A Day I Never Thought Would Come

My Dad's Last Day As A Pastor At The Church He Started

Hats off to my dad, he created something this world desperately needed, he will be missed.

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I have always been religious in some way or another. From the age of 3 to now, I have always gone to church with my parents and attended a private Christian school from pre-k to 6th grade. Even though I grew up Christian and my family went to church, they weren't your standard hateful, judgmental, "crazy" Christians. My parents raised me in the best possible way, teaching me that everyone is always welcome at church and that Jesus loves everyone (yes, including gay people for the people out there who still don't understand this).

The private Christian school I attended was affiliated with a mega church that my family attended and worked at (so I got a good discount on tuition because they worked there). When I started 6th grade, my parents told me one day after school that I would have to go to a new school next year because they wouldn't be able to afford my tuition anymore, meaning that they wouldn't be working at that church anymore either. I was so shocked, I spent my whole childhood thinking that I would be going to that school until senior year and that when my parents both enjoyed their jobs.

That was when my dad told me that he really wanted to start his own church with a couple of his coworkers/friends. I remember being surprised but not afraid of what life would hold next. It made sense to me in some way seeing my dad as a pastor. So that turned into planning for a year of what his church, "Bloom" would look like. We wanted it to be a church that welcomed everyone and actually meant that; we wanted it to be a community. So they came up with the slogan "No judging, no politics, just Jesus" as well as "Embrace church, embrace people, embrace community.". He wanted Bloom to be everything that the standard American Christian church isn't, and I loved it.

When you are a kid, you don't really see the judgment and hate Christians can exude, but when you are an older teen or an adult, woah. We were creating something against the religious status quo, peoples opinions were always out there, and a lot of people didn't like how loving and accepting our church was (ironic since Jesus's message is to love everyone).

The biggest debate was that we allowed gay people to come and people who didn't believe in god or believed in something else. The church is supposed to be for everyone, regardless of who they are, what they do or don't believe in. If you want to be that person who thinks gay people belong in hell based off of one verse in the bible, that's your prerogative. But that's definitely not what I would want in a God.

Bloom has been around for almost 10 years, and it has had so many changes. We have been in a lot of different buildings, have had a lot of people come and stay, and had many people leave. My dad has done so much over the past 10 years, it blows my mind. No one can really understand the stress he was under unless you were living in my house. Along with my dad, my mom and I were always there to deal with Bloom stuff and it was not fun most of the time.

It's hard to deal with people who don't want to volunteer to help out with setting up, or if someone forgets something important, or if there's something difficult happening with one of the people who attend. Even though my dad was a pastor and would speak on Sunday's, he would spend the rest of his week meeting with people, writing, doing finances, accounting, everything that needed to be done to have Bloom run.

2018 was a difficult year for my family, and my dad had been thinking about not being a pastor anymore for a while. I could tell that he was burning out and that it was really affecting him in a negative way. When you have to give yourself to everyone for 10 years and rarely have anyone give back to you, it's exhausting. Two Sundays ago marked his last day as a pastor at Bloom and the church was signed off to two other people who attend that are taking over. It was one of the most beautiful, emotional Sundays I have ever seen in my life. So many people had many amazing things to say (I was way too teared up the whole time to say anything) and it was a good close to my dad's journey with Bloom.

I am excited to see what this next phase of my dad's life, as well as for my mom and me. It will be very different to no longer have certain responsibilities every week and to not have to deal with difficult situations. Even though my dad is no longer at Bloom, it will continue to be a place that teaches the love of Jesus and be a place where people can be inspired to be good people to everyone without judgment. Many family members don't understand why my dad has decided to step down and even go far enough as to question if God is "still leading him". All I have to say to that is that him leaving was not a spur of the moment decision and he has spent a lot of time talking to God about it and this is what he needs to do, and his happiness is all that matters.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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It's Okay To Be A Shattered Temple, God Doesn't Need You To Be A Perfect House

God wants to restore you because the scariest place for the enemy is the transformation from broken to healed.

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So right now it's 6:09 a.m., the house is so quiet I can hear it breathing. The wind slightly knocking against the walls like an unwelcome guest. The heat running through the pipes bringing warmth to each section of the house. The rain from the skies kissing the roofs and windows. I just thought how intricate and specific each role plays. How on its own it must feel inconsequential, but together completes its purpose.

In the Bible, a house/temple is referred to as a body often. We sing songs, "Lord, make me a house of prayer." But in some seasons, we doubt the very thing we asked God for as if it wasn't already designed for us.

Sometimes in our walks, we question our purpose. We don't see the grand scheme. On why we went through what we did, or why we currently are. We want explanations for everything because if our human minds can't comprehend it that means it was in vain. I have wrestled with this concept, the "Why me?" the "I didn't/don't deserve this" and lastly, "I just want the pain to end."

See, what they don't tell you when you sign up for this is that salvation is free but sanctification costs your life. They don't tell you that you have to change your words from "Why me?" to "Count it all joy." They don't put a disclaimer saying that the walk is free but the path is narrow. They don't tell you that you are a house.

A house can have broken parts but still be used. You can be broken and still be used by God. Because God isn't looking for perfect he's looking for posture. He's looking for an open house not foreclosed one. When something is broken within your house, you call someone with that specific training in that area. The very thing that you think qualifies you as broken can be the same that qualifies you as a healer! You looked at your situation as a test but God is trying to use you as a tool.

You don't call a plumber to fix a light. You don't call a perfect person to help an addict. You want someone who doesn't look down on you but says, "I can help, I know because I've been there and I know the pain, I know how you feel. Let's tackle this together." It's okay to be a broken house, a shattered temple — I have some creaks and leaks, too. God wants to restore you because the scariest place for the enemy is the transformation from broken to healed. Why? Because then you'll start setting others free. People don't care what you say, they care about what you do.

What you thought counted you out, God is counting on to help someone for their breakthrough.

They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Let your house be open for not only God, but others. You may see yourself as a broken mirror, but others see a reflection. Your life is a testimony of not shame or embarrassment but of strength and grace. Your house may be missing things — a father, joy gone, love absent, peace may be missing — but God doesn't intend to keep you in lack, he is all-sufficient.

But he needed to withhold things from your house because one, you needed to know who really supplied it, and two, so you can show others how you overcame. But he is faithful He will fill those broken places and mend the broken hearts. He will be the light in your house. So that you may project your light to the world.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill can not be hidden. Neither a man lights a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the stand — and it shines unto all that are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; they may see your good works and Glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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