Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Saying Goodbye to My Old Shoes

By 2011 Mercy Graduate Heather

If you knew me in any capacity, you'd know that I like to crank out a good eight-mile run every day. Trust me, that adds up! Throw in a few marathons, half-marathons, and 5K races, and it’s not long before I need new shoes. Somehow, I’ve let that need slip right by me though… after three marathons and more morning runs than I can count, I'm still attached to this good OLD pair!

With toes poking out the sides, blood stains on the mesh lining, and a tread that’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom (ok, not really), I think it's about time to retire these Asics. 

So... today I made an unplanned stop at a running store where I trust a bunch of older, elite retirees who know a thing or two when it comes to running. Terry was working, and he asked me, “Well, did you bring your shoes?”

Did I bring my shoes? No. Dang, I should’ve known better.

“I can’t let you try on a pair until I see how your tread is and what your gait looks like. I can’t let you buy the wrong pair!”

I like Terry. I like that he knows what he’s talking about and that he takes just as much responsibility in my feet as I’m trying to do. I like that he’s not trying to carelessly force the wrong pair of shoes on me just to hike up his commission. I like that he sent me away because I was not ready to buy new shoes yet. Were my feet ready? YES. Was he prepared to help me? YES. Was I prepared to be helped? NOPE.

For a moment, I wanted to fight him on it and try some on anyway. I wanted to say, “C’mon, Terry. I’m just trying them on. It’s not like I’m buying them or anything. What’s so bad about that?” But I held it in. I told him I’d see him later this week with my shoes in hand, and then we’d get busy finding the right pair. He happily agreed and sent me out the door with a “See you later” rather than a goodbye altogether.

Ok, now for the life lesson...

It doesn't make sense to ask for help if we can’t bring out the junk. We can't be fitted for a new start if we are still hiding the old shoes that hold stories within their treads. When it comes time to retire an old habit, a long-standing addiction, or perilous thoughts, we cannot expect healing and freedom if we refuse to give up the old treads.

My running shoes are precious. I’ve run some great races in them, qualified for Boston, and PR'd at several distances (that's "personal record" for the non-runners). Yet, my shoes represent painful blisters, sore muscle mornings, and mileage that wore me down to the bone. Blood, sweat and tears live within the cushion, and it will be a sad day to depart from those shoes. But I cannot place my feet in a new pair for new adventures and new journeys without saying goodbye to the old pair.

Bring your shoes to the feet of Jesus. Bring them to your loved ones. Bring them to that mentor, or that teacher—whomever you trust. Christ is waiting with a spankin-new pair of kicks that are just dying to be worn! Won’t you slip your tired, weary feet into the cushioned soles of newness? There are more races to run, roads to travel, and sunrises to see.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fun & Healthy Recipe from the California Mercy Kitchen

Our nutrition manager at the Mercy home in Sacramento, CA introduced this recipe to the residents there to help them broaden their horizons by learning to love (and cook!) vegetables. 

Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon and Shallots

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts (trimmed, larger sprouts cut in half
3 slices of turkey bacon (chopped)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, chopped
1 cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper, to your taste

Brown bacon in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan. Add chopped shallot to the pan and saute 1 to 2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and coat in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook Brussels sprouts 2 to 3 minutes to begin to soften, then add broth. Bring broth to a bubble, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 10 minutes, until tender. Transfer sprouts to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. Chop bacon pieces and sprinkle over your dish!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Only Grace

By Kirsten Wallace
staff member at our California Mercy Home

Everything good and wonderful in my life is because of God's grace—only because of God's grace.

I am 55 years old and have walked with Jesus for 35 years. As young as four years old, I can remember being afraid. Fear, especially the fear of death, was a major force in my life for many reasons, including exposure to horror movies and sexual abuse by a family member. Trust was broken, and I was afraid of most everything.

I started self-harming at age 10, and did so until I was 19 years old and in college. That's when I met Jesus. The transformation was radical and beautiful. Jesus became the love and the joy of my life as He still is today.

Even though Jesus transformed my life, the root of fear ran very deep. Although my specific fear of death had gone away, other fears took longer to overcome. When I married a pastor, I hoped it would give me the dream life I had envisioned, but marriage only further revealed fears that still remained. Somehow, through all the hardships and storms, God and His grace were always there. Jesus was my anchor through thick and thin. It was grace that gave me hope to overcome my fears and find healing.

Two of my favorite Scriptures are:
Revelation 12:11…“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony,” and Ephesians 3:20-21…“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask, think, hope, dream or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus both now and forever Amen.”

I love those three powerful words GOD IS ABLE, because HE IS!! I know that Jesus is all-powerful and I know with every cell and fiber in my being that GOD IS FAITHFUL.

My husband and I have now been married 29 years and have been blessed with four kind, hardworking, talented, intelligent and now-grown children who all love Jesus. We are also super blessed with two beautiful grandchildren.

By God's grace, I am the woman I am today.

Friday, August 29, 2014

What Is True?

"It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him—all things in heaven and on earth—for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for ALL by his blood." Colossians 1:20

No one is too messed up for God.

Jesus cares. He cares about you, your story, your hurts and your pains, the things you love and your biggest dreams. He loves you and wants an amazing life for you.

Jesus is the author of hope. He wants to set us free from the negative things we believe about ourselves. He sees differently than we do. Like the pink eraser, Mercy Ministries is at work helping to erase the lies girls have believed—that they are "messed up." Mercy is simply a vessel God can use to touch lives, change hearts, and allow girls to see the precious and valuable treasures they really are.

We may call ourselves broken, messed up, unlovable, and many other negative things—and you know what—we will live like what we think we are. If we think we are no-good and hopeless, we will live like that. Satan wants more than anything to make us believe that we are worthless. It makes his job of "killing, stealing, and destroying" our JOY much easier when we agree with his lies about who we are (John 10:10).

HOWEVER, Jesus wants us to know the TRUTH.

Because of Christ, we are NOT hopeless. "Messed up" is no longer our identity. He says we are His beloved, extravagant masterpieces! His family. We are wanted, loved, cherished, and so beautiful to Him.

Will we let Him show us how He sees us? Will we let our hearts listen? He wants to show us the lies that keep us down and replace them with His truth that will set our hearts free. He wants to reframe the way we identify ourselves. If we believe we are daughters of the King, we will walk differently, talk differently, and live differently. He will faithfully walk us into a brand new life of freedom, peace, joy and abundance!

"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you." Romans 12:2

Jesus gives us NEW hope, NEW life, and a NEW story in Him.