What are you reflecting?

Driving with my 4-year-old as a dark storm brewed above, my son asks me, “What are those flashlights on the road?”  I respond, “reflectors.”  As any innocent seeker of knowledge would respond, he asks, “Who turned them on?”

I began to explain to him that no one turned them on, that they are actually reflecting the light off of my headlights.  Of course, he asked me WHY. (If you are a parent, you know that this conversation was FILLED with “whys.”)  I explained to him that it was to help me see where to drive while it was dark.

The idea of reflection was very puzzling to him.  So I began to find other examples of reflection in order to help him understand.  With full credit to the Holy Spirit, here is the best example I gave him:

Our car’s headlights are like God.  They are shining love and light into a dark world.  We are like reflectors.  We soak up God’s love and light, and then shine it out to others.  When they see God’s love reflected through us, they are able to see God’s path better. 

We aren’t the ones leading them…God is.  We have an important job, though.  We have a choice: we can receive God’s light and keep it all to ourselves, not letting any of it out.  Or we can receive His love and then share it with those around us.  God wants us to share it!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:6

I have to be honest with you…lately, it’s been easier for me to receive God’s love and light than to share it.  Sometimes it feels risky sharing God’s light, because people have a choice to ignore it or ridicule it or refuse it.  As a Christian, it can feel like a personal rejection when someone rejects the love of God we are trying to reflect to them.  It’s not an easy task…being a “reflector.”

This is where obedience comes in.  That little reflector on the road isn’t responsible for making sure I, the driver, am looking at it.  It’s simply responsible for reflecting light.  That’s it.  Our job is not to change people or save people.  Our job is simply to reflect the light of God to all whom we encounter.  God, in His infinite wisdom, will do the rest.

Are you reflecting God’s light to those around you?

 

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There’s no hope.

“There’s no hope.”

Have you ever found yourself saying that?  Have you ever found yourself in a circumstance where you truly believed there wasn’t an ounce of hope to be found?  Maybe you are experiencing that right now.  Maybe you are watching a friend or loved one wallow in that statement.

I have experienced that.  I remember, when we were experiencing rocky times in our marriage, and I had just started going back to church, I felt hopeless.  Odd, right? Why would I feel hopeless when I was just re-introduced to the God of hope? Well, I hadn’t yet fully committed my life to God, so I was partially blind to His extreme power….and to His grace.

My hopelessness came when God started to show me, through His word, all that I was doing against His will.  It was a super humbling time for me.

Shame took over.

I was so ashamed at how I had been living my life that I couldn’t see past it.  I was only focusing on the mistakes I had made and not on the grace and forgiveness that God was freely handing me.

I looked at what a terrible, disrespectful wife I had been and my husband, who had one foot out the door, and I couldn’t see hope…I only saw failure.

(To this day, I continue to work on my very black and white view of things… I am hard-wired to wrongly believe that if I am not “perfect” that I have somehow failed.  Those thoughts DO NOT come from God)

Even in those days where I felt hopeless and I thought that my marriage was a “lost cause,” I continued to seek God’s guidance through His word.  This verse came up:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

How was I going to experience hope? In believing!  See how that is worded? Let me break it down in the way God revealed it to me.

He is the God of hope.

He wants me to have joy and peace.

I will have joy and peace by believing.

When I fully believe, the power of the Holy Spirit will be in me.

Through the Spirit of God, I will experience overflowing hope!

Bottom line??  When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, there is ALWAYS HOPE!  When we place our hope in Him, we experience joy and peace.  He does this through His Spirit, which lives in all believers.

Now, if you are like me, you might be saying…..yeah, yeah, I know all that….BUT this circumstance is really hopeless….THIS MISTAKE is too terrible…..THIS person is beyond repair.

Friends, I get it.  Sometimes what we are going through fills our minds completely and there is no room for God’s truth. 

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I picture it like this….when you are taking a photo of a beautiful landscape and you accidentally put your finger in front of the camera.  There is a huge, gorgeous world waiting for you to capture it, and your little finger has now completely covered it.  Your finger looks “huge” because it’s taking up the whole shot….but in actuality, it’s small, just a finger…and not nearly as vast and majestic as the landscape you were about to capture.

Our hopeless circumstance seems huge, but it’s just a little finger compared to the majesty of our God.  Don’t let the circumstances of life, no matter how hopeless they may seem, rob you of capturing the majesty of God and carrying it with you all your days.

Shame was that “finger” for me.  It covered the beautiful landscape God was placing before me.  Eventually, through sticking with Him and continuing to strengthen my faith, I was able to see that His forgiveness and love and grace was there even before my shame took over…I just had to see it and accept it.  Once I did, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I was overflowing with hope!  That hope carried me through even darker days ahead.

Placing your trust in God and receiving His hope doesn’t mean that hopeless circumstance is going to get “fixed” in the way you desire or anticipate.  Remember, God is in charge.  Trust Him.  He knows you, He knows what you truly need.  And He loves you with a love you can’t even imagine.

May you abound in hope, friends!

15th Anniversary Fundraiser Event Recap + Testimonials

Have you ever been on a road trip and looked around at all the other people in cars and thought to yourself…where are they going? Or where have they been? Sometimes, I will look over at a car and see that it’s the same person that was in line next to me at the last rest stop.  Or I will see that someone I passed earlier in the day is now passing by me.  We are all on a journey, seemingly going along on the same path in the same direction.  But when you look closely, though we travel along simultaneously, we are having vastly different experiences at varying paces.

Recently, we shared Side By Side: Our Journey From Hurt to Hope at our 15th Wedding Anniversary Fundraiser.  Nearly 150 people experienced our story and learned more about the future of our ministry, Side By Side.

 

Looking from the outside, you would see many people in the same room having the same experience.

But each and every person in that room was in a different place in their own personal journey.  So, their experiences were completely different.  Just like the cars on the road traveling next to you.

In the days following our event, we have heard comments from many of the people that attended.

It’s amazing to hear how they receive the story of our journey based on where they are in their journey.

The story we tell is “our journey from hurt to hope.”  Well, the people that came to see Side By Side are all over the spectrum of that journey from hurt>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>to hope.  People tend to gain different insights from our story based on where they fall on that spectrum.

From a godly couple that has come to Side By Side three times:

“Our marriage is better since being introduced to Side By Side.”

From a couple that viewed it on video when headed for divorce (and now have seen it live, too!):

“If it weren’t for Side By Side, we wouldn’t be married.”

From a couple that has been married over twenty years, and seen Side By Side twice:

“God shows me something new each time.”

From a ministry leader seeing it for the first time:

“It’s like Christian Broadway!”

From a couple experiencing marriage difficulties:

“This was life-changing.”

From a single woman:

“I can apply much of what you talk about to any of my daily relationships.”

Every person at our event was in a different place in their journey….all over the spectrum from hurt to hope.  As we shared how God has worked in our lives, He was working in theirs.  He uses our mess, on a daily basis, to speak to people and show them that He has a beautiful plan for their life, no matter where they are on their journey.

So, how did our event go? (People have asked us that a lot in the last couple weeks!)  It went exactly as God intended it to!  We shared our journey and, through God’s providence, spoke directly to each person in the way they needed to hear it.  For some, God used our story to make radical changes in their lives.  For others, God helped people to see how they can support Side By Side.  For us, He faithfully reminded us of His goodness and His love and His grace.

Thank you to each journey that was represented that night.  We pray that we are all journeying on God’s path toward the HOPE that can only come from Him.

 

 

Wait. Why do you do this?

People ask this question quite a lot.

Why do we do this?

Meaning…why do we publicly share very personal details of our lives with absolute strangers?  Why did we start a non-profit organization?  Why do we revisit a very painful time in our lives over and over and over again?

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Real marriages are being saved!

Side By Side Ministry was created out of our mess.  Our marriage was broken and headed for divorce.  Miraculously, God restored our marriage.  And we began the difficult yet amazing journey from hurt to hope.

In our desire to inspire and encourage couples to do the same, we created Side By Side, a musical storytelling experience, in which we share the details of our journey and support it with faith-based music.

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Since Side By Side Ministry was created, over 800 people have viewed it live.  Two people have committed their life to Jesus, hundreds have made significant changes to their marriages, and at least 4 marriages have been saved!

God is restoring marriages through Side By Side!

Between live events, we have sent a video of Side By Side to hurting couples.  Guess what?  Those couples were deeply changed by God’s story.  Some made significant changes to their marriages, some felt convicted to seek further counsel, and…

MORE MARRIAGES HAVE BEEN SAVED!

This got us thinking…what if couples could view Side By Side whenever they needed to? What if they didn’t have to wait for a live event? What if they could just do an internet search and find our story of hope?

What if thousands upon thousands of couples could see Side By Side with a simple click?

It is our deepest desire to see ALL marriages God-centered and thriving.  If hearing our story can help couples make the choice to go from surviving to thriving, then we want EVERY couple to have the opportunity to view Side By Side!

Here’s the plan!  We will professionally film our Side By Side presentation.  It will be high-quality, eye-catching, intimate and inspiring.  It will include all the same content as the live event.  It will be available for viewing on our Side By Side YouTube Channel, where couples will also have access to accompanying reflection questions, bible verses, and additional resources.

Side By Side is blessed to have a team of professionals that will strategically market the video online, so that it will be very simple for a couple to find our story of hope.

Just imagine you are a hurting or frustrated spouse searching the internet for direction and inspiration….and up pops Side By Side, leading you to follow God’s design for your marriage!  Sometimes all you need is a little mustard seed, a glimmer of hope, a story that inspires you to keep on keepin’ on or convicts you to make a change. 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Pray.

First, pray for us! This is a huge project and we need God’s guidance and provision.  Your prayers are so important.

Tell.

Please tell people about us!  Invite them to our upcoming fundraiser on July 23rd at Parkridge Church.  Tell them there is a non-profit organization out there that wants to see all marriages God-centered and thriving.  Like us and share our posts on Facebook. Follow us on Instagram. Don’t assume that people know about us.

Give.

In order to create and implement this video project, we need to raise $75,000.  This is a huge project that requires a great deal of resources.  It is important to us that we are able to offer the Side By Side video and resources FREE OF CHARGE to those that need it.  Please consider partnering with us to save marriages!  GIVE NOW.

Friends, we believe this is God’s plan for Side By Side.  We have already been so blessed to see how He is orchestrating this next step for us.  We thank you in advance for being a part of this project.  We believe it is a “game-changer” for Side By Side.  We also believe it is going to save marriages and change lives! 

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 have received from God.                   2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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www.sidebysideministry.org

 

 

Whose are you?

Whose are you?  No, it’s not a typo, I didn’t mean to ask WHO are you.  I am asking, WHOSE are you?  Let me explain why I ask.

We were privileged to attend an adoption ceremony recently.  A family in our church, who have fostered the children for years, were given the right to adopt them last week.

My brother was adopted into our family when I was six, and I was adopted by my stepfather when I was an adult.  So, this adoption ceremony brought back a lot of memories and flooded me with emotion.

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A Strong Foundation: Guest Blog Post by Author Becky Graham

Side By Side Friends, Please help me welcome our guest, Becky Graham.  Becky and her husband, Dave, transplanted to South Florida from the Chicagoland area in August 2015.  They are members of Parkridge Church in Coral Springs, FL.  Becky recently launched her first book, Faithful: An Unexpected Journey to Motherhood.

“I’d like everyone to draw a triangle on the piece of paper in front of you,” the woman instructed the group.

As part of our church’s mandatory pre-marital requirements, Dave, my fiancé, and I found ourselves sitting in a conference room at the church, on a Saturday, along with 12 other couples, for the next six hours. Knowing the divorce rate was 50% of all marriages, they wanted the couples to have a better than 50% chance of staying married. Continue reading

Deer in headlights.

“Lisa, every time I see you lately, you look like a deer in caught in headlights.”  This was said by a friend as I entered the threshold of our third event of the weekend.  I was not at all offended.  She is a trusted friend and I actually really appreciated her statement.  So much so that I am going to write about it today.  Continue reading

And….Action!

Believe it or not, the words “I love you” are not very meaningful for me.  When Steve and I were experiencing extreme strife in our marriage he would still say “I love you.”  At first, it was relieving to hear those words….like, whew, even though he’s treating me poorly, at least he still loves me.

But after a short time, those words were worthless.  Why?  Because they were not backed up with action.   Actually, his actions were the complete opposite of love.  Continue reading

3 Magic Words For Your Marriage!

What are the magic words to help love abound in your marriage?  We know from our last blog post that “always” and “never” are not doing you any favors.  So, if those are the “bad words,” what are the “good words” for our marriages?  Continue reading

2 Words To Remove From Your Marriage…

“You never remember to pick up your towel!”

“You always say that!”

“You never want to do what I want to do.”

“You always nag me.”

Do you sense the theme?  Have you ever said something similar to any of these statements?  (Come on, be honest with yourself.  Own it.) Continue reading

3 truths that lead to healing. (Part 3)

“If you don’t even kiss me when you get home, then good luck getting anything more than that tonight.”

“Why shouldn’t I go out with the guys again? If I am home, all she does is complain.”

“How can I possibly respect you when you haven’t done anything respectful?”

Do any of these sound remotely familiar?  Come on, be honest with yourself…it’s very likely every single one of us has said something similar at some point in our marriages.  In fact, many of us use statements like this daily.  What do all these statements have in common?  They all include Continue reading