Posts by: connie

Today I turn 39….

IMG_5881This is just a fun post of remembering random things we probably all remember from “back in the day”.  Yes, the picture is me.  Alas. Enjoy a few laughs with me on my birthday.  39 and holding!

I was born in 1974 and grew up in a time where;

- I was brought home from the hospital in a laundry basket in the back seat, not a government approved baby car seat.  And I lived.

- my first record was Abba, Voulez Vous

- Madonna was my favorite artist. Oh look, she’s still around.  Does anyone else find that surreal?

- seat belts weren’t law until I was in grade 6 so we used to nap on the back seat.  Comfortably.

- books had pages you had to turn.  Nancy Drew was my fav.

- Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were the teen pop stars of the day.  Johnny Depp, River Phoenix and David Hasslehoff were the heartthrobs.

- having a birthday at McDonald’s was considered to be pretty epic

- special shows like the Charlie Brown Halloween Special, Rudolph, the Grinch could only be seen once on TV during the season.  If you missed it, you had to wait a whole year.

- I loved watching Sha-na-na before bed.

- I remember the Coca Cola cocaine scandal, and when they changed their recipe and had to go back to “Coca Cola Classic” because it bombed.  I also remember Diet coke made its debut when I was 11.

- the typical family vehicle was a station wagon – with wood panelling on the outside

- Prince’s name was actually “Prince” and Michael Jackson was still black

- I knew how to tell time on a non digital clock in grade 1.

- TV’s were described as “color’ or “black and white”

- we used high tech devices called pencils and paper in school

- I learned how to type on a typewriter

- I saw Return of the Jedi in grade 6 nine times because there was no such thing as a VHS.  In fact, we had a Beta until VHS took over.

- Video killed the radio star

- Ms Pacman mini was my first video game

- “gay” meant happy.

- after school I would watch shows like Different Strokes, Silver Spoons, Facts of Life, and The Cosby Show

- I left the house at 10am and came back for dinner.  Mom didn’t worry.

- I rode my bike EVERYWHERE.

- I played outside.  Alone. At the park.  OMG how did I survive?

- 3D meant wearing blue and red glasses at the theatre.

- my neighbours could call me out on anything.  If I picked Mrs Lynton’s tulips, sure enough someone called my grandma to let her know.  Scolding was ready for me by the time I got back.

- road trip consisted of books, road games, and scenery, not portable DVD’s.

- imagination was equivalent to today’s DS

- I had a Garfield telephone. This is how we communicated with our friends

- you had to DIAL phones.  Phones got buttons when I hit grade 6.  That was pretty cool.

- movie theatres were cheap

- acid wash jeans made its first appearance. Too bad it wasn’t the last.

- Stirrup pants. Yes I wore them.  Now forget I just said that.

- I walked to school in the snow when it was -30.

- my grandparents tent was our “time share”.  Gull Lake was our Mexico.

- I had a walkman in Grade 7 and a discman by grade 9.  Before that I carried a big ass ghetto blaster on my shoulder.  Being not even 5 feet meant that was a difficult task.

- high school consisted of getting your hair up as high as you could via teasing with a comb and hairspray

- rollerskates weren’t the “retro” option. It was the only option

- I learned how to use a floppy disc in computer class in grade 10.  And how to operate DOS.

- in grade 10 I went to Quebec where “Ne touche pas” was #1 on the top 10. (Can’t Touch this, MC Hammer)

- when I started dating my hubby in ’97 we faxed one another when I was overseas because we didn’t have emails yet

- I got my first cell phone when I was 27.  It was huge.  No, like the PHONE was huge.  Seriously.

- I got my first laptop in college.  It was massive.

- “google” was a word that could have possibly been uttered when playing with a baby

- I just got an iphone last year

- Old School isn’t just a dance or style of music to me, it’s who I am

 

“loving the least of these” and other bogus statements

lovetheleastofthese“Loving the least of these” – a statement from scripture that Christians will use when speaking of reaching out to the brokenness in humanity.  I get it because I’ve been brought up in church. I understand when they say “least of these”; it means what Jesus meant when you love those who are rejected by society.  When receiving them you actually are receiving Him. The scripture isn’t bogus, but the “fad” we’ve made this statement into is.

There are many well-intention believers, like myself, who want to reach out to the marginalized and make a difference but have no flippin’ idea how to do that.  When we step out, we find ourselves way over our heads in a mess we don’t understand.  We lack skills to deal with the complex problems of society which then causes us to retreat back to our safe Sunday morning services where hearing about reaching “the least of these” sounds romantic and heroic.  We are safe in our motivations to reach out to brokenness, but plead “In God’s name, don’t send me back into that mess!”

Don’t hear what I’m not saying.  I’m not criticizing the beautiful motivation of people to wanting to love like Christ did.  That is to be commended, and is seen as crucial evidence of our faith (See Matthew 25:31).  It’s because of that I write this post.  What I am saying is that we need to stop glorifying the idea of “loving the least of these” and get to the doing.  Not to mention, do you really think the people we are reaching want to be considered “the least of these”?  Talk about feeling like a project.  We need to stop with the over use of feel-good cliches like this and think about what we’re communicating.  A small shift in sensitivity of language can build bridges quickly.

Let me give you a personal example of a time I had some epic fail in this.

I remember being invited to a Boys and Girls Club after school program for vulnerable youth.  It was my first experience doing a hip hop class with this extremity of vulnerable youth.  To say I was ill-prepared for what was to come is an understatement.  I started by introducing myself and having the teens introduce themselves as well.  Their stand-offish body language made me a little nervous, but I pressed forward and started the warm up.  As the music played, I started doing moves while they watched me for a few moments.  After only one minute, 80% of them walked away to the side of the room chatting with one another.  When the 20% that were left noticed they were the minority, most of them just stopped.  I had no idea what to do.  I stopped the music and approached the group on the side of the room asking them what was up.  ”F… you.  What the f…. do you know about us anyways, huh?”  Ok.  What do you say to that, right?  Trying to gain courage to speak again I encouraged them to come back to give it a try.  All I got was a numerous amount of blatant “NO’s” with backs then turning away from me.  My old school upbringing wanted to bring out the authoritarian to make them come back and do what they were supposed to do, but I didn’t.  I just walked up to the leader and said sheepishly, “Ummm… what now?”

That particular experience ended horribly.  I left feeling completely incapable of reaching youth at risk.  I was frustrated with myself and with my lack of know-how.  I started thinking about our prayers in church to reach those such as these.  ”How can we possibly imagine those youth coming into our churches and fitting in?  How would we even know what to do with them?”   I started imagining parents in the church being concerned that these “least of these” corrupting their young people.  But then my imagination turned to how many of these youth were out there who needed someone to say “You are valuable” and just take the profanity in the face.

From there I started to wonder about my willingness to count the cost of what it would take to reach out to those Jesus would give the honourable name “least of these”.  This statement is actually giving these a place of honor, as Jesus considers the last to be first.  Do we see them that way?  Or a lower class to be served and helped?  What if they spit in our face, swear at us, steal our stuff, betray us?  What if they are ungrateful, rude and self seeking?  What happens when they scare the living snot out of us with the insurrmountable amount of “issues” they bring?  Will we then “love the least of these?”  Do we deem them in the same light as Christ does?

In loving those who Jesus considers to be first in His kingdom means we’re willing to stand there, even if we’re kicked and sworn at and still love.  We’re wiling to stick around and invest in the mess, not just take a glance or schedule a quick visit to appease our spiritual conscience. We don’t try to “fix” them with the right scriptures.  We don’t open our mouths with Christian cliches or judgments when they spout off what we believe is unrighteousness. t

Perhaps loving means we can look past the hard exterior and see the inner-child crying out to belong.

After all, in the end, belonging is the cry in every human’s heart. The very essence of God’s heartbeat is to bring them back to a place of belonging.  To engage ourselves in His dream of seeing this belonging become a reality for many may just be the craziest, scariest (at times), but most rewarding purpose we can ever engage ourselves in.

If you’re on the journey of having no flippin’ clue how to do this, stay on the journey friend.  Be brave and venture into unmarked territory.  There’s a few things we can do to be sure we are loving well:

1. Listen to their stories.  Don’t jump in with your remedies.  Seek to understand them.

2. See the beauty in each person.  When we view others as “them” or as “filthy”, we undermine the kingdom of God and forfeit any chance in being able to engage in meaningful relationship with them.  There is much to gain from learning to see things through the lense by which they view their world.

3. Read, learn and do all you can to study in the areas you are seeking to provide solutions to. Gain the skills it is going to take to be effective.  If you want to reach those who are recovering from drug addiction, study what the experts are saying.  Read about it, interview people who are doing it.  When we walk into the brokenness of the world with prideful ignorance, assuming we know what they need, we won’t last very long.

4. Keep the love of God at the centre of all you do.  See others the way He sees them.  Let love compel you to selflessly serve.  Sacrifice comes easier when God is the centre of our vision.  ”When did love become unmoving?  When did love become unconsuming?” (Sidewalk Prophets)

 

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)

What we need to tell young men and women about sex after marriage

teenage-couple-250Porn is the new mentor for young women and men when it comes to sex today.  Because of its availability at the click of a mouse or on mobile devices, it has become a normality for young people not just to view in private, but together with friends and their significant others.  Not only this, but having multiple relationships isn’t far off from the norm either.  It’s becoming harder to know what is pure.  Our culture has blurred lines on the subject.   Young people have heard preachers speak of standards and abstinence, but often feel the message is out of date or given in judgment.

I wanted to bring up something today that most people aren’t telling young people about sex.  Something that we all need to think about no matter how old.  That is, who you choose to be sexually now is who you will be sexually when you’re married, and further, when you’re a parent.  The patterns we create for ourselves now determine who we are tomorrow and farther down in the future.

We need to start telling our young people that fighting for their sexual purity is not abstaining from the forbidden, it’s protecting their essence.  Having numerous partners, one night stands, etc only lead to a break down of identity because our sexuality is intimately tied to our identity.  Anyone who has become addicted to sex will tell you it’s a road that is unsatisfied.  There’s never enough.  It leads to acts that become more obscure that seem pleasurable for a moment, but that moment quickly passes, only leaving a craving for more.  Our identity was never meant to become trapped in a web of sexual unfulfillment.

We need to start telling our young people that fighting for their sexual purity is fighting for the future of their children.  Sexual downfalls can completely wreck a family.  Sexual habits now will not magically disappear when you “put a ring on it”.  The sexual battle in the mind has to be reset and new habits created, or the same patterns created before marriage will continue after.  These patterns will either build a solid foundation for our children and family or corrupt and destroy it.

We need to start telling our young people that their wives and husbands won’t look like porn stars or fitness models (at least not for all their lives).  It’s becoming harder for young men and women to find the “ordinary” attractive.  Pressure for women to have boob jobs, tummy tucks, botox, etc is damaging not only women’s bodies but also distorting a genuine picture of beauty.  It’s a rat race that can’t be won.  Men are not immune to this as well.  The problem is that if all young people (and us for that matter) see is pictures of perfection, it conditions them to a new “normal”.  When that standard isn’t met there are serious repercussions such as the inability to get past what’s on the outside to find beauty within.  What happens to the “love” when the porn star starts to age?  Love at this point has become very conditional.  To be loved with condition is the single most heart breaking, damaging feeling a human can experience.  This is what leads to all types of dysfunctional behavior.

We need to start telling our young people that fighting for their sexual purity will never end.  Ever.  It doesn’t matter how fulfilling or “hot” your spouse is, there will always be temptation and influences luring you away from your mate. Who you decide you will be sexually now determines your victory or defeat in those critical moments.  Every decision to remain pure steps you closer to a destiny and an identity you were created to have.

We need to start telling our young people a greater message to live up to.  Not one of “rules” or “judgment” that sounds like white noise in their ears.  They need to hear why they need to care.  The real reason: they are destined for greatness.

Greatness is determined in decisions like:  ”Will I watch that porn clip with my friend or will I turn away?” It starts as small and simple as that.

“Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23)

 

Our thanksgiving dinner with a homeless man

homelessmanbikeWe have a man named Lawrence in our community who lives in a tent.  He often will ride his bike with a trailer he built collecting bottles.  I remember the day in the summer when Lawrence was passing by our home.  He was a sweet man, rugged and smelling of beer.  He was respectful and gracious.  He had boundaries of never wanting to come inside our home.  After giving him bottles I told him he could come back anytime to get more.  Lawrence now visits us weekly to get his bottles.

Last week, my hubby and I asked him if he wanted to come over for Thanksgiving dinner.  We wondered if he would show up, but he did.  He had brought a gift for our kids that he had bought from the Sally Ann.  I was a little nervous as we had never had Lawrence over before and we had another couple over for dinner as well.

Turns out, it was one of the best Thanksgiving dinners we’ve had.  We laughed, had great conversation and found out many wonderful things about our new friend.

I don’t know why we are so afraid of the homeless.  I do believe caution is necessary, but towards everyone, not just a certain sector of people.

Lawrence left a little teary.  Before he left he said; “One of the most beautiful things people can share is a meal together”.  I was touched by his statement as it’s one of my dreams for my home.  I dream of a “table of misfits”.  You can read about that here.  I got a glimpse of that on Sunday evening.

Our homes can be lighthouses, a beacon of hope for those who need it.  My kids can’t wait to have Lawrence over again.  He’ll be over for dinner again very soon.

“The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbours, the kind of people who will return the favor.  Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be – and experience – a blessing.  They won’t be able to return the favor but the favor will be returned.” (from Luke 15)

A woman speaks candidly about how the church handles divorce and domestic abuse

elisabeth2My friend Elisabeth has a powerful story she has bravely written about.  Here on my blog today she speaks to the issue and the book she wrote about it.  I’m glad she hasn’t hidden away from it.  She writes:

I’ve got a book coming out and I’m both really excited about it and really sad about it.  I’m excited because who wouldn’t love to have a book coming out, right??  But I’m sad about it because this book came out of the most painful season of my life: it was written during the aftermath of my difficult marriage as I walked through my separation and divorce.  And that’s something that I’ve been grieving for a while now, and expect that I will continue to do for some time.

I’ve been writing about difficult marriages and separation and divorce and domestic abuse in Christian marriages and how the Church handles it all for about two years now.  I’ve tackled this thing from every angle.  But if I had one thing to say about this entire topic, it would be this:

There. Is. Grace.

I remember an acquaintance getting a divorce a few years back.  And though I didn’t know the details, I had judged-and-jury’d her in my head.  In my mind, she didn’t have quote-un-quote biblical grounds and had no business getting a divorce. And because of that, I steered clear.  I didn’t pick sides, but I didn’t enter in or offer support or even a listening ear, either.

Fast forward to today.  Today, I know – in person and online – about two hundred and fifty women who are separated or divorced.  And now I just talk to as many of them who will share their story with me as I possibly can.  And I listen.  And I ask questions, sometimes super personal ones.  And tears form in my eyes.  And I say things like, I’m just so sorry, and oh, honey…that is horrible.  And sometimes, if I feel led, I pray for them right there, even holding their hands, these women I’ve sometimes just met.

One gal said to me recently, “You have such a gentle, compassionate heart,” and I had to laugh.  And I said, “Good thing you didn’t know me a couple years ago…that’s not exactly what I was known for.”  Back then, I was known for keeping the rules and the number of emails I sent and stepping on people’s toes…in a Christian-y way, of course.  All for the Kingdom, of course.

But I said to her something like, “You know what?  I’m finding that so many things just aren’t as black and white in the Bible as I used to think and as some people make it out to be.  And I just don’t think I’m the judge.  So I say, let’s leave all that for Jesus to sort out when things are said and done, and right now, I just want to fall on the side of grace and loving someone through the pain.”

So here’s my one thing: Life is a mess.  Marriages end.  Some even end that maybe shouldn’t, which is very sad. But then there’s Jesus.  Which means there’s hope.  And healing. And most assuredly, that means there is grace. For everyone. 

Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women’s ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabethkcorcoran@gmail.com if interested in joining.

What porn is doing to our young people. Is it really harmless?

teenpornWhen I was a youth, porn was something you could only get a hold of by having the courage to walk into a XXX video store or buy over the counter where the magazines were covered.  Even though I grew up sheltered away from walking into a triple X store, I remember at my 10 year old sleepover party a couple of girls and I stayed up all night and caught a glimpse of “late night” entertainment around 3am.  All of us hurled out screams and turned off the TV. I can still remember vividly the pictures we saw if I let my mind go there.

Because I was an innocent girl, I don’t know what age most youth back in the day got into sneeking a peek at their parents Playboy magazines, but I do know that what was offered to the viewer back then was pretty tame and harder to come by than today.   I’m still pretty innocent, but the young adults I work with have been extremely honest with me about their views on sex and porn.  The way they speak of it so casually in conversation shows that it has become just another “view” on the internet.

I gotta say, folks.  I’m worried for my sons if porn remains this accessible and graphic.

I recently read a helpful article from the Daily Mail in the UK called: “Experiment that convinced me online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today”.  It was both disturbing and educational for those who have any doubt that most teens are indeed not only exposed to porn, but watching it.  What I liked about the article is that it is written by Martin Daubney, former editor of “Loaded” – a magazine that features nude or almost-nude women.  He claims the dangers that porn is presenting to our young people today.  Coming from someone accused of producing “soft porn” and one who used to defend porn makes the threat worth looking at.  An innocent mom like myself saying it is one thing, him saying it makes the issue an important one to hear out.

Here’s some sobering stats the article mentions:

- Out of a class of 20, all teens ages 13-15 had seen porn involving anal sex.

- Porn is changing the way our young men view sex.  One fifteen year old girl mentioned how guys now expect “porn sex”.  This is resulting in more violent acts of sex.

- Porn is changing the way teens view pubic hair.  It’s been referred to as “gorilla” in a manner of disgust.  I have younger friends who often tell me of their need to wax everything off for more appeal.  Not to mention the new fad of bleaching butt holes, thanks to porn featuring anal acts resulting in girls thinking that even the anal side of the body needs to be appealing?  I’m not making this up, people.

- Porn is setting the standard for a woman sexually.  That’s a scary sentence.  Not only is she to perform like a porn star in bed, have no hair (anywhere I guess), but she is to look like a porn star.  Store front magazines like Vogue, Teen Vogue, fitness mags, etc aren’t the only ones shaping the minds of our young men and women.  Porn is modelling to them that, “THIS is sexy”  ”This is how you should look”  ”Does your girl measure up?”  Unfortunately what it does to our young men is set them in a trap of illusion to what beauty is.  I can’t even begin to speak of how it destroys a female’s already distorted view of her body…

- Most teens who are watching porn online are doing so without their parents knowing.

- Porn actually takes away a man’s sexual drive by giving him the desire to want more, yet not being satisfied by real sexual encounters.  Thus, porn literally takes over his life.  It’s just as powerful as substance addiction.

If our children’s entire expectation of sex comes from what they are exposed to online, then we are not in for, we are already in a sexual genicide.  ”I feel as if an entire generation’s sexuality has been hijacked by grotesque online porn… ‘Letting our children consume it freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house’ - Martin Daubney

Why is this so important to not ignore this?  Because it goes beyond what’s “wrong” or even addictive.  Sexuality is tied intimately with our identity.  We are sexual beings.  The greatest attack on our identity can be done through the door of sexuality.  If a man can be shackled by addiction and a thought process that changes his view on who he was meant to be sexually, the results are traumatic.  The article explains young men not being able to do homework, graduate, get a job etc.  The way they view the identity of women is distorted.  How they raise their sons in their identity will then be distorted.  Everyone suffers all through getting through to the tiny window of sexuality in our hearts.

We need to bring young men and women back to a healthy identity.  This is why some friends and I are pouring ourselves into a project we’re calling “The Lab”.  Although it is a space used to engage youth in dance, urban expression and creativity, it goes much further beyond that.  It’s about community, compassion and courage; giving young people a chance to have healthy mentors who can tap into the identity these youth were created to have.  It’s about finding meaning in creating, rather than absorbing what culture sells.

Youth are less likely to become less than what they were made for when offered something that rises them above to see what they were made for; that being MORE than they can imagine.

If your heart resonates with this, I would love for you to be a part of creating this space for youth with the team I work with (Legacy One and Mpact).  You can do this by:

- Liking our facebook page to keep up to date!

- voting for us to get $130,000 towards getting the space to do this!  You can view our cause here.  Even further, we are looking for a base of people who will consistently vote every day for us.  We would love for you to partner with us in that manner.

- spreading the word about the voting to your school, business, organization, network, friends – any sphere of influence you have that could refer consistent voters to us.  We believe what we have to offer youth is worth every vote to get us to the $130,000 to see the space become a reality!  You can use this link here to spread the word!

Beyond the project, may we all commit to investing into the lives of young people.  A war for their identity is present.  Will we stand and fight for them?  Will we be ones who say to them “You are better than this” and call them into a better future?

 

 

 

If I’m not a ____________ then who am I??

UnknownYou fill in the blank, but for me it was “If I’m not a pastor then who am I??”

Nine years ago I left full time pastoral ministry.  What followed was six years of identity crisis.  I would go to church, only to leave feeling lost and misplaced.  I felt like I had no role and therefore no purpose.  If I wasn’t a pastor…. then who was I?  It was a long season of depression and isolation.  Since then I have had numerous conversations with misplaced souls who perhaps weren’t in a pastoral role but were once worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, deacons and now have found themselves wondering the same, “Who AM I?”, “Where did my calling go?”

I can assure you, the call didn’t go anywhere.

 

This identity crisis seems to be on the rise among those who are suddenly finding themselves misplaced from what the institutional church defines as ministry.  Those of us who grew up in the church in the past thirty years can remember well the days we would weep at the altar in our answer to God’s call to “go”.  But what does that “call” look like when there seems to be no where that “fits”?  This is where we need a greater understanding of calling on an individual level and corporately.  An identity awakening is in our midst.

 

What does this awakening look like?

1. It is an awakening to who we are to “be” first verses what we “do”.  I found pastoral church ministry very task driven.  It was easy for an over-achiever like myself to be consumed in my role.  I would hear sermons on being more of a “Mary” over a “Martha” and commit to get more “Mary” inside of me only to drown in to-do lists in the office that week.  The message of “being” is common today, and thankfully is becoming encouraged and built into ministry leaders and volunteers.  Before we “do” anything, we have a first love to cultivate.  

 

2. A bit more recent is an awakening to the understanding of our identity as sons and daughters of God.  Sons and daughters are not known by the Father for roles they play in the church, but who they are in His family.  This revelation has rebirthed hope in orphaned hearts and the wounded.  Those who have found themselves calloused have been renewed by a new understanding of their royal inheiritance.  I am now invited to be about my Father’s business. It’s an honor and a privilege.  When fulfilling that calling out of sonship-identity, it can flourish into something beautiful, rather than be filled with pressure to “become something”.  We are no longer looking for Daddy’s approval, but start with the foundation of knowing we have His approval.  This was where we were meant to begin.

 

3. Coming back to the church presently is a reminder of us being “living stones”;  the idea of building God’s dream and abandoning our own.  “Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God” (1 Peter 2:5).  Present day. Kingdom-minded disciples are moved by their part as being one of the stones God is using to build His dream – His dream of having a people to call His own.  This revelation changes everything.  The question is no longer, “What is my call?”, it is now, “What is God’s dream and what part did He plan for me to play?”  I no longer invite Christ into my initiatives and programs, He invites me into His plan and purpose; the one He orchestrated before the foundation of the earth.  His divinity and my humanity come into clarity through the lense of sonship.  I abandon all for the sake of the call – including my visions of what that “calling” entails (especially if it ends up look like it’s all about me)

 

I remember wallowing in my room, feeling sorry for myself that God had passed me over.  With no ministry or lay ministry opportunity in sight, I cried out to God, “Where is my call, God?  Where is my reward?!”  He replied, “I’m right here”.

 

When I think of these three awakenings, it calls us into something far greater than we have seen thus far in the local church.  I believe the best is yet to come.  He is stirring in His people an awareness of each and every member being a part of His divine plan on this earth.  The idea that “every believer is a minister” is beginning to see feet to the common communication of the concept.  How this will play out in the next ten years in the present day church will be interesting to see unravel.  A further understanding of Christ’s headship and God’s divine dream will give foundation and guidance as we venture forward further into unchartered territory.

 

If you feel overlooked, or you have lost your “call”, rest assured.  You’re calling is found in Him, and it is very much alive.  It’s time for your awakening.

 

20 seconds of insane courage

 

Last week some friends of mine and I had the opportunity to be guest speakers at a Junior High Assembly.  One of my friends, Charity, talked about courage for her section.  I admire people who step out despite their fear.  Charity expressed brilliantly her insecurity to dance (and even speak in public) and how she has  decided to commit herself to courage.  The result?  She now travels with Legacy One, a hip hop crew that performs all over North America.  She challenged the students to do something every day that scares them.

What a brilliant idea.

Earlier in the week I was teaching dance at an elementary school where I was challenging the students to enter the cypher (the circle where you dance in the middle).  I told them every time they enter the cypher despite their fear, they make a deposit of courage into their hearts that ripples courage into the hearts of others standing in the circle.

The more we step out past fear, the larger courage grows.

Courage is a virtue longing to empower the hearts of everyone you see, but few choose to make the deposit because of what it may cost them.  Courage comes with a price tag.  It costs us our pride, control, security and pushes us to the ledge of the unknown where all we can feel is the barrenness of our souls; exposed and vulnerable.  The beautiful trade, however, is that courage takes root and builds in our very core.  Those who are willing to pay the price gain much in return.  These are the ones who seize what others say is impossible.

Resilence is a manifestation that courage has been deposited.   I believe this is the mark of a new generation.  One that is willing to look fear in the face and walk into the cypher of life anyways.

The picture above is a 700 person cypher started by one brave grade 9 boy who decided to just bust out.  No cypher was planned.  He simply just did his thing and others followed.  It was one of the most remarkable things I have seen happen in a long time.  I mean, do you remember jr high?!  No one wants to break out of nothing for fear of looking stupid.  Not this kid.  And his courageous act rippled into 700 bodies who decided to bust out as well. What a beautiful picture of what freedom looks like.  Freedom that comes from exercising courage.

You and I have that opportunity every single day – to deposit courage inside ourselves.  The question is: Will we pay the price?  Will we step out?  My answer to that today is “YES”!  Some days it’s a fearful, pee-my-pants-but-do-it-anyways kind of “yes”, other days it’s a “yes” with a mumbled “no way” in the background.  No matter what we feel, let’s do it anyways.

Courage is there to take us the rest of the way once any form of “yes” has been uttered.

 

When my son wanted to kill himself and how we’re dealing with it

Those of you who have been following the blog for awhile know that we struggle with various issues with my six (now seven) year old.

On occasion my son Ben has stated his desire to kill himself or to be dead.  I never thought in a million years I would struggle with this as a parent – especially from a child so young and from a loving home.  I see it as a cry for help from a young boy who doesn’t know how to express his frustration and inner struggles.  It’s something my husband and I have taken quite seriously.  As a mother, it has been a hard journey that has carried much heart break.  I am thankful to have good friends who have supported us through the journey as well as the opportunity to plug my son Ben into a professional counselling group this fall who will be assessing him and giving us the tools we need to see him move forward and succeed.

Which brings me to what we did this weekend for Ben’s seventh birthday.  We wanted to give Ben something that would lift his spirits and ignite his insides!  On his birthday we hosted a birthday blessing.  Even though we pray a blessing over both our kids every night before bed, this was to be special. We invited a couple of family friends over who didn’t bring gifts but words of blessing for Ben.  One friend, who doesn’t really enjoy speaking in public, read an amazing blessing she wrote out for Ben.  A couple of other friends emailed over a blessing.

One friend got really creative and made Ben this bike ramp.  Someone Pinterest that thing.

Shelleybirthdayramp

 

Daddy spoke blessings over his son (mommy needs to work on her photography skills)

daddyblessing

 

And Mommy gave Ben a wooden sword as a symbol of him being mighty (I’m just praying he doesn’t actually try to use it on his brother)

birthdaysword

Just that morning before his blessing was going to start we had an incident with Ben yet again speaking horrible words about himself.  We have struggled with this time and time again.  A few weeks ago I decided he needed to say a good word about himself for every negative.  He couldn’t do it.  He sat beside me for an hour, finally falling asleep on the floor before he would whisper a good word about himself.  Through the idea of my friend Stacy, I spoke into this at Ben’s blessing by illustrating with 2 paper bags.

I started by getting all the kids to write a bad word on a sheet of paper.  I instructed them, “I want you to write an insult on this sheet of paper.  Something mean you could say to someone or yourself”.  It was entertaining seeing the responses from the kids.  Some were thrilled to be given permission to do something so “bad”, others refused to do it, not wanting to be mean.

I had them put all their mean words in the paper bag and went onto explain, “Let’s pretend this paper bag is a person.  When they speak awful words about themselves it goes inside of them and works like a poison.  It’s like a knife that cuts their heart.”  I then took a knife and began to puncture holes into the paper bag.  After cutting the holes into the bag with the knife, I continued, “God wants to build us up.  Good things want to come into our lives, but it’s hard to be built up and for us to see good things in our lives when we believe all these words we’ve put into ourselves.”  I tried blowing up the bag with air, but of course couldn’t due to all the holes that prevented the air from remaining.

I then had all the kids write encouraging words on pieces of paper that would make someone feel great.  They put all the words in another paper bag.  I explained, “When we speak good words about ourselves and into others, it’s easy  to be built up!”  I then easily blew air that remained in the second bag.

During the blessing, I watched my son go from one child, full of rage and self hatred that morning, to a soft, gentle boy who like a sponge was receiving every positive word spoken over him.  It was beautiful to tangibly see the power words were having over him.  I couldn’t help but well up with tears.

I was moved by this revelation; every time you bless a child and speak the best of them and greatness into them, they can live out their best and reach their greatness.  We need to bless our children every opportunity we get.  ”Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose”. (Proverbs 18:21)  I know in our journey with our son, training him to speak good words is vital.  Hearing positive, life-giving words has become a matter of him entering into life or falling into despair.

It’s too easy to find faults in our children.  So parents, bless, encourage, speak the truth, look for the good, bless some more.  Let us see the greatness in them before it tangibly shows itself.

*if you are going through similar circumstances with your child/children, please now you are not alone.  Reach out to others, get help.  There is much shame in this struggle that can be overcome by getting the help you need.  There is a way out for them.

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