Tag: woman

By: Dr. Deb Waterbury

Easter. Let’s put all those controversies aside about whether or not we should hunt eggs or have a bunny or whatever else people want to argue about and talk about how lonely those hunts can be.  The kiddos might be hunting wildly for those multi-colored eggs, but look around when that’s happening. What you will invariably see are men and women standing alone or even in little bunches, smiling as if they are enjoying the afternoon, but what they are really doing is wishing that someone…anyone…would notice how utterly miserable they truly are. Of course, some are having fun, but some absolutely are not. The kicker is that pretty much no one notices whether they are or not, and they certainly aren’t telling.

Why is that?

It’s kind of funny that we live in such a streamlined society where everybody is connected to everybody, and yet for the most part, we are utterly and completely alone.  Even conversations at tables in restaurants these days are neglected in favor of checking your Facebook status or email or texts or Twitter.  I’ve sat and watched two people sit together for dinner and never even look at one another, their attentions fully given to whatever handheld device they own at the time.  It’s never been more hazardous than now to walk down the street for fear of any number of passersby running right into you because they’re looking down at their phone instead of where they are walking.

This plague, though commonplace in mainstream society, has unfortunately permeated our Christian lives, as well.  Some of us may live in extremely populated areas, but for some reason we feel nothing but loneliness and isolation from those around us who share the most amazing gift of all time—Jesus!

I have often traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, this time of year so that I can speak at Easter conferences, and I am always overwhelmed with the words so many of the women there speak to me.  Had they not been speaking Shona, the native language of most of Zimbabwe, the words they were saying would have been exactly the same words I’ve heard over and over again here in America: “I’m so lonely.”   

It’s not that they are alone.  Few of us are ever alone, but the pain of loneliness is rampant among Christians.

How very sad that is. 

So I began to ask myself why that is the case.  Why are members of an eternal family, truly those who are now the bride of Christ, suffering from such a condition?  I mean, I can almost understand how unbelievers might feel lonely.  After all, what do they share with others but a constant desire to figure out how to be happy or content or joyful?  We, however, have been given the key to such things, and we share that key with millions of other people, many of whom live right in our neighborhoods.  If not there, at least there are those with whom we attend church or bible study.

Why are so many of us, all over the world, still so lonely?

I’m convinced that it’s not loneliness that has plagued our existences, but isolation.  Most of us have a tendency to isolate ourselves, either in our sadness or our sin.  We might reveal some things, but for the most part, we live under the misapprehension that our suffering or our sin is somehow more extreme or more dire than anyone else’s.  Either that or we delude ourselves into thinking that we don’t want to burden anyone else with our problems, so we keep them to ourselves, simmering just beneath the surface of the smiles we paste on in public.

Consequently, many of us who have reason for the most joy experience pain that is both unnecessary and unwarranted, which is just the way Satan wants it.  If he can convince us of this lie, then what we should be presenting to the unsaved world—peace and joy that surpasses all understanding—is buried beneath a mountain of misery that lives inside of our heads.

This is precisely why we are to be who God intended His children to be, and that is relational.  We are to belong to a body of believers, not so that we fill a square in the account journal of our sanctification, but so that we can build one another up, hold one another accountable, and fellowship together.  We need our brothers and sisters and we need to seek them out.  Living inside of our own heads is exactly what Satan wants because there is no relationship there. 

My heart hurt for the women of Zimbabwe, just like my heart hurts for every man and woman I meet who suffers from this plague.  It hurt so much that the focus of my work has streamlined to one of building discipleship and relational connection between believers all over the world.  This is a plague that should not be, and all of us must do what we can to extinguish it however we can.

What can you do to either break out of this isolation or help others to do so?  I pray that all of us seriously consider the ramifications of a body of believers who segregate themselves from every other part of the body in horrible isolation.  Move toward relationship with your brothers and sisters.  After all, heaven isn’t going to be a lonely place.  God meant for us to seek relationship with each other and the beauty that comes with that while we are here on earth.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony….Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:12-16)

By Joy Dunkelbarger-Reed

 

March 1, 2015 11:35 am

 

Message from my friend, Daniel:

 

“Joy, call me ASAP.”

 

I tried. No answer. I tried again, and still no answer.

 

I knew in an instant something had happened to my husband, Brent, or else he would have been the one calling me.  I was praying my son, Blake, was safe.

 

The few minutes that went by seemed like hours, but finally I was able to talk to Daniel. There had been an accident at the Imperial Sand Dunes where they had gone camping for the long weekend. A bunch of them, including my husband and son, had gone, and five of them were in our sand car. My husband was driving, my son in the passenger seat and our friend, Daniel, and two other adults were in the back seats. They had been going up and down Test Hill.

 

If you have driven to San Diego on I-8 about 20 miles west of Yuma, you’ve seen it.  It is the big sand hill just north of the interstate with the American Canal running along the base. Trips up and down the hill had been done hundreds of times throughout past trips. This trip, the third time down the hill and as they were making a U-turn to go back up, they lost control.  The front wheel of the car caught in the sand and sent them flipping up into the air and over a large berm. They crashed down hard and rolled into the canal at the bottom of the hill. The water was about 20 feet deep.

 

Daniel said everyone in the car was able to get out, except my husband. They had tried to swim back down to the car, but the current was too swift, and they were not able to reach the car. I was praying he was able to get out of his seat belts and had just been washed down the canal in the strong current and was holding on to the edge somewhere.

 

I was in a panic on the phone. My daughter watched me.  She was frightened and confused.  I had to get there as soon as possible. It was a three and a half hour drive. I was ready to go, but I wasn’t in the position to drive myself and my daughter.  I was able to contact friends to take me, and my daughter was able to stay with my best friend. It was a very long drive. I got a call about half way there that they had pulled the car out of the water, and my husband was still strapped in his seat. He had drowned.

 

I was numb. My only goal now was to be there for my son. Just as we were nearing the turnoff, I saw the severely mangled car on a trailer on the highway going the opposite direction.

 

Finally I was able to be with my son, and thankfully he was physically uninjured with the exception of a few bruises. They didn’t want him to see the car being pulled out of the water so they had taken him away from the crash site. He was in the RV. As I walked in, he ran to me.  He was crying and scared. I held him, and I had to tell him his daddy was dead. His fear turned to anger. How could God let this happen?  He threw his bible down. I told him it was okay to be angry. God has big shoulders and could take it.

 

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

 

The ride home was even longer and extremely painful. We arrived home and I now had to tell my daughter her daddy was dead. The only peace I had during this was knowing that Brent knew Jesus and he was in heaven.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

 

Brent was kind and loving. He was a good father. My children’s earthly father was gone, but their Heavenly Father, has been, and will continue to be there for them.

 

Up until the morning of March 1, 2015, my story consisted of being a wife and a mom to an 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.  I was a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a pharmacist. The list goes on, but just like that, in an instant, “wife” was swapped out for “widow.”  I was a widow?!

 

We all have a story and this was NOT how MY story was supposed to go! Instantaneously and violently the pages of the story I had written had been ripped out and replaced.  My story, as I believed at that point in time, was rewritten as a horror story, a horror story filled with body-trembling fear, chest-crushing anxiety, disbelief by the minute, extreme anger and any other terrible emotion imaginable.

 

Several days after the accident my son and I were talking. I asked him what he remembered.  Did he remember being in the water and how he got out?  It was just assumed that my husband had helped him, but if my husband were able to help Blake, I believe he would have gotten out also. Blake said he remembers the wheel breaking off, the car flipping and landing in the water.  Then he said he tried to lean forward and wasn’t able to move. The car has five point harnesses which aren’t necessarily easy to get out of in a calm situation, let alone under water after a crash.  He said he just wanted to go to sleep.  He looked up and could see the sun shining down through the water.  He said he prayed for God to help him get out of the seat belt.  He leaned forward again and was able to get free and swim to the surface. He was wearing shoes and a heavy jacket so that made it difficult to swim. God immediately answered his prayer for help to get out of that car.

 

As I look at the original message from Daniel, for only the second time since it was sent, I am now two years into the pages of my “new” story.  But is it really a “new” story?  Perhaps to me it is, but as far as God is concerned, it isn’t. My story was already written specifically for me by Him.  He knew exactly what was going to happen that March morning, every day before and every day after. We all have a story given to us by God and He trusts us with those stories.

 

God allowed the accident to happen.  My faith and trust in God was great before the accident, but they have grown exponentially since.  Looking back on it, I can recall specific situations before the accident where God was preparing me for this part of my story.  People say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I believe this statement is true as long as you allow Him in so that He can help you handle it. I could not have survived any of this on my own.

 

This journey has been anything but easy.  There has been extensive pain throughout, both seen and unseen, but with His presence there has been unexplainable peace, answered prayers, major growth, multiple lessons and blessings experienced.  He has a plan for my story, and I will continue to trust His plan with all my heart.

 

“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

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

By Cathy Letkeman

 

 

Fellow moms, I don’t about you, but as the political, moral, and spiritual horizon gets bleaker and bleaker for the world our children are growing up into, my heart hurts and feels heavy. What that often translates to is a heightened sense of urgency to prepare my children for that world followed immediately with a crippling sense of inadequacy, overwhelm and anxious thoughts. It only takes an instant for that storm to magnify my fears and cut me off from the lifeline I have to the Commander-in-Chief who has the ultimate victory over this war, the lifeline to the One who is the Master Strategist who has planned for every contingency and equips us warrior-mothers for the battle at hand, and that lifeline is prayer.

 

A few months ago, my pastor encouraged us to use a telescope instead of a magnifying glass, turning our eyes from our problems to the Creator of the universe, and entrusting Him with our cares. If worship, our gaze focused on the Creator, is our telescope, then prayer, is our periscope.

 

A periscope, an instrument that is standard equipment on submarines which submerge deep beneath the surface of the ocean, is defined as “an instrument for observation over, around or through an obstacle or condition that prevents line of sight observation from an observer’s current position”. Prayer improves our line of sight. From our current position, submerged beneath the waters of the worries of this life, prayer returns our line of sight to our Heavenly Father so we can acquire the information we need to adjust our position, prepare for what’s ahead, give us insight or simply remind us that there is more going on than what we can see from where we are.

 

A description of a periscope’s design is as follows, “The overall design of the classical submarine periscope is very simple: two telescopes pointed into each other.” Prayer by design, is God seeing into us, and us seeing into Him. Prayer is God abiding in us, and us abiding in Him. What an incredible gift of grace!

 

beach photoBy: Miryea Gist

 

Lately, scrolling through Facebook has become much more than a mindless activity full of relatable photos, memes, and hilarious videos. Instead, I’ve learned to view it as an opportunity to obtain a glimpse into the lives, minds, and hearts of many friends and family members on social media. This morning, during my daily scroll through the incessantly, inordinate Facebook feature otherwise known as “newsfeed,” I came across a post from a young lady that caught my eye and peeked my interest. The post was barely noticeable, only comprised of two words. Yet, those two words shot through my body and into my soul like a burst of electricity. Those two words stayed in my head all day like a catchy tune, and at night, hovered over my mind like a storm cloud. The post came from a young lady who struggles with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression. Those two words were: nobody understands.

 

A love we crave

Biblically speaking, a man’s purpose is to know God, and to spend eternity relishing in the enjoyment of Him. We were created to experience intimacy with the God of the universe, and to spend our days pursuing the knowledge of Him. In light of this, I believe that an inevitable characteristic of this design for humans to know, is a desire to be known. Humans were created to know, and be known by God Himself. Naturally, this desire to be known has been tainted by the fall, and sin has perverted a right desire, into one full of selfish ambition and personal glory. This is wildly evident in today’s culture through a yearning for fame, and an insatiable desire for attention from those of the opposite gender. This yearning to be known is especially evident within this age of technology. We desire so much to be known, that we create various social media as platforms to showcase ourselves. We spend hours upon hours designing boards we feel best represent our style, hobbies, dreams and ambitions, taste in music, movies and food. We tweet our every move in order to keep the world up-to-date on our lives. We take the time to fill out silly questionnaires and “like” different pages so that our friends can know us better. Our human desire to be known is evident in every aspect of our lives.

It can be said—to be known, is to be loved. Or better yet, to be loved, is to be known. We see this truth played out in Matthew 7:23 and John 10:14-15. In Matthew, the Lord rebukes the one who does not belong to Him with the terrifying statement “I never knew you…” while in the gospel of John, Jesus uses the knowledge of His children to claim them as His own stating: “I know my own and my own know me.”

Humans crave an understanding kind of love. A love that knows truly, sincerely, and deeply. A comprehending love, a grasping love—an intimate love that can fathom them. To know God, and to be known by Him is the only redemption.

                  

Fully God, fully man

As I read the words, “nobody understands,” a verse immediately came to mind. No, it wasn’t Psalm 119, nor was it Psalm 139. The verse that came to mind, was the end of Hebrews chapter four, and beginning of Hebrews chapter 5:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (5) For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

In the Old Testament, the duty of a priest was to operate as intercessor between God and the people. He would offer sacrifices on behalf of the people, but also for himself since he too was a sinner. Because of this, the priest was able to show compassion towards the people, since he himself was beset with weakness. Of course, after Christ’s death and resurrection, we are able to have access to the Father and to experience intimacy with Him. Jesus Christ, as the great and final high priest, bridged the gap between a holy God and fallen man.

But we know this. We know God sent his Son to live the life of perfect obedience which we could never attain. We understand that it is only the sinless life and righteousness of Jesus Christ that makes us right before God. Most believers have no problem understanding the fact that Christ was sinless, and this is because we grasp His deity. However, I believe many Christians fail to comprehend the aspect of Christ that legitimized Him as a sacrifice, which is His humanity.

The incarnation of God is an astounding facet of the gospel. As J.I. Packer stated: “Here are two mysteries for the price of one — the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. . . . Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.”

We are confident in Christ’s deity, yet oftentimes, we undermine His humanity. Nonetheless, the truth of Jesus’s humanity is to be regarded just as important as the truth of His deity. We know from the Word of God two things to be absolutely sure: Jesus has two natures—God and man. And each nature is full and complete—He is fully God, and fully man (Colossians 2:9, John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14). But what does it mean that Christ was fully man? It simply means this: that Jesus was exposed to all the limitation of man. He required all things you and I require in order to survive… food, drink, and sleep. He was not exempt from the things which confide us, such as gravity, pain, fatigue, and illness. Because He was bound to all the limitations of man, this includes the temptation we experience. He Himself was tempted, as Hebrews says, “in every respect.”

Hopefully this truth will lead the believer to ask the question; why? Why would the God of the universe willingly subject Himself to the limitations of man? The beginning of Hebrews tells us it is so that He can deal gently with the ignorant, and the wayward since He Himself was beset with weakness.

He understands

How beautiful is that? This perfectly holy being chose to subject Himself to temptation in order to deal gently with us. The Creator willingly humbled Himself to walk amongst the creation, so that we might know one who understands. The one who spoke and caused all to be, the one who the wind and the waves obey, the one who commands the tiniest of bacteria, to the greatest of all mammals—He understands. In the God of all creation, we find the greatest love—a sacrificial, sympathetic, and understanding love.

I urge you, never again to be dismayed by the lie designed by Satan to isolate you. The lie that you are alone, and misunderstood. The King of kings understands more than you’re capable of comprehending. What a shame it is to walk through life believing no one understands or cares, and what an offense it is to a God who left His throne to demonstrate how much He does.

_________________________

Miryea attends The Masters College majoring in English with a minor in Bible. With her degree, she plans to teach middle school English as well as continue to enjoy, and further develop her passion for writing. Born and raised in Arizona, she was home schooled from first through twelfth grade, and is the eldest of two.

                     

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.

csm_Julie_Publicity_Photo_fd689c83b8By Dr. Julie Barrier

When is the last time you so enjoyed spending time with others that you never looked at your watch, never checked your phone? Michael Hyatt, Don McMinn and Chet Weld taught me these life-changing principles. I dreaded group meetings, dinners and parties. Now I relish them! Here’s what I learned about the art of conversation:

Set the stage. Try to arrange a quiet, welcoming atmosphere where everyone can see and hear each other. Eliminate distractions and greet everyone warmly and personally. An “in the round” conversation space is great. Food is always a good idea! Hopefully, electronic devices can disappear for a little while….

Try the “one conversation rule.” One conversation means that everyone is talking about the same topic at the same time. Pose an engaging question to which everyone can relate. When you establish the one-conversation rule, everybody gets a chance to talk. You draw out the people who are not contributing or not speaking up, and you get a sense of what they have to say as well.

Listen attentively. Don’t rush to respond. Show by your body language that you care about them. Stop trying to formulate your response while they talk. Use feeling words to let them know you are not just responding with your head, but also with your heart. Be comforting. Be connected. Be curious.

Now, hold that moment. Don’t be afraid of silence. When you treasure what they say, you affirm who they are. You impart acceptance and value to them.

Empathize. A hurting person needs sympathy and comfort. Every person needs empathy. Webster defines empathy as “an understanding, awareness or sensitivity to someone else; even to vicariously experience those feelings with them.”

Often your presence is more powerful than your words.

Be aware of how much you are talking. Draw the introverts out. Good conversation is like tennis. Serve, return, serve, return. Every good conversation is a dialogue. Allow others to respond. If someone is overlooked, try to include them and kindly respond to their comments.

Ask follow-up questions. Be sure they are open-ended. This is not a book report!  Open-ended questions prove that you’re engaged with your heart and your mind. “How did that make you feel?” “What have you learned?” “How has that circumstance or event changed you?”

Provide positive feedback. It lets the other person know that, yes, you’re engaged, but it also communicates a sense of safety. They can continue to talk and dialogue with you. Thank them for their contribution.

Conversation is an art. I want to be an artist, don’t you?

www.donmcminn.comwww.michaelhyatt.com www.preachitteachit.org/chet-weld.