The Easy Way Out

The Easy Way Out

Today I noticed that there are three Exit doors in my church’s sanctuary.

Actually, there are four doors in the sanctuary but only three of them have exit signs over them.

Why on earth am I talking about Exit doors??

Let me explain….

Today after work there wasn’t anyone at church except for me so I decided to sit in the sanctuary for a while before I went home. I had a lot of my mind and I felt like I just needed some time to breathe and also to just sit with and listen to God.

The sanctuary at my church is a wonderful place to sit in peace and for some reason when I am in there I feel somehow extra close to God.

For a while now I’ve been feeling called towards something a bit different than the path God’s had me on for the past few years.  Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about putting away my fear (I’m Not Afraid of What You Think of Me).  It was about surrendering my fear of what others think of me.  In the process of surrendering my fear, I also found out that surrendering the fear of what others thought of me was something I needed to do so I could move forward to do this new thing he’s asking me to do.

So I surrendered but now I found myself trying to figure out the how’s and the what do I need to do to get it all moving.

It began feeling just way too big and also hard. I actually really like my life the way it is now and things have actually become quite comfortable. I’m not sure I was ready for any new life changes.

I’ve known for quite some time now that all God stuff is usually somehow life changing. I also know that God has brought me to places that have felt way too big before, but I realize now that he was way bigger and most of those places that used to feel too big and seemed scary are now not scary at all.

So now that I am comfortable I also kept wondering why the sudden switch to something new? Why wouldn’t God just use me where he has me now? For once I finally feel like I know what I am doing.

questions – questions

and so there I sat…

Waiting…

Listening for God.

It was very quiet for a really long time and then I saw …  a red ‘Exit’ sign.

And then I saw another…

and another!

I’m not sure how it happened but suddenly I realized my mind had wandered to how many ways there were to exit this one room.

Four doorways to be exact. Three of which were clearly labeled with a bright lighted ‘Exit’ on top.

I tried to get my mind back to listening for God but then I began thinking about how with all of those exit doors just how easy it would be to get out of that room if someone were to need to get out in a hurry.

I was sitting there thinking about exits and when suddenly … Flashback to six years ago… I sat in the parking lot of this very building afraid to come in. Thank you to Jesus taking me by the hand and walking with me I managed to make my way into this same room.  I know this may sound silly but I was scared to be there that day.  All those Exit doors were there then too but I thankfully I didn’t use any of them. Somehow I knew that choosing to stay was truly my only way out that day. That day I didn’t need to escape the room, though instead what I needed to escape was the life I had been living, or maybe I should call it the life I had been dying…because the life I was living back then was not life.

I chose to not exit the room that day but I did make the choice to exit my old life. To exit my old life seems like it would be the easiest choice but now looking back I realized it may have actually been the harder choice because there was soon to be more feelings of uncomfortable to come.

New people entered my life and things had to change. It seemed hard at first but then but one day I realized life was really good now. So so GOOD.

I learned that in each new challenge or hard place something pretty cool always seemed to follow.

So today I sat in the dark sanctuary pondering another new path and pretty much knowing that it will most likely be uncomfortable and possibly hard… but I have a choice.

Do I take the new path or do I take the nearest exit?

This may sound weird but I’m gonna go ahead and say it anyway… “I think God used exit signs to give me a sign today!“

I had a choice to make – I could take my exit or I could walk with him in faith.

The new path may seem scary and big but my GOD is way BIGGER!

So there was no exit for this lady today!

To be continued….

Have a great Friday!

Terri Siebert

A Hand Reaching Out

I was sitting on a beach enjoying the sunshine when suddenly the clouds that had been puffy white suddenly turned an odd shade of brown and started going together into a long roll. I stopped what I was doing and stood up watching, mesmerized as they rolled quickly across the sky coming to a stop over the water.

The clouds kept getting bigger and bigger and they started dipping down close to the water. The people around me started to panic and someone said, “oh my God it’s a tornado!” and then everyone started running.

Everyone was screaming and running but I couldn’t move because my feet were suddenly frozen to the ground. Everyone around me was panicking but I wasn’t scared at all. It was like I had this feeling of peace and a knowing that I was safe and I just stood there watching the clouds.

Chaos was everywhere and then in an instant it was if the world around me just stopped. All the people were all standing frozen in place now and there was no wind or rain to go along with the darkness. The ocean waves had stopped leaving the surface of the water still and dark black like a giant pool of ink. It felt as if the air went silent too. It was so quiet I imagine this is what deafness must feel like. 

I should have been scared but I wasn’t scared at all. It was like the hush I felt around me was also inside of me filling me to the depths of my entire soul with a perfect feeling of peace.

Suddenly out of the deafness there came a loud clap of thunder and the clouds began parting with rays of the most magnificent beams of bright light I’d ever seen shining through them and then a giant hand came out of the opening in the sky. The hand came down just above the water and opened turning palm upward. It began moving closer to us with beautiful colored light shining all around it.

Someone shouted, “it’s the hand of God!”  By then I was already crying and feeling in awe of his presence because I knew those words were true…Yes! This was the hand of God!  So many feelings were going through me now, feelings of joy and love and an unexplainable feeling of peace like I have never known. The hand moved around as if offering itself to all who wanted to grasp it but nobody moved. After a while it went back up into the clouds and the sky immediately went back to normal.

I was wrecked, falling to my knees to pray thinking those around me would join in…but it didn’t happen. Instead, the people just went back to their business as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. It was as if nobody even cared what they had just been a part of.

I turned to a woman standing next to me and said, “wow the hand of…”  but she cut me off and said, “the hand of God, ya right, who cares!” and then she rolled her eyes!

God’s hand had been there, right in front of us, offering for each one of us to just reach out and take what he had to offer. It couldn’t possibly be true that nobody cared! They were all right there so close to being in in the palm of his hand, how they could pass that up it just made no sense!!! I started crying….

And then I woke up.

It had only been a dream!

Even though it was only a dream my heart was still pounding and I felt sick to my stomach and my face was wet with tears because I had been crying in my sleep.

I know it was only a dream but it felt so real!

It’s been a day and a half and I still can’t shake it that dream. In the dream, it made me sad that God was right in front of us in such a spectacular display and nobody cared and nobody would take what he had to offer. This has me thinking about how there used to be a time in my life that God’s hand was right in front of my face and I didn’t see it. I also have to admit that there are still some days that go by and I miss him.

Years ago I didn’t see him because I didn’t want to see Him. I used to think he wasn’t real and now it’s hard for me to believe that I could have ever felt that way. How could I have gotten up in the morning to see a sunrise and never wonder how something so magnificent could have gotten there? How could I have had 3 children and never once questioned how something so perfect as a newborn baby could have formed without help from something more than just magically happening? I could go on but I know you know what I mean… flowers, animals, air, water, LIFE. It’s all because of Him.

God is real and God is always here in each and every second of every day. We may not see him as a big giant hand reaching out of the sky like in my dream but He is all around us in each and every single thing in each and every single day.

I don’t want to miss him, and I don’t want anyone to miss what he has to offer!

Open my eyes Lord.

Open our eyes, let us see your hand reaching out to us!

I know to someone who doesn’t believe in Him this may sound strange. I know because I have been there. I used to live my life without God in it. I also remember a time in my life that I felt that I was too bad and that there was no way he could ever want or love me. But that wasn’t true and even though I totally gave up on him and also on myself, he still never gave up on me. He has shown me time and time again that he wants me, and now that he is in my life He has been right here holding my hand for every single step I take. If you are reading this and in need of a hand to help lift you up, all you have to do is want Him in your life. Just tell him you want him and then grab on to his hand. He sent Jesus to save us and all we have to do is ask him in and he will come.

It’s truly that simple.

If He is what you want and you don’t know what to say, you can say this prayer –  Dear Jesus, I know you are the son of God, I know you came for me, I know you died for me. I ask you to come into my life right now. I ask you to forgive me for my sin because I want to make a fresh start. I want to live the rest of my life with you and for you. Amen

If you said that prayer for the first time or maybe you are just deciding to come back from a separation of some sort, know that now he has you in the palm of his hand. If you are there you will never be alone.

 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:15-26

Have a great weekend!

Terri Siebert

 

Breakfast with a Stranger

Breakfast with a Stranger

“Are you Christians?”

I stopped talking to my friend and looked over to see a young man looking at us as if waiting for an answer.

“Are you talking to us?” I said.

“Yes… are you Christians?” he asked again.

“Yes we are,” I replied.

“I knew it,” he said and then he began telling us that he had lived his whole life for God and that even though he had done that, a whole lot of bad stuff had still happened to him.

It was very obvious that he was very upset with God, the church, and Christians.

Before speaking to us he had already spoken to other people in the room and they had all told him to go away. Now even though he didn’t know us he kept rambling on and on, telling us what seemed to be his whole life story. Most of what he was saying was really uncomfortable to take and no matter what we said to try to make him feel better he still kept rambling.

The man was also very strange and he was loud. To be honest he made me feel extremely uncomfortable and also embarrassed because he was drawing the attention of others in the room. Also, I really didn’t have a clue as to what I could have to say that would have been of any help to him.  After about 10 minutes of his rambling, like the others who had sent him away, I too was wishing this guy would go away.

His stuff was hard, WAY too hard…. and the truth is this wasn’t the conversation I had envisioned myself having this morning over breakfast.

Today I was having breakfast with my best friend who had moved away last year. She had been back in town for a couple of days for family business and we had planned to get together this morning for breakfast before she went back home. I had been really looking forward to this visit with my best friend.

The plan had been girl talk over breakfast but now instead of my friend and I chit chatting about our lives there was a complete stranger telling us about his life!

A lot of what he said was uncomfortable and also very disturbing to me.  He told us that he had been to several churches in our area seeking help and answers about God. From what he told us, it looked as if instead of them sharing God’s love with him he was looked down on and given a bunch of rules of which he had been unable to follow. And now it was pretty obvious that he was coming down pretty hard on himself for his inability to be the ‘perfect’ person that he believed God expected him to be.

This all made me feel sad.

This man was hurting and when he had turned to the church for help he had been pushed away and made to believe that he was not good enough for God.

Our whole breakfast was spent talking to him, and though we tried our best to help him. unfortunately a lot of what he said we really had no answers for.

Eventually, it was time for us to leave. so we told him goodbye and went on our way, but when I got in my car to go to work suddenly this feeling came over me that I should have prayed with the man.  A few seconds later my friend called me and we began talking about our experience with the man and we both admitted that we had wanted to hang out with each other instead of talking to him  I  then mentioned to my friend how the feeling that I should have prayed with him had come over me. She said if I felt that way maybe I should go back.

When she said that suddenly I knew I had to go back.

But I didn’t want to go back! Uggh it would be so uncomfortable and what would I say??

“Just go back”  kept running through my head.

Reluctantly, I made a quick turnaround and as I did the giant tea that I had just bought tipped over and dumped all over the floor of my car.  I pulled into a parking spot wanting to clean up the mess but I knew the mess had to wait because I had a strong urgency going through me that I needed to get back inside the restaurant right then.

I know this sounds crazy but its true.

As I started walking back into the restaurant I could see him sitting by himself in the back with his head down. I felt nervous, with a feeling of how embarrassing this could be… what if he said no?… I don’t pray out loud well…what will I pray about?? Tons of things were going through my head but then suddenly a feeling of boldness came over me so kept going. As I walked through the restaurant I could hear a hush come over the room as every person around him quit talking. These were the same people who had told him to go away and now I could feel every eye on me as I walked back toward him. He still wasn’t looking up and as I began to speak it was so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop.  “Hi … um  Z__,” he looked up at me as I said, “would you mind if I prayed with you?”

He seemed a little stunned but said, “Well… I guess you could do that.”  So I reached out and took his hands and prayed.

When we were finished I opened my eyes and saw that his eyes were filled with tears and then he said this to me… “God told me to come here today and he told me you were going to be here. Thank you for coming.” 

God told him I was going to be here today???!

I really didn’t know what to say but I heard the words “your welcome” come out of my mouth.

Even though I left the man in the restaurant this morning, I somehow feel as if he has stayed with me all day.

God told the man I was going to be there today and I had almost missed it!

After I got back to my car I remembered the dumped tea.  I had thought the carpet would be ruined for sure by that time but for some strange reason, all I had to do was shake off the floor mat. The tea didn’t sink into the carpet at all but hopefully, the lesson I learned today will sink deeply into my brain.

Since today is Music Monday I want to share a song with you that I feel goes really well with this story and is also one of my favorites right now.

I hope you enjoy — Christ in Me by Jeremy Camp.

Have a great week!

Terri Siebert

I am an Enabler

Churches on the StreetsRecently Christy and I were serving with a local Christian-based ministry to the homeless, Churches on the Streets, in downtown St. Louis. The ministry provides clean clothes, a nutritious meal, and hygiene necessities in a friendly, loving atmosphere. Volunteers spend time talking with and spending time with people who are often viewed and treated as if they have no value and their lives don’t matter. Most importantly, the homeless are shown they do have value in God’s eyes, Jesus does love them, and He has not forgotten them.

Toward the end of the evening, a nicely dressed, middle-aged couple walked through the area. As they approached me, I made eye contact with the lady and smiled. As she passed, she grabbed me by the arm and angrily said, “You know you’re not helping these people. All you’re doing is enabling them. You’re not helping them at all!”

Since that evening, we’ve been thinking about what the lady said and if it’s true.
Does providing food, clothing, blankets, hygiene products, and the love of Christ encourage homelessness? If Churches on the Streets stopped providing essential life services to the homeless would they get jobs, pay taxes, buy homes, and become model citizens? If we stopped serving the homeless, would homelessness be eliminated?

Many of the homeless we encounter are veterans. Some are mentally ill. Some are convicted criminals or drug and alcohol abusers. Some have made horrible, life changing decisions which spiraled out of control and put them on a path to homelessness. All are God’s children.

The fact is, not one of the people we serve has ever said, “Because of you, we don’t have to get jobs or pay a mortgage.” Not one has ever said, “Because of you, we’re able to live freely on the streets with no responsibilities.” Not one has ever said, “Because of you we’re able to live with no worries or concerns.”
As Christians, our call is to show the love of Christ in such a manner that it points others to Him. We’re to be the hands and feet of Christ in a lost and hurting world. James 2:15-16 says this about faith: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” God’s love comes with no qualifiers, no limit, and no warning label indicating its overuse may lead to homelessness.

So after several days of reflection what did I conclude? I was able to conclude that Christy and I are both enablers. I concluded we’re teaching our sons to be enablers also. Many of our friends and the people we serve with at Churches on the Streets are enablers as well.

No, we’re not enabling men and women to remain homeless. We are enabling them to have at least one nutritious meal on Thursday. We’re enabling them to have clean clothes, a warm blanket, and hygiene at least one day a week. Most importantly, for at least a couple of hours a week, we’re enabling them to feel valued as human beings and to experience the unlimited, unequivocal, and unashamed love of God!

I am an enabler! 


What you just read is my friend Walt Streicher’s Facebook post from a few days ago. It’s a very powerful message wouldn’t you agree?

Every since I read it I’ve spent a whole lot of time thinking about the things he said and this morning I knew this message was one that needed to be shared. So with Walt’s permission, I’ve shared it with you today.

I have also decided that I too want to be an enabler!

How about you? Do you want to be an enabler?  Or are you already an enabler?

In My Hour of Desperation I Will No Longer Be a Slave to Fear – Music Monday

Good Morning! The days seem to be flying by anymore and it seems to me as if it was just yesterday that I posted last week’s Music Monday song. With that being said the next thing I am going to say probably won’t make a bit of sense…. Even though the week seems to have flown by it also seems to me as if so much has happened this past week that it could have actually really been a month that went by! Can anyone relate?!?

Last week I asked you for prayers for our family for something that was going to take place later that afternoon.

On Monday afternoon, prayers were answered and things looked as if they had gone the way we were hoping they would go. But then a few days later we found out that even though things had gone our way on Monday, we now have a whole new obstacle to tackle.

I am not usually one to get caught up in political issues and really have a hard time with people saying bad things about the officials in charge of things. To me, it seems as if we seem to have lost respect in our country for those who are in places  of authority and I don’t really think that its right that we should trash talk them even if we don’t agree with them…. but I will say that here lately, it seems that I find myself wondering why grownups act more like children than children do anymore.

I know today sounds like I am ranting, and I’d like to say I’m not, but I will admit yes I am. Last week a child in my family had their right to safety ripped out from under them. I am tired of seeing this child hurt… actually, I am tired of seeing any child hurt… make that….actually, I am tired of seeing grown ups hurt too. People hurting is a hard one for me but it’s even harder when the people I love are treated unfairly and are hurt because of it. Something needs to be done about the nonsense we have going on in our country anymore.  Sometimes people push to get what they want just because they think they have the right to have it and I don’t even think they really want what it is they are trying to get other than just to make a point it’s their right to have it, so they will take that right no matter what the cost.

And in this case, the grownups got what they wanted but, the cost is a child being hurt because some of the people who are in charge of making the decisions for the child’s life think more of themselves than what their actions will do to the child in the long run.


That is not the only thing I have going on in my life at the moment but I am going to stop with that and spare you the details of the rest of the junk going on and move on with this story… this story does get better, I promise.


Today I woke up at the crack of dawn feeling really down and just sick about the struggles going on lately in life.

I wanted to stay in bed but I had to get up. I had too much to do today and laying in bed wasn’t going to get them done, so I got up out of bed and headed for the shower.

Normally the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is to turn the radio on.  Today I was in such a grumpy mood I didn’t want to listen to the radio station I usually listen to. Most days I listen to a Christian radio station that plays a whole lot of joyful songs and I really wasn’t feeling the joy this morning. For my friends who usually see the happy side of me here is a sneak peak at the side of me I don’t let people see very often… The side of me I don’t like much but it is me sometimes and it is who I was this morning.Yep, today I was in a horrible mood and I was just gonna just lay down and wallow in it.  Like I said I wasn’t feeling the joy so instead of my favorite radio station I turned my Pandora app that I have on my phone with plans to listen to some good old fashioned classic rock. I  connected my phone to the blue tooth speaker in my shower and got in.

At first, the music didn’t come on.

Awesome,  now my music wasn’t working either. I was already soaking wet by then and didn’t want to take a chance on getting my phone wet. So I made the decision to shower without music today.

Once I had a pile of shampoo suds on my head the music suddenly came on with these words blaring out of my speaker…

I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

“Where is my classic rock???”

I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I know the power of Your Cross
Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God

All that You’ve done is so overwhelming

“Okay God, I get it…

The words kept coming and the next thing I knew I am feeling this overwhelming presence of love in the room and I find myself lost in the words to the song forgetting that I was in the shower or for that matter I think I may have forgotten that I was even in the room.

I am not sure how long it was before I came back to my senses and realized the water was cold and my skin was shriveling up so I had better move out of the shower. After getting out of the shower I left the music on and one song after another played, taking me through my morning routine which wasn’t so routine for me anymore today.  Every song that played seemed to be organized in some sort of story order, all with words that fit me where I was today.  Songs with words that took me on a trip back in time and then brought me right back to the present filling me full to the top with hope and most of all with peace.

The past 5 years a whole lot has happened in my life and over the past 5 years, Jesus has walked with me in many places. Many of those places were good but also many were hard places. After walking through each one of those places, I came out at the end standing firmly with the knowledge I will never ever walk alone again. Sometimes I tend to get off track and let fear get in the way of my memory of all he has done but somehow he always seems to come looking for me and reels me back in. He refuses to allow me to give up and I know he has put me here where I am for a reason and I have to keep going. He never gives up so neither can I.

Maybe things aren’t going how I have them planned out in my head they should go.  Maybe I don’t understand it all but what I do know is … this time just like all the other times God has a better plan than I do. So it’s time to stop worrying about how things look to me in this moment and instead look forward to the outcome God has planned which I am sure will be better than anything I can imagine right now.

God totally hijacked my radio station today and I am so very thankful for that.

Anyway… instead of one song today, I am posting as many of the songs that I can remember that played this morning. I know the list is quite lengthy but maybe there is something in there for you.

Have a wonderful day and a wonderful week and don’t forget to check out the songs below!

Terri Siebert

Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave

How Great is our God by Chris Tomlin

Everything Comes Alive by We Are Messengers

I Refuse by Josh Wilson 

Everlasting God by Lincoln Brewster

I Will Follow  by Chris Tomlin

It’s Not Over Yet  by For King and Country

Trust in You by Lauren Daigle

You are Everything by Matthew West

And for the big finish…. No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser