Just a few weeks ago (wow has it really been that long already?) we were flying back to the States after an incredibly moving week in the Bahamas. We spent a week volunteering at a wonderful ministry called Camp Bahamas on the island of Eleuthera.
Just this morning as I found myself feeling rushed and anxious about all the "other" things that I needed to get done I pulled out this book that I am using as a daily bible study. I think it is so essential to find yourself in the word daily even though I find myself consistently struggling with it. I try to be good about it and I have found ways of being able to incorporate studies into my daily routine. I have found that "The Christian Servant," an online devotion is a great tool because they send out daily devotions that are relevant to the work place. The devotion is in my inbox when I get to work in the morning, they're quick and easy to read and the best part is that their written by every day workers around the world, just like you and I. On days when I "guilt-ingly" don't get to my bible study I find that I have missed out.
Just the other day I was cooking with a few of my girlfriends. As the guys were joyfully surrounded by the grill outside enjoying their manliness the girls were joyfully embracing girly conversation discussing life, daily trends and all of the above. When, out of the blue these girls, friends of the same age and demeanor, both in strong, sturdy relationships, started asking ME for marriage advice. Now, being the only married one of the group I immediately thought this must seem to them qualification for advice giver. I began to think about all of this and I thought "Wow!" "When did I start giving marriage advice?"What ACTUALLY qualifies me to give MARRIAGE advice?"
Looking back, I'm sure my expression showed these thoughts on my face during our conversation, which I'm sure made them reconsider ever seeking my insight. However, in the midst of my blank stare and questionable response it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps this was a moment of opportunity. We are often given opportunities, most which are too small to even realize what they have to offer. Those first response words dictate it all! Will we take this opportunity to portray God or will be give a simple response merely to satisfy others?
After my conversation with these friends I continued to reflect on my credibility as a newly married woman to be giving others advice. I mean, I'm NOT a marriage counselor, I'm NOT a priest, I'm NOT an expert. What in the world qualifies me to be giving ANYONE advice? Then, I began to reflect on scripture and all of the teachings within the bible that remind us consistently of those encouraging moments where we DO get to BE the examples. We are the reflectors of our heavenly father and his kingdom here on earth. How will we use these moments when others are seeking advice? How will WE reflect our heavenly father here on earth just within our daily conversations and interactions?
God has blessed me, though I am undoubtedly undeserving, with the most delightfully wonderful husband. He makes marriage easy! And while I do value and see our marriage as credible I would say we are far from experts. However, we can be examples despite any credibility. The reality of the matter is that I AM an example everyday! Maybe even to those I don't know.
Key point: We may NOT be experts, but we CAN be examples!
Let that settle for a moment!
Whether we choose to be good or bad examples, we are without fail, examples to so many others around us! Your marriage can be one of your most important worldly examples! Everyday, someone is watching, learning, following our marital examples. It doesn't matter the age, length of time married, or the so-called credibility! Yours IS an example to someone! Will you take this opportunity lightly? Will you take this opportunity to give advice to friends with ease? Or, will you use one of your biggest tools, your examples, as a reflecting method to share with others a little example of our heavenly fathers grace.
Speaking of Marriage specifically, what does scripture have to say?
1 Corinthians 7: 1-16
One last thought:
John 3:17 ~ "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
Recently a similar conversation has been coming up in our household. The topic is no stranger to many. Especially those thinkers out there. You know who you are!
I must admit I have always been one of those thinkers. Since I can remember I have been thinking about EVERYTHING! I don't mean just thinking about things that are right in front of me or the topics that are directly embracing my attention at a particular moment. I mean thinking, dreaming, planning, analyzing, scheming, reflecting, the list could really go on but I'm sure you get the gist. Imagine the surprise of those that know me best when I married a "thinker" as well (no surprise really). So, together, happily married, us thinkers over here have found ourselves coming back to one specific topic. THE PLAN!
Along with thinking, a very correlated skill I embrace is planning. It probably comes as no surprise that I am also a VERY large advocate of planning. I mean let's be honest, I already have a rough plan of where I will be, what I will be doing, etc. in ten years from now. Or so I think. I'm also very aware that my plan will not turn out that way. As you continue to read I hope you begin to see why this is nothing that concerns me.
Planning is always good. I mean no discouragement from this post at all. I was always told that it's wise to have a plan even if just a tiny one. But, where I'm really going with this particular post is the question of who's plan are we actually following and which one is better? (Should I continue or is it really a no brainer?)
You see I, like most, have no concept of what the world beyond ours is like. I cannot humanly grasp or envision what Heaven will be like because I've haven't experienced it yet! I do have faith from reading about it in the Bible that it will be greater and sweeter than anything we could ever experience here on earth. I think of the plans I make for myself in a similar manner. So often do I find myself scheming up these grand, marvelous plans for myself and my life only to turn around and find that they NEVER work out the exact way I envisioned. I used to be completely annoyed by this and it only took SO many times of feeling helpless after another failed plan to realize that I was relying on myself and my earthly abilities to get me through. Well, instead of planning I should have been praying!
Proverbs 19: 21 states ~ "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
This is so comforting! Is it not? Living in such a fast passed, competitive society, we are constantly altering and making plans that fit what's hot and happening in our mind at a specific time. But what is so relieving and beautiful is that God already knows our plans before we do. He already has a purpose and a path and a goal for us that if we just give our faith and trust in him he will provide a way.
You see, recently I have been reflecting on things that have happened just this year.
A year ago I was convinced that I had my plans made. I would be living in a specific town, married, working my dream job, living the life that I had created for myself and it was going to be PERFECT!
Turns out, I didn't end up in the city that I envisioned myself in. I did get married, and I have a fantastic job but the point is, while I didn't end up where I wanted to be, God knew where I needed to be. There have been many things that have happened this year that I needed to be here for. If I had not, I would have been wishing I was. God knew this even before I could have.
It's so difficult to put our trust somewhere other than ourselves. Especially when it deals with big decisions. Job changes, moves, family choices, etc. It's tough and we are all human. However, God promises a life better than we could have imagined if we put our faith and trust in him. That doesn't mean it won't be challenging at times. He also promises that as well. However, he promises to direct our paths and show us a way and bring us into the light, if we let him. So, tonight, as your resting easy or making those lists in your mind, thinking, dreaming, scheming, planning, etc. just stop! PRAY instead. Pray for direction, an open heart and for guidance. HE LISTENS!
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." ~ Jeremiah 29:11
This post will be a bit unconventional compared to the other post on my blog. I promise I do have purpose to support the reasoning for this blog and others that may come in the future that are similar. Tonight I am going to specifically write about womanhood. But not JUST about womanhood. More specifically, womanhood and faith, and how in the recent weeks the topic of godly womanhood has been surfacing, and not in a subtle form. I just have to share some important lights that have been turned on. If not, I just might burst into flames!
Just yesterday, I found myself sitting in a sanctuary surrounded by over a hundred woman. I was eagerly awaiting the earth shaking, heart-altering experience that comes with every Beth Moore teaching session. (Side note:) If you are unsure of who Beth Moore is you MUST check out her blog at Living Proof Ministries Blog. She is a phenomenally talented christian speaker focusing on women's ministry. God has graced her with such a talent to relate and speak to others while radiating the truth of Jesus Christ. Such a rare gem that I plead everyone to listen to whether it's live, through a simulcast, or through one of her short lessons online at her blog. (End of Side Note). Anyways, back to the focus. So, just yesterday I sat patiently waiting, just curiously wondering what today's simulcast would be focusing on. I just about laughed out loud when she said it would be on womanhood. Being female well was the focus! Just last week I began a womens bible study with some girls from church. Guess what our study is on? Yes mam! You've got it! Womanhood!
Now I understand what most probably think when they hear this topic. The same ol' cliche women are strong, we are more than we know type of stuff. While both of my experiences have indeed had those types of talks (let's be honest what woman focused speech can be without the obvious stated) it HAS gone much deeper.
(Here's the part where I can relate this post to the purpose of my blog) Faith is an adventure in itself. The best and most exciting adventure to boldly state! At least, in my personal experiences and opinions, I have learned more and gained more from my adventures as a christian than any worldly outing. Considering this blog is all about adventure I felt it was appropriate to add the MOST IMPORTANT adventure in.
Here's what has stuck out to me thus far while being engulfed just recently with this topic of womanhood through faith.
1.) God is writing a great, great story for ALL of us! God's purpose for women is significantly different from that of men. There are things that as christian women we can have purpose for that men simply cannot. Just like there are things that christian men have purpose for that women cannot (Let's be honest! This is GLORIOUS, GREAT news!) I struggle ALL the time trying to figure out what am I doing here in this temporary world. I often feel that I have fallen too far, or sunk too deep to be worthy of any significant plan that God has in the works for me. I am guilty just like many others of putting my own plans and roles before our creator. Well, more good news! God gives us the most beautiful gift we could ever ask for! Repentance. Once we have repented, our sins are forgiven! We have such a generous and kind God don't we? Luke 15:10 talks about the great joy that is felt from the angels and God for just one sinner who repents. Nothing is ever too silly, too small, too big, too much for our awesome God if we sincerely come to him asking forgiveness! As a woman of Christ not only am I a walking example of being newly created in the image of God, but I have complete faith that God's plan for me is MUCH greater than any I could have for myself and I know that my role as a christian female is much greater than any other role I could possibly give myself. I often have to redirect myself into remembering this simple truth. It's not up to us to know all the time why we are here or what our plan is. But faith allows us to trust that God's significance will surface and we will have an understanding eventually. I challenge women to take a deep look at the roles they are playing and the order in which they put the significance of each roles. If your role in your job, as a mother, sister, daughter, and/or friend come prior to your role as a christian then maybe it is time to take that step and reevaluate. Beth discuss yesterday in the simulcast how sometimes the first step is just clean sweeping everything else out of the way and starting over. Go ahead! Get that broom out (a tool that I have no doubt was given to JUST us christian women) and get your life redirected.
2.) Another surfacing truth that I am learning more and more: Women are tough! More times than not, I have studied about women in the bible who have protected themselves with a shield of some sort. Whether this be from men, worldly things. or other women. We talked about this topic just last week in our bible study and we devoured it down yesterday in the simulcast. The ugly truth is that women need each other but the world has been filled with competition and comparison among our own. I am JUST as guilty as the rest! While we should be supporting and encouraging one another we are all of a sudden putting each other down, comparing ourselves and others to unrealistic expectations, and forgetting the obvious truth that God made each of us in his own perfect image. How dare us belittle this! All of a sudden we have become a society where we are at war so to speak, against our own very kind! Now that's not to say that all women are perfect and innocent. You can only handle the way you act. But, that is for them to deal with when it comes time. Let's stay focused on what WE can do as women of Christ. Wouldn't it be beautiful if all the women of Christ put those hurts and hesitations aside and became mentors so to speak to those women who may need that extra guidance or love? In Luke 15:9 a parable discusses a woman who calls upon her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her after relocating a lost item. The truth is, as women of Christ we NEED other women to rejoice with. To hold us accountable. To be mentors and guides for each other. Take those shields down. It is SO important that we stand together and we begin, step by step, changing the image of women but redirecting it to the image God intended. Remember your role as a woman in Christ and make sure you're living the way he has guided us to and make it a priority to be a living example to other women out there.
I don't mean to get harsh and sentimental with this post but I have felt all day to post something regarding this topic that has been flowing all around me recently. I can't WAIT to keep learning the roles and responsibilities he has planned for me! He has a purpose for you too and his plan is SO much more significant and beautiful than any that we could possibly inspire.
I leave you with this verse from our simulcast yesterday.
Luke 1:45 ~ "Blessed is she who believed" (Go ahead! Let is soak in! Make sure you hang it on your vanity for your daily motivation. I know I will!) - This is a two part verse. You cannot have one without the other! Be blessed today!
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