Happy 25th Birthday Caryn

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It seems like only yesterday that I (mom) anxiously welcomed my bundle of joy into this world.  I was unprepared, scared, and excited all at the same time.  She arrived at 7:09am and her dad, instead of saying push, was encouraging me to wait another three minutes so her delivery time would be 7:12am as we were married at 7:12pm on 6/1/85 and his fraternity number was 712.  However you made a grand entrance beating your own drum and you were a born to be a leader.

The visions I had for you back then gradually but drastically changed as we aligned our will to His ways. Your dad and I were only eleven months into our faith so we had a steep learning curve. One of our first bible studies was on biblical parenting 🙂  I wanted to be the perfect mom.   I know that was such an unattainable and lofty goal.  I recall us writing in your baby book “that you would fear the Lord.”  Looking back I can see how God truly answered the desires of heart.

It is with great joy that we, your family, find ourselves here in Detroit to honor you on your birthday.  Part of our mission statement has been that as Werner’s, regardless of how old we were, we would enjoy being with each other. There are so many fond memories that we have cultivated over the years.

Today you are 25, in May I turned 50 and in six months ago your grandfather became 75 thus this called for a Werner celebration. Life is about making the most of every opportunity as no one knows what tomorrow holds.

So SURPRISE!!!  Yep the past few days have been full of surprises 🙂 as we all decided to join you in Detroit for the big 25.   I do hope that when you look back on this birthday, you will realize the incredible love we (family and friends) all have for you. It truly does my heart good to see you surrounded by such a great community of friends.  I feel more connected to you and team Detroit now that I have seen where you all live and have visited some of your favorite places.

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Below are 25 ways that we have seen you love others well and more importantly how we have seen you love Christ. Of course this is not an exhaustive list as it’s impossible to encapsulate ones life into a list.

  1. Love begins in the home and we so appreciate how you have loved and honored us, your family, well.
  2. It means the world to us that you and your sisters are best friends.
  3. You light up a room when you enter it and more importantly it’s amazing how so many are drawn not to you but to our Creator because you shine brightly.
  4. Your smile is warm and your joy contagious.
  5. You have always enjoyed pouring into the lives of others.
  6. You assume the best of others and don’t take up an offense.  I love how quickly you forgive and move on.
  7. You are a hard worker and give 100% to whatever job you are doing. While working at Rudy’s and Chuy’s you showed Jesus’ love for your co-workers. Even today when we go to Rudy’s folks ask about you.
  8. Amazing how your passion for photography began at 14 and quickly blossomed into a successful business that continues today.  Your talents capture the beauty in people and God’s creation.
  9. You are adventurous and fearless. At 18 you flew alone to South Africa to spend six months working and being trained by Operation Mobilization. You were with folks you didn’t know and in a foreign place, however, no one is a stranger to you.
  10. You have such incredible humor which brings laughter wherever you go.
  11. God has granted you lots and lots of favor. When raising support to travel with Operation Mobilization you collected twice as much needed allowing you to return to Namibia to take photos for OM promotional use.
  12. God’s favor follows you and has been seen most recently in collecting all funding needed for your upcoming mission trip on December 26.
  13. You have such incredible faith in regards to trusting God to provide for your needs.  I love how you share the various ways He has provided.
  14. Adventurous nicely sums you up.  There are so so many places you have been.
  15. Not many people can say they have started a church. You and others pioneered a home church on the UT campus to reach those who would never step foot in a Church.
  16. You have incredible faith allowing you to travel everywhere/anywhere knowing it’s safer to be in God’s will than any other place.
  17. You have made countless friends internationally and locally allowing you to sofa surf when you get the itch to travel.
  18. Traveling alone with Courtney on two “sister trips” in Europe in 2007 and 2013.
  19. Living life fully and with so much zeal.
  20. Seeking to give God all glory.
  21. Assuming a leadership role within the home church.
  22. You are a counselor to many.  Because of how well you listen and the wisdom you have, many turn to you, including me.
  23. Graduating from UT December 2011. Hook em’ Horns!
  24. Moving to Detroit to be part of what God is doing there. So many stories surrounding this God adventure.
  25. You speak life into others as you search for the good in others seeking to excite them in their God given identity.   And the list goes on and on…

We pray that God will grant you many more decades.  We are so proud of the beautiful God fearing Woman you have become.



The ‘M’ Words, Masturbation and Ministry

Todays post is by Joan Huang.  I first met Joan when she attended the 5th/6th grade Sunday School I taught. Our paths crossed again as my husband and I were mentor parents in the youth group she attended. It was during this time that she became like a daughter to me and is a BFF with my daughters 🙂 This past December my husband and I were privileged to do part of her premarital counseling.  I have had the opportunity to see her grow in so many ways.  She is fondly known to us as “Joyful Joan.”

She has a powerful message I’d like to share with you so here we go…

dirty little secrets

so, what are the “m” words you doth mention, dearest joan?

masturbation and ministry.

yup, i said it.

[jaw drops]

emphasis on the word masturbation.

the two words never coincide in the same sentence, let alone are seldom discussed among the Body of Believers, especially with females. the guys generally get center stage on this one: always being reminded of their trashy web browsing habits, rebuked for such behavior, and in turn form accountability between others with like-struggles. the girls stand back in disgust, praying that their future husband won’t be one of “them”. me, be that kind of girl? guilty as charged. the church has recognized the destructive nature of sexual sins surrounding pornography and lust in its influence on the next generation of Jesus-loving men, but it is only beginning to unmask the deceptive reality of women’s struggle with masturbation.

i’d like to call it “pseudo sex”, where it only takes one to get the job done, and i’ve heard it go in a few directions:

1.) the chick doesn’t see a problem with it and has been doing it since she was a child
2.) homegirl has always felt guilty and doesn’t know how to stop
3.) she used to have sex with the ex and now she’s having withdrawals
4.) she’s waiting until marriage but is trying to cope with raging hormones in the mean time
5.) it supposedly helps with cramps and stress
6.) she wants to regain control over her own life when she feels as if the world around her is uncontrollable
7.)                                                                                                                              

no matter the purpose or fulfillment involved, masturbation has become a secret reality in the lives of so many women. most assume they’re the only ones doing it, thus leading to a hidden and independent battle against the flesh. but you’re not alone, honey.

from the time i was ten years old i had struggled with masturbation {good luck trying to look me in the eyes next time and not judge. haha, it’s okay. i totally understand}. for the next seven years i didn’t know it was wrong until i fell in love with Jesus. the more i came to understand my identity in Him and His calling on my life, the more i realized that what i was doing in private was clashing with God’s pure heart for me and my future husband. while i wasn’t directly hurting anybody or myself, something was just not right about this one aspect of my life. despite feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit, i continued to struggle in my own strength, too ashamed to talk to anyone about it.

this perpetual habit came to a halt one day in college when a group of girls prayed over me. i didn’t tell them to pray for anything specific, and i most certainly didn’t share with them about my secret struggle, but that didn’t stop the Holy Spirit from moving powerfully through their intercession. in the supernatural realm there was a shift where any spirit of lust, addiction, or control had been broken off of me. i didn’t recognize this new freedom until a month after that prayer gathering when i came to an overwhelming and triumphant realization that i hadn’t struggled or even thought about masturbating. for ten years this had been such a normal thing, and then after one night of prayer, my foe met its match and the holy territory of my body was reclaimed. it has been years since then, and now i can look at that lengthy season in my life and say that i have had enough with the lies of the enemy. deception and shame have run deep in the hearts of young women, and i’m fed up with the silence.

i remember overhearing a “big adult” conversation at a church summer camp once. some mothers were sitting around, sipping tea, and chatting about why they’ve decided that masturbation is okay for their sons. they said they couldn’t find anything against it in the Bible and had in turn chosen to apathetically look the other way. every time i am reminded of that conversation, something in me churns with unrest. there was something so distorted and legalistic in what was said and i knew that there was more to God’s heart in the matter than what these church leaders had subjected themselves to.

God’s heart is overwhelmed with purity. He radiates purity through His Bride, us, and desires that she be awoken, freely flaunting her white wedding gown. we are carriers of that identity and what a greater honor than to be given that freedom and authority to walk into it. because the Bride is made to reign with Her Groom, there is a holy engagement currently taking place. she is getting ready for Her wedding day, undistracted, impassioned, and in love. this Biblical picture is to manifest within our lives as a prophetic proclamation of what is to come.

in the mean time, the enemy has been masking a perverted sense of pleasure in order to rape the Bride . this injustice will not take place due to the victory in which Christ sealed through His triumph over death. this Bride is technically untouchable. but are we letting the enemy claim territory in which we were already given authority to reclaim? if this Bride is to be embraced by Her Groom, then there should be nothing that comes between that holy and pure covenant. even ourselves. the Bride in her waiting musn’t turn to herself and gratify these God-given pleasures when she knows that the wedding bed is soon to come.

whew. now on a lighter note.

don’t think about skunks… don’t think about skunks… stop it! i said, don’t think about skunks!

what are you thinking about? well, skunks, of course.

now, think about chocolate: white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, caramel covered in chocolate. now what are you thinking about? mhm, chocolate.

when it comes to sin and temptation, the more we focus on it, the more we allow it have bondage over our minds, even if we don’t carry out the temptation leading to sin. when we recognize that we’re free from sin and thrive as new creations, then it’s the presence of God that drives out darkness for us.

“let no sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. for sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

sin has nothing on you. if you begin to truly walk into the fullness of your identity in Christ, you will see that you’ve been raised in victory over sin and death. as long as you believe that sin has a role in your life, it will. but once you truly tap into the presence, power, and purity of God, you can’t help but be a conqueror. it’s in your genetic code as a new creation.

you’ve always heard that quote about your body being a temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19), but did you ever see that it was in context to sexual purity? my youth group leaders back in the day always linked it to being about food consumption… what? sure, okay, fine. and yet another example of how this topic of sexual self-gratification is quickly swept under the rug, especially during the pubescent years of development when it matters the most.

now that i pointed out the elephant in the room, what do you do about it? bring it from darkness to light. if you’re ashamed, that’s even a greater hint that you need to expose that sucker. but here’s the thing as well, don’t beat yourself up about it. seriously, don’t. the Father doesn’t condemn you, so don’t condemn yourself. He just wants you to walk in the most freedom and fullness possible.  you can talk about it with trustworthy friends, accountability, a mentor, or whomever you discern to be an individual who would speak life and freedom over you. pray and receive intercession over it. break off any spiritual attachments. seek healing if you’ve been sexually abused. talk to Daddy about it; let His Spirit reveal parts of your heart that are held in bondage, release them, and choose to walk into freedom. getting deeper into the Father’s heart and a new found intimacy with God through His Holy Spirit will only drive out impurities on your behalf. He already fought for you, and now it’s your turn to receive that freedom.

woman of God, i give you permission to start thinking about chocolate.

 

OTHER VERSES THAT COMPLIMENT THIS TOPIC:

for God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. {1 Thessalonians 4:7}

flee from sexual immorality. every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. {1 Corinthians 6:18}

therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. as a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. {Peter 4:1-2}

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Joan Huang is a native Texan with a fiery heart for East Asia.  She has lived in Thailand for two years as a teacher and grad student, and is called to a cross-cultural life overseas alongside her husband. She dreams of someday owning a coffee shop and has a love for languages, art, and ice cream.



Raising Generations Today to Be Pure in An Impure World

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Exactly what influence does today’s culture have on our children in regards to virtue? Can we hope to raise sexually pure sons and daughters in an impure world?

In a culture where “sex sells”, we have become the target audience for messages of impure love. Sexually explicit advertisements in the media bombard us daily making it impossible to shield our children from their onslaught. Is it any wonder children today are more curious at younger ages?  What’s a parent to do?

Continue reading over at Raising Generations Today.

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