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.
- 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.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 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!