10351325_10152952838893906_4416516395614792382_n

Love the ones you’re with… (Guest post)

I’m giddy this morning, because I have a guest post over at KaysePratt.com! Kayse was one of the first bloggers I recognized in person when I trekked to Charlotte, NC this past summer for a speakers & writers conference. I had become acquainted with her through her blog and through our facebook networking group, so spotting her (in the bathroom!) was kind of a celebrity moment. I don’t even think I introduced myself, because at the time I figured rushing a girl in the bathroom and telling her how much I enjoy her blog would be tré weird.

Kayse and I have both lost our moms to cancer-that’s what stuck out to me when I first read Kayse’s blog. I rarely have an opportunity to bond with anybody in this respect, and I had never read about such a thing on anyone’s blog and seen it put out there like that. So, needless to say, I was immediately interested in everything else Kayse had to say. She’s as real as she can be for her readers, and I can’t get enough of that kind of approach.

I’m nervously excited to share some of my real life step family drama with you today over at Kayse’s blog. Who knows, maybe you’ll pick up a tip in the post for dealing with that problem relative you’re dreading seeing over Christmas. It’s taken a lot of prayer, tears, grace and effort to get where I am with my Stepmom, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything. As you’ll read in the post, this wasn’t always the case…

I had liked my Stepmom when we first met her, when she and my Dad were just friends, but once she and Dad developed their relationship she and I were at odds with each other. My poor Dad, he was stuck in the middle two women he loved and felt compelled to protect! She and I would bicker, and at times it was very un-pretty. I was convinced that she was the problem. After all, what kind of woman would try to come between and a father and daughter that had such a close bond?

You can read the rest here. And if you’re feeling a little un-excited about dealing with problem relatives over Christmas, consider leaving a prayer request in the comments on the full post. I promise to pray for your family relationships over the Christmas holiday, and I’m thankful for each and every one of you.

10351325_10152952838893906_4416516395614792382_n

For the broken

I believe that sin is real and rampant. I believe there is an enemy of God and His people. One that prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). A trickster, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), but who is truly a murderer and a liar (John 8:44). I believe that his temptations can and do overcome even the most faithful servants of God, even beloved King David.

BUT!
I worship a God that rebuilds ruined places and plants that which is desolate (Ez 36:36), whose strength is made perfect when we are weak (2 Cor 12:9), who can restore His people and make them strong, firm and steadfast following suffering (1 Peter 5:10). I worship a God that can restore what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2).

“The thief comes only to seek and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus, John 10:10

If you are devastated or hurting this morning, please be encouraged that the Lord is there with you. Let me remind you of a few of His wonderful names:

El Roi (The God that Sees)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)

When you are hurting, He is with you. He sees. He cares. He has peace and healing for you. You cannot do it on your own, but He can.  But maybe that isn’t quite enough to comfort you, maybe it makes you feel vulnerable and helpless because it’s out of your control. Here is what you can do: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12). “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Ps 55:22). Know that “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5).

 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15

 

10351325_10152952838893906_4416516395614792382_n

Can we be real?

I’ve just got to share something with you today… My friend Lee wrote a great post on being a ‘real’ Christian woman and I think it’ll really hit many of us in a tender spot… But first some back story:

In preparation for an upcoming message, speaker Lynn Bell gathered statements from some of her friends in response to this statement:  “I would have more close relationships with the women at my church if only…”

Lynn and I were in the same speaker peer evaluation group at this year’s She Speaks training conference. I had the pleasure of hearing Lynn speak twice for peer evaluation. I was impressed by her gentle delivery as a speaker, and I was not now surprised that Lynn was putting such thoughtful preparation into her upcoming message.

Lynn’s question resounded strongly in my heart, and my fingers typed and sent a message in reply to her inquiry almost before I could process my thoughts. “If only we could be real with each other, instead of being a ‘Sunday best’ version of ourselves”, I added to the exchange. And as I sat there processing my own words, and the flood of similar responses from other women across the country, I became very sad.

I’m sad that we do this, and that it makes other women feel alienated and never quite good enough. I’m sad that we feel a burden to display a facade of perfection. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way about women in the church. Our friend Lee Merrill (another She Speaks alum) felt the same grief. She posted her transparent thoughts about it on her Prayer Gifts blog and I as I read it I was  moved by her words.

“Help me to believe I can be a godly woman and flawed at the same time…
I must be real because hidden wounds miss the hands of the Healer.”

Here’s a link to Lee’s post, a great read for women in the church today. I’m grateful she shared her heart with us. And if you’d like to get to know Lynn Bell better, she’s over at The Gentle Savior.

If this strikes a chord with you as well, feel free to add to this discussion in the comments.

10351325_10152952838893906_4416516395614792382_n

I Trust You… I Trust You Not…

I lay in bed trying to close my eyes and give over to sleep. But every time I close my eyes, the fears come back and my eyes pop back open. I blink nervously for a while. My mind races with numerous scenarios of what things could go wrong when my eyes are shut. When my eyes are open again I can remind myself of all God has accomplished already, and the promises in His word that He will remain faithful. I feel soothed again, and let my heavy eyelids droop once more… Then a minute later–pop! I’m awake again, back in paranoia.

Why do I do this? Why do I think that somehow as long as I can be “on duty” in my life that my problems can be managed? I cannot keep my eyes open forever! Eventually I have a choice to make, do I trust that God will come through? Like, really trust it not just say it–there’s a big difference!

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand… For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’  Isaiah 41:10, 13

It’s natural to have an unsettled feeling after going through out of control life circumstances. After we’ve basked in the warmth of what the Lord has done in a situation we can sometimes slip back into a spirit of fear and worry that another crisis will soon arrive. And this is where our faith muscle is tested and trained; when we have to make the choice whether to trust God even though we have no certainty as to the future. But having walked with the Lord for any length of time we have experienced the loving protection of Our Father while we cowered in the dark and low places. Emerson Eggerichs has said, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God showed you in the light.”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Jesus, in John 14:1

My idea of how I want God to come through in a situation may be different than God’s plan for that situation. And that is scary… But it His plan is best. But in 1 Corinthians Paul refers to Isaiah 64 “As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’”. I can’t even possibly conceive of God’s wonderful plan for my life and my problems. And the Lord has promised so much to me, and proven faithful every time I needed Him. I need only take a deep breath and relax, allowing myself to let go of what troubles me and let God handle those things.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4

Originally published in the Fall 2012 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter
10351325_10152952838893906_4416516395614792382_n

Praying?….or Grumbling….

Have you ever been witness to a “prayer request” gone awry? You don’t even see it coming, you’re just catching up with your friend, or maybe you’re gathered with others for a Bible study or home group when you realize someone is sharing a prayer request (maybe it’s you!) that goes a little too far. It just starts to get whiny, complain-ey and you’re thinking to yourself “How did we get here? This is a prayer request?”

I cannot tell you how many times in my own walk with the Lord I have been guilty of this. I start out with good intentions, I really want to avoid gossiping about a situation that’s been on my mind so instead I decide to “innocently” vent to a girlfriend, asking her to pray with me. Quickly my request of her to “pray for me, I’m struggling to have a calm spirit with my husband” turns into my offering up to her all the reasons why I should have every right to lose my temper with my husband! This is not only bad for me, but now I’m encouraging her to get right in there with me! As we toss around all the bad things about my husband–instead of praying for God to change me–we end up trying to be his Holy Spirit, finding all the things wrong with him and presenting them to God!

Linda Dillow broaches this very topic in her book “What’s it Like to be Married to Me?”. And I assure you, this is something that all women do, not just married women. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul reminds the people of the past sins of the Israelites, sins to bear in mind to not repeat; things like idolatry, sexual immorality and (gulp!) grumbling! In verse 12 Paul writes “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

Why is this such a big deal? Life is going to continue to have troubles and challenging situations and people. Our grumbling, or “innocently” misusing prayer time as venting time is going to seriously impact what we gain in understanding and strength through those trials of life. Well then,  what can we do? David lays it out for us in Psalm 142. “I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble.”

But why? Why does God need to know? Doesn’t He already know?? Well, yes He does. But that’s not the point. The point is to get the whining and complaints off of you and put that on His strong shoulders. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever share with someone what is troubling you. There’s a difference between earnestly asking another believer for prayer, and dumping a truck of your complaints on others.

If you realize you’re struggling with a whining, grumbling spirit then it’s a great idea to pick a mentor to confide in, tell them you need to grow in this area and ask them for wisdom and accountability. Considering how deep of a pitfall this problem is for women, I commend you for seeking growth past it!

 

Originally published in the Winter 2011/2012 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter