Category Archives: NOLA Church

Flooding, Devastation and A Chance To Help

The weather has been stormy for days, but thankfully, I’m safe and dry at home. We didn’t experience the flooding that Baton Rouge did, but some people I love lost everything.

One friend, moved into a house that she bought about a month ago, had water up to there waist inside her house yesterday. And do you know what she did? She left her things, got into a boat and helped rescue families in her neighborhood who were stuck in their attics.

Baton Rouge and its surrounding area has seen some rough times recently, but right now, we’re also seeing love and support coming from people all over. It’s awesome.

My church plans to head over to help clean up as soon as the roads open (tomorrow morning,) so Michael and I are going to make lunches to bring over. It’s not much, but every little bit of food, clothing, sweat and elbow grease will help right now.

I don’t have loads of money just sitting around, but I do know a lot of people. My hope is that together we can make a difference.

I’ve been writing here for over 7 years, and I’ve only solicited donations for one other cause that was close to my heart. I know that there are catastrophes happening around the world, and I know that we can’t fix everything. I also know that little steps produce big results.

My church is raising money to help in the recovery efforts of our church family and families in the Baton Rouge area that we may never even know. 100% of the proceeds they collects are going straight to the victims of the flooding disaster.

If you’re reading this I’m asking you to consider donating $1 or $10, or $100. Every dollar will make a difference, and together, we can help people who are hurting.

Just go to the link, enter the amount you want to done and click on serve: https://nolachurch.churchcenteronline.com/giving/to/offering 

My heart goes out to the people hurt by this devastation. We need to pray, but we also need to take action. If you donate, regardless of the amount, I’d like to know about it. Please leave a comment or send me an email, so I can thank you.

Thank you for supporting my efforts and for continually encouraging me on my journey. If you can’t afford to give, please keep these families in your prayers. If you can spare a few bucks, you’ll receive my heartfelt gratitude.

Regardless, I’m so thankful that the water is starting to recede and for the hope that’s on the horizon.

 

Two Years Later

I can’t believe that it’s been two years since I first walked in to NOLA Church. I know I gush about it frequently, but it’s because of the incredible impact being there has had on my life. 

When I arrived I was broken and in desperate need of the radical life change that Paul described in Romans. I was drowing in sin, directionless, and I was scared to change any of it. 

I thought I had to get my act together before I could turn to God. I knew what the Bible said about repentance, which is the act of turning away from sin. I just wasn’t ready to turn away; I honestly didn’t know where to begin.

My sins felt so big; my shame felt all-encompasing. At the same time I was filled with pride. I wanted the folks around me to know that I had grown up in church. I know verses like Romans 3:23 and Jeremiah 29:11. I had tons of Bible passages memorized, even the one in John when Jesus says that we’ll have troubles, but don’t worry because He’s overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I knew all about Him, but it wasn’t until I showed up (and kept showing up) that I began to understand the difference between knowing about Him and having a relationship with Him.

I wrote about that a year ago. Those changes were significant, but I’ve gone through many new changes over the last 365 days. I’m definitely still in a season of major change, but it’s cool to look back at where I was and where I am right now.

At this time last year I had experienced a lot of growth, but I was still struggling with surrender. I struggle with it now, but it’s not as hard to invite God into my situations as it once was. 

The first time I met with my pastor, Monte, he said, “Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable” or something like that. I remember looking at him like he was crazy (and a little scary) because I love comfort. I seek it constantly…through food, relationships, and all kinds of other things that provide momentary satisfaction. I didn’t understand what he meant back then, but I do now. 

Surrender isn’t easy; it’s not comfortable, but it’s important to recognize that without God, I’m nothing. I mean, if you know me, you know that I haven’t always made perfect choices. I’ve made mistakes; I’ve been too dependent on things for satisfaction. I’ve been wrong a lot. 

In January of last year I had an opportunity to surrender my feelings to God, and I said, “no way.” I was prepared to fight Him for something that I didn’t really want instead of asking what He wanted from me. I did things my way once again because it was too scary to let go, and as a result I went through a lot of unecessary pain. 

For months I refused to ask God to intervene in that circumstance. I gave other things up (things that I liked that I knew didn’t please Him,) which made me feel as though I had given up enough. (Uh, note to self: God’s way is so much better.) I did not yet understand that I’ll never surrender something to Him that He doesn’t replace with something better. 

In July of last year I had an even bigger crisis of faith. I wasn’t prepared to give God what was already His in financial circumstances (tithing,) and after the realization that God doesn’t need my money, I started tithing because I wanted to put Him first in every part of my life (even money.) That wasn’t exactly easy to do because I like to be in control. I’ve always taken pride in being autonomous, and I still am. I just choose to say, “Hey God, I trust you to be My Provider,” and He has been so faithful. (God is awesome like that.) 

Life didn’t suddenly become perfect because I love Jesus. I still struggle with food and other things. I know that my desire to eat more than I should is something I have to surrender. (Again, I’ve proven that I can’t do it on my own.) I’ve also been open about how hard it is to turn away from it.) I just know that life without God sucks, but knowing Him gives me so much hope. 

In looking back I see that I’ve grown in my relationship with God. I’m not as self-centered as I was, and I love sharing His love with everyone I meet. I want others to feel the peace, joy, and contentment that I feel because of His mercy and unconditional love. I get passionate about it because  it has radically altered my entire life. 

I couldn’t have imagined all of the amazing changes that I would experience the first time I went to NOLA Church. I am so thankful for God’s love and for the community of people there who have walked with me on this incredible journey so far. 

I’m humbled and amazed by God’s willingness to use me as His vessel, and I’m already looking forward to seeing where that leads in the next year. As long as Jesus stays at the center, I know it will be better than I can imagine.

*****

You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Romans 2:3-4 (The Message)