Relationships That Are a Gift

Chile Update #5

Have you ever spent a short amount of time with someone and thought, I think that person just changed my life?

Mel Hanna may be one of my heroes – at age 82 he is still faithful seeking God and fighting for the truth on the front lines. His words were gentle, clear and went straight to the heart. He was humble and inspiring!

There have been many relationships that have played huge roles in my life. Some have taught me hard lessons and others have helped me grow into the woman I am today. I can say that spending the last two weeks with Mel Hanna was a game changer for me.

Mel is a missionary who teaches on many different topics including our emotions and what God intended for them. He is the author of one of my new favorite books, Mood Food. I actually have read the book twice this month. Mel was serving here in Chile for two weeks. I was lucky enough to listen to him teach, share a couple of meals together, and my favorite time was spent picking his brain on our late afternoon walks.

Mel taught me so many things in what felt like such a short time, but I think the overall theme of our time together was relationships. God has been taking me into a process of understanding deeper relationships. How to trust people and open up my heart and life to people. I want to try to share some of the nuggets Mel passed on to me in our time together.

On one of our walks we talked about the difference between conversation and dialog. Conversations are not about the weather or the newest movie that has been released. Dialog is a gift! It involves shared interest to explore and seek insight. In dialogue we share our weaknesses and show respect and value.

At one point Mel had said, “We need people who are able to activate others Joy center.” Joy is an important emotion that has incredible power to heal and bring life. It seems so simple to me – your joy center is activated when someone is glad to be with you. He went on to say that is all it takes but your relational circuits must be turned on attune to another person and experience true Joy. I wanted to be sure my relational circuits were on so Mel gave me five quick questions to consider.

He asked me to think of a specific person. Got someone in mind? Now answer these five questions using that person’s name in the blank:

  1. Do I desire to be connected to ________?
  2. Do I see _________ as a unique, valuable relational being?
  3. Am I aware of _________ True heart?
  4. Do I feel concern/compassion for what ________ thinks and feels?
  5. Not seeing them as a problem to solve or a resource to be used.
  6. Am I glad to be with _________?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions then your relational circuits are off towards that person. I used these five questions to look at a few of my relationships here in Chile. The results really amazed me. Most people my connectors were ‘on’ towards, but for a few people I had some ‘no’s’.

Our relationship connectors can be turned off for many different reasons. The question becomes, now that you know they are off, are you going to do the work to get them back on? This process seems so simple, but when you’re really honest you can learn a lot about what is going on in your relationships. I have so much more choice in relationships than I realized. I think it was easy to just say ‘some people you click with and others you don’t’.

God has been showing me so much about what is really going on in my relationships. I am so grateful Mel encouraged me to seek God about every person my circuits were turned off towards. To talk to Jesus about each emotion that would come up. God created us for relationships with Him and others. Mel Hanna perspective on emotions and relationships open my eyes to so much more. Our relationship was a gift!

My Maroon Sweater

God had shown me a few weeks back that I had a wrong believe deep inside of me.

I believed I could not choose to have relationship with people. In my belief system, someone had to choose me. I even went as far to believe my view was biblical. Jesus chooses us, men choose a wife – as far as I was concerned it made sense. I watched as I was growing up as strong women in my life picked men to marry. At least that is how I viewed it. They were unhappy and never fulfilled in life. So my belief ran deep – women should not choose. In order to have deep meaningful relationships and someday marriage, people or a man would needed to pick me. Then prove that they were trustworthy over long periods of time.

God began by showing me this was not how trust works. Yes, people need to earn our trust but there is a risk involved in relationships. We have to trust God in ourselves, guiding us, and trust Christ in others. I have been truly blessed by the deep friendships I have in my life. It took years to establish trust and for me to even begin to bring down my walls. I viewed these relationships as people who choose me and then stuck it out. God was asking me if I was open to new relationships. Challenging me to trust people.

My response is always ‘yes’ to God. I want to have deep meaningful relationships with many people. I just could not understand how I could choose. God next led me to a book – the title is “Why Not Women”. In the past I had actually avoided this book. I did not want to read about strong women in leadership roles. Because of what I had seen in the strong women in my family, I wanted to be the opposite of them, making vows to never do what they did or treat people they way they do.

This is a very slippery slope.

Thru this book, God began to reveal to my heart that all humans were created equal. Man and women were both created in his image. He was teaching me about mutual submission and the design he intended for marriage. I felt like I was seeing everything differently. Not only could I celebrate my femininity (that I loved) but honor the masculinity in men. God was empowering me to live out my calling. Women and men are both given gifts and both called to ministry. I don’t need to be afraid to lead because God has also shown me what it means to submit.

This transition did happen overnight, but I could see myself starting to understand what God was doing. I was so overwhelmed by his faithfulness and timing. I went for a walk with God yesterday after lunch, when He reminded me of the wrong belief I had found weeks before. I believed I could not choose and that people needed to choose me. In light of everything God has been showing me, I could see how ridiculous this belief was.

God asked me on our walk, “Do you believe you have a choice in who you trust?” YES.  “Do you believe you have a choice in who you marry?” YES. God gave us free will so that would be able to choose Him. There are so many areas we have choice in. God wanted me to understand I not only had choice about sin, choice about food, choice about my time – I also had choice in relationships.

What happened next is just the icing on the cake.

I thought as I made my way back home, what an incredible, patient, loving God I serve. He longs for me to know truth and to really get it. I have mentioned before one of the ways God moves a truth from our head to our heart is through a visional image. People in counseling sessions get pictures from God that solidify an experience saved in their deep memory bank, and moving it to their heart.

I went to my next counseling session filled with joy. I wanted to share with someone the revelation I was embracing as truth. It’s hard sometimes to say out loud the lies we have been living under, but everything inside of me believes bringing things into the light and saying them out loud has power.

At the end of our session we were praying for the things God was doing. My friend Estela said she felt like God wanted me to know that I do have choice! But more specifically He wanted to give me the desires of my heart. A few weeks back Estela had come to class wearing a beautiful maroon sweater. I had commented on how much I liked it and asked where she had got it. God led Estela to give me that sweater yesterday. It was of course hard to receive, and part of me felt bad about taking it. The image of the sweater, the tangible object in my hand, along with the words she had gotten from God for me, went straight to my heart.

God wants me to choose, he wants to give me what I want. The deep desires of my heart.

I No Longer Believe, I See

Chile Update #4

Faith is being sure of what we Hope for and certain of what we do not see.

For many years now I have felt called to a ministry of healing hearts. Something that is not visible but I have seen God do. This past couple weeks has been about bible basics. I have been re-reading many scriptures that most of us have had memorized for years. The thing is it always comes back to bible basics. Jesus died for our sins and our shame. Shame is a feeling that attacks our Identity. Heart and soul ministry deals with battling the lies that shame has lead us to believe about ourselves. These beliefs hold us back from relationship with God the Father. Jesus took care of all this for us at the Cross. Now we need to see and understand that it is finished. Shame has no power over us anymore.

I wanted to share a few stories about how God has been setting people free here in Pichilamu.

I of course will not give names or even the whole story but I am hoping that hearing how God has revealed truth will encourage anyone who reads this to turn to Jesus and let him set you free from shame. The stories are my favorite part of serving alongside God in ministry.

One of Gods daughters grew up in a joined family. Her mother remarried a man who had kids of his own. For years growing up this little girl was lied to by her step sister. This step sister would whisper in her ear, for years, this is not yours. This is not your house, these are not your clothes, and this is not your family. Shame also leads us to want to hid from God. So this woman never told anyone her sister had done this for years of her life. Fast forward to today and all this shame leaves this daughter of God believing she does not belong. No matter how much she is taught that she belongs in God’s family the feelings of shame are very strong. God healed his daughter’s heart!! After bring this all to the light and then to the cross. Jesus showed her that her step sister was lying in one ear but he was speaking truth in the other.

Another daughter of God was forced at a young age to take nude pictures. There is a lot of shame involved in being wrongfully exposed. Again the truth is that this is wrong and should never have happened, but now she had been living her life out of all the shame. Through the tears, she shared how Jesus showed her that her shame was taken care of at the cross. In one of the pictures this girl was forced to stand with her arms stretched out side to side. God healed this heart by giving her a picture of Jesus standing the exact same way on the cross. She did not have to keep carrying all the shame because Jesus carried it all for her.

Another daughter of God had a wrong belief about relationships. She had grown up surrounded by strong dominating women. This girl had made many vows about never being like the women in her family. Over the years the shame of being a strong woman like her family had let a lie find a root in her heart. Then God started to show her that the lie she believed was that women should not choose relationships. God has a way of bringing things into the light. Once the vows had been broken and the truth was understood. God healed her heart by sending her a present that she had specifically chosen. As soon as the new truth sunk in, God sent a friend to deliver the sweater with a note that said, “God wants to give you the desires of your heart, specifically whatever you choose.”

There are many more stories about what God has been doing in people’s lives here.

These are just a few that stood out to me today. In the beginning Adam and Eve knew no shame. They were vulnerable, naked and had nothing to hide. Shame is a feeling that entered the world at the fall. God is a redeemer and he sent his Son to redeem us all. There are three responses to shame, two of which we saw Adam and Eve try in the garden. The first, denial and hiding, and the second, blaming and defensiveness. I believe the third option is the best. We need to bring our shame to the cross. Enter into a conversation with Jesus about what is happening, repent of our sins, accept forgiveness or forgive. For me this trip has been about seeing things differently. I always believed Jesus died for my sins and shame. But I no longer believe. I see.

Loneliness is No Longer an Issue

Chile Update #3

When I first arrived here in Chile, loneliness was one of my main fears.

I did not know how I was going to handle it or what being alone would lead too. I even mentioned it in my first update. The feeling of being surrounded by people but not able to be understood.

A good friend of mine back home gave me some life changing advice. He said don’t miss out on what God has for you during this alone time. When I reached out to him, It was around my tenth day here and I could see temptations to fill the alone time with media and reading. Loneliness seemed wrong to me. Like a person should not be left with their own thoughts for so many hours and days in a row. Something inside of me knew my friend was right. I again had a choice to push into or avoid what God might be doing. I have always believe if you seek God he will make things clear. I was not willing to miss out on anything God was trying to show me.

In scripture the first thing God names as not good is loneliness.

We really only know ourselves in relationship to God and others. We are lonely, then, because we are separated. All men are broken and separated after the fall. In order to gain wholeness and maturity as a person. We must acknowledge and deeply repent of the separation in our lives. We receive this fullness as we seek to dwell in his presence. Personhood, identity, being itself come from God. If we learn to keep our eyes up, fully focused on God, we are brought into a place of becoming. As our hands and hearts are open to receive. Wholeness is all about coming into that presence. God the father, who has the power of being, heals and affirms us, creating in us a new solid sense of being. For me a firm foundation. When God is centered in us and us in him, we have a home within, a true identity out of which to live.

I share all of this because once I started practicing being in his presence. A place of listening-obedience and my eyes were on him I never felt lonely again. When I think about my time here it is the opposite of loneliness. I have been enjoying Gods peace and unconditional love. Learning, serving, changing and growing all with God above me and within me. This time here has been the most intimate time I have ever had with the lord and I am so glad I did not miss it by filling my time with distractions. The new issue now will be not wanting to leave this country. A place where I have learned to walk hand in hand with God. This land that God made a home in my heart so that loneliness is no longer an issue.

Christians who come into spiritual and psychological wholeness are thereby free to go out and take the world for Christ.

For me this time has been mostly about coming into spiritual wholeness. I have been seeking God for about 10 years now, trying to do what was right and learning about what the truth really was. Looking back I can see Gods faithfulness to bring psychological wholeness. I had 20 years of Sin and wrong beliefs to sort thru and face. There was grieving that needed to happen, understanding that needed to sink in, repentance, forgiveness more repentance and more forgiveness. When I was saved at 16 God had to start at the beginning. Redeeming my Birth experience, revealing my sexual abuse and the repercussions of that, re-parenting me in healthy bounders, healthy sexuality, healthy communication, value and identity.

Jesus is a survivor of abuse

There is real power in understanding or being understood. When I look back on my own abuses and how God has walked me through years of processes to restore what was lost in me. I have so much hope for others. It’s like a driving force that pushes me to want to help people. What impacted me was that Jesus must also be driven by that same truth and hope. He understands because he was there too.

  • Family background – abandoned by his father at the most critical time of the abuse;
  • His mother was an adolescent when she got pregnant and was not married. His father almost rejected his mother because of the baby;
  • His mother was present during the abuse, but was prevented from helping him. Imagine the pain….
  • He was an innocent person who behaved well and had many friends. His friends did not understand why these bad things happened to him;
  • He was a child that knew and loved God. He prayed and read his scriptures.
  • He had many different abusers, among them was a well-know religious minister in his community.
  • The type of abuse was physical, mocking, emotional, spiritual and sexual.
  • He was abandoned and betrayed by people he knew and he had trusted.
  • While he was abused, the abusers said things like, “Why don’t you ask God to stop this?”
  • His abusers drew blood when they abused him.
  • After a time of abuse he dies and they left him naked in public.
  • Do you think this person could understand your experience of abuse if he had survived??

Jesus did survive. He rose from the dead restored. He brought life from death. It was a miracle.

A victim is someone who is dead. Jesus is a survivor of abuse, He is alive. The main difference is a victim has no choice. There was an injustice and something bad happened. He died so that we could have free will, so we could have choice. When he rose again he was now a survivor of abuse. Jesus died and in a miracle rose again so that we to could do the same.  Our miracle today is when people are able to talk about abuse. the miracle of healing comes. You are no longer a victim but a survivor.

Now that the miracle has happened the real work begins. Abuse damages our bodys, emotions, thoughts and spirit. The real work is walking out the process of learning how to live again and see how God wants to restore each area.

When Lazarus died, Jesus had compassion and preformed a miracle. He brought life from Death. As a counselor I can not bring life from Death – only Jesus can. After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, he said to his disciples, “Remove the death robes from him”. Once a person comes to life there is a process of removing the death robes. As counselor I can come alongside someone in their process of removing the death robes/old self. Jesus did not do this part in a miraculous way. He simple asked his disciple to help do it.

I personally see it as a true honor when someone lets me come alongside them in a part of their process. Opening their hearts and sharing their story. We are all in the process of being redeemed.

God Can Fill Our Needs

I want to take a quick moment to share how awesome our God is.

Things have really picked up pace over here. Lots of relationships building and healing coming. This week has been very heavy emotionally as we work with the topic of sexual abuse. Please be praying for everyone to have clear understand of the damages done and how to walk along side of people who are in the healing process.

Now for how awesome God is.

I was feeling worn out this afternoon and really emotionally drained. If you know me very well then you probably know I have battled turning to food to fill this void in the past. Tonight I went to God and he spoke words of comfort and told me I did not need anymore food tonight. He also assured me he would fill the void for me.

When I arrived at the kitchen for my evening work duties of washing the dishes, I was blessed by a thoughtful surprise. One of the Spanish-speaking students here overheard me talking about liking Christmas music and brought an English CD for me to sing along to while we worked. It was JUST what I needed. My spirit was lifted and the void was filled as I sang along to a Jamaican version of “O Holy Night” while my fellow dishwasher laughed and danced by my side.

To top it off as I walked out the door a different student handed me a Christmas mug with my hot water already poured. I felt so loved my God and the awesome YWAMers here in Chile tonight.

Christmas is coming! God is changing me so much I can’t keep up.

My heart is full.

God is Changing My Perspective

Chile Update #2

I have felt now for a few weeks that God has been changing the way I see things. Any time you travel to another country and are immersed in their culture things are different. There are new languages, different priorities, new processes to learn and new ways of thinking. This is not my first time coming to a new place, so I felt open and ready for the challenges that would lie ahead. Things have not been easy but they have not been bad.

I am starting to learn the language – this morning I had a good laugh trying to tell my house mates, in Spanish, that I love having eggs and avocados for breakfast every day. This idea was new for them but it seemed they enjoyed my efforts to talk in Spanish. They say 80% of conversation is non-verbal and I would have to agree. I am so encouraged by the relationships I am forming here even though we do not always have a lot of words to say to each other. God is showing me so much in this time with not a lot of conversation.

Another area that I have been observing here in Chile is the way people think about love. This being a Hispanic nation love is in the air and I enjoy it. People here are very affectionate with their spouses. I can’t help but notice all the hand holding that I see everywhere. No matter if couples are young newlyweds or further along in their adventure, it is normal here to hold hands when you walk anywhere.

The other observation I have made is about how they go about getting married. It is not like home at all. Here if you’re interested in someone you go straight to your parents or leadership. Everyone starts praying and there is a significant waiting period. Not a lot of dating and testing out the waters, more time to build a friendship and pray. Once the elders believe and confirm that this relationship is right and good, your engagement is announced to the public.

It is a very exciting time and everyone gets to celebrate your choice to love. Sometimes there is a ring exchanged that night but sometimes they just put the ring on later. I had the privilege of experiencing this last Friday, now that they have been announced as a couple, dating and working towards marriage. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed asking questions about all of this and learning how they think differently about love and marriage. It’s not about if their way is right or wrong, it’s just different and I can see some of the benefits of this way of thinking. I have been blown away by the number of married couples in ministry side by side here.

Let me see if I can explain a little better. When a teacher comes to teach here, it is a husband and wife team teaching. Or when I go to my exercise class on Thursday night, it is a husband and wife leading together. Even when there are announcements, it seems like both husband and wife are there. God has been changing my perspective about marriage and what doing ministry alongside a man someday could be like.

Processes and priorities are always a part of the stretching experience I go thru when I travel overseas.

I have never had a problem loving people and seeing the value in them. But where I do struggle is with my plans and ideas on how things should get done. My expectations in coming to Chile was that once again I would be challenged in these areas to grow in my character. I was right – it has been a challenge.

What I did not expect was for God to start changing my perspective on these areas in my own life. Anyone who knows me, knows I like to have my plans and when change comes along I am not always excited about it. In Chile things change multiple times a day. I learned quickly it was silly for me to even think about having a plan. God has been showing me how even when I don’t think I have plans, I do. Also he has been showing me why I feel I need to have plans all the time. Plans give me a false security. Almost like something to control. God has been leading me back to the basics. Asking me what my foundation is built on? When you have a firm foundation, you are secure. It’s been my experience that when God starts to give me revelation about an area in my life that needs to change, I am a 100% in. And believe it or not I make a plan to deal with the problem and take care of it. Firm foundation and security, yes and no more plans, deal. My perspective was my plan was not working and now I had found God’s plan. God wanted me to see it differently. His perspective was not that my plans are bad or that I needed to find his plans for my life – God wants to make plans with me!

True life is found in intimacy with God – not in what he can give me or the plans he has for me.

God is changing my perspective.

Seeing Things Differently

Chile Update #1

Chile is a beautiful country full of colors. The buildings and houses are painted many bright colors. from lime green to salmon orange. I can’t help but smile when I look around and think how different the houses are here. The town I am serving is called Pichilemu. Pichilemu is a sought after destination for surfers and summer vacations. So most of the colorful houses here are really more like beach bungalows. I think the houses are one of my favorite parts of this adventure so far.

I am wrapping up my second week here and I think it is safe to say I am coming out of the initial transition that happens when you leave home and enter a new place. Transition and change is really a process of growing and stretching. For most people being stretching does not always feel good. God has been speaking so clearly to me that he wants to change the way I see things. This has been exciting to me because I long to see things the way God sees them. My transition back into YWAM or into this new country has been hard. Realizing how alone I might feel surrounded by people speaking Spanish all the time mixed with struggling to use the internet or exchange money. Felt like things were too hard and maybe I was being stretch to much. God met me in this time and started to guide me step by step. I chose to praise him no matter what my circumstance, he started to change the way I saw my transition. God spoke to me one night as tears filled my eyes again because the internet would not work. He was not playing with me. I felt like everything was going wrong and god reminded me that when storms come we have the opportunity to grow in our character. Seeing it that way as an opportunity to grow in character turned my spirit from overwhelmed to hopeful.
Once my spirt changed I really started to enjoy everything much more. Class has become exciting and putting together teaching to share has been so encouraging. Next week I will have the opportunity to teach on having a revelation of the father God. As I have been preparing and remember the incredible ways God has met me and changed me. My enthusiasm for this opportunity to come to Chile and learn more about God is growing stronger. I am coming alive here and the peace I feel just knowing this season if for me and God is a joy I don’t ever want to lose.

Please continue to pray for me as I try to learn more Spanish

God has been so faithful to make ways of communication I could not have dreamed up. Counseling was a challenge in my own language but I have to trust God on a whole new level doing counseling in a second language. I am learning a lot and really beginning to see things differently.

Faith and intimacy

What is seen is not made out of what is Visible. I preserver because I saw him who is invisible by faith. Faith is being sure of what we Hope for and certain of what we do not see. For many years now I have felt called to a ministry of healing hearts. Something that is not visible but I have seen God do. Something I have hoped for is deep intimacy in my life. The last couple weeks I am certain God is showing me what Intimacy with him is like. This week has been full of repentance and letting go for me. God had planned something better for us then we ever could have dreamed up or imagined. I use to be someone who was always trying to figure everything out. Asking God to tell me the next step. I was seeking God for all the things he could give me. I was challenged over the weekend by the question, from God, will you love me if there are no answers? If you don’t know the plan or purpose? Of course my first response is yes. Because that is the right answer isn’t it. But God deals with matters of our heart. I believe for the first 30 years of my life I was trying to arrive at a place to receive all the promises I believe God had given me. A calling, ministry, husband and family. All the things that I believed life was really about. Now I know Life is about seeing God. Knowing the value and reward in heaven. It seems like God is lifting my eyes ahead past any earthly desires to my reward in heaven.