Month: August 2015

Letters to The Family: Michele

Meet Michele. I have gotten to know Michele through our For The Love crew. She is brave and vulnerable. she has shared some of her story in this challenging letter.  Be encouraged by her honesty, and let her words sink in.

In her own words: Michele resides iMichelen Houston, Texas, has been married for 15 years and has one son, Landon who is six years old.  Her story includes salvation at an early age, and some “nomadic years” in which Jesus rescued her from a pit and has been transforming her ever since! By day, she is a middle school Bible teacher at a private school and loves sharing her passion for God’s Word with the next generation. Her sincere desire is for her students to become fully devoted disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. By night, when she is not being a wife and boy mama, she loves her second passion, writing and sharing stories of God’s incomparable grace and love. She loves reading/studying God’s Word,  traveling with her family, photography, decorating and long talks with friends that usually includes some great Tex Mex or a good cup of coffee.  Ever the storyteller, no matter where she goes she loves communicating God’s Word with passion and enthusiasm so that those who hear it would be inspired to develop a saving knowledge and life long relationship with Jesus Christ.

Dear Beloved Church,

         Oh how I love you! I have sat in your midst, in buildings, marveling at the beauty of the body and how it works together and filled with deep humility knowing I found where I belonged. You are my home. The most cherished sacred moments are when we are united in worship, singing to the One True God, and that sense of connectedness washes over me and I know. This is it, this is what I was made for.  To be with you, to serve alongside you, as community, knitted by one common goal- to love our God. Call me sentimental, but it is the “everything” to me about being a believer. You became my family.

         Like all families, we have a story and that story has a beginning. Ms. Shirley, was a bona fide “church lady” properly dressed, singing to the hilt, and her hairstyled as she walked straight out of the beauty salon. I don’t know what really prompted her to take me to church, only that she did and became one of the most influential people in my life. Without her, I wouldn’t have met the God that would protect me and redeem my life in ways I could scarcely imagine.  Throughout that season of church attendance,  I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior, not once but several times, walking down the aisle, each time with a renewed sense of hope and desperate for change.  I even knocked on the door of the youth minister, hoping answers resided on the other side. The home I returned to each week was filled with chaos and many secrets. I was lost there and didn’t know what to do about it. The pain in my heart wanted an answer and wanted a Savior to do some saving. So when things didn’t change, I slowly began to believe lies about myself, lies about my God and I quit knocking on doors.

         The following season was lived away from God, in self sufficiency and from a broken identity. Choices were made, consequences were reaped and my life became a cautionary tale. If not, for the body of Christ, that continued to come in and out of my life, speaking words in due season, I may have been lost again and for good.  But the truth that resided deep within wasn’t settling for it its usual fare and I began to climb out of my own self imposed pit. Those steps led to more and more steps, eventually leading me back to the steps of the church building and its people. A bible study I began attending, led to me to my mentor, Beth. She has become a living example of grace by loving me and even more.  She has lived out the truths she taught,  all the while standing beside me as I feebly learned to walk them out for myself.  She has been in it for the “long haul” and is a modern day disciple maker-the kind Jesus talked about when he said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of every nation.”  While working with her, I became more involved in church and grew as a believer.

        A sanctified life leads to reflection and finally pushed me to reach out to those around me. Heartache, was met with the solitary phone call, meetings with no follow ups and the unending cliche “You’re in my prayers!” Hear me, prayer is a vital part of a believer’s life but when you are going through difficult times, nothing can replace another sister actually walking through that time with you.  I am not writing to bemoan the disappointment that we can all feel during encounters with fellow sojourners. I am writing because of experience and a world I see slipping away from the community I love so much. I think the time is at hand, to reexamine where our heart is and is not.

          Without the “Titus” women who sacrificed and refused to leave me behind, I would not know God and His Word. I firmly believe in the body of Christ and the risen Lord within it.  All that being said, the “work” we are doing, while good, may be overlooking the key aspect of developing relationships that require sacrifice and at times a second glance at our priority systems. When Jesus spoke “go make disciples of all nations” I can’t help but think he had an idea of what consisted of the whole “making” part.  Making involves present tense and in its defined term implies; putting various parts together to make whole, possibly with the aim in mind of equipping the disciple to help others do the same? So, while we focus on noteworthy pursuits and even travel to other places in the world, I wonder if we are missing the scenery in our backyard? Maybe the “disciple of a every nation” is sitting right next to us? A neighbor? Or maybe a battle-weary brother/sister that just needs our time?   Jesus spent 3 years with the disciples, patiently I might add, even in the midst of some silly squabbling about seats in heaven!  I can almost see a heavenly eye roll! Still, he walked, served, taught and loved each and every day. They remained true to missions, reaching the people, while the disciples were being discipled themselves. Gaps were filled in, lies were addressed, doors were opened, questions were answered and lives were changed.

Beloved, let us not miss the greatest commission, of laying our lives down for a friend.

        Maybe it’s laying down Facebook, surfing the net or all the “good deeds.”” Perhaps, its about getting down in the grubby pit of life, when it really matters and helping everyone from a new believer to even the most seasoned pilgrim. We want them to know the Savior that can do the saving and we want them to know their story matters, they belong and they are home.

-Michele Mayhan  (Storyteller, Lover of Words, Encourager of Souls, Jesus Chick and Boy Mama)

Break the Circle

I cried myself to sleep this weekend. Nothing was wrong, at least not in my little world. In fact, aside from a few inconveniences, a couple of bad habits that I can’t seem to shake, I am loving my life. I wasn’t crying for me.

The fourth Planned Parenthood video was released. I had previously watched the others, and the callousness of the conversations bothered me. But this one, it broke me. Everything in me wanted to look away, to just navigate my way back to buzzfeed or some other mindless time-suck. Instead, I made myself watch. I forced myself to pay attention while a baby lay pulled to pieces in a dish.

I thought about the pain that baby must of felt as it was dying. I thought of the hardness of a heart that can do that job day in and day out and not feel the weight of it. I thought of how broken our world is that little image-bearers get ripped to shreds and then sold piece by piece in the name of “research”.

And then, I thought of the mother. The kidneys that the lab technician was prodding, the tiny, newly formed eyes being rolled about in a dish, belong to a child…a child who has a mother. A mother who was so terrified, or so hardened by pain and anger that she chose this for her child.

I began to wonder, “How are these mothers feeling as they see these videos?” What would it do to a woman to hear her aborted child being sold to the highest bidder piecemeal? I’m sure there are those who are still convinced they made the right choice. But, I would imagine there are many who have already tried to put behind them the guilt of choosing abortion. And I would imagine that these videos, this national conversation, feels like torture.

And here we are, all huddled up, praying that the government would defund Planned Parenthood. It’s not a wrong prayer. But if we are so busy circling up to pray that we are blind and deaf to the ones around us drowning in sorrow, screaming for relief, that is wrong.  Perhaps, just as there is a time to pray, there is also a time to shut our mouths and listen, a time to lift our heads and open our eyes and see the masses shrinking away in shame. See the woman who can’t seem to figure out how to love her three year old because she regrets the choice she made for her baby who would now be eight. Hear the muffled weeping of the teenage girl who wanted to keep her child but chose to listen to the ones who promised this would be better, that she wouldn’t want the burden of a child to steal her life.

Yes, we are busy praying that the government would make better choices. You see, much of the problem is that we want it to all rest on the government. Either we think the government can solve everything or we think the government ruined everything. Neither is true. As Christians, we are known mostly for what we are against and we want the government to side with us. (A non-Christian government regardless of how we would like to claim that this is a Christian nation.) So the fact remains that abortion is legal. Planned Parenthood is funded by our taxes. We have to make choices in that reality. Most of us will choose to fight it in some way. But the question remains what will that way be?

Prayer is important. But, so is compassion. Do you know what compassion means? “To suffer together.” In other words, to not excuse ourselves from someone else’s mess. I wonder what would happen if, instead of screaming at women who choose abortion, we were there when grief strikes them? What if, instead of trying to condemn them for considering that path, we offer to help them walk through the pregnancy and help them find a way to navigate parenthood or find an adoptive family? What if we stop viewing adoption as plan b, stopped spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on forcing our bodies to have babies when they won’t and instead spent that money giving a home to an orphan?

It is hard to step into the mess around us. Much harder than just blaming the government or hoping laws will make it all better. But the government didn’t break mankind and they won’t fix mankind. The fault is on everyone who has ever sinned…so me and you. And the solution, I believe, is Jesus, His death and resurrection…and the power that He gave to the Church to carry out His Kingdom which I imagine looks very different than what I see happening in our culture wars today. It’s time for us to pray with our eyes open, watching for those who might need someone to roll up their sleeves and step into the junk with them. Break the prayer circle. Our hands are needed for holding frightened teenagers, squeezing the hand of a woman in the labor of choosing life, opening metaphorical and literal doors, building metaphorical and literal homes. Pray continually, but not at the expense of compassion.

If you have made choices in your past that have been stirred up the recent videos, know that you are loved. There is forgiveness available. There is hope. There are churches, though sadly not all of them, that will welcome you, bandage your wounded heart, and walk with you through healing. There is a Father who knows your pain, knows your shame, and loves you in all of it.

(All that said, given the horrendous things we know about PP, I would love for that government funding to go toward making adoption more affordable. That seems like a better use of government funds and a more agreeable cause than where it is currently going.)