Monthly Archives: December 2014

It Is Our Own by Angie Blackwell

it is my own

Angie is one of those women that lights up a room with her laughter, warmth, sense of humor, energy and kindness. She occasionally snorts because she laughs so hard, but even more than on occasion I witness Angie giving. She gives of her life to people around her.  She is always making a meal or delivering flowers or stopping into pray for someone or running someone’s kids around. She is just a pure servant inspired by Christ to be so.  She brings this to the Collide team as she heads up Team care for our team of 22 women leaders who invest in others. She helps us care for them when they are having babies, miscarriages, cancer, bad days and good days. Because this woman gives of her life to that of others, her words here about comparing are an invaluable reminder to each one of us. – Willow

About a month ago, I was at a friend’s house and she asked me, “How have you been?” I am sure I looked at her a little funny and, knowing what she was going through, I responded with some form of, “Well, I don’t have cancer.” She then gave this little chuckle; similar to what we moms give our kids when they don’t quite grasp something. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “You can’t compare your life to mine.” I then proceeded to give her an edited version of how I was doing, but of course, nothing too deep. I did us both a disservice.

Since then, I have not been able to move past what she said. “You can’t compare your life to mine.” I can’t even count how many conversations I’ve had in the past month where I have heard someone compare their lives to others. The more I thought about comparing our lives, the more I started to recognize the lack of honesty that surrounds our own pain, hurts and thankfulness.

My pain is not like anyone else’s pain. My hurts are my own, my wounds are my own, as are my fears, hopes, dreams and gratitude. It is extremely difficult for me to be honest about my wounds. I think it makes me appear weak. The funny thing is I don’t think that about anyone else. I find people who share their pain to be brave and courageous. My pain is not the same as your pain. When my marriage is in pain it may not be loud for all to see. It may be this quiet trickle that only a few people notice, but it’s still painful. My inadequacy in parenting may be loud, where as others are quiet, and again, it’s still my pain.

My childhood best friend, my younger cousin of 3 months, died this past February. I have never felt such pain, agony and heartache. This beautiful women, who I dreamed with, imagined and planned my life with, was gone. I would never hear her laugh again, bring our grandma flowers, or micro manage her little brothers again. It sucked, it still sucks. My pain sucks. My pain is different than your pain, but it is still pain.

I do not want to live a life comparing my pain to your pain. I am not quite sure how to do this. There are days that are so overwhelming. Who wants to get out of bed when all they are dealing with is a sad heart? What I have tried to focus on is what I am truly grateful and thankful for. Some people may say the differences in those two are like splitting hairs. When I think of gratitude, I think of my health, my kid’s health, my husband. I am grateful I am healthy, that my family is healthy and that I am married to a man who doesn’t give up. What am I thankful for? This is harder for me. I am thankful for the snow falling, as I ride the chair lift up the mountain and the quiet peace I find in that 5 minute ride. I am thankful for flowers and sunshine and pineapple.

As this past year has been full of heart wrenching grief, it has also included a battle to stabilize my marriage, raise a teenage daughter and deal with health issues in our family. I have found the one thing that has saved me is focusing on what I am thankful for. I found that the more I pursue thankfulness and gratefulness; it reminds me to love and love deeply. When I am reminded what it means to love, it brings forgiveness. Forgiveness for myself and to those who have hurt me. The crazy thing with forgiveness is that it heals our brokenness and our pain. However there is no quick fix. Choosing to not compare my hurts to my husband’s is not easy. Choosing to be thankful for his smelly running clothes may sound dumb, but it reminds me that he is here and present and fighting for us everyday in spite of our ugly fight the day before. I am then reminded of his love and my love for him and that brings forgiveness. Our pain is our own, our thankfulness is our own. I am a broken person, full of ugly hurts, seeking wholeness.

Interested in sharing your story, email us here!

Come Home by Cristynn Myles

 

come

I am amazed at the stories that we live and live through. Cristynn came to a Collide and felt a desire to share her story. She has been through so much and yet at every corner, there was a thread, a theme, a continual beckoning. In all the pain and confusion, she heard two words over and over again. Read her story and be encouraged by the same voice that spoke to her, speaking to you. -Willow

She was 6 years old when her mother said to her, “I don’t love you! I don’t know how to love you!“. The little girl ran to her room and sang, “Jesus loves me, this I know…“.

Come home, my child. Come home!

At 11, she hid behind the sofa as a man beat her mother. Rocking her dolly, the little girl cried out to Jesus, “please take me to heaven to be with you!“.

Come home.

When she was 13, her mother’s boyfriend climbed into her bedroom window and fell upon her legs. She was so afraid that when she tried to cry out for help, no sound could be heard. The man called her mother’s name and she came. Leading him from the girl’s room, the woman looked at her and smiled. The girl felt no comfort, no peace. She laid there and cried as she breathed in the remaining fumes from the man’s alcohol-filled body. Lonely, so lonely.

Come home, whispered the voice of peace and comfort, come home. She begged the voice to bring her home.

At 14, she lay on the cold bathroom floor, as a party raged on outside the door. Crying and covered in blood, she pleaded with God to bring her home. Her life had become too painful.

Come home!

At 15, she stood before the judge. “Emancipation? What’s that?” She took the $300 “gift” from her mother and bought a bus ticket, a sheet of acid, a blanket and an apple. “Oh God! Protect me!

Come home!

The city streets were a cold and scary place. The cardboard box held no heat and her money from the drugs had run out. A man asked her to be his runner. She accepted. At 16 she was the youngest pimp the city had ever seen. She made it! She was off the streets that tried to claim her! “Lord, forgive me!

Oh My love, come home!

A year later, she delivered her babies. One would die holding the others pinky, as she held them tightly under her gown. “Oh God! Oh God! Take me, Lord! Save her and take me! Not my baby, God! Please! Not my baby!

Come home!

come home

A year later, at 18 years old, she was delivering another baby. A beautiful baby girl to add to her little family! The father told her, “that’s not my child!” She cried alone in the hospital room. “Lord, can you hear me? Help him to trust me!

Come home! Come home!

She left the city with a blackened eye, no drivers’ license, $700 and two tiny children. She drove the U-Haul as far as her money would take her. New Orleans became her temporary home. But he found her and took her home. She was 21 years old and carrying another child. Soon, a boy was born! Hallelujah!

Come home!

I love you“, he said, “I’ll take care of you.” Biting. Hitting. Kicking.

Come home!

Hair pulling. Slapping. Pinching. “Forgive me,” he begged.

Come home!

Stitches. Plates and pins. Tortures beyond comprehension. “God! Jesus! Take me home to You! Just let me die!

Come home! Please hear Me and come home!

She took her children and ran to the Bible belt. At last! Safety!
Salvation is free!,” said the preacher at the little church on the corner. “Jesus? I need You!

Hallelujah! You’re home!

Two years pass and a woman on the phone says ,”They found her body today. Your sister is dead.
God? Why? Why?

Stay home!

Leave me alone!

Two years later and the SWAT team is removing him from her home. New names, new place and they are safe. She clings to the party life with her new friends to cover her pain.

Come home!

The gun is at the door! “I want you all dead!”, He says. She takes her kids and runs! Canada bound!

Come home!

Another new name, new numbers, new home. She is safe, secure, and supported!
Come on by the church one day,” said the little southern preacher! She entered the church. She hears, “Hello!”, “How are you?“, “Welcome!” The alter opens and she takes back her First Love!

Welcome home!

She is found! She is remembered! She is redeemed! She is forgiven! She is free! She is me!

my story of coming home

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Raising Compassion

compassion

We have partnered with an orphanage in Haiti over the years that we had a personal connection with as well as with a local ministry that does amazing things in our community for at risk youth. Both of those partnerships were founded before we had kids and Rob and I found ourselves recently wanting to invite our kids into engaging in helping other kids. We knew we wanted Compassion to be the recipient of that partnership and so I sort of came up with this plan.

And I am just being honest. The way I planned it in my head, was that I was going to call them to the dinner table and bring over two small bowls of rice and beans. They were going to look at the minuscule offerings and wonder where the roasted pork tenderloin, brussel sprouts with bacon, rolls and spinach salad were. These kids have grown up eating like prince and princesses rather than paupers. I was sure they would start grumbling and complaining and then we would look at them like “Realllllly?” It would be then that we would lead them to the couch to watch a few videos from Compassion about kids with real problems. Our kids would realize they are spoiled and that would last just long enough to be ok with the idea that maybe they should look outside themselves and help others.

This was how I was sure it would go down. And my certainty was dead wrong.

I called them to the table. It was November and during the month of November, our dinner prayers are written on leaves as we practice gratitude to God for whatever it is we are thankful for. Every night the kids take forrrrrevvvvvvverrrrr to write their thankfulness out. Rob and I sit over the waft of foodie deliciousness waiting to eat while they write novels. Sometimes Rob catches himself getting annoyed by their abundance of thanks because it takes soooo long. I laugh. This particular night was no different. They were thankful for family members, listing each name, dogs, sky, food, friends, rain, teachers, football, gymnastics, squirrels, God, tutors, you name it. After we shared our gratitude, I brought over the rice and beans. I stood there awaiting a response. They looked down and then looked up and then said it…. “Where is the silverware?” I said “We aren’t eating with silverware tonight because there are people who have no silverware.”  They said “What are we having?” I said, as planned, “Rice and beans.” And their response? “Yessssss! Rice and beans! We love rice and beans!”

compassion must be

Ok, so maybe that part didn’t go as planned. As we ate with our fingers, pinching our beans into the rice, we talked about kids who have little to eat if anything, kids who don’t know when they will get their next meal and our hope to be apart of changing that story. I told them we were going to sponsor a Compassion child that night and they were so excited! I asked them how they would feel about eating beans and rice once a month in honor of that kid and taking the money we would save by not eating meat and side dishes and putting that toward the feeding of our child. Aidan said passionately ”Once a month? Let’s do this at least 4 times a month!” Rob said this was poverty according to a foodie and I needed to make the beans and rice not so delicious, less garlic and herbs, he suggested so the kids groan more. Their zeal and excitement were surprising me, yet they weren’t being called to sacrifice much at that point.

There was great conversation that pushed the edges of our worldview into greater expanse. And to be true Rob had mentioned early on that when he went to India, he experienced that people ate with one hand and used the other to wipe. So of course there was a moment where Rob looked at Aidan and said “Dude you just used your wiper hand to grab your beans.” We laughed like crazy, but then we started talking about the toilet paper we take for granted. And God knows we need more toilet paper than normal when we eat beans.

We sat on the couch and listened to stories of real people in other countries and what they face on a daily basis. We saw them experience help, food, shelter, education and love because of people who began to care and give and invest in them through Compassion. We looked through the hundreds of names of kids in countries all across the globe that are in need. We finally found our girl. Her name is Mary Mbuvi. She lives in Kenya and is the cutest thing ever. She was born on our anniversary and lives in an area that is widely affected by AIDS. The kids wanted to sponsor her. We said “This costs $38 a month to help feed, cloth and educate her. What will you sacrifice?” They agreed to an amount that they would work for and give and we did as well. This was a really important moment as a family where, together, we made a decision to each sacrifice to collectively help this girl.

raise compassion

I realized some things that night with my family that I would like to share with yours.

We are called to raise compassion. 

You aren’t just born with compassion. Compassion comes from engaging other peoples stories and allowing them to hit you. Our kids had been called to have compassion on the playground, on mission trips, at home and with strangers many times before. This time was only different because it was in a land far away for a girl they have never met. Part of our job is to raise compassion within our kids. Compassion comes when we ask our kids to walk in other peoples shoes. Compassion comes when we don’t just shelter our kids from truth, but open their eyes to the hardship of other people’s experiences. Compassion comes when we ask our children what they can do about what they see, whether what they see is in their own school, their neighborhood or across the world.

Kids are more compassionate than we give them credit for.

My kids surprised me! They have so much to give! They were ready to care, to help, to sacrifice. They want to do more than this. They have talked about Mary everyday since sponsoring her. I think the surprise is not that my kids had compassion, but that I expected them not to.

The very definition of the word compassion is this: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Compassion is not just feeling badly for another, but doing something about it. What I didn’t give my kids credit for is that they would want to do something  if doing something was going to require sacrifice. It almost felt as if they responded with hearts that said “We have been waiting for you to ask of us what we know we have within us!” My job as a parent is to draw out what is already there.

We, as parents are often the cause of killing compassion.

We pad our kids with all the comforts they could ask for. Our idea of sacrifice is when we say no to buying candy in the grocery store. We ask little of our kids in the way of helping others. We pass hurting people everyday in front of our kids. We don’t like simplicity or rice and beans or sacrifice and so we ask it not of ourselves or our kids. The person having the hardest time at the table was not my kids, it was me.

If I want to raise compassion, then I need to have it indwell within me.  

I have a feeling if your family is not engaged in the pain of others and sacrificing to bring healing to that pain it is because you don’t want to sacrifice, you don’t want to have to slow down, you don’t want to have to give up, you don’t want to have to have your worldview expanded. Am I preaching? Yes….. to myself.

We raise compassion when we live it. That night at that table, my kids had compassion. We just finally awakened what was already there. The more I collide with Jesus, He awakens within me this deep sense of compassion for others and this deep awareness that I have a long way to go to live and breathe the kind of compassion He did.  I want Jesus to raise in me compassion so that I can raise it in my kids. As the Psalmist prays “Let your compassion come to me that I may live…” It is compassion within in me lived out that brings life, real life, both to me and those who receive it. So I pinch my beans and rice and I pray for Mary Mbuvi and let my kids teach me again and I keep running into Him, needing His compassion as I hope to hand it out to others.

I invite you to join our family in extending compassion and sponsor a child in need of help….

 

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion