Bethel Women's Ministry

Monday, March 26, 2007

Trianing Lessons

I’m in the middle of training for the Indianapolis mini-marathon (along with crazies Stacey Wisdom and Nicole Rheume). No, not a full marathon. A mini one – just 13.1 miles. But plenty far I think.

During law school I had a couple friends who ran marathons, and then and there I decided I should do the same thing. Law school had pushed my brain as far as it would go. A marathon would push my body as far as it could go. This from the girl who HATES to sweat.

Then life happened. I got pregnant. Last semester of law school while working full time with a baby. We moved. I got pregnant. Even less time and inclination to run. Then we got a treadmill. Then I put off running because I wanted to get pregnant. Then after a year, my husband and I got tickets to run the mini together. Then I got pregnant. Then I miscarried. And then I started running. And running. And running. Nights like tonight, I’m not even sure what I’m running from or to. I’m just running.

Now Eric's got a pinching pain in his lower back and hasn’t been able to train in two weeks. I may be running this on my own. And I don’t want to. Why? I’m afraid I won’t finish. It’s easier to stop now than to keep running without accountability.

Isn’t that like our lives?

We spend so much time running from or to we don’t even know what. And then when we get close to the destination we stop. Paralyzed that something will go wrong.

So much of my life right now is outside my control. I’m writing which is a very capricious business. I’m homeschooling. And I’m training for this crazy mini-marathon. And this control-freak can’t control anything other than my response.

So I chose to do what the Psalmist said: I delight to do YOUR will, Oh God. (Shirley, that was for you!) And I’ll put one foot in front of the other, day after day, step after step, mile after mile. Knowing that God has it all in control, and that’s enough for today.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dreaming with God and Amazing Grace

Last night my mom and I went to see Amazing Grace. It has me inspired and ready to run to the library to track down biographies on William Wilberforce and William Pitt. I left the theater thinking, "God, can You use me like that?"

But you know what? William Wilberforce had a dream that took YEARS to see to fruition. And those weren't years sat waiting passively. His health was wrecked. His reputation was questioned. He and his team gathered all kinds of evidence about the evils of the slave trade. And after fifteen years of fighting he was ready to give up. I don't know about you, but after that kind of energy investment and personal cost, I might be tempted to give up, too.

But got sent people to encourage him. And others with fresh ideas on how to proceed. They went from expecting 100% change at one time to willingness to chip away at the evil. Then they were ready to play the game. It really made me think of the parallels to abortion in our country.

Also, Dreams don't just happen. Sometimes it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice on our parts to accomplish what God has placed in our hearts.

If you haven't seen this movie yet, go. But only go if you're willing to be inspired and challenged. We don't have to make a choice between loving God and changing the world. When He plants a dream in our heart...we can do both!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Seven Insider Tips for Pioneer Parents: Part One

My friend Mary DeMuth is the author of two novels and a couple parenting books. She will be on Family Life Today March 22 and 23 and gave me permission to post this article about pioneer parenting. I hope it blesses you today!

Some of us grew up in stable, Christ-loving homes. Others did not. What happens when people from difficult upbringings want to raise their children in a Christian home? How do we pioneer a new path for our children?

Pioneer Parents are parents who don’t want to duplicate the homes they were raised in. They share many common traits, the most common being fear. They ask themselves questions like:

  • Will the hurtful words my parents said to me fly out of my mouth in a moment of anger?
  • Will I repeat my parents’ mistakes?
  • How will I parent if I’ve had no positive, godly example?
  • Why, when I read Christian parenting books, do I feel like the author can’t relate to me?
  • How do I protect my children from possible negative influence of my parents without harming their relationship?

As a Pioneer Parent, these questions have swirled around in my paranoid head ever since I birthed my first child. Thirteen years later, sometimes they still haunt me. How do we break free from harmful parenting patterns? How do we build a Christian foundation in our homes if we’ve had no example? Here are seven tips:

1. Read parenting books with a caveat of grace.
When I first became a mom, I read every Christian parenting book I could find, determined not to repeat my past. I highlighted words until the pages glowed yellow. Instead, with every book I read, I berated myself for not being a perfect Christian mother. Instead of letting the words encourage me to improve my parenting, I would shun myself for not parenting correctly. I didn’t offer myself grace.

Eventually, I learned to see the books as kindly companions instead of angry Pharisees, pointing out my failures. I had to remind myself to be gentler toward me—a sinner in need of grace—and understand afresh that God delighted in me, sang over me. He was not watching me read parenting books and mumbling, “Well, I sure hope she bucks up and parents better after reading this.” No, God, as I’ve had to learn, comes alongside me, cheering me when I fail, and giving me confidence as a parent.

2. Find or observe a parenting mentor.
Of all the campaigns I’ve initiated to try to improve my parenting, finding a mentor has been the most effective. I have learned the importance of engaging parents who are raising stable, well-adjusted children. The most rewarding parenting-mentor relationship I experienced happened on walks with my friend Kathy. She had two grown children who were serving Christ full time. Pushing a double stroller as I walked a mile or two around the neighborhood with her, I peppered her with questions, she listening and praying and offering advice.

I’ll admit it’s not easy to find a mentor like Kathy. If you can’t find one, remember that mentors can come in surprising packages. I’ve been “mentored” by kind mothers in the grocery store who answer my questions patiently, by grandparents who get on the floor and play with their grandchildren, by friends who share their trials and victories with me. The most surprising mentor in my life has been my eldest daughter who is now old enough to baby-sit. Watching her kind patience with toddlers inspires me to be a more patient mommy.

3. Say, “I’m sorry.”
Pioneer parents—and all parents for that matter—make mistakes. We say painful words that we heard our parents say—words that once stung us, words that now sting our children. The best way to disarm sin is to admit it. No parents are perfect. Trying to appear sinless (particularly during a bout of anger) causes children to worry about how they “made” mommy or daddy be mean. Confessing our sins to our children and asking their forgiveness opens the door to communication, de-escalates heated arguments, and shows children that even parents need the restorative forgiveness of Jesus. . . .

Tune back tomorrow for the rest of this article.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dreaming with God

Dreaming Big

Do you dream? No, not at night – at least not only then. But dream about what your life could be? About ways God could use you, your kids, your family?

Sometimes we run so fast through life that we forget how to stop and just be. To step back from everything we are doing and ask God how much more He wants us to do and be. Just because He wanted me to do something today doesn’t mean that’s what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. But is we don’t stop and dream, we’ll be stuck in a rut. It might be a good rut, but if it’s not God’s best, it’s not what I want.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines dream as many things including a strongly desired goal or purpose or something that fully satisfies a wish.

I like that. A strongly desire goal or purpose. Sometimes we become afraid to dream because we’re afraid it won’t come true. Or we’ll miss God. Or we’ll run right past Him in pursuit of something that might not be from Him or in His timing.

However, the Scripture is clear that where there is no vision the people perish. Proverbs 29:18. If I don’t have a vision for how my day will go, it usually goes nowhere. If I don’t have a vision for how I will discipline my children when the need arises, I often regret the way it happens. If my husband and I don’t have a vision for our finances, we can easily spend out of control. But where we have a vision and a plan, we accomplish things we didn’t know were possible.
The same principle carries over to other areas of our lives. Psalm 37:4 says that God will give us the desires of our hearts when we delight in Him. You know why? I think it’s because the closer we get to Him and His heart, the more we will long for the things in our lives that He wants in our lives.

And He plants dreams in our hearts. You know what I’m talking about. That idea or thing in your heart that you’re scared to tell anybody about because it is so precious and personal to you that you can’t stand the thought of somebody telling you that you’re crazy. But it won’t die. Even when God say not now, He blows just enough breath on the dream that the embers don’t burn out.

One of my long held dreams was to be a writer. I have loved books for as long as I can remember. And since I was about 13 I have wanted to write. For years, God would say, “Not yet.” But I’d read book, I’d read craft books, and I’d hold on to the dream. After all He never said, No – just not yet.

Last week I learned my publisher was going to send me two more contracts. That makes three contracts in six months. Only God could accomplish something like that. And now He’s whispering that it’s time for my dream to grow.

What’s He been whispering in your heart? Whether it’s a dream for your family, for your marriage, for you personally, I encourage you to pull it out this week. Blow the dust off it, and ask God about it. Then wait for His words and direction to whisper in your heart.
Let’s believe God for those dreams that feel like miracles!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Women's Retreat Workshops


Here's the teaser on what to expect in the workshops at the retreat (can you believe this is just in the workshops!) And then there are Roberta Christensen's and Sue Brust's messages! and plenty of time for praise and worship, too!!!!! I have so much anticipation about how He is going to meet us! There's still time to join us.

Inheritance Portfolio – Gina Deere:
Have you ever wondered exactly what is included in your benefits package as a child of God? As heirs of our King, we need to walk in the fullness of our inheritance every day. Come learn what God has to say about this in His Word!

The Keys to Our Inheritance— Stacey Wisdom
The keys are faith, and finding the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God goes way beyond simply comprehending that He exists, or a verbal or intellectual agreement that He is a person. It is in the secret place of the Word that our communion with Him begins and it is in this place where every other piece of our inheritance is laid out for us. His Word is the lens through which we can begin to comprehend and understand not only who He is, but what He has planned for our lives…our inheritance as His daughters.

Dreaming with God: Seeking God for the Fullness of His plans for Us in Good Times and Bad – Cara Putman
God’s Word tells us to delight in Him and He will give us the desires of our hearts. We all know He has a plan and a purpose for our lives, but are we living like we believe that. Many of us are afraid to dream big with God, sometimes because we are afraid He will say yes or afraid He will say no. He has so much for us, and I will share what He has been showing me through saying yes – and no – to some of my dreams. Psalm 37:4. Let’s get ready to ask Him for miracles and trust Him for the answer.

Prayer of Jabez video and discussion – Darla Farmer and Bruce Wilkerson