Confirmation from a “Chance Encounter”

After the doctors appointment yesterday, I went to my office, aka coffee shop, to treat myself. The treat ended up being a lemon bar. It is what occurred while leaving my office that got my attention.

A few days ago while at the Organic Store next to the coffee shop while I was checking out, a woman greeted me by name. I replied to her greeting wondering how I know her.

Yesterday as I was leaving the coffee shop there she was just getting out of her car. She again greeted me with, “hi Matt” which got my attention. I get called teacher in most of my interactions with people, so when someone says my name I tend to do a double take. ūüôā

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It was the same woman. We talked for about 15 minutes in the parking lot. She used to go to the same church I went to back in in the early 1990s. She was a voice from my past when my ministry was very different than it is today.

While we were talking, I shared with her about the books I am working on and two different possible self publishing ideas. Her response was, “God has connected dots for you for the writing idea on your book about Jesus Understand Trauma.”

A voice from the past, a chance encounter was not by chance. It was God at work to connect me with a person in a way that really got my attention to give me confirmation.

I am so thankful that God works in ways that get our attention and for his guidance.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Validating Others

So many times in my friendships with refugees, Jesus has given me opportunities to listen as my refugee friends share part of their ordeal. As they share their trauma with me, it is time for me to listen not rush in as the fixer. It is also not time to minimize their experience by saying something like, “well you are here now.”

What they need is what every person needs, validation. By listening to them, it shows I care, which I do, and it validates their sense of personhood. It is my desire to treat my refugee and immigrant friends with dignity as fellow image bearers of the image of God.

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There are so many people struggling in life not only refugees or immigrants. How we respond when someone confides in us can go a long way to opening a door or closing it. It depends on how we respond, what we say, how we treat them. If we listen and validate them, it can foster friendship and create future opportunities, If we throw out cliches or minimize what they share, it will close that door perhaps slam it shut.

I saw this video clip from a show. I only watched the episode with this scene in it. I thought this scene was a powerful example of responding and validating a person who is struggling.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Summer Lowering The Boom-BUT

We enjoyed several picture perfect days for three weeks at the end of May and first days of June. Those nice days allowed me to spend time in the park reading and one Saturday an enjoyable time of a picnic with some of my students. I had thoughts of wouldn’t it be nice if it stayed like this all summer even though I knew I was fooling myself.

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Then it happened on Sunday. Summer lowered its boom and now we are in the midst of a heat wave with temps some days reaching 100f/30c. That is normal where I live but still when it happens, it begins my countdown to September. Though I do not live in a desert like the picture above, it feels like it.

Knowing something unpleasant is coming is one thing but actually having it happen is another thing. Knowing it is coming can cause a bit of dread but when the reality hits, one needs to find a way to cope.

Fortunately even though it is too hot for reading in the park, my favorite coffee shop has air conditioning. So my summer of reading, writing, and practicing Spanish shall commence.

Speaking of writing, I am at about 8,000 words for a book I am working on about how Jesus understands trauma and wants to partner with us in our healing journey. My hope is to finish it this summer along with a book about how Jesus has worked in my life.

For me the coffee shop is a place that stimulates me in my writing. Something about observing about the diverse people who come to the coffee shop helps me write. So I will spend the afternoon there before I teach my final evening class at the college until mid July.

Do you have a favorite writing spot?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Wants to Free Us from Shame

When Jesus died on cross, he died for our sins so we could be forgiven 100%. That alone is the best news.. There is more that perhaps we do not talk about enough. When Jesus died on the cross, he made the way for us to have a relationship with God. We can be reconciled with God 100%.

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But what about the effects of sins committed against us? What about the shame we might carry in our spirits because of past abuse, neglect, assault etc? Survivors of sins committed against us tend to live with shame.

Isaiah 53:4 says:

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Any suffering we have endured, Jesus took upon himself on the cross.

Isaiah 53:5 says:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

Jesus died for our sins and more than that so we can be made whole.

I love the principle behind Zephaniah 3:19:

At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.

While that is a direct reference to Israel being brought back from exile, there is a principle to embrace. God will deal with those who have harmed us and will bring us to a place of honor.

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It is not easy to do and therapy and pastoral counseling can help. Releasing someone who has harmed us to God’s hands is a freeing experience for us. God does not want us living with shame because of what others have done to us. He wants to make us whole in him. He wants to give us a new identity as a daughter or son of God.

God wants us to step out of the shadows of shame in live in the light of his love.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Trauma The Invisible Prison

Anyone who has experienced trauma, whatever the cause, can feel like they are living in an invisible prison trapped by the memories of the trauma. Others may not see the trauma a person lives with but for the one living with it, it is a constant companion no one wants. It is like being taken captive.

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The good news is that Jesus has come to set the captives free. His gentle touch can bring healing to our souls, minds, and spirits. He can do his work through people such as therapists, counselors, pastors and friends.

It is important to remember a few things First, it is okay to try different therapists to find one you feel you can connect with. Second, sharing with a friend choose someone you trust to keep what is shared confidential. Lastly, with a pastor share with one who has an understanding of the need for counseling.

Remember it is okay to need help and to ask for help.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Time to Breathe

After a hectic week, it is time to relax, time to breathe. It feels like a stay home, do some writing and blogging, and order delivery food kind of day. My week started with an Abdominal CT, then three more days of teaching morning, afternoon and evening, and no visits to the coffee shop.

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I am thinking about doing a series in my blog on forgiveness which will include issues such as retaining boundaries, holding people accountable etc.

More writing ideas keep coming to me for the bible study guide for people dealing with trauma, depression/anxiety, so today will be a writing day.

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Today will also be a time with Jesus day. I have worship music playing while I write this post and will keep it playing while I write more of the bible study guide.

Oh and about coffee, no need to worry. I have some Brazilian coffee brewing right now and of course no cream or sugar in my place. There is no need of such substances for a coffee purist. ūüôā

How is your day?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.