Unity — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 7: Unity from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: John 17:20–23

I chose this topic to finish my posts, changing my original selection to this instead  in light of the Sandy Hook shooting that took place yesterday.  (#sandyhook)

I have spent the last two days wrestling with emotions, praying, and crying — and enjoying the beautiful moments I have had with my daughter.

Events like Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Clackamas, Virginia Tech, 9/11 — they all impact us.  They remind me that evil exists and that we can’t fix everything.

But Jesus can.  He can take begin the healing through our pain.  He is the great Comforter.

A beautiful thing happens after tragedy — people come together, they pray.  A resounding call to prayer went up yesterday.  People that are not usually one to talk about faith or prayer were praying, attending vigils, thanking God for their life.  This gives me hope for our future — that people realize where healing and comfort truly comes from — God.

My daughter, Fiona, spent the night last night with her grandparents.  She had heard about the shooting earlier in the day (she is home schooled).  Apparently while she was at my parents, they must have been watching the news.  She came home and definitely wanted to talk about it.

She said she wanted to call her friend right away to make sure they knew what was going on.  Then, the tears began to fall.  She said that if she was back at her old school, she would feel terrified to return.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but the pain that she was feeling almost surprised me.  I didn’t expect to hear her fear.

She wanted to try and find a vigil to attend.  She wanted to feel that unity and solidarity of community to overcome that fear.  To be a part of something bigger, to feel like she doing something.

Our country has felt so divided through the election and politics.  For a brief moment, we all stop to feel each other’s pain, to hold each other and comfort one another.  And realize God holds the key.

While I know that this feeling of unity may not last, it encourages me to push forward — that healing comes through unity.  And that Jesus can unify us.  But we must do our part.  And that really begins with living second.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

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Known — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 9, Day 7: Known from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: Psalm 139:1–6

I chose this topic to continue my posts because I think it’s powerful.

Do you ever feel like you wear a lot of different “hats” in life?  Work/career, family, friends, church…

I know that I do.  My “hats” change from time to time, but there is always a lot of them!

Throughout my life, I (like probably everyone else in the world and throughout history!) wanted people to like me.  To be successful.  And smart.  And funny.  Beautiful.  And so many times, I haven’t felt that I was these things.

I felt like I couldn’t be myself, that I needed to be more like someone else.  There were times when these feelings really began to feel like truth in my heart.

When I was about seventeen, almost eighteen, I met this guy.  He was pretty cute, seemed nice enough.  And he liked me.

Well, I hadn’t dated very much and really felt like I was not going to find anyone who really liked me just because of me.  (Oh, if I only knew then what I know now!)

Shortly after meeting him, I told my parents about him.  I am from a small town and my dad actually knew his step-dad.  About a week or so into our dating, his step-father called my dad and cautioned him that I should not date him.  In all my infinite wisdom, I simply felt like no one wanted me to be happy, that his step-dad must have it out for him and is trying to sabotage this for me.

As teens can be, it’s all about us, right?  Adults don’t know anything.

Well, one evening I was visiting him at his home, watching movies and having dinner.  Quiet night at home.  It was winter, shortly before my birthday.  That night I had asked him if he would come to my party and he agreed.  My heart was full, as only a seventeen year old girl’s can be at the simple thought of a birthday date.

Then his friends arrived, unexpectedly.  He asked me to go into his bedroom and wait in there.

I had no idea why, but I went.  I sat in there, listening to him talk to his friends.  Wanting to leave, but he had made it clear that he did not want me to come out under any circumstance.

I could hear their conversation and he began to talk — suddenly his words struck my heart. He was making fun of me.  He was ashamed and embarrassed of me.

Humiliated.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Wanting to run away, but feeling so trapped.  I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t stay.  Each word was like a knife to my heart.  All of the things that I thought were unlovable about myself were being validated.

Finally they left, he came to the door and said that I was free to come back out and finish the movie.  No apologies, no embarrassment for his words, just statements.

I left.  And I never seen him again.  But his words, they stayed with me.

My heart was broken.  I, of course, broke up with him and told my friends that I just wasn’t interested anymore.  I couldn’t utter what had happened.  I couldn’t tell them what he had said.  And I thought every guy after him probably thought of me like he did.

Many years later, after a lot of hurt — a lot of mistakes and bad choices, I learned real truth.  I learned what God thinks of me.  I have forgiven that guy (in truth, I can’t even remember his name — only his words and what his room looked like that night.) and I no longer think that all men are like him.

My identity is in Christ.  I don’t hide anything from Him.  I don’t have any secrets with Him.  I can be me.  All the time!  It’s freedom!  I can tell him my fears, my doubts, my brokenness with no fear of being shamed or ridiculed.  Only forgiveness and love.

While I still prefer people to like me, it doesn’t make me doubt my worth if they don’t.  If I fail, I am disappointed — but I know that I am not a failure.  I would like to think that I wouldn’t have stayed in that room if I knew then what I know now.  That I would have never even gone in that room.

To be known by God, as only He can know us is life altering.  He knows your heart, your thoughts, you can’t hide anything from Him.  And there is so much freedom in giving that to Him, in accepting His amazing love and the freedom that brings.

{Not my creation, I found it on Pinterest}

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Advocate — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

 

Check out: John 14:16–21

I chose this topic to continue my posts because of my career, advocate is a word that I am  very familiar with and I thought it would be great to connect it with Jesus and living second.

My previous job title:  Advocate.

I think of all the names of God:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega, Bright Morning Star.  I don’t usually think of Advocate.

As I read through today’s devotion, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made this connection before.  It became so clear to me, that the Holy Spirit is EXACTLY that…our Advocate.  Wow.

In the social work world, especially when dealing with court stuff, you will hear the term advocate.  I served as a CASA/GAL (Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem).  I served as a Shelter Advocate.  A Transitional Housing Advocate.  A Life Skills Advocate.  (You can see why I connected with this word!)

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “For those who call God their God, he grants an advocate, a lawyer who stands guard over our case, who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  Let’s break it down a bit, shall we?

“For those who call God their God.”  This is a special gift from God to His children!  In the CASA program or at the shelter, our advocating was a gift to those who were our clients.  We didn’t advocate for everyone, just “our own.”  But all you really had to do was meet our criteria and ask.  It’s the same.  God’s criteria:  call Him your God (and all that goes with that too!).

“He grants an advocate.”  You don’t have to pay for an advocate.  They are gifts, granted to you.

“A lawyer who stands guard over our case.”  Think of lawyers for a minute.  An attorney who accepts a case, stands up for you — regardless of fault.  They fight for you.  They stand guard over your case.  They talk for you, when you can’t talk for yourself.  They are willing to jump into the mess you are in to help you.  An advocate is exactly like that, minus any financial gain.  They are willing to do it because they believe in you!  Because they care for you!  With nothing to gain for themselves.  They stand guard, they speak up.

“Who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  This is the most critical piece.  Our time of need.  When do we get attorneys?  When we are in need.  Why was I appointed as a CASA?  Because the child had a need.  As a shelter advocate, my clients were homeless and victims of domestic violence.  They had need. Advocates come when there is need.  When we can’t do it on our own.  They hold our hand, they speak words we cannot speak for ourselves.  They give us a voice again.  They give us strength to carry on through our need.

In my work, I often worked with immigrant victims of domestic violence.  Oh, how I love these women!  They often were at a greater disadvantage because English was generally their second language, our court system was even more confusing to them than to most.  They had been lied to, told that no one would help them, or worse — that we would hurt them.  So, to be given the great privilege of working with these beautiful women was an honor to me.

I have seen tears stream down these women’s faces.  Pain and sorrow.  The privilege to say for them what they could not say.  To get to know their hearts.  To protect their secret pain.  To hold their hand.  To do battle for them.

An immigrant client had an appointment with DSHS.  Due to language barriers and general lack of understanding, the case worker kept insisting my client meet certain requirements.  My client, more than happy to do that but legally unable, could not find the words to explain her predicament.  The ability to step in and clearly convey this, not only helped them develop a better working relationship, but helped both of them reach their goals.

Another client, working with immigration, did not want to share her most painful story.  The torture of reliving the abuse.  The humiliation she had felt.  The gift of being able to stand for her and with her, gave her strength to get through those most painful moments.  She is thriving now!

Doug Bender goes onto write, “He helps. He guides. He remains. He is with us, whenever, wherever, forever.”  Wow.  What a tremendous gift we have been given.  A helper.  A guide.  Someone who NEVER leaves us or forsakes us.  Someone who fights for us.  No matter how ugly the attacker, how evil the force — He is there for us.  We have been richly blessed by this gift.  The only requirement — that we call God our God.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Love — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: Mark 12:28 – 34

I chose this topic to kick off my posts because when I think of living second, I think of loving God first.  And I also think of loving others before myself.

When I was younger I used to think of love as being this amazing feeling, you have it all the time.  Everything is happy.  Everyone is happy.  Life is good.  Love will make it all better.

Then, I got older.

Life happened.  I realized that life is not always happy.  That love sometimes doesn’t last.

But love can last.  Even through the icky stuff.  It’s that euphoric, over the top feeling that will never last.

Every relationship I have ever had (parents, siblings, children, dating, etc) goes through changes.  It’s that ebb and flow of life.

There is a person in my life, whom I love so much.  I have known them since before I had memories, they are a big part of the fabric that makes up my life story.  My life wouldn’t be what it is today if they were not a part of it.  But our story is not all happy.  There has been deep and immense pain in this relationship.  Broken trust.  Some of my greatest pain has been born from this person.  Times of not feeling love.  Times when I really truly felt that I didn’t ever want to see them again.  Deep wounds that have healed, but left a scar on my heart.

Thankfully I have another person in my life, who also loves this person and loves Jesus.  They consistently spend time in prayer for us.  Offer a shoulder to cry on when they pain gets too much.

But healing has come.  It happened slowly.  After a devastating event, I cut myself off.  No calls.  No visits.  No nothing.  I did not want to see them or talk to them.  This went on for six months (an eternity for us).  Through the prayers of a small little girl, my heart began to heal and soften.  Contact was made.  Redemption.  It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but it gets better most days.

Over the years, a lot of reading, and even more prayers I have learned a significant truth.  Hurt people hurt people.  And only God can bring the kind of healing that will mend those hurts.  But sometimes people are so shut off that they don’t want to hear about or from God.  It’s easier to wallow in their own hurt and self-pity.

That’s where love comes in.  Our love for them.  Our love for God.  I could not love this person in my life the way that I am able to without God.  Humanly, I couldn’t do it.  It’s too hard.  But God breathes this beautiful love for them into my heart, that sustains even when the happy love feeling is no where to be found.

And because God has given me this beautiful love, I can show them that love.  But I had to make a choice.  A choice to accept the love God has for me.  A choice to show that love even through my own pain and hurt.  And sometimes I don’t make the right choice.  But thankfully God continues to work on me and His love is unconditional.  Available.  And it redeems the broken.  Overcomes the wrong choices.  Offers healing.

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “Love is not a feeling.”  Amen.  It’s not a feeling at all.  Sometimes it comes with a feeling.  But love itself is not a feeling.

He goes on to say that love is, “The reason for our creation and the foundation of all relationships.”  If we don’t accept that, our life’s purpose will be unfulfilled.  Our relationships will end without that foundation.  Life is meaningless without God’s love.

I hope that you have chosen to accept God’s love for you.  To live for Him first and foremost.  Because in living second, there is immense freedom.  There is joy where it seems impossible; hope in the darkest of places; and healing in the most shattered and broken places.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Updates, Announcements…Good Stuff

So much going on here!!

First off, I wanted to share with you about the Spokane Orphan Summit.  It’s going to be AMAZING so put it on your calendar NOW if you live in Eastern WA/North Idaho or somewhere else…we’d love to have you too.  You will be hearing more about this in the months to come.

Next, we are finalizing an official partnership with our first organization, Youth Sport Uganda!  More details to come on that as well!!

Look out for lots of blogs this week…Compassion, I am Second, and I am now a blogger for Exodus Road, so I will be posting a new blog about that as well!  Yay for awesome partnerships.  These are all organizations that I believe in and I am so thrilled to be a part of!

God bless!!

Exodus Road Blogger

I am Second Book Launch!!

Soooo exciting!!!

Today is the book launch for the new I Am Second book, Live Second 365 Ways to Make Jesus First.  If you want to buy the book — which I HIGHLY recommend, check it out here.

I also recommend signing up for the 22 Day Challenge.  You can find that here.

I will be posting four blog posts, plus a book review over the next week.  And on Friday, December 14, I will be interviewing the author, Doug Bender.

Lots of awesome, great, exciting things to look forward too.

And if you want to change your life, I suggest buying this book.  It’s incredible.