Motherhood is Missional, A Review

I received a copy of Missional Motherhood, The Bible Study from Lifeway for the purpose of reviewing.  I purchased the book that inspired the study, Missional Motherhood.  This is an honest review of the STUDY, and is in no way influenced by the gifted study.

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I have been a mother for over 17 years.  During that time I have not only been a part of Women’s Ministries that are full of moms, but also MOPS International groups.  One thing I have learned about being a mom, over all of these years, is that I still have room to learn more.  Another thing I have learned is that many of us mothers share a similar feeling, a desire to be more than “just a mom”.

There are some women who were born to be mothers, and what I mean by that is that these are women who desired nothing more than being a mom when they were of age.  They played house, always taking the role of mom.  They loved on other babies, and the news of becoming a big sister was something that excited them beyond measure.  They were babysitters and helped in the church nursery as soon as they were old enough.  In fact, at a very early age they probably knew how many babies they wanted to have and even what their names would be.

Then there are other women, who didn’t have motherhood on their radar as their ultimate calling.  It wasn’t something that they desired from a young age.  When they played with their dolls they took the role of teacher or doctor.  Their life goals were aimed at having a successful career, doing something significant in the world, or even serving as missionaries in a foreign country.  Children may or not have been included in those dreams and goals.

I was in the latter camp.  When I was pregnant with my first child the plan had been that I would return to work & my husband would stay  home those first few years.  At the time, I made more income than he did.  It just made fiscal sense.  Yet, once that tiny little body was place in my arms… the Lord changed my heart.  We decided that I would stay home and we would trust in the Lord’s provision.  He never failed us.

Yet, it was very difficult for me when I would be asked the question:  So, what do you do?

It wasn’t common in our area for women to stay home with their children.  Even members of my own family didn’t understand the decision.  Was I wasting my education, my skills, my talents, and my potential?   It was like I lost my identity and become someone’s wife… someone’s mom.   Over the years, as I have sat with other women … I hear those thoughts echoed.

We desire to be known, to be seen, to have purpose, and to have impact.  Somewhere along the line we lost the view of motherhood as a calling and instead it became something we just “do”.  Our value and worth began to reside in our accomplishments outside of the home, and when that was no longer an option… we felt lost.  Like we were doing nothing important, and yet the Lord had given us a very important calling.

Society’s focus on accomplishments have tainted our view’s of motherhood, and Gloria Furman does a great job at point out our need to reclaim this role.  Utilizing scriptures from the Old and New Testament, we examine how the role of Motherhood fits into God’s plan.   The Bible Study encompasses many of the bible study techniques that we may be familiar with in conjunction with our own personal reflections.  What I also appreciate is Gloria Furman not only talks about the mission of motherhood in regard to the typical American family but explores what this looks like in other cultures and how we interact with other cultures.

Throughout the study we begin to see how our role as mother is part of our Great Commission calling, for every woman.  For the mom who questions her purpose, this study helps her find her identity in Christ and the mission God has called her to fulfill in this season of her life.    We explore how our every day lives fall into the larger story of God’s redemptive plan.

From life giving creation to The Great Commission, our role as mothers is far beyond “just a mom”.  We are disciplers, mentors, teachers, leaders, guides, nurturers, providers, and so much more…. all in the confines of our own homes.  When our identity is rooted in Christ, then the gifts we have been given by the Holy Spirit are put to use in our homes.  This is our mission field, where we serve as a teacher to those in our charge and an example to the world watching us.  We are a family set apart, different… and we can find satisfaction in our purpose.

Whether you are a first time mom, a seasoned mother, or an empty-nester serving as a mentor mom… we all still have a thing or two to learn and share.  This would be a great study for a small group of mothers, MOPS group, or even as a gift to a mom to be.

The Blessing of a Conference

I absolutely love going to conferences, if I could… I would go to them all.  So, if you know of anyone hiring a Christian Conference Reviewer please give them my name.  There is something special about conferences, different than church … different than my own personal study time… different than discussing theology over coffee with a group of friends.

This past weekend, I was with 7,200 other women who clearly feel the same way I do.  Many traveled far to be here, most were repeat attenders who might have brought along a friend or family member for their first time.  I didn’t meet a single person who wasn’t planning to come to the next one.

Worshiping in a room with that many people is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Listening to anointed teachers, scrawling notes, tears streaming, hands clapping, audible gasps when a point hits home….  THANK YOU, JESUS!

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What makes conferences so special to me?  In part, it’s the opportunity to get away from the comfort and familiarity of my home town.  I’ve never feared traveling alone, and I love the opportunity to see new places and meet new people.  Flying absolutely astounds me and I could look out the window the entire flight… to think that I am suspended in the air, a God’s eye view to His creation.  The colors, patterns, lights… it’s really breathtaking.

As a person who has put on mini-conferences and women’s retreats in the past, I can also appreciate the amount of work that goes into an event of this magnitude.  Knowing that every detail was meticulously planned, each speaker vetted and prepared, content that can speak as clearly to 7,200 women as it does to just 1.  Conferences give me an opportunity to learn about ministries that I can share with our local women.  And, hey… when the International Mission Board wants to give a girl coffee… we’re best friends.  (The coffee was amazing. by the way).

As a reader, the fact that most conferences have a book store….  it’s a beautiful thing.  Add in that there is usually special conference prices on the books; this means I can grab books that I have been wanting but also take risk on some new titles.  So many of the women who have shared their book haul from this conference share about the gifts they purchased for friends who couldn’t come.  Women’s Ministry Leaders and Pastor’s Wives are bringing home books to plan out their Small Groups for the year.

There is even something to be said for those moments when I saw a woman thumbing through the pages of a book, contemplating the purchase… and I could say:

“That is one of my favorites.”  or  “You won’t regret buying that one.”

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Yes, all of these things are parts of what make going to conferences special.  There is something to be said about spending several days, unplugged from your every day life, worshiping with other women, seeing new sites, and meeting new faces.

However the thing that makes them so special to me and draws me in, every time, is the access to amazing people who have been walking this road ahead of me.  Men and women who are not only anointed with wisdom but called to share that wisdom with others.  Men and women who are apart of those called to not only be in the fray of this fallen world, but invest in raising up other leaders and equipping them for the battle we fight every day.

So that, when the day is done, my hands are tender from writing pages of notes and my brain is swollen from all of the Good Word that was injected into it.  Interpretation I had not considered, application that I did not see, and from that the burn to share that with others.  Immersed in the Word, surrounded by my sisters & brothers… all there for one reason, the same reason.

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This is incredibly special, a wonderful opportunity to glean form the sages of different walks, ages, and stages.

While this is what makes conferences special to me, it is the blessing that comes from the conferences that always puts me on my knees in gratitude.   If you follow me on social media, you will know that I got a bit whiny due to flight delays and complications.

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A friend responded:  There must be a huge blessing for you in Indianapolis!

And boy was she right.  In fact, every year when I have gone to this conference I have entered the conference with something weighing on my heart.  Every year, when I leave… there has been an answer, affirmation, or direction given.  Every single year.   If I gained nothing from the conferences other than this, I would still call it my favorite and I would still call it blessed.

The Lord blesses us when we surrender our time and ourselves to His Word and His teachers.   He blesses us when we humbly put our issues at the foot of the cross, and lean into His guidance.  God blesses us with the people whom He puts in our pathways to say “just the right thing” even when they have no idea what you are struggling with.  The Lord blesses us in a place like this, when we are all together for one purpose in one accord… and the Holy Spirit moves throughout the space.  Touching hearts, healing wounds, directing steps, giving wisdom, developing gifts, sharing tissues… THANK YOU, JESUS.

It comes in the plenary sessions, seated among 7,200 others.   It comes in the workshops for a few hundred to just 15 women sitting in a circle, who say:  “You too?”

We find so much in this COMMUNITY….

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And of course, it is nice to come home and find out you were missed..

Watch & listen for yourself, by clicking the banner below.

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Pre-Conference Sessions on Prayer

All Conference Main Plenary Sessions

And a thorough selection from the many workshops offered.

The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference 2016

To register for the conference, or for more information click on the image below:

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For the majority of my Christian walk, I would attend just about any women’s conference I could with my church. I enjoyed going with my church versus on my own because I saw it as a bonding experience among the women, a chance to fellowship, and an opportunity to retreat into worship and teaching. A few years ago, my good friend mentioned The Gospel Coalition’s conferences to me. As a church we were not going to it, I had limited funds and opportunities to get away, and there certainly wouldn’t be any group discounts on tickets or rooms for me that year. So, I turned her down despite her glowing review of the speakers and workshops.

The next year, she asked again. I said yes. I had no idea what I was setting myself up for either. This particular year was the 2014 Women’s Conference, and the speakers were going to explore the book of Nehemiah. I registered for the conference, selected my workshops and focus groups. I even received an invitation to a special writers workshop. The date approached, I was eager with anticipation at what this new conference was going to be like. There was no way that I could have known the profound impact that conference, and the following year’s conference, would have on my life.

It is my desire to share these experiences with you, as you may be sitting on the fence of decision.

The first blessing I received at the conference was watching the scales of how I was reading the scriptures fall from my eyes. I had spent too much time looking at the scriptures for “me” in the pages. I was trapped in asking how a piece of scripture applied to my life, or what it meant for me. Instead, I should have been seeking God first in His Word. It seemed so obvious. As if this was something I should have always known, but somehow missed.

Throughout the conference another friend kept coming to mind, she and her family had gone on a missions trip to Nicaragua. It was very apparent to all of us, upon their return, that a piece of their hearts was left behind. There would be comments made throughout the weekend that would draw my thoughts to this family. I would write her name down in my notes, circling tidbits I felt compelled to tell her. I would message her every night recapping these things. She would reply to my messages in excitement because the very things I was conveying to her… were the very things the Lord was laying on her husband’s heart at the same time. What a blessing to see the Lord work in such a way! He was sending her confirmation, and she wasn’t even at the conference!

As if having the scales removed from my vision of study wasn’t enough, the next blessing I would gain from the conference was attending Carrie Sandom’s two “Bible Tool Kit” workshops. The scales were gone, and the Lord was putting the tools into my hands that would enable me to see the bigger picture of the scriptures. It began a stirring in me that would push me in to deeper study and begin to shape my views on the importance of Bible literacy.

The final blessing from the conference came during the Writers Workshop. Several women who were successfully writing for their own blogs and even became published authors were available to share their experience with us. This workshop was the fire I needed to begin putting my thoughts to paper; as I began to look inside myself, the world around me, examine my faith and beliefs, and finesse my writing. This was just the catalyst for something more to come.

In 2015, I attended The Gospel Coalition Conference again, it was time for the second step in the journey. This go around, I would examine the importance of Bible literacy in more depth. There was motivation to write more, about deeper things. I would be catapulted into pursuing my Bachelors in Divinity Degree. I would pick up a copy of Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word in the Exhibition Hall, which would result in my teaching about Bible Literacy through five small group studies over the next year. Then, ultimately writing a course on Women’s Ministry for Christian Leaders Institute.

As the 2016 Women’s Conference for The Gospel Coalition approaches, I find myself growing more and more excited. I am looking forward to seeing what God is going to expose my heart to. My mind longs for the opportunity to hear from some of my favorite voices on theology. My heart longs for the continuation of this refinement in my life. This is not the conference where we get lost in the worship songs that we hear on the radio, but instead it is the one where we get lost inside the Word of God. It is truth spoken in concert from those God has called to teach and lead. It has become one of the most valuable resources for me as a place to pull away from the world, and into a congregation of believers who call to the Lord to pour more of Himself into our minds, hearts, and lives.

God is still doing a work in me. I’ve seen more growth in the last two years than ever before, and I credit that growth to those the Lord has commissioned to invest in me. These are men and women who spoke at a conference, to a room full of faces. They couldn’t know the impact their words would have on that gal, sitting somewhere in the middle, hand cramped from taking notes.

If you have found yourself on the fence, wondering if this is the conference for you… I would encourage you consider this investment. With all of the great speakers in line for the plenary sessions and the workshops being offered, this is an opportunity to let the Lord pour into you. And, who knows… perhaps your journey is about to take off!