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27.7.14

Choose Courage

Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, nor afraid or discouraged: for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. 
-Joshua 1:9
One of my favorite scenes in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is when Eowyn (a woman of royalty) looks at Meriadoc (a.k.a. Merry)- about to embark on the biggest battle Middle Earth has ever seen- and says "Courage Merry...you ride with me." She sweeps him off his feet and on to her horse and ride off into battle. You can just see the courage rise up within him as he makes the decision of a lifetime. Although a small and untrained hobbit who has made his share of mistakes along his journey, he decides to choose courage in the face of most certain death. 

The stakes were high and he knew it.

Sometimes as humans, we forget to choose courage. We look around at our circumstances and wonder how we ever got ourselves into this mess.  We worry that we're not good enough, pretty enough, talented enough, strong enough or even a good candidate for what God is asking us to do- or go through. Life is altogether too much sometimes. We get overwhelmed, discouraged and tired.

Whether it's ministry stuff, people stuff, family stuff or just plain lack of sleep, God is encouraging us to be strong and choose courage because HE is with us wherever we go. We can confidently choose courage because we are not alone. I love the comfort I find in that.

I find myself praying, "God! Please change these circumstances... or change me!" Usually He wants to change me. Honestly, I hate and love that all at the same time.

Many of the women in my life are the most courageous people I know. They don't usually see themselves that way. They have gone through things that would nearly kill the average person, yet they still stand. I admire these women! I know that it's by the grace of God that they stand.  They know it too, because they are not average women. They wrestle with fear often and know it well. But they also know that their strength comes from the Lord and that they have a daily choice to make. Yes, daily.

Give in- or fight.

Not because they are so great, but because their God is so great. And He has their back.


Courage friends. You do not ride alone.

Life in the Banana Bowl

Life in ministry can cause this condition: 



Yes, you heard right. Ministry life can cause a woman to join the banana bowl.

In my ministry life, I have joined the banana bowl many times.
At times, voluntarily. Other times, out of sheer necessity.
You see, although in reality I might feel like an apple, 
sometimes the situation calls for a banana.

I totally believe that we should seek out, understand and embrace our God-given gifts.
Our wise Creator has built into our DNA to passionately serve through these giftings and our ultimate purpose is, in part,  lived out using and growing these gifts. 

However...

There are times in ministry where we are called to step out of our "comfort zones" and function in areas that we don't necessarily feel strong or comfortable in. Perhaps we haven't had appropriate time to pray about it or even prepare in advance. Maybe the situation completely took you by surprise.

But God might be saying "I want you here- doing this- right now." 

It might make you feel like you're going bananas.  Trust me, I've had many moments like that!

The truth is that when God asks you to become a banana- even for a season- He will give you the strength, courage and yes, even passion, to do the work He's asked you to do.

Feeling a little bananas?

That's okay. God has a plan.






Disappointment Valley

As a woman in ministry, you will visit this place often:



Why?
Because we are in the people business.

People are human, like us.
People make mistakes. Sometimes very painful mistakes.
People will hurt us and those we love.

It causes us to ask the proverbial question- why is this happening?

But there is a flip-side to disappointment.
Love.

If you find yourself disappointed, it's because you love.
If you didn't love, you wouldn't care.
The deeper the love, the deeper the disappointment.
All because you love...and that's a good thing.

I've been choosing lately, to go ahead and feel my disappointment instead of denying it's there. To do the work of examining my heart and ultimately giving it over to the Lord. Next, I choose to thank God for giving me this love for them in the first place. To deepen it. To widen my vision. 
To show me how to proceed.

Does this make the feeling go away?
No.

Does it change the circumstances?
No.

But it offers me a different perspective.
Reminds me of the frailty of our humanness.
 Offers a detour from the road that disappointment 
can emotionally take me on.

...and causes me, once again, to run to Him for dear life.

Disappointment Valley will always be on our map,
but we don't have to live there for long.


We know the One who owns the highway. 

No One Sits Alone

I'm not sure why this is, but it is.
I've observed this over and over throughout our ministry lives:


Pastor's wives. Sitting alone in church.

I've been trying to figure this out for a long time.  Partly because I'm a pastor's wife, and a pastor myself. Partly because, more often than not, I've sat alone for many years too.
Partly because I'm an observer of people. It saddens me and fascinates me all at once.

I know- weird.

But why?

It's probably logical right?
The pastor is usually busy doing his thing on Sunday morning and his wife is left to navigate on her own, deal with the kids and often do ministry work as well. People have their own families, and usually, their fiercely claimed weekly pew (or chair).
Let's admit it folks- we are creatures of habit....and comfort. 

And there sits the pastor's wife. Usually towards the front somewhere- alone- or maybe with some kiddos to keep quiet. Usually Sundays are not the sabbath for her.

CONFESSION TIME.
Secretly, I usually have a deep desire to sit in the back somewhere...I know...
Rebellious! Scandalous! Anytime I go to conferences or places like that, guess where I'm sitting.I just can't help myself. I want to disappear in the back.

Anyway, for those pastor's wives out there that often sit alone- we see you! (think Avatar)
 We don't mean to appear like we don't care or are ignoring you on purpose. It's often hard to know...you may want your privacy. You may not.

For those that love their pastor's wife- pay attention. Pastor's wives are people too.
They may not have the energy or courage to ask to sit with you.
They might be having a great week...or going through the fight of their lives.
If they want to sit in the back- let them- without judgement.
This may or may not even be an issue in your church. I hope not.

Nevertheless, God may be asking you to encourage them...
and it might only take the simple support of being- no words necessary.

We Are Not Superheros

Have you ever heard someone use the phrase:

God says He wouldn't ever give me more than I can handle.

It makes me pause every time I hear this. It's actually not Biblical.

The verse that people tend to get this idea is from I Corinthians 10:13:
 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)

This verse talks about temptation in particular. If we were strong enough to handle temptation on our own, we wouldn't need God to provide a way out so we could overcome it.

 The New Living Translation puts it this way:
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
If there's one thing I've learned in this life...it's this:
  Life will hand me much more than I can handle on a silver platter.

There are times that I've felt crushed under the weight of it all.
My spirit utterly broken. My heart in pieces.
Wondering if I can get up and face another day.
Each day is a new problem...a new temptation.

Where did we get this idea that God would never give us more than we can handle?
We are not super heroes.

The truth of the scripture says that most certainly- the world (our lives) will be full of trials. 
But take courage...I have overcome the world.

The truth of the scripture says that although we will face trials of all kinds...
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

The key here is this:  there is only one Savior. 
It is not you.

When life hands you days, weeks, even years of overwhelming problems and temptations- we can acknowledge that it is indeed more than we can handle. But we don't have to "handle" them on our own.

The scripture says...Fear not, for I am with you always. Even unto the end of the world.

In other words, we can give it over to Him. Without Him we cannot handle much of anything.

We are weak. He is strong.
He will provide a way for us to endure.
He is our Superhero.

Pastor's Wives are People Too. A Poem.

Pastor's wives are people too.

(A pastor's wife may actually be a guy- a pastor's husband- which brings unique challenges of it's own. But for the ease of writing, I'll just say "she" for now, but please know that the "she" really could be a "he" and the point is the same.)


There are a lot of demands on her time and energy- just like you.

She carries many burdens and try in earnest to give them to the Lord- just like you.

She struggles with all the same stuff you do- yes, this is true.

She may not play the piano or sing. She may be a welder.
selah.

She feels loneliness, sorrow, worry and fear- just like you.

She makes mistakes and has regrets- just like you.

She worries that she's bringing up her kids right- yes, this is true.

She may not be an extrovert. And that's okay.

selah.

She is often asked to do way too much- just like you.

She often wonders about the future- just like you.

She crawls back to the cross on a frequent basis- yes, it's true.

She may actually need a vacation, and that's the truth.

selah

She may need some time to herself or laughs with friends- just like you.

She really needs encouragement from others- just like you.  

She isn't perfect or a saint- yes, it's true.

She isn't responsible for her husband's ministry.

selah

She may love life or have days where she wonders why she didn't stay in bed- just like you.

She works on her marriage and family in good times and bad- just like you.

She probably doesn't shout her needs from the rooftops- yes, it's true.

She needs your prayers more than you know.

selah

  

  






Find a Way

While watching an interview of Diana Nyad the other day, I was captivated. What an incredible story! Diana's story is one of an unrelenting spirit. 
Pursuit of a dream. Making it work.

This former marathon swimmer, after 30 years of not a single lap in the pool, reignited an earlier dream of swimming from the US to Cuba without stopping.
 AT ALL. 103 miles. 
At 64 years old, she fulfilled that dream. 

Just. Wow.

Diane's story is such an inspiration, and reminds me of how God created us with such potential. He has instilled in us this will, this drive that propels us on no matter what obstacles come our way.

The thing inside that says: find a way.


She tells of a time when she was sharing her story to a large group of people, which included her abuse by a former swimming coach. After her talk, she met a woman in her late 80's at one of the tables. As they were talking, she noticed the series of numbers tattooed on this kind woman's forearm. This mark was the one she received from a concentration camp during WWII. This woman watched her father shot, her mother and siblings taken (and never seen again) and was hauled off to a concentration camp at age 3. She shared her story with Diana that night. After hearing her story, Diana felt like her story was nothing compared to this woman sitting beside her.

In response to this, the woman had this to say: we all have our unique story- you have yours and I have mine- and we only have this one life. Find a way to make it the best life. Let the past be the past and cherish the now. It's all we have. Embrace this beautiful life and find a way to be the best you that you can be.

Find a way.

That thing inside of you that shouts purpose, that whisper that propels a dream, that moment of inspiration: listen and find a way.
I believe God plants those things within us for a reason.

Be the best you that you were created to be. Find a way.



To hear some of Diana's inspiration, check out Diana Nyad on TED TALKS