Stones of Help and Remembrance

An “Ebenezer” is a stone of remembrance–literal or figurative–which someone sets up in order to remind themselves of God’s faithfulness. The concept comes from 1 Samuel 7:12, where Samuel set up a stone pillar and said, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

This month serves as an Ebenezer for me and my family.

God gives us reminders of his goodness

God gives us reminders of his goodness. Photo by author.

I started this blog a year ago with two purposes: to process my own thoughts on surviving a cult, and to help educate other folks about cults and spiritual abuse.

I never imagined that God would use this platform to educate and refine me more than anyone else, and also to plug me into a robust online community which has blessed, challenged, and encouraged me. This month Liberty for Captives will pass 50,000 hits, 400 comments, and dozens of personal email correspondences. How humbling. How redemptive.

Thank you for sharpening my mind and making this blog a team effort in the comments section. Also, numerous posts are a result of specific requests or suggestions by readers. Life in community.

In honor of this milestone of God’s faithfulness, I have updated the theme to make it look cleaner. Content and sidebar widgets remain unchanged. Still working on the header and other aspects. Stay posted for updates.

And perhaps you will allow me to indulge in a personal update. My wife and I are expecting our first child–a son. We plan to name him Oliver and we pray that he will live as a man of peace. His Chinese middle name will be “Ai-Guang”, which means “Lover of the Light.” So may he be.

In related news, I may take a short sabbatical from blog-posting, if just for a few weeks. My wife and I want to bond as a family and welcome Oliver into the world sometime in the next few days. I will endeavor to approve new comments in the meantime, and will return to blogging as soon as seems reasonable in my sleep-deprived state =)

I’m looking forward to sharing more Ebenezers of God’s faithfulness in the future. What about you? How has God been faithful to you in this last year?

19 comments on “Stones of Help and Remembrance

  1. Godspeed to you and Theresa. Enjoy your Sabbath. The blog looks great btw.

  2. congratulations on Oliver! what a blessed son he will be. .

  3. I like the new look. You have been a great resource for me and our family. I will be praying for you and your new son coming. Blessings to all!

  4. Congrats and the Lord bless Stephen on your new son Oliver! i love the name Oliver. May the Lord’s peace rest on you and your family. 🙂

  5. Thanks for all you have done to minister in this fashion. We are grateful. Enjoy your sabbatical and congrats on your new child!

  6. Has Oliver arrived? I just referenced you in the comments on my blog today and was wondering how the Smith family is doing.

    • Hi Julie Anne — Oliver has indeed arrived! He was born on June 20, 2013 at 7:32am here in Columbus, Ohio. 7 lbs 1 oz. and 21 inches. Mom and baby are doing well. He is over three weeks old and I am a tired Daddy. I’ve been trying to get a blog post up for a week now without success. So busy. But I’m hoping to start up again in the next week. Thanks for checking in =) Blessings, Steve

      • Yippee!!! Congratulations to you and your wife. How wonderful. Don’t worry about the blog. It will still be here. The newborn stage lasts but a moment. Soak it up and enjoy every moment. Take advantage of rest when you can grab it – trust me on that. 🙂 So happy for you guys!

      • Thanks Julie Anne! Rest… what is that again? As the modified song goes: “What is SLEEP? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no moooore….”

      • You still have your sense of humor. That’s a good sign – haha.

      • Congratulations Dad! Blessings to Oliver and his Mother. . =]

        fwiw, Steve, i have a buddy who reads here, who knows you’re on sabbatical, yet expressed last week to me how he misses reading your posts. .


  7. I would be said “buddy”, and while I have commented a few times on here, I got a chance to read some of your archive while you were away, and have really been enjoying it. Your blog on throwing Christians to the Christians especially spoke to me. Congrats on the new little dude!

    To the post itself, and not leaving, I can’t say that I have ever been in a particularly unhealthy church, but have dealt with some unhealthy aspects in the churches I have been in. While the Church is the bride of Christ the idea of leaving a church has continually brought me to thoughts of girls I dated before my own bride. I would get into an unhealthy relationship and as much as I knew that I needed to break things off there is always that nagging thought in the back of your head that at least you have someone. As bad as things are at least someone loves you and wants to be with you. In much the same way, since my wife and I left our last church it has felt very much like dating. We would go out with this one church on a Sunday and it is obvious from the start that things aren’t going to work out, but as time goes on the doubts start creeping in… are all these churches wrong or is there something wrong with me. Then you start having booty calls with that church out of town that you used date, but that doesn’t seem quite right either. Over a year later we are still out there, and I’m cautiously optimistic about this new church. She may not be the prettiest or flashiest girl around, but she doesn’t borrow my car to hang out with other guys, or steal my money to go do drugs… so there’s that.

  8. Steve, I was thinking of you earlier this afternoon as I was watching the Canadian Open. Hunter Mahan was going into his third round having a two-stroke lead over the field, and as he was readying to tee off our leader gets a phone call alerting him to the reality that his wife Kandi was going into labor—three weeks before the due date of their first baby!

    So naturally Hunter withdrew. And the tournament host or sponsor whisked the leader off in jet en route home to Texas. Everyone, of course, recognized how this was the proper thing for him to do.

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