Monthly Archives: September 2016

Welcome to our new digs

photo credit: Jen Fox Photography

photo credit: Jen Fox Photography

Hey friends! We just want to welcome you to our new home. God has been moving and shaping and transforming Collide so much so that we have had a hard time communicating all of the growth on our web site. We hope you get cozy here and take a look around. We think each page better reflects where God has Collide today. We invite you to scope out our about page and get a glimpse of our mission and values and staff and team, but also make sure you check out our next steps page. We have so many ways that you can keep colliding and we want to help you do that! And be sure you watch our new video here!

Please make yourself at home here; get involved in the conversation on the blog or subscribe to be the first to hear news (if you haven’t already), check out our upcoming events and look at our picture gallery and of course don’t forget to share us with your friends! We will continue to do our very best to create a space here that invites you to keep colliding with Jesus.

Much love to you all!

Happys and Crappys

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The other night we sat down for dinner as a family. The harvest pumpkins and the wheat bouquets were out, the candle was lit, and all four of us gathered to share a meal around the table. It almost feels like a miracle, something as simple as sitting all in one place at one time. No sports practice, no real estate open house, no ministry meetings, no parent teacher conferences. My favorite three people all in one place. This togetherness felt like an Amen so we skipped our rhythmic prayer before dinner and jumped right into something else.

I don’t remember what we ate, but I do remember saying “Let’s go around and do happys and crappys!” And Bella said “Do you mean roses and thorns?” I thought that was clever and said “Yes, thaaaat!” If you have never done “happys and crappys” or “roses and thorns” before, I promise you it might be your saving grace if you are a parent of a disengaged pubescent teenager whose favorite words are whatever, fine and duh.

Basically each person shares a great moment from their day, and a not so great moment. ‘Yes’ and ‘no’ answers aren’t an option because there are no questions. At least at first. Each person is invited to share story. Sometimes it is quiet at the start, but usually at our house one of the kids just takes off and the next thing you know we are hearing about the places they are feeling most victorious. A proud smile peeks out in the telling of a good grade or a compliment from a teacher. It is in story that we engage each other’s worlds and laugh, and maybe even cry. As we do, even the sassiest of teenage punks rarely sees further questions as a nuisance. Instead, they begin answering our questions gladly as if they are painting a more colorful picture they want us to see with every stroke of an answer.

So we took turns sharing. We all shared, even us parents, describing the places where we felt like we had failed, or disappointed ourselves, or let down another. I think it’s good for kids to know parents struggle, and good for parents to know kids have victories. Our stories drew us together. One minute we were laughing about some fart outburst in class, the latest boy-girl crushes, new discoveries in our Milky Way, and the next minute we were talking deeply about the change we really want to see in our lives or the lives of those we love.

At the end of dinner, the roasted vegetables were half eaten, the table was a mess, and the dishes needed to be done. But instead of hurrying up to do homework and clean and make lunches and brush our teeth and on and on, we held hands. With full bellies, we gave thanks. We usually give thanks with empty tummies. But this time we prayed after dinner. I highly recommend it. We do that sometimes. It is then that we don’t take for granted the sustenance in our bellies and the fullness in our hearts. When we say thanks after dinner we don’t take for granted that all four seats are taken. We say grace after we eat for the grace which we have found in our story together. So the other night we thanked God for the food that satisfied both our pallets and our need. We even thanked God for broccoli. We thanked God for laughter and farts and friends at school. We thanked God for this table and these people around it. And then we asked for the same God who blessed us with the happys, to help us in the crappys.

Oh what a joy it is to have your kids pray on their own for the places as a parent that we need peace and encouragement, and then in the very same breath laugh their amen aloud. Giving thanks together will not always be this easy. Some days and seasons we won’t have happy stories to tell and at other times it will be all we have to share. The beauty is in thanking God together, who is here in both the highs and the lows. 

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So often when we give thanks to God it is because things are going good. We say thanks for good days, promotions, hot dates, coffee, financial aid, vacations, and not getting pulled over by the cop. Job confronted this way of thinking when his wife was complaining about her life. He said “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”

What about us?

Shall we accept life and not death?

Shall we accept laughter but not tears?

Shall we accept health but not sickness?

Shall we accept sun but not rain?

Ambrose of Milan spoke to this saying, “I cannot be ungrateful to God, for I must rather rejoice that I had such a brother than grieve that I had lost a brother…who would think that he ought to be excepted from the lot of dying, who has not been excepted from the lot of being born?”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Giving thanks is God’s will in both the victories and the failures. Partly I think this is so because digging deep for gratitude when it’s hard is often what walks us out of crappy back into happy. Giving thanks makes us have to look for the gems in the rubbish. It causes us to have to search for the positive swimming in the negative. Giving thanks beckons us toward being a people of hope rather than dismay. And giving thanks reminds us that God is God in the good and the bad. Though our circumstances change, our God does not.

The older my kids get, the more I find the invitation into being a grateful people more and more significant. Entitlement, first world problems compared to third world problems, the misuse of the word “need” being confused with the word “want,” and the growing difference between the poor and the rich, can easily find us only praying when life is crappy or life is happy. Inviting our kids into a life of faith only in need, or only on top, confuses the presence of God and the power of God. But inviting one another into faith despite circumstances, might potentially be our greatest key to walking mountaintops with humility and valleys with an unwavering faith. We know our children will experience both, life’s disappointments as well as life’s joys, and it will be in both that we hope they remember God is God. God here, present, powerful, good, alive in the happys and the crappys.

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My hope is that we would be people who gather around a table with full bellies when happiness rains, giving thanks as much as coming before God when happiness has been sucked dry by a severe drought. In the good and the bad, may we find gratitude because it is there we find God together. If we can be a people who before dinner or after, carpooling or not, hungry or full, in a pew or a papasan, come together sharing in life’s ups and down and yet still giving thanks, we will together see the roses as beautiful, despite the thorns.

What rhythms, prayers, table games or family traditions do you partake in to give thanks? Let’s learn to lean into gratitude together by sharing with each other here…..

 

 

running to keep up with God by Willow Weston

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Every time someone asks me what Collide is, I am almost speechless. And I am rarely speechless. Ask my husband. Part of the reason why it is so hard to answer that question is that Collide has changed and morphed so much that I am often dumbfounded. I feel like I am just running to keep up with God. He is the Hound of Heaven chasing men and women down with ferocity. He is a sprinter when there is a place He needs to be and a person He wants to meet. But He is also a marathon runner who races with endurance and strength and a capacity for the long haul of any man’s journey. He is a God on the run trying to run into people. And the more I look for what He is doing, the faster I feel like I am hoofing it.

The opportunities that God has laid before us continue coming in like crazy! So many lives are being changed, so many areas of ministry and programs are starting or growing and so many people are being added to our numbers. We just spent an amazing weekend at the leadership team retreat with 27 women who have committed their year to serve God and women with us. It was amazing to hear the stories of these women and how God brought them to Collide and the way He met them uniquely. For some, the idea that they would serve on a Christian leadership team is something they never imagined and yet the story God is writing in their life has them doing just that! For some, God drew them into Collide through our counseling program and a helming journey and now He is going to use them to meet others in their pain. For some, they left the team after serving for a time and came back realizing that being apart of something bigger than themselves is the greatest privilege any of us can ask for.  As these women filled my living room and belly laughed, danced, told stories and vulnerably shared, crying together, I sat back amazed.

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I remember sitting in a counseling office as a 30 something and the counselor asked “What brings you in today?” So typical, I thought. So I began to explain to her the child like fear triggered within me in an instant brought on by something as simple as a doorbell. That knock had reverted my adult self back to decades ago certain that I would get hurt. My pain had caught up with me. It wasn’t as though I hadn’t yet let God in as a mother and minister. It was more like I hadn’t let Him into heal all the spaces and places within me that had bruises and infection. Not so much because I didn’t want God to come in but because I haven’t known all the places in which I bleed. Maybe you are like me too and have moments where some dumb thing triggers a deeper wound, a bigger insecurity, a darker secret that you locked away for way too long and without a trigger screaming at you, that wound sits there and gets sicker and bleeds more not even knowing it.

It was that day in a counseling office that Theeeee counselor showed up. I didn’t hear a thing the lady I paid said. But God spoke to me and gave me a vision and a concept for my pain and His healing that changed the trajectory of my life. God took the pain that led me into that office and turned that spiritual concept into a mentoring relationship that turned into a bible study that turned into what now is this thing called Collide. I am speechless.

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I often joke that I don’t know how I got a full time job I didn’t apply for. But I did! God is on the move and I continue to try keeping up with His pursuit of people. At every turn I see God intervening in our world meeting people where they are at and inviting us to take part. I think maybe that’s it. Collide became something out of nothing because despite pain and weakness or any pesty insecurity, a few women said yes to what God wants to do to reveal Himself to people. It has been one yes after another yes after another.

Yes God, you can heal me. Yes God, you can use me, even me. Yes God, you are powerful where I am weak. Yes God, you can meet people, all people, right where they are at. Yes God, you can provide all that we need. Yes God, you aren’t afraid of getting messy. Yes God, I will get messy too. Yes God, you are the Rescuer and you can use me to throw out buoys. Yes God, you love women, I will love them to. Yes God, you sacrificed, I will too.

I remember the day God told me to challenge a small group of women I was leading..we had been colliding with Jesus for a few years together. He said “I am tired of us 4 and no more bibles studies, its time they teach the message.” And I wrote on a piece of paper the word “Collide”.  When I looked at it, it had always been a verb and now it was also a noun. I had no idea at the time what that meant. It was a thing. It wasn’t like I was brainstorming what to call a future organization or ministry. It wasn’t like I was trying to create or start “something”. It wasn’t like I even wanted to go into women’s ministry and love chicks with poodle purses and thick stench perfume, who use a lot of tissue. When God said this, I was like, “God, You are asking us to believe upon You to do something bigger than ourselves?” And like Jesus always does, He said “That’s what I do.”

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The same Jesus who took the little boys lunch and fed thousands, He still uses what little we have to do something even Greater. The same Jesus who ran into the slutty ho at the well and used her to change her village, He still runs into chicks like me with skeletons in the closet and calls us to get in closets with other chicks and come out together. God wants to use us to do something bigger than ourselves. But it will take your yes. And this Collide journey has found me in living rooms, in churches, in coffee shops, in emergency rooms and in hearts watching people say “yes” to what God can do through them.

I might be speechless and I might be running to keep up, but more than anything I am overflowing with gratitude that I, the girl who often feels broken, has collided with Jesus and in the midst of Him healing me, He also chooses to use me to help heal others.

God is good.

All the time.

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What you now see and explore on this web site will soon be gone. It will be the past, a memory, what once was. And very soon, this space, wecollide.net will be a more current picture of what Collide is. As God has grown our counseling program, our mentoring program, our church partners, our team, our gatherings and events, and our VISION, we are trying to stay current with keeping you in the loop with who we are. So stay tuned for an up to date picture of what Collide is. If I am speechless, the new website won’t be.:) And neither will God. Keep colliding friends….and keep saying “Yes.”         – Willow