Monthly Archives: January 2017

A Story Beyond What You Can Imagine by Willow Weston

Who would have thought that nearly a decade ago, these lovely ladies and about 15 or so others would show up at my house for a bible study and that bible study would morph into what is now Collide! If you don’t know our once upon story, read it here…

We used to meet every other week all together and look at a passage of scripture where Jesus collided with a wounded person and what happened as a result of that collision. As we did that, our own lives ran into Jesus. Each of these women begin to see God differently, themselves differently, and certainly wounded and wounding people differently. Jesus met us in our pain, our insecurities, our wounds, our anger, and our shame and forever changed us. Our “wounded collision” bible study, as we called it, became a very special place for all of us.

This past Sunday these women that I got the privilege to journey alongside while they were college students showed up again at my house for a reunion. What blew my mind is the story that God was writing all along both in these young women’s individual lives and in Collide that were beyond what we could imagine at the time. At the time, we didn’t even imagine a ministry called “Collide.” At the time we didn’t imagine a reach to broken and hurting women all over Whatcom County and beyond. At the time we didn’t imagine a counseling program and a mentoring program and a staff and….

At the time we didn’t imagine marriage and husbands and babies and careers and world travel and adventures and healing and character lessons and God’s faithfulness like these women have now experienced! We didn’t imagine their babies’ faces and coos. We didn’t imagine some of them moving into the middle of nowhere. We didn’t imagine we some would end up in New York City. We didn’t imagine engagements. We didn’t imagine finding true love and grace-filled husbands. We didn’t imagine anxiety, and God taking that anxiety and completely using it to change life directions. We didn’t imagine being nurses and teachers and mamas. We didn’t imagine moving around the world ministering with Hillsong. We didn’t imagine working in politics in Washington DC trying to make this world a better place. We didn’t imagine filming videos for missions in third world countries. We didn’t imagine liking doing 60 mile bike rides. We didn’t imagine care-taking sick parents in our twenties. We didn’t imagine taking in kids in need before we had kids of our own. We didn’t imagine God taking our great pain from a wounded collision and using that to bring about healing for so many others.

 

See, sometimes we would meet for bible study and request prayer for tests and declaring majors and graduating and trying to figure out what they were doing with their lives. They often felt lost or unsure. Sometimes we would talk about deep things like past abuse and how it was being lived out in the present. We often felt overwhelmed and defeated by pain. Sometimes we would wrestle through boyfriend relationships and the unhealthy patterns that arise in those. They often wondered if they would ever find the “one.” Sometimes we would dream together about what we hoped for in the future. We often had big dreams and wondered if those could come true.

Sitting in my living room at this reunion and looking back over the years, I recall that we had no sense, no clarity, no imagination big enough for the story that God would write in each of our lives. These young women at that time often wondered, begged, pleaded, hoped, grasped, struggled, and wrestled not knowing what would come. Sometimes the unknown came with fear, anxiety, a reliance on past outcomes to be future outcomes, doubt rather than faith. But over and over again these girls chose to run into God and allow Him to meet them, shape them, and guide them. And here they sit ten years later and I am blown away by what God has done in their lives!

The story God is writing for your future is often beyond what you can even imagine. So when you find yourself wondering how God could use your pain for good, remember, that is what He is in the business of doing. When you can’t find your way and you have no idea where you are going, remember God is your guide and He knows what’s on the horizon. When you don’t see how a really broken relationship can be redeemed remind yourself of the Redeemer. When the world and everything around you is changing and it brings about great anxiety, remember God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God’s character will not change and He promises to walk alongside you writing a story that brings about changing circumstances, relationship, dreams, directions, character and faith.

The story God is writing in your life is beyond what you can imagine today. So don’t let today call you names. Don’t let today get you down. Don’t let today inform your dreams. Don’t let today have the last word. Don’t let today scare you into paralytic fear. Don’t let today keep you discouraged. God’s tomorrow is beyond what you can imagine for yourself. Hold on to the great story He can and will write in your life. As God continues to write a story beyond what I can imagine in the life of Collide, I trust He will do the same for you and I! – Willow

 

 

 

Collide at Christ the King Coming Up!

 

We are so looking forward to our upcoming event for women! We are centering around Mark 2:1-12 and looking at these men who carried the paralytic and unroofed a roof to get to Jesus. Because of their faith, Jesus did amazing things! We are hoping to challenge women to live authentic lives, allowing others to carry them in their struggles and being willing to carry others in theirs because it is there that God shows up and does His best work!

We have so many things in store for the evening! We have speakers from out of town coming in and cannot wait to be challenged an inspired. We have women locally coming to bravely share their stories.  We also have a counseling panel answering questions that often peek from the topic of sharing and carrying burdens. We have a twist on takeout for dinner and we have invited so many organizations and ministries from Whatcom County that all work to alleviate people’s burdens in the hopes of connecting women to the work they are already doing! Gather your neighbors, your book club, your small group, your best friend or a new friend and register here.

His Mercies Are New When by Willow Weston

At a church one Sunday it was like I was pierced right between the eyes, and the sermon hadn’t even started. I was standing there with friends “worshipping” when a man I know and his new girlfriend filed in with both their kids and sat a few rows in front of us. My mind started running every which way wondering to myself “How soon is it ok to just show up at the church that your wife goes to, with the new girlfriend you left her for?”

And it was clear as day. Almost as if a voice from heaven yelled at me in row 9, straight down from the clouds. When are My mercies new for other people, Willow?

I often claim God’s promise out of Lamentations 3:

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

I have prayed many a morning, reminding myself, “Lord your mercies are new for me today.”

Mornings where I have completely blown it the night before, I have stood on the promise that His mercy is afresh upon me.

Mornings when my parenting fails woke me up discouraged, my Father encouraged me with this good, good promise.

Mornings where I felt like I have failed relationships I care about and needed a renewed sense for the path forward, I have prayed this lamentation.

Mornings when my husband and I woke up to coffee AND still being mad from the night before, I have asked God to shower me with His brand-spankin’-new mercies.

And every morning that I have asked God for His fresh mercy, I have been its recipient. I have jumped off my couch and felt a sense of forgiveness, of freedom, of shame let go. I have been given courage to press on, not looking back but instead ahead because of God’s good mercy toward me. I have been let off the hook for nasty behavior and mean banter. I have been let out the jail I created in my own head. I have seen the Hand of God extended toward me in a deep dark pit that I would never have gotten out of on my own. And every time I find myself there in the pit again, I call out to this beautiful God and in earnest prayer claim, “Your mercies are new every morning and I need them to be new today.”

And wouldn’t you know it, they are.

That Sunday, God knocked me out with a jab to the throat. When are my mercies new for other people? Not everyday? Only some days? Every other decade? After one proves they are so, so, so very sorry? When they make up for all they did wrong? Once they suffer all the consequences of their mistakes, then maybe, then? Are God’s mercies new for people only when they do what I think they should? Are God’s mercies only new for people who can erase everything they messed up? Are God’s mercies only new for those whose screw-ups aren’t so big?

Maybe what’s wrong in the pews on Sunday is people like me who are begging for mercy for themselves, but are unwilling to hope it for others.

I am pretty sure Lamentations promises each one of us that God’s mercies are NEW EVERYDAY. A man who leaves his wife and starts a new family with his hot girlfriend and rakes his kids through the ringer can find mercy tomorrow morning and there is nothing I can do about it. Why? Because God is that big and His mercy is that compassionate and that powerful and it stretches that far. God’s mercy is not dependent on my opinions, nor my ways. His mercy is boundless and does not end. Though I might want another to suffer for what they have done or learn their lesson or limp a little for their ugly betrayal, God can extend mercy to whom He wants, when He wants.

You know who needed mercy most that Sunday?

Me.

I needed God’s mercy to reach down into my black pit of judgement and say, Willow, I will even extend you mercy for the way you rule people out of my Kingdom, the way you make assumptions about others, and the way you try to take over my job of shelling out mercy. His mercies are made new every morning. Thank God. I need them. Maybe you do too.

Learning That I’m Enough by Celeste Fiorillo

The Your stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…

 

 

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”-CS Lewis

Our world these days makes comparisons too easy, and too often I’m caught in the trap of feeling like I’m just not enough. It happens a thousand different ways, and I know I’m not alone. Here are some of the ways I tell myself I just don’t measure up:

  • I’m in a meeting at work and someone is giving really great ideas. I feel insecure that I’m not qualified for this job and can’t think of anything good to contribute. My words start to reflect my insecurity and I poke holes in the other person’s ideas so that they don’t sound as good.
  • I go to the beach with my husband and see really attractive, basically naked women and feel really insecure about my body and appearance. When my husband goes to show me affection later, I squirm away because I feel fat and ugly and not enough.
  • I go to a wedding and feel under dressed when I look at the other guests. I waste the whole evening judging how others are dressed, hoping to find someone who looks as frumpy, or hopefully frumpier, than me.
  • I see some friends at work having lunch and they look like they’re having a really great time. I feel left out and like they are better friends with each other than they are with me. Instead of joining them, I eat at my desk.
  • And here’s one I’m sure we all know: Facebook. I go on Facebook and see someone posting about something romantic and sweet their husband did. Suddenly I’m comparing my life to theirs and then feeling resentful of my husband for the rest of the day for reasons he doesn’t even know or understand (or deserve). I see someone’s crafty craft on Instagram and feel uncreative and lazy and like I love tv too much. Someone posts about their amaaaaazing group of bffs and I feel lonely and question my own friendships. A friend shares about how they love their 5 am morning devotional time with the Lord, and comparing that to my sporadic and inconsistent practices makes me feel like a lesser Christian.

I could go on and on and on. All day, every day, I am worried about people’s judgments, comparing my life to the highlight reel that others put on Facebook, feeling not enough in almost every possible way. When I was working on this and thinking of these examples, it brought me to tears. What an exhausting way to live. Constantly trying to prove myself against unrealistic measures. My identity is often falsely rooted in the fickle opinions of others and my own hard criticisms.

When I find myself struggling with comparison and feeling ‘not enough’ it’s because, in that moment, my identity is rooted somewhere other than in Christ. I have forgotten my true worth and where my value stems from. Luckily for me, God gives me words of truth about my value and identity: I am the light of the world and the salt of the earth. I am a beloved daughter of the most high king. I am a branch of the true vine. I have been set free from the law of sin and death. I am a saint. I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am chosen, holy and blameless. I am adopted, redeemed, forgiven and cared for by a completely loving, merciful and giant God. Let that sink in for a minute. That is who I am (and who you are!). Not my hair-do or craft project or job title or wife score or grades or looks or number of friends. I am in Christ. That is who I am.

Don’t those situations I read through before suddenly seem more insignificant and petty? When my identity, value and worth is rooted in Christ, I am set free from anxious self-promotion, from comparison, from insecurity. When I think about my heavenly and eternal identity, my outfit suddenly doesn’t matter. I don’t have to read into and analyze a sideways glance someone gave me. When I think of my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, suddenly my love handles aren’t a big deal. Maybe the Holy Spirit likes my love handles, I don’t know. And when I view myself as a beloved daughter made in God’s image, it also helps me see others in that way. When someone succeeds, I can be genuinely happy for them without comparison or jealousy.

Simply put, we are enough. We are more than enough.  And we can rest in that truth. So I invite you to step back from your insecurities and imperfections, and to rest in knowing that we are enough in Christ.

 

I Am Strong by Roxanne Burgoon

I am strong, but I am not that strong…

Each day I wake up with a to-do list in my head.  I scroll down the list of the stops to make, the phone calls to do, the emails and texts to answer.  I sort through them and try to rearrange them in my mind as to which ones take priority and try to remember them in order of importance as I am getting ready for work at 4:30 am.

My plans instantly change as I begin to walk downstairs only to find that the dog got into the garbage in the living room, the food from last night’s supper did not get put away, the dishes are piled up next to the sink, and the Keurig is out of water to be able to make my cup of coffee instantly.  Suddenly the to-do list I just had so perfectly arranged in my head during my relaxing 4-minute shower is completely disregarded and becoming drastically longer with all these discoveries of unexpected events.  Now, with the spare 3 minutes I have, I am trying to rearrange my priorities while doing them at the same time.  Thoughts and feelings go rushing through my head, saying things like, “If only I had been more organized before I went to bed,” or, “If only I had more patience in the evening I would have made sure the kids helped pick up dinner.”  “If only I had better behaving dogs like the family down the street.” “If only…if only…if only…”

The day carries on as I meet my coworkers to carpool and I notice that since I brushed my teeth in the dark, I have tooth paste dropped on my scrub pants. Plus I forgot my phone charger, and I’m pretty sure I forgot gum to cover up my coffee breath.  Great. Just great.  I am stronger, smarter, more organized than this…. what’s my problem?

Well, it’s not a problem, but rather a perspective that needs to change.  In my mind, I often argue with myself about how I should be doing things better, not messing up so much, getting more accomplished, not being tired, stop getting so distracted, but instead, be strong.  Guess what? I can’t do this on my own.  I am so far from being strong on my own strength and I have got to change my perspective to rely on God’s strength.  The tattoo on my forearm reminds me daily of this truth from Mark 5:36– “Do not be afraid, just believe.”  The circumstances of my life currently are teaching me that I do not need to act as if I am strong enough to tackle them on my own strength.  I need God’s strength and the strength of those around me. It’s easy to forget this when you are constantly comparing yourself to the coworker, wife, family, or circumstances next to you.  

I am still needing daily reminders from God that His load is light and that I need to give Him the burdens of my heart. Raising four kids is hard, being a wife is hard, working full time is hard, finding time to exercise is hard.  Life is hard, but God is teaching me that as I lean into His strength and grace I can re-teach my thoughts that I don’t have to be strong on my own. I don’t have to hide my insufficiencies to Him and others. I can accept His strength and help and I can accept support and help from those around me who care and love our family.  I am strong, but not that strong without Him! I encourage you to lean into God’s strength and wisdom, no matter what your life season is currently; He cares for you and loves you greatly.