Sunday, September 18, 2011


I was supposed to be updating my blog, but once again I found myself on Pinterest - my favorite form of distraction. With a simple click of my touchpad, I am whisked away to a world where my friends show me all the things they think are cool, and I can show them the things I think are cool, and if they think they are cool too, they can "repin" them so their friends will see that they think that they are cool, and even perfect strangers might see it and think it is cool which

It's safe little community where I can be me without fear because the worst thing that can happen is that nobody repins my pins. Being who I am in real life isn't quite that simple. There is a lot more at stake than lack of pinning.

The message a PCC today was entitled "Don't Go Alone."  It was a message on the importance of community, and yet again, it made me cry. (Seriously, what is wrong with me?!)  Eric and Tyler did a great job of showing how community takes us from here to there - or from where we are now to the place that God is calling us to be. Their message was simple. Community moves us from:

  • complacency to commitment through accountability.
  • hypocrisy to transparency through authenticity.
  • judgement to understanding through acceptance.
  • vulnerability to security through assurance.
As I have processed this a bit, the word that stands out the most to me is vulnerability. I think it is the hitch-pin to the concept because so many of these facets are beyond our control. We cannot control how or when others hold us accountable. We cannot control whether others will judge us or understand us as we look for their acceptance. We have no assurance that when we are vulnerable, we will be secure.  The only thing that we can be 100% sure of is that we can choose to be transparent through our authenticity.

Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of community. As the ministry assistant to Adult:Life, it is not only my job but my passion to help others connect in it, but I can also see why so many people choose not to enter in. In Journey Groups, one of the main things we emphasize to our group leaders is to provide a place that is safe for those who attend their groups. But, until people experience what it is like to be in a truly safe community, they will be hesitant.

I learned a lot about community in the last year. I tasted true community with my Serbia team. They accepted me for who I was, assured me that I had a safe place to grow, and held me accountable as I took my first baby steps toward authenticity. It was an amazing experience, and in all honesty, I miss my team a lot.  I see a few of them on a regular basis, but I rarely see others, and I feel like part of my heart is missing.

I have also been reminded this year that with vulnerability sometimes comes hurt, and that people are human, and that transparency when misunderstood can get you into trouble.

God has some amazing plans for PCC. Okay, maybe I haven't actually seen the plan, but I do know that He has blessed our church with some incredible leaders with a heart to not only draw our body into "a  genuine and growing relationship with Jesus Christ" but to also teach us how to be in community with one another. 

So while Pinterest can be a great form of distraction, I don't want to enjoy it too much, because for someone like me, it would be easy to find comfort in my friend lists on social media sites and lose sight of the ultimate goal of community.  I have tasted and seen...and community is good.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you...

Today is a day of remembrance in the US. It is the anniversary of the day that the terror we had heard about in other countries penetrated our border and for many became real.

It was not my intent to write a 9/11 post. In fact, I have tried hard to avoid dwelling on the events of that awful day.  This morning, during the video remembrances at church, I averted my eyes. I have skipped over most of the Facebook posts with video and picture coverage. It's not that I am uncaring or hard hearted. It's quite the opposite.

As I sat in church this morning, I realized that the death toll on that day was basically the size of our congregation. If you come from a small church, or an ultra-mega church or whatever the correct terminology is, it would be hard for you to imagine, but PCC is a mega-church of around 3,000 people. I looked at our crowded sanctuary, one of four weekend services, and the reality of that number was breath taking. We all know 3,000+ is a big number, but big numbers are never really real until you have a concept of how big they really are.

My heart was broken for the people of New York on that day, those at the Pentagon and those on the planes. I have never forgotten, nor will I ever, seeing the images. But every time I allow those images to play in my head and remember the fear, the terrorists win. There is a fine line between reminding those left behind that they are not forgotten and making them relive those terrible events over and over each year.

Before 9/11, America was sheltered and naive. Post 9/11, we are definitely not naive. We experienced a great loss - not only of lives but of innocence.

When I was in Serbia, at one point we drove by what remained a military headquarters which had been bombed. It was eye-opening. Not only because their country has been so heavily affected by war, but because just a few days before I had learned that at least one of my new friends had been in military service for his country. There was face where once there was a concept.

I wanted to share with you some photos taken today by a friend at a memorial held in Grand Rapids, but as I was writing this I realized that the album I wanted to share was on Facebook, and I don't think I can do that.  The memorial is simply called "The Healing Field."  It was one of apparently 16 memorials of it's kind set up across the US. The exhibit consisted of 3200 American flags, one for each person who died in the September 11th attack.  Several of the flags contained tags that told a bit about the person who died - who they were, how old they were, what they did, how many children they left behind. Each tag attached a real person to a concept. 

I will never forget 9/11. The irony of 9/11 or 911 was not lost on me. We were in crisis, and hopefully, we learned to value what is most important.  Not the buildings of steel and glass, but the people, some of whose stories we will never know. 

Hopefully we still hug our kids a little tighter and love on each other a little more because of what happened on 9/11. Hopefully we will be a little safer because of measures put in place, but overall, I hope that the terrorist don't win. 

Today, I am proud to be an American. Although I know that we are spoiled and arrogant and have our faults, I saw what we can do as a country when we come together, and it was pretty amazing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Just Stop

Oh how I wish...I wish I could make it all stop - the doctor's appointments, the children's bickering, the constant noise, the mistakes I make over and over again, the chaos that is my life. There are so many times I just want it to stop.


That isn't the way it works. The appointments will continue to come, the children will continue to bicker, there will always be noise, and I will make mistakes. God doesn't always calm the storm, but he wants me to...just stop.

This morning's sermon at PCC made me cry. I went into it not realizing how applicable it would be to my life, but as Pastor Ron wrapped up his sermon series on Sandyland, he hit a homerun to my heart. Today's message was on time - well actually, it was on taking time to rest.
  • Rest to make room for God
  • Rest to embrace my limits
  • Rest to cultivate a deeper trust in God
  • Rest to prioritize what really matters
He made a lot of great points about all of us having limits, and God is God and we are not, but that wasn't what really captured my attention. As he was wrapping up, he made the statement:

"Hurry weakens us to the attacks of the enemy."

The last few weeks have been really crazy. I have been caught up in appointments and meetings and schedules and making mistakes and fixing mistakes, and trying to be everything I need to be for everyone and failing at every step. I am exhausted. I knew I needed to stop, but it was just one thing after another, and I didn't. And...I have been weak when attacked.

I am not really proud of my last post. That doesn't make what I shared any less true, but I have realized that when I allow those feelings to take root, I have added sand to my solid foundation. God is God, and I am not.  I may not be able to see how it all works, but God can work miracles, and I discounted that. I traded hope for despair.

I am not sure what rest will look like for me in the upcoming days and weeks, but I have to just stop. I have to spend time being refreshed by the one who gives me my strength. Probably no surprise, but God has been speaking to me through a song recently.

You must, you must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through
Well forgive me, forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own.

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me?
Lord, right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough, strong enough
For both of us.

Well, maybe, maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up
'Cause when I'm finally, finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out


'Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
And you are strong when I am weak

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be strong enough, strong enough
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough, strong enough


Strong Enough - Matthew West

I will be resting in the promise of these words this week.  I KNOW I am not strong enough, and my prayer is that He will be strong enough for both of us.  But, I know that first, I have to stop fighting and let Him be God. Just stop.

Friday, September 2, 2011

On the Outside Looking In

That's a statement that pretty much sums up how I view my life sometimes. I have attachment issues. Those who know me are probably laughing at the moment, but it's true. I tend to stay back in the shadows most of the time.  I am not afraid to be up front, don't get me wrong, but when I am in a group of people, I tend to be pretty quiet and disconnected. It works for me...most of the time.

This week has been really difficult. I have mentioned some eminent changes in past posts, and I haven't handled them well. My comfort zone isn't comfortable anymore, and even though it seems like nothing has changed from the outside, things have changed considerably on the inside. For one thing I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that maybe I haven't grown as much since Serbia as I had hoped. There is still a lot of insecurity in this girl, and that insecurity can get her into a lot of trouble.

I have also come to realize that men scare me. Again, don't get me wrong, I love my husband, and I think men are a great gift from God, but I don't know how to relate to them. I am afraid of overstepping my bounds and not being who they want me to be. I've never had a dad or a big brother, and I carry a pretty deep scar from a previous relationship that often leaves me on unstable ground. The pleaser in me is a nightmare because I always fear that I am never enough - always and never. Two of those words that shouldn't be part of anyone's vocabulary, and yet they are so prevalent in mine.

These are the times when faith is hard is for me. I know that God is big and sovereign and that He loves me no matter what, but when I look at things like growing up without a dad I struggle.  This can't be fixed. I am forever broken. I will never know what it is like to grow up with a dad who is proud of me. My grandfather was great, but he wasn't my dad. I will never know what it is like to have a dad or a big brother who watches out for me. My husband is great, but he's not my dad, and he has a sister.

Scripture tells me that I have a heavenly Father who has never left me, and I am thankful for that, but I am not sure that a heavenly Father can fill the void left by an earthly one. Maybe that's my lack of faith. In all honesty, I didn't know my heavenly Father until I was in high school either. I know He was there, but he wasn't a part of my life. 

This is my biggest struggle. It is the thing that undercuts me every time. It is the thing that so often keeps me on the outside looking in.