Oh, Orlando. My heart breaks for you.

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When you wake up in the morning, and you log onto Facebook and one of the first things you read is that your friends living in Orlando are safe…

When the next few posts you read are flooding for prayers for a city that is only a couple of hours driving distance away, because there was a horrible tragedy that stole the lives of people who were not seeking trouble but just to have a good time…

When you continue reading that the person responsible for this crime is from your county, and made the decision to get in his car, drive to another county, and do the unthinkable…

When the posts on Facebook that follow are telling you to go donate blood over the course of the next few days to “replenish supplies”…

It takes you back in time.

To a moment when two airplanes crashed into two towers… and you thought: NO, NOT HERE!

This morning you are thinking:  NO, NOT AGAIN.

There are people that I have encountered throughout my life that I don’t care for.  Perhaps they make decisions I don’t agree with or have even caused me great pain.  Yet, I’ve never wished the person dead.  I’ve never wanted to end their time on this earth, to take them from their loved ones… Never.

So, I can not wrap my head around someone who walks into a building and opens fire.  Other than to say that THIS is an act of EVIL.   I don’t even have to point blame at a particular community or group, because EVIL is pervasive and sneaky.  EVIL shows up sometimes in the places we would least expect it.

When you tell me that you do not believe in God or the Devil… I use this as my evidence.  There is EVIL in this world, evil that we simply can not comprehend but we know it when we see it.  Evil that twists sacred words from religious texts that cause people to do the unspeakable in the name of religion.  Evil that twists the thoughts of people who are often described as being “such a nice person” into plunging themselves into a decision that alters the course of the lives of those they touch in unmeasurable ways.

Not every person who commits a crime such as this is mentally ill, or the product of their environment.  Some are simple people who were infected by EVIL.

I do not fear evil.  For the Lord has not given me a spirit of fear.  I do not fear evil because I believe the Word of God that says the victory is HIS.  I do not fear man, because he can not separate me from the love of God.

But I do feel pain, sorrow, mourning, loss, hurt, and all of the adjectives that I can’t put to words at the moment.  I am hurting for those who were lost.  I am grieving for those family members and friends who mourning this very moment.  I am anxious for those who are still trying to get information on their loved ones.  I am broken for the state of our world, that THIS happens in the first place.

So, I pray for Orlando.  I pray because they are a city in mourning. I pray because their safety has been compromised.  I pray because this is the second tragedy to hit them in a weeks time.  I pray for those who are being drug into fear.  I pray for those who are planning funerals in the coming days.  I pray for those who are lost.  I pray for those who are simply crying out because they have no words left.  I pray for those who are yelling because they are all out of tears.  I pray for those who are watching this event unfold and asking “am I safe?”.

When you see someone in your own community scared and hurting, reach out to them.  Pray with them and let them know why…

I pray for you, because I love you.  I mourn for you, because I love you.  I am angry with you, because I love you.

meltonfearlove

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is love?

Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

What is the Christian response to this heinous act?

We love.  We pray.  We help. We donate blood.  We hug.  We cry.  We hold their hands.  We become a shoulder.  We donate to help cover expenses.  We simply choose to be PRESENT.

The gift of the blood of Christ saved me, I pray that each us is willing to do the same.  Let us lay our personal lives aside for the moment, and donate.  Bring a car load, shut your business down for an hour and bring your whole staff, respond with great generosity.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

Blood Drive Statement:

There has been a tremendous response by blood donors in light of the tragic mass shooting in Orlando. We are asking donors to donate over the next several days to help replenish the blood supply. We are asking people please make an appointment online or call 1.888.9.DONATE (1.888.936.6283).

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When Introverts Grieve

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Introverts already have a hard time dealing socially with other people.  They can find their energy drained by interactions with other people, social situations, etc.  They recharge their batteries by withdrawing to solitude.   It doesn’t mean that introverts don’t like to engage socially with others, or try to avoid it like the plague.  It simply means that when they do socialize, it takes a lot out of them.  Therefore, introverts will not overwhelm their schedules with lots of plans.  They are very choosy about what they say yes to, and how often they say yes.  They are the most forgiving, of your friends, when you have to cancel.  They are very intentional with their time, and recognize that they need time off.

It would surprise many of friends to hear me say that I am an introvert… but it is the truth.  I’m very selective about my friends, cautious with my time, and can enjoy the complete silence of an empty house.  Even though when I AM out, I can talk your ear off and have a great time.

One of the most difficult times for an introvert, in my experiences, is when we are grieving.   Loss is hard on anyone, but for introverts it is also exhausting.  We appreciate your phone calls, messages, emails, cards, etc.  We are thankful for your offers of help and concern for our well being.   In dealing with death, we are already overwhelmed.  We are overwhelmed by our own emotions.  We are trying to navigate conversations with immediate and extended family members, hosting out of town guests, planning funeral or memorial arrangements.  We are making plans, writing obituaries, or having to think about what we will say at the funeral.  It’s a lot to contend with.

Then we are compounded by phone calls from well meaning people WHOM WE LOVE.  Truth is… introverts do not want to talk about what has happened any more than they have to.  We are not ready yet to answer questions or hear the same words over and over again.  It is NOT because we don’t want to talk to you right now.  It is because it is incredibly hard.  We just can’t do it.  Our conversations will be short, we may not have all of the answers to your questions yet, and frankly we may not even be emotionally or mentally ready to do so… and we need you to be okay with that.

So, how do you show an introvert you care?

Please do not just show up at our door, no matter how upset we are.  We need our solitude right now, and depending on who it was that passed away … we may need to cleave to our immediate family.  If we need someone to come and sit with us, trust me… we know we can call you.  We know you will be there. 

Dropping off meals is a sweet gesture, but we may not be up for the visit.  And I know you think you will just drop off and go… but we all know that a visit will happen.  If you feel like helping in this way, send a gift card for a local pizza place (even Little Caesars for $5.55 ready to go pizzas).  It doesn’t have to be an expensive meal.

Phone calls are a personal touch, but personal can be hard right now.  A quick text, a card in the mail, or an email w/o expectation of an immediate response is better.  It gives us time to respond when we are up to it.  Do not think that we see this gesture as cold or unsympathetic…. we appreciate it more than you realize.

Introverts cope differently than you would expect, the time we may need to lean on you may be weeks or months later, after the dust settles.  Be there for us then, pray for us now.

Introverts appreciate practicality and solutions during a time of grieving.  If you work for a hotel and can help us with discounted accommodations for family flying in to town, that is better than flowers or a meal.  With the recent passing of my Father In Law, there was a specific task that needed to be handled & we had no idea how to handle it.  I reached out to a friend and asked her help in the matter.  This to me was a relief that we didn’t have to navigate it alone, and that there was someone level headed doing the thinking for us.  

Finally, I would suggest offering specific help.  I’m just as guilty of saying to someone “Let me know if I can help in anyway”…. because we love that person, we want to help, but we don’t know how.  It’s a genuine offer.   However, having been on the other side of the situation, our brains don’t always know how to answer that question.  So instead of offering a blanket answer, offer what you know you can.   These are merely suggestions, and not applicable to our current situation:

  • Does your mother in law need someone to mow the lawn over the next few weeks?  My husband said he would be happy to come by.
  • Until things get settled, if anything needs fixing around the house, let the church know.  We’ll send our handy man to help you.
  • Since our kids go to school together, once you go back to work, I’m happy to pick your kids up from school until you can figure out a plan.
  • I’m happy to watch the kids when you guys have to make arrangements.  (Or – I’m happy to keep the kids while you are at the memorial/funeral, if that would make it easier for you.)
  • If you ever just don’t want to be alone, call me… I’ll bring the popcorn and the movies.

My husband and I were just talking tonight about this subject, a family friend called today (my Father in Law passed on Monday).  My husband appreciated that our friends have not been ringing our phone off the hook. It gives him time to process, and I knew exactly what he meant.  It also shows just how well people know us, because this is not a post of complaint.  Our friends have been absolutely amazing in giving us space and time as a family.

This post is just to share a little insight into the mind of the introverts in your life, when they are grieving.  KNOW that we love you.  We KNOW that you are thinking about us.  We KNOW that you care, and are willing to help.  Just know that more now than ever, we need that peace that comes from solitude, to re-energize ourselves for the heavy tasks ahead of us in the coming days and weeks.

Ministering to Women, A Changing Face.

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I’ve been doing a lot of research lately about the roles of Women in Ministry.  Just these past few days I was really trying to look at women as a whole, who is it that we are ministering to?  As I google searched, and google searched some more… and went through the most recent women’s ministry books and resources…. we have a lot of work ahead of us.

  • Working women, working moms.
  • Stay at home moms, and housewives.
  • Grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren.
  • Mothers with adult children who have returned home.
  • Single moms, single working moms.
  • Mothers of children with disabilities.
  • Women who are widowed, or are married to a man with a terminal illness.
  • Women who are divorced.
  • Women who are stepmothers in blended families.
  • Women who adopted children.
  • Women who are lifelong single.
  • Women who have children.
  • Women who are infertile or have had miscarriages.
  • Women who have lost children or have a child with a terminal illness.
  • Women who have been abused:  physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and sexually.
  • Women who are disabled.
  • Women who struggle with addiction:  pornography, substances, and more.
  • Women who come from broken homes, women who were abandoned.
  • Women who are homeless.
  • Women who are struggling with their sexuality and gender identification.
  • Women who are struggling in their marriages.
  • Women who are married to non-believers.
  • Women who are struggling financially.
  • Women who are struggling spiritually.
  • Women who are suffering from depression and debilitating anxiety, who consider suicide.
  • Women who suffer from PTSD, from experiences in their life or serving for their country.
  • Women who are retired.
  • Women who are empty-nesters.
  • Women who are in, or previously were in prison.
  • Women who had abortions.
  • Women with serious or even terminal illness.
  • Women who suffer from eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
  • Women who are struggling, burdened, worn out by life.
  • Women who have faced racism, ageism, sexism in their lives.
  • Women who feel that they have no value, no importance, and are invisible.
  • Women who have been exploited in the sex trade industry, by decision or force.
  • Women who are young, trying to navigate the waters of adulthood and their future.
  • Women who are older, trying to move beyond the failures of their past.
  • Women who are mothers of prodigal children.
  • Women in the mission field.
  • Women on the battlefield.

If you, or your church, is wondering if a Women’s Ministry is needed…. I hope that list answers the question for you.

It’s a resounding YES.

We also need something new, because our needs changed…. our ministries haven’t.  We need women who are not just willing to lead fellowship events and bible studies, we need something new.  We need women who are equipped to Minister To Women.

The face of women in our church is changing, it’s time Women’s Ministry catches up.