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Discipleship is about growing in intimacy with Christ and maturity in the faith, so we know it’s a handcrafted thing vs. something that’s mass produced. Plus, you and I both know that an app isn’t a replacement for intimacy with Christ. So, I was very hesitant to respond to opportunities to create a Seasons of Life Ministries mobile app. Until two things came our way.
Meeting with men, women, and couples, one of the most frequent barriers to intimacy with Christ people tell us they’re struggling with is this: “I haven’t been in the word as much as I should.”
Enter “Back to the Bible”… These guys have made it their mission to get the bible on the “airwaves” ever since there were airwaves. Now that the world is so heavily shifting from radio to internet to mobile, they’ve begun creating private label apps for organizations just like us. Our Stay in the Word app is designed to help people do exactly that – stay engaged with the word of God. All you do is answer a few questions about who you are and what you believe and you’ve created a spiritual profile. From there, SITW will begin sending you biblical content based on this spiritual profile. Take the profile again as often as you like.
Second, our merchant services provider (eChurchGiving/PushPay) gave us the “Get Aligned” app along with our regular monthly service. So, the price was right for both Seasons of Life and for you!
Stay… in… the… Word!
After 8 years, September saw us on the verge of cutting way, wayyy back to part-part-time ministry and me going out and getting a full time job. Some of that is still a possibility; I’ve cut way back on one on one and leaned efforts into maintaining our SOLM apps, That Day rehearsals, and Clean Slate coaching. In the meantime, I’m entertaining a couple of career change ideas that will keep both my family and the ministry afloat. Plot thickens…
Then, THIS happens…
A friend and I were discussing “That Day” and landed on a performance date of Friday, November 13th, here in Alpharetta! For a long time, I’ve been ITCHING to create a compelling, SHORT (90 sec.), trailer video for That Day… So, we did it. And, it… came… out… AWESOME. (see below or click here)
We released the video to YouTube and social media and in just a couple of days, we’re at 100 hits. Now, it typically takes a while (especially when an event is 5 weeks away) for advance ticket sales to gain strong momentum…
Apparently, that’s not the case with “That Day”. God must have a faster plan:
This morning, 30 tickets blew out the door before I could even eat lunch, and a number of people have spoken with me about bringing their small groups to the Midway Community Church event! To GOD be the glory for THAT!!!
With less than 300 seats at this venue, I’m a bit freaked out that this performance will sell out pretty quickly. So, I’m giving all of you a heads up – if you’re planning to come and don’t buy a block of tickets next week, CALL ME or shoot me an email to let me know to protect your seats. Some of this is out of my control and if you’ve got unchurched (or even churched) friends that you want to bring to see Dan Matthewson’s wild story, I don’t want them to miss out.
What You Need to Do (in No Particular Order):
- Decide to be an organizer – organize a group to come see the show. (Hey, you did this for the game last week, give it a try for something about Jesus, mkay?)
- Share the video with your friends, coworkers, staff, small group, etc.
- Buy a block of tickets here or at thatday dot info.
- Have a fantastic time and talk about it often.
- Call, text, PM, or email me if you’re planning to come but can’t buy your block next week.
Eyes on the Numbers
In our household, I’m the numbers guy – “Guardian of the Financial Spreadsheet”. So, when change comes along, I tend to be the most emotionally impacted by the ramifications: need new tires, classroom supplies, low on peas and coffee, torn dress shirt – you get the point. I’m responsible to calculate the need, lead in prayer for provision, and trust God with His reply and timing.
What’s More Important, Time or Money?
After over 6 years in “ministry as usual”, shifting the balance of what the ministry does on a day to day basis doesn’t only impact my financial spreadsheet – it impacts my calendar, dramatically. Most often, change requires both time and money. When the ministry has most often run “short” financially, it’s hard for me to decide if I’m more “nervous” about the investment of time or the investment of money. Ever been there?
Seasons of Life has almost always been a “free service” ministry – there’s only a few things we’ve ever charged money for, and discipleship has never been one of them. It’s always been (and will probably always be) foreign to us to sit down with someone(s), listen to them, point them to scriptural truth, pray for and with them, and then say “Ok, that’ll be x dollars.” However, four wise men in my life have recently (in the same 10 to 14 days, wow!) counseled me, without my asking them, to amp up two existing programs that we do charge for, and focus attention on them: That Day and “Clean Slate“.
I’m freshly encouraged by the registration numbers in for our April 18th “Clean Slate” workshop. But, this is a small, “pilot episode” and it will be a while before the ministry begins to see a sustainable financial impact from this emphasis on bible-based productivity coaching. I have opened up for promotion 8 dates in this year’s calendar for potential “That Day” performances and will begin marketing this more actively this month. Again, this leaves a gap between the ministry’s current financial situation and a more sustainable future. Including first quarter shortfall and current April needs, we’re less than $11K away from everything being “current” come April 30. This includes staff salary, replacement printer drum & toner, email marketing fees, and support for a couple of local “Speak Life” families in immediate need.
We currently have a $4,000 pledge in the mix. If we receive donations and pledges meeting that by Tuesday, 4/15, we’ll receive all of that match. That means, to move April forward, I’ve got to ask any and everyone to help us bridge the gap with donations or pledges by then. Please, help out in any way – individually, as families, businesses, or small groups – to make this happen. We’re super grateful for the work God has put before us and very grateful for everyone who continues to support discipleship, Speak Life, Clean Slate, and That Day. Equally, help us connect people with programs by sharing the links for “That Day” and “Clean Slate” with people you know who could benefit from either.
To Help Directly
Please consider using your online banking service’s automatic bill pay to support – it’s usually free for you and for us. See our support page for details on that and consult your bank’s online banking page to set it up as either one time or regular monthly or quarterly giving. Otherwise, you can also use our online support page to give securely via debit/credit card. If you’d like to pledge toward our matching gift, simply email us at email@example.com and let us know your intent. Thanks, SO much for your support!!!
For years, we’ve been meeting in coffee shops, greasy spoons, and across living room coffee tables with men, women, and couples who are either troubled in their walk with Christ or just seeking to avoid getting off track in their walk. And, wherever two men, two women, or two couples have been confronted with the truth of God’s word, life change has happened.
Small groups work. So does discipleship. So, why would we ever consider stepping out of our “sweet spot”? We’re not.
But, for the past few years, and more specifically the past few months, we’ve felt a nudge to spend a little more time outside of discipleship in order to lead more and new people into more discipleship. We know the value of one on one, but Aarron has also been accused of being very effective in the area of large group speaking, seminars, and performing. Recently, four completely unrelated sources of wise counsel have said the same 3 things:
- You’ve already been doing “x” & “y”, too.
- You’re really good at “x” & “y”.
- Have you considered spending more time doing “x” & “y”?
Meet “X” & “Y”
So, we’re really excited to announce we’re shifting more effort into two existing programs and will be spending as much time as God affords us to reach the lost, the found, and the lost-and-found with them. “That Day”, a one man show about rewards at the judgment seat of Christ has already entertained, informed, and challenged hundreds of men and women in the Metro Atlanta area. We’re making 8 dates available on my calendar for performances through the end of 2014. (Email us for the dates, but think May, June, September and October) In addition, Clean Slate is a bible centered productivity workshop that brings clarity to the confusion and clutter that often attack us on the way to getting things done. We’ve compiled a ton of effective and useful information and presenting it in a half day workshop at the Hyatt Place on Windward Parkway on April 18th from 9 to 2.
How You Can Benefit
Both “That Day” and the Clean Slate Workshop bring their own kingdom value to the table – fun, educational, challenging, and so on.You can benefit from them by attending either, but we need your help with making at least one of those happen:
- That Day – Right now we need your help introducing Aarron to pastors, business and bible study leaders, and retreat coordinators. Ask them what they believe about the judgment seat of Christ and invite them to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to dive deeper into how That Day can witness to those they serve.
Clean Slate – Registration is now open online. Walk in registration is $125 for the day, but there’s a $40 early bird registration discount up until April 14th. Please, read up on it, look for our upcoming promo video, and share this link with a friend, coworker, colleague, or boss. (This week, we’ll extend an additional $10 off registration to our newsletter readers. Register with this link by Friday, April 10!)
Ten Years Ago
For about the past ten years, Cristine and I have been in discipleship ministry in some way or another. It wasn’t until about 7 years ago we began hearing God’s call to “full time” vocational ministry. Several wise friends of mine have taught us that “men and women who walk with Jesus walk with men and women who walk with Jesus”. It was 5 years ago this month that we heard God and the wise counsel around us say “you should do that full time”. So today, as then, we help followers of Christ bridge the gaps between “real life” situations and applied biblical truth.
For the past 5 years, Seasons of Life Ministries has been a true “walk of faith” for me and my family. It’s a strange animal – you never know if you’re getting 100% of your paycheck or 20% of your paycheck. God has answered all of our prayers, sometimes with a “Yes”, other times with a “No”, still others with “Not Yet”. But, what He has given us, through the support of some amazing givers from $10,000 a year down to $20 a month is this: 100% of what He intended us to have. Wow.
All that remains to land 2012 “on target” is about $14,500. That may seem like a large number, but I can tell you three things about that –
- That’s over 30% less than what God has raised for those two months over the last 5 years.
- This year, we’ve got roughly $5,000 in matching funds committed so far toward reaching that goal, so any giving done from this point forward counts double up to $5K.
- As in every year past: “many hands make light work”.
The “Brutal Facts of Reality“
Every month, we start out an average of $3,000 in the hole as a ministry. Call that a small gap or a canyon. You may be right. Call it foolish. You may be right. Call it “trusting God” you may be right. Bottom line, He has provided all He’s wanted for us for 59 months in a row, not for our glory, but for His. Over $250,000 has been raised over these 5 years – a lean $50K a year to run the entire operation. But, God has been faithful to His promises and built bridges of provision for this ministry.
Why Matching Funds are So Important
Matching gifts have helped us achieve that. Matching funds make Seasons of Life a wise place to do giving beyond the tithe. It’s like building a bridge but having one side of the canyon come closer to what you’re building. When I know a dollar that I give to a local or foreign mission is going to be matched with another dollar for free, I don’t have to think long or hard about the return on investment – the match makes my giving go farther. How about you?
So, what can you do?
1. Get/Keep Your Toe In ’til You’re Ready for Deeper Waters
Many of our supporters started giving something “small” and eventually increased. Others, started “small” and stayed there. If you wade in right now as a monthly supporter “cheaply”, your giving will count double for November and December because of the matching gift. This is a big deal for you, because you may only have $25 available for sacrificial giving this month – but it brings us $50 closer to meeting the urgent need at hand. (See links at the bottom if you care to do this through our secure online giving portal).
Some of our supporters tithe a percentage to their own church and give proportionally to other ministries as well – have you considered Seasons of Life as a percentage for 2013? Now might be a great time to give it a try. What would it look like if you gave 10% to your home church, 1% to Samaritan’s Purse, 1% to foreign missionaries, and 1% to a local ministry like Seasons of Life?
2. Delegate Socially. (And, What Does That Mean?)
General Contractors hire people who swing hammers, hang drywall, paint and finish so they don’t have to. Delegation. The most pivotal financial “shot in the arm” God gave this ministry in our first year was through a friend who invited her small group and neighbors over for dessert, to have Cristine and I share the story of how God called us to one on one discipleship ministry. That one friend delegated fundraising to her friends and in one afternoon, God breathed over $300 in regular monthly support and $1,200 in one-time help into Seasons of Life Ministries! Social delegation.
With social media at your fingertips all you have to do to delegate fundraising to others is click “share”. Wow. Could it be more simple? Consider your small group, church, or family & friends:
- Invite them to subscribe to our newsletter by texting 42828 to “SEASONS”,
- Send them a link to our blog (where you’re reading this now), or
- Encourage them to follow or “like” us on Facebook or Twitter.
- Invite one of us to share our story at your small group (we’ll even bring dessert!)
Share any of the links above with people you know and you may turn out to be one of our cornerstone supporters without a dime out of your own pocket! (Or, just go ahead and send us a dime and call it a day? Who knows!)
Online Form – Constant Contact List Signup
3. Be a “Heavy Lifter” or Tell One About Us
No “selling” required: If you have the capacity to give or know someone who does (which, you almost never know until you ask: “Hey,
4. Pray for Us
Hey, prayer only costs time and energy and if you’re out of work, struggling to get by, or just fully committed on your current giving priorities, even you can lift up this ministry in prayer. Incidentally, if you’re in one of those first two categories, email us and we may have some help for you!
Bridge, Meet Sides; Rubber, Meet Road:
Whatever your current or projected-year-end giving capacity is, we’d love your help as soon as you feel prompted and sure this is where the Lord wants you do give. Below are some links for immediate online giving. FYI – The only immediate needs for November are about $1,800 for expenses due by the 15th of the month. Can you help bridge the gap?
For getting your toe in the water:
For heavy lifters
For others – email or private message us on FB if you’re in a position to help in any other way at this time.
FINE PRINT: Seasons of Life Ministries is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization according to IRS tax codes and all gifts are tax deductible to that effect. [Year end giving must be postmarked by Dec. 31st, 2012 or done online by midnight of Dec. 31st 2012.]
To give offline, make your check payable to Seasons of Life Ministries and send it to us at:
2659 Freedom Pkwy.
Cumming, GA 30041
Thanks, for reading, considering, giving, praying, and helping us to build bridges…
|Seasons of Life Ministries Discipleship Update|
Wherever You Go, You Bring You with You…
Moving from Cumming to Gainesville, I thought I might discover a whole crop of men with new problems to drag to the cross. Nope. Today, I have one foot regularly in Alpharetta/Cumming and the other in Flowery Branch/Gainesville. Totally different demographics, right? But, the issues men face are the same – integrity in the workplace, trusting God in an “uncertain” economy, purity vs. pornography, “quiet time guilt”, loving our wives as Christ loved the church, addiction, and on and on. Every guy I sit down breaths and bleeds further evidence that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. (1 Cor. 10:13)” While the issues are many, the solution remains singular – abiding in Christ.
“My job goes back and forth from being terribly frustrating to the most enjoyable calling on earth. I watch men, though grown physically, “grow up” in their faith as God challenges them, tests, them, stretches them by His power. Sometimes, they succeed, sometimes… they… grow. But, growing in faith resembles growing in muscle like this: without breaking and tearing the fibers, the muscles never increase in capacity. Some of these guys, like me, have had to be “wrecked” by circumstance and God’s hand of discipline in order to grow. But, I see growth in them – I see Christ in them. Praise God.
This year, I’ve had many opportunities to say “no” to new things that have come up. Odd, while many are looking for work, I have an abundance. But, not all work is paying work and not all that we’re paid for is what we’re supposed to be doing. Case in point – me. I’ve recently begun managing my workflow differently and in the process discovered I had too many commitments. Good had become the enemy of God. Underneath the many commitments I had made to do this, be that, go here was a horrible addiction that had ruined my productivity in some of the key areas God had called me to. I was addicted to the approval of men and progress.
With all the projects and subprojects I had going on, I had to dramatically improve my ability to say “no” to several “good things” in order to do the best I could at the “God things”. Now, this is a lesson I’ve been learning for several years now, but this summer was a major breakthrough and I’m witnessing clear productivity spikes as a result.
I’m currently meeting with a guy who’s been battling an over the counter addiction and has been for over 7 years. He takes comfort in knowing that my addiction can be just as detrimental to my family as his can be to his, but knows that if God can sanctify me, He can do a great work in him, too. Watching this guy abide in Christ for 30 days, 60 days, and longer between relapses is remarkable. This week, it’s back to “day 7” again, but I can tell his prayer life and the one on one accountability of another Christian guy who has his back is a key component to his successes. Lasting life change is under way. Long term freedom is in the works.
Abiding in Christ has always been the only solution to any problem. Drinking in the Word until people smell truth on your breath, receiving specific encouragement from men who know you well, accountability from godly men, and biblical comfort, rebuke and counsel are all elements that enhance our connection to Christ. More importantly, they help us plug back into the vine when we fall away. There is strength in numbers, especially when God + anyone = a majority.
Moving Forward – 2012 & the 2nd Half of our First Decade
Wrapping up 2012 could look like this (unless God “calls an audible”): continued one on one discipleship, a step back from DivorceCare for a season (which is hard to step away from at a time when they’ve just updated all of their videos & curriculum!!!), leaning more heavily into a writing project involving interviews with over 50 men regarding their discipleship upbringing and/or their discipleship of the next generation.
Next year, we’re offering a half day workshop on “Getting Things Done God’s Way” and will follow God’s prompting down that trail as He leads. “That Day” should see a new stage here and there over the next two years at least, and thanks to a very generous donation, we’ll be exploring video media over 2013 & 14 in an attempt to reach more people with out compromising impact or relationship.
How to Pray for Seasons of Life:
Most often, when a guy is caught in the middle of addiction, those whom he has betrayed – wife, family, co-workers, friends – absorb the wound of betrayal and become embittered against him. I would ask all of you to pray for this guy and every guy who struggles with addiction as God helps them and their wives to resist the temptation (trap) to turn against each other, rather to stay united in prayer against the addiction.
Pray for Seasons of Life as we do our best to stay out of God’s way and allow Him to grow, sustain, and use this ministry to impact the people and community around us. Pray for financial support as we’re in roughly the same place we are every year at this time – fully dependent on Him, praying for obedience, and making the need known.
That’s the story – thanks for reading it!
|Earlier this month, Aarron was asked to stand in for ministry
leader Casey Sanders at Gwinnett’s Men Step Up.
For first quarter, 2012, alone –
- Men have received regular 1 on 1 encouragement, wisdom, and discipleship from God’s word, dealing with everything from pornography addiction, blending families from a biblical perspective, deeper quiet time with God, to “pastoring your wife’s heart”.
- DivorceCare leaders have been equipped and have run for a full quarter reaching a dozen men, women, & children directly and dozens beyond that where they work, live, and recover.
- Couples have received couple on couple discipleship, wisdom, and encouragement and even been sent to a local marriage conference followed by one on one or couples’ “debriefing”.
Through a partnership with another localministry, God has provided food for a dozenfamilies a year with about 6 of them on aweekly basis.
- Weekly food runs through Divine Resourcing have brought food to more than a half dozen families as part of our “Speak Life” programming.
- We’ve run a panel discussion for divorced men on “Single Sexuality”.
- Men have been encouraged to “think out loud” at ONE TH1NG, (a separate ministry led by Ron Dunn designed to “Spur men to walk with God”). Aarron and other men have led dozens of micro group discussions as part of their “ministry within a ministry” environment.
- Aarron also recently led a conversation at Men Step Up, Gwinnett, on Friday, 5.11.2012 (see photo above) regarding contentment in current circumstances in light of present and eternal rewards. It hit home for a great majority of the men in attendance.
- The SOLM blog & Facebook page have been enhanced and regular content added, reaching an audience in the hundreds, soon to be thousands.
- Our skills have been sharpened through both counseling and impartation through Trinity Psychological Services, Free Chapel, and Jesus Spoken Here Ministries.
- Aarron has begun preliminary preparation for a “That Day” performance in October and is in talks about another engagement before then.
Recently, supporters of Seasons of Life and followers of our Facebook Fan Page helped a friend of ours take an unexpected “mission” trip to Argentina. We hope to have an official update from Lily Chauvin soon, but we can tell you it was a heartbreaking trip. While there were some who received her well, she found others to be hostile to her as well as the gospel. We know from scripture that God prepares the heart to receive the gospel, but gives man the opportunity to accept it or reject it. We’re grateful for all of you who jumped at the chance to help her in her calling and honored to have participated.
Financially, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by God prompting a number of supporters to step up their giving, completely unsolicited. (In fact, whereas normally we’ve sent out support letters once or twice per quarter, it’s been almost six months since we’ve sent out a “make the need known” letter. Glory to God.)
As we approach the summer there are a few transitions on the horizon and we’d like to inform everyone of the possibilities ahead for 2012, 2013 and beyond. The Lord is broadening our territory in Gainesville, GA, where the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. This could mean carrying a wider load for Free Chapel’s DivorceCare program but also bringing Seasons of Life discipleship to a community lacking in a detailed one-on-one discipleship plan and budget to sustain it, yet rich in a deep and abiding need for it.
We are prayerfully moving forward one step at a time, one relationship at a time, one conversation & prayer at a time.
|To help us capture a $2,500 matching
donation for 2nd quarter, click here.
The Big News:
- This is the shortest distance we’ve been from the mark, ever. And this is for the quarter, not the month. Wow, praise GOD!
- Summer is historically one of the driest “seasons” of the year for many non-profits and ministries like Seasons of Life, yet this!
- God has dropped a (ridiculously timely) $2,500 dollar-for-dollar matching gift on the table for 2nd Quarter!
What You Can Do:
Your giving power is officially doubled. Anyone who supports Seasons of Life Ministries in new giving, whether one time, “seasonal” (once/month for three months), or joins as a new monthly support family member, will help us not only capture the funds needed for the quarter, but definitively help set us up for a smooth 3rd & 4th quarter and balance the scales moving into 2013. WOW, is right!
Pray it over, (as always), and consider whether this is the “sign” you’ve been waiting for: the need is great where we’re “growing to”. You may never personally experience the work God’s called us to do all the way up in North Forsyth and Hall Counties, but your giving will make a bold impact on men, marriages, couples, children, and disciples of Christ there. To help capture this timely gift, click here or enter “http://bit.ly/solmsupport” in your browser’s address bar.
Thank you, thank you, to all who are still lifting up this ministry, our family, and those we serve in your prayers. Great things are in the rear view mirror and on the horizon. Your “vertical” support has not been wasted. Please, keep us in prayer, join us in prayer, and tell anyone you can to follow us, fan us, like us, and pray for us.
As transplanted Northerners, spring in Georgia is a strange phenomenon for us. It comes with little warning, a month (or two) earlier than we’re used to, and turns into summer even faster. Brown, crunchy lawns in our neighborhood turn verdant almost overnight. It’s almost as if a glacier melted and dropped a new terrain on top of the old, barren one. From a practical standpoint, that’s what it looks like when Jesus drops His abundant life into the life of the broken. Dry, crusty life doesn’t just “perk up”, it thrives.
This past year has been one of the most challenging seasons of our own lives personally. Yet, we have clearly seen God use it to transform our hearts and refine His ministry through us. Call it “on the job training”, but the trials He’s delivered us through in 2011-2012 have been no different than the dramatic winter to summer transition we’re growing accustomed to here in GA. We’re already seeing the results of it bear fruit in the lives of others.
Our Honor, His Glory
Recently I had coffee with a guy whose wife is being crushed by the grinder of life. Pain and brokenness from her past is gushing out of her heart, subsequently, her mouth – and that hurts. But, to watch this guy “get vertical” and follow Jesus despite the (tongue) lashing he takes for hurts he didn’t cause, is such a sweet honor.
I’ve got three or four guys across the table from me this year going through the same thing, and God continues to speak to us all through His word. I’m invigorated to watch them stumble at times, but get up and walk on in the footsteps of “forgive them Father, they know not what they do”. Love, love, awesome, godly love. Masculine, yet submitted to God. Wow.
The New Adventures of
Old New Cristine:
|Cristine Pina looks nothing like Julia
Louis-Dreyfus, but she once drove away with her
coffee or purse on the roof and I like the tag line.
Cristine has transitioned to volunteer status, stepping back from discipleship quite a bit this year and taken on a God given (long story) part-time job to fill in part of a gap in support. As for her discpleship, she is “picking her spots” as God would have her, and we are mindful to guard her bandwidth as God directs.
To watch her embrace her role as a mother and discipler of our children out of obedience to the Lord rather than by the force of her husband is an awesome sight. As a husband and father, it is so comforting to know that I don’t have to pressure her to lean this direction, rather just get out of her and God’s way and watch them collaborate for this season.
While our oldest daughter, Brianna, has been walking through her own dark season of life, God has used Cristine’s heart for prayer and burden for the next generation to forge a new ministry effort – Mothers In Prayer.
This is a once per week environment, where women – whether mothers, grandmothers, or childless – are now gathering to make their prayers and petitions known to the Lord. It is not a curriculum-driven environment, small group, nor networking organization. It is not a place for platitudes and shallow, “proper” prayers. It is solely focused on lifting up the cares and concerns one generation has for the next, honestly, transparently, boldly. To find out more about Mothers in Prayer, message us on Facebook through either Seasons of Life’s fan page or the new Mothers in Prayer page at http://www.facebook.com/prayingmothers.
Hey, while you’re at it, go to our fan page, click “like”, and then share it with your friends!
As a couple, we are still seeing other couples through seasons of turmoil. This has always been a part of the DNA of Seasons of Life and we can see it continuing as God conforms us and them to the image of Christ. We are certain of our involvement with Free Chapel’s DivorceCare program, just uncertain what that looks like as their org structure and implementation strategy changes this month. We would ask for your prayers that we be continually prayerful and open to God’s direction as we stand in the flow of His ministry to the divorced in that territory.
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up to the minute news!
Socially Acceptable Behavior
If you’re on our email newsletter list, you’ve noticed your inbox has been pretty quiet. This is because we’ve been leaning much more heavily on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog for public updates. Social media has grown more and more effective, and we’re pleased with the results. As we track with this trend, you will likely see less from us in your inbox and more consistency on the blog and other outlets. Tune in.
To connect with us on Facebook, click here. To follow us on Twitter, click here. If you’re just tuning in, God’s impressed on me the idea of staying consistent (again, with exceptions at His direction) with a weekly devotional published Mondays, here on the blog.
Several years ago, God called us into full-time vocational ministry. As most fans of Seasons of Life Ministries already know, His call was a touch vague: “be available”. Most fans will also tell you this has allowed me a lot of room to get into trouble – overextended, wiped out, overcommitted trouble. However, last quarter – 4th quarter of 2011, it seems like (and I hope, this is in humility) both Cristine and I were in full agreement with what God wanted us to do, more importantly what He wanted us to not do. We did our best to stay out of His way.
In 2011, God used us to reach hundreds of people through one on one discipleship, couples discipleship, DivorceCare, DivorceCare 4 Kids, through existing environments like ONE TH1NG and Men Step Up, our Speak Life programming, and That Day production. This is pretty mind blowing to me as I type it, because while I know I’m a pretty high capacity guy, to see all of this done despite going through what we went through personally is clearly an act of God. Me? Not capable of all of that in one year. Him? Able to do abundantly more than all we could ever ask or imagine.
- For Q4, our goal was God sent – “only do what I tell you to do”. We were able to train two leaders for ONE TH1NG and several more for service at FreeChapel for their DivorceCare and DC4K program. But, again, only by God’s grace and not because we’re anything special. Totally “a God thing”. Goal met. As we’ve heeded God’s call to do less stuff for greater impact, He’s seen to this kind of impact:
- More important than the numbers is the depth of effect – to have a guy call me on the phone or text me to say “we need to get together” or “thanks, for your prayers” is a humbling honor.
- To see a man who’s been in the word, active in his church, and obedient in the marketplace finally break through the wall of “prays regularly with his wife” is a milestone. To watch a woman respect her husband when he’s not being respectable so that he may be “won over
- As we look at God’s mission for Seasons of Life “Realigning lives with the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Jesus Christ”, we saw a great ROM (Return on Mission) in last year – God repositioned Cristine to speak into the lives of women who’ve undergone emotional and physical abuse, struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and now is able to speak out boldly about how God has redeemed the abortion she had over a decade ago. God has widened her ability to minister to the broken because He’s God and “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8.28)”
- God has called me to begin the process of duplicating myself – in a few unique ways, He’s begun to bring that process to fruition as we’ve released a few leaders to shepherd others in pastoral care and men’s ministry. Where that may lead through the use of technology and improvements in our Social Media strategy is entirely up to Him, but we stand just past the threshold of 2012 with our ears open and feet “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of Peace”. What does that mean? We’re awaiting His next orders and you’ll hear about it both online and offline.
From the time of Moses, Aaron was always known as “the mouthpiece” for the prophet. As Executive Director and “Chief Tellum Boutitall” of Seasons of Life, It’s no surprise that I’ve been the mouthpiece of our organization and for our “prophet”. This year, considering all we’ve been through, I’ve felt the prompting of God to have Cristine share some of her story and give you an update on how she’s doing and what God has done for her, for us, and for those who call Seasons of Life their “running partner”. “Take it away, Cristine!” -AP
I was sooo exhausted in July. It’s so weird to be so tired, but not being able to get a whole night of sleep. I was sleeping only about two hours a night for most of the month. I could tell I was starting to show signs of burnout from the nonstop pace we were living at.
We had fasted in July – a “Daniel Fast” (no meat, no dairy, no bread, nothing to drink other than water, and no sugar). Fasting always exposes what’s going on in your life at a deeper level. But, my husband and I have four kids, 3 of them were under 3 then and they always got up at 7 o’clock and it was a lot to keep them going throughout the day. Aarron’s family lives in Massachusetts and my Mom lives in Florida, taking care of her parents, so we had almost no support to help with the kids. What our fast exposed was that we were nearing burnout, quickly. So, when the fast, the burnout, and a few really bad relationship explosions collided, the insomnia got worse.
A lot of people thought it was just nutrition and gave us all kinds of vitamins and supplements (St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, L-theanine, B-12, Benadryl, Melatonin) to get me to sleep, but none of it even touched it [the sleeplessness]. I mean, I wasn’t drinking caffeine at all that month, but I was taking all these supplements and eating all this food that’s supposed to help, but I’m still awake at 2:00 in the morning.
That’s because it wasn’t about insomnia. At all. Insomnia was just a symptom of what I really had, which is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – a severe form of constant “fight or flight”. Even with support groups and counseling, most people take years to recover from PTSD. So, we had to go see someone that knew the Lord, His word, and what they were talking about with PTSD. So, I started seeing Dr. Bob Montes and he had already treated people for PTSD with this thing called EMDR. It would have taken a few years to heal from what I had been through without it, but with prayer (a lot of yours, adds my husband) the power of God, and the EMDR, instead it only took a few months.
The Storm before the Calm:
Before the recovery, I was reading a lot of books and praying like, all the time. “God, you’ve got to deliver me from this.” And I got really nasty. I was raging all the time over stuff that wasn’t really all that bad, but I just felt like nobody understood what I was going though, so I would explode screaming and throwing things.
One Sunday in August, we were packing up for church and Aarron had put all the kids in the van and I was getting in, when Presleigh (our almost 3 year old) spilled her breakfast shake all over her and Aarron started cleaning it up. Then, I just lost it. I got out of the van and went back in the house and just grabbed the closest thing I could and threw it against the wall. It was these champagne glasses from our wedding and they just went flying into the wall and shattered. So, I reached for something else and threw that and finally Aarron came over and just hugged me really hard and kept telling me he loved me and I was like “Why?!”
Carry Each Others’ Burdens?
I kept feeling guilty because my husband had to do all kinds of things that I just didn’t have the energy to do, activities of daily living – like 5 loads of laundry and cleaning the house and taking care of the kids and all of his own work and running the ministry. Then he kind of broke down one day and realized not only was I depressed and exhausted, but he was suffering from burnout.
Some of the books we were reading talked about how to minister to people going through the deep wounding I was dealing with, but we both kind of got nervous when Aarron started to show signs of burnout. There was a lot of load to carry and he was carrying it, but if he couldn’t carry it suddenly, it would be a disaster. All the books we were reading talked about “the dark night of the soul”. They described it as something that when God says it’s time for you to go through it, you’d better go through it. But, we were like “how can we both go through it at the same time with four kids?”
|Would you save these wilting flowers?|
Aarron was telling me this morning that sometimes we have to defragment our computers or even “wipe” them clean, but first you have to back up the important files. Sometimes the computer gets a bunch of junk on it that slows it down. We had a lot of junk from our past slowing us down and just needed to have it wiped clean. But, isn’t that great that our Heavenly Father, who is making us look more like Jesus is already doing that?
As things were getting really hard for me emotionally & physically, I had a moment where I took this vase of flowers my husband had given me and brought it outside. Some of the flowers had been wilting, so I chucked them on the far side of our lawn. Then, the Lord spoke to me so clearly – “Not all of those are done for… wilted to the point of no return.” As I picked several of them up, I discovered there were still gorgeous petals underneath some of the bad ones. I heard the Lord say “this was you and all the others like you.” The world would have tossed them.
In our lives, God already has a backup of the important files. As we walk through life, past hurts, fears, and brokenness leaves junk on our life. But, God knows the value we each have to Him. The world might throw us aside when our beauty doesn’t match up, but God hadn’t forgotten about them, me, or you.
Today, I feel restored – almost 40 people who are very dear to me are about to show up for a late birthday party for me. Aarron was shocked that I would have a big party because he’s done surprises for me before and I didn’t like them because I usually hate being the center of attention. This time, it’s different – I want to celebrate this new season of my life with the people who mean the most to me and tell of the great things He has done. My recovery has been nothing shy of a miracle from God.
We are stronger and better today because God has backed us up, wiped us clean, and restored us. But, like Job, I think He has made us better off than we were before. In order to face my dark night of the soul, I had to cancel a small group study I was going to lead. When I told the girls I’d have to bow out and why, they were more than supportive of me. But, three of those same girls emailed me back and said that they had been going through past hurts, too, but they hadn’t been willing to talk about them or seek help until they heard my story… God’s story. Today, I am grateful to my Abba-Father, Jehovah-Rapha “The LORD is my healer”, that He has healed me, but also restored me to be able to lock arms with other women who have yet to walk through their own dark night of the soul. (Now, if I can find time to meet with all of them, it will really be an act of God!!!)
Praise and honor to Him,