Category: Uncategorized

 by Dr. Deb Waterbury

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said something and then heard my 25-year-old son say, “Filter, Mom!” In truth, remembering to filter what goes on in my head before it comes out of my mouth has always been a struggle for me. I tend to speak much more than I should in some situations and then not say enough in others. Often I’ve missed the blessing of hearing what others are saying in both instances.

However, besides the obvious fact that I miss things, what is the ultimate responsibility I have in my words? Are there consequences far greater than what I may or may not miss? (more…)

                     

Deb Blue 5x7 tighter cropBy Dr. Deb Waterbury

 

                                 “This is not my life.”

 

 

                                                           “Those are not my children.”

 

 

                                                                                     “That is not my husband.”

 

 

Have you ever looked around at your life and thought any of these things?  I mean, this isn’t what we signed up for, right?  No one told us the day we walked down that isle or the day we graduated from school or the day we heard our child’s first cry that things would one day take us to the brink of despair.

That’s someone else’s life.  That’s not mine.

But then one day it is.  One day you wake up and all those women whose lives were battered by unfaithful spouses or lost children or sickness or death are suddenly not just remote prayer requests.  No longer can you abstractly look at those sad and torn lives and feel sympathy.  Now you are smack in the middle of empathy.  You’re living it, and the only thing you can do is look around and wonder, “What happened?”

The truth is that if you’ve been an adult woman for longer than three minutes, you will have experienced these emotions, and you’ll experience them more than once.  We were never promised a rose garden in this life, and for the most part, we realize that.

But sometimes it’s not just a weed-infested garden that we find ourselves in the middle of.  It’s a pool of sticky, slimy toxic waste, and we think, “Nope.  This is not my life.”

What are we to do in those moments?  What does a Christian woman do when even getting out of bed seems abundantly out of the question?

I have recently experienced yet another of those seasons in my life as a woman, wife, and mother, and I was struck with these thoughts in rapid succession.  Huddled in the corner of my bedroom, lights off, and curled up so tightly on the floor that my joints ached, the despair caught me almost off-guard.  I wasn’t even crying correctly because I couldn’t breathe well enough to make a sound.  I just rocked and gasped for air.  And then my thoughts changed from “This is not my life” to “I have to fix this!”

Isn’t that the way we are?  That’s how God created us women.  We manage things.  Paul referred to women as the “managers of the house” in Titus 2:5, and managers manage things.  Consequently, our first instincts are to manage our situations.

It only took me a few minutes, however, to realize that I couldn’t manage anyone out of anything this time, and instead of moving from that realization toward Christian resolution, I moved toward anger with God.

“I know You think I’m this strong.  I know You think I can handle this, and I know You said I wouldn’t be given anything more than I could handle, but I’m not this strong!  This is too much!”

Of course, I didn’t actually yell these things out loud, although I have before.  No, this time I screamed with boldness in my head.  I really was confounded by God’s apparent misidentification of my supposed strength.  I needed Him to reconsider.

Have you ever felt this way?  Are you feeling it now?

I am ever amazed at our Father’s grace.  I’m in awe of His constant and abiding love and patience toward us.  He could have yelled back at me right then.  He could have struck me down completely for my irreverence.  That would have been warranted.

However, what He gently did was fill my head with these words:

Debbie, I do not ordain these things in your life to point you to your own strength.  I ordain them to move you toward Mine.

You see, it will forever be our propensity to try and make things about us.  It’s my knee-jerk reaction to bolster my own fortitude and figure things out, and then to be angry when I’m just not strong enough or smart enough or tolerant enough or when I feel forced to do things on my own.  This is unfortunately an anger that when harbored will quickly turn into bitterness.

Indeed there are a lot of bitter women out there, and among them is no small number of bitter Christian women.  Why?  Because we simply aren’t strong enough, and truthfully, that was never God’s point.

Everything is about Him, and these times are meant to bring attention to Him, to His strength, His love, His mercy, His care, His tolerance, His grace, and His perfect plan.

What do we do as Christian women in moments of such complete despair that we can’t even breathe?

I was pouring out to a dear friend in the middle of this—which, by the way, I highly encourage you to do—and she reminded me of exactly what we are to do when we look at the life we now live and wonder how it all went so wrong so quickly.   She reminded me of Psalm 121,

 

                                                I lift up my eyes to the hills. 

 

                                                From where does my help come?

 

                                                My help comes from the Lord,

 

                                                Who made heaven and earth.

 

When you are on your bedroom floor and the pain is beyond your ability to bear, you do the only thing you can do, you do the only thing you should do, and you lift up your eyes.

Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28-30,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

There are going to be moments in these lives as pilgrims in this foreign land when we are nothing less than confused by the things that happen.  We can become downcast in our souls over the heartache inflicted on us by the ones we love the most, and we will gaze at our circumstances with a sadness that feels insurmountable. 

What do we do?

We lift our tired, tear dimmed eyes toward heaven and unto our Father.  We rest in His divine and loving purposes.  After all, we have a hope that the world does not share, a hope and an assurance that we do not serve a God who is an “absentee Father.”  Our Lord is fully involved in the lives of His children, and He has promised us that He has a plan, a plan that will not harm us but will bring us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)  He has promised us that all of our lives are purposed for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

So, my sisters, lift up your eyes to the hills.  From where does your help come?  Your help comes from the Lord, the very Maker of the heavens and the earth.

Real #love requires vulnerability.

 

Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

 

In a world full of imperfect people who do imperfect things, it is often easier to become stoic and ambivalent towards others. In this way we can protect our own hearts and feelings, shielding ourselves from the pain of betrayal and wrong doing. However, a Christian heart is one who does not seek self-protection above ministering to others. As a matter of fact, a Christian heart is one that has been so transformed by the love of God that it feels right along with the hearts of its fellow brothers and sisters. Paul tells us that when one of our family rejoices, we should be rejoicing right along with them; when they are sad, our hearts should break along with theirs. This truly requires us to be vulnerable to possible hurts ourselves, but in this vulnerability is also self-denial, and this is the kind of heart that has been changed by God. Paul is not telling us to go out and become professional mourners or manufactured laughers. What he is telling us is to become so consumed with our Father and His love that our hearts are transformed into ones that really feel empathetic love for each another. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

 

Study/Meditation: Read John 13:34. Jesus made love a commandment. Why do you think He did so? Why is this so important?

 

*Father, thank You for loving me so completely. Help me as I meditate on Your love to be pleasing to You in my love for others. Amen.

 

Malawi image

 

Three young men took the stage, and we anticipated their worship.  One of the many things that Africans have over on Americans is their ability to worship, and we knew that we were in for another beautiful song offering from these handsomely dressed young men.

Heidi looked over at me and smiled.  We were well into day five of the “Count Your Blessings” conference in Blantyre, Malawi, and every experience had proven to be more blessed than the last.  It’s always my immense pleasure to get to speak at these conferences, but it’s even more my blessing to get to witness the genuine love for our Savior that the African people display.  In particular, I get great joy from watching the dedication and love from the young people.  

The Praise and Worship Team is made up of all young people, and they take great pride in their worship.  They spend months rehearsing leading up to the conferences, and each of them either makes or has made their matching ensembles for each day.  These young people arrive early every day and they are always the last to leave, often leading worship ten to fifteen times each day.  Malawi 14, P & W 5

However, on the last day of any conference I’ve attended in Africa, the team wears its best outfits and there are a number of special worship offerings given throughout the day.  On this particular last day of the conference in Blantyre, we had been worshiping together with the team for about an hour when a trio of young men dressed smartly in red satin ties and black shirts and pants walked up on stage. (more…)

looking-at-sky “This is not my life.”

 

 

“Those are not my children.”

 

 

“That is not my husband.”

 

 

Have you ever looked around at your life and thought any of these things?  I mean, this isn’t what we signed up for, right?  No one told us the day we walked down that isle or the day we graduated from school or the day we heard our child’s first cry that things would one day take us to the brink of despair.

 

That’s someone else’s life.  That’s not mine.

 

But then one day it is.  One day you wake up and all those women whose lives were battered by unfaithful spouses or lost children or sickness or death are suddenly not just remote prayer requests.  No longer can you abstractly look at those sad and torn lives and feel sympathy.  Now you are smack in the middle of empathy.  You’re living it, and the only thing you can do is look around and wonder, “What happened?”

 

The truth is that if you’ve been an adult woman for longer than three minutes, you will have experienced these emotions, and you’ll experience them more than once.  We were never promised a rose garden in this life, and for the most part, we realize that.

 

But sometimes it’s not just a weed-infested garden that we find ourselves in the middle of.  It’s a pool of sticky, slimy toxic waste, and we think, “Nope.  This is not my life.”

 

What are we to do in those moments?  What does a Christian woman do when even getting out of bed seems abundantly out of the question?

 

I have recently experienced yet another of those seasons in my life as a woman, wife, and mother, and I was struck with these thoughts in rapid succession.  Huddled in the corner of my bedroom, lights off, and curled up so tightly on the floor that my joints ached, the despair caught me almost off-guard.  I wasn’t even crying correctly because I couldn’t breathe well enough to make a sound.  I just rocked and gasped for air.  And then my thoughts changed from “This is not my life” to “I have to fix this!”

 

Isn’t that the way we are?  That’s how God created us women.  We manage things.  Paul referred to women as the “managers of the house” in Titus 2:5, and managers manage things.  Consequently, our first instincts are to manage our situations.

 

It only took me a few minutes, however, to realize that I couldn’t manage anyone out of anything this time, and instead of moving from that realization toward Christian resolution, I moved toward anger with God.

 

“I know You think I’m this strong.  I know You think I can handle this, and I know You said I wouldn’t be given anything more than I could handle, but I’m not this strong!  This is too much!”

 

Of course, I didn’t actually yell these things out loud, although I have before.  No, this time I screamed with boldness in my head.  I really was confounded by God’s apparent misidentification of my supposed strength.  I needed Him to reconsider.

 

Have you ever felt this way?  Are you feeling it now?

 

I am ever amazed at our Father’s grace.  I’m in awe of His constant and abiding love and patience toward us.  He could have yelled back at me right then.  He could have struck me down completely for my irreverence.  That would have been warranted.

 

However, what He gently did was fill my head with these words:

 

Debbie, I do not ordain these things in your life to point you to your own strength.  I ordain them to move you toward Mine.

 

You see, it will forever be our propensity to try and make things about us.  It’s my knee-jerk reaction to bolster my own fortitude and figure things out, and then to be angry when I’m just not strong enough or smart enough or tolerant enough or when I feel forced to do things on my own.  This is unfortunately an anger that when harbored will quickly turn into bitterness.

 

Indeed there are a lot of bitter women out there, and among them is no small number of bitter Christian women.  Why?  Because we simply aren’t strong enough, and truthfully, that was never God’s point.

 

Everything is about Him, and these times are meant to bring attention to Him, to His strength, His love, His mercy, His care, His tolerance, His grace, and His perfect plan.

 

What do we do as Christian women in moments of such complete despair that we can’t even breathe?

 

I was pouring out to a dear friend in the middle of this—which, by the way, I highly encourage you to do—and she reminded me of exactly what we are to do when we look at the life we now live and wonder how it all went so wrong so quickly.   She reminded me of Psalm 121,

 

                                                I lift up my eyes to the hills. 

 

                                                From where does my help come?

 

                                                My help comes from the Lord,

 

                                                Who made heaven and earth.

 

When you are on your bedroom floor and the pain is beyond your ability to bear, you do the only thing you can do, you do the only thing you should do, and you lift up your eyes.

 

Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28-30,

 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

There are going to be moments in these lives as pilgrims in this foreign land when we are nothing less than confused by the things that happen.  We can become downcast in our souls over the heartache inflicted on us by the ones we love the most, and we will gaze at our circumstances with a sadness that feels insurmountable. 

 

What do we do?

 

We lift our tired, tear dimmed eyes toward heaven and unto our Father.  We rest in His divine and loving purposes.  After all, we have a hope that the world does not share, a hope and an assurance that we do not serve a God who is an “absentee Father.”  Our Lord is fully involved in the lives of His children, and He has promised us that He has a plan, a plan that will not harm us but will bring us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)  He has promised us that all of our lives are purposed for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

 

So, my sisters, lift up your eyes to the hills.  From where does your help come?  Your help comes from the Lord, the very Maker of the heavens and the earth.

I was speaking with someone the other day, and he, when speaking of Christian women, very accurately said, “Theology must drive their uniquely God-ordained lives.”

How true.

However, that is often not the case for Christian women, and that is devastatingly sad to me. It’s sad, and it’s a tragedy.

Our Christian society has been inundated with “women-centered” curriculum and topics-based conferences, which are good in and of themselves. We, as Christian women, have probably never before in history had so many resources at our unique disposal that guide us and encourage us in our lives.

As I said, this is all good.

What alarms me is that oftentimes, theology is not the driving force behind most of these resources. Womanhood is. They’re driven by questions such as:

· Who are you as a woman?
· What kind of woman are you?
· How do you live as a fulfilled and successful woman/mom/wife?

Of course, Christianity and the role of being a Christian is many times peppered into these topics, but theology…not so much. What has consequently happened is that womanhood drives our theology, instead of theology driving our womanhood.

The results have been watered down studies or situational encouragement, all with their foundations in what it means to be a woman who happens to be in Christ.

Skimming through any online Christian resource or walking through a physical Christian bookstore, the “Woman’s Studies” section is fraught with books like Coffee with Jesus, or Living a Stress-Free Life, or Friendships of Women.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not bashing these sorts of books.
They are helpful and certainly have their place within the life of a Christian woman. What I am concerned about, though, is that we have placed the proverbial cart before the horse. How can I possibly know how to live a stress-free life or have correct friendships, even if the premise of these things is Christ, without having first immersed myself in the doctrine of Jesus Christ? How can I live practically without first understanding the theology that must drive these things?

I am not a woman who happens to be in Christ. I am a Christian who happens to be a woman.

I most certainly believe that there are Christian men and there are Christian women, and they are both called to live their lives as Christians in uniquely male and female ways. God created us differently for a reason, and those reasons most definitely extend to how we live as men and women. But what I also firmly believe is that there are common, distinctive theological truths that must drive both male and female lives as Christians, and if we try to live either of those paths without the foundation of this theology, we are simply spinning our wheels or even worse, spinning off course.

As I teach many woman’s seminars, workshops, and conferences, one thing I stress long before I teach on whatever woman-centered topic I may be covering is that all Christians—men and women alike—are called to first and foremost be theologians.

Know on Whom you have believed and in what you have believed. Without that firm foundation, everything shifts uncontrollably, no matter how many times you say the name “Jesus.”

“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26-27)

Too many Christian women are feverishly trying to live their lives in the best way they possibly can, ways that will bring peace and contentment to their families and themselves, but they are doing so to the detriment of knowledge first. Without the foundation of accurate, God-honoring and God-glorifying doctrine, all of our efforts at living the successful and contented Christian life are ultimately weak and ineffectual. As John Piper once said,

“Wimpy theology makes for wimpy women.”

Does theology drive your womanhood, or does your womanhood drive your theology? Sometimes a deeper consideration of where we begin will result in the success we are looking for in the first place.