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SMC Women's Ministry

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Posts tagged fear
What’s Your Costume this Halloween?

pump Good ol’ Halloween!

When people dress up for mischievous, mayhem and other shenanigans.

Seeing the latest costumes (I haven’t picked mine yet) and yard ornaments, I see manufacturers have really upped the gore game. More macabre than ever before. The obvious ghouls and goblins are so easy to avoid. But what about those seemingly innocuous monsters??

You know. Things like pain and grief, failure, unforgiveness, betrayal. What about those monsters called addiction, depression, shame, isolation, despair?

I’ve recently had to renew my massage license. Part of the requirements to do so is 24 hours of continuing education every two years. One of my classes was The Mind/Body Connection: Deep Feeling, Deep Healing; Mind/Body Wisdom for Bodyworkers. The premise is that the author, Andy Bernay-Roman, recognizes that past pain that has been repressed (consciously or subconsciously) manifests in the body in other ways. In order to heal or move forward, the body and soul has to FEEL that pain and work through it.  “The ignored heart remains at the core of disease and the reclaimed heart remains at the core of healing,” Bernay-Roman says. “Suffering is the result of not feeling...Funny how allowing oneself to feel pain halts suffering.” He adds that we have within us all that we need to move past our monsters.

When I think about Christ, I often think of how He would go away for periods of time. He removed Himself from distraction in order to get close to His Father and find clarity and healing. I don’t know about you, but while this idea is so very appealing to me, it feels nearly impossible. My daily schedule seems PACKED! Between myself, my husband and our boys, how in the world do I have time to get away? Our society has become a go fast society and often the busier we are, the better. How many times do we stay busy in an effort to avoid difficulties?

But perhaps the question should be how do we not MAKE time for solitude to happen?

In the Bible we are told the importance of protecting ourselves: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

While we immerse ourselves in distractions (busyness, TV, work, social media, etc.) and numb ourselves from pain (shopping, eating, alcohol, etc.), we don’t seem to be taking very good care of ourselves. We certainly don’t seem to be guarding our hearts in order to fulfill what God designed for us.

Think about it for a moment. I’m as guilty as anyone of believing issues will just go away. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But in my CE class Bernay-Roman said, “When pain is repressed, it doesn’t just go away, it goes in.” In addition, he states “how paradoxical that the path of feeling one’s pain leads to the healing of the suffering heart.”

With this, it’s important to remember God is always with us. The Bible tells us 365 times to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Just have faith. Mark 5:36

God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything. 1 John 3:20

In addition to my massage CEs, I’m also really learning the importance of being intentional in my walk with God. I’ve always heard that God tells us everything we need in the Bible. But through my reading and spiritual growth, I’m finally at a point that my experience is showing this is true.

In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us about the whole armor of God. He said putting it on allows us to stand firm against the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:12-13

Both the apostle Paul and Bernay-Ramsey remind us that we have to be intentional when fighting the monsters in our lives. Preparing for and feeling them is the best way to guard our hearts so that we can live through our suffering. We prepare by growing our relationship with God and we get through them by feeling and facing them.

When we do this, then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

So, this Halloween, remember monsters won’t always come out where we can see them. Often, they lurk in the dark, within the deep recesses of our minds, souls and hearts. Don’t be afraid, God will give us all we need.

Oh! And I finally figured out my Halloween costume – gotta go put on the whole armor of God!

Peace and love,

Angela

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November 9: The Day After Elections

It’s over. It’s finally over. Well, the date of election, that is. But actually it’s just the beginning of a new chapter for our country.

Whomever won the election, we were all probably disappointed in some way. I've never thought once in my life, that one day when I went to press “submit” on my ballot, I’d have uncontrolable tears running down my face. People in Holly Hill mall didn't see me walking by with tears of happiness for the choices I made, but tears of deep concern and sadness for the sick, the divided, and broken state of America.

I don't want this post to be a Debbie Downer, and it may have started off seeming that way, but hold on because it's going somewhere that I hope brings you encouragement in what seems to be a time of despair.

But before I get there, I have to be honest first and say that I think I'm feeling like Jeremiah in the Bible. The weepy part that is. While reading a blog post I stumbled upon on my Facebook feed a couple of days ago, called “My Prediction For November 9” by Max Lucado, he wrote how Jeremiah lived during one of Israel’s darkest periods of rebellion. “(Jeremiah) was called ‘the weeping prophet’ because he was one. He wept at the condition of the people and the depravity of their faith.”

But something Lucado also said pulled me back to the peace of Christ. He said,

"I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty.

He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. 'The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases' (Proverbs 21:1 NCV)"

God’s. Perfect. Sovereignty.

That’s what I’m grateful for. That’s something to include on my list of thanksgiving, list of gratitude, list of joys.

We must trust God’s sovereignty.

And speaking of trust, it’s something else on my gratitude list. Trust in the Lord, that is. Just like joy, it’s a hard-fought, grace-infused, Biblical lifestyle. Trust is not easy when we grow up and walk away from the gift of childhood faith we were created to keep.

I’ve been reading some writings from Amy Carmichael lately, who was a British missionary in the early 1900’s. In one of her books, “Thou Givest…They Gather”, she writes about the importance of a single word. The word ‘TRUST’. She said when we open the word “trust”, these other words fall out around it. “Rely”. “Depend”. “Rest”. But there’s one more word that’s within the word “trust” that stood out more than the others. It’s “lean”.

Lean. When I think of that word, I think of putting my weight on something else. I lean on a pole, a wall, the side of a car. I can also lean on someone, for example, my father. I trusted him through the years as he let me lean on him when my feet hurt from standing in a long line to wait for a ride at the fair, or when I’d lean on his arm and shoulder as we sat at church. And I’d lean on him when he offered an ear to hear and a heart to love.

You lean because you need that sturdy assurance that something or someone is holding you up. You lean into someone you trust.

God wants us to trust – or lean on – or lean into - Him.

In 2 Chronicles 14:11, when King Asa was praying to God as his country was about to go into battle, he called out, “Help us, O Yahweh our God, for, on Thee, do we lean…” (EBR)

Yep that’s correct. That word is used in the Bible. In this translation, the word “lean” was used where we usually see the word trust.

So, I’m leaning on God. Leaning on, and not letting go of, His sovereignty. I’m putting all my weight on it because everything else around seems to be cracking and unstable. So I’ll lean. Lean like it says to in Scripture:

“When I am afraid, I will lean on Thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace…because he leanest on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3)

What if the next time you’re reading the Bible and you see the word “trust”, replace it in with the word, “lean”.

“LEAN on the Lord with all your heart, not your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you LEAN on him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I LEAN.” (Psalm 91:2)

My God, in whom I lean.

Our God in whom we trust.

Look on the next shiny, silver quarter you hold in your hand. What does it say?

“In God we trust”. In God we LEAN.

So that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I have to do. I’m going to keep leaning onto God’s Truth and trusting His sovereignty as Donald Trump and our governmental leaders take office soon. I am thankful for the freedom I have in this country, but even more grateful for the freedom I have through Christ.

God is in control of all things. He knew long ago the results from this campaign. He already knows what is to come in the months and years ahead. It’s all part of God’s big Story that’s a chapter closer to the end where Jesus "will come again to judge the living and the dead” and His Garden will be restored and we'll live in joy and unity the way He created us to live.

In the middle of it all, for now though, I’m going to lean into God’s promises. I'm going to be grateful for my freedom. I'm going to thank God for His goodness. I'm going to choose to be filled with the joy of the Lord. And I’m going to trust His sovereignty.

In GOD I trust.

Into GOD I lean.

Will you join me?

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The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

Brandi3 This is my good friend Brandi (I often refer to her as The Great Brandini for reasons that will be apparent as you continue reading). I’ve known Brandi for 15 years now, and I’ve known her husband since high school. Good people, Daniel and Brandi. And God-sent. Coming up on five years ago, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I haven’t looked back. They invited me to attend SMC January 8, 2012 after my life completely imploded, and it was a life-changing and life-giving decision that I will never regret and will be ever-grateful for. So, when I need a little encouragement and inspiration (because being a single mom is hard...actually, being a mom is hard, period), I look at Brandi and value all that she brings to the table. I recently interviewed her to get a glimpse inside the daily workings of managing a household with four kids while trying to raise them in a God-centered way. What follows is the conversation we’ve had and what I see The Great Brandini live out each day. ************ Brandi’s Story:

I was very active in church growing up and, as a young teen, I taught preschoolers in Sunday school and even competed in church competitions, like choir and puppet shows. I still remember at one of these competitions I asked Jesus to forgive me and live in my heart forever. I will always remember that joyful feeling. Another thing that has stuck with me from those formative years are the many adults that were at church consistently, and that same servant attitude has continued to resonate with me. The Bible says “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 Admittedly, serving the way I would prefer has become a challenge with having four kids and a husband who works a crazy schedule! But the lesson is still there.

Balancing everything is a challenge whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. Believe me, I have done both but I can say that I am less stressed not working. I do miss the social interaction that work outside the home brought, but I firmly believe it takes a village to raise a family. I encourage women, whatever their stage in life, to find a small group to meet up with a couple times of month just to get together for fellowship. On a daily basis, finding just a few minutes to read a daily devotional is a great way to focus on Jesus and the important things in life. Also, finding time to do something for yourself is very important. For me, it’s exercise, it helps me to maintain my sanity!

As for the kids, they all need different things but one thing that all have in common is that they crave my attention (and my husband’s, of course). We try really hard to spend one-on-one time with each of our four kids to quiet the noise and talk with them, play and just enjoy each other’s company. We normally say prayers at night with them which helps us all stay focused on what is important. We thank God for each other and our many blessings, we also pray for others who may be having health issues/problems, our sponsor child in Honduras and the list of names that we got several years ago at St Marks church. (Actually, several of those kids have since graduated but it’s been fun to see how God has worked in their lives). We want our kids to know that they can talk to Jesus anytime and about anything.

Because, in part, of the examples we both had growing up in the faith, we also want our kids to have a servant’s heart. There have been many times that I have taken meals to those who are sick or have had new babies, we have loaned our cars out, given money to the needy, volunteered time at church and so on. Of course we are nowhere close to being perfect role models but it is our prayer that we have successfully instilled such important values in our children. Of course getting them to do chores at home with a servant’s heart is a beast! We want our kids to get good grades but treating others kindly is more important to us. Love God, love people!

When I think about how hard it is to parent today, and especially for Christian parents, I totally get the challenge of raising kids to stay focused on Jesus. Believe me, I completely understand the days are long but the years are so short. What truly helps me is to focus on the outcome: teaching them and being for them the kind of person I want my children to become—the bigger picture stuff. Still, I do have daily devotionals for my older kids (my oldest child even has a Christian based book about puberty, includes scriptures and all!).

I am driven by lots of examples of great moms who’ve influenced me along the way, but most recently there is one mom specifically. She is so special to me and to anyone who meets her. If she is a part of your life, she is your number one cheerleader! That encouragement bubbles over in every moment. What is most inspiring though is that she’s had some personally really tough times. All too recently she lost her son to cancer. Despite watching him grow sicker and sicker, she refused to let Satan win. She even told me that she would write Bible verses on note cards at the hospital to stay focused on Jesus. Can you imagine?

That focus resonated deeply with me as I have watched her live this out. I hope nobody else has had the experience of losing a child but if you have, I pray that you keep your eyes on Jesus. This special lady is my hero and she doesn’t even know it. She is even going to college in her thirties, which is hard when everyone else in class looks 15! But she does it because she feels that teaching is what God has called her to do and she wants to make her son in heaven proud. When I think about my life’s little frustrations, I think about this lady and how she has fought hard to keep her eyes on Jesus. I am awestruck.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed that exhilarating finish in and with God he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

Finally, the world today can be more discouraging than ever. I mean, I can barely read the news, when on a daily basis there is violence against innocent people. I don’t want to become desensitized to it and numbed out, yet at the same time, I need to be able to sleep at night without worrying myself into a frenzy. My worst fear is that my children or husband would be hurt. I try really hard to give that fear away to God, but it is a challenge when reading the news. I am sure that I am not the only woman who is fearful for her family, so here is a go-to verse that helps me:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

************* Let us lift each other up, let us look to one another for encouragement, and let us lean in…to God, and to each other. Brandi has said it best: “…the days are long, but the years are so short.” May God richly bless you today, and always.