Welcome! Mend Ministries is excited to announce that we will be venturing through Hannah's Hope by Jennifer Saake for the 2015-2016 calendar year. Below you will see our calendar. We meet in the Annex at Fellowship Bible Church in Rogers, Arkansas. If you would like a map of Fellowship or more information about Mend Ministries, please contact MendMinistries@gmail.com or find us on Facebook: MendNWA
Monday, August 25, 2014
Welcome! Mend is excited to get started September 9th! We will be going through the book " When God Sees Our Tears" by Cindi McMenamin . Join us as we venture through life's tough spots, learning about our grief and how we can thrive in the difficult journey of life! We will be meeting at a NEW location. We will be at Fellowship Bible in the Annex building. As soon as I get a map, I'll upload it here. Mark your calendars for September 9th!
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
*This is the second part of a 2 part blog on suffering. You can find the first one here
You may be wondering how in the world there could be any bright side to suffering. Even as I type these words- I cringe a little even putting the word bright and suffering in the same sentence. However, as any person who has gone through a life changing difficulty knows, if you aren’t able to make the situation any better, at some point you have to move forward, and this means looking for the joys in the darkest of moments even if you don’t want to.
I write these next few things knowing that not every person has felt this way or will experience these changes. In every situation, we have a choice. When we fight through the tears and shock of unexpected pains, we ultimately have to decide how we are going to handle what life throws at us. These are a few of the most beautiful aspects of suffering:
1. You can become a fruit bearer in your pain
After tragedy strikes do you find yourself researching your situation? Maybe you’re struggling to start your family so you find yourself investigating any and everything about infertility. Maybe your child unexpectedly passed away and now you find yourself furiously reading and building up your knowledge base about the why’s and how’s of this tragedy.
For many of us, our deepest pains become our greatest passions. I truly believe that if you are willing to step out of the comfort zone of your pain- God can use you to impact the lives of others around you and ultimately- move mountains through your pain. I know, I know- it’s scary, isn’t it? It is terrifying to be vulnerable in your greatest wounds! But believe me when I tell you that if you allow God to use your pain for his glory- stepping out in faith, despite the vulnerability of your pain, he WILL use you.
Think about that for a moment. Your wound hurts and the suffering is there no matter what. Either you choose to let it sit and be just that- suffering, or you choose to USE it for his glory. The wound is there either way- but God allows us the option to become a fruit bearer from the pain in order to expand and further his kingdom.
“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Did you notice the “comfort” trend? Paul reeaaallly wanted us to understand the importance of this word here! I noted 2 things in this passage. One being the obvious repetitive emphasis on comfort and second, the linear order for comfort. We see first the origin of comfort, then how he comforts us in our pain, so that in turn we can comfort others with the same comfort we have received!
2. You will never be the same again
This was also on the dark side of suffering post. For many of you who have gone through or are currently going through a dark valley of life, you may think of how things were prior to the pain. It’s easy to wish that you could go back in time to when you naively & blissfully went about your day thinking all was well - until your world came crashing down.
However, I can honestly say that I am forever changed- for the better. My eyes have been opened to the immense brokenness of this world. Its almost as if I have been given a new set of glasses called perspective that I had never seen out of prior to our pain. Or maybe- for the first time in my life, my eyes were opening see the true reality of living in a fallen world. Like a newborn baby opening its eyes for the first time, I could only open them ever so slightly, squinting at the sting of this bright world.
When you are being forced to see life through a new lens, you can’t help but notice all the turmoil around us. In turn, this new perspective gives you an incredible gratitude for things many take for granted. The little joys of the day become some of your greatest moments of thankfulness. Your heart becomes soft and tender to those around you experiencing difficult times. Ultimately- you are being refined by the fire.
“ I have refined you but not in the way silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering” –Isaiah 48:10
Refine: to remove by purifying. To reduce to a pure state.
Do you know what it truly means to be refined by the fire? A refiner knows just how long to leave its chosen metal in the furnace in order for the impurities to rise to the top to be skimmed off, ultimately leaving behind a beautiful liquid metal reflection. God, our refiner, knows just how long we need to be in the fiery furnace of suffering, in order for our impurities to rise up and out of us, revealing a stunning reflection of HIS image and likeness.
I am not saying that you are suffering because you are impure and he wants to refine it out of you. For many of us- I believe the order of events is different. We are impure by human nature, living in a broken world experiencing suffering, and he refines us in the process to shine forth his image and likeness. He does not want to burn me in the fire of suffering but he will use my pain as a means to refine my soul into becoming more like him! What beautiful imagery!
If you are willing- you have the ability to grow leaps and bounds in your faith, your wisdom, and your perspective on the world around you. I say “if you are willing” because not everybody will grow in that direction. Pain can make you do crazy things- and for some, instead of turning to growth, they choose to stay in the pit and let Satan steal their joy, faith, and strength. And trust me- if you let him, he will steal it.
My hope is that you choose to let him refine you in the fire of your suffering. The benefits far outweigh the momentary sting of this worlds pain.
3. Lukewarm is not an option
I have a confession. For the majority of my life- I was a lukewarm Christian. I had a mediocre faith fueled by complacent passion to know and trust Him. Up until 3 years ago, nothing detrimental had ever happened to me. I had never been challenged in my faith or had a reason to cry out to God for answers for my empty aching arms.
Then tragedy struck. More than once.
When you go through a life altering situation, you naturally take a very hard look at your faith. I believe this is a pivotal moment for many people. You make a conscious decision. You are either IN or you are OUT. There is no lukewarm faith when you come face to face with suffering. Some of life’s deepest hurts have caused people to completely turn their backs on God while others choose to stop walking and start running toward Him. In my experience, I have done both. I initially turned my back on God with an immense amount of bitterness toward the pain caused to me. The consequences of this were detrimental to myself and my marriage. My pit of hurts became a sea of regrets that I allowed Satan to drown me in. It is only when I made a conscious decision to start living through the pain in Christ, not allowing it to suffocate me, that life became a lot more meaningful- despite the continuing suffering of losing our babies.
Much like the church of Laodicea in the book of Revelation- God despised how lukewarm they were. He literally wanted to spit them out of his mouth because he would rather them be either hot or cold- but definitely not lukewarm. He desires me to stop walking in faith and start running, sprinting, toward him. He is ready, with arms open wide, to embrace me.
You are in a pivotal moment in your life where you have a choice. Suffering already does the job of naturally taking us out of a lukewarm lifestyle- but it is our choice which direction we run. Which way are you going?
4. Deeper intimacy with God
One of the absolute most precious outcomes of having been knocked into the pit of suffering has been in my relationship with God. Many people I have spoken with agree that there is a much deeper intimacy with Christ when you are in the darkest spots of your life. This oneness with Christ is unlike anything I have ever experienced. When life comes crashing down before you and nothing else on this earth feels worth living for, all you have is God and yet so ironically beautiful: God is ALL YOU NEED. Just you and him. In your most raw moments, God picks you up, holds on tight and rides this devastating wave with you. I have seen my God like I have never seen him before.
This intimacy doesn’t happen over night. It is a process of letting God into my bruised and wounded soul, allowing him to speak tenderly into my heart. As I dive deeper into him through prayer, scripture reading, and continually bringing him every ache and pain of my soul, he reveals more and more of his glorious self. I am in awe of the goodness of the Lord. Job, the king of suffering himself, said it best …
“ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” Job 42:5
So, press on wounded soul, and press into Christ!
Friday, February 14, 2014
*This is part 1 of a 2 part blog about the dark and bright sides of suffering
This is intended for two reasons. First, to allow those who have gone through or are currently going through suffering, the ability to identify with others who have felt the same way they have. Second, to bring light to those family, friends, and acquaintances who could benefit from understanding what may be going on to those around them experiencing hard times.
These are what I have found to be some of the hardest parts of suffering in relation to the wounds in motherhood.
1. Long after the phone calls, meals, warm hearted texts, and well wishes end-your pain continues.
In my own experience and in speaking with other women in their journeys, I have noticed a trend. Upon the initial shock of tragedy, when support tends to be at its highest, you may be feeling strong. You may be feeling like you are able to get through anything, encouraged by others, and may even feel hopeful for your future. But what most friends, family, and colleagues do not see, is that when all of that support begins to fade over time, and it will, your suffering will intensify.
If you are suffering-you may be feeling like a tourist lost in New York City. People zooming by with life, seasons changing, everyone moving along, all the while you are still standing there, feet paralyzed, trying to process all that has happened to you.
Word of advice for family/friends/acquaintances of hurting souls: Please know that it takes much longer than you think is healthy or “allowable” to move forward with life’s hardship. When all of the company and support dwindles, we are left here to soak our pillows in tears and spend countless nights thinking about the pain. Have patience with us and most importantly, keep supporting us long after you think we are “okay”.
2. Your friendships will change.
Losing a child, going through infertility, any kind of hardship in the journey of motherhood, unintentionally places a barrier between you and everyone else. Many friends and family will not know how to react to it. Some friends will not ask you about it out of fear of touching a “tender” spot. Others will try to be there for you, but end up saying hurtful things. Wounds in motherhood often scar the soul so deeply that it affects every relationship a woman has in her future. Your circle of trust may become smaller and smaller. You may unintentionally deem certain family or friends as “unsafe”. Others you feel very safe around. If you meet a woman who has gone through a similar pain, you feel an immediate common bond with her, sometimes deeper than the friendships you’ve had for years. Embrace the changes in friendship & have grace for those family and friends who may not know the best ways to be there for you.
Words of advice for family/friends/acquaintances of hurting souls: Please ask your friend how you could be there for them during this time. Ask them what they need from you and express your sympathy for their pain. Try to be as sensitive to their needs as you can, especially if you have children. When you think they are fine- know that they are probably not, and could use an encouraging word, note, text, phone call, or visit to show them you care.
3. You will never be the same again
(This will also be on the “bright side of suffering” post!)
Ask any person who has gone through the loss of a child, a loved one, struggled through infertility, miscarried, watched their child with special need struggle through life, or walked the road of adoption loss, abortion, or unasked for illness- and they will agree that they will never be the same again. They may feel that they have been stripped of their identity and are being forced to redefine who they are. Sometimes these wounds go so deep into the soul of a woman that she is forced to reexamine, search for, and call out to God to provide for and pour into her the joy that only comes from Him. This is NOT a bad thing- in fact, quite the contrary. Change can be a wonderful thing, especially when it involves the power of our Creator transforming us into what HE desires. Nonetheless, when it comes about in the form of tragedy, it is incredibly heart wrenching and sometimes physically painful to accept. I did not ask to change- I am being forced. Even though I can confidently say I am thankful for the hardship because of who God has molded me into- it had to come about in the hardest and most gut wrenching way possible: the loss of my children.
4. People say hurtful things
It is no secret that humans are not always the most sensitive and graceful creatures with our words. Friends, family, and acquaintances of hurting souls- here is a little cheat sheet of things NOT to say. These are some of the things that people have said to our women:
- -When are you guys going to have kids?
- -Don’t you guys know how babies are made?
- -Don’t worry, you will have another child. My sisters cousins best friends aunt lost a child and went on to have twins!
- -Why don’t you just adopt?
- -You know you’ll get pregnant as soon as you adopt.
- -Its not fair that you aren’t as happy for me and my baby as I was for you before your child passed away
- -Ugh, pregnancy is so annoying. I can’t believe we decided to do this again.
Words of advice for family/friends/acquaintances of hurting souls: Please watch your words. This does not mean being silent. In fact, many of our women have said that one of the most hurtful and relationship-damaging things you can do is when you choose NOT to say anything to the hurting person. Ask God to give you the words to say, and please, please say them to us.
In addition- to those hurting souls: It is important for those of us going through hardship to have GRACE and patience for everyone around us. We were all one of those people prior to our hardship- so please, have grace and forgiveness for those around you. Most people are well intentioned, they just don't have the experience or skills to speak tenderly to a womans pain.
5. There is no side stepping pain.
It is our human nature to figure out a formula for fixing any problem that may arise in life. You aren’t doing well in school? Study more. You want to be a better dancer? Take lessons. Nearly everything we do is based on formulas and rewards. However, when it comes to wounds in motherhood, there is no formula. Even so, I naturally gravitated toward this when it came to my faith. If I only prayed harder or sought harder after God- then he would fix my situation. However, as many of us have discovered, life hardships and tragedies are often not changed by our deepening relationship with Christ. A stronger relationship with our Savior will do multiple wonderful things for you during your pain- it will equip you with the tools to thrive in hardship, give you hope that only comes through Him, and if you allow him, God will use your pain for his glory in miraculous ways- but it is NOT a formula for fixing your pain. There is no fast track through pain. You must walk through it, all the way, to get to the other side.
My hope is that you choose to hold the hand of your maker, who so lovingly longs to carry you through the hardship. It doesn’t mean it will be easy- but I promise you that he WILL transform you for his glory if you let him.
Part 2 of this will be the BRIGHT side of suffering… stay tuned!
Friday, October 25, 2013
What does hope look like to you? If you're like me, hope takes on new meaning with each new situation in life. I used to think that having "hope" meant holding onto a wish or desire, believing that it will come true. Then life threw a dozen curveballs my way and suddenly I was left asking God what having hope REALLY looked like. I came to understand, through reading scripture and one of my favorite books "Reign on Me by Holly Gerth", that hope is not a wish to be granted. Having hope means holding onto God's promise that no matter what happens in life, He W I L L carry you through it. Not only will He pull you through, but you will be transformed by Him because of it. Don't get me wrong, it is perfectly fine to have hope that a desire, such as having a family, will come true in His time. However, I am learning, by experience, that maybe my hope shouldn't be rooted in MY desires, but by His alone.
I saw this the other day and thought it was pretty neat. Though, as a I keep looking at it, I have a little bit of a problem with it. The pain from some trials are so deep that they will NOT end. I do believe that the grieving pain and depth of pain from a loss will eventually taper off, but in all reality, there are certain situations that life throws our way that in which 5 months, 5 years, or 50 years from now will still be painful to revisit. However this fits into your situation, I still think the above picture is awesome- even if I still struggle with some of the details.
Above all- we have Hope in Him that he will carry us through whatever life hands us- good or bad. No matter what my dreams or your dream is- His plans are better, through heartache and happiness!
Romans is a great book of the bible filled with HOPE verses:
" For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience" 8:24-25
"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope for the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 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." 5:2-5
What does hope look like to you right now? I'm praying for your understanding of hope in your situation whether it be good or bad. Know that no matter what you have been through or are currently walking in- He WILL carry you through!
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
When I was a little girl I would wake up and lay there in bed, staring at my fingers for awhile before actually getting up for the day. You see, I am "legally blind". This doesnt mean I can't see anything, it just means my vision is worse than 20/200 ( in fact my vision is 20/800... yikes!) When I was little my vision began to fade quick and so began the years of awkward big glasses and then finally contacts. Every night I'd lay in bed, essentially blind to everything around me. It could be terrifying at times. But in the morning, I'd open my eyes and before putting my glasses on, I'd lay there, face against the mattress, staring at my hands. I had lost sight of nearly everything, but my eyes could focus with incredible intensity on my hands, fingers, nails, everything directly in front of me. I could see every little wrinkle and line in my hands, every tiny hair standing straight up. As soon as I'd put my glasses or contacts in, I could no longer see that close with such clarity. I always wondered, " Can everyone see things that close up with such sharpness? Or is it only because I have such immense nearsightedness?"
I still wake up and am amazed by my hands. I know that may sound creepy to you, but it is amazing to see something God created so close up with such definition and sharpness. Especially when you are not able to see it on a daily basis. It is only when I am blind that I can see with such clarity. I was pondering this beauty the other day while driving back to Arkansas and the word perspective kept flashing in my brain.
In highschool my good friend Charles & I would spend summers outside looking up at the clouds talking about what shape's we see. Everytime we'd look at a big puffy white cloud, we would each say what we thought it looked like. The majority of the time we both saw something different. Then we'd always end by saying, " it's all about perspective..." Same clouds, different perspective's, different outcomes.
It is incredible how much perspective I have gained in the last 2 years on many avenues of life I never wanted to imagine. I often feel like I was living life much like a horse with blinders on it. Not able to see behind or beside me. I was looking straight ahead and determined to accomplish life goals in the order I wanted with the perfection I so "deserved". Throw in disappointing life circumstances, losses and tragedy's and suddenly I found myself drowning in a sea of my own egocentric perspective. I could only see my desire's in front of me, and when those came crashing down, I was left unaware of how to refocus my eyes on the truth of what was actually in front of me.
Enter the Cross.
Oh, how thankful I am for the cross. My heart literally overflows with thankfulness for my Savior. Never in my life have I understood the depth of God's nurturing love, intense forgiveness, and unwaivering faithfulness as I have today. He used my pain from disappointments to blow the blinders off my eyes and open them to a whole world of understanding. Suddenly my perspective was changing, growing, everyday. He is teaching me perspective, daily.
I recently had a medical procedure done in St. Louis to make sure things were "okay" . I had already had this procedure done this time last year, but my new specialist Dr. wanted to take a look herself. Everything was fine and dandy last year so as usual, I expected this to be great too. Especially since literally all 50 billion medical tests I have had in the last 2 years all come up "normal" . To my shock, it was NOT normal. In fact, it threw another wrench in my "perfect plans" . In a couple weeks I will have surgery to fix the problem and who knows what to expect there after. My point in telling you this is because this was the first time I have heard something disappointing like this that I didn't flip out. In fact, I honestly feel like God has given me new perspective on things like this. On one hand, I can be sad that my body is once again broken and now requires surgery, money and time to "fix" . On the other, I can choose to take the perspective of thankfulness and trust. Thankful that they found this before it turned into more losses/disappointments. Thankful for this Dr's eagerness to treat me. Thankful for insurance. Thankful for loving family and friends that pray for me and encourage me daily. I have the choice to take a true heart of trust. God knows my pain. He knows my desires. He knows my intense prayers. He knows what I need, when I need it and HOW I need it. I want to continue learning how to whole heartedly give my worries, my circumstances, and my desires to God without putting parameters and rules around my trust in Him.
My perspective on life is always changing. I feel as though I'm always adding little perspective coins in my bank of perspective. And although we all have a natural perspective on any and everything, I want to remind you (and myself), that often times we have a choice in what perspective we choose to take on life circumstances. You can always stop and ask yourself " How am I going to view this today?" " How am I going to let affect me today?" It amazes me that only when my desires came crashing down and only when I am literally physically blind to all things far off, I am able to see what is truly in front of me with incredible clarity.
Today, I am choosing a perspective of thankfulness & trust in Him.