Raised in the church as a PK (pastor’s kid), I was often challenged to memorize the “fruit of the Spirit”. Maybe my parents and teachers believed if I said it often enough that I’d absorb it and that through their prayers and my repetition, I’d eventually begin displaying them? Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
All my life I have pondered that list and considered them as separate, independent virtues that needed focus and greater display in my life. Of course at times I’ve thought I was pretty good at some and not-so-good at others depending on my own circumstances. But there was always that one, that last one, that haunted me. It just seemed harder to achieve than the others and truthfully I wished it wasn’t on the list. And more than anything, I thought it was up to me to be better at each and every virtue listed. But after listening to a sermon by Tim Keller on Change, I understand this differently.
The fruit of the Spirit isn’t a list of traits for me to work on after all. It’s one, interdependent display of God’s beauty through his Spirit that lives in me and you. It’s not up to us to struggle with behavior modification, but rather to give up our sinful nature and give in to the Spirit’s desires for our lives. In doing so, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be evident.
What a freeing thought! This is the exact opposite of the non-biblical mantra I had adopted in my life and career. It’s actually NOT up to me after all! Whew! Thank you Jesus!
Galatians 24-25 says: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Lisa Schultz, Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer
What does the Bible say about Meekness?
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
Jesus Christ is the model of meekness. He had all power yet demonstrated that the path into the Kingdom of God the King is the path of meekness, gentleness, and humility. Meekness acknowledges injustice in the world . . . but exercise Godly wisdom in response. Meekness does not say “this is OK”. Meekness does not say “How dare you”.
We know who we are - image bearers whose dignity cannot be taken away. Our dignity does not have to be protected because we cannot lose it. Our dignity does not have to be asserted because it exists inherently, given to us by the one sovereign God. We have nothing to prove. Our value is not based on our work or on the opinions of others and will not change by my accomplishments or failures. The only status that matters is my standing before God, and that is secure.
Although I was as “PK” (preacher’s kid) with seminary educated parents, had been to countless Christian camps, conferences, revivals, prayer meetings, Vacation Bible Schools and experienced infinite missionary encounters, I was 32 years old before I read that twilight zone of a Bible verse. But then again, let’s be honest about it…we all tend to spend more time in the NEW Testament, don’t we? The Old Testament setting and stories leading up to that verse seemed all too familiar for me at the time. Perhaps my mind was drifting as I read the pages. The culture was patriarchal, women were property, defined by the men with whom they were associated, and everything in the story seemed to go as I had learned to anticipate. But then I read Judges, chapter 4, verse 4. And there it was…right there in plain sight: “Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.”
WHAT? Surely there was an explanation! How did THAT happen? Had my mind drifted off after the last Judge? Had all the men died or gone off to fight some remote war and left the girls in charge? What had I missed leading up to this verse? The context clues I had depended on for help all these years seemed to fail me!
Want to know exactly how it happened? GOD.
God used Deborah’s willing heart as she sought him continually for wisdom and guidance. Deborah faithfully spoke what God told her and she acted on his instructions. She trusted him with her life and her career. And God empowered Deborah as a prophetess and as leader of Israel. Through his sovereignty, God placed Deborah as Judge, partnered her with Barak to lead the Israelites into battle, ensured victory over their oppressors, and gave his people peace for 40 years. I dare say 40 years of peace is an outstanding scorecard of Deborah’s leadership! The Israelites had been oppressed for 20 years before God raised Deborah as their leader!
Deborah’s story is packed full with lessons for us as women and leaders today! She was one of the most powerful, successful female leaders in history. Deborah’s story illustrates that God can accomplish incredible things through people who pursue a relationship with Him and are willing to act on what he calls them to do. Deborah’s relationship with God is a model for us to follow. She trusted his sovereignty through her continual prayerful dialogue with him about her work, her role, and the people she served. Deborah’s story inspires us to relentlessly pursue our “bigger picture goal” with wisdom, strategy, and focus without allowing circumstances, people, or culture to inhibit our God-given talent and purpose.
So here’s our J4 challenge… if Deborah could be a such successful leader in the context of the Old Testament days, then surely we can be successful leaders in America today.
The secret for us - just as it was her secret to a position of power and long term success - is pursuing a relationship with God, trusting in his sovereignty over our careers, and courageously pursuing what God leads us to do.
To God be the glory!
Carolyn Custis James
Female empowerment has been a major topic in the west for decades. Women have made so much progress that journalist Tom Brokaw predicted the twenty-first century will be known as “the Century of women.” Long before the changes for women that we are witnessing today, the Bible already had a lot to say about female empowerment—and not just through the stories of legendary leaders such as Judge Deborah, the inspiration for J4 Leaders.
One of the strongest leadership role models in the Bible was a woman least likely to be recognized as the extraordinary leader she proved to be. She wasn’t even Jewish! Ruth the Moabitess shows just how subversive God in reaching into the margins and choosing a woman no one would suspect to lead a major kingdom mission. Her entire resume disqualified her for leadership and actually put her at risk. She was female in a patriarchal culture, widowed, barren, gentile, impoverished, a novice to the faith, and an undocumented immigrant. Once in Bethlehem, empowered by her faith in God, this ezer-warrior became a common gleaner, scavenging for leftover grain in Bethlehem’s barley fields to keep her despairing mother-in-law and herself alive. No suspected God was working through her bold innovative initiatives to transform the lives of Boaz and Naomi, to rock all Bethlehem, and to advance his purposes for the entire world. But that’s exactly what he did.
Read Ruth’s full empowering story in Finding God in the Margins: The Book of Ruth.
Sagamore Institute’s Center on Faith in Communities J-4 Monthly Series Amy opened the evening saying that laughter is one thing that keeps her encouraged. She shared several funny anecdotes so we could all experience the “good medicine” that scripture says laughter is. She then commended J4 for taking up the important Biblical idea of power as this year’s theme. Below is a quick summary of the highlights of Amy’s talk.
While there plenty of reasons to be suspicious about power (since it’s often abused and people are harmed), the Biblical view of power is that it is a gift. Power is what enables the creativity that gives life. As Andy Crouch teaches in his important book, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, “Power is a gift because power is for flourishing….When power is used well, people and the whole cosmos come more alive to what they were meant to be.”
If that’s the “what” of power (what it’s for), the “how” of power is that it is to be deployed with compassion. That’s the way Jesus handled His power. We see Jesus’ gentle compassion in His healing of the man who was deaf and mute (Mark 7:31-35). First, Jesus takes the man away from the crowd. He won’t let the relief of this man’s suffering be a spectacle for others’ entertainment. Second, He communicates to the man through a kind of sign language, reassuring him of what He’s going to do: touching the man’s ears and tongue as if to say “I’m here to fix these.”
Christian women professionals across the nation are deploying their vocational power for the flourishing of others. Young businesswoman Wendy Clark launched a cleaning business in Durham, NC specifically to create jobs for low-income single moms—and works hard to flex their schedules so they can live faithfully into the dual callings of work and motherhood. Alfa Demmalash took her business talents and founded Rising Tide Capital to provide business classes and capital to underserved entrepreneurs, mostly immigrants and people from generational poverty. She has compassion for those on the margins and wants to extend opportunity to them. Nicole Baker Fulgham is an educator who has chosen to focus her attention on advocating for greater equality in the public education system, and to get faith communities more aware of and engaged in this important justice issue. She’s participating in Jesus’ work to renew the educational sector. And Pittsburgh chef Nikki Heckmann designed her café, Bistro to Go, with a “fishbowl” kitchen so that customers could observe her mistakes. That way, she hopes, they’ll also see her turning to her gracious Lord for His forgiveness as well as seeking (and giving) grace to those around her.
A More Joyful Life: Guaranteed – The Power of Generosity in Relationships
Tami Kaiser shared the amazing power of generosity for women through a video story of generosity in community, the power of generosity among women and a model for looking at your own journey towards a more generous life – which means more joy!
The word from the Word focused on Jesus’ last word to his disciples, encouraging them to spread the gospel and live lives of radical generosity, being particularly cautious about greed.
The group saw a video story of a community that ‘showed up’ in a very generous way to support a young couple, then discussed how generosity was evidenced in this community’s relationships?
Women have always been generous, shaping the future with their generosity. We see this in the Bible (with J4’s very own Deborah), in the Proverbs 31 woman, in Mary, Mother of God and in the women who finances Jesus and the disciples, the very first gospel patrons.
Clearly women today have the power to be generous: 51% of all wealth is owned by women; 95% of women in America will be their family’s primary financial decision maker; 48% of all US estates are owned and managed by women; and women will inherit 70% of the $41 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer expected over the next 40 years.
But … are women generous? Yes, they are. In record breaking research of over 7,000 women (done by Women Doing Well, an initiative of Generous Giving) it was found that most women are generous – but over 90% want to be better givers.
It was determined that women who ‘give well’ experience great joy. These women know their purpose – they have a Biblical foundation for giving and clarity of their calling/purpose. They know their passion – they give out of their passion, to maximum capacity and they share the generosity message. And they have a plan – have a giving plan for giving and have confidence in the organizations to which they give.
The groups had a lively discussion answering these questions: If an outsider were to look at how I use my time, my energy and my resources, what would they learn about my priorities? Would that outsider see my time, energy and resources being put primarily toward a hope and vision of renewal for our city and world? and in light of 2Corinthians 9:11 (You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God) do You want me to assume that each financial blessing You entrust to me is not intended to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving?
Tami shared the following resources (as well as some prizes!) for those who want to dive deeper into the power of generosity in women:
- generousgiving.org (videos)
- www.onpurpose.me (two-word purpose statement)
- When Women Give: The Adventure of a Generous Life (Kim King)
- Wholehearted Purpose: Women Discovering Their One-of-a-Kind Design (Mary Tomlinson) www.marytomlinson.com, www.on-purpose.com
- Abundant: Experiencing the Incredible Journey of Generosity (Todd Harper)
- The Treasure Principle (Randy Alcorn)
- Journey of Generosity Retreat
- Women Doing Well Retreat
This week at J4 Leaders our founder and Chief Encouragement Officer, Lisa Schultz facilitated a dynamic discussion around the topic of power as we launched our 2018 theme: Power-filled daughters of the King. During our time together we explored types of power displayed in the workplace, how it manifests itself positively and negatively, and what the Bible says about power. We reviewed examples of God’s power displayed in scripture and gleaned practical application for our own leadership roles.
We had fun emulating “power poses” while recognizing that what matters most is our spiritual posture before the Lord. We acknowledged that our access to power is through our relationships with Christ and that he intends for us to use it with wisdom and for the greater good.
If you missed the forum, rest in the blessed assurance that you are a beloved daughter of the ultimate power source - the King of the Universe! So straighten your crowns and use your power in a way that glorifies our Father.
At our October Forum, Candice Blomeley was our encourager and shared on "Loving Your Neighbor Generously".
When you think about being Generous, what is your greatest fear? Rejection? Being taken advantage of? Not doing enough? Looking stupid? Insulting the recipient? Will it make a difference? Failure? These are things all of us fear at one time or another when considering being generous, especially to a stranger. If you obey God's instructions for you to be generous, you will often find that you are in fact an answer to someones prayer.
Sharing - To give a piece of the pie to someone VS Generosity - Giving out of abundance or excess that you have.
When you feel that God is prompting you to give:
Face FEAR: 1. Is it from God? 2. Is it enough? 3. Answer Yes or No4. Is it worth making a mistake?
When the Lord prompts you to do something, do not give into your fears. Be the answer to prayer.
At our September Forum, Lori Luedtke shared with us about "God's Perfect Love" in her life. She asked us to share her testimony with you . . .
Miracles DO happen; you just need to look for them.
On December 31st, 2011, I married the man of my dreams, Danny Aranowitz. Although he is not a believer in Jesus Christ I knew I was in his life for a reason. I was to show him the way. In February we had a wedding celebration at our home. In March we went on our honeymoon, highway 1 in California. My husband planned such an amazing and romantic trip, beautiful scenery, great food and great wine tasting, and simply enjoying each other.
At the time, I had been studying Revelations at home with a group of girls. It was very hard for me to study this and know that my husband would not have eternal life. One night, as Danny and I were talking, I prophesized to him that he was going to wake up one day and I wouldn’t be laying next to him. Of course he said, “Don’t be ridiculous!” I told him that something very serious was going to happen to him and he was going to drop to his knees and ask for the Lord’s help. Little did I know.
In May of 2012, my life turned upside-down. Mid May I started to have severe headaches. I found myself unable to complete or process my thoughts. There were times when I was just standing in a room with no realization as to how I got there and wondering just how long I had been there. It was very scary, but I didn’t go to the doctor. I just “chalked it up” to being over tired or over stressed. To the best of my memory, this went on for a couple of days. My husband had been traveling for business during this time. He got home late on a Thursday evening. I hadn’t mentioned any of this to him because I didn’t want to worry him. Friday morning I got up as usual to go work out. My husband got up shortly after I did and found me lying on the sofa. This was very unusual for me. He sat beside me and asked,” What is going on?” I told him I had another headache and that I had been having them for a few days. I explained that I was having a hard time completing tasks and processing my thoughts. He said, “Get up; we’re going to the doctor.”
1st Miracle - He was home.
I said, “What doctor?” He said, “A Neurologist.” I didn’t even have a primary care doctor at the time, much less a neurologist, but Danny is in the medical field and he instantly knew something wasn’t right. “We will go to the emergency room,” he said at my worry of not having a doctor. ”Just where I want to spend my morning!” I thought.
At the time I had a client, Randy, who had become a friend. He also happened to be a doctor. I decided to call him.
2nd miracle - I had a doctor friend I trusted.
3rd miracle - He wasn’t working and answered.
I had worked for him a couple of years and he knew my personality quite well. I began to tell him I wasn’t feeling well. He asked me questions. After we spoke for about 30 minutes he said, “I want you to go to Florida Hospital South. I am not working, but I will call my partner so they will be expecting you and will take you right back to triage.”
He added, “ Lori, I don’t know what is going on, it could be a stroke, an aneurism. I do know, however, if you were my wife, I would want you to be seen immediately. At the hospital we have all the testing to rule out what it is not. You will have some answers by the end of the day. How quickly can you get there?” Danny had me in the car immediately.
When we arrived they ordered blood tests and a CAT scan. My husband of only a few months was in the lobby pacing and making phone calls while I was being tested. It was truly the beginning of being tested in more ways than one.
When I came out to the waiting room to wait for the results of my test, Randy walked into the waiting room. I said, ” What are you doing here? You’re not working today.” He replied, “I don’t know what kind of decisions you are going to have to make today, but you are not going to have to make them on your own. I will be right here with you and Danny.”
4th miracle - A friend who understood and was there to comfort us.
He asked if he could review my results first and of course I said yes. He told me he would let the doctor on duty come and talk to me, then once he left my room, he would come in and we would discuss whatever options available. I prayed and prayed, ”God I know this is a part of your plan, but I certainly do not understand this.” The doctor called Danny and me back. He said the blood work was fine and so was the CAT scan. They now wanted to do a spinal tap to rule out the following: meningitis, multiple sclerosis, and cancers of the brain or spinal cord. That was super scary to me, but all I could think about was my son. We had already been there most of the afternoon and it was time for my son, Connor, to be home from school. It was the 8th grade dance and he didn’t know how to tie a tie. He was texting me asking where I was, why I wasn’t home helping him get ready.
5th miracle - Texting. I didn’t have to talk to him.
He would have heard the fear in my voice. I explained I was at a doctor’s appointment and would be home shortly. Randy came in and gave me the reasoning as to why a spinal tap would be beneficial; it could rule out more. I was worried about Connor and told Randy that I had to get back home to my son. He needed me. My ER physician and Randy made a follow-up appointment for me with a neurologist later that week in her office. At that point, the current diagnosis was severe migraines and this happy momma was able to get home to take her son to his 8th grade dance. As scheduled, later that week, my husband and I went to the neurologist. She did numerous physical tests, similar to the DUI test. She concurred that she thought it was migraines and they were going to prescribe a medicine for me to take. She also said she wanted me to have an MRI. She scheduled the appointment for the following day. I am very claustrophobic, so when I arrived at the imaging facility they gave me valium.
6th miracle - Valium
The MRI was very loud, but thankfully went by quickly. Upon completion, I was told they would call me in a week to ten days for results. My husband took me home, because I was very sleepy. When we arrived he tucked me in and I was out like a light. Two hours later he woke me. The results were back and we needed to go to the neurologist office. I was so confused. I asked him how long had I been sleeping.
He said, “The results are back and they want us in NOW.” My initial thoughts were racing all over, thinking this can not be good. Why do we have to go back in there? Why can’t they give us the results over the phone? What is wrong with me? Can it be fixed? How serious is this? Oh God, please help me through this!
Back at the neurologist office, they escorted directly back to a room. The PA came in and began with, “there is no easy way for me to tell you this, but you have a brain tumor.” I replied, “You must have the wrong MRI.” She suspected that I might say that and proceeded, “I am sending your films to this computer so you can view what we are seeing.
As I stared at the computer I saw a very large white mass that looked like the shape of a tooth. I looked at the side of the screen, it did in fact have my name and my birthday.
7th miracle - the valium had not worn off.
She told me they need to get me in front of a neurosurgeon right away. Scary! She recommended Dr. Melvin Field and said he was the best, then added that the quickest way to see him was to be admitted to the hospital now. Now? That just did not fit into my plans. It was Memorial Day weekend and my step-kids were on their way to the airport to come visit for the weekend. I asked her to give us a few minutes to process all of this. Danny was on his phone calling the kids before they got to the airport, telling them to turn around and not come. He told them that we were not sure what was happening or when it was happening. At the same time, I called my parents. They were hosting a wedding shower in their home. My daddy said, “We can come tonight”. I told him, “Let me get to the hospital, meet with the doctor and find out how much of an emergency this brain tumor is, then we will make necessary arrangements.” I still had not fully digested the gravity of my situation. Then I had to make sure I had someone responsible to care for my son. I text one of his teachers, “911-call me.” Thankfully she had become a friend and tutor for Connor.
8th miracle - Someone Connor and I both trusted to take care of him.
She called immediately and I explained that I was headed to the hospital and I was not for sure for how long, could she please keep Connor for me until my family from Texas arrived?” She replied, “Anything you need. Consider it done.” The neurologist came back in and told us to go home, pack a bag, and wait for the hospital admitting department to call. She said they would call when a bed was ready. We waited, pacing for about six hours. We made phone calls to make arrangements and let people know what was going on. A friend told me that she had a friend that worked at that hospital and she was going to find out who the best brain surgeon was.
9th miracle - Dr. Melvin Field was the best brain surgeon.
I had another friend who ran with Dr Field’s wife, she personally called him and told him I was checking into the hospital and to treat me with VIP care.
10th miracle - Friends making sure I was well taken care of.
My next door neighbor said that another neighbor’s granddaughter worked for Dr Field in the control unit. She highly recommended him.
11th miracle - Dr. Field was highly recommended.
At this point we knew Dr Field was our man. We decided just to head to the hospital. They didn’t have a room available on the neuro floor, so they put us in an old room on the other side of the hospital. My friend called me and said Dr Field was back at the hospital looking for me. It was late. We never saw him that night. My girlfriend had called the church to let them know I was in the hospital and to pray for me. Pastor Matt came to the hospital to look for me. He asked the nurses station where the Luedtke family was. He went where they directed him for the Luedtke family and introduced himself and asked if he could pray with them. They held hands and he said a beautiful prayer for Lori Luedtke. After the prayer, they said, ” Who’s Lori?” He was with the wrong family. They had a boy in the hospital. Pastor Matt said, while I’m here can I pray for your son. They said absolutely, we have just moved here and don’t have a church home.
12th miracle - Mistaken identity lead to a potential church home.
Dr. Field found us the next morning. He walked in and said, “I don’t know who you are, but I have had five phone calls in the last 24 hours telling me about you and asking me to take good care of you!” He told us he had come by the night before and had looked all over the neuro floor for us, but I wasn’t checked in. He continued by saying that he wanted to look at the films before we talked. When he came back and told us, “Well we have some good news here!” My husband and I were looking at each other thinking, ”Good news?” He said, “If you were going to have a brain tumor, you got the right one. I believe it is an Astrocytoma (not cancerous) and it is located in the frontal lobe, which is very easy for me to operate on. I think this is something we need to do soon, but I wouldn’t suggest it this weekend. It is Memorial Day weekend and we will be short staffed. Why don’t you go home make the arrangements you need and I will operate later this week. Florida Hospital South has just revamped the Neuro Wing, Neuro Institute, and has added a new operating facility that offers neuronavigation and an intraoperative MRI. The physician can scan patients during surgery and after the craniotomy is complete.”
13th miracle - A great state of the art facility right in our own backyard!
Because my brother had passed six years earlier of Melanoma, I knew my parents were going to be a wreck. I thought it might comfort them to meet the surgeon, so that he could explain the procedure and give them some sort of peace of mind. Over the next few days, the family began to arrive. My mom and daddy, my youngest brother, Chris, and my Godparents all flew in from Texas. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law drove up from South Florida.
On May 28th, my family had an appointment in Dr Fields office to discuss the procedure that would be taking place the following day. As I suspected everyone felt comfortable with Dr. Field and what he had to say.
On May 29th I checked into the hospital at 10:00 am to be prepped for surgery and the preoperative MRI, scheduled at 2:30. Because I was having surgery, I had not had anything to eat or drink since 6:00 pm the evening before. Just before they were supposed to wheel me back, Dr. Field comes in to say the previous surgery was taking much longer than expected. He wanted to use that particular operating room and he wanted the Neuropathologist to review his findings post surgery. However, the other procedure was not going to be completed any time soon. He strongly suggested we postpone until 10:30 the next morning. The first thing I asked was, “Does that mean I can eat?” I stayed in the Neuro step-down unit with Danny that night through early the next morning when they began to prep me again for surgery. The surgery itself, we were told, would take approximately two hours. When it was said and done, I heard it took 7; I was sound asleep. Dr Field told my family he was able to get most of the tumor, approximately 97 percent.
Miracle 14 - 97 percent of the tumor was removed!
Miracle 15 - Having such a loving and supportive family and network of friends that REALLY pulled through for me and my family.
I was in the hospital for about a week; I really just wanted to go home and get a good night sleep in my own bed without someone taking blood or checking vitals all night long. Several days after being home we received the call from Dr Field that said that he had met with numerous other Neuro-Disciplines, otherwise known as the tumor Board (tumor does not deserve a capital letter) about my findings. Unfortunately, it was a Glioblastoma. CANCER. Grade 4. I needed to start radiation immediately. Everyone, except me, began researching. I stayed calm knowing GOD was in charge and in control.
Miracle 16 - I kept repeating what has always been my favorite verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.
Miracle 17- My husband, an avid researcher and having worked in hospitals gaining many contacts, was determined we were going get the best treatment, no matter the cost, no matter the location.
We started visiting Radiation Oncologists. We started at Florida Hospital, then MD Anderson Orlando, Duke in North Carolina, then Moffitt in Tampa. We decided on MD Anderson. I was prescribed 30 consecutive radiation treatments as a part of standard of care as well as oral Temodar five days for one week, every month. Concurrently we were looking for Clinical Trials. We decided on a clinical trial at Moffitt Hospital in Tampa. It is called ICT-107. It is a randomized double-blind study. My entire family felt good about this trial because it used my own blood. The vaccine works by doctors separating the dendritic cells, part of the body’s immune system, from the patients own blood. Dendritic cells help introduce to the body’s defense system, antigens, molecules that kick start the body's immune response. Once the hospital removes the dederic cells from your body, through an apheresis process, it is sent to the lab. They combine the dendritic cells with human made antigens, similar to those found naturally on GBM ( Glioblastoma) cancer cells. The goal is to kill the remaining GBM tumor cells after surgery and chemotherapy. I started radiation on July 10th. During radiation, I had to wear a mask that was affixed to the table. It was very tight, and I couldn’t open my eyes. My forehead was always sore, from the mask being so tight. My table literally flew around the room to get radiation beams from various different angles. Because the tumor was in my brain, all my senses were extremely heightened. I could see bright lights, even though there were no lights; it was my optic nerve. I could smell a chemical like smell, but they said there were no smells. I could even hear the laser beam pulsating. Nonetheless it wasn’t a pleasant experience, but one that I had to face everyday, Monday thru Friday.
I ended up with a staph infection and was admitted back into the Florida Hospital. I was told no chemo or radiation until the staph infection cleared. I was in the hospital for several days. As anyone who has been in a hospital can attest, rather than being able to rest, people are in your room night and day. There was no rest for the weary. I just wanted to go home and get some sleep. My Infectious Disease doctor wouldn’t let me leave the hospital until I got a PICC line, a peripherally inserted central catheter. It was an extremely tough decision for me. I felt as if I had been through enough. At midnight, someone from the PICC line team came to talk to me, to answer any questions I might have. I had thought and prayed about this all night. The next morning Pastor Matt came in to talk to me and pray with me. I realized I was scared of the unknown. I knew that the PICC team worked 24/7, just like the rest of the people at the hospital, and just like the night before, they could wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me they were ready to do the procedure right then. When Pastor Matt left, I talked to the nurse and said if the PICC team could put it in tonight before 8:00 pm, I would approve the procedure. I also wanted a sedative to calm me. At 5:00 pm the PICC team came in; she knew I was scared and said she would talk to me through the whole procedure. They did it right there in my hospital room as a bedside procedure. I didn’t have to go anywhere! The person doing the procedure was so compassionate. It didn’t take very long and she talked to me through the entire process, just like she told me she would.
The next morning I got to go home! I had to do daily saline and heparin flushes and had weekly dressing changes from Home Health Care at the house. We soon found out that I was allergic to tape, making the dressing changes miserable. Before heading back to radiation, I had one more MRI; this seldom happens mid-treatment. At this point Dr. Field saw another, “Area of enhancement,” that he felt was another tumor forming closer to the center of my brain.
Miracle 18 - Because we had the opportunity to have one more MRI at this point, we were able to redirect the radiation beams to hit the “enhancement area” that was just discovered.
I continued with radiation treatments until September 18th, 2012. I had to make up for the one’s I missed while I was out with the staph infection. During my treatments, the radiation techs would place my iPhone in an iHome and my praise music would play throughout my room and the technicians watch room. I was able to count the number of songs played to know how much longer I was going to have to be strapped down to that machine. Towards the end of my treatments the technicians would come in singing and humming my Praise music.
Miracle 19 - Spreading the word of GOD through music and my positive attitude!
On my final day of treatment, my husband and my auntie got to watch me ring the bell & receive my “Certificate of Completion.” It was a big deal. The plaque above the bell says, “ Ring this bell…three times well…it is told to clearly say…my treatment is done and I am on my way”
Miracle 20 - I actually finished radiation treatments.
On Monday September 24, we went to Moffitt for my first round of vaccinations. These are given underneath the arm in the lymph node. I assumed it would be one shot each time. I was wrong. Each round of shots consisted of four to six shots each time, under your arm. They were very painful! These shots are subcutaneous, so they are given just under the skin to separate the first two skin layers. This is where the vaccine is injected. Because you are separating the skin layers it is very painful. Because you are pushing through a very thick vaccine it is very painful. This trial at Moffitt required me to alternate arms each visit. The first four appointments were weekly. I was miserable and wanted to quit! Once again I put my praise music on, and held my clinging cross in my hand; my sister-in-law, Barbara, had sent it to me from Texas to help me with my journey.
Monday October 15th was the last of my first four weekly appointments. I had an MRI that same day. It showed the tumor was stable, a mini victory. On Tuesday my husband and I flew to upstate New York to see the foliage change. The weather was so beautiful, cool and crisp, and the colors were such an inspiration, not something you see in Florida. I was still very sore from the previous day’s shots, but just driving to our hotel with the windows down was such a nice and welcome change.
While there I started to question if these shots were right for me. I didn’t even know if I was getting the real thing, for all I knew it was a placebo. It wasn’t the quality of life I was looking for. They were painful and kept me down to the point where I wasn’t able to move my arm for days. To my family, this was a sign that it was not a placebo. I began to pray. I could not hear GOD, he wasn’t listening to me. I typed a long and detailed text message to my friends and family, asking them to pray for answers. Maybe someone else could hear Him. I began to cry. For the first time since all of this has happened, I cried. My husband said, “Honey you just need your praise music.” I had no reception in the hotel, so I couldn’t listen to it through my phone. He logged on to his computer and typed in “praise music lyrics for someone feeling lost, questioning, feeling hopeless.” He began to read the lyrics. We both recognized the song and began to sing I Will Praise You in the Storm, by the Casting Crowns.
Miracle 21- My husband knew just where to turn to help me.
He then opened bible.com and we read scriptures. Trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord; those who trust in the Lord shall not be disappointed: Jeremiah 17:7, Isaiah 49:23, Romans 10:11. Then we prayed together. God spoke clearly to both of us. I had to stick with it.
My vaccines were now just once a month, so they weren’t as frequent, however, we figured out that I was having an allergic reaction the whole time. I began taking Benadryl which helped me cope, though the injections were still very painful. The December MRI showed the tumor stable and a slight decrease in size.
Miracle 22 - It appeared the vaccine was working!
During December, my family came from Texas to celebrate the Christmas early, because I was going to be on chemo Christmas Day. What a blessing to have everyone here! Though, we did not celebrate December 25th, Christmas Day, we had a beautiful meal together with presents, and celebrated the birth of Jesus. The February MRI showed an even more decrease in the size. Alleluia!
Miracle 23 - The vaccine was definitely working!
We were taking a family cruise for spring break and I wanted to be able to get into the ocean, start exercising again, go back to a little more “normal” life. I missed all last summer and the water activities that I love so much. So, we pulled the PICC line out. No more dressing changes! We went on the cruise with all three children. I was able to get in the pool, the Jacuzzi, and the ocean. I was so happy.
March 31st was Easter Sunday. My husband was going to go to church with me. This in itself is a rare occasion as he is Agnostic. While we were having coffee he says, “He has risen!” I looked at him in shock and said, “He has risen indeed. Alleluia!”
Miracle 24 - He is risen!
April 8th and 9th was a two day appointment at Moffitt. I had a port placed under my skin replacing the external PICC line. This would enable me to still get medicine, give blood, and get contrast during MRI’s, but without out the constraints of the PICC line. I had another round of vaccines in the same area. I also had another MRI. The PA read it and told us that it was a significant reduction. About 50% to the one in February! We were so excited my husband cried.
Miracle 25 - A significant reduction!
Friday April 12th, I had my follow up with my Brain Surgeon. He read the films and he saw no active brain tumor. No active brain tumor! He told me, “It looks as good as the day I operated and took it all out.” He said what they had seen at the previous appointment on the 9th was necrosis from the surgery and radiation. Praise the Lord! He told me, “I’ll see you again in 6 months!”
Miracle 26 - We were excited with 50% reduction…but to say it is gone! I have been healed. Wow! Only God can do this. Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!
My husband was traveling again. I called him and told him the news. I said you know you have just witnessed a miracle before your eyes. I knew this was going to happen. God is good! Psalm 21:2-6. He said, “Lori, I’m on board”.
Miracle 27 - He was on board!
I am still continuing with my “standard of care” treatments of chemo and vaccines through September 2013. We are continuing to look for the miracles as they happen each and every day.
I am truly a walking Miracle. Praise Be to GOD! John 15:7, Matthew 13:58, Hebrews 11
Below are some links to articles and videos that Lori has done:
On Tuesday night, Cindy Price was our encourager on the topic of "Actions Speak Louder Than Words".
Love in Action can be carried out using the instructions Paul gave to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 and the final verse says Love never Fails. We discussed the instructions as a garden wall of protection around all our relationships. We need to check ourselves. Are we being patient, kind, content, encouraging, humble, honoring, selfless, gentle, forgiving, truthful, protecting, trusting, hopeful and persevering?. If so Love Never Fails. For more information on Love Defined, like the page on FB, download the app, or go to the www.lovedefined.org.
At our June 6th Forum, Anne Taylor shared with us about how to "Love Like Jesus" . . .
I’ve learned that in order to love like Jesus we must believe we are loved.
Do you seriously believe Jesus loves you more than anything else and created you to be the person you are – right now at this very moment?
There are always people who like to tell us we’re not worthy of God’s love and sometimes the loudest voice is from inside our own head. We are all good at dwelling on the negative in our lives we’re also pretty good at putting Pintrest pressure on ourselves. Not being clever enough, smart enough, organized enough, pretty, skinny, rich enough, you –fill-in –the-blank-enough!
But when we love like Jesus we don’t have to be enough – because he is enough!
One of the most important keys to loving like Jesus loves is to believe Jesus really loves you! No matter what he is cheering you on, pursuing you as his beloved daughter, and drawing you into his arms.
When you have the love of Jesus in your heart you can let that love spill over into every relationships and encounters you have each and every day. This is where loving like Jesus has to start – by accepting his love and allowing it to wash over us each and every day.
Go forth and love like Jesus - we need more cheerleaders and encouragers in this world!
Claire Fournier shared with J4 May Forum attendees her recent career change journey. Bolstered by peace from the Holy Spirit, Claire walked through her painful emotional journey leading to ultimate GRACE and acceptance. Though not part of our plan, sometimes sudden life changes can become the beginning of a growth season in our lives. Transparent of the ups and downs of the journey after hearing the 5 dreaded words in corporate America today, “your role has been eliminated”, Claire shared how her faith taught her a new life skill of truly living in the present.
Here is an excerpt from her speech:
"It took time to heal but God’s joy and love continue to fill my heart and lift me past what I now consider a normal life event and thankful growing season. While I hope to never experience those 5 words again, I now realize there is a Claire beyond the workplace. She is someone guided by faith, abundantly blessed with devoted friends and family who had the “gift” of time off to reset life priorities. I am so thrilled about what lies ahead because I am certain God does not make mistakes, he has a new path for me and I can’t wait to see what he has in store."
At our April 4th Forum, we had Penny Jones come and share about "Loving Our Neighbors Through Our Work." Penny shared about how her former boss, Des Cummings, always told her to remember to "Lead with Love" in both your professional and personal life. This is something that she reminds herself of often. She also shared about her years of foster parenting experiences, both good and bad, and how God transformed her through these experiences. One experience in particular involved the death of a foster daughter (Tariji Gordon) by the girl's biological mother. As a result of this, Penny vowed to change child-welfare laws and therefore created "The Penny Project".
Please click on the video titles below to see more . . .
Dr. Falecia Williams
At our March 7th Forum, we heard Dr. Falecia Williams, President of Valencia College West share about "Love in Action". Falecia openend with one of her favorite quotes from Author, Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
We can choose a path of indifference or we can choose a path of action. We are all called to love if we are followers of Christ. Falecia learned at a very young age the power of Christ. She grew up living in public housing. It was there she learned the importance of community and the need for collaboration - to work together for a greater goal. This is something she implements daily in her position at Valencia College, especially as they work on the new downtown campus plan with UCF.
We can do so much more when we are not trying to do it alone. Core value are important for everyone on your team to embrace. We have to remember to be selfless and have a sense of commonality and respect.
"We are the greatest beneficiaries of love and therefore we need to share it!"
At our February forum J4’s Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer Lisa Schultz responded to the question about leadership: What’s love got to do with it?
Lisa shared her personal career journey as she wrestled to reconcile the world’s messages regarding what it takes to be a successful business leader with what she had learned from the Bible. Lisa said that the world would have us believe we have to use force, grab power, and aggressively seize opportunities regardless of the impact on others in our path to be successful. However, the Bible teaches that we are all made in God’s image and that God is in control of everything, including our careers. Further, the Bible says that we have access to the power of the Holy Spirit and gives us the second greatest commandment is to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
Lisa challenged us to think about what loving our “work neighbors” could mean in terms of living out the gospel there. What would happen if we actually treated coworkers, bosses, staff, peers, and clients as we want them to treat us? Could we be successful AND live out the “action love words” found in 1 Corinthians 13? What would happen if we really were patient in listening to others, showed kindness to everyone regardless of how different we are, were slow to anger and more effectively managed our emotional reactions at work? These are just a few of the actionable love words and direction given in the Bible! This does not mean that we should be a pushover at work either. The word of God also tells us to confront one other with truth and "rebuke” in a loving manner. Her testimony included personal lessons learned that convinced her we can be successful living out the gospel of love in our leadership.
Lisa created her own personal management philosophy which is modeled after her life verse in 1 Timothy 1:7 "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but one of power, love, and discipline". Lisa defines this model as “Gracious Leadership” and she holds herself accountable to live it out as a leader in business who is passionate about following Jesus.
We encourage you to join us this year as we continue to explore how we “Love our neighbors” well at work, home, and in the community.
We kicked the year off right at our January 10th Forum at Camping World Stadium. We had a great turnout of J4 Leaders, as well as many friends from LIFT Orlando and Grace Medical Home.
Lisa Schultz opened the event by sharing her excitement about the coming year and about our theme for 2017 of Love Our Neighbors. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment he declared (Matthew 22:37-40) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” We look forward to examining this text and discussing what it means for us as leaders at work, community and home.
Dr. Marvin Hardy, Founder of Grace Medical Home, shared about and their mission . . . "To be a medical home reflecting the heart of Christ by offering the highest level of health care to those in our community who need it most." Currently, almost one in four in Central Florida lacks health insurance. The visionary leaders of Grace Medical Home sought to fill a void in our local healthcare system and developed a solution to remove the burden from the current healthcare community, including hospitals, ER’s and urgent clinics. They wanted to create a home base where a patient’s medical history is known and their medical care is coordinated. Patients have an ongoing and personal relationship with their physician and a place to turn for their healthcare needs. To learn more about Grace Medical Home, please click here.
We also heard from Eddy Moratin, the Executive Director of LIFT Orlando and their focus on the revitalization of the historic neighborhoods of Lake Lorna Doone and Lake Sunset, which surround Camping World Stadium. These neighborhoods are among the lowest income neighborhoods in the nation. Their plan for this neighborhood is to create mixed-income housing, Cradle to Career Education, Community Heath & Wellness and long term economic viability. To learn more about LIFT Orlando, click here.
Bob Lupton, Founder of FCS Ministries in Atlanta and Author of "Toxic Charity" shared with us about the importance of giving people in need a hand up instead of a hand-out. "When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them.” Through FCS, he has developed two mixed income subdivisions, organized a multi-racial congregation, started a number of businesses, created housing for hundreds of families and initiated a wide range of human services in his community. He also shared about the importance of being a good neighbor by helping our neighbors out. This also includes using any influence we may have to help others get connected. There are so many programs out there to help people, but they will only take them so far. “Community transformation is about the quality of neighbors, not the quality of programs.” To read more about Bob, click here.
The evening wrapped up with a bus tour of the neighborhood narrated by Eddy Moratin.
Last week at the November Forum, we talked about God's promise of Protection. Christina Walker, former Executive Director of Samaritan's Village came and shared about how God keeps his promise to protect us . . .
I can look back on my life and see God’s presence and protection even in my earliest years, and how his protection did not be necessarily prevent or protect me FROM calamity, trauma, chaos and despair, but it protected me TO be a conduit and minister of His story and His Grace and His mercy. He protected my ministry- before I even had one.
My life was an absolute mess. The trajectory of my life was the same as the many generations before me- despair, godlessness, brokenness. It was during one of these seasons of deep depression that a friend saw my hopelessness and offered to pray for me. We sat outside a Starbucks and she simply said- can I pray for you? And I thought- “eww” “awkward” but said o.k.- as I was pretty hopeless and resigned. She prayed that a fire would rise in me for the LORD. She prayed much more than that, but that is all I remember from the prayer.
Over the next few weeks my heart softened. I began attending church by myself. Read the Bible and this hunger for God just grew. I was baptized about 4 months later. I was all in for God.
That was about 13 years ago. Honestly- that doesn’t feel so long when I say the number- but it feels sooo far away when I think of who I have become. Honestly I often forget who I was. Where I was headed without the Lord’s great providence. Without His pursuit and His protection.
As I said at the beginning of my time, in my story I see God’s providence is not in protection from, but protection to. It was protection to be called according to His purpose. Protection to find my hope and rest in Him. Protection to count it all good. If he had protected me from the sufferings of this world, would I have been as prepared to serve Him in the capacities He has called me to? Would I have sought Him? Would I have been open to His Lordship over my heart… through which he would he have then protected me from the hope of eternal life?
I believe God is fully in control of my life. In Job 42:2 Job says to the Lord, “I know that you can do all things, that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
But also that God does not prevent us from experience affliction. Paul during his ministry experienced much persecution as he spread the gospel, but also that pesky thorn in his side… something that he asked God to remove multiple times to no avail.
Romans 8:28 promises us that God uses all things for our good. ALL THINGS. Not just the good things. ALL things including the thorns. Paul saw this in the scripture passage 2 Cor 12 where he says the messenger sent by satan to harass him, the thorn in his side was there to keep him from being conceited.
I acknowledge, my will, my sinful nature led me to many of the wounds I have experienced and also to much suffering I experienced. But I can see God’s protection and provision woven throughout my life in the form of thorns such as Paul describes. Thorns that keep me close to God. Keep me at the foot of the cross. Keep me aware of my sinful nature, my foolishness, and my deep need for God’s grace. The trajectory of my life is completely different today with Christ as my Lord than it was 13 years ago outside that Starbucks with the world as my Puppetmaster.
God’s protection now seems most often to keep me close to him. Ever aware of my dependence on Him. Protecting me from pride, idolatry, and self-sufficiency. He protects me from complacency in my faith, but not from pain.
Since becoming a Christian, I have still faced loss and suffering. Suffering will continue. The Bible speaks directly to the provisions and meaning in our suffering, not if we suffer, but when we suffer.
Romans 5: 3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Though heartache and loss are inescapable and some wounds will never be healed this side of heaven, I am now grounded in the hope of WHO OUR GOD IS- what He has promised us as his children, and the future we have in heaven. I didn’t have that in my childhood or early adult years.
He has protected me for my good but more importantly for His Glory. He has given me a deep fire in my gut to live a life that serves Him. He has given me a testimony that can be used to speak of His grace and His love. A testimony that illustrates both our need for His forgiveness as well as the hope that can be found in Him.
I like to live very transparently. Actually I just sorta can’t hide who I am and my story. I know what is professionally appropriate to share in the counseling room as I counsel women, or when I served the residents of SV. But I also know the vital importance of sharing imperfections with those around. To share our testimony and God’s pursuit and love of his children.
I had one of the most meaningful interactions with a friend who struggles with shame, despair and hopelessness. I shared my life story… in more rated R details, with her over lunch one day. The good, bad, and the very ugly. She told me she had no idea what I had been through in my life. That she couldn’t picture me before I knew Jesus. It wasn’t the first time I had a moment like this when sharing my testimony, but it was a great reminder of why sharing the way God has pursued and protected us, both before our faith and after our Christian life began, is so important.
God has comforted me, and that comfort has enables me to love and encourage, and sometimes comfort others. The blessing of participation in sharing the love of Christ with someone hurting gives meaning to my life story- and the suffering I had and will likely continue to experience. It has given me not only an incredibly testimony, but a beautiful opportunity to minister to others.
2 Cor 3-10
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.
I think of Joseph in the bible. What others intended for evil, God will use for His Glory and His purpose. When Joseph is speaking to his brothers- whom sold him into slavery- Gen 50:20 : As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good”
God has used all that I have been through, and that my family and parents have been through, to mold me into the woman I am today. To create in me a heart that longs to serve Him and to be used according to His purpose.
Romans 8: 28- and we know that for those who love GOD all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
Let us never forget that the ultimate protection that God has given us is the death of his son, that we would be protected from the judgement of our sin and have eternal life with Him. He has not granted us protection from death in this world. But instead from eternal death.
Romans 8:18- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
It has been my testimony, I believe, that has made me as effective in ministering to other women. Meaning, the work that God has done in me—the wilderness he plucked me out of, the promised land he has brought me into.
Because I have seen great darkness and despair, I am not afraid to sit in it with others. Because of the sin I have committed, I am not shocked by the sin of others… and I judge far less. (Well, on a good day.)
Because of the life I was living, I am sooo grateful for my God’s great love for me that I long to share the new life I have in Christ, with others who feel hopeless… and alone.
Because I have experienced joy even in the midst of deep pain and fear, I can testify to the hope and the provision found in our great good and loving God.
My advocation to serve women, comes from feeling beyond blessed by our great God. It is an overflow. It is a blessing, and in many ways, an example of God’s great protection. I still struggle with shame, self-doubt, and anxiety. But God has given me the blessing of His comfort to sustain me and a calling to share that comfort and the Hope found in Him with others.
November 1, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)
First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation.
This year at J4 Leaders, we are learning to stand on God's promises! God promised that his children will not be overtaken by temptation. In fact, he assures us that an escape route will be provided. James MacDonald said that we should make little red boxes with glass doors that say "In Case of Emergency - break glass". Inside the box we should have noted God's promises to review and cling to in the current situation.
Please join us on Tuesday, November 1st to hear Christina Walker share about God's promise of protection in our lives!
Christina Walker joined the Samaritan Village team in May of 2014 as Executive Director and recently transitioned to the Board of Directors in September of 2016. She has a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College in Winter Park. Her passion for excellence in therapeutics has helped to establish best practices for the Samaritan Village residential program. As a Board member of Samaritan Village she continues to engage in the fight against of human trafficking through public speaking engagements and other advocacy opportunities in our local community. When she’s not busy with meetings, vision-casting, and volunteering at Samaritan Village, she enjoys traveling with her husband and two kids, and providing leadership as a home-school mom. She is also active in her church, Grace Winter Garden, in their children's and women's ministries.
Last week at the October Forum we talked about God's promise of grace. Life Coach, Lindsey Staton shared how God's grace enables us to be used by God, especially in the midst of our weakness.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul urges us to boast in our weakness. Who wants to boast in their weakness? Those who want to see God glorified more than they want to look like they have it all together. "My power is made perfect in weakness." In verse 8, Paul said he asked the Lord three times to remove his thorn. Lindsey shared 3 different times in her life that she told the Lord, "I don't have it. I can't do this."
1. Becoming a parent - She wrestled with God during her pregnancy asking Him how she could be a good parent. God answered her by telling her that her daughter is HIS. She is God's daughter first. Secondly, she is her own. She doesn't belong to her mom. She belongs to God.
2. Leading a Bible study in her home during her divorce - She thought surely she would be disqualified by her divorce. But at the same time, God increased her bible study to ten women, by far the biggest she'd ever had. She asked, "Why are you giving me the largest Bible study group I've ever had when I'm at the lowest point of my human existence? I don't have it. I can't do this." God answered "Because now you're ready. You've got nothing to give and all your well-meaning efforts are out of My way. Anything that happens from here on out will be all Me." The group grew from 10 to 12 to 15 to 18 to 21 and finally 24. Her weakness had set the stage for God's power to be made perfect. And it was.
Immediately following her divorce, she committed a major moral failure that she was certain would disqualify her. She called a friend in the middle of the night to come over. Lindsey's been a Christian her whole life but suddenly she needed the cross like never before. She asked her friend to preach the gospel to her like she had never heard it, to promise her that what she had done was on Jesus' shoulders when He died. God's love and grace overwhelmed her. He restored her, and now she is even more 'qualified' to teach His restoration.
3. Launching her coaching business - She thought it's fine to not have it all together when you're just a blogger and speaker. But why would anybody hire her to help them with THEIR lives if she can't even perfect her own? Having full knowledge of all the issues remaining in her life, she thought "I don't have it, I can't do this." But the stage is set for God's power to be made perfect in her weakness.
Her stepson played baseball when he was younger. Her favorite cheer was after the hitter's first swing and miss: "NOW you're ready!" When we are at our smallest, God is at His biggest. The weaker we are, the stronger God shows Himself. And we are never more prepared, never more qualified for ministry than when we have nothing to offer.
In Judges 6, God calls Gideon to fight against the Midianites, calling him "mighty warrior." Gideon asks, "How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive." (v. 14) God chose the least of the family of the weakest tribe in Israel. Even after Gideon gathered his army, God sends most of them home, purposely outnumbering His people in battle. And when they won, there was no doubt Who had done it.
So prepare yourself, mighty warrior. God may be about to ask you for more than is humanly possible. All your failures, limitations and weaknesses have made you the perfect candidate for His plan and purpose. Get out of the way and let Him show Himself strong through You. It'll be all Him, just like it is supposed to be.
Lindsey Staton is a certified life coach, blogger and speaker. She graduated with a journalism degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and has worked for several different publications including Southern Living, Southern Lady, HomeLife and RELEVANT magazine. Originally from Ocala, Florida, she is a fifth generation Floridian and has held ministry positions at several churches, including 20s-30s director at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. Her other professional experience includes occasionally dabbling in various aspects of the field of law, which is the family business.
She blogs weekly about faith, marriage/remarriage, parenting/step-parenting, identity and purpose. She also speaks at conferences, retreats, corporate events and was even recently invited to speak to a men's Bible study group! Driven by God's redemption of her own story, her passion is to help people recover lost identity, survive transition, live proactive/intentional lives, discover their purpose and get them living it. Visit Lindsey's website here!