The Gift Part 1

image2Six years ago on this very stage, sat three comfy chairs occupied by a pastor and a married couple, all completely unaware what God was about to unfold.

A few weeks before, pastor Aaron asked if he could publicly interview us about our story. Honestly, my first response was an emphatic “NO”. He asked me if I would pray about it and the next thing I know I’m choosing to be brave with a nervous “yes” but with one condition…I would only share my story just this one time!

And so we shared.

We shared the raw, honest and messy parts of our redemption story. As words were shared and tears spilled from our eyes, we realized our story had less to do with a wayward husband who had an affair and more to do with two very broken people who found redemption through a grace-giving Savior. By going first, our story gave those in the congregation permission to go second. Their response was so overwhelming it caught both Justin and I (along with pastor Aaron and his staff) a bit off guard.

A congregation, filled with people fighting through their own mess, all asking the same questions:

How?

How do you forgive?

How do you tell the truth?

How do find hope and joy in the pain?

How do you trust God?

That sacred Sunday morning would ignite a passion in Justin and I to create RefineUs Ministries to help restore hope and renew relationships. Through blogging, speaking and creating resources (including  our book Beyond Ordinary) our hope was to create a movement of authenticity and help encourage others, regardless of their marital status, to move closer to Jesus.

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This past Sunday we went back to that very same stage exactly six years later. This time tears of uncertainty were replaced with tears of gratitude and a renewed since of God’s faithfulness. That stage gave Justin and I a panoramic view of a congregation filled with familiar faces and strangers alike, each recognizing that Jesus makes beauty from ashes. Ashes, we in our own effort and strength can do nothing with, but through Christ he makes all things new.

The gift we intended to bring Sunday was graciously received and then unexpectedly handed right back to us bigger and more beautiful than we could’ve imagined. Words of encouragement, wisdom and validation were spoken over us. Words confirming a new vision we have wrestled through over the past year for RefineUs Ministries.

This New Year our prayer for you, regardless of your marital status, is to remind you of the gift God longs to give to YOU. It doesn’t matter if 2014 was the worst or the best year of your life Jesus longs to restore His hope and His dreams for your life.

God’s plans for you aren’t limited to a date on a calendar but rather your willingness to say, “yes” without condition. A willingness to believe He is making all things new.

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