Why the Supreme Court’s Decision to Legalize Gay Marriage is Not the Issue

An historical decision was made through our Supreme Court in the USA yesterday. Gay marriage in America is officially recognized as receiving the same legal and civil rights as heterosexual marriage.

This is an important day in history. I do not want to diminish it.

rainbow-flag

I came across this tweet from a man who I do not know named John McGowan. He said,

“Don’t write off America or put your hope in her. Anchor your life in the eternal Word and Kingdom of Christ.”

And I could not agree more.

Regardless of your views on this decision, Mr. McGowan cuts straight to the core of what is ultimately important: It is not what some perceive as the decay of society nor is it what some perceive as the progress of society.

Our lives are to be anchored in Christ.

When this happens, when we are firmly rooted in His grace, the same grace that covers us, that gives us each next breath, that releases us from this world and into the next, we are transported to a million-foot view instead of a myopic view of one (yes, very monumental) decision.

  • If this decision upsets you, mourn. But do not only mourn for a change in constitutional rights: Mourn because the enemy wants us to focus on topics that divide the Church and our unity and the way a world should perceive hope. (John 13:35).
  • If this decision causes you to celebrate, celebrate. But do not only celebrate because some people can now wed. Celebrate that the son of God in flesh perished for us so that we can have eternal life and hope (John 3:16).
  • If this decision makes you angry, be angry. But do not only be angry at the polarizing messages you see on social media or on the news. Be angry at the hate that is thrown at everyone, no matter what their beliefs are. (Hebrews 12:14)
  • If this decision makes you want to fight, fight. But do not fight for what you believe is right in your heart. Fight to demolish the hateful and hurtful words on either side of this issue. Fight for compassion. Be loud with your love. (Romans 12:18)
  • If this decision makes you hate sin, hate sin. But do not focus intently on the actions or words of others that do not glorify God. Look at the words Jesus writes in the sand before the woman is stoned. See your own sin. Repent. Walk away. Sin no more. (John 8:11)

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner,
Anne Marie MIller

Get Mad Church Disease for FREE

A friend of mine asked “Does serving in the church interfere with your relationship with Christ?” At the time, the answer was yes. I was super burned out on church.

Fast forward a few years and I got to write a book about how God heals and how He – not the church – is the object of our worship.

Last year, I re-released Mad Church Disease with more resources and wrote an accompanying 30 Day devotional.

So, if you’re feeling burned out…with church, work, life…I pray these can help you. Normally, they’re $20 for the lot, but since, well, I’ve been reflecting on being burned out lately, I thought I’d bundle them for $5 for the ebook versions.

You can get them below. All the proceeds support our ministry.

mcdsummer

Price: $5.00

Get BOTH the Expanded and Revised Edition of Mad Church Disease and the 30 Day Beating Burnout Devotional eBooks for donation of $5

(Essentially, you get MCD free for the cost of Beating Burnout!)

Mad Church Disease: Healing from Church Burnout: Does serving in the church hurt your relationship with Christ? That question may have saved author Anne Marie Miller’s life. She believes it could save yours, too. As the daughter of a pastor, Anne saw firsthand the struggles leaders face and the toll it takes on their families. She vowed her life in ministry would be different. Yet, years later, as a church leader, she was hospitalized because stress began wreaking havoc on her body. She had burned out. Anne developed a website that allowed church leaders to share their struggles. Within a few days, she was flooded with over a thousand responses from people pouring out their stories of pain. Mad Church Disease, born out of that experience, is a lively, informative, and potentially life-saving resource for anyone who has ever stepped foot in a church who would like to understand, prevent, or treat the epidemic of burnout in church culture.

“Ultimately, Mad Church Disease is not just about solutions, it is a solution. It is a tool that can be used by a church staff or by individuals. It contains helpful interviews with church leaders who have lived through Mad Church Disease. And it offers worksheets to start private or group discussions about the issues of personal and spiritual health. Use this great new tool to find and restore healthy margins in your life.”Dave Kinnaman, President, Barna Group

Beating Burnout: A 30-day devotional eBook that will help you begin your day resting in the power of Christ. Starting our days focused on our relationship with God is essential to staying healthy in ministry. Each week focuses a day on rest, spiritual health, physical health, emotional health, relational health and prayer.

We Cannot Remove God’s Love From Us

Today at (in)courage, I share a slice of Lean on Me.  Here’s a sample for you.

To read the full article, click here.

I’m so grateful these women were so generous to share a little bit of this book that was many years in the making.

And, oh yeah. I punched a wall in it.

****

Over a year had passed since my divorce, and God’s silence was still too much for me. I was out of town, and in my hotel room one evening. I wept. For hours. Why? Why? Why? Where are you? I don’t understand.

Still nothing. Still silence. The numbness morphed into anger. I drew myself up on to my knees and faced the headboard of the bed. I considered a drastic choice — a choice that would go against everything I learned a Christian should do.

Flashbacks of Sunday school and Bible verses and my life as a good preacher’s daughter — as a woman in ministry — went flying behind my eyes. In between the flares of my anger and hurt were memories of holy moments. I reflected on the night of my ordination when I was twenty-nine, the elders of my church leaning over me and putting their hands on my head, my shoulders, kneeling beside me as they commissioned me. I thought of my grandfather on his deathbed, telling me to never give up on the church. The moments of grace given to me by friends and the times my heart grew supple and receptive. How many times did I kneel at the altar? “Anne, the body of Christ broken for you; the blood of Christ shed for you.” I ate the bread. I drank the wine. My tears were in the crevices of the wooden floor in front of the place I would kneel Sunday after Sunday.

But somehow, this reel of sacred and lovely memories wasn’t enough.

So much. So much. So much fury and grief and silence and loudness, and it was all in a vacuum that finally opened, a breaking point that was broken, and everything went soaring from the secret places where they hid into a very material atmosphere.

In that moment, I didn’t care. I didn’t quietly renounce Him. I yelled. I put my fist to the wall in the hotel room. Not only did I swear God off, I swore at God, dropping four-letter words that were difficult for me to hear as they slipped out of my mouth. I threw the pillows as hard as I could across the room screaming at Him to leave me alone.

I am through. With. You.

I stared at the pillows on the floor and felt my right hand throb from its violent contact with the wall. With a red, swollen face, my eyes eventually closed and I fell asleep.

I woke the next morning covered in anxiety. I turned on my computer and did a search for “Catholic churches.” I needed to confess. I needed some form of penitence. An atonement. I called the church and a sweet older woman’s voice greeted me on the other line. I set up confession with a Catholic priest in a town where nobody knew me and begged him to give me some way to earn back grace. I am not even Catholic.

He was the priest and he was from Tanzania and in seminary. Because I wasn’t Catholic, he couldn’t offer me confession. But he offered me a seat in his office and wise, wise words.

My battle with God the night before was not a way for God to opt out but a way for me to allow Him in even further. I was not the prodigal son. I was the older brother. Like the father in that parable in Luke, God came outside His celebration to see why I wasn’t joining in. I pushed my list of demands on Him. I didn’t want Him. I wanted relief. The prodigal son was covered in an obvious filth when his father met him: the slop of pigs and sweat and dirt from his humiliating journey home. I was covered in my own loam, though not so material: my fear, my control, my entitlement, my cursing, my rejection of Him.

I could not earn his love and I could not remove it from me. We cannot remove God’s love from us. It is like, as Rilke says, one of those “things that will not ever leave.”

Read the rest…click here.

To All The Mothers Who Will Never Hold Their Babies on Mother’s Day

mothers-day-for-childless-anne-marie-miller

It’s really quite odd and blessed, the duality of joy and grief.

A few weeks ago, Tim and I experienced a new type of happiness for us…a new kind of joy. I woke up early on a Wednesday morning with the strong urge to take a pregnancy test, even though I wasn’t late for my cycle.

Five pregnancy tests later (I may be a little compulsive), we learned we were going to be parents.

Everything seemed complete and right. We fell in love with the poppy-seed-sized clump of baby whose DNA was being written with each passing day. We celebrated with our friends, our family, our students.

We met with our fertility doctor and some test results came back uncertain, but not concerning. I needed to start incorporating hormone therapy and that would increase my progesterone, giving the poppy seed a nice home in which to start growing. Within a few days, those levels went up to exactly what they needed to be. My HCG, however, wasn’t climbing as quickly as it should. We were told to watch for pain or symptoms that would indicate we needed to pay closer attention during these very sensitive first months.

The following Friday night around midnight, I awoke to pain. The pain that says, “Something isn’t right.” Being a classic hypochondriac (and at this moment, by the grace of God, a fairly reasonable one), I forced myself back to sleep telling myself, “It’s probably indigestion. Don’t worry. If you still feel this way in the morning, you can always get it checked out then.” I fell back asleep.

Saturday morning, the pain was worse. Tim said we needed to go to the hospital, and at this point, I knew something was wrong. However, I procrastinated. I told him, “The longer I just lie here in bed, everything is normal. The moment we get to the hospital, it could all be over.”

I wasn’t willing to accept this.

We arrived to the emergency room and said exactly what our fertility doctor said to say. A few blood tests later and the ER doctor walks in, sits down next to me, holds my hand and says, “At this point, it’s clear you have an ectopic pregnancy and you’re starting to miscarry. I’m sorry.”

He left, and Tim came over and reached around the bed rail, holding me. We both wept at the life inside me that was on its way to being born inside of heaven. We would not get to hold this baby in our arms or put this child to sleep in his or her crib. There would be no diaper blow outs, no baby showers, no ringing in the new year as a family of three.

The faith that came so easily was hard to grasp hold of as it floated away with our dream.

We went home, exhausted, making tearful calls to family and a few friends as we were unsure of the next steps. Hours later, our fertility doctor calls and says we need to meet her at the hospital at 7 pm. She needed to remove my left fallopian tube and the 200ccs of blood that drained into my abdomen from my tube’s slow rupture.

Returning to the emergency room, we saw familiar faces dressed in blue scrubs from that morning, each knowing what happened. With hugs and condolences from strangers, I was given some pain medication and wheeled back to the surgical holding area. Nobody else was having surgery Saturday night (they were probably eating and drinking and being merry), so it was only a matter of minutes before the anesthesiologists and nurses prepared me for my second reproductive surgery in the last year.

I drifted off into an hour-long sleep, waking up to kind words from a smiling nurse. Tim came in shortly after speaking to our doctor, confirming everything she suspected: the baby implanted in my left fallopian tube, caused it to start rupturing, and our doctor was able to safely remove my tube, and the blood, and I would be fine.

But define the word, “fine”… would you?

I stayed in the hospital overnight with Tim next to me. A first-rate medical team insured I was physically comfortable, and messages from friends and family helped ease the emotional pain.

In some drug-induced blur, I recalled how strange it was that I even took a pregnancy test that Wednesday morning. I had no reason to. I wasn’t late and I didn’t feel “pregnant” (whatever that means). However, if I wouldn’t have taken those tests and seen our fertility doctor, I likely would have written off the cramps I felt as normal cramps and the bleeding I had as a normal cycle.

I didn’t realize the severity of my symptoms and likely wouldn’t have until I lost so much blood I passed out. But because of that urge to take that first pregnancy test and the relationship we established with our fertility doctor, I was safe and healthy.

Even though our baby passed away and woke up on the other side of eternity, that doesn’t change the fact that Tim and I are still parents. Before the world was made, God knew this baby would exist. Somehow everything worked together perfectly and this baby formed.

We were able to be a mom and a dad to this little human for only a few weeks, and life is life, even when it finds itself removed from this earth.

The peace that wrapped us up before we knew anything was wrong still holds us, in spite of the grief we feel from the loss. Knowing that God knew this child since the beginning of time and knows each of us and has gone before us and sees the plan He has created for us gives us great cause to rejoice as we mourn.

It’s natural to feel as if two seemingly opposing forces can’t co-exist, like joyfulness and grief. But because they can, and they do, we know it is only because of His grace that miracles like this happen and we experience both joy and grief in their entirety, in chorus.

I never realized the tension of Mother’s Day when you’ve lost a child; I always heard it, but I didn’t understand. Now, in a poppy-seed-sized way, I do. So, if you are missing your own child, regardless of how or when he or she departed, know you are not alone, and I wish you the most honest of Mother’s Days. Nothing will ever change the fact that you are a mother.

How Should Christians Respond to Bruce Jenner’s Interview?

11173395_10153181793295910_8868088077904899596_n

Tonight, I sat and watched Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner. If you’re not familiar with him, he was named the “world’s greatest athlete” after the 1976 Olympics. He’s the step-father of the Kardashian girls. And he’s transitioning into a woman. I found the interview thoughtful and compassionate, heart wrenching and curious.

How does the church respond?

Fortunately, Dr. Russell Moore penned a gracious and loving response. How do we, as the church, respond? How do we love?

And how do we talk to our kids about this (and many other hot topics being publicized before our very eyes, in supermarkets and on TV?)

“We will stand with conviction, even as we offer mercy.” – Dr. Russell Moore

Read his article here.

Parents Need to Talk to Their Kids About The Website “Omegle” NOW.

It’s been a while since I posted something about the book I have releasing next May (2016). It was first titled “10 Things Parents Need to Know About Their Kids and Sex” and it’s now 5 Things Parents Need to Know About Their Kids and Sex” – We didn’t take out five things; we just condensed a few similar topics to make it more cohesive for our conversation starters and resources.

[Side note: If you want information about ordering this book when it’s available, just sign up here.]

My friend Crystal helped me research apps and websites of which parents need to be aware, and today I started doing a little more in depth poking around. One website, Omegle.com, was first brought to my attention by a 14 year old girl who I knew used it to chat. It’s in the same arena as the old, Ben Folds famous “ChatRoulette” (he used ChatRoulette in a concert and while most strangers that appeared did so with their faces, as it cycled through, a penis filled the video screen at the concert venue).

talk-to-strangers

You go to the site, are told in the fine print to use it at “your own peril” and that it’s moderated (except for the adult/unmoderated section, which is only a click away from accessing). No login needed. Just a click saying you’re over the age of 13 (no verification process) and BOOM, you are met with a screen to live video chat a stranger. I did my click through and the first image I saw was of a male (I don’t know if he was an adult or not) masturbating.

I logged off quickly and told Tim. I said maybe it was a freak incident, and I’d try again. Tim says, “I don’t want to see some guy’s penis,” and I said, “we shouldn’t. It’s moderated.”

Click. Boom. Penis. Again.

I probably hit refresh (quickly) about five times and of those times, all strangers were male. Only once was I met with a face. The other four times I was greeted by a penis, which is not a very gentlemanly way to greet a stranger.

If this was in the “general” chat section of Omegle, Lord knows what shows up under the Adult/Unmoderated section. I did click on the “Adult” link to see what process it used and it just asked if I was over 18. When I clicked out, a pop up ad for more pornographic webcams filled my screen.

Parents, this is a very popular website (and app) for high schoolers. There’s no way to know who, or what, your child will see even if they click on the 13+ chat.

You need to talk to your kids about this. I know the age-old question of, “What if I bring it up and I only create more curiosity?” You might. But don’t let this be the only conversation you have. Sit down, face to face, let them know the danger in visiting this site, and if you can, block it or filter it with parental controls. Help them understand how we are all created in the image of God and sex is an awesome thing meant to share a sacred love between two married people. Sex is never meant to be solo, or with a stranger.

Here’s an article on Omegle if you want to read more.

The screenshot below was captured in my own research. You can guess what I covered up with the black box.

We CANNOT continue to sweep these awkward, important, necessary conversations under the rug. I am praying for each and every one of you who reads this and needs to have a chat with your kids.

Much love,

Anne Marie

(The photo below is graphic in nature but has been censored. Still, please view at your own discretion. I am not trying to be gratuitous in showing it to you, but I don’t want you to have to look it up on your own or be able to dismiss the reality and severity of the situation. This. Is. Very. Real.)

 

 

****

 

omegle-teen-parents-conversation

 

 

Trusting God’s Design

I didn’t know much about personality profiles growing up. What I did know is after about 2 hours at church, 2 hours at a party, 2 hours on a school trip, 2 hours at a sleepover…I was done.

I wasn’t angry. I didn’t dislike people. I wasn’t bored. I didn’t want to check out.

But something inside me hit a threshold of sorts and I knew I needed to spend at least a few minutes by myself and recharge. Otherwise, my mind would get spacey, I’d become easily distracted, my speech would begin to falter, I’d even become more clumsy.

Over time, I learned although this could cause me anxiety, it wasn’t the anxiety I wrestled with.

It was simply my design as an introvert (and a far-reaching one at that).

introverts-unite-individually-american-apparel-unisex-fitted-tee-lemon-w760h760

I’m not too shy (usually). I love people. I love loving people. I adore hearing what journey they’re walking and what God’s doing in their lives. I’m good with people.

As someone who has been, for the most part, self-employed for the last seven or eight years, I find a lot of quiet time in my own routine with writing and speaking. Now, as Tim and I entered a new season of life, with him as a youth pastor at a growing church, I find my time alone growing shorter and shorter. I know God knows how I’m wired and I know He gives me strength for every situation, but I often battle the process.

It goes a little like this:

  1. YES! I am SUPER PUMPED about this youth retreat we’re having this weekend. Over thirty people are going! I love the girls we get to minister to and with. I LOVE seeing them learn and grow! Yay!
  2. Wait, how far do we have to drive?
  3. Hold up…lights out is how late?
  4. How much time will I have a chance to be by myself and recharge?
  5. My routine! My routine! Ack!
  6. Geez, Miller. That’s entirely selfish! You’re here to serve these students and your husband and these volunteers. SUCK IT UP. You’re not going to die from talking and listening to people for four days.
  7. Well, you’ll die a little bit. But it’s for Jesus.
  8. Really, Miller. SUCK IT UP. Good grief. You introverts are always overanalyzing and planning 78 of the conversations you think you’ll have and you actually won’t have…no wonder you’re exhausted already. This is NOT ABOUT YOU.
  9. (Hey, but God. You know you gave me a really empathetic and sensitive heart. You know this stuff is hard for me.)
  10. (Anne, I know. Just trust me.)

It seems like such a small thing to trust–God’s design. Knowing He fully created me, my fears, my flaws, and my strengths. In ministry, it’s been difficult to see being an introvert as a gift…I can see it as a curse. I want to wear shirts that say, “No, really. I LOVE YOU! Even if I don’t seem like I talk much.” Church events are usually social events. Loud. Talking. Games. Counseling. It’s a challenge for an introvert.

I’ve been looking forward to (and yet I’m still slightly anxious about) this weekend for a long time. It’s the first big event Tim and I get to lead (with the help of our wonderful volunteers!). I’m going to try and be EXTRA intentional about letting God fill in those places where I need Him to. I don’t want Him to change the way He created me, but I need to learn to trust the way He designed me in whatever season in which He calls me to minister.

(And, yeah. Feel free to pray for this retreat! We’d be VERY grateful!)

Breaking Up with Nashville?

It’s kinda crazy. After a year in Nashville, we weren’t sure if it was the place for us to start a family and raise kids…so we began exploring a few ideas.

One of these ideas was a casting call for young couples who were thinking of “breaking up” with their city. We applied as a joke, not realizing it was a real reality show on FYI, a station under A&E. After a ton of Skype calls, cameras showed up to our house in Nashville and we began the process of finding our next home.

The Millers on My City's Not that Into Me on FYI Nashville Season 1 Episode 1

We filmed for a few weeks, really…long…days. How they managed to make this into a 21.5 minute show is beyond me. I’ll be just as surprised as you to what made the cut!

Reality shows have a bad rap for being over produced and fake. Not once in this process did we feel we weren’t being us. We had to reshoot some things from different angles, but all-in-all, it’s a REAL reality show that shares our journey in breaking up with Nashville.

It airs on March 4 at 9pm CST on FYI, which I think is on most cable stations. Since it’s a Wednesday night, we have youth group, and we don’t have cable. We’ll actually be watching it the next day, so don’t tell us any spoilers!

You can see the preview for our episode here! (It may take a few seconds for the video to show up!)