For the extrordinary women in my life...

You are an extrordinary woman.                                                                                                        How can you expect anything ordinary to happen to you.                   
                                                                                 Louisa May Alcott

Extrordinary living is not easy and ministry is not without it's cost, but the reward is great! I salute you beautiful women who bravely stitch heaven and earth together.  My friends that are called to Kingdom work(and who's not?) please don't lose heart, this world is full of messy living in an imperfect world. Breathe in the hope of glory, press toward the goal of life and love.  Take joy in the simple graces that come every day and step out into your destiny.   What choice is there for those that are called?  Who could ignore the Lord of Lords?  Today you are standing on the edge, renew your hope and step out. God has prepared the way and He has equipped you for every new thing. 

"If I find in myself desires in which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world"
C. S. Lewis

How long will we be silent?

CADE: Christians Actively Demolishing Exploitation

I have had the privilege and honor of being involved with CADE since its conception.  I use the words privilege and honor because there are no other words that come to mind.  As a pastor I get to walk with people through some of their most difficult moments, but as a member of CADE I get to walk with women away from their most difficult moments.  Women who have been wounded and damaged but not destroyed, women who know true pain in the most severe of ways.  Their hearts have been stained with years of abuse, most of them since they were small children.   Their lifestyles full of degradation, not a choice but rather a reflection of how they have been failed by their families and by the system.  These women have been living as slaves instead of as precious daughters and friends. Girls robbed at a young age of innocence and safety, hardened by the disappointments of a life lived on the streets and controlled by men who see their worth as only a commodity to fill their pockets.  These girls and women that are someone’s daughters and in some cases someone’s mother are devalued and demeaned.  How can anyone not look into their faces and see the dreams of what could have been and still could be.  Hard faces that hide hearts that are broken and fearful.  Hearts that have long since hardened up, in order to protect themselves, because it is better to feel nothing, than to feel the gnawing unfulfilled promise of destiny.  Better to feel nothing, than to feel the loss of innocence or the betrayal of family.  Better to stay numb through drugs and alcohol, than to feel the ongoing pain of a body being used for others pleasure.  Victims, I see victims that deserve an opportunity to be victorious.   I see women that deserve the opportunity to be treated with kindness, respect and honor.   I see women that with enough love and support can be victorious.  I cannot change the world, but what a privilege to be able to help change one life.  To help restore value and virtue to one who has been denied it by a set of unfair life circumstances.  There but for the grace of God go I, and so I call this a privilege and an honor to be able to serve the daughters of a perverse generation with the love of the King. 

Thirty days, hard pressed but victorious!

Not sure if I am done with her yet....
It occured to me yesterday that it had been thirty days since my life started this spiral into the darkness (I know I am so dramatic).  I know we all go through dark times but this....well this was exceptionally hard.  When someone would ask how I was, I found myself unable to answer with a positive reply.  My heart was so heavy for friends that had suffered loss (3 funerals) and for lives that would never be as they had hoped.  To be positive in the realm of so much pain it seemed almost as if I would be betraying them.  And so I stayed in the darkness alongside them, visiting and calling.  My husbands health once again in a questionable state, the darkness ebbed even closer in my brain.  Feeling foggy even in the midst of my God(for I know He is always there).   Darkness is subtle it comes step by step, closer and closer until before you know it you are completely covered by it.  By the way, it is not unspiritual to struggle with depression.  Great people of the Bible struggled with depression during times of great disappointment.  Thirty days I was hard pressed on all sides, boxed in by compassion and empathy for others.  Oh sure, the sun would come out for a moment or two but for the most part it was just dark. 

I don't know why I couldn't find the sunshine in the midst of the storm.  I only know that at some point I thought I have to do something to change this.  I began to press in even harder to the Lord, my devotionals weren't enough, study time wasn't working, worship music was not breaking through, I felt a bit cold and dead. The kind of feeling where you unconsciously are covering your heart to keep it from feeling anything. This was going to be difficult but I knew my God could do anything.  I had to quit thinking about the sad stuff and start being thankful for the good.  A thankful heart is like a flashlight in the dark, it scatters the darkness and proves to you that it is not as scary as you thought.  Because let's face it, everything seems scarier in the dark. Press on, I told myself all the things I knew to be true.   On I must go, I wearily thought... then I thought about the Dr. Seuss book that I love,  "Oh the Places You'll Go"
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.

After all, I am a Pastor.  What did I really think, it would always get to be the sunny side of life?  I started laughing.  Laughing at my kids, reading jokes, sitting with my puppies, I chose to laugh.  I started replaying the encouraging words I had heard in my mind from friends.  Yes, for sure there was good in all of this, after all it was an honor to be engaged in peoples lives in some of their darkest moments.  I reworked my thoughts into positive statements.  I found scripture to bolster my joy.  I reminded myself of how thankful I am for the little things and I saw some big things that I had missed in all the darkness.  I made a list, I thanked God for the things on the list.  I laughed some more.  I watched an inappropriate comedy, yes I admit it was rated R (except it was on tv).  I laughed about my mom dropping her camera in the ocean for the second time, I laughed at Lola's crazy comments, I laughed when I stepped in dog poop, I laughed by myself and finally as I sat home by myself on Saturday I laughed because even though I was sick, I was not sad.  I laughed because I knew that without that sadness I wouldn't have apprecaited the right now moment of "Thank you Jesus, He is risen!"  Easter might have just been another Easter except this Easter I felt like the Lord had rolled away the stone of heaviness and had risen up the joy of my salvation!  It's true it had been a sad thirty days, but Sunday was coming!! 
I had every reason to celebrate Easter.  Because Jesus is risen, all the funerals were just births into heaven.  Because Jesus is risen, I am assured that this mess I live in,  this is not all there is.  Because Jesus is risen, I am surronded by an amazing family of believers that love me even when I am in the darkness.  Because Jesus is risen, I have an amazing husband and every day with him is a gift.  Because Jesus is risen, I get to be the light in the darkness.  And, this little light of mine, it may grow dim but it will never go out.  It's true this life is just a great balancing act and sometimes I get a little mixed up but this one thing I know; I can choose to laugh.  I celebrate because of my salvation and sometimes I just need to be reminded if there was nothing else, that alone is enough to have joy in.  The joy of my salvation is well.... just the spotlight I need to shine the light on all the good there is in my world and fill my heart with rejoicing once again.  Be blessed my friends, and choose laughter today. 

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