An Open Letter To My Old Fellowship About This Blog.

I have wanted to write an open letter to the people in my old fellowship- the ones I consider my family and heritage. The love I still have for each of you is so big that when I think of you all and how much I miss being with you, my heart feels like it might explode in a mixture of both passion and grief.

I am specifically referring to those I grew up with who live in Columbus, my long time friends in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, and to the people who took me under their wing during college in Jersey. I am also referring to the believers who live in my town. I love you.

I am aware that my audience is both wide and diverse, and because of that… I ask for grace. For those of you who have no idea who I am and are only interested in other posts I write, that’s okay. You can totally skip out on this letter ūüôā To my current friends, you can skip out too, I won’t hold it against you ūüôā

But to the rest of you who (might) read this, you have known me since childhood- we grew up together. We shared crappy bunk beds and fought evil bats at teen camp. We took walks around the lake discussing teachings, played cards during study breaks, cried and committed our lives to God together over the phone and during Friday night fellowships.

We shared similar beliefs for so long and it tied us so close together, that most people don’t understand what kind of friendship we held. I am not sure if I will ever be able to attain that type of community again- and there is something to be said for that.

I’m the girl in the middle with the white sweater, and I remember when this picture was taken. I thought I was famous!

I left our community almost 4 years ago. In those 4 years, I have changed and discovered so much about the world, about mainstream Christianity, and about Jesus, that if we were hanging out over coffee today, you might not recognize me as the same person. I still have that same goofy personality, but I am different. Ben is different, and we are raising our kids different.

Which means, we disagree on a few things.

I wanted to inform you that a lot of what I write about in this blog (and will continue to write about) might include those differences. I hold my own opinions, perceptions, and beliefs about the way we grew up, and you might entirely disagree with me. Some posts might sound like a jab at beliefs you hold, but I am not jabbing at you. I would never, in a million years, want to slander you in any way.

I love your passion for truth to be upheld. I fully trust in your integrity and honest character. I don’t doubt your love or your intentions. If I were to cut you open and examine your heart- I’d find pure gold….one that would stand through fire. I believe that when we get up to the Bema, you will be holding up the line-Jesus will have so many amazing things to say about you to the Father, that it might prove embarrassing for the rest of us.

So when I write things like- “I used to believe” or “I previously behaved this way”, I in no way am trying to undermine you , or any of our old community.

I am not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my personal storyteller is different than yours and therefore my perception and opinions aren’t perfect either. I want to stay in humility and am always under trusted leadership that help point me back to the right path when I am in error.

I just wanted to inform you in love , and give you the space to disagree with me-even publicly. That doesn’t mean I’ll agree, but I’ll respect what you have to say and stand up for your right to hold your beliefs. And know that if you ever need anything, I’m only a phone call away.

I love you,

Rosie.

Honesty’s Hardship-Letting Go Of Pride

I’ve noticed that recently, I am drawn towards the outwardly broken. Not because I want to be broken, but because at least I know they aren’t pretending. I pass a homeless man on the streets, and I feel an immediate connection. They need help! So. do. I.

*What you are about to read are common hardships I face when it comes to getting honest with others (or myself). This happens when:

  • I need help¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† OR
  • I know I will not like honesty’s end result.

Ephesians 4:25

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

I like showing up with a cheerful demeanor. It is so much easier than making an appearance with a broken heart mixed in with a cry for help. Smiles lead to conversations about sunshine and coffee and good deals, and that makes me feel good! For the moment.

Is that wrong?

Let me tell you. Superficial conversations allow me to forget the mountain standing in front of me, blocking me from moving forward. It gives me permission to feel temporarily content.

I like people to think I am strong, capable of life, and in need of little help.

(Oh you need help? Could you move out of the way please?¬†¬†You’re making me uncomfortable.)

I want fun conversations and promised friendships.

I love happiness.¬† I love the laughter and joy that hurts so hard because I can’t stop smiling. The kind that keeps me up at night because I’m having such. a. good. time.

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So when things ARE NOT OK, or if I’m seeing things a little different than the¬†rest,¬†honesty feels like a big struggle.¬†A¬†trap. A place to go if I want wounds to surface or feelings to get hurt.

Why? Because if I stay¬†honest, ¬†I am¬†afraid I will¬†experience hurt and rejection …like I have, so many times already¬†in the past.¬†I’ve lost friendships. Friendships¬†I¬†really didn’t want to lose.

I’ve experienced the¬†empty stares and¬†the concerned silence.¬†I’ve made¬†people feel¬†incredibly uncomfortable and¬†it. gets. AWKWARD.

That sucks.

So pass the coffee, please, I’d rather get back to riding the surface.

 

BUT. Where am I going? Please someone tell me, where am I going?

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You know what I’ve also realized?

Honesty’s path (mixed with humility) may have been rocky, but it¬†led me to¬†Jesus…and¬†Jesus¬†met me, right where I was.¬†I stood in¬†front of him with brokenness, doubt, sin, fear. He saw it all. And he didn’t run away. He¬†wiped it away, in love.

Honesty led me to the right people, with the right words, leading me to the right savior.

And.

The savior accepted me just as I was,  he showed me the father, he called me, and he continues to teach me his voice, just like he promised. (John 10)

He healed wounds. (Isaiah 53)

He became my truth (John 14)

He showered me with unconditional and authentic love. (8 hundred million verses..seriously)

He led me to the place where I really am¬†ok when someone ‘hurts’ me. BECAUSE

I found that true acceptance comes from Jesus, and our Father. (John 14:23)

Can we let them in, or will we keep allowing our pride to stand in their way?

James 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

What if true happiness happens after we hit our rock bottom, and honesty becomes our only choice? What if we realize the need for a living savior, not a historical one?

What if we decide that Jesus really is the answer and that he really will show us what it means to know true acceptance? (John 6:37)

What if we lose friendships, but we gain ones that we were meant to have in the first place?

Because God supplies our needs (Phil 4:19)

and he knows that we need people, too. (Prov 14:4)

What if the end result of honesty, is breakthrough?

 

John 6:29

29¬†Jesus told them, ‚ÄúThis is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.‚ÄĚ

Will you be honest alongside me this week?¬†It’s hard. It’s rocky. But in the end,¬†you just might find that there are people out there¬†who really do care, and they will help lead you to the one who handles all healing. The one who IS THE answer.¬†We don’t have to¬†be weary in doing good,¬†for we WILL reap in due season,¬†if we faint not.

“If We’re Honest”

by Francesca Battistelli

Listen to this, now.

Loving Those Who Struggle With Faith

The days I doubt God are days that start out like any other-I wake up to the pitter patter of little feet and little voices demanding food. I toss and turn, and I beg for more silence.

Sleepy eyed- I prepare breakfast, I pour coffee, I wipe faces and tables. And then I sit. I wait for clearer thoughts while tiny hands and loud voices require attention. Days demand action! Wake up Ro, they need you.

But then the lie comes as a soft question and I entertain it longer than I should:

“What if those tender whispers are really my own?”

Anxiety builds.

The days I pursue this thought without a solid battle plan, I end down a¬†path that leaves me feeling empty and scared: Without actually seeking God, I talk at him….

“Why did this happen to __? Where were you when___? Why haven’t you answered __ ?¬†Are¬†you listening? Are you even there?¬†”

The questions get worse, but you get the point.

And yes, this happens to me. The girl who has seen and experienced healings, answered prayers, daily victories. The girl who reads her bible and clings to Jesus with all her heart. God is SO good and his word is always true.

But.

It happens.

You see my friend? We all enter into battles of Faith Vs. Circumstance. Faith is confidence in what we hope for, the evidence of things unseen.

But.

Sometimes circumstances still win.

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There are beautiful hearts out there who were fighting for the faith but the loss left deep scars. The heart was not placed in intensive care so beautifully made available by the body of Christ. It was not surrounded by relentless love mixed with timely and pure words of God.

And then what happens? A new reconstructed idea of God forms to cope with the loss.

And we say,

“They should have _____. They didn’t do _____.¬† If only they______.”

I want to stop¬†placing judgement on¬†those who have lost their faith, and I want to start fiercely loving them instead. I want to chalk up the loss and blame it on the devil. Because that’s where the blame goes.

I want to reach out and watch Jesus lift that person out of their wheelchair.

I want to listen while someone word vomits all over me. And then instead of getting scared or judgmental, I want to hug them.  I want to ask them over for a cup of coffee. I want to live the life of Christ in me, reach out, and with Gods beautiful word, begin to mend wounds.

That’s what someone did for me. They listened. They loved. They cared. They saw me through the eyes of Jesus when I was struggling with faith.

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Jesus never gave up. Ever. He dealt with sin, carnality, and unbelief¬†his entire life. When he was on the cross, he never said, “That’s it, I’VE HAD ENOUGH”

He loved them until the end.

Yes, I agree we shouldn’t yolk with those who deny Christ. We need to yolk with fellow lovers of light.

But I’m not asking for us to yolk, I’m asking for us to love. And too often, we separate ourselves completely… and we appear as self righteous haters. No, this is not our intention. But we live with heads in the ground if we are not willing to admit our own frailty.

Love involves time spent in the trenches with beautiful hearts who have been hurt by the enemy. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not self seeking. And love covers a multitude of sins.

And instead of focusing on the mote in their eye, I want to take out my beam. I want to build my faith, the only way I know how.

By hearing the word of God.

By walking out on the word of God

By spending time with the one who wrote the word of God.

And.

By looking at the glory of Jesus, who is continually transforming me to his image

2 Timothy 2:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

Trusting God In The Midst Of Job Loss (Part 1)

“Honey, I got laid off”

And just like that, my ugliness exposed.

There are a lot of things that can happen in the mind of a stay at home mom when those words come out of a bread winning husband.

I’d like to start out this post with acknowledging my over privileged life! I recognize that because I have change in my pocket,¬†our family financially ranks¬†in the top 8% of the world. Wow.

Jesus, come soon.

Ben and I have¬†been on a¬†financial ride for the six years we’ve been married. At our worst, we scoured¬†craigslist couches to collect change for cigarettes!¬†¬†It was fun back then because we were young, without kids, and¬†definitely reckless. Our marriage began with¬†mounds of credit card debt, student loans, and an old beat up Pontiac.156637_562328823357_4342794_n

We lived off butterfly love.

My husband began his career with a psychology degree¬†selling¬†cemetery plots. (It was a dying business and yes, I’ve heard that a million times)

Yet in six years, we went from barely making rent to demolishing credit card debt. Ben advanced in his career at a rapid pace and we began purchasing fancy cars, stainless steal appliances, and vacations. We were tackling student debt and were on our way to purchasing a bigger home. We gave out of abundance because we had more than we needed.

(Side note, it’s easy to give when you have ‘enough’! Mark 12:44)

Then on a regular Friday afternoon, my husband came home early.

“Honey, I got laid off”

And just like that, my ugliness exposed.

There are a lot of things that can happen in the mind of a stay at home mom when those words come out of¬†a bread winning husband. So¬†for 8 weeks (and counting),¬†I have come face to face with anxiety and¬†confusion. I have¬†battled with¬†fear, anger, and¬†just plain ol’ sadness.¬†I’ve been introduced to greediness that I didn’t even know existed! Hi greediness, my name is Rosie. NOT nice to meet you.

Savings have dwindled and bills have piled.

Trusting God becomes a lot more real…. when your only choice is to trust in him.

Psalm 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

And so I have learned that it’s ok to admit you’re failing in front of God. Grace loves the admission of¬†failure because it turns our minds to his unfailing love rather than our hard earning work.

And.

It’s a day by day and moment by moment decision to put away the ugliness of fear and speak the truth of Gods grace into the hearts and minds of my family.

And so today, I choose to trust God. I choose to trust him despite what I see. (2 Cor 5:7)

I choose to see that I have food and shelter today and that God has promised to take care of tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34)

I choose to tell un-thankfulness to leave and I choose to allow praise fill up my heart in its place. (James 1:2-4)

I choose to speak grace into my husbands life and I choose to stay by his side.

And when I fail, I will rejoice because it’s not about how good I am at trusting him, it’s about how good he is in his promise to me. He is teaching me. I don’t have it all right.

I choose to admit that I am weak, but he is strong.

It’s¬†OK to be honest with yourself and say….” wow, I have a lot of ugliness in my heart right now”. Take off the mask! The cross of Christ allows us to be completely open before God. He won’t scorch us and he¬†promises¬†to help us in our time of need. He loves us despite our sin!

Psalm 34:6

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him; he saved him from all his troubles.

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With the mounds of advice the world gives to those in financial trouble (I’ve heard a lot), it is easy to get lost in its wisdom and miss the still small voice of God. Do you want to join me in REST and quietness? This is God’s chance to shine. Like the heart of Jehosephat, let’s cry.

2 Chronicles 20:12b

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Here are some additional links if this hits home more true than you would like:

Promises To Those Struggling with Unemployment

Weathering The Storm Of Job Loss

Unemployed Faith

 

 

 

Letting Go Of Shame- When Dark Secrets Come Out

I would like to start this post out by saying I do not have all the answers on the subject of secrecy and shame. There is more to be said and considered. I encourage you to seek counsel from a grace filled Christian if you need help in this area of your life.

There was this sin I committed as a teenager that was very, very terrible. I didn’t have the courage to confess it to even the closest of friends and instead, I kept it hidden inside the darkest corners of my heart… where it would never become exposed. When friends would jokingly bring up ‘dark secrets’, I would laugh it off and say I didn’t have any. But inside of me, the memory of my action would always creep its way back into my heart and into the forefront of my mind.

Along with the memory came shame. I “knew” God had forgiven me. I really did. I had apologized to him in secret a million times over…. and yet the memory would still show it’s painful face weekly, sometimes daily, and I  would shudder at the mere thought of my mistake and shove it as far back as I possibly could.

This was a burden of mine for 10 years. 10 YEARS people. That’s a long time. What’s even  worse? I got married and KEPT THE SECRET from my husband. Wanna talk about shame? I know the feeling well.

Once I got married, I would justify this “un”confession because I believed God had already considered it gone.(He did by the way, I just didn’t really know it)  I would close my eyes, visualize the sin upon the cross of my savior, and feel temporary relief. I would yell at the accuser and remind him that I was clean in Christ. But no matter what I tried, I still felt the pang of secrecy, and shame had become a regular part of my life.

I also believed the lie that if I ever DID tell my husband, he would no longer love me or see me the way he once did. What would I do if he looked at me in disgust? This scene would replay over and over in my head, and I would recoil with a new found determination to never let that happen.

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And then…

Grace. Can I show you another corner of grace?

I was in a women’s bible study and the topic was on shame. This bible verse was read:

James 5:16a

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

I had confessed my sin in front of God, but I still covered the nakedness of my sin in front of others. In doing so, I wasn’t allowing grace filled Christians to re-iterate the truth of the cross.

That night something clicked. I knew that if I walked out on this scripture, the accuser was no longer going to have this area of my life. Why? Because what happens after confession before grace filled Christians isn’t disgust.  It’s grace that brakes down walls of shame in mere seconds.

I was afraid, but I was ready. I was ready to watch my savior kick the devil in his face while I held his hand.

So that night, I confessed to my grace filled husband.

That same night, the chains of shame fell off.

My husband so gracefully took me in his arms and reminded me of my savior.

He was proud of me, not disgusted. He cuddled me that night a little harder as I cried tears of relief. It was out. The dark secret was out. And as SOON as it was out, it evaporated into thin air.

Thin. Air. It was like the devil had lost his firm grip in an instant. That shame went right where it’s supposed to go, the cross of our savior.

Gone. 10 years of shame, gone.

The devil has since TRIED AND MISERABLY FAILED at bringing up my past sin that it’s almost laughable.

There is freedom in walking out the uncomfortable verses of God’s word. There is grace that shows up when you’re ready to jump off the cliff. There is mercy and love and forgiveness and help when you decide it is finally time to not let the devil have an area of your life anymore.

If you have shame and you have never shared your ‘dark secret’ with the family of God (who understands grace,) I would encourage you to consider that verse in James 5. Read it’s context, pray, and seek counsel. God is ready to show you that your shame doesn’t belong on you, you beautiful child. God is ready to use the cross of Christ as a permanent eraser on whatever dark secret you hold**

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The week after I confessed to my husband, we went on a vacation together! Added bonus.

 

 

 

 

**Friends, if you don’t confess, you aren’t going to hell. When you confessed Christ as Lord and believed God raised him from the dead, he paid for your sins….. past, present and future. (Eph 1:7, Rom 4:25, Rom 5:6, Rom 10:9, Heb 10:12, 1 Jhn 2:2)