By Sue Nichols

 

I’ve had the privilege to be part of the Freedom ministry for two and a half years. God has had a way of putting a theme over each of my semesters. At the beginning of 2015, He had me face my anger issues. Most people who know me would most likely not use the word anger to describe me. However, there was something within me I couldn’t contain and the people most affected were my husband and two daughters.

I had the desire to stop. I did well for a period of time but then like a freight train it would come spewing out of my mouth. As I prayed and pleaded with God to help me stop, He convicted me of two things. I had a bitter root against my mother and only love could truly overcome the anger that was embedded deep inside me.

First, I had to deal with the bitter root (Hebrews 12:15) I’d placed against my mother. I can remember the day it happened. I was quite young maybe 4 or 5. I was playing and very happy. When all of a sudden, my mom is screaming and yelling at me. I ran to my room sobbing. As I cowered in the corner, I placed a bitter root against my mother saying I’d NEVER be like her. What is interesting about a bitter root is that it becomes a boomerang. You actually become something you despise and what I’d begun to realize was this anger within me was tied to that.

After breaking the bitter root, I consumed myself with love and loving my mother. I read about love, I meditated on scripture about love, and I practiced putting love into everything I could. The outcome was amazing. I had turned the corner and things that would have triggered my anger in the past don’t have that effect anymore.1c86849be194e7db05996354c15c9c15

Heading into the second half of the year, God did it again. The theme was “Claim it.” He told me to claim the truths in the Bible and stand on his promises. Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) God wanted me to claim this statement and walk in the freedom He had purchased through Jesus and designed in my life. When the spirit of fear, anxiety, or worry was trying to affect me, I claimed the power, love, and sound mind God had already given me. (2 Tim. 1:7) When I messed up, instead of beating myself up I claimed His grace which is sufficient because His power is made perfect in my weakness.

I challenge each of you to ask God what theme he wants to place over your life as we head into a new year. Ask Him where you should start, what to read, and for Him to place people in your life to help mentor you into the freedom He has designed for you in your life. You might be surprised how God answers you.

By Misty Umholtz

 

Trials are good for us. They deepen our faith. They challenge us as people. They make us more sensitive and give us the ability to relate to others. They increase our knowledge of God and His presence if we choose to dig deep into Him and His Word during the difficult times.

Let’s be honest, trials are not fun. They are not welcomed or wanted guests in our lives. If there was a way we could learn the lessons God wanted us to without the trials in our lives, I am positive we would prefer to choose that option instead. Trials are necessary to get our attention. God knows right where we need them. It is usually in the crux of what is deep inside our hearts that only He understands. It is out of pain, that we grow.

The past four years, my husband and I have been going through trials that are heart breaking and hard. I suppose that is exactly what God has meant to do. To bring us to our knees in the areas that we needed to bow.

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I was praying the other day in the car and sometimes I have no more Bible verses or tears left so I just talk and say whatever comes to mind. It is not usually pretty stuff.

I said, “God, I feel like I am under Your thumb. I feel like you are squeezing everything out of me. There is nothing left of me.”

I sensed Him gently say, “Yes, that is exactly My point.

At that moment, I knew I had a choice. I could keep struggling and squirming under His thumb or I could simply surrender to the dealings of God in my life. That doesn’t mean I like it or enjoy it.

I said, “Ok, God. Then do it deeper. Do it once and for all. Get rid of everything and anything that you do not want in me. Squeeze out the pride, the selfishness, the judgment, the condemnation, the self-righteousness, the ungratefulness, the jealousy, the ugliness in my heart. Now fill me with humility and compassion and empathy and understanding. Push out the desires, dreams and purposes that are not Yours. For why do I want what I want if it is not what You want? Your kingdom come, Your will be done in my life as it is in Heaven.”

I will choose to remain under the thumb of God if that means He will empty me of myself so that there is room for Him to fill me with Himself.

By Wanda Grimsley

 

I recently enjoyed a day at the spa with a dear friend. Scheduled weeks in advance, it’s a rare treat we were looking forward to with much excitement. Finally there, changing into my robe, I stopped and looked long at the me I was about to reveal to this stranger. I remembered how unfaithful I’ve been in my skincare regimen, how irregularly I’ve worked out my body and I sat in that for a moment; regretted that for a moment.

My first treat was a facial and at the risk of sounding weird, I have to say how amazing it felt to have someone else’s hands moving across my face!  It quickly became clear that I was in the hands of a real professional. I’d had facials before, but this lady knew what she was doing. My eyes were already closed as she went to work.

The order in which she applied her products and completed her steps made perfect sense to her…she knew why it needed to be done precisely that way. I had no understanding of her approach, but again, to my surprise, I found myself enjoying not knowing what she was going to do next. It was exhilarating!

First was the heavy, hot steam, so thick I had to adjust my breathing as it settled over my face. Suddenly, I felt something creamy, but rough, followed eventually by a refreshing shift to cold and smooth.

Without warning, she addressed the troubled areas of my skin. She applied very focused pressure, firm but gentle, enough for me to know extra care was needed here. I felt light stinging, which did seem to intensify for a while, but just when I thought I’d need to protest, came cool, soothing relief. I realized I’d completely given myself over to this experience, this professional, and whatever she deemed was the next necessary action for my face.

While I was having the pampering experience, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, ‘THIS is what surrender looks like! This is what I long for with you. Give yourself over to me completely. Let ME do the next best thing in your life. When I shine my light on your troubled places and work my ways in you, you will feel the pressure, you will feel the sting, but it’s never more than you can bear and it will all work for good. Trust ME to know what that is and do it my way.’

‘Don’t surrender your cares and regrets to me begrudgingly, as though I’m your last resort, but come with delightful expectation, knowing that I am the Lord, your God. I am THE consummate professional, the only one with perfect power and perfect knowledge. You don’t know what’s coming next, but I do…find joy and peace in that!  Lean into me just as you are, knowing I won’t let you be put to shame. You are in good hands with me, look forward to what I’ll do with confident expectation. I am looking and longing for someone who is expecting me to be good to them. Delight yourself in me, TRULY surrender to my plans for you, and I wilPsalm34-5_originall repair, refresh, and bless you.’

 

As this encounter wrapped up, I was again pleasantly surprised to feel and taste smooth, warm
honey being spread across my lips. Tears ran from the corners of myeyes and I smiled…I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good!

I am so thankful that God used my spa day to reveal what surrender looks like.  I have a new understanding and know that I can trust Him!

 

By Trudy Loots

 

I have to be honest with you, mentoring isn’t something that I grew up being involved with. I was never in the Big Sister program and I never talked with women in my church outside the Sunday school room.

It wasn’t until I turned 21 and discovered a single ladies’ small group leader named Mary that I began to understand how mentoring could really impact me. Mary was 10 years older than me and had gone though a lot of spiritual warfare, broken hearts and the occasional “Ah Ha” moments with God that I hadn’t. But it wasn’t her background that got through to me. It was her humility and willingness to meet me for coffee or Chinese spring rolls just to chat.Trudy and Mary

It was her ability to relate the God from the Bible to modern day life; the things that I was actually going through. In one moment she would challenge me to seek God about my worries and in the next moment she would tell me about the fears she was facing or had once faced. I had finally found a Godly-woman that I could look up to and it ignited my faith. To this day I still talk to Mary and have seen her faith bring her into being a wife and now even a mother-to-be.  And she was there to celebrate my wedding with me!

So here’s the question: who could you be a Mary to?

I firmly believe that every woman reading this blog has a story, has a past, has a testimony that a younger woman needs to hear.

Paul wrote in Titus 2:3-5 “Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good.  These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the Word of God.

The word “mentor” can make us feel overwhelmed and focus on other words like “commitment”, “time-consuming”, “vulnerability”, “shame” and “regrets”.  Personally, when I first set out to be a mentor I was scared that it would become another task to do. That there was no way in the middle of my busy schedule that I could pour into another woman’s life. My cup was already emptying out quick enough!!!

But then I met my first mentee. I realized that all she really needed was someone outside of her family to just listen to her. If I sent her a text every so often, that made her day. She just needed to hear me talk about how when I was around her age I struggled with some of the same issues but God brought me through them.

As time goes on, I have realized how much our conversations fill me with joy and purpose. I look forward to seeing her move into high school, start dating and growing in her faith. As a mentor, I get to experience Romans 1:12.

“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours”.

Ask God to show you someone you can invest in.  If you are in need of a mentor, don’t be shy about praying for the right person.  Grace Family Church Beautiful Ministry has several opportunities to get you connected with women who have gone before you and can share their experience and encouragement.