Learning as I go along

Days!  We all have them.  We have the days that the kids seem to get on the only nerve we have.  Days when we can’t seem to do anything right.  Days when the harder we try the worse things go.  Days we feel like we have failed everyone in our lives, but mostly failed the Father in Heaven we really hoped we were serving.

Recently I have been felt led by the Lord to add a few things to my plate, to make wise use of the time He has given me and use it more for Him.  (See previous post)  So, Monday of this week I spent my first day as volunteer at the Pregnancy Resource Center of Southeast Arkansas (PRCSA). (Wonderful place!  Love the ladies there and am looking forward to many more days spent there.)  I was feeling good because even though I was there I had been able to check on my OBS group during the break I took for lunch and I had gotten quite a few things finished or to the point where I ran out of supplies to do them.  Productive day, right?  My wonderful husband had supper almost complete when I walked in and although I was tired it was that good kind of tired.

After supper I had scheduled a Facebook party for my small group.  I had already been having little voices telling me for a couple days how I crummy a small group leader I am because not even half of my group is coming back for the next study.  Plus, I don’t do the prizes like the other ladies.  Not to mention, I haven’t been as attentive as I should have.  See, according to this voice, I should have sent cards, checked on them in personal messages more, and so on.  (I had all these great plans when I started the study.) Then the party time arrives and at first there are only 3 of the 20 people are present.  (Let me remind you that my Mom and daughter are in my group and they were 2 of the 3.)  So I am again hearing the voice telling me how much of a failure I am.  In the course of the party it gets mentioned that there is a birthday later in the week.  I realize I hadn’t mailed a card and it would by no means make it to the birthday girl.  Oh, AND when I get to looking at my birthday list I realize I had missed another birthday in my group that had happened last week.  So again come the voices telling me how lousy I am. Now, please note that several other ladies joined the party, but at this point I was blinded by the voices of failure and didn’t see that positive.

So, already feeling down, I post a reminder on Facebook that an event scheduled at church had been changed.  That post causes questions to arise.  I know, now, this person was only asking for information and clarification, but at the time with all this other going on Satan took it and made me feel like I had failed again.  By this time I have lost all the joy I had coming home from a day of saying #YestoGod.  I did take a minute and reach out to my two best friends and ask them to pray for me, and then I went to bed.

So, if you are still reading this blog you are probably wondering if I am looking for pity or what by telling you all this.  Well, I’m not!  I tell you all this because I want you to understand that you aren’t alone in your feelings.  We all have days.  What makes a difference is what we do with those days and how long we let them linger.  You see, #Isaidyes to God and Satan decided that he needed to try and keep me from that commitment.  But, I have news for Satan.  I serve a might God and He will keep me from harm.

A really cool God thing happened the next morning.  The Proverbs 31 email devotional written this particular day by Melissa Taylor came to my inbox and guess what it was about ~~ “Condemning Thoughts”!  There on my computer screen God gave me the verses I needed to hear His voice over Satan’s.

When I compare my negative thoughts to God’s Word, the differences amaze me:

My thoughts: I want to give up.
God’s Word: Be committed (Philippians 4:13, Galatians 6:9).

My thoughts: I’ll feel lost.
God’s Word: He watches my paths and establishes my ways (Proverbs 5:21, 4:26).

My thoughts: No one loves me.
God’s Word: He loves me more than life (John 3:16).

My thoughts: I’m ugly.
God’s Word: I’m wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

My thoughts: I’m all alone and no one understands me.
God’s Word: He will never leave me. He has plans for my life (Deuteronomy 31:6, Jeremiah 29:11).

My thoughts: I’m just not good enough.
God’s Word: I was created in His image (Genesis 1:26).

Because of God’s love, support and encouragement, along with His use of others to speak for Him, I have the strength to continue on the journey that #Isaidyes to.  I may stumble and have to ask forgiveness of Him and others, but because of His grace I can receive forgiveness and mercy.  Because of Him, I can get the strength I need to carry on.  Because of Him, I know I am good enough – because I am what He made.

Philippians 3: 13-14:  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Don’t give up and don’t let Satan win!!

I so love that I have been able to be a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries over the last year, having gone from participant to small group leader has been more than I ever dreamed.  I was also fortunate to be able to attend She Speaks 2013 and meet face to face many of the ladies who are a part of the Ministry and feel the love they have for each other and for each lady who signs up for the online study.  The current study we are doing, “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God,” has begun to tidy up some things that God has been asking me to do for a while.

I love that P31 is helping with Dove’s Nest, a local ministry there in Charlotte that helps women who are addicts and allows them to bring their children along to hopefully minimize the trauma the children will have to endure.  That obedience of the P31 ladies along with the fact that I knew the Lord had been telling me it was time gave me the fresh vision I needed to ignite a fresh passion.

The Lord pointed out to me a while back how stingy I was being with my time.  I tend to be selfish and I like having time at home, alone.  I enjoy the solitude and quiet and justified that by participating in Online Bible Study and having more quiet time with Him and reading more devotionals, etc.  He pointed out to me that the time I have is a gift from Him and like any gift He gives should be used wisely and for His glory.

Psalms 90:12 “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Proverbs 31:20 “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

For quite a long time I have been looking for the place that The Lord was sending me to volunteer and give His time back to Him.  Several months ago a local agency (Pregnancy Resource Center for South Arkansas) came to our church.  They are a new center that, at the time, was just forming and trying to raise the money and find the volunteers to open.  (I didn’t see it then.)  While attending She Speaks 2013 Lysa Terkuerst talked about a teen she knew who had gotten pregnant and what Lysa told the parents has really stuck with me.  I don’t have a direct quote but it was something along the lines of “A few months of shame for you, or a lifetime of shame for her.”  WOW!  (I admit things are becoming clearer, but still not crystal.)  In August my pastor mentioned to me that the PRCSA that had come to our church was about to open.  Then during announcements he mentioned it again and went so far as to give their phone number.  Also, the center has a Facebook page and had a big announcement there about the opening and request for volunteers.  (Ladies who are participating in the OBS, are you seeing Lysa’s 5 questions to ask yourself here?)  Putting that all together I got the clear, fresh vision that has led me to a fresh passion.  I have said #YestoGod, with #Palmsup to the #FreshVision He has given me and am now giving of His time to the Pregnancy Resource Center for South Arkansas.

I did not go say all this to brag on myself or as a way to get praise.  I went through all this because I wanted to challenge each of you.  Doing for Dove’s Nest is great.  Doing things together with your P31 OBS group and that ministry is great.  But, are you giving of your time locally?  Are you changing the world where you are?  The Lord has placed each one of us where we are for a reason.  We are His bride, fitly joined together.

So my challenge to you is to change your little corner of the world.  If we all do that what amazing things will happen!  So tell me, how are you changing lives where you live?

If you want to give to Dove’s Nest, please click this link.  https://www.servicenetwork.com/olg/CHM/Donate.asp?FormId=d10c34c7-171f-466a-b7e8-9aff9bf84d47

If you are interested in participating in Proverbs 31 ministries Online Bible Study please click this link.  http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/

OBSBlogHop

Week three, half way, of What Happens When Women Say yes to God is here already.  This study has, and is making such an impact in my life.  I want to back up to Chapter two because that is where this story begins for me. Page 38 Lysa has a quote that I turned into the following prayer:

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Note the last part of that “. . . a relationship with you that is characterized by sheer delight rather than a sense of duty.”  Wholly committed.  Hmmmm

As I mowed last that week I began wondering what delight means and just how do we delight in The Lord.  We are promised in Psalms 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” NIV Great promise!  But still I come back to, How?  Digging further I found that in this verse delight means to be soft, pliable, pampered.  That all lead me to think about luxuriating, soaking in, dwelling.  So the first way I decided we find our relationship with Christ a delight is by spending time with Him, both by reading His word and through prayer.   Great!  I knew that and really thought I was doing that.  So, I decided there has to be more.

This week I began to look at the thought of being pliable or even flexible. Page 60 of this book holds another quote that hits me right where I live:

“A person pursuing obedience is able to pause and touch those that He says need our time, in spite of busy schedules.  The obedient soul redefines who she is through God’s eyes and any hesitation to do what He asks fades away.”

Talk about speaking to being flexible.  Couple that quote with Psalms 40:8 which says “I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction lives within me.” HCSB    And I concluded the second way we find our relationship with Christ a delight is by obeying Him without hesitation.  This seems so easy on paper, doesn’t it?  But I like a plan, a schedule, an agenda.  Not looking at interruptions as a pain is a lesson I am trying to learn but haven’t gotten it totally, yet.  Another verse I found that spoke to me on obedience is Psalm 119:35 “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.” NIV  Wow!!  Wholly Committed and obedience, there it is again. Let’s note that we are to redefine who we are through God’s eyes.  Let’s not get caught up in comparison or what others seem to do better than we do.  It is a personal relationship with Christ.  It is between us and Him, not us and them.

Also, there is our memory verse for the week “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 NIV Remain, dwell, luxuriate, any of these look familiar? Seeing a pattern?

And then 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.” NIV  Set Christ apart in your heart, inner most being, dwelling place.  When Christ is set apart in our hearts, then our heart exudes Him.   Lysa addresses this when she says on page 71:

“It’s in the exchange of what we want for what God wants that we experience the adventure and freedom and power of saying yes to God.”

Exchanging what we want for what God wants is the essence of setting Christ apart in our hearts.  When we do that we begin to show people who He really is in our lives.  We get to experience the adventure and power that He wants us to have.  That opens the door to share our faith.  And as Lysa says on page 70:

“. . .  people don’t care to meet my Jesus until they meet the reality of Jesus in my life.”

So to be more committed to Christ (Wholly Committed) I have to let the relationship I have with Him be a delight and not a duty.  By doing this and setting Him apart in my heart I allow others to see my Jesus and that will hopefully lead to them want to know my Jesus. Delightfully Committed, not just wholly committed, is my prayer for us all.

How do you delight in the Lord?  What steps are you taking to be more Delightfully Committed?

OBSBlogHop

As I begin the new journey with these 20,000+ other women world wide in the Online Bible Study (OBS) of Lysa TerKeurst’s book What Happens When Women Say Yes To God, I find myself amazed and overwhelmed.

I am amazed at the number of women who have joined in the study, at how fast the ministry is growing, at how real the leaders from Proverbs 31 are, at the fact that I have taken a step out of my comfort zone and said #YestoGod.  The step from participant who occasionally shared to small group leader may seem small to some, but is big to me and has led to multiple blessings already in just few weeks.  The blessings of meeting the other wonderful ladies from the P31 OBS team at SheSpeaks and the blessings of having my mom, daughter and niece in my group without making a request that they be placed there (total God thing), and the blessings of the rest of my group who are spending time on the page, sharing, liking, posting and supporting each other.

I am overwhelmed at the movement I am being allowed to see of God speaking to His people through this study, of how God is using everyday, ordinary people (like me) in extraordinary ways.  God has allow the ministry of P31 to come together and each one use the gift(s) He has given them to shine for Him.  These ladies don’t bring egos, they don’t compete and they remind us all not to compare ourselves to anyone else.  It is a place of encouragement, information, growth in our relationships with Christ and of reality.  There are no false fronts or masks worn.  They give us a glimpse into their real life, not expecting us to be perfect, but allowing it all to be covered by His grace.

I have learned so much in the last few weeks.  I have seen God’s hand at work and it has encouraged me so much to say #YestoGod, be obedient and surrender what I am holding on to with #Palmsup so I can receive what He has in store for me.  Won’t you come along on this journey and see What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.

Love the Lord

Have you ever stopped and looked back on just how far you have come and wonder “Who knew?”  I find myself doing that a lot lately.  Maybe it is because I am going through one of those life changes that parents expect to face but are (at least for me) really not totally ready for.  Within the next year both of my kids will be graduating from college and beginning their careers.  Boy! their lives have sure gone by fast.   I sit in amazement of how far they have come, from infancy to adulthood and how far they have to go – careers, families of their own, etc.

As I ponder these things and see just how far God has brought me I am able to be confident in the fact that he will do the same for my kids.  The same promises I’ve leaned on over the years and will continue to do so can be applied to my kids and their futures as well. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I look back at that little girl who would hold up in her room reading books, dreaming, writing poems, songs and maybe even books. (I’m not sure because she still hasn’t let me see them.) I watch in reverent amazement and with great thanksgiving as the Lord gives my daughter opportunity after opportunity with His timing.  I have to admit I have gotten impatient with Him (and her) a few times, but in the end His timing is always perfect.

ImageI also look back 8 years through tears and see how God took a tragedy in our lives and used it to change the course of my son’s life.  And again I say “who knew?”  Then I answer my own question with “God did.”  I am now a living testimony of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And I watch as my son is waiting to pursue his dream as God presents the opportunities.

Now, I look ahead at a wonderful opportunity that God has presented me with.  I will be attending She Speaks this weekend.  About a year ago I found Proverbs 31 ministries and started getting their daily devotions to my email.  Then in doing that learned of their Online Bible Studies (OBS).  I didn’t know how exactly doing a bible study online would work, but have come to love doing that and my small group.  Then from there I found the conference – She Speaks.   I started this journey to She Speaks with the intention of my daughter getting the benefit  and maybe clarifying her call from God and beginning her dream of becoming a writer.  However, as the conference approaches I find that I may be the one who gets clarity.  For a few years now I have felt a desire to speak to women, mentor women, and just generally be a leader of women.  Yes, I am leading women’s ministry and that is new, so I thought that was all He was saying.  Now, I’m not so sure.  I head to this conference praying that God will make his voice clear to me and that my heart will be receptive to hear AND OBEY.   I know that at the very least I will have a wonderful time meeting these other ladies who are a part of P31 and OBS, and I am looking forward to learning more about, hearing from, and praising the wonderful God I serve!

Who knows.  Maybe 10 years down the road I will look back at this moment and again say “Who knew?”

What advice can I give other parents?  Hum. . . Let me start by being perfectly honest.  I don’t know why God blessed me with two such great kids!  I have looked around often and wondered what I did that was different from others. I still don’t have an answer to that.

Let me start where I believe our children’s rearing started.  Prayer.  I’m not just talking about the prayers my husband and I say/said.  I am talking about the prayers that were said for my children by the previous generations.  My grandmothers and my husband’s grandmothers were praying for our kids before my husband and I had even met.  Just as Jesus prayed for us in the Garden, prayers uttered now will last beyond our years!! Begin now praying not only for the children you have here but also for future children and your children’s children.

Something that was very important for my husband and I, was that we be the same people at home that we are in public.  We have always done our best to live at home and behind closed doors as if someone was watching.  And our kids were (are).  We made the expectations we had of our children clear and also lived those expectations ourselves.

My children know I am not perfect. But Praise God I’m forgiven!!  I told them early and often that they may do things I didn’t like, but I would always love them.  Love you children as God loves His – without condition, with tenderness and with a forgiving heart.  Be strong and consistent in discipline, as God is with us.  Ask God daily to guide you, give you wisdom, and make you the best Mom you can be.

Above all things, enjoy your time with them.  It passes quickly!  Wasn’t it just yesterday that I had two in diapers, was a stay at home mom whose husband travels and thought I would never be able to go to the bathroom alone again??

My kids are now 18 & 20 and both set to graduate from a technical college and university, respectively, in May of 2014.  I am by no means an expert in raising children!  What I am is blessed beyond measure.

If you at home with young kids, don’t feel guilty about taking a little time for yourself.  And remember this is just a short time in your and their lives.  What you do IS making a difference!!

As I read chapter 2 of the Stressed-Less Living I had several things that jumped off the pages.  The statistics that Tracie quotes and that we are accepting a higher stress level instead of lowering them just crushed me.  I found the comparison of stress to a ticking bomb and the impending emotional “explosion scattering shrapnel over every area of our lives” so true!  I know that when I am stressed my patience (what little I have to begin with) wear thin and I tend to be terse with people.

What are we doing to ourselves??

My heart felt the Lord’s pull when I read “Jesus did nothing in sin to cause His stress and did nothing in response to stress to compound His stress because He knew full well what it meant to have peace despite stressful circumstances.”  Wow!  He did nothing to compound His stress.  How many times do my reactions compound my stress??  Oh, if I would just stop and pray and listen to that still small voice calling me to Him!!

So how are we to handle stress?  We are to find peace.  I love Tracie’s definition of peace the ability “to rise above our circumstances, over come our innate tendency to stress out over problems and learn to remain calm and confident * despite what is going on around us.”  I would have to say, I personally would add “in Christ” where i placed the *.

God promised us in His word, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

If you have never experienced that peace then you are missing out, and I ask you to take a step back; take a deep breath; and if possible find a place to be alone (personally I like it outside).  Then cry out to Jesus.  There’s one more thing – You have to accept the peace, rely on the peace and let the peace that He is giving you permeate every part of your being.

I’m not saying you will see permanent results.  You may have to do this daily, weekly or as circumstances come up, but as Tracie says “Once we get a taste of that kind of peace, we are never the same again.”

As we continue this study I pray we all find that peace that passes all understanding that only God can give us!!

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Marlene

Marlene

I love the Lord and pray all that I do glorifies Him.

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