Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Uncommon Woman

"The uncommon woman refuses to be bullied by her fears"...Chapter nine in The Uncommon Woman

We just finished the book by Susie Larson in our Sunday school class. The message of the book could be summarized as "Living in the Spirit" or "Walking according to the Spirit" because to live the uncommon life is...well, spiritual...and it's holy. 

If you are like me, sometimes "holy" seems elusive as I snap at my husband, fail to call a friend when I know they could use a call, or feel sorry for myself because I have such a large yard to take care of all by myself ...why do I default to those things??? 

A problem we have as women is we often don't know what we are dealing with in  our mind-muddle, mulit-tasking mentality. We are going so many directions, dealing with so many issues at once that we don't understand how to assess what is residing in our hearts; what is causing us to react in ways that we often regret. 

In The Uncommon Woman, Susie helps us bring the muddle of our hearts and minds into clarity on so many fronts. Whether we are struggling with fear, receiving forgiveness, or fighting the ongoing battle to remain in our TRUE identity and shed the labels of the past. She walks us through sorting out the muddle and bringing truth to light. 

With declarations at the end of each chapter, we are built up in our faith. In making proclamations from our mouths, we become sturdier in our stand. This is one thing Susie does on a regular basis when she speaks, "Repeat after me...'I will NOT commit the sin of unbelief!', 'I will NOT commit the sin of comparison!'"  It is empowering and freeing. 

One woman in our fellowship has been battling several painful things in her life and sinking into bouts with depression and fear and sorrow, but she testified on Sunday that as she made the proclamations from the end of chapter nine, she gained a new stand. She received a fresh revelation of the victory that is hers in the battles she is facing because Jesus is her Lord!

As she described how she wasn't going to let the enemy bear down on her any longer but walk in a place of victory, my mind went to the story of David and Goliath. Israel had been being BULLIED by their fear of the giant for forty days. Then David came, full of faith, declared his faith, then advanced and conquered the giant.

Isn't that just like us? We are the anointed of God and yet, when we face the giants in our lives, we sometimes get discouraged and afraid. But in the depth of our being there is a "little David of faith" who comes to the forefront of the battle line, makes declarations of God's faithfulness, remembering who we are and Whose we are. Then we advance and take the giant with just a sling and a stone...which is really just putting feet to our faith in whatever circumstances our giant is manifesting. Victory is sure when Jesus is on our side. 

If you are battle weary, under a weight of care, or living with regrets, you will be blessed if you hang out with Susie and walk with Jesus through her book, The Uncommon Woman.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Do It

As for me, farbeit from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 1 Samuel 12:23

Powerful verse, right? 

Samuel, as Israel's Prophet of his day, was overseer to the nation at the time before, and during Saul's reign as their first king. Samuel had been dedicated and brought to Eli, the priest, at a very young age. As I have pondered his life and devotion to the Lord, I believe he learned alot from Eli's mistakes. Eli's sons, as you may recall, had rebelled against the Lord and the Lord struck them dead. The Lord told Eli that it was partly due to the fact that he failed to restrain his sons. (story found in 1 Samuel)

God had given Eli authority over his family as well as the house of God. Unfortunately he neglected his family, and they suffered immensely for it. Samuel was told by God at a young age what God was going to do to Eli's family because of their rebellion. I imagine the strong impact that had on Samuel. There is not recorded any time that Samuel fell away from following God. He was steadfast and devoted. He understood God's authority and his responsibility as God's servant.

The above verse speaks to me about the responsibility (and privelege) we have on behalf of those given to us to lead. Wether we are parents, teachers, counselors, pastors, teachers, or any other office of leadership. We sin against the Lord if we are not prayerful for those in our charge. Yet another reminder of the fervency I need to have in approaching the throne of God daily. Going before Him on behalf of those He has given to my care. And oh, what a blessing it is to see the Lord answer! It makes me aware of His initmacy. His attention to every detail of my little life. 

We have evidence all around of His provision and watchcare for/over us. I see victories in my life, and my family, and my friends, my church. Pray! Pray! As the saying goes: any failure stems from a failure to pray.

God, grant me the grace to be diligent to pray for those You have put in my circle of life. Thank you for your availability and attention to the cries of our heart.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Formation Of My Little-Girl Mind

I will never forget Laura's silky, long blonde hair that caught my eye when I walked into my first day of first grade. My mom LOVED my own silky, long blonde hair. I knew from her admiration of it when she would brush it every day, and comment on it, that it was a crowning and a desirable princess-quality feature. (If you look at the ends of the curls in the photo, you can see I formerly did have blonde hair!) So it was a natural thing for me, when I learned I could sit anywhere I wanted, that I chose to sit by Laura.

The problem was, that Laura already had a friend named Jodi who she wanted to have sit by her. Laura asked me to move.

I said "no."

At first, I said no. But life got hard for me. I don't remember how exactly. Details are elusive, but I remember a day or two in, I found myself caving to her craving. Giving up my seat to Jodi.

And guess what? Laura "friended" me after that. Yes. We were fast friends when I did what she wanted.

Hence, as a first grader, I learned that I had power. People-pleasing, get girls to like me power. Yes, at the age of five I learned it. Learned that if I did what people wanted me to do, I was loveable! I learned it at home too. I was pleasing to my parents. A hard-working oldest-child, farm-girl.

I did like to make my parents happy, especially my dad. I also liked for me to be happy around him. You see, my little sister after me, well she was often called "the naughty, curly-haired one." or "naughty with brown eyes."

I feared negative titles like that. I empathized with my little sister, knowing how it would make me feel to be "the naughty one". I remember that I also felt guilty for being contrasted to her. Then at other times I gloated inside~puffed up from praise.

That is the nature of the beast isn't it? The sinful-inside-of-me beast. I had it from birth. The self-protective self. The fearful-of-being-exposed-for-what-was-really-in-there lest-I-be (gasp) rejected-self.

Only one thing kept me from becoming beastly proud. Compassion. I had been given a tender heart. It kept me (somewhat) humble.

If you can imagine, and perhaps I even described you or someone you know, this pattern went with me wherever I went, whatever I did. I was a bonafide Performance-Based, Type-A personality. Do it right, do it well, keep yourself likeable. Keep people happy.

Inevitably I would feel rejected by people (obviously we can't please all the people all the time. I'd heard this, but I still had to learn it) and always, I looked inward...where had I failed? I came up with excuses, "too fat". "acne". "poor personality". So I aquired another issue: Self-blame.  I became a self-reliant, self-blaming woman. And fear of failure or of rejection was my constant companion, my steady motivator to work hard.

Eventually I found there was a problem with my method. It showed up at times in my life when there were too many people to please, too many things to excell at. All at the same time. Through the years, bouts with anxiety would be the result of too many demands on myself. Too high of expectations.

I tried and tried... then I fried...and I died. (well, the part of me that was trying so hard died.) I found myself unable to help my sssself...

There I was at thirtysomething, sucked in to a pool of anxiety and I spun around in it for several (one of them hellish) years...groping and hoping for deliverance. Clinging. Tightly. Pursuing healing passionately. Fear FULL.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

Posting Part 2 here...

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Royal Treatment

On Saturday a bunch of us at East Lincoln Alliance Church will be blessing single moms again!

Last September we did it for the first time and I think we were more blessed in our giving than the ladies~or at least as much! We had about a dozen guys outside pampering the cars. Detailing them with cleaning and vacuuming as well as changing oil and oil filter. Inside we provided child care. Two hairstylists did cuts and styles. (We have three this time!) We had pedicures, skin care, and massage! (I really wanted one of those myself!) The ladies can choose what they want and have it all if there is time!

This time we are adding hand treatments. We also have a light menu and an inspirational me!

Last time I talked about Living Water that satisfies. The perennial, refreshing, and nourishing water flowing from Heaven and offered to us by Jesus.

This time I will be talking about belonging  to Jesus and the blessings of being connected to His people. More to come on that after Saturday! :)

I spent about 12 hours today praying, planning, studying, writing, reading and rewriting the message. It has been an honor to seek God's heart for the hand-picked-by-Himself women He will bring this weekend. (We pray diligently that He brings who He wants to come) We only take 10 women so we can make them feel like the royalty that they are. We want to celebrate them and make sure they know they are loved and have sisters and brothers who want to serve them and encourage them and bless them. We want them to know they are not in this journey alone. Here are a few pics from last time:

Pastor Randy came in last time and said, "This is about the most fun we have ever had doing ministry!" I said, me too! Working together, giving of our gifts and showing off our King is simply delightful!