Monday, May 22, 2017

One Night with the King: Women of Value

I was asked to speak at a Ladies' Tea on Friday May 19. It was such a great experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! Several of the women there asked if I was going to post the speech to my blog... I hadn't planned on it, but since I received several requests, I decided to go on and follow through.

It's all regarding the value and worth of women... Hope you're encouraged!


The theme for tonight is one dear to my heart. Anyone who gets to spend an evening with a king should feel special, important, valuable.

What saddens me is that so many women, (if not every single one of us,) struggle with our worth constantly. The worldview of women is all messed up. We have one group who tell us if our body isn’t model-worthy, we’re not what we should be. There’s another group that thinks if we enjoy being a wife and mother, in a traditional way, we don’t respect ourselves or our true potential. Then there’s another set of people who just don’t feel like women have a right to make any decisions whatsoever, because we’re just too emotional… So women everywhere struggle with what and how they’re supposed to be “doing life.” And when you try to go off the world’s standard, you end up confused about where your worth lies, or if you even have any at all.
We base it on our surroundings, our progress, our appearance, our finances, how clean our house is, how many meals we’ve cooked this week, how well our children behave… and for some of us, we don’t feel good about ourselves if ALL of the above isn’t in pristine condition.

Am I right?

I’ve dealt with this same thing on a very personal level on many occasions… and actually very recently. Ever take on so much you’re entirely too overwhelmed and feel like you’re setting yourself up for failure?

When Aaron and I were first married, we thought it would be best for me to remain at home. We just wanted to try it. We had this plan that we would eventually have 4 children, and I wanted to be that picture-perfect stay-at-home soccer mommy. So, we thought it best that I just start off as a stay-at-home wife. It was nice for a while. I had no stress, my house was clean, laundry was always caught up, supper was always on the table when he got home… but then, I got restless… and we didn’t have a whole lot of money. And I started thinking about all the ways I could help our family out financially if I would get a job. And when I saw young couples driving nice cars and buying homes, I felt like a failure.

So I got a job. BUT……. Only a few months in, I was too tired to cook every night, or I’d wash the same load of clothes three times because I kept forgetting to take them out of the washer. I didn’t always make the bed, wash the dishes, or vacuum the floors because when I got home I had somewhere else to be….

I felt like I was neglecting responsibilities… and again I beat myself up over this. I didn’t appreciate the clean house when I was able to provide that… I just saw the lack of money. Now that we had more money I just saw this imperfect house. And I always convinced myself it was all my fault. Like I just wasn’t getting how to balance it right and achieve it all.

You ever been there? ………….. Are you there now?
I’m going to a part of my story that used to be very sensitive for me… but there may be someone in here facing the same thing, or something similar… or maybe you know someone who is. So, I want to share… We just recently celebrated our 10th anniversary… and we have no children… As far as I know, I’ve never even been pregnant. And there’s really never been an answer as to why that is. For years I felt like I was broken. I was ashamed. I couldn’t make my husband a daddy or give my parents grandchildren… I was sad, angry, and very frustrated at the Lord because of this. I would read scriptures talking about children being a blessing from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb was His reward… and I drove myself crazy trying to figure out why He didn’t want to reward me… What was wrong with me? What did I do? And I didn’t feel like a very valuable woman… unable to do what was supposed to be only natural.

Not only that, but as I mentioned before, Aaron and I had a plan. And because I didn’t even try to open myself up to any other avenue or path that God might have for me, everything I envisioned for my life consisted of “mommy-things.” I just knew I could be their biggest fan… their best friend… a teacher for them… and inspiration… I dreamed of all the ways I could discover how to be all of this. I would daydream about scenarios I already planned out in my head for our family all the time.  So, as months and years went by and this wasn’t happening for me, I dealt with a heavy discouragement and depression. There was no other life I could see for myself, and therefore my feeling of worth was tossed in the trash right alongside every negative pregnancy test I took.

We grew up in a very religious setting. Our church pushed tradition and outward standard over relationship with Christ, and I never fully got it. I tried soooooo hard, and yet they always found something wrong with me… something I needed to improve on… an area that needed change. I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t find peace or feel worth… I felt completely lost and like I was drifting around with zero purpose and absolutely no value. I even tried talking to some people in the church that I admired and I remember actually being told, “A family can never truly be in God’s perfect will until the wife remains home with her children and keeps the home and the father is the sole provider…”

That wasn’t an option for us at the time… no part of that was. Talk about messing up an already messed up young girl even more! I couldn’t understand. I didn’t get it at all. Why was God ignoring me? Why were my dreams not coming true? Why were the desires of my heart not being given to me?

I felt like everything I tried to accomplish fell apart at the seams. Everything I wanted to achieve ended up in total failure, leaving me feeling like an empty shell of a person… Unable to give anything worthy of accepting… holding no merit whatsoever.

Then I read this Scripture…

1 Corinthians 6:20- “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's…”

Growing up, this verse was always conveyed in a restrictive context… like we were slaves… bought and owned only to serve Someone else. But that is not what God showed me that day. Let’s read that again…

“For ye are bought……. with a price…

We are worth… something…

We were so special, that God wouldn’t accept just anything to redeem us… and Satan needed something powerful to break his hold on us… So, the Sovereign One… the One who spoke the earth into existence…The King of Kings…  He was the only One possessing anything worthy of our redemption. And He loved us so much that He poured out everything He had to have us.

We are bought

Some of us have problems realizing that we’re special to Him because of things we can’t undo… actions we’re unable to erase. Choices in our past haunt us and hinder us from fully grasping our potential in Him. Everywhere we turn we’re reminded of what we’re ashamed of. When we’re asked to sing, we feel like everyone is judging us by our mistakes. When we feel the urge to reach out and witness to someone, we feel completely unworthy to do so. We have the perfect advice for someone and long to help them, but all we see is a messed up woman, incapable of being effective in a positive way. We have a dream and a passion for starting up some kind of outreach or ministry, but we don’t even mention it to anyone because we’re convinced that even if people are nice and supportive to our face, they don’t really mean it… because we’re not good enough for God to speak to about those things or use us like that.

Our consequences follow us. The reminder of our failure is always heavy on our trail. Our past isn’t pretty and it won’t ever go away… It’s always going to follow us around… tarnishing the shine we want to have.

But let’s read/quote Psalm 23 real quick:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointeth my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

SURELY, goodness… and mercy… shall FOLLOW me ALL the days of my life…….

When you feel like you can’t get away from your mistakes… remember that His love won’t go anywhere either!
When the shame of your choices try to haunt you at night… tell them about His goodness!
When the memories of your past start to convince you that you’re unworthy… remind them of His mercy! They follow you!!

I love that God chose to use this word. So many times in His word He uses the phrases, “I’ll go before you…” and “I walk beside you…” or “I cover you, surround you, etc.” But when I think of goodness and mercy following me… I picture them between me and my mistakes. The shadows of my past failures can’t touch me, because there are two things standing in their way… When I turn around and start to look back at my defeats, I can’t even see them… I see His goodness and His mercy!! My shortcomings are quickly tossed away and overtaken by them. They are always hot on my trail. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…

You are valuable. You are precious. A quote I read and will never forget is this: “Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” This includes you. Whether the world refuses to see it or you are unable to… that doesn’t change that you were bought… and you are followed closely by God’s goodness.

Now, in hopes that we all realize our value a little bit more than when we first walked in here… let’s talk about a very special woman… Queen Esther.
I love her story, because she didn’t really choose any of it. But, she was placed in the perfect position to change the entire course of history.

I’m sure most of us know the story well, but just in case… Esther was raised by her uncle, Mordecai. She was a beautiful girl, and therefore when the king wanted a bride, servants of his went around the country bidding all the lovely young virgins to “apply” for the job, and she was one of them. Mordecai advised her from the beginning not to let them know she was Jewish… She went through a year of training on how to be a queen… looks, speech, movements, etc. And when the year of preparation was over, all the girls lined up for the king to take his pick. And when he saw her, he sent all the others away. He instantly loved her and she became his wife… and queen.

Mordecai, the uncle, learned that a couple guys were trying to kill the king, so he warned the king’s guards of this. When this was confirmed to be true, the king sought to honor Mordecai. This made the king’s highest ranking official, Haman, very jealous and angry. He sought out a plan to kill Mordecai. He knew there was no way to effectively target him solely, so he found a way to convince the king that Mordecai’s entire people were threats… hence, the plan to destroy the Jews. BUT… Haman did not realize Esther, the one whom the king adored, was a part of this group.

When Mordecai learned of Haman’s plot, he went to Esther and told her to go before the king and deliver this news. But, it wasn’t so easy. If you approached the king without being summoned, you could be killed. It was a sign of disrespect back in that day. So, Esther had to find favor. She asked the king for permission to throw him a banquet…

Long story short, in that banquet she asked to throw another one, and eventually told the king that she was a Jew and that he was about to kill her along with her entire nation. Because of the deception Haman used to try and advance himself, the king destroyed his decree and Haman suffered the punishment instead.

This story provides me two simple thoughts here… We’re valuable to the King… of course we are. We’ve already established that. But, there are some things we cannot accomplish without His help. We have to be like Esther and humbly, yet boldly, approach Him. We could never fully comprehend His love for us, but we will see it every time we kneel at His feet. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

He WANTS you to talk to Him. He cares about what you say. He understands how you feel. He longs for opportunities to show you how much you mean to Him. And He has the power to change any scenario… but we have to find a way to recognize an issue at hand and approach Him.

I’ve been guilty of being hit so hard at once from all sides of life that I persuade myself that He just doesn’t have time for me… He’s too busy to sit and shield me. When I let these thoughts linger for too long, I start to push Him away without even realizing it. I’ve already convinced myself He doesn’t have time for me so I try to handle and deal with all my problems my way… which I assure you is not very effective. Have you ever been there? Those moments you think you’re helping God out by “taking care” of your own junk?

What would have happened if Esther did that?

She knew she had to think rationally in an overwhelming, confusing, and extremely frightening situation. She couldn’t react to her problems… She had to rely on the one with the power and authority to fix them.

And when that Individual loves you more than words could express, you better believe They’ll go to bat for you. Christ fights for us… and then hands us the victory. No matter who or what tries to destroy us, when the King gives the word, their plan will utterly fail. Even if pieces of our past that we’ve hidden are brought to the light, when the King gives the word, it will do us no harm. As we mentioned before, your past does not mar your beauty or dim your value… He loves you despite every bit of that!

Let’s look at this verse here in Luke 12- vs. 4-7:

4 And I say unto you my friends, (The King considers us His friends!!) Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.  (And this is where the devil attacks our mind… and makes us feel invaluable. We again become ashamed of our past and fear that God could not possibly consider us worthy to spend eternity with Him… but let’s go on!)
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

If you consider yourself “older” reminisce back to your childhood or teen years for a minute… And if you’re still a teen, consider yourself envied a little by all of us! Now think of someone you looked up to… or still do. Don’t you want to learn everything about them? What they do, where they go, who they admire? Did you ever want to dress like them, or wear the same shoes? I know when I was younger I wanted to be just like this other girl that was a few years older than me. I wanted to buy the same purse she had so bad. She carried around this little “trunk.” And I wanted one… so mom let me get one. I would also sit with her in church and copy her handwriting… I wanted to do my hair like her, decorate my room like her… because I admired her… I just thought she was the stuff.

Well, you know what? Christ thinks YOU’RE the stuff! He adored you so much, He gave thought to you before you were even born! Jeremiah 1:5- Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee. He knows how many hairs you have on your head… and He sees every one that falls out and goes down the shower drain! When He created the rest of the world by simply speaking it- He took the time to FORM us from the dust of the ground.
I’m a property manager- and I manage 5 other people… While I don’t take advantage of my authority at all, if I get busy with things that I can’t ignore, I delegate. I simply ask my employees to handle something and I hope they get it done. BUT- there are certain things that are too important… that mean too much to me. I want more involvement in those particular items. I don’t want to just say what needs to be done… I want to be hands on for them…
That’s how He was with us.
And He still is!! We really do mean so much to Him. We are so special in His sight. When we are covered by the blood of Jesus, we are beautiful, flawless, perfect creations to Him…

Before we end the night, I always like to share how God filled a void for me that used to be gaping open because I had no children. People still think it bothers me… and I guess if I dwelled on the possibility of never being a mom it would. BUT- God truly has given me dreams and desires that I probably couldn’t focus on or even begin to pursue if I had children to look after. And I’m not saying that children aren’t worth it or amazing to have in your life… I know they are! But, I am a testimony to the fact, that your life can still be fascinating if He has a different plan for you.
I just recently started painting. Like 2 weeks ago… I have never been artistic. Ask my mom. Chelsea always had that gift. But, I always wanted to be. I wanted to play music, sing, write, travel, draw, paint...  I have a thing for the modern, eclectic type lifestyle, I guess… But, overtime, God continued to bless me with these desires that I had… I blog on my own now… and also for our church… and I’ve been a guest-writer for other churches and online magazines. I play music and sing consistently and get opportunities on a regular basis. And I decided to buy some canvases and paint to give it a whirl… Even though it never worked before, I wasn’t going to give up. My first two pieces were what I imagined they would be. But, on my third one, I felt something change. I can’t explain it… but I painted a beautiful picture… and then I painted another one… and another one… and before I knew people were asking me if I was taking orders!! ME!! Paint orders! You have no idea how shocked I still am to say that. But, I feel like God continues to give me desires of my heart, because I learned to lay down what used to be the biggest one… I surrendered to the fact that God may have something else for me. I couldn’t focus on my failed plan… and toss around the lie that I wasn’t as valuable as someone else… I had to think like Him. See from His point of view… And when I still found a way to delight myself in Him, I started seeing other dreams coming true.
That’s what He does. That’s Who He is.
He’s the King of Kings… able to meet any demand or authorize any motion… and He spends His moments loving on us… Filling voids and fulfilling dreams… Because He thinks we’re worthy of having… and worthy of keeping. So He puts time and energy into us… every single day.

We can’t try and determine our value by our fallible standards or anyone else’s. This world is ever-changing and therefore we will always at some point “miss the mark.” But God is ever-faithful. He is consistent and therefore what He determines as valuable will never change. He knows you… because He thought you were worthy of knowing!

Just like Esther's life didn't go according to her plan, we can learn by her example, that when we allow the King to get involved in our situations, great and mighty things start to happen!

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why are Christians So Anti-Abortion?

We all know about the women's march that took place a week ago... We all have our opinions about it, too, I'm sure. I won't get into all of mine, because I have several. But, let me just say, if acting like that makes you a modern-day-feminist... I'm in the wrong decade.

But, as I said before, this post isn't about that. At least not all of that.

I want to focus on one aspect of that march... Pro-Choice.

Here I go putting myself out there again -- but I feel it's necessary in making sure people don't go off assuming I'm just a rambling, opinionated, gal with no experience or rights to back me up. So... for the sake of trying to possibly impact just one person, I have become okay with the necessity of laying all shame and embarrassment out on the table. (If you're a regular reader, I apologize if you hear some of the same stories more than once. There are always new readers, and sometimes, bits and pieces shared once before need to be mentioned yet again.)

And... here comes the boom.

I know what it's like to want a baby and not be able to have one, as I've been married for nearly ten years and it's yet to happen. So, I do get irritated beyond belief when someone "accidentally" gets pregnant and considers it an inconvenience... and they destroy what I've dreamed of.
I was also "mistreated" in my past. So, while I truly and wholeheartedly sympathize with and understand any woman who has dealt with the same or similar abuse, I'm still not okay with the idea of terminating a baby conceived out of such awful circumstances. 1) Because it was not that baby's doing, so why is he/she the one who must pay the ultimate price? 2) How beautiful is it for something so pure and innocent to come from something so evil?
And being around children my entire life, I've seen some in (what some would consider) bad shape. Their conditions have handed them a hard hand that won't allow them to lead a "full, normal" life. Yeah, well, those aren't my words. Who gets to decide what "normal" should be? And the several children I'm referencing have had lives full of love, laughter, and lots of happy times. I'm sure they'd rather be in the state they're in, surrounded by those they adore, rather than... the alternative that so many seem to support.

So, even aside from my Christian views, those are just my opinions, based on what I've dealt with and seen.

But, to add my Christian views in with them... Well, hopefully it will paint a much clearer picture on why we stand against it so strongly. It has nothing to do with bigotry, tradition, or hate... It's actually just the opposite.

While most non-Christians couldn't care less about the Bible, we consider it and know it to be the surest, purest, and most solid authority in our lives. While we do believe "Thou Shalt Not Kill" also applies to humans in the earliest stages of life, there is another verse that supports our belief system on abortion even more.

Jeremiah 1:5- "BEFORE I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you..."

That's the one, folks. Because God is not bound by time as we are, every single life that BEGINS forming, (even before that!) is deemed important enough to be known by the Creator of this vast universe. Yes, the very One that formed the planets... took time to form you... and me... and them...

( And "if we found on Mars what we find in the womb, there would be no doubt that life was discovered." -Pastor Garrett Kell) Think about that for just a second. You know it's the truth.

Back to that verse, though... That's why we don't look at fetuses as just a "clump of cells". Because, even scientifically, not all "clumps of cells" can eventually turn into living, breathing, thinking, feeling human beings. If God saw fit to form that life, who are we to decide he/she doesn't need to be here? That's the most troubling question for me.

We have so many animal rights activists and movements in this day and age... and aside from the crazy, irrational ones, I'm ALL for them. I'm a huge animal lover, and am fully supportive of keeping them all safe and taken care of. But when did their lives become more important than that of a human being? If we discovered a clinic that terminated and removed, ripped apart and sucked up, puppies or kittens from their mother's womb... The media would be outraged. I would be outraged.

The feeling is entirely mutual for me, but just a little stronger, when it comes to aborting tiny, innocent, humans.
Ever loved anyone that died of cancer? What if the one who could've cured that horrid disease was aborted? What if the genius that could end world hunger was? Did we terminate the one that could find a way to live normally with aids? How will we ever know?

Another word in the verse found in Jeremiah that breaks my heart when thinking of people screaming in favor of abortion is "mother's." As I said earlier, I have yet to become one. I'm hoping one day it will happen, but it might not. I'm okay either way, because I know God knows best. He's filled the void and will continue to do so if that is not His will for my life. But, oh! What an honor that He saw fit to make anyone a MOM! The very definition is, "a woman who brings up a child with care and affection." Wow! If God, Whom by very definition Himself, is LOVE, thinks you or her could be capable of such a role... That says a lot. So why would anyone want to throw that title away only to replace it with "someone who knowingly ends another human life." I'm sure you can guess which word that phrase defines.

Don't get me wrong- if you've already had an abortion... I'm sure you're dealing with your own emotions, and I, by no means, want to make past decisions more difficult. God can help you through any negative thoughts, feelings, treatment, etc. you might be facing. He loves YOU, too. I just want people to avoid doing such things in the future... or at the very least, understand that our Pro-Life stance is only out of love and the desire for equality... even for those too young to march for themselves.

Just like there are going to be people affiliated with any religion, cause, race, etc. that distort the well-meaning intentions of the majority, I know there are some who have been rude and hateful all for the "sake of Christ" regarding this matter. That's not okay, either. But, Christians do strongly disagree with abortion... because of all the right reasons. Not because we don't value women, but because we think they're priceless! No one else can carry and "build" a human inside their own bodies. But, we also realize that amazing truth for what it is...

The woman CARRIES and builds ANOTHER human... One that deserves the right to live.

No matter the circumstances, the cause, or the consequences of becoming pregnant... we believe EVERY life is important, has a purpose, and is worthy of a chance... 

just as much a chance to march as the women who did a week ago.

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