Thursday, October 30, 2014

Don't Be Thankful This November

Ahhhh....What an incredibly wild October! Starting by turning 33 in San Diego, CCEF conference, celebrating 13 years of marriage with my lover, Poppo coming to town, Royals captivating the post season, Mississippi State and Ole' Miss clenching college football headlines over and over again, hosting watch parties, crashing other people's watch parties, spontaneous trips to fill our love buckets, blowing up text threads with my hilarious and passionate family, planning fall festivals and trunk-or-treats, and staying up way too late way too many nights doing all of the above. It was such a sweet-sweet month!!

Immediately after the Royals lost last night, I started deleting apps on my phone. This has been my plan all along, win or lose, after the World Series I was going to hibernate during the month of November.

October has been so intense, with SO many moments of random activities tilting my chin and pulling my attention in different directions. I knew if November kept paced with October, I was setting myself up for another ADD kind of month.

I have mostly appreciated the whole "list one thing a day in November that you are thankful for on social media" trend. I like to see people affirming one another and taking the time to focus their energy on gratitude instead of platitude. It's a nice break from statuses typically filled with first world whines. I was thinking about thankfulness, who and what I'm thankful for, and how I wanted to intentionally convey and express that thankfulness this month.

Eighteen months ago I upgraded to a smart phone, if you remember I was NOT happy about it. I can be a little resistant to change and I felt like the iphone was a dirty thief trying to wreak havoc on my life. Eighteen months later, I have found some things I absolutely LURVE about my iphone, and I've discovered ways that, in fact, my iphone is a master thief.

So I've got me a plan. Twice in my recent history, I've taken a technology/iphone break. Each time has proven to be very beneficial. Once, I did a week long fast with my tribe of "7" from ALL technology. We fasted from computers, tvs, and phones (I had a flip phone at the time so I wasn't sacrificing much), and then again this summer when I was clear cutting my life.

I've decided during the month of November to return to a modified fast. I feel like the best way I can show my thankfulness this month is to see the eyeballs of people more and my screen less. That's a daily, minute by minute, hour by hour, way of communicating to the people I'm actually doing life with, "I'm thankful for you!"

So I'm deleting a butt load of life sucking apps that are far too easy and accessible. Every ping, every beep, every notification is far too distracting for my soul. I know, I know, I can turn off all the notifications etc.... But I work best when it's just gone, cause even when I'm not beeping, vibrating, notifying, I'm checking to see IF I will be notified.  UGH! REAL. LIFE.

I'm setting myself up to have to make an intentional decision to walk to my lap top and check in on the world, instead of the world checking in on me at dinner, in the bathroom stall, at the stop light, in the meeting, etc...etc...

In order to better protect the five people I have permanently written on my heart to say yes to, I'm putting up a fence of "no" and "not now" to the clamoring noises coming from my iphone. (Thanks Dawn for the reminder ;)

When I first got my iphone and was pouting about it, my sister in law very gently said the best thing, "make the phone work for you, not the other way around!"


So what has made the cut?

Text Messages? STAYING! I'm just so sorry, the love texts I get from my hubby everyday makes this app a non-negotiable. I love the way we can flirt all day long with a simple emoticon or word. Also, everyday I get to text with my entire family on what has to be one the best threads in the universe. There are 9 of us on the thread, and everyday I look forward to seeing how/what everyone is doing. We are spread across the entire nation, and for a few minutes everyday it feels like we are a little bit closer.

Google Maps? Adore! As much as we travel, this little feature is a dream come true. From finding Starbucks and re-routing around massive accidents, this little jewel tops my favorite iphone app.

Camera? Video? Weather? Clock? Calendar? Calculator? Compass? Progressive App? Notes & Voice Notes? Facetime? Tune In? Instagram? MapMyWalk? Music? K-LOVE? Pic Stitch? Sky Map? All staying. I use them, but they don't use me, that's why they get to stay.

A+ Spelling? One word, Julia. It's a keeper.

Bank App? Bless it. The ability to check my balance and deposit a check without having to talk the teller, AMAZING! Never deleting.

One game? Yep. One game for Anderson. For the moments he has to sit through PTO meetings doctor's visits, and lunch meetings.

And that's it folks.
Email? Gone.
Facebook? Gone.
Twitter? Gone.
Fox News App? Gone. * GASP* I know. :)
And so much other white noise.... GONE!

I'm not giving those up entirely, I'm just only accessing them through my lap top when I'm at my work station.

And now my iphone is smart but not thief-LY.
And now my iphone works for me, not me for a device.

I already feel a million pounds lighter!
I already feel more free. More available. Less ADD. More present.

So who wants in? Who wants to try this with me? In lieu of words (which you know I'm a big fan of words!) who wants to DO something this November?

I know the hesitations, I've thought through them. I've been anxious about them. What if work needs me RIGHT NOW? What if the paper trail has to be attended to this second? What if the assignment or the breaking news is life shattering? I can assure you, it's not. It's not that important. It really isn't. Remember when we only just checked our email when we were at a PC? Remember when people CALLED us when they absolutely needed to talk to us? Remember when we all had a little more patience and A LOT more natural space to live and breathe and move?? Remember when we used to drive around and listen to music and talk to our passengers instead of Siri? Ah.... the glory days! Ah... the good ole' days. I'm going back, and I would LOVE to have some company along the way. Leave a comment so I can know you are in. And prepare yourselves for a little more blogging this month as my way of saying "thank you", and because I'll have the time and space to do it!

Thankful and less stolen!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The One Thing No One Tells You About Grief

It absolutely astounds me how out of tune I can be with my very own flesh and blood. For real, after 33 years I thought maybe, just maybe I would understand the ebb and flow of my own heart a little bit better. Some how I thought I would be astute enough to know when all hell was about to break lose in the inner chambers of my soul. After these last few weeks, I can assure you there is still work to be done in the intuition department. I didn't see it coming, I was completely blind sided....until this morning.

My soul has been restless; stirring, sifting, churning, with no conclusion and no clarity at the end of the day. And so the next day, I would continue stirring, sifting, and churning. After several days and nights of restless stewing, opining, and processing with no results, my body finally clued me in this morning.

From the outside looking in, I'm sure I have appeared irritable (asked the child I paid money to leave my presence) distant, indifferent, numb, scattered, unmotivated, and aloof. I kept thinking, "today will be different, today I'll turn the corner and my innards will settle." 

My bones hurt when I woke up this morning. As I survived the morning chaos, I kept looking at my feet to see if someone had tied weights around my ankles. Every move felt delayed like I was walking through sludge. Every word spoken felt forced and rehearsed, or worse; reactionary and painful. The back door gently closed as the girls headed off for the day. I found my cup of cold coffee and sat in my green chair as I watched them climb the hill. I sat, I stared, and I went to my book shelf to read someone else's words. "The Healing Path" by Dan Allender is a balm every house hold should contain. I flipped through the obsessively marked pages, pages I had drunk in two years ago when we said goodbye to mama. I reread the words about sorrow, suffering, grief, and loss, and what had been stuffed deep down inside, currently masquerading as a million different other emotions, began to come up and out.

I had been feeling a whole bunch of nonsense about a whole bunch of random areas, instead of feeling the one thing my heart was trying to tell me to feel, "Sara, you are missing your mom!"
Substituting worthless busyness of the heart, instead of intentionally walking through the desert of grief. The desert sucks. It is uncomfortable and incredibly draining. Sometimes so uncomfortable we stir up fraudulent feelings to deflect reality.  But if we refuse to walk through the desert, we cheapen our experiences with self-help and self-reliance. We fill our emptiness with substitutions and idols, only to be left constipated and limp.

I wasn't listening to what my heart was trying to get me to process, and so my bones began to cry out to me. My bones began to bear the brunt of my screaming soul.

Grief can be so damn tricky and bossy, and when it is left unattended and unheard, it spreads like death and muck. 

So today I am attending to my grief. Not fanning it, or cleaning out a guest bedroom for it to take up residence; but attending it, acknowledging its presence and footsteps on my heart and life, and intentionally calling it out and giving it tender space and time to run its course. 

Oh dear friends who are grieving,
I hear you. I see you. You do not walk alone. The banner over our lives will not be penned as loss, but there are days we walk thru that are deeply scarred with it's imprint.    

Tend to your grief dear friends. Take a moment, take an hour, take a day, take a season, and walk through that desert.    


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nine Years Ago I Gave Birth To You!

"I'm just a little uncertain about the baby's heart rhythm today," my doctor said as she gently ran the doppler over my 38 week, bulging belly. "I honestly don't think anything is out of order, but I want to order a 45 minute stress test just to make sure."

I was so tired from keeping up with my VERY inquisitive two year old Katie, while simultaneously preparing myself mentally, emotionally, and physically to love another child. I was convinced it wasn't possible. I had already labeled myself  "Rachel" because I just knew I couldn't help but show favoritism to my Katie. "I guess this is what all parents feel when they add a second baby, but no one cares to tell you about it, just like the forget to mention the football sized pads you wear after you deliver a child! Abhorrent!" I thought.  

How could any other child steal my heart the way this dominant two year old had done? Katie had changed our lives with an equation we never knew existed. For real, how in THE WORLD were there enough hours in the day to completely and utterly care for TWO BABIES? Katie was all consuming, or so we thought..... (ah, such a familiar sentiment! :)..

The stress test revealed a stress-less, "perfectly" healthy heart beat, "strong and steady!" the nurse reported, (I should have known then). They unplugged the heart prongs from my belly and sent me home.

October 20th, 2005, my mom pulled into the driveway from the airport as I reached down to grab a skillet from the bottom kitchen draw, and VOILA... a real contraction took me over. I smiled, "this baby might just come tonight."

All night I contracted. I paced the halls, not wanting to wake any one up until I "knew". I took a bath, laid on the couch, and ultimately was so relieved I was feeling real pain, because real pain meant something real was going to happen.  At some point, I was unable to calm myself through the contractions, so I woke up Mark. "Are you sure?" he said. "Yes, please take me to the hospital!"

It was the Friday before fall break at MSU, Mark was a freshman in the engineering school. We decided 3 babies during 4 years of engineering school sounded like a challenge. :) Lunacy!

When we checked in early that morning, I was already dilated to a  4. So thankful to be progressing! My birthing plan had specified that I wanted to receive the epidural around a six, to assure that when transition took placed I was nice and comfortable.  "Birthing plan" should indicate to anyone reading, that I was still young and naive after this whole birthing process. :) Around 10:40 am, I remember a distinct change in the way the contractions began to feel. Really, really uncomfortable. The nurse came in and I told her I was ready for the epidural. She checked and very calmly told me I was at a 6 and 100% effaced.  I was elated. My plan was going smashingly.

About ten minutes later, right around 10:55 am, a fully masked and scrubbed out doctor entered the room. I thought it was the anesthesiologist. I wanted to kiss their face. I kept thinking, "relief! sweet relief is coming!" At one point, I recognized the eyes peeking out from behind the mask. "Dr. Furniss, are you giving me my epidural?" "How sweet!" I thought, "she left her practice in the middle of the morning to give my epidural. Wow! Such great customer service!" Before I could offer my thanks, Dr Furniss laid her hand on my leg and gently said, "Sara, the baby's head is pushing directly against the amniotic sac, and the minute the sac breaks this baby is going to be here. There is no time, nor is it safe, to give you an epidural at this point." "But, but, the nurse just said I was a 6! Please, please, give me an epidural!!" I begged.  "Sara, you can do this! You are 10 now and the baby is right here!" the doctor encouraged. "No, I can't. I can't do this. I can't do this!" I wailed!

Right around this time Uncle Zach called to check in on the progress. Uncle Zach heard one contraction and hung up praying that sounds from the pit could some how be erased from his memory. 9 years later, and he still suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome :) 

At 11:05, Dr. Furniss broke my water and it was time to push.... The pain of child birth cannot be described, but the combination of child birth pain plus fear and unpreparedness, equals the worst kind of pain. I had not even given ONE glance at the possibility of NOT being able to have an epidural. I had spent ZERO time mentally preparing for a natural birth. And that was a HUGE mistake. When I had Anderson, I had a drug free birth, it was a million miles different because I spent concentrated time on preparing. 

I pushed once, twice, three times and baby's head came out... "Wait, wait, wait, Sara, don't push again! The cord is wrapped around the baby's neck, once.... twice..... yep, three times" Dr. Furniss's voice was so level and neutral as she unwrapped the cord. It wasn't until later I realized the seriousness of the cord being wrapped so tight around baby's neck. "Alright, one more push and we are going to figure our what this baby is!" My eyes rolled back into my head on my final push, and the greatest sensation of relief consumed my body. "IT'S A GIRL!" Dr. Furniss erupted. "A girl!" I thought. "I love girls!" I sobbed.

They wrapped up the tiniest bundle my eyes had ever seen and laid her in my arms. I was having after shocks from labor, my arms were so weak and shaking, but that baby girl in my arms made EVERYTHING better.

Her name was Julia Waitz, and the second our eyes meet all insecurity disappeared. "Oh, I can do this. I can love two babies. I can love two girl babies. I already love this Julia with every fiber pulsing through my bones," I thought.

Nine years later, I would describe Julia the exact way the nurse did, "strong and steady heart beat".

Nine. Years. Old! Our hearts can hardly handle it. Your face got narrower this year, your legs lost any sign of little-ness as they stretched so long and tall, and your heart matured in beautifully-crazy ways. I love loving you! I am so mesmerized by all I'm learning about you! Your creative brain exploded this year in ways I never knew existed and I'm so impressed. We are SO glad God gave us the indescribable gift we find in you.  Enjoy your final single digit year; it's simple and undefiled just as it should be!
We delight in YOU, Jules Vern!!
~ Mama and Daddy

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dear Daughters, Don't Marry A Pastor

It was a summer evening, and the Hall house was unusually quiet. I was 14 years old, and on a mission to find something to eat. I am sure that mom had completely stocked the pantry and refrigerator, but in true teen fashion I claimed, "there is nothing to eat in this house!" (I.E. I am the laziest creature functioning under the sun and my appetite far exceeds my reasoning.) Because I was all alone, and couldn't' "legally" drive any where without a licensed driver, I did the only thing I knew to do; page dad. In the season of pagers, we all had our own secret code that we typed in at the end of the phone number to signify who it was paging. #5 my was special code. I guess it's a number that will label me for the rest of my life, and you know what? I just love it!

So I paged, not really sure where dad was (a safe guess was and still is; sipping coffee some where and chatting up a crowd :).
He immediately called:
"Oh hey dad, where are you?"
"Hi kid, I'm sitting in an elder's meeting. What's up?"
"Oh dad, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to bother you!"
"It's no big deal! Is everything ok?"
Me, a little more sheepishly, "Yeah, everything is fine... I'm.... just....hungry!"
"Oh ok, well I'm almost done with my meeting and I can swing by Taco Bell and grab you something. Does that sound ok?"
"Sounds perfect, thanks SO MUCH DAD!"

I'll never forget that day, because it solidified what my dad had communicated through many small and large decisions my whole life; I was more important than the church. I was important enough that my dad excused himself from an elder's meeting to answer the page from #5. It wasn't a 911 page, (that's the other code we used for emergencies) it wasn't a page from Val, it wasn't a page from a congregant, it was a page "from the least of these" :)

I cannot even begin to tell you how important this message was for my very young and impressionable heart. At the end of the day, my dad chose me.

We live at the bottom of a hill, and every afternoon if I step outside onto my almost finished front porch, I can hear three recognizable little voices that I cherish beyond words. I can always hear them before I see them, but as soon as my ears soften, my eyes can capture little glimpses of them sprinting towards me. Lucy, a little more like Phoebe Buffay, running through Central Park, than Florence Griffith-Joyner running the 100 meters.

One day, after a particularly rough morning, when everyone decided they would protest the hot, homemade breakfast I had prepared, in addition to the hot, homemade lunch I had prepared; (don't be impressed, the day before they ate stale toast and pizza bites..... I was functioning out of mom-guilt!) I went a little ballistic on them before they left for school, "I am so sorry, but this is not a short order kitchen where you get to complain to the manager about the condition of your food. This is a home, MY HOME, and I am your MOTHER not a full time cook and maid! Your unkind, complaining, voices discourage me and make me THIS (holding my finger just a quarter of an inch apart) motivated to get out of bed and do it all again tomorrow. Do you KNOW how many times I complained to your Grammy about the food she prepared on my behalf? Oh, I didn't! A WHOLE LOT OF ZERO-NESS (that's probably part lie, part drama...but really Val did NOT do complaining!) Lucy, under her breath, hoping I wouldn't hear, but desperately needing to correct my incompetent math-ness, "zero-ness is not a number!" I let her comment slide, in fear of losing complete control.

They stared at me, collected their back packs and silently prayed Grandy would pick them up early that morning. I kissed them as they left, because in my insane brain I feared an alien attack at the local elementary school, and I didn't want them remembering the final words their mother spoke over them being from a place of complete temper tantrum. "I love you deeply, but sometimes you drive me bananas! Let's try this again tomorrow with a different result, eh?" "Yes Ma'am!" they collectively said.

That afternoon, as I saw them sprinting for me, I wept. They were running home TO ME; a complete and utterly weak-vision of motherhood. Eight hours after losing it on them, they still were running towards me, not away from me.  Oh my stars, the total deprivation that still lives and moves in me when it comes to motherhood (and all other "hoods") still plagues me. I'm eleven years in, and y'all each night I just beg God to cover the multitude of my sins with His love. Sometimes, I pray for slight amnesia to infect them. :)

My dad came to visit this past weekend. When I saw his red car pulling down that exact hill, I slipped my shoes on and ran to him as fast as I could.

My dad was incredibly intentional when it came to conveying a message to ALL who were watching; my family wins, my family wins, MY FAMILY WINS. My dad fought tooth and nail against having an affair with the church under the banner of "full time ministry." My dad's full time ministry was loving and serving my mom like crazy, and then loving and serving the snot out of us kids. I never felt like my dad was serving us left overs. I never felt like I had cheapened encounters with my dad because the church got to buffet him first. My dad chose us. My dad chose us. My dad chose us. The confidence, the peace, the pride that grew out from this understanding cannot be bought. In exchange for this firm foundation, it was easy and natural to let dad have the freedom and the grace he needed to shepherd God's people. Inconsistent schedules, late night hospital runs, heavy days with messy relationships, tight budgets, emotional moments of discouragement, and Sunday's not exactly oozing "restful", but ALWAYS deeply joyful.

Dear Pastors,
Don't buy the lie.
Don't cheapen your finest, most beautiful responsible in exchange for the alluring mistress.
She's not worth it.

Dear Congregations,
Don't promote and assist in the lie.
Protect your pastors and their families by always redirecting their eyes homeward.
You will only gain when your pastor pours his life out for his bride and family first.


This is a message for all of us. Not just pastors. Not just men. ALL OF US! You want to change the world? Start in your home. Don't sacrifice the moments you'll never get back, in exchange for the less than. Be a home at the bottom of the hill that people sprint towards, even if it's a home that's far from perfect, far from Martha Stewart-esque, far from Southern Magazine ready, far from reaching the Jones' unrealistic standard; but it yours, ALL YOURS! Filled with perfectly-imperfect people, who choose one another above all else (even the church) everyday.

Dear Daughters, if you marry a pastor, make sure he is just like your Poppo!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Professional Counseling Saved My Life

It always feels like an impossible task to come home from a conference and recount the things that happened in my heart. I think on many levels, I cannot and should not try to communicate ALL that actually transpired over our time away. It seems that in an attempt to try and transfer all my excitement and passion, I cheapen my experience and am often met with a less than enthusiastic response; to NO FAULT of my reader or listener, just a false expectation I unfairly lay at your feet. But since I process so much through my writing, I've learned to just give small sound bites of my take-aways, and store up the rest of my experiences in my own personal "holy of holies" and revisit it in the stillness of the night.

Mark and I have attended three CCEF (Christian Counseling Education Foundation) conferences. CCEF exists to support and supply resources to professional counselors, people in full time ministry, and lay counselors. Out of 1600 attendees, Mark and I make up a small minority of neither professional counselors nor people in full-time vocational ministry. So why the heck do we go?! Mark and I desire deeply to do relationships well. It's a non-negotiable for us. People, our time with people, our relationships with people, our encounters with people, rank very high in our personal life agenda. It became very apparent, very early on in our lives and in our marriage, that in order to do relationships well we needed to be well equipped. Being in relationships with people is EXTREMELY difficult, complicated, heavy, messy, and SO AMAZINGLY WORTH IT! When a friend's tears spill down her face and into her coffee mug because her marriage is falling into a million pieces and she has zero desire to remain in her marriage, Romans 8:28 just doesn't cut it. This dear woman comes asking for prayer, advise and support to go on. It is helpful to have an inkling of an idea on how to receive this news, process this news, and by the grace of God maybe say something. Although, as I am learning, speaking is RARELY the correct answer. If you do life with people AT ALL, you will be asked to enter into some situations you are unfamiliar with and have ZERO answers for. If you intend on loving anyone over the course of your life, if you intend on ever speaking into someone's pain, joy, or mundane, then you are acting as a lay counselor.
90% of counseling is done in lay terms.

A friend 911 calls you in the middle of the night, because the fear is paralyzing her and she is trapped within her thoughts. She calls begging for you to speak truth over her heart and her situation... LAY COUNSELING.

They were so excited when they found out a baby was on its way, and in a matter of weeks the dream comes to a screeching hault when the mom notices the flow of blood; a great sense of loss ensues. If you are in relationship with this person, and you rightfully choose to speak into this painful situation through actions or words; you are a lay counselor.

Life, death, joy, sorrow, happiness, sadness, peace, chaos, depression, ecstasy, captivity, freedom, boredom, security, insecurity, doubt, rage, guilt, shame, love, affirmation, numbness, indifference, ambivalence, and value are a small selection of the range of human emotions you will encounter over the span of a single lifetime.

We deem it "necessary" for children to receive at least 13 years of formal education about math, science, reading, and language arts, but somewhere we decided everyone should instinctively know how to decipher and navigate this small minefield of human experiences without anything more  than a formal how-to book no one reads, and a 50 minute exegetical sermon no one listens to.


So that's why we go. Because we don't know it all. Because we routinely encounter life situations we don't have all the answers to nor ever will, but we know there is more to learn, more we can offer by simply being intentional, training our minds, ears, and hearts; and to not resign ourselves to be satisfied with the current way people do community, church, and relationships. There is so much more to be had!

Not only do we go to restock our arsenal of helpful skills, (you totally drown in counselor lingo for 3 days) but deep down WE GO FOR US. WE are ALWAYS changed individually and as a couple. We go because we come away renewed, refreshed, and inspired.

This past weekend was no different.

A conference on loss? Hey, there's an upper! Who needs Eeyore when you have CCEF :) Total. Joke.

Truth? ALL OF US have lost something, are currently losing something, or WILL lose something. So maybe in light of this guarantee, we should educate ourselves on how to walk through it and help other's walk through it.

Brilliant, eh?

Our marriage was founded and tried early on with great, great, loss. The dance floor of our "I do's" blended inexplicable joy and impossible pain. I remember clearly sitting outside on my parent's deck, just a week before our wedding, carrying the weight of Mark losing his only brother, our nation seemingly losing its innocence on 9/11, and now the news of Mark being laid off. "This is NOT how I intended on feeling the week before I am to wed my best friend!" I told God. "Where is my happily ever after?"  Wasn't I suppose to be flying high on cloud 9 with only visions of sugar plums and fairy tales dancing through my head?! Wasn't I suppose to be playing the part of the blushing bride, not the bawling bride? My mom very gently told me at one point during this process, "Honey, your wedding day is not all about you! It's so much bigger than that!" At first, I was mad at her for saying it. Thirteen years later, I now know I needed that kick in butt, I needed that reminder. I needed to start the journey of my marriage in a posture of humility and servitude NOT selfishness.

We are pretty intimate with the ways of loss in the LJ double-wide.

Here are some sound bites that are taking up residence in my thoughts right now. I don't have the time or energy to explain each one in depth. Feel free to follow up with me if you'd like further explanations and context.

CCEF has been a HUGE blessing to us. If you are in full time counseling or full time ministry, these people should be on your speed dial. They are so solid in their understanding of brokenness and grace. They never distort the truth that sets people free, they NEVER confuse faith with behavior modification, and they never leave you with a twelve step program to "be good, do good!" They consistently offer you one thing, no matter the topic of the conference, they offer you a close up, zoomed in, clear vision of Jesus Christ; His promises, His comfort, His incomparable ways, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His scandalous pursuit of being in CONSTANT relationship with His adored creation.

Quotes by David Powlison:
Current, American Christian culture, has made loss an isolated, private, solo journey. There is so much danger in this kind of thinking.

The Bible consistently weds genuine faith with genuine experiences of ALL KINDS!

The poor in spirit are blessed because the kingdom is theirs. In their weakness, dependency, neediness, and vulnerability they have found the key to the kingdom of heaven; poverty of spirit.

Grief always goes somewhere. It is either transformed or transferred. Grief never ends with acceptance. It ends with a deepening and clarifying of one's faith.

"Faith doesn't mean we don't feel pain" Winston Smith

"The banner over your life will NEVER BE LOSS! The banner over your life will always be Jesus Christ!" Heath Lambert

Barbard Duguid: People are in bondage to this idea that God is constantly disappointed in them. They spend their lives in a cycle of depression and defeat. In addition, misleading and hurtful leaders often motivate people to holiness by insisting God is disappointed in our failures. In other words, "be good, do good!"  I beg to differ. In order to be disappointed, one first must be naive and not well acquainted with another. GOD IS NOT NAIVE! He knows all things. He sees ours hearts, He sees our ways.... AND YET, He loves. (paraphrased)

"Trauma is terrible. What we need in the aftermath, is a friend who can swallow her own discomfort and fear, sit beside us. and just let it be terrible for a while" Catherine Woodiwiss

Matt Mason:
If our songs of worship are only one dimensional, we teach our congregations to only speak one language. Let people LAMENT! Are the songs you sing in worship resonating with the broken, hurting, dying people who are held in captivity and fill your pews?
In the same breath, faith and worship doesn't have to look like stoic emotional fortitude. This poorly describes the Jesus of Nazareth we see in the New Testament.

Said about Martin Luther, and the undeniable, irreplaceable, importance of worship through song, "We can burn his books, we can burn his sermons, but the people are still whistling, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God!"

Again, this is like one millisecond of our time there.
Nonethemore, it left huge impressions on our hearts and minds.

We are so grateful for the ministry of CCEF, and we are so grateful that we are called to be in relationship with people, and we are amazed we get to do this all TOGETHER as husband and wife.

Counseling in ALL forms is what we were made to be apart of. In the hallways of counseling, impostors offering counterfeit forms of life are called out and transformed into life-giving, human experiences.

Find you a counselor, thus sayeth MOI!