Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Keep Using That Word...

...I do not think it means what you think it means...

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my all time favorite movies, and it just happens to fit this blog post perfectly.

I promised a blog post a couple weeks ago about my Christmas pet peeve. I fully intended to write that post, but time and other stressors prevented me from getting that post out on paper, or at least virtual paper. So, given the fact that it is now less than a week from Christmas, I am ready to reveal to you my biggest Christmas pet peeve. Are you ready? Here it is:

Merry X-Mas!

Now some of you may be thinking of course, she hates the way that businesses and even private citizens remove Christ from Christmas, literally by X-ing him out of the very word. If you are thinking that, you would be wrong. My pet peeve about this is the ignorance among so many Christians about its true origin. Western Christians are often very quick to pass judgement and complain about persecution and censoring of our religious beliefs. The problem is, if we really understood the history of our faith, we would not be so quick to be offended. In reality, the X is not crossing out Christ, it is representing him, in the most authentic way. It represents the Greek letter Chi, the first letter of Christos, the name for Christ found in the original language of the New Testament.

In much the same way, many Christians are misinterpreting the Constitution. As I scroll my facebook feed, I am being bombarded by posts in support of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, many of them making the claim that his "freedom of speech" was violated. It wasn't, plain and simple.

There is an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, 7th Heaven, in which the oldest son gets a job. His father makes a bet with him that he will not last one day because he doesn't yet understand what it means to have a job. When the son loses the bet, he admits defeat, then asks his father what he meant by that. The dad looks at his son and says, "Whatever the job, the number one thing is to make your boss look good."

At least in the opinion of A&E, Phil robertson did not make them look good. The constitution protects freedom of speech from government censorship. It does not in any way prevent a private company, such as the owners of a cable TV station, from distancing themselves from the personal views expressed by one of its "stars" if they feel those views reflect badly on them. It is the equivalent of a professor for a Christian school signing a contract which states that he must portray a certain standard of behavior in public, in keeping with the image of the institution. Then he is caught at a bar drunk, cussing, and generally making a fool of himself. That professor is going to very likely be suspended, if not fired, because his behavior reflects on more than just himself. It reflects on his employer.

The fact is, most Western Christians do not know persecution. I heard a missionary to China once tell me that the Chinese Christians pray for persecution of the American Church. Why? Because persecution is what makes Christians become more like Christ. Persecution is what is faced by millions of believers around the world who are cut off from their families because of their faith. Persecution is what believers are faced with in countries where their faith lands them in prison, such as Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran. Persecution is what early Christians, such as Perpetua, and even the Apostles faced when they were tortured and killed for following Christ. Persecution is what Christ himself faced when he was beaten and mocked before hanging on the cross.

Face the facts. Phil Robertson was not imprisioned for his faith. He was not investigated or interrogated or tortured for his beliefs. He was not sensored by the government, and he was not even put under house arrest or warned by some government agency to stop stating his opinion. He was simply repremanded by his private employer who felt that he was not making them look good. That is not persecution, and it is not a violation of his constitutional rights. If he is that passionate about his point of view, then, much like the response of the son from the TV episode I referenced above, maybe next time Phil should be more careful about who his "boss" is.

And, even it if were some form of persecution, as followers of Christ, should we not respond to persecution the way He did? He did not fight it, He understood it as part of the suffering that comes with laying down one's life. He told Peter to put down his sword. Isn't it time we are more concerned with following Christ's commands to reach out to the poor and the needy, and to make disciples of all the nations, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and love The Lord our God with all of our being, and less concerned with standing up for our "rights" as US citizens? I don't know about you, but I am first and foremost a Citizen of Christ's kingdom, where the first are last and the servant is King.

I want to wrap this up by bringing it back to my "Pet Peeve." Christians need to stop giving Christ a bad name out of their ignorance. Learn what words like "persecution," "constitutional right" and "freedom of speech" mean before we use them. Learn the historical and theological significance of something before we dismiss it. Most of all, let's all remember what real persecution is, and pray for the millions of believers around the world who experience it every day.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year! We celebrate this as the "Holiday Season" or more specifically for many Christians, the "Christmas Season." It is the time to "Deck the Halls." We string lights, sing songs about Santa and Reindeer and the magic of a Christmas snow, and we set up displays of the stable where "the newborn king" would rest in a manger full of hay. We spend hours, not to mention dollars, buying gifts for everyone from our children to our best friends. We have parties, bake cookies, and plan a huge holiday feast, and then, the next thing we know, it is Dec. 26th, and it is all over, as quickly as it began. It is easy to get caught up in the tinsel and the excitement, and then we burn out. The excitement fades, and the new stuff we thought was the greatest gift ever becomes just another thing on a shelf collecting dust, or gets broken and thrown away within a few weeks. But, hey, that's what this season is all about right? And of course, we will put away all the decorations and then take them out again next November and do it all again.

Have you ever wondered if we are doing it right? Are we really doing justice to celebrating the birthday of Emmanuel, the one who would be God with Us? While all those around us want to get caught up in Christmas, perhaps we need to step back and remind ourselves that this season is not a season about what is, it is a season about anticipating what is to come. It is the season of Advent that we celebrate. It is the time of year when we look forward with great anticipation and hope, to the coming of Messiah, Emmanuel, Christ, both his first coming as a humble babe in the manger, and his second coming, when He will return in all his glory. 

At this time of year, we need to remember that as Christians we have a hope that the world does not understand, it is a hope that carries us beyond December 25th. We have peace that comes from within us, peace that is able to carry us through the toughest storms of this life. We have joy that is unspeakable. And of course we have love because He loved us first, and choose to come. These are things that are not meant to be present only in the season and be thrown away with the wrapping paper or be packed away until next year. They are meant to carry us through, year after year, season after season, until the day of the Second Advent, the day our faith will become sight. 

And what of the day, December 25th, you may be asking. Well, that day should be more than just a single day of celebration. In the early church tradition the season of Advent, or anticipation, led to a celebration which lasted for a full 12 Days known as Christmastide, or "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It is when carols should be sung to Christ the King, it is the time when gifts are given to commemorate the Epiphany, or the day the wise men saw the star and found the Child. So, let's take our time to anticipate the coming, enjoy the fullness of celebration of the King, and continue to carry the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love to a world that has been shrouded in darkness, as we bear His light. Celebrate from Advent to Epiphany, and beyond, until He comes again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Crazy Facebook Contest

I hear people talk a lot about how social media has replaced genuine community, and in many ways I believe it to be true. People can have entire relationships without ever seeing the one another face to face, or even hearing the other's voice on the other end of a phone, but last night proved that, though there are a lot of potential pitfalls, social media can also bring communities together.

Back in July, a major Christian music label held a "Search for a Song Contest." It was designed to give local worship leaders who have written amazing songs for their congregations the chance to have their songs be heard world wide, and the competition was built around Facebook "likes." The five songs that received the most "likes" over on to the judges for the chance at an amazing prize. Unknown to one another, two worship leaders from Fayetteville, NC, Giles Blankenship and Jeremy Fisher, both entered the contest. And then the fun began. Facebook friends from the churches as well as friends from school, and even friends of friends began working hard "liking" and "sharing" the link, and in the mean time having fun and learning some things about one another. Community was forming around the contest and long time friend and complete strangers began to share prayer requests with one another, reveal silly and fun facts about themselves to each other, and just spend time "together" from the comfort of their own living rooms.

Then the article came out in the paper, another song writer in the top five was from the same town. The two gifted worship leaders were not only from across a river, but across denominational lines. By the end of the contest, the two churches, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church and Stedman Pentecostal Holiness Church, two groups of fans, were working together to keep both before the judges. New Facebook friends were made. Community was formed around a Facebook contest, but more importantly around the One who united us through his death and resurrection 2000 years ago. Many of us had not met in person, but we were connected as the body of Christ.

The two churches came together for an amazing Night of Worship (You can watch the video of the service by clicking the link). Friends who had met through social media finally met face to face. There was instant recognition of new friends. There were hugs and prayers. There were songs and amens and "Holy Hushes." Most of all, there was a real presence of Christ that was felt throughout the place. Say what you want about Social Media, but last night I experienced the beauty and majesty of God that came about through "a crazy Facebook contest."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Heart of Worship

This morning for worship, we did something a bit different. Instead of putting a great deal of emphasis on music, we chose instead to focus on silence, rest, and stillness. The service was inspired by the summer of favorite hymns, and by one of our favorite "Hymn Stories," the story behind Matt Redman's "Heart of Worship." Here is the Hymn story as I read it this morning in service. 

People come to church for a lot of different reasons.

Some come to be seen, they believe it is good for their reputation.

Some come because that is what their family has always done, it is routine.

Some come because they want to feel superior to someone else, they may think, "So-and-so really needs to hear that sermon," but never apply the messages to themselves.

Some come to socialize. Singles may even come to find a "Good Christian spouse."

Some come expecting worship to make them feel good, a "God-fix" to get through the week.

Some come to be entertained.

There may be many other reasons people come. Not all of them are bad, but many still miss the point. They show apathy toward worship, and little regard for the object of our worship. 

Such was the case in our hymn story this morning. Unlike many of the other stories we have heard this summer as we looked at our favorite hymns, this last story is a contemporary one. It takes place in England in the early 1990s in a large, contemporary church. The church was going well from the outside. The numbers were up. The praise band was amazing. But the pastor began to slowly realize something wasn't right. The congregation had become apathetic toward God. They were there, much like Grandpa Walton on one of my favorite TV shows, "For the singing." 

So, this pastor along with his staff, did something radical. They took away the band and the music. At first the void was filled with silence. Now, Mother Theresa was once quoted as saying, "God's first language is silence..." And I love that quote. Silence is often where we can meet God. It is where He speaks in the still small voice. It is where our faith is challenged, and where we find ourselves in awe of His creation and provision. However, in our Western, Evangelical church tradition silence is often awkward and uncomfortable, especially when we are gathered for worship. And so it was for this church, at first. 

Then God began to move. He began to open people up to new and creative ways to fill the silence. The congregation began to offer up new prayers, new forms of art and poetry, dramatic readings, and eventually even accapella hymns as genuine offerings to God. It was a moving and growing time for the entire congregation, including the worship leaders. At the end of the experiment, one of the leaders, Matt Redman, penned the words to the song "Heart of Worship," which we will sing later in the service. The song says this:

When the music fades, and all is stripped away, and I simply come
Longing just to bring, something that's of worth, 
That will bless your heart
I'll bring you more than a song,
For a song in itself is not what you have required
You search much deeper within through the way things appear
Your looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about you, it's all about you Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it's all about you, it's all about you Jesus

What have you brought to Jesus today? What do you need to let go of to focus on Him? How can moments of silence bring you back to the voice of God?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have a Dream

It was a beautiful day. Though both the calendar date and the green trees surrounding the outdoor chapel reminded everyone it was summer, the weather made it feel more like fall on the mountain. My husband and I were blessed with the amazing privilege of doing something not many couples get to do. We were officiating a wedding together. The setting was perfect. The ceremony was unique. The couple was beautiful as they began the new adventure of life together.

Being asked to be a part of this celebration was an affirmation of calling and purpose for me. It was also an opportunity for my husband and I to reflect as we prepared for this ceremony. We reflected on our own beliefs and understanding about marriage. We also reflected on how those beliefs have changed as we have journeyed over these last 11 years together.

We both grew up in traditional conservative churches and so, the predominate teaching that we heard was about "spiritual leadership" and "spiritual submission." It was "God's design" for marriage for the wife to submit to her husband and the husband to take the lead. I even remember one particular statement from the pulpit during a Mother's Day message, "Ladies," the pastor said, "I know this is hard because many of you are much smarter than your husbands, but God still calls him to take the lead and you to submit, even when you know his plan is doomed to fail."

Moving away from home to the campus of a conservative Christian college where I met my my husband, this teaching of "biblical submission" became even more problematic for me. I began to hear things like, "Learning to be a submissive wife is the only way to be truly happy in marriage." The understanding across campus among single and married women alike was that if God's plan for a woman includes marriage then she must give up any ambition of her own in order to follow her husband's wishes. He came first. His career, his needs, his classes were always more important and if I, as a wife, was not happy and fulfilled in this life of submission, then there must be something wrong with me. After all, women are Created to be His Helpmeet according to the book that was sweeping the campus.

The loud and clear message was that, because I was not satisfied and fulfilled in this role, I was not yet truly "broken" in my relationship with God. I needed to repent, both before God and my husband. Of course, this message was completely supported by scripture and I believed it. I even tried to live up to it. And I was miserable.

I would realize what a horrible wife I was. I would beg God for forgiveness. I would return to the scripture and seek out how I might try harder to do better. I would realize that it was "the sin of my pride" that caused me not to be content, so I would seek humility, and I would fall further into depression. A vicious cycle that I was stuck in for years.

I was surrounded by a "biblical worldview" that said there is no other way to live right according to God's Word. As long as I was surrounded with this "complementarian" interpretation, I was doomed to believe that something was wrong with me. The harder I tried to fit in to the mold, the worse things got. I fell into deeper depression and my relationship with my husband became more strained.

Finally something changed. Right when I needed it, right when I was at my breaking point, God planted my husband and I in a place called Buies Creek at at school called CUDS. We would meet people there who had great passion and respect for God and for the Bible, but who understood it, believed it, and lived it differently. We studied scripture not only in the original languages, but in the context of the original hearers who lived under Roman rule. We learned that some considered Christianity a "woman's religion" because more women than men had chosen to follow Christ. We also learned of the many women who are listed as leaders in the church alongside men, including "Junia" who is listed as "chief among the apostles" by Paul. Later scribes changed the name to the masculine "Junius" presumably because they believed Paul would never name a woman as an apostle. (This is not something commonly taught in Sunday school in a conservative evangelical church! It was eye-opening to me!)

Studying the beloved household codes in the original language changed everything. Ephesians 5:22 is a particular favorite, often quoted verse by complementarians to support this idea of submission. "Wives, submit to your husband as to the Lord." For many this is a clear, cut and dry command, straight from the Apostle Paul himself. It was a verse that often haunted me in my days of trying to fit into a mold that made me miserable. Then, I studied Greek.

I realized quickly that the chapters, verses, and headings in the English translations of the Bible that I had been reading my entire life, are not original to the apostle's letters. Parchment and paper was scarce and not to be wasted in the days of Paul. Letters and words were written with no spaces, no paragraph breaks (something else I was never taught in Sunday School) and sometimes translators even add in words to the text that are not there "to clarify" meaning. Every translation is on some level an interpretation.
Even the placement of a comma or a period change the meaning of a text.

How does this apply to Ephesians 5? One of the words that has been added "for clarity" to verse 22 is the word "submit." It is supplied from verse 21, "Submit one to another out of fear of Christ." Not only was the word added, but a verse, a paragraph break and a heading were also added between verses 21 and 22. In the original, however, the sentence starts in verse 18, the paragraph even before that. The entire passage is filled with Paul's radical instructions on how to live as "wise men" who are "filled with the Spirit."
His radical instructions include mutual submission, an idea foreign to the patriarchal household codes of the day. This mutual submission includes not only submission of wife to husband, but also of husband to wife, instructing him to love her sacrificially and treat her as his own body (this sounds an awful lot like respect to me!) It includes submission of slave to master and radically of master to slave. It includes submission of child to parent and respect of father toward child. Ultimately, it is a reminder that all are to be in submission to Christ, and that we are all to follow His example.

And what about that pesky word "helpmeet" from Genesis 2? Does that not indicate Eve was a subordinate to complement Adam? Is she someone who is meant to serve him meals and do his laundry so he can focus on "more important" tasks? This is what I had been taught to believe for a long time, until I studied Hebrew. That is when I learned that the same word from Genesis 2 is found other times in the Old Testament, and in many of these references it refers to God as "helper" to man.

This brings me back to the wedding. Two things from this passage always stand out when preparing the ring ceremony of a wedding, and my husband and I always point them out to the bride and groom. The first is that God used a rib, from Adam's side, to demonstrate that woman was to be man's equal. The second is that the term that is most often applied to God, is used of Eve here. I do not believe it was a word chosen by accident. I believe it was meant to remind man that, just as he was created in God's image, woman was as well. It was to remind them both that, just as the trinity exists as equals in perfect communion and mutual submission to one another, so they, as husband and wife, are to reflect in marriage that type of communion through mutual love, respect, and submission, as equal partners.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the famous, "I Have a Dream," speech. While there are still pockets of this country where Dr. King's dream is not yet realized, I believe that we have come a long way in the last 50 years toward the reality of that dream. Today, I have a dream of my own.
I have a dream of a church where women are not treated as inferior simply because of their gender. I have a dream of marriages where mutual respect and mutual submission eliminates domestic violence. I have a dream in which marriage becomes about two whole people allowing God to make them one, instead of two people being broken by being forced into someone else's mold. I have a dream where wives can use their strengths to complement their husband's weaknesses without husbands being branded as weak and wives being told they are stepping out of their place. I have a dream where marriages are healthy, children are healthy, and relationships within the Kingdom are healthy because we all, "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." I have a dream where it is not shameful for a Christian couple to seek help with their marriage, but where it is celebrated, expected, and accepted within the church. I have a dream...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dinner and a Movie?

Most marriage experts, including counselors and pastors will give any couple getting married this advice, “Don’t ever stop dating your spouse.”

Dating is essential for a healthy marriage. It provides the opportunity to connect to one another. It is even more necessary after a couple has children or when both spouses have demanding, high stress jobs. It is an opportunity to rekindle romance, to talk about serious issues, or just to spend time laughing and enjoying one another. The problem is often that the more a couple needs this precious time, the less likely they are to have, unless they have help. Ministers are no exception to the need for this intimate time or to the difficulty in finding it. In fact, often we have the most difficulty with this essential element of a healthy marriage.
As a minister who is also married to a minister, my husband and I are great examples of this struggle. As ministers and, before that, divinity students, money to pay a baby sitter is hard to come by. On top of that, we often find that since we need to find sitters for work related tasks, finding someone to keep the kids for a night out proves even more difficult. Sometimes we have to improvise and turn work into a date. Here are just a few of the most unique dating venues that we have utilized as a ministry couple.

Worship Services

Believe it or not, for us at least, attending worship together, without the kids, in a place where neither of us has the responsibility to lead, makes a great date. This is especially true when the service includes communion or some other form of congregational participation.
Recently we had a friend offer to keep our children overnight on the first night of a denominational conference. Even though they joined us at the hotel the next day, having the opportunity to attend the worship service on the opening night and then get a late night snack afterwards was priceless. 
I remember one particularly stressful semester of Divinity School. Brian and I were both doing our Supervised Ministry in two different churches and taking full time classes in addition to homeschooling our three kids. Chapel worship followed by a quick lunch in the cafeteria at school was our only chance to connect as husband and wife during the week.
The most unique “worship date” as a ministry couple was also while we were Divinity Students. As a requirement for a World Religions class, we attended the worship service at a Jewish Synagogue. We got a sitter for the occasion and following the service went to a nearby restaurant to get a bite to eat. What was on the menu? Pork of course! We still laugh when we think about our very un-Kosher meal following the Jewish service.
Hospital Visits and Funerals
Imagine your spouse coming and telling you he has found a baby sitter for a wonderful surprise date. You get showered and dressed and he even blindfolds you so that you will be completely surprised by the mystery destination. When you finally arrive and he removes the blindfold, you find yourself in a hospital parking lot, or, better yet, outside the funeral home! Romantic right?

Well, maybe not, but the fact is that sometimes we have to make a date out of whatever circumstances present themselves. It is easy for ministers to take on the hurts of others as their own, but it is not healthy. Taking time as a ministry couple to debrief over French fries and a frosty, or even a simple cup of Starbucks coffee, after an emotional task can make for a good opportunity to lighten the mood, maybe even find a way to laugh before returning home to our children. It also gives a much needed moment to connect as a couple.


While such joyful occasions may seem like “no-brainers” as romantic occasions and ideal dates, often church members do not realize that, for the minister, weddings are still work. Pastors are responsible for premarital counseling, planning the ceremony, leading the rehearsal, performing the ceremony, and sometimes helping to calm the fears of the nervous bride and groom. On top of that, while most people can blend in to the crowd and enjoy the wedding reception, that is difficult to do for the ministers, who constantly have guests recognize them and compliment them on the “beautiful service.” Imagine the scandal in some churches if the minister were caught dancing, or heaven forbid, sipping champagne!
For us as a clergy couple, taking the time to drive over early in the day to an out of town wedding gives us the opportunity to remember our own vows so that we can truly help the newlywed couple make their vows meaningful. Even though technically “on the job” we sometimes have no other opportunity, we have to take dates where we can get them!

Trainings and Other Community Events

As clergy, we are often invited to special community events and whenever possible we try to attend. While most couples go to dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day, my husband and I had a most romantic afternoon! We attended a minister’s training on soldiers with PTSD. We felt privileged to attend and the event was most helpful and informative, however, it required a sitter for the day, leaving us unable to have a traditional Valentine’s date.
Another community event that was turned in to a date happened while we were still Divinity Students. As guests of one of our professors, we were invited, along with several other students, to attend a dinner honoring leaders in the community. The dinner, held in early December, was a lovely event. The two of us were surrounded by school principals, mayors, and even representatives from the governor’s office. It was indeed an honor. The gathering, however, was in a most unusual location for two Baptist ministers. The venue, beautifully decorated with hundreds of Nativity sets from all over the world, was a Mormon church.

Minister to Your Minister

I say all of this to say this. Your Pastor needs those who are willing to minister to them too. One of the best ways to minister is to volunteer to give them an evening out. It is good for their marriage. It is good for their children. It is good for their ability to do their job and minister to you without burning out! It is great to find unique ways to work in family time while “on the job” at a convention or conference, or work in a “date” after a hospital visit. But sometimes ministers just need to have a normal date. Give them dinner and movie once in a while. I promise, they will appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Albert Einstein once said this, "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." I love this. It is inspiring, but how far does it really go? Does it include seeing ourselves as miracles?

I had two people who know some of the deepest, darkest parts of me say these things to me a few weeks ago, within 24 hours of one another: "It is miraculous that you are sitting here..." And, "You are a walking miracle..."

Children who are born after years of infertility hear words like these, or those who have survived some near death experience, especially as a young child. Babies who are born extremely premature are often referred to as "miracles." We often think of miracles in this way, as the happy ending of some extreme medical difficulty, but there are many types of miracles, not all defy the scientific odds.

It is still odd and uncomfortable to hear the term applied to me. When I look at my life I don't see "miracle." I see messy! I see someone who has been abused. I see a life that has suffered losses so deeply that fear of losing anything else is paralyzing. I see someone who has never felt good enough to do anything worthwhile. I see someone who doesn't feel pretty or lovable. I only see someone who is wounded and dirty.

And yet, I know that I am a miracle. Many who have been through what I have been through find themselves dropping out of school, struggling with addictions, abusing others, continuing to be abused, or being reckless and promiscuous with themselves and their bodies. I know. I watched it happen to many people in my life. It was part of what motivated me to be different. I have even wondered if my miracle came at their expense. Of course there was divine intervention as well. God placed many people in the right places at the right times to make the kind of impact that led to the "miraculous" in my life. There were those who encouraged me, challenged me, and demonstrated God's love to me. Ultimately, though it was God's presence and power that produce the miracle that is me.

The fact is, no matter how battered and damaged we may feel, no matter how many mistakes we have made, or how much trauma we have endured, we are still dearly loved by God. There is nowhere we can flee from His presence, not even the depths of Hell, literal or figurative, of our own making, or brought on through no fault of our own, is beyond the reach of God's hand.

We are all miracles, fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image.

A friend of mine, Giles Blankenship, wrote a song titled Image of God that speaks to me. The first time I heard the bridge it brought tears to my eyes. Speaking of Jesus the song says, "He says it long and it loud and you can hear Him crying out, 'This one's mine; yes that's my child; I'd do anything...Oh I'd even give my fix every broken piece inside..."

The question is not whether God can make your life a miracle, or even whether He wants to. The question is, what are you going to do with your life when He does? He comforts us so we can comfort others. He heals us so others can have hope when they see our scars. He encourages us so we can build up another. He reaches out and picks up the broken pieces of our lives and then expects us to go, and do likewise.

I'll admit it, it isn't easy. The prospect of helping someone else when I feel incapable and unworthy is scary. Sometimes the voice in my head that I hear loudest says, "Who are you to reach out to someone? You aren't good enough."I have to find ways to hear another voice, the voice that says, "You were bought with a price and you are Mine! Created in my image, precious child, live out the miracle that I have done in you."