From Ginger’s Heart To Yours….
Have you ever thought yourself to be a woman of influence?
Influence :1. an effect of one person or thing on another [Latin influere to flow into]
Each one of us has been entrusted by God with an area of influence within in our homes and community. Someone today is watching and witnessing how you handle yourself in everyday life and ultimately, it is up to you whether that influence would be a positive or a negative one. I’d like to share with you what two of my favorite Bible passages have to say on how our lives are meant to flow into one another for God:
But Ruth said, "Don't force me to leave you; don't make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!" (Ruth 1:16-17 The Message)
This is a true account of a mother/ daughter-in-law story that portrays a positive theme contrary to our society’s negative spin on mother-in-law relationships. Naomi was a seasoned woman of faith to a much younger Ruth. Naomi’s love of God and obedience to Him greatly influenced Ruth. Ruth saw something truly life-changing in the older Naomi and in her God, so much so that Ruth desired to pattern her own life in the same way as her mother-in-law. Ruth’s faithfulness to remain with Naomi led her to future husband Boaz. Ruth is recorded in scripture as the great-grandmother of King David, and thus is included in the lineage of Christ our Lord! A study of Naomi also reveals the importance the influence a younger woman has to an older woman. Naomi needed Ruth just as much as Ruth needed Naomi. This further goes to show how vital every generation is within the Body of Christ.
Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around. (Titus 2 : 3-8 The Message)
Our second New Testament Scripture reference is one that is my personal favorite and the call upon my life to be a Godly woman of influence. My life has and is blessed with many “Naomi’s” and “Titus 2 Women!” These faithful ones have come alongside me in grace and wisdom, teaching me to live my life out loud for Jesus! First and foremost, these seasoned women of faith taught me to prioritize God 1st, my marriage 2nd and my children 3rd. I have learned that I cannot be a Godly influence for others unless these three priority areas that God alone has entrusted to me are well cared for. Why would you feed the neighbor’s children if your own at home were starving?? It’s the same with how we care for ourselves and the well-being of our families. If these 3 areas become neglected, it is a red flag that we may be focusing on other areas that will distract us from our God-given priorities. When our priorities are in order, then God may also lead us to be His influence with our friends, neighborhood, workplace, church, ministry, etc.
We have many women in our midst, who long to know Jesus more and follow Him. They need Godly women of influence to show them the way of this wonderful life of faith we share. It is a poignant reminder to my heart to know that I am now the older woman J (when did this happen?) following in the footsteps of those that have led before me. It has been said that there is no retirement for the Christian soul and I know this to be true. To God alone be the glory!
What exactly is rest? For the life of a Christ follower it is to have faith, trusting in the work of our Heavenly Father. To stop our own efforts, cease from our own labors and allow Christ to really move in and through our lives.
Our Thursday Ladies group has been studying the book of Hebrews this Summer and the resounding theme for me keeps coming back to entering God’s rest and what that truly means in the lives of believers today. It is so easy to talk of God’s rest, and is especially inviting when you are enjoying a sunny day in a beautiful park among friends But to truly enter God’s promised rest and live it is another issue all together. I am discovering that it is as vital to us to be applied just as it was when this letter of Hebrews was written.
God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest.
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. (Hebrews 4: 1-3a, 6--10)
As a young woman in my 20's and 30's, I like most of the women around me, got busy with the business of life. I was a married woman trying to keep up with all the hustle and bustle of raising children and what was best for our family. Even being involved heavily in church activities kept our lives active….not to mention every club, sport, band and other commitments that heavily marked our family’s weekly calendar. All good things and most really great activities, but I found myself tremendously busy and certainly not rested. I worked hard and tried harder. I slept less, aimed higher, and failed more. I found myself much of the time not really going anywhere but continually asked to do more. Be more. Be better. But in all my trying, I could not feel I was growing as a woman. I just felt tired.
I know that I am not alone in this. Most of us feel that we are failing in some areas of our lives, maybe even the most important areas. And aware of our deep failings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more. We desperately long for the rest God has promised to us in Hebrews. Somewhere deep within our souls we know that the countless appointments, deadlines and meetings of this busy life is not all there is for a woman with a heart that longs for a life in God. I believe that for many of us, we get so caught up in the expectations of our culture and then double up on our Christian duties to balance it out (as if that works) to ease our consciences that we are doing the right thing. And sadly, we miss out greatly on God’s promise of rest that He has promised for every believer.
So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. (Hebrews 4:11)
This promised rest that God offers comes through obedience and faith of ceasing from our own labors. We are to look to the Lord Jesus, receiving Him and resting on that fact by faith, that we are to stop our own efforts, ceasing from our own works and rest fully on Him. Paul says in Colossians, as therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in Him (Col. 2:6) In the same way: as you have received Him, so live in dependence upon Him to do all things through you. Step out upon that verse and what is the result? Rest! Wonderful rest! Relief, release, no longer worrying, fretting, straining, for you are resting upon the One who is wholly adequate to do through you everything that needs to be done.
I am learning to enter into His rest more and more each day. I believe that is what this life of rest God promised is all about: trusting the Lord Jesus who has come to indwell our hearts to do through us all that we do. God desires for His people to be active and productive, but for everything we do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of (by the authority and ability of) Jesus. It is the principle upon which He expects everything to be done: within our families, our workplaces, our churches, our schooling, our studies, our play, and ultimately, every responsibility wherever we may be. Paul states boldly in Phiippians, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (New American Standard Bible) All are to be fulfilled out of dependence of our obedience and faith through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has promised this rest for all who believe.
Come and rest at His throne!
Four things in any land must dwell, If it endures and prospers well.
One is manhood true and good; One is noble womanhood; One is child life, clean and bright. And one an altar kept alight.
There is much truth in this favorite quote of mine concerning family life. For a healthy family to endure and prosper well; in my humble opinion, you have to be living in God’s plan. (Proverbs 3: 5-6) You must invest wisely all that God has entrusted to you. A savings account does not accumulate and grow without frequent deposits, so it stands true within the family. (Ephesians 5:14-6:4) God made your husband and yourself in His image. We were created to bear the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-28)
Before children, there was simply your husband (One is manhood true and good) and you (One is noble womanhood). You as woman, your husband as man, created with the greatest of all possible dignities as a reflection of God’s own heart. Only some instances, men are not noble nor good and neither are the women. Some couples have so many wounds between them that they have lost sight of the men and women God created them to be. Then along come your children, and their arrival often does not wait for man and woman to live nobly bearing God‘s image. Your children on loan from Heaven, are also to bear the image of God (One is child life, clean and bright) and find their role into the pattern of your family, whether it be true, noble, good or quite contrary.
Some families and even some within the church, do not have an altar kept alight. The only way that I know how to make this happen is by allowing God to reign over every area in your life. (Matthew 6:33) You have to have your priorities lined up with His perfect will for your life. God is to be your first Love. Love the Lord your God with all Your heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:30) Ideally, it is God’s plan for both parents to commit to loving God before all else. Revival of heart always begins with you. You do not possess the power to force another to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. God will faithfully use you to be a vessel of influence and guidance within your family. (1 Corinthians 7: 13-16) Only in Him being your center, can all else be truly blessed.
Your children are entrusted to you by God Himself. They are not your possessions or property for they solely belong to Him. (Matthew 19:14) You cannot possibly love them more than their Heavenly Father does. Your children are a treasure to invest in for the glory of God. And what a glorious day it will be to see your children grow to adults and for you to witness in their own families an altar kept alight! There is no greater joy than to imagine our Heavenly Father someday saying to us as women; wives, mothers, and grandmothers, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Those are the words I long to hear my Lord speak to me when this earthly mission is over. Glory!
In May of 2006, I was shown an unforgettable lesson in my own back yard. One that has led me to grasp the redeeming quality of God's hand of rescue and to shepherd grace at all costs; especially towards those that are unlovely and inconvenient. Let mercy reign!
Our Dear Daughter owns chickens as pets. DD has lovingly adored her feathered friends since the age of 3 years old, now owning the oldest hen in the county still going strong at the age of 13 & 1/2! This blue cochin banty hen will never be someones dinner, nor will the rest of the flock as long as they live with us. We have new neighbors directly behind our home and they have 2 big yellow labs. The last resident took pleasure in our chicken’s wanderings and warned the new owners about a conflict with the chickens and the big dogs. The new owners (whom we have yet to meet) were more than accommodating and placed page wire all on the back of our privacy fence to keep the chickens in our yard or so it should have been...
My friend's 4 year old child and I were playing outdoors before he was off to pre-school when we discovered that our 2 young roosters crowing from behind the fence. (I should note that Dear Husband and I dislike owning these young roosters very much and have attempted to give them away to just about everyone we know) Aggravated, I went and tried to coax them out from our side. The silly things took one look at me and veered the other way, wandering all over the neighbors yard without a care in the world. Not hearing or seeing any sign of dogs...I thought maybe they would find their own way home or DD could go over and fetch them later. Not my chickens, not my problem.
2 hours later, my young companion is off to school and I'm outdoors enjoying an inspirational book, eager to take in what my Lord would have for me on this day set apart for divine intervention. Instantly, I am greatly disturbed to the sounds of large dogs barking and the young roosters scrambling for their lives. I hear the roosters screeching in great distress and fear. I thought for a moment with these thoughts rolling through my mind and my conscience,
“Well, this is exactly what they deserve”….
“They wouldn’t listen to me and had it coming to them”…..
“We didn't want them anyways”…
“Why do I have to be home today of all days”? ..…
“I'll try not to listen to the sounds of their impending death”…
The moment passed and the mercy part of my heart took over my actions. Passing through our yard to get into the neighbors, I couldn’t help but notice in how our favored rooster Rodney surveyed the immediate dangerous situation, thinking first and foremost of his flock. Rodney Rooster instantly gathered up all of his gals and kept them in the coop for hours like a good shepherd. He knew his place was to shepherd and protect his own, not put the others in harm by going after the wayward deserters. Rodney Rooster made a prioritized decision to let go of the ones who were not of his yard and chose instead to shepherd those he was entrusted to. I was in my neighbor's yard in a flash, coaxing the young roosters out from a small corner of the fence, beaten and bruised as they were! All the while distracting the dogs that were bent on having fresh chicken dinner, I was able to get the 2 featherless and dog-slobbered roosters safely back to our yard.
I pray to have a heart that desires to choose mercy and grace at all costs, even towards those that are unlovely and inconvenient as are my 2 young unwanted ego-inflated roosters. And yet, there is a lesson also in how my elder rooster sheltered and protected his own from danger. I can fully relate to that protective shepherding nature that is imbedded deep within my heart in regards to my own 15-year-old daughter from the worldly dangers beyond my grasp. Knowing that I need to learn something from this experience, I wait upon the Lord to reveal His guidance in His written Word and in prayer.
Vindicate the weak and the fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3,4
He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth. Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. Daniel 6:27
Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. 1Peter 5:2-5
In the days since my backyard adventure of rescuing the dog-slobbered, missing feathers and bruised up young roosters, both have been fine examples of humility and submission. This was not their prior behavior as before this day of beating; as they consistently warred to be top rooster. Both roosters now seem to know their place and have settled down a great deal. Our favored older rooster, Rodney, is much at peace knowing that he is the head and has their utmost respect as well as his flock intact.
Conclusion to my backyard parable: When some choose to leave the covering that God has placed over them, they are willingly entering a life of dangerous consequences as a result of their rebellion. Jesus our Redeemer always hears the repentant cries for help and is the great Rescuer for those who are in need of restoration! He delivers the afflicted from the snares of the evil one, and lovingly showers His mercy and grace as they find their place under the authority of whom God has placed over them.
I have learned that a healthy balance is what is expected of us as Christ followers. Both of being a good shepherd to those you are entrusted to and by having a heart of compassion to those that have made mistakes, restoring the found to wholeness. This is what makes up the beauty of community, a flowing river of unending grace and love towards all. Always thriving, and never stagnating.
I thank God for this backyard life lesson, so simple yet so profound. His calling on me is to shepherd those entrusted to me and that includes being available for the unlovely and the inconvenient ... to go where He sends me....but above all I need to be listening for His voice! And I thought the chickens were for DD's benefit....I am learning much in life by paying attention to my feathered friends who live in our backyard.
The story of creation is a beautiful thing. One may think that they know all there is to this classic story of how woman was created but do you really?? Wouldn't it be truly grand to spend some time with Eve, over iced tea and swinging slightly on a garden swing and let her tell her story of how it was in the beginning.....
The story of creation is a wondrous event. God creates the Heavens and the earth and everything in them. And His creation is utterly,perfectly glorious! Sometimes we forget that our story, the human story, begins with glory, beauty and goodness. In Genesis 1 we read of the account of God setting His own image on the earth. He creates a being like Himself. He creates a son.
The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
It is nearing the end of the 6th day, the end of the Creator's great labor, as Adam steps forth, the image of God, the truimph of His work. He is pronounced the son of God. Man is magnificent, truly a masterpiece. And yet....the Master says that something is not good, not right. Something is missing.....and that something is Eve.
And the Lord God cast a deep slumber on the human, and he slept, and He took one of his ribs and closed over the flesh where it had been, and the Lord God built the rib He had taken from the human into a woman and He brought her to the human. (Genesis 2:21-23)
Eve is the crescendo, the final astonishing work of God in the creation story. Woman. In one last flourish comes to a finish not with Adam but with Eve. She is the Master's finishing touch. Eve is captivating!
Did you once believe as I did before investigating the Scriptures further, that God created Eve second to man, that she was second fiddle so to speak and not 1st chair in God's eyes?
That He see us (men and women) as equals in His image?Do you now see that we as women were created to be the crown of creation, with His mighty image blazing on our hearts. What does your heart do with being called the "crown of creation?"
The essense of woman is Beauty. We as women, each carry beauty within us. There is beauty in our smiles. Beauty in our sparkling eyes. There is beauty in our nurturing comforting touch. There is beauty in the way in which we relate to others. For some, this beauty is disguised, locked and hidden away.....but there is a spark there just waiting to come alive. As was the case of Toulah of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and how stunning she did become when she soon discovered that her heart's desires truly mattered.
For some beauty is so easy, so freeing...they cannot help but splash beauty on everyone they meet. A woman's beauty is ageless as she pours forth her God-given gift in every size, color and lanquage. Beauty invites, Beauty rests. Woman was meant to be the beauty in every story. Every woman...and yes, especially you!
Have you experienced the healing, restorative power of beauty through another person? Who is truly beautiful to you inside and out?
How I would love to visit with Eve and learn 1st hand that she is tender, merciful, inviting, fierce, fiercely devoted, and beautiful....and to know that is God's plan for every woman...especially me. That I was made in His image and that my heart would reflect His glory in all I say and do. That I would be captivating in His eyes. It is my prayer. Glory!
As a young woman (especially in my 20's and 30's) I like the women around me, got busy with the business of life. I worked hard and tried harder. I slept less,aimed higher, and failed more. Even being involved heavily in church kept me tremendously busy, not really going no wherebut continually asked to do more. Be more. Be better. Follow these 7 steps, these 6 lifestyles, these 12 concepts. But in all my trying, I could not feel I was growing as a woman. I just felt tired.
I know that I am not alone in this. Most of us feel that we are failing in some areas of our lives, maybe even the most important areas. And aware of our deep failings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more. We long for intimacy and for adventure; we long to be the Beauty of some great story. The desires set deep within our hearts seem like a luxury, a luxury we don't feel we deserve. The resounding message that pounds with every step we make, whether from a driven culture or a driven church - is try harder.
How have you felt the message of "try harder" come to you? How has it made you feel and/or expressed itself in your life?
Do you believe that this message of "try harder" is coming from God? What do you honestly believe God thinks/feels about you?
In all the exhortations --"Do this, and then you'll be a worthy woman" -- we have missed the most important thing of all. We have missed the heart of a woman. Sadder still, we have misplaced our own hearts in the expectations of others and our misconcieved ideals of self. And God has nothing to do with these false assumptions that mislead your heart to believing that you are not enough in who He created you to be.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23)
Above all else. Why? Because God knows that your heart is core to who you are. It is the source of all creativity, courage, and conviction. It is the fountainhead of your faith, your hope, and of course your love. The "wellspring of life" within us is the very essense of our existence, the center of our being. Your heart as a woman is the most important thing about you. God loves you -- more than you yet knowor believe. Your heart greatly matters to Him.
Do you believe this to be true of your heart?
Run to Him...God longs to be desires, wanted and pursued as well. He say's, "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13)
Entrust your heart to Him for He already loves you more than you can imagine.
My dear friend, I pray that you, too would find this freedom of heart, soul and mind, this love so amazing!
This is a journey of discovery. That we would discover who God meant us to be.
What does it mean to be a woman? What is my calling in life? What does God value? What does He want from me? What do I want? And is that okay?
We are not carbon copies of each other. Not at all. God loves diversity and Has fashioned each of us uniquely and well. There is one thing all women share, and that is a feminine heart. We have to start there because as the scriptures tell us, the heart is the center of it all.
Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Think about it, God made you as a woman.
God created man in His own image...male and female He created them"(Genesis 1:27)
Whatever it means to bear God's image, you do so as a woman. Female. You bear God's image within your heart as He created you. Yourfeminine heart was created with the greatest of all possible dignities....as a refection of God's own heart. So the journey to discover what God meant when He created woman in His image--when He created you as His woman--that journey begins with your heart. Simply put with desire.
This study has deeply touched my soul on how very special it is to be a woman. He created women, not to be 2nd class to men but to be our Creator's Master touch to a beautiful painting. We have deep with our hearts, the desire to be romanced, the desire toplay an irreplaceable role, and we have the desire to unveil a beauty all our own to those all around us. This was who we were created to be....but sometimes life has a way of stealing our desires and squashing the passions out of us to really live as God intended. Your heart matters greatly to Him! There is a freedom of heart to regain who God meant us to truly become. There is so much hope here, hope to become the woman you secretly long to be, the woman who is romanced, irreplaceable and utterly beautiful!
I feel victorious to lead so many hearts through this study and have humbly asked God to guide me through this awesome privelege, that only comes through Him....especially with my 17 year old daughter who is also going through the Captivating book. And the 20 ladies in my weekday group who are discovering that they, too have a beauty all their own! Glory!! This is a message from God to set the captives free, to allow women to live out their whole hearts for Him....and He is using John & Stasi Eldridge's book as a conduit of His healing and love. I am mighty jazzed at the profoundness of this calling stirring deep within my own heart. Awaken souls!
Song, a Psalm of David. (Psalm 108:1)
My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul.
Hello Dear Friend!
You are welcome to journey with me through Captivating, "Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul" (co-authored by John and Stasi Eldridge)
Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the Beauty of the story. And yet--how many women do you know who ever find that life? Most women think they have to settle for a life of efficiency and duty, striving to be the women they "ought" to be but often feeling they have failed. Sadly, too many messages for Christian women add to the pressure. "Do these ten things, and you will be a godly woman." The effect has not been good on the feminine soul. What Wild at Heart did for men, this Bible study can do for women. The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating.
Captivating is a study that I am leading a group of women through in my church and blogging my thoughts will be healing and beneficial to me as a leader. Maybe you've also read the book/study and would like to share your wisdom and insight. I welcome fellow sojourners on this journey of the heart!
Keep vigilent watch over your heart; that's where life starts.
Proverbs 4:23 The Message
With much prayer and love for your heart!