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The Fallen Pastor

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Yesterday I received the book, “Fallen Pastor” in the mail.  I got my copy early because I did a pre-order on the book and knew about it from the inception.  The reason?  I’m privileged to know Ray Carroll personally.  We met through the wonderful blogging community about 2 years ago, and have been great friends since then.  He is a former Southern Baptist Pastor who had a fall from grace, and lived to tell about it – but more than that, He lived to write about it, help others, speak, minister and be a living breathing reminder of God’s amazing grace.  His journey has taken him to hell and back again – and he is able to help others with what mistakes he made, and what mistakes others made in dealing with the prevalent problem of moral failure in the church today – especially among pastors.

Ray is happily married to Allison and provides hope, help, advice and counsel for those who are suffering with secrets, pride, or failure of any kind.  Ray is down to earth, funny, practical and has found a ministry through the written word.  This experience has broken his heart, humbled him and made him a human being again after years of being full of pride and arrogance.  I deeply respect him, his great love for people, his beautiful wife and children.

If you would like to read this great book of hope and inspiration, you can order it from Amazon.com right here: Fallen Pastor

You can also follow him on his blog The Fallen Pastor as he journeys through life on the other side of failure – where grace and forgiveness are waiting.

I’m proud of you, Ray.  You are an inspiration to others who are hurting.  Thank you.

God Bless

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Do you want to be Right? Or Be Restored?

This is an article I wrote a couple of years ago and thought I would repost it today.  It is still applicable in my life today – as I am still learning and on a journey of self discovery.

Be kind to one another with a brother’s love, putting others before yourselves in honor    Romans 12:10

That is indeed the question.  Have you ever known anyone like this in your life?  As long as they’re right – and have the last word they are happy.  Well at least they feel like they’re happy.

You see “being right” does not necessarily bring closure and restoration to an unresolved issue.  It can just create a wedge between people.  I’ve had to back down on things myself over the years – even when I knew I was right.  Relationships with people in our lives are way more important than arguing over the finer points – the “he said – she said” games could go on forever – if we allow it.

Being right is an “attitude”.  And when you are in the people restoring business – you sometimes have to put this “attitude” aside.  It can blind you and cause everything from a past or present situation to have a certain “slant” – as you can only see things one way.  The right way.  Your way.

I would submit to you – that there are ALWAYS two sides to a story and situation in life.  Because people are different and rarely look at things the same way.

It comes down to this:  how much do you value relationships in your life?  Do people mean something to you – even if they mess up?  Do you say, “They hurt me – they messed up – I am so disillusioned and can’t forgive them – I know I am RIGHT”  I know I have.  Why?  Because I love to be right.  And so do you.  People hurt me – have hurt me – will continue to hurt me in the future.  What do I do with this???  Bristle and pull in – never allow anyone near me again??  Argue and argue??  Even bring in a few other people to hear my point of view – so they can tell me how right I am too?  That would be silly.  But people do this.  I have been guilty of doing this myself.  It IS easier to be right.  Way easier.   But NO.  I love people.  I have decided that I will not do this anymore.  It means holding my tongue.  It means submitting.  It means MY story may never be told.  And just how “right” I am – will never be known.  My friends are more valuable to me than being “right”.

Being restored is the right thing to do – it’s also the hardest.  Why?  Because we have to humble ourselves – admit that we are not always right.  We have to face the truth about ourselves.  We have to face the ones that hurt us.  We have to come to grips with the “eye ball – to eye ball” encounter from the one that hurt us most.  No burying it under the carpet – no running and hiding – no refusing to revisit it – but really facing it.  Accept that we are not perfect either.  Ouch!!!  Facing something head on that’s very hard – takes a real Man or Woman.

My husband just recently had to face a situation where he could have taken the position of “being right” or “being restored” and he chose the later.  He chose wisely.  And I know that God will bless his life because of this.  He is free because of it.  It’s caused us to really have great discussion.  Being right – or being restored.

Which one are you?  Do you stubbornly “hold on” to your opinion – a never ending “blame game”?  Stunted and bound up by your own “principles” and “ideals” about people?  Is being “right” more important than anything else or anyone else?  Or are you a lover of people?  Do you have grace for people in your life to “mess up”?  Do you “allow” for others to “mess up” – do you have the capacity to understand it?  Do you constantly “cite” examples of how you are so right – and they are so wrong?  Are you free of sin in your own life?  Can you honestly see things from another perspective?  Reach and restore – forgive and don’t care who’s right or wrong?  Can you put your own feelings aside – and prefer other people?  Are you Christ like?  Do you just ooze with love and mercy.  Are your friends that important to you?

Jesus is the great “restorer”.  He desires health and happiness for you today.  He is the only one that can truly bring people together – melt the heart – bring you to your knees and do the deep work in your life.  If you are in a “situation” now that is unresolved – ask the Lord to “melt your heart” – help you to see things another way – ask Him to help you forgive and love the ones that have hurt you so deeply.  Make that step toward reconciliation – don’t wait for them.  Believe that He has a testimony in this “situation” for you some day – health, encouragement and healing for someone else.

Be restored.  Love people.  You will be a more blessed and happier person.

In what ways would you rather be right, then be restored?  Is being right more important than having relationship with others?  Do you know anyone like this?

Praying for you today.

God Bless

The Value of Past Experience

Reason-C++

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We go through something.  Sometimes it’s REALLY BAD.  And we think, “Why is this happening to me?” – or sometimes we don’t think that – we just blindly accept it as our lot in life.

But I truly believe there is much more.  There IS a reason.  Sometimes we don’t see it until months or even years later.  Sometimes we never really know the reason – but I’d like to think that we always have a choice when hit with adverse situations.  Give in to the negative voices in our head that say, “just give up – it isn’t worth fighting” OR learn from it – change our course – go another direction away from the pain, humiliation or gut wrenching yuck.

I’ve had so many of these situations – that at the time I thought were the end of the world.  But later turned out to be – well – valuable, insightful, great information for someone else going through exactly the same thing.

I have some friends, Ray and Allison Carroll – who recently went through a touchy situation – very painful to say the least and they have shown great courage in telling their story through their blog articles.  They have found God’s grace and mercy in living and telling their story of failure and of redemption – so that others can be encouraged and learn from them – to show people who fail, sin, miss the mark entirely that God has not given up on them – that there is enough of God’s grace, mercy and love to take a dead and broken life, clean it up and give a new start.  Our Savior – the God of second chances – working through people in our ordinary lives – who make mistakes and are truly not worthy to be called righteous.  He uses those past experiences to bring clarification – reveal who He is – and give purpose and understanding.  As long as we are willing to change our heart, to share our story and to be an encouragement to others.

Case and point:  The other day my 19-year-old son came home from work feeling really weird.  His mouth was numb and so were his fingers – he was talking strangely too.  He said, “Mom, I’m freaking out right now – what’s wrong with me”?  I tried to be calm and think rationally, knowing of course he was too young and in shape to be having a stroke or a heart attack.  All I could think of was that he needed food and water – and I asked him how long had it been since he had anything to eat or drink.  I wondered, could severe hydration cause this?  While he was eating and drinking – and eating a banana too – just in case – I googled it.  Greg is ALWAYS gone when any and all domestic emergencies come up and I was mumbling under my breath – ‘where IS your father?‘  Let’s see… what causes numbing?  I was not finding anything conclusive.  I thought I was going to have to take him to the ER if something didn’t change soon.  But he did feel a little better after eating and drinking – said he was really tired and went to bed.

Not 30 minutes later – he came out of his bedroom saying he had the WORST HEADACHE in the world!  Then it dawned on me!  I know what this is!  And although I had not had these exact symptoms before – I knew about them and it was clearly a Migraine Headache.  The really bad kind.  I knew because of my past experience with them.  I get them so bad that I’m vomiting and lose a whole day.  Pretty soon – he was doing the same thing in the bathroom – but at least now I had a fresh perspective.  I gave him ice for his head and a bucket for beside his bed – just in case.  I could tell him there was no need to go anywhere – he was not going to die – he would just feel like it!  It was too late for pain pills – he would just throw them up anyway.  And even though the pain was bad and it’s never fun to up-chuck – at least I was able to reassure him – because I knew too well what was happening to him.

Now, am I glad I have had REALLY PAINFUL Migraine headaches?  Are you kidding me?  But did it help to diffuse a panic in my home?  Yes.  Would I have known otherwise?  No way.  I would have thought he was having a stroke or worse – maybe a tumor pressing on his cornea that was making his eyes not see clearly.  Oh the carnage that would have ensued – the money that would have been spent – only to find out – it was only a migraine.

I will take painful situations if they will help me or someone I love in the future.  I will not like them.  In fact I will HATE them.  But I will learn from them and ask myself – who can benefit from my pain?

How about you?  Who can benefit from your pain today?

God Bless

Soul Surfer

Last Sunday Greg and I went to see the highly recommended true story “Soul Surfer“.  I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe some cheesy “B” film with a dramatic and whiny theme – but I was amazed instead to actually be moved beyond belief.

This film is about real life hero – Bethany Hamilton, a surfer since she could walk – living in Hawaii with her family – already famous on the Island for the way she could ride the surf at a young age.  A fierce competitor who lived in the water and who was herself, fearless.  She had a promising future ahead of her until one day while surfing with some friends – she was attacked by a shark, who actually bit her left arm completely off.  But the story does not end there – in tragedy and darkness – dashed hopes and dreams, the story is more about her miraculous recovery and ever-growing faith in God to get her through the darkest and most challenging time of her young life.

It is a story of ultimate victory over adversity – life from death and renewed determination when life goes sideways.  It is a story that could  put all of us to shame – those of us who whine and complain about life’s woes – with two good arms.

I love how she finally finds her purpose and reason for going on – to be an inspiration to others – her famous quote at the end of the movie – “I can embrace more people now – with one arm”  Simply amazing.

I encourage you to see this film – if you yourself have ever doubted God – ever wondered why things happen as they do – wonder what God’s plan is and purpose in your life when you suffer, experience loss and try desperately to hold on to your faith.  It will touch you – inspire and amaze you – and you will never be the same.

Below, in an interview while the film was in production – is the real Bethany Hamilton.  Her words will  encourage you and her positive approach to life with inspire you today.

God Bless

Silent Night

During exercise Joint Resolve 26, in Bosnia an...

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Just saw a true story called ‘Silent Night’ starring Linda Hamilton – set in WWII time – Germany.  It was a story from a little boy’s perspective just before the end of the war.  A German mother and her son fled to a family cabin away from their German town.  Just as they were settling in – three American soldiers broke in and used the cabin for a ‘hospital’ for a wounded soldier.  Then shortly after three German soldiers came upon the cabin.  The woman (Elisabeth) insisted that they keep their weapons outside if they were to use her cabin for shelter – calling it a ‘neutral zone’ – and amazingly THEY DID!

I was touched by this story of strength and courage from this woman – who at first feared for her life and the life of her son – but who ended up literally bringing peace and love into that small cabin  preparing a meal for them and taking care of the wounded man.  The atmosphere and influence of a warm and caring woman – was felt by all the men.  And they all changed that night.  The war was left outside for Christmas – and common ground between the men – fighting on opposite sides was discovered.  It was Christmas Eve and as Elisabeth prepared soup for the hungry men – each of them had something special to add to the meal from their rations – and one American officer even had ‘presents’ – chocolate for the young boy and young German soldier (about 15 years old) and a french soap wrapped in a little box for Elisabeth – which very much moved her.

What could have been a very tragic and bloody night for all of them – ended up being a very different night in that cabin as they exchanged words and stories with each other.  And later the young German soldier sang ‘Silent Night’ beside a modest little Christmas tree.   It was a night that Elisabeth and her son remembered for the rest of their lives.

I was thinking about this remarkable woman as I watched this.  Would I have been so brave?  Could I have brought peace into a hostile situation?  Can one person really make a difference?  Yes.  I believe they can.  I believe I can.  I believe you can too.

Are you one that brings peace in the midst of a storm?  Do you bring a calming effect to people in your world?  A healing balm?  An atmosphere of true humility and graciousness?  Do you seek out good in everyone – can you look past the ugly things – try not to blame or cast judgment?  Only think the best and try to encourage, embrace and love?

I pray that you will be one to shine your light – make difficult things better – lighten the load for others that carry a heavier burden.

After all – this is the Gospel Message.  Good News.  Great Tidings of Joy.  Jesus came to redeem, love, and win back what was lost.  You and me.

 

I am praying special blessings on you this day after Christmas!

 

God Bless

 

 

Another Year Of Celebration

Christmas in the post-War United States

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Today is a two-year anniversary for my husband and me.  A very personal anniversary for us that started with an ordinary day – a much-needed phone call and participation in a wedding  – and ended up with a great loss, confusion  and many questions.

Time and distance has put new perspective on many things – including that day.  But sadly, not even the marriage that Greg performed on that fateful day – has lasted. It’s almost like the whole day was fated to just be  ‘one of those days’.

But memories linger anyway – and help us fill in the blanks where we are left to wonder – and left to fill  in the empty silent spots.  This can be dangerous – and not very accurate as I’ve recently found out – but sometimes – this is all we can do.  It is better to take the ‘no harm – no blame’ philosophy – rather than point fingers.  And there’s something about this season of the year – and the cold weather that reminds me once again.

And as the Grinch says to Cindy Lou Who in “The Grinch” – as they are speeding recklessly down the hill, ‘Even if we’re HORRIBLY mangled – there will be NO sad faces at Christmas‘.

And so that is exactly how we feel.  barely escaping being ‘horribly mangled‘ – we have gone on – dealt with loss and misunderstanding – and purposed to be our own people and have our own say in things – even when it was not popular to do so.  We’ve kept our unique perspective – and worked it out – our way.  And we won’t apologize for that.   And the way we look at it now after 2 years is this:   No harm done – lesson learned – and another year to celebrate God‘s goodness, protection and provision in our lives.

And so – here’s to another year of celebration.  We wave goodbye once again to the past, fear, ignorance and denial.  And we warmly embrace goodness, love, forgiveness and truth.

Happy Anniversary to us.  We made it. ♥

God Bless

Mercy

Two candles in love. The flame is inverted hea...

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My heart is stirred today in much emotion – a heavy heart over events and situations that have lately affected my life and made it difficult to press on.  A difficult season of life – with many things out of my control – leaving deep sadness,  remorse – and resignation.

Our pastor, Stephen Collins, spoke on the subject of ‘Mercy’ today.  And although it is a subject that is not new to me – or any people of faith  – I believe  I heard newness in this simple message today – things that I will continue to ponder in the coming weeks.  I found myself very emotional.  This is a subject that is close to my heart and life.  And so with tears streaming down my face – I sat there and took it all in – and allowed the Lord to minister sweet words of comfort and blessing.  I was touched and moved beyond words.

I’ve noticed something about people who are merciful. – they are the first ones to forgive, love, embrace and welcome back,  those who are lost or fallen away.  They have no trouble accepting forgiveness or giving it.  They do not accuse and blame.  They have tender hearts – and they understand the value of mercy – because God has shown mercy to them.  They are also the happiest and most positive people in the world – with many friends.  Their friends trust them – and turn to them when they are in trouble – with no fear of judgment of alienation.  These are people who have been forgiven.

We’ve been watching ‘A Christmas Carol’  – I was noting how Scrooge shows no mercy at the beginning of the story – and then after being shown his life by the ‘spirits’ – he begins to see others and himself in a new light.  The Scrooge story is a story of mercy.  A story of second chances and a new lease on life – a valuable reminder to all of us to remember that when you show mercy to others – others will be merciful.  And it is interesting to note – that the nephew and employee of Scrooge have merciful hearts and embrace him without question – at the beginning of the story – when he is NOT merciful – and later as he is transformed at the end of the story.  No questions – no judgment – no criteria.  Just open arms of love and mercy.

I want to be one that shows mercy – even when I feel as though others have judged me and not understood me – or shown mercy to me.  I want to be the first to say, ‘I understand, I forgive, I love’.  And leave it at that.  No questions asked.  No hesitation.  No disbelief.  Just love and mercy.

Help me Lord to be that kind of person.  Help me to get over myself, my pride, my hurt and pain.  Help me to let go of others that have wronged me – those who have no understanding that their words and actions have wounded me more than they will ever know – and help me to forgive them and show mercy. For I am very aware that if I do not show mercy to others who have failed – or not done what I think they should, then you will not show mercy to me.  Help me to walk with a pure clean heart – free of agenda – free of revenge.  Help me to see others through your eyes.  Amen.

God Bless

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