Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Good News by Willow Weston

It feels like every other week there is some horrific tragedy, inexplicable horror, or difficult news story that is hard to stomach. Whether its another mass shooting, another repulsive injustice where an innocent black man is shot, or another high-level corporate leader using his power to sexually victimize women- every day makes you wonder what’s next and where all this is going. Political discord, threats of nuclear war, and fear of terrorism wake us up in the morning and tuck us in at night.

All of this bad news seems to be inviting fear to move in and paralyze us. All this bad news seems to be inviting anxiety and worry to kick out peace and faith. All this bad news is breaking down our trust in humanity- and just not humanity, but trust in our neighbors.

And the bad news isn’t just far away and distant. Tragedy, sickness and desperation are in our own backyards.

I hosted a party recently and sat down at my dining room table next to a wonderful man who volunteers as a chaplain. I asked him how he he was doing. He invited me into the transitional phase he was experiencing in that very moment. He was coming off of his shift as chaplain, where he attends unattended deaths, and walking into a living room full of laughter, good food, and good people.

He began to share of the horrific scenes he gets called into. They are scenes that we don’t even read about in the newspaper- of dads killing moms in front of their children, and children dying in tragic ways and self inflicted deaths- and most of which are not shared publicly. I looked at this man of peace and saw light in his eyes. I am so very grateful for what he does for our community and for each person who never wants to have a chaplain show up at their door. But if you had to have one, you’d want a man like him. I felt moved to remind him that he was now in a place of warmth and safety, goodness and celebration. I hoped he would take as long as he needed to transition in order to walk from dark to light, death to life. He seemed to take a deep breath at the invitation, but the weight he wears can not be put in the coat closet with the others.

A man my husband has worked with for years jumped off an overpass a few weeks ago. I didn’t know him well. We would run into each other at the coffee shop or the mall or the office Christmas parties and every time we did, he was always so friendly, so kind. He ended his life. Something in him felt like he couldn’t escape all the pain. I wish I would have known that he walked around carrying this kind of disparity and depression. I wish we would have known, because if we would have known we would have done something.

Anything.

Something.

Sometimes it’s just all too much. Sometimes all this bad news calluses you. Sometimes it steals your hope and makes you want to go inside of yourself. Sometimes all I want to do is go home, get my sweats on and hide my family in my house and never leave, so I can protect my kids from all this mess. Sometimes I want to turn the tv off and pretend it’s not happening. Sometimes I want to daydream into another world that doesn’t feel hijacked by hurricanes, terrorism, racism, school shootings, and mean girls.

I just got back from a Women in Leadership Conference. I left thinking I might become a leader someday 🙂 No, but for real, here is what struck me… This particular conference was hosted by a foundation that supports non-profits and was drawing together women leaders in order to inspire and equip them in the work God is calling them to do. At one point, I looked around the hotel conference room and it struck me that it was full of good news.

One woman I spoke with is using her life to work with families who are affected by HIV. Their organization is providing camps, classes and community for these families who so desperately need it. Another woman is working for a non-profit called Holla, and their mission is this: Holla mentors stand in a gap to change the story so commonly understood for black and brown children through mentorship. The women working for Holla are seeing major shifts in the trajectory of these kids once they receive mentors who understand their experience and their plight. Another women I talked to works for an organization that invests in post-graduates who, at an increasing rate, are leaving their Christian faith and community and feeling lost. She is working to help these twenty somethings find their way. Another women takes marginalized teens on outdoor adventures for trips that can last as long as 50 days in the wilderness. These teens are coming back transformed and ready to live differently because of the work she does. I sat across from three women who are connected to Medical Teams International. They respond to urgent needs around the world (and God knows we have those right now) from refugees to the survivors of natural disasters. Another woman I talked to works with a Catholic organization that is helping people die with dignity and peace.

Let me try this again….

Somewhere right now someone is dying. They are saying goodbye to their loved ones, their control, their plans and dreams, and their health. And a group of woman is coming alongside them in their final days and providing comfort, peace and hope.

That’s good news.

Somewhere right now there is a black kid who has no male role model, no dad to call his own and is failing in school and on the verge of heading down a destructive road. But there is a mentoring program that is setting him up with a black male role model. This man will walk alongside him and mentor him in life, in school, in his challenges, his pain and even in his dreams, all so that those dreams will become his reality.

That’s good news.

Somewhere right now in Puerto Rico a family has lost everything due to the devastating hurricane. There is a medical team that is there listening to them, to their needs, to their loss. They’re not only listening, but they are actually responding to those needs and bringing some relief.

That’s good news.

And I could tell you story after story of good news.

Isaiah 52:7 says: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

How beautiful are those who bring good news! They are as hot as they come. And there are people all around us bringing good news. There are people proclaiming peace. There are people who are bringing good tidings. There are people who are proclaiming rescue and not just proclaiming, but actually rescuing people. There are people whose work shouts without words, “God still reigns. God is still alive. And God is still good”

We can talk about the bad guys and the terrorists and the rapists and the sex offenders and the racists and the Klu Klux Klan and the greedy people… But let’s also talk about the feet of those who bring good news! Let’s talk about the people who are building wells to bring water to villages that have no water. Let’s talk about the pastors who are in the heart of their neighborhoods, building bridges to do the hard work of racial reconciliation. Let’s talk about the people who are feeding the homeless and sitting with them over a meal and treating them with the dignity they deserve. This is the only hope and way to get them off the streets, because it’s relationship that walks people toward help and healing. Let’s talk about the people who are putting their own lives at risk to set women being sex-trafficked free. Let’s talk about the people we know who are going to work everyday and loving on people who are just plain hard to love.

Let’s not just talk about the bad news- let’s talk about the good news too. Otherwise you and I are going to drown in our sorrows and give up on what we are called to do.  And what are we called to do? The Bible says we are called to do good. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Instead of getting overwhelmed by all this bad news, we must not give up. We must keep working, keep investing, keep sacrificing, keep pressing on, keep forging new paths, keep standing up for injustice, keep having conversations, keep striving for peace. We must keep doing good.

Galatians 6:9 says: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Let’s not grow tired, friends. Let’s not give up. Let’s not start believing our good is no good. Let’s not get lost in all the bad news but instead press on to bring about good news.

This is what we were made to do.

When John the Baptist was in the slammer, experiencing some not-so-good personal news, he heard about all the good that Jesus was doing. So John sent some of his homies to ask Jesus if He was the One who was to come and make the world better. And here is what Jesus said in Matthew 11:4-5: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

Jesus insinuated that you know God is nearby when these kinds of things are happening in people’s lives.

I took a train down to that leadership conference in the midst of a world filled with bad news, and was overwhelmed by good. The blind who have lost their way receive sight. The lame who have been unable to walk, now walk freely. Those no one would touch with a ten-foot-pole are experiencing healing in community. The deaf who felt ignored hear “worthy are you.” The dead dreams of youth are being raised. Good news is being proclaimed by wounded, messy, irreligious girls like me and it’s crazy, but people’s lives are changing.

Our God must be nearby.

Will you, with me, tell stories of the God of good news and the people who live it? Will you not grow weary in doing good, but instead, will we together press in all the more and live into what we were made to do and do it? Together we can tell a different story, one of good news. That’s what God is in the business of doing, bringing good news, and we are His messengers.

If you have a good news story, please share it here. We want to hear it. In fact, we need to. Your good news story might inspire another one!

We’d love for you get keep colliding with Jesus by getting our blog posts delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Seasons of Change by Stacey Rorvig

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…

I love the seasons that we enjoy in the Pacific Northwest.  Being immersed in all the wonderful things about each one and then looking forward to what is coming next. The warm sunshine and watermelon, the changing leaves and foggy mornings, the sound of rain on the roof at night, fluffy snow and cozy fireside conversations, and the new blooms on trees as they wake up from their winter slumber.

I wish that I loved the changes in the seasons of life as much as nature.  My hesitation to embrace the new has become very apparent to me over the past couple of years.  As one season starts to slip away and another season is approaching, my first reaction is to dig in my heels and try to hang onto what was.  I find that I tend to look back with longing instead of looking forward with anticipation.  I know that having kids is absolutely part of my awakening to this desire to hold on. People would tell me that they “grow up so fast,” “time flies by,” “enjoy these years!”  I feel that I have enjoyed the years and I fully agree with every one of these statements.

The problem with change is that when I find myself in a place that I love with the people that I love, I just want it to stay that way.  As I get older I see how precious these moments are and how things can change in an instant, and how scary this world can be.  I see kids that go off on their own, family relationships that become broken, parents that pass away and I get scared.  So in all reality it is not my wanting to hold on to the season, it is me wanting to hold onto fear.  Fear is not allowing me to fully live, to fully love or to fully find out what God has in store for me.  The harder I hold on the more I fear.  

You would think that the more I hold on, the more control I would have but it is exactly the opposite.  Fear is a growth inhibitor.  I am asking the Lord to help me release my grip on a daily basis.  There is a reason that fear is mentioned over and over in the Bible.  God knows that we tend to be fearful or full of anxiety. When I am full of fear, then I am missing out on what good God has for me. I love how God’s word is full of encouragement. One of the verses that I find comfort in is John 14:27… “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I have no guarantees of what my future will look like, the decisions my children will make, the state of the world with all the ugliness of sin and the brokenness left in its wake, but I know for certain that God is unchanging.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and loves me so dearly that He gave up Jesus for me.  His peace is beyond this world or human understanding. This peace is available to me.  I can try to control my life and live stressed out and bound by my own fears. Or I can choose to release my grip, have faith, and keep my eyes on Jesus.  This is so easy to say and yet so hard to do.

God has dealt with me gently over this past year and I am trying to learn.  I have seen His goodness time and time again in the messiest of situations, and He has been faithful.   I have seen some amazing things in these new seasons.  I’ve seen restoration in lives. I’ve seen my kids growing into young people that have opinions and that have great conversations with me.  I’ve experienced a deeper love between my husband and myself over the past 16 years, and I have seen women’s lives changed as they collide with Jesus.  He is faithful in the bigs and smalls of life and I need to release my fear and focus on that.  Strengthening faith will drive out fear and this is my prayer for myself.  

I struggle daily with my desire to hold on and I know that I am far from achieving my goals of getting rid of fear. But I also know that God is a big God, a faithful God and He will take me as I am as I try and try again.  Each time I begin to feel fear creep in, or I feel my grip getting tighter I remember… I look back over my life, not with longing, but with gratitude.   I see how God has intervened, protected, restored, and guided me in so many ways. Why would my future look any different?  Would God abandon me now?  Of course not!   

If you can relate to my struggle, I would challenge you to look back as well and see the goodness, the faithfulness, and the care that the Lord has shown you.  This practice allows me to refocus my heart and calm my fears, for I am deeply loved, and so are you.   May His peace cover you and strengthen you as you release your fears and allow yourself to fully live.

We’d love for you get keep colliding with Jesus by getting our blog posts delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Beautiful Mess by Jen Shaw

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…

My mom might tell you otherwise, but as long as I recall I’ve liked things neat, tidy, organized and labeled. Throughout elementary and middle school, I often spent the night at my best friend’s house. Besides memories of Atari and sneaking out to walk around the block in middle school, what I remember most was helping clean her room. Again and again and AGAIN. She was a creative “Messy” and I loved clean. Not just clutter free, but squeaky clean and shiny. (Although we never got that far…) My mom had to school me on the concept of things being disinfected, after I cleaned an entire bathroom with Windex. She still to this day, loves to remind me of my “shiny germs”.

Not a big shocker that this love  of clean became one of the “ladders” I later climbed.  The same was true with my spiritual life: everything packed up neat and tidy. I would take out my “Promises of Jesus” box, so to speak. Oh, how I loved spending time thumbing through that box. Jeremiah 29:11… “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” Psalm 46:11… “Be still and know that I am God.”

But there was another “box” way back in the closet, unlabeled, collecting dust. It held verses I didn’t quite know what to do with.  Like, Matthew 16:24: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”  Or, Luke 9:62 where Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

What do you even do with that?

So when I came to the point of my spiritual journey where I dared pray for God to ‘break my heart for the things that broke His’, and asked God the question, “What can I do?” -things got messy. In that moment God dumped that forgotten box in front of me and I had to decide what to do about it. Verses calling us to ‘serve the least of these’ were everywhere I turned. I woke at night distraught about children in desperate need of stable loving families. I was almost certain God was calling us to adopt and assumed it would be internationally.  

My husband hated every time I said it, but I repeatedly told him, “I’ve seriously got to stop reading my Bible!” It felt like my orderly little world became messier with every verse.  The tiny book of James, alone, was ruining my life and it only took one chapter.

James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves- do what it says.” Ouch.  Verse 27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” BAM.

The problem is, looking after orphans and widows can’t fit neatly in a box. And distress is no fun and definitely NOT shiny.

As we kept walking it, our path didn’t lead to international adoption. Instead, we arrived in our own back yard- Foster Care: the land of a thousand misconceptions and almost no guarantees. I began to realize my love for organization was really all about appearances and control.  “But Lord… ” I started to respond.

Bring out the Excuse Box… Dumped.

He dumped my excuses meticulously labeled: “Responsibility.”

-“God entrusted me with my biological children; I need to shelter and protect them.”

-“What if the bio parents are dangerous or the child is out of control?”

-“We should keep praying and wait for God to make His plan really clear.”

“What if we fall in love with a child, they go back to their family and we’re all devastated?”

My husband had a box too, which included time, energy, finances, protection. All very reasonable, valid concerns.  However, I’m a firm believer in God’s timing.  I had been passionately “agreeing” with these biblical principles for quite some time.  So, ironically, when it was “GO time,” God totally called me out. I agreed with His heart on the matter, but actually DOing it, was another story.  I’d gotten comfortable with life and my control over it, so frankly I was terrified.  But God continued to show me that we were the adults and that these children needed us to stand in the gap for them. We were being CALLED to love them for TODAY, not worry about tomorrow and trust that God would show up and take care of the rest.

Was it going to be hard? Probably.

“I’m not really asking you, I’m telling you…” I felt like God was saying to me.

Then the kicker:

“Do you trust Me?”

Foster care can be super messy. And I had spent my life trying to box things up, and have the beautiful house and “perfect” family I didn’t always have growing up.

Once I dared share all my concerns with Jesus, did he let me off the hook? Nope. I am completely certain His response was: “I died for messy…”

All throughout scripture Jesus kept ditching those who thought they had it all together and made a beeline toward messy. It was smack dab in the middle of a big fat disastrous mess where Jesus showed up and did some of His very best work.  Lucky for us, Jesus is still in the business of redeeming lives. Whether we created it single handedly, or were dropped in the middle through no fault of our own- no mess is too great for Jesus. Not mine, not the kids’, and not the bio parents’. Jesus loves a good mess. And when I realized that – Everything. Changed.

God convicted me that there will never be a good time to welcome trauma into our home, but there are kids from hard places that need families like ours to welcome them in. Even when it’s hard. Even when the future is uncertain. My biological kids sacrifice a lot, but as a result, have a greater understanding of the world in which we live and so much more compassion.  They absolutely LOVE our littles.  God may be using our family in changing the lives of these kids, but they are changing US.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4   

Pride. Selfishness. Fear. Shiny germs.

I thought I had these all cleaned up, but I didn’t.  We’ve had to come face to face with these again and again. You see, foster care, as a system, brings many unique challenges when working with the state, courts, families, etc.  There’s a lot involved.  Our experience has been quite good, but definitely not free of challenges.  As a result, my husband and I have felt God working through this, calling us deeper and deeper in our love and grace for everyone involved.  We are all in this together, and there is a lot of learning going on. Especially with the bio parents. I definitely do not agree with all the choices they’ve made, yet recognize their lives haven’t been easy. I haven’t walked in their shoes, nor faced the challenges they’ve faced. I can’t relate. Period.  And instead of judgement, I feel gratitude for my circumstances and compassion for theirs.  Not that it’s always easy, but ultimately, with God’s help, I choose grace. I choose love. Within boundaries, I choose to extend relationship.

We have seen walls crumble as we seeked to find common ground, and as we extended ourselves to serve people who know judgement and shame far too well.  I have offered a child into the arms of a mother who had rocked and comforted her child far fewer days than I had.  I have had a mother, who was a complete stranger to her child, cry in my arms.  

In these moments I collided with Jesus.  And I pray- maybe she did too.  But either way, I am forever changed because I dared to say yes, before I truly knew the answer to His question.  

I honestly LOVE this crazy life.

Granted, our house is a disaster most of the time.  I assure myself it will be back in order one day. But for now, because of continual rearranging, almost nothing is any longer boxed or labeled, let alone organized. However, we get a front row seat to some of the miraculous redemptive work God is doing in our lives, the lives of these kids and the lives of their families.  And we have the honor and privilege of providing a bridge in the gap.  

As for my “Messy” friend? Her home has been one of my favorite places since I was 7, and probably always will.  She and her husband bought the house she grew up in, had two kids and now her whole house is messy.  We can bring our entire crazy crew, are warmly welcomed in, and loved unconditionally despite our mess.  It’s pretty ironic that all those years I thought I was helping clean up her mess, and God was actually using her to make something of mine.  She and her family took a risk on me- apparently they never had a need for boxes.

I’m thankful God finally helped me dump mine.  Our house may be a total mess, in more ways than one… but I affectionately refer to it as a beautiful mess.

Because if you look, you’ll find JESUS smack dab in the middle of it.

We’d love for you get keep colliding with Jesus by getting our blog posts delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Just Like Breathing by Nancy Taylor

We have seen the transformation that comes from women of different generations learning from one another and we hope for this experience for each one of us. Our mentoring program encourages women to bravely step out in willingness and say ‘yes’ to mentoring those younger than them and encourages younger women to allow someone who has gone before them to speak into their lives and walk alongside them. We hope this blog written by one of the mentors in our program encourages you right where you are at in your journey…

Mug of orange blossom tea in hand, Kyla plopped herself at my kitchen table and announced, “I need some serious help.”  

She wasn’t joking. I glanced from her creased brow to her infant son, asleep in his bouncy seat at her feet.  Kyla’s hubby was interning at a local church, preparing to be a church planter, an experience replete with its own set of stressors. This was not her first cup of tea at my table. After moving to the community, they had lived with us the first month until they found their own place, so we already had a comfort level with one another. Yes, I had more years of life experience, but no, that didn’t make me a guru.  

I sat down and took a deep breath. “What’s up, Ky?”

“I’m spending too much on groceries,” she explained. “Can you teach me how to work a grocery budget?”  Whew! I let my breath out. So much easier than world peace!  Or domestic peace, for that matter.  I think I have a shot at this.

She had done the math. The amount she had spent on groceries for the past several months was unsustainable on their meager income, so after a few probing questions, here’s what we knew:  To feed two adults she was spending more than I was spending to feed my family of five. She was a foodie, trying several new recipes per week, the more exotic the better, and she never gave grocery specials or coupons a second glance.  

Together we identified some starting points. I shared my weekly meal-planning strategy based on what’s in the fridge or pantry and what’s on sale rather than what might feel more inspiring or trendy. With the food pyramid as our guide, we compiled a list of interesting go-to menus that promised optimum nutritional bang for the buck.  As a nod to her gourmet ambitions, she opted to allow herself two indulgent meals per month and we explored wallet-friendly substitutes for a few of the more spendy recipes she had lined up.

Then we scheduled some play dates. We picked berries and made jam. We transformed my bumper crop of apples into applesauce.  Like two wannabes making a YouTube tutorial sans video cam, we redirected her creative cooking energy toward practical ends. To appease her inner foodie, we splurged on making half dozen pints of spiced apple rings and some dilly green beans.

The big bonus:  All that peeling, chopping, measuring, stirring, and timing of the bubbling canning kettle provided endless hours for us to discuss life’s perplexities. Husbands, kids, goals for the current phase of life, pet peeves, priorities, boundaries, spiritual disciplines, what we’d like to be doing ten years from now …. And before either of us knew it, a mentoring relationship had taken shape. Just like that. Who knew it could be so organic?  It felt like breathing.

We never really formalized the terms of our mentoring relationship, probably because it felt so natural; we were both pretty straight shooters and trusted that neither of us would allow the other to take undue advantage. Also, I sensed that she was a strong enough person that I needn’t worry about over-dependency.  

She proved me right. Her resourcefulness kicked in on its own power and she was soon compiling her own set of menu tips and savvy tricks to share with me. From food prep we branched out to wallpapering her bedroom. When we ran out of hands-on jobs we took walks with the stroller and shared what we were learning from scripture, where we were challenged in our own personal growth. We shared dilemmas we found difficult to reconcile. When no ready answers emerged we searched together for resources, often leading each other to a good book or a helpful article or sermon.

Alas, the day came when our family helped Kyla and her husband pack a U-Haul, waving good-bye as they headed to his first church-planting assignment. Kyla moved on, not just to a different state, but she also moved on to other mentors in her evolving life phases. As her family grew from three to six, she continued to work intentionally at becoming the woman she believed God wanted her to be.  

Before she knew it, the woman she had become was sharing her own journey, mistakes made, lessons learned, fears conquered, goals realized, triumphs celebrated, with others in her sphere of influence.  She found herself in that blessed sweet spot, being mentored by some while mentoring others. Taking in and giving out in the rhythm of her life’s routines. Taking in and giving out. In and out. Just like breathing.

Can you identify the people in your life whose personal input is helping you grow? Are you aware of those around you who could benefit from knowing more about your journey with Jesus?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

Are you interested in being in a mentoring relationship? Email us at info@wecollide.net for more information about the Collide Mentoring Program.