A Woman Facing Destruction Turns To God And Connects To His People~Her Bold Faith Saves Both Her And Her Family

Her house was part of the wall surrounding the fortified city. Likely, it was strategically located to capture the attention of travelers entering the town. And no doubt many a story had been told in her house. Stories that likely were embellished  from time to time.

You know how it is when stories are passed on. And how much a woman loves a story! :)

The day the spies entered Jericho, they went directly to her house. It’s as if God sent them there. Joshua 2:1

I marvel in our digital, media age at how news seemed to travel as fast back then, but news came to the King that there were spies and he sent men directly to the place where one would know about men entering the city. To Rahab, the harlot’s house.

Rahab had heard stories about the Israelites and no doubt pondered them enough to be well acquainted with the acts of their Mighty God. Enough to fear Him. And the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10

As a prostitute, in a heathen city, her conscience certainly would have been dull, and she likely had practice hiding men under the flax on her roof before. Perhaps men pursued by enemies . . . or maybe their wives’ fathers. 

“Jericho was part of the Amorite kingdom, a grotesquely violent, totally depraved, thoroughly pagan culture so hell-bent on the pursuit of everything evil that God Himself had condemned them and ordered the Israelites to wipe them from the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 20:17) In fact, the Amorite culture had been so completely and maliciously corrupt for so long that their evil lifestyle was the very reason God had granted Abraham and his heirs rights to their land int he first place. (Deut. 18:12; 1 Kings 21:26). The Lord had promised Abraham that his descendants would begin to possess the land as soon as the wickedness of the Amorite culture was complete (Genesis 15:16) That time had now come. This evil nation had reached God’s maximum tolerance level.” John MacArthur (Twelve Extraordinary Women)

The King’s men inquired after the spies, and Rahab lied to them, saying they had left the city, “They went that-a-way!” and she shooed them along.

In conversation in my classroom Sunday, we decided that Rahab (or anyone overseeing a business such as hers) had to have a measure of boldness. My mind wanders to ‘wild-west’ movies . . . so the boldness of her words to the spies was likely characteristic of her and ultimately a gift from God. Look at Joshua 2:8-14 with me and notice two things. God encouraging Israel through her, and notice not only Rahab’s boldness, but the boldness of her request when you consider her career: (Highlights mine) Rahab-banner

 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” Joshua 2:8-13

So the spies told her that she and all who came in to her house would be spared as long as she hung a scarlet cord in the window, which she did, and as the walls fell, true to their promise, she and her household were saved.

Not only saved, but went on to be fruitful as a “mother” our faith-history. Rahab is noted in the gospel of Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew 1:5-6 And again, as one honored for her faith in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.

She left her people and joined with God’s people. It was Rahab’s “come to Jesus moment”.

Just as Jesus calls us to leave our old life of sin. (John 8:11; Luke 9:62; )This was the moment of turning TO God for Rahab. This was the moment of her salvation, and all who came with her.

“Rahab was, and is still, a living symbol of the transforming effect of saving faith. That is the primary message of her life.” John MacArthur (Twelve Extraordinary Women)

She displays the stunning grace of God in all it’s glory. Rahab is EXTRAORDINARY precisely because of the grace she received. And she is a portrait to us of the length Christ goes to redeem even the vilest of sinners who turn to Him in faith.

Limitless, lavish love and forgiveness is demonstrated to all of us through Rahab’s story. How does your story demonstrate His lavish, amazing grace?

 

 

My Town {Wherever God Plants Us We Bloom}

Since we got a new address in May, and the name of our town changed, I’ve been in some kind of “What, Really?!!!” shock. Because in 1994 we moved our little family to Amery, WI, and that is where our kids grew up. So for 19 years, Amery has been “our town”.

Though we are five minutes closer to our new town, our life is still in Amery. Our church, friends, coffee dates, banks, etc.

After growing up on a diary farm in a small rural suburb of St. Paul, MN, we made our first home a bit closer to the city. Then after having baby #1, Dear D told me he wanted to live on a farm. (WHAT?!?!!!!!!)

I loved my growing up years, but was also D.O.N.E. with farming-OFFICIALLY when we got married. Or so I thought. Since I went from a full time hairstyling career to stay-at-home mom, all we could afford on one income in the metro -if we wanted acreage- was a shack.

So we crossed the river to WI, and as far as I was concerned, we lived in TimBukTu . (I only knew that to be a place far-far away, and remote.) So all these years there has been a deep inner sense that “I don’t belong here.”

But it has faded. Now that we have lived so much life in Amery, I think of it as home. And it was a great place to raise our family.

With a population of 3000 or so, an hour from any ‘real’ shopping, I mean, like a mall and a Target, it is the largest of the small towns encircling it.

Amery has the area hospital and the largest schools. (classes around 100 I think).

Surrounded by rural farmland, picturesque drives year round, several lakes that bring in Twin Cities “weekenders”, restaurants, hair salons, flower shop, two grocery stores, Alco-think: inferior Walmart (I just learned this morning it is the only Alco in WI-a new claim to fame. lol) , True Value hardware, and three or more banks. The only thing we really lack is the Mall and Target. :)

Also Amery hosts at least half a dozen Lutheran churches, UCC, Catholic, E Free, C & MA (mine), New Life AND a Bible Camp on the large lake. With the Apple River running through and all the tree-covered, yet untamed land, we have several parks with cross-country ski trails, a bike trail on a former railroad track, an ATV trail and tennis courts. The only thing missing is… oops, already said that. :)

I may like to shop . . .

Besides all that I mentioned, it is the people in our little town that have made it such a rich experience for our family. Between doing life with our church family, sitting with parents at football games and concerts, and having the gift shop on our farm for 8+ years, our lives have been rich with precious friendships.

It’s true, God knows what is best and plants us where He wants us. Acts 17:26

From the farm we lived on for 12 years: Spring and Winter

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The Apple river runs through from North to South of Amery:

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A photo collection from in and around my town: (I love pulling over to capture beauty and combining it with my love for)

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Now it’s your turn! I want to know about your town!

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Welcome Back To The Loft!

Welcome back to #TheLoft!

Our weekly gathering of words to inspire, encourage and bless one another.

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

#TheLoft:
The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!

Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

To Participate:

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

The Loft Link Up

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Jen
Rebekah
Leah
Kathy
Arabah

Now it’s time to link up!

This Week’s Topic: “My Town” (We want to know about where you live! We are living all over the world, so tell us a few of the unique things about your town, city, or farmland. Share a photo, give us a video tour, or just share what makes where you live special. This will be fun!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Favorite Books” (Share your all time favorite books with us! Plus, we’ll be giving away a book or two so be sure to check in next week~ smile)

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For When You’ve Got More Than You Can Handle And Then Some More

They say when God calls you to do something it will be beyond your ability to handle it all by your little self. That is why stepping out in faith always has a little bit of fear with it. And God encourages so often those He is calling, “Do not fear.”

They say that is what walking by faith is like. Beyond yourself. I like to think of it, as  “walking a little bit above the ground”.

The Bible says anything not from faith is sin. Romans 14:23  So that means I must always be about some kind of business that requires more than I’ve got.

That isn’t to say God wants us to walk around overwhelmed with tasks and spinning dizzy while we live on this planet. It’s to say that when we are leaning on His strength, living by His power, that we will be able to accomplish so much more than humanly possible. So we who walk by faith will look a bit crazy to onlookers. Even our fellow sojourners sometimes.

And we’ve been living crazy here.

Book of Ruth

If I didn’t hear God, and if I wasn’t confident He was leading us, I’d be up to my eyeballs crazy. But God is real, and I’ve been following His lead long enough to know when it is Him. (And that even if it wasn’t, and we’d heard Him wrong, I trust He’d work it for good . . .)

August 2013 we moved out of our farmhouse. With D working in North Dakota, we had one week to get out of the house, and then it took us six more to unload and store and rid ourselves of excess.

Then we were on ‘layover’ in a rented home that we happened to formerly own. Dale quit his job the day after closing on our farm which took 4 years to sell. We were not upside down on our mortgage, but came away with less than we would need to NOT take out a 30 year mortgage. (we are mid-life here)

After looking at a $29,000.00 home (very low for up here) little fixer-upper and not getting it, we felt the Lord put on our hearts to buy a house to fix up and sell in order to better ourselves financially. Crazy to do in this market, but you know . . .  Faith.

So we finally found one and set closing for the end of April. In the meantime we found the house we are in and (long story short) a friend bought it for us. So we closed on the MN house Thursday, and on Friday they closed on the WI house which we will purchase after selling the MN one.

All of May we readied this house we are in, which had been vacant for 10 years. We had water in the basement, raccoon babies in the chimney which was rusted shut, red squirrels in the eaves, rusty everything. Smelly panelling which I painted (and painted and painted), filthy closets, mouse trails around the outside edges of the floors (minor considering all things) and I got poison Ivy to boot.

Then, all of June after moving our main pieces here, I hauled all of our stored belongings from the basement, unpacked, and brought back what I didn’t need, to have a garage sale in our borrowed house/garage (good location). After about fifty trips, losing my dad, getting poison ivy again all over legs and forearms (looked like leprosy-seriously!) I had the final sale there the last weekend of June.

Which brings us to ‘now’. My husband has done much of the ‘background work’ on the other house over summer which allowed me reprieve and settle in here a bit, start up fall ministries, and NOW my part kicked in on the house-for the past month I guess, painting, painting, painting and shopping, picking out lights, colors, and helping hubs with anything else. He is pusher. We are out of funds-which makes the push greater, not to mention it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL driving up to the house, so it would sell best this season-which passes far too quickly!

So, we have been in kind of a crazy chaos here more often than not over the course of the past 14 months, and I have learned to, what I call, ‘ride the wave of God’. One. Day. At. A. Time.

In the meantime, God is launching me into more speaking and writing. A call I heard in 1995 for “one day…” and have pursued over these years at His direction. And it seems “now” is “one day”!

After forever, and overcoming a LOT of fear, much training has taken place via life-experience, through my teaching and speaking at church, participating in Toastmasters, She Speaks, Allume, etc. Now suddenly (or not so…) the waters are astir and I have three speaking engagements in the coming months which I will share more about in an upcoming post.

But for now . . . I’m extremely excited to share with you this news!

I’ve been invited to contribute to an online faith-building community that is launching TODAY called Deeper Waters. I hope you will take some time exploring the beautiful website and find it to be a place of refreshment for daily life. You will find encouragement in the categories of Faith/Marriage/Parenting/Friendship/Creativity. DW-faith-friendship

I’m inviting you to step into the waters with me . . . or step out upon the waters as the case may be . . . Dive in by clicking here: Deeper Waters Home

Sarah, She’s A Princess Even Though…

Her name means “Princess”.

The second of Twelve Extraordinary Women is Sarah. Wife of Abraham, mother of all the faithful.

John MacArthur says of her who is honored by God in scripture for her great faith, “She. . . exemplified almost every trait associated with the typical caricature of a churlish woman: impatient, temperamental, conniving, cantankerous, cruel, flighty, pouty, jealous, erratic, unreasonable, a whiner, a complainer, or a nag.” and “” By no means was she always the perfect model of godly grace and meekness.”

And if you are like me, in reading that list, you may have been a little ‘pumped’  that a notable woman of faith was all of that-also.

Because even though it looks like an awful list, and a long one, there probably are few women who don’t have a list that long of the negatives. Yes, I’ve been pouty. Yes, I’ve been a whiner. Yes, I’ve been impatient . . . You?

By the way, we all (20 or so in my class on Sunday) had to look up churlish too. :) It means “difficult and hard to work with.” . . . okay then. Ahem!

Sarah’s story comes from the story of our beginning. It’s found in Genesis chapters 12-23 in the Bible, and then God honors her ulitmately for her faith in, what is often termed, the “Hebrews Hall of Faith”, where many faithful men and women who have a history of faith are given honor. (Hebrews 11:11)

Have you ever wondered what God sees in you?

Perhaps you’ve heard that when He looks at you (who believe in Jesus), that He no longer sees you with sin, but instead sees His Son, with whom He is well-pleased. (Matthew 3:17) Because we are in Him. (Acts 17:28) And perhaps you have a hard time wrapping your mind around that fact. Maybe you believe it, but would like to live in the reality of it: you are a new creation IN HIM.  (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20)

Sarah’s story should encourage us all as we seek to live our lives for the Lord and resist the fiery darts of enemy accusation and fear. Though she often acted according to her own understanding and a gross lack of faith (Hello, Ishmael!), in the end, she is found faithful and commended by God. (Hebrews 11:11)

I find it so refreshing.

Because of the fiery darts that Satan fires at me. I call them “background voices”.

You might know the voices: “You are not qualified.” “You are going to make a fool of yourself.” “You’ll never be able to pull that off.” etc.

Satan doesn’t stop does he? He wants to discourage, and render us impotent in our mission. For obvious reasons.

And in Sarah’s story we see it; Satan wanted to advance his cause in the world: Usurping God’s plan. Bringing division and death. There was that one transgression. The one that had has a very detrimental impact on the entire course of history. When she gave Hagar, her maidservant to her husband Abraham (and he obliged)  Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. He and his offspring would continually live in hostility to the child of promise (Isaac) and his descendants until the day Jesus comes back to reestablish His rule and reign with no devil to oppose Him. (Revelation 21)

It was a crazy, desperate, manipulative plan. Knowing her husband had been given a covenant by God, a promise to have descendants as numerous as the stars, but never having received a promise herself, she took matters into her own hands. I think it’s safe to say, she went into panic-mode. What else would cause a woman to tell her husband to sleep with another woman?

 

Panic-mode never produces good results. Because then we are reacting to life in our own strength instead of trusting God to come through, we make messes.

 

No doubt we all have stories in our history of foolish decisions and have reaped consequences that linger. And so Jesus came to redeem us. It’s not new news that we need to get set straight. We need to have His mercy cover our sin. We need to have His power to live free from it’s shackles. Image-1 (4)

Sarah’s story builds our faith and dispels our fears, it helps us extinguish the fiery darts. Remembering God’s grace in her story prevents our hearts from being penetrated by self-doubt or worse, God-doubt.

Because of God’s purpose for each of our lives, because He is a God of His word always fulfilling His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20), and because NO PURPOSE OF HIS WILL BE THWARTED, we can REST in Him. (Job 42:2)

We can LET Him be God. (Not that we can prevent that, but when we act like we can, that’s when we create death instead of life-chaos instead of peace, anger instead of love, etc)

The other thing Sarah’s story shows us is the sweet and powerful value of a woman.

Abraham, her husband, was given a covenant from God. God continued to ‘refresh’ the covenant with Abraham, encouraging him to ‘hold tight’. Interestingly the covenant could not be carried out without Sarah. She was a key component of the fulfillment of the promise God gave Abraham, to give him descendants more numerous than the stars.

No man can have descendants without woman. Science advances considered, a womb is always needed to nurture the creation of new life.

Profound, I know. :)

Sarah’s life is surely a study in contrasts and contradictions. And it helps us see Jesus, our daily bread.

With God, no matter what we’ve done yesterday or today, by His mercy we keep growing, going forward by faith living in His power. We are life-creators. Mothers every one. Whether we bear natural children through the womb or spiritual children through the heart by prayer, words, and deeds.

What encourages you about Sarah’s story?
Do you know what your name means?

 

First of Twelve Extraordinary Women: Eve, Mother Of All Living

WHO IS WOMAN AND WHY WAS SHE CREATED?

She was the crown of God’s creation. The mother of all living.

Adam was refined dirt; Eve was a glorious refinement of humanity itself. She was a special gift to Adam. She was a necessary partner who finally made his existence complete-and whose own existence finally signaled the completion of all creation.” ~John MacArthur {Twelve Extraordinary Women}

Before Eve was created, God made Adam from the dust of the earth. He breathed life in him and gave him this commission:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:15-18

Woman was created to be Man’s helper. {This might offend some women at first, and might puff up a man’s pride, but please keep reading and you will see the intrinsic value of a helper!}

To say that the value of each gender has become muddied in our world is an understatement. The significance of God creating each of us in His image, as male or female according to His pleasure and purpose can not be weighed. If we don’t believe we are each a masterpiece fashioned by His loving hand, made with significance and purpose, we lose perspective and flounder in confusion through life.*
*This is not to say that one without a spouse is incomplete, because God completes us when we are single.

“Like a violin without a bow or a lock without a key, man was incomplete without woman.” ~Sharon Jaynes {What God Really Thinks About Women}

In working alongside my husband for years on remodeling projects and in parenting, there is no shadow of doubt that I have what he is missing and he has what I am missing. And together we make quite a team when we are not being selfish. :)

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The fact that God anesthetized Adam, and took a rib from his side to create Eve speaks of her “fundamental equality “with Adam. The relationship, the value  of each gender is side-by-side. She was “in no way inferior, but a spiritual counterpart  and intellectual co-equal  and in every sense a perfect mate and companion to Adam”. ~J.M.

To know this enables us to embrace the plan God has for us in the roles He has called us to as women, to be helpers , life-givers and nurturers. To know this also enables men to appreciate and embrace theirs as protector, overseer and provider.

God desires for us to honor Him in who He has created us to be, trusting His wisdom and love, we can live out our lives in contentment.

Helper: The word holds a place of great honor. Ezer -It is derived from the Hebrew word used of God and the Holy Spirit. David wrote, “O Lord, my helper.” Psalm 30:10 and Moses wrote, “My father’s God was my helper.” Exodus 18:4

With that, who can diminish what we’ve been created for and what strength we have as women!?!

Think about this: Without women, there would be no children. Without children, life would cease to exist. I think that is why scripture says woman is the glory of man. :) 1 Corinthians 11:7

 

SATAN, TEMPTATION, SIN AND A CURSE:

We are all, whether we know it or not, influencers of others. We all impact people’s lives for generations. All of us.

I don’t know about you, but with a responsibility that heavy, I want to have an accurate compass!

For years I’ve struggled to gain an accurate picture of God. I’ve thought of Him sometimes as a stern Father, light on fun and heavy on perfection. Or a sly Teacher who held things just out of reach, like holding a carrot before the horse, but never letting it take a bite. In trials, I thought I had to find some kind of key to open the door of blessing.

Those wrong thoughts about God are precisely the lies Satan and Eve were dancing around together that day the devil slithered up to Eve to steal her innocence away. Like always, Satan came to Eve in disguise. Snakes were friendly before the fall. Eve didn’t have a reason to feel cautious at that time.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Genesis 3:1-7

HERE is what God REALLY said to Adam before Eve was made: 

“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

  • Satan suggested uncertainty to Eve. (Did God actually say…?)
  • Satan blatantly opposed God’s word. (You will not surely die!)
  • Satan twisted the meaning of scripture. (What God really means is He is holding out on you keeping something from you. He is stingy.)
  • Eve exaggerated the rigors of God’s one restriction. (and you must not touch it)
  • Eve softened God’s decided tone and the severity of His warning. (lest you die, instead of you will surely die)

Satan still uses the same tactics with us.

OUR DILEMMA AND GOD’S SOLUTION-A GREAT GIFT:

Satan’s name means “To Separate”. He came to sever relationships between us and God. In doing so, he severed relationships among us all. The result of sin is pain, strain, sickness, division, death, perversion and all manner of misery. Adam and Eve, in agreeing with Satan turned their back on God.

He appealed to man’s desire to be like God. (To be equal to God rather than being submitted to His authority as God) Satan succeeded in binding us all in chains of shame. You know the story: Eve gave the fruit to Adam, Adam ate, and afterward they were afraid, and hid, and sewed fig leaves to cover their shame.

Before Adam and Eve fell into temptation, there was no evil. No awareness of evil. It truly was all good.

Satan came between us and God. He separated us with sin.

Romans 5:18-19  As  representative of all of humanity when God put him in charge of his creation, Adam is credited with original sin.

And humanity was left with a huge dilemma.
We’ve been separated from God and fig leaves are inadequate to redeem our relationship.
We need a sufficient covering in order to be near Him.

He is perfect. We are not. We need a new representative. One who will not sin, who will follow God to death if necessary.
And it was necessary. Hebrews 9:22
And He did. 2 Corinthians 5:21
And that is the gospel-good news!
Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.
Our Redeemer Lives!

One thing I took away from this week’s study that was not addressed specifically, but I saw through the responsibility laid on Adam for our sin, even when Eve was the first one to take a bite, was the fact that everyone who is given authority by God will be giving an account before Him in the judgement when rewards are handed out.  {2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 16:27; James 3:1; Hebrews 13:17}

So when we embrace our role as helper, we are helping others stand before God on judgement day receiving their rewards if they lived to honor God. We also will give an account for our own obedience and those we’ve been entrusted with to oversee and will be rewarded according to how we helped and how we managed what God gave us to care for.

If you are reading along, I know this week’s lesson was packed full, but please leave a comment with one or two things you took away from this week’s study. And also how I could be praying for you. :)

 

Trust~This Is Where The Healing Begins {Join Us Again At #TheLoft Link-Up}

As I approached the house, the dense stench of cigarette smoke hit me like that gust of wind on the forefront of a storm that has more-than-once turned my patio umbrella inside out. The smell nearly gagged me- it was so potent.

I was on a mission. Our church had a call from a woman who was cut off from her home, renting a place of her own, she had nothing but discount beds with no bedding. And her clothes.

I whispered a prayer. “Help me Lord.” Image-1 (3)

Her heart and head and body plagued with brokenness, 42 years old with a collection of bad choices by herself and others in her past. Unable to work. We had gathered love-gifts, and I was delivering.

A man helped me carry the things in, about the same age as the woman, he was well-built and had a certain tenderness in his eyes. Boyfriend of a friend…I found out another day he was not tender as he appeared. Two days after I met him, he was in jail. {I trust as an answer to prayer since I learned he had threatened bodily harm to one of the women. I pray he will meet the One who loves his soul}

I leaned in to listen with questions, and concern. She was obviously desiring her home to be ‘better looking’ in apologizing for the state of the carpet, but was grateful and hopeful in sharing what she would like to do there. Her voice- twenty years older than her age, her body was gaunt; frail-looking. She told me her best friend, she found homeless, was now living there too. So she called her name, but no answer. Several times. Still no answer. Peeked inside her bedroom door and it was empty. Walked to the back of the house and came back, “She will be out soon”.

Ten years younger, her friend’s story is even more painful to hear. Her life riddled with death of loved ones to suicide and disease and laden with abuse and mental illness in her family of origin. And she herself-struggling with a backlash of agoraphobia from her losses. One story after another created a knot deep in my gut. My heart was heavy as I sat on the arm of the sofa with my hand on her shoulder. Tears stifled.

I embraced her with both arms and prayed for Jesus to make Himself known, to restore to her what the enemy-thief has stolen. Tears flowed. {John 10:10}

I prayed for protection, for healing and for transformation. I prayed for hope. I prayed for salvation.

She told me she had prayed the day before. She didn’t know how to pray but she just said something like, “Help me Jesus.” And here I was. Jesus with skin on. {But Jesus, please show me HOW to help her! ~and~ I can do all things through You.}

“How do you know Jesus?” I asked.

“He was with me when I was a little girl taking care of my mom and sister. He never once left me.”

I’m speechless trying to wrap my mind around her reality. A sharp contrast to mine.

She wants her own children back. All three have different fathers and in the care of others since the suicide of her boyfriend two and a half years ago.

I left that day with that smoke-smell in my hair…wondering ‘how many?’ How many people are living below real living? Not really living but merely surviving life? And right around the corner? The USA is a mission field. I don’t need to go to Haiti. {something I have wanted to do} Here are needs as deep and disturbing as any across the sea. Here we need Jesus to do His mighty miracles of delivering, healing, restoring and binding up wounds. I trust the fragrance of  Christ that I brought to their house remained with them…

As I think over the tangled messes that sin has left in their life-and restoration? It feels impossible. But God. I know Him. I know what He has done in my life. In others’ lives. With Him all things are possible. I pray for God’s grace to pour out, for the resurrection power of Jesus to break the chains of deception and destruction and to lift these ladies to their feet from ashes. And all the others from broken homes. All the school children who go home every day not to a place of refuge, but of pain and disfunction. We know they are there.

They need us who know the source of Life. They need us to intercede for them, pray and ask for opportunities to sow blessings into their lives. To offer hope. Offer grace. Lets hold together to hope that our communities will be healed by the power of Jesus!

Jesus, please rescue and heal them! The power of the truth of your mighty love will set them free as it has for me. You are amazing… Show your power Lord!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

This is a repost from February 2013. Since I met the people in the story, I lost track of one who was heavily involved in drugs, deception and criminal activity, the man was jailed for drug related charges. I’ve been able to maintain contact with the other woman and I’m happy to report that I’ve seen God work powerfully in her life. She was raped a year after I met her and after having many pressure her to abort, she refused and now has a beautiful little girl. Our contact has been sporadic due to the transitions in my own life limiting me, but I am excited to report that she and her little girl seem to be thriving and she seems to be trusting the Lord increasingly. (Although still surrounded by lost, broken people and circumstances) She has also had restoration with her middle son. And occasional contact with her youngest son. Please pray for continued healing and growth in her relationship with Jesus.

Now it’s time to link-up at #TheLoft with your post about Trust!
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Another Link-Up at #TheLoft

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

About #TheLoft

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

 

To Participate:

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Leah
Kathy
Arabah
Jen
Rebekah

 

 

This Week’s Topic: “Trust” (Opening another can of worms here, but let’s go there anyway~ wink. Is trust hard for you? Why or why not? What area are you struggling to trust God in? What have you learned about trust? The floor is open!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Best Practical Tip” (What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Or given? What one thing do you want to make sure you pass on to your children, friends, or family? It can be about homemaking, marriage, relationship with Jesus, anything… :) )

Link-up by clicking here for my post: Trust~This Is Where The Healing Begins

 

Twelve Extraordinary Women ~Intro~ {An Online Book Study}

“Christianity, born in a world where Roman and Hebrew cultures intersected, elevated the status of women to an unprecedented height.” ~John MacArthur

In our place and time in history, our experiences in life have only given us an inkling of the common degradation of women in the world and over the course of time. Usually it is from story, theatre, or travel that we have opportunity to taste the reality of the burdensome oppression, and often horrific bondage experienced by women.

Living here in America, and after the shifts that have taken place in our history, we know little personally of the magnitude of the devaluation of women through time and around the globe.

Increasingly in a general sense, our culture has viewed women as valuable. We see women in more prominent positions, and given greater honor than any other time in history.

And yet, I wonder even today, if what appears to be improvement is still somewhat of an illusion.

And I wonder if the ground that we seem to have gained has really brought contentment to women. Or has it instead put more pressures on us? Pressure to perform, accomplish, and pursue accolades. Not that those are bad things in and of themselves, but at what price? At what cost to our physical and mental health, to our families and to our society?

As we increasingly value women, has it resulted in wholeness and satisfaction? Do we not still fight feeling small in our souls? And fight many other battles as well?

We still seem to carry a heavy burden of discontent.

Healthy families are foundational for a strong society, but it seems families have become so broken that women are carrying extremely heavy loads of responsibility-especially single moms.  And being consumed by responsibilities obliterates the support structures of time together for encouragement, training in life-skills and even generally enjoying life together. No wonder there seems to be a domino-effect of overwhelmed women!

This very well may not be true of you. Perhaps you have a good job, a healthy, well-functioning family, finances, time to go on vacation and to have your neighbors over for dinner. And if that is the case, wonderful! But it is increasingly rare. At least from my vantage point.

In the intro to Twelve Extraordinary Women, we read of how God exalts women in the Bible to a place of high honor. Jesus restores dignity that the world has continually stripped away from women. And more, there is contentment to be had. It is found in knowing that God has created us in His image and has given us His Son.

We can get so used to hearing some phrases that they lose their impact, so I am repeating that:
We need to hear this in our heart:

We are made in the image of God! And He has given us His Son. The Gift that empowers us to really live. John 10:10

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Over the next 11 weeks on Wednesdays we will be growing in our knowledge and understanding of how deeply valued women are to God and how our lives are valuable to others and to society as a whole. If you are reading along, please join in conversation in comments. It is in our time together where we really learn as God reveals truth to our hearts.

Today I will leave you with this quote from the book intro:

“Scripture never discounts the female intellect, downplays the talents and abilities of women or discourages the right use of women’s spiritual gifts. But whenever the Bible expressly talks about the marks of an excellent woman, the stress is always on feminine virtue. The most significant women in Scripture were influential not because of their careers, but because of their character. The message these women collectively give is not about “gender equality”; it’s about true feminine excellence. And this is always exemplified in moral and spiritual qualities rather than by social standing, wealth, or physical appearance.” ~John MacArthur

Next week: “Eve: The Mother of All Living

No Need To Duck or Punch: What To Do When People Have An Agenda For You

“He (God) can do anything He wants any way He wants but, as a general rule, holy passion is a better guide than human pressure.” ~Beth Moore

You’ve heard the term for the fear-dodging duo: Fight or Flight

I would guess most of us also lean toward one of the two F words when we are faced with out-of-control circumstances.

Fighters will seek to control the Flighters.
Flighters tend to bow to or run from the Fighters.

It’s like one is a Rooster and the other a Rabbit. Rooster and Rabbit
{Photo/Painting credit: Creative Thursday by Marisa}

Roosters fight. These are the more dominant personalities.
Rabbits flight. These are the more docile personalities.

It is important to know there are two general personality types and reactions if you desire to discern your response to control-ers if you are Rabbit, or your desire to control if you are Rooster.

I tend to be a Rabbit.

One day (many more than one) but on this one certain day, one Ms. Rooster, who was facing her own limitations called me and left a message on my phone while I was busy up to my long fuzzy ears packing for a move. Ms. Rooster was under pressure and naturally thought of me to take some of her pressure off, so when I listened to the message, it described the problem and then with an authoritative voice, told me what I needed to do.

Me and my fuzzy ears scrunched down, ducking from the weight of what I was told to do. I turned off my phone and went on a bike ride. (I realize the image of a Rabbit on a bike is a bit off, but bear with me.) Panic-prayers, not sweet ones were reverberating from my fuzzy soul toward heaven, my anxiety alleviated slightly by exertion on pedals and repetitive words playing in my head, “I’m not the Savior”, “I’m not the Savior”. {And in the back of my Flightful mind, I was going to run straight away from that relationship and never go back, I was.}

Alternating between my repeated phrase “I’m not the Savior” were opposing phrases: “You should. There’s no reason you can’t. She wont like you anymore. God will be mad at you for not helping her. ETC . . . ”

Bullying voices seeking to enslave me to the task which I did not have in my shriveled little heart to do. I should recognize it by now: The imposition of a law seeking my soul, threatening condemnation if I did not obey it.

As I pedaled, I prayed. I prayed a lot. And then reason kicked in. Not human reason, but Spirit reason. Reality really.

God said, “What have I given you to do Rabbit?”
And I stated my mission.
God said, “Whose mission does Ms. Rooster want you to carry out?”
“Hers”

I remembered that I’d been given an assignment of my own, and then I could see that Ms. Rooster had her appointed tasks and though I sympathized with her predicament, the fact that I was struggling to bear up under my own meant that I was not the one that would save the day for her.

In this revelation, I found release from the pressure.

The freedom to say the simple, short (and quite profound) phrase, “I’m sorry,  no.”

Suddenly then, like a pin in a balloon, the pressure left.

And it still took me three days to be okay with saying ‘no’.

I bet you are wondering how Ms. Rooster responded to my no, aren’t you?

Gracious. Perhaps with my suggestions of other names she could call on gave her the idea that my day’s load was as heavy as hers.

Since that day, I’ve been talking to other rabbits who have this wee problem, and telling them that they only need to be about the task that God gives them. And He gives freedom to say, “I’m sorry,  no.”

Linking up for a potluck at #TheLoft
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