Choose to Celebrate

This past week was a big week for me. I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary and turned 40 years old.

 

I was able to share my thoughts about turning 40 at the Crosseyed Living Blog.  Would you join me there?  Just click here.

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Giddy Up, Eunice Chapters 11-13: I Wanna Leave a Legacy

In this final section of Giddy Up, Eunice, I loved Sophie’s look back at the influences in her life.  Yet, it reminds me that we all come from so many different backgrounds.  Some of you have been raised in church and have always been surrounded by Christian women who’ve guided you and prayed for you.  Some of you are just starting out, and you’re new to the whole discipleship process.  And that’s what Sophie has been talking about this entire time: discipleship.

 

I know, I know.  When you think of disciples, you think of those guys that hung out with Jesus. They followed him around, took care of him, and told others about him.  I guess you could say they were like Jesus’ posse.  The cool thing about God is that he wants us to have a posse as well.  He wants us to be discipled and then to disciple others.  As socially awkward as I am, I love the fact that God wants me in relationship and communion with others.  He wants me to share what he’s done in my life, and he wants others to share with me what he’s done in their lives.  In order to disciple others, we must first build relationships with them.

 

This brings me to Sophie’s first challenge to us: “Wherever you have influence with the generation behind you, start investing. Pray that the Lord will help you find the folks He’d like for you to encourage.” Many of you are like me (and Sophie), you are a teacher.  We have easy access to the younger generation. Although there are groups out there that don’t want us talking to kids about Jesus, we can still show them his love.  We can still model his example.  I’m assuming those of you in this group are also church members.  Again, that role gives you easy access to the younger generation as well.  And have you looked around your neighborhood?  I’m sure there are some younger folks there you could pour your life into.

 

 

Sophie’s second challenge to us was this: “Wherever you have interaction with the generation ahead of you, start blessing. Pray that the Lord will help you find folks He’d like to come alongside you.”  I don’t think this challenge will be that difficult for us either.  When you start a new job, especially in the education field, you are given a mentor, someone to learn from, someone to lead you and answer questions for you.  In real life, that person isn’t directly assigned to us by a supervisor, sometimes we must seek them out, but other times, the older generation answers God’s call to seek out the younger generation. If you are a young military spouse, find a more seasoned military spouse to connect with (I can definitely hook you up with some).  If you are a young mother of a special needs child, let me tell you there are some amazing moms that have experience in this area as well that would be more than glad to share some wisdom with you.  Oh, and I have it on good authority that there are some older women within the church that would love to connect with the younger generation as well.

 

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One thing I loved about this final section of the book was the fact that in this part about Lois and Eunice, they were the models for Timothy.  As a boymom, this isn’t lost on me.  I see the importance of building a “discipleship relationship” with my sons.  I see the importance of modeling what a Christian woman is to be like (if you’re like me, you’ve probably been praying for years for your sons’ wives, that they will be strong Christian women who love Jesus more than anything else).  As a woman, there are things they can learn from me that they can’t learn from their dad.  They need to see how I interact with their dad, they need to see how I interact with my friends.  They need to see the effort I put into building my relationship with Christ so I can be the mom they need me to be.

 

The bottom line is this: We are to be a model of Christ to everyone we meet.

 

That’s how we will win people to Jesus.

 

That’s how we can lead and guide others along this path.

 

That’s how we can be the women God has called us to be.

 

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I want to ask you a question: What do you want your legacy to be?

 

When people remember you, when they look back at your life, do you want them to remember your fashionable wardrobe or your Southern Living magazine worthy home?  Do you want them to remember that you were a member of the country club, attended all the hottest concerts, and ate at the most expensive restaurants?  Do you want them to remember that you were on the activities committee, the PTO, in the church choir, and worked a hectic full-time job all the while rushing your kids to their many after school activities?

 

Or

 

When people remember you, when they look back at your life, do you want them to remember that your heart was so in tune with God that you ached for those that didn’t know Christ?  Do you want them to remember how you opened your heart and home to those that were hurting, those that were lost, and those that just needed a little love?  Do you want them to remember that you were that “Go To Girl” that prayed and stayed no matter what life was throwing your way?

 

What do you want your legacy to be?

 

 

The thing is, it’s your choice.

 

Tomorrow starts a new week.  Many of us are going back to work from Fall Break.  You have the chance to make a difference in the lives of others for the glory of God.  You have the chance to pray over those who are hurting and to have a wise soul pray for you.  I urge you to take a look around and accept Sophie’s challenges: invest in the generation behind you and have someone in the generation ahead of you walk beside you.

 

 

A penny for your thoughts.  What captivated you about this final section of the book?  What takeaways do you have from Sophie’s final list (pages 235-238)? Which generation do you feel God leading you to connect with?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Giddy Up, Eunice: Chapters 7-10, Ruth and Naomi

As I began reading Chapter 7, I noticed how much Sophie and I had in common.  I too am blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law.  She’s been a part of my life since I was 13 years old. We definitely knew each other by the time my husband and I got married.  As I continued to read, however, I was reminded that the story of Ruth and Naomi is more than just the story of a woman and her daughter-in-law.  It is a story about a cross-generational relationship. A God-ordained relationship. A relationship that was bigger than anything we could ever imagine.

 

 

And there is a lesson to be learned here…… our relationships can be bigger than anything we could ever imagine IF we are obedient to God.

 

 

Let’s be clear on one thing right now: Life is hard.  Every struggle is important.  Whether the mounds of laundry that we haven’t quite conquered have caused headaches in your home or your bills are piling up and there’s just no money there to pay them, we all struggle and that struggle adds stress to our lives.  We should never discount someone’s struggle, we should be there for her.  Because y’all, we all started somewhere.

 

 

Take Naomi for instance. Naomi was returning to Bethlehem as a different person.  So much had happened to her during her time away from her homeland.  Now think about yourself: Are you the same person you were 10 years ago?  Five years ago? Last week? We are continuing to grow and change.  Life happens, and we climb mountains and fall into ruts.  Some of us may be “better off” than we were, yet some of us may be a bit worse off.  No matter what the circumstance, God has provided a way, as paved a path by using our relationships.

 

 

After Sophie had discussed the road trip with Martha, she said of her mother-in-law, “she was every bit as desperate for Jesus to intercede in her circumstances as I was.” And ain’t that the truth?  No matter what we are going through, we are all desperate for Jesus.  God uses each of us to show His love, compassion, grace, and mercy.

 

 

I want you to take a moment and think of the conversations you’ve had this past week.  Consider your attitude toward that person. Did you seem agitated toward that person or did you kindly lend your ear and your heart to the person?  Did you dismiss her because you felt you were above her?  Did you secretly wish you had a reason to walk away or did you take time to offer an encouraging word?  Did you avoid someone because you were in no mood to talk (or listen)?

 

Sophie stated, “…….whether we are older or younger or somewhere in between, we can so easily fall into the trap of looking at other women and thinking Well, you are just in a completely different stage of life than I am, and you know what? That annoys me.  I may even resent you for it.” We have to pray for God to use us, our stories, our struggles to encourage and lift other women.  We have to allow Him to work through us, our listening ears, our hugs, and our gifts to help women see the Light and hope found in Him. Another thing that Sophie shared that stuck with me was, “When we stick together in tough times – when we choose to walk the rough road together instead of letting circumstances splinter us apart – we can’t even imagine how the Lord might redeem the parts of our respective stories that are difficult and maybe even painful.”

 

And y’all, sometimes it can be painful.

 

I never once thought I’d be a statistic, that I’d be the 1 from this fact: 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage.  But here I am.  My baby should be a rowdy toddler. I imagine the interactions between this child and my sons.  Each and every single day, my heart aches for this child.  But there is this: there are women who shared their personal stories of heartache with me, women who lost a child through miscarriage or suicide, women who wrote their stories of heartache after losing a child shortly after birth.  I was encouraged. I was given hope.  And I imagine, it wasn’t easy for these women to share.  I’m thankful for them.  I’ve also realized that there is healing in sharing your struggles.  When I’ve written about my loss, when I’ve shared it personally with others who have experienced loss, I experience healing.

 

 

Consider these quotes from this week’s reading:

“If we tell ourselves that a person will never understand where we’re coming from and what we’re dealing with, then odds are we won’t open up.”

“If we don’t open up, we can rest assured that we will miss out on other women’s wisdom and perspective.”

 

As Sophie said, when we don’t open up, we can find ourselves in isolation and loneliness, and we will be carrying burdens we weren’t meant to carry alone.

 

As we moved on through the readings for Ruth and Naomi, I’ll admit that I certainly struggled at first with all the references to hospitality.  In fact, Sophie started stepping on my toes a bit.  I love to entertain. I love to decorate. I love to prepare food.  I love for people to walk away from my home or an event I’ve hosted and remark about the good time they had.  And let me have my Mary and Martha moment here: I’ll admit that I used to get frustrated that I’d be checking on food or organizing the plates and cups and forks right before a meal while my guests spent time together.  Shouldn’t I have been in the middle of that fellowship and good time?  But the older I’ve gotten I’ve realized this: the food is only as good as the company.  If my heart isn’t in the right place, it doesn’t matter that I had the cutest paper plates and napkins, it doesn’t matter if every last bit of cookie crumbs were swept up before my guests arrived, it doesn’t matter if the tablecloth was a solid color that matched my centerpiece.  My heart must be in the right place.

 

Naomi and Ruth had their hearts in the right place.

 

I love the whole idea of gleaning that Sophie talked about.  Believe it or not, I am an introvert.  Yes, I realize there’s a lot of attention that comes with being a pastor’s wife.  There’s a lot of attention that comes with coaching robotics and academic team.  There’s a lot of attention that comes with teaching Sunday school, leading Bible and book studies, and planning events.  Yet, the spotlight makes me very uncomfortable, so uncomfortable in fact that I just may breakout into hives.  Just look at my wedding pictures.  But there’s beauty in the background.  As a people watcher, you get to read people and watch their interactions.  You watch to see just where you might fit in.  And for this introvert, that works for me.

 

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When they got to Bethlehem, Ruth and Naomi were struggling.  Yet, God provided for them in amazing ways through Boaz. It was not coincidence. It was totally a God thing.  God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. Ruth had already committed to God when she said, “Your God shall be my God.” Even though Ruth wasn’t at the front lines and her job was not the least bit glamorous, she was still able to bless and care for Naomi through the ways God provided for her. Friend, we can learn from that.  We don’t have to be in the spotlight. We don’t have to do glamorous things.  We simply must allow God to work through us and be obedient to what He has called us to do.  Sophie wrote, “We prefer the spotlight over behind the scenes. We crave fame over faithfulness.” I don’t know about you, but I want to be remembered as faithful.

 

 

Being faithful comes with some struggles on its own.  We live in a busy, busy world.  The questions arise: Where do I find the time to be there for my friends? Where do I find the time to connect with women and Jesus through Bible study?  Where do I find time to make a difference in this world for His kingdom?  And like Sophie said, “A lot of us are putting some serious pressure on ourselves to be all things to all people.” Y’all, we just can’t.  Yet, we can use our time wisely so we can be obedient to Christ and do what He’s called us to do.  I see these wonderfully caring, compassionate women that see a need and try to fill it.  They become discouraged when they feel like they don’t have the resources to meet that need.  Serving God isn’t supposed to be discouraging.

 

 

To reflect on Sophie’s words: Gleaning for us should mean that we find leftover time in our busy schedules to stop by, to call, or to text.  These minutes could be squandered or ignored.  The Lord can lavishly and generously provide for others through our faithfulness in gleaning. Truth: we need to “make our peace with the fact that we can only do what we can do – that we’re not made to be all things to all people” – then we can “see how the Lord multiplies our efforts.”

 

Take a moment and reflect on these two statements yourself:

“If we are mindful and faithful to glean a few minutes of margin from each day……we just may get to bear witness to the Lord providing supernatural abundance in the hearts and lives of the people we love.

“Ruth is our reminder that God richly provides in the gleaning.”

 

 

When I think back to Sophie and her road trip with her mother-in- law, I am thankful for this reminder: “We are all so broken. Brokenness is going to manifest itself in a thousand different ways.”  Oh, yes.  We are all so broken.  Where to even begin?  Well, Sophie gives us a handful of ways we are broken. We are:

  1. Unloving
  2. Unforgiving
  3. Self-sabotaging
  4. Insecure
  5. Bitter
  6. Hyper-judgmental
  7. Self-harming
  8. Dishonest
  9. Addicted
  10. Desperate

What is it that you are struggling with?  Where in your life do you need someone with wisdom to come alongside you and speak life into your heart?

 

There are two things Sophie encourages us to do: 1) be patient with those younger ladies you know. Show them love, kindness, and compassion.  Show them Christ. 2) Find yourself an older counterpart, a lady who will really and truly know you.  Basically, we are to be both a Naomi and a Ruth. We should be ready to accept godly wisdom and give godly wisdom.

 

 

So, Girls, this is a lot to take in.  Some good stuff.  Y’all, God is good.  It’s like I told my boys tonight as we did our devotional about Job: No matter what, in the good and in the bad, God is good.  He provides for us.  When we are obedient, we can witness His goodness. God can and will bring redemption to our lives. He can also use us to bring redemption into the lives of others.  Be faithful, Girls. God certainly is, and He has called us to be faithful as well.

Giddy Up, Eunice: Chapters 4-6: Confession Time

Confession 1

The first time I heard my best friend sing out loud in church I got jealous. She was standing in the pew near me, and as we sang, I began to sin right then in there! First, I just couldn’t believe that she had such a beautiful voice. Second, I didn’t think that was fair since I love to sing, but really stink at it. Hence, all the times my children said, “Mama, just stop.” Lastly, as her friend, I had to question the depth of our relationship because, well, shouldn’t I have known how beautiful her voice was???? I realized I needed to get to know her better.

 

In this instance, I never felt I needed to compete with my friend.  I knew I didn’t have the gift of music anywhere in my body.  Honestly, keeping beat is hard for me. I was proud to see her find her place within church ministry.  She used this God-given gift to lift His name and bless others.

 

Confession 2

I experienced another bout of jealousy with another friend.  (I’m really not an envious person, y’all) She had some really good and exciting things happen in her life, but I had a hard time being happy for her.  I wanted the freedom to pursue a dream of mine, to accomplish some goals that I had been working on for years. This friend had that freedom in her life and it seemed that all of this goodness was falling into her lap in no time at all.  I would find myself avoiding certain conversational topics with her because envy would arise in my heart again.

 

I prayed and prayed about this jealousy because I knew I would want my friend to be excited for me, not competitive, not holding back from our relationship like I felt I was doing.  God reminded me that I was where He needed me to be, that I’m in this particular season of my life for a reason and that my friend and I were not called to walk the same path.

 

Confession 3

Recently, I felt the need to talk.  I had some feelings I needed to get off my chest, but I didn’t know who to turn to. It was nothing detrimental, but I just wanted to voice my struggle and get some advice. My first thought was, “I don’t have anyone I can talk to about this. No one will understand.”  I started going through a list of names in my head, and found a reason for each one why I couldn’t confide in them.

 

Then God spoke to me the names of 3 women that I could turn to because A. They were not personally attached to the events in question and B. They were pastors’ wives, and they would more than likely have some experiences similar to mine.

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And I know what you may be asking, “What do these confessions have to do with Mary and Elizabeth?”

 

Well, first, Sophie reminded us that Elizabeth didn’t feel competitive with Mary. When Mary arrived to stay with Elizabeth, she was greeted with love and joy. Elizabeth took this chance to bless her young relative.  Sophie asked the question, “And why are we not equally elated to see our sisters in Christ walk out whatever the Lord has called them to do?” For both of my friends, God called them to a specific path and gave them a special talent to use for His glory.  For one friend, I knew I couldn’t compete. I knew that God did not give me the gift of singing.  For the other, our gifts were similar and Satan used that to distance me from her.  Instead of encouraging her on her journey, I avoided her.  I could have blessed her, but I chose to be envious.

 

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Sophie stated that “Culture tells us to compete. To look out for ourselves. Scripture tell us to bless. To look out for each other.” All too often we compete or we feel like we are on the losing end of a competition we didn’t know we were in.  We put our focus on ourselves instead of Christ.  When we focus on Him, it is so much easier to bless others.

 

 

For my third confession, I had that feeling of loneliness that so many women have.  Yet, God reminded me that He put women in my life to mentor me and offer me biblical advice. I’ve got an email with a list of 30ish women and their contact information to prove it, not from God’s personal email account, but still. These women that He had called before me can bring words of encouragement. They can lead me on the proper path.  They can use their individual experiences to help me walk my path with wisdom and discernment.

 

 

I love the story of Sophie’s mother-in-law. Sophie said she was a “faithful caretaker of her people.” And in my three confessions, I can see where I succeeded and where I failed.  I was a faithful caretaker of my first friend as I encouraged her and supported her.  I cheered her on in and out of church, being there for her in many ways. I failed with my other friend when I let envy interfere.  I could have been a blessing to her and allowed her to be a blessing to me, but I struggled with my own insecurities.  With my third confession, I could have wallowed in my feelings of loneliness and denied other women the blessing of speaking life into my circumstance. Sophie said, “Elizabeth could give away wisdom because she had it. And Mary needed it.” I have missed opportunities to share my wisdom to women who needed it, and I have denied women the chance to offer wisdom to me.  My good friend Leslie once said something like, “I realized when I don’t allow people to do things for me, that I deny them a blessing.” And isn’t that true? When people offer help, wisdom, advice, or even time and we say, “Oh, I’m good,” we deny them the gift of being a blessing and carrying out God’s purpose for them.

 

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I love that Sophie reminded us of this: As we begin or continue or journey of pouring into others, we need to make sure we are in a healthy spiritual and emotional space.  To quote Sophie once more, “We need to make sure we are not asking folks to follow us onto our personal minefields.” We also need to “put ourselves under the wisdom, counsel, and covering of loving authority,” which is the Word. We will never be perfect, but being filled with Christ and God’s Word, we will become wise, wise enough to build these relationships that God has orchestrated. In order to minister to each other, we need three things: a way to communicate, a Bible, the Holy Spirit.

 

In Chapter 6, Sophie told us five things that she believes will hinder cross generational relationships. Take a moment to consider these:

  1. Assumptions and judgements
  2. Refusal to meet people where they are
  3. Generational stereotyping
  4. Rigid methods
  5. Unreasonable expectations

 

Also in this chapter, Sophie noted some things that would help make connections easier. These are:

  1. Shared interests
  2. Genuine friendship
  3. Regular, low pressure contact
  4. Fun and laughter
  5. Extravagant grace

 

As you reflect on Chapters 4-6, the hindrances of cross generational relationships, and the list of what will help us to make connections, I’d like to know your thoughts.  What are your struggles to securing these relationships?  What have you found that helps make connections with women of another generation?  Do you have any confessions to make that you’d like us to pray over?

 

Finally, I want to encourage you to look at the women you encounter day by day.  Look at the women in your church and in your workplace.  As you do, look for ways to make connections.  Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear. Give someone a little bit of your time and show them you care. When we do this, we take an active role in blessing a woman across generational lines, seeing past what makes us different, and focusing on what makes us the same…..our love for Jesus Christ.

Giddy Up, Eunice: Chapters 1-3

When I first discovered blogging and social media, I saw a post about a group of women coming together for “affirmation night.”  I’ll be honest, I thought it was both fascinating and strange: women coming together to lift one another up through prayer and encouragement. I was so used to women coming together to gossip about and slander those that weren’t there.  The thought of women speaking life into one another was foreign to me.

 

Now, almost 10 years later, I find the thought of women affirming one another just beautiful.

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We compete with each other in so many ways, always trying to one-up each other.  Sometimes I don’t think we mean to, but we see our friends posts on Facebook and Instagram and wonder why we can’t be as perfect.  We see those moms in church who seem like they have it all together when we’ve just threatened the lives of our children in the parking lot. More often than not, I think many women get caught up in the comparison game causing them to feel even more less than.  It’s in those times when we feel lost, alone, and less than that we crave connection.  Sophie says, “Everybody – no matter the age – craves a safe place with safe people.” And we do.  We yearn for those who live by Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” We want someone who will not judge us, will not try to one-up us, but show us love and compassion.

 

When we first read about Mary and Elizabeth in scripture, we might think that it’s just a story about two women who were pregnant and say, “What’s the big deal? Women get pregnant every day. Just another day for the tabloids: an unwed youngster and an old lady both pregnant.”  It’s more than that though.  It’s about two females, a seasoned woman and a young lady thrust into being a woman who had a God-ordained connection.  They were two women in delicate situations. Sophie wrote, “Gabriel’s news about Elizabeth meant that Mary wasn’t nearly as alone in the whole visited by an angel/unexpectedly expecting arena. She had a person. She had a “me too.” Mary’s person just happened to be fifty years her senior.”

 

And that’s what we want when we are feeling like a hot mess. We want a person, a “me too.”  God sends people along to do life with us; however, it may be someone we thought we’d never connect with.  Yet, Sophie said, “We can find comfort and encouragement from someone in similar circumstances even if we don’t belong to the same demographic.” In her example of going home to her mom, her safe space, we learned that Sophie’s mom, “encouraged, she affirmed, she tended, and she blessed.” As women, that’s what we yearn for as well.  Like Mary, we don’t need to be told how bad our situations look or how difficult a journey we have ahead of us, but we need someone who is going to speak life into our hearts.

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In my almost 40 years, I’ve met women who have lifted me, women who’ve allowed me to talk, sometimes for hours.  They’ve listened and encouraged. They’ve given sound biblical advice when needed.  They’ve been that “me too” person when I’ve needed them. I’m thankful for the women who encourage me because they were once a mom of young boys, a teacher, the wife of a pastor, or a military spouse. Most of all, they encouraged me because they understand the joys and sorrows of being a woman.

 

Let’s look at some of the things Sophie said. Below are some of my favorite quotes from Chapters 1-3. Read over them, and tell me:  Which one speaks to you?  Which one can you most relate to? Is there one that challenges you?  Is there something Sophie said I didn’t include that is worthy of sharing?

 

“When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred spaces.”

“We know we are in a sacred space, when there’s freedom to share our real lives and our real circumstances.”

“All too often in our relationships, however, we content ourselves with the superficial and miss the significant.”

“God faithfully appoints people to walk with us at every single stage of our journey here on earth.”

“When the Holy Spirit gives you compassion for someone, it really doesn’t matter how many years stand between your respective dates of birth. All that matters is responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and recognizing that any opportunity to speak into someone’s’ life, bless the, pray for them, or minister to them – will, it is a privilege.”

“We can absolutely trust the Lord to bridge the gap.”

“….conversations were consistently encouraging and edifying, full of affection and honor for their families and friends. They didn’t pretend like life was perfect….there was an overarching tone of gratitude and joy that permeated our time together.”

“There are some mighty fine potential mentors who are already in our lives either as relatives or good friends.”

“What we have in common far exceeds any perceived generational differences.”

“When the Holy Spirit summons us to care for each other, generational differences fly out the window.”

“At every age and stage of life, women need other women who will listen, confirm, teach, bless and pray.”

“When culture or circumstances or maybe cynicism threatens to keep us distant even though we are made for discipleship, we have to work that much harder to find our way into each other’s lives.”

 

 

I would love for you to leave a comment to start discussion about these quotes.  I’ll share mine too in the comment section.

 

 

I pray that as you walk this path before you, that the eyes of your heart will be aware of the women around you, that you would seek to step across generational lines to bless and be blessed.

Giddy Up, Eunice: Introduction

C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You, too? I thought I was the only one.’”

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As I look at the dynamics of this group, I see the potential for relationships to be created. Here’s some of the things I’ve noticed from the introductions:

  • We have women who have a military background.
  • We have women that have children with special needs.
  • We have women that don’t work outside the home.
  • We have professional women.
  • We have women who love Jesus with all their heart.

In all of these backgrounds, there’s something that someone is holding onto, feeling alone. Someone is waiting for someone else to say, “I’ve experienced that too.”

In the introduction to Giddy Up, Eunice, Sophie Hudson said, “We need to keep our spiritual eyes wide open as we walk our unique, God-ordained roads because we need each other, and sometimes the folks God sends to walk with us don’t look anything like what we expect.” And y’all, she’s exactly right.  I can tell you from experience that those I least expected have blessed me on my road. I hope that I’ve been a blessing to others as well.

When I look at my unique road, I see those that have been there on the sidelines, the ones that have stepped forward and walked with me.  They’ve provided comfort and wisdom. They’ve spoken on my behalf and prayed for me. When my husband was deployed, I sat in a meeting at work, and my co-workers were asking questions about our situation.  One person asked, “So, is he in a safe place?” Before I could answer, another co-worker spoke up and said, “For a Soldier, there is no safe place.”  You see, she had “been there and done that.”  Although she’s a tad bit younger than me, she had experienced a deployment several years before. She had walked that road, and I was thankful to have her in my life at such a time.

And what a time this is……our world is a crazy place.  We can blame it on politics. We can blame it on the media.  However, here’s the thing: people in general have stepped away from God.  That’s why our world is messed up.  We’ve told Him, “God, I’ve got this. I don’t need you. I don’t need your rules.  This is my life and I’m going to live it my way.” So, God allows us free will.  He doesn’t force Himself on us.  But for those of us in that last bullet on the list above, those of us that love Jesus with all our heart, we want God in our lives, and we want to share Him with others. The other day, I talked with my husband about people’s agendas in the church. I told him, “Here’s my agenda: I know what God has done for us, for me.  I know how He’s changed me and provided for me. I love Him, and I want people to know Him and love Him the way I do. That’s why I do what I do. That’s my agenda.”

John 5:30 says, “I’m committed to pursuing God’s agenda and not My own.” In our book, Sophie (I’m going to call her Sophie because I feel like we are friends now) says, “The heart of the gospel is relationship, and God has hardwired each of us with a longing to be seen, to be loved, and to be known.” She then asks, “How do we keep girls connected and committed to Christ?” “Who are the older women who related to them and encourage them and bless them like crazy?”  That’s where those of us in that last bullet come in.  We commit to His agenda of loving our neighbors.  We commit to His agenda of speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.  How? We step out of our comfort zones. We look up to see the ladies around us and open our homes, our Sunday School classes, and our hearts. We invite gals to dinner, to coffee and donuts at Dunkin Donuts, to Chuck E. Cheese so the kids can play and we can talk.  Like a Ryan Gosling meme, we make it known, “Hey Girl. I’m here for you.”

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What if you’re in a place where you feel like your usefulness to the body of Christ is questionable or you’ve already done enough? Let me say this, the women in this group need you. The women in your church need you. The women you work with need you. I believe we are all like Esther and God placed us here for such at time as this, for women such as these.  So, like Sophie, I say, STAY IN IT.

And with those words fresh, I urge you to stay in this book study.  Yes, life will get hectic.  As we say, “Life Happens.” It will and you will get behind.  That’s ok.  Stay in it.   You decided to join in for a reason.  There is someone here that God wants you to connect with, to bless or be blessed by.  Join in the conversations. Comment on the posts. Share your mountains and valleys.  When we do, we open the door for God to do amazing things.  And know this, I’m praying for our time together in this space.  I’m praying that your relationship with Christ is strengthened and that He will use you in amazing ways.

Five Minute Friday: Neighbor

Well, it’s taken me all day to write this.  I wanted to write something profound, something that will stay etched in your hearts.  Yet, I kept coming back to my sons and the bonds they are creating with other kids in our neighborhood.

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You see, when my youngest child says, “Mom, I’m glad Q is our neighbor,” well, that’s a blessing for me.  You  may not think it is a big deal, but we spent 13 years in a neighborhood where we didn’t feel entirely safe, where we would never have let our children play outside alone.  And now,  we’ve been blessed to be in this neighborhood for two years now.  We’ve met some wonderful people and reconnected with old acquaintances.  And our kids, they can play!  We can let them loose in the yard.  My husband and I can chat at the fence with the other adults.  It’s a blessing!

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I’m thankful to have neighbors that send their children over to play and in turn invite my children over as well. I’m thankful they look out for us, even sending a text letting me know our “houndini” is out of the fence again.  Good neighbors are such a blessing!

 

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Thank you for joining me for this week’s edition of Five Minute Friday.  I pray that you can find a blessing in your neighbors and you can be a blessing to them as well.

Because We Need Each Other

One of the things I love most about my Sunday School class is that the women who come together to study God’s Word for an hour each work, do so much more than that.  They laugh together. They cry together. They lift up and encourage one another.  When one mother is struggling with her child, another shares a praise she has witnessed with that child.  When one woman gets bad news from the doctor, the rest of the women lift her in prayer.

 

Y’all, as women, we need each other.

 

All too often, we hide in a corner (or on the couch with a bag of chips) when we feel less than.  All too often, we walk  away quickly from the Cool Moms Group at church because, well, they intimidate us.  All too often, we feel that whatever it is we are going through, that burden we are currently bearing, we feel that we are the only one to ever experience it.  We get it stuck in our heads that we are alone. On top of all that, we also feel like we don’t have the words to give to those who are struggling around us.  We don’t feel confident in our abilities to speak life into broken hearts.  We wonder if God could ever really use us.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

God created us for relationship. Ultimately, we were created for relationship with Him, but He also gave us the gift of friendship and mentor-ship.  Recently, I wrote a blog post for Crosseyed Living, where I talked about the importance of sharing life with one another, the gift of community.  As Christian women, we must open our hearts and our lives to other women.  When we do this, God will use us to bless them and will use them to bless us.

 

On Monday, September 11, I am asking you to join me here as we share life together by reading Sophie Hudson’s book Giddy Up, Eunice.  Why?  Because women need each other.  It is my prayer that as we spend this time together, we will grow closer to one another, and most importantly, grow closer to Christ.

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Will you join me?

From now until September 10: Purchase your book and start reading. The discussion posts will be published as follows:

Sunday, September 10 – Introduction

Monday, September 11 – Mary and Elizabeth, Chapters 1-3

Monday, September 18 – Mary and Elizabeth, Chapters 4-6

Monday, September 25 – Ruth and Naomi, Chapters 7-10

Monday, October 2 – Lois and Eunice, Chapters 11-13

Friday, October 6 – Conclusion

 

PLEASE don’t worry about falling behind!  You can still participate in discussion.  If you would like to join our Facebook Discussion Group, please complete the following form.  By completing the form, you are acknowledging that you will behave in a Christian manner. Anyone who does not, will be blocked from the group.

 

 

Once the form is submitted, I will be contacting you.  Don’t forget to sign up for email updates from the blog.  It’s a great way to keep up with the book study and other posts. I am looking forward to sharing this book with you!