Purposeful Faith

Tag - dreams

When You’re Afraid You’ll Never Achieve Your Goals and Dreams

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I listened to the interview with the popular Christian writer, my mind reeling with questions. But the one that kept repeating itself over and over was, “How?”

This woman had a slew of kids running around, and she homeschooled all of them. Her writing was not shoddy. Each syllable sang with an effortless harmony as you read.

So how? How were there enough hours in the day? Did she have on a superwoman cape I couldn’t see as I listened to the podcast?

At the time I had two kids. Now I have three, the last one two months young. There are days I barely get the laundry done and the food made, much less worry about doing anything creative.

I see women on social media who, in all the bright lights and glow of the computer screen, are pursuing their goals and dreams. They are achieving milestones I dare to think about as I’m nursing my sweet babe at night.

Before daybreak, the fear takes over and says, “You’ll never get there.”

Comparison is such a lonely place to live.

When we compare, we fear never being like someone else when God simply wants us to be the person he created.

We live in a toxic state of thinking we have to achieve the next rung on our self-made ladder instead of embracing the season we’re in. But friends, we weren’t made to keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians or anyone else.

We were made to live our own unique lives, each of us working together to create a beautiful God-story.

During the moments I’m tempted to exchange my story for someone else’s God is showing me a better way. Instead of spending my time in fear and comparison, I bring it to him.

I say, “God, today I only have a half hour to work on this project. I don’t know how it’s going to get done, but I trust you.”

And in ways only he can, he multiplies my efforts. He takes that little sliver of time and makes it enough.

One day it was raining non-stop and the fog on the mountain where we live was thick, reflecting my tired mental state. I was feeling discouraged, so I brought my concerns to God. I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t always my first inclination.

I told him my concerns and worries, how I wanted to get back to assignments I knew he’d given me to complete, but I didn’t see how.

A few days later, an opportunity dropped in my lap. It wasn’t something I was pursuing or even knew was a possibility, but in that moment I knew God was answering me.

With this email from an editor that popped into my inbox, he said, “You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to do months from now or even next week. Just make the most of the time I’ve given you. Right here, today.”

And in doing so, I not only honor my family, but God. I can stop trying to keep up with the person next to me and focus on the task in front of me. One step at a time.

I felt like a huge load was lifted off my shoulders.

I know there will be days I’m tempted to look in the other lane. Chances are, you’ll be tempted too.

But can I tell you something? The ride is so much more enjoyable when, instead of seeing how far we have to go, we look at the view around us.

Instead of fearing we’ll never make it to the next destination, let’s look at how far we’ve come.

Order Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, today!

 

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Pinterest, and Facebook.

 

 

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

 

Need A Miracle? This Is Breakthrough…

need a miracle

Do you feel unable? Do you have a dream no one believes in? Have you hit an impossible roadblock?

Maybe you’re after a miracle.
Even worse, maybe your not.
Maybe, you’ve given up.

I am well aware, we all have our – “if onlys”, “it’s impossible” or “that couldn’t happen” scenarios. They loom like harbingers of how we will self-destruct, how those we love will get hurt or how we will never come out the other side – alive.

The enemy loves to tell us we can look, but can’t touch. He tells us good things are out of reach. So, instead we put on anti-faith, which is doubt cloaked in the covering of Christian-like behavior. We pretend.

We forget about this: Truly, truly, I tell you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Jo. 16:23

Our real problem isn’t that it’s out of reach, it’s that we don’t believe God’ll put it within reach.

The difference between a miracle and a mirage – is prayer.

If only we asked.
And believed.

For 80% of my life, I lived not believing. I mean, half-believing, I guess…if that is such a thing. I lived attending church. I lived trying my best. I lived praying. But, for the most part I lived doubting: doubting I’d ever do good, doubting God would really forgive me, doubting God could use me, doubting people would ever like me.

Fear was my slave master and my inadequacy his whip. I stayed in line.

Until, I started praying. Prayer is the liberator every woman needs, but has no idea how to find.

Me? A girl who stayed back in 3rd grade. A girl crippled by a chest that clenched its own self. A woman afraid that everyone would hate her. A quitter. An anorexic who felt she had to be perfect. A woman who hid from opportunities because she didn’t want to fail. A lady who was told she’d never write, nonetheless be an author.

Me? God saved me – from the overwhelming anxiety of being me.
Me? God opened up purpose and passion.
Me? God lit vision and destroyed the power of rejection.
Me? God inspired my book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Fears.
Me? God just put my book on the Today Show. Kathie Lee Gifford named it one of her Favorite Things.
Me? God showed me – He can do anything, free anyone or rescue anyone – if only they ask.

We don’t ask though. This is the real problem.

What if you asked God to be fearless?

What might your life look like?

Where might God take you?

No doubt, underneath this stark movement in my life, were countless prayers.  Above it, stood a limitless God. Between these two places, was my belief. I watched everything collide.

God is calling us to step deeper and walk further into the fullness of all he can do. You see, we don’t have to imagine it, or perceive it – forget all that – we just have to believe it.

This is what my book Fear Fighting is all about. It’s about linking arms with the Savior, the Redeemer and the Creator of all good, so that we, as sisters, may walk bold and brave. It’s about leaving behind trembling so we can walk, on sure foundation, into God’s greatest callings. It’s about exchanging comparison and jealousy for the life-charging power of I-am-loved, beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s about seeing yourself as God sees you. It’s about stepping out when every voice from your past tells you to step in. It’s about finding the you God created you to be.

Join the Fear Fight. The time is now. Your God waits. He will help you. Prayer will be your guide and God will not steer you wrong. Your greatest miracle is just ahead.

Buy Fear Fighting!

Join the Four Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

More Reading:
When You Let God Down
5 Ways: Calm the Inner-Rumbles of Rejection
When Your Picture Is Not Pretty

What Does Casting Our Cares Even Mean?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Kids hear everything.

A few days ago I received a reminder of this. Even when we think they’re not listening or won’t be interested in the conversation, they hear. They pay attention. And yes, they take interest.

In the process of running my mouth to my husband on a phone call I thought was private, I transferred worry. My eight-year-old son who should be thinking about Santa Claus or how he’s going to finagle his next piece of candy was worrying about his baby sister instead.

Because I was worrying about his baby sister.

Our fears have a way of spreading, don’t they? Like they’re contagious. We think we’re carrying these burdens by ourselves, as though the weight of them may crush us. And then out of nowhere we see the weight is also being carried by others. Other loved ones. Other friends and members of the church body.

The crazy part though? It isn’t being carried in a way that lightens our load. We don’t feel any release. They’re anxious because we’re anxious. Instead of releasing the burden, we hold onto it, unaware of its virus-like effect.

A few days after the phone call with my husband, we put the kids to bed and sunk into the couch, watching mind-numbing TV on Netflix. He told me our son had confided in him about what he’d heard.

“I’m afraid Elise’s heart rate will drop, Dadda,” he had said.

When my husband asked why he was worried about this, big brother said, “Well, Mama is worried her heart rate will drop, so I’m worried too.”

My heart nearly broke.

I realized my son was becoming a mini version of me, fretting about the unknown neither one of us could control.

I thought about all the time I spent racing down endless trails of what-ifs. Now my son was adapting this habit that would only add to the circles under his eyes. The thought of it made me feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, and it wasn’t his baby sister.

A few days later, my mind went to 1 Peter and his thoughts on anxiety.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

I’ll admit, many times I’ve heard these words and thought, “What does that even mean?” The command seemed good in theory, but putting it into practice was vague and muddled to me.

But this time as pondered the verse, I thought about what Peter did for a living: fish. He cast his net repeatedly out into the water, hoping for a catch that would sustain.

Then I thought about how heavy those nets must have been. Like all of our problems we carry day after day, and how releasing that net must have felt like releasing the weight of the world.

Peter was a skilled fisherman, but once he released his net he ultimately had no control over the outcome. The fish could come or swim away. They could fill his net or fill someone else’s.

Casting our cares carries the same concept.

The cast is the release of control. Instead of fretting and running through endless scenarios in an attempt to micro-manage, we release the problem to God.

All the troubles we carried in our net become God’s to bear. The One who was in control all along takes the weight we were never intended to endure.

When I unknowingly cast my worry on my firstborn, he tried to carry it, but his tiny frame was too small. He was never meant to bear its load, so he and I both had to release it to the One who holds the future.

As we cast our nets, we still can’t see what lies ahead. But we know baby sister will be just fine.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Are you Behind Schedule?

Behind Schedule

I am delighted to welcome Marlinda Ireland to Women’s Ministry Monday. Marlinda’s words inspire my heart not to fret the timing but to trust the maker. This is just what I needed to hear. Welcome Marlinda!  

Have you prayed and prayed for open doors of opportunity,
but heaven is silent?

Are you tempted to act on some long-held desire?

Yet, deep down you know that the timing isn’t right. Perhaps God has not yet brought the necessary pieces of your purpose together and you’re feeling, well, stuck!

Now, it feels as if your life is behind schedule.

Let’s face it, waiting for answers from the God can be frustrating and discouraging. If we’re really honest, waiting can even make a strong woman weak. Having patience with God is especially hard in our microwave millennium.  We’re often judged by how quickly we reach the proverbial brass ring.  If you’re not married with two children, making a six-figure income, living in a five-bedroom house and enjoying all the finer things in life by age thirty-five, you’re labeled as someone who’s behind schedule.

In reality, most of us are judging our insides by other people’s outsides.

Pressure to conform to unwritten timelines set by society is intense. However, comparing yourself to others only leads to jealousy, envy, competition and discouragement. I have to admit that this was how I felt, not too long ago.

David and I married while I was still in college. However, because of our financial needs as newlyweds, I was unable to continue my education. So, the dream of being the first in my family to graduate from college was put on hold. Two years later I became pregnant with our first child, our lovely Danielle, and the dream was delayed again. Time passed and we had another beautiful baby girl, Jessica. Then, David transitioned from consulting engineering into full-time Christian ministry. So, I became the proverbial pastor’s wife. That was my title! Poof! Before I knew it, my dream was so behind schedule that catching up seemed impossible!  Please don’t get me wrong. I was grateful for our flourishing family and ministry. But, secretly, other parts of my soul were dying on the vine.

I also felt God calling me to participate in missionary journeys to other countries.  When David was away on such trips, well-meaning friends frequently asked me, “Why don’t you travel, too?” At that time, the question made me feel like I was doing something wrong…that I was not being a strong, assertive woman.  So, in desperation, I cried out for wisdom. One day, God spoke to my heart, “Marlinda, personal goals and ministry opportunities will always be around for you to nurture. However, your children will not.

Boom, it was crystal clear that our children were indeed my number one priority in that season. As David traveled, I was to hold down the fort. God was not releasing me to even leave our children with friends or family.

Still, at that time, I didn’t fully understand the principle of divine delay—how He uses them to prep us for the future. So, it was a struggle to feel content in His timing for my life. Then, just as the girls were finishing up high school and I was about to give up on these desires, opportunities for their fulfillment came into view. I felt moved to apply and was accepted into a graduate program that made allowances for people who had many years of ministry experience and several years of college. They even waived my tuition. Then, invitations to speak in the U.S. and overseas started flowing into my office. God’s blessings and timing were perfect.

The Bible declares“God has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Amplified Bible). Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Lazarus all experienced divine delays.

Can you trust that God has established
a unique timeline for you, too?

Our lives are similar to fruit bearing trees.

Different kinds of fruit ripen and mature in different seasons.  Similarly, we each have a special timetable wherein we blossom and ripen into the plans of God.  The rate in which this happens is not always determined by our own efforts or schedules—it’s also based on God’s divine timing. So, perhaps, you’re not really behind schedule. Perhaps, you’re in a divine delay!

Whatever the concern, rest assured that God’s in full control!

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

About Marlinda

img_0143Marlinda is a wife, a mom, Bible teacher, and a “creative.” She is the co-founder, an associate pastor and the women’s ministry director at Christ Church in Montclair and Rockaway, New Jersey.

Through all of the challenges and joys that go along with her many life-roles, the Father has etched on her soul the meaning of full-blown-surrender. It’s out of this internal imprint that she does life, loves the broken and encourages the chosen.

Lost in The Wilderness

Lost in The Wilderness

Today, it is my joy to welcome Tracey Rogers to Women’s Ministry Monday. Her words both uplift and remind my heart that there is safety in my struggle and hope in my longings. Thank you, Tracey. 

I got lost in the wilderness.

I hadn’t planned to even go out there, but there I was right in the middle of unfamiliar territory. I did, however, know what was on the other side. THAT I knew, so I was confident on how to maneuver myself through the uncomfortable deserted land.

But I got lost.

No, not literally. The deepest I have been in any kind of wilderness is a color-coded, well-worn hike through many Tennessee State Parks; hardly a place for loss.

No, my wilderness was God’s doing. Leading me out of my comfort and leading me into a place of uncertainty and trial and pressure and temptation.

The wilderness is not an unusual place for God’s people.

He often leads them into the wilderness. 

Moses was called by God from the burning bush while Moses was in the wilderness.

Elijah receives encouragement from God while spending 40 days in the wilderness.

The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness
unlearning the pagan influence from Egypt and becoming a people of God.

They found their identity in the wilderness. 

Even Jesus, Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted before beginning His earthly ministry.

David, too has a season in the wilderness. 

David was anointed king of Israel as a young man, and through a series of God-ordained coincidences he found himself in service of the present king of Israel, Saul. I imagine David saw the path to kingship. He imagined that he would learn from Saul; be mentored by this present king so he could one day step into the role that was destined for him. Although David knew the way the story would end, with him being king, I think the process ended up being very different than he expected. Saul began to see David as a threat and David was forced to run for his life. Where did he run?

To the wilderness. 

The wilderness is a place ripe for God to shape and grow David into the king He called him to be.

1 Samuel 21-31 record David’s time in the wilderness. I don’t think this turned out to be the way he expected God to grow him into a king, but that is exactly what God did. In the wilderness, David went from shepherd to leader. 

David learned how to handle opposition.
David was met with challenges, yet followed God.
The wilderness was where David found shelter in caves, yet knew the shadow of God’s wings.
It was where David found rest beside still waters and found his soul restored.
And David, had tests and temptations, but resisted them and proved worthy of the call.

The wilderness isn’t just for God’s people in the Bible. He is still calling His own into the wilderness today, and that is where I found myself.

But I carved the path. Wondering, how can I get out. How will God actually work things out?

Real surrender is not the act of acknowledging hard times,
but of letting God walk you through them, altogether.

What path do you follow? Is it providing refuge?

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, 

For my soul takes refuge in You;

And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge

Until destruction passes by.

I will cry to God Most High, 

To God who accomplishes all things for me.

He will send from heaven and save me;

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.     Selah.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.” Ps. 57:1-3

And so I remained in the wilderness, but no longer felt lost. I found comfort and I think that is exactly what He had in mind.

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About Tracey Rogers

View More: http://keonik.pass.us/traceyrogersTracey Rogers is a gifted Bible teacher who brings passion and enthusiasm to the life-giving Word of God. Tracey speaks with authority and authenticity leaving her listeners wanting to spend more time with God in His Word and inspiring them to live lives that shine His light. Tracey has also taken her revealing teaching lessons and unique insights and put them in her new book, Life Lessons from the Book of Job.

She lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband of almost 19 years, Kevin, along with their children Preston, 15; John John, 13; and Josie, 10.  In addition to serving on the adult groups staff at Church of the City, she has been incorporating her love of scripture by teaching Christ-centered yoga for 4 1/2 years.

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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.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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.

8 Ways To Prepare to Win Against the Devil

Win Against the Devil

The devil loves us weak.
God loves it when we renew our S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.

Do you know what this looks like?

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 4:31

Can you imagine not growing weary or faint?  Do you soar?
Or has the devil  kept a toe-hold on your coattails, preventing you from ever flying?

It’s easy to let that happen. To stay down.

Just this morning I was driving and a little bug kept hitting my car. I started to get frustrated, “Why is he tailing me? He’s making a mess of my window,” I thought. What I failed to realize was that only 2 minutes before, I had been worshipping. This little pest stole the moment.

win against the devil

We all have pests chasing us. They try to steal God’s place of glory in our heart. These little nuisances are often what the devil uses to drive our hearts away from God. We usually allow it.

What tends to be hard for us to accept is that straight up bible knowledge won’t always save us. Why? The devil doesn’t care how much scripture you know. He doesn’t even care if you have the whole bible memorized. He doesn’t care if you have a PhD in Christian Apologetics. He’s never worried about the mind, the devil is always worried about the heart.

My warning to the church? Let’s not get so enthralled with our mind, that we lose our heart in the process. Some churches, I believe, are allowing this.

This horrifies me. I don’t want to live my life as a bible-toting mouthpiece, but as a woman wielding Jesus’ power in the world. 

What about you? Might it be time to fortify your heart, the inner place? So the inner radically changes your outer world?

8 Tangible Tips to Renew S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.
and Win the War against the devil:

war against the devil

1. Scripture list: Hunt the bible and dig out the best verses. Carry these on a sheet with you, post them on your morning mirror or hold them in your wallet. No matter what, rely on these words as if they are your crutches and you have no legs.

2. Train your mind to immediately notice the taunts of doubt, discouragement, devastation and despair. How? Take inventory of your feelings. When you hear those stinkers hit you, refer back to #1.

3. Respond with truth. The devil takes ridiculous statements and massages them to sound plausible in your mind. If you answer back with a hard-lined, get-out-of-here, truth-filled comeback – he will not as easily want to come back.

Example:

Devil: “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. It is written…” Mt. 4:6
Jesus: ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Mt. 4:7

After 3 attempts and 3 successful comebacks, Jesus won his wildnerness encounter with the devil. Keep on fighting the fight and the fight will subside.

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Mt. 4:11

4. Engage your mind with holy and you will find yourself committed to peace.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

5. Need Jesus all the time. All the time. Not a little bit of the time, but every time. Just think, if you are always calling on Jesus, how can the devil be calling you astray? 

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Lu. 19:10

This means, call out, when you feel unsure. Call out when you feel heavy. Call out when you feel hungry. Call out when you feel tired. Call out when you need wisdom. Call out when you hit boredom. Call out when life gets futile.

6. Glorify God, out loud. Speak proud. Speak with the full strength of Jesus Christ behind you. Speak like one whose team, every time ends up as overcomer.

It sounds like this:

You reign and rule Jesus. You will win. Every time.
You are holy and mighty to save Christ. You will bring me through.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Period.

7. Thank God. If you are saying thank you, the devil can’t as easily put a bag over your head and plumage your mind with the idea that you are being stolen, ruined and left in some far off land where God can’t see you. Instead, you will rise up in wonder at all the riches God is raining down on you. Thankfulness is like a rainbow on a dark and rainy day. 

8. Hope. Endlessly believe in the power of God.

This is what it sounds like when put in action:

God is greater than my problem.
God will win in the end.
My light and momentary affliction is creating for me an eternal glory that far outweighs the here and now. 2 Cor. 4:17
Jesus stripes healed me once and they will do it again and again. He is healer
It may look like a windstorm today, but God is pushing into me his image and I will stand firm.
The Lord is doing an inner work; it transcends my vision. 
God will always be faithful. I can walk in complete assurance of this. 

war against the devil
Soar.
Grab hope.
Fly high.
Glide.
Find new heights of faithfulness,
God will be your strength.

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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.