One Yes at a Time!

One Yes at a Time!

Editor’s note: During the month of June, we are focusing on “Created To Do Good Works.” Ephesians 2:10 states that “we are God’s handiworks, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I pray that you will search for ways to be God’s handiwork as we learn from other women.

When I think about good works and the deeds that are pleasing to the Lord, I often think of my father. To me, he was the very definition of a “people person” because he loved everyone. His true good works that caught the attention of many longing and lonely souls during his time on earth were simply loving people as they were. It wasn’t anything fancy or complicated, it was just how he lived. That is what has stuck out to me since his passing – our good works are directly related to how we live!

In John 15:5, it says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” When we remain plugged into the Word and spend more time with the Lord, we tend to produce and bear more meaningful fruit – KINGDOM CHANGING FRUIT! John 15:8 says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

None of us are perfect and the Lord knows and sees when our branches become a little too heavy and occasionally even break off. But even when we droop from the pressure of this world, all we need to do is ask for help. Ask for the Lord to help hold your branch up or even graft you back into the vine. It’s here in this vulnerable place that He begins to do a new work in us and allows our lives to become more like His. When we know His voice and can follow His direction, stepping out in faith to help a friend or even a stranger becomes a little less intimidating when we know He’s asking us to do so. Sharing our trials with those who may be facing something similar can be encouraging, both to ourselves as confirmation of the Lord speaking to us, and to those in the middle of the battle. Moments like these when others listened and obeyed changed my life.

Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that as children of the King, we were created to do good works. He chose YOU and ME and He has specific plans in mind for our lives. Receive that truth and dig into what He’s calling you to do. It will, in turn, bring honor and glory to Him and change the world, one yes at a time!

We would like to thank Christian Greer for writing this blog post.

Send Me, Lord

Send Me, Lord

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8, NKJV).

If I can be honest, before I knew God, I never imagined I could be useful to God or that He could use me to share Jesus with others. My idea of being a Christian when I began my walk consisted of a checklist. It went a little like this:

Go to church (check)

Own a bible (check)

Get prayer occasionally (check)

Follow Jesus (hmm–what does that look like?) (check)

Repeat weekly (check) 

The truth is that God wasn’t looking for me to check off a list every week. He was looking for my heart. We see this truth in the book of Samuel: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7, AMP). ‬‬

As I began to get to know Jesus, I began to grasp the magnitude of what He did for me on the cross: “But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, AMP). The more I pondered this truth, the more I began to fall deeply in love with Jesus. That love was followed by a deep, burning desire within me for others to know Jesus. I wanted everyone to know what Jesus had done in my life.

I grew up an angry, rebellious teenager. I was a teen mom at the age of 14. I was holding on to so much unforgiveness, guilt, and shame from my past. I had allowed the enemy to whisper lies to me, and I had believed them all. But now, I recognized them for what they were–lies–and I opened myself up to God’s truth and the good news that I was forgiven (1 John 1:9). I wanted to share this Good News, but I wasn’t sure where to start. I began sharing what Jesus had done for me at church, with my family and friends, and even with people I didn’t know at restaurants, grocery stores, and work . 

When we think of impacting the world around us by sharing the Gospel, we naturally tend to think it has to be big. But God has called us to be faithful, even in the small (Luke 16:10). God has blessed my family with opportunities to travel spreading His Good News in places where numbers were vast and others where attendance was low. We’ve entered communities of affluence and also places that were destitute and afflicted with crime. All these places have one thing in common: God moved.

One of my favorite promises from God is “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20, NIV). I’ve always wondered why He started by saying two or three. Why not a hundred? Why not a thousand? Surely He wouldn’t be able to miss a thousand people praying in His name. But the God we serve doesn’t devalue our efforts because of small numbers. He’s looking for obedience that comes out of the abundance of our hearts. Our heart for God leads us into a deep desire to share His love with others and a courage to say, “send me; I’ll go” like Isaiah did. Isaiah didn’t ask God questions like, “How far is it? How many people will be there? How much work is it going to be?” He simply raised his voice and said, “I’ll do it! Send me; I’ll go!”

I ask God that He would give me the strength, courage, and wisdom to make myself available willing to be sent wherever He needs me to go. Through the years, I’ve learned the promises that follow when we submit to His will over our own for the advancement of the Kingdom of God–and those promises are eternal. He needs me. He needs you. Always be ready to share the Good News when and where God asks you to. 

I pray that you would submit to God in everything you do and have courage and boldness to step out in faith wherever you are sent, always inviting the Holy Spirit to guide you and lead you, imitating Christ everywhere you go with your actions and speech, walking in obedience, and loving people like Jesus did.

We would like to thank Cristella Urrutia for writing this blog post.

The Power of the Tongue

The Power of the Tongue

Editors note: During the month of April, we are focusing on “My Words Have Power”. Proverbs 18:21 says that “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Our words can speak life or death into those around us. Which will you choose?

Do you remember that little jingle that was exchanged on the playground growing up?  I remember singing it as a child after somebody uttered some string of words that hurt me… it went like this: 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.  

Just now, as I typed that phrase, I said aloud to myself: ‘Whoever made that silly thing up knew nothing of the human spirit’. I’ll be honest: I prefer a broken bone from a stick or stone over the spiritual destruction of words any day.  

I can think back on times in my life when my spirit was crushed. The kind of crushing that inevitably left painfully salient memories.  The most horrendous pain was caused by something someone said to me.  Words that cut so deep, creating wounds only Jesus and time could heal. 

You see, we carry a weapon of mass destruction around in our mouths.  But the same tongue that has the power to speak death, can also speak life.  Our words can build others up, or they can tear them down. (Proverbs 18:21)

When I was asked to contribute to the blog on this subject, my mind raced as I began to pray about and brainstorm on what angle to take.  I eventually settled on focusing on where we spend most of our waking hours: the workplace. 

As an educator, in 8 short hours, I encounter over 150 souls that I directly influence, and who influence me.  My eyes widened and my mouth went a bit dry as I typed that sentence…it can be a daunting thought if I’m not confident that my words are life giving.  I’m certain that your circle of influence is just as large, if not larger than mine.  The sheer magnitude of the responsibility we have every single day to pour life into those around us is staggering.  Unfortunately, I’m not perfect and I’m willing to bet you’re not either.

Even still, with all my imperfections and shortcomings, I’d like to give some practical biblical advice on how we can affect those around us positively.  And also how we can heal and help those we love to heal from the wounds that others’ words so often produce. 

How to keep a gentle tongue

Proverbs 18:21 is possibly the most cited verse when it comes to the power of the tongue.  While it describes the life and death our words can evoke, it does not tell us HOW to keep a gentle tongue.  Paul tells us how though: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt .”(Colossians 4:6).  James also gave us a nugget of gold when he said “But everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19).  Peter says to lead “with gentleness and reverence” (I Peter 3:15).

These directives on keeping a gentle tongue are so important in every interaction, especially in the workplace.  Have you ever been in a situation at work where a superior used unkind words, derogatory words, words of condescension or even sarcasm to get their point across to you? I have.  And when this happens to me, a fire is not put under me to work harder.  In fact, the opposite happens.  I feel worthless, I feel bogged down by the words of the enemy seeping through my veins telling me that I do not have what it takes. I am completely deflated in those moments.  The intention behind the exchange may have been to get me to work harder, work better, be more productive… but, the opposite happens in those conditions.  People thrive when they feel encouraged, seen, heard, and empowered. People thrive when they feel supported. Let us not diminish the power of encouraging words in the workplace.  Words of encouragement light the fire that get our limbs moving and our creative juices flowing.  

Jesus was the perfect example of gentleness.  “All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth” (Luke 4:22).  When we stay closer to Jesus, keep our eyes on Him, and begin each exchange with a grateful heart, I truly believe it’s nearly impossible to use words that are not gentle. The two are mutually exclusive. When we stay close to our Savior, He speaks through us, and His words are always gentle. 

How to heal after words of death have been spoken over you:

For true healing, I think it’s important that we understand what it takes for someone to use words in a hurtful way.  It was said so eloquently in our Among Friends Podcast by one of our own, Macy Williams.  She said, “Hurt people hurt people”. Simple, yet so profound. When you are hurt by the words from another’s tongue, having an understanding that those words derive from a place of pain in their own experience takes the pressure off you completely.  You then understand that you have NOT deserved their hurtful words.  It helps you to realize that their words likely have absolutely nothing to do with you at all and more to do with what they’re going through.  So, when we’re hurt by another’s words: let’s pray for that person.  Pray that God will guide them gently through whatever pain they’re experiencing.  When we team up with Jesus in prayer to ask for healing for the person spewing hurtful words, our hearts begin to heal in a real way.  

Kind words are like honey; sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.Proverbs 15:28

May we all be the deliverer and recipient of words like honey.  As you start your day tomorrow and all the days to follow, have a grateful heart tied close to your Lord and Savior.  Pray for those that you know are hurting and have the potential to use their tongues to destroy, just as we all need prayer when we are in pain. And stay in constant prayer over your own tongue.  Just as the Psalmist prayed, let’s also pray: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)

We would like to thank Elizabeth Loeffler for writing this post.

Gardening from the Heart

Genesis 1:11-12
“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’  And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

As I prayed about what to share about my garden and my experiences with gardening, my heart was continually drawn to look at the heart of the one true Gardener… God!

God has created each of us to plant our own gardens with His seeds. He has directed us to plan, prepare, plant and enjoy time in the garden, live in freedom, and enjoy our lives! 

In scripture, God refers to seeds as His words that are not perishable seeds, but imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

Just as God has given us His seeds (words) to plant, sow, water and nourish, He has also given us talents to plant and grow flower gardens for beauty or vegetable gardens for nourishment. Which ever garden you desire, here are a few tips to help you design and grow your gardens.

Gardening tips : Easy Gardening 

  • Make a plan – Find a space – Check out amount of time for sun or shade in that space.
  • Check out Better Homes and Garden – Free garden plans (5 Easy Garden Plans ) or other websites.
  • Prepare – Clean it up and add necessary nutrients with fertilizer, compost and/or garden soil.
  • Flowers – Look around your neighborhood, visit with professionals or friends or check out Pinterest. 
  • Head to Nursery – Read the cards – Annuals vs. perennials – Sun vs. shade.
  • Budget – Know what you can afford and shop around! Sometimes people are thinning out their flowers and you can get free flowers – start from seed if you have time.
  • Plant – use a variety, mix colors and textures, add rocks or other decorative items.
  • Feed/Water – Water daily and feed once a month (dry fertilizer).
  • Deadhead – Cut off dead flowers. This allows for a second flush to develop. Weed. Add or move flowers as needed.
  • Mulch – Helps to control weeds and holds moisture.

My encouragement to you is: as you plant flowers and seeds in your gardens this Spring and Summer, take time and speak to the Ultimate Gardener and ask where your spiritual seeds can be planted! 

…Be patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2) as you wait on The Lord for His seeds (words) to flourish in the hearts of the people God places on your heart. The Lord will bless your efforts as you design, plant, nurture and love your gardens.

“The glory of gardening: 
          hands in the dirt,
          head in the sun, 
          heart with nature.
To nurture a garden
          is to feed not 
          just on the body,
          but the soul.”
                           Alfred Austin

Happy Gardening!

We would like to thank Bambi Lutrick for writing this post!

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.

True Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife

 

Sometimes I don’t feel very spiritual…there, I said it. It’s true…off and on throughout our marriage, I’ve questioned whether what I’m doing is actually “advancing God’s Kingdom.”  Is it profitable, or should I do something else?

This week, June 29, Brad and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage. That number is CRAZY to me. We have served in every area imaginable at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Plainview, Texas.  I always knew I’d marry a pastor and that we would serve in a local church…but throughout the span of 21 years, I never imagined how my life would be challenged, how much I’d grow in my love for Christ and my love for others. Or that we’d find ourselves where we are today, leading and loving the most humble and giving people I’ve ever met.  And yet, in the middle of such a great life, I’ve continually found myself questioning my role.  Does what I’m doing matter?  Is it really enough for me to love Brad and serve him and our family?  Is it enough that I show up on Sundays and hug those I run into and pray for people God puts on my heart?  Too often I’ve felt like I could be doing more, and I’ve questioned whether I’m making a difference.  

God so graciously spoke His truth to my heart a few weeks ago concerning this issue. I was once again in my cycle of feeling unimportant and useless. I was reading in Malachi, and I came across the verses in 3:13-15:

‘Your words have been arrogant against Me,’ says the Lord. ‘Yet you say, “What have we spoken against You?” You have said, “It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts? So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.’

You see, after reading that I realized my words have been arrogant against God. Who am I to say my work isn’t enough, to question if what I’m doing is vain or profiting God’s Kingdom?  Brad and I, to the best of our ability, have prayed and listened to God’s direction. We’ve lived in such a way that our family is surrendered to Christ. And in this obedience life is found.  In this obedience God produces abundance.   I quickly repented for my arrogant words toward God and asked Him to renew my mind. 

I write this post not to get any accolades or reassurance to my place in the church, but to encourage you, the reader. 

I can’t help believing more people than just me have ever felt this way. I think in general women question their place and whether what they’re doing is making a difference, and what I want to say to you is yes!  Yes, it is!  When we are listening to the Holy Spirit and following His lead, what He’s asking us to do is not in vain. It is for a purpose. It’s to advance His Kingdom. 

Each diaper you change, each paper you grade, each dinner you make, each hug you give, each prayer you pray, each text of encouragement that you send, each word of affirmation you give to your husband or your child or your friend. It matters, it’s changing lives, it’s impacting this world for Christ, and it’s not in vain. 

And our service at church…wow, what an impact it’s making in our community.  Over 80% of our members serve in our church. That number is unheard of. I promise you, God sees where you’re giving, and He says it is not in vain.  

So let’s keep being women who hear the voice of God and obey His calling, and let’s stay in a place of humility where we don’t question our calling, where we agree with God’s word, that what we’re doing is making a difference. It is changing this world for Christ. We all look different; our callings and careers are different. It’s the beauty of Christ. What a gift we are to this world.  

Lovingly,

Julie

This post was written by Julie Snellgrove. To read more about her, click here. 

My Struggle with Depression–And My Healing

God has done so many wonderful things in my life, giving me many stories to tell of His goodness.  One story involves a battle that I have fought three different times in my life—chemical depression.  I have often had background skirmishes, but three times the battle has been more intense.

When I say they were major battles, I am not saying that flippantly.  Each episode had different degrees of symptoms but some overall themes were:  great anxiety, strange physical symptoms, total lack of hunger, inability to sleep, feeling hopeless (and you sure need hope in this!), and inability to concentrate.  My whole body would feel weird, and it seemed like I couldn’t remember feeling normal.

This particular story was during the worst episode which occurred after the birth of my first daughter in the form of post-partum depression.  I hardly even want to go there to explain how dark a time period that was, but that’s also when I saw God’s hand move in a miraculous way. When you have endured several months without sleeping, without much eating, and with no peace whatsoever it can wear on you in a big way, especially when caring for a baby.  We lived in Houston at the time, and my mom came to help me.

I remember crying out to God out of total desperation in my closet one day (yes, I sometimes pray in my actual closet).  The next Sunday at church I met someone during the greeting time named Sandy.  Our church was fairly large (a few thousand people), so I didn’t know everyone and I hadn’t remembered seeing her before.  I had to leave to go to the nursery to tend to my daughter which happened so often that everyone knew my number on the screen—0012 (which I still remember 20 years later).

While I was gone Sandy came to my mom and asked her if I was going through a hard time, and my mother briefly explained the situation.  Sandy replied that God had put it on her heart for several days to pray for a person named Karen who was going through great difficulty.  When we had met, she was very intrigued that my name was Karen and asked the Lord if I was the one she had been praying for which the Lord confirmed.  Through that encounter we talked more, and she relayed to me that the battle would end and it helped me get started on a different path.  It sure wasn’t immediate by any means, and many dark days were still ahead.

Yet, I cannot describe what comfort it was to me for the Lord to reach out to me in that way to let me know that He saw my pain, that He sent someone to pray for me, and He gave me hope that I would get past this battle.  He met me where I was!

God is so great and loves us so much.  God not only helped me in this supernatural way, but He revealed to me some ways in the natural to combat the depression as well.  When I say depression, that can mean anxiety or depression or a combination.  I learned that they are two sides of one coin.  They both are the result of a serotonin deficiency, and your body and personality may just manifest them in different ways.

As for supernatural means to fight it, obviously, we should first seek God to show us what we in particular need to do.  Due to your brain feeling so muddled when chemically depressed, that may require the help of Godly friends (or a counselor) who will seek God with you.  Here are some supernatural weapons that I found to be effective for me:

  • Praying God’s Word over myself, declaring that I have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), that no weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17), that great is my peace (Psalm 119:165), and that God’s peace would guard my mind (Philipians 4:7).
  • Praying in tongues, especially when I didn’t know what else to pray.
  • Praising God! The Word says that you put on (like clothing) the garment of praise in exchange for the garment of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). This could be through music or by pouring out the praise in your heart to Him in plain words.
  • Keep standing! Sometimes existing for another day is a victory and one step closer to complete victory.

As for natural weapons, medical research is making great strides in this area. (I grew up wanting to be a doctor, and I read these types of things because they are so interesting to me.)  Recently, research has pointed to inflammation in the body (or even an allergy to inflammation) as being a cause of depression, but there are many, many causes, and there are many effective natural ways to battle it:

  • In terms of drugs, in my three battles, one time I used a natural herb (St John’s Wort), once I stuck it out long enough that the depression eased on its own, and once I took a prescription anti-depressant. You have to do what’s right for YOU, receiving no condemnation for what path you feel is best in this area.
  • Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to be as effective as a prescription anti-depressant if done regularly.  (The scientist in me wants to give references for this but it is pretty prevalent anywhere you want to look this stuff up.)
  • Taking an Omega-3 oil supplement (or flaxseed or walnuts) is great for the brain.
  • Finding out what is a trigger for you can help. In the most recent battle, my doctor and I realized that the three times that have been true battles for me were all associated with a major drop in hormones.
  • Seeing a medical doctor to be tested for things like low thyroid or even food allergies/sensitivities.
  • Making sure to do everything in your power to be thinking right thoughts.
  • Having a good, loving circle of friends standing with you (or God can even provide a stranger like how He did for me in Houston—He’s limitless!).
  • Talking to a counselor. I do think that if there are any underlying physical causes then addressing those first helps the therapy to be even more effective.

One more word to the wise:  I found that everyone has an opinion about depression and anxiety.  Some will say it is only caused by hormones out of whack because that is what their experience has been.  Some will tell you that you are just not thinking right, and you just need to start thinking right.  Others may say that prescription medicine is the only way to go.

I think of it as how different blind-folded people see an elephant—the one holding the trunk think it’s hard, the one holding the tail think it is feathery, the one holding the legs think it is like a tree.  Our understanding of depression is so limited at this time and can have so many DIFFERENT causes and cures.  The good news is that God can see “the whole elephant” and knows how to deliver you!  Our victory is assured as we follow His pathway to deliverance!

This post was written by Karen Earhart. To read more about her, click here.

**Note: This is one person’s story, and not advice from a professional doctor. If you are in a place of depression, please contact the HCF offices for a list of trusted counseling resources (click here for Campus contact numbers).

True Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife

Sometimes I don’t feel very spiritual…there, I said it. It’s true…off and on throughout our marriage, I’ve questioned whether what I’m doing is actually “advancing God’s Kingdom.”  Is it profitable, or should I do something else?

This week, June 29, Brad and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage. That number is CRAZY to me. We have served in every area imaginable at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Plainview, Texas.  I always knew I’d marry a pastor and that we would serve in a local church…but throughout the span of 21 years, I never imagined how my life would be challenged, how much I’d grow in my love for Christ and my love for others. Or that we’d find ourselves where we are today, leading and loving the most humble and giving people I’ve ever met.  And yet, in the middle of such a great life, I’ve continually found myself questioning my role.  Does what I’m doing matter?  Is it really enough for me to love Brad and serve him and our family?  Is it enough that I show up on Sundays and hug those I run into and pray for people God puts on my heart?  Too often I’ve felt like I could be doing more, and I’ve questioned whether I’m making a difference.  

God so graciously spoke His truth to my heart a few weeks ago concerning this issue. I was once again in my cycle of feeling unimportant and useless. I was reading in Malachi, and I came across the verses in 3:13-15:

‘Your words have been arrogant against Me,’ says the Lord. ‘Yet you say, “What have we spoken against You?” You have said, “It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts? So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.’

You see, after reading that I realized my words have been arrogant against God. Who am I to say my work isn’t enough, to question if what I’m doing is vain or profiting God’s Kingdom?  Brad and I, to the best of our ability, have prayed and listened to God’s direction. We’ve lived in such a way that our family is surrendered to Christ. And in this obedience life is found.  In this obedience God produces abundance.   I quickly repented for my arrogant words toward God and asked Him to renew my mind. 

I write this post not to get any accolades or reassurance to my place in the church, but to encourage you, the reader. 

I can’t help believing more people than just me have ever felt this way. I think in general women question their place and whether what they’re doing is making a difference, and what I want to say to you is yes!  Yes, it is!  When we are listening to the Holy Spirit and following His lead, what He’s asking us to do is not in vain. It is for a purpose. It’s to advance His Kingdom. 

Each diaper you change, each paper you grade, each dinner you make, each hug you give, each prayer you pray, each text of encouragement that you send, each word of affirmation you give to your husband or your child or your friend. It matters, it’s changing lives, it’s impacting this world for Christ, and it’s not in vain. 

And our service at church…wow, what an impact it’s making in our community.  Over 80% of our members serve in our church. That number is unheard of. I promise you, God sees where you’re giving, and He says it is not in vain.  

We just finished a week at our Catalyst Youth Camp. As I watched countless sponsors love and serve on over 140 of our teens, my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude, admiration, and appreciation.  

Each sponsor not only took a week’s worth of vacation, they also paid their own way to go to camp. It was a huge sacrifice and a huge commitment—one I understand and one I’ve embraced many times throughout the years.  The life of a Christian is one of sacrifice and commitment. It’s laying down one’s own agenda to love and serve others.  It’s something you don’t fully understand until you’ve fully surrendered to Christ and His word.  And this work, this way of living, this life of surrender is not done in vain. It’s done out of obedience, and it advances God’s Kingdom. 

So let’s keep being women who hear the voice of God and obey His calling, and let’s stay in a place of humility where we don’t question our calling, where we agree with God’s word, that what we’re doing is making a difference. It is changing this world for Christ. We all look different; our callings and careers are different. It’s the beauty of Christ. What a gift we are to this world.  

Lovingly,

Julie

This post was written by Julie Snellgrove. To read more about her, click here. 

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Honestly

Honestly, I never thought myself as much of a caregiver. Yes, I loved my ministry as a mom and wife, but that was in my wheelhouse. I was MADE for it!

Yet, God chose to stretch me.

In 2001, an elderly couple asked me and my husband to be their medical guardians. Their only child had been killed in 1997 at the age of 40. So, they chose us and we chose them. From that moment on, we were their ‘Smith kids.’

We sailed along for several years…no major hiccups. Even in their mid-70s, they were able to take care of themselves. I stayed in the wings, taking them to appointments, knowing their medical issues but leaving it up to them.

Then, in 2009, Mrs. Roberson was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The stretching I spoke of earlier, this is where it starts. The decision was made to fight it.  Since I’m a cancer survivor (that actually came in handy!), I knew the lingo and the cancer community in Lubbock. The race was on. Chemo, radiation, surgeries, colostomy, and the devastating side effects of all that. They looked to me for strength, guidance, and hands-on care.

Mr. Roberson wasn’t in good physical condition, so I learned quickly to love even though my flesh was saying ‘no’ when treating the chemo side effects and changing a colostomy bag. I learned to fight for her because, frankly, the elderly are often ignored. When I thought I had reached my limit I would rely on Psalm 71:9:

Do not cast me away when I’m old;  do not forsake me when my strength is gone.

Mrs. Roberson died in 2012. I had promised her she wouldn’t die alone, and that I would take care of Mr. Roberson. I kept those promises. I learned so much from her graciousness and strength in the battle. 

Mr. Roberson never left the nursing home after her death. Battling years of obesity, a bad heart, old and worn out joints that left him in agony, a slight addiction to pain meds, and many other issues…it often proved too much. Hard decisions legally fell to me and my husband. Decisions that were made somewhat easier by the promises we had made to Mr. Roberson: he wouldn’t die hurting, he wouldn’t die alone, and we would take care of him and fight for him.

He died this last November.

I’m so happy to have allowed myself to care for them. We were related by choice, not blood. After we had chosen each other as family, I came across this scripture in my prayers:

If anyone doesn’t provide for their family, he has denied his faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

I was created in part to take care of those two old people.  I see now that by allowing God to use me in ways that were so uncomfortable, He taught me humility and compassion. He taught me to get over myself and my hang-ups and discomfort with sickness and disease and death. The lesson is to love with unflinching compassion.

This post was written by Deborah Smith. To read more about her, click here. 

My Struggle with Depression–and My Healing

God has done so many wonderful things in my life, giving me many stories to tell of His goodness.  One story involves a battle that I have fought three different times in my life—chemical depression.  I have often had background skirmishes, but three times the battle has been more intense.

When I say they were major battles, I am not saying that flippantly.  Each episode had different degrees of symptoms but some overall themes were:  great anxiety, strange physical symptoms, total lack of hunger, inability to sleep, feeling hopeless (and you sure need hope in this!), and inability to concentrate.  My whole body would feel weird, and it seemed like I couldn’t remember feeling normal.

This particular story was during the worst episode which occurred after the birth of my first daughter in the form of post-partum depression.  I hardly even want to go there to explain how dark a time period that was, but that’s also when I saw God’s hand move in a miraculous way. When you have endured several months without sleeping, without much eating, and with no peace whatsoever it can wear on you in a big way, especially when caring for a baby.  We lived in Houston at the time, and my mom came to help me.

I remember crying out to God out of total desperation in my closet one day (yes, I sometimes pray in my actual closet).  The next Sunday at church I met someone during the greeting time named Sandy.  Our church was fairly large (a few thousand people), so I didn’t know everyone and I hadn’t remembered seeing her before.  I had to leave to go to the nursery to tend to my daughter which happened so often that everyone knew my number on the screen—0012 (which I still remember 20 years later).

While I was gone Sandy came to my mom and asked her if I was going through a hard time, and my mother briefly explained the situation.  Sandy replied that God had put it on her heart for several days to pray for a person named Karen who was going through great difficulty.  When we had met, she was very intrigued that my name was Karen and asked the Lord if I was the one she had been praying for which the Lord confirmed.  Through that encounter we talked more, and she relayed to me that the battle would end and it helped me get started on a different path.  It sure wasn’t immediate by any means, and many dark days were still ahead.

Yet, I cannot describe what comfort it was to me for the Lord to reach out to me in that way to let me know that He saw my pain, that He sent someone to pray for me, and He gave me hope that I would get past this battle.  He met me where I was!

God is so great and loves us so much.  God not only helped me in this supernatural way, but He revealed to me some ways in the natural to combat the depression as well.  When I say depression, that can mean anxiety or depression or a combination.  I learned that they are two sides of one coin.  They both are the result of a serotonin deficiency, and your body and personality may just manifest them in different ways.

As for supernatural means to fight it, obviously, we should first seek God to show us what we in particular need to do.  Due to your brain feeling so muddled when chemically depressed, that may require the help of Godly friends (or a counselor) who will seek God with you.  Here are some supernatural weapons that I found to be effective for me:

  • Praying God’s Word over myself, declaring that I have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), that no weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17), that great is my peace (Psalm 119:165), and that God’s peace would guard my mind (Philipians 4:7).
  • Praying in tongues, especially when I didn’t know what else to pray.
  • Praising God! The Word says that you put on (like clothing) the garment of praise in exchange for the garment of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). This could be through music or by pouring out the praise in your heart to Him in plain words.
  • Keep standing! Sometimes existing for another day is a victory and one step closer to complete victory.

As for natural weapons, medical research is making great strides in this area. (I grew up wanting to be a doctor, and I read these types of things because they are so interesting to me.)  Recently, research has pointed to inflammation in the body (or even an allergy to inflammation) as being a cause of depression, but there are many, many causes, and there are many effective natural ways to battle it:

  • In terms of drugs, in my three battles, one time I used a natural herb (St John’s Wort), once I stuck it out long enough that the depression eased on its own, and once I took a prescription anti-depressant. You have to do what’s right for YOU, receiving no condemnation for what path you feel is best in this area.
  • Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to be as effective as a prescription anti-depressant if done regularly.  (The scientist in me wants to give references for this but it is pretty prevalent anywhere you want to look this stuff up.)
  • Taking an Omega-3 oil supplement (or flaxseed or walnuts) is great for the brain.
  • Finding out what is a trigger for you can help. In the most recent battle, my doctor and I realized that the three times that have been true battles for me were all associated with a major drop in hormones.
  • Seeing a medical doctor to be tested for things like low thyroid or even food allergies/sensitivities.
  • Making sure to do everything in your power to be thinking right thoughts.
  • Having a good, loving circle of friends standing with you (or God can even provide a stranger like how He did for me in Houston—He’s limitless!).
  • Talking to a counselor. I do think that if there are any underlying physical causes then addressing those first helps the therapy to be even more effective.

One more word to the wise:  I found that everyone has an opinion about depression and anxiety.  Some will say it is only caused by hormones out of whack because that is what their experience has been.  Some will tell you that you are just not thinking right, and you just need to start thinking right.  Others may say that prescription medicine is the only way to go.

I think of it as how different blind-folded people see an elephant—the one holding the trunk think it’s hard, the one holding the tail think it is feathery, the one holding the legs think it is like a tree.  Our understanding of depression is so limited at this time and can have so many DIFFERENT causes and cures.  The good news is that God can see “the whole elephant” and knows how to deliver you!  Our victory is assured as we follow His pathway to deliverance!

This post was written by Karen Earhart. To read more about her, click here.

**Note: This is one person’s story, and not advice from a professional doctor. If you are in a place of depression, please contact the HCF offices for a list of trusted counseling resources (click here for Campus contact numbers).