Disentangled Thoughts

“Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” -Dawson Trotman

I heard this quote for the first time two nights ago and haven’t been able to shake it since. It accurately describes why I love writing so very much. I’ve said it many times before, writing is my best form of communication. I wish I could accurately convey my heart the way “normal” people do. I’ve come a long way in my social skills, but it’s still an area of struggle for me.

This past year, I have not written much, though in the past few months I’ve made more of an effort to blog at least. It is true, my thoughts have been very tangled up since I haven’t been writing as much.

Tonight I went to church and heard a message about God’s preparation in our lives for His purpose. The pastor made a statement that stuck out to me. He said if you don’t know who you are in God, and you don’t know God’s purpose for your life, you will constantly move around trying to find a place where you fit, but you’ll never fill that emptiness inside.

That idea resonated with me. I felt it. To be honest, lately, I’ve been struggling with the idea of moving and trying to find a new place to “belong.” I’m four months away from being where I am at for two years. It’s accurate timing for me to start feeling the “itch” placed in me growing up in the military’s mobile lifestyle.

A friend once told me that when I feel that “itch” to move that I should NOT scratch it. She said the itch means I’m healing, but if I scratch it, I will delay my healing. What she said made sense to me. I knew the day would come when the itch would begin again, but I really haven’t focused my mind on what I should do to keep myself occupied and not “scratching.”

I feel a little sad tonight. I feel passed over and forgotten. When I’m the new person, it is exciting. There are “places to go and people to see . . .” But right now, I just feel here. I feel unsure of what is next. I feel unsure even of what I’m doing right now. I feel unsure of who I am and what God’s purpose for me is . . . I want to “go” to find it, but as the preacher said tonight, I will keep trying to fill the hole in my heart, but I’ll never be able to fill it outside of God’s purpose and plan.

As I type, my thoughts are disentangling themselves a bit. I feel the need to quiet my mind and meditate on the Word of God. Who does God say that I am?

I remember a paper I once taped to the back of my apartment door. It was scripture-based affirmations of who I am in Christ. Anytime I felt down, unsure, low, etc. I would read those affirmations aloud. Whichever one pierced my heart is the one I knew I needed to be reminded of.

I searched for the affirmations online and found a couple of versions of it. Here is the one I had originally taped to my door. The version I read tonight had several additional affirmations. These are the ones that pierced my heart tonight.

I am a temple…a dwelling place…of God. His Spirit and His life dwell in me. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)

I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I am bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 7:23)

I am called. (1 Corinthians 7:17)

I am a member of Christ’s Body. (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30)

I am victorious through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I have been established, anointed and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given to the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my inheritance to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:13,14)

I thank God that I am healed (Isaiah 53:5). I thank God that I have been redeemed (Revelation 5:9).

God does have a purpose for my life. He isn’t finished with me. He has a plan and a place for me to belong. I am not forgotten. He has provided for me. He is preparing me for His plan for the future. I don’t understand it all today, but in the future, I will be able to look back on this time and thank God for it.

 

What do you have to lose?

I read a poem by Elizabeth Bishop titled One Art. In the poem (shared below), Bishop wrote about an art that isn’t hard to master – the art of losing. She talks about losing door keys, time, places, names, hopes, houses, cities, and even a continent.

It’s easy to lose things: our tempers, our hearts, our heads. Even sadder, it’s easy to lose friends or potential friendships. These things that are easy to lose are the things that matter the most in life.

It’s more difficult to lose other things that we want to lose: weight, debt, guilt, grudges. These things seem to cling to us (or some of us), and sometimes feel impossible to dump. There may be even more difficult things that are clinging to us: addictions, unhealthy relationships, apathy or a lack of compassion.

I thank God that He has made a way for us to be free from sin, and free from the weight of life. The Word says Truth sets us free (John 8:32); Jesus sets us free (John 8:36); where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

The Lord is also a keeper. He keeps His promises and His covenant with us (Deuteronomy 7:9). He keeps us from harm (Psalm 121:7). He keeps us from falling (Jude 1:24). It is our job to keep ourselves in His love (Jude 1:21).

Jesus will also help us lose things out of our lives that are not good for us. What will you lose today? Will you lose bitterness, hatred, judgment, or hurt feelings? Will you lose pain or low self-esteem? Will you lose the need to be right, or the need to defend yourself?

Today, my prayer is that I would lose the things I need to lose (hurt, bitterness, unforgiveness), and keep the things I need to keep (God’s love, mercy, grace, and kindness). I pray that for you all today as well.

One Art, by ELIZABETH BISHOP

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

When You Unintentionally Hurt Others

I experienced a really difficult situation tonight. You know that saying “hurt people hurt people” . . . ? Yeah, I lived that tonight. And the knowledge that I hurt someone else made me hurt really, really badly. It also made me think about the people who have hurt me in the past, mostly unintentionally, and how I pushed them away and clung to my pain.

To be honest, this past week has been a terrible week. I experienced some personal pain that resulted in the worst panic attack I’ve had in a long time. Other friends also had difficult weeks, seemingly all around the same timeframes. Our nation also experienced severe tragedy. Everyone is hurting.

When I hurt, it doesn’t take much to trigger me into deep pain. I’ve tried to heal the wounds, but they are too big for me. I’ve called out to God, and honestly, it doesn’t seem like He has done much about it. That complicates faith quite a bit. It certainly makes faith a choice when you aren’t feeling it.

Earlier this week, I saw something that ripped open the wound of rejection in my heart. After that, it seemed like I was facing rejection everywhere.

Someone stole my Open House signs on my first day hosting an open house as a Realtor. That small thing shouldn’t have made me feel as rejected and violated as it did, but it did.

Then, I tried to purchase an item from a person I know on Facebook but was ignored. It really wasn’t the ignoring that got me. It was that I had tried to purchase items from this person before, and also been ignored. And it wasn’t just her, but I experienced severe rejection from multiple people at the church she attends (that I also attended for a couple of years until I finally left), after going through some of the worst things in my life (i.e. when my brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison, I was stood up by the prayer “leader” and other leaders I set up appointments to try to meet with).

This girl sort of embodied all I thought was good in that church. The rejection I perceived to get from her via Facebook poured salt into the old wounds from the people I had once admired at that church and then been extremely burned and rejected by.

Being ignored on Facebook shouldn’t have bothered me so much, but it did. I was sick of being rejected and ignored, especially by people at THAT church. I had already unfriended most of the people who triggered my pain, but I didn’t want to unfriend her because I thought she was different from them.

So I contacted her instead. I told her I was frustrated about being ignored. Ironically, our last message from several years ago was me asking her if I had offended her, and if that was that why she was ignoring my request to place an order from her.

Back then, she responded that she was busy and missed the message and how sorry she was. Still, she never followed through with the order. I didn’t pursue it.

This time, she responded in a similar way. She said she was busy and that she’s sorry I felt that way, but that she missed the message.

I was talking to someone else at the time and didn’t read her full message. I responded with a curt explanation that I understood she was busy, but that this was the third time I had tried to order from her and been ignored, and that I wouldn’t be trying to order from her again in the future.

She responded that she understood and that someone else had wanted that item before I did, but that she understood.

I responded again that I probably shouldn’t have said anything, but that I respected her and her work, and that I felt if she continued to treat customers the way she had treated me that people were going to start going away from her. I told her that I hoped her the best in her endeavors.

Then I read the rest of her email response. And my heart dropped.

She said her reason for not responding and being busy was that her mother was diagnosed with cancer last week. Last week. That terrible week. That same day I had had the horrible panic attack that sent me into depression for the weekend.

And my response to her vulnerability was that I understood things get busy, but this was the third time I had been ignored and I wasn’t going to try again.

Wow. What a coldhearted, jerky thing to say to someone who just told you their mother was diagnosed with cancer. I felt like the most terrible person in the world, and I am sure she thought I was. I didn’t mean to be, but that is what it appeared I was.

I wrote back, telling her I had just fully read her message, and that I was sorry I hurt her and added to her stress. She had already un-friended me from Facebook.

To be honest, if I were her, I would have totally blasted me. I would have definitely told me off and been very hateful about it.

But she responded with “I understand . . .” and putting up the seemingly well-deserved boundary of unfriending–just like I had with all those “hateful” people from that church she represented who hurt me so much.

In the middle of complaining that she wasn’t listening to me, I failed to listen to her. I was so caught up in my hurt and my being tired of being rejected and ignored over and over and over again that I put up a boundary that said NO MORE. I was so selfishly caught up in my hurt, I hurt her.

I hate hurting others. I never mean to, but when it happens I have a very real knowledge that I cannot I stop the hurt I’ve caused. I know it because I’ve been hurt and no matter how much the other person is sorry (or maybe didn’t even mean to hurt me) it doesn’t stop the pain.

I felt so guilty for what I had done, I immediately wrote the girl a letter and bought her something simple. The package is on the table and ready to be mailed.

But something else happened in the middle of all of this processing. My pain from the past became too much again and I started spewing out hatred all over my apartment. I resentfully looked at the package and thought of all the people who had hurt me and how they had never done anything to try to fix it. I started cursing the people who had hurt me from that girl’s church, expressing my feelings of hate for them.

I started crying and asking God why He left me here in this pain. I asked God if anyone even cared in the whole world.

Immediately, I heard HIM silently answer, “I will not leave you comfortless . . .” 

Right there in the middle of the worst of my brokenness, in the middle of love that had grown very cold, was a still small whisper. God wasn’t angry at my anger, my resentment, or my ocean of hurt. He was just there.

To be honest, it took me a while to calm down, but then I knew I had to write about this somewhere because writing is really the only thing that makes anything make sense to me.

This whole world is full of pain, hurt, misunderstanding, rejection, and all sorts of misjudgments and broken relationships. People are facing far worse realities than I have ever had. They will never have the answer to their question, “Why me?”

Tonight, my blunder and self-defense cost me the acquaintance of a person I admire. We were never close friends, though I wished I could have been friends with her and her friends. I was never accepted into their group, no matter how much I tried. I’m sure it’s for the best that she and I are no longer connected on social media, but it is sad it has to be that way.

Who knows what kind of hurts she and her friends and her church experienced that caused them to be so rejecting of others in the first place. Their hurts turned into my hurts, which turned into more hurt for them and me.

Is it possible that somehow this entire situation can be turned around for the good? Not just this situation, but also the situation I had last week that left me reeling from the heartbreak and pain of a previous great loss?

I honestly can’t see it at the moment. How can any separation between people be a good thing? How can any brokenness be a good thing?

I looked up the words that came to me in the midst of my hateful rage. “I will not leave you comfortless . . .”  It came from a passage in John, chapter 14, verses 18-23.

I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall.” John 14:18-23

Yes, the world is broken and so am I. But Jesus is coming back to redeem His people from all of this hurt and brokenness. As the love in the world grows cold, sometimes it feels as if we sense God’s presence less and less. It shakes us to the core. The disconnection between Believers makes it worse. We hold onto hurt, pain, and unforgiveness and we let go of people.

Somehow I don’t think it was meant to be that way. If only we would love each other enough to not cut each other off to protect ourselves. Maybe we would see that we never meant to hurt each other in the first place.

I don’t understand why the hurts I’ve experienced happened. But I do know I do not want to hold onto them. I don’t want to go through life in pain. I don’t want to reject people because they reject me. I don’t want to be filled with hurt, bitterness, or resentment.

God, have mercy on my heart. Please heal me. I can’t fix these things myself. I can’t fix myself. I am at Your mercy.

I will send the package and the card to the girl. I will not try to be her friend or purchase items from her. I won’t try to comfort her because of her mother’s situation; that is for her real friends to do. But I will remember her. I will remember that she didn’t respond to me with hatred, perhaps indifference, but not hatred. She simply put up a boundary to protect herself. And I totally understand that, because I do it too.


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

Victory

Nine days into 2018.

For the past three days, the word Victory has unwittingly come into my life. I didn’t realize it until today, as I drove to work listening to a CD I recently purchased. There it was in the first song, VICTORY. As the music played, my mind drifted to the book I began reading last night, Chosen for Victory, by James Holland Sr. I brought the book back to Texas with me from my parents’ house after Thanksgiving and hadn’t touched it until last night.

As I read the first chapter of the book last night, I recalled the story of Alexander the Great was featured in the Sunday school class I had attended the day before. To add to these three instances, the word Victory was the theme of a sermon I happened upon on Facebook earlier today. My pastor often says, “We don’t fight for Victory, but from a place of Victory . . .” That was the concept presented

It seems everywhere I turn, Victory is calling my name, whispering in my mind, beckoning my heart to believe.

What has me completely in awe is the fact that the word Victory has been the last thing on my mind over the past year. I felt more defeat last year than I have my entire life. I have not been seeking out Victory, nor have I even thought of the word. I haven’t prayed particularly for Victory, or even felt as if it were possible.

What I have been seeking is God. I have been pushing aside my selfish desires and asking God to enter my life in a more full way. I’ve asked Him to lead and guide me. I haven’t done much talking. I haven’t asked for anything specifically. I haven’t been obsessed with anyone or anything.

I’ve just been quiet. I’ve been working. I’ve been waiting.

I’ve been speaking to God, but I haven’t been really crying out to Him so much, though I have a bit these past few days. I have just talked to Him. And I haven’t really heard much of anything. Until now.

Victory. It’s been a quiet word. I’m not sure how or when it will manifest. All I know is that is that when I silence all the word around me, that word is all I hear.

 

Anger and Anxiety

I’ve been aware I struggle with Anxiety since the first time I learned what the word meant. Anger kicked in when I was in my mid-20s. I never considered a link between my anger and anxiety before tonight.

I don’t know why the thought came to me. It just sort of clicked. I mean, I’ve known about “fight or flight” forever. And I’ve known I have a problem not being able to let go of cycling thoughts of self-defending anger. I just never linked the two before now.

My anger was implosive for several years. I slowly self-destructed as I blamed myself for everything in my life that was wrong. As I started working on my self-esteem, my anger began expressing in different ways – usually in confronting authority figures who abuse their power.

I don’t know much else to write at the moment because I don’t want to go into telling the story of my current battles, as it will spiral me into anger and anxiety again. I just felt like I wanted to share about this topic and give an opportunity for others to share their thoughts.

He Loves a Cheerful Giver

It’s my birthday! I was on Facebook a few nights ago and I noticed I could dedicate my birthday to a cause and raise funds for a related non-profit. I chose to dedicate my birthday to a group that provides humanitarian aid to persecuted Christians in the Middle East, the Iraqi Christain Relief Council.

God has placed a great love and compassion in my heart for persecuted people around the world, particularly in the Middle East and Iraq. I’m a monthly financial supporter of the Hatune Foundation, which provides humanitarian to help Christian and Yazdi women fleeing ISIS.

When I saw I could raise a little bit of money through Facebook, I jumped at the chance. I set a goal of $340 for my 34th Birthday. It only took a few days, and so many contributed, we surpassed the goal! So far $420 has been donated! It’s pretty awesome! I have a feeling we are going to make at least $100 more than the goal.

fundraiser-goal.pngI want to thank everyone for their support. Among those who gave include my Dad, Mom, Sister, close friends, and even a single mother with a son who was recently diagnosed with cancer. When I look at the sacrifices each person made, my heart is stirred with compassion. I know the heart of God is stirred as well, and that He will multiply our gift to bring aid to people in need.

I thank God for another year to live, and another year to give. I want this year to be the year I give more than I have ever given to help people in need, both in the U.S. and around the world. Thank you all for making my birthday so special, and thank you for supporting me by supporting this cause that I care so deeply about.

Tomorrow, I am starting a drive at work to collect items for the Houston flood victims. Please pray that we collect a nice amount of useful items, which will be transported to Houston on Friday. Much love 

P.S. I want to share that for the past week, I’ve been praying for the Lord to help me regain a sense of happiness and joy. As I give to others, I realize I’m gaining much joy in return. God truly does love a cheerful giver. I also want to say that this effort was not without resistance. Within an hour of posting my online fundraiser,

I also want to say that this effort was not without resistance. Within an hour of posting my online fundraiser, one of my now ex-Facebook friends was very demeaning to me for donating to an organization that in his words “only helps other people in their cult.” I have to come against his statements

I have to come against his statements because of the following. #1, Christianity is not a cult. #2, Every humanitarian and human service organization has a target population to serve. #3, Christians in the Middle East are not the only persecuted people there, but they are a minority among the victims and sometimes victimized by other people who are also victims of the “really bad guys” like ISIS. #4, If you don’t want to donate, don’t. But you don’t have to be rude and discouraging to someone who is just trying to do something nice for someone else.

Be thankful I am helping others, regardless of who those people are. I chose this population because I relate to them. They are my brothers and sisters in the Lord, and that means they are family. In short, I lost a Facebook friend, but I gained a lot of support from people who love me and who love to help people around the world. Much love 

Cross out chance.

Sharing some great thoughts from my friend!

From Nonsense To Sense

Recently I have been noticing that people almost always have something hanging from the rear view mirror in their car. Usually it’s either some form of a cross, or hanging dice. It got me thinking: People are either choosing Christ and the cross, or they are leaving their lives to chance… What a revelation!

When I speak of life – I am not just referring to this life. I mean the eternal life of your soul. Can we take a moment to comprehend the severity of this situation? Not through the filter of fear, but through a perspective that sobers us into an awakening. It scares me to think that some people are okay with rolling the dice, and gambling their salvation away for a few years of supposed fun.

On my birthday a few years ago, I went gambling for the first (and only) time. I hated it…

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A Weekend in Prison (Ministry)

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I just came home from four days at Kairos Prison Ministry at Pulaski State Prison in Georgia. I and 29 other women volunteers went to the all-female facility to bring the hope of Christ to 36 inmates. The weekend was a life-changing experience for me as a volunteer.

Many things struck my heart this weekend and I’m still processing a lot of what happened. I know I’ll be writing more about it over the next few weeks. I’m having a difficult time thinking about what exactly to share in this post, as the entire weekend was so full.

I think the main thing that struck me was at the closing ceremony when I saw a few of the women inmates gathered around one that was about to speak in the ceremony. They were praying for her. It was amazing to see the women supporting each other in the community.

I heard a lot of testimonies of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness. I saw women who were struggling with the consequences of their choices. I saw women who were given fair sentences, and women who were given seemingly unjust sentences.

I think the women that stood out to me the most were the ones that were so sweet and kind. It’s hard to imagine them doing anything to be put in prison. But something happened.

We don’t know the women’s charges or sentences unless they share them with us. We do have access to look them up in the system, but I didn’t want to look anyone up this weekend. I wanted to just be with them, not knowing what wasn’t shared in natural conversation.

I have come home and looked up a couple of them that are on my heart. I will be praying for them, and I plan to go back in to visit them with the Kairos team, Lord willing.

So much to think about and pray about. God is moving in Pulaski State Prison, and He’s moving in the hearts of the women, and in my heart.

Letter #26 to a Woman in Prison

Letter #26 of 36. Each woman who attends the prison ministry weekend will receive a handwritten letter from each volunteer. Please pray for us as we prepare for the weekend.

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Dear ______,

Have you ever heard the saying “the truth hurts”? Sometimes truth does hurt, but sometimes it’s exactly what we need to hear.

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

I had a friend tell me some truths he felt very strongly. I didn’t fully agree with what he had to say, but I appreciated that he was brave enough to tell me what he was really feeling. I acknowledged his feelings and thanked him for being honest with me. I told him I wasn’t sure how I would handle the situation, but that I appreciated his friendship and respected him.

Have you ever been in the place where you were the friend that had to speak the truth, and were afraid of hurting your friend? Have you ever been the one on the receiving end of a truth that hurt to hear?

I hope and pray that you will not lose your friend over the situation. You will have to decide what is most important, risking losing your friend and telling the truth? Or losing your friend because you are hurt and angry they took a risk and told you the truth?

True friends are honest, even when it hurts. Go forward with love and forgiveness. Make amends with your friend, and keep the friendship honest.

Praying for you in Jesus’ Name,

Rachael Hartman
Proverbs 27:6

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I’m raising money to help pay for this weekend. $150 will pay for one female inmate to attend the Kairos prison ministry I’m volunteering at.

If you would like to donate to the prison ministry, it needs to be in the form of a check made out to: KPMI (which stands for Kairos Prison Ministry International). In the memo put: Pulaski, GA. You can mail it to me, Rachael Hartman, at: PO Box 501, Bloomingdale, GA 31302. If you want a tax credit, include your full name and address on a note and they will mail you a tax receipt.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers! Every $5 goes to pay for a meal for one of the inmates that weekend. The meal will have a tag with your name on it. And we will have a paper chain link that will also have your names on a link to show that you have prayed for and invested into the weekend. Praise God for what He will do! Please keep me in your prayers as I will be speaking on Obstacles to Accepting God’s Grace, and sharing part of my own testimony in the process.

To add your name to the prayer chain (which will be visualized with a paper link chain – your name will be on one link) please leave a comment below. And please pray for Kairos #40 ~ Pulaski Women’s State Prison in Georgia. Kairos weekend happening August 25-28, 2016.

Letter #16 to a Woman in Prison

Letter #16 of 30. Actually, I found out I need 36 letters. So of 36. Each woman who attends the prison ministry weekend will receive a handwritten letter from each volunteer. Please pray for us as we prepare for the weekend.
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Dear ______,

My cousin’s young daughters came to visit me this week. One is 6 and one is 12. They are very sweet. The 6-year-old has quite the personality!

Every evening before dinner, the 6-year-old volunteers to pray over the meal. She keeps her prayers short and to the point. “God, bless this food! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

Last night after she prayed, she piped up and said, “You know what happens when little people pray? God listens!”

Everyone at the table laughed. It was very cute. But what she said was true. God does listen. God listens not just to the little people, but also to the big people too–especially when we have the faith of a child.

Childlike faith is simple faith. It doesn’t require a lot of effort or thought. Kids just accept the truth that God is and that He loves them, and that is it.

When you pray today, remember this “God listens!”

Praying for you in Jesus’ Name,

Rachael Hartman
Matthew 18:3

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I’m raising money to help pay for this weekend. $150 will pay for one female inmate to attend the Kairos prison ministry I’m volunteering at.

If you would like to donate to the prison ministry, it needs to be in the form of a check made out to: KPMI (which stands for Kairos Prison Ministry International). In the memo put: Pulaski, GA. You can mail it to me, Rachael Hartman, at: PO Box 501, Bloomingdale, GA 31302. If you want a tax credit, include your full name and address on a note and they will mail you a tax receipt.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers! Every $5 goes to pay for a meal for one of the inmates that weekend. The meal will have a tag with your name on it. And we will have a paper chain link that will also have your names on a link to show that you have prayed for and invested into the weekend. Praise God for what He will do! Please keep me in your prayers as I will be speaking on Obstacles to Accepting God’s Grace, and sharing part of my own testimony in the process.

To add your name to the prayer chain (which will be visualized with a paper link chain – your name will be on one link) please leave a comment below. And please pray for Kairos #40 ~ Pulaski Women’s State Prison in Georgia. Kairos weekend happening August 25-28, 2016.