New Year: Thrive (Day Twenty-Five)

a-new-year-thriveRecently the soundtrack from “The Greatest Showman” has been the only music playing in my house. In fact, as soon as we left the movie theater over Christmas Break, one of my kiddos pulled up the album on Spotify and “Project Learn All the Songs” commenced.

I have a tendency to completely immerse myself in an album if I am drawn in and love the music. Sometimes my family grows weary of hearing the same songs over and over and over again, but that’s how the music seeps down into the marrow of my bones. I turn the lyrics over slowly and repetitively on my tongue like a piece of ice on a hot summer day. The music melts in and becomes a part of me.

Most of our memories are wrapped up in some kind of sensory marker. If we see a picture, smell certain food, or go to a certain place, we can uncannily retrieve a memory attached to the sense engaged.

Music is the marker of my life and my life is full of musical Ebenezers (1 Samuel 7:12).

I remember the music from times of triumph and times of defeat.

I remember the music from times of joy and times of sadness.

I remember the music from times of love and times of heartbreak.

Just hearing certain music sets off a chain reaction of emotional memory and usually awakens a beautifully satisfying spiritual pilgrimage to past experiences.

I am currently going through the study, “Uninvited” by Lysa Terkeurst, a study I highly encourage you to go through!! Why? Unpack this statement, one of many nuggets of wisdom to take hold of memorize from the book:

“The mind feasts on what it focuses on. What consumes my thinking will be the making or the breaking of my identity.”

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How true is this?! I want to feast on the commands of God designed to bring me fullness of life and fullness of joy.

Knowing how I’m wired means 2018 is a year I am planning to immerse myself in songs that speak of God’s principles. And this spiritual discipline isn’t only for musicians. It’s biblical baby.

May the words of Psalm 119:54 ring true for ALL of us in 2018 as we journey on, singing songs along the way:

Thy statutes are my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.”

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Only by songs of grace,

Sara Danielle

Pastor’s Wife & Director of Thrive Women’s Ministry

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A New Year: Thrive 2/4

a-new-year-thriveAnd let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9)
That time of the year has come where we approach setting goals and try to change a habit or two. Looking and feeling lean has always been a goal of mine, and it will take determination to get there. I have had success within the first 21 days and I tell myself it’s not just for my appearance, but also for my overall health. But now that February has approached, I notice that I’m not progressing on my New Year’s Resolution as I would have hoped. So, I try different eating habits and exercise routines hoping the end result is not that I end up back where I was before I made this commitment to myself to make myself healthier.
We are stewards of this vessel God has given us and it is our job to nurture it. Our hearts are idol-making factories as Augustine once said. We fail because we focus on ourselves. We place ourselves as the goal.
Imagine if we focused on what God wanted us to do? We could use that same drive, determination, and motive behind our resolution and direct it toward God’s will and purpose for our lives. Will we be perfect? No of course not. We are sinners after all. Paul says not even he has achieved the goal, but presses on (Philippians 3:14). We should have a daily RESOLUTION to pray and study the Word of God. Just as my 21-day Fix videos tell me to take it one day and one pound at a time, we should daily ask God to keep us on track.
John Owen says we should be killing sin or it will be killing you. Let us press on toward the goal, the upwards calling of Christ Jesus.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the one thing you think you cannot do.
(Eleanor Roosevelt)
Jessica Statler
TVBC Youth Minister’s Wife
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A New Year: Thrive 1/31

a-new-year-thriveChoosing to Thrive

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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. 047f013d48dc325e183fc10c41a590cf

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.

Sara

 

 

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 1/28

a-new-year-thriveGrowing 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.

(Psalm 91:2)

Amber Franklin

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A New Year: Thrive 1/27

a-new-year-thriveI 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! 

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-5-43-56-amMy 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.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-6-08-08-amI 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

and

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.”

(Matthew 19:14)

Beyond Blessed,

Beth Harris

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My last Wednesday night with TVBC Kiddos!

A New Year: Thrive 1/26

a-new-year-thriveIn upcoming weeks, the Thrive ministry at TVBC will present different mentoring options available for our women. Rather than only offering large group bible studies throughout the year, we are also going to include one-on-one bible studies in which women can pair up and work through together at the convenience of their own schedule, as well as mentoring guides to facilitate the Titus 2 commandment found in Scripture (older paired with the younger). Why are we passionate about this? Read the following article for 5 great reasons we should pursue one-on-one discipleship and mentoring. (Sara)

Last week we looked at the importance of one-on-one ministry and some of the key aspects of mentoring. Today, let’s consider five reasons why mentoring is worth incorporating into women’…

Source: 5 Reasons for Mentoring in Women’s Ministry