Monday, March 14, 2016

The Battle Within

I am both a passionate person and a person who gets discouraged easily. At times it is very difficult to live with both of these qualities within me at the same time. They war within me, battling to see which one can keep the forefront of my mind. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But you know what, I think you resonate with what I'm saying. We all have a battle within us between who God made us to be and who we struggle with being in our human reality. This is the nature of sin. This is the fallen world. Last week the discouraged me won out. I had some let-downs and I was still worn-out from the flu. To make matters worse, I let that voice of discouragement within me leak into the visible, audible world. I put that discouragement and doubt and disappointment to words - out loud.,I sometimes wonder if what I/we are doing in life and in ministry is worth it. I struggle sometimes with the loneliness that comes from people not getting involved in the world around them outside of their own family or their church friends. I struggle because when I read God's Word and see Jesus' examples I read and see a call to get outside of ourselves, outside of our comfort zones, and give ourselves away - radically and sacrificially to people who are not like us, to people who live in a world that is without God and without hope(Ephesians 2:12-13). And that's how I felt last week and that's how I ended up in discouragement; how I ended up in letting discouragement win out over the passion God has placed within me. And then yesterday God gave me a gift - He let me have some insight into the world He sees. 

I don't know why I haven't spoken much on this blog about the ministry work I am involved in. It is, after-all, my blog. And it dawned on me last night that I can write about whatever I want here. I may offend some, but then, hey, you the reader, can choose not to read it. You see, the purpose for me blogging is not for you the reader. (Sorry!) I blog because it is another creative outlet for me.. I blog because there is often a lot of things floating around up in my head and writing on my blog helps me formulate it all and make it cohesive. I blog for me. And so last night as I was pondering my day and my week I was struck with the thought that I want to blog about it.

I sat in church surrounded by a bunch of kids who I call my god-grandchildren, hugging them and loving on them. I looked around me and saw single moms and teachers and kids who all come to our church now because we stepped out of our comfort zone ten years ago and adopted a public school. They are a part of my family now because we heard God call us to get outside of ourselves and serve and love people who are different than us. I saw a young lady who is struggling with addiction and felt God compel me to tell her from Him that it is time for her to be free. And I did and we talked and hugged and cried together. I helped a young man with a homework project after church and shared my love for photography with him and taught him some things. When I took him home I saw one of the teens I haven't seen in a while and gave him a ride to his job. He shared how well he is doing in high school, being on the honor roll, doing well in his job, his plans for his life. I saw his mom who just got a part time job (I think her first) and has stopped drinking and is getting life together at last for both of them. All these things were a glimpse of God giving me encouragement that getting outside of yourself, beyond your own family, outside of your comfort zone is exactly what He has called His people to do - and it is worthwhile. God gave me a glimpse of the impact sacrificing and loving and serving has had on a group of moms and kids and school staff. He showed me that lives have been changed because we were obedient to His call and took the Kingdom of God to the world around us.

Jesus said:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
If you call yourself a Christ-follower then this is your call: to follow the Jesus way, to embrace His truth and to live His life. How?
He also said: ",,and anyone who does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:38-39. Friends, we have to live as Jesus did, sacrificially giving our lives away for Him and for the sake of those who are far from Him. There is an economic principle at work in God's kingdom that doesn't make sense to those who don't follow God. When you give away your money, your time, yourself for God's work then He makes sure your family, your provision and your life are taken care of. So many people tell me they can't get involved in what God is calling us to because they have to take care of kids, homeschool, take care of people in the church family - It's all self-focused and self-centered. Sure we have to have things in place to take care of ourselves, our family and our church family, but that's not the end-run. God's ways are the end-run. When we do what God has called us to do then He provides what is needed to take care of His own. Step out of your comfort zone for God.

Because Jesus also said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:30-31
And He said: "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35
How will "all people" know that we love one another and that we are Jesus' disciples if we never get outside of ourselves, our comfort zones, our families, our church family? How will they see it?

Well, that's the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life this weekend. I am so grateful that despite my struggle with discouragement and despite how often I fail at loving and forgiving those in my church family and in my biological family, that God graces me with a glimpse of how He is using my willingness to get outside myself to help Him impact and change the lives of others. I am blessed with His free gifts of love and grace.

If I have offended anyone reading my blog I apologize. It's my blog. If you don't like what I have to say then, by all means, close the screen. Don't read it. But if you are a Christ-follower then I ask you to read God's Word and pray about how He is calling you to give up your life, follow Him and His ways and get outside of your comfort zone. Serve the people around you who do not know Christ and allow Him to use YOU in their lives for God's glory.

And guess what? You'll see a lot more about ministry here in the future...along with art and photography, kids and birds.

Another gift this weekend was seeing an Eagle on my sunrise beach walk!

We had our staff retreat this weekend on Lake Erie. Saturday morning I went for a sunrise walk on the beach. Even though it was 33 degrees and brisk, the sky was clear and the sun was out and it was so refreshing! All photos in this post are from that walk.



  1. A beautiful post, Mary. Yes, we are called outside ourselves, to be uncomfortable, to show love to a love-starved world. My Lent reading has been No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke, about how to show grace in this post-modern society. A challenge, but one we must step up for.

  2. Great post Mary! I am always blessed by your posts! I love scanning my email and seeing a new post is there! Thanks for all you do and for sharing your heart with us!

  3. We see God and we see ourselves - ragtag and needing a savior. How lovely it is when we realize all over again how precious it is to be able to proclaim the goodness of God in our lives, to shout it from the mountaintop, or share it in a blog. Praise the Lord!

  4. I have just had 2 really hard and frustrating weeks. I got into bed and said to my husband. I feel defeated. And I was feeling like all the fight was out of me and that I surrender to the situations raging in my life. I picked up my iPad and opened blog reader...and there it was. This beautiful and timely post. Thank you Mary. You are the messenger with the words I needed tonight. Bless you.

    1. Oh Christina, I am so glad these words in my rant were an encouragement to you! I pray all the time for God to use me and I'm so glad He did so with you. You are one of those people who has become a friend through the internet wires. I'm praying for you. :)

  5. Wow, Mary. This was so powerful and so real. Authenticity is so compelling. So often the world thinks of Christians as separatists and yet, like you said, we are to take the beautiful kingdom of God to the world around us. Thank you for that reminder.