journey.  I’m thankful to God, who cared that much to reconcile sinners to Himself by the irrevocable work on the cross and that by doing so, gave us  the privilege to reconcile with one another. What a brilliant Author! And how many beautiful stories He would write if we would let Him!

 

“Trust in the Lord, and do good…
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in Him, and He will act.
 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him”
Psalm 37: 3-7

   

Looking back on 2014, I remember one of my goals was to witness a miracle. Never did I realize, I would have the choice to be a part of it.  Many times we expect miracles to be instant and glamorous. Yet they can come through the simple act of obedience, a changed heart or a new beginning. How much power we’ve been given to help and heal one another!  May we all be agents of healing, representing His great love for us to each other.

So I ask you, dear reader, what kind of story would He write for you?

 

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy an peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   Romans 15:13

 

In His Faithful Grip,

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