Purposeful Faith

Category - dreams

3 Tips to Worship and Praise God Deeply

Worship and Praise God

We watched her from our car – she walked slowly, cloaked, and hunched over, stepping onto the crosswalk we were sitting in front of. Like magnets, our eyes were drawn to her, her cart was filled with a hodge-podge of materials that glowed and shimmered in the sun. She stared straight ahead but stopped dead, right in front of our car. Mom, looked at me, I looked at mom and, in unison, we moved to the edge of our sticky-leather seats, “What is she up to, we thought?”

Despite the multiple changes of red lights to green and green to red, she didn’t move. She was stuck there. There simply was no moving ahead to the adventure that awaited us ahead there was only – us and this cart-lady. Here eyes met ours inside the car.

Ever noticed? Often, this is how it is with worship. Something moves before our mind and it gets stuck there. It feels that there is no moving it.

Sure, we want to drive ahead and sing God’s glory, yet that cart of worry and distraction stands before us. It is all we see. We miss his glory. We can’t behold the treasure he wants us to see. We can’t move into the joy of his presence.

What are we to do? Well, that day, we paid the lady off. I can’t suggest you do this (it won’t work well with God), but I can suggest you dismiss distraction in a similar fashion.

How to Dismiss Distraction and Drive into God’s Divine Glory:

  1. Pray. Ask God to remove what is pestering you to move in authentically worshiping him.  See yourself hand it to him. Ask him to hold it for you, to tend to it and to bring clarity to that situation.
  2. Surrender. Truly let go of what you just let go of.
  3. Just be. God doesn’t need you to put on a show for him, he just desires your needy heart come to him. Often, worship is the act of saying nothing, while you know he is everything.

Worship is coming needy and unknowing to Him who’s moving and pursuing you passionately with love. It is bringing your poverty before him who is rich. It is letting him hold you as you are.

It is climbing onto the lap of His care. It is looking at his face with awe, admiration and appreciation. It is waiting to see what he will do – with you. It is not performance-based, but heart-abandoning.

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child
is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 18:4

Worship is not only about hymns, but it’s about humble openness, willingness and readiness to soak in the Creator, the Author and the Perfector of faith. It is about seeing his glory beyond the alerts, schedules and notifications continually pinging you. It is about getting quiet in the rush. It is about listening for truth over lies. It is about asking for more rather than existing with less.

It is about being with Him.

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Palaces that Prepare Us

Prepare Us

I am delighted to welcome Sheree DeCouto from Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA to Women’s Ministry Monday. Sheree’s words encourage my heart – even our best dreams, can still be difficult.

Thank you, Sheree.

Post by: Sheree DeCouto

Is it just me, or have you ever wondered what happened after Cinderella and Prince Charming rode off into the sunset? As a little girl I bought the “happily ever after” ending hook line and sinker; as a grown woman I’ve learned that palace life doesn’t always turn out to be what I expected.

Whether it be a relationship, job or ministry… our happily ever after scenarios often lets us down.

I’ll never forget the day I landed my first full-time job in women’s ministry. I thought I had arrived. For years I had dreamed of what it would be like to work for God. My head was full of all the wonderful things I was going to do for God now that He had brought me to my palace, so to speak. Finally, someone had recognized the call of God on my life and given me a chance to make my dreams of becoming a published author and sought-after speaker come true.

Needless to say, palace life has been harder than I expected.

Lately, I’ve been studying the ultimate dreamer Joseph, and I’ve wondered if he too might have grappled to reconcile his expectations with his reality. Obviously, he must have been disappointed when his brothers sold him as a slave. But, I wonder what he thought when he was purchased by Potiphar, who was Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, and put in charge of his entire household. It was a lofty position for sure. Could he have thought, Someone has finally recognized my potential; I’m finally at a place where my dreams could come true?

If you know Joseph’s story then you know Potiphar’s palace was only another step in his journey. It was a place where he gained valuable leadership experience learned the importance of integrity. When I consider his time at Photiphar’s palace as simply a step toward God’s ultimate calling on his life I am encouraged re-think my own palace experience.

All of us yearn for the happy ending but few of us experience joy during in the journey toward it. I’ve found hope by remembering these three truths:

1.     It’s not our final destination: All of life is preparing us for the ultimate happy ending when we meet Jesus face to face.

2.     Tests are part of it: Make no mistake. . . our dream job, dream marriage, and dream life will be full of  challenges to test us. (Thankfully they are all open book tests; the Bible gives us the answers we need!)

3.     Our reaction in the gap between expectation and reality determines our level of joy. We choose our response when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Joseph’s life story gives us an excellent example of how to move past our past and toward the ultimate call of God on our lives. In the end Joseph considered God’s will more valuable than his own desire for success.

What palace is God using to prepare you? Are you passing the tests, or has your chosen response kept you from enjoying the journey? If I’m honest, I have to admit that the gap between my expectation and my reality caught me off guard. I haven’t passed all of the tests. But today I’m determined to consider God’s will more valuable than my own desire for success. I choose joy in the midst of my circumstances and I thank God that He is still preparing me for the ultimate happy ending.

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About Sheree

Sheree(3)-0051Sheree serves on staff as the Women’s Ministry Director at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, spiritual coach for leaders, event coordinator, writer, and mentor–and that’s just what she does for her day job! She is also a wife, the mother of three sons, and a mother-in-law to her first daughter-in-love. Her passion is to bring the “real” factor to everything she does. Whether she’s speaking to a large audience, writing, or mentoring, her goal is to be transparent about the struggles she faces so that others feel free to do the same.

The Beauty In Imperfection

Beauty In Imperfection

I am delighted to welcome Pamela Mercer, from CrossLife Church in Florida, to the Women’s Ministry Monday Series. Pamela’s words are honest and thought-provoking. It is a pure joy to welcome here words today…

Post by: Pam Mercer

Several years ago, my life as I knew it ended with three little words. “You have cancer.” The events that followed were rushed and intense. Suddenly, everything that, by definition made me a woman was taken from me. Within two months time, I lost both breasts and had a radical hysterectomy.

imperfection of beauty

These were moments that could define me as someone who lived by faith or who took the easy route. I could have believed I was inadequate. Instead, I made a distinct choice to believe the truth of God’s word and my relationship with Him. He was my hero when He died for me and He was still my hero when I needed Him in extraordinary ways. He is the beauty in our imperfection both in the ugliness of life and in our humanity.

Through all of this, I realized things:

1.  I never felt like I quite measured up. 
There was always someone prettier, smarter, had more things and seemed to have it easy.

2. Despite our feelings, we have the ability to choose how we think and feel. 
We can focus on eternal things or we can focus on temporal.

3. If we solely follow our feelings, we will live a miserable existence. 
As women, there are not enough emoticons to describe our feelings in a 12-hour period. Our feelings run a 100-yard dash with no sense of direction. Yet, when we choose to follow the principles of God, we recalibrate our hearts toward Him. Our life, our relationships and our feelings follow. Our heart choices will dictate our feelings. What we believe and who we love will change the way we live and the choices we make.

We can believe fleeting feelings or we can believe all-consuming truth, like this:

Ephesians 2:4-5 say, “Because of His great love for us, even when we were dead in our sin made us alive in Christ, so that, by His grace we are saved.”

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”

Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love; for His wondrous works to the children of man. For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul, He fills with good things.”

No matter how you may feel, the Lord our God is always in our midst.

Beauty In Imperfection

He alone can save us from our sin. He rejoices over and loves you (individually) with a never-ending love. He feels a lively or triumphant joy; rejoices exceedingly; is highly elated or jubilant over YOU!!

His love is steadfast. I love the meaning of the word steadfast. His love is loyal; faithful; committed; devoted; dedicated; dependable; reliable; steady; true; constant; solid; trustworthy; firm; determined; resolute; relentless; single-minded; unchanging; unwavering; unhesitating; unfaltering; unyielding; unflinching; and uncompromising.

With truth so amazing, why do we feel unloved or inadequate?

The key to remember is this: When satan feeds our heads with lies, our heart follows.

Yet, if we fill our heart with Christ, then Satan has to go.

They cannot occupy the same space.
The light cancels out the darkness.

Darkness must flee.

C.S. Lewis has said about seizing truth, “We are afraid we will lose something, but we lose nothing, we become the greatest version of ourselves. We fear we will have no more personality, no more distinction. That is so untrue. The truth is, we will never be more ourselves with the fullness of our personalities and the uniqueness of our giftedness as when we wholly give ourselves over to our faithful God.”

Let truth grab hold of your imperfections to replace them with beauty!

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About Pamela MerceThe Beauty In Imperfectionr

Pamela Mercer is the wife of Dr. Dwayne Mercer, Senior Pastor of CrossLife Church. When Pam and her husband came to CrossLife in 1993, God gave her a vision for the women in the Oviedo and
surrounding areas. This passion led to developing a team, from which, CrossLife Women’s Ministry was created. The ministry has grown significantly and God has changed many lives through retreats, rallies, mentoring and Bible Studies.

Pam currently serves as Director of Women’s Ministry at her church.
CrossLife provides consultation for new Women’s Ministries, as well as,
Existing ministries. This involves speaking at various events.

Pam is a woman with a heart in pursuit of God. Her passion is to lead
women to reach their full potential in Christ. She seeks to live
authentically and with intentionality. She shares in an insightful and humorous way that
connect with women of all ages. She and her husband are the proud parents
of 3 adult children, 2 daughter-in-laws, 3 granddaughters and 3 grandsons.
All of their children are serving God in their own ministries.

A Titus 2 Wake Up

Wake Up

It is with great excitement that I welcome Debbie Hopper to Ministry Monday! Debbie brings heart, wisdom and passion. Her experience shines. Even more, I found her words to be a soothing lesson for a worrier like me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did! 

It was the first week of January 2016 and my goal setting was in full swing.  But as I looked ahead to the next six months, there was a date looming on the horizon that stopped me in my tracks :  my 60th birthday.

It just didn’t seem possible…
Children growing up?  Yes! 
Daughters getting married? Yes!  
Becoming a grandmother? Yes!  
Caring for aging parents?  Yes!  

But turning 60 and getting the infamous AARP card?  I had only blurred images associated with this decade and they were scaring the daylights out of me:

·       My Dad died at 63 after spending his last 8 years in a wheelchair

·       My Mother did a few adventurous things after he died, but her health declined by 70

·       Most women ahead of me on this journey seemed to be slowing down or checking out

The Lord needed to give me a fresh download, a picture of what He saw for my sixties, to give me a new vision and a renewed spirit about embracing this milestone.

And of course, He answered.

“Call out to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things
that you have not known.”  
Jeremiah 33:3

First, He very sweetly (but firmly) reminded me of all the great and marvelous things He had done in my life over the past 59 years.  Times He rescued me, protected me, redeemed me and poured favor over me when I didn’t deserve it.  The thought that kept coming to me was:

You gave me my first breath and will take away my last.  Who am I to question any breath in between?

Next, He led me to dig deep and study what it really means to be a Titus 2 Woman.  Whenever younger women had referred to me as their Titus 2 in the past, I would just shrug or smile and accept it as a compliment.  But study it?

The LORD was giving it to me as marching orders:

1.     Tell everyone to follow God’s Word

2.     Teach older women:

  •  To be holy in their behavior
  • Not speaking against others (gossip)
  • Not addicted to wine/drink/food
  • Teaching what is good

3.     Teach younger women:

  • Love their husbands
  • Love their children
  • To be self-controlled, wise and pure
  • To be a model of good works at home
  • To be kind, show integrity and dignity
  • To yield to their husbands

4.     Always use the Gospel as the source for godliness

The limitations we seWake Upe, are often doors God knocks open through Godly instruction.

Where do you need to see past
limitations, restrictions, age or beauty?

For the first time, 60 held the promise of fulfilling work as I pursued that inseparable link between faith and practice, belief and behavior.   There was a renewed excitement in my spirit. He had not only answered me, but offered purpose and meaning to the days and years ahead.

I felt new wind behind me. In fact, I began planning a harbor cruise with the Daughters.  For it seemed worthy of celebrating all He has done. I was ready to sail into sixty with new hope.

Are you dreading a date on the calendar or waiting anxiously for a new day? Wherever you are, Sisters, let’s embrace the days with His goals instead of our go-to worries.

And, maybe, if you are fortunate, like me, you may even end up with a Senior Discount or something…

Debbie Hopper bio

debphotoDebbie felt called into the ministry at age 16, and spent the early part of her life serving the body and working in the corporate world until her God appointment into full-time ministry 8 years ago.  As a Minister and Director of Women’s Ministry at Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Debbie has the honor of serving under the leadership of Pastor Greg Surratt, the ARC network founder.

Married for 22 years to an amazing man of God who is a Project Engineer by day and a Leader of Men by night, they have 3 Daughters, 2 Son-in-loves and 9 Grands.

To recharge from long days of ministry, Debbie enjoys Date Nights with The Hubby, long chats with The Daughters at Starbucks, reading, gardening, archery and photography.  You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: debhopper

Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Out of Sight

I want to extend a warm welcome to Kari Stainback. Her words hit the tender places of not being seen and chosen. I couldn’t be happier to feature her words as part of the Ministry Monday Series. Welcome Kari!

Not long ago at a family gathering, I happened upon an endless version of the game “Peek a Boo” with a toddler.  Over and over and OVER again I put a scarf over her little head and said, “Where did Lucy go?”

Then I’d yank the scarf off to her gleeful shrieks and reply, “There she is!”  The giggles and the fun lasted for longer than I thought possible for a game to continue with a baby.

What made Lucy giggle so profusely as she participated in this game is that she was learning something called “object permanence”.  It is the developmental process that allows children to understand that an object continues to exist when it can’t be seen, touched or heard.  Prior to this stage, in the first few months of a baby’s life, they think when an object is “out of sight”, in their minds, it ceases to exist!  So when Lucy couldn’t see me, she just thought in her tiny toddler mind, “she’s not gone, she’s right there and boy howdy that is hilarious!”

Object permanence is very important because it gives us the ability to understand that objects that we may have never seen in our lives actually exist.  For example, I’ve never been to France nor seen the Eiffel Tower, but I know that it exists even though I’ve never physically seen it.  Throughout our childhoods as we become adults, object permanence moves from the physical to the abstract as we gain more experience with the world around us.  And, by God’s grace, it lays the foundation in our brains to develop faith in the triune God.  We can know, by faith, the One who we have not seen physically, but we can be sure He is with us.  In Christ, He is our ultimate permanent object.

Some of my favorite verses that teach us this truth are:

“My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”  (Exodus 33:14)

“Just as I as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I feel from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:8-9)

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)

Sometimes, I don’t feel God is near.  Perhaps, you, like I, tend to think, “Does God really care? Does He know I’m feeling alone and forgotten?”  

For years, I thought I experienced loneliness because of my singleness.

I find, loneliness tempts us to find comfort by escaping through activity, or shutting down or drowning our sorrows in food or drink, or my personal favorite: cruising the mall on Saturday nights.  It’s easy to give in to despair and resentment, to stop reading the Bible or praying. I keep learning, none of these leads us to lasting peace.  What does lead to peace is something Amy Carmichael wrote about in her poem, “For In Acceptance Lieth Peace”.

Our loneliness may not go away,
but it can be accepted as God’s will for today and that turns it into something beautiful. 

Recently I had an ugly bout with loneliness, all of my familiar temptations to doubt and escape swirled around me.  I did not feel God’s presence.  All I felt was the dread that the loneliness had returned and that it would only get worse in the days ahead.

I found His presence.

I opened my Bible and read it, listening for the Word He had for me.  It came!  I prayed and thanked the Lord for being the One who would never leave me or forsake me.  He gave me peace. The very next day God sent me a surprise of His love in the mail, something only He could do in His perfect timing.  It was a quarterly magazine from the seminary from which I graduated.  On the back was a graphic of a tree, rooted in Christ Jesus, with its branches filled with names of single men and women who have furthered God’s Kingdom throughout church history.

To my utter amazement, in the far right branch I saw my name.  Underneath the graphic was written the verse, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35).  

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About Kari

CounselingandCare (1)Kari Stainback is Director of Women’s Ministries at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX.  She coordinates women’s Bible studies, discipleship and special events.  Kari is a Licensed Professional Counselor and does pastoral counseling for women in the church.  She is also a board certified supervisor of counselors.

Kari joined the staff of PCPC in the fall of 1999.  She has been in her present position for 15 years.

Broken Perfectionism

Broken Perfectionism

I could not be happier to have Angela Craig joining us today for Ministry Monday. Angela is on fire for the Lord; her passion exudes from her (and I have only talked to her online, so this says so much!). She is a gift sent by God to this world and I am excited to honor her here today. Welcome Angela!

“A dangerous leader is one that has great familiarity with their skills and gifts
but cursory knowledge of their inner brokenness.”
– Dan White, Jr.

I will admit it. I want everyone to like me. The two things I have struggled with most of my life are people-pleasing and perfectionism. In the past, if someone didn’t like me or critiqued my work, I would spend an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of time lamenting on where I went wrong. Then I would make a plan to fix it. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, I still disappointed people and made mistakes.

It could be because I am human. As far as I know, human beings can strive for excellence but they can never be perfect. Having the hope of perfectionism is like having a boat with a hole in it and thinking you can stay afloat if you can just keep the water out of the bottom. Eventually, you will take on more water than you can bail out and get tired of trying to fulfill other people’s expectations. This leads to burnout or drowning. Neither, a good option.

But what if I was perfect? Would everyone like me then?

Actually, the answer is no.

Listen for a moment to this story of Jesus. On Palm Sunday, Jesus made his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on a humble donkey. The people were so enamored by Jesus they lined the street with their cloaks and palm leaves in honor of who they believed to be the next royal King from the line of David. Jesus could do no wrong. Five days later, that same King hung on a splintered wooden cross with a crown of thorns on his innocent head – naked, accused, mocked, beaten, hated, and judged – but still perfect.

As the story ends, we see it was obedience, not perfection that changed the world forever.Broken Perfectionism

As leaders, it is easy for our interactions with others to become performance driven. We can become actors on a ministry stage. Our actions being guided and directed by audience approval and recognition. If left unattended, the approval and recognition of others will eventually affirm or challenge our identity and self-worth, leaving God’s opinion back-stage.

We must maintain the ability to embrace our gifts, God’s words, and our brokenness at the same time. For me, a broken perfectionism has been the path to being a healthier leader.

You are unique and distinctive. Your leadership matters. Live fearlessly for Jesus today, my friends, and be encouraged by these last scriptures and a quote from Brennan Manning. I will be here cheering you on!

Brennan Manning wrote: “God loves you without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are not as you should be!
Real freedom is the freedom from the opinion of others. Above all, freedom from your opinion about yourself.”

“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7 NIV).

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

About Angela Craig

image001 (1)Angela’s 10 years of international speaking experience covers leadership and women’s conferences, non-profit events, and on-line leadership training. Angela is the Director of the women’s department at the Northwest Ministry Network where she has the honor to lead a team who is responsible for the development and empowerment of female leaders in over 320 churches. Angela is an ordained minister and a certified coach with Gallup Strengthsfinder, SLTA 360, and AGC. A life-long learner, Angela has a Ministry Leadership degree from Northwest University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga. Angela is honored to teach as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Northwest University. Angela is also the founder of the GIVE GOOD Awards Foundation, an organization that recognizes inspirational people and promotes volunteerism.

Devoted to helping others reach their fullest potential in life and leadership, Angela has authored two books, The Story of Leah: When life is not what you expected it to be and Pivot Leadership: Small Steps – Big Change . You can read her weekly blog encouragements and leadership tips on angelalcraig.com and  on hervoiceblog.us, a blog specifically designed for women in leadership.

Everybody Needs Encouragement

Encouragement

I could not be more delighted to welcome Jan Greenwood to Purposeful Faith today. Her book, Women at War, both uplifted my heart and rekindled fervor for Christ. Jan, a natural encourager and an endurer, is flame-lighting the world with truth. Thank you for that, Jan. We are truly blessed by you and your mission. Love, Kelly

Post by: Jan Greenwood

Most of us are starving for a little encouragement.

We’re walking around parched, prone to self-doubt and focused on what must be done.  Some of us are downright afraid.  Some of us have fallen into a pit of discouragement and feel totally alone.  Some of us are riding the mountain top of breakthrough and find that even good, God things bring stress and fear.

Can you relate?

I’ve recently been in a serious battle for my health. I’m grateful that many have been encouraging me.  However, I often run into friends who say something like “I have been thinking of you, but I didn’t want to bother you.  I know so many others are already encouraging you.”

I wonder why we think we should limit encouragement?  

Or why we think our encouragement is inferior or too late?  

People are made to be filled with courage…
to be comforted, built up, and empowered by you.

I Thessalonians 15:11 says “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up…”

I cherish every face-to-face encounter, notecard, email, text, post or even a like, love or follow on social media. They remind me I’m not alone and fill me with courage. But everyone needs encouragement to arrive in ways they can manage the impact and influx.  It’s not that they don’t need encouragement but simply they need it delivered in a manner they can receive it.

I think this is the major reason we limit our encouragement –we’ve experienced encouragement from another in a manner that was insensitive to how we are feeling, out of order, embellished or at a moment where a response was expected of us that we simply didn’t have the capacity to give.

I’d like to share some of my favorite ways to both give and receive encouragement that are simple, inexpensive, really effective – and never arrive at a bad time.

It’s never a bad time to send a note.  I still love snail mail.  It speaks to me and says “I care.  I thought about you enough to buy a notecard, think of something kind to say, write it down, and even spend a little more to put the stamp on the envelope.” It makes me feel special and cared for. A written word, no matter how small or short has great value. So go ahead and send a text, email or social media like.  It all lasts…it lingers…it can encourage multiple times.  If you add a scripture or a brief prayer – double points for you!

It’s never a bad time to pray. Pray each time that person comes to your mind and trust that you are depositing faith, hope and courage into your friend.  (You’ll notice I didn’t say it’s never a bad time to pray with the person you want to encourage.  Ask permission, don’t make it too long, and be sensitive to the environment, timing and how the person is feeling.)  I like to imagine I have a giant prayer bowl on the altar of God that is filling with the beautiful aroma of prayer.  When I feel weary, afraid or even downright fearful, I will lift my eyes to heaven and ask God to throw down some fire from that altar. The prayers of others get me through.

It’s never a bad time to say I love you. People are drawn to those who can express an authentic concern and affection for them and their needs. A thirsty man can spot water from a mile away.  People will be drawn to your genuine encouragement.  That same thirsty man can smell insincerity. Never lie or overstate your concern.  Keep it simple.  Touch them if appropriate.  Look them in the eye.  Don’t overstay your welcome.  Follow their cues.

It’s never a bad time to send a gift card especially for restaurants or grocery stores. People love to eat (have to eat) and often in the midst of a difficult season preparing a meal for your family can be a really big drain on your limited strengths or resources.  (I also love home cooked meals, but they require a lot more coordination/energy for both parties. Cards allow me to meet the needs of my family as they come and on tough days that means I’m not in the kitchen at all. Double points for me!

So go ahead and act on your impulse.  You are made for this!  You are an encourager and your love and concern for others is powerful.  Don’t withhold.  Don’t worry.  Don’t delay.  Someone right in front of you needs to be encouraged.

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About Jan

encouragementJan Greenwood, author of Women at War and Pastor of Women at Gateway Church, is a fervent developer of women.  As a speaker, author and pastor of women, she’s taught many how to create powerful, healthy female relationships.  Jan and her husband Mark have been married over 30 years and live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area. Follow Jan on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

encouragement

About Women at War

Women at War is revolutionizing the way women treat one another and the value they place of their own gender.

Pink Impact

Learn more about Pink Impact, the annual women’s conference at Gateway Church.

 

 

 

When No One Sees or Cares

When No One Sees

I remember as a kid that door knock. People from everywhere walked up to our cracked doorstep. People with knives, people with vacuums, people with contraptions and people with frozen foods. When the doorbell rang, you never knew what you were going to get. I always hoped it would be chocolate and something with a cherry on top; my luck was never that good.

Every time, my inclination was to run right up to the door, open it and say, “Show me your presentation, show me the process and tell me the story.” They always had a story and it always left you wanting to shell out hundreds of dollars on things you knew you never needed – but, all the same, felt great handing over in large sums.

These people knew how to reach deep within you and pull out – compassion.

Yet, the other inclination within a household, was to shut off the lights upon their arrival, to run to the bathroom or to get vertical against a wall. All of these were good techniques to be left safe, secure and unhassled. You just leave that person waiting, sweating, hoping and alone on a doorstep…unseen.

Untitled design (46)

Despite all the great things they bring to the table – you leave them unseen.

Despite all the preparation they have put into their project – you leave them unseen.

Despite all their dreams someone will care – you leave them unseen.

Despite a vision to forge into something more,
something risky and something powerful – you leave them unseen.

I stand on the doorstep sometimes. Do you? I stand trying to knock, in the best way I know how, not much succeeding – with no one really caring.

No one says to me, “Keep pressing on. You are doing something important here.” I keep moving, door after door, each time feeling like I am just left with cold air and a twisted ankle on the way back down the stairs.

I am sensitive, I guess. Aren’t, we all?

God, if you see me, why don’t you encourage me?

This makes me think of – her. She walked up to that well as if it was already a slammed door on her face. She knew what to expect: 1.) She wouldn’t be spoken to by men 2.) She was a Samaritan and Jews wouldn’t give her the time of day 3.) She was shady and unworthy all the same.

I imagine as people saw her coming, they hid behind the safe refuge of the well…

When No One SeesOne man saw her, though, saying, “Will you give me a drink?” (Jo. 4:7).

She answered with (imagine: an inner finger wagging at itself, “This is impossible”),
“How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9).

Sometimes we feel so unseen, we feel so unworthy of being seen, we annihilate the love that tries to penetrate us. We let it burst into smithereens. Inside we nod our head saying, “There is just no way…”

I do this.
I believe what I have always known to be true.
I justify the case, rather than considering what could actually be the case.
I excuse others good intentions, saying, “If history is any indicator, they are bad.”

When No One Sees

Jesus says, “If you knew the gift of God … ” (Jo. 4:10)

If only, I knew it, I guess…

I might taste refreshing and rejuvenating water as she did.
(Jo. 4:10)

I might draw water from a well that gives new hope and vigor all the way up to eternity. 
(John 4:14)

I might beat down the lie – that strongarmed the truth – in order to hold me back.
“Go, call your husband and come back” (John 4:16)

I might confess.
“I have no husband.” (John 4:17)

I might find myself knocking on every door to share how me, the lame one, is now seen.
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).

Have you considered the reason why you feel unseen
is because you want to keep – unseen?

I can’t help but think, what if we let in what we have kept out? Might we find it is the love of Christ that has been knocking on our door for so long?  What might happen if we stopped hiding and opened our gates?

When No One Sees

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How God Will Make Your Impossible – Possible

Impossible

When there is nothing left to do in a day, and my mind has nowhere left to go, right or wrong, Facebook and I get friendly. It’s the mindless scroll that numbs a mind. It’s the old faces that remind me of days yesterday. It’s a knowledge that somehow everyone is okay. It is just seeing and being. Yet, this time, God wasn’t content to let me sit. He wanted to show me some little things; little things ready to teach me big things.

First, an old friend caught my attention…

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My beautiful friend‘s husband made her a special contraption for “little arm” so she could blow dry her hair without issue. Hmmm…powerful. Her husband helped her to do what was difficult for her to do.

God, let me see what you want me to see…

My thumb got arthritical again. I scrolled, then I hit this video (Life).

It was daddy, super-daddy, I’ll call him – he made a super-duper, over-the-hips harness holder for his son, who I am sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, had never walked a day in hisScreen Shot 2016-04-29 at 5.12.59 AM life. The pure joy written all over his face made that clear. He was all things laughs, exuberance and pleasure. It was his moment on daddy’s toes. Not black and white, but shades of alive.

I want my moment on daddy’s toes.

Where he rescues me. Where he helps me to move in ways I never considered. Where he blesses me beyond measure. This is life. This is what pixels and images of years passing all add up to.

That boy’s face explained it – it is the elation that you are loved.

God, teach me, right here and now, teach me…

In his unfathomable love, God does not see our lackings, but he sees the makings of incredible about to explode.

We don’t have to see it – to believe it.
He’s a good, good, daddy.

Where we feel incapable, he is capable.
Where we feel down, he is ready to lift.
Where we say, I can’t, he says, “You will – just wait.”

We just believe and then we, fly into his purposes…

Will I give him a chance? Will you?

What if my friend didn’t accept the gift or the gesture? What if that boy pushed away the over-the-hip harness holder? What would have happened?

How often do you – or do I – miss the insane workings of God because we get prideful and believe we can do it on our own?

God, don’t let us miss it anymore.

I am faulted. I need you.
I feel incapable. Show me.
I am handicapped in so many regards. Reconstruct me.

I want to fly.

I believe.

I believe in God’s power to love me like family. I believe in his power to make a miracle out of my control issues. I believe in his power to banish shame. I believe in his artistic genius to make a gizmo so wild it will soar me right up to – alive.

It will save me, right as I wait on daddy’s toes. And like that boy, I Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 5.05.53 AMwill dance. I will smile, laugh, giggle and wonder –  attached to daddy – loaded up with all the gadgets of his goodness.

I will. You will.

Where do you feel broken? Faulted? Injured? Less than?

Know this: Daddy is building a doohicky. Accept it. Put it on. Believe in it. Trust it to work. Smile. Let go. Feel his love. It is the answer.

God, indeed, takes our limitations and makes them into proclamations of his goodness…when we let him.

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The Question: It Will Bring Life Or Hold You Back

Brings life

I know what you all would say. I am blessed. I got invited as guest on Proverbs 31’s “Compel Conversation”.

You may say, “What is the issue, Kelly? This sounds like a good thing.”

It is. I agree, except for this likely question: “Tell us a little bit about yourself…”

What “little bit” does anyone even care about? Who am I?

Am I the middle schooler who won the Junior Olympics bronze medal for race-walking (yes, it’s as duckish and as funny-looking as it sounds)?

Am I the caffeinated and domesticated house-cleaner, laundry-pusher and child-rearer who works tirelessly to keep the house moving?

Am I the secret vagabond woman who loves to pack up all her goods and travel to some new and foreign land that she hasn’t traversed? After all, I am taping up brown cardboard yet again…

Am I the woman who hides in the bathroom when life gets tough and kids become screamers?

Am I fighter woman, the one constantly trying to keep one hand on God as my feet side-step this world detonating with traps?

Who am I? Who are you, really?

How do we sum up the 78 organs that make up “woman” when they are constantly changing? Growing. Shrinking. Aging. Becoming. Dying.

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And why is there this demand that we know?

Will we ever know?

Because I don’t. And, I don’t know if I ever will. And perhaps this is the point. Perhaps we won’t really know our place in home, until we really arrive at home. Perhaps, we won’t see our tailor-made and perfected job in God’s kingdom until we walk right up to the gates – and pull them open – and walk right in.

Then, we will see…

Then, we won’t share a “little bit,” but we will radiate in “the everything” God made us to be.

Does all of this transcend to the here and now?

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When do you feel alive?

When I stand in Christ’s love, 
I become more aware that who I am is – one – made to love & be loved.

I see:
It is not who we are, but whose we are.

I am not scabbed, but healed by truth.
It’s not about me, but about how God sees me.
It is about where he wants to go…

this is when I come alive.

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Perhaps, all these little moments – with God – they force the true out from the cracks.

The heaviness of me…
can’t stop the new growth of God.
It is not restrained by the weight of life… 

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A woman made in the image of Jesus.
A woman walking with his being in her.
A woman pursuing the dream of his cause.
A woman existing in his truth.
A woman fighting against her desires to win and succeed and – to walk all over people.
A woman looking to get untied, so she can rely on him.
A woman falling on her face, but getting back up again.
A woman healed from things that could have killed her.

This is a little bit about Kelly: A woman twirling in love. A woman listening to the Spirit’s leading. A woman always anticipating more doses of God’s best.

Who are you?

What heaviness is tying you down?

What might God’s love want to push out from within you?

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