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Being a circle in a square world…

Have you ever been disappointed? Recently I found myself disappointed. I had sent a couple of emails and left a few voice mails and all were unanswered. After a while, my mind and heart started down a path of destructive self-talk and disappointment.

“To be disappointed is to be discouraged or sad because of an unmet expectation regarding someone or something.”

If we aren’t careful, we can begin to attach our worth/value to the disappointment we feel.
As others let me down, I was reminded that I too have let people down. I have been the one that didn’t return the email or the call. Sometimes, I simply forgot but other times I just didn’t because I honestly didn’t know what to say or want to respond.

For the last few months, I have been digging into the foundations of my faith and my life. There has not been one aspect that has not been untouched. As I move toward a healthier more confident child of God, I also move away from toxic, unhealthy situations and behaviors. 

As disappointment started to creep in this week I reminded myself of some lessons I am learning.
A circle peg will never fit into a square hole. No matter how many times you push or twist. At some point, you have to rest in the fact you just do not fit into that ( you fill in the blank).

I am not for everyone, and everyone is not for me. That is a hard truth to digest as an Enneagram 2, for those who don’t know what that is, it is defined as the Helper. Then again, I have to preach truth to myself, I am not the savior of the world… Jesus is. He’s much better at anyway. I might smite the wrong people. 😉 

I was reminded of the scripture found in Jeremiah 17:7-10

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. 9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

 I want to be like the tree planted, with deep roots, the tree is not bothered by drought or heat. I want to bear fruit, to the Spirit at work in my life. I want to be firmly planted in my Jesus, with deep roots to rest in His purpose for me and leave everyone else to Him to deal with. (He probably doesn’t need my help with that anyway!)

Let me encourage you today if you are riding the waves of disappointment, look to Jesus, not anyone else (including me). Sooner or later people will let you down. I will leave you with one of my favorite scriptures.

Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

The Next Step?

Welcome to this space. Maybe this is your first time joining me, or maybe you have popped in once or twice before. Let me take a minute to give you a little bit about me, where I have been and who I am becoming. If you have read my bio linked at the top of the page, you know a little bit already.

As of May 1st, for the first time in 20 years, I am not on staff or leading a ministry. Within a three-month time (Feb-April), my bonus daughter, my dad, and my husband were all hospitalized with significant health issues, and I became very sick with COVID. All of this coincided with my last few weeks at a church I had served for seven years as the Lead Pastor.

By the middle of June, we had left our home, putting all our stuff in storage, leaving two children and one grandbaby in Pennsylvania, one child in New York City, another preparing a move to Michigan and our youngest moving with us. Everything about our lives was suddenly turned upside down.

We moved in with some friends, while determining next steps. Next steps? It’s currently the last day of August. In May, I had dreams of knowing exactly what that “next step” would be by the end of August. Today, I realize that the next step is being faithful every day that I wake up and God gives me breath in my lungs. The Next Steps are still TBD!

While summer begins to simmer down and fall starts to breathe into the horizon, my heart is anxious for this season to close out and the next one to come alive before me. There has been reckoning of emotions, actions, and relationships in this season. There has been the hard private work of dealing with emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical exhaustion. While the summer temperatures soared, it felt a little more like winter in our lives. But just as the promise of fall is right around the corner, the promise of a new season is alive and well in us as well. 

Therapy has been working with a Coach from PastorServe, counseling with my amazing counselor, reading books of all genres, and cooking with fresh, delicious ingredients.  All of those have approached a different aspect of my healing and discovery of who I am and who I am becoming. There has also been the face down, raw, real, and honest conversations with God. While I would love to report to you those have all been rainbows and unicorns, that has not been the case.

I recently made a list of the things that I have been or still grieving… I share this with you because I think the last two years have been a season of grief for everyone. I share from a place of wanting you to know that you are not alone, and perhaps together we can find the help and healing we all are searching for in this season.

Grief List…

  • Loss of job
  • Loss of home
  • Loss of family as we have known it
  • Loss of finances
  • Loss of relationships
  • Loss of identity
  • Loss of faith
  • Loss of “normal”

Let’s start with this…some things I chose. I chose to leave my job, and the ripple of effect of that decision led to some of the other losses. Sometimes, we must make hard decisions so that we can get our life, our family, and our souls back. There was no doubt that my decision to resign my position was the right and best decision. (more on this later)

Perhaps the most astonishing loss that you just read is faith…it’s the most astonishing one for me too. And it needs some clarification. First, let me say I still love Jesus. In this season, I had to do some reevaluation of my faith. There have been days (okay maybe weeks!) that I wanted to walk completely away from the church and my faith. There have been times in this journey that I have been so angry at the church, the politics of the church, the politicians that run the church and the people who throw daggers, all under the name of Jesus. We know that anger comes from a place of deep hurt and pain. Once I started dealing with the pain in honest ways and how the destruction of my faith journey was tied closely with that, I realized that Jesus was not the one behind it, but broken, messy people. And the last time I looked in the mirror I saw a broken, messy person looking back at me.

I have said many times, I try to offer grace in abundance because I know just how much I need grace. That is still true today. But in all of our lives there will come a time, when we will have to choose the boundaries we put in our lives to stop abuse, bullying, toxic behaviors, sin and unhealthy environments. While the rise and fall of Gina from top of the charts to forgotten by the denomination/people/church/community she served has many plots and twist…in the middle is Jesus.

On my way to Bible study last week, I was struck with the word pride. A year and half ago, I was preaching to 600 people a week (in person and online), meeting with School Board Presidents, Superintendents and launching a second campus. Lived in a very nice house and had all but one of my children in the same community.

Today, I live in bedroom of someone’s else’s house while all my stuff in a big metal box in PA. My family scattered and I lead a Bible study of four (and two of them are related to me!) To say I have been humbled might be the biggest understatement of the year!

However, this story is still being written. Faith is an ebb and flow of who God is creating and molding me to be. Your faith journey is the same way. God is taking all our circumstances, sin, doubt, questions, and life and molding us into the man or woman we were created to be. I will end with my life verses, that have sustained me and continue to speak to me.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-10

One reminder is fresh flowers. God’s beauty is all around. We are God’s Masterpiece!

 

 

 

Is your trust without borders?

Recently I had the opportunity to do something I have never done, and that was visit the Bahamas. First of all, let me start by saying that the ocean in the Bahamas does not even come close to comparing to the Ocean in my normal spots ( Florida and New Jersey). It was breathtaking.  However, I didn’t expect some of the things I encountered. Some seem silly now that I look back and think about them.

I found that as Jason and I started to walk out into the ocean, we encountered the coral reef, which is not comfortable to walk on.  I kept thinking, “wow I wish I had some kind of shoe on so this wouldn’t hurt so bad.” And as we walked Jason kept leading me deeper and deeper into the water. Before too long, I was standing on my tip toes just to keep my head above water. My heart begins to pound, and fear begins to take over. I said to Jason, “Hey maybe we should go back to the beach.” He assured me we were fine, and I quote “Gina, Just relax!”

Let me pause right there, relax seems like a far-fetched idea that I like to think about and say that one day I will do but in practice, relax isn’t something I do well. Just ask the Chiropractor and the people who have tried to give me a massage. Where they tell me over and over “relax”.

 

So here we are in the most beautiful place I have been in my life, the water is clear I can see the fish swimming around me. I am with my favorite person and I am filled with fear! Then Jason has a brilliant idea. He thinks we should just lay on our backs and float. So… he attempts to help me with this. This becomes a comical scene in which I am sure everyone around us thinks I am crazy. (which we know already!) Jason finally lets go, and there I am floating in the Ocean looking up at the beautiful blue sky with traces of white clouds. It was then I heard His Voice (at first it sounded a lot like Jason- when he said “Gina’s that is what God wants to do for you!) As my heart begin to settle, God in his love for me- spoke.

In His still small voice, spoke my name. He began to break down some things that I had been struggling with and he ask me again- “Gina do you trust me? Do you trust me with your future? Your children? Your ministry? Do you really trust me to lead you and hold you when you feel like you will sink?”

The song Oceans came to my mind…

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

 

Before too long the laughter turned to tears as my tears rolled into the deep ocean. I floated for a few more minutes. And we began to make our way back to the beach. I wish I could tell you that I was relaxed and filled with a renew trust. Instead I knew that this was the beginning of some work I needed to do. Or maybe perhaps a better way to say it would be work that God needed to do in me.

In Philippians 1:6 it says this promise to us…  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. God is faithful to complete his work in us.

And as we were walking back to the beach, we encountered that reef again. God reminded me- Gina you can swim. You don’t have to walk over this painful part- you can swim. It was such a profound moment for me. I started to swim. Something I hadn’t done in years. Something that I hadn’t found the time for, or thought I was good at. And instead of walking over the pain, I swam through it. Its funny the things we walk through that if we would just relax we could swim over.

This time in the Ocean- is still working in me. I believe God was preparing me for what was to come. Since I have come home, two people I loved have passed away. I have had to deal with family situations that were hard and continue to need wisdom, grace and courage. Professionally and in my ministry, there are things that have come up that I wasn’t prepared for and have sent me to my knees desperately seeking the One who calls me my name in the middle of the Ocean and sees me in the turmoil of my realities.

I came across a scripture again that I have read many times found in 1 Thessalonians 5. 1Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Some great truths to remember there. But then verse 24- the One who calls you (me) is faithful- and HE WILL DO IT!

He has called me- and he made no mistake by calling me by name. And he is faithful. He will do it. I must rejoice always, pray, give thanks accept his will for me. I am who he says I am not who any one in this world says I am… and as he has confirmed so many times in my life. I am his masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

And so are you!

An open letter to my church, Trinity Wesleyan…

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…

When the sounds of night become life giving…

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