Baring It All

Over the past few years specifically, I have undergone somewhat of a Spiritual refinement. As with any new makeover, just as though one has stepped out of the salon and into the chair of the finest makeup artist this world has to offer; I found myself sitting under a completely new shade of light. I had no idea at the time, but this transformation would come equipped with a fresh pair of eyes. These new found eyes would ultimately prepare me for the journey that lay ahead.

I have the privilege to minister to adolescent girls who have escaped the life within the sex trade, and whom have experienced trauma that defies the darkest places of a human mind. When I gaze into the eyes of these young girls, I am actually peering into the depths of their souls and have visualized images words cannot begin to accurately depict. I feel what they feel, even if for such a short time, their pain, their loneliness, their loss, their despair….. it all becomes mine. Some night’s I have praised God for the revelations that have transpired from this. I have also found myself begging Him to take this curse away.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (NIV). The very body of Christ (the church) can only function properly when all of its members work in unity. This includes the task of sharing in each other’s pain. Friends, it is time that we STOP sympathizing and START suffering alongside His children. If you have become callus to this world, unable to no longer SEE His people’s needs, I encourage you to seek out a new pair of lenses. It is not enough to simply view heartache from behind the glass, we must step into the room and take a seat.

The homeless man on the corner, do you see him as an addict hoping to make a few bucks from the morning commuters, or do you SEE him as God’s chosen, desperately trying to fight a battle deep inside that you could not begin to understand? Or what about that co-worker who never has anything nice to say. Do you see him solely for the words he speaks, or do you SEE him for who he is? A grieving, lonely man wishing so bad he could hold his wife, just one more time. She wasn’t supposed to die this young, she just wasn’t.

Friends, this world is filled with people in need. People who need to SEE Him through YOU. Are you ready for a makeover, and a fresh pair of eyes? If so, no appointment necessary.

Walk-in’s welcome!

Stefani Calens, Author
loveSTRONG ministries


Grace Grower

I attended a local Bible college for two years in my early twenties to complete my degree. While there we were required to attend a chapel service every Wednesday. I don't remember very many of the sermons we heard but I do remember this one.

The speaker asked us to think about that person that I now like to refer to as a "grace grower." Maybe they're a family member, maybe you are assigned to the same group for a project, maybe they're an acquaintance or a co-worker. This person is difficult to be around, pushes your buttons and possesses many of the characteristics you find the most annoying. They might even lash out at you, manipulate you or hurt you intentionally. Sometimes he or she just plain drives you crazy.

The speaker then reminded us... "YOU are that person to someone."

Harsh truth moment.

None of us are exempt from this...and none of us are immune.

Romans 3:23: "We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God." I'm not perfect. I screw up. While I never set out to hurt anyone, I do so inadvertently just by being...human. I'm sure my personality, quirks, habits and tendencies rub some people the wrong way. I stretch myself too thin and take on too many projects, so I'm sure there are plenty of people who think I'm a flake. I'm an idea person and a creative so sometimes I talk too much or boss people around. I'm a "get 'er done" type and I've undoubtedly stepped on a few toes along the way. The list could go on (and on...and on).

John 16:33: "In this world, you will have trouble." No matter how closely we walk with the Lord, no matter how hard we try to keep the peace, no matter how much we try to keep short accounts and treat people kindly, nothing we can do can make us impermeable to attack. As long as there are people, there will be trouble. Thank God the second half of John 16:33 that says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When one of the "grace growers" in my life recently lashed out at me, I felt wounded for a while. After reminding myself of the above (sometimes it's reversed and I'm the perpetrator...and, such is life in this imperfect world), Galatians 6:2 came to mind where it says, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." She later admitted she was having a bad day and may have overreacted. Maybe she also struggles with insecurity. Maybe she's been hurt in the past in a similar situation. Maybe she's lonely. Maybe she was just “hangry” (angry due to hunger). Whatever her reasons, those are her burdens and I am called to bear them.

I also thought about all the people in MY life who bear my burdens, the ones who see me as a "grace grower." I am so grateful to them for "bearing with me" with grace and kindness. So whether you're the victim or the perpetrator right now, continue bearing while grace keeps growing.

Tabitha Dumas