Womanhood

Taking off the Mask – A Personal Testimony

I was brought up in a Christian home. I attended a Christian school for 13 years. I was saved at the age of 8, but didn’t take my personal relationship with my Savior seriously until later in my life.

As a teen, I was caught up in things that I shouldn’t have been. I pretended to be the good girl, but behind closed doors I wasn’t who I appeared to be. I carried the shame of my behavior for years. I knew I was not pleasing the Lord with my life.

I was married at the young age of 19, and within 3 years we had 3 children. I was overwhelmed with life and didn’t have time to think about my relationship with God. I was sad and depressed even though on the outside it seemed I had everything under control. I didn’t enjoy being a wife or a mom. My husband worked long hours and he didn’t realize how bad I was feeling. There were times I was tempted to walk out and just leave everything behind.

Thankfully at the age of 25, someone sent me a Bible in the mail. When I opened it, I began to weep. My heart was broken. All those guilty feelings washed over me again. I sat down and began to read those beautiful pages of that leather bound Bible. Right there in my kitchen, I rededicated my life to Christ. As I was praying, all those feelings of guilt and condemnation were wiped away. My Savior became my best friend that day.

I won’t lie and say that things were perfect from there on, but life did become easier with someone to help me. God was there when no one else was. He was my strength and my strong tower. He was the rock I could depend on no matter what was going on in our lives.

Since that day on my kitchen floor, God has blessed my husband and I with 4 more children. One of those little ones went to be with Jesus in June of 2006, but we will see him again. We have seen God work miracles through the passing of our son, and we are at peace.

Today I know that I no longer carry burdens alone. He is there with me, carrying me through the storms of life. I am so thankful for His mercy, grace and love and I want to share Him with everyone I meet. My goal in life is to serve Him until my last breath and to give Him glory with all I do and say. He is my all in all!

Womanhood

True Friendships: Accountability

We all need accountable relationships- but no one really wants them. The reason isn’t because we don’t want relationships- but because we don’t want to be hurt- and we don’t wan tour hurts to be out there for others to see. However, as we look at scripture, we know that accountable relationships are so important. Today, we are going to look at one of the greatest examples in scripture of accountable relationships, talk about why and how, and lastly, I want to share a few of my favorite relationships with you.

True friendship is hard to find in today’s world. Accountability is even harder.

In today’s world – true friendship is rare. The people who will stand beside you – at your worst as well as your best – are rare. They come into your life at the strangest moments. We know that we can talk to them – about anything. Yet, it takes time to build the kind of relationships where you know you have each others back.

Scripture has lots to say about accountable relationships:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 ESV

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

These are probably some of the most frequently used passages when we talk about accountability. However, First Samuel 20 talks very specifically and gives a great example of two true friends: David and Jonathan. These two men had a true friendship for each other- they counted on one another, trusted one another with their lives. David was running for his life- and he was running from Jonathan’s father, King Saul. Yet, Jonathan knew that David was in the right -and that his Dad was in the wrong. Because of their friendship – David was able to keep his life, and become one of the greatest kings of Israel – and we know him today as the man after God’s own heart.

Real friendship is hard to find because it causes someone to look at more then the outward, or what someone can do for you – it requires you to look at the heart. It is someone who will get in, and ask the hard questions in life. Who will be there when you fall – not to wonder why you fell, but to give you hand back up. Between the two of you and God – the threefold cord- you can face the world.

Yes, our spouses should be our very best friends. They should be our first form of accountability. They have earned the right to ask the hard questions – and they see us at our best and at our worst. However, when I look at the examples of friendship in scripture, the one that sticks out is a relationship of two people of the same gender. Two people who can understand each others position. Two people who had each others back.

I have been blessed in life to have some of these kinds of friendships. People who have fought to get into the walls that I have built around my heart. They are ones who ask the hard questions – and wait for an answer. They know when I am “off”. I have all different kinds of frienships- the ones that I like to shop with, the ones the we like to have lunch and coffee with. Yet, relationships are meant to last – and I have gained some in my life that I know are eternal – that the focus started with a mutual sharing of interest – but have gone way beyond that- they have rooted into my heart. They had been there through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Today, we live in an isolated society. We don’t want to let others in (and often, that includes our spouse and family.) That was never the way God intended it be- we were created to be relational. There are friends in my life that are way more like family (my kids even call them family !)

We need to hold ourselves to a higher level of friendship. We need to allow ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable. I know friends, it is hard. We are all afraid of being hurt – I HAVE been hurt. Gut wrenching, deeply hurt. However, I know that God intends for me to have these kind of relationships.

God has provided me some of these kind of friendships. When I was just 12 years old, God gave me the friendship of a lifetime- and my bestest Tiffany and I have been through all kind of things together. Relationships, marriages, children, loss – the list is longer than I can share. However, our relationships started at youth camp – and continues to this day. I love watching our kids play together. I have another friend, Christa, who just blessed my heart in more ways than I can share – we became a friend at a time when we were both feeling lonely – and even though we only lived in the same town for about 9 months- we have been in each others weddings, traveled to visit each other, and now we share a similar passion for adoption. Then there is Jen- she was actually my hubby’s friend. They went to college together and she married his best friend. I have shared about how my husband was a widow – and she was very close to my hubby’s first wife. Yet, the day I met her, I met a friend for life. We cried over the loss that my now children and husband had faced – and her loss as well. I miss her like crazy when we are apart – and we connect on God’s Word almost daily. Each of these relationships were built on love, prayer, and most importantly, a mutual love for God’s Word – and sharing God’s Word together. These kind of friendships are not just built over shopping or coffee- although we LOVE to do that too! These girls are my family as much as they are my friends.

Most recently, I have made some new friends as well – except these ones, I have never met. They encourage me to be in the word each day. They write with me – they laugh with me – and they cry with me. They have helped raise a huge chunk of our adoption money. They have become sisters as well as friends. Most recently, you have seen them contribute here at Women of Worship – and we have started a new platform where we share about some of life’s biggest and hardest struggles- and how to Shine Authentic Grace into those struggles. If you haven’t had a chance to go check out my newest adventure – you really should. Misty, Bridget and Rosilind have become way more then faces on a computer- they have become some of my dearest friends. I am beyond blessed that God would choose to make our paths cross. I can’t wait for the day that my arms get to go around their sweet necks and we can do “normal” friend stuff.

Yes, I have been blessed with relationships. However, they each take work. To text. To call. To write. You have to be willing to go bast the superficial and get into the real part of life with people. You have to be willing to get hurt- and to heal.

…but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 ESV

Do you have these kind of realtionships? I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Don’t forget- I am offering a few copies of Time Warp Wife’s new book – and it is available TODAY! Check out Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages

Worshiping With My Life,

Womanhood

A Few Steps Ahead: The Value of a Paul Relationship

We all need someone to look up to. I remember as a little girl, I had some famous girls I looked up to. One of my favorites was Candace Cameron, from Full House. She was just a little bit older than me, but she had great hair, she was sweet and she usually went through some of the same struggles I did. Little did I know that years later- I would still look up to her – because that little girl turned into a woman on fire for Jesus. However, the older I got, the more I began to look up to people in my real life-  more than I realized I did when I was younger.  Even today I have women I look up to. Today, we are going to talk about the Value of a “Paul” relationship.

Maybe you have never heard of a Paul relationship before. A Paul relationship is shown in the Bible through the relationship of Paul and Timothy. Paul was further ahead in ministry than Timothy – and he was able to tell Timothy to, “follow me as I follow Christ.” We need women in our lives that can be a Paul to us – and we need to be a Paul to other women (more on that later this week). Today, I am focusing on us looking for the women ahead of us on life’s journey.

I want to start with a small disclaimer. This doesn’t mean you are looking for someone who is older than you in physical age necessarily – although there is some great truth for that (and another topic we will address next week.) This woman should be a spiritual leader in your life. Someone whose FAITH you want to follow – more than just her housekeeping and child rearing – although if you can follow her faith journey – you can probably follow her in other areas of life as well.

We all need someone ahead of us in our faith. Last week, we talked about the David and Jonathan relationship. Those are typically going to be people that we feel like we are close to. We learn from them- but we know we are in about the same place. Today, we want to talk about those who have been walking longer in their faith. You know the women. The word of God just pours out of them. They can’t NOT talk about Jesus, His Word, and what He has done in their lives. They are always TEACHING you something – whether they know it or not!

It is so important to have these WISE women in your life. When you need counsel – you will know where to turn. How do you know if a woman in your life is a Paul relationship?

1) She points you to Christ-  A Paul in your life is ALWAYS going to point you toward Christ. When we read about Paul in scripture- he was always decreasing himself so that Christ could be increased. He was always laying down his desires for Christ. He was constantly sharing his faith and evangelizing. He was always found giving wise counsel from the Lord. If a woman in your life is going to be a “Paul” – she will point you to Christ.

2) Her words are God’s Words- Often, when we seek advice from others, we get a lot of opinions. However, a Paul relationship is going to take you right to scripture for the answer. She isn’t going to give you a bunch of her ideas – but give you Words of Christ.

3) She will be a prayer warrior for you – Every letter of Paul opens and closes with a prayer for the church he was writing to. The same will be true for a woman who is a Paul in your life- she is going to bring you before the throne room OFTEN and she will pray God’s word over you.

4) She is going to love you – We are known of Christ when we love others. Your Paul is going to love you to pieces – because Christ loves you. End of story.

 

I have been blessed with some amazing Paul relationships in my life. Women who were ahead of me in my walk with God who just blessed my socks off. The one I think of off the top of my head is a sweet lady name Marsha. Marsha had a love for God and His Word that was absolutely contagious. When she prayed with me and for me- I knew the mountains were going to move (and often, they did!). When I would talk to her – she would always point me to Christ. Now, sister loved some fashion and shoes- and yes,we could talk about that too – but there was never one conversation I had with her that didn’t point me back to Christ.

Another one was my best friend of 22 years mom, Janna. I will never forget the time she asked me if I wanted to lead teach three year old Sunday school. I had been co-teaching in there for two or three years- but my ministry was moving in a new direction. I was also serving in teens- and the commitments between the two were getting harder. I told Janna I would pray about it (always the right answer!) but the whole time, I was afraid of how I was going to tell her no. I had never said no – but I knew saying yes wasn’t going to be right. The day I was suppose to talk to her about it- I was super nervous. I rehearsed a few times how I would tell her no – and to my surprise, as I sat in her chair – I was telling her yes. She looked at me with love in her eyes, and said, “Mandy, the answer was suppose to be no. I wanted to help you learn to say no – and to see when your plate was too full.” She has taught me MANY lessons – and many of the things I share here I gained from her wisdom- but this was probably the lesson that has stood out the most.

I have a few other Pauls in my life. Dorothy – she taught me about loving – and really, it was through her awesome example I saw that I could be a bonus mom/adoptive mom. She has four children of her own- and four adoptive. With love and grace  I have watched her raise children. We have chatted over many cups of coffee – all over the world. She was there they day I bought the tiara for my wedding – way before I even knew the man I would marry. I bought it while on a mission trip – fulfilling a commitment I made to God that I would serve Him in missions before I got married. I found the perfect tiara – and I walked away. She made me walk back.  She reminded me that God keeps His promises to us- He is not slack!

The last one I will talk more about in another post- but she must be mentioned here- is my dear friend Astrid. Astrid let me live life with her. I watched her discipline her kids, love her husband, but really- she always had a word from the Lord for me. She was my biggest fan and my greatest prayer warrior- I can’t wait to share more about my story with her next week when I talk about Titus 2 women. :) Stay tuned.

Yes, a Paul relationship is important. You need women who have walked ahead of you – so that they can help you. They will point you to Christ and His Word. Do you have a woman life that? If so, share about her here! If not, I would love to pray for you – but I can only do that If you ask in the comments!

Be the Salt & the Light to the world this week and share:

  • Faith in Jesus – What inspired your faith walk with Jesus
  • Marriage – What touched your heart for your spouse
  • Singleness – What has inspired you to reach out to God
  • Mothering – What encouraged you to be the best mom you can be this week
  • Health –  A new recipe that you hope to bless your family with, or health tip that will benefit your family
  • Service –  A story of service that touched you
  • Finances – A tip that will serve your family well
  • Homemaking – Inspiration to make your home a haven for your husband, kids, and guests
  • Time – Share a story that opened your eyes to the use of time in our life
  • Beauty – A reminder of what beauty really is in a world that tries so hard to
This is only a list to get you started as you search for posts that touch you to share with others. Honestly, any online article you’ve read that touched you is perfect for this link up.  We all know that there are great writers on the internet that others just haven’t discovered, use this opportunity to the light shining on some wonderful writer.
Once you’ve found a great article, link it up below and then leave a comment or send an email to the article’s author and let him or her know you’ve shared.  Who knows how such a small act of kindness will impact them.

And of course, if you have written an encouraging post you would like to add to the link up, go ahead link up a second, personal post.

Weekly Feature:

Bridget and I are picking our own favorites each week to feature, so make sure to check out both of our sites to see if you were featured.  My favorite this week was: The Value of Serving Together by Jamie  at Walking In High Cotton.  This post reminds us of how wonderful and valuable it is to serve together ad husband and wife. It is one of my favorite things to do – because I believe we are ministry partners!

Parenting, Womanhood

A Few Steps Behind: A “Timothy” Relationship

“When I grow up – I hope that I am like you.” Those words came so humbling to me from a girl that is dear to my heart. It was in those moments that I knew she looked up to me – that I was a “Paul” relationship in her life. I think that was honestly one of the most scariest things someone has ever said to me – probably only second to me hearing a little girl, walking behind me in pink high heels that were far to big for her, saying that she was going to be like Mommy when she grew up. If you realize it or not- you are probably the Paul to someone  – and having a Timothy in you life is just as important as having a Paul.

In our previous post, we talked about the importance of having a Paul relationship-  someone who is ahead of you in your walk with Christ – so that as you follow and look up to them – you can be seeing a woman of the Lord who is pointing you to God.  However, it is just as important to have a Timothy in our life as well.

A Timothy is someone who is just a few steps behind you. They look up to YOU. Yes, you. You are the one pointing THEM to Christ. You are the one praying for them. You are the one instructing them in God’s Word. You, yes you can be a Paul for someone else – no matter how old you are.

The reason it is important to have a Timothy in your life goes back to that accountability word we talked about last week.  When you know someone is following you – and even walking in your footsteps – you are more likely to keep your life in check. When you know someone is watching -you don’t want to make mistakes. Your going to – but it might help keep you out of some of the harder choices. Having a Timothy increases your prayer life- it gives you someone to pray for – because you desire to see her grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. She is going to ask you hard questions- and need you to help her find the answers from scripture. With that in mind, it keeps you digging each day in the Word of God. Having a Timothy following you helps you grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus Christ  – because you truly want her to be led into a closer relationship with Christ. You don’t want to cause her to stumble.

The young ladies I have had a privilege to mentor have changed my life. They have pushed me deeper in my walk with God- they have asked questions that have driven me to the Word and my knees. We have taken faith steps together. We have climbed walls and seen mountains move. I have watched strongholds come down and God answer prayer.  Yes, I have even cried tears when they have made hard choices. It has been good for me, and my walk with the Lord, to help them on this journey.

We were never made to walk alone. That is why God created a man AND a woman. That is why He has given us friendships. He wants us to have communion. He wants us to strengthen and sharpen one another. So, just as it is important to have women that you are looking to for guidance and wisdom – be that woman in another woman’s life.

I have had the privilege to invest in teenage girls for many years- and have missed it so much since I got married. Those girls are now off in college now -and I still hear from them. They still call (or text!) to get advice about school, relationships, finding churches, and general life. I still pray for them each day – and try to send goodies in the mail! I keep up with them through social media. I couldn’t be prouder of  “my girls” as I have called them since they were just 8-9th graders. Just yesterday, I got a text from one of my girls, Camryn, who just wants to catch up on life. She (and some of the others) have pushed me further in my walk with God than I could have ever dreamed. Farther than any teacher or mentor- because I knew they were watching me. I am so thankful for Camryn, Mackenzie, Katelyn,Brooklynne, Danielle, and Hannah (and many others I am sure I have forgotten to mention) – you girls pushed me like no one else could during that time.

Today, I have some new “Timothy” relationships in my life – my three sweet children. Sweet Friends, if you have children – any children, not just your own – in your life- you have little Timothy in your life. They are watching. They do mimic what you do. You are teaching your children faith. I even feel this with pressure with my niece, who I also hope always knows her Aunt loves her and wants her to know Jesus in a sweet way.  No matter how you are in their lives- if you know children – you are investing in the lives of others.

Having those you invest in is just as important – if not more so in some ways- then having others invest in you. If you just let others fill you up – you will begin to stink. People who are full of wisdom, who don’t give out- become like a sponge full of water. If you leave the water in your sponge- and never ring it out- it will begin to mold and stink. Wisdom that isn’t used rots- and things that rot stink.  Discipleship is a ministry that can happen in our homes, in our church – and in our world. It is a process- and it is what we were left on the planet to do.

Who are those that you are investing in? I would love to hear about who and how in the comments! <3

Worshiping With My Life,