I have more questions than answers tonight. I find myself typing this out with tears streaming down my face, and my chest feels so tight I think I might choke. I don’t understand and trust me, I get I don’t have to understand. I found myself today saying something I have said to a 100 people… our circumstances don’t take God by surprise! but man do they take us by surprise? I found myself angry, confused, tired, and ready to give up. And while all those emotions are still circling around my heart and mind I have to see them as they are… as emotions- feelings.
And I am wresting with what God is doing in this season. Pastors wrestle too. Pastors have bad days and bad weeks. We get overwhelmed and tired. Don’t worry I have heard from the Pastors who say they don’t or if you do then somehow you don’t love your job or aren’t called… or whatever else. But the reality is… I am fully human, I just happened to be a pastor. No superpowers here. Just a 40 year old wife, mom and pastor who every day is trying to figure this thing out called life. Every day wondering and praying I made the right decisions and discerned the right way the voice of Jesus.
And I am sick to death of the voices in my head, and the social media interactions, and the lack of return calls and messages being okay. Because they aren’t. I am sick of bantering be kind, stop the division, have healthy relationships, surrender all to God, because it is all his anyway, when none of it seems to matter…
Tomorrow will be better- I will be able to go through all my emotions, and questions and hopefully surrender and silence all the voices and chatter that doesn’t belong to God…until then I’ll soak up the birds chirping, the sunset and my favorite people in the world.
I found a piece of art recently and hung it in on my wall- it simply said “she designed the life she loved.” Everyday I look at it and it reminds me I have choices to make. Choices to make that will help me live a life I love. There are so many things I love! But the reminder each day staring at me helps me make choices that help create spaces and places for those things I love.
Over the past few months I have been processing through quite a bit. My reading list has included, Present Over Perfect, Breaking Busy, Uninvited, Surrender, High Impact Leader, Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership… just to name a few. They all have similar themes and through it I have found myself working on some things. Praying over even more and being pretty vulnerable before the Lord.
A couple of post ago I talked about doing something new, it was coming but I never fully said what it was. And the reality is the new thing is a work in progress, and it is slow and it takes some blood, sweat and tears. It is adding in something while subtracting some others. It is asking the right questions at the right time and being okay with whatever the answers are.
You see designing the life I love is a whole lot of being okay with things when they don’t go as planned. Finding the high road when life comes at you in waves of things that are hard, heartbreaking and amazing all at once. Designing a life you love is realizing that I control very little and trusting in the One who does it control it all.
In the process of all of that and turning 40 this year I am ready to conquer somethings on my list that have been there for way to long. I am giving up on some of the list and throwing them out. But the things that remain I am embracing in a new way, a new passion.
I am seeking the Lord with a new desire to be who he has called me to be- not anyone else. Because anyone else I try to be will not be all that God has called me too.
In the meantime, I struggle with the tension of where I am and where I am going. I wrestle with the tension of is and what will be. I embrace the tension that grows my faith and makes me a better version of myself.
She designed a life she loved…
What happened to us? Most days I feel like I live a in parallel universe. There is no respect for anyone or anything. Name calling and mud slinging are the normal behavior. We post it on our social media, we scream it on the corners and we march down the streets. We don’t listen to anyone who thinks differently than us because they are stupid. We live in fear of what if’s and what’s next. We live in fear of being honest with our thoughts or feelings in fear of being labeled something we are not.
Division is all around us, and it’s not new. I get that. What I don’t get is us, the church. We seem to be just as scared as those who don’t claim to be the church. We throw insults and naming call like it’s our right to do. I am white so that must make me white privileged. Which means I must be racist, a bigot, a homophobe and against all immigration just to name a few…in case you are wondering, I don’t like being labeled or called names.
If I think we should respect each other regardless of where we find ourselves in this mess we call a political arena then I simply don’t understand what is going on around me. I see one group of Christians post negative comments and disrespect toward the president elect and incoming administration.
I see another group post against current President and administration. There are too many direct quotes to put them all here…
I know, freedom of speech… I get it! I am thankful for it. It’s why I can write and post a blog. It’s why I can stand on a stage each week and speak freely. But where does that freedom become dangerous? When words hurt and destroy and create division. Is that what Jesus stood for? I thought he came to reconcile…
Then I hear the fears of a mom who adopted children from Mexico. Her adult children, who served in the military, being harassed by people on the street saying they were going to be sent back to where they belong. This is not okay! This is wrong! Please stop!
I have dinner with a family who immigrated here many years ago and hear their stories of sacrifice to give up everything to come to America.
I am not excusing bad behavior but both political parties are full of bad behavior, name calling and disrespect. Can we please not model this in the church? My hope has never been in the President of the United States. Some presidential elections the candidate of my choice wins while other times they don’t. I have not taken to the streets to protest. I have not called my neighbors names because they didn’t agree with me, and I for sure did not offer up disrespect for those who hold the office. I might not agree but it doesn’t give me the right to lay down what it means to be Christlike. I ask myself often, do I want to be right… or do I want a relationship with that person? And frankly I want the relationship. I want people to see Jesus, and he modeled respect, love, forgiveness. He said to pray for those in authority over us. Pray! It is really hard to pray for someone you are bad mouthing on the side, and it’s really hard to continue to bad mouth someone you are spending time in prayer for.
Hillary Clinton was not the hope of this world! Donald Trump is not the hope of this World! Jesus Christ is! And the church I serve has let me down and left me disillusioned in what our calling is. Then I remind myself I serve the God of the universe, he is the One who saved me, transformed me and called me by name. I rest in that!
My prayer tonight is that healing will begin. That we will fervently pray for neighbors, for our new President and his family. That we will pray that those things that have been broken by this election season will be healed. That all people will see Jesus flowing from those of us who call ourselves Christ Followers. That the Church will be the church, feeding the hungry, caring for the widows and the orphans, sharing the gospel of Jesus.
I have said it often that time goes very quickly. Sometimes when I turn another month in my calendar and see the year splashed at the top I can’t believe it. 2016. Jason and I have been married for 21 years and have found ourselves in some form of ministry or another for 19 of those. Some of those years have been served through local churches and some of it through non profits.
The reality is ministry is hard. When we started this road we neither one knew where it would lead. Jason was confident that his role in the local church was to support it – have a corporate America job and support the local church with giving and volunteering. I thought my job was a wife and mom. I believed in the local church, no matter how broken and messy it seemed to be at times. I would always be involved and be willing to walk wherever I was asked.
I didn’t ever see women lead anything but Children’s/Youth/Women/Worship. I didn’t see women pastors taking up the leadership role in our churches. So in my mind I was a woman and I could support, be a side kick, but never give leadership and vision. And really for the most part that was okay with me. I was doing what God had called me to: a wife and mom… children’s pastor, non-profit founder and PTA vice president. It was all good. Until it wasn’t…
When God calls us to something we have no choice but to walk in obedience. I remember the pull of my heart to go back to local church ministries after a few years away from it. It didn’t make sense. Everything was going okay I thought, but this desire for more, to reach more families and more people for Jesus, was growing. The kids were getting bigger, my role as mom was changing, and I was seeking God to discern what was next. That story is long and someday I will write it here but for now I will just say in that process God called me to be a pastor. To step out of my comfort zone into the unknown, to walk in obedience, surrendered to whatever His will was and would be.
Jason’s journey to ministry is different than mine, and I think he will be a guest writer on here very soon, so he can share it. Because it’s important to know why we are here in Allentown, PA. The details are nothing short of God designed moments, ordained long before Jason and I even knew.
That brings me to today. Last week we launched a new service at Trinity. In two short years, God has been blessing and expanding our church. People are coming to know Jesus. The de-churched and the un-churched are finding a place they can be in community and hear God’s Word and ask questions about this man, Jesus. God is at work. And when God is moving, we also see the attacks of Satan.
John 10:10 tells us “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
And that is our mission: to lead one percent of the Lehigh Valley to a full life in Christ. And we know that on the way we encounter the attempts of the thief to steal, kill and destroy… but we must stand united in our mission to keep pressing forward so that God’s kingdom is expanded and He receives all glory and honor! We have the hope and holiness this world so desperately needs! The hope and holiness we so desperately need! It is not us against them! It is us fighting for them.
Is growth and change hard? Absolutely! Is community messy? You bet! But church, if we can vow to stay together and value and love people, we can be a change agent in the Lehigh Valley. It will be uncomfortable. It will push us outside of ourselves and our own four walls. But on the other side of uncomfortable is eternal impact!
There are times as the pastor, as your pastor, I can sense your questions and fears. And I bring those to the Lord. I know that it will take us being bold and courageous to walk the obedience that God has called us to. I also know that God never intended the church to be a holy huddle of believers. The church, you and me, were called to reach those who are spiritually unresolved and bring them to Jesus. No one is exempt from that calling. Every week you and I should be sharing our faith with someone who doesn’t know Jesus. That means people who probably don’t think like you, look like you or act like you. It will mean building relationships and inviting people into your life so that you can show them truly and authentically who Jesus is.
But that’s just it… faith is taking risk. Faith is more than just saying a prayer and reading your Bible. Faith is believing in things you can’t see. It is walking outside of what you are comfortable with and doing things that God has called you to! Faith will be risky, and messy…
It means we will change our methods of reaching people, but we will NEVER change the message! Jesus Christ died on a cross, rose from the grave to reconcile us back to His Father. Our message is clear! Our methods are changing but God is moving. You are part of a movement of God, and He has called you for this time and place.
Look around this coming Sunday – whichever service you are in – and talk to someone you haven’t met yet. Invite them to coffee, or your life group, or to dinner. Walk through the doors expecting what God is going to do and worship Him with a heart of gratitude. Be grateful that you get a front row seat to life transformation!
Do not sit on the sidelines anymore. Join the team! Be part of it. Serve in Kidventure. Volunteer with Pulse. Be a greeter, or usher, or work in the cafe. Sign up for a Life Group at our Get Connected event this week or next. Invite your neighbor, your co worker, or that mom in the grocery store to join you.
Trinity, thank you for taking a risk on the Colburns two years ago. Thank you for allowing the leadership to dream big, God-sized dreams to reach the Lehigh Valley. Thank you for being open and willing to allow God to move us out of our comfort zone into this next chapter. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in us and through us in the weeks ahead. I can’t wait to hear the many God stories of life transformation. Don’t miss it! We need you! I need you! The Lehigh Valley needs you!
Let’s reach the One Percent of the Lehigh Valley united together for His Kingdom’s sake…
I walked out the door of the church tonight and immediately was hit with the sound of crickets chirping, the pale light of the moon peeking behind the clouds and the smell of grass.
I walked the few feet between the church and my house soaking in the whole scene. Looking up and seeing a few stars not hidden by the scattered clouds and just listening. I noticed by the time I made it to my back door my heart had calmed and my steps were lighter. I knew immediately what that was… that was God. That was allowing my mind to stop even if for a minute so that I could take in God’s perfect creation.
I miss so much of that, because I am always thinking about the next thing, or checking my phone or sending a text, email, snapchat or whatever. My mind rarely stops and I am working on allowing it too. I am working on being present. Not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually!
As I am processing through things and continuing to be a pastor to people, I am hit with how important it is to stay humbled before the Lord. Lately, I have found my need for him to be so overwhelming at times I know of nothing else I can do but to fall face down before him and pour out my heart to him. I am finding that the more honest I am with him of my need, the more need of boundaries in other areas of my life he points out to me.
I have not ever been very good with boundaries or authority in my life. But I am learning, ever so slowing I am afraid, of how valuable these things are… and life giving. Boundaries allow me to rest, laugh, play and be… Boundaries help me regroup after hurtful words both intended or unintended. Boundaries help me regain perspective and wisdom. Authority in my life keeps me accountable, and points out my blind spots and helps me be a better version of myself. My submitting to HIS ultimate Authority gives me peace when I question all the stuff!
You see the new thing its coming and it might be surprising in how it reveals itself. But the new thing is so good and even holy. Yes holy! God ordained for his purpose.
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. 12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, 13 for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death. Psalm 86:11-12
This book, these words, have undone me. Three books that I have completed this year have been a combination of conviction, grace and celebration. (Present over Perfect, Breaking Busy, and Ordering Your Private World) I am undone by what God is teaching me in this season. I am at a place where I am vulnerable before the Lord, seeking him with a new passion and letting go of somethings I have been holding on to so tightly.
I am learning to look for the tangible expressions of grace that are on display all around me each day. I am learning to breathe deeply. I am learning to create the margin that God has been asking me to create for so long. The new thing, like I said before, is both big and small. It is a thousands of choices some yes, some no. It is about rediscovering who I am in Christ and who he created me to be.
Maybe all of this is in part because my role is changing. The role that I longed for, to be a mom, is changing. Three of the four have left home for college. I am learning how to cook for half the people, and laundry that can be done in 3 loads. (Yes 3 loads! This is cause for celebration!) I am redefining my role in their life, while still mom, I don’t have control of their schedules or their choices. I pray more, I wrestle with what has been done and what was left undone. And I mourn the time I wished away, while celebrating the memories we have and those yet to be made.
My role is changing at the church I pastor… yes still lead pastor… but the church is growing and expanding quickly. And how I lead is different than when I came. I have to make tough decisions and lead people authentically and with integrity. The decisions I make daily effect eternity. And that might sound dramatic but yet the weight of that is real. The next few months are going to be pivotal for our church and how I lead is important. If I have ever needed Jesus… it is now.
So with all the changes and pieces of me waiting to be put back together I find a lot of peace in the quiet of my home, my favorite candle burning and the hum of life around me. I don’t need to rush to do something or be someone I just need to be. I need to find the gentle rhythms of grace all around me. I will practice what I preach… I will not sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry or busy one more minute. I will rest, find a new normal and I will find that God is there and working.
This season of change is going to require a little more of Gina dying to herself and coming more alive in Christ. Its going to require a sorting of what is important in this season and what can be let go of. This season will also require sacrifice. Again, so much I can’t share about this new thing but it will require sacrifice. And there are moments when I wonder if I am strong enough for it, if I will really be able to do it. And then I am reminded that His strength is perfect…
My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG
I am a wife, a mom, daughter, sister, friend, pastor and most importantly daughter of the King. He knows my heart, the good, the bad and the ugly. He sees me…just as I am. He knows who I want to be and he points me to a better version of myself. He gives grace, he forgives, he offers to hold me when it all seems to big and he goes before me. You see this I know, that as the new becomes a reality he is already there.
One of the things that Shauna Niequiest ask in the book is “if given a blank calendar, and full bank account what would you do?” I ask the question of myself before I even read her response… and it was almost the same. I would just be. (she says stop) and I get it. Yes! If my calendar was empty and my bank account full I would just stop. I would just be. I would not keeping running to try to achieve whatever… I would sleep. I mean sleep and rest and read. Read books that I love. I would have a porch swing and watch the birds, and soak up the sunsets (and sometimes the sunrise). I would rediscover all the things I have forgotten that I love and that breathe life into me.
In 3 years there has been so many things to process and go through. There have been many, many God moments and answered prayers but there has also been hurts, stresses and things that were so big and crushing at times I was sure we would not make it through… and yet here 3 years later we did survive. But not without cost… So now I am working on letting God sort through those places I have buried, Those places that I have not properly dealt with, Those lessons that I didn’t fully learn. Its time…
So what is this new thing… this is part of it… Margin…finally! I have spent most of the last 6 evenings at home, unscheduled. Not running, not filling every second with something. I realize that something might suffer… I get that. But I don’t think it will be the important things. Because I think what is happening I am focusing more on what is important. Becoming crystal clear in my purpose and mission. I am seeing God in a new way.
This process is painful. Its peeling away and allowing what is good and holy to be front and center. It enjoying every minute with my last child at home. It is realizing that I can’t wish time to slow down so I am enjoying the ride. But even though it is a little painful, its absolutely freeing! At almost 40 years old I realize I don’t care about somethings like I used too. And at this phase of life, I want to love God more and be all that he has called me to be and it doesn’t matter if I ever achieve the status that I once thought I had to have.
There are so many more things that I am learning, and slowing I will share those ( for those few readers- HI Mom! Hi my sisters). And perhaps for the first time in a long time I will experience all that God has intended for me. Its trusting him a little more and resting in him… I will walk boldly into this new thing ,step by step…