I’ve been thinking and talking and hearing and writing a lot about confession lately. It’s present all throughout Scripture and yet it seems so drastically absent from our lives. The irony is that in a world of over sharing on social media, we tend to “under share” that which matters most. We’ve traded likes on Instagram for true intimacy in relationship. We’ve settled for shallow “relationship” with hundreds of “friends” who are more like strangers rather than depth of a few truly close and authentic friends. And it’s a horrible trade.
We end up carrying our hurt and pain by ourselves. We end up feeling alone, and honestly maybe many of us actually are! We end up burying our emotions or trying to cope in unhealthy ways. We experience guilt and shame and have no where to go. And the more we keep anything in secret, hidden in the dark, the bigger it grows.
I heard Jen Hatmaker tell a story that illustrates the perfectly. In her bedroom stands a manikin holding many of her coats and topped with her big floppy sun hat. Many nights she has awakened to the belief that manikin is an intruder ready to attack. Simply turning on the light removes all fear and quiets her racing heartbeat.
In Ephesians 5, Paul says, “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. (NLT)”
You see, no matter what you have hidden in the darkest parts of your heart, it isn’t nearly as big or powerful as the light of the Holy Spirit within you. And when we muster up the courage to expose the darkness to the light, it becomes no more frightening than a manikin clothed in old coats and a floppy sun hat.
So let’s get serious about developing deep, authentic, trusting relationships where we are safe to be vulnerable with our messiness…the kind that help us bring that which is dark into the light. Let’s be brave enough to be honest and real with one another, trusting we’ll be met with kindness, compassion, and tenderness.
The new year is upon us and as 2016 kicks off, it seems fitting give an update on all that has been happening at MND GMZ Ministries and in my life personally. I know the blog has been somewhat silent the last half of this year, but I assure you that I have not been sitting at home just twiddling my thumbs! So here’s a recap of the past ministry year!
It was a big year for MND GMZ Ministries! I had an amazing time speaking at a church event for women of all ages – literally from middle school students to retired grandmothers!
The love and unity across generations was truly heart warming. I was also invited to share with a special youth ministry on dealing with emotional pain. February was our official one year anniversary and we celebrated in a big way! I was blessed to be the speaker for the Staley Distinguished Scholar Series for Central College that month.
It was an honor, a privilege, and a surreal experience to return to my alma mater as a guest speaker giving two lectures – one on dealing with emotional pain and one on becoming God’s beloved.
In April I was invited to speak to two area youth groups as well as to a group of parents regarding how to address teenage depression and how to parent technology well – two of the greatest challenges facing parents today.
After some much needed rest over the summer months (with one exception of traveling to Haiti to minister and speak – more on that later), the fall found my speaking schedule full once again. I was invited to lead several youth leader training seminars (which might be my very favorite thing to do), and I had the opportunity to share my heart about living life to the fullest as a single person on two occasions. In November, I was honored to share the pulpit with my pastor at my home church. The Holy Spirit moved in wonderful ways that morning – the way God works is always so surprising and somehow never ceases to amaze me even though you’d think I’d learn to expect the unexpected. If you are interested in hearing Pastor Kevin Korver and me teach on “Wise Intimacy”, the link is below.
Looking ahead to the new year, I am already booking into the spring, but I do have a few open dates if you are in need of a speaker for a ministry event! To book me for your next event, provide the necessary information on the “book me” page and I will be in touch. If you would like to catch one of my events, check out the calendar for my current dates! I’d highly recommend coming to “Discipleship in a Digital World” on January 13th. Registering for the event is not required, but is recommended. You can learn more about the event, as well as register, by clicking here.
But…the biggest news is not regarding speaking. Some have noticed and inquired as to why the blog has been so quiet the last half of the year, and one of the big reasons is that MND GMZ Ministries has taken on a new and unexpected project. It became clear last spring that God was calling the ministry into a large research project. So…data collection will begin in January on a project exploring how attachment style and mission trip participation impact spiritual development over time. Although unexpected, MND GMZ Ministries is committed to following where God leads and I could not be more excited (even if totally overwhelmed) by this new opportunity!
Last year wasn’t all work with no play! Here are some of the highlights:
I did something I NEVER thought I would do. In April, after six months of diligently focusing on living a healthier lifestyle in both diet and exercise, I became a certified fitness instructor. That’s right! Twice a week I teach RPM, a spin class, at my local gym. And I love it! Crazy huh?
In July I was invited to travel with a church group to Haiti for 10 days and while there was spoke to two different groups of teenage girls on purity and God’s complete and healing love for them. Speaking through a translator was definitely a new experience, but I had a WONDERFUL God-fearing woman, who made it feel natural. It was a beautiful and humbling experience to be used by God despite the differences in language and cultures. If you’d like to read more about the Haitian purity conference, click here. In addition to ministering to teenage girls, our team did several vacation Bible schools for area children, delivered goats to families in need who will then pay it forward when their goat gives birth, delivered food, and did prayer ministry at the local hospital and around the city. What an experience. Haiti and it’s people are simply beautiful!
And of course I continue to work full time at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services as a clinical psychologist and I continue to adjunct at Central College. And I love both for different reasons. It is an deep responsibility and honor to walk with clients in their darkest hours and through their deepest pain. And I truly love my students, probably more than they know. There is nothing more exciting for me than when I student has a “lightbulb”moment in class, asks an insightful question, turns in a fabulous paper, or gets into the graduate school of their dreams. It is just plain awesome!
I cannot believe that MND GMZ Ministries will turn two in February. It seems like such a short amount of time and a lifetime all at once. I am blessed. I am blessed by you who support and believe in this ministry. I am blessed that I have a Good Father, who continues to give good gifts. He comes through on his promise of life abundant. However, that does not mean that life is always easy. There have been hard times too, and there will be hard times again. Jesus promised that as well! So, for those of you who experienced hard things in the last year and are glad to see it gone, cling to the truth that we serve big God. He makes ANY problem look quite small in comparison to His might and power. So whether your 2015 was more light or dark, more blessing or burden, my prayer is that you’ll continue to keep your eyes on the Good Father who is trustworthy and faithful to sustain you and walk with you through every season.
Happy New Year everyone. May you know with more clarity and conviction that you truly are God’s beloved and live from the reality and power of that truth throughout the year. All of us here at MND GMZ Ministries treasure your prayers and words of encouragement. You are so kind and gracious with your time in reading the blogs and in asking how the ministry is going. So, from the bottom of my heart (and the entire MND GMZ Ministries team) THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!
Ever wonder why we tend to hurt those closest to us? Why is it that so often we treat complete strangers with more care and respect than those we love the most? I know I’ve been on both ends of this odd phenomenon. I’ve been hurt and I’ve done the hurting.
Practically speaking, we spend more time around those we love and so they are more likely to be on the receiving end of our cranky moods and they are more likely to annoy us with their quirky habits. Plus, there is more safety found in a close, loving relationship than with a stranger. A family member is more likely to offer grace and forgiveness than a mere acquaintance. A close friend is more likely to remember all of our good traits and the fun experiences, which hopefully outweigh our less than stellar ones.
And yet… they actually deserve the best of us, not the worst!
I think it is safe to say that we would all be wise to take a deep breath, count to 10, and guard our tongues so that we don’t lash out at those dear to us. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” But what do we do when we are on the receiving end of the hurt?
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Holding onto the hurt leads to bitterness, which ultimately imprisons us. Forgiveness is the key to freedom. No, forgiving does not excuse the behavior that caused the hurt in the first place. Forgiving another does not magically make you forget what happened nor does it instantly repair the relationship. However, forgiving those who hurt us is what Jesus asks us to do. He knows it is what is best for our heart. Plus he wants us to extend the same grace and kindness to others that he first extended to us. We tend to hurt because we’ve been hurt. Remembering this helps us extend kindness and compassion as well. Additionally, when I am secure in my identity as God’s beloved daughter, I can more easily extend grace, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion to those who have hurt me.