Sabtu, 24 September 2016

"My 15 year old is pregnant" - What happened when Toni shared this with her Church 101 Group

"My 15 year old is pregnant"  - What happened when Toni shared this with her Church 101 Group
September 21, 2016

Toni Daniels is our LK10 Coordinator for Spanish speaking countries and for Tennessee where she and her husband, Matt, and their family live.  She has led a number of Church 101 Groups in both Spanish and English.  Toni recently sent the following story out to her newsletter list.  I want to pass it on to you (with Toni's permission) because it demonstrates how God works in amazing ways when people engage with the two "rhythms of attention"  (ie, what Church 101 Groups learn).  
  • What if this kind of transformational experience was the "new normal" for church?
  • What difference would it make in the United States (or your country) if there were a million groups like this?

If you haven't been through Church 101, consider signing up here. And, if this story moves you, consider adding your comments and sending it on to your friends.

"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me where written in your book before one of them came to be." Ps 139:15-16
Four months ago we discovered two things about my then 15-year-old daughter, Allie. 1) She was experimenting with witchcraft and 2) She had become pregnant in spite of taking birth control measures. 
Needless to say, as a parent, I was overwhelmed, afraid, and sad. My adrenaline was pumping and stomach churning. Thankfully, that very day, I had my weekly Skype meeting with a few ladies who were going through Church 101 to learn how to become vibrant families of Jesus. They listened to me, and then asked the questions that we usually ask when someone checks in with heavy emotions. “Toni, what do you need from us today? Would you like us to a) just be with you, b) pray for you, c) listen to God with you, d) give you advice, or c) give you coaching?
I knew exactly what I needed.  I needed the Divine's perspective.  I replied through the tears, “Please listen to God with me and then give me your advice."
After about seven minutes in silence together trying to sense the great mystery of the Divine communicating with us His thoughts regarding my daughter, we shared what we were sensing. 
Amy began, “I hear the words ‘I see your heart for your daughter and the baby.  I understand how you feel.  I cried over Jerusalem, and I remember weeping because they would not turn to me.  I still have an awesome plan for your daughter.  Know that this situation has not interrupted that plan.”
I felt "seen" and understood and validated.  Then hope began to ooze into my heart.
Treesa continued, “Love never fails.  It is our greatest weapon.  Love your daughter through this.” With her words, courage and strength came alongside of me.
My mom was next, “I see an image of God just holding you right now, giving you comfort."  I could fall apart because He was here to hold me together!
When it was my turn to share the spontaneous thoughts that had come into my mind, I hesitated.  I did not know what they meant, and I did not know if they were from God or just myself.  I shared them cautiously,  "Do not fear, Toni. I have this, and I have her. This will not come to pass."
I looked back at my notes and these phrases jumped from the page, “I still have an awesome plan for your daughter.  This has not interrupted that plan.  Love her. Do not fear.  This shall not come to pass.” I felt the words penetrate my soul and take on a power to change my physical state of alert to one of quiet rest.  
What did that mean?  What would not come to pass?  I was not sure, and I did not know if these words were really from God or not. I wrote them down just in case and have held them in my heart during the trials of these past four months as we have journeyed with our daughter through a difficult pregnancy.  Every time I thought to let people know what was going on, another complication would arise and we were consumed with care taking. 
Amazingly, while these months have been filled with tears and stress, I have watched my daughter turn from witchcraft, embrace life, give up her dreams in order to make room for new ones, begin to sacrificially care for her Lily Marie in her womb, and face adult decisions that would have crumbled the strongest.  She and Daniel, the father, began preparing in every way possible to fully receive the gift that had been given not only to them, but to us all.
Then, two weeks ago, the complications worsened.  There was nothing the doctor’s could do, Allie was going to deliver prematurely at 22 weeks gestation.  Shock, fear, grief all flooded each of us as the words left the doctor’s lips.  Then, the phrases came back to me from four months ago, "I still have an awesome plan for your daughter.  This has not interrupted that plan.  Do not fear.  This shall not come to pass.”  In His grace, God had prepared me for what was happening.
At 2:59 AM this past Sunday morning, I had the amazing privilege of delivering my grand-baby, Lily Marie. She passed away about 15 min later in the arms of Allie, her mommy and Daniel, her daddy, surrounded by us, her grandparents while her daddy sang her a lullaby.  
As she slipped away into eternity I sensed these words almost as if they were from Lily's own lips, "Thank you for giving me life, Mommy and Daddy. Because of you my soul will live forever. I have fulfilled my purpose on this earth. My life has not been in vain. Know that Papa God loves you, Allie and Daniel. He loves all of us so much!!!"
Then, Carol Ann, the other grandmother and I sensed children's laughter and could somehow see little Lily playing with other children in the Good Shepherd's presence. 
It was just as we say in Godly Play, “Every beginning has an ending, and every ending is, indeed, a beginning."
It was moving how we really felt like we were celebrating the creation of a soul that will live forever! Not grieving a life that has ended. Her life was short, but filled with purpose.  We have only seen the beginning of the fruit from her life.  I am sure that over the years more will unfold.
Our Allie was amazing through all of this and has become the most beautiful mother. She is deeply comforted with the truth that Lilly's life was like a seed planted that will bear much fruit. Not only was she birthed into eternity that day, but she left behind a mother that will forever see the world differently. Her and Daniel have endured a tragedy that will mark them for the rest of their lives. And with the amazing support around them, they are finding their way back to joy. 
They have decided on a burial service.  Harpeth Hills Funeral Home of Nashville offers a plot and interment pro bono in these cases. We are deeply grateful for their love and generosity at this time. 
The service will be at
Harpeth Hills Funeral Home,
9090 TN-100, 
Nashville, TN 37221
Saturday, 10 am, September 24th
Meeting point is Stateroom B, from 9:00 - 9:45, and from there we will go to the grave site.
Anyone is welcome to join us. There will be a potluck picnic afterwards at a park nearby. The location will be disclosed at the service. 
We covet your continued prayers for both of our families as we enter back into daily routine's carrying our tears with us and continuing to make sense of all that has happened. 
My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and awe for all I have witnessed. The maturity and growth in my daughter alone is enough to take my breath away. 
Thank you, Papa God, for this precious, unexpected gift of bringing life into eternity. Thank you for every minute Lily was with us. Thank you for the work she accomplished in such a small amount of time within each of our hearts. We will be forever grateful. 
Thank you, friends, family, supporters and co-laborers in the Kingdom for walking with us all these years as we seek to see a vibrant family of Jesus within reach of every person on this planet.
We are in control of so very little that happens to us in our lifetime, but we can control how we interpret these events and how we respond to them. That is what makes the people of God different than everyone else. 
May we see the things that happen to us through God's eyes so that we can live them in His perfect peace and breathe life, light, hope, and joy to those around us. 

Spreading the joy,
Toni M. Daniels

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