Grieving with God

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Editor’s Note: Titus 2 lays out a framework for us to understand how women are to gather around each other and support one another throughout the seasons of our lives. It’s our prayer that you connect with the powerful story God is writing with your life right now and know that you are not alone.

August 7, 2017 will always be engrained in my mind. That’s the day we walked joyfully into the sonogram room just to hear the words, “We can’t find a heartbeat.” The grief I felt in that moment is something I struggle to put into words. But at the same time, I knew. I felt in my soul before the doctor told us that the baby was gone. In that moment the Holy Spirit held me and brought to my memory all the times he’d given a stirring to my heart. The internal knowledge that something was different this time around.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry out, “Why God? Why my child?” It was never in anger, but to ask for answers. The truth is, I may never have those answers, at least not on this side of heaven.

Losing a child in the womb is something no one ever wants to experience but having God within me has made the loss of our baby more bearable. Because I know that on the day Jesus returns, I will hold my Sage for the first time. I continuously rejoice over that reunion. I know that my sweet child is in the arms of Jesus and will never know sadness or pain. One day we will be reunited. I thank God every day for His love, and that he took care of me at my worst and loved me through this time of sadness. That he helped me to find joy in my grieving.

Healing is an ongoing process for me, and who knows, it may always be. I’m blessed to have some great friends and family I can call on at any time. People I can lean on when I’m sad or weak, to let me cry and talk through things. Not long after my miscarriage, Julie Snellgrove gave me a pamphlet on pregnancy loss. It had scriptures and talking points, things to help me and others understand what was going on emotionally. It brought me great comfort. I also read a bunch of good Christian romance/comedy/mystery books. I’ve always loved a good book, but since August I’ve found reading a few chapters that lift your spirits can do wonders. Lastly, journaling has helped me express myself and pour out emotions and feelings at different times the last few months. It’s been a way for me to talk to God and myself even. Writing this today brings to mind this scripture:

Is anyone crying for help? GOD is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Psalm 34:17-18 (The Message Bible)

God is right there with me. He is in the valley carrying me when I am too sad to go on. He feels my pain when my heart hurts. He loves me regardless of where I am, and that is so sweet and healing to my soul.

Whitney Arthur contributed this post.

One Simple Truth

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Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve focused on Titus 2 and the value of godly women mentoring young ones in their faith and everyday lives. Our prayer is that you would be encouraged as you read to connect with God in these areas of your life and obey His voice.

About 10 years ago, I learned one simple little secret at a women’s retreat that has truly changed everyday life at our house. You’ll never see it on the cover of Vogue magazine in a list of top 3 ways to please your man, but it will bring satisfaction to your marriage that the world can’t imagine. Are you interested?

Here’s the secret: The way I treat my husband in the first 1-2 minutes when I see him at the end of the day makes all the difference in showing him honor and setting the thermostat for the rest of our evening together. I often think of this saying and believe it’s God’s heart:

“Treat your family like guests, and your guests like family.” 

When a guest comes over, I want them to know they’re important, valuable, and welcomed. So, I stop what I’m doing, and I go to meet them. I wouldn’t dream of not looking up from my work, or of not getting up off the couch to greet them. I look them in the eye, welcome them, hug them, and tell them I’m so glad they’re there! But when my husband comes home? How is he greeted? Does he feel important, valuable, and welcomed by me?

In Titus 2, we’re told that God entrusted us as women with managing our homes, which includes setting the emotional and relational thermostat!  I challenge you to start intentionally meeting your husband with a smile, a hug, and a genuine gladness that he is home…in a FRIENDLY way. At first this may not feel like it comes from your heart, but as I’ve done this for years, it’s become a simple act that is now rooted in honor and respect for my husband. My home is the domain God’s given me, and I want my husband to feel welcomed there. If you have young kids and the house is scattered with toys, pick them up when you know he’s getting close and teach your kids to get the house ready for Dad. I’m not talking about perfection, but about teaching our kids how to plan for honor.

Older kids need to be trained to stop what they’re doing, walk up to Dad, and greet him with a hug and acknowledgement that he is home. We have a teenager now and still try to practice this every time Gabe walks in the door at the end of the day. We get lazy and selfish, and sometimes she and I have to remind each other to do this. It’s not natural—which is why it has such impact. But we are not natural people! And we don’t live natural lives! We live powerful lives where God’s kingdom comes to earth in our homes and relationships.

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”  Romans 12:10

Honor begins at home. Once your husband is sure that the emotional environment he’s walking into is neither HOT or COLD, I bet you’ll have a chance to tell him about your day. And he may even tell you about his. I dare you; try it!

Jill Moudy from our Plainview campus contributed this post.

Seeking Truth in Your Weakness

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Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve focused on Titus 2 and the wisdom God’s word offers us in every season of life. Our prayer is that you will be encouraged by the posts to connect with God where you are now and be obedient to His voice.

It’s that time of year again: when everything that can happen to mess up my plans and screw up everything I thought I knew does happen. Almost as if I was getting a little too cocky, a little too confident, all the plates I was holding up fell and smashed into a million pieces. You know, the time when you throw up your hands and say, “Well, it can’t get any worse”? And yet somehow the world figures out a way to make it worse? That was me. Even though I’ve definitely, completely grown up now that I’ve gone off to school and can totally do everything on my own, my first thought was that I needed to talk to my mom.

I grew up with a mother who is fiercely devoted to whatever she does. She is stubborn, black-and-white, and conversely, one of the most sensitive and discerning people I have ever had the pleasure to be around. She’s also my best friend in the entire world. If there’s one thing I have learned after leaving for college last fall, it’s exactly how much I don’t know, and exactly how much she does. She sticks in her spot and knows what is right. As I was reading through Titus 2 this week, I latched onto that image immediately as one of my mother: wise, pure, honoring, submissive. (Also, a huge dork. It must be genetic.)

Recently, I have been really lucky to have a boyfriend that was my person, my best friend. We liked all the same things, shared the same interests in ministry, in travel, in books and poetry. He was the guy that made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt, who listened when I needed it, and made me look at the world a little differently. And last week, after a hard night of prayer and really dramatic arguments with the Lord (you know, the unbending Master of All Things?) I realized I had to end our relationship.

Friends, I fought that realization violently. And when I finally made myself confront him and confessed where I realized our issues were, he came back a day later and gave me all the reasons to stay together. I felt like a deer cornered by my own emotions, staring at that bright light, unable to move because if I’m honest…

I really didn’t want to.

Meeting my parents for lunch that weekend meant that I had to tell them everything, because I knew that I couldn’t trust my own decision-making. They gave little advice, asked few questions. And then my mom looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I know you’ll make the right decision.” With those words, I got a glimpse of what my mother has demonstrated her entire life: that she seeks the truth, in spite of her weaknesses.

So, I obeyed the Lord even as it cut me open. 2 Corinthians 4 says it better than I can: that we are “afflicted in every way, but not crushed… so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

Lean on His life, friends, and those shattered plates will be put back together.

Leah Jarvis from our Amarillo campus contributed this post.

You Want Me to What?

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Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve asked women from our campuses to read Titus 2 and share what God puts on their heart. We pray this encourages you to read God’s Word and apply it to this season of your life.

We’ve all heard of the Proverbs 31 woman, but what does it look like to be a Titus 2 woman?  After reading and reflecting on Titus 2 I began to wonder which category I fall in. Am I one of the older women that God is calling to train the younger women or am I one of the younger women that still needs guidance?  To be honest, I think I’m a little bit of both.

My husband and I recently celebrated 11 years of marriage. We married very young at the age of 19. I think it’s safe to say that a good percentage of young brides get caught up in the big day and the actual act of marriage ends up falling short of their expectations. Over the last 11 years, there have been “words of wisdom” on being a loving, godly wife that I have passed on to younger women that I feel like God wants me to share.

  1. Do not try to change your husband, period. Love your husband for exactly who God created him to be. If you attempt to change your husband, you will rob him of joyfully fulfilling the purpose that God has for his life. Sometimes as wives, we tend to fall into the trap of nagging our husbands about the things that we wish they would change. Proverbs 21:19 states, “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.”  Ladies, let’s do our husbands a favor and love them for exactly who God created them to be.
  2. Invest in love languages! The best way to love your husband is to invest time and resources into figuring out his love language. My husband’s love language is quality time. By quality time, I’m not referring to long walks down the aisles of Hobby Lobby. I mean going hog hunting with him or walking long dirt roads searching for arrow heads. Although these may not be my favorite things to do, I love doing them with my husband because I’m investing in our marriage and doing something he loves to do.
  3. Pray for your husband.When I have a hard time submitting to my husband’s authority, it’s usually because his ideas don’t align with mine. So what do I do?  I pray for my husband. I pray that God will align our thinking and our hearts and help me to be submissive to my husband’s authority with a cheerful heart.
  4. Enjoy the little things and don’t take life too seriouslyMany times, as young wives and mothers, we’re so consumed with the opinions of others that we allow those opinions to captivate our every thought. Enjoy your husband, enjoy your kids. Don’t take a single moment for granted, simple as that!

Young wives and mothers, take heart. Seek out life giving relationships with women who can pour wise counsel into your life. Older women, rise up and be good examples through your actions of who God calls us to be in our homes.

Cassie Mogg contributed this post this week. She and her family attend the Plainview campus.

Slacken

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Editor’s note: This semester we’ve asked different women from our three campuses to share something God showed them through the scriptures of Titus 2. We believe God’s Word has the power to impact our lives no matter our circumstance or season. May you be encouraged and empowered to respond to God’s voice as you read through the wisdom these women are sharing with each of us.

Busyness is such a norm in our lives. Everywhere we look, people are frantically trying to balance their professional lives, personal lives, health, finances, etc. Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day?  If I’m being honest, I have felt that way frequently. What would our lives look like if we valued the importance of pursuing God’s presence first and let everything else fall into place? Recently, I felt the Lord speak specifically to this in my own life through one word:

Slacken

Let me explain….

What does it mean to “be still and know that He is God” (Ps. 46:10)? Rarely do we make it to the “be still” part to find out! We go until we can’t go anymore and then collapse and call that being still before Him…but really, we just fell over in exhaustion. Stillness is intentional and purposeful. A holy (set apart) moment where you stop and say THIS is of value and worthy of my time. My favorite illustration of this came from a recent conference. The speaker compared our lives to a rubber band and demonstrated that we pull and pull until life snaps us down, stretched thin and exhausted. We are actually meant to gradually release the tension and quiet our hearts before the Lord like a rubber band that is eased until it completely slackens.

Slacken:  Slow down, ease up, to make something less tight.

Slacken almost sounds like a bad word, as if it represents laziness, but actually it only occurs in intentionality.

Quiet yourself before the Lord. Let Him speak to your heart and establish you in His loving kindness. Let your soul be watered by Holy Spirit drawing you ever nearer. He’s speaking to you, even now!

“Beloved, I’m still here. I’m reminding you of your name and true nature. Dear one, you are safe in my arms.” 

Let your roots go deep in His faithfulness and your life will flow out of this established heart. From this place, you are empowered to correct those under your leadership without shaming them because you no longer believe that their imperfections undermine your value as a leader. You can forgive yourself and others because you realize Jesus died so you could make mistakes without the mistakes making you. You can honor people when they speak hurtful things which demean your character, because you recognize that God is your defender and you’ve spoken wrongfully before, too. Your health is a natural priority because you understand your worth and that real comfort only comes from Him, not an emotional satisfaction from one more piece of chocolate. You can trust Him to provide even if your bank account disagrees, because He is the provider who has abundant resources for your needs AND your dreams.

You are free to love well. The love poured so generously over your life can’t help but overflow onto others. He is always speaking; we need only slow down to listen. Slacken. Make time. Let’s worry less about “doing enough” and allow ourselves to just BE with Him. He is worthy, and He never disappoints.

Shonda McCay contributed this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.

Marriage & Martyrdom

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Editor’s Note: This semester we’re focusing on Titus 2 and all the different ways it can impact our life in this season of life. Our prayer is that you are encouraged by these posts to see what God would have you apply to your life.

My husband and I joined a marriage Life Group this semester, and we’re going through the Love & Respect curriculum by Emerson Eggerichs. I’m loving it.

Recently, I saw something I don’t think I remember hearing before. The Bible is anything but silent about how husbands and wives show love and respect to each other, but here’s the deal. Eggerichs said husbands are to apape (self-sacrificial love) their wives (Ephesians 5:29) and wives are to phileo (companion-type love) their husbands (Titus 2:8).

When I heard this, I felt like the Spirit of God told me, “I’ve never asked you to be a martyr for your husband. And when you operate from that place, it isn’t godly.” I knew exactly what He meant. It’s the I-Have-to-Do-EVERYTHING-Around-Here-and-No-One-Cares attitude. And it implies that my husband is killing me.

Many times, we as women have no problem sacrificing for our husbands. We cook for them. We clean for them. But we resent them, and believe me, they know it. They see the activity and busyness, but they’re pretty sure we don’t like them.

So what do I do?

When I operate from a martyr mentality, it should be a red flag. I need to speak up and ask for the help I need, because God didn’t call me to lay my life down for my husband the same way He called my husband to do so for me. Usually the help I need is not for my husband to do ALL the chores around the house. I mostly desire his closeness and appreciation for who I am.

He can’t read my mind. I may have to use my words and tell him that my heart hurts. You know what? Every time I’ve told him how I’m really feeling, he’s listened and loved me in a way I can receive it. How can I not respect and fall in love with this man all over again when he goes to war for my heart’s freedom?

In return, I’m called to be his friend. John Eldredge  hit the nail on the head for me in his  2-minute blog Ransomed Heart as he fleshed out what it means to be my husband’s help meet, to phileo (not fillet) my husband.

Trust me. DO NOT miss this.

When I get God’s heart for my role as wife, so much falls into place in my marriage. He’s not calling me to be the loser. Did you know there doesn’t even have to be a loser in my marriage? But when I get out of whack here, I experience major bouts of frustration, anger, and bitterness.

Ask God to reveal His heart to you. He will show you how to take the first step out of martyrdom and into freedom.

Jodi LaFrance wrote this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.

The Table Experience

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Editor’s Note: This semester we’re focusing on Titus 2 and the wisdom it offers us as women in all different seasons of our lives. It’s our prayer that as you read through these posts you’ll hear each writer’s heart as they’ve spent time connecting with God over this passage of Scripture.

How many of you grew up in a home where you sat at the dinner table as a family? This is one of my favorite memories as a child. I remember the food mom would make, the enjoyment I had antagonizing my sister (sorry Allison), and the conversations we would have.

eloisebellmarch-01The table experience growing up shaped how I view the dinner table today. One dinner, in particular, comes to mind. I had made some delicious potato soup a few days earlier (key words: “a few days earlier”). Miley was three at the time and took a bite of the left-over soup, and said, “This is the wuhst dinnuh evah!” (a.k.a. worst dinner ever: she couldn’t say her R’s). Offended, I told her to leave the table and go think about how ungrateful she was acting. I then proceeded with the “go-to speech” of how there are starving children all over the world who would LOVE this left-over soup. She came back to the table and I told her, “Miley, you have two choices. You can either finish your dinner and be grateful for it, or you can be done.” Miley looked at me, and in her sweet, innocent voice she replied, “I’ll be done,” (laughing out loud).

Miles and I are intentional about eating together as a family as much as possible. One of our favorite things to do is cooking dinner together.

Scripture is filled with illustrations of lives changed when eating around a table.

Unfortunately, the typical family no longer eats meals together at the table. The table has been replaced with fast food. The ugly truth is mealtime is no longer an opportunity for families to build relationships.

Why is eating at the table so important? Scripture is filled with illustrations of lives changed when eating around a table. In 2 Samuel 9:7, Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth was invited to dine at King David’s table. It was there that Mephibosheth’s rejection and unworthy past was replaced with confidence and personal value. In Luke 15:23, the father’s decision to have a celebration feast gave his wayward son hope for a new future. In Matthew 26, Jesus and the Twelve sat down at the table to share in the Passover meal. After His resurrection (Luke 24), Jesus broke bread with two followers and gave thanks. Suddenly, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. At both meals, Jesus demonstrated the frame of mind that we should have at the table. Remember Him and the price He paid for you as you break bread together in your homes.

There are many things you can experience around the table: love is shared, bodies are nourished, actual face-to-face conversations happen, family members serve each other, daily schedules are discussed, and the list goes on!  Most importantly, a lovingly prepared table is a place where the presence of God dwells and relationships are established. God designed the table for you and your family to share life with each other. So, I encourage you to put dinner together back on the calendar.

Eloise Bell from our Amarillo campus wrote this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.

Heart of a Mother

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The heart of a mother is one that, for some, is hard to explain and even talk about.  When I think of how to explain those words, I immediately get a picture of my own mom.  Growing up I felt very safe and secure. Both parents were and still are strong Christians. My brothers and I were loved and disciplined in a Biblical way and really never questioned our upbringing. It was good. My mother kept the home fires burning.  She did mom things: cooking, cleaning, carpooling, attending sports events, and church functions. She was a fantastic model for me. It wasn’t until I faced challenges of trying to become a mother myself that I began to realize there was more to a mother’s heart than meets the eye.

 

At the tender age of 38 I thought I was ready to attempt this “mom” thing. Little did I know that the road it would take me down would be one of great heartache. My journey to motherhood began with a miscarriage. A few months later, I gave birth to  a little girl only to be with her for an hour before she took an early flight from this earth and said goodbye. Later I carried a child for only 28 weeks and had to say goodbye yet again. Definitely not the journey I had pictured. My faith was challenged, but it kept me from spiraling into despair, and yet my heart still had to grieve the loss.  God never left; He just had a divine calling on my life called adoption. On June 14, 2006, a 7-pound, 14-ounce big blue-eyed little girl was laid in my arms! What else could I say, but, “WOW!” The heart of a mother began to swell within me.

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That little girl is now 11 years old.  Time flies! As I examine my road as a mother, I have begun to understand what was going on behind the scenes of things my mother would do. It’s all beginning to make sense. I’m blown away by how the heart of a mother reflects, in many ways, the heart of God.  We read about His heart for us in His word.  He instructs us how to live, then commands us to instruct our children. He protects us and in the same way, instills in us the heart-felt need to protect our “littles”. Psalm 18 is a beautiful picture of how He fights for us. So we also are not afraid to fight on behalf of those in our care.

 

My mom-heart gets foggy at times on what’s a true reflection of His heart. Actions that seem unimportant to me speak volumes of love to my child: a dorky valentine card, conversational candy hearts, a miniature box of chocolates, things that are no big deal to me are huge love actions in my house right now. These are opportunities to reflect His love in ways that my child can understand.

 

I love that the mom-heart He placed in each of us reflects His heart. What else can we say but “WOW!”

Kori Covington wrote this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.

The Inspired Mom Class

Editor’s note: This semester we’re focusing on Titus 2 as it relates to many areas of our lives as women. We hope you find real hope and encouragement as you read through these stories of God’s revelation to women all across our campuses.

I recently stopped by the home of a dear out-of-town friend of mine. This was my first time being in her lovely home. Her husband and four children were home and I couldn’t help but be inspired in the short time I was there. Her children were full of life and joy and couldn’t wait to share their treasures with me.

Titus 2:3-5 says this… 

Teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. 4These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, 5to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”

 Have any of you ever wondered where this class is being offered? I have! Where IS this class and PLEASE sign me up! Everything mentioned in these verses are things I struggle with daily and if I could just find me one of these older women, I’m sure they would help me figure out how to be a woman. 😉

But here is what I discovered in the home of my sweet friend: Living life with other women is the class. She’s not much older than me, but she is further along in motherhood than I am. In 30 minutes, God used her to teach me how to love and connect with my children in a way I hadn’t thought about. It really was as simple as that.  I’ve been thinking and praying for months about how to connect with my three-year-old boys’ hearts and involve them in the daily chores. In the short time I spent visiting and sharing time with my friend, God answered those prayers with three very practical ways to love and train my children.

Are you wondering how to find an older woman to learn from? One of the easiest ways for older and younger women to connect in our church is through Life Groups. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I’ve had to learn AND teach in my group. Being a part of a Life Group is a very simple way to put Titus 2 to practice in your life.

I would like to leave you with this quote from one of my favorite older women, Elizabeth Elliott.

It is doubtful that the apostle Paul had in mind Bible classes or seminars or books when he spoke of teaching younger women. He meant the simple things, the everyday example, the willingness to take time from one’s own concerns to pray with the anxious mother, to walk with her the way of the Cross with its tremendous demands of patience, selflessness, lovingkindness—and to show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart.

Amber Curry wrote this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.

Seen & Heard

This week we asked Kendra Huckabee of the Lubbock Campus to share a little bit of how she loves her family well during the Valentine’s Day holiday.

This past weekend we took a day trip to Clovis, NM, of all places, to take our boys to a traveling dinosaur event called Jurassic Quest. Think robotic dinosaur museum (or circus…whichever you prefer). Throughout the entire planning process, buying the overpriced tickets, and honestly, even on the drive there I kept thinking:

“Why in the world are we doing this?”
“This better be worth it!”
“The things we do for our kids…”.
But seeing my 3 ½-year-old dinosaur fanatic’s face light up at every turn immediately made me glad that we chose to take the time to do something he loves. Loving my family is one of the most important jobs I have. Although it has taken me some time, learning to show love to each member of my family in a way that speaks to them individually and makes them feel seen and known is the best way to do it.
John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to love people. It’s so cool to me how when Jesus healed people, had an encounter with someone, or spoke into someone’s life it was different every time. He didn’t have a “How to Love People” checklist that he followed. He simply knew them and loved them in a way that was specifically meant for them.

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He doesn’t care the cost, time, or distance it takes to show his love towards us.
I would have much rather stayed home this weekend in my pajamas drinking endless cups of coffee than standing in the cold watching my son move dirt around with a paintbrush to uncover a “fossil”, but I would have robbed myself of a chance to show love and my son of a chance to receive it.
I’m so thankful that I chose to move my SELF out of the way this weekend so that we could shower our son with love in a way that spoke to his little dino-loving heart.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, chocolate and teddy bears have never really been my thing, but loving my people is! My goal this Valentines, and every day, is to take the opportunity to speak my family’s love language. I pray that you, too, will take the time to love your family in ways that make them feel seen and known. Whether it’s something simple like their favorite candy, or a random trip to another state to see robotic dinosaurs, learn what and how they love and show them love in that way.

Some things that have helped me learn how to love my family:

The 5 Love Languages books by Gary Chapman
DISC personality test
Simply spending time with them

 

This post was written by Kendra Huckabee from our Lubbock Campus. To learn more about her, follow this link.