Surviving Spiritual and Narcissistic Abuse – How I Started My First Step of Recovery at KidMin Conference in 2011

It’s gratifying to listen to someone who has lived a life that you aspire to live.  In sports, you’ll find older athletes speaking to the up and coming ball players. Sharing their advice of what to do and most importantly what NOT to do.   There’s something special about the younger generation gleaning from the next.  We are inspired to hear how they succeeded and if we are honest, when they start to share their failures we listen more intently.  Why?  Because we don’t want to make the SAME mistake.

In ministry, I believe it’s just as important to listen and glean from “those who have gone before us.”  I am now in the category of what I call the “Seasoned Saints.”  I am 50 years old and I am more interested in whom I’m building rather than in what I’ve built.  I have about 30 years left on this side of heaven and I want to be found giving back and helping the generation that will be ministering to my grandchildren one day.

I am compelled to share how I took my first step in my recovery from being Spiritually Abused. I know there are others that are suffering in silence, frozen, because they don’t know how to take that FIRST step to healing.  I was so afraid that no one would believe what I was witnessing at church that I did not tell anyone in my hometown.  It was when I was 2,100 hundred miles away from home that I felt safe to open up and talk about my situation.

My first steps to my healing journey started in October of 2011 at Group’s KidMin Conference in Chicago, Illinois.  I was in month 2 of my 6 month forced sabbatical and I honestly thought I was losing my mind.

I’ve attended many conferences in my 23 years of serving, but I never imagined a conference could literally change my life.  It was at a conference,  I received personal attention to a very private matter.

Praise the Lord for The Shelter and all who have served in this ministry.  The Shelter was a place Group set up at the conference center for prayer support and free counseling from licensed counselors.  It was surreal that me, Miss Kelli, the Director of Kid’s Ministries, would sign up to meet with someone I didn’t know, to explain the abuse that I had no clue I was suffering from.  Being so far away from California, helped me to feel safe and I liked the fact I would talk with someone who was there to listen and even advise.

I met with Patti Gibson.  I don’t remember all that I shared, but I know I felt better and I had hope!  Patti was so very kind and empathized with me and my situation. She was truthful and I felt cared for.  My first step to my recovery was with someone I didn’t know but the Lord knew he’d use Patti to help me start to get my life back on track.

At the conference the Lord also allowed my path to cross with Seasoned Saints like Lisa Bruney, who spent close to two hours with me, sitting on the orange coaches outside a workshop.  Lisa listened intently to this traumatized KidMin Director.  Lisa graciously ministered to me and frankly told me that I was not alone.  She shared her own personal story of church conflict and told me the way the Lord provided for her.  That gave me hope that the Lord would do the same for me.

Lisa and I at KidMin in 2013


Looking back, another part of my healing was due to the fact that I connected with other KidMin Directors and Pastors at the conference.  Distance didn’t matter when I needed prayer.  When I was suffering,  I was frightened and I couldn’t turn to anyone in my own church and city.  I was in secret mode and wouldn’t dare tell anyone in my church the information that I had.  Exchanging phone numbers and private messaging safely via facebook literally became my prayer lifeline.

Throughout my healing journey I’ve made a conscious effort to surround myself with those who offer biblical counsel and who tell me what I NEED to hear, not what I WANT to hear.  Currently (six years later), because of the KidMin Conference, I’m part of a supportive Facebook group “Thriving in Transition” that ministers to me each time I go the page.  I’m forever grateful for my long distance brothers and sisters in Christ like Lisa, Nikki, Gloria, Pat, Carole, Anthony, Greg, Stef, Peggy, Suzanne, Kathie and Francine.  I still call upon them today .  I get inspired by their lives as I follow them on social media.

All of this started at a C O N F E R E N CE 2,100 miles away from home!!!!  So what’s the take away?  What would I have you learn?

  • Don’t be embarrassed or prideful to seek out help.
  • Use the venues provided for you such as the counseling services at the next conference you attend.  More and more conferences are offering this service or something similar.
  • Believe the Lord planned the service with YOU in mind.  It can be your first step to healing as it was mine.
  • Stay connected with your ministry friends.  You may call upon them or they may need your shoulder to lean on.

 

Steps I took that helped me survive Spiritual Abuse:

  • Confide in a trusted friend, mentor or counselor.  Simply have a conversation about what has been going on in your life.  They will be able to identify there’s a struggle that’s unhealthy.  They can direct you, pray with you and more importantly become a safe place for you. Talking about it, helps you heal. Even AT a conference.
  • Make a decision to distance yourself from the abusive environment. Leave. Unfollow people on social media. Take a different route to a destination.  I treat my abuser like an ex-boyfriend. I got rid of all the things that remind me of the relationship. Why traumatize yourself?  Self care is NOT selfish.
  • Follow through with the above decision.
  • Seek help from a reputable Christian counselor or mentor on a regular basis. This breeds healthy accountability.  Now is the time you need to surround yourself with wisdom.  There is so much to UNLEARN.  There’s healing power in knowing how you are doing week to week or month to month.
  • Get educated about Spiritual Abuse and Narcissistic Leaders. The more understanding you have, the less you are influenced and affected by the past. They wanted to keep you in the dark.  You will acquire tools to defeat and unlearn things that cause you pain. There will be some reminders that are out of your control, but at least you’ll understand your situation and will be more equipped to handle them.
  • Keep a journal either video or written.  This helps you document your healing as well as helps you sort out your thoughts. YOU are not the cause of this!
  • Surround yourself with other survivors. Spiritual Abuse has been ignored for decades.  It has been part of Christian vocabulary recently with the Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill controversy.  Not everyone will be able to relate your story.  Others that have experienced what you have experienced are the best sounding boards and can offer you the best advice.
  • Remember vengeance belongs to the Lord I was a mandated reporter and I fulfilled my duty. However, resist posting on social media your distain and anger.  I did not blog for months because I did not want to regret what I wrote.  I knew I my emotions were not at a place that would please the Lord.  What gives me satisfaction is that everyone will stand before the Lord and give an account of their lives.  The Lord knows ALL about our story, the Lord will judge, it’s His battle.

 

 

 

 

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Pulling Back the Curtain on Spiritual Abuse – Video #1

I recently read a quote, “An untold story never heals. It just festers until it comes out in unwanted behavior.”  I write this today as a survivor.  I write this today because the last thing I need in my life is unwanted behavior. I think you’d agree there is enough of that in this world already.  If you are currently experiencing conflict or have survived the hurts and wounds of an unhealthy church atmosphere, I’m telling my story with the intent that you’ll be comforted, inspired and given hope.  The hope needed to make it through one more day, one more hour and even those times hope is needed to endure one more minute.

February 27, 2015

As a survivor, I’ve  resolved to live the rest of my life serving the Lord healed and whole. It’s because of the grace of Jesus, I can take back my life and write the narrative of my story of abuse and recovery so others can see the faithfulness of God. By documenting my journey of healing via writing and video, it’s enabled me to safeguard any unwanted behavior that may result in me hurting others.  Knowing I was wounded, I was afraid of becoming a wounder.  My purpose is to be a voice of the indescribable healing power of Christ, while offering hope and clarity for those who suffer in silence.

I recorded myself on February 27, 2015 one day after my first counseling appointment and have it here for you to watch. I have more videos documenting my journey.  Deep down in my soul I felt my story may help some one. I watch this vlog now and notice how TIRED and EXHAUSTED I was at this time of my journey.  I was still shaking the sadness and seeking to understand what was happening to me. (This was recorded 6 months after my family left the church)

I consider myself a “Seasoned Saint.”  I am part of the older generation in my church and I believe God allowed my life storms so the younger generation can learn from.  One such storm that’s guaranteed in this lifetime is the experience of intense pain inflicted by betrayal, rejection, grief, or you “fill in the blank.”  Relief from that pain becomes the primary obsession of the victim. I compare my search for healing of my hurt heart like that of a drug addict looking for their next fix. Or like a mom searching for her child that has been abducted. It was my obsession to understand my circumstance and be better.  Healing, peace and forgiveness became the finish line I strived to cross every single day.

This pain however is magnified to a confusing degree when its source comes from the Church.  By the leadership you trusted.  By the very people you’ve prayed with, served with, labored with, admired, respected, loved, and done life with.  I so relate to the words of Anne Graham Lotz in her book Wounded by God’s People:

“Those who have been most hurtful, those who have been the most unkind, those who have betrayed, slandered, and undermined me have been those who have called themselves by God’s name.”

After serving at my local church for 23 years, I was compelled to walk away in August of 2014.  I was not fired.  I resigned.  I could no longer be associated with the decisions that were being made by the leadership.  The decisions were not biblical and my conscious was getting the best of me.  I struggled with resigning since, wait for it… 2007. I’m not proud that I stayed seven years longer than I should have, but now I understand WHY I did.

I’ve been diagnosed as being Spiritually Abused.  A term not well known but the practice is wide spread.  As soon as I heard those two words come out of the mouth of my counselor, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and an immediate relief of distress.

No more rationalizing it, defending it, ignoring it, excusing it or covering it up.  The weight of seven years consumed with confusion and shame immediately lifted off my shoulders.  It’s like I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t put words to it.  I have beaten myself up wondering why I didn’t leave that church when I first witnessed the sin.  I was abused by narcissism and frozen with fear.  Uncovering and naming  my problem was like sitting in the doctors office thinking you have a terminal disease, but then the  doctor diagnoses you as simply having the flu.  Heavy sigh right??  There is nothing like the gift of CLARITY.

As I dove head first into researching my diagnoses, I’ve found that churches across America have swept this issue under the preverbal rug.  I’ve also discovered that many people who are aware of this type of abuse are afraid to talk about this subject due to many factors. People don’t want to believe that someone they admire, especially a Pastor, is capable of abusing others.  Denial, denial, denial.  Across the nation, church leaders are hurting others as they hide behind the mask of position and authority.  Why isn’t something being done?  People fear change. People don’t want to be the one who calls someone out. People have been deceived to think their need for a leader supersedes taking a stand for what is right and wrong.  This line of thinking overpowers them and they end up compromising what’s right in order to keep the status quo and not interrupt their comfortable routine of life.

One detrimental factor that the enemy uses in today’s church community is fear.  Fear is paralyzing.  Fear is clever.  Fear and complacency  caused me to compromise the very principles I believed in and taught to children and their parents.  My fears overwhelmed me and got my eyes off of the promises of Jesus.

-The fear of thinking that no one would believe me.
-The fear of leaving the families I’ve nurtured without a leader.
-The fear of misleading families by leaving the church without exposing the true reason.
-The fear of not providing financially for my family.
-The fear of committing social suicide by leaving friends of 23 years.

2 Tim 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

I read that scripture on this side of my situation and it’s so clear.  I’m ashamed it didn’t resonate within me years ago, but I understand all that was attacking me and all that I was navigating just to survive, hindered my ability to make proper decisions.

There are many things that have helped me on my healing journey but reading the definitions of Spiritual Abuse was the best resource that jumpstarted my road to being whole again.  With each sentence I read, validation and redemption swelled up inside of me, as I had a clearer and deeper understanding of what I had endured.

It’s difficult to describe what happened to me.  So I have provided the exact definitions that blessed me and here’s praying they bless you:

Defining Spiritual Abuse

Jeff VanVonderan, author of Soul Repair writes: “Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly Godly purposes which are really their own.”

Dr. Ronald Enroth, Professor of Sociology at Westmont College, defines spiritual and pastoral abuse this way:

“Spiritual abuse takes place when leaders to whom people look for guidance and spiritual nurture use their positions of authority to manipulate, control, and dominate.”

Dayna Drum, contributing author at revelantmagazine.com wrote:

“Spiritual abuse is similar to other types of abuse, but it’s committed under the banner of spirituality. It can be subtle or painfully loud—anything from unquestioned pastoral authority, to practices of shaming members if they don’t fulfill religious expectations, to badmouthing members who have left.”

In the book Healing Spiritual Abuse, Ken Blue compares other types of abuse with spiritual abuse:

“Abuse of any type occurs when someone has power over another and uses that power to hurt. Physical abuse means that someone exercises physical power over another, causing physical wounds. Sexual abuse means that someone exercises sexual power over another, resulting in sexual wound. And spiritual abuse happens when a leader with spiritual authority uses that authority to coerce, control or exploit a follower, thus causing spiritual wounds.”

Another definition of the term spiritual abuse is found in the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen and it states:

“Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.”

How I wish I could see your face as you read the above definitions.  Some of you may not even realize you’re in an abusive situation until the clarity found here in these definitions.  You are not alone.  You are not going crazy.  You ARE seeing it right.

All in all, Spiritual Abuse is when someone in a key leadership position at church manipulates and takes advantage of you for their personal gain.  The abuser has worked hard at mastering the skill of manipulation.  The deceit and maneuvers are effectively subtle that you are unaware you are being used.  Because of your respect of their position, you assume they are above doing wrong and are above sinning in the manner in which you have witnessed. They have covertly earned your trust, which causes you to dismiss the sin, believing they are held accountable by others.  But often never are…

What do you do next?

Talk about it!!!  Talk about what has been honestly going on with a trusted colleague, friend or family member.  Strongly consider counseling.  Getting help from a reputable  Christian counselor is nothing to be ashamed of.  I believe Christ gifted those individuals for such a time as this.

I learned that your abuser is counting on you to NOT talk about it.  It is one of the things they know about you. They are well aware that you are concerned about the image of the church that you’ll keep its secret.  You see, if you keep the church’s secret, you will conveniently keep their secret too.  I was manipulated in this exact way.  Trust that the Lord of the universe is BIG enough to handle your situation.  The church belongs to our Savior, not the pastor or leadership.  Talking and processing your experience is healthy and it is your first step to recovery and healing.

1 Corinthians 3:11-13
“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.…”

A good friend of mine, who served on staff with me for ten years, reminded me that all the ministry I built in the past, under the stress and unhealthy circumstances was built with hay and straw.  Pastor Eric McPherson witnessed first hand what I endured and went on to explain that if fire was put to the Kingdom work of that time period, it wouldn’t stand the heat and would burn away.  He encouraged me that in the new chapter of my life, to focus on rebuilding using precious stones, as those stones will withstand the heat of the fire and persevere because Jesus is the foundation.

I’m led to believe that this blog/vlog is one of my precious stones. There many teachable moments I know the Lord wants to use relating to my story and to try to fit them here in one post would not do them justice.  Please stay tuned as I piece them together with each upcoming post.   I covet your prayers and comments as my intent is to give comfort to those who are hurting and confused.  There’s hope in our Lord and He will meet your needs and shelter you in your storm.  He did it for me.  Healing and feeling myself again didn’t happen overnight.  It’s a process that needs to run its course.  Decide to lie down at the feet of Jesus and allow our Savior to save you. Victory is around the corner…I promise!

Spiritual Abuse Links:

Soul Repair and The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Jeff VanVonderen

http://www.jeffvanvonderen.com

Dayna Drum Article – “It’s Time to Address Spiritual Abuse”

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/its-time-address-spiritual-abuse-church

http://www.spiritualabuse.org

http://www.spiritualabuseawareness.com

This link from Truth Guard helped me navigate my last few months on staff.  “Should I Confront My Pastor”

http://www.truthguard.com/Articles/answering-the-question-should-i-confront-my-pastor-a64.html

10 Ways to Spot Spiritual Abuse

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/155481-10-ways-to-spot-spiritual-abuse.html

Facebook Pages to like:

Spiritual Abuse Recovery

Spiritual Abuse Awareness

Follow my Spiritual Abuse Recovery board on Pinterest

Why You Should Stay Ahead of Your Kids Regarding Technology.

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Yesterday and today was my first time being on a web tv talk/radio show promoting one of my seminars, “Help! I’m a Parent of a Tech Savvy Teen.”  Thanks for having me Bakersfield.com

When talking about this issue, I’m referring to parents of teens and younger children.

From the feedback I’ve received, I’ve seemed to strike a chord not only with the parents who are my age, but the 20 something’s as well! These young men and women are telling me they wish they’ve had some sort of boundaries as they grew up with the world at their fingertips. Crazy!

Here are my reasons why parents should be ahead of their kids on technology:

  • Being educated keeps you in the know of what your kids are into.
  • It gives you insight into the world of your son or daughter.
  • It helps teenagers feel understood if parents have a clue or can relate to current trends they navigate every day.
  • It takes away the fear that can paralyze parents who don’t know how to benefit from technology.

Let’s be clear that I’m not promoting that parents become experts and start writing code. Bottom line, technology is NOT going away. I just pray for parents with high school or college age kids become empowered and that they don’t become that parent that wakes up to a world they no longer know.  I get it.  Technology can make one feel inferior in a heart beat.  But our God is bigger than all of the fears satan sends our way.  Parents DO have the power.  Dedicate 10-15 minutes a day and resolve to learn something new about social media or how to download music…whatever…just take the time and learn their world.

There’s a difference between being “up in all their business” and being aware of what your kids are into.  Helicopter parents…land the aircraft please.    One  benefit I’ve found with all three of my older kids is being educated about technology opens up opportunities for conversation. Your kids can even help you set up your Instagram account and be a filter for you. There are unwritten social rules about posting too many pics within thirty minutes etc.  Believe me, they’ll let ya know when you’re close to a violation.

 

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Here’s the link to my interview.  How’d I do?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ER-IKZpRXmo

 

Plan Something For Them Or They’ll Plan Something For You

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Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”  2 Timothy 4:2

There are many challenges teachers face for those who teach Sunday School and unfortunately those challenges hinder many from leading in a classroom.  Below are normal tensions that are manageable simply by having a plan.  No child development degree needed.  Sunday school leaders across the nation are navigating their Sunday mornings well.  BE PREPARED!

1.   LESSON PREPARATION

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22b

Realize teaching is a position of HONOR.

You don’t have to teach these children…you get to these children. Having this mindset is half the battle of fulfilling your commitment.  Ask to decrease as the Lord increases in you. If you’re a new teacher, pray against fear and for the Lord to calm your nerves as you help kids grow closer to you.

What does this look like?

BE PREPARED

This is done by reviewing your lesson on Monday for Sunday. Gather supplies before Saturday and put them in your class or in your car. Review the activity page and make copies for color pages early. Run through the lesson each day at loud or even in front of mirror. Fear takes its grip when the unknown is lurking around the corner.  Defeat that line of thinking and study your lesson. 

ASK QUESTIONS

If you’re concerned with anything..classroom supplies, curriculum or snacks, ask the person in charge about it.  Check to see that the supplies you’re assuming are in the room are really there. Make sure they work. Talk to someone if you have questions or need help setting up the tech you are planning to use.  Knowing these things are taken care of can ease your mind.

ARRIVE EARLY

This gives you time to make preparations that can only be made at the last minute. You can also ensure the room is as you expect it.

REVIEW GUIDELINES AND EXPECTATIONS

Especially if you are new teacher, every time your class meets take a quick minute to establish guidelines and expectations. Setting two or three rules or “traditions” for your classroom will save you from conflict later.

FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS

Learn the names of the kids in your class…parents too!  Think about how you feel when some one in authority knows your name? Tell kids about yourself, share appropriate life moments… even find a picture of yourself of the grade you are teaching. They may actually believe you were once a 2nd grader. Model the relaxed friendship you want kids to have with each other.

2.  PERSONAL PREPARATION

“Now it is required that those who have been given trust must prove faithful.” 1 Cor. 4:2

When you look out over a classroom full of “Turbo Tommy’s,” do you ever hear yourself saying. “Why I’m doing this?” Were you excited to volunteer for this ministry, or were you made to feel guilty or thought you’d fill a need?

There are many wonderful reasons to teach kids, but guilt and obligation are not on the list. Guilt may prod you along, but it will never empower.

How can you personally prepare? Take a deep breath and be honest with your answers.  

What does this look like?

TEST YOUR MOTIVE

Ask yourself, “Do I want to teach?”  Kids need and deserve to be taught by someone who enjoys being with them.  There are many personality or gift tests out there.   A good teacher says, “I choose to be here.” But a great teacher says, “I want to be here.”

LISTEN FOR YOUR CALLING

Ask yourself,  “Am I called to teach?”  To thrive in kid’s ministry, or any ministry, you must sense of calling from God.  Fast, pray and ask close friends and mentors to join in prayer with you.

EXAMINE YOUR HEART

Ask yourself, “Do I have a servant attitude?” You know if you’re a servant by your reaction when you are treated like one. Leading requires our time, discipline and commitment.

Teachers don’t teach because they have to, they teach because they can’t help it. If you are called, gifted, and motivated by a desire to serve, God has a group of kids waiting for you He has the perfect place for you to serve.

3. MANAGING THE UNEXPECTED

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21

If there’s one thing you can count on when teaching kids, it’s that you can’t count on things going as planned.  

Has this ever happened to you?

  • Out of town guests…ALL ending up in YOUR class.
  • Snacks for 10 kids NOT 15.
  • Shortage of craft supplies
  • Parent helper is sick – AC isn’t working
  • Pastor goes over an extra 20 minutes.

Sound familiar?  The solution is all about ADAPTABILITY.  And realizing you don’t have to be perfect.

Ways to handle the Unexpected:

  • Knowing you’re lesson is VITAL. We should know it without looking at our notes. This is beneficial when behavior problems arise.
  • Think about why it is easy for your to share how you were saved? YOU KNOW why, because it is FAMILIAR.
  • Identify those “Turbo Tommy’s” & “Debbie Downers”  That way you can pray specifically for the situation and or avoid trouble.
  • Have a plan to handle interruptions.  Seek advice from your Director or Kid’s Pastor.  They have been in your shoes before and I guarantee they can share some tried and true methods that have worked for them. 

The bottom line: Kids should leave your class knowing Jesus a little better whether they’ve been there for 15 minutes or 90. Only God can make that happen each week. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you with the ability to make brief moments of time count for eternity.

4. DISCPLINE IN A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather. Serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

When a child defiantly asks, “Why do I have to sit down? How do you respond? Most of us grew up with the answer being , “Because I said so!” How’s that working for ya?

If you know of a discipline issue that is hard to deal with, ASK the one in charge for support and ask how they have handled similar situations. Glean from seasoned teachers or volunteers.

God gives us the freedom to choose, so try this approach. Give kids a voice to make a choice.

LET THE KIDS CHOOSE THE RULES

It’s great to set guidelines with your class. To create a sense of ownership, et them have a say in the rules. Start with three basic suggestions:

  • Respect others
  • Take care of our resources
  • Participate with enthusiasm

LET KIDS CHOOSE THE CONSEQUENCES

Sometimes even when kids set their own expectations, they don’t live up to them.

It’s too easy and anyone can remove a child from the environment. But that also keeps them from learning and in my experience, a way out. Give two or three options instead:

  • You can either choose to participate with everyone or choose to spend time at the quiet table. It’s your call.”

Or give a choice of consequences:

  • You can either be my partner for this activity or spend time away from the group. You decide.”

If you’ve given choices and the child breaks the rule again, take away the privilege to choose.

  • Say, “I’m sorry. You’ve been given choices and the chance to make the right choice. Now it’s my turn.”

When you give kids power to choose, they’ll learn that they have power over their own behavior. And you won’t be seen as the disciplinarian.

Adapted from Keith Johnson, “Teacher Training on the Go”

What are some things that have helped you succeed in the classroom?  Please share!  I may use them in my next workshop.

Ever Been Wounded? How I went from the Pit to the Palace.

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It is interesting to me that after 23 years of serving the Lord, that I am finally admitting that this thing called “ministry” has it’s ups and downs.  “Pit to the Palace” is a workshop that I lead at conferences designed to help kid ministry workers navigate their way back to the palace in times difficulty, disorder, pain, trails and suffering.

I have not only experienced life in the pit personally and survived, I have the privilege of networking with Kid Ministry workers across the nation and praying with families in my own church who have spent their fair share of time residing in the pit of pain.

What I have come to know these past few years that many of us, kid ministry workers,  suffer in silence and in isolation.  It was only after sitting with friend after friend, that my brothers and sisters in Christ become transparent regarding their trials.  I was shocked that they too experienced the pit caused by pain.  I concluded many hid their problems and wore a mask called, “I’m okay.”  We are ashamed of our circumstances and feel that we will be judged harshly if we admit to having problems.  After all, we are church volunteers or are on staff and we need to be an example to those we serve.  I lived that lie for for over 15 years.  I allowed my trials to confuse my mind about the power that our Lord Jesus Christ possesses.   I didn’t comprehend what it meant to have faith as I hoped in people and my unique strengths rather than our Lord.  I limited God’s divine power and forgot what Hebrews says about faith:

Hebrews 11:1 “ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

When we are in the pit, what do we pray for?  I know I prayed… relief from the pain.  What keeps us functioning?  Hope.  There’s a motivational quote that states, “A man can live about 40 days without food, about 3 days without water, about 8 minutes without air, but not for 1 second without hope.”

The Lord blessed us, gifted us, gave freely to us, examples of people in the Bible who had great faith:

  • Enoch – taken up to heaven without dying.  He was known as a person who pleased God.
  • Noah – built a boat by faith and saved his family from the flood.
  • Sarah – she believed by faith that she was able to have a child in her old age.
  • Abraham – offered Isaac as an offering.
  • Isaac – it was by faith he promised blessings for the future of his sons Esau and Jacob.
  • Moses – by faith he chose to suffer, left the land of Egypt and parted the Red Sea.
  • Rahab – she gave friendly welcome to spies and was not destroyed with the people in her city.

There are many more examples of God’s power and promises all through scripture.  I was too busy trying to survive, protect, and function to notice and truly claim His promises and to appropriately apply them to my life.  So…..God allowed me to experience a life storm and ultimately my residence for a couple years, was in the pit of pain and suffering.  What I now know about storms is that though they are fueled by strong winds, dark skies, even thunder and lightening, they don’t last forever.  “…there is joy in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Bottom line, when something difficult comes at you, realize that your faith is being tested.  It is only through the test is how you’ll learn to depend on our King.  Each test serves to help us deal with the next test or trail, if we abide and follow the Lord’s instructions.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while if need be you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

Author, Debbie Alsdorf’, inspired me and helped me focus on His purpose in my life in her book, Faith Dare.  She bullet points the following statements about trials that kept me focused on the Lord’s promises and helped me inch and claw my way out of the pit and back into the palace:

  • Trials are tests of what you believe.
  • You are to rejoice in the fire of the trial.
  • You are to believe that God knows about the test or trial.
  • You are to believe that God is with you in the test or trial.
  • You are to believe that God has the power to change you through the test or trial.
  • You are to believe that since God is good, all his dealing with you is good – even in test or trials.

If you are in the pit today, whether the pain was self imposed or you are a victim of innocent suffering,  I pray you can realize that there are others like you,  that have their own Pit to Palace story.  You are not alone.  Jesus’ life is the prime example we could all glean from.  Allow the Lord to minister to you right now and help you surrender all your burdens. Starting today and everyday pray for healing.  Keep asking the Lord what is it that He is trying to show you through this, who do you need to forgive and ask Him to remind you of the many promises in His word.  God allowed this in your life for a heavenly reason.  What is happening to you, the Lord is working through you. Once you accept that fact, you’re one step closer to the palace.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

If you had full anonymity…would you agree that ministry is hard?

If you had full anonymity…what else would you share with me?

Why does anonymity make a difference?

You do have anonymity and you have a safe place in Jesus.  Turn and fully surrender to Him. You’ll find your way back to the palace.

Here’s the link to Debbie’s book “Faith Dare”

http://www.design4living.org/store/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=43

Need an Event to Connect With the Families at Your Church?

Do you remember when you received a prestigious award at school or at work?

Do you remember when you got your first bible?

I’m banking on the fact that most of us can remember our awards much easier than when we got our first bible. The contrast of those events is something Group Publishing helped me capture and share with parents that their kids journey with Christ should be celebrated just as much as a graduation, end of season soccer party or birthday.  It’s a milestone, a biblical milestone!

In December, I held our 2nd “First Things First Bible Celebration.”  Our 1st graders were given their first bible in front of the entire congregation  A few weeks prior, a parent/child orientation was held to teach the 1st graders the significance of having their very own copy of God’s Word. On Sunday Dec. 8th, families were brought up on to the stage and Pastor Mike prayed over the bible recipients and their families.  It sure did make our 1st graders feel special and most of all, they felt supported by their church family.

As a Kid’s Director, I have found myself praying for ways that I can get to know my families more intimately.  I must say the unexpected blessing that developed through sharing this milestone with my 1st grade families was a unique… connection.  That connection benefited me so surprisingly.  Not only did the families receive a blessing, but I totally grew closer to some of the families through this event.  The 2nd graders who got their bibles last year got to relive the moment as they watched the celebration this year.  One of the things I love about ministry is that we have the privilege to be a part of a child’s story.

I highly recommend the curriculum “Family Faith Celebrations” by Group Publishing which covers other biblical milestones such as baby dedications, baptisms, salvation and more.  The idea came from Pastor Brian Haynes book titled, “Shift.”  I just wanted to share a “win-win” ministry idea.  Check it out and if you decide to implement this at your church, let me know how it worked out for ya.

Here’s the link to “Family, Faith Celebrations” Set

http://store.grouppublishing.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=3156785&section=23306

Here’s the link to “Shift” by Brian Haynes

http://www.amazon.com/Shift-Takes-Finally-Reach-Families/dp/0764438980

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