Warrior

The Warrior

By Robin Houde

I would classify my previous relationships with people as complacent. I tolerated people I didn’t love them. I mean yes there were close family and friends that I obviously loved unconditionally. I’m talking about difficult people, those that aren’t easy to love. 

There were many areas in my life that were lacking. I had a feeling that something was missing but I wasn’t sure what it was. I once thought that it was others, not me. That I wasn’t getting what I needed from other people. Not the other way around. 

It wasn’t until the Lord spoke to me one day. He reminded me that I’m commanded to love as Jesus loves, with mercy and grace. He said, “Those around you may not deserve it but neither do you.” 

At first I was really offended and I pled my case to Him. I defended myself by reminding Him that I’m involved in my church and that I do serve people, mostly with a smile on my face. 

I went on to explain that I’m very patient and let people cut in front of me in line at the grocery store as well as in traffic without getting angry. I wasn’t sure what more He wanted from me. 

It was then that He said, “I want your heart. I want you to LOVE it. I want you toLOVE THEM! If you don’t love them then you don’t love me.”  Wow! I was blown away to say the least.  1 John 4:8 (NIV): “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

I felt so convicted and ashamed that I had missed the mark. At that point, I fell to my knees and I vowed to make a conscious effort to love like Jesus. To love the unlovable. Love those that don’t deserve it. 

Of course, this lesson was two-fold. I also learned that with love comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes freedom! Love and forgiveness not only frees the one that receives this precious gift, but it also frees the one that it comes from. 

Mark 11:25 (NIV): “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything againstanyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Without love and forgiveness in my heart, my circumstances often had me feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Being a warrior at heart, this did not settle well with me so I fought. I built up these enormously tall, strong walls. I armed myself with weapons such as sass,sarcasmand attitude.

These weapons held me captive and prevented me from experiencing deep, loving, mature relationships and also kept me from my true potential in the Lord. 

You don’t have to be perfect or have it all together but you have to be spiritually open to the things of God or you won’t be able to hear His voice. 

If you’re praying and it doesn’t seem like your prayers are being heard or if you no longer hear His voice, you may want to check yourself. God’s Word commands that we do fight battles but not battles against flesh and blood. He also tells us to arm ourselves with weapons of warfare but not worldly weapons:  Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV):

So be a warrior, a warrior for the kingdom of God. Fight for your spouse, your children, your family, your friends. Fight for all that is good in the eyes of the Lord. And the Lord will bless you!  Deuteronomy 31:6you.” 

What's In a Name Anyway?

What’s in a Name, Anyway?

Denise Schmeer

My mother, Delphine Quinones Preziosi died on Good Friday, April 6, 2012 . . . just 66 days after my dad, Fortunato Preziosi.  They had been married 63+ years.  

Neither of them went by their “formal names.”  My mom never liked her name.  It was an unusual and somewhat uncommon name, so she shortened it to Del and everyone called my dad, Fred.  

I adored my Dad!  The relationship with my mom was . . . well, complicated.  I could never really seem to be the daughter she wanted to love. How do I know this?  Because, whenever I did something “out of line” or not to her liking, I would hear, “If you don’t listen to me, I won’t love you anymore.”  YIKES! Really, mom!!  

Nevertheless, on Thursday, April 7, 2016 while driving to work, I cried out to God.  “I miss my mom so much!  Please God, I just want to hold her hand one more time, give her one more hug.”  That was it.  By all accounts, a crazy prayer . . . but remember, “with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew19:26)

So fast forward to the next week, Tuesday, April 12, 2016 – a number of churches in Vero Beach were gathering at the Indian River County Fairgrounds for corporate prayer.  No praise and worship, no preaching, no speaker . . . just prayer – “A Scared Assembly.”

I arrived early, but another couple in our Cell Group arrived even earlier.  They chose a great spot for our group, but decided . . . no, they needed to move to another section.  So they did. 

We all sat together and waited for the rest to arrive. It was really starting to fill up and the friendly chatter was getting louder.  

While waiting we said hello to the people behind us.  I struck up quite a conversation with this older woman, who – it turned out – had just moved from California.  She had family in Vero Beach and had been to Central Assembly a number of times.  She said she thought she recognized me as part of the Praise & Worship Dancers. No, I love to dance, but I was not part of that group.  

By now, the room was really filling up and the chatter was even louder.  But remembering I had not introduced myself to this sweet older woman behind me, I turned around, took her hand in mind and leaned in to say my name was Denise and how much I had enjoyed talking to her.  She said her name was “xxxxx.”  What I thought I heard was impossible!  “What did you say your name was?” 

“Dell,” she said, “you know, like Farmer in the Dell.” I started to shake and sob.  Still holding her hand, I asked, “Could I just give you a hug?”  “Of course,” she said.  Then though my sobs, I tried to explain to her my earlier prayer to God.   

And so here was my prayer answered, a gift given. I mean, really . . . what were the chances I would be sitting in that exact chair right in front of her – a woman just relocated from California – a woman with my mother’s name – who thought I was a dancer?  By the way, did I mention, it was my mom who insisted I have dance lessons.  

The Scared Assembly Gathering that night was amazing!  Afterwards we all went off in different directions, but the powerful impact of that miracle remains with me.  

On the drive home, I once again began to shake and sob at the memory of the moment when Dell told me her name – remembering the hug I gave her and her hand nestled in mind.

God’s miracles happen all around us, every day . . . even the seemingly impossible is within our grasp, if we just ask, believe, have faith, and then wait.

“Now to the One who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us.” (Ephesians 3:20 ISV)

Running

Running

By Jacqi Ballough

The white line was just 30 feet away. I kept telling myself I could make it. I can do it. When running, the cliché of “I can do all things through Christ” comes out, although I was gasping for air and my body was undergoing a horrid suffering. 

My goal was the white stop-sign line. Now only a few strides away, I stopped to walk. I had literally been running for less than a mile and at every street had made these white lines my target, thinking that once I was there I could walk for a minute and then do it again.  

My problem: I would always stop exactly four or five steps shy of the finish line. Why?

Was it that I loathe running? Give me Pilates, planks, or a step aerobics class and I am an energizer bunny, but running makes me feel like I am going to die. I honestly don’t like it but know the cardiovascular exercise helps my heart. Unfortunately, it seemed my heart was not in it. 

During these attempts to run, I talk to the Lord in my spirit. I had been thinking about the wonderful job opportunity that I was offered. It was not only very financially rewarding but was also in a beautiful, elite place. I would be in a position of authority and was praised by the people I worked for. It was a “dream job,” but my heart was unsettled. 

Again, I asked, why? 

The Lord answered as I stopped before the finish line, “Finish the race.” 

I knew what the Lord had called me to do 11 years ago when our son was born. I had asked for a child and promised to raise him up to know Jesus. When it came time to send him to preschool, again I was reminded to train him up in the Lord with homeschooling. Now in middle school, the Lord is telling me to “finish the race.” 

The temptation to stop and run to a more glamorous job is real, just like the rich man who was told to sell all he had and follow Jesus, but dejectedly turned his back on Jesus instead. I knew I had to trust and obey God’s will for me to continue teaching our son. 

My reward doesn’t come with worldly glamor but with watching my son fall in love with Jesus. Watching him minister to the elderly neighbors, witness creation to his friends, and tell me his revelations from God’s word. These are things I have to treasure in my heart to finish the race well and ward off the weariness.

Thankfully shortly after saying “no” to the “dream job” the Lord sent a wonderful momma to encourage me in the race as well. She has been at it far longer than I, and I thank God He connected us.

Hebrews 12:1-3 states, 

Since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us 
strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And 
let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward.….Think about all He enduredso that you don’t become weary and give up.

 

 

Impacting Future Generations

Impacting Future Generations

By Tammye Hamilton

I recently discovered that there’s a possibility some of my ancestors were actually on the Mayflower when it landed at Plymouth nearly 300 years ago. As I do research and gather information, it’s interesting to me that this amazing heritage was not passed down through the generations. I mean, that’s a big deal, right? 

In the book of Judges we read one of the saddest passages in the entire Bible. God has miraculously rescued His people from slavery in Egypt and led them into the Promised Land. Joshua and his generation have died and now “there arose a generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10) 

After all the miracles God had done for them, they failed to pass down the stories to their children. They became like the culture and worshiped their wicked gods. Soon, their children didn’t even know who their God was. 

As our culture gets darker and darker, it becomes more and more imperative that we make sure future generations know our God and what He has done for us.  

A recent Barna study shows that while 55% of Americans still identify as “Christian”, only about 31% of us actually practice our faith. Barna concluded that 48% of Americans are what he calls “post-Christian”. 

“In just two years, the percentage of Americans who qualify as “post-Christian” rose by 7 percentage points, from 37% in 2013 to 44% in 2015. Across the United States, cities in every state are becoming more post-Christian—some at a faster rate than others.” (The Barna Group)

Investing spiritually in our children and the children in our lives must be a priority.  Here are two things anyone can do to assure future generations know our God. 

First, introduce your children to the God who loves them. 

What a privilege it is to lead your children into a relationship with Jesus! For years, Jon set aside one night a week to talk with the kids about their Bible reading. They had to come to the meeting, usually a meal out together, with their notebooks and 5 questions for Dad. 

You may not be a Bible teacher like Jon but you can find the answers to their questions together. This can be an intimate time of learning together even if you don’t feel equipped.  There are so many resources available to help you. And your kids will love that you are leading them! 

Throughout your week, make sure you are focusing on the goodness of God in your lives. We talk about the big miracles and the little miracles we see Him do for us. We read about how He is moving around the world and we pray for the world to know Him. 

Secondly, take your children to church and become involved in children’s ministry. 

It’s alarming to me that so many Christian families do not regularly attend church. I understand some of their reasons but I feel they are robbing themselves and their children of necessary relationships. 

If attending church is not a priority to you it will not be a priority to them and they will go elsewhere for community.  

Jon and I have often been asked by parents if they should make their children go to church with them. Our answer is, “Do you make them brush their teeth? Do you make them do their schoolwork?”  

No parent fears their children will grow up and hate brushing their teeth. The same goes for being a part of a local church. If you take them, even when they might not want to go, there is a better chance they will make this important choice for themselves as adults. 

Also, look around for children in your life who you could take to church with you. So many people have met Jesus because a neighbor, an aunt or family friend took them to church! 

No church is even close to perfect but find one that teaches the Word to you and your children and get involved to help make sure they understand we need each other to grow in our faith.

It is our responsibility as believers to make sure future generations know God and what He has done for us. We can passionately introduce our children and those around us to a loving and relevant God.  

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds…teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Deuteronomy 11:18-

Open and Closed Doors

Open and Closed Doors

By Audrey Botts

This past summer, my family and I went on an amazing trip to the Pacific Northwest.  We visited cities in Oregon, Washington state, and British Columbia in Canada.  

We had an amazing time sightseeing in this region. We hiked the beautiful picturesque mountains of Mount Rainier, explored Vancouver’s temperate rainforest, and smelled the salty air of the Pacific NorthwestOcean in Cannon Beach, Oregon.[G1]   [G2] 

I’m so grateful we changed our itinerary from our original plan.  We would have missed out on an amazing adventure.   

Our original plan was to go to Bellingham, Washington to find information about my biological mother's background on a Native American reservation in the area.  

I knew this would be difficult and I needed more information than what was provided on my birth certificate.   I had done some investigating on my birth parents in the pastbut came to a complete halt when I tried to find my birth mother. [G3] 

The experience left me frustrated and wondering why she was a mystery.   I did not ask the Lord if this search was in his plan for me, I just proceeded with my quest.  I let my will guide my curiosity and wound up disappointed with no answers.  

This past year, I prayed that the Lord would open doors of opportunity as we visited Bellingham, Washington.  We investigated a few sources and found nothing.  It was not the Lord’s will to open doors at this time and I was able to be okay with that.    

I’ve learned that some doors are not open because they are meant to be closed or it’s just not the right time.   The Lord has a reason for everything and I should stay in his will for my own protection.

In Acts 16:6-7 “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.  When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to."[G4] [G5] 

I believe one day I will have the answers from my past, but for now, I am[G6] happy with the life the Lord has given me.  

You ask what’s the harm in trying to find your birth mother?   Well nothing really, but in the Bible, if Paul had gone into Asia, he would have not been received there and missed out on the opportunity to preach in Europe.  

The same could be said about my search, if I didn’t pay attention to the Lord, I would have been disappointed by the outcome. Instead, another[G7] door was opened to me and I had a wonderful time going to places I had never been to…what a blessing. 

Just know that God knows the end from the beginning and He only wants the best for you.  Closed doors make a way for better doors to open up in the future.

God bless!

Seasons

Seasons

By Mavis Tipton

Ecc. 3:1 “For everything there is a season…” I recently was reminiscing of when Buddy was attending South Eastern Bible College, now known as Southeastern University.

He didn’t have much longer before he would graduate and we would continue our journey following God’s plan for our lives.  

I was saying to Buddy, “I would be glad when we were through with school”, as money was always tight, and it was time to pay tuition again.  His reply to me was, “you may wish we were back in school, as we don’t know what lies ahead of us.”

I shouldn’t have been complaining as the Lord was so faithful to provided everything we needed from food to tuition for school and everything in-between.  We left school not owing one penny. God you are so Good and faithful.

The next season of our lives was answering the call for Buddy to become the pastor of Central Assembly in Vero Beach, Fl.  

This season required us to live by faith once again…but thenisn’t that what we are all called to do?  There are no expiration dates on “living by faith.”

Prov. 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

Through every season of our lives, God has been there guiding us and leading us on the path He chose for us.  Most seasons have been filled to full and running over with the joy of the Lord, with excitement and anticipation of what the Lord would do next.  Other seasons have been hard and painful, but we learned and grew in those seasons, and best of all God our Father never left or forsook us.

When we are going through different seasons, we can be so child-like.  Having such great faith in our Father, knowing nothing is impossible with Him. Our Father is the best and knows everything.  

Then we hit those years when we aren’t a little child anymore, but we aren’t adults yet either, and somehow we don’t look at things the same…now we know more than the Father, yet He still loves us and doesn’t turn us into ‘potato chips.’

We move into adulthood, and we begin to see things differently, and once again we desire a closer relationship with our Father. We realize that He does have all the answers and the closer we draw to Him the better our relationship.

As I reflect on the pasts 49 years I have walked with the Lord, I am so amazed, blessed, over-the-hills-in-love with my heavenly Father, and so very thankful for His love and guiding hand in every season of our lives. 

My heart’s desire is to continually draw closer to the Savior of my soul.  To walk in love and obedience in each new season.  

And I have never once said, “I wish we were back in school.”

Going backwards isn’t God’s plan for any of us. His plan is for us always to be moving forward to the next new season.

 

When The Answer Is No

When You think the Answer is “No!”

By Denise Schmeer
As my children were growing up, I liked giving them these little “pearls of wisdom” to help them along as they matured into adults.  You know, wise words like, “Always say thank you – Have a Plan ‘B’ – Any secret shared is no longer a secret – Save 10% of everything you earn.”  But my all-time favorite was, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always – NO!”

At that time in my life, I was not a “born-again Christian.” I did not read the Bible, did not study God’s word, and so imagine my surprise when I realized my favorite “pearl of wisdom” came right from the New Testament!  In the Epistle of James 4:2 – there it was:  You do not have because you do not ask.  WOW!  

So that must mean God always answers prayers!  I’ve certainly heard many times, from many people that God didn’t answer their prayers, but it can’t be – that is not what the Bible says.  Now let me clarify – James goes on to say in 4:3 – You ask and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives.Ahhh . . . yes!

But I have definitely come to learn that God always – let me emphasize ALWAYS answers prayer.  Our prayers do not – let me emphasize DO NOT fall on deaf ears.  If we ask for something, anything . . . and it is in God’s will for us to have it – God will bless us with it.  I mean, think about it . . . when your children or a family member ask for something, do you ignore them?  Do you not answer their request?  Of course not!  You always give an answer.  Although it may not be the answer they want to hear . . . you still answer.  Do you think our great Father in Heaven would do any less for us, His children?  Of course not!  God sent His only Son to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins . . . does it even make sense that God would not answer our prayers? 

So, let me encourage each of you, no matter what your need is – go to God in prayer.  He answers every prayer.  Search your heart, know your motive, and ask our amazing Father in Heaven.  He is listening; He is waiting to hear from you right now!

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

P.S.  By the way, all my other “pearls of wisdom” . . . yes – they are all in the Bible too, but that is a discussion for another time!

Known

Known

by Kellie Tipton

It was quiet in the truck that evening as we drove to the church.  My husband and I have taken this drive for many years each Sunday and this was no different.  You may be thinking that there had been some sort of argument or issue beforehand, but that was not the case.  In fact, this was a peaceful and reassuring quiet and I made note of that feeling.

As I thought about that moment throughout the week, the word “known” came to mind then a scripture.  So, as I looked into this word and the scripture that was being brought to my mind I was shown a song by the same name.  A feeling of warmth like a blanket wrapped around me as I listened to this song “Known” by Tauren Wells.

Known defined is acknowledged, familiar, genuine. I like the word genuine as it describes what I know our relationship to be.  But what also came to mind is 1 Corinthians 8:3 where Paul says, “But whoever loves God is known by God.”  Deeper than knowing God, is being knownby God.  He knows the good, the bad and the ugly and He loves us.  That is that feeling I had on that drive I mentioned earlier.  My husband knows my good, my bad and my ugly and he chooses to love me!  How much more precious it is to be known, fully known and loved by God!

Known

Tauren Wells

It's so unusual it's frightening

You see right through the mess inside me

And you call me out to pull me in

You tell me I can start again

And I don't need to keep on hiding

I'm fully known and loved by You

You won't let go no matter what I do

And it's not one or the other

It's hard truth and ridiculous grace

To be known fully known and loved by You

I'm fully known and loved by You

It's so like You to keep pursuing

It's so like me to go astray

But You guard my heart with Your truth

The kind of love that's bullet proof

And I surrender to Your kindness

I'm fully known and loved by You

You won't let go no matter what I do

And it's not one or the other

It's hard truth and ridiculous grace

To be known fully known and loved by You

I'm fully known and loved by You

How real, how wide

How rich, how high is Your heart

I cannot find the reasons why

You give me so much

How real, how wide

How rich, how high is Your heart

Now, I cannot find the reasons why

You give me so much

 

I'm fully known and loved by You

You won't let go no matter what I do

And it's not one or the other

It's hard truth and ridiculous grace

To be known fully known and loved by You

I'm fully known and loved by You

It's so unusual it's frightening

I'm fully known and loved by You

 

Hide and Seek

It is with great joy to introduce you to Robin Houde.  I have known Robin for several years.  Robin loves the Lord and serves Him wherever she sees a need.  Robin is gifted and talented in many areas.  Robin loves the Lord, and her gentle sweet spirit befriends her to all she comes in contact with. We welcome Robin as a new writer to Women Encouraging Women, please make her welcome.

Robin Houde is a loving Mom of 3 beautiful daughters and Mima to 3 spunky grandchildren. God, family and friends are her main focus. She moved to sunny Florida from Upstate New York in the fall of 2013 and she’s blessed to have a work-from-home career as a Subject Matter Expert for information systems. She is very involved in her church and is a leader of The Well Armed Woman – Indian River County Shooting Chapter. 

Hide & Seek

By Robin Houde

When I was a child, I used to love to play hide and seek with my younger brother and my friends. It was so much fun! The anticipation of being ‘found’, oh how difficult it was for me to be still and quiet. I used to have such anxiety that I would feel like I was going to wet my pants at any moment. Then I would start to giggle at the thought of wetting my pants and that would make the feeling even worse!

I’d begin squirming and laughing until either I was found because I was no longer quiet and still, or I would leap out of my hiding place and run as fast as I could to the ‘safe’ place. Once I was ‘safe’ and even if I was ‘caught’, I felt relieved, happier. 

How many times have we played hide and seek with God? For me it’s been far too many. Sometimes I find myself so distracted by life that I know I’m not spending as much time as I should with Him. 

I know we’ve all been there. I don’t have the feeling of wetting my pants like the childhood hide and seek game, but I do often find myself feeling overwhelmed and anxious with life. I do have a sense of unease or like I’m off-balance or something is missing. 

That’s all very true. In those times I am missing something, and life is out of balance God is missing, rather I’m ‘missing’ God. The truth is, He’s missing me as well. In these times the Lord is calling me back to Him. He knows exactly where I am, but I’m not paying attention to Him. I’m not giving Him the quality time He longs for with me. 

Now that I’m older, I know that God is my ‘safe’ place that I can go to and He always makes life more manageable. Without God, life is hectic, but His word says it doesn’t have to be this way. That I don’t have to do it on my own. I can have peace, if only I seek Him.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace ofGod, which transcends all understanding, will guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When my girls were little I loved having them sit with me and we would read books, sing and play games together for hours. God has a desire to spend time with His children just the same. He is our loving heavenly Father. 

The next time you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or like life is draining your strength, just crawl up on His lap and spend time with Him. Read His word, pray and be still and you will find peace, one that’s everlasting.

Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

         God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

         He says, “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

Do You Want Your Daddy?

Do You Want Your Daddy?
By Vicki Molinari


I crumbled to the kitchen floor, completely overwhelmed by my circumstances. As I wept, my face in my hands, the gentle touch of my toddler daughter caused me to look up. “Do you want your daddy”, she asked?

Sometimes, often times we learn valuable lessons from our children. This was one lesson I will never forget.

Life was hard! All within two years, I was married, became a step mother and birthed two kids fourteen months apart.

Young and invincible, we got married and had children much quicker than advised by most of our family and friends.

We were in love and believed that a loving God brought us together and with that, what else did we need?

So many things!

Things that would be revealed in time as we walked humbly committed to God and each other.

And so...The life lessons became many for the past 33 years.

Has it been easy? No!

Has it been worth it? Yes!

What was the lesson I learned that day from my sweet baby girl?

When she saw me crying, this two-year-old reminded me of love. 

She knew she could always count on the love, protection and strength of her daddy, Joel.  Just the same, I needed my daddy, Jesus!


The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”.

Forever I have decided, when struggles come beyond my ability to see a clear outcome, I fall to my knees and seek the One who knows me the best. 

 

I want my Daddy, God!

 

Back To School

Back to School

By Jacqi Ballough

After a very leisurely summer, the idea of returning to the consistency of a school schedule brings some comfort, but also a heaviness. Helping my child with reading, writing, math, Bible, history, English, handwriting, geography, science, spelling, music, art, field trips, and P.E. can cause mental exhaustion. Then I remember all the household chores which also need to be accomplished on top of the school schedule and work. 

My brain begins to crave a never-ending lazy summer and wonder if I can succeed fulfilling all these roles. Am I trying to do too much Lord? Are my priorities in line with yours?

As a family we continually pray for the Lord to guide our steps, take the wrong people and obligations out, and put the right people and obligations in. Sometimes it is so clear, whereas at other times, it is foggy. 

In those foggy moments, I fear failure and become afraid of stepping out in faith. I have to shove those lies away and replace them with truth.

Scripture states, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. Be sure to stay busy and plant a variety of crops, for you never know which will grow – perhaps they all will.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:4, 6 NLT) 

What a relief! The Lord doesn’t want me to wait. He is encouraging me to produce and keep my life from being idle by investing my time, resources, and energy in a variety of people and responsibilities.

The best part of this scripture is the “perhaps.” There is no guarantee of success, but there is the possibility of total success too! The Lord doesn’t care about the earthly successes. He just wants a willing heart trusting and seeking Him. I believe the true victory comes with trusting Him to place us where we need to be and who we need to be with.

Deborah was an Old Testament Judge, who already had her plate full settling Israelite disputes, when she conveyed a commandment from the Lord to Barak. Barak was to assemble 10,000 troops and battle King Jabin’s army victoriously. Unfortunately, the command to Barak was met with, “Only if you go with me.” (Judges 4)

Can you imagine if Deborah responded, “Seriously! The Lord said He would give you victory why do I need to go hold your hand? I’m already dealing with all these Israelite disputes and don’t have the time. The command wasn’t for me anyway. It’s your job.”

Thankfully, Deborah replied, “Very well. I will go with you…the Lord is marching ahead…” She didn’t make excuses or blame shift. She was ready and willing to serve the Lord and her comrades who needed her.

Lord, like Deborah, give me the wisdom, energy, perseverance, and perspective to accomplish your will. I do love learning alongside my child as he goes back to school, and know there is no way I can be a housewife, mother, and teacher in my own strength. I need You. Please go before me Lord.

 

     

God's Timing Is Always Perfect

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to one of our newest writers Debbie Walker.  I have known Debbie and her family for many years.  It has been a blessing to watch Debbie and her family grow in the Lord and step out in faith to fulfill the calling He has placed upon their lives.  Please make her welcome to Women Encouraging Women.

I grew up in a non-Christian family but attended VBS each summer. As a high school athlete, I was invited to attend a Christian sports camp and it was there that I accepted Jesus as my Savior. Ned and I met while I was in high school and we were married in 1992 and have been blessed with three amazing children. We moved from Indiana to Vero Beach, FL in 1993 to work at a Christian kid’s camp. It was while there that we became connected with Central Assembly and enjoyed being very active members there until God called us into full time missions with Youth With A Mission. 

For the past ten years, we have served in YWAM and currently live and serve in inner city Richmond, Virginia.  

God’s Timing Is Always Perfect!

Debbie Walker

I was recently sharing with a friend about what has been going on in our lives the past few months and how discouraged I have been.  I told her that for the past 10 years we have been serving as full-time missionaries and God has provided.  However, the past two months June and July, God had not provided, not even for the rent.  

I then went on to explain that He had “finally” provided around mid-July and we were able to pay the rent.  I said, “Luckily, we had mushrooms growing from our ceiling, so that was enough of a reason according to the state that we live in to not pay the rent on time.”  

When I said that, it hit me.  God had provided…just not in the timing or the way that I had wanted or hoped for.  He provided the rent but He also provided the mushrooms.  

God does provide and He is not bound to the “normal” parameters of provision that we see or think about.  I didn’t want to have to wait and I didn’t want to have to go through the ordeal of moving furniture and having a huge piece of my ceiling torn out and replaced. I didn’t want the construction dust and people in my house. But it is not about what I want.  

Life is always about glorifying God and about what He wants to teach us.   I don’t know all of what God was teaching me during this process but I do know some things.  

During any trial, we must stay confident in God’s promises.  He will provide and He will take care of us.  It will always be in His way and in His timing but He will do it! 

We must stay encouraged and looking to God.  I had to lean into God’s Word and I also had to seek out people who would encourage me. Somedays, I had to go to a friend to give me an encouraging word because I was just so discouraged.  

And, we must also stay true to what God has asked us to do even when it gets tough. Remember the last thing that God has told you to do and stay faithful to that word and His direction.   

These are just a few of the things that God taught me during this time.  I just need to trust and obey Him regardless of what seems to be going on around me.

Phil. 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

 

Faith Is Like Crisco

Faith is a lot like Crisco

By Denise Schmeer

I was recently reminded of a scene from the movie, The Help.  It was the exchange between the maid, Minny Jackson (actress – Octavia Spencer) and her employer, Celia Foote (actress – Jessica Chastain). Minny is teaching Celia about cooking and she starts to explain about Crisco.  The dialogue goes . . .

[Crisco] ain't just for frying. You ever get a sticky something stuck in your hair, like gum? . . .That's right, Crisco.  Spread this on a baby's bottom, you won't even know what diaper rash is . . . shoot, I seen ladies rub it under they eyes and on they husband's scaly feet...Clean the goo from a price tag, take the squeak out a door hinge. Lights get cut off, stick a wick in it and burn it like a candle . . . And after all that, it'll still fry your chicken.

It occurred to me that Faith is a lot like Crisco! Why?  Because, like Crisco, Faith isn’t just for praying.  Have you ever felt totally stressed out?  That’s right, Faith.  Worried about those bills growing faster than your paycheck . . . Faith. Are your teenagers acting sullen and sassy . . . Faith.  Need a little more joy in your life . . . Faith.  

Thank God that to each of us He has given a measure of Faith. And what a powerful gift – I mean, the Bible reminds us that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthensus.  (Philippians 4:13) All we need to do is use that gift of Faith.  Whateverwe ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  (Mark 11:24) Faith again.  

Everywhere you turn . . . that Faith gift is there for each of us.  And, like Crisco, you just need a little . . . and a little goes a long, long way. But perhaps this is where the comparison stops because, with Crisco, eventually you have to go back to the supermarket to buy more.  But not with Faith – it never runs out, it never runs dry, it’s never too little.  

So I encourage you right now to lift your eyes to Heaven, smile, and thank your Heavenly Father for Faith.  That amazingly great gift that comforts you, calms you, strengthens you, heals you, and allows you to do things, know things, and understand things when the world around you appears to be spinning out of control. 

As for me, next time I’m in Publix or Wal-Mart and I see a can of Crisco . . . FAITH!

 

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)

Holiness? Really?

Holiness? Really? 

By Tammye Hamilton

I hate legalism. 

When I was a teenager I had a friend whose church didn’t allow her to wear jeans, so when she came to my house I always let her borrow a pair. It probably wasn’t wise, but it just seemed so wrong to me. How was wearing only dresses making her holy? 

The church has rightly rejected much of the unbiblical legalism of the past that paraded outward differences as a sign of inward holiness. It is refreshing and freeing that we have grasped grace in such a way that we don’t usually judge the inward condition of the heart by the outward appearance of the person.

But have we attached the concept of holiness to legalism so much that we have become unconcerned with personal godliness? 

And as we have embraced not looking much different from the world, have we actuallybecomenot much different from those we’re called to reach? Have we sacrificed true holiness on the altar of cultural relevancy?

Are we so afraid the world will think we are religious that we don’t actually adhere to our religion in our personal lives?

Ephesians 1:4 says that “He chose us before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him”.

The Apostle Peter was a guy who didn’t seem very holy.  His behavior was outrageous at times. He asked Jesus questions like, “How many times dowe have to forgive?” I totally get that. 

Like us, Peter had to grow in holiness. In his second letter he actually gives us a great teaching in just a few verses on how to actually live a godly life.

 2 Peter 1:3-9 says “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godlylife through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature,having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

‘Wait, we have to “make every effort”??  I thought when I came to Jesus that He would just take all the bad, worldly stuff away and put all that good, godly stuff in me. He would just do it all!’

This is a misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian. Followers of Jesus are adding virtue to our faith every day. We are not completed, perfect people. The characteristics of Christ are addedto our nature. We are actively cooperating with Him to replace our worldliness with godliness.

The good news Peter is giving us is that through His divine power we CAN be holy. No matter who we were in the past, when we follow Jesus and walk in the awareness of His power at work in our lives we can resist temptation and become godly.

We’re not called to live holy lives so we can get into Heaven or so we can impress others. Peter says if we live godly lives we will be effective and productive for the Kingdom. Shouldn’t every believer desire to be effective? 

Holiness isnotlegalism, it is just being like Jesus. We make every effort to pursue godliness because we want to be like Him.

 

Boys and Girls

Boys and Girls

By Jacqi Ballough

Last year I taught English and math to five girls and three boys, ages ranging from nine to eleven. Their assignment was to create a restaurant and menu, price items accordingly, and then sell their services. They were then required to take orders, serve, and mathematically provide the customer with an accurate bill, including tax, and make change. 

After splitting the children into boy and girl groups, I laughed at the contrast between the outcomes. 

The “S and A Bakery” and “Delectable Deli” will satisfy your sweet tooth with puff pastries, coffee cakes, gelato, homemade cakes, and croissants while also serving a light lunch of salads, veggie rolls, shrimp bisque, hummus and chips, or a small cheese platter and fruit. Drinks include coffee (iced or hot), tea, and a family favorite, hot chocolate. They have a kids menu too, so bring the little ones along!

On the other hand, the “Western Swamp Grill: Fresh Kill” is for the ravenously hungry. To start your meal right, try the cornbread with butter, chicken wings, or fried cheese sticks. Then move onto a meal of gator tail, burgers, steak, or frog legs. Add a side of mac n’cheese, jerky, green beans, or fries, and wash it down with root beer, Arnold Palmer, or sweet tea. Top off your satisfying meal with apple pie and ice cream.

The differences between boys and girls are very apparent and very opposite, but both so very good. The Lord made us that way. Different. Male and female. Our differences are both Him.

We are both made in His image: The man, defending and conquering. The woman, serving and nurturing. It’s those differences that make us complete though. The Lord said “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18. 

Sometimes our brains may process the differences between men and women as annoying or potentially crazy, but we form a strong team when we recognize those qualities as God-given abilities to complete the opposite sex. Note that Eve was made as a “helper”(partner, teammate, assistant) to Adam and then they became “one flesh.”(Genesis 2:24)

When a man and a woman become one, strength is obtained from the union.

I look at my parents who are celebrating their 50thwedding anniversary and am so proud they fought through their differences to maintain their union as “one flesh.”It wasn’t always easy, and I can even remember some of their heated arguments. After one particular conflict, I remember confronting my Dad and self-righteously telling him to go ahead with his plan despite my mother’s feelings. His words were fairly simple, “I’m not going to do that. She’s my teammate.” Dad put me in my place. He was right. We (boys and girls) are a team, even if the union causes friction at times. 

Without our differences, we wouldn’t be as effective or strong for the Kingdom of God. So, if your feelings are telling you to complain about the opposite sex or give up, deny the feelings and praise God for the contrast. Choose to see the beauty in our union and God-given roles. You will be blessed.

Let Us No Lose Heart

Let us not lose Heart

By Audrey Botts

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”  I have read that scripture many times after I had grown weary and my heart was on the verge of doing wrong.  

This is a struggle I face in the workplace.  Lately, I have felt overworked and annoyed at the current working conditions.  I see employees doing the least amount of work they could get away with.  While others call in sick regularly and leave early on a regular basis.  

They seem to get away with this behavior without repercussions.  Meanwhile, the dedicated employees have to pick up the load to make up for the idle workers.  I get so irritated and mad that I feel like throwing in the towel so to speak.  

I feel like Cain in the Old Testament.   I might have exaggerated a bit, but I’m referring to the anger part.  In this scripture, the Lord knew that Cain was angry, so he was trying to persuade him to do the right thing. 

Genesis 4:6-7"If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

Do we lose sight and grow weary in doing good?  I know I do.  I grow weary in pleasing man and forget that Jesus is the only one who deserves my sacrifice.  

We should not worry about the others who fall short and choose to do wrong.  We should do the very best that the Lord has called us to do.  Despite our circumstances.  Jesus came to this fallen world because he loved us.  He came to save us from hell because we were heading in the same direction as Cain.  

 Because of Jesus’ love for us, it should compel and motivates us to do what is right no matter the circumstances.  When I get to that point of weariness, I need to remind myself that Jesus is the only one I need to please. What we do, we do to glorify and honor the Lord.  We will never lose heart pleasing him.

In Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

If you are struggling in this area, I encourage you to take some time to pray and be honest with the Lord.  Admit your struggle.  He knows what you are going through.  He will help you overcome.  

I thank you Lord for you grace and mercy in our lives. I pray that you would help those reading this and deliver them from losing heart in this world.  Thank you, Lord, for all that you do in our lives. Amen

 

Hands and Feet

Hands and Feet

By Mavis Tipton

Rom. 10:15 As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” 

As I look back over my life God was faithful to put several godly people in my life, to guide and mentor me in my walk with Him.

The first people I remember influencing my life were Brenda and Elzie Freeman, a young couple my age who loved and served the Lord with a passion.  Their influence wasn’t preaching to me, rather it was how they lived their lives that drew me to them.  

I wanted what they had and all I knew was; it had to do with going to church.  

Mrs. Lois Ross was a wonderful Christian woman we rented from. She didn’t have to tell me she was a Christian, I just knew it.

Mrs. Ross reached out to me during a very difficult time in my life, by becoming a friend/mother figure in my life.  

She would always say how the Lord could use Buddy once he surrendered his life to Him.  She never told me I was lost and going to Hell, she just loved on me and was there for me.

She was a mentor to us after we came to the Lord. Spending hours with us around her kitchen table talking about the Lord and answering all our questions. 

When we moved backed to Panama City, Ernestine Kelley took me under her wing and mentored me.  We would pray together and she was always so wise and encouraging to me. Again, someone to accept me and encourage me in my new walk with the Lord.

A man of great influence was our Pastor, F. Nolan Ball.  He took a great interest in us as well.  He mentored Buddy and taught us by example how to minister, how to pray, the importance of reading the Bible. He equipped us with the tools to win the lost.

When we moved to Vero Beach, God had a very special lady here waiting to stand in the gap for us.  Viva Clay was a powerful woman of God.  A prayer warrior, intercessor, friend and mentor she became to us.

Many of these have gone on to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, and I believe that their crowns are full and overflowing with the jewels they have received for their work here on earth.

They are missed but one day we will be reunited with them.

Many of these dear saints of God have and are suffering with diseases in their bodies, their minds.  The enemy (Satan) does everything he can do to bring them down, but the one thing he can’t do is destroy their spirit-man.  

I’ve been in the presence of some of these dear saints, when they may not know you, but when you start praying or worshiping their spirit-man rises up.  The power of the Lord still resides within their soul.  One thing these saints all have in common is their love for the Lord, and a strong prayer life.  Praying in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I can never thank the Lord enough for putting these wonderful, powerful saints of God in my life. Their influence is really beyond description.  

I will be forever grateful for their love, friendship, prayers and sacrifices they made, which made a difference in my life.

We often think that Rom 10:15 is strictly for ministers…and it is for them, but it is also for us to take the gospel everywhere we go.  Being the hands and feet of Jesus, reaching out and accepting people where they are and sharing the story of hope. Leading them to the promise of ‘Life Eternal.’

 I encourage you to be the ‘hands and feet of Jesus.

Written in honor and remembrance of Apostle F. Nolan Ball who enter heaven’s gates June 19, 2018.  I know he is having a glorious time worshiping the Lord and talking to Jesus. You will be missed greatly by all who had the privilege of sitting under your ministry.

Do You Trust Me?

Do You Trust Me? 

By Vicki Molinari

I was so excited! The weather report said snow and this Florida girl had only seen snow a handful of times.  With great anticipation I waited, however day after day nothing happened.  

My anticipation dwindled and therefore my expectation of it ever happening became squelched. My hopes were dashed and I was just about to give up when on day five the flakes began to fall from the sky! 

It was here. Not just a dusting either! The snow fell for hours and the beautiful white snowflakes blanketed the earth fifteen inches thick!

What a blessing and an answer to my prayers! 

I spoke to the Lord quietly, thanking Him for what had happened.  The word I received back in my spirit was ‘trust’. I sensed Him asking me, “Do you trust me?” 

I began to think do I trust God? I say I do but my actions do not show it so often in my life.  When He does not answer my prayers as I see fit, I doubt and often share my disappointment verbally, causing those around me to be uncertain, too. 

Where was my faith? I was convicted quickly and my words of repentance flowed to the God who created me!

Can you relate? Have there been times of doubt in your life when you saw no results to your fervent prayers?

Perhaps you have worked so hard and dreamed so long for something only to be disappointed when it did not happen as you had hoped?  

Doubt comes in like a flood and your first instinct is to give up.

Don’t do it! Fight the urge to quit! God is faithful!

The Bible says in Psalm 33:20-22, “We put out hope in the Lord, He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord for our hope is in you alone”.

So in our day to day lives we should have hope that He will answer our prayers, big or small, expressing gratitude even when we don’t see a glimmer of prayers answered. 

He loves us so much more deeply than we can conceive.

May we trust in Him and in His unfailing love for us.

 

 

 

 

Daddy Time

Daddy Time

By Jacqi Ballough

While walking my dog early one evening, I heard an exuberant yell, “DADDY’s HOME!” I turned to see our little three-year-old neighbor bolt out the front door, arms wide open, and grinning from ear to ear. 

As Daddy emerged from his truck, the little boy ran at lightening speed only stopping when Daddy grabbed him up in an embrace. 

It made me smile and remember when our son was that little. But even though ours is now eleven, size is really the main change. His elated expression and desire to be with Daddy has only increased, and he will still yell “Daddy’s home!” excitedly, even going to the extent to await his father’s arrival in the garage, not wanting to miss the first glimpse of his appearance. 

There is an unexplainable joy that comes home with Daddy. After having missed his presence all day, not an ounce wants to be missed once he arrives.

Even the smallest children know Daddy-time is precious.

To little girls, he is their knight in shining armor and to little boys, a hero. The time spent with Dad fills their hearts with love and satisfaction. 

There is also something about having alonetimewith Daddy. Children tend to want Daddy to just be with them and have his undivided attention. Whether it is playing with them, watching them, teaching them, experimenting with them, or simply sitting with them, whatever it is doesn’t matter, the undivided attention from Daddy is the delight.  

As God’s child, I feel this way too. I have the same desire to yell his name, jump into his arms, and to sit with Him, not missing a moment of His presence. 

I want to be alone with him, listen to Him, embrace Him, and have Him pick me up sharing my laughter and tears. 

When I become irritable and dissatisfied with life, I know I have not been in His presence, and I yearn to see Him. I need to get away with God. It is for my spiritual and physical well-being. 

Jesus did this in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1) and on a mountain (Matthew 14:23). He gave me the model but some days I wonder “how Lord?” I notice Matthew 14:23 states “he dismissed” the multitudes. Well, I can’t dismiss my family and obligations, but I can prioritize my time and assert boundaries. 

Susanne Wesley (who was the mother of John Wesley and a total of 19 children) prayed daily. She told her children that if they saw her sitting with her apron over her head, she was in prayer and not to be disturbed. 

What a wonderful example to her children and to me! I’m sure God, like all fathers, appreciated her time and dedication to their relationship. 

I can imagine an apron over my head imprinted with “Do not disturb. Daddy timein progress.” 

You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
   I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
   meditating on you through the night. Psalm 63:5-6

 

Is Time the Enemy?

Is Time the Enemy? 

By Tammye Hamilton

"Where does the time go?"

How often do we say this to ourselves? Sometimes in the middle of a busy day when we are getting nothing checked off our list. Other times, in those moments when we look at our littles, who all of a sudden, in a blink, are not little anymore!

One day you're cleaning peanut butter off the ceiling and the next you are attending graduations and hosting weddings. It feels just that fast.

When Billy Graham was asked what was the greatest surprise of his life, he responded without hesitation, "The brevity of it."

Last week, or actually twenty years ago now, I had two young teenagers and five littles who filled my crazy, chaotic days. This week, just their baby sister is home, somehow a teenager. And last week's children? They are suddenly becoming moms and dads. How did THAT happen? 

When our sixth child graduated from high school, I had one of those moments. "Where did my life go?" I exclaimed to my family. One of my older children replied, "You gave it to us, Mom!" 

I admire the moms around me who are giving their all to love and nurture their babes. I see the stress, the sleep deprivation, the desperation to "get it right". I see the pictures they share of their children growing too fast and echo their exclamations, "Where did the time go?" I am one of them and yet, so are my children, as they watch their own babies grow. Time flies for us all. 

Be encouraged today. Love isn't something you check off your list. It's all of the selfless things you do that take your time and fill needy hearts with your love. It's that mountain of laundry you gather the courage to tackle. It's the thankless jobs you do that no one sees. 

When you fill your moments with sacrificial love- when you do the same phonics lesson every day for six months because he's just not getting it or you feel like you lose your days at the doctor's offices with your aging parent, you are giving your greatest gift.

Time is not our enemy. When we realize our days on earth are each a unique gift given to us, we tap into the enormous power of time. You are investing your life in those you love! 

Psalm 139 says, "Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."

 What a priceless, fleeting gift.

In Psalm 90, we get a glimpse of the heart of Moses, who is right there with us, realizing how quickly time flies. He writes, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." 

Yes, Lord. Teach us. As we feel the discomfort of time flying by, remind us that you have ordained all of our days. Assure our hearts that every moment given is written in your book. Let us weave our days with selfless love.