Faith E Women

act justly, love mercy, walk humbly

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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Over the past few years, I have fallen head over heals in love with the Psalms.  They are rich in wisdom and show us how to engage with God in every season of life.  Just recently,  a dear new friend showed me this treasure and it has taken me deeper in my study of the Psalms.  Here’s a quick peak:

img_4673.jpg I’m loving diving deeply into His Word…

Good morning Quotes

Confession. I am tired. Tired with a big, fat capital T. The kind of tired that a 10,000 hour nap wouldn’t even begin to touch.

TIRED.

I am a mom of two wild boys (4 years and 2 years old). I work full time and have class two nights a week with homework and studying to do. I spend a lot of my week running solo. My husband works two jobs so a lot of the household chores and management fall on my shoulders.

It can be a lot to say the least. Some days I take it all in stride and others, not so much.

What is the difference then? What makes or breaks my stride?

Renewal.

In this season of life, I have to be extra intentional about seeking it out, about cultivating it into my day to day. So, with spring on the horizon (at least theoretically!), we are going to spend a few posts chatting renewal.

And for me, renewal comes when I refocus. Renewal comes when I put first things first. When I put Him at the center and let everything else fall into place…that, that right there is the game changer between me taking things in stride and me riding the hot mess express.

So what does that look like for me? I don’t claim to be a genius or perfect at it, but here are a few things I started to make habits that have helped bring renewal….

  • Before I open my eyes in the morning, I pray. For the day, for His presence to be felt, for His eyes and heart for the people and work I will encounter.
  • On the way to work, I pray with my boys for their days.
  • Turning off the radio. This gives me time to think, pray, and just be with Him without the constant ear pollution.
  • Disconnecting from the phone and leaving the TV off.
  • Worship music always – while I am at work, while I am doing housework, while I am putting my boys to sleep – it helps remind me that everything I do is an act of worship.
  • Getting in the Word daily – listening to it, reading it, hearing pastors preach it.

Most importantly, renewal comes best when I remember where my strength comes from. It doesn’t come from the latest self-care craze, over-indulgence, a bottle of wine, or a girls night out.

Renewal comes when I turn back to Him. It is just that simple. 

Matthew 11:28-30// “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


 

 

So now we’re two months into the new year. How are your resolutions looking? I smirk and smile as I write this, because I imagine there are a few of you laughing at the misery your resolutions caused you before you threw them out the window. And I imagine there are others of you who are rocking your resolutions and kudos to you! Keep going.

I will say I made three resolutions and two of them are going well. One of them is a HUGE struggle but such is life. I haven’t thrown in the towel, but I have found myself discouraged and I decided I needed a “resolution reset.” If I identified this area of my life as something that needed to become a priority, I best not throw it out the window, right?

Maybe I just need a reset—a change in the way I view a needed discipline in my life. How about you?? Do you need a resolution reset? Or did you totally forget you had some resolutions and you just need a resolution reminder? For those of you that need a little reset, lets hear some truth for the course ahead:

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

Be mindful of the work inside of you. Enjoy the process. Scripture even tells us to expect it to be painful. I think sometimes we’re afraid to fail, so we avoid things that might be hard or might not turn out well. But here’s some more truth for that course, too:

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Hear that? Power AND discipline. Not fear, but the ability to do what lies ahead. So go on. Recall and reset those resolutions with God’s truth in your hearts. You got this!

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Short and sweet today…BUT, if you are looking for a new devotional to add to your quiet time, I would HIGHLY recommend Annie F. Downs’ 100 Days to Brave. I am 50 days in and I have to say, this is the first time I have stuck with a devotional book of this style. I know, I am terrible :).

I love AFD and have been a long time fan so I went in thinking I’d probably like 100 Days. Truth is, I LOVE it. I love her practical words of advice and inclusion of Bible verses. Each day reads like you are sitting with a friend, just talking life. It’s an easy read and incredibly relateable.

I also love how she covers bravery outside of the “normal” context of bravery (i.e. being courageous in a tough or scary circumstance). She applies bravery to relationships, work, and change. They are short devotions that carry a punch and really, truly, have made me think about some things that I hadn’t thought about before…I mean, do YOU have a life thesis statement? Me either…until now, thanks to this devotional!

Highly encourage you to check it out and explore what bravery means a woman of Jesus. You won’t regret it! Happy Wednesday!

When I first started reflecting on biblical love at the start of the month, I couldn’t help but notice that John emphasized what it doesn’t look like. As I spend time in 1 Corinthians 13, I’m finding that Paul’s focus is remarkably similar. Speaking to a people new in their faith, he hoped to encourage them towards a Christ-like love, not a self-seeking image of a “perfect” believer.

Whether we are twenty-two or eighty-two, I think its prudent to take a humble position of being “new” in our faith, too: always seeking wisdom, Godly examples, scriptural truths. Though I don’t think we need to be intimidated by Paul’s message here. I don’t want to approach verses 4-7 as a checklist.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Don’t get me wrong—I LOOOOVE checklists. But I also get hung up on performance and accomplishment, being helpful and using my time wisely. Why? Because I’m self-seeking. And that leads to pride, which makes me boast, and that dishonors others. Yikes.

While my intentions are good, I’m forgetting to extend love along the way. As Leanne wrote last October about walking humbly, “I don’t want a life of checkmarks … I want a life marked by His grace and love extended to those around me.”

The way I love should lead others to Christ. I want it to be unmistakable who my God is. Will you pray for me in this? I’ll do the same for you.

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Truth be told I have more questions than answers today … well that’s probably true most days … but this is Valentine’s Day and I’ve been thinking of how we truly love those around us.  Especially those without a saving faith in Jesus Christ. The ones whose behavior isn’t always lovely; they’ve heard that Jesus loves them, but they can’t quite believe it could be true about them.  

Yesterday in our Wednesday morning Bible Study, we wrapped up our study of 1 Thessalonians and the last four verses of Chapter 5 caught me.

Brethren, pray for us.

Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Although these passages are directed to believers about fellow believers, I think we can pull some application from these short verses in how we interact with ALL the people in our lives.  

First, we pray.  Pray for opportunities, pray for soft hearts and open minds, ask for gentleness and patience, for the power of the Holy Spirit to be at work, for the Word of God to be received, for hope to be restored …

Then, we extent kindness.  It goes a long way to simply be nice and offer a smile.  I can’t say this strongly enough .. if we are not kind, (and yes, that includes our social media posts) we’ve lost them already!  

Next, we share the scriptures.  The truth of God’s Word is necessary in loving others well.  But, let’s be honest, the truth of scripture can sting a little, so again, please be kind. I’m in no way implying that we water down the truth, I’m simply suggesting we consider our method of delivery.

And, we give the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Extending grace to others is the least we can do when we truly understand the measure of grace given us.  Let’s not take offense when non-believers don’t act like believers. Grace shouldn’t expect that.

Any thoughts on really living this out?  I’m all ears – because I know that we need each other to do this well!

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I have been in numerous conversations lately (both in person and online) that were just not going anywhere…or, at the very least, anywhere I wanted to go, should go, or needed to go. Conversations where I really had to decide…should I keep speaking? Speak up? Or is it time to bow out?

Can you relate?

I’m pretty sure many of you would say yes. In society today, conversations seem to be so hard at times. There are so many, countless even, conversations we find ourselves in where we are faced with this choice.

Do we continue?

Do we speak up? If we speak up, what should we say?

Would speaking up be helpful or meaningful? Or is it adding to the noise?

Is this a time to speak? Or a time to shut it down?

As many of you know, the 2019 simulcast of the IF:Gathering was this past weekend. As a member of the planning team for my local IF, I tuned in. HOLY MOLY. It was powerful.

The book of the Bible in focus this year was Proverbs and that is where I have been landing for my devotions. And, when it comes to words, there’s a lot to be said.

Now, I am not here pretending to know how to walk this out perfectly or even saying I do it well. I am here to point to truth and here is some to consider about our words…

Proverbs 12:18 (NIV) //The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) // A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:4 (NIV) // The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 16:24 (NIV) // Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

…and those are just a few from Proverbs!

Our words matter deeply. What we say, text, type, DM, Snap, etc….carries a power that we often are not fully aware of or even acknowledge. Or, even worse, sometimes we flat out ignore it and say whatever our sinful little hearts desire. As Hannah Brencher, author and founder of World Needs More Love Letters says, “My words could either be balm or venom. I get the choice daily.”

That’s it. We get a choice. A huge part of that is the decision of whether or not to speak. There are times where our voice is powerful, necessary, encouraging, and healing. And there are times where it is the opposite, where speaking up is diminishing, hurtful, and destructive.

Short and sweet, my prayer for us all is discernment, the courage, and the strength.

Discernment to know the differences.

Courage to speak life where death is creeping in.

Strength to shut our mouths when silence needs to reign.

Because sometimes, the best option is silence. Sometimes, the loudest message is sending no message at all. For there is a time for everything…