A Special Night of Hope from “The Small Group on the Hill”

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Life is funny.

Those curve balls have some serious action on ’em sometimes.

You may have practiced for that spin your whole life.

You figure you’ll miss judge a few, but you fully believe that in this ONE place in life? You have the right stuff — EASY.

So you can grow up involved with youth choir, church camp, Bible bowl.  You can go to Christian college, attend studies and workshops, serve in various ministries.

But somehow, you can still find yourself sitting nervously in a sunday school class, hoping someone will talk to you.

You can still find yourself unsure how or where to fit in, waiting and wondering if someone will reply to your calls, emails, or texts.

You can stare blankly at your church’s grouplink page, and as your mouse slowly passes over each description, haunting reminders of your past can flash before you… the day you agreed you could skip church, the day you stopped serving, the day you gave in and gave up.

You can try to block memories of  being on the flip side, and how easy it was to nod in agreement to comments about unimpressed visitors. “They were just looking for an excuse, that’s all.”   “If you look for an excuse, you will find one – pure and simple.”

People can look for excuses, sure; but when you see things from a new perspective, when you walk in those shoes, that empathy is a gift.  It changes you. You are willing to understand, listen, and give back in new ways.

  • You see that your choices brought you here, but more importantly, you realize you had to endure all the pain for the blinders to drop.
  • You see people are just busy with their own lives, they are doing the best they can.
    They have no clue what you are going through.
  • They can’t reach inside you and understand. You can’t take it personally.
  • You have to be willing to keep trying; you have to trust God, stay strong, keep the faith.
  • You have to keep believing in God’s plan, and when you do, there is ALWAYS a rainbow waiting.

While you wait, you can either use that time wisely and see it as a gift, or waste it.
It’s your choice.

Sometimes I REALLY struggle with the waiting, but now I have this covered.

When I open my Bible now, Jame 1:2-3 has a HUGE pink and green neon sign blinking over it.
(It really does… I can show you.)

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”  James 1: 2-3

The pain, the suffering, it can blow you in one direction or the other, it can make you more cynical, more cold, less willing to try, or it can make you grow, make you more compassionate, more understanding and loving to your fellow-man.  You get to choose.

A few days ago Rick Warren (who tragically lost his son to suicide just last month) tweeted this note:

“Pain changes you. Like a gale force wind, it drives you backward or forward, depending on how you set your sail.”

As for me, there’s no question which way my sail is set. Aside from all the ways I’ve grown, I realize how much more I appreciate the little things. What I used to take for granted means everything – it’s a beautiful gift.

That grouplink click was a gift that keeps on giving. The leaders welcomed me as if I had known them all my life.  I felt the spirit of the good Samaritan upon me before I ever laid eyes on the hostess, and when I showed up that first night, I knew my impression had been right on the mark.  They were Christians in the true gospel sense of the word.  Salt of the earth — humble, gracious and with fruits of the spirit abounding.  Everyone showed me kindness and friendship in spades, and made me feel..  instantly at home.

Often, we never hear about the impact we have on others. I want these good people to know – the kindness they showed me came at a time when I needed it the most, and I will never forget.  As one result, that experience will compel me to share that hope with someone else.

As I drove down the long driveway that night, I looked back. Lights were streaming down, framing their home against a backdrop of stars; it’s a picture that symbolizes something bigger, more meaningful than just the beautiful scene I filed away. I thought, how fitting they should live on this little hill; it was a perfect metaphor for the light shining from their hearts.

As the Matthew 5:14 verse came to mind, I knew I had not been drawn to them by accident; it was by design.

Lord, thank you for the each of the wonderful members of “The Small Group on the Hill.”
Thank you for bringing us together and for all the amazing things you are doing through their service. 

Living in True Freedom – The Point, Part 2

 “My Journey From Fear to Faith”

Catchy…. You Think? Considering its the biggest realization of truth in my life?  Yeah, it works.

This blog is about new beginnings and all the other stuff I wrote about before, but the “tagline” captures the big picture, cause its backed by the weight of all that pesky “hard-way” learning.

The Prison of Fear

It’s often and truly stated, Fear is the opposite of Faith. I believe it’s also the opposite of Freedom. I firmly believe the truth of this quote, which resonates more loudly now:

“One of Satan’s most deceptive and destructive lies is the idea
that a person apart from God is free.” 
   (John MacArthur)

Fear is a prison. It grips you – holds you captive.

It keeps you staring blankly at walls at 3 am— enslaved to dark thoughts, worst nightmares.

You live on the razor’s edge… where it’s ice-cold and black as night.  Fear blocks you from hope like an iron fortress; where every doorway slams shut with a depressing thud.

It rips away the seams of your nerves and gnaws at the edge of your mind.
It’s the assault of a thousand deafening voices converging in an endless echo.

In the harness of fear, reaching out leaves you shivering, alone, empty.
Anxiety sits on top of you like a bloodsucking parasite. It erodes your life force slowly, painfully.

The Freedom of Love

In contrast…  “God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

I will never forget the first time I really heard, (I mean really heard) and understood these words: 

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.”
 (1 John 4:18)

I said them out loud and felt them wash over me like a warm, ocean wave.
I could almost feel them whispered into my ear.

I sensed countless rays of light piercing through the darkness of my soul; I felt weightless, lifted up with the sheer truth of that passage. Then His voice, saying,
“I will never leave you or forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Next, it was, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-39)

How odd that you can read that stuff your whole life, even have it memorized, then POW.
God reaches down. You can’t put that kind of experience into words.  You can try, but words can’t get it done.

Dawn was breaking at a special family gathering. With sunlight streaming through treetops, tears were also streaming down. Joy filled my heart as God’s love and truth finally broke through.

He had NEVER left me – not through my worst despair.  He had been there even when I had felt so alone; I had just been trusting in the wrong stuff.  You can’t fear like I did if your heart is connected to God the right way.  Perfect love CASTS OUT FEAR.  It’s pretty amazing, shocking even.  When the light dawns on you sometimes in life, it really DAWNs.

(Perhaps the wrong analogy, but I wanted to give you the example of when my oldest daughter figured out that the poop goes IN THE POTTY.  That was a big day for us.  The light just WENT ON.  Clearly it’s not apples to apples but the general, “EUREKA moment?”  YES. Ok, Back to my story.)

If I thought it wasn’t a little over the top, I might post some of the things I wrote that day. Reading them again, I feel it couldn’t have been me writing. I know one thing, it was Spirit-led and beautiful. Hope had found its way back, and this time, it was stronger than ever.  I try to remember to re-read those journal entries when I feel doubt, anger, confusion — about anything really.

In short?  There is Bible verse I really get now that sums up this blog in a way.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.”   (Romans 8:15)

I won’t go back to living in fear.  It’s a horrible existence, and you don’t realize to what extent, until the death grip is released and you are finally free.

It’s scary to admit I was there.  Not long ago, having the courage to share all this on the web would have been a joke at best.   That’s sort of the whole point….  Fear holds you back, where freedom… lets you live boldly.  If you ever feel tempted to listen to a voice that tells you that being disconnected from God will make you free, take my word for it.  RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

Trusting in God?   PEACE.  JOY.  FREEDOM.

I’ve got a long way to go.  A lot of things yank me backwards.  That’s a big reason for this blog – To remind me what I’ve learned and help keep me moving forward.

Lord, help me never to forget my journey from fear to faith.  

Help me never forget the iron clamp that fear had on my life and the freedom and joy that came when your Perfect Love cast out fear from my heart.

Thank you for freeing me from that slavery; I will spend the rest of my life in gratitude and humble service to you — The Author of Life.

 If I can pray for you or encourage you, connect with me!  Visit me at  trustingforpeace.com or increasingthecontrast.wordpress.com

Watch Out Blogging World, Here I Come!


So…. I decided to start a blog.

Anyone with 3 seconds in the conscious world can tell you  I might be a tad late to that party — kind of like opening a low-carb bagel shop the day after Atkins drops dead from a heart attack (loved that guy and all his books… brilliant).  But here’s the thing… I lived in a state of fear for several years, and I’m never going back.

In fact, after going through the most difficult valley of my life a few years ago, I’ve learned and grown in ways I could never imagined.  Although it’s been a REALLY challenging trip back; through that struggle I’ve become a braver, more compassionate woman, a better more engaged mom, and most importantly, I have developed a much stronger faith.

As a result (and a common one to be sure), I found a new desire to connect all my passions and talents with my purpose in this life.  Blogging is just one of 3000 ideas that keep running through my head, and after scribbling down concepts/dreams/ideas for months; my mind is about to explode with intention, with a deep and persistent longing to add my own unique stamp of value to this world.

So Blogging?  Sure…  Carving out a Brave New World?  Check.  

Setting the world on fire?  Well, maybe not on FIRE, it’s finally warming up after the endless “Narnia Style” winter we just had after all…


What will she be about??   HMMMMM.

First, it’s about starting a new life, 2 years post divorce, snow-white clean slate — this time with the right foundation set firmly in place, staying accountable to a God-first focus. (If this blog does nothing more in my life than stare back at me from the internet as eternal proof of my own convictions on any given day in history, it will have paid for its time in full.  If it gives even more?  If dividends include a few laughs, provoked thoughts or relatable moments along the way?  Better still.

It will be about sharing with the masses a sneak peek into my unplugged life – the uncharted,  single mom on the go (who’s juggling a business, house and imagined social life) while I brave the challenges of parenting 2 growing girls.  It should include some entertaining drama and emotional outbursts.

Hopefully I pause plenty for healthy doses of joy in the small stuff.  Escapes like “Death to the Tickle Monster”, “attack of SprayWay Girl”, or the death-defying bravery of the “Fire Horsie”, who always shows up in the nick of time.  Escapes like those and not unhealthy ones like landing face first in a mountain sized bowl of M&Ms.

No, it’s about discovering peace in a land previously ruled by chaos and learning the great lesson, “Life is about Relationship” with God and fellow peeps.

It’s about finally yanking into the real world a few of the ideas and inspirations and that keep coming day and night… about herding sticky notes, iPhone lists and grand ideas for a better tomorrow into something more.

(I always thought so. Plus, who would end on 4 reasons?  I’m too tired from last night’s sleepover extravaganza to slam out another reason running on 3 brain cells.  In addition, Nobody has “4 Reasons. I’m in marketing/advertising. It just isn’t done, ha.)

PS, Clearly, I have so much to learn about blogging (and many other things on my dreams laundry list for that matter). I expect to learn and grow along the way.  I get that, I’m not “skeered of being a student.”  This is just getting me out of the gate before my horse dies of malnutrition and old age (so to speak).

This initial push is a tangible reminder that I am not going to be a spectator in life. Instead, I will move forward intentionally and take steps of faith, no matter how small, no matter how many times I might have to step again. I will keep inching forward toward a life of awesome, a life of purpose, a life of my dream to live for my maximum potential and glory for God.

Let the Games Begin!

Dear God, please help me bring you honor and Glory through the words of this blog, and help me through my own experiences help others find hope and meaning. Thank you for helping me grow through the challenges of my past.