Posted in authenticity, comparison, gifts and talents, insecurity, spiritual growth, The body of Christ, transformation by truth, Uncategorized

Encouragement to my fellow women

(These are notes from my last session this weekend…an open letter to my sisters in Christ.)

The more we KNOW him, the more we understand ourselves and who He created us to be.

I love to hear people’s stories. We think we know someone, but we do not understand them well until we know how they grew up, what adversity they faced, what their family is like.

When I start the discipleship process with people, I ask them to tell me their story. It opens my eyes to see where they are coming from, why they struggle with certain things and what truth we need to tackle with their hearts in order to grow. Divorces, abandonment, losing parents, eating issues and disorders, sexuality struggles, alcoholism, promiscuity, materialism. WE ARE ALL MESSED UP. WE ARE ALL IN NEED OF BEING STILL AND KNOWING THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSES. WE ALL HAVE BROKEN HEARTS BECAUSE OF SIN—OURS AND OTHERS.

Do You know what the common denominator with these women is? Their need for Jesus—the way the gospel has captivated their lives—changed them everyday, given them hope, given them love, given them worth. Do they still struggle? Yes, but the more they take time to be still and to know, the more in Love with the Lord they are, the more hope they have to journey on.

No one is from an ideal family. No one is issue-less. We all have struggles. If we take the time to look around, we might see the reality of the lives of those around us. We see the outside that we are jealous of or that we judge, but there is a deeper story and struggle there. God does not promise a pain free life. In fact, if we had a pain free life, would we even think about Him? Would we see the need to examine ourselves?

I cannot promise what will happen in the next day or 10 years. There will be heartache and joy. There will be things that rock our worlds to the point where we do not know what direction is up. There will be things that we choose to do and find ourselves involved in that will make us question who we really are in the first place. I cannot promise pain free. Here’s what I can promise. If we trust—if we keep stopping and seeking Him…He will never change. He will become bigger to us while these other things become smaller. We will find His promises to be true. We will find that He is our sure thing—not our family, or a relationship, or a husband, or a career, or children, or our talent, or our money or our status. HE IS THE SURE FOUNDATION. Build life upon Him. Seek His word. Seek His character. Savor His beauty. He will build deeper hope and love within us as we sort through our disappointment and pain.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5

See, the world has pain too. Pain is to point us to God, but Pain without His hand of guidance and without knowing Him is pointless. People strive to find a place of belonging—to be accepted, to arrive, to feel worthy.

We feel like to be worthy we have to be well known or recognized or look a certain way or be respected in a certain way. I pray that there are women that are captivated by Christ and learn who they are in Him. I pray that each of us learn our personalities and learn to accept who God made us to be—not our sin but our extrovert, introvert, organized, creative, thinking feeling. I pray that we would realize we cannot be everything. I pray that we would learn to live as God created us to be instead of trying to fit into someone else’s mold and end up being frustrated and defeated. Some of us are more inward and have a few friends that we will encourage deeply—do that. We do not have to be the center of attention to mean something. Some of us have mad organization skills—friends may make fun of us, but use that organization for God’s glory. Help others. Trust the Lord and draw near to Him with confidence, abide and remain in Him and let Him shape us and bring about our transformation to be more and more like Him. We do not have to perform to be this super Christian—ABIDE and OBEY that way. Love will begin to grow as we die to ourselves and live to God.

In my 30s, I have learned my giftings and have developed them more. I have become more comfortable in my own skin. I know I am never going to have a spotless house or a continually organized closet or be an accountant, but I have friends that do! I paint pictures and listen to people and encourage and flounder for last minute plans. What if we, as women, walked in confidence in who God made us to be? What if instead of always asking “why don’t people see me this way? Why can’t I do that?” Or even putting people down because we are jealous, we rejoiced in others’ gifts and cried with others in their pain? How would we treat each other differently? We need those people who are different from us. I need Greg. We get on each others nerves because we are so different, but we fit nicely together because we work together instead of in competition. We are all different in the Body of Christ, but we all need one another. Greg—master teacher, me an encourager/shepherd merciful person. One of my best friends from high school and beyond was also the hardest for me when we were around each other all the time because we are a lot alike. We competed and struggled. And after a lot of hard work, we know how to celebrate and cheer on the other…after 24 years. We have learned our personalities are similar but our giftings are different. There were some frustrating times, but with maturity in Him, we have learned to champion one another. When we practice being still and knowing Him, we will be changed. We will love with His love.

John 15:9-12 As the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep his commandments, you will abide in my love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. “

Being Still and knowing God Allows you to obey Him. Obedience breeds obedience. We obey by stopping to be still. We obey studying His word Then we begin to know him more, love his character more, treasure him more He changes us and we respond differently to others . We want to share his character with others and we  love them because ywe are being changed. Then we have to learn to bear with others so we go back to him and seek him again. My fellow women, Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him. And you will bear much fruit depending on Him and knowing Him. You will become more like Him in his timing and you will learn to love those around you…and help to encourage them to love the LORD.

Posted in art work, gifts and talents

Creative Crunch

This year has been a busy one!  Between wifing, mothering and ministry, I have fit in a small art business (during naps and night time).  I began consigning artwork at The Adorable Child in Farragut.  It is a cute consignment shop with gently used and brand new things.  I also have sold to people around the area and on Etsy.  I love to be creative.  The more I flex my creative muscles, the more confident I become.  It is not too late for anyone!

Here are some of my favorites of the year.

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Posted in authenticity, gifts and talents, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, thankfulness, trusting God

What If?

What if we got what we wanted when we wanted it?  That’s what we demand…

 

What if I had gotten pregnant in the first months we tried and we never went through the years of infertility?  How would my life be different?  How would the world be different?

If that…then I would not have been able to spend concentrated time with my Dad in his last year of life.  I would not have been able to help my mom when he was in his last stages of Parkinson’s where his brain and body were greatly hurt.  I would not have been there to spend the last two weeks of life with him in the hospital.  I would have missed some really rich time.

If that….then I would not have had time and energy available to begin discipling girls.  Then, I would not have gone on the journey to start Women’s Discipleship Concepts.  I would have missed out on some beautiful opportunities to know and walk with many young women.  Retreats and trips and lunches would have been much more difficult.  I would have never undertaken this as a new mom…I know myself.

If that…then I would have missed out on the opportunity to grow as a writer–I probably would have a mom blog instead of a blog like this.  With the time to sit with my pain and to learn to trust God, I have grown to trust Him and to share that journey with others through writing and speaking.  I also would have missed out on the opportunity to write curriculum and Bible studies for Women’s Discipleship Concepts.  Big gaps of time were needed to concentrate that kids do not create:).

If that…then I would have missed out on growing as an artist.  I would not have had the time or exact pain that creates that opportunity and risk for creativity.  In that time, I have learned to share my work and be a bit more confident.  He has birthed many paintings from the things I have learned in the whole process of pain.  I would NEVER have made an Etsy page and sold paintings.

If that…then I would have missed out knowing some pretty special women who have gone through the journey before me and behind me.  Depth and maturity come through pain that is filtered through God’s truth.  It is a privilege to call these women friends.

If that…then I would have missed out on knowing God the way I do now…He plunged me to the depths and  He became my only hope.  I would like to say that I would chose this on my own, but I like comfort too much.  I have truly seen the “joy of the Lord” as my strength.  I have tasted and seen the Lord is good.  I also have seen that the Truth is really true.

If that…then I would have missed out on coming together with Greg in the same way.  God used this to strengthen our marriage–to sharpen both of us–to mature us as followers of Christ–to prepare us for disappointments in parenting.  He became my partner.

If that…then I would have missed out on doing Precepts Bible study with some special women.  In this, I learned how to study God’s word inductively.  This has changed how I read and study the Bible.  I also have written several inductive studies to help others learn to study God’s word.  So rich to know His word more.

If that…then I would have missed the opportunity to serve in the same way by leading worship.  This created time for me to grow in that and serve weekly for several years.  After leading with a child and without, I see the time commitment it takes when you are parenting as well.

God has done many things that I wanted to be in different timing…but I am reminded, when I stop and think, that He works ALL things for the good…even and especially pain.  He knows better than me….period.

In the last few weeks my mind has been buzzing with all these expectations (see previous blog).  I think I have been wanting to continue in all of these things above that I could create and know before children.  I realize that I cannot produce at the same rate as before.  God sovereignly set aside the time for me to grow in so many areas, and he has called me to focus in a couple of areas now.  In this season, I do not have the time to paint and write as I had before.  Both of those things take longer periods of time with a clear heart and mind.  That is just not available as I have this precious boy to parent and love.  There will probably be another season where I can continue to grow in those areas.  I am called to pour into and love young women that God has given me to lead.   I want to do that well–to love well and speak the Truth with grace.  I have less unscheduled time to sit with the Lord and be taught and filled so that I may then pour out into others.  However, I cannot let things that are not priorities in the now become part of my expectations for myself.  I have to be realistic.  I cannot keep producing art to sell on Etsy the way I want.  I do not have time to write Bible studies.  I cannot participate in extracurricular Bible studies in this season.  In order to love my husband and child and ministry girls well, I have to say goodbye to the beautiful growth of last season and to look to what God has for me in this season.  I love Him so much…may I trust Him in the letting go right now to embrace how He calls me in faithfulness right now.  I do not want my mind to be clouded with unrealistic expectations that blind me from the opportunities to serve and grow in front of me.

My mind has been so filled that I have been ineffective.  I want to pair down what is important…Loving Him with everything and loving my neighbor as myself.  If I seemed frazzled next time you see me…remind me of this!

 

Posted in gifts and talents, trusting God

And, your name is…?

Friday the 13th I had surgery (sorry to the superstitious types). They found some endometriosis and removed it. So, this past week has been much slower than normal. So, there has been some time to think and sleep and be served by my Greg.
Ever had one of those thoughts that just makes you stop and go aha? (I guess some would call that an epiphany.) I had one of those this week. I have most important thoughts in the shower–don’t know why.
One of my “curses” in life is always remembering people’s names and stories. (Greg’s curse is that he has a hard time remembering my name). I will run into someone in the grocery store I knew some random month of my life and call them by name, and they will look at me like I am crazy. It does not feel good for others not to remember you, but I am used to it now. My favorite game to play is “where do I know you from” whether it be on movies or in real life. I have several contexts to draw upon–hometown, family friends, college and the various circles I ran in, Centrifuge, Hendersonville after college, Texas, Greg’s speaking circuit, grad school, Knoxville, work world, Fellowship church world, Refuge in Nashville, women I have lead in Bible study, CAK students and parents, and the myriad college students that have come through Crossroad, etc. Sometimes I can drive myself crazy, but most of the time, I remember.
I guess I have seen it as a gift to make people feel special by remembering their name and what their story is,
but not useful in a grand scheme. As I was thinking the other day, it is like God showed me the worth of that gift and how it is from Him. I am in a position now where I lead women of all ages and have contact with women around the area. I can only be in deep relationship with few, but I have people all the time who ask for someone to disciple them, who are open to discipling someone else or who are struggling with a need but do not even know that they need to be connected. Just in the past month, those matches have been made frequently from me remembering the struggles and stories from women in different cities and towns from Knoxville to Athens to Memphis. A light bulb went off in my head and I saw there is a kingdom purpose for this gift that he has given me. It is not a curse. It serves as a blessing to strengthen the growth of others in a small way. I began thinking about how Greg remembers everything he has ever read or watched (which is amazing because I do not) and how that serves a kingdom purpose in teaching.
All of this to say, you never know what random talent you might have that is of worth and importance to the kingdom. Do not overlook how you are made. All of these working together strengthen the body. It was a gift to see that it was not about me but about helping others.