It sounds so simple: you were made to thrive, not just survive.
Yet how many of us find ourselves so often in survival-mode?
Adding 4 children to our family in less than a decade naturally meant that in certain seasons, we were surviving. In that season, Jared and I would attempt to brainstorm a different plan to combat the chaos tracking that week, but those conversations often ended with one of us saying, “This is a season. We are surviving. It’s ok” (possibly the sleep-deprivation talking !).
Looking back, I’m thankful we had enough sense to provide the space to “just survive” with realistic expectations. God in His great love, carried us through proving His faithfulness in trying seasons.
I do not believe, however, that God intends for His children to stay in survival-mode indefinitely.
This last month, the women at TVBC have been blogging testimonies for our “A New Year: Thrive” posts. I hope you have enjoyed their testimonies as I have! Such wisdom among these women. Many have shared with us how good God has been to them in different seasons. Yes, sometimes “just surviving” is a testament to the faithfulness of God. He is a God who sees and cares about our immediate circumstances. He has promised a purpose and a goodness through the trials (Jeremiah 29:11). But we do not want to be women who only experience God from the need in tragedy.
- We want to be women who plant roots, cultivate, and nurture our relationship with Him.
- We want to flourish in all seasons.
- We want to thrive.
So how do we do that?
I believe we can thrive if we follow these few simple steps:
- Abide in Christ (John 7:38). We need to daily dig into the Word. For most of us, choosing to daily invest time reading Scripture means we are saying no to something else. If you want to thrive, are you willing to say no to a daily habit in order to say yes to abiding in Christ? Dig into and drink from the wellspring of life.
- Be a worshiper (Romans 12:1). True worship is birthed from a correct posturing of oneself against the identity and character of a holy God-the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who took on flesh, became a suffering servant, blameless in word and deed, and proved His divinity in His resurrection! When we truly realize who we are in light of who Christ is, how can we help but begin worship with thankfulness? If we want to thrive, we must be women of thankfulness. What better discipline to grow thankfulness than that of true worship?
- Finally, hold fast to community (1 John 1:7). To thrive entails growth. Thriving cannot be to stay the same. God designed us, His prized creation to need one another. In participating in the body of Christ, in doing life together, we find encouragement and accountability that leads to a spiritual deepening. If you have ever felt like you cannot do it all or do not have enough time to complete that which God has called you to, then you are not alone. God does not give us all the time we need because we were created to exist in gospel-centered community. This means we were meant to depend upon one another to complete His calling! Gospel-centered fellowship is crucial for our spiritual growth.
We want to be women who reflect the image of God as His image-bearers. In some seasons, God is shown glorious through His faithfulness to us in difficult circumstances when we need to be carried through just to survive. Those who have walked this kind of season, often marked with tender vulnerability, know what I mean when I say Christ and His presence is intimately treasured in a unique way.
While these markers on our journey are important and inevitable (John 16:33), learning to operate in all seasons from a deeply rooted stability is equally vital. This stability allows us to thrive, not merely survive. We become like sturdy trees, reflecting the fullness of life, joy, and peace that can be found in Christ…in and out of season (Psalm 1:1-3).
In 2017, let’s grow some deep roots girls. Let’s nourish and cultivate our relationship with God through His Word, worship, and our fellowship with one another. Let’s thrive.
Growing up in the church, I sometimes felt I did not have a testimony to share that would allow people to see God’s hand in my life. Up until a few years ago, my life was pretty easy. Ups and downs would come but I could easily manage through.
Spring Break of 2010 changed that.
During this holiday week, God added three additional children to our home. Dealing with the heartache that comes through a CPS case is hard enough for adults, but even worse on the children involved. God used this crisis to bring family devotions into our home as I tried to help my children, my niece, and my nephews make sense of this situation. A few months later in August, our world would stop in an instant.
I can clearly remember the moment Dr. Barkis told Nathan and I they found a mass on my brain. For what felt like the first time in my life, I was not in control of anything. I had no choice but to rely on God.
At the end of September, I could no longer keep up appearances. I needed a release. I spent time with God and completely gave him everything, allowing him to carry me and my family. The feeling of relief and calm was almost indescribable.
From that day on, I was free to see God’s hand at work. Many of my coworkers and friends ironically believed me to be in a state of disbelief or denial, but I was able to use those moments and give God praise for His strength.
Both of these difficult situations are not closed chapters in my journey home but God is in control of them. I may never completely understand the reason for my struggles but I know they are part of bigger plan.
I know in every situation God will be glorified.
My testimony may have a little more punch to it now, but God will use all of us, if we are willing, to better His kingdom through the word of each unique testimony. When is the last time you let go gave God complete control?
This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.
I told Sara I would write two articles for Thrive and the first was my experience with cancer. In this article, I would like to share about my time at TVBC as the Children’s Ministry Director. As I reflect on my time served, in these last few days before my “retirement,” the memories have come like a flood. Some memories are accompanied by laughter, some with tears, and some where my heart wants to burst at the goodness of God!
I have served at Taylor’s Valley eight years, a few as Preschool director, and the remainder as Children’s Ministry Director. I remember being approached about taking on the Children’s Department and I had one immediate condition…I could NOT give up my preschoolers! I wanted all or nothing! I do not regret that choice and am thankful it was approved. Now those preschoolers are the older children in my department.
I am SO incredibly proud of each and every one of “my” kids, from babies to kids already promoted to youth. Someone recently commented I had made an impact on their child’s life…but the truth is the children have made a profound impact on mine!
I have “worked” with children since I was fourteen in some way or another. I was not blessed with children of my own and even when we sought to adopt, my health got in the way. That door shut several times. But I’ve never been bitter. Truly. I can say that because the Lord blessed me with all of your children! Yes, I think of them as my own. I love and pray for them as if they are my own. And I will always be grateful to all of you for entrusting me with the care of your children!
God did all that for me. He gave me each and every single one from the time I was fourteen to now, the age of 50. One of my former kids deemed me, “Mother of Bell County” once….I’ll take that! What an honor!
My eight years at this church has been sweet, at times challenging, at times bitter-BUT the children have always been my joy and so many times, an anchor keeping me going. I use the term “Beyond Blessed” all the time-but it’s truly how I feel! Here’s a few examples of the joys and blessings I have experienced through the years:
Watching the kids connect with the scripture and memorize a verse;
Watching the kids truly worship in the praise time of Sports Camp;
Watching the joy of huddle times;
Enjoying bible study with preteen camp kids;
Enjoying fellowship time at “chow” with them;
Mom and daughter retreats;
Holding the sleepy little ones and rocking;
Reading a book to a toddler;
Yes, even getting “bitten” by the playdough dinosaur by 3-year old boys in extended care!
The conversations, the hugs, their sweet prayers, passing out their bibles from the church…all the special events. Most of all, I have had the privilege of watching many of “my” kids make the ultimate decision, to ask Jesus to be their Lord. There is nothing like being present when a child prays the prayer!! NOTHING! God gave me the gift of getting to see the last of my original 3-year old preschool group get baptized just recently. That was a sweet gift from Him.
I may have to step down from my position and “retire” from children’s ministry, but my heart will remain with MY kids. I will hold on to these precious memories for the rest of my life. Their sweet faces and smiles will always warm my heart! I will continue to pray for MY kids, because they are my blessings from the Lord!! I am so thankful for my time here. Thank you so much for allowing me to serve in my “dream job.” It’s been the very best 8 years.
I have to share this as I close and hope Bro. Jared doesn’t mind. This sums it all up in a nut shell! The staff was meeting this week to finalize some things and Jared shared with me his girls had attended the Women’s Ministry Movie Night. As Jared was dropping them off, his boys were in the car and wanted to go too. They were begging, but dad said, “No, this is for the girls and ladies.” His youngest, Jacob, exclaimed, “But Mrs. Beth loves us!” That’s EXACTLY what I hope each of the TVBC kiddos know….
1. Jesus loves them
2. Mrs. Beth loves them too…ALWAYS!!!
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
I watched a video once of Louie Giglio describing just how indescribable our God is. (Watch here). In this video we are shown pictures of our galaxy and that which exists beyond our galaxy, giving us a glimpse of how physically small we really are.
I couldn’t help but come away from seeing those images thinking about how big God is and how insignificant I really seem. My thoughts echoed that of the psalmist above,
“what is man that you are mindful of him?“
And yet a few verses later, the psalmist described our position, our standing, our worth before our Creator of this cosmos. We are God’s crowning creation. We are given a purpose, to have dominion over that which He created. We bear His image.
In light of the majesty of God and the worthiness of following His calling on my life, how disastrous would it be if I missed His purpose for my life? What if all the good works I am doing fall short of the one work He has called me to, and how do I discern what that is?
A group of ladies at TVBC are reading through “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done” by Matt Perman during the month of January, and these kinds of questions are the ones we are tackling. Matt suggests we start with writing a Mission Statement that includes our Core Purpose, Core Values, and Core Beliefs. He shows us scriptures that contain examples of those elements and charges us to begin to find our life calling by doing what we are doing with excellence.
In group discussion a few weeks ago, we noted that imitation is the highest form of flattery. With regards to writing our mission statement, this means that as we share our first drafts of mission statements with one another this next week, we have the freedom to borrow ideas and phrases from others as we hear someone beautifully pen a thought we couldn’t quite express ourselves!
A few years ago when I attempted my first mission statement, I did the very same thing. Using scriptures and other examples Matt presents in the book, I drafted my first (seen below). Have you ever written one yourself? Seen a mission statement that stuck with you? If so, will you share your thoughts below?
As the old saying goes, if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. Let’s be people of eternal purpose as we bear our Creator’s image and fulfill our callings.
“My times are in Thy Hand.”
Eight years ago, I was brand new to the Taylor’s Valley staff by a few months, and went in for a routine women’s well check. What began as routine ended up as a full hysterectomy due to the detection of early stages of uterine cancer. The Lord was so very present in my life during this time and I experienced SO many of His blessings. The doctors told me tests do not usually pick up cancer cells in the uterus and had I waited a few months, the cancer would have been full blown.
When I got “the call” on my back porch one morning, I looked up in the blue sky and heard that still, quiet, and firm voice inside me ask, “How much are you going to trust Me?” I responded to the Lord, “I choose to trust You, Lord.” You see, I had been asking God to give me the kind of relationship my mother had with Him. Little did I know He would use a trial to strengthen my walk with Him!
He is so faithful!!!
He kept me in perfect peace through it every step of the way. There was only one time I was anxious. It was the appt. when we went to find out what stage of cancer I was in, at this point we did not know. As my sweet husband and I sat there in the doctor’s office waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Dr. Capen to come, I started to get antsy and shaking, telling my husband over and over it was taking too long. Then all of the sudden, the smoke alarm started going off! While we did not have to leave the facility, we did have to evacuate the area. It turned out to be a small electrical fire with one of their office machines…but it was EXACTLY what I needed to break the tension. After that, I was relaxed again and ready for the news!
He is so faithful!
I was flooded with flowers, calls, visitors, meals, prayers, and support from friends, family. Prayer warriors from so many churches, even across the country prayed for me. It was a humbling experience! The women of our church gave me such encouragement in those early days when we did not know what “stage” I was in. I was amazed how many cancer survivors there were in this church and words cannot express how much it meant to this “new” staff member to be supported. Our pastor came every day to the hospital and prayed with me. The nursing staff was phenomenal. It was my first surgery ever that required a hospital stay and I can’t say enough how much I appreciated the people He placed in my path.
He is so faithful!!
The end results were I was one sick girl. Not only did they find pre-cancer cells, but severe hypo-plasia, endometrial scarring in the fallopian tubes, and cysts (too many to count) on my ovaries (PCOS) (Which kept me from losing weight & having children). I didn’t love being thrown into “forced menopause”…but it’s better than the alternative. I could have had to face chemo and other horrible things cancer victims endure. I would not trade my experience for anything, because I felt His presence and it is indescribable.
My God is faithful
He has blessed me beyond measure and I am thankful to be able to live in His grace and mercy. I am SO very far from being perfect and certainly have made MANY bad decisions in my life, but that’s what living in God’s grace is about. If it were not for Christ’s sacrifice, I would not be where I am. I am thankful for the gift of my husband, my family, friends (old and new), children He has placed in my life, and our loving, supportive church!
He truly is faithful!
“Your steadfast love, O Lord, expands to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
In November 2013, I (Marilyn) attended a Bible Study in an Assisted Living Center in a small Texas panhandle town. Bob, a 67-year-old resident, was leading a study on Acts 4. As he read the chapter discussing each verse, his passion, knowledge and love of Jesus was evident. Bob, pastor of a tiny church nearby, was not an ordained or trained pastor. Without notes, he taught the lesson from his heart as he shared Luke’s words sprinkled with God-inspired personal insights.
Bob, a humble and simple man who clearly loved Jesus with all his heart and soul; a man who found joy and peace in the challenges of his life; a man whose greatest desire was to serve Jesus and share the gospel in both word and deed — made an impression on my life that day. He challenged me to be BOLD in my faith, to speak out in BOLDNESS, and to share with others.
Thanks to Bob, I no longer ‘just read’ Acts 4 and specifically Acts 4:12. Each time I read or study this scripture, I remember Jesus’ humble servant, Bob, and the passionate love for Jesus that radiated from him as he spoke of the disciples’ sacrifice and Jesus’ gift of salvation.
“Salvation is found in no one else (but Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Thank you Lord for crossing my path with Bob’s. May you bless him. May he continue to serve you all his days. May we too BOLDLY share the truth of salvation with the passion and love exemplified so clearly by this simple man named Bob.
After our second session studying “What’s Best Next” by Matt Perman yesterday, I was reminded of when I was first learning Perman’s principles for productivity. The biblical way he approaches “getting organized” forced me to become a disciple again of God’s Word and learn something new for immediate practice. As it goes with most kinds of change, the process was challenging and at times painful. But just as we have read the last few weeks in his book, we are called to be good stewards of our time because we love God and therefore love people. Love and generosity should drive our productivity as well as our daily choices.
A few years ago a friend mommy blogger hosted a blog series, asking women to write entries on varied subjects while including practical tips relevant to their topic (see my original post here). Since I was at the time halfway through the pursuit of a Masters in Theological Studies, she asked me to write one offering tips on going back to school mid-mommyhood. As requested, I included practical tips that had helped me survive (including reading the book “What’s Best Next“!), but I also gave an apologetic for why I had chosen to go back to school in the first place. Below is an excerpt:
“At first thought, it may seem as if going back to school is a decision “for me.” Au contraire. My husband and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary, and of those 13 years, he was enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate school for almost a decade.
While there were several very difficult years (we added 4 to our family count in 7 years), I truly enjoyed the innumerable late night conversations as he stretched my brain working out his thoughts. Our little family stood beside him when he graduated with his Masters of Divinity, feeling like we all owned a part of that degree.
Little did I know God was preparing me for my own journey back to school as a homeschooling mom of 4.
“Why go back?” “Who will this benefit?”
Five years ago, my oldest was given a school assignment while studying the medieval time period. The assignment required the family to design and create a family crest. After much discussion (read debate), we all agreed on the following family motto: Amo, Disco, Duco: (I love, I learn, I lead). The motto was birthed out of Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV),
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you think about it, these verses drive the desire to be educated. As our love for God grows, we want to know Him more. As we know Him more, our love for Him grows. We know wisdom’s source:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV).
The Burt family motto, Amo, Disco, Duco merely speaks to the two greatest commandments Jesus provided as the foundation for our existence. In loving God we desire to learn. His love drives us to love and lead others, following in Christ’s footsteps.
Furthermore, do we ever cease to be a disciple? God has called and gifted each of us, empowering us to participate in the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28). This means God is glorified as we cultivate and sharpen the gifts He has graciously given each of us, aiming to influence our culture.”
With the Lord’s help and the never-ending support of my family, I finished the degree half a year later. Yet the journey with discipleship, loving God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, is a lifelong endeavor.
If you are diving into What’s Best Next with Thrive this month, yesterday’s session was a day of many practical tips full of change – which can be challenging. But don’t give up. Take the first steps this week.
- Come up with a draft of your mission statement, the declaration of your core purpose that stands true even when your world falls apart.
- Next write down a few of your core principles that guide your life.
- Finally, jot down your core beliefs including the baseline principle for why you do what you do – the gospel, what God has done for us in Christ.
I can finish this post the same way I finished the guest blog for my friend:
“Bottom line – women rock. You can do this and even enjoy the process! Above all, God will be glorified as you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. So buy some frozen dinners, brew a cup of coffee, and dive in.”