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.

Book Review: Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Book Review:  Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Basic Info…

Title: Crazy Love

Author: Francis Chan

Publisher:  David C. Cook

ISBN-10:  1434768511

ISBN-13: 978-1434768513

Website:  Crazy Love Book

My thoughts….

I love how easy to read this book was.  It was well written, soundly based in Scripture, but it still remained easy to read. For me, when a book has a lot of theology and Bible verses and explanation of those verses using history and Greek/Hebrew translations, it’s not something I pick up when I only have a few minutes.  Don’t get me wrong, I think those books are extremely important.  But Francis Chan easily conveyed significant verses with real life examples and made this book life changing and powerful.

I am a huge fan of listening to Francis Chan preach, but this was the first book of his that I have read and I can’t wait to get his others.  I love…

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Book Review: Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

This is from my personal blog…I thought I would share it here as well.

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Basic Info…

Title: Kisses From Katie

Author: Katie Davis

Publisher: Howard Books

ISBN-10: 1451612095

ISBN-13: 978-1451612095

My thoughts….

Probably the best book I have read in years.  I literally could not put it down.  My conversations have been littered with…Katie Davis said…and in the Kisses From Katie book…and so on.  When I was thinking about what I would write about the book, I picked up it and again….could not put it down.  I could re-read it again and again, learning and growing each time.

After finishing the book and through reading Katie’s blog, she really writes honestly and transparently.  It leaves you feeling like you are her friend.  Like she is writing to you, to tell you about this amazing adventure.

I already had a soft spot in my heart for Uganda and their people, but this book really took that to a whole other level.  I long to be…

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Adoption. God’s Heart for the Fatherless.

National Adoption Day.

So, I can’t remember if I shared this before on here, but I am adopted.  You can imagine then, I think adoption is pretty amazing.  It completely changed my life and rewrote my story.  Someday maybe I’ll share more of my story or if you would like to know more, send me a message…I love to talk about the miracle of my adoption.

And someday (hopefully sooner rather than later), I want to adopt.  I think that my family would not be complete without an adopted child, I believe that God has pressed upon my heart that somewhere out there is a child that was meant to call me “Mommy.”  A child who needs love and family and I can’t wait to meet them.

I have been studying the theology of adoption.  It’s been life changing.  In the adoption world, there is a lot of heated debate on both sides.  The concern of baby-selling, coercion, and exploitation.  The other side concerned about institutionalization, neglect, and an unloved/unwanted child.  And I think both sides are concerned with all of the above…it really comes down to what’s more important and those answers vary.

I think all sides have good points.  Important points.  But I believe that God’s heart is for the Fatherless.  And that He specifically equipped His church to look out for them.  I personally think government has a lot of roles (more on this another day) but that some roles that the government has taken on would be better left to the Church.  But the Church needs to stand up and take back what was given to us by God…a calling to protect the Fatherless, to look after the orphans and the widows in their distress.

Church, we need to stand up.  We cannot sit idle while children go to bed hungry and feeling unloved.  We cannot rest until there is no child uncared for in the world.  Get involved, do SOMETHING.  You can do something wherever you are, with however many (or few) resources you have.

Let’s make National Adoption Day 2013 even bigger!  You have 365 days.  Use them wisely.