Monthly Archives: October 2014

she gave out of pain so others might find healing

demiinrainby dj

It was a fall evening several years ago when I was rushing out the door to my kids open house and my phone blew up. I wasn’t planning on answering it, but when it goes crazy and is ringing off the hook, its almost like someone is screaming at you “Everyone and their brother is calling you! Something is wrong! Answer yourrrrr phoooooonnne!” I picked it up, it was one of the girls in the Collide bible study at the time. She said you need to come to the hospital right away. One of the girls in our group had gotten in an accident. She was hurt, but not critical. But it was a bad, bad, bad accident and a little one died.

Meeting teachers and seeing self portraits in the halls of the kid’s school, though sweet, was no longer where I was going. It wasn’t even a question. I loved this dear girl and I drove as quickly as I could to go be with her. I was greeted by the other girls in our bible study and then by this young woman’s father. He was relived and he was concerned. What she had gone through, of no fault of her own, was now going to follow her wherever she would go. I walked back into her room, both afraid of what I would see and unsure of what I would say.

I found myself sitting at her kitchen table the day after the hospital released her. The images, the sounds, the moment of going through the motions of one’s day to seeing the end of one’s life and trying to make sense out of the horrifying chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, these were all verses in the conversation that played out. And that conversation has continued playing for several years. Sometimes it was, “Why? Why God? A child? Why me?” Sometimes, it was the panic and the anxiety that was continually trying to lure her into staying put, remaining indoors, going nowhere for fear something bad might happen. Sometimes the conversation surrounded the other characters and their pain and anguish and what responsibility is hers to relieve those burdens. Needless to say, we had many conversations, we prayed many prayers and watched God’s story unfold within her and without her.

It was in these conversations, that I remember this very brave, faithful and wounded young woman recognizing the great need for healing and help. She very wisely sought a professional counselor and that pursuit was like God’s Hand coming down and grabbing hers and walking her toward a better story.

A few weeks ago she sat on my couch. It was a new conversation. She was being given a large sum of money from the accident. She didn’t want the money. There was nothing the money could do to take away the pain, the memories or make the loss of a child ever be ok. That was clear. She had fought receiving the money for months and agonized over it’s lack of redemption. But God, again had spoken to her, she said, and she now knew what she wanted to do with part of that money. She wanted to give it to Collide to provide for other women who needed counseling for their pain. I absolutely couldn’t believe it! There isn’t a more beautiful picture than a woman who is choosing to use her pain for the sake of other people’s healing! That is what our Lord does. He trades His pain for our healing. This young woman is one of the most Christlike people I have ever met. It is because of her story that so many others will now be able to tell better stories.

We have created a Collide counseling program in which women who come to our gatherings will have the opportunity to say yes to God’s invitation to walk towards health and healing all because of this great gift! I am in awe and overjoyed at the stories that will come out of this story! Let us be inspired to be a people who give out of our pain, so others might find healing!

If you want to donate further to this fund to help other women walk towards healing, you can do that by clicking on the donation button to your right. We will certainly partner with your generosity to connect women to our network of counselors. 

 

 

 

 

Changing Expectations by Christine Gerhart

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It is so easy to come into life with expectations, not onlof yourself, but others and God. I love how Christine shares how her travels changed her expectations! Allow her learning to find you in your own travels. Christine is on the Collide team and her insight, experience, worldview and creativity are truly a gift to be opened. Enjoy reading her thoughts! -Willow

Airports, luggage, visa forms, auto rickshaws, foreign languages. Missing weddings, missing funerals, exploring, thriving, culture shocking, bartering, letting people in, letting people go… All of these things (not to mention the food) made up my life the last four years as I’ve bounced from place to place.

It wasn’t always like this; me, traveling and moving every six months. I lived a steady 26 years in Omaha, Nebraska and all of my childhood was spent in one home. I never moved. Everything was familiar. But then that all changed when God started stirring my heart to go to Bible School in New Zealand for a year. Granted, I had always wanted to live outside of Nebraska and not become what I had coined “a lifer” but that was always easier said than done. Slowly, over the course of a year, God guided me, step-by-step, to apply and then go to a new place far, far away from home. I thought that was going to be it. I thought I would have my adventure, cross off traveling from my bucket list, and then be done with it. I thought I would come back to the states and find a graphic design job and get back to the normalcy that I left behind. It wasn’t until I felt God ask “What if this is your new normal?” that I knew it wasn’t the end of my traveling. I did come home to Nebraska but only to then move to Colorado, Delhi, and Uganda.

I’m thankful for all of the traveling I’ve been able to do but even more grateful for the lessons God taught me along the way. With each move I had to confront behaviors and habits that didn’t align with who God is and who He made me to be. One of the biggest of these lessons dealt with expectations I had of God and of myself.

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When I was in Denmark, visiting friends before I headed to Uganda, I went for a walk to pray and clear my head of all the anxiety I had about potentially missing my flights the next day due to the bad weather that was forecasted. The anxiety I was feeling was a familiar one. It would come up every time I had to make flight connections at international airports, or wait at baggage claim areas hoping my luggage would come through, or travel on Indian trains by myself, and the list goes on. Each time I was out of control and would pray that God made everything work out ok. That night as I walked to the corner store in Copenhagen I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me that I was putting expectations on God that He never promised. The truth is God never said He would give me pain-free travel experiences. He never said I would never get hurt, or stuck, or lose valuable items. So what DID God promise? He promised to be with me, to guide me, to comfort me, and protect me. Not FROM all pain or hurt or discomfort but in the midst of it. Once I was able to see how distorted my expectations were of God and correct them, I was able to experience more peace knowing that no matter what came my way, God was with me.

Not only did I see how I had put wrong expectations on God while traveling around the world, but I was also confronted by the wrong expectations I had put on myself. When I went overseas to India, I volunteered with a Christian NGO (non-governmental organization) doing graphic design. It was an interesting mix of missions and yet normal office work, just like in the States. I raised support to be able to do this, and received a lot of questions about the work I was doing and how it would impact the community in India I was living in. It was difficult for me to answer these questions because most of the work I was doing was “behind the scenes” of the Christian mission work in India. I was doing graphic design for an NGO that did engineering/architecture work for Christian ministries who were reaching the least reached. I was multiple layers away from the actual work of sharing the gospel with the “least of these” and felt guilty for it when I would talk to supporters back home. After being in Delhi for six months, I didn’t have any Indian friends, I wasn’t working in the slums, I didn’t love India, and didn’t feel any more close to God than I did in Nebraska. I came back for my sister’s wedding feeling discouraged when God again spoke to me about expectations but this time the ones I was putting on myself. God called me to serve the NGO that  I volunteered with and to explore India. I was the one adding all these other expectations to that calling. And the funny thing was, after I let go of all that other stuff and learned to enjoy the work God called me to do in the place God called me, I was able to make Indian friends and impact my community in ways I wasn’t able to before.

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God doesn’t promise us an easy life but one filled with His Spirit, but only if we allow Him to fill us. He doesn’t put heavy expectations on us to “measure up” to some ideal that we have in our head. It doesn’t matter if we’re traveling around the world or have never left home. God meets us and teaches us right where we’re at. Even as I’ve lived back in the United States for almost a year, I’ve seen this lesson of putting false expectations on God and myself come up again and again. You would think being done with the airports and language barriers, and having resources like a smart phone and car would change that but it hasn’t. In fact, learning to let go of heavy expectations I put on myself is sometimes tougher here and harder to see because of the go-go-go mentality in America. Although it’s different living back in the US, I’m excited to see what new lessons God has for me and how the lessons I learned overseas translate to this new stage.

God is not a Casting Director by Celeste Chute

I love Celeste and what she brings to the Collide Team! I have seen her act and she is delightful! I have also seen her walk a journey and try to figure out what it looks like to follow Jesus. He calls us to Himself and He called her right smack dab in the middle of LA where she was pursuing an acting career and He wanted her to pursue Him! I love how she contrasts following Jesus to her experience in the acting world. You will enjoy her thoughts on faith as you engage yours! – Willow

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Los Angeles is full of actors. FULL. I know this because I was one of them. And there’s this weird phenomenon that happens where people pack up their lives, move to LA to be a star, and then take an infinite amount of classes, courses, and workshops. And they don’t audition or actually act in anything. Nothing. They spend all their money, time and effort on training because there is this looming theory that you only get one chance with the casting director, so you’d better be amazing or you’ll never get work again, EVER. So instead of taking the chance of potentially failing, people take classes until their money and hopes run out and then they move back to wherever they came from. I know that sounds kind of depressing. It is. My story didn’t quite go like that, but that’s a tale for a different time.

For me, becoming a Christian was a lot like moving to LA to be an actor. I left a place of comfort and familiarity, went somewhere with a new set of ideals, and found a community that had a totally different lingo. “Now what?” Well, I tried to fit in and figure out what was going on. So I read my Bible, or at least tried. I joined a small group. One of my Pandora stations had Christian songs. After a while, I felt like I was kind of getting the hang of it. On the outside things seemed to be falling into place. On the inside, I still felt like a fraud. I could talk the talk, but I didn’t want to walk the walk. I wanted to learn what it meant to be like Jesus, but I wasn’t ready to actually do it.

God’s calling resonates differently for each person, but for me I feel strongly that God calls us to love people.

And loving people is really, really hard because we aren’t actually supposed to pick and choose which ‘people’ we feel like loving. We are all called to be disciples and to help minister and shepherd God’s people. And some of God’s people aren’t that easy to love. Some of them are mean. Some of them hold different values. Some of them make questionable life choices. Some of them are smelly. Some of them talk too loudly. Or cuss. Or have weird theology. Or no theology. Or a different god. Or no god. Some of them are annoying or needy or poor or rich or snooty or rude. But heck, I’m all of those things sometimes and I need love too.

For a while, I let myself off the hook from reaching out to these people. I told myself, “I’m just getting to know God myself”, “I’ve never been to Bible college”, “That’s what pastors are for”, “I’m still working through my own sin”, “I’m busy”, “I wouldn’t know what to say”, “I haven’t even read the whole Bible”, or “I don’t really see myself as a missionary/disciple/shepherd/minister”. I just wasn’t ready. “Maybe later,” I thought. I felt ill-equipped to do God’s work; to reach out to the broken, needy, and wandering people in His Kingdom. Like the countless actors in LA, I gave myself the title but didn’t do the work.

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And like good actors, Christians need to be constantly learning. We need to consistently fill ourselves with God’s truths. But we also need to get out of our comfort zone and actually do what we are learning. We need to walk the walk. And here’s the good news. God is not a casting director. We don’t get only one chance to impress him. God is not trying to cast us in the role of a cookie-cutter Christian. God calls us to carry out his work and to be the body of Christ here on earth. God asks us to use the gifts He gave us; we don’t have to pretend to be an acting/dancing/singing triple threat. God is in our corner.

When I would walk into a room for an audition, I would feel utterly alone. It was up to me. Did I prepare enough? Would I remember my lines? Should I have worn this dress? But when I get out of my comfort zone and reach out to someone, God has the script. God will give grace to holes in my theology. God will feed me the lines to say. And sometimes he won’t. Sometimes I sit across from someone, nervously sweating, face flushing, palms sweating and each word coming out of my mouth makes me sound like a heretic or a super judgmental, hypocritical, stereotypical Christian. I usually try to take the hint that God is telling me to just be quiet and listen. Even in those moments, God is there. Maybe the significance of that moment is that I showed up. Maybe if I wasn’t there, that person would be shooting up, or considering suicide, or feeling lonely or unwanted or unheard.

Showing up should be easy. It isn’t. The times I actually take advantage of a presented opportunity is probably 2/10. Maybe 1. Some days more like none. Sometimes a nap sounds much nicer than that awkward coffee date. Sometimes I’d rather binge watch Netflix than sit across from someone making weird life choices. Sometimes I’d rather have a sudden interest in my dashboard than smile at the homeless man standing on the corner.  But I know that the times I actually do it, the times I actually stick my neck out, it changes me. For a minute, my world stops being about me. My trust in God grows. My heart softens. For a moment, I see someone through Jesus-colored glasses.

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God is not a casting director. My worth is not in my performance. I can try and fail time and time again, and still have God’s grace. And with God’s grace I’ll keep showing up and trying to walk the walk. – Celeste

Join the pursuit. Register for our next event here.

 

a call to get REAL

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Some people think I am a “speaker.” I think I might just be a walking AA meeting that just shows up places and says, “My name is Willow and I am… in need of help.” God continues to invite me into places to share who He is in the midst of who we find ourselves to be. I often feel like I just show up and share what a mess I am and how much Jesus has entered that mess and been real and powerful and alive! And for whatever reason, that seems to bring hope to people. I am continually amazed at how often people open up their lives and their stories because someone else in the church is doing it. When we are real, we give other people permission slips to be real too!

This is huge and so needed in the capital C church! The messy world looks upon Christians as a bunch of hypocrites whose lives don’t line up with our pridefully held beliefs and our God must not want much to do with real people with real problems. That is the vibe we are giving off and that vibe is making waves and a reputation of us and our God that we don’t want!

And this my friend is perhaps the biggest problem the Church faces. We have lost our voice because somewhere along the way we lost our authenticity. And it’s time we get it back! Jesus is for real, messy, broken, hurting people. It is there that He shows up and is most powerful. When we as the church are real, Jesus’ power will be even more so!

So tomorrow morning, I was asked to deliver a message called “Authentic Impact” to a room full of women.  I find myself being asked to show up in another church to be a “speaker” but instead I will be a fellow sojourner who travels this road of life having incurred a few bumps and bruises and truly some deep wounds that continue to hurt and I will invite others to travel with me towards Jesus and the healing that only He can bring when we are actually REAL. Please pray that God breaks through our pretending, our false faith, our put together facades and makes a way for real faith in a real God. – Willow

Kicks for Kids

I run into a lot of people who struggle with what it looks like to follow Christ and be like Him in their public sector jobs.  So often I have found that following Christ just looks like meeting needs as He brings them before you. That is what Jesus did. He ran into people in need and met those needs whether it was physically, spiritually or emotionally. When I heard about what Tom and Kristin are doing for kids, I just burst out in joy. Here they find themselves doing life in a local elementary school and a need was brought to their attention. It wasn’t enough to feel sad or to pray, but they got this idea to help kids who have no shoes for P.E. Read their story and even consider entering it!- Willow

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“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for you he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9. 

Do you hear that great news?! We are rich – abundantly rich! I’d like to take a moment to consider my life…

First of all I know Jesus Christ, he has redeemed me, saved me and made me new. The overwhelming feeling of gratitude and peace that fills my life daily could never be replaced. Secondly, I have a husband who loves the Lord with all of his heart, works hard to provide for our family and is committed to me. I also have these three crazy adorable children who I love fiercely. I have friends that I can call for fun or tears, a mom who loves me unconditionally, a roof over my head, food to eat, clean water to drink, a closet full of clothes and a rack full of shoes. To say I’m RICH is in my opinion an understatement. I tell you all of this not in the hopes that you think my world is perfect… It’s anything but. If I were to write another post I could share of all of the trials and heartaches that I face… But, that’s not what this is about.

You see, I want to share with you how rich I am. And I want you to take a moment to reflect on just how rich YOU are! Being rich is a wonderful blessing and yet for me it is also a heavy burden. A burden you may ask? What a strange way to think about being rich. Let me tell you why…

My husband has the amazing privilege to work at a local school called Roosevelt Elementary. This school has so many children who come to school every day without clean clothes, a pair of shoes that fit or food to fill their bellies. I see this and this is why I am burdened. God makes it clear that if we are rich, much is expected of us. “…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Luke 12:48

This burden is heavy and it can feel overwhelming when trying to tackle these huge needs alone. Here’s the great news – I’m NOT ALONE! We are all called to the same thing! What can we do you may be wondering? Let me fill you in on an idea!

Last month my husband and I’s church tried an experiment with Roosevelt Elementary. The school requested 25 pairs of shoes for kids to use when they come to PE. So many children show up with shoes that are either in disrepair, falling off or simply don’t have tennis shoes. Period. It is difficult for them to engage in a meaningful way in PE. These children all too often feel unworthy and 2nd rate because their families simply can’t afford to buy them new shoes. Our church brought in 48 pairs of shoes! How awesome will that be for 48 children attending Roosevelt?

I posted the request for shoes on my FB page and heard from other teachers around the district at Title 1 schools (low income schools) requesting shoes as well. How awesome is it that the public sector is coming to the church for help! YES! What if the people who read the Collide blog and the women who come to the next Collide event decided to show the love of Christ by the simple act of giving shoes?! I get excited just thinking about it!

So here’s my charge to you: “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2. Will you consider being a part of this story and donating some shoes? (details below) We will distribute the shoes to the Title 1 schools around the Bellingham school district. Kids will know that they are cared for and schools will know that Jesus is alive and working through those who love Him! Thanks for your consideration! – Kristin Gresham

 

Taking Part:

What: donate a pair of tennis shoes (sizes 11-13 Toddler/1-5Youth boys or girls. New or in like-new condition.

Where: Bring to the next Collide October 25th or mail to Collide: P.O. Box 30651 Bellingham WA 98228