Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lessons Learned in the Valley

Have you ever gone through a time of walking through a deep valley in your relationship with the Lord? These last few years, I feel I have been through a deep valley and then climbed up a high mountain again with Jesus.  He has set my spirit free again as I have had to learn many lessons about trusting him completely when life seems to tumble completely out of control.  You see our family has gone through quite a lot of changes since I last wrote. I am now a grandma of two precious little ones who lived with us for a while but just recently they and their mom moved out this year.  I lost my father-in-law last year to leukemia.  He was a wonderful, godly man and is sorely missed.  I have begun to teach after receiving my Masters in May of 2012.  The struggles of teaching Intellectually Disabled children has proven to be quite a huge challenge.  Teaching in the public school has been a great joy but also has been quite a daunting task at times.  (This is one reason I have not kept up with my blog) 
Through all this time, I have gone through a process of grieving and in the midst at times forgot to trust in the promises of God.  I felt let down and disappointed about how "life" was turning out and for a time did not believe God was good.  During this time though, my Savior never left me.  I discovered during this time that he allowed me to struggle with the questions of trust and he allowed me to struggle with my anger and disappointment.  He never let me go though.  His Spirit would speak to my spirit in the night with thoughts of his Word.  Deuteronomy 31:6 says "Be strong and courageous; don't be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you." (HCSB)
I always knew he had me in the palm of his hand and he would not let me go even as my heart strayed from him.  John 10:29- " My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."  (HSCB)
His loving arms were always around me even as I questions the "Why's" of this life and wondered what he was doing.  What was his plan?  
Finally, one day I knew the fighting in my spirit was over.  I had to surrender all the anger, shame, grief of broken dreams and realize that He is good, His promises never fail and that even though I do not see how he will work everything out for the good, it did not matter because all he was asking of me was to just TRUST HIM!  He reminded me that I had to just Believe Him and to ask him to forgive my Unbelief.  I had to surrender totally to his control and that no matter what seemed right to me did not matter because His ways are higher than my way.  
The day I surrendered to him my unbelief took me on a journey back to restoring the joy of my salvation, the journey of returning to my first love- spending time with HIM.  Filling my thoughts with only those things that were pleasing to HIM.  It has been quite a journey for my spirit these last few years.  I feel he has brought me full circle, back to where I was before my spirit chose to stray.  It is so true that he never leaves us, it is we that do the leaving.  He is so patient with us.  2 Peter 3:9 says "The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. (HSCB).  I have surrendered to Jesus my life, fresh and new, to be used however he sees fit.  I trust in his promises and pray I never go through those feelings of unbelief ever again.  The struggle has proven to show me "what is the length and width, height and depth of God's love, and to know the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. " Eph. 3:18-19 (HCSB).  
I hope these words are an encouragement to others who may be going through a deep valley.  Never stop believing in his promises.  He is faithful, He is good.  Keep trusting HIM.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New thoughts for the day

I know it has been a really long time since I have added anything to this blog but I had something on my heart to share and just wanted to place it here hoping if I share a little of my story then perhaps it will help other that are planting new churches.
I also wanted to encourage you to check out the Church Planter Wives Network page of Facebook and like the page so you also can become involved in sharing and encouraging other wives around the country who are planting churches alongside their husbands.

Planter Wives Network
Wives of church planters are faced with many roles as they serve beside their husbands. Here is an example of the roles they seek to fill at any given time in early church planting ministry. Keeper and organizer of the home, Children’s church coordinator, hospitality coordinator, financial organizer of home and sometimes of church, helper in music ministry, outreach ministry organizer and or helper, women’s’ ministry provider, and the list could go on and on depending on the ministry context of each place and the ministries each plant seeks to provide to their communities.

Some may say, there is no way one person can do all that, well, in the early stages of planting a planter wife may very well wear all those hats at any given moment and on a given Sunday may do at least 3 of those things. Many of the hats are worn throughout the week as she seeks to serve alongside her husband.
I remember in our early planting years, I worked at raising our children, keeping and organizing our home, providing instrumental music during the service, coordinated hospitality, taught children ,ages k-6, worked with ladies bible studies and served wherever needed when mission groups would come in to help. Later in ministry, I continued to homeschool our children, maintain a piano business, work in children’s ministries and conducted Ladies bible studies. This is just a small list of all that was done in early ministry.

The wife of a church planter works very hard to support her husband and the ministry that God has called him to. She will become very lonely because her time is stretched considerably as she tries to balance, home, family and ministry. So how does one continue without breaking down!!

The key areas of help for me were this:
I stayed in God’s word daily for my strength. I read books by authors who encouraged me in ministry. I found that relationships with the ladies in my church that I purposefully chose to disciple helped me to see the eternal value in the work of the ministry. I prayed for mentoring relationships where I could be mentored by someone older than me, one that could walk alongside of me to keep me accountable and then one that I could develop in her walk with the Lord. I saw the Lord provide this in my life in each area I traveled with my husband.

My husband and I would go through what I like to call a “Marriage checkup”. These were times in our marriage where we could tell we were going in opposite directions and we needed to come back together and get on the same page. These talks were always difficult and sometimes hard to do but by clearing the air, discussing areas of the heart openly and honestly with each other and then praying together for God’s direction in our home and family we have kept a wonderful and fulfilled ministry home and family. Mark and I would also find a place we could go without distraction where we could unwind and decompress and just enjoy each other and our family. These times of rest were also important for our home.

I have also chosen to have realistic expectations of ministry. I have often looked at the life of Billie and Ruth Graham as my ministry example. I look at how she worked hard to raise her children to love the Lord while her husband traveled and served all over the world to win people to Christ. I see how even though her family struggled and had problems of their own she never lost sight of supporting her husband and “holding down the fort” if you will to see him be used of God.

As church planter wives, we are the ones God uses to support and enhance the ministries of our husbands and as we keep our relationship with God strong then he will work out the rest in our lives as we remain surrendered and available to be used however God sees fit to use us.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Learning through faithfulness

Today is March 21, 2011 and my first post for the new year. I am still working on my masters degree and it seems to just consume my every waking moment. The Lord has just brought me through a very difficult class and I praise the Lord for the love of my husband, his help and support mean everything to me.

This new year has begun with lots of ministry opportunities as well. We spent some wonderful time together as a Church planting strategy team for Virginia in the Outer Banks in January. We came away feeling refreshed and excited about what God would have in store for us in the coming year. The time spent with strategy wives talking about the seasons of life that God has us in and the seasons he has brought us through was such a neat time. We worked through the Carol Kent study called "Secret Longings of the Heart: Overcoming Deep Disappointment and Unfulfilled Expectations" This was a wonderful study and I would recommend her to any pastors wife who is leading a ladies Bible study. The books are inexpensive and the guides in the back are great for leading a study together. We had a great time sharing together.

In early March we had a Staff Wives Affecting tomorrow retreat and we were able to provide a get together for Church planter wives. We had a wonderful planter wife come and share with us. Her name is Tammie Floyd. We had a great time sharing together the challenges and joys of church planting. It seems the ladies were hungry for this type of ministry.

My son just completed his last out of town tournaments and we are still praying for Gods direction for him as he seeks God's will about where to go to school. My daughter has had a wonderful semester so far with school and I am so thankful for how God is taking care of her and is bringing her life around for good purposes.

I am currently in a meeting for Large Church pastors and their wives and I was impressed in my spirit to write about the importance of prayer in the lives of these men.
Many of them spoke to the goodness of God and his work in their churches and I was reminded how prayer has had such an impact in their ministries and why I know God has blessed.
A godly minister of mine in Mississippi once said that the power of the church is compared to the amount of time spent on their knees. (Something like that). It has been a good reminder for me to be sure in the hustle and bustle of my life that I spend time on my knees. I must also remember to keep my walk with Christ consistent and full of the Spirit so I can be a blessing to others.
I am about to begin another very busy time of study but I wanted to send this blog update as a reminder to keep Christ first, pray often and be a blessing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Persevering through Trials

So many days I have thought about this blog and how I was ever going to get back to my study on I Peter.
I have been busy these last 7 months working on a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning. I have been studying, studying and studying some more. I must admit that I am feeling tired and worn out today. My son is a Junior in high school and the life of a soccer mom never seems to quit. My mind is tired and my body is weary. I am currently sitting in a hotel room at a soccer tournament in NC. I have homework to do and all I really feel like doing is sleeping.

This year we have struggled still with our oldest child who is doing much better now but is still trying to figure out what to do with her life. She discovered she was expecting a baby 10 weeks ago and then today discovered at the doctor's office that she had lost the baby. I am convinced that no matter how one looks at the situation (Young, single, unwed mom) that the grief over the loss of a baby is never easy. I know that God has a perfect plan for her life but I wonder at times why she has to struggle so much so soon.

My heart breaks for her since I know personally what it is like to lose a baby. I pray that God will wrap his arms around her tonight and assure her of his peace that never fails. I pray she will not give up on her dreams and hopes and that she will continue to trust God and his plan for her life.
Perhaps this is why we have to persevere through trials because God is making us stronger for something ahead that we know not now.

I do hope some day to finish my study of I Peter but for now. I must live life with perserverance.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life is a whirlwind

Getting back to my blog has been on my heart and mind for weeks now. My life has been so busy these last couple of months. I have been busy working on my Masters Degree in Elementary Education and working in ministry with my husband and raising teenagers. My daughter is still in the midst of her court issues so we are still waiting and praying for a good ending to the trials of her life. My son is a very active sophmore in high school and is playing soccer so I am on the go with this all the time also.

I began to wonder what would be a couple of good books to suggest to you that have helped me out in these days of business.
One book that has helped me is by Emilie Barnes called Survival for Busy Women. Her book has helped me to keep goals in mind and to keep myself organized more in my home. Perhaps it will help you as well.

I have also enjoyed reading some devotional books from Women of Faith. The one I am currently reading is Infinite Grace- The Devotional by Patsy Clairmont, Mary Graham, Nicole Johnson, Carol Kent, Marilyn Meberg, Sandi Patti, Jan Silvious, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Thelma Wells. Thomas Nelson Publishing.

I promise to get back to the study of I Peter. I want to be sure I am doing proper research before I delve into chapter 3.

I hope you all are doing well. Keep spending time with the Lord each day. Keep trusting Him to carry you through each day.

God bless.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Peter 2:11-25-Understanding Biblical Submission

Today we look at how we should act in the midst of suffering and how we should submit to leadership over us.

vs.11-12- Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Peter is telling us how we should live in the midst of this world. We are in the world but not of it. We are to stay away from sinful desires. Our human nature is always at war with the spiritual nature and we must keep away from things in this world that would pull us away from fellowship with Christ and other believers. We are to be such a good example to the world that our good deeds will help them to see the glory of God in our lives.

How are our lives demonstrating the glory of God on a daily basis?

vs.13-20- Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14-or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15- For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16- Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17- Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 18- Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19- For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is a conscious of God. 20- But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

Peter discusses in these verses how we are to behave as it relates to government and slaves.
In our society today, we no longer have slaves but it does speak to how we should submit to the authority of others. This word submission is hupotasso which means "lining up under authority". I believe our society today has made submission a dirty word. I had a conversation just a couple weeks ago about this very topic. I believe that when God created us he did this with order in mind. God has a perfect plan for our lives and how we are to relate to each other. I once studied in a Beth Moore study, I can't remember the exact one, but she mentions how we are under God's umbrella of protection. I believe that God's perfect design for us is related to this umbrella of protection. God designed rules and authorities in our lives. We are foolish to believe that we are never accountable to someone. God placed our government as authority over us. Our employers are an authority over us and we are instructed to align ourselves under this authority in obedience to God's Word. Our obedience to those in authority will draw the world to us because of our integrity and cheerful submission to those over us. Obedience is a big hurdle to jump over in our humanistic society that feels you can do whatever you feel like when you feel like doing it. God on the other hand shows us how we can have freedom in the midst of submission.

I look at it like this. We are free to live as Christ would have us to live. This is a life free of selfish desires and worldly attitudes. This freedom keeps us from the pitfalls of living as the world lives. This mentality is living in a spirit of servanthood to those around us. It means seeking ways to give to others as opposed to what can I take from those around me. This submission or obedience to Christ is freeing.

Let me conclude with our verses in I Peter 2:21-25.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22- "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. " 23- When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24- He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25- For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Peter again is reminding us of the passages in Isaiah 53. Our shepherd Jesus gave us the perfect example of what obedience and submission mean.
Are we willing to lay down our lives so that others may know him? Are our lives going to glorify the Father? How are we going to be servant leaders today?

All scripture is taken from NIV-Life Application Bible- 1991- Zondervan and Tyndale Publishing

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Peter 2: 6-10- Christ- The Living Stone- Gods Chosen People

Our last time together we talked about Christ being the Living Stone. Today our verses continue in this theme.

v. 6- For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Peter is speaking the words of the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 28:16) I love how the scriptures tie together from the Old Testament to the New Testament, the story of our redeemer Jesus Christ.
Here we see that if we are trusting in Jesus our precious cornerstone we will never be put to shame.
v.7- Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, (Ps. 118:22) vs. 8 and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." ( Is. 8:14). Again, Peter refers to two Old Testament scriptures about Christ being the stone. One, that is precious to those who believe. Christ is the foundation of the believers faith and this picture of Christ being the cornerstone shows that he is our true foundation. In vs. 8 The stone that causes men to stumble and the rock that makes the fall uses two metaphors that illustrate what results in our disobedience to Christ. (Patterson & Kelly, 2006). As believers, we are not be a stumbling block or obstacle to other believers. This is shown in (Rm. 9:32-33, 14:13,20, I Cor. 8:9) The rock that makes them fall is a snare or trap that causes someone to fall. According to Patterson and Kelly in the Women's Evangelical Commentary it states " Jesus used this word when He rebuked Peter for objecting to His telling the disciples of His imminent death in Jerusalem (Mt. 16:23) and when He acknowledged the ...impediments to belief and of people who cause the downfall of others. (Mt. 18:6-7, Lk. 7:1)" p. 820.

This tells me that as believers we have a mandate to live holy lives as Peter spoke earlier in his book. We are to live lives that think of others first so that we do not become a stumbling block to others who are still growing in the faith. We are not to cause our brothers or sisters in Christ to stumble and fall. May we live lives of integrity and holiness to be an example to the world of what a Christ-follower should be.

v.8b- The stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for. Christ came to die for us all and we have the choice to believe in Christ and follow Him or to not believe and live in disobedience to His will for us.

v. 9- But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. v. 10- Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
These verses speak to believers today as well as the nation of Israel. The church today has not replaced Israels role as "God's chosen people" but believers today, thanks to the work of Christ on the cross, gave us the ability to come to the Father without a "priest" to intervene for us. (Heb. 4:16- speaks to our ability to come directly to the Father)
So now, how are we to live as God's chosen people, his holy nation and belonging to God. We are to declare his praises. Our lives are to glorify the Father and give him praise for everything in our lives. Good or Bad. He has called us out of the darkness of sin and placed us in the light of his life. We have received mercy and we are to show mercy to the world.

I am reminded today that even in the tough times of life, God is in control. When we walk through the dark valley's of life- He is there. We must trust the God who saved us and called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.
May we walk in the light today. May we have the love of Christ shining on our faces and bring the word of his salvation to the world.

Shine brightly today!!!