Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pictures from Huntsville, Alabama

As I stated in my previous post, my trip to Huntsville was absolutely wonderful! It was a great time to connect with friends that I've only known online and to make some new friends. Here are a few of the pictures we took while in Alabama.

From left to right here are Debbie, Carla, me and Eric. Debbie is the friend I rode to Alabama with. Carla and Eric were the ones who invited Darin to speak and they were also our hosts while we were there.

Amy, Eric and their children travelled from Texas to see me and Darin. Here they are with Darin and his oldest daughter, Landin. I've known Amy online for over three years but this was the first time we'd met. It was great to finally get to spend some face to face time with her and to get to know her family.

This is a special picture of me and Amy.

Here is Darin and Landin with our hosts, Carla and Eric.

This is me with my new friend, Carla. What an awesome woman she is! It was instant connection for the two of us and I'm hoping to have another opportunity to visit with her and to continue what was begun last week.

I love this picture! This is me with Darin and Landin.

This is one of my favorite pictures. We've all been friends for a long time and it was great to finally be together.

It was a wonderful weekend! I still think about it often and enjoy looking at the pictures over and over again. I'm thankful for the time I spent with each of these special friends and I hope it won't be long before I see them all again. I miss them very much.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An amazing weekend in Alabama!

Saturday morning, a friend and I began a long drive to Huntsville, Alabama. I’ve never in all my life wanted to go to Alabama but I went because Darin Hufford, author of "The Misunderstood God," was there for the weekend. He was speaking Friday night and Saturday night in a home and Sunday morning in a church. I had recently shared Darin’s teachings with one of my friends and, when she found out he was going to be in the southeast, she immediately talked me into going. The next few weeks were chaotic and stressful as our plans changed and, at one point, it looked like we weren’t going but Friday night, we knew it was a go and we set out Saturday morning.

Over the last two and a half years since I got involved with his ministry, Darin and I have become very good friends. We’d never met so it was an exciting time for both of us when we finally saw each other. I couldn’t contain my excitement as we travelled and poor Debbie had to endure eight hours of my constant talking.

Darin is a gifted and dynamic speaker and, of course, I’ve already heard or read everything that he’s posted on his website. However, this was a very special occasion as I finally got a chance to hear him live and in person. His teaching was fantastic as he kept us riveted to our seats with his stories and his great sense of humor and, just as I expected, it was a memorable experience.

Meeting Darin and finally hearing him speak was a major highlight of my life but there was even more that made this weekend so special. I immediately clicked with the woman who was hosting the meetings and we immediately started acting like we were lifelong friends. I really felt like I had known her all of my life. Everyone who was at the meeting was gracious and there was a constant flow of love like I’d never experienced before.

After Darin spoke Sunday morning, several of us spent the rest of the day just hanging out together. It was great spending time just getting to know one another. Sometimes, we were serious as we talked about our journeys but other times we just laughed and enjoyed ourselves.

Monday morning, several of us met at Starbucks for a farewell gathering. Debbie and I would soon be leaving to head for home and some other friends would also be leaving to return to Texas. It was a great time! We joked and took lots of pictures and Darin was a good sport as he posed several times.

This was an experience that I know I’ll never forget. I’m not sure when I’ll see any of them again but I do know that my heart has been so tightly knit with Darin and the group from Huntsville that distance will not weaken the bond. I’ve tried with this post to capture the essence of this weekend but I know I haven’t even come close. I can’t find words to describe the feelings that are going through me even now as I type. All I know is that I’ve been loved and . . . I’ll never be the same again.

Darin has some other trips scheduled. He’ll be going to Alaska and Cincinnati and I know there will be other trips in the future. To learn more about Darin and his ministry, follow this link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Karen's story

From time to time, I'll be posting with the author's permission emails or private messages that I've received. Some of these people have shared their story with me and I feel that others can relate to what they've written and would be encouraged to read about their experiences.

My friend, Karen, has been a victim of spiritual abuse and is still working through the process of healing. As part of this processing, she recently sent me several lengthy messages expressing her thoughts. She has graciously agreed to allow me to post excerpts from her story. Because of the length of the messages, I'll be sharing her thoughts in two separate postings.

Since spiritual abuse can appear in many forms, I know many of you will be able to relate to her experiences. Her story is important and by sharing it here, I hope many of you will be encouraged as you continue your journey to wholeness.

Thank you, Karen, for letting me share your story. Here are excerpts from the messages she sent me:

"To begin with, no spirituality can be healthy if it spawns a dysfunctional subculture.

Are certain personality types drawn to this sort of thing? Are people so threatened that they have to build a rigid structure around them so they can feel secure?

It struck me that their whole view of reality was almost like a fantasy role playing game.

A performance trap, but with the additional poison of the Garden of Eden temptation: “You shall be as God”--and people grasped at personal power and a sense of significance that they lacked in their daily lives. What I really found weird was traveling with these people to a conference: we were in the car for a few hours, but nobody talked! The p&w music played and everyone was having their special god time, and that couldn’t be interrupted. Even on the way home, nobody wanted to talk about what they experienced or heard at the conference. This is true in the Church services too…. It was just individuals seeking their touch from God, no sense of corporate interaction. It occurred to me that these were all God addicts trying to get their next “hit” of the warm fuzzies and were willing to do what it took to “get the anointing” or get high on Jesus. And the sharp demarcation between the spiritual and physical world ensured that mundane existence didn’t have anything to do with God, unless there were some “divine appointments” in which you could escape for a while into that “other world.”

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hearing the wrong message

I’ve come to the conclusion that many people are drawn to the message of grace because of the freedom it gives. When they’re told about the love of God and that we’re free from the law, they hear . . . FREEDOM!!! This translates in their minds to . . . “There are no rules so I can do anything I want.”

With this message of freedom ringing in their ears, they take off running doing whatever they want. The hurt that results doesn’t even concern them because, after all, they're now free. If anyone tries to correct their behavior, they’re immediately told that they have a pharasaical spirit and that they’re trying to put people in bondage.

The problem is that these people are hearing the wrong message. It’s true that we’re free from the law but the real message is LOVE. Yes, we can now do anything we want and God will still love us but the fact is that we now have a new heart that is filled with God’s love. Although freedom is a byproduct, love is now the compelling force in our lives and it compels us to live righteously as loved children of God instead of being controlled by our selfish desires.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

May you all experience the life and love of God more deeply in the new year!

Happy New Year!!