Archives for Chelsey

Push back with hope!

I consider myself a glass-half-full kind of gal. But I will tell ya’, there are things of this world that really get me down or bring me to a dark place of discouragement and hopelessness. As I write this, I am attending the MLK50 Conference streaming live from Memphis, TN. The event is not only a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death but a call to action for the church. That racial unity is a Gospel issue and is all the more urgent for us to act upon today.

It could be easy to feel discouraged by what I’ve heard over the last day or so. It could be easy to look at this and on the surface see that at Bridgehaven we’re doing okay. It could be easy to say this is not part of our focus or our issue, and we need to stay focused. Yes, that would be easy, but untrue. The truth is, that I feel this deep discouragement because I know, in my heart, that we are not there yet. That at Bridgeheaven, God is calling us to understand and unify in a way that is different than we do today.

But, I chose to push back on my feelings of discouragement with hope.

I believe God is calling us, Bridgehaven, to look honestly at this issue within our ministry. We serve people from many nations, ethnic backgrounds, and cultures. We love and embrace all people that God sends our way, but I have been challenged recently to really think and pray about this from outside my own perspective. To seek counsel and wisdom from others that don’t look like me, act like me, or think like me. I have found, unsurprisingly, that we have some room to grow. Praise God!

“In his name the nations will put their hope.” Matthew 12:21

I don’t have the answers as to how God will help us. I just know that he will. My hope is in knowing that God desires unity of his people. He desires all his people, not just the ones that look like us and think like us, to work with one another in unity and harmony. My hope is in knowing that God has a great work in me to be done, a learning of something new. Something better to embrace and to see Him through a lens I’ve yet to look through.

One of Dr. King’s quotes deeply resonates with me and the mission of Bridgehaven: “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” If we, as an organization that is life-affirming, do not learn from the mistakes of the past and affirm, embrace, evolve and work alongside all of God-created human life, then we are blinded. So I state a commitment to my brothers and sisters of all races and ethnicities – I can do better. We can do better and we will.

Almighty Father of Nations, heal us. Bring us together through the bonds of hope and peace. Help us to learn from one another and soften our hearts toward the things that hold us back from one another. I pray for Bridgehaven, the staff, volunteers, and clients, may you continue your mighty life affirming work in us and through us to benefit all people. In your name…Amen.

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director


What’s Your Wilderness?

As the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness in the book of Exodus, there’s this constant cycle and theme of God’s provision, a restlessness from the Israelites leading to grumbling, fear, and self-reliance. God hears their grumbling and again provides, but again and again the Israelites fall into the same trap of grumbling fear and self-reliance as they focus on their pain and suffering.

I find it hypocritical that I laugh at the Israelites’ craziness because I can so relate to it. My current wilderness has me lost and tormented in my own moments of grumbling, fear, and self-reliance. I’ve suffered from chronic migraines most of my adult life. Over the last four years they’ve gotten worse. I can go days and weeks with the pain. I have learned to function to a point with pain, holding my head high and ‘just getting through it’, until my body cannot take it any longer. They can go from annoying to debilitating within just a few hours. The darkest times are when the fear sets in, my body is weak, my head is pounding, and nausea and dizziness sets in. I lie in bed holding my head, praying for the pain to subside, and concentrating on trying not to throw up. Read More

This Christmas

I’m sad this Christmas. There, I said it. I thought, that as the season came upon us, I was more prepared this year for the precious gift of Christmas than any other year. Prepared to enjoy, prepared to see and experience the season differently. Prepared to worship our Lord with all my might. Instead, here I am about a week before Christmas feeling a bit hopeless and sad. From news of devastating illnesses, hurt feelings, marriages in danger of divorce, unexpected changes, young ones fighting for their lives, and even death, I am at a loss of what to do or even how to respond.

There is a famine of love that is breaking my heart. It’s brought me to my knees in deep, raw prayer for people I love dearly. As lives crumble around me I have no plan, no perfect words of wisdom, no way to stop the bleeding or help the hurt. All I have is Jesus and I am reminded that HE IS ENOUGH.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

As I think about my romantic expectations from the start of this Christmas season, I am convicted of the fact that I was focused so much on my own experience this year or my plan for Christmas this year. As the days and weeks unfolded and all the sad news came knocking on my door, the Christmas in my mind was stripped away. What’s left is the story of a tiny babe, a Savior, born to save us from the mess of this world. What’s left is HOPE.

When I rest in the magnitude of this hope, again it breaks me but in a different way than the pain of the world breaks me. It brings me joy in the midst of sadness, hope in the midst of hurt, and comfort in the pain. His love pulses through my veins for the people in my life. A love that reminds me that God’s not done yet, no matter what the circumstance and the best gift that I can give someone this Christmas is Him. Sharing Jesus; His hope, His love.

A friend of mine sent me a message the other day. She wanted advice on how to respond to an acquaintance that posted this: “…As a non-Christian who celebrates Christmas, I’m struggling with how to explain the deeper meaning behind Christmas to my child without getting too into the biblical Christmas story.”

At first I had a lot of thoughts swarming around in my head on how to respond. Honestly, there is a lot I wanted to say about this post, none of which would convince this person to consider that the whole point to Christmas was Jesus. So, after I had a moment to pray and ask God for guidance this is what flowed… “Maybe this is an opportunity to share why Jesus is the answer. Jesus is love, love that came down from heaven. The type of love we humans have a hard time grasping. Love that is unconditional and unceasing. It’s sacrificial. Christmas is a time to celebrate that gift of perfect love.”

This time of year, hearts are softened and so many people are searching for more. Whether they are searching because of their circumstances or just for advice, the message of His love can be transformative. We can try to fix people or their circumstances or we can offer them hope. We can try to give our advice or we can offer them the true gift this Christmas; the love of Christ. Who is God calling you to be an instrument of His hope and love this Christmas?

Lord, I am so grateful that in the midst the circumstances that surround me, that you are in control. I do not have to fix them, nor do I have all the right answers. I am simply called to share your love and hope with those you send across my path. I pray for hearts ready to receive this precious gift. Thank you for the assignment and for the words to speak to hearts in need this season. Amen.
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Letting Go of Anger

Here’s a fun topic…ANGER. Who wants to talk about that? I do! Not really, but we’re gonna give it a shot anyway. We’ve all felt it…the sudden rise in our blood pressure, the feel of our face getting warmer, our muscles tightening, our breathing accelerating until we finally explode. Anger, it’s ugly. Sometimes very ugly, but we’ve all felt it. There are those moments of anger where self-control gets lost and we explode due to the circumstances. The pressure is released and we begin to pick up the pieces of what’s left in the wake of our storm of anger. But that is a whole other blog topic.

There is another type of anger that isn’t always talked about. It’s not momentary, but rather, long lasting. It’s the type that sticks with you, hardens your heart over the years and changes you. This type of anger lies to you. Makes you believe relationships and decisions don’t matter. Before you know it, you’re living a life of justifications and bitterness towards life circumstances.

Last weekend, I met a couple whose journey and pain touched my heart deeply. During our Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat (a retreat for those struggling with the emotional, mental and spiritual effects of abortion), the retreatants participate in an activity to help them explore and identify with their anger. They might be angry with themselves or someone who took part in their abortion decision. They may not even know why they are angry but through the activity, we get to drill down and work on these strong emotions. This is where my experience on the journey with this couple took a turn I will never forget. The husband…successful in his career, big and strong, loving to his wife, and ready to deal with emotions he’d stuffed for years, broke my heart and gave me hope as we walked through this activity together.

The goal was to release the anger, to give it to God and find freedom from chains that have held him hostage for so long. He was asked to pick three people in the group and express his anger to each of them. He hesitated as the awkwardness of this request set in. As trust took over, he began to move to the first person around the circle, said his piece and moved on to the next. The third person was me. I stood up, looked him straight in the eye and took it as he delivered his message of pain and anger, “Why did you help me kill my babies?”

I felt the anger, the bitterness, but I also felt the deep regret of this man’s heart, the pain of living years with sorrow for a decision made out of fear and haste. A life with questions that have gone unanswered, “What if…”. It was a punch to my gut. My eyes could not hide the pain I felt for this man. I wanted to look away in shame and guilt, but I held my gaze into his eyes for just a few more seconds until he made his way back to his seat.

But it wasn’t over…he was now asked to go back to those same three people and release them. Again, he started one by one, and as he reached me once again, I stood up and looked him in the eyes as he said, “I forgive you.” With all gentleness, pureness of heart, and love, he said, “I forgive you.”

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

We live in a world angry about a lot of things. We are fed anger by the media and through other social experiences. God has asked; required us to let go of such things, even when we feel justified. For bitterness grows in the soil of justification and it will poison our souls. It gets in the way of God’s plans for your life. Therefore, anger must be released and dealt with in a Godly way. What would happen if…

  • we focused more on forgiveness than judgement?
  • we chose to forgive rather than live in justification?
  • we allowed ourselves to experience the vulnerability of forgiveness and grew in hope, love and peace?

That is what forgiveness did for this man. After blessing each of us with forgiveness, he was asked how that practice made him feel. With tears in his eyes he looked up and said, “I feel free.”

Lord, I pray that this message speaks to the heart of anyone living with anger in their hearts. That they hear your voice calling them to freedom from their anger, bitterness and hurt. Lord make us vulnerable to one another, allowing our hearts to reveal compassion and safety for each other. We cannot live the life you created us for holding on to anger. Lord, heal us and help us. In your name, Amen.
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

I Will Not Give in to Fear

Our son went through a phase of night terrors and they were like nothing I’ve ever experienced; I felt helpless. The one thing that would begin to get through to him was speaking the name of Jesus. Once I moved past the fear of what was happening in front of me and spoke the name of Jesus, calm and love entered in. Nightmares can be terrible, especially when it’s your child who experiences them. As a parent, you want to ensure safety and protection at all costs. You create a joyful and playful environment for your child to live in but the darkness still comes at night.

The darkness of this world makes a child’s nightmare seem so small in comparison. The world is aching, crying out in fear. When I look around and see the immense brokenness of the humans walking on this earth, my heart begins to physically hurt. Then, I look into the big eyes of my child and think how in the world do I protect you from all of this? This is not a scenario where I can scoop you up in my arms, whisper the name of Jesus over you and pray until the storm passes. No, this is an ongoing battle that seems to have no end.
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Hold on to Hope

Do you feel it? Can you feel the heaviness circling around us? It can feel like we are suffocating in despair and sorrow, fear and worry, tragedy and death. The pictures from Harvey & Irma, the pending devastation, the wild fires, and more. My heart breaks constantly and my mind is consumed with images and empathy for their circumstances. Where is hope in these situations?

Where is my hope–who can see any hope for me? Job 17:15

Then with one image, one story, hope can flood all the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness. I do not have this image, but was only told of its existence. Even so, I felt its powerful message as the image was created in my mind and then on my heart. It was of a woman, rescued by boat from the aftermath of Harvey. In her hands, the only things she carried and had left in this world were a pair of flip-flops in one hand and a flower bulb from her drowned out home and yard in the other. At first glance you might pity her for the loss and only see the very little she has left. But this image represents a gift. A gift greater than anyone can imagine or see with their eyes.
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Life Together

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13

God calls us into community with one another and through that, He builds strong bonds of friendship that, for me, have blossomed into sisterhood. In January of this year, a few gals I knew from various avenues of life; a few Junior League friends, a mom I met through my son’s friendships, a life-long friend, and a friend from work, came together in hopes of learning a little more about Jesus. Over the past eight months, we have studied, shared our hearts, cried, laughed and prayed together. We have watched as the Holy Spirit has entered into our sacred space (my living room) and, in a very short time, has transformed our hearts, our minds and our lives. This band of characters, this village of mine has evolved like a great story.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Rest for the Moment

As I gazed at myself in the bathroom mirror Monday morning, I thought, “There is not enough eye cream in the world to get rid of these tired eyes!” They were squinty and dark, the normal spark lost somewhere behind the events of the past three weeks. They have been filled to the rim with terrific and glorious events, but if I am honest, really hard and emotional ones as well. Moments that made me want to cry in amazement and others that made me want to cry because of a broken heart.

Two emergency room visits (one for me and one for my husband), our daughter’s wedding, then moving her and her family to a new home in southern Iowa, a summer camp program and baseball for our youngest, difficult situations at work, launching a new program, deadlines and requests, a volunteer picnic, and welcoming a U.S. Senator to the center for a visit. Not to mention the weight I carry for those in my life struggling with their own events and battles. Whew!
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The Ticket

I love to share the story of me and my husband’s very first Valentine’s Day as a couple. When Don and I were first dating, country music was a big part of who we were. We’d spend time in the car singing our hearts out to Rascal Flatts or dancing in the park to My Maria by Brooks & Dunn. Just thinking about those days make my heart happy. So, on our first Valentine’s Day, I was giddy at the thought of surprising him with tickets to the Brooks & Dunn Red Dirt Road Concert and the memories we’d have of the evening together.

When the day of the concert finally arrived, we were both so excited. Not once did we consider where our seats might be. But when we got there and the usher stopped at the steep staircase directing, “All the way up,” I looked up and realized the limitations of my checkbook. The only seats I could afford were a trek up to the second to last row of the stadium. I felt bad, my special gift felt minimized and not so special anymore. However, Don was encouraging and joyful. Just happy to be with me.
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Ministry Update

This is the text for a speech given at the 2017 Bridgehaven Fundraising Gala.

Let us open with the scripture from Mark 1 16-18:

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Imagine for me if you will…a sweet young girl who lives next door. You’ve known her for years; her parents moved to the neighborhood when she was three. You’ve seen her grow and blossom into a young woman. But recently you’ve noticed a change. She walks, head down, just wandering. The sparkle in her eye and the spring in her step is gone. You wonder, for a moment, ‘What’s going on?’ You’ve seen a young man coming and going from the house and again you say to yourself, “Mind your own business.” This morning you’re headed out to run an errand, you’re rushing out the door but notice someone sitting on the stoop next door. It’s her. You wonder, “Is she crying?” You are torn. “Do I mind my own business or go to her.” The Lord prompts you, “Go to her, she needs someone.” As you walk up, she notices you and begins to dry and hide her eyes from view. But you know and she knows…everything is NOT ok.
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