Are you prepared…?

I live in Colorado. It’s October 10 and yesterday, it was almost 80˚ outside but we were told a storm was coming… I called my friend and asked him to stop by and do whatever had to be done to my sprinkler system. I asked my daughter to pick up all the dog poop out of the backyard. (Have you experienced a mass amount of backyard dog poop after a snow storm…?). Last night, when I got home from work, I mowed my grass (which also sucked up leaves that had fallen so far. Have you experienced a mass amount of fall leaves on your lawn after a snow storm…?). I brought my plants in from the front porch. I prepared. And this time, the local meteorologists were right. It actually snowed and it was 20˚ when I woke up.

Have you prepared?

“and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:2-5 NLT

We warned you that troubles would soon come…

On this earth, we will have troubles… we will face storms. It’s guaranteed. The Bible is full of warnings. And when I started to see my life entering another storm about eight years ago, I had no idea what troubles to expect – only God did. And after a year of striving for answers and trying to find a solution, I started to realize that I was too caught up in my circumstances and not caught up in the One who redeems all circumstances. So, I started preparing. I refocused my gaze on the One who created me, believed in me and called me His own. I started to discover who I truly was and what I was created for. I started feeling His worth instead of basing my worth on what others thought of me or the circumstances I was in. I started becoming more self-aware and Jesus-aware. He is always with me. WITHOUT FAIL. Did I anticipate the storms that were coming? Yes. Did I know what they would be? No. I only knew that if I was going to survive and glorify the One that can calm any storm, I just had to be prepared for whatever came at me. And 2013-2019 brought some storms I would have never dreamed of… Storms that not only attacked me, but went full barrels loaded after my kids too. (PS. Not today, Satan. Don’t go after my kids.)

Was I prepared? Ha! For everything that happened…? I had no guesses. It wasn’t like a weather forecast. Was I prepared for the battles…? Yes. Did I have to seek counseling, direction, advice, help in crazy ways, support…? Absolutely. But I was prepared for the hits. I survived the battles. Some things were over-the-top hurtful. Some things were scary. But, I knew who God was. I knew who I was. The foundation I stood on could not be shaken. Did I always know what to do? No. Have I made mistakes along the way? Yes. I know I didn’t always handle the brokenness of my circumstances well. I have to extend grace to myself for those moments and accept my humanity and imperfections. I know it’s okay not to be okay… but I never want to stay that way. I have the tools to move on.

“But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8 NLT

I’m still bruised and healing, but strong and determined. I have HOPE (my word for 2019). And He will redeem my story and the battles I’ve fought like He’s been doing for me since I was a little girl. And these past few years have also been sprinkled with great joy and blessings – those are the things that bring life to my soul and set my heart on fire.

I’m so thankful for the “Timothys” in my life – checking in, seeing if I’m standing strong in my faith, encouraging me when I’m discouraged, pouring love, hope and words of life in to me and my circumstances… I have “Timothys” pouring into my kids too, PRAISE. THE. LORD. Just reading Jesus’ words to me are also grounding, life-giving and freeing. Every storm just gives me another layer of ministry to offer in what He calls me to. Every storm has given me another way I can give empathy and support to others. I’m ready for the next one…

Are you prepared…? Because storms are coming. They always come.

Figure out who you are. Stand on a firm foundation. No one needs to be defined by their circumstances – that part is up to you.

This Side of Life…

As Conner went public with his story today, I’m pretty emotional. Reading back through what he went through is hard. On this side of life, I knew from the first conversation he had with the leaders of Resurrection church in Boulder about being a member, that something was wrong and that he was being mislead. During this time, someone I worked with also directed me to an article about one of their offshoots that confirmed my suspicions. My spiritual sensitivities were on hyper-alert.

One day, Conner left his Bible study material (written by the lead pastor at the main church in Arizona) on the dining room table. I read through the entire thing. The teaching was not wrong, just incredibly twisted… It was hard to wait for God to show Conner that this group of people couldn’t be trusted! I wanted to take things in my own hands. It was hard to watch him wrestle and discover things for himself, but I knew he had to discover some things on his own and I kept praying that God would show him how wrong they were. As he tried to pull away from us, I decided that I would focus on our relationship – not on the unscriptural teaching, manipulation and control. I didn’t want to push Conner away. I needed to retain my relational credibility because I knew the day would come when I would need that relationship to confront him in a more direct way about the leaders of Resurrection. I confided in several people that were praying against the enemy on Conner’s behalf.

The day came on October 28, 2015 after 2 1/2 years of watching him process things for himself. Praise the Lord for a connection that happened only through God’s amazing power. I’m so grateful. All the gaps were filled in by a very concerned former staff member of these churches and I finally had the proof and confidence to do what I needed to do. Several faithful friends that love and adore Conner were praying for us when we went to lunch that day… If Conner wasn’t receptive to what I had to say, then we had planned to do an intervention with a team of people. It was God’s timing. I praise God he was so open on that day. If you want to read Conner’s story about his journey with spiritual abuse, click HERE. I don’t want anyone to go through what Conner went through and what we went through watching it all unfold…

I’m so thankful for where Conner is in the whole process today. I’m thankful for the amazing people that have come around him, received him, loved him and showed him an overwhelming amount of grace and truth so that he can heal and grow. I am most thankful for our Savior who loves us and shows us what His sacrifice on the cross truly meant in so many different ways. This side of life… freedom in Him is such a gift.

Warriors Needed

Several years ago my daughter, Karis (I have her permission to tell this story), was struggling with her faith. Our life circumstances in 2012 were turned upside down and Karis believed the lie that God didn’t care about our family anymore. She started making decisions based on that lie… she lost her ability to claim her identity in Christ and she was in a dark place spiritually. You may be thinking that she was out robbing banks or selling herself on street corners, but those things were way off her radar. She was still a “good kid”. She just didn’t believe in God anymore. She was making decisions void of Him in her life – her stoic attitude, deceitful attempts and overall disrespect were clues to me.

When I discovered she had turned her back on God, my worst fears were realized. I told her that I wasn’t going to force a belief in Jesus and that she needed to make those choices on her own. However, I also told her that I would never stop fighting for her heart and for her to be restored to her foundation of faith. I told her that she had to go to church as long as she lived under our roof but I understood if she didn’t want to serve anymore and she shouldn’t be leading others if she didn’t even believe what she would be “leading” (primarily worship). I had my mentors and close friends praying for her. I tried to have conversations with her about Jesus and His love for her. I offered to get her a counselor. I encouraged her to ask someone she trusted to mentor her. I asked if she would be willing to try healing prayer. The only thing she was really willing to do was ask someone to mentor her and she did that at least. (Praise the Lord)

I was so discouraged… I could see glimpses of improvement but not a lot of change was happening in her heart. I felt so responsible. God had entrusted my kids to me and I felt like a failure. I was weary. I needed help. Karis was unwilling to receive support and instruction. I wasn’t giving up, but I also knew I couldn’t force anything. Even though I had many wonderful people praying for her, I knew I needed to do something different. God put it on my heart to establish a Warrior Team for her. I didn’t know if it would work, but I wanted to try! I asked five women that love and care about Karis to be on this team. My plan was to basically journal Karis’ journey – her ups and downs, hurts and victories – to these women. I knew this had to be about Karis and not about me. I was praying each of them would be receptive to the idea. They were people who already interacted with her, loved her and had connection with her. When I asked them, every one of them said “yes” in May of 2014.

The story goes from there… there were so many times I would ask our team to pray and we would see fruit within days and sometimes just HOURS! God has been so good and all of this is now a part of her spiritual testimony – she is in love with Jesus again! Her fiery spirit and rebellious heart are on HIS path and now, her desire is to go into ministry. I can’t wait for her to share her own story!

Once Karis turned 18, I wanted to reveal this Warrior Team to her. A few weekends ago, all seven of us piled into a suite in a hotel and were able to gather around her and bless her. Each person wrote a letter of encouragement – cherished words from each of them that Karis will have for the rest of her life. Our weekend was full of tears and revelation, love and blessing. I’ve never experienced anything like it and am so grateful for these amazing people in Karis’ life – in my life. There are others that wrote letters to Karis that weekend outside of the team too! She has so many supporters and prayer warriors. I’m so grateful to everyone who has invested so much love, time and energy into her life!

Don’t ever underestimate the power of prayerful people that love and care about you. Mountains have moved.