Monthly Archives: November 2016

You Can’t Fix People, You Can Only Love Them by Taylor Storey

Oh my gosh people, if you don’t know Taylor Storey, you need to Facebook stalk her or something! Ok, maybe don’t do that, but do read her blog post! She is a joy and a light. Any room she walks into she brings in love, and all who run into her feel that love. If you ever wonder if our future is in good hands, go on a walk with Taylor and you will have more confidence in the what God is doing. Her story and faith are inspiring! – Willow

14494818_10209826301069495_6901126847215030669_n

Love people. This is my mission. This is why God has chosen to put me, Taylor Storey, in Bellingham Washington, at this time- to love people. I wake up and this is the first thing on my mind. When I am in line at the grocery store, on the soccer field, at work, with my friends… God simply asks me to love the people around me. I know this is my purpose, however, it is not an easy one. Loving people, and trusting that God will take care of the rest is a challenge I wrestle with each day.

Whether it is a friend my age or an absolute stranger, people tend to naturally open up to me about anything and everything. I held my friend crying after cutting herself, I sat with a friend in the emergency room after attempted suicide, and I have taken friends to counseling who couldn’t do it on their own. I grew up surrounded by friends and family members who were hurting and struggling, wanting to help them. I was glad to be a supportive friend, or stranger. But while it was good that these people opened up to me, I was not qualified, nor could I fix them. This broke my heart.

My natural tendency is to try to “fix” people. If only they would stop doing this, start doing this, change this, then their life would be “fixed”. What a ludicrous thing to think- I can’t fix or save someone who is suicidal, struggling from an eating disorder, or who just lost his or her mom to cancer. Only God can save people. But I can love them.

Loving people is without a doubt one of the biggest challenges God has asked me to do. I have learned that I have to set aside my tendency to jump in and try to control the situation. I have learned that I cannot save anyone. Only God, and God alone can do this. So God, doing what only God can do, has made me Hospitality Director at a local church. And oh let me tell you, He has been testing me.

God has placed numerous people at our front doors needing help- a man who had been walking for 3 days straight, with no food or water, needing a place to sleep at night and rest his feet. My first thought was, “Oh, well I have money to buy this guy a nice dinner, and I know a friend who has an extra room, and while I am at it, I will help him find a job, give his life to Christ, and shabam– he will be fixed.” I am sure God just looked at me and chuckled to Himself.  

I also remember the young mom with a five-year-old who just moved here from the east coast with no place to stay and no childcare. So I naturally start doing what I do, “I have 5 roommates, I am sure we can fit two more into the house for a few weeks, I know a lot of people. I am sure someone is hiring, and I can just bring the five-year-old to work with me until the rest gets figured out.” Again, God laughed.

The most recent “Taylor moment” happened last week. A good friend of mine had a double knee replacement and needed help with his exercises and doctor appointments. Even though this is an extremely busy month for me at work and at home, I started thinking, “Well, I have helped someone with the same surgery before, so since I know how to help I might as well take a week off of work, drive him to the doctor’s each day, make him and his family food, and just push back my priorities until he is healthy and able to take care of himself.” Now I think God has stopped laughing and is now rolling His eyes at me.

In these moments, I truly believe that I can fix their problems. Again, if only they would stop doing this, start doing this, change this, then their lives would be “fixed.” However, God is their Savior, NOT me. God died for their sins, God knows what they need, God can perform miracles to heal them- I cannot do any of these things. And thankfully God hasn’t asked me to. God asks me to choose love.

So instead of trying to “fix” people, I try to love them. I chose to sit with the man who had been walking for days, and listen to his story, and believe him. I chose to offer the young mom a friend, who would pray for her and her son. I chose to bring my friend who had surgery dinner, and offer encouragement through his recovery. By choosing love, I am acknowledging that God is God, and He is in control. So each day, I choose love. – Taylor

Will you each day choose love?

1888618_690308941000713_195406467_n

the husband

the-husband

Over the last month or so, I have been living part time at a hospital and much of that time has found us waiting and waiting and waiting again. We have eaten awful meatloaf and fake potatoes gazing across the cafeteria to see other sick and grieving people. We have made more jokes about fecal matter and bowel movements than anyone should ever make. We have put on so many yellow gowns and blue plastic gloves that we are now responsible for an entire land fill ourselves. We have washed our hands so much that they are chapped and our pores are full of antibacterial soap. We have been put in the position of having to advocate to save my mom’s life and have experienced first hand what happens when the hospital fails to call you and let you know your family member is in the hospital. We have had days fearing the very worst sprinkled with days of hope. We have met more than 10 doctors and 20 nurses. We have awaited CAT scans, X RAYS, stool samples, urine samples, blood samples, breathing treatments, physical therapy and more.

One day while waiting inside the “waiting room” a dead body with an American flag draped over it was wheeled right up to the doorway. So there I was, waiting with a corpse.

A few hours later I walked back into the waiting room and there was this older gentleman, also waiting. I had seen him the day before. His head was held low and his body was slumped in the chair. His white hair sparkled, but his eyes looked deeply sad through his glasses. I got this intense tug in my gut that I was supposed to do something, but I had no idea what. Before you knew it my body acted before my mouth had a plan. This happens to me a lot. Standing right above him in his chair, tongue tied, I blurted “Uhhhhhh, can I, can I do anything to help you?” He was so tired, with just enough energy to muster a gracious “No, but thank you.”

I went and sat back down on the couch and waited.

the-couple

Then a man around 50 walked in. His skin was pasty white and I had been watching him for days pace the hospital halls like me. He was holding a piece of paper up to his eyeballs and with one eye’s eyelashes brushing directly across the words on the paper almost as though by osmosis, he said something like “Dad, we need to take Smith Road over to 1st and then a sharp left onto Jones and then it’s behind Home Depot.” In my gut, I just knew what he was talking about.

He suggested to his dad “Maybe we should call people and let them know.” His dad said “We don’t have a phone,” lifting his hands in the air with a helpless motion. That intense tug was still inside me. I stood up unsure that I should be in this room, but I trusted Destiny and said “I have a phone you can use.” They said “We don’t use cell phones, we’re old fashioned.” I offered to teach them how.

The son silenced. So did I.

Then the son said for what you could tell was the very first time he uttered these words, “I would be using your phone to tell our family that…. my, myyyyy mom just died.”

“I am sorry. I am so sorry.” What else can you say? There is nothing else that can be said. No trite answer, no quote, nor talk about your own woes suffices. These two men looked up at me after having just lost the most important woman in their life.
This kind of room is the most sacred room you can ever sit present in, I realized.

After some pause, I offered to help them call people. The son took a business card to his eye again and rattled off the numbers. I quickly realized he wanted me to dial, so I did. The answering machine came on. He was paralyzed, unsure what to do. I gently laid out the options. We could hang up or leave a message. We hung up. Here I was helping them make the call no one ever wants to make and no one was answering.

The son decided to go get his Kindle to email people. While he was away, the husband and I talked. Sixty five years they had been married. Thats six and a half decades. That’s 23,725 days. That’s life in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. That’s 4 children, 3 spouses and many grandchildren. That’s the story of this other son, the one I meet. He had been in a horrible collision in high school. A car hit him and he has never been the same. That’s why he can’t see. His dad explained that his son had lived at home his whole life, never married and in fact spent about 15 hours a day bedside his mom when she was ill. Most likely, I thought, just like she had when he was in the hospital decades ago.

the-wife

The son came back and started emailing people. At one point he asked for his dad’s approval, “ Dad, I said, ‘Mom passed away at 4:30. Dad and I are fine.’ Because if I don’t say that, then the email says: Mom passed away at 4:30 and that just sounds sad.” I wanted to scream in that little room, “It is saaaaaad! Its ok to feel sad.” I looked down at my laptop. It was 5:19.

The nurses came in and said her body was ready. They were invited to wait again for the funeral home. The son left to be with his mom for what would be the very last time. The husband was glued to the chair across the room and here I was again alone with him. He said she was 95 and he was 91. I smiled. “Wow you married an older woman huh?” He smirked, “Yep, I robbed the cradle.” I said, “What a gift. Sixty five years with the love of your life.”

He got quiet. I gave him his space.

And then in the sacred, deep grief, out of the silence, he raised his voice, “His will be done.”

I echoed him, “His will be done. And let us hold onto the promise that we will have the best reunion with the ones we love in the perfect place where there is no more pain.” I wanted to, with this man, entrust God with the whole journey as I found myself with no idea as to what lie ahead.

The husband nodded and said, “She is home.”

At the very end of our journey and all along its way, may we be able to, like the husband, say ‘His will be done.’ His will done in the beauty and the pain. His will be done in beginnings and endings. His will be done in victory and loss. His will be done on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday… His will be done in good and in bad. His will be done when our prayers feel answered and when they don’t. His will be done on the gorgeous meanderings and trails that lead to love, as well as the hard pedal uphill and the wipeouts. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, in death and all along the paths that lead to true life. On the rode ahead, there might be brakes that fail, hospital stays, run- ins with other wounded people, rain storms and love lost. We have no idea what lies on the journey home but at it’s end may we be able to say, His will be done. Those words, I have a feeling, will more readily pour out of our hearts in the most sacred of moments, when we begin uttering them in the most ordinary.

entrust

Naming Brokenness to Find Healing by Amanda Bergstrom

I have known Amanda since she was a college student at Western. It has been a joy to watch her navigate the college years and to come out graduating with a degree, but even more a strong desire to serve God and people. She just spent the last year as an intern at a college ministry and now serves on the Collide team. I always love learning from women younger than me and here Amanda reminds us to name our brokenness…what a wise challenge. Enjoy her post! -Willow

hike

This past year I worked at a college ministry and I absolutely loved it.  It challenged me, I learned new things, and my skills were utilized.  All around, it was a great experience.  One of my jobs was to meet one on one with students and listen as they trusted me with their stories.  

As students opened up to me, I was reminded of a few things.  First, people love to connect with each other (even introverts!).  Second, everyone has a story.  And third, everyone is broken.  I would sit with students and hear about loss, abuse, self-image, mental health- the list goes on.  And while each individual story was different and unique and important, the topic of brokenness was always present in one way or another.  

Through listening to other peoples’ stories and processing my own, I was also reminded that even though there are mountains of pain that people endure, they persevere.  Despite brokenness, we still have hope, want to do good in the world, and want to see change.  Why? I think because we’ve experienced love. We’ve received grace. We’ve been shown mercy.  Through the brokenness, God has always been there and will always be there.

One thing that recently has been helpful for me is to be able to specifically name the brokenness in my life, and  to address it. From there, I am able to start to learn from it, to use it to help understand more about God, and also treat people better because I can empathize with them.  Addressing our own brokenness is difficult but I think so necessary for healing.

For me, being able to name that I am broken because I struggle with self-image has allowed me to start to understand how God sees me.  From there I can reconcile the two and start to learn how to see myself the way I should be seen- how God sees me.  Being able to name that I am broken because I have been manipulated has allowed me to begin the process of understanding how that affects my ability to trust people, especially men. Naming that I am broken because I struggle with pride, jealousy, not loving people as I should, etc. has encouraged me to go to God in those moments instead of sitting in sin. Naming that I am broken because I desire control is something that I need to do every day in order to trust God and give control to Him.

The list goes on in the ways I am broken.  And it can be overwhelming.  But the beautiful thing about God is that with that list of brokenness also comes an overwhelmingly wonderful list of how He fixes us.  How He mends us.  How He takes care of us.  The ways He goes about fixing us are creative, specific, thoughtful, and mysterious. And if I’m honest, sometimes that frustrates me.  I want to be able to participate in the mending process, and in order to do that I think I need to know all the ways I can help and every action I can take.  

But if I’ve learned anything through getting to know Jesus over the past few years, it’s that the ways He chooses to enter our brokenness are never predictable, and that we need to trust that He will heal us exactly how we need to be healed.  With new mercies every day, we are continually being made whole, and it is completely out of our control.

So, I challenge you to name your brokenness and talk about it with God.  Pray, write it out, go on a walk, connect with God the way you know how.  I challenge you to give your brokenness to Jesus and allow Him to heal you in His creative and specific way for you.  I also challenge you to do something that makes you happy. Go for a hike, get crafty, have coffee with someone, pet a dog, garden, read a good book, give a stranger a compliment, cook your favorite dinner, people watch.  Do something that reminds you of the good in the world, and how God is continually restoring brokenness into beautiful parts of creation.– Amanda 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3

coffee

 

Brokenness by Michelle Holladay

michelle-holladay-web

pain
rejection
fear
hurt
disconnection
loss
unavoidable
not without value
not impossible to heal from
a place of growth
a place for new beginnings

These are some of the words we used during an exercise to describe brokenness at our Collide Team Retreat several months ago.  I love how our words start out negative but begin to show hope.  Isn’t brokenness like that?  In the beginning, we feel stuck in our circumstances, but after time, maybe a lot of time, we gain strength, we begin to heal and we begin to see that maybe, there was a purpose for our brokenness; maybe some good can come from our brokenness and we will emerge stronger.

While thinking about what it means to be broken I cannot help but think about a literal break my body recently endured.  Back in February, I fell while running, dislocated my elbow and fractured my radial head.  It HURT!!!  For the first few days, I felt helplessly stuck.  There were so many things I could not do and I was forced to do the one thing I absolutely hate to do – ask for help.  

With the pain and severely limited range of motion, it was difficult to imagine my arm would ever feel normal again.   Other parts of my body were affected as they had to temporarily compensate for the loss of one of its members.  I had a long road ahead of me.  Passivity was not an option; I had to show up for physical therapy, do the painful exercises, endure the setbacks and listen to the advice of my trusted physician.  It was hard work and there were many days I just wanted to crawl back into bed.

michelle-xray

My arm is healed now; I can see the evidence when I look at my x-ray and see the mended bone, but I am not the same.  I still have pain which my doctor says is not likely to ever completely go away.  There are things I used to be able to do without much thought which have now become difficult.  I don’t trust my arm to support my body weight and I have irrational fears of falling.  

Those are some of my continued frustrations but there have been surprising victories as well.  The inability to exercise for a time forced me to confront some of my body image issues while discovering different forms of exercise helped strengthen muscles I hadn’t been using.  God has reminded me that He has placed some amazing people in my life and I’m getting better at asking them for help when I need it.

I realize my broken arm is sort of a trivial thing compared to some of the incredibly difficult situations life throws at us, but sometimes I need that kind of tangible illustration to remind me how God works in our lives.  Brokenness is different for each of us but the realities are the same.

Brokenness is painful and hard and crushing and sometimes feels unbearable, but brokenness does not have to be forever.  The pain may never cease completely and we may never heal back to the way we were before. but that’s okay. In fact, that’s a good thing.  We will learn valuable lessons from our pain, find strength we didn’t know we had, and grow in ways we didn’t think we could.

Wherever you are in your healing process, I hope you won’t be passive.  I hope you will show up for life, do the hard work, endure the setbacks, discover the people in your life you can rely on, and learn to trust our Heavenly Father, the Great Physician.  I pray you will let Him hold you and whisper softly in your ear as He guides you back to wholeness.  Believe Jesus when he proclaims:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 17:18)

Rise and Go: The Recap

14633474_1260926173927948_6276845069115250967_o

Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about our day of events for women is the vast diversity of who gathers together to collide with Jesus. It strikes me almost every time. We have 75 year old women who have survived the Alabama civil rights movement sitting with 18 year olds who are getting to vote in their first election

14882183_1260926410594591_6043888967930961313_o

14633655_1260925333928032_4756140659872909761_o

We have women who have been widowed leading worship beautifully for women who are celebrating being newly engaged.

14876416_1260926693927896_2863117007761477976_o

We have Baptists learning from Lutherans and Presbyterians sharing with Pentecostals and Catholics greeting Methodists and Episcopalians laughing alongside Evangelicals and people who want nothing to do with God, flooding the doors to spend a day with Jesus.

14560050_1260927337261165_449133363905670122_o

We have mothers on dates with daughters and grandmas on dates with granddaughters. We have people who walk in full of hope sitting right next to women who are knee deep in need of the same hope and they are handing each other kleenex. We have women who have more doubt than faith colliding with women who are sharing stories of faith born out of trials and tribulation and victory on the other side. I just love seeing all of these women come and center around one thing and that is Jesus.

14859790_1260926643927901_6475177232041521871_o

14633575_1260924807261418_5775690003461133120_o

It is hard to convey the experience that happens in a day long conversation centering around Christ and a collision He has with someone. What I do know is at the same time we watch Jesus collide with someone in the New Testament, all of the women present, with their vast differences find a common unity and that is, they too are colliding with Christ and His beauty. I am consistently blown away by what God can do if He gets His daughters to set aside even a few hours to spend time basking in who He is and what He can do with their lives.

14853081_1260927573927808_9120202947407092551_o

We had women choose for the very first time to give Jesus their whole lives, surrendering their plans and dreams for His bigger and better plans and dreams. I remember that day for me and it was the most significant day of my life, though I had no idea at the time how that decision would change my trajectory. I look forward with such anticipation to see women’s trajectories change after choosing to hand their lives over to God. These decisions change families, marriages, addictions, callings, self esteems, dysfunctional family patterns and because of that, these decisions change the world.

14902727_1260926840594548_7875432751054512516_o

We had more women than we know what to do with sign up to get counseling through our counseling program. We had 55 year olds sign up to have mentors because it’s never too late to be intentional about growing spiritually and we had 40 year old busy moms commit to giving what little time they have to invest in women younger than themselves in order to make an impact in this world. My inbox now starts to get flooded with the conversations God had with women and the transformation that took place.

14566339_1260926843927881_5974561062006021421_o

14853247_1260925913927974_1549570379766214898_o

At this event we centered around Luke 17 where Jesus collided with ten lepers. I won’t talk about that now, but follow along in the next week or so as I blog some of the message that was shared at this event! To see more pictures, like our Facebook page and you can see all of the event photos! To register for our next day for women, get your tickets here. Keep colliding people, at each collision with Jesus, we are never left the same!