A Standard of Grace

Editor’s Note: We have asked a few women to share their talks from our last Life Giving Saturday. I know I wanted to hear everyone, so this is a perfect opportunity to hear these women’s hearts. We know they will encourage you!

A Standard of Grace. It sounds like such an unusual phrase, and it is. Standard, simply put, means a way to measure, value, or judge something. Grace, means to honor or credit to, to show favor, goodwill, or kindness. 

So, a “Standard of Grace?” This would mean that our measuring system, for ourselves, and others, is one that is based on favor, goodwill, and kindness. 

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a woman that measures myself and those around me by a standard of grace. Unfortunately, we see so little grace in our culture today. What inhibits us? What keeps us from living this lifestyle?

Perfectionism just so happens to be the reason this phrase “Standard of Grace” was first brought to my attention. It has gained popularity as part of a longer phrase, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.”  Perfectionism is a wicked master, one that keeps us all working our hardest to continually prove and perform. Perfectionism doesn’t allow us to show ourselves kindness, over even the least of mistakes. It doesn’t allow us room to breathe, doesn’t offer forgiveness when we have been anything less than, well, perfect. Perfectionism keeps us quiet about our mistakes, so that the impression of perfection can remain intact. 

1. Perfectionism

IF we can’t offer ourselves a little kindness when a mistake is made, how can we ever expect that we will genuinely offer it to others?

IF we can’t break free from our own silence, and be vulnerable about our weaknesses, our fears, our doubts, how will anyone ever feel safe coming to us with theirs?

IF we don’t react to ourselves with grace, we won’t extend it to others either. 

2. Insecurity

Where as perfection says you can’t fall short in any area, ever, our insecurities whisper lies to us a little more specifically. Our insecurities are the areas where we consistently feel “not enough.” The areas where, when we look over and see the someone who is enough, or who is more than enough, it brings pain.

Insecurities are the places in our hearts where fear and pain preside, and light has a hard time finding it’s way in.

Offering grace to ourselves in one of these areas, just feels like affirming our own lack of worth. Offering it to others, often feels disingenuous, false. We can find ourselves making excuses for why we struggle, and why they don’t. It ends up being an unkind situation to anyone that finds themselves in it, and brings honor to no one. 

3. Judgement

Judgement, typically stems from one of the other two. It’s not safe to offer grace to someone if they are highlighting our imperfections and insecurities. But, for many of us, it is probably the easiest of the three to identify as well. Being critical and judging others is like the bloom on a plant. It’s the part we see first, the part of the plant we use to identify what type of plant we are looking at. For me, when I find myself being critical, and judging others, I know it’s time to take a step back, and look at what is going on underneath the surface. In doing that, I have to step back and ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. What in the world is really going on here? What am I actually feeling right now?
  2. How can I extend kindness and grace, to myself, or to someone else, in this moment? 

But here’s the good news: Grace has another meaning as well. God’s ability. Grace is God’s standard. It is His standard toward us on our best days and on our worst. And God freely gives of His grace, His ability.

This is the reason that pausing, and asking why you can’t offer grace and kindness in the moment, works. Because it invites God’s presence, his perspective, and his heart, into that moment with you. 

Choosing to let grace be the standard by which we measure ourselves and others doesn’t come naturally. But God is right there for us, saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Let his grace, become your standard, because we cannot extend grace on our own. 

“Grace is God acting in our lives to do what we cannot do on our own.” 
- Dallas Willard

We would like to thank Brooke Kellum for writing this post.

Sweet Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas For Him

Valentine’s Day is today.  Did you put any thought into how you will make your man feel loved?

Sometimes it starts with an idea you heard someone else mention to get the brainstorming started.

Ladies, I have it on my heart that we should seize this opportunity to SHOW SOME LOVE to our husbands!!

Let’s put some action to the words we say! We say we love them? Then how ‘bout we spend 30 minutes one day on our lunch break and cut out construction-paper hearts and allow (ok, BEG) our children to staple or tape them into decorative heart garlands? Decorating even in silly ways shows you took time FOR HIM!

How bout we take kids grocery shopping and make a big deal about the food items you choose for him.  “Let’s see, what do you think Daddy’s favorite vegetable is? Let’s get what we need to make Dad’s favorite dessert! He will be sooo excited, won’t he? Preparing this special meal is how I can demonstrate how much your daddy means to me!!”  These are examples of using it to train your children.  Don’t you want your daughters to SHOW their love demonstratively to their husbands when they grow up?  Wouldn’t you want your sons to feel loved by their chosen one?  You are teaching them the kind of woman they will one day want to choose for themselves!!   

As the saying goes, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” HAHA!

How about getting out a glass jar and writing on beautiful slips of paper the following: various character qualities you love about him, fun memories you’ve shared with him, moments he said something or did something that touched you deeply, etc.  These are way better than a $5 greeting card!

What are some other important ways that speak love to your man?? How about some one-on-one time?  Foot massage?  Arranging for a sitter (instead of buying a fishing pole) for some REEEAAAALLLL one-on-one, face-to-face time, if you get my drift.  I don’t want to gag or disgust anyone, really.  But God did make man with a sexual drive, and we are (should be) his only way of meeting those needs.  Let’s take it seriously. And when you do, be prepared mentally & physically.

This is IMPORTANT to our men and it should be important to us. It makes them feel loved, valued, and honored.

If you need more suggestions, just ask. I can’t wait to hear how it all turns out!!

Happy Valentines Day!

We would like to thank Cristie Harrell for sharing this post.

A New Chapter

Picture this, a 30-something-year-old woman, regretting ever mentioning trying something new. She’s terrified of the unknown. And to add to it, that little voice in her head kept whispering, “You don’t fit in. You’re not good enough.”  And then the worry sets in, “Am I going to have to speak in front of ALL those people??” Yep, that terrified woman was me and although I stayed calm and serene on the outside, under the surface I had totally lost my cool.

It turns out my inner monologues are overly dramatic and they almost convinced me to make yet another excuse as to why we are too busy and should wait another week.

End of story. Thankfully I did not allow that fear to control me and so my story began…

 I was determined! My husband and I had been discussing it for months. We were ready for more, ready to grow and really intrigued by all the talk about how awesome Life Group was. We had heard stories of the relationships created and the breakthroughs happening on Wednesdays and were hungry to get in on it. I browsed the catalog of friendly faces a 100 times looking for where we fit. It felt a little like I was shopping for friends online. I would add them to my cart only to remove them later because I wasn’t quite ready to invest.  But we finally bit the bullet and now we are walking to the door to meet our “new friends” for the first time.

What I found on the other side of that door was far greater than a couple of friends. I met real people. I mean, of course they were living, breathing humans, but they were REAL, down to earth, God loving people. And you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit all around us. There were men and women of all ages and in different parts of their walk with Christ. I met some of the most loving, caring, Spirit-filled women. As the evening progressed I realized I was not alone in my fears. These women were strong in their faith and not afraid to admit they had failed and they have scars.

I figured out what it felt like to smash all of those lies that had been fed to me about who I am and I realized I AM accepted, I am not alone and I am worthy of our Fathers love. That breakthrough changed EVERYTHING. 

 I’m not going to say opening up and sharing was easy. I mean, it wasn’t like a switch that just automatically came on when I walked in the room. It took some effort and patience on the group’s part, and LOTS of prayer on mine. I remember the first time we paired up to pray for one another and I cried. Not like a couple of tears ran down my face, but flat out ugly cried. And you know what, she understood and helped me through it. The feeling of being able to just lay that down, and receive acceptance, was so freeing.

I had finally handed it over to God and instead of me cowering behind the walls I had built up for protection I was now out there fully believing that God was my refuge and the ultimate protector.

 As time passed I could not wait for Wednesday nights! I love to worship on Sundays and the messages we receive are always amazing. However there’s just something about sitting around a room with family, discussing how God is working miracles. We cry, we laugh, and we speak truth and life over one another. Proverbs 27:9 says, “The heartfelt council of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” And that is so true! It warms you from the inside out when we trust that the words spoken from these ladies are guided by the Holy Spirit. 

Today my husband and I have the privilege of leading a Life Group. Honestly not something that scared woman only a few short years ago would have ever considered. I added a new chapter to my story called Life Group. The relationships I have created and the newfound love I have for myself has changed me. I grew as an individual and my relationship with Christ exploded! If your heart has been wrestling with the idea of wanting more, but like me, you are afraid of not fitting in, I highly recommend you stepping out of your comfort zone and give Life Groups a try. 

We would like to thank Misty Rowell for writing this blog post!

Champion Your Husband

During the month of January, we will be reposting some of the top posts from 2018. We hope these will encourage you and connect to your heart. Stay tuned for all new posts coming in February 2018!

Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve been focusing on Titus 2 and the mentor relationships Paul encouraged older women to share with younger women. It’s our prayer that as you read the real-life experiences from different women within our campuses you’ll be uplifted and inspired to respond to God’s truth in this season of your life.

One of the things I love about growing older is that I can look back at my life and see all the times God has answered prayer, gone before me, worked things out, shut a door, opened another, or taught me something that only He could. Several months ago, I was working through a Bible study that asked this question: Have you ever learned some biblical truth straight from God without textbook, training, or human teacher?

In 2004, Curtis took a church in the Lubbock area. Wade was two, and I was pregnant with Bethani. The church was without a pastor for about 6 months and needed someone who would help them become stable and healthy again. Curtis dove in head first, and before long the church began to thrive. For the first few years, Curtis wasn’t home much. After two years, I was pregnant with Emmalee. I was neck-deep in the season of raising babies and being pregnant.

I didn’t feel like I had a role or a purpose.

I felt vulnerable and began to believe the lie that Curtis was choosing the church over me. I became resentful of and offended by the church. They had Curtis all the time, and I would’ve liked for him to come home long enough so I could take a shower!

One day I fell apart before the Lord. Sobbing, I asked Him to help show me what to do and how to feel. God met me right there, right in the middle of my pain and brokenness. He said, “As Curtis’ wife, you have the power to sabotage or to strengthen the ministry I have given you. This is your choice. I have a purpose for you. It will change as your season of life changes. If you stay in a place of offense and resentment, you won’t be able to see this purpose. Curtis needs you to champion him on, not hinder what I’m doing through him.” Woah.

This didn’t have anything to do with Curtis OR the church. It was about my response to the trials in my life.

I didn’t want my offense to sabotage our ministry, so I asked God to give me the grace to love the church like Curtis did. He showed me my role and purpose during that season. I made the hard choice to be obedient and submissive to all God called me to be, and in doing so, my heart was softened toward the church. My roots shot down deep, and it stabilized our future. I decided to champion Curtis on in his calling, and he championed me on as well. It was such a sweet movement of God in our marriage and in our ministry.

If there is anything this “older woman” can tell you “younger women”, it’s this: Champion your husband! Ask God to show you your purpose during this season. With obedience and perseverance, submit yourself to the will of the Father, and your husband will champion you on as well! Remember that God is our number one Champion who has paid it all for us!

We would like to thank Allison House for contributing this post to the blog.

You Can’t Rush God’s Promises

During the month of January, we will be reposting some of the top posts from 2018. We hope these will encourage you and connect to your heart. Stay tuned for all new posts coming in February 2018!

Editor’s Note: This semester women from our three campuses have read Titus 2 and shared what God placed on their heart. May you be encouraged and challenged to connect with God and the power of His presence in this season of your life.

Ten months ago, Brent and I decided to try adoption again.  Our hearts were ready.  The timing was good.  Johnny would be 3 when Baby would arrive, so they could share a room.  The girls are the perfect age and would be so helpful.  He and Johnny would be best buds.  They’d play dinosaurs, giggle, and wrestle.  I had dreams.  After our first international adoption attempt, we said that we wanted to have the next one “handed over to us”.  This one was.  How could this not be God?  Doors kept opening, so we kept walking.

My husband was apprehensive the first three months.  We sought counsel from God, family, friends, attorneys, etc.  Over the next few months, I went to sonograms and grew a relationship with the birth mom.  After four months, Brent finally decided this baby boy was going to be our 4thchild.   Two days later, the birth mom started having complications.  We immediately texted our support system asking for prayers and wisdom.  Liam Jacob was born at 23 weeks and went to be with Jesus that same day.  I’ve never experienced pain like that before.

The joy I had was sucked right out of me.  How could this be God?  I felt angry at Him.  “We’ve been faithful.  We’ve done everything right.  Why are you taking this away from us?” I just didn’t understand.  I felt alone.

The devil knows when we are vulnerable, and his subtle deceiving whispers walked me into a season of fear, anxiety, and stress.  I didn’t notice it at first.  I just felt disappointed, confused, and embarrassed by another unsuccessful adoption.  “God, why do we feel called to adopt when it’s not working?”  When our birth mom was in the hospital contracting the night before Liam was born, I went up at ministry time during Core to receive prayer.  I tried to be strong, but I was disappointed.  That night God brought some healing and comfort through the prayers of my friends.

But after Liam passed away, unhealed emotional wounds became a stronghold in my life.  Ladies, we need to expose the devil when his lies feel true.  Find a few ladies that you trust, be honest and let His light shine into your situation. I couldn’t have done this alone. God has given us the gift of community. Throughout this process I received advice, wisdom, and guidance from friends.  I’ve been a recipient of what Titus 2 is supposed to look like because the ladies in my life have taken Titus 2 seriously.  What did that look like?

  • The book a friend gave me on miscarriages.
  • The hug another gave me.
  • The text to check on how I was doing.
  • The encouragement from another friend, “God wants you to know He hasn’t given up on this dream, so you don’t either.”
  • The prayer from another, “Allow disappointment to happen.  You don’t have to guard your heart.”
  • The spoken words of my Father to me, “I am faithful. Your plans pale in comparison to what I have for you.  Keep trusting deeper.”

Does it hurt? Yes.  Is it sad? Yes.  Did it bring Brent and me closer? Yes.  Is my relationship with my Father any different because my trust in His plan didn’t work out? Yes.  It’s actually stronger, because I’m certain He has a better plan for us.  

When we guard our heart and mind in truth, we won’t be shaken.  When we call upon the name of the Lord, we won’t be shaken.  Titus 2:13-14 reminds me that we can have hope.  We find peace, worth, and infinite value in our Lord.  You will endure hardships and the Lord WILL be with you.  Don’t lose hope, Friend. He’s got this!

We would like to thank JuLea Bouma for this post.

Seeking the Healer, Not Just the Healing

**During the month of January, we will be reposting some of the top posts from 2018. We hope these will encourage you and connect to your heart. Stay tuned for all new posts coming in February 2018!

Editor’s Note: This semester women have read Hebrews 12:1-2 and shared what God placed on their heart. We are cheering you on in your journey of faith in Christ!

You know that plan for your life? The one you’ve been dreaming about since you were a little girl? Mine somewhat looked like: getting married to a great man, having a job so great it didn’t feel like a job, and having two, maybe three kids by the time I was thirty, three years apart max. Does that saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans” ring a bell?

The married a great man part, nailed it!

The having a job so great it doesn’t feel like a job, I’ve got that one in the bag.

The two, maybe three kids by the time I’m thirty, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, we have been INCREDIBLY blessed with an all boy, ornery, “just like his daddy”, fun, three year old after an incredibly traumatic miscarriage and two years of longing for that positive pregnancy test, and we are SO thankful for him.

But who knew you could still battle infertility after having a successful pregnancy? I didn’t. But, here we are again. The sting is just as fierce as the first go round, and the hurt is just as deep, but seeking God and His plan over my own has left me in a true state of peace.

We all have that one thing, or maybe more than one, that we want healing from. Whether it be a life altering disease, a broken marriage, a financial situation, the broken heart of losing a loved one, an addiction… mine is infertility.

Mark 5:34 says, “Jesus said to the woman, ‘You are now well because of your faith. May God give you peace! You are healed, and you will no longer be in pain’ ”. This has been a comforting passage for me over and over again, but I remember a particular morning during Sunday morning worship, crying as I asked God, “Why have you not fulfilled the desires of my heart? Why have I been left unhealed? I have always had faith in you and give you the glory!” I heard Him whisper, “Seek me. Not just the healing that I can provide you.” You might as well have knocked me over physically, because I was floored! Isn’t that our human nature though?

I’ll follow God, so then I’ll be blessed.

I’ll tithe my first 10%, so I’ll reap a hundred fold.

I’ll praise His name, so that I may be healed.

And the list goes on.

But what if we stopped looking for our own benefit and just started following, praising, seeking and loving God above all else just because He is God and he is GOOD!?

Trust me, I’m preaching to the choir here, we are in the same boat ladies. I mean, of course I want God to show me His plan for my family, give me the joy of a second child, and bless my family like only He can, but my trust in Him and His perfect and detailed plan has to be based on how good He is and how he loves me, not what He can do for me, because let’s be real, He’s already given me His all.

That true state of peace I talked about earlier? It has been found during this time of my life when I have decided to quit dwelling on the things I don’t have yet, and thanking God for the things He has blessed me with. Seeking His mercy on the days that I fall into that “why me” trap, His love when I worry about what or what doesn’t lie ahead, and His goodness everyday are a few of the things that keep me longing for the Healer, not just the healing.

I wish this was one of those stories that I could tell you that my prayers have been answered because of my trust in Him. But just because that hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean He is done and that His plan is not perfect.

Keep seeking, trusting, and loving Him. Because He is GOOD.

We would like to thank Beckah Hunt for writing this post!

You Want Me to What?

During the month of January, we will be reposting some of the top posts from 2018. We hope these will encourage you and connect to your heart. Stay tuned for all new posts coming in February 2018!

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.