Wednesday, April 13, 2016

You Are Perfect!


 

One of the places my husband loves to eat is Cracker Barrel.  Since there isn’t one in the town we live, we try to eat at one whenever we are on a road trip.  I love to browse the store while waiting for our table.  Recently, I found a little devotional journal called “A Little God Time” and decided to purchase it.  Here is an excerpt that was just too good not to share.

 
You Are Perfect!

Stop, go back, and read that again.  You are perfect.  Looking in the mirror, or thinking back over your day, it is easy to forget or disbelieve those words.  Don’t let that happen.  A wrinkle here, a bulge there, an unkind word, or a jealous thought cannot change the way the Father sees you.  And it’s how he wants you to see yourself.

 
The dictionary uses 258 words to explain what it means to be perfect, but we only need to know this:  We are complete.  When he chose to die on the cross for our sins, Jesus took away every flaw from those of us who love him.  He finished what we never could; he made us perfect.
 

"By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."  Heb 10:14


Stand before a mirror and ask God to show you what he sees when he looks at you.  See past the flaws, past any hurt or anger in your eyes, past any perceived imperfection. See yourself complete, just as you were meant to be.  See yourself perfect.  How does this change the way you feel about yourself?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What Color Does God Like?

As we celebrate the Joy of Easter today and see all of the beautiful spring colors of decorations, I am reminded of a question I was asked by an innocent little boy.

Last year I had the opportunity to work at a preschool with a friend of mine.  I worked in the four year old classroom and came home with many funny stories that I would share with my own kids who are older and we would all have a good laugh.  One day while helping them do an art project, one of the 4 year olds paused before selecting his color and asked me "What color does God like?"

I thought for a moment before responding that I think God likes all colors because he created them all. 

The beautiful colors of a rainbow, the bright new colors of Spring, the vibrant colors of Fall.
God created a beautiful masterpiece when he created the world.  And he desires to do the same in our lives.

But sometimes we limit what God wants to do.

We create the landscape of our life with a box of 8 crayon colors, but God desires to use the box of 120 crayon colors in our lives.  In my finite box of colors, I am limited to only what I can create with those 8 colors.  But if I let God take over, he can create a beautiful masterpiece.  Sometimes what God envisions or plans for us is so much greater than anything we can imagine.

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord
As the heavens are higher than the earth
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In my box of colors I limit myself to a comfortable, predictable life.  But if I let God take over he grows me and stretches me and expands my capacity to love others.

In my box of colors, there would be no blog, no Facebook page, no outreach efforts, but I am continually amazed at the beautiful story God is creating because I let him use HIS box of colors.

I believe this is true for many women who exit The Life.  They tend to see their world in the bleak colors that they've come to know.  It is difficult for them to imagine their life being any different.  For many it is hard to have hope.  But I believe that when they allow God to enter in that He can create a beautiful masterpiece of restoration and redemption.

Is there an area of your life that seems dark and dreary or maybe not as colorful as you'd like?

Will you allow God to enter in and change the landscape?

Friday, January 29, 2016

God Chooses You

A few weeks ago, our pastor was teaching from the book of Ephesians.  He mentioned that at the time Paul wrote this letter (around 60 A.D) that the city of Ephesus was considered the Slave Capital of the world.
 
He went on to explain that Ephesus was a city built on attaining physical perfection and status.  In Ephesus, they would actually discard babies who they viewed as “less than” outside the city gate.  Babies were discarded and tossed away because they did not measure up to someone’s idea of perfection. 
 
Consequently, if someone in the city of Ephesus desired to own a slave, they would simply go outside the city gate to buy one. 
 
From c.100 B.C. to c. A.D. 100 Ephesus was the world capital of the slave trade.
 
Paul is writing to a city that communicated to its people that if you didn’t measure up to “the standard” then you were unworthy.  You were unacceptable and unlovable.  
 
But Paul writes to remind them that since they now belong to Christ, they must start living their lives accordingly. They need to hold fast to the ways of God rather than the ways of the world. 
 
Ephesians 1:11 tells us that In Him we are chosen! 
 
When the world tells us that we don’t matter, we can take comfort in knowing that God chooses us!  In Him, we are adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven.  He calls us His own and places us in His family.
 
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Eph 1:5 NLT)
 
One of the saddest interactions I’ve ever had with someone who was in The Life was a 25 year-old young woman.  After letting her know that there were people who wanted to support her and point her to resources she said,
 
“I’m too old to be helped.  Why don’t you help the younger girls?”
 
At just 25 years old, this young woman had convinced herself that this was all her life was ever going to be.  She had deemed her life unworthy of anything more. 
 
To her, and to all the other women just like her, I want to say that the message you are being told is a lie.  You do matter.  And you are loved.  GOD chooses you.  He pursues you.  In love, he adopted you.  In His eyes you are perfect, holy and blameless. 
 
Around Christmas, my daughter got a shirt that says, “I woke up flawless.”  And that’s the beauty of the cross.  Because of Jesus’ death on the cross we are deemed flawless.  We are given a new identity.  The old is gone and the new has begun.  We are given a new beginning.  That new beginning is available to anyone who chooses it.  It doesn’t matter your age, your background, or your occupation.  God chooses you.



xx

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Casting Our Net


 
Many of you know that I have recently been blessed with the opportunity to work for an organization called Refuge For Women and that we have been in the process of locating a home for our ministry for quite some time now. 
 
Since last Fall we have been in talks with another non-profit regarding the ownership of a home that they were no longer using.  Our hopes were that this organization would transfer ownership of this home to Refuge.  Since last Fall we have been in a holding pattern to see if this lead would come to fruition. 

We were informed this morning that their governance board, under direction from their funding board, has voted to try to sell the house that they had at first intended to give us.  Their financial resources are dwindling and this could be a way to address that.  While wondering about this turn of events, we trust God and are reminded of Acts 16:6-7 where the Spirit blocked Paul from going to Asia so that he would go to Macedonia.  .

While this is an obvious setback, we remain faithful that He indeed has a house for us, just not that one.

During this time of waiting, we have been like the women with their oil lamps burning.  We are ready to move ahead as soon as God makes His move in telling us where the home will be located. We have been preparing our volunteers, selecting our program director, building connections and partnerships, and fundraising to be able to establish this house well.

As we wait for God to establish the house that He will use for ministry, we are also reminded of Peter’s calling to cast down his net in Luke chapter 5.  Simon (later called Peter) was a fisherman by trade.  He had been fishing all day, but had not been successful. But after being obedient to Jesus’ command, he casts his net and is supplied with more fish than he could ever ask or imagine.

Our efforts in locating a home have not been successful thus far.  But we feel as if God is telling us to cast our net again.  Cast it wider and with more certainty than before.  Cast our net with full confidence that He will fill it to overflowing and provide more than we could ever ask or imagine.  Perhaps God does not have just one house in mind for us.  Perhaps he has 3 homes to fill our net.  And so, dear friends, we are now casting our net in faith.  Let those who have ears to hear, hear this need and pay attention to any promptings they may have to partner with Refuge.  We are asking you to help us stretch our net far and wide.  Do you have a house or know someone that has a house that could be used for ministry? Please let others know that Refuge needs a house. 

Once Peter answered the Lords call, his focus changed from fishing for actual fish and earning a days wage to fishing for people. His focus shifted from the here and now to the eternal.  Fishing for souls and bringing them to Christ. Once God establishes the home, we too will shift our focus.  We will become fishers of women and souls for eternity.  We will then begin the good work that he has started in KY and begin the healing work the Lord has for women who have been exploited in our city and community.

Luke 5
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,  and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

One Word For 2016 - Choose

 
I’m finally getting around to posting my One Word for 2016.  This past year I have really struggled with keeping my emotions in check.  When praying for God to give me a word for 2016 I kept sensing something along the lines of perspective or choice.  So the word that I’ve settled on is choose.

God created us with free will.  The power to choose.

Each and every day we have choices to make.  Simple things like am I going to hit the snooze button just once more and risk being late or will I get up and get moving now so the rest of my morning goes smoothly. And more important choices like how I will react to certain situations or comments.  Will I let my anger rise up and respond with something I’ll regret or will I bite my tongue until I have a chance to calm down.  I have to choose.

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Prov. 10:19).

I find it interesting that one of the ways to sign the word sin in sign language is by pointing your index fingers at the corners of your mouth and then doing a circular motion away from the mouth with your fingers. So often we can sin by what comes out of our mouth.  Our words or even the tone of our words can cause us to sin. We can choose if our words will build up or tear down.  It’s something I want to be more mindful of this year. 

And as I think about this word choose and the power it has over my life, I can’t help but think about this power at work in the lives of women who are in The Life.  As we reach out to them, we are presenting them with a different option. We let them know that there are people who care and resources that are available.  We place this information in their lap, but they have to be the one to choose what to do with that information. 


For you and I, this choice might seem obvious, but to them it is not that simple.  Their life may seem chaotic, unstable and even scary at times to us, but to them it’s what they know.  It’s what is familiar. And don’t we all love to cling to what’s familiar even though it may not be God’s best for us? That quick temper – we justify it by saying “Well that’s just the way I am.”  No, it’s what is familiar to you, but not God’s best for you.  

Ultimately, for these women we reach out to, our hope is that they choose life.  The biggest and most life altering choice we all must make in our lifetime is whether we choose life or death.

Jesus and His death on the cross offers us life.  An abundant life.  Eternal Life.  We are all just one choice away from forever.  You, me, my neighbor down the street.  We all have to choose.  And that choice will last forever, into eternity.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."  Joshua 24:15 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Support Locally With Your Christmas Shopping


Refuge For Women Chicago is a twelve-month holistic journey for women who wish to leave the sex industry.  They are opening a home in the Chicago area in 2016. You can support Refuge For Women just by shopping online with Amazon!  If you already have an Amazon account simply log in to www.smile.amazon.com and select Refuge For Women as your charity of choice.  You use Amazon Smile the same way you use Amazon. It has the same products and pricing as Amazon. You even use the same account, password, and other settings as Amazon. 


WAR Chest Boutique is an arm of Women at Risk International.  Traffic victims are given shelter and care in one of their 5 safe houses and trained with a skill to help them go forward in life.  The items are sold online at their website or one of 3 store front locations in Naperville, IL;  Wyoming;  and Michigan.  The website allows you to shop by the country where the product was made.


Anne's House is currently the only home in IL for minor girls who have been trafficked.  They provide a safe place where the girls can heal and receive counseling. Shop their website for a variety of handmade soaps.  Proceeds directly benefit the girls who live at Anne's House.

 
Ink 180 transforms the painful reminders of left from a former life in a gang or enslaved by human trafficking into beautiful art.  The Ink 180 Documentary follows the life and work of Chris Baker and the former gang members and human trafficking survivors helped by his tattoo ministry. The documentary recently won 2 Emmy awards!  You can purchase this award winning documentary
Here



New Moms provides housing for young moms who are experiencing poverty and homelessness in Chicago. Visit their Bright Endeavors social enterprise and shop a from a selection of handmade candles.


STOP IT operates s Drop In center for young women who have been trafficked or are at risk of trafficking.  The drop in center provides a safe place where they can rest, find resources, and build community.  Shop from STOP IT's online Christmas tree and help their participants celebrate Christmas.  Gifts must be chosen by December 4th and dropped off by December 18th