An open letter to Pastor Andy Savage

This is Laura’s husband Chad writing this post, because what I’m about to say here won’t get deleted on this blog, unlike what may or may not happen if this were to only be posted on Facebook. I don’t think any introductory comments need to be made, because I think what I’m about to post will speak for itself.

An open letter to my friend Andy Savage:

You and I were in the same group at the same church more than 20 years ago during college. Our paths have crossed several times over the years, albeit mostly on Facebook. I can’t say we were close when we were in college, but when I saw your name in a New York Times story online on Monday evening, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I won’t pretend to understand the level of stress and temptation encountered by most people in full-time, vocational ministry. Neither do most of us see all of the skeletons in another person’s closet. I felt the Lord calling me into ministry in 1990, at the beginning of my freshman year at a Christian college. Over the next few years, through a program at my college I preached in churches around the state of Alabama several Sundays each semester. As I had decided to major in journalism, I also began writing articles about various aspects of Christian life. In 1999, the Lord gave me Jesusfreak.org to serve as a forum for the articles I had been writing. Three years later, He gave me Jesusfreak.com and Jesusfreak.net as well.

But as is far too common among so many people in ministry, pride crept in, and the sin I had struggled with for decades, an addiction to pornography, overtook my life and less than 10 years later sank the ministry that the Lord had given me. What was left of my online ministry became little more than my personal fiefdom, full of my own musings that I tried to pull together to say something about Christ, but the Lord’s blessing on my ministry was gone, a consequence of my sin. I kept those ministry sites online for several more years, waiting for the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do with them, and last night after reading the article about you, the Lord gave me an answer.

I know you’ve been in vocational ministry for some time, Andy, but your ministry is not YOUR ministry, just as my online ministry was not MINE. The ministry that the Lord puts us in is His. I don’t know if you’ve ever officiated any funerals, but it’s pretty obvious that giving CPR to a decaying corpse is futile. You can try all you want to revive that corpse, but without the Lord’s resurrection power, any ministry you’re a part of will fail. The answer that the Lord gave me last night about my ministry sites was that I should turn control and ownership of those sites to someone else, so I have done just that. I don’t know what’s going through your mind and your heart right now, but if you’re thinking that you need to remain where you are in the ministry you’ve been serving in because that’s where the Lord put you years ago and it would be a shame for your ministry to fade away, well, it’s not your ministry to hold on to.

I’m giving up control and ownership of the online ministry I’ve been associated with for almost 19 years, because the Lord told me to. Whatever you’re trying to hold on to without the Lord’s blessing will become a decaying, putrid corpse, and if you don’t let go of it, you may become so acclimated to the stench of decay that you eventually won’t notice it. But others will. My challenge to you, Andy, is to give up your ministry, give up your position, give up your control of things that aren’t yours in the first place, repent and seek the Lord, out of the spotlight, away from public attention, where nobody but God can see and hear you. And don’t move an inch until the Lord tells you to. This isn’t about Andy Savage. It’s about Christ.

Psalms 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Unless and until you repent and do what the Lord commands you to do, any of your attempts at “ministry” will be in vain. Seek and listen to the Lord, and obey Him no matter how hard the things are that He will call you to do. If you don’t do those things, then nothing else you do will matter. I’m praying for you.


Blogger’s Note: If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, no matter how long it’s been, you are NOT alone! For help please visit: www.snapnetwork.org

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LAFF: Day After Christmas Life Hack…..

So it’s likely your Christmas tree is already down and you’ve put everything Christmas related away for next year. I had really hoped to get this up the actual day after Christmas to help you out, but alas, that didn’t happen.

This year for Christmas my family and I learned a very important lesson and I wanted to share it with you all. You know, in an effort to make the world a little less sucky.

What you need to do is go back to where you store Christmas stuff, grab your stockings and look into each one to see if there is anything still inside that was forgotten.

Why?

Because it seems as though last year one of our Littles was so excited for Christmas that she forgot to go in and get what was buried at the bottom of her stocking in the toe. And on Christmas day of this year, my mom found it after the stockings had been gone through. 😀

It is safe to say that from now on, the stockings will receive a thorough pat down and invasive shaking to make sure NGLB (No Gift is Left Behind).

OOPS!

The One Where Lulabelle Makes Predictions for 2018 (along with witty commentary on each prediction) ……

When I was younger, my family would sit down once a year after Christmas and make some predictions about the new year. So as today is the first day of 2018 (or it was when I started this adventure in mental time travel), I thought I’d make some predictions about the coming year. Enjoy! 🙂

Trump will say or tweet something controversial

I will drink at least one glass of wine (Yeah, by the way, some of these are going to be no-brainers. 😉 Buckle up.)

I will have mastered the art of red lipstick (In case anyone thought my Miranda Sings Halloween costume was as good as it was going to get.)

Joe Biden will announce his plans to run for president in 2020 (I have mixed feelings within my body about this one, but there it is.)

Tonya Harding will be reinstated into the US Figure Skating Association (Honestly it just makes sense. As time passes, it seems as though she really did have nothing to do with the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.)

Oreo will debut a new flavor (I feel like after releasing flavors like Kettle Corn and Fruity Pebbles, things can only get better from here. I hope. Please, Jesus, make it so. We’ve just been through too much this year for *KETTLE CORN Oreos to be the end of the road.)

And those are all my predictions for 2018. Do you think I missed any? Let me know in the comment section.

Happy New Year!!

*So yeah, I’ve never had Kettle Corn Oreos, I just can’t imagine they would be any good. But just my luck they are probably amazing and likely taste like angel clouds and unicorn farts (which taste like Skittles. Duh. 😉 )

 

Merry Freakin’ Christmas…..

Well, it’s almost here.

Christmas.

That time of year when we get together with family and just relax and enjoy each other’s company.

But before that, I have a to-do list as long as the line to see Santa Clause in A Christmas Story and the stress is really getting to me. Seriously.

Just this week, I’m sure out of stress, I threw up a liquid-gel that I was taking to try to stave off sinus sickness AND yesterday I pulled a muscle in my shoulder.

How?

I was washing dishes. You know, how we all pull muscles in our shoulders at one point after becoming adults. 😛 It would appear as though at this point God is just throwing in random stuff to give me good blog content, which I can respect. But it’s beginning to get on my nerves, to be honest.

Even the thought of dragging out our faux Christmas tree and setting it out on the porch was too much to think about. So I improvised. Along with blog content, our Lord and Savior provided a makeshift place to put our Christmas tree ornaments this year. The vessel in question was a long forgotten weed that won’t die, rising up from the side of our porch.

So on Monday afternoon I threw some ornaments on it with masking tape and called it a day. By Friday afternoon, even our Christmas Weed felt the stress of the holiday. Take a look: 

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(Monday’s lookin’ all like “We got this! Merry Christmas!” Friday? Friday’s like, “We tried Lord. And we are done.” 😛 ) 

Yeah. You know it’s a stressful time when the top of your Christmas Weed just gives up. (And yes, that IS a sushi ornament covered in glitter. As I got it in an ugly ornament exchange, I have no idea where it was purchased. Praise baby Jesus for Google.)

The holidays are a particularly stressful time, full of anticipation, excitement, and expectation. All of which can make stress worse than any other time of the year. 

My favorite Christmas carol is “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.” I grew up singing this in church, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really listened to the lyrics. My heart leaped at the words of the 4th verse:

“And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, Whose forms are bending low, Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow, Look now! For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing. O rest beside the weary road, And hear the angels sing!”

Edmund Sears wrote this poem, that later became a song, in 1849. Back then life was no doubt different from what it is today with our modern technology and way of life. But stresses still remained.

The last lyrics of this verse have remained with me and are my favorite: “Oh rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.”

All these years later it reminds us all to slow down.

Rest.

And appreciate the beauty around you. Even among the festive weeds, puke and pulled muscles. 

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! 

For Nita: On the Occasion of Your Homegoing…..

In the last 48 hours I’ve been reminded how much tears are healthy. They cleanse us. Wash away our grief, until the next memory or song comes on to remind us you are no longer here. 

And how much we miss you. 

During the last two years, I’ve prayed for you and your sweet family often. That somehow God would answer our prayers and would grant you a miracle this side of heaven. I also prayed for you specifically. That God would strengthen you and specifically that God would take away your fears. The fears of death and leaving your family behind. 

And 48 hours ago the weirdest thing happened. I realized I no longer needed to pray for you because at that moment you were standing amongst the brightest light that ever was. 

You were standing in front of your Heavenly Father, the One who made you, cared for you through the years, and held your hand as you took your last breath. 

The One who welcomed you home with the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” 

Good night dear, sweet, wonderful Nita! We’ll see you in The Morning. 

Achievement Unlocked…….

Tonight I accomplished something that I never knew could happen.

Like ever. 

I got…….um, let me just back up.

Before going to bed, I went into our bedroom and as sometimes happens, I smelled cat urine. So I followed my nose to the space in between our two dresser drawers. There was a random large trash bag sitting on the carpet and I realized that’s where the smell was coming from. 

So as Chad played “Words With Friends” on his phone before bed, I got down on the floor and went to pick up the bag. Thankfully I saw it glisten and I realized it had cat pee on it. Moving slowly to contain it, I folded up the edges of the bag and carefully lifted the bag off the ground. 

Why I decided to lift the bag over my head, I will never know. But I did and quickly regretted my life choice. 

As I felt cat piss drip on to my leg and onto the ENDS OF MY HAIR!!!

BLEEEEEECH!! 

Unfortunately, I had also just washed my hair and wasn’t so keen on doing it again, so in a strange way, I was thankful it was just the ends of my hair that bore the brunt of the accidental baptism by pee. 

So not only did I need to clean up the carpet, I now needed to wash the ends of my hair to get the smell out. 

Unfortunately, I used the shampoo that was nearest the sink and this specific shampoo (which will remain nameless because we are still playing “financial catch-up” from a slow summer to the point where adding a lawsuit into the mix would result in having us move across several state lines in the dead of night, assume new names, and start another life where Chad drove cattle while I whittled artisan corn cob holders for monks) has top notes of essence that are reminiscent of what I just rinsed out of my hair!  

So that was my Monday! I just can’t wait for what the rest of the week will bring! 😛 

#Sarcasm 😉 

Birthday Reflections…..

I began this blog on October 3rd, but life took over and I wasn’t able to finish and upload this till today…….

Yesterday I turned 38.

A feat that humbles me and makes me reflective. I think up until a few years ago my birthdays passed without much contemplation and I took them for granted.

Not this year.

Yesterday I turned 38.

This actually hit me about a week ago. And it almost made me breathless. It’s just a surreal experience, outliving someone older than you.

But that’s just what I’ve done as of this morning.

My mentor and friend Heidi died from cancer in 2012. She died on her 38th birthday.

Yesterday I turned 38.

I’ve always been aware of death since I was a little kid. The moment I found out people die, I remember being completely devastated.

In fact, when I turned 10 years old I distinctly recall thinking, “Well, people usually die when they are two digits old. It’s just a matter of time.” (And I’m just realizing how darkly philosophical of a kid I was. Yikes!)

But I digress.

My friend and mentor Heidi was an amazing soul. A missionary kid, she was born in California but moved to Jerusalem at age 3. Then her family moved to Thailand when she was 15 and she graduated high school there. She married her college sweetheart a few years later, and they went on to teach English in Japan for a few years before settling down in Goshen, Indiana and expanding their family to include 3 boys and a girl.

Their daughter Willa was born with trisomy 18 and died 8 minutes after she was born.

If I could think of two words to describe Heidi, it would be fearless and determined. When she was 4 months pregnant with Willa, the last time I’d see Heidi, we met for coffee one afternoon when I was home for Christmas. It must have been a warmer day because she arrived on her bike, even though piles of snow were still visible at the end of sidewalks and edge of the streets.  When I asked her how she was feeling she told me she was feeling good. Even knowing Willa’s diagnosis and that she’d likely not survive, Heidi was happy. She told me that she was OK because she knew as long as Willa stayed inside her womb, she’d have what she needed to live.

And I can credit Heidi for where I am today. When I was 24 I finally decided I needed to move out on my own. My goal was to move out by the time I turned 25. And Heidi met with me privately many times to work out a plan to make that happen.

And it did!

I celebrated my 25th birthday in my new apartment in Louisville. And Heidi didn’t let the day pass without acknowledging my accomplishment. She made a giant birthday card for me, had people from my home church sign it, and sent it to me in the mail. And it hung in my room until I moved to my new apartment one year later.

Heidi helped me grow up and spread my wings.

Yesterday I turned 38.

And this year I plan to live with more intent. To try things that are new and scary. To get to know people who are different from me. To spread my wings further. 

Just as Heidi taught me. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S5e7c2_YO8

(Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers “Learning to Fly” appears courtesy of YouTube and Bonnaroo)