Faith E Women

act justly, love mercy, walk humbly

This past semester, we had a group of women who completed an in-depth study of Revelation Chapters 1-4.  At the close of our time together, about two weeks ago, Wednesday Tryan summarized what we learned with the following.  I can assure you there weren’t many dry eyes in the room as she shared it and the tears have welled up every time I have read it since.  I’m sharing it here as a timely reminder of the impact Scripture can have on our lives today.  We don’t run alone, we need Him and we need each other.  Thank you Wednesday for sharing this application of Rev. 1-4  … I’m grateful for your insight and obedience.

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What does it look like in our Christian life to overcome?  Many of us have probably heard our Christian walk referred to as running a race, but it doesn’t take long to see that this race is a marathon not a sprint.

Think about how we all start the race.  We start with the desire to “overcome” – to hold fast our faith (to the end).  We start out excited, we have this new friendship with the Lord.  We are ready to run our hearts out for HIM.  But then the race gets harder, we may feel like we’ve hit a wall.  We may even notice people around us dropping out.  All of us, at some point, will hit a wall.

In marathons (from what I’ve learned) when training, you have to prepare yourself for hitting a wall.  This wall typically happens around the 20th mile.  You feel as though, that’s it.  You have given all you’ve got; you can’t go any further, people start dropping and you have absolutely nothing left.

As Christians we also prepare for our wall and that’s why we are here – learning, studying and applying God’s word.

In the Boston Marathon, this point (wall) is called Heartbreak Hill.  It is a steady incline of hills throughout the last 6 miles of the race.  It is a continuous climb that just gets higher and higher.  Finishing the race seems impossible.  In that moment, you can’t look too far ahead, it is too overwhelming, so you trust your training and you fix your eyes on just one step at a time.

My daughter, Amanda, started running a few years ago.  As she puts it, both she and her dog had gotten a little lazy over the winter.  So, in an effort to get them a little exercise she started running.  She soon discovered that she really liked it.  Around that time, she met Jourdan, a fellow teacher (who also had a dog) and together they began running.

Last April, they ran the Boston Marathon.  So, I asked her about Heartbreak Hill, and this is what she said…. “We thought we did Heartbreak Hill before we did Heartbreak Hill.  We got to the top and Jourdan said ‘okay – that was it, we did it’.  Then someone running next to us said, ‘nope – it’s coming up now, but don’t worry, you got it’.  She continued, “Mom, it was really hard, it was one hill after another.  People were dropping out and fainting all around us.  But there was a lot of encouragement the whole way.  When we got to the top, a person gave us a purple otter pop, and that saved us.”

And they finished the race – together – like they have every race.  They train together, start together, run together and finish together.  Every race.  When I asked Amanda why they do that, she said. “Mom, we always say running is what started our friendship and we couldn’t have gotten where we are without each other.  It wouldn’t have been as fun or meant as much as finishing alone.  She understands what it took to train and get there.  She is the only one who has experienced the race, who knows what I’ve ran and knows what lies ahead because she’s run it too.”

There is a picture of the two of them (Amanda and Jourdan) crossing the finish line together, with their hands clasped and their arms up in the air, smiling. I just love that picture, and not because it’s my daughter (although that’s pretty cool) but because of their faces.  You look at their faces and you don’t see all the pain it took to get there, all the hills they didn’t think they could climb, all the steps they didn’t think they could take.  All that is in the past, it doesn’t matter anymore, they had finished the race, together. And all you see is the joy in their faces!

Now I tell you all of this because that is how I picture us, as we finish our race – as overcomers – holding fast to our faith till the end.

You know, we are all in different places in our marathon. Some of us may have just started the race, so excited about this new friendship with the Lord.  Never stop your training, be prepared.  Keep studying, keep learning, keep growing and keep applying God’s truths to your life, even when you begin to see others drop out.  While, there are some of us that thought we did Heartbreak Hill, only to realize that – “Nope, it’s still ahead.”  And then, there are those of us, who know someone who is in the middle of their Heartbreak Hill, and we need to ask ourselves, how can we come alongside them to strengthen and encourage them. To remind them that they don’t run the race alone.  Because we, like Amanda and Jourdan, have a running partner too. One who’s friendship started when we began running our race. One who trains, runs and finishes with us.  Only the running partner we run with, is the One who overcame first.  Our running partner is….

The One who holds the 7 stars

The One who walks among the 7 lampstands

The First and the Last, who died and came to life

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword

The One with eyes like a flame and burnished bronze feet

The One who has the 7 Spirits of God and the 7 stars

The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David

The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness

The beginning of the creation of God

 

And our prize, well our prize isn’t a purple Otter Pop.  Our prize is……

The tree of life in the paradise of God

The Crown of Life

We will not be hurt by the second death

We’re given hidden manna, a white stone, a new name

Authority over nations

The Morning Star

We will walk with Him, clothed in white garments

Our name confessed before the Father

Our name will not be erased from the Book of Life

We are made a pillar in the temple of God

We are given a seat with Jesus on His Throne

Happy Monday!

I can’t believe it is September already…and nine days in at that! Where did the time go?

I must admit, time has been flying by for me and I have been in a grade A funk for a good portion of it. While I am not 100% exactly sure why the funk has set in, I do know it has been a shadow that has been hard to shake. It has impacted everything – from my parenting to my marriage, from my joy over a new job to starting school again, to my general state of well-being…it can be a tough space to live in. It is not a good feeling to have your life fly by all while you’re on the down side of things.

I don’t know where the start of this week finds you. Maybe you are like me, in a funk and on the cranky side (or, like me, a lot on the cranky side!). Or maybe you have the Monday blues. Maybe you find yourself complaining. Maybe you are stressed, overwhelmed, or tired….or all three! Or maybe you are in a great space; happy and excited and ready to take on a new week…

Regardless of where you are on this Monday, sisters, we have work to do!

We need to intentionally lean into Him and be nothing but full of gratitude. We are all in desperate need of Jesus and some serious awareness and gratitude and awe of what He has done, how He has moved, and how He will continue to move. That should be driving us to worship, to overflow joy, and to be a shining presence wherever our day to day finds us.

We are meant to be light in this world. So today, I am dusting off my light and taking some time to re-prioritize with some time to reflect, pray, worship, and just be with Him.

Whether you are happy or sad, down or ecstatic about everything…in every season of your life, every day, every hour…it’s always time for Him. It’s always a time to shine.

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Pre-register at faithe.org/women.        Begins Sept. 10 & 11

Here we are again … summer officially comes to a close and fall is upon us. I’m one who waits all year long for summer. I love the sunshine and the long relaxed days and my flip flops. Bugs are the about the only thing about summer that I don’t love. So when it’s over, it takes me quite a while to adjust to the new rhythms of our routine.

 

This year though, I find myself particularly excited to get started back at Bible study. Wednesday mornings at Faith E have been a part of my schedule for close to two decades now. As a newcomer to the studies on Wednesday mornings, I started showing up with knees knocking and toddlers in tow. As I committed myself to learning, I discovered the power of God’s Word and soon I found that I was in a community of women who were committed not only to the study of Scripture but to each other. These dear women used Scripture to encourage me as a young mom and wife and they walked through many seasons of life with me. Often times, I suspect they didn’t even realize the impact they were having on my faith.

 

That’s the beauty of studying His Word together. As Hebrews 4:12 tells us, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. As we allow the truth of God’s Word to move into both our minds and our hearts it transforms our lives and we grow in sanctification.

 

That’s why I am particularly excited to get started studying together this fall! Even though I no longer have toddlers in tow, I am freshly aware of my own need for His transforming power to work in my life. When we study together and allow the Holy Spirit to work deeply, I believe we can experience His Truth in a way that will radically change us. Whether you are a veteran of Bible studies or you’ve never been a part of a group study before, it’s truly my privilege to invite you to join us at Faith E.  Come, just as you are. Let’s open His Word together. I have no doubt He will reveal Himself to us in the pages of Scripture and we’ll never be the same.

 

 

 

 

 

Hi!

We’re back.

You may have noticed, it’s been awhile. As with anything new, there are growing pains. Challenges.

Not to mention, we are trying to imperfectly point to the ultimate of perfection.

Yeah, there are going to be bumps – thank you, for tagging along and hanging in there as we figure this out. We appreciate it!

Praying for a blessed week for you all – full of grace, prayer, peace, and presence.

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Because it’s a Monday and we’re still waiting for spring to really settle in, let’s have a giveaway!  I have copies of Jen Wilkin’s books None Like Him and In His Image for two lucky winners.  All you have to do to enter is like this post and tag a friend so they can get entered too!

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renewal

Spring is here!!! And with that comes a need for a whole lot of cleaning…the yard, the windows, the closets…I’m sure you can think of twelve other things on your list, too. But is your heart on that list?

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

An influential woman in my life shared an article from Billy Graham’s website called
3 Steps to a Spiritual Spring Cleaning.

I will allow you to read this quick reminder on your own, though I want to highlight the steps and what thoughts come to mind for myself as I focus on this most important cleaning task for the season.

The author asks:

  1. What needs to go?
  2. What can you give away?
  3. What needs some love?

When we address these questions in a typical spring cleaning sense, they seem pretty straight forward. But when we head to our spirits and our hearts its not quite so simple.

So what needs to go? For me, I’ve held on to guilt over a relationship in my life for far too long. I asked her for forgiveness and I received it, but since it didn’t look or feel like the forgiveness I was seeking I have held on to it for YEARS now. I’ve repented and I’ve received the Lord’s forgiveness so it is time to LET. IT. GO.

What can I give away? When thinking about this task I was reminded that my own, sweet godson is not even going to church. He’s young, so this isn’t within his control, and it presents an opportunity for me to give away part of my faith life. If I was chosen to help raise this child to know the Lord, I better speak up now before the family’s distance from Him continues to grow. I better start giving away the Good News.

What needs some love? Many things get messy that just need a little extra attention from time to time. As I bring a close to my winter bible study, its time for my quiet time to get a little bit more love. I do well with a plan, so a Bible reading plan is in order. Its best I love on this now before my mind gets lazy as the weather gets warmer.

As you take inventory of what cleaning needs to be done, will you take the time to read the article above and add your heart to your list? I think we all know we need it.

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands…and purify your hearts.” James 4:8

 

When I first moved to Billings, over nine years ago, I was lonelier than ever.  Sure I talked on the phone with friends and chatted online,  but at the end of the day, I was hungry for real face to face friendships.  So,  I stalked church websites for Bible studies, mustered up some courage and walked into women’s fellowship with fear and trembling.  I felt like an insecure junior higher all over again…Who would I sit by? What do I say? Will they like me?  Each week I showed up and slowly started to connect with others over the highs and lows of motherhood and grew in Christ. It felt good to be understood and known in a new community.  Little by little, friendships blossomed and play dates popped up. It was a fun season of park play dates and mommy chitchats in the shade while the kids played. Then, my girls went to school and that mommy friendship connection disappeared.  I could no longer make friends in the same way.

So, I bravely ventured into another new community, this time a multi-generational women’s Bible study. We studied God’s Word together as we grew in friendship and it was the most delightful thing.  This dear group of women taught me how to love all of God’s Word and especially the Psalms.  They answered countless questions about the Bible, motherhood and just life in general.  They taught me how to pray and earnestly seek God.  At times, they gently showed me where my thinking was off and lovingly redirected.  They encouraged me to love my husband and daughters well.  They prayed for me and my family.  These dear ones even brought meals.  They got to know my children and even invited us over. We laughed and cried together. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced!  Over a span of years, they have generously and graciously welcomed me into God’s family.  I am deeply humbled by the body of Christ, it has been and continues to be a powerful display of God’s grace and mercy.

I am ever thankful He drew me into true community.  His Word and His people and His presence have transformed this lonely girl.  Face to face conversation and sharing life in real time beat Facebook and Instagram every time!

And guess what, there’s a seat at the table for you, too…wanna join us?  We’d love to have you for our Spring Lecture Series, Wednesdays from 9-11 am starting April 10th.  We will be learning about what Kingdom living really looks like from a variety of wise women in our community.

 

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This books beautifully captures the overarching message of God’s glorious plan to redeem His rebellious people. It is marketed as a children’s book, but captivated me as a 43 year old! 🙂 ha!  I want to gift this to everyone I know!

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This winter has been long. Anyone else?? My sister just told me yesterday that’s she’s run out of the enthusiasm for all things snow and bundling up kids and fun outdoor activities.  That first big snow, the enthusiasm is HIGH. And last week, my enthusiasm was LOW, LOW, LOW.

We’d spent far too many days indoors and had two snow days added into the mix. My patience was low and my boys were driving me CRAZY! The baby was needy and I couldn’t stand to play super heroes or dinosaurs ONE. MORE. TIME.

I got out snacks and sat the boys at the table because its the only way to keep them in one place for longer than 30 seconds. I started prepping dinner but I could hear their crunching on that trail mix and oh I wanted to be somewhere else! Silly, yes? But it was real.

I honestly prayed for patience then reached for my phone to turn on Pandora to the Zach Williams station (see December post for more on that). Oh, the Lord heard my prayer and answered with MY SONG! And you know how hearing your song can immediately change your day…

So “To the Table”comes on but this version was new to me as it was live from Harding Prison. Zach starts by talking about his history with substance abuse then says to these men, speaking of our God, “He can take the biggest mess and turn it into the biggest message.” Aaaaaamen.

As I’m hiding from my boys in the kitchen, kneading pizza dough, the tears start rolling. A certain mess in my life immediately came to mind and it was in that moment that I realized how that mess wasn’t so messy any more. And how many messages the Lord sent me throughout the course of that mess. And how grateful my heart should be because that BIG mess just isn’t a mess any more.

So lost in the messiness of the day-to-day, I was reminded of those bigger messes that no longer are. What messages have you heard and what messages are you still waiting for? Let us look to His Word and be reminded of the next best step:

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

Thank you, Lord, for making that path straight again. Amen.

 

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