Girlfriend's Road Trip: Traveling Together
"You were all called to travel the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. (Eph. 4:3, MSG)

This is one of my favorite verses when it comes to friendship and doing life together. From the beginning of time, God knew it was not good for us to be alone. He created us to be together in relationship - with Him and each other. Designed in His image, our need for relationships and community comes from God - who has always been in community - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I sat across the table from two women this weekend (at a retreat I was speaking at) who had been friends for 60 years!!! They were precious and beautiful inside and out! I wanted to spend the whole day with them listening to thier stories about grade school, family vacations, shopping adventures and everything else they've done together.

I was envious of how they loved each other, how well they knew each other, and how obvious it was that they enjoyed each other. They'd finish each other's sentences when one paused. Their husbands had played football together with a few others that were part of their "group". Now both of them had been widowed and counted on each other for companionship and laughter.

They shared how intentional they've been to make it a lasting priority. It didn't just happen. They've vacationed as families for years. When they were young and had little money, they'd all get together to have a meal while all the kids would play. They have a date to play cards once a week. They have an understanding that if one of them is feeling down, they call the other and say, "Hey, I need to get out of the house." They are there for each other no matter what. I told them how much I admired their friendship.

My friend Aimy was with me, and we talked about how different our generation is - how busy we are, how much we depend on technology over person-to-person contact, how much less our busy generation values time together with friends just talking and having fun. We smiled and told them that in January we'd started getting our families together once a month for dinner and games. Then we laughed and said we hope we live long enough to be friends for sixty years!

Today I thought about them and wondered if there will be anyone in my life that I will know for 30, 40 or 50, much less 60 years. What friend will be able to finish my sentences when I am seventy or eighty years old? Who will know me better than I know myself?

This kind of friendship is a rare treasure. But if I want that treasure in my life, I am the only one who can pray for it, look for it and nurture it. I am the worst about letting life get filled up with tasks that take up all my time and leave me too tired to get together with friends. But I know God did not create me to be a human "doing". I am a human being and part of that means "being" with my girlfriends. Even if it means we get together for lunch during our busy work day, or meet to plan our menus for the week, do laundry at one of our houses, clean out each others closets, or go run errands together. It's a start - maybe a road trip to the grocery store with my girlfriend is just what I need!

Jesus' final prayer for His friends reflected His heart's desire for us to be closely connected with each other, "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" (John 17:21).

Girl Talk. Talk is at the heart of women's friendships, the core of our connections . So, let's talk here about ways to get intentional as girlfriends - traveling together both inwardly and outwardly. It's not easy, I know. So, I'd love to hear your thoughts, questions, struggles and stories about your friendship journey. Together we can encourage each other with lessons we've learned along the way in looking for and being a good friend. Click on the word "comments" below to share.

© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Day 8 - Made to Worship

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"They came out of the town and made their way toward him...

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." John 4:28-30, 39-42

All her life Sam had been waiting, hoping and longing for Messiah to come. He’d explain everything to her. Here in this moment He had. It all made sense now. For the first time, Sam understood the thirst of her heart; her longing to be known and understood; the void in her heart that could only be filled by knowing Jesus and being known by Him.

The gift Jesus offered was a relationship. He said that if she drank Living Water it would become a spring within her welling up to eternal life. Jesus describes the relationship of Living Water and eternal life in John 17:3, when He was talking to His father and said: “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the One true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

This is eternal life – that we can know Him! Not just know about Him but really KNOW Him! And in knowing Him our thirst for relationship can be quenched – our souls can be filled – our desires fulfilled. Eventually the relationship we have with Him will become a spring of Living Water – spilling out on those around us – leading them to know Him, too.

Sam drank deeply of the love Jesus offered. Sam surrendered all that she was and all that she had believed. Leaving her water jar behind, Sam left the well and everything that represented who she was when she got there that day at noon. She left behind the jar she carried, the shame she wore, and with it all of the rejection and regrets that were tied to her past. Sam responded in worship - in Spirit and in Truth. She surrendered her need for the approval and acceptance of others and received the authentic and unconditional acceptance of Her Messiah and Lord.

She’d been loved – so she could love.
She’d been forgiven – so she could forgive.
She’d been set free – so she could lead other captives to freedom.
She’d knew she belonged to Him – so she could invite others into the Father’s love.

Instead of running away – Sam ran back to the people she’d be running from. In her first act of true worship, Sam invited them to come and meet the man who told her everything she ever did and loved her deeper still. Her life was a wellspring she couldn’t keep to herself – just as Jesus had promise. In Spirit and in truth Sam’s worship that day led others to the One True God and Jesus Christ whom He had sent. Sam believed. Sam received.

Just like Sam….

You and I were made to worship.
You and I are called to love;
You and I are forgiven and free.
When you and I embrace surrender
you and I choose to believe,
Then You and I will see
who we were meant to be

Click the arrow to hear the rest and worship Him in the power of His promise.

© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Day 7 - Reflections

So sorry for my delays on this post. It's going to be a little long to make up for lost time :->. Here are a few things God has shown me when I read this part of the story, John 4:15-26. I will highlight the verses in purple.

"He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." "I have no husband," she replied.

Just before Jesus told her to go call her husband and come back - He had promised her water that would satisfy the thirst of her soul. In this moment He is drawing her physical eyes away from the physical well and opening her spiritual eyes to the well within her.

I believe Jesus intentionally met her at the well that day because He knew there was a powerful everyday life parallel between her physical thirst and her spiritual thirst. He could have met her at home while she was cooking. He could have met her at the market while she was shopping, or in a dream while she was sleeping. But instead He met her here - at this well filled with water for her thirst.

Jesus know that Sam wore a path to this well each day - back and forth, back and forth. Always returning for more. And, in the same way, she has worn a similar path to the heart of men. When one failed her, rejected her or simply couldn't satisfy her, she looked for another.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

Jesus knew that she would never find what she was looking for in her husbands - or in the man she was now living with. She could never find the love she longed for in a physical relationship. None of them could satisfy her need to be intimately known. No man could fill the empty place in her heart that thirsted for acceptance, a sense of belonging, a deep need to be chosen and loved. A place where she could simply be who she was - not offering anything but her presence - and be desired still the same.

Jesus had come to show her what she was looking for and where she could find it. But first He helped Sam see where and to whom she'd been looking - her husbands and other lovers. He came that day full of grace and truth - to help her see the truth. I love that there was no condemnation - only salvation in His intentions (John 3:17).

She has a choice in this moment- will she go there with Him and talk about her history of marriages? This man knows a whole lot about me - let me find out more about Him. Why focus on my weaknesses when we could talk about his strengths?

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

She asked Jesus where she should go to church to worship. Maybe she'd felt that aching emptiness we all know when something or someone fails us - the aching emptiness that cannot be filled by food, family, shopping, friends, sex, alcohol, etc. Then we wake up Sunday morning and go to church hoping for an emotional experience that will fill or fix it. Maybe she thought that if she went to the right church to worship she'd find the feeling she was looking for. Worship - tt's the perfect lead in to where Jesus wants to take her; what He wants to show her.

Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

I love that Jesus created a safe place for her to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. He invited her to acknowledge the truth of where she was and what she was worshiping
(men). He wanted her to see that she's been worshiping something physical and something false. She's been worshiping a person and a lie. She's been looking to a man and believing that her value was determined by his love and acceptance.

Jesus opened her spiritual eyes to see what she'd been looking to.
Jesus knew she didn't need a new place to worship, she needed a new Person to worship - the One True God - the very One she'd been waiting and watching for.

The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

He'd explain everything to her? Yes sweet Jesus - You JUST DID!!

Oh Lord, help us to pause today and go with you to a place of truth. Help us to see where we are in our search for something that will satisfy the thirst of our hearts. Open our spiritual eyes and show us if there is anyone or anything in a place of preeminence where only You belong. Lord pour the Living Water - of Your love, Your assurance, Your acceptance, Your value of us - deep into our souls. Help us to worship You and You alone in all that we do today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Day 6 - Up Close and Personal Mini-Study

John 4:15-26

He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."

"I have no husband," she replied.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

This time, I'd love for you to read the scriptures and share with me (us) what you see in this passage. Why do you think Jesus asked her to go get her husband? Why do you think she kind of avoids the husband issue and focuses on where she should worship? Or is there something else that catches your attention.

I love how God speaks to all of us differently through the same passage so I really want to hear what you are thinking. Please click on the word "comments" below to share your thoughts. I'll be back later to share mine.

Good Friday Blessings ~

Day 5 - Up Close and Personal Mini-Study
This story/reflection has been added to since the original post.

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

John 4:13-15
Sam had been coming to this well for as long as she could remember. It was given to the Samaritans by their forefather, Jacob. It was a source she came to each day to meet her physical needs. It helped her fulfill the many roles and responsibilities she had as a woman.For Sam, traveling to the well was like us running errands at Target or Wal Mart - it had something for the many "departments" in life - cleaning, cooking, bathing and drinking.

It was part of their heritage and a blessing to have this well, but Sam knew Jesus was right in saying that everyone who drank from this well got thirsty again. She came back everyday for more.

Jesus told Sam that if she drank the water He offered, she'd never thirst - she'd have all she needed. Then He went on to explain the life-transforming power of the Living Water He offered. But our sweet friend Sam didn't understand the gift Jesus offered. She didn't yet know who she was talking to. She didn't hear His life-giving promise. She must have only heard the first part of his sentence which equated in her mind to"this could make my life convenient."

To Sam never thirsting meant she wouldn't have to come back to the well she walked to each day. Her errands would be shorter - her to do list cut in half!

"Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." (ie. Make my life easier so I don't have to walk all this way every day.)

Can you imagine reading a promise in God's Word and thinking that if God fulfilled it, you'd never having to run to Target or Wal Mart again? Sam knew this could revolutionize her whole schedule. Imagine all that she could get done in the time she spent walking to the well, getting enough water to fill her jar and walking back.

I am like Sam. I also fall into "this would make my life easier" perspectives when I hear God's promises, and sometimes I miss all that God has and wants to give me on a much deeper level.

Some days in my attempts to make life easier, I'll show God my day-timer with my list of things I need to get done and ask Him to make me really efficient. But what if instead, I asked Him to show me what He has planned for me, to reveal Himself to me in every assignment I had so I could experience more of His peace and presence that day.

Recently I asked him to make my child's cold go away so he could get back to school and our home could get back to normal. But later I discovered that God wanted to use that "inconvenient pause" to bring me a place of dependence on Him and closeness with my child who had been pulling away. I wanted life to be easier but He wanted intimacy.

Other times I'll mention surface issues in my prayers as I hurry into my day, hoping He'll bless my efforts, calm my worries, and give me good sleep so life tomorrow won't be as challenging.

Sam needed Jesus to change more than the course of her day - she needed Him to change the course of her life. She had more than a physical need. She had a deep spiritual need that only He could fill. In the next few verses, Jesus will draw Sam's attention to the well of her heart that she's trying to fill with water from broken cisterns (men who could not love her the way she was designed to be loved).

But before we go there with them, let's pause here to ponder Sam's response to Jesus. Let's ask God to show us how we, like Sam, can miss the deeper spiritual blessings He has to offer...
  • Do I sometimes miss the depth of God's promises by seeking convenience over conviction (life-change)?

  • Are most of my prayers focused on surface needs, or do I dare to go deeper to where my spiritual thirsts "well up"?

  • Do I ask God to satisfy my daily spiritual thirst so I can be filled with the freedom of grace and forgiveness of eternal life Jesus offers me.)
Please know I'm not saying God isn't concerned with our surface needs. He met a big 'felt need' for my family this weekend through Four House Showings and a Lost Dog. He does it all the time. I need and love how He cares about every detail in our lives. I just know I can stay on the surface if I'm not intentional, because it doesn't take as much time. But if I only live on the surface with God, I don't experience the spiritually rich and abundant life Jesus promised Sam and us!

© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Day 4 - Reflections: Believing God
This has been an interesting point for me to ponder the past two days....believing God is able. Believing God's promises aren't too big to fulfill in my life. Believing God will accomplish what I sense Him calling me to believe. Trusting Him to do a spiritual work in my life when I am asking for a physical work. (Please see the last post to make sense of this pondering).

Today I stood before a "deep well"- something that with human eyes looks impossible, or very unlikely. I know God has what it takes - He is God, after all! But like many of you shared, I wonder if He will. I hesitate to believe because I don't want to get my hopes up.

God has our family on a faith journey of believing Him and trusting His promises in our adoption and possibly moving. Instead of writing here today, I just posted about my wavering faith on my other blog since I amjournaling in details there about the whole process of where we are with all of it. Click here to read on our family blog. We'd treasure your prayers.

Day 3- Up Close and Personal Mini-Study
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"

John 4:10-12
Jesus had told Sam that although He asked her for a drink, what He really wanted was for her to ask Him for some water. He wanted to give her a drink of water she'd never forget - a soul-satisfying, never-ending, endless-quenching, life-giving water.

Sam's initial response was doubt.

"You have nothing to draw with....and the well is deep..."

In view of her reality at that moment, Sam's physical eyes told her that Jesus had nothing in His hands to draw with and the well was REALLY deep. Sam was looking at her own resources. Her own physical needs and limitations. What she didn't know was that Jesus wanted to give her something to fill the deepest thirst in her heart. All He needed to draw with was His Spirit - for it would draw her near to Him. And as far as the depth of the well - He could see deep into her heart and she was the only one who could stop Him from reaching the parts that needed Him most.

Oh, how often I operate in my reality and limit God to what I can SEE!!! Sam didn't get it and neither do I sometimes. I forget that God is working in the spiritual realm on my behalf in every area of my life!!! Every area.

Yet many times I think that I need Him to do something physical when in reality, what I need is for Him to do a deeper spiritual work in me.

So, here is what I'm pondering today: Is there an area of my life where I doubt He has what it takes to supply what He promises, to help me see what I need and then provide it for me? Do I ever doubt God's promises and wonder if they are really too big to fulfill in my life?

© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Day 2 - Reflections
If you are just joining today me for the mini-study on the woman at the well, please scroll down and read part one first, then return to today's post for reflections. The WINNER of today's drawing for my Searching for Satisfaction CD is Rebecca (a.k.a Congratulations!

Jesus could have chosen to be anywhere else that day - but He was there, waiting for her in one of the hardest and loneliest parts of her day.

In the same way, He is there waiting for us in those hard parts of our day: when we wake up and feel overwhelmed by all that we face each day; when we get to work and wonder why we're even there; while we change diapers and do laundry over and over again and wonder if we'll ever find meaning in the monotony of motherhood; when we come home in the evening to a lonely house and wonder why God hasn't given us a husband or a family; when we come home to a teenager who belittles us or a husband who abuses...

Wherever you are - He is waiting there for you and He asks you to simply turn your eyes and ears towards Him. He asked her for a drink because he wanted to intersect His life with hers. He wanted to talk with her. He wanted to show her that He knew what she really need and He'd give it to her if only she'd ask.

Sam could have easily gotten her water and headed back home - back into her busy day. But she stopped, she listened, she let Him get close and before she knew it, things were about to get very personal...
  • Is it hard to believe that Jesus would go out of His way to be with you today?

  • Do you know that there is nothing that could keep Him from wanting to be with you? He never makes His way around you - He comes straight to you and invites you to come straight to Him instead of all the other wells in your life you look for for satisfaction?

  • Has something happened in your life that caused you to pull away - from your friends, your family and even God?

  • Do you believe that no matter what you have done of how far you have wandered away, that Jesus is right there waiting to spend time with you?

  • What are some of the things that keep you from stopping to be with Jesus in the midst of your busy life?

  • What will you do today and tomorrow and the next day to meet with Jesus and respond to His initiation to have an up close and personal conversation with Him?
© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Day 1 - Up Close and Personal Mini-Study
(Jesus) he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

John 4:3-10

The first thing I notice is when John says that Jesus "had" to go through Samaria. Normally Jewish people would do everything they could to avoid Samaritans. They would travel around Samaria to get to Galilee, not through it. But Jesus HAD to be there.

Why? Because He knew she'd be there. It must have been a habit she'd formed over time. He knew why she came at noon, although it didn't make sense to anyone else. It was the hottest part of the day. The other women came in the morning or late afternoon as the sun set. And they didn't come alone. They traveled together in community - with their girlfriends.

But not Sam (let's call her that while we get to know her). Sam walked alone.

The other women came to the well in the cool of the day to avoid the scorching heat of the sun; to make easier to carry the weight of the water in the jars. I wonder if Sam used to walk with the women from her small town. I imagine them walking together, filling their jars with water for cooking, cleaning, drinking and bathing.

I picture them talking about their day, talking about their husbands and kids. But at some point they started talking about her. Whispers and condescending glances must have come soon after her first divorce. I wonder if whispers turned to outright "mean girl"comments after her second divorce. At what point did she make excuses to stay back while the other women went ahead?

Instead of avoiding the scorching heat of the sun, Sam went to the well during the hottest part of the day to avoid the scorching pain of their rejection and judgment. The weight of the jar in that heat must have been unbearable but the weight of their words was more than she could take.

Imagine her thoughts that day when she looked up and saw a man sitting at the well. A Jewish man. What would he want? Why was He looking at her? Would he condemn her, too. Telling her she was worthless because she was Samaritan.

When she looked into His eyes she saw acceptance not judgment. Love not hate. When He spoke there was gentleness in his voice, even kindness and humility in His request for a drink of water. She felt valuable in His presence, as though she had something to offer. And it wasn't what all the other men in her life had wanted. No, there was something different about Him. Yet she didn't understand why He (a Jew) was talking to her (a Samaritan).

He told her that if she only knew Who she was talking to, she wouldn't even bother with the water in the well. She'd ask Him for the water He had to give and He'd give her life-giving water; so much so that she'd be completely satisfied and would never thirst again.

© 2008, Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Just to Be Close to You

If you found your way here through my devotion “Up Close and Personal”, featured today through Proverbs 31 Ministries and Crosswalk, I’m glad you stopped by. My blog is where I share the journey of my heart. I hope you’ll stay a while, and come back any time you just need a place to connect your heart to God and other women in your journey.

As I mentioned in my devotion, that day as I scraped paint, I had lots of time to think. I thought about how much I can be like my house and how far God has brought me. I thought about the years I worked so hard to live my life in such a way that from a distance, everything about me looked “fine.”

Yet on the inside I was struggling with things I didn’t want anyone to see…shame from my past, fears of my future, insecurities that paralyzed my heart. Living up to others expectations and losing my identity with each dreaded attempt to keep others at a distance. Dark shadows of doubt surrounded my heart, and the darkness of depression threatened to swallow me whole.

I wanted to be known and to be loved for who I was. I wanted someone to see past the exterior façade and look into the secret places of my heart. Yet, I feared if others knew me they could never love me. So, I buried myself in non-stop activity. I did everything I could do to keep me from having to process my pain. Then to make sure no one got too close, I pulled away from relationships with those who knew me best and loved me most. I created what I feared: I was alone.

By the time I was 22, I was exhausted. I couldn’t pretend anymore. I ran out of paint. The columns of my life started crumble. The sills around the windows of my heart began to rot. I needed help but I’d pushed everyone away. The only one who I could talk to was God so I cried out for Him to takeover my life.

Over time He revealed Himself to me – through sermons at a nearby church I’d visit, through books I read, but more than anything through His Word. I read stories that echoed the struggles and desires of my heart. I read words that gave me hope; that told me that I was not alone. Words that led me to a Savior who wanted an up close and personal relationship with me. A relationship where even with my flaws and failures I felt accepted. A relationship where I could be known and loved!

It’s what He came to offer each of us. He came up close because He wanted to know us personally. John 3:16 says that God loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world so that we could know Him and believe in Him. Verse 17 explains that God sent Jesus to save us, not to condemn us. So, no matter where we’ve been or where we’re headed, He meets us right where we are.

I want to encourage you to read a story that reveals the depth of God's desire to have an up close and personal relationship with you. It’s about a women at a well who met Jesus while she was running errands – and running from others (4:7-30, 39-42). Even if you’ve read it before, I hope you’ll read it again in light of today's devotion.

Beginning this weekend, and through next week, I'm doing a mini on-line study, where I'll share something each day that I've learned from this story. I'll have questions and things we can ponder together as we uncover some treasures of truth hidden in this up close and personal conversation between Jesus and a woman just like you and me. It's my favorite story because with and without words, Jesus says, "I came all this way, just to be close to you!"

I'll be giving away a CD
on Monday.that includes my personal testimony woven in with a teaching on the woman at the well, called Searching for Satisfaction. To enter the drawing, leave your email or share your thoughts.

  • Are there things that keep you from letting others and even God get close to you?
  • What does it evoke in your heart when you hear that Jesus wants an up close and personal relationship with you?

To enter the drawing or to simply share your thoughts or questions, click "comments" below. Be sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you win.

The Little Things
My weekend in Florida was great. Thanks so much for your prayers. The retreat I did was around the theme of "Joy in the Journey." God's timing was perfect. My joy was being drained by too many things to do and decide last week. I knew I had to set some things aside until I got back in town. My brain and my heart were dividing and God was calling me to wait and trust Him. So, I tried to clear out the distractions by focusing on what He had previously assigned to me - time with Him, preparing for and speaking at the retreat, helping Joshua with a big school project, laundry, packing, and the usual. The thing I had set aside was us making an offer on a house we found last Monday that's just what we've been praying for (to make room as we prepare to adopt a daughter from Ethiopia this year). More about that soon!

But before I go there... I wanted to answer the rest of the questions left from the post I'd written about being faithful in the little and big things God calls us to.


One question I have is of timing. I wonder if there are seasons (because of raising children, etc.) that God only asks for smaller investments of the gift.

Yes, you are right on C.J. If we're married and/or have kids, our most important ministry is at home. I used to think that being a wife and mom was a one-talent kind of assignment since so many others had the same calling but I was wrong. It's a 10-talent assignment that God called me to be 110% faithful to before He ever let me out of the house :-). We have to guard our hearts and make sure we serve Him well behind the scenes caring for our family, doing laundry, cooking, changing diapers, reading stories, playing with dinosaurs, teaching young ones to read and write. Also as they get a little older they need us close by to coach them in the things of life like friendships, dealing with conflict, fears, adademic challenges, etc.

Ministry beyond the walls of home had to fit in with our family's schedule. Writing notes, prayer ministry, administrative roles that I could do on my computer, etc. worked if I could do them while the kids napped or on a weekday evening when JJ was home. I needed to have an outlet for my creativity and extrovert energy so my husband and found ways for me to do small things. JJ traveled a lot when our boys were young so most of my serving was from home or on a weekend. I didn't start speaking regularly or serving in leadership at P31 until both my boys were in school full-time. JJ also switched jobs eight years ago. He now has a non-traveling job and is home by dinner almost every night. He and the boys do fun stuff like father-son camping trips and other guys stuff when I'm gone so it fits our family in this season of life.
MaryLu said...

Sometimes I think...There are so many wonderful writers and authors out there, how could I possibly contribute? But maybe in some way, with God's help, I can be an encouragement to others.

MaryLu, I completely understand how you feel. I felt that way for so long, and I still do when I walk through a bookstore. How could I say it any better or different then all of them? I had to come to a point where I was writing not for publication but simply for remembrance...simply to leave a legacy of my everyday journey with God. When I feel doubtful or discouraged, I remind myself that it's biblical to tell of the wonders of our God, to record it for a future generation, to leave markings along the way the way that others can follow as we follow Him.

The truth is, there is no one who can share the story God is writing in your life - but you! There is no one who can tell it the way you can. No one who sees Him the way you do, hears His thoughts towards you. And if He's gifted you to write then you need to write. Even if you are not sure you're gifted, ask yourself this: Does my heart come alive when I write? Are others impacted or encouraged by my words? If the answer is yes, then write girl write!
April said...

Honestly, I have heard this parable countless times, and this is the first time I have really thought about it this way! It made me stop and think..."Am I making the most out of my time here on Earth?" "Am I being a good servant and reaching people for His kingdom, telling others of a wonderful savior who died for them, and wants to wash their sins away?" "Am I being a good steward of what God has given me?" "Am I being "all that I can be" as a woman, wife, mother?" So many questions, so much soul searching.

Preach it sista! We've got to share the message God's given each of us and only use words if necessary. I once heard that we may be the only Bible someone reads. That may have been the case for me this weekend. I was flying home Saturday night and the man sitting next to me was very talkative. He asked about where I was going and why I was in FL. After telling him I was speaking, he asked about my messages. That opened the door for me but I wasn't really wanting to walk through it. Didn't want to be available. Didn't feel able at all.

I was tired. I had shared three messages in less than 24 hours. I didn't want to share another one (just being honest here). Yet, as I opened my mouth God filled my lips with a love story about a girl who found unconditional love when she was ready to give up on life and herself. A girl who'd lost all hope and found herself in a pit of darkness. A girl who had all that she wanted but it couldn't fill her empty heart. A girl who fell in love with Jesus - the one who offered love that wouldn't fail even if she did.

We talked for the whole hour and a half flight. He shared that he is Hindu. It was amazing to watch God take a tired women and fill her mouth with just the words she needed when she needed them. As we talked I remembered conversations my husband had shared about sharing his faith with his co-worker/friend who is Hindu. About how they believe in reincarnation. God reminded me that He'd make me able if I'd be willing to be faithful with the little I had to give. I am praying that Jesus will continue to pursue "Jerry" (his American name) and make others able and available to share His love with him.

So, what assignment does God have for you today - right where you are? Is there someone that needs to hear your story? Is there someone who needs Jesus with skin on in your home or in your office? What words will God give you today to share with someone along the way. All you need is a heart that is willing to be available and He will make you able.