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"God, Today I'm Ready for You to Blow My Socks Off!"

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Made in the Image of God

What does it mean to be made in the image of God?  How does this fact affect the way we work in our chosen vocations? As a pregnancy center director I see daily evidence of how not understanding our worth in God’s eyes tends to put people on the path to destructive habits and decisions in their lives.  It is part of my job to make sure that this trend is reversed in the lives of my clients.

One of the most amazing parts of my job is seeing the outcome of a pregnancy that God ordained.  This is equally true of out of wedlock pregnancies as it is for those that happen inside a marriage.  The trick is as a Christian to not condone the sin of sex outside of marriage while still celebrating a baby that was formed in the image of God.  In Genesis 1:26-27 we read “Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Nowhere in these verses do we see that God only created those who were born inside a legal marriage as being made in His image. Why do we see so many pregnancies outside of marriage?  Might I suggest that it is because people do not understand what it means to be made in God’s image?  Sadly, most of the clients I see do not believe in God at all.  They are blinded to this amazing truth.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Psalm 139:13-16  “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” What a powerful truth this is.  God has put His master craftsmanship into each and every one of us. 

The real work of my ministry surprisingly, is to show our precious clients their worth to God.  I love to quote Jeremiah 29:11 where it states “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” My clients don’t feel they have much hope or any real future much of the time.  This is a sad fact for me to deal with.  

My very vocation was given to me by God.  On paper I’m not a good hire for an executive director of a pregnancy center.  I have not yet earned a college degree and I do not have any leadership positions in my work background.  I did not even want to apply for this job.  I knew I was under qualified and was unwilling to put myself in a position to fail.  I believe because of this, God would not let me sleep during this period of my life.  Sleep deprivation is not something I enjoy.  He made me toss and turn as I considered what applying to this job would mean for my life.  My husband was also after me to not be a “Jonah”.  I did not appreciate the tag team between God and my husband.  Long story short, I applied knowing full well I would not get the job.  The joke was on me.  Two and a half years later I’m still questioning this outcome.  The most amazing thing is that I know I was made for this purpose.  The knowledge that God brought me to this position and He plans to see me through it gives me great hope.  That is the kind of hope I want to offer my clients.  Another quote I like from the Bible is “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong" 1 Corinthians 1:27.  I may be wrong, but I believe this verse to be about people like me. On paper I don’t look good, but to God I’m chosen and made for a great purpose.  This is a truth that could set many, if not all, of my clients free if they could just believe it and move forward in the truth of what God has made them to be.

As a Christian I know there is no question that I’m made in the image of God.  The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states, “The Bible answers the question of the nature of humanity by pointing to the imago Dei.  That humanity by creation uniquely bears the image of God is a fundamental biblical doctrine”.  We know this to be true.  This is also a truth that I can impart in my vocation.   My prayer is that God will let me see the fruit of this when I can see clients come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and to see Him bring healing and change in their lives. That would be the most amazing outcome of this God-given vocation.
Julie
 
 

He Knows My Name



"He Knows My Name"

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
somebody less than perfect
I wouldn't choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I'd understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that's just not my story
True to who You are
You saw my heart
and made
Something out of nothing
 
Sometimes I get overwhelmed with what I’m called to at New Life.  It is weird how you can see God moving in amazing ways and yet feel beaten down.  I feel like I’m having an Elijah episode.  I find myself sitting under my tree saying “I have had enough Lord”, and just wanting to go to sleep.  There is a need for refreshing and an understanding of who God is and what He has made me for.  This blog is about being called to something that only God is able to do through a person who is willing to believe Him. 
 
There are days when I sit in my office and say to God “how did I get here?” If you asked me five years ago if I saw myself being the director of a pregnancy center I would have laughed.  I like to say I was a rock dweller.  That is, I spent my time hiding under my rock.  I was quite comfortable there.  Not too many people knew me and not too many people expected anything out of me.  I thought I was doing OK.
 
When the big earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, something kind of changed in me.  I wanted to go and help.  Where was this coming from?  I then heard Bruce Wilkinson speak at our church. He got me fired up about hearing from God and then moving on what He says to move on.  All in attendance were invited to come up front and tell about what we felt God had said to us. The rock dweller somehow made it to the front of the church and actually shared that I felt God was calling me to serve in Haiti.  That was my first public speaking episode.  I think I came off the stage in shock. This was Step One toward the big changes that were in store for the rock dweller.
 
Well I didn't make it to Haiti.  I felt like a failure and I could have kicked myself 1000 times for actually getting up in front of my church and saying that.  Back under my rock I went. This is where I was going to stay forever.  God had different plans though.  He used my husband to bring it about.  Brent happened to hear about a mission trip to Nicaragua with The Promise FM and World Orphans.  When he suggested it might be for me I said “nope”.  I thought I was called to Haiti, not Nicaragua.  He is a relentless guy and would not leave me alone.  So I said, "I will sign up for it, but they will not pick me to go."  Wrong!  I did go on that trip, and it changed my life.  Step Two towards the big changes God had in store for the rock dweller.
 
One of the next things God had in store for me is kind of silly.  Instead of hiding under a rock God had me climb one.  Our youth group goes once a year to climb this mountain in Tennessee.  One year I decided I would go and give it a shot.  It couldn't be too bad because Newell said it wasn't bad.  It turned out to be something that stretched me beyond anything I had ever experienced.  I had to really trust God, my husband, and the rest of our group to help me through that climb.  I thought I had it beaten when we made it to the top.  I was resting and thinking I did it when Newell let us know that we now needed to cross to another mountain to get back down.  This would take some maneuvering that I found quite unpleasant and even a little terrifying.  I was pretty mad at Newell.  I thought many bad thoughts in his direction as I was completing this last trek.  I made it though.  It took me a while to understand what God taught me that day.  There were some mountains to come and He was preparing me for them.  Step Three for the rock dweller.
 
God called me to New Life as an administrative assistant.  This wasn't something that caused me fear but I wondered how I got here.  I felt very blessed to be able to work in this ministry.  I worked in this office doing general secretarial tasks and also being a peer advisor to clients.  I came up with the idea of having a craft show as a fundraiser. Bonnie said go ahead and run with it.  That boosted my confidence even more.  Then came the day that Bonnie said she would be retiring.  I was blown away.  I had only worked with her for a little over 1 year.  I was now looking at having a new boss.  My husband asked me if I was going to apply for the job.  Nope.  I was not qualified nor interested in this position.  I was quite content doing what I was doing.  My husband told me not to be a Jonah.  I hate this saying.  It means that if you are being called to it, don’t try to run from it.  Once again my husband was proving himself relentless.  So I decided I would apply but I wasn't going to get it.  Wrong!  God had a plan for me.  He picked up my rock and He hurled it somewhere where it was not to be retrieved from.  Gone forever were my days of rock dwelling.
  
True to who You are
You saw my heart
and made
Something out of nothing

 "He Knows My Name",  written by Francesca Battistelli.

This blog has been a journal entry from my life.  I needed to go back and read it to see just where God has brought me from.  There is growth and love written all over in this.  So just like the angel said “Get up” to Elijah, God is saying "Get up" to me.  "Look at where I have brought you from, Girl.  Do you really think I don’t have this taken care of?  Walk in the power that I provide for you.  Trust in the love I have for you.  Your rock is gone because I removed it.  I know your name, and you are precious to me.  I have a plan for you."
Julie




A Greater Vision


But Jesus said,



Babies, how can you not love them?  It is so amazing to hold a new little one.  We count their fingers and toes, touch their soft hair, kiss their little satiny cheeks.  We think of their lives being long and filled with promise.  Here at New life we count it a privilege to be a part of seeing babies and moms take their first steps into a plan that God had set in place even before the child was born.

 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16It is awesome that God knew us before we were born.  There are no “oopsy” babies.  They are not a surprise to God and they are not a mistake.  Every child is a blessing that God formed at just that time and for an amazing purpose.   God has written out the days of our lives before we even take our first breath outside the womb. Life begins with God and God is Life.



Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3







Children are a heritage from the Lord.  I love these verses!  Our children are a gift of love or a reward.  There are no exceptions here.  What a privilege to know that God would entrust a child into our care.  It comes with a big responsibility.    We are to love them, provide for them, discipline them, and raise them to know and love God who created them.  We are to help them discover the amazing set of gifts that God has provided to them before they were born.  As we realize these gifts we can lovingly guide these precious children to nurture them and use their gifts in service to the Kingdom of God.  
Each child is given a will of their own.  We as parents need to know how to bend and shape their will, which God provided to them, but we must be careful to never break them.  God has made each of them with a very specific purpose; and a lovingly shaped will serves to help them achieve all that God has planned for His purposes.


New Life- Equipping all who enter our doors to succeed in their choice for life.

We take life very seriously at New Life.  This is the calling which God has put on our lives.  We are to proclaim, in word and deed, the love of God for each precious mom and baby who walks through our door.  
Before each of our lives began God had this plan for us.  

Who wouldn't love working in a ministry that God has chosen for us to be a part of at just this time and in this very place?  There is no doubt about His plans for New Life and all who will ever be a part of this amazing ministry.  
2015
We’re praying for God to expand the territories of New Life in 2015.  We are praying for double the number of clients that we are currently serving.  We are praying for all those women who are struggling to deal with the new life they are carrying inside of them to come through our doors.  God is faithful and He will bring them here.  He provides everything we need to do His ministry and do it well.  We’re just amazed that He lets each of us be a part of the awesome things that He is doing at New Life. 

2015 is going to be a year of God blowing our socks off with what He will accomplish through His ministry at the New Life Pregnancy Resource Center.  It is going to be amazing!

Julie





A Mind Blowing Week of Ministry

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
 
God has been busy at work with His ministry here at New Life. I have never seen anything like this week, and I’m not sure my heart could take much more.  This has been a week of crying, laughing, singing, and quite honestly, exhaustion.  My blog today will take you through my most amazing week in ministry here at New Life.
My week started off on Sunday.  I was invited to the First United Methodist Church to speak at both their 8:00 and 10:30 service.  I have to admit that I was terribly nervous.  Speaking during a church service is very special to me.  I was able to share about our ministry here at New Life.  I talked about each of our programs and who we are serving through them.  I was also able to share that we have a special offer for those who are hurting from abortions in their past.  We have two very special ladies who would love to offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for anyone who is struggling with this. We know God wants healing and wholeness in all of our lives.  I’m so very thankful to Pastor Dan for giving me this time to speak.  I’m also thankful for the partnership we have with the FUMC.
Monday started a little more busy than usual but we had no idea what God had in store for us that day. We started off with prayer and then it was off to the races.  I’m going to list these by numerical order of how they happened.  1.  Carrieann Card our newest volunteer joins us for prayer.  2. Receive a check in the mail from a couple that used to be on the board here before they moved out of town.  The note that accompanied the donation was the best.  They spoke of how excited to hear how the ministry continues to serve the area and how they wanted to bless us. What an amazing encouragement to start the day.  3.  A person interested in filling a baby bottle walks in our door in search of a bottle. 4.  We all get very excited as we see Debbie Johnson pulls up into the lot as we know she is coming to decorate our mantle for Christmas. This is always a very happy time as we love Debbie and cannot wait to see how she will use her talents to once again beautify this building for us as well as our clients.  5. The floodgates are open as four different clients all come in during the same time period.  It was “all hands on deck” to make sure each client received the services they were seeking.  This covered a two hour span.   6.  We shake our heads in amazement that we made it through the rush, and talk about how amazing God is for providing it.  7.  A new donor stops in to deliver a bag full of goodies for our layette bags.  These included burp clothes, booties, and hats.  They are all so cute and will surely be a blessing to the moms who will receive them at Otsego Memorial Hospital.  8. The most amazing group of young ladies stopped by our center to donate the beautiful flannel blankets they had made for our babies.  They are from the Little Flowers Club at St. Mary’s School.  It was a project of love.  I cried as I looked at their beautiful faces.  I thank God that these young girls have an understanding of how precious life is and that they wanted to “bless our socks off” with their donations.  9. We regrouped again and thanked God once again for how he provides for us.
Tuesday I was invited to the Daughters of Isabella annual Christmas party.  They invite me each year to speak about the ministry and to also gift us with goodies for our layette bags; and financial donations for our programs.  This is always a very fun night. The company, entertainment, and food are always so enjoyable.  This group of women love life and love New Life.  We love the partnerships and friendship we share with them.
Wednesday started out with reading the mail.  After Mary opened the mail, she told me she had something that she thought I might like.  It was an envelope from Treetops.  We had applied for a grant, in October, for funds from the Pepsi Charity Invitational.  They surely “blessed our socks off”!  We now have all the grant money we need to complete a list of work projects that must be done inside the center.  At prayer that morning we once again thanked God for how He so lovingly provides for His ministry at New Life.  Later that evening we had our regularly scheduled CrossOver meeting.  We started baking cookies at 3:30 so we could decorate them that night.  Pastor Dan from the First United Methodist Church came and gave a ten minute devotional for Christmas.  What a blessing that was.  The whole night was a great success.  We love our moms and their babies.  It is such an honor to walk through life with them.
Thursday morning I started out at a meeting with the Kiwanis Aktion Club. “Aktion Clubs are organizations composed of individuals 18 years or older who live with disabilities. The mission of the club is to find ways to give back to the communities in which they reside. They are officially sponsored by Kiwanis International, and are sponsored locally by the Gaylord Kiwanis in coordination with Northern Management Services.”[1] They invited me to tell them all about the pregnancy center.  After my presentation they handed me a financial donation they had collected for the center.  They also collected clothing and diapers.  We are very blessed that they directed their giving to New Life.  What a great group of community-minded people. They are a wonderful asset to the Gaylord community. 
Later that night I was also invited to speak at a Christmas concert by Only9AM.  They gave an amazing concert.  This group of siblings is one talented bunch.  They had picked New Life to be this year’s recipient of their annual love offering.  The audience “blessed our socks off”.  I left the concert on cloud nine.  What a night!  What a blessing!
Friday morning came a bit too early for me.  This was my day to be on the Promise FM in the morning with Craig.  They have blessed the ministry by letting me come on the show and talk about the center every other week.  This was a very special time for me because I just had to tell everyone about my amazing week in ministry.  Craig let me have at it.  I’m not sure I took too many breaths as the whole story came pouring out of me.  I have to say that I really dislike being on the radio.  It makes me nervous, to the point of being ill sometimes.  This time was different though.  I had to tell everyone this amazing story.  It was the best time I’ve ever had on the air.  Craig further blessed my week when he asked me about the other pregnancy centers in the Promises listening area.  I named all that I could and he then asked the listeners to purchase a package of diapers and donate them to their local centers.  What a great suggestion from an awesome guy! 
We had an awesome morning of prayer to get our day started.  There were even more financial donations in the mail.  God is really moving His people to bless His ministry.  I could hardly form the
words to convey my awe of His work here.  What words can really even come close to expressing a heart bursting with joy? What an awesome God we serve!
So here it is 3:11 on Friday afternoon.  I’m drinking a Pepsi in an attempt to keep my eyes open.  I’m exhausted by blessings!  Thank you God for letting me be a part of your work here at New Life.  Thank you for letting me see the hearts of love that your people have for this ministry.  Thank you for loving me and having this awesome plan for my life.  Thank you for this mountaintop experience.  I know that we don’t have those every week.  I will hold unto this one in my heart and my memory. You are such an awesome and loving God!  Thank you for finding me worthy of your calling here at New Life.

Julie




_____________________
[1] Kiwanis Club of Gaylord

 








Being Loved, Equipped, and Called

Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21  NLT










    
     I am currently working on a BS in Christian Leadership and Management from Liberty University.  My blog this week comes from a paper I wrote for a Theology class a year ago. Reading it has reminded me again of the reason God has led me to this position, and why I feel it is an honor and privilege to be a part of God’s plan for New Life.  I hope you enjoy it.
 
     As the executive director of a Christian pregnancy resource center I’m able to use the fact that we are all created in the image of God while working with clients.  There are two main circumstances where I share this fact.  One is with a client who is abortion vulnerable, and the other is with a client who has no relationship with the Lord.  I will share in detail about how I utilize scripture in both these circumstances.  I believe God placed me in this position for a purpose.  I look to Him to lead me and guide while dealing with every client who walks in the door.
 
     One of the toughest situations to deal with at the pregnancy center is the abortion vulnerable client.  Our society tells them it isn't a child and they should not carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.  The Bible tells us differently.  In Psalm 139:13 it says “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  The “you” in this is God.  God is the one who orchestrated our being at the moment of conception.  There was no mistake happening just because the child was conceived out of wedlock or just not wanted.  The situation is not how God would choose it to be, but the child is planned.  Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  What an awesome knowledge to have!  Before we were conceived, God knew us and had a plan for us.   Psalm 139:15 says “My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.” The secret place is a place of protection.  The womb is supposed to be a safe place for this creation of God to grow.  Our society has decided to go against God’s plan.  At New Life we interject the truth into these mother’s lives.  First, a woman becomes a mom the moment she conceives.  Next, this child is planned by God and He has a plan for their lives.  Last, we are here for them.  God has given each of us at the center the ability and desire to love these moms and to offer them hope and help that they need.  We always seek the Holy Spirit to guide our words and actions in these situations.  We know that only God can change her heart.
 
     Every time a client comes in for services we ask about their church background.  This gives us the opportunity to share the plan of salvation with those who do not profess to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  When explaining why Jesus would die on the cross for our sins, I think it’s important for the client to understand our worth to God.  Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  What more proof do we need of God’s love for us?  He made us in His very image.  How could we not feel a desire to be in a relationship with Him?  In the book of Luke, the Bible gives us "The Parable of the Lost Sheep".  We can find it in Luke 15:4-7.  Here we are told of the shepherd who would leave his flock of 99 to find one lost sheep.  When that sheep is found the shepherd tells his friends and says “Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep.”  Verse 7 says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous people who do not need to repent.”  We can cause rejoicing in Heaven when we repent and ask, in the name of Jesus, to be saved.
 
     I’m blessed to have been chosen to work at the pregnancy center.  God gives me a unique inlet into people’s lives.  I never take this lightly.  He put me here to share His love with our clients.  I know that I have worth and a future because of my being made in God’s image, and being saved by the power of forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross.  I need to share that with all who walk through our doors.  I’m humbled that he would use me to pour into an abortion-vulnerable client’s life.  I’m challenged to help open the eyes of all our clients who are without salvation, and see the beauty of the sacrifice of God’s only son for us on a cross.  

     I thank God for loving and calling me to participate in His reaching out to the lost and the hurting.
Julie

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