Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center - Cedar Rapids, Iowa Blog

Lay Down Your Burdens, Love Awaits

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

I’ve recently been embraced by a wonderful community of Jesus-loving women. These women come to my house every week. We enjoy scripture together, sharing our lives together and growing in Christ’s love together. We have quickly created a bond of safety, trust and sisterhood.

This year, during Lent, we decided to journey together through a release of baggage or burdens that we are carrying. Each of us were given a rock to carry with us throughout the 40 days of Lent. The rock represented the weight, obstruction, accommodation and presence of the burdens in our everyday lives. The idea is to be able to name your burden, identify how it affects your life, your relationships with those around you and ultimately your relationship with Jesus. For me, I had done this powerful activity during a retreat a few years ago and laid a very heavy burden at the cross. It was freeing and allowed me to fall deeper into God’s perfect love for me. This time, however, I wasn’t sure. There was no one big, heavy burden taunting me or holding back; or so I thought.

The assignment was to carry this rock everywhere, yes, everywhere. To work, to events, sitting there at the table while you’re eating, in the bathroom while you’re getting ready…everywhere. While carrying this rock, this burden, we were to meditate on what we were learning about carrying this around. Well, by the end of week one I had already failed. My rock remained perched where I had left it that Sunday afternoon; on the side table next to my comfy chair. Throughout the week I would glance at it, knowing exactly where I left it. Seeing it there reminded me of the assignment and how clueless I was to what God was calling me to let go of during this time. It wasn’t until about two and half weeks in that I realized how God was weaving a beautiful message for me.

It has been a desire of my heart and prayer that the Lord would take me deeper and into purer relationship with Him. That he would reveal to me anything and everything that was holding me back from a pureness of heart that only comes from His love. Day after day, as I glanced over at my rock sitting on that side table, I began to see it. That little rock started to blend into the décor of my household, no would know its significance but me, and the Lord. People may not even notice it sitting there or feel its presence; but I did. No matter how small it was I knew it was there, nagging at me to pick it up. Sometimes, I would; it felt smooth in my hand and I found it kinda pretty. But as I set it down that final time it hit me…I knew what burden my rock represented. I suddenly knew why I had not felt an urge to ‘follow the rules’ and carry it every day. Why it sat there inconspicuously taking up space in my home.

This little rock represented the hardness and ungodliness that still took up space in my heart and was keeping me from the deeper, purer relationship I desired with God. You know, the prideful things or judgmental things you may not say out loud but are thinking, before you say what you’re supposed to say or feel, before you ask God to change your heart. Those things are always there, taking up space in your heart. No one would know but you, and the Lord. Oh, how hard it is for me to admit that my first mental responses are not appropriate for public ears. But God has always known what’s in my heart and what I’m thinking or feeling, He’s always loved me despite this ugliness.

After I was able to get over my initial disappointment in myself, I thought I had come so far, He asked me to lay down the hidden burdens of pride, judgment and control. He promised to replace them with true humility, authentic understanding and a kind of peace that only He can bless us with. Yes Lord, that is what I know you are calling me to but I do not know how. His grace showered over me as I sat in this truth and prayed for mercy to help me let go of these ungodly things.

I admitted my sin to the godly women of my weekly study, and they listened and loved me anyway. They loved me the way Jesus would. And on that last day, before Easter, as we released our burdens and prayed over one another in my front yard, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit bringing us comfort and peace; His presence never failing to lift us up, sustains us for our journey. Thank you, Lord.

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Live Loved,
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Suffering into Hope

A little over a month ago, I was one of the five facilitation team members on our Rachel’s Vineyard retreat who was blessed to be able to witness how God can transform our deep suffering and pain into hope. Throughout three short days, we had four men and women who entered into the retreat opportunity full of heartache, shame, pain, and suffering they had been carrying around for many years from their past abortion experiences. During the weekend, they invested themselves fully in relying on Christ to guide them through each step of the intentional and purposeful healing process based on scripture. God has promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you…” (Heb. 3:15) — He will never allow us to go through our pain alone.

On the third day of the retreat, there is a very special time and moment that happens for the retreat participants through the honoring of the children they lost through abortion. It is a time and space in which the light comes back into their lives, the darkness is banished away, and the hope they never thought possible to get back, is instilled into their hearts again.

As we have been through another Lenten journey and are in the midst of Holy Week, it has allowed the opportunity for deeper reflection and prayer time. I have been processing what this Rachel’s Vineyard retreat experience means for all who are involved, what it can do for those who trust in the process, and how it can literally transform hearts for those who believe Christ is who He says He is, and that He is strong enough to do that for us. It has also made me realize what a humbling example this retreat is of the suffering and resurrection that can happen, and did happen, throughout three short days.

On Good Friday, Christ endured unimaginable suffering because He loved us with the greatest example of unconditional love, to the point of death on the cross. He knew we are all sinners, we make mistakes on a daily basis, and we are all broken people. But He did it because He knew the hope that comes from this kind of unconditional love. No matter what you have done, how broken, unworthy, or unforgivable you feel, nothing; and I mean nothing, will ever take away the hope and love Christ has for you.

What are the examples in your life right now where you are experiencing suffering? Throughout your suffering, what is the hope you hold onto? Where do you draw your strength from? Who are you dependent upon? Do you believe in the hope of resurrection and redemption despite the suffering you may be experiencing right now?

When Easter Sunday comes, I pray it is a time and reminder of the light and hope that has been given to all of us through His Son’s resurrection.

Haley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Haley Brimmer

Director of Client Advocacy

Rooted and Built Up

On March 17th and 18th, Cedar Rapids was blessed to host a Beth Moore Live conference; a faith gathering of over 2,500 women. Bridgehaven received several tickets for clients who wanted to attend.

Beth Moore does 12 yearly conferences and extensively prays and studies specifically for the community and women she will be teaching. Each conference is unique and dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit. When Beth was praying and preparing for the Cedar Rapids Live event, she received the message of “Taking root in the family tree of God.” As a Bridgehaven community, we were thrilled to receive a great confirmation of our mission and vision through this event.

Rooted for Life

As we celebrate and settle in to our new space for Client Support, I want to draw your attention to the fresh identity, appeal and heartbeat of Client Support: being “Rooted for Life.” Cheryl Klopfenstein, Client Support Assistant, blessed us with her creative art skills and brought to life a vision of “strength” in the Rooted for Life mural (shown above). It is our desire and prayer that you would experience and encounter love and establish a firm, rooted faith foundation in Jesus. – Excerpt from January 2016 Good News (Client Publication)

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Col. 2:7

The foundation scripture Beth Moore used to illustrate how to be rooted in the measureless love of Jesus is from Ephesians 3:16-19 of The Voice translation:

“Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.”

I would like to share some personal feedback from our Bridgehaven clients who attended the Beth Moore Live conference…

Share about your experience from the Beth Moore conference:
“I love it. It was a great experience. Her message was so powerful. Her words were impactful and enlightening.”

“It was extremely encouraging and a call for a new beginning, a new walk with Christ!”

“My experience was great! Beth is so relatable and I felt like she was speaking right to me the whole time. Everyone was positive and loving. The whole atmosphere was great. I would love to go again.”

“It was simply amazing! I really had to think about my roots, my family tree. I felt overwhelmed with this feeling of warmth and I just knew I was where I belonged!”

What touched your heart from the message?
“Beth’s candor and honesty but also a new way to read my bible. My current to-do list includes reading the books of Matthew and Ephesians from beginning to end.”

“When she talked about going to our deepest root and uprooting it so that we can create fruit and live a healthy life.”

“The children. Now I’m sponsoring a young boy in Central America!” (Compassion)

“The personal stories. The woman who had the chronic illnesses; how her faith is struggling and watching everyone pray over the women who needed prayer.”

What did you learn from the Beth Moore conference?
“To focus on my deepest root. That I need to work down before I can build up.”

“I realized this before but if felt like a confirmation from God that all I needed was really the love of God, nothing else matters.”

“That God has been there since the beginning.”

How are you moving forward from the teachings?
“Moving forward, I am resolved to live a life of praise, to worship God in the good and bad times. At the root of everything is knowing and staying aware that God loves.”

“Trying to live a more honest life.”

“I’ve been praying more, reading at least 10 minutes a day.”

“More bible studies. More time with God. Working on my personal relationship.”

Thank you to those of you that donated tickets to the Beth Moore conference for our clients. Lives were changed. Connections were made. God was exalted!

Dawn Michaels

Dawn Michael

Director of Client Support

The Ring

I don’t like to share. Ask anyone and they will confirm that. I consider myself generous but try to take one of my Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs and you might think differently. One thing I never imagined sharing with another woman was my son. When I brought K home from the hospital, I thought I would be the only woman in his life until he started dating. God must have smiled at my dreams because He knew there was a lesson coming for me.

Divorce was also something I didn’t see happening to me. But like many people, it did and I survived probably the most painful time in my life. Not once during that time did I consider that my ex-husband would have a new wife…someone who would be a step-mom to my only child. It was enough to get through the days without adding another level of pain and confusion, I guess. When he let me know he was getting re-married, it put me into another tailspin I didn’t imagine. Even though I had put the relationship behind me and knew we were better off apart, it was more agonizing than I could have imagined. With the help of my faith, family and friends, I lived through a couple of really dark weeks.

But now there was something else. K had another “mom”. That was NOT ok with me. I was his mother and it was my job to care for him and teach him about life and be the one he came to for advice. What I didn’t see at the time is that this woman wasn’t trying to replace me. She didn’t want my job. She was graceful enough to see the bond between K and me was nothing that needed supplemented. She could see her husband and I were good parents. We worked together to make decisions and supported what the other parent decided. Her husband demanded K treat me with respect, as well as her. Her role was not to be another mother for K. What she knew from the very start took me a long time and lots of nudges from God to figure out.

I am the first to say that being the mom is hard work. It is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done, along with being my greatest joy. It is a role that requires 24 hours a day for the rest of my life and there is nothing I value more. But as you moms know, it can tear your heart out. It can make you a screaming monster you don’t recognize. It finds you on your knees praying more than ever before. But it is the most glorious thing…no wonder God loves us like He does. The power of our feelings as moms is just a tiny glimpse at how God feels about us. He thinks being our Father is the coolest gig ever. So while I was beating my chest about how hard it was to be the mom…I never considered the even more difficult job of being the step-mom.

A simple story will illustrate how I finally figured it out. K’s step-mom ordered a ring for a special occasion. It was a very cool piece of jewelry that featured a skinny sliver band with all her children’s and grandchildren’s names for a stack that proudly displayed her love for her children. Cool, right? Until I saw that one band had K’s name on it. “She is not his mother.” I may have said some other choice words and shed some tears because how dare she think she should wear a ring with my child’s name on it. I lived in that angry place for a couple of days…stewing in the bitterness of my situation…thinking mean thoughts. And then God tapped me on the shoulder and as clear as day I heard him say, “But what if K wasn’t on the ring?” My momma bear instinct fired up and I thought, “What, he isn’t good enough to be on the ring? Even though he lives with you 50% of the time you don’t consider him part of your family?” And I paused…she couldn’t win. I was mad either way. I felt wronged about either situation.

That’s when I knew how hard it was to be the step-mom. You can’t win. Your job is to love someone else’s child as much as your own but God forbid you cross any lines that would indicate you are the parent. You were supposed to support your husband and his son but not so much so that you went outside a boundary. I had given no thought to how she must be feeling. No thought to how hard it would be to enforce rules she might not agree with. No thought to how to discipline a child who might be a brat to you because you weren’t his mom. No thought to her experience…how it would be a challenge.

The ring was a blessing to me. It allowed me to see that being a mom is ridiculously hard but being the step-mom isn’t much fun either. It requires a woman of grace, a woman who has to learn to mother in a way she never anticipated. She must be strong and soft. She must be flexible yet maintain a routine she didn’t decide on. I think there will be a special place in heaven for women who succeed in this role. And I know I will never be able to express my gratitude to K’s step-mom. She might not ever know how much I appreciate the way she has navigated the waters and made K a priority in her world. She won’t understand how grateful I am to have a woman in his life to care for him when I can’t be there, to cheer for him, to cater to his finicky eating, to provide grandparents and siblings who love him and to be a positive influence in his life. But I hope God blesses her in a special way. I hope she feels my prayers. My son loves her in a way he could never love me. And as it turns out, it is a blessing to all of us.

kylee pusteoska

Kylee Pusteoska

Director of Development

Longing for Unity Among My Community

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:3-6

This scripture from Ephesians 4 is one we frequently use to describe how the Bridgehaven team is inspired to work together. It has quickly become one of my favorites. Not because we do it well 100% of the time, but because when our little community becomes one in the Lord there is the hope of peace.

I am so grateful that our Lord intends us to live in community with one another. He doesn’t intend for his children to live in isolation from each other. So many people feel alone, or that they don’t belong. We’ve all experienced times of our lives that we think no one will understand or no one will accept us. That is a lie. Jesus says, ‘You do belong. Keep coming. Keep coming.’ The truth is, God already knows your brokenness and loves you anyway.

He created us to be unique and different from one another. To live in harmony, complementing the God-given gifts that he’s blessed us with. Ok…so that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But is that what’s happening? Most days, as I look out into the world I see a vast divide. I see people using their God-given gifts in self-righteous and hurtful ways. We are quick to condemn those that don’t respond, act, think or share the same views as we do. Satan is playing with our egos like I’ve never seen before and it’s heartbreaking.

Unity is a part of community. All of us have a community of people we know and love. So how do we turn that community into unity? How do we love bigger, forgive more, remove our own agendas and grow closer to the Lord?

‘To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6:8

Hard stuff. I know, but isn’t it worth it to live in God’s peace? Our internal thoughts and our inability to love is, in many ways, the cause of the divide in our community. I think that if we followed Micah 6:8 more often we would see more people doing the right thing, no matter how difficult it might be. We’d see people’s hearts breaking and bleeding for one another, especially those that have wronged us. And we’d see a removal of self, we’d move through life with no expectation of return.

Today my prayer for my community, all those I know and love (including you) is 1 Corinthians 12:25-27:

‘That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.’


Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Learning Through Play

Godly Play in the classroom

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3).

Spirituality. Quiet. Worship. Sacred. Contemplation. These are not words normally associated with trying to teach children about God. But they embody the spirit of the new Godly Play curriculum that we are using in our Children’s Ministry program.

Bridgehaven’s mission of “empowering choices for life through Christ-centered education and support” is not just meant for parents. It is also our desire to share the truth and love of God with our client’s children. Godly Play teaches children to listen for God and to make authentic and creative responses to God’s call in their lives. We are working on incorporating this curriculum into our Children’s Ministry program for those 3 years and above.

What does that look like in the classroom?
Children are welcomed as they enter the room and asked to join the teacher on the carpet. This is a time to slow down a bit, get ready to spend some time with God, and to listen to what he might want to teach us. This is also a time where children can share about their week and what is going on in their lives. We talk about our actions and our choices. We talk about the good choices that we have made and our not so good choices. We listen to a couple of slow worship songs to help us settle our minds and our bodies.

Once we are all in the space and ready to listen, we present a story from the Bible. The stories are told using child-friendly language so that they are easy to understand. The teacher uses a play set in the story. This gives the children something to look at. Once the teacher finishes telling the story, we ask some questions to help the children think about the story and connect it to their lives. What is this like? Natalie Hayslip, Bridgehaven Children’s Ministry Coordinator, shares the story of the Tower of Babel in the video below:

After the story, the teacher brainstorm ideas with the children by asking questions like, “I wonder if we are ever like these people?” After the wondering time, the kids can respond to the story through play. They may choose to act out part of the story using the play set. They may build an object from the story using clay. They may paint or draw a picture of something that stood out to them in the story. It is play…with a purpose.

The kids finish their session by coming back to the carpet for a snack (or feast, as it is called). During this time, they can share what they learned from the story and ask more questions. We end our time listening together to songs as we wait for parents to return to the classroom for their children.

We are excited to be offering this program to the children in our program and look forward to seeing them grow in faith.

An Answer to Prayer

Dawn Michael, Director of Client Support, and Kay Baskerville, a Bridgehaven volunteer, share a recent story of God’s amazing provision for a client in the video below:

For more information about Mary’s Inn, visit their web page.

Intrusive Grace

It was one of those days where nothing turns out as planned. I was driving home with my daughter in the backseat, feeling sorry for myself. The soundtrack in my head went something like this:

You can’t provide for your daughter.
Nobody wants you.

You’ll always be alone.

The Enemy isn’t very creative, is he? It seems like he repeatedly attacks the same place he knows it hurts most. I needed to vacuum. Ever since I got sober, I’ve found it to be an excellent coping mechanism, so that’s precisely what I did when I got home. I powered up my Dirt Devil and inched it around my tiny apartment, trying to let go of the pain of the day. As soon as I finished, there was a knock on my door. Since I’m a single mom living in a questionable part of town, I don’t make a habit of answering my door at night. But this knock sounded urgent, persistent. When I cracked open the door, I was relieved to see a friendly-looking portly man, smiling from ear to ear.

“Are you Kelli?” he asked me in a tone so cheerful I was nearly convinced I was a Publisher’s Clearing House winner.

“Yes, I am!” I answered with an expectant grin.

“Great!” he said. And in one swift motion, he shoved a stack of papers into my hands and turned, bolting down the stairs and disappearing into the night. I looked down at the packet in my hand, reading, “SMALL CLAIMS COURT LAWSUIT: OUTSTANDING DEBT $1,300.”

I wasn’t a Publisher’s Clearing House winner. I just got served.

It would be so neat and tidy if I could tell you that as soon as I got sober, my problems went away. Wouldn’t it be cool if the moment I stopped destroying my body with drugs and alcohol, all the debt I accrued during those years of selfishness magically disappeared? Alas, life isn’t a fairy tale. The stack of papers ordering me to pay up was proof.

There goes your tax refund.
You’ll never get out of this hole.

You’ll always be alone.

A few days after being served, I sat on a living room floor surrounded by Jesus lovers, as has become my habit over the past 4 months. Let me be clear–it has become my habit because I felt God nudging me (over and over) to know and be known. It is certainly not in my comfort zone to regularly gather with other people and talk about difficult things like sin and pride and our lives being nothing more than a mist (James 4:14). My comfort zone looks a lot more like eating mint chocolate chip ice cream on my couch watching Netflix.

Nevertheless, there I was. And on this particular evening, we just happened to be talking about the importance of believers living in community. (OK God, I hear you loud and clear.)

“Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘You’ve made your bed, now lie in it?’” the campus pastor, Glen, asked the group, “Have you ever felt like you’ve created the mess you’re in and you are the one who has to figure out how to solve it?”

Thinking about that small claims lawsuit, I nodded emphatically.

“Kelli, you’re nodding your head,” Glen said, already aware of my struggles, “Why don’t you tell the group what happened in your life this week?”

I sighed inwardly. Man, I thought, how could this group of people really understand my problems? Not one of them is a single mom like me. Not one of them is a recovering addict like me. Not one of them lives in a 350-square foot apartment in the hood like poor little me. Me. Me. Me.

I took a deep breath and spilled my guts to the group—ten or twelve people in total. I told a group of quiet newlyweds and gentle young families, so very “unlike” me, about how I’d accrued credit card debt in my drug days, and how I was being sued, and how it was all just a result of my sin. This was a bed I’d made with my poor choices.

“But that’s not how the gospel works, right?” Glen continued, “Jesus paid all our debts on the cross.”

“Yes,” I answered.

“So, our group has been praying about gospel community,” Glen said, “And we’ve decided to pay your debt.”

And he handed me a check for $1,300.

And my pride was shattered.

And my words were lost.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

In this extravagant gesture of undeserved favor, God taught me a few things. I learned that grace can be intrusive…and embarrassing. I learned that the root of my loneliness was selfishness, and gospel community was the cure. I learned that people don’t have to share my experiences to share in my suffering (or my joy). Everyone has their own past, their own sins, and their own struggles. When the people in my community group took on the burden of my debt, I got a real-life picture of what Jesus did on the cross.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

In less than a week, the humble Jesus-lovers in my group raised over a thousand dollars to help me, a recovering addict, with credit card debt. This is the kind of community I read about in Acts 4:32-35. This is the kind of grace that confuses the world.
Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen

Prevention Assistant

Stubborn Like Me

I think it’s safe to say I’m stubborn. My parents would totally back me up in that statement. If you ever meet my dad, you should ask him about the Green Bean Incident of like…1985ish. It wasn’t pretty. In some important ways, being stubborn is a great quality. I tend to work at something until it is finished. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. And I think it naturally lends itself to being a loyal person. On the other hand, it also leads to some less than stellar things…like having a hard time letting go of things. Or even allowing other people to help me. It also causes me to think I can do everything by myself. It’s not that I am not a team player because I absolutely am. It is more that I don’t want to burden anyone else with my “stuff”, so I try to do it all alone.

As it turns out, this is not what Jesus wants…and it causes me to read books and books and books about having faith, learning to trust God and the latest idea, that I don’t have to prove myself to Him. In fact, I can’t prove myself because I am a broken person. There are so many ways that I find myself broken; it is actually pretty embarrassing. You learned in this blog about how I failed Client Advocate training and in this blog about how I have a hard time listening to God. Geez, I am a mess. The good news for me and for everyone is that God doesn’t care. In fact, he expects me to be a mess because it is when I admit that I am a mess and ask for help, he is able to show up in huge ways.

At a recent staff prayer time at Bridgehaven, Natalie, our Children’s Ministry Coordinator, presented a Godly Play lesson about Moses leading his people away from Egypt. It was complete with wooden figures, sand and the tale of the parting of the Red Sea. (A total side note and random thought is that this lesson was so cool! Natalie made the story come alive and I could have listened to her all day. I am so excited about what God is doing with children’s ministry but that is a very different blog post for another day.) We were then invited to complete an activity we felt called to and respond to the story we heard. Some of the ladies wrote journal entries, some colored pictures and I chose the Play-Doh. There are several other ways the children can choose but those three were chosen on this particular day.

It had been years since I played with Play-Doh. I had to think about what really stood out to me in the story, keeping my limited artistic skills in mind. I thought about it for a while as I watched the other ladies get to work…and that is when it hit me. God always has the answer. And usually, it is an answer I could never comprehend. In this particular story, Moses had led the people through the desert and they were suddenly aware they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s Army. The timing couldn’t have been worse as they looked back to see the army advancing as their toes were being lapped by the water of the Red Sea. They were trapped. There was no way out. People began to lose faith in Moses and God as they assumed their fate was sealed. They had no options…but only because they simply considered what people could do. They forgot about what God could do. They couldn’t even fathom ideas for rescue because God always sees the whole picture and our humanness only allows us to see a tiny sliver of the story.

Isn’t this the truth? We are so trapped in the moment we can’t see God. We only think about our human options. For the crowd following Moses, it was get killed by the army in a bloody massacre or drown in the wild Red Sea. Neither option sounds great, does it? While this is a pretty dramatic display of how we are limited in our decision making, isn’t it true across many spectrums? We often throw up our hands and wonder how God could abandon us. We work harder at what we think is the solution…we throw money at problems…we ignore some problems…we blame someone else for a few things. Sometimes, I try all of those things and the problem remains. My stubborn self tells me to try harder, go longer, don’t quit. I am slowly learning (and by slowly, I mean at a glacial pace) none of these things are typically going to work. What God calls us to do is surrender. What? Aren’t there entire movies where the theme is “Never Surrender.” I am thinking Rocky and the Russian…Mel Gibson patriotically fighting the British…and the Goonies. It is not in our nature or our culture.

God doesn’t care about our culture. He cares about us. He wants us to rely on him, to depend on him. God has answers we can’t dream of. His solutions solve the problems, they don’t just cover them up. His love for us is so great and he simply wants to be our Father…to care for us…to help us…to be there for us. We only have to let Him. We have to let go of our stubborn ways and allow ourselves to lean on God. When I write it out, I feel like a moron. Why don’t I do this all the time? Why can’t I trust in this? It always works out. God always carries me during the storm and I come out on the other side feeling washed clean instead of battered. Well, if I had that answer, I probably wouldn’t be a development director at Bridgehaven because I would be rich and famous and travelling the world telling everyone how to free themselves.

It is a constant battle for me. I try to embrace the benefits of being stubborn while allowing myself to know when God wants the reins. Moses teaches us this in the story Natalie presented. He fought and fought and kept asking Pharaoh to let his people go. I mean, there are entire songs about how stubborn Moses was. His hard work allowed him to lead the people to freedom. However, when the problems were too big for his humanness, he called on God. God provided an answer Moses couldn’t have dreamed of. Seriously, who could imagine that the sea would part so his people could cross and then close around the army so they could continue on safely? That isn’t a human answer…it is God’s answer. And God can’t give us an answer to a question we never ask of him. We have to be stubborn first and use our God-given gifts. When those don’t work, we must be meek and seek the Lord. He has the answers…answers that are so much bigger than we are.
kylee pusteoska

Kylee Pusteoska

Director of Development

A Godly Marriage

A Godly marriageFebruary! The season of love, romance and all things pink and red! (Ohhh, how I love all things pink, I really do!) This sweet season of giddiness, googly-eyes and constant hand-holding means one thing; Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Honestly, I’m not the mushy type anymore, but I used to be. Now, there’s just not a lot of opportunity for mush. Between rushing from here to there, managing a busy family schedule not only diminishes the time available for the lovey stuff but doesn’t necessarily leave you in the snugly mood. But when Valentine’s Day comes around each year, those butterflies in my heart are awoken and ready to profess my love to my love.

Well, the mush and romance may not happen every day but I truly do love being Mrs. Don McDill more today than ever before. How is this possible? The only way this is possible is with God. The day we allowed God to be at the center of our marriage, everything changed. Don and I both have failed relationships in our pasts and this time, we vowed it was different. We never wanted to go down that broken road again. However, those words didn’t mean much without our acceptance of God’s presence within our marriage. With God, we have vowed to put our selfish needs and wants aside, choose love and move forward in unity.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9

I have to admit, however, I am truly an imperfect wife. I’ve gone through seasons where I try to be perfect and fail miserably. I still experience times of struggle where I want to take control and then other times when I have no interest in control. I still send mixed messages and make mistakes; essentially, I’m a work in progress. However, as we began to learn and live out God’s plan for marriage, we found a renewed sense of harmony and grace between the two of us.

“Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:18-19

I know this is an unpopular way of thinking when measured by the world’s view of womanhood and I certainly didn’t think this way ten years ago. But as I began to embrace God’s idea and plan for me as a wife, it empowered Don to be a better husband and father, and ultimately, brought us closer together. This calling upon my life is not easy and not a natural place for me to be. I am used to taking the lead, making decisions and moving the team forward. God is using this stirring in me to teach me a new sense of discipline and obedience that brings not only Don and I closer together but it brings me closer and more intimate in my relationship with Jesus. Proving that some of the hardest transformations bring the most fruit in our lives.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made in perfect love.” 1 John 4:18

When we are functioning within God’s plan for marriage, the love is powerful. There’s…

  • no fear; only confidence and strength in each other
  • no confusion; honesty and trust wins out
  • no arguing; tenderness and authenticity in our partnership prevails as we work through the ups and downs of life
  • no stepping over each other; only kindness, patience and respect

Despite my natural tendency to lead, I am making a conscious decision (and effort) to give him space to step into his role. God has grown me so much in my marriage to Don. He is constantly reminding me of how my pride is the killer of a godly marriage. I am daily making a choice to move my ego aside and allow my rock solid, loving husband to take the lead in our marriage. I proudly take my place as his helper and partner and am reaping the blessings of a love that knows know fear.

Heavenly Father, this Valentine’s Day, I celebrate the fearless and beautiful love You want for all married couples. May these couples experience the humility, grace and unity that you desire for a life-affirming and life-long marriage. May husbands lead with dignity, strength and truth and may wives come alongside their husbands with support, wisdom and grace. Remind us, Lord, that marriage is gift and blessing created for your people and a covenant to be entered into with the utmost honor. Amen.

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director