A New Year: Thrive 1/30

a-new-year-thriveI love listening to K-LOVE and hearing stories of how God speaks to people through song. Whether it be words of encouragement, an answer to prayer, direction in times of need, or affirmation, I find these stories an encouraging reminder of God’s love for us.
It also reminds me of times when I felt God speaking to me in unique ways.
Having been diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I knew conceiving a child might prove difficult, if not impossible. Even so, I had not given it much thought.
For several years, including the first three years of marriage, I was working as a substitute teacher at an elementary school. I had dropped my class off for lunch and was walking back to my classroom, when I noticed a little girl walking beside me. She looked up at me and asked if I was Caitlin’s mom.  I said no, but she kept staring at me and walking right alongside me.  So I asked her if I looked like Caitlin’s mom, and she said yeah. We both went to our respective classrooms.
I finished the day, sent my students home, cleaned my classroom, wrote notes for the returning teacher, and signed out to go home myself. As I was walking to my car, I saw this same little girl playing at the flagpole. It is noteworthy to mention she probably should not have been there. All buses had left, car riders had been picked up, and those that walked home were likely home by now. But this little girl was playing unsupervised outside the school. As I walked by her, she once again engaged me in conversation. She said to me, “If you want a baby, you should ask God for a baby. That’s what my mom did. She asked God for a baby and He gave her one.” Taken aback I responded, “Well, maybe I will do that.” With an excited matter-of-fact tone, she said, “When you get home. Yes, that is it! When you get home ask God to give you a baby. And He will!”
That day I did not ask God for a baby, I thanked Him for giving me a baby. I thanked Him for the child I had not yet conceived. I knew that He had sent this little girl to tell me a prayer I had not even prayed had already been answered. How amazing is our God that He takes the time to meet our needs, sometimes even before we ask? He meets us where we are and comforts us, encourages us, and reminds us He is in control. His timing is perfect.
Fast forward about six months and I found myself at a fertility doctor, trying to have a baby. I was praying for that child!  I was also wearing a prayer bracelet with one charm attached. The charm was a small silver box that opened to hold a hand-written prayer. I had typed my prayer on the computer using a teeny tiny font. I printed it, cut it out, and carefully rolled it up into a tiny scroll before placing it in my bracelet. I wore this piece of jewelry everyday, taking it off at night and putting it back on in the morning. I prayed through that prayer throughout the days for about six months.
One evening I was getting ready for bed and I pulled back the blankets to find this little rolled up piece of paper. “That looks like my prayer,” I thought. I unrolled it to find it was in fact the prayer that was suppose to be in my charm. I must have slept in my bracelet that night and somehow, my prayer fell out of my bracelet. This might not have seemed strange except that the box on this bracelet was not easy to open. I often had to use my thumb nail to forcibly flick the latch open. So while I was sleeping, this hard to open bracelet “accidentally” opened, my prayer fell out, and the box re-latched itself.
Once again, God had spoken to me in a unique and personal way, not through a child, but through a piece of jewelry. I knew at that moment God was telling me, “This prayer has been answered.” I put that little piece of paper in my jewelry box and said another prayer, asking for a healthy, happy baby. I was in fact pregnant!
Before, it was ever confirmed by a doctor, my Heavenly Father comforted and reassured me that my prayers had been heard.
How amazing is our God that when we pray He always hears us!
How amazing that the creator of the universe takes the time to speak to us!
Be encouraged. He hears your prayers, He listens, and He always answers them…in His perfect timing and in His perfect way.
Lynda Martinson
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A New Year: Thrive 1/6

a-new-year-thriveIt’s a God thing!

I have heard this said many times and experienced it in my own life many times. My explanation of this is there is no other explanation. Last summer we were babysitting two of our small great-grandsons. We have a swimming pool in our backyard and Ty (two years old) loved swimming with all of us, but always wore his life jacket. This particular day my husband and son were on the patio putting together a barbeque pit, and Ty was sitting in his little chair watching them. My daughter-in-law and I were inside with his younger brother.

I knew Ty was in good hands. My husband is always overly cautious when it comes to kids and the pool so there was no reason for me to be concerned.

All of a sudden, I had a sudden urge to ask about Ty’s whereabouts.

“Can you see Ty?” I asked my daughter-in-law. She immediately jumped up and ran out the back door and saw he wasn’t sitting in his chair! “Where is Ty?” she screamed while running toward the pool.

There he was – face down in the pool. My daughter-in-law jumped in the pool, grabbed him, and handed him to my husband who had jumped in with her. Ty immediately began crying! He was scared, but other than that, he was perfectly okay. Just one more minute and…

We were all hugging him, crying, and thanking God for His mercy and perfect timing. I am so thankful for a loving God who speaks to us even when we are unaware of our need.

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Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

Ann Wilson

A New Year: Thrive 1/1

a-new-year-thriveWe all have a story and your story matters. Your story tells the history of your journey with Christ and speaks to the beauty of humanity. We engage in sharing our stories because our stories connect us. As the New Year begins, we want to be women who embrace new beginnings. We serve a God of second chances, and what better opportunity than the New Year to encourage one another to risk hoping for a new beginning!

Through the years, God has taught the women at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church immeasurable truths about Himself and how our connections matter. Our connections often provide the fuel for vulnerability, a trait necessary for new starts. Over the next 31 days you will meet 31 different women sharing 31 different stories. Our hope is that by sharing our stories, we will show God’s faithfulness in our everyday lives and encourage you to look for God in all the new beginnings of a new year.  Get ready to belly laugh, shed a few tears (grab a tissue), and prepare your heart for God to speak through, “A New Year: Thrive.”

Second Chances

“I called to the LORD in my distress, and He answered me.” (Jonah 2:2).

When was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit nudging you a particular direction and your first instinct was to flee? If whatever the task before me requires battling insecurities, my flesh begs me to forgo the fight and just flee.

A few years ago I was asked to serve in a capacity I had only dreamed about in my home church. Almost as quickly as the excitement built at the thought of using my gifts and talents in this area, an equal amount of apprehension overwhelmed my spirit. I reflected on my previous track record with similar tasks. Isn’t that how we evaluate potentially new tasks, through considering and analyzing what we have been able to accomplish in the past?

Despite reciting scriptures encouraging me to trust God’s promise to enable and empower me to complete the task ahead, I stalled and filibustered when pressed to confirm. I was hesitating to step into leadership though I knew God was calling me to that specific purpose.

As God would have it, the next few weeks’ worth of sermons covered the book of Jonah. Though I was familiar with his story, Jonah’s experiences with second chances washed over me in a fresh and powerful way. Jonah flat out refused to obey God’s command to preach to the Ninevites. God could have used another prophet to preach His message of coming judgment, but He loved Jonah enough to punish him, leading Jonah to repentance.

Our God gives second chances. He delights in our steps toward the right direction. Furthermore, when He calls us to a task, He will empower us. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” This verse speaks truth in the face of apprehension. Not only does God work in me to accomplish the task, He also enables me to desire to complete it.

So if God is calling you to a specific role, task, or purpose, and you are hesitating to obey, know God delights in your steps toward His calling. Know He will birth the desire to complete it, and above all, He will work it through you for His good purpose and glory.

Love,

Sara Burt, Director of TVBC Women’s Ministry: Thrive

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Dad’s Dinks

This morning I laid out the 4+ years of Dad’s Dinks I still have in my possession. My intent was to pick a few of my favorites and text them to him throughout the day. But as I began reading through them, so many memories flooded my soul and I was overwhelmed with the treasure I have.IMG_2348

 

The enemy is after our children and my Dad knew the value of going to battle for his kids. Exodus 15:3 says, “The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is His name.” My Dad has been many things to me, including coach, running buddy, youth minister, and boss. However, it is no wonder that sense my Dad is created in God’s image, the warrior is core to his identity and his role. The Bible even talks about children as arrows in their parents quiver (Psalm 127:4-5). Warrior image.

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My Dad started these “Dinks” when I was playing volleyball in junior high, and they continued through college. Many mornings, I would wake up with an index card lying on my dresser. The “Dink” always contained a scripture verse, and usually a thought or two. Miraculously, I held on to them, not fully appreciating their value at the time. I could write a sappy post about how loving my Dad was through these cards (which he was!), but more importantly I want to highlight how he was lovingly teaching me how to fight the enemy.

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As a parent, I appreciate the discipline it took for him to pen these truths to me. The words shared between a daddy and daughter can never be underestimated. Yes, my Dad taught me to play basketball, to ride a bike, to drive, to waterski, etc. But more importantly, he taught me to fight with the Word. My Dad knew the weighty responsibility he had to impart a spiritual legacy to his children. I have great respect for him and for the godly example he set.

 

So to all the dads out there: the little things matter. They add up to big piles of index cards forever cherished. Happy Father’s Day Daddy.

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The Mother’s Day Problem

The Mother’s Day Problem. Where do I want to be this Mother’s Day? Celebrating with my momma, of course! Where do my children want to be? Celebrating with me (I hope)! And therein lies the dilemma.

On this side of adolescence, I find myself blessed immeasurably to have grown up in a minister’s family. I am able to answer God’s call for full-time ministry with experiential, first-hand ministry knowledge. I am familiar with a handful of the dilemmas unique to full-time ministry. Sunday holidays can be difficult. I remember as a kid listening to my parents wisely determining the best use of my Dad’s Sundays off. Maybe your church provides you with more Sundays off than you know what to do with, but most of us ration our free Sundays for family and for our own spiritual edification, a time when we can be fed and replenished. Naturally, requesting a Sunday off for Mother’s Day isn’t usually a priority. So what are my options? The kids and I could travel to my parents’ home and celebrate, but leaving my husband behind on this holiday just doesn’t sit right. My Mom could come to me, but then she would be coming solo…because as previously mentioned my Dad is a minister. Again, leaving the guy behind who has seen you through the ups and downs of motherhood seems anti-climactic. What about you? Maybe your Mom and Dad can travel to you, or maybe due to extenuating circumstances or location, that isn’t a possibility either. I could sit in a puddle of tears and self-pity. I could resent my husband’s job or the calling. And truth be told, I have unfortunately chosen the path of self-abasement on occasion because I was stricken with homesickness. However, without fail God gently speaks to me, the Spirit awakens His calling, and I am forced to decide whom I will serve. God or myself. Will I think about and set my mind on things eternal (Colossians 3:2) or will I worship my own desires (Philippians 3:19). Perspective is everything. Will I celebrate with my mother during our next visit? You bet. I have a heightened thankfulness for the culture God has allowed me to live in. I do not have to wait for the snow to melt before I can hitch up the horses to a cart and travel hundreds of miles to see my mother. Hello FaceTime! I cannot allow my sadness to catapult me into tunnel vision, lead me to self-pity, and loose the kingdom perspective.

So as we approach another Sunday holiday, if you are a minister’s wife and find yourself wishing things were different, just know I am praying for both of us. I pray we will live and work out of the Spirit inside of us and not our flesh (Romans 8:5). I pray God will use these sometimes lonely holidays to grow our love for His people and open our eyes to those around us hurting. I pray Satan is not given the opportunity  to sow resentment and bitterness in our hearts. You can be certain there are many other women wearing the same ministerial shoes and walking the same path. May we all tune our hearts and minds to Christ…and love our mommas.

My Mom and I

My Mom and I