#Write31Days Challenge – Post 27 – God on My Mind

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Some days are just tough, mentally we are at our max capacity.  Our stress levels are high, our emotions are running wild, and our energy is running empty. 

Then there are the days that are just, busy.  It’s not that you are overwhelmed emotionally or even physically, but it just seems like every second of your day has been claimed by some thing or some one.

On days likes these it can be hard to put in some serious Bible Study, we either don’t have the time or the energy to put the mental energy into study.  Our prayers may be short and sweet lists, or even the sigh we exhale as we say “God help me!” as we drop our sobbing eyes into our hands.

Speaking for myself,  I know that when it comes to spiritual practices …. I have good days & bad.  There are days I can accomplish in depth study, first thing in the morning, that will carry me throughout the day.  I also have days where I am on the go, all day long, and it isn’t until those final moments I am putting my head to the pillow that I can stop and pray.

Over the years, I have learned a few tips to help keep God on my mind throughout the day.  I may not getting in 30 minutes of Bible Study or even 5 minutes of dedicated prayer time. 

  • Play worship music on the radio while in the car picking up the kids, or while bustling around the house cleaning.  Often Christian radio stations will read verses throughout the day, replay Pastor’s sermons, or interview of Bible teachers that are worth listening to as well.  Audiobooks and Podcasts are other great options.
  • Pray as you clean, over what you are cleaning.  Be thankful for indoor plumbing as you clean your toilet.  Pray over your children as you fold their laundry.  Pray for your husband’s safety while working, as you prepare to make that doctor’s appointment for him.  Volunteering at the church?  Pray on your drive for the church, the Pastor, or the ministry you are serving on.  In the Parent Pick Up line at your child’s school, pray for the school.  At the gym?  Pray for your health.  At the grocery, pray for those who are going hungry.  As you pay your mortgage online, give thanks for your home and pray for the homeless. 
  • Pray throughout your day.  Instead of sitting down in the morning going through a lengthy prayer session, instead pray throughout the day as thinks pop into your head.
  • Display scripture on walls of your house, either in picture frames or using wall decals. These can be life verses or family mission verses.  Even if you don’t have time to study your Bible that morning, you can focus your eyes on those as you move about your home.  Then can also be fun verses like the ones I have for certain rooms of the house.  In my kitchen the verse on the wall is Psalm 107:9, and in the bathroom is verse Psalm 24:4.  
  • Now this one may make you giggle a bit, however in our old house … I got really creative.   We placed a white board right across from the toilet in our guest bathroom.  Every week I would write a new piece of scripture.  We kept no magazines or newspapers in there, so the only reading material our guests had was from the Word.  We referred to it as “Coming the Throne” (I am convinced God has a sense of humor).
  • Use uninterrupted times to really speak to God.  I find that I am most vulnerable when I am totally alone, away from the noise of the house.  Some of my greatest conversations with God have taken place in the shower, or by turning off the car radio and just speaking with the Lord. 
  • Bring your Bible or Bible Study with you to waiting rooms at doctor’s offices, or even when you are lunching with a friend – particularly if you are generally a person who arrives early.
  • Turn your lunch dates with friends into something more than gossip sessions, and make that your Bible Study time.

All of that said, I would also suggest doing what you can to reduce some of the hectic activity from your life.  Lysa TerKeurst has a great book “The Best Yes” that really helps you take a hold of your life, so that you can carve out time for God, not be overwhelmed by your schedule, and learn to give your best to the things that are most important.

And finally, should you find yourself in a space where you are struggling emotionally or physically with life… please, PLEASE…. see your doctor.  There are many disorders that steal our minds, energy, drive, and make us feel like we simply CAN’T.  Have your primary care doctor rule out physical ailments, and if you need to see a Christian Counselor who can help with the mental aspects.  There is nothing wrong with seeking help or using medication to get you through, and a good Christian counselor can help you do so while leaning on the truth of God’s love.

#Write31Days – Post 24 – I am Woman

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“I immediately prepared to deliver my ‘She’s allowed to use this park just as much as you guys’ speech,” Thomas wrote in a letter to the boy posted on Twitter after the encounter.  Instead, the boy told Peyton, “Your feet are wrong.  Can I help you?”

I came across a story yesterday on the internet.  A little girl had always wanted to learn to skateboard, but worried she couldn’t because it was a “boy’s sport”.  Her mother wanted to instill confidence in her daughter, and encouraged her to try anyway.  Skateboard in hand they walked into the local skatepark.  Her daughter struggled, as teen boys whizzed by.  Suddenly one of the teens approached her daughter.  The mother anticipated that he was going to chide her for even being there.  Instead, on bent knee he began to help the little girl, spending over an hour encouraging her and sharing his experience with her.

When I first read the story, I was just really impressed by the young man’s willingness to help.  As a mother of three girls, I am always encouraged when I read accounts of the fine young men who still exist in this world.  It is an affirmation that moms and dads are out there raising amazing young men.  When my sixteen year old came into the room, I decided to read the story to her because I thought it was cute.

I started to cry, almost from the beginning.  She thought I lost my mind, it was a cute story.  I couldn’t even get through some of the sentences without stumbling over words and blubbering.  Later we were talking about it and she asked why I was crying.

This is why:  I was that little girl, well over twenty years ago.    I remember being an oddity, and I honestly thought this mindset was something that changed long ago.  We have female skaters who are featured in magazines and skate competitions.  How in the world could a mom today walk into the skate park concerned that her daughter wouldn’t be accepted??

I remember being at a skatepark in 1996, I was a teenager and actually pretty good.  This was a new course for me, and I wasn’t familiar with all the of quirks of it.  I was there with my boyfriend at the time and a crew of six other guys.  We had a few runs in, and since I wasn’t exactly inexperienced I decided to try something new.  I wiped out, hard.  Really, really hard.

I started to cry, not heaping sobs, but just a response to the pain I was experiencing.  This wasn’t a common response for me, I nearly broke my hip once and still kept on skating without the bat of an eye.  So clearly, I was in serious pain.  My boyfriend skated by, glancing down briefly, and chided “skaters don’t cry” and kept on his way.  Perhaps he was trying to toughen me up, I don’t know.  It was the six other guys from the crew that came over, helped me up, and made sure I was ok.  They also gave him a stern ribbing for being such a jerk.

I was so embarrassed over crying, I did my best to let it roll of my back and move on with the day.  Into the evening, I was still hurting.  It would take a few days for me to fully recover. 

Now I look back on that time, and I wonder WHY.  Why did I think it wasn’t ok to cry?  Maybe skaters don’t cry, but I was a girl and I was hurt.  I responded in a perfectly normal way and hated myself for it.  When we bought into feminism, we bought into this idea that not only could women do everything that men could do… but that we would share their response.  If they could take a licking and not cry, so could we.  In toughing ourselves we were suppressing the very thing that made us women.

When God created man and woman, they were created equal.  They were also created differently.  Our approach to the same task will be different, our response to adversity will be different.  A difference in response doesn’t negate our ability to do the job or complete the task.  There will be things that come more naturally to men, but this doesn’t mean women can’t learn those same things.  There are some roles that come more naturally to women, but it doesn’t mean that men can’t learn to fulfill those same roles.

As women we need to be confident in our role as women, instead of putting barriers in what we can or can’t do because of gender…. I’d rather embrace that whatever I do, I will do it as a woman with her God given sensibilities.  I will learn, like a woman.  I will love, like a woman.  I will lead, like a woman.  I will worship God, like a woman.  I will read with a woman’s perspective.  I will write from a woman’s experience.   I can be wise, like a woman.  I can also be strong, like a woman.

And in those moments when I begin to question if I am strong enough…  or if I am being too strong.  I will cry, like a woman.

And some days…. I will laugh, like a woman.

I may have cried at the skatepark… but we all cry sometimes….

Bridging the Way – Fellowship & Small Groups

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One of the things we can struggle with in ministry service is creating a ministry that is balanced between social activities and discipleship opportunities.  This struggle is not unique to women’s ministry, but it does seem to impact women’s ministry more.

In speaking with women’s ministry leaders across the country, I’ve seen the struggle played out in many different ways.   The women’s ministry team may be divided, some wanting social events, and others wanting more studies and workshops.   The church may want less fellowship, and more small groups.  Even the women in the congregation want more of one thing, and others would prefer something else.

We seemingly keep coming to the same place…. and all or nothing stance.  Either we have a women’s ministry that is all studies, workshops, mentoring and discipleship… or a calendar of events that is centered around relational fellowship events. 

Can’t we have both?

Can’t we have a fellowship event that turns the women’s gaze toward Christ?

Can’t we have a small groups that encourage building relationships?

Do we have to chose one or the other, or could we not have the best of both worlds?

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In church leadership, most of our Pastors and Elders have been raised in the church.  They understand how we do things as a church, and there is an expectation that others will fall right into that line.  However, when you haven’t been raised in a church… it’s not the same.  You won’t automatically thrust yourself into a small group setting.   You will need time to build confidence in yourself, get to know people in the church to build relationships, and to ultimately find the small group that you feel best suits you.

Social Fellowship Events are the bridge to making this happen.  It provides an environment for women to meet each other, and set the foundations for future relationships.  It also serves as a great avenue for sharing information about the women’s ministry and church with the larger body of women.

Historically, women had many opportunities to gather with each other as a community.   They would work along side each other in the fields and in the market place.  As times changed and people became more transient, they moved away from the from their close knit families and communities.  When the Industrial Revolution took men from the home, and brought in modern conveniences, women spent more time IN the home than gathering the public spaces.  They became more detached from community with every passing generation.  Even today, in 2015, despite the endless social media communities… women are complaining more about being alone than ever.

We miss community and fellowship.

While “women’s ministry” was present even in the Old Testament days, it looked very different than what we see today.  Because, in the OT and NT (and early church) women’s ministry was active in the daily lives, as we lived together and worshiped together daily.   In more modern times, we created women’s ministry programs that would fill the community void, but lost purpose.  We allowed women’s ministry to become more of a social club atmosphere.

The good news is that women’s ministries around the country are trying to take it back to it’s roots.  Doing life together, ministering to each other, building relationships and community are all in addition to deeper scriptural study and knowledge.

In order to do this, we need to find the balance between the activities that are warm and inviting, and the ones that are deeper and challenging.

A women’s ministry team should be looking at the vision of the church, and then asking how each and every activity they propose to do supports that mission.

It is being more intentional and purposeful over the planning choices that we make, clear communication with the Pastoral Team, and in submission to God’s will for the ministry over your own.