Our new ministry for couples..

Steve and I have a vision and a calling to work with couples that started when we met 15 years ago. The time is finally right for starting our new ministry. The name is Jeremiah 29:11 Couples Mentoring. We are based in Marin County, California.

Our goal is to help couples find ways to understand and value their relationships. Our approach is different from typical marriage counseling. We believe that with the right tools and education a couple can improve their communication and learn to value one another. We provide access to an online inventory that is the foundation for opening up the conversation.

In the years we have been married, we have seen God work to strengthen our relationship and provide us with insights into how to go through trials and tests without destroying each other. In fact.. these difficult struggles have made our relationship stronger and more resilient.

We are eager to share what we have learned and pray for the opportunity to meet with you if this is something that you need. We believe that relationship is the key in any counseling work. This new ministry will focus on our relationship with you. We know that without trust and a feeling of safety people cannot grow. We are offering you a safe and secure place to work on the issues without judgment or condemnation.

Please contact us.. using the contact form.. if you want any additional information. We will be more than happy to provide more details on the initial commitment including costs.

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“Jesus was making the sad things come untrue”

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This is a line from a story in the Jesus Storybook Bible.. a book that was read to the children every Sunday during our worship service. Yesterday at church, our pastor said that those stories from that book were the first sermon and his preaching was the second sermon. He quoted that line from the book ” He was making the sad things come untrue“.. I love that ! It makes me smile to think of everything sad becoming untrue as the kingdom of God moves ahead. What an amazing promise He has given us.

The same thing is happening here every single day.. sometimes we see it and sometimes we don’t. The truth is the truth whether we are able to see it or not. God’s invisible kingdom is real.. more real than all the sad things that happen on this earth every single day. His kingdom is more real than every single problem we face.. even the ones that seem unbearable. His kingdom is more real than our feelings, our thoughts, or our ideas. What an amazing realization that is.. if only we could hang on to that picture. There is another story.. a larger story that surrounds us and God is the author. He has written it for us and He is with us in that story.. guiding us, protecting us, comforting us, and encouraging us. We are not alone in what seems to be our small sad story.

As I am writing this I feel like I want to grab on to that big story.. to live in it fully.. to have a larger role.. to enter the Kingdom of God in a deeper way.. following Him fully.. trusting Him totally.. even when I have no answers.. even when I am hurting.. lost and sad. I want to be a part of His great work in this world as He redeems everything that was lost.  I believe He is asking us all to enter in.. to seek Him and His ways.. to believe that He is totally in control.. when all we see is an out of control world … As we live in these times.. we are in the world that He entered.. something has already happened.. but there is more.. we are between the already and the not yet.. living in that very unsettled place.. He is our rock and our safe place.. there is no other.

He told us to ” Seek Him and His kingdom and all else would be added on to us” He meant it then and He means it now..

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”

Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.

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Grief.. a very long and very lonely journey

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I decided to write about grief again. It used to appear more regularly on this blog, but it has been quite a while since I posted on this topic. There seems to be some misconceptions about what happens when we suffer losses.  All losses involve grief at some level, but some are more intense than others. Of course the loss of a loved one is at the top of the list. We encounter deep grief when someone close to us dies. Our hearts are filled with a heaviness that is indescribable.. loneliness at the deepest level possible. One thing that troubles me in our culture is the absence of information on grief.. the denial of grief and the way people feel like they need to hide their grief. What a tragedy this is. God allows us to feel grief and it is a very natural part of life. No one gets through this life without going through losses and the older you get, the more you will experience. In the light of that information.. we need to know all we can about this journey we call grief.

It is impossible to say when your first big loss will occur. Sometimes children have their first huge loss in childhood.. a grandparent, friend, or sibling. Their feelings are deep and troubling and we can only hope and pray there is an adult present to help them process the loss. You may not experience this level of loss until adulthood.. that is quite common. When you do.. it will hit you hard.. your capacity to understand how you feel will be very limited. Unless the person who died was very ill for a long time.. you will not be prepared. Even if that is the case.. you may still find it totally disorienting and scary. Sudden tragic death is even harder to deal with..everything in us wants to cry out No.. this did not happen.

Grief has a life of its own and cannot be controlled. It often starts out slowly.. God’s grace for us includes a period of shock.. we don’t actually realize what has happened.  Slowly the shock wears off and each time a season changes or a holiday passes..we feel the loss all over again… almost as though it just happened. People who have lost spouses will often say the second year is worse than the first.. this is because as time passes the loss is more and more real. Your loved one is not there to celebrate holidays or witness important family events.. Feelings of grief are hard to understand unless you have an awareness of the process.. you may feel angry, frustrated, depressed, sad and lonely at different times or almost all at once. People have wondered if they were losing their minds because their grief was so confusing and intense. You may be very alone with your grief.. others can express their sorrow and understand your loss from a distance, but they are not with you every night when the lights go out. Many people spend sleepless nights crying and wondering if life will ever return to normal. Eventually.. you will come to a place of acceptance, but no one can tell you how long that will take. It is different for every person.. each of us grieves differently and uniquely.

No… Life will never be the same. You have joined a club you never wanted to join. You will never get over your grief.. you will learn to live with it.. if you process it and don’t stuff your feelings. Most depressed people suffer from unresolved grief.. many addicts become addicted when they encounter a loss and are unwilling to face what has happened. Not allowing yourself to cry and to suffer will only hurt you more in the long run. In our busy culture, people feel like they need to look like they have bounced back even before the grieving process has started. There is no time to waste.. life must go on.

My purpose in writing this is to give you permission to grieve.. not only your personal losses but the loses we read about every day online or hear about in the news. the losses our friends experience that tear our hearts apart. These things affect us deeply and we don’t need to block these feelings or pretend that they don’t. We live in a fallen world and there is suffering every single day all around the world. God grieves for those who are hurting and He gives us the capacity to do that same thing..

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  

Jesus wept.

What comes after endurance?

 

 

 

 

P1030047My last post was a month ago. I wrote on endurance because that was the word that God gave me and it was the process I was in.. learning to endure. I am still in this situation that requires endurance… and since I wrote about it, I experienced the need for it at a deeper level. That is often the way it is.. we can be aware of something that God is teaching us and before we know it.. we are forced to go deeper into the process. So what comes after endurance? I am not sure but my best guess is more endurance..perseverance..trust…faith…longing…doubting..hoping..returning to Him over and over again as things continue to be difficult.

The biggest challenge to me is my own negative thinking.. will God really come through? or will things continue to move in a bad direction.?. in reality sometimes things do get worse before they get better. In the past I have experienced that.. a period when it seems like all is lost and then suddenly God does something unexpected and changes things.. often this happens at what appears to be the last minute.. Who really understands God’s timing anyway? If you were to ask me about my circumstances.. I would say that the last minute has already happened. Apparently that is only my perception and not God’s. He sees the bigger picture that we cannot see and when we feel like we cannot continue.. He enables us to move ahead and to persevere.. in His strength, not our own. He is working deeply in our character.. making us more like Him and removing those things that prevent us from staying on the path.

All of this leads me to believe that we really don’t understand the ways of God. His plan is a mystery and so is His timing. We are to wait and pray and trust even when it seems like all is lost.. I have to admit that I used to think that my most difficult days were behind me.. that this season of my life would be easier than the things that happened when I was younger.. I know better now.. the word easy is not in the Bible and He does not promise us an easy life.. But we are promised an abundant life.. Now there is food for thought.. We are to live fully in the kingdom of God here knowing that someday we will see more clearly.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in the Message:

“Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”……..   John 10:10

 

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Endurance

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This is the word that the Lord gave me this morning as I sat down to write this post. I looked it up and here is what I found.

  1. The fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
  2. The ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina:

That definition fits.. the ability to continue or last despite weariness and stress.. I am experiencing that right now. God has chosen to leave me in a difficult situation for a long time. There have been many years of struggle.. things that I longed for have not happened yet. He has not rescued me, but He has provided for me during this season. His provision has been amazing and His blessings have been wonderful.. yet I am tired and longing for a rest.

His promise is not that we won’t have trouble but that He will be with us as we walk through our troubles. His gift to us is His spirit that strengthens us and fills us when we are broken and empty. He renews our strength and brings unexpected encouragement so we never forget His presence. I am so grateful for those amazing things that He does. Eventually He brings deliverance.. but how that will come and when is His business. So what are we to do in the meantime?

For me.. I only hear one thing” Be still and know that I am God.” These are His words..remember that He is our security and our sufficiency. We may not know anything about the future or make sense of our circumstances, but we can know that God is the same..He never changes.. He is faithful and He will keep all of His promises to us as we trust Him.  I love this passage from 2 Chronicles chapter 20..

“Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

Help us all to remember these words Lord as we continue to faithfully follow you..

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The whispers of God..

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Today was a day when I heard God whispering… at least that is as close as I can come to describing what happened. It is as though God spoke clearly using only a few words and not really making any sound.. not even a whisper. This has happened to me in the past, but not frequently. I was just getting up and opening the curtains to let the sun shine in. My mornings are somewhat of a battle ground these days.. I can feel worries that were there when I fell asleep creeping back in.. today was different because I heard God say ” enjoy your day.. I am taking care of you” It was as clear as a bell!

I felt a warmth and a sweet presence right there near the window and I knew.. it was the Lord. How I had been longing for a word of comfort from Him.. this has been a very hard season and in truth the last 10 years were incredibly challenging. I have questioned my decisions over and over and wondered if I took a wrong turn or something. I prayed and cried out and it seemed as though God was pretty quiet.. He brought encouragement through the Bible and sermons and other people.. but I needed to know that He was close by.. His words are staying with me and I am clinging to them as I type this.. I knew it was the Spirit of God speaking.. the comforter.. the one who knows exactly what we need.. at the perfect moment He makes sure we know that we are not alone and that He is with us in the trial..we are not forgotten.

I am sharing this with you because I want you to have hope today.. don’t give up even if you have been waiting a very long time. God has heard the cry of your heart and He is taking care of you even if you don’t feel like that is true. Those words He spoke are not only for me.. maybe you need to hear them.. ” enjoy your day, I am taking care of you.” Such simple words but so filled with hope. He wants us to enjoy this life.. in the middle of the storm.. in the midst of uncertainty..when we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.  He is at work in the silence.. in the doubts..in the fear..in the unbelief..these things do  not change Him. When it is time.. the season will be over and something new will happen.. He will come for us.. to rescue us and restore us and renew us.

Thank you Lord for speaking to me and my prayer is that you will speak words of comfort and hope to each person who is reading this post. Lift them up on wings of eagles.. carry their burdens.. renew their strength and remind them of your presence..

 

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Hope is renewed..

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It is really springtime again.. I never feel quite sure until May appears..than I feel safe saying winter is over! We came back from a long weekend away this afternoon and as we looked up we saw beautiful fluffy white clouds in a bright blue sky.. the fields along the highway were a vivid green dotted with patches of yellow wild mustard. I could see the Lord’s handiwork all around me.. it was very comforting. God’s love for us revealed in creation.

It was a weekend of reminders for me. We went to a very special wedding.. one that was full of amazing surprises.. I could see God’s fingerprints all over this union. He brought these two people together and it was clear that His love drew them to one another. He was transforming their lives and it flowed over each of us watching the ceremony…we stood in awe of His redeeming work. I had a similar experience at another family gathering last December.. as I looked around the room I could see how the hand of the Lord had been at work healing broken lives and relationships. His hand of redemption on our family.

God is at work even when we can’t see a single thing He is doing. Suddenly He allows us a glimpse into the lives He is restoring.. a glimpse of His healing touch. Spring is like that for me.. all winter long I wonder how I will make it through my least favorite season.. too many hours inside waiting for the weather to warm up… too many grey skies.. short days and long nights.. Suddenly the season changes and I realize He has been working in the dark.. behind the scenes.. getting things ready for the new things that He is going to reveal.. Spring is here.. winter is over.. Hope is renewed!

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