Transforming Your Story

Maria thought she was healed. It was a long time ago after all, and a lot had happened since then. She’d gotten married, gotten saved, gotten active in her local church. She never acted on them, but she couldn’t shake thoughts of suicide. The frequent bouts with depression were almost overwhelming. Worst of all was how she thought of herself. She pretended well and had everybody fooled, but she couldn’t shake the self-judgements. Where was all this negativity coming from? Could she transform her story and rescue her real identity?

Working with women at our local crisis pregnancy center, I see many women like Maria who don’t connect the dots of the symptoms in their life with a past abortion. I have heard well-meaning Christians say, “I know I am forgiven” and “it’s covered in the blood.” I totally agree with that, but I have to say that forgiveness and healing aren’t the same thing. Abortion leaves a deep wound. Bad fruit often shows up down the road, such as addiction, depression, promiscuity…to name a few. Our identity – our femininity and mothering – are severely damaged.

Many churches celebrated Sanctity of Life Sunday during the month of January. As we stand for life, we must also recognize that 1 in 4 of us (some studies say 1 in 3) have been wounded by a previous abortion. The good news is there’s healing and transformation in Jesus.

Wendy Giancola, director of post abortion ministries at Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington, D.C., has written a wonderful book called Transforming Your Story: A Path to Healing after Abortion. This book grew out of her own personal healing journey as well as those she has met along the way. She believes that “optimal healing includes three important aspects: community, spiritual tools, and prayer.” Wendy recommends receiving healing in community. This book is very helpful for a healing group to use together. The chapters of the book are constructed around a Bible story which help the participant view their story through the lens of scripture. She has a very sweet way of using experience and activities that engage the heart, mind and spirit to bring spiritual truths to life. With a very gentle and loving approach, Wendy introduces scripture by saying, “Consider…” and “Let’s talk” to invite the participate into engaging their heart.

Her book also has a companion facilitator’s guide for group leaders.

Having worked with many women through abortion recovery, I particularly appreciate this book because of the way she includes scripture in the study. In the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteer, I encounter many unchurched and de-churched young women who are not familiar with the Bible. This study is not intimidating to someone who might not be able to navigate a Bible. She tells the stories of real women and their pain and includes much of the scripture right in the book. It’s a culture current way of using God’s Word which is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.

For those seeking help, there are pregnancy centers you can find locally who offer abortion recovery ministry. Other resources include CareNet Pregnancy Centers, Heartbeat International, Ramah International, to name a few. If you or someone you know has experienced the pain of an abortion, but not been through a healing group, you’re probably living wounded and may not even realize the depth of freedom you’re missing. Again there’s a difference between being forgiven and being healed. I strongly encourage you to seek out a post-abortion recovery study at your local crisis pregnancy center. Get your identity back. It will make all the difference in the world.

You can buy Wendy’s book on Amazon here.

A Season of Hope

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I recently met with a young couple who was experiencing a loss. They professed no spiritual beliefs. As our meeting came to a close, I asked them if I could pray for them. I was humbled when the young man took his hat off, put it over his heart, and bowed his head. He did not profess to know Jesus but his demeanor showed reverence and respect. He knew somehow that when coming to God in prayer he was standing on holy ground. I did not know how to comfort this couple but I do know that we have a Comforter to minister to those who mourn. I prayed that in this season of advent that they would have hope.

Yes. Advent. A season of waiting. Waiting for the promise of Jesus. The Lord gives us a message of hope. Future hope.

In this advent season may we show the love of Jesus to those around us that do not know this hope. Our world is starved for love. Real love. I see this hunger in the eyes of so many around us. They are starved to know that there is a God who loves them. And they need hope.

May you and yours be blessed this advent season. And may we in turn be a blessing to the hurting and dying (spiritually) around us.

Share with us in the comments what Advent means to you. And if you think this would bless someone else, please it on Facebook or your favorite social media channel with the buttons below.

The Love of the Father

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Our world is starved for love and intimacy. We are made for love – to give and receive love. In the beginning God walked in the garden with man (and woman) in the cool of the day. It is the Father’s heart to spend time with us and to commune.

We don’t have to look far to find that love. We have a father in heaven who cares about us. This Father wants to be in such a relationship where we can rest in the knowledge that he has it all under control. He wants us to have faith like a child who says “Abba” or Daddy.

When we look at Jesus we look into the face of love. Love that stepped down from the throne to pay the gruesome price for my sin. No other religion speaks of a God that wants relationship. Any other religion requires some kind of earning our way to heaven. Not Christianity. The price was paid for at the cross.

I recently gazed on a bright red woven cross. To me, it spoke of the blood of Jesus. No where can we find the power to wash away the filth of our sin. Yours is no worse than mine. It all cost Jesus his life. But he laid it down willingly for you and me. How precious and how profound.

In our sophisticated, busy lives today we desperately need to know that love and forgiveness that Jesus bought. Our God is a God of second chances. We’ve all blown it. Over and over and over. But I can always climb back into my Daddy’s lap and know His love and acceptance.

Do you relate to God as your Daddy, or is that hard? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Number Our Days

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Scripture tells us (Psalm 90:12) to number our days because our days are short here on earth. That sounds like a depressing thought, but I would like that thought to move us to action, not be a downer.

My mother-in-law passed away recently, and her passing came suddenly and unexpectedly. We had hoped for more time. My sadness for the lost time is short lived when I think of the wonderful life she lived. She exemplified the point of the message I hope to make.

This woman used the gifts and talents God gave her into her 80s. She never sat back and said, “I’m old. God doesn’t have anything more for me.” She was talented musically, as well as working with young children. Even in her 80s she ran a puppet ministry for children. Shirley had many talents and she used them into old age. She was also a very happy, fulfilled, contented person. I believe it’s because she was in sync with some very fundamental ways that God created her, and also you and me.

We are all created with gifts and talents. So many of us believe wrongly that we have nothing to offer, especially when we compare ourselves to the next person who appears to be so gifted. The truth is we ALL are gifted and designed with purpose. We are wired by God for work (sounds like a bad word, but it’s not); good works that he created in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Good clues to let us know what those gifts are… What things do I particularly enjoy? What makes my heart sing? Yes, what thing or things make me feel like I was created just for this? For me personally, I love to pray. Not like in a monastery pray, but intercession – where you get God’s heart for the situation. I love to pray and see God do wonderful, outrageous, cool things in people’s lives. I love to see God outdo himself and do the impossible. ‘Cause that’s when he gets the credit.

A couple things can trip us up, though. We can look at our friend and see the wonderful things about him/her and feel inferior. It’s easy to do. We can think we are flawed and that something is wrong with us when we compare to others. Would you believe, that other person is probably looking at you and thinking the same thing! The reality (based on God’s truth, see Psalm 139) is that YOU are special and that uniqueness is all good!

Another problem can be if there is wounding in our hearts. Our gifting and personality may be hidden. My passion is to see you and me walking in wholeness so we can be a gift to others around us.

Can I pray for you? Can I joyfully believe for and pray down the glorious things that God has for you? Please send me your thoughts (if they are personal, send me an email). I would love to encourage you today.

The Hobbit

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I love the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Do you know the story of how Gandolf the wizard crashed into his life and took him on an adventure? Good old Bilbo liked the comfort of his hobbit hole and did not want to leave his familiar Shire. He said that he had always been “respectable.” I just love him! I totally understand the comfort of the familiar and boring…. Yes, boring!

You know, when the Lord Jesus crashes into our lives and takes us on an adventure it’s not predictable or boring. The Christian life is anything but boring. Graham Cooke says that the church is boringly predictable. We’ve got it backwards! Our safety should be in the predictability of the character of a loving God who is good. All the time. Our security should be in the character of a God who never changes.

Storms will hit our lives. We cannot depend on people or circumstances. The world we live in holds so much uncertainty. If we focus on the bad things in the news we could all go crazy.

When the world around us is crazy, when our lives are spinning out of control, as humans we yearn for stability. But we put our trust in things that are not stable. In fact, they could be damaging or at least not healthy.

We can put our trust in finances or our checkbook. But the Bible tells us that riches are fleeting. (I am not saying that we shouldn’t work or use wisdom in our finances).

We can put our trust in that wonderful man or woman God has (or maybe hasn’t) brought into our lives. But the problem is, no one person or one thing can ever be what God is meant to be. He is the one we trust in when all else fails around us. He is the one who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is the one with the wisdom to figure out all the mess around us.

Will you trust this God who sent his son Jesus who loves you so much? Will you trust him with your life and your future? Will you trust him with your dreams? Will you trust him with your pain?

This loving God knew you in your mother’s womb. He knew all your days before you were born. He can carry you through the darkest days. He knows the good and the bad and he desires healing for you. He has the blueprint for your life.

Lets go on the adventure God has for us and trust him.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.