Five Minute Friday-Team

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Today I’m linking up once again with the Five Minute Friday crowd. FMF provides a prompt word every Friday.. The rule is a prompt word is provided and we write….for five minutes, no editing, just raw and real. Then we post and go back encourage the person who posted prior to us. Today’s word is “Team”. The link is http://katemataung.com/2016/08/19/five-minute-friday-team/
Team: Diverse individuals working together toward a common cause. It’s my definition; not coming from a dictionary but from a grieving heart. We range in age from early 20’s to 65 plus. We are married, divorced, single, widowed and every stop in between. We are male, female, straight, gay, lesbian, Methodist, Protestant, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, New Age and Atheist. We are introverts, extroverts, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists, managers, business men and women, lawyers, therapists, support personnel, receptionists, even a Queen, and, most of all….educators. We’ve been together, some of us for upwards of 15 plus years. We have had chili cook-offs, cookie bake-offs and dunk tanks. We’ve celebrated the birth of babies and mourned the death of babies. We’ve been together through the loss of parents, spouses, children, marriages and friends. Team members have left; by their own choosing or by the choice of a company that seems to simply push buttons from far away. Those of us remaining are charged with a daunting but somehow Holy task; to push through to the end with dignity. To uphold the values and integrity that have made this team strong for many years. We will, in the coming months, clean out labs and classrooms, stack chairs and tables, support students as they complete degrees, sort through 40 years of paperwork AND, nearly every month we will hold a “going away” as members of the team move on and numbers dwindle. Each month brings new losses, new grief and new opportunities for growth. As a TEAM we will laugh, cry, mourn, celebrate and continue doing the best we can in a sometimes unbelievable situation (often all in the same day). Perhaps Alan Jackson describes it best when he says “life gets changed, disassembled rearranged, come together, fall apart”.
Life is indeed changing; team members are finding new employment opportunities, students are graduating with no fresh faces to fill their spots. In less than two years from now the team as we know it will cease to exist; and YET it will always live on..in different places, with different people. Some of us will remain close, some we will never see again, but the Team built in diversity and love will never cease to exist within the hearts of those who built it and who were part of it. Each one of us will be a better person for the honor of being a part of what we will always remember as “Team Findlay”.
This blog is dedicated to past and present team members of BMCFI and in memory of Fred Baldwin….a forever member of Team Findlay. I love each of you and whenever I think of the word Team….it will always be “Team Findlay”.

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Goodbye 2014

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Farewell 2014

A New Year, a clean slate……ready to be filled with joy and pain, good and bad, smiles and tears.   But ready more than anything to be filled with the Presence of my everlasting and ever loving Father.  A New Year, I think requires a look back at the old year while at the same time straining and keeping our eyes on what lies ahead.

Today, thanks to some writing I have been doing over the past year and a half I had a unique opportunity to look back at what I wrote to welcome in 2014.  I was literally struck by the writing…….it centered around a word that proved, in retrospect, to be a near perfect description of different ways in which 2014 played out.  The word was dynasty and last year as I puzzled over why God would give me such a different word I grasped hold of one definition of dynasty: “a family/team that is powerful or successful over a long period”.   I knew, right then and there I wanted to be part of God’s dynasty and God spoke to me through some odd insights in to four animals:  a duck, a moose, a lion and a goose.  I wrote these words about a duck “ducks are interesting creatures….on water they move gracefully and freely, but on land they seem to waddle to their own offbeat tune.  Their quacking increases in intensity when they feel threatened yet seem to sing almost a lulling tune when paddling peacefully alongside their mate”.  Oh what truth rang to this, I can see those days when I kept my eyes on Him, focused on walking in the strength and love of His Spirit I was able to move gracefully and freely but when my focus wandered away the days became awkward and difficult.  This past year I experienced more healing and spiritual growth than I had ever dreamed possible.  I wanted desperately to be part of His dynasty and through that healing God has began laying out more and more ways for me to share His love with others…….through friendships, through people He has brought into my path and even………to my amazement through preaching His Word on occasion!!! 

Last year I wrote maybe God wanted me to be a moose in His dynasty; to live more by faith and less by sight; to learn to peacefully exist in whatever circumstances are before me.  No, I definitely have not been a perfect moose, but 2014 taught me lessons about slowing down, moving in His seasons and allowing Him to direct the seasons rather than me trying to constantly take control.  I have had some amazing moments of soaking in His Presence, just allowing Him to fill me rather than fighting endlessly toward an unknown goal.  Sometimes just soaking in His presence is all we are capable of, and He honors that and fulfills it in ways we never realized we needed. 

As a lion in God’s dynasty in 2014 I was humbly honored to be a part of faith community that has grown spiritually by leaps and bounds.  When the leader of our community was hit with a very difficult season this community of faith came together as a pride…..lifting each other up in faith and spirituality and at times literally roaring with amazing, Spirit filled and heart wrenching prayer for all those in our community who were in desperate need.  It was an honor and a privilege to watch this “pride”, this faith community rise spiritually to the occasion and support their leader in way that honored our Heavenly Father.

Finally, last year, God asked me to be a goose in His dynasty; an animal with strong values, loyalty and a willingness to care for and protect those who are physically or even spiritually injured.  A goose will guard an injured family member until he/she recovers or dies.  I cannot even describe how being a goose has played out this year.  As two members of our close knit community of friends  faced overwhelming challenges we have literally stood guard over them; covering them in prayer, filling in for them when they simply could not face another person, and given our own shoulders to their buckets of tears all the while wading through our own grief within these situations.   These five friends have bowed shoulder to shoulder to our Father  in the fiercest love, loyalty, caring and protection I have ever been witness to……and we have survived; even thrived.  

The challenges of 2014 are far from over; these friends and others will continue to need each of these animals in their corner………but what being a part of His dynasty (family successful over a long period of time) has taught me will never, ever be forgotten.   Not only will it never be forgotten…..but as He promises in His Word He has used, is using  and will be using ALL of this to His Glory.  2014 was PROOF BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT of this promise:

And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified”.  Romans 8: 28-30 NIV

Thank you Father……for calling me to be part of your dynasty for 2014 and may I forever honor and glorify you in all circumstances!  Amen

This goodbye 2014 post is lovingly dedicated to the gatherers of Grace Outrageous Ministry (GO Ministry) and to the five most amazing friends in the world…….Tress, Beverly, Sharon, Dawn and Dawn….I love you all!!! 

MOST IMPORTANTLY IT IS DEDICATED TO HIM WHO HAS MADE IT ALL POSSIBLE……MY LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST!!! 

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Five Minute Friday: Prepare

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Linking up again this week with the Five Minute Friday crowd. We take the prompt word and write for five minutes straight; no editing, no overthinking….just five minutes of writing.  The only rule is to go back and encourage the one who posted before you.  The link is:  http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/    Today’s prompt word…….Prepare!   Ready, set, go

“You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over”  Psalm 23:5

Preparation My child, is Me working in you. It is My quiet whispers to your heart, it is the opening of old wounds. It is tears of cleansing. Preparation My child is about bringing forth a beauty you have yet to understand. You prepare for what I have to give you my child when you sit quietly with Me in these wounds and tears. When you grant Me full, unhidden access to the innermost chambers of your heart. Preparation is bowing your head and falling to your knees. It is leaning into and on Me, your Father in Heaven whose love is beyond your comprehension. Preparation is lifting your eyes to My natural wonders and drinking in the beauty even through your tears. Preparation is trusting Me, even when there is nothing to see. It is crying as if the floodgates have been opened. It is laughing out loud when I delight you and take you by surprise. Preparation is found in silent prayer………when you have no words to speak and in sobbing prayer when you pour out your heart. Preparation is laughing with friends even when you feel as if your insides are being ripped apart. Preparation, believe it or not is arguing with Me. You know I will win, but arguing is part of the preparation. It is obeying Me, day by day. It is sinning and repenting. Preparation is being who you are…….oh so not perfect but accepting I still love you. Sometimes preparation is as simple yet difficult as getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. Preparation is listening to My whisperings even as the world is saying no. Preparation is embracing ALL that I am in you…..the good and the bad. Preparation is saying Here I am Lord, without knowing the destination. Preparation is eager anticipation of a destination fully known only to Me. It is looking ahead with enchanted wonderment while obeying Me in the mundane of your life. It is listening and responding, doing and resting, crying and laughing. Preparation is Me…..living and working in you. Preparation is your journey to Me………..and My daughter, I am so happy you are indeed preparing.

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Five Minute Friday: Because

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Linking up with The Five Minute Friday crew for the first time in a while. I invite you to drop in and Link up at http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-Friday/.   The rule is a prompt word is provided and you write, for five minutes whatever comes, no editing, no long thinking just write. When you are finished go back and comment on the link before you and provide support.

 

This weeks prompt word…..because. Ready, set, go!!

 

Because Your promises are for me, because You have touched my heart in places I didn’t even know existed, because You have shown me the beauty of a loving Father, because You have given grace unconditionally. Because You have whispered to me, shouted to me and loved me without words. Because You have entered into my life. Because You have upheld me when I had nothing left. Because You have gathered my millions of tears. Because You have given me millions of smiles. Because You have taken my violently trembling hand and placed it in Yours. Because You have listened to the fears and failures and doubts without judgment. Because You have given me a heart full of compassion. Because You have shown me what true love and true community is. Because You have blessed me with Your everlasting presence, touched me to the depths of my soul. Because You have given me oh so much more than I could ever deserve. Because You have taken this broken child and transformed her, renewed her and given her a heart with a desire to pursue You and You alone. Because You are all, all of my past, all of my present and all of my future. Because You are the great I Am. Because of all this and much more I will worship You forever!!!

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Five Minute Friday: Hands, The Power of Gentle

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I’m linking up once again this week Lisa Jo Baker and the Five Minute Friday crowd. Once a week she provides a writing prompt…..the rules; write for five minutes, no editing, just write what is in your heart. Link up with the FMF crowd at http://lisajobaker.com/2014/06/five-minute-friday-hands/

Post a link then go back and encourage the one who linked up before you. This week the prompt is “hands”. Ready, set, go!

 

HANDS: The Power of Gentle

 

2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV) “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”.

 

His hands brushed gently against my forehead, then trailed through my hair. The love and gentleness was like nothing I had ever before experienced. As I lay on that floor, crying out to my God for peace and comfort He reached down from His heavenly throne and nourished my soul in what could only be a product of the gentle hands of Jesus. The hands were enthroned with love and power……their gentle caresses like that of a soft warm breeze. My heart cried out….my God, my God…I need you, I’m falling fast and hard, I don’t know where to turn or how to escape the grips of this anxiety. As my heart continued to cry His gentle hands continued to nourish, they trailed through my hair, they were laid on my forehead and as this occurred He began speaking deep into my soul. “My daughter, My beloved, relax into My hands, feel the peace and love, let it seep deep into you. I am here, I am never leaving, I will caress you for eternity in the gentleness and love of my hands. Turn your heart and your tears to Me, my hands are here, full of gentleness and love…..lean into them, feel My presence, feel the power within My gentle love……feel My hands, the wounds within flowing with a perfect love, take power and comfort from the love of these hands and let the gentleness nourish your beaten down soul”. Oh my God, my God, I give you all Glory, Honor and Praise for the gift of these gentle hands.

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The Master Composer

 

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                A symphony of pain and of healing, a symphony of lies replaced with truths, a symphony of anxiety yielding to relaxation, and a symphony of depression overcome by joy.  This, my friends, is a description of the past several months of my life; it could be the description of any of ours.  Every one of us, if we are honest find ourselves at a time in life where things are just ‘not as they should be’, where we desperately search for something to fill the aching, empty space in our heart.  This ache could be caused by grief, abuse, dysfunctional families, childhood wounds, adulthood wounds, or even just the everyday battle of being.  It may have been caused by others, self-inflicted or be a strange combination of both.  When the season comes upon us, when we are desperately searching for the ‘cure’ to end the ache we begin to look for ways to alleviate the pain.  For some, it is addictive behaviors, sometimes we look for loved ones to ‘cure’ us, sometimes we even look to ourselves for the ‘cure’, thinking if we were just better, stronger, more faithful, more obedient that the ache would somehow magically heal.  I know because I have searched desperately for the ‘cure’ in all these places; for me it was most especially looking within, believing I should be able to fix the ache, believing if I were just stronger, more organized, had more faith that the ache would be ‘cured’.  What I found instead was that for an ache to be truly healed that healing must be of, through and within my Master Composer; my Lord and my Saviour Jesus Christ. 

                The Master Composer has already written the symphony of Amy but what the past several months have taught me is just because a symphony is beautifully written does not mean it will be just as beautifully orchestrated unless I, the musician,  follows the flow of the music set forth by the composer.  I believe that God has written a beautiful symphony for each and every one of His children but so many times our eyes stray from reading the notes and following along.  I like to think I follow the notes of the symphony, but the past several months have revealed the truth that way too many times my eyes stray from the music sheet, way too many times the notes are blocked from my vision by eyes full of tears, way too many times I simply tire of paying attention and look away.  There are hurts in our souls, lies we believe that lead to fear, anxiety, and depression.  These hurts, these fears cloud our eyes and cause us to lose focus, to stray from the notes He has so lovingly scripted for us.  They cause our hearts to close down, to put away our instruments and refuse even to look at the beautifully written music.  The longer the hurts, and fears keep us from His music the deeper the ache grows until finally we realize we can no longer bear the pain it has caused.  It is in that pit, where we can no longer hear His music, where we no longer have the strength to lift our eyes to the notes in front of us; this is where we must make a choice, cry out to God for deliverance or continue living in our deathly quiet pit of depression.  This is also where others have the opportunity to cry out for us, and where we, who have been in this pit, can recognize it and cry out on behalf of others. 

                I won’t lie, the choice I made to cry out to God was not easy; in fact, it was one of the most difficult cries I have ever uttered, it was so pitifully weak that friends who have been there interceded and strengthened the cry for me.   It was riddled with pain of its own, fears that came from the depths of hell, shame, embarrassment, guilt and even hopelessness at times.  Yet what I have discovered is the pain, fear, shame, embarrassment, guilt and even hopelessness were all musical notes of their own, written by God with a specific reason in mind.  You see each of these musical notes if they stand alone are just notes, they make no sense, create no music, they are just sounds.   Yet when they are followed together, in a pattern designed by the Master Composer they begin to create beautiful music.  Notes of pain are followed by long stanzas of healing. Notes of fear precede an entire page of courage and strength.  Notes of shame are quickly forgotten as they are replaced with love notes from the Father.  Notes of embarrassment fade quickly as truth is revealed within.  Notes of guilt are replaced with repentance and covered with the blood of Christ.  And those notes of hopelessness?  Friends those notes of hopelessness turn to an all consuming symphony, a symphony of joy created by the blending of all these beautiful notes.  A symphony that is at once beautiful and painful, a joy filled lilt and a low wailing sound of grief, a quick percussion section invoking both excitement and fear and a stringed instrument section that puts a song of praise on our lips and in our hearts. 

                This is the symphony of the Lord, the symphony we can all be a part of, the symphony that is meant to catapult our lives into a way of living, loving and following the footsteps of the Master Composer Himself.  This is a symphony of freedom, of grace, of love, of mercy that takes us from what has been and invites us to step forward into what He has written for us.  A symphony composed by the Master Himself for each of us, in this time, in this season and in this place.  Will you lift your eyes to His music?  Will you step forward with a faith that knows each note (painful or not) is part of the beautiful symphony written especially for you before you were knit together in your mothers womb?  If you feel you cannot step forward, will you allow a trusted friend to stand in that gap and step forward for you in prayer?    

 I pray today my friends for your eyes to lift to His music, your heart to open to His love and for you to learn to dance to the symphony created just for you, beautiful you, by a loving, gracious and merciful Father.  I pray friends if you need someone to stand in that gap for you, that God brings to you a trusted friend full of the power of the Holy Spirit.  I pray for your symphony to bring joy beyond measure to your heart.  In the strong and saving name of Jesus Christ our Master Composer…. Amen

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Treacherous Trips……Breathtaking Beauty

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This week the “Polar Vortex” reached its peak in my neck of the woods.  The snow and cold that arrived reminded me of the long ago “Blizzard of 78” which will remain forever in my memory.  This time however, I am an adult and forced to return to my responsibilities much faster; thus Wednesday morning found me driving first to my moms to deliver my son for the day and then to work on roads that were quite treacherous.  As I drove the roads my concentration was necessarily on the task in front of me; arriving safely at my destination.  As I looked out over the roads and gauged the capabilities of my little Escape I became more and more anxious.  The roads were horrid with ice, snow and drifting everywhere; visibility was limited at times and I found myself with white knuckles on the steering wheel, holding my breath and keeping my eyes locked on the path in front of me.  After our safe arrival at moms I then faced going back on those roads for the 15 mile trip to work, a drive which normally takes 15 minutes I knew would be much longer and the anxiety quickly returned.  As I pulled out of town and onto the highway I noticed the wind had calmed down and the sun was beginning to make its way over the horizon revealing the bluest of skies.  With improved visibility I began to relax and that’s when I noticed it; the entire landscape surrounding me was covered in the most beautiful white I have ever seen, each and every tree looked as if God had reached down from the sky and painted them with diamond infused white paint.  The roads were still terrible, treacherous and requiring careful attention but as I carefully surveyed the landscape God began speaking deeply to my heart. 

You see, I’m no stranger to treacherous roads, those roads in life which are covered in anxiety, depression and fear are an all too familiar part of my journey; many were trips forced upon me by the lies planted in my heart by others however many of them admittedly were trips I chose when the lies were told by me to my own heart.  Lies such as you are not worthy, you are not good enough planted themselves in my heart at a young age.  The biggest lie of all with its basis in those lies was the one I have told myself; whenever bad things happen it must be my fault in some way.  I have taken responsibility for way too much; the good news however is the lies that have caused me to take that responsibility are slowly being replaced with the truth of God’s word. Nearly four years ago I began to study His Word in earnest; with the help of a trusted friend and Pastor I began the most important trip of my life, slowly allowing His Word to seep into my heart and to replace those treacherous lies with the beauty of His Truth.  The trip has been the most pain filled and most beautiful trip I have ever taken, it has been filled with slick, ice covered areas that make me slide off the road and into a pit.  In these pits God reveals himself in ways I could never imagine; in these pits He provides friends who show me how important it is to have prayer warriors.  This trip has been full of depression so heavy my visibility was reduced to mere inches.  During the times of low visibility it was prayer and the intervention of His Holy Spirit that provided me with enough guiding light to hesitatingly navigate the road.  This trip included obstacles; obstacles deeper than the snow drifts waiting to bog down my car and bring my trip to a grinding halt.  Yet, the obstacles were also met with the tools of God’s Word; trust in Me, keep pushing forward, if the drift is too deep let Me show you a detour are the words God spoke into my heart.  Frankly, this is one trip I don’t want to end and I pray it doesn’t end until its final stop at the feet of my Father’s throne.    

 I have always believed in God as my Father, but father is a term I use loosely, for my experience of father’s was not always a pleasant one.  This summer I was blessed beyond my wildest imagination when God led me down yet another treacherous road and then infused His beauty into the surroundings.  I attended a seminar in Ashland OH led by Dr. Terry Wardle; it was the one of the most painful trips of my life, but without a doubt it was the most beautiful trip of my life thus far.  It was a seminar on healing prayer and though it is designed to equip professional and laypersons alike in the process of using healing prayer it also tends to take participants down their own treacherous roads. Dr. Wardle’s unique gift of sharing the treacherous highways of his own life touched the hearts of many; myself included.  The treacherous trip for me began in earnest as he shared anecdotes of the relationship he shared with his children.  With each anecdote my own trip became more and more treacherous until by the end of the seminar I was clinging white knuckled to my own steering wheel.  That’s when the beauty arrived; first in the form of a small group I was privileged to be a part of, and next in my own opportunity to experience healing prayer.  The most beautiful part of my treacherous trip however lay at the end of the seminar; having endured the anecdotes and stories of his relationship with his children all week long I was ready to go home, process and cry.  Instead as I readied to leave I looked up and saw my opportunity to thank Dr. Wardle once more for his amazing insights. Though I had endured pain throughout the seminar due to my own issues I had also found it to be the most beautiful time of learning and basking in the Holy Spirit I have ever experienced.  I approached Dr. Wardle slightly shy but earnestly wanting to thank him for the opportunity; we chatted briefly and then as I turned to leave he touched my shoulder and said to me “wait, Amy I want to give you something, I want to give you The Father’s blessing”, with that he held me close, his hand upon my face, we were touching cheek to cheek and he whispered the most beautiful words I have ever heard in my entire life into my ear.  He told me of the love the Father has for me in a way that penetrated deep into my soul.  His touch and words were not his own; I know without a doubt the touch and words I felt that day were the hands and voice of The Father, those five days were a time of treacherous roads and dangerous territory for my heart, yet the beauty that arose out of those five days is worth more to me than my heart could ever explain. 

My dear friends I bless you today with the love of The Father who knows all about your treacherous trips but whose only desire is that the road brings you closer and closer to Him.  I pray that as you navigate these roads you are able to lift your eyes to above, lift them up and look at the beauty that surrounds you, the pure snow white gift of His love and the diamonds He places within that snow.  Those diamonds are His Word, friends who support and pray, family who loves and the brightest diamond of all; Christ Jesus who bowed to the will of His Father, allowed His own road to be stained with blood and then was fully resurrected in order that we may be granted the greatest gift of all.  My love to each of you this day…..Amen

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