Now Daddy

“But I want it now Daddy!”  That line from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Veruca whines in that pithy English accent, knowing her father refuses her nothing, is one I’ve used many times with my own children.  I was teasing them of course, and when they were young they would roll their eyes at me, and try again with “but Mom, this is different…”

Funny thing is that I do the same thing with my Daddy, my Abba Father.  I want it now Lord.  I’m not asking for a Golden Egg made by the Oompa-Loompas of course, but for something I consider far more valuable. Whatever “it” is may change with the seasons, but my want should be answered now, if God really knew what he was doing, right?

When my boys were little it was more “me” time.  I was so frazzled and weary taking care of 4 little boys who had no concept of down time.  I was tired of wearing sweats and pulling my hair into a ponytail.  I wanted to wear clothes without stains, have an adult conversation without being interrupted every minute, and eat a warm meal at a leisurely pace.

As they went to school, one by one, I wanted them all in school so I could finally have some peace and quiet.  I eagerly anticipated that first morning alone, with a nice cup of tea and a book…but that never happened.  I had to return to the work force when my youngest entered school because my husband needed to do his student teaching.  Someone had to feed the family.  I traded my sweats for a suit.  I now had a full-time job outside the home and a full-time job inside the home.  Yippee.

I didn’t want to be a full-time career gal.  I wanted to be a full-time Mom.   I cried every Sunday night.  I watched the clock.  I “worked unto the Lord” thinking that if I just did the right things He would give me what I wanted sooner.  My husband tried to console me with the fact that as a teacher he would be home with our boys after school and in the summers.  But he wasn’t me and I was the Mom and I knew the way it was supposed to be!

I had a good job, but not the one I planned for.  Not the one I went to grad school for, not the one I wanted.  I was a college instructor, not a bank compliance officer.  If only this, if only that…I talked to the Lord A LOT during my 40-hour work week: couldn’t you just take care of this one little request now Lord?

After a few years I submitted to His plan and gave up on mine; only to pick it up again every time something didn’t fit my idea of how it should be at work or at home.  I was a crabby, resentful wife, a demanding task master to my husband and my children.  Our relationships suffered, but the blessing is that they were all male.  They didn’t hold on to resentment like I did.  They loved me, they supported me, they were proud of me.

I made it my daily prayer to ask the Lord to use me in my job.  To use what I saw as useless to make a difference for Him.  At about year 5 I felt a shift in my attitude that was definitely the Holy Spirit at work in me, because I was still full of stubborn pride that masqueraded as acceptance.  Although I had “worked unto the Lord” I hadn’t really used my gifts to make a difference.  So I started with creative trainings, reaching out to the community, proposing new ideas, and building relationships with my co-workers.  Even the nasty, irritating ones.  “Especially those ones,” I heard Him say!

Little by little I began to enjoy my work, or at least the place I worked and the opportunities I had.  The Lord touched some people’s lives through me during those years and once I realized what was going on, it made my job exciting and I began to anticipate Mondays!

There finally came a day, 7 years after I started this job, when a position at the local community college opened up in my field.  I hesitated to apply because now I felt maybe this current job was the job God wanted me to have.  Oh the conundrum!  I applied, asking the Lord, as I had many times before, to open doors where he wanted me to go and close the doors that needed to be shut.  For once and for all.

I got the job!  And now 3 years later, I can’t imagine doing ANYTHING besides teaching psychology and human development on a spiritually dark campus.  Every day is a challenge, a thrill, an eye-opener!  The Lord uses me in this job too…there are people that need a smile, a hug, some wise counsel, re-direction…a little taste of Jesus everywhere.

My job is to follow Him.  His now is the perfect now.  Wasting energy, wasting time, wasting relationships isn’t His plan, it’s what I do when I’m not trusting His NOW.  One of the pleasures of getting older is seeing all the stuff that God has worked out for His glory and my good.  It really isn’t easy to trust, it takes practice, which the Lord delights in giving us, because He knows our hearts, He knows the best for us, and he knows that sometimes we are spoiled brats that do not need the Golden Egg right now!

Lord you are the Great I Am.  Your ways are perfect.  Thank you for forgiving my selfish, prideful ways.  Thank you for making every NOW possible to grow closer to you and every NOW the perfect time to do Your will, not my own.  Open my eyes Jesus.  Help me to see what you see around me and help me to be what your plan, right now, needs.  Amen

Stacey Ray

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

Longing to Know (Continued)

As evidenced in my past couple of articles, life for me lately has simply been HARD. Filled with the small trials of motherhood that I never imagined would add up to such a big feeling of overall hardship. Years ago I had been a part of a ministry in which God had used me to heal people, cast out demons, bring them to Jesus for salvation, and minister His hope and love to the lost and broken. Honestly, I had never really believed I would end up married or a mother – but I had been sure of one thing, that I would be in full-time ministry. Now, here I am, 12 years later, a stay-at-home mom of a preschooler and a baby, my days filled with tantrums and play doh and dirty diapers and spit up, and an ache in my soul for what used to be and what could have been my life right now if only I’d walked a different path. Not that I don’t want my husband or kids, because they are the most precious gifts in this life I’ve ever been given, but I have been mourning the loss of my freedom and independence, the joy I used to feel in a life of public ministry. Now it all seems like a distant memory. My heart has been yearning for that again, to know that God still sees fit to “use me” as He did before. Top that all off with a hefty dose of feeling inadequate to do the job God has called me to do right now – to be a godly wife and mom – and some days it feels like more than I can bear.

 

So when I saw this story played before me in the computer-animated Jesus, I could sense the Holy Spirit stirring in my heart. I was longing to know that God saw me and knew me where I was and still had a plan for me. I felt like I was prepared for ministry, but so ill-equipped for motherhood and failing miserably at it. As I watched, I saw myself as Peter walking on those waves…at first so confident and full of faith like I had been in the past. But then, like Peter, I started sinking, crying, “Lord, save me!”  And immediately (of course!), He lifted me out of the waves to save me by speaking gently, “My child, why did you doubt? I haven’t changed. I’m still calling you to walk on the water with Me.”

 

Tears filled my eyes as I realized how true that was. Jesus is still the same…yesterday, today, forever! He is still the God of miracles (in me and through me), and He still wants me to walk ABOVE my circumstances with Him. I may be in another season of life, but I can still walk upon the waves. I may not be able to change the storm that comes with that season, but I can change my POSITION in the storm. I don’t have to sink and be overcome by the waves – I CAN walk upon them! I can walk upon those very things that are causing me fear and anxiety and stress. My part is to trust Him, to fix my eyes on Him in faith, to come when He bids me, “Come.” To know that where He leads me is where He wants me, and He can keep me safe and victorious wherever that may be. Even in this calling of mothering young children, His grace is sufficient! And I actually am in ministry…to my family. Being able to encourage my husband and partner with him to teach our boys about Jesus is the most important full-time ministry ever. So praise God for that kids’ movie! I’m so thankful that He can use anything to speak to us when we most need it.

 

What waves are threatening to overwhelm you today? Despite the storm raging around you, do you hear Jesus calling? Is He beckoning you to come and follow Him, even if that means stepping out in faith into an impossible situation? Just remember, dear woman of God, if He is calling you to it, He will lead you through it. If He invites you to walk out on the waves with Him, He will keep you from drowning. Keep your eyes on Jesus – He will allow you to do the impossible. And He will be right there to lift you up, even if you fall.

Sharilyn Edgerle

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in.  She grew up and graduated high school in Montana.  Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing.  She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team.  Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance.  Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Longing to Know

About a month ago, my mother-in-law gave my son Isaac an animated movie about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We sat down to watch it together, and while after only a few minutes Isaac was distracted, watching it off and on while playing with his trains and cars and chasing our poor dog all around the room, I was absolutely riveted. I found myself soaking up every word and action, especially the part where Jesus walks on the water toward the disciples’ boat and calls Peter to come to Him.

If you’re like me, you’ve grown up hearing that particular Bible story in Sunday school and church over and over. You’ve heard it preached a thousand times, could probably quote it verbatim. After all, it’s hands down one of the coolest Bible stories ever!  It was astounding to me the first time I heard it, and remains fascinating to this day. That amazing moment that Peter, a mere human just like you and me, actually defied the laws of nature and WALKED ON WATER. Awesome! Thrilling! Captivating! Hard to believe it really happened. But it did. Jesus and His disciples had just finished feeding 5,000 men, plus women and children, with only 5 loaves and 2 fish (another amazing story for another time!) and Jesus had just told his disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side while he sent the people away and went up the mountain to pray.

Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (Why, I wonder, do we humans fear so easily?) But immediately (notice He didn’t wait – He calmed their fears right away because He who is perfect love casts out ALL fear!) Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

 And Peter answered and said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (I read this and think…what WAS he thinking?) So He said, “Come.” (Oh, okay. Here is where I would be like, “Ummm, Jesus, are you sure about this?” Can you imagine Him saying that to YOU???) And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. (Wait…he did WHAT?)

 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately (again I notice He doesn’t hesitate) Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Why? Humanly speaking it’s easy to see why. But according to the God who does the impossible? Indeed, why?) And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:23-33)

 *Tune in tomorrow to read the second half of this article. Same Titus time, same Titus place!

Sharilyn Edgerle

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in.  She grew up and graduated high school in Montana.  Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing.  She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team.  Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance.  Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Women In The Word (Guest Writers)

Today we are featuring Angela Loven, guest writer with Titus II Woman. We pray you are blessed by her words to you today. Thank you, Angela, for taking the time to use your God-inspired to give encouragement to the women today!

First Love

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Revelation 2:4

Do you remember when you fell in love? I do. My love story took awhile to come about. My husband and I had tried the dating thing a couple of times but I was not ready. Three years later, I was in a good place emotionally and spiritually, and ready to be pursued by my now husband.  We began hanging out as friends. Friendship led to dating, dating led to marriage.  I remember the times where we couldn’t wait to have a long chat on the phone and for our date nights.  We would spend hours at a restaurant talking, sharing our pasts and our dreams. Getting to know each other and falling in love with who we were getting to know.  Today he is still my most favorite person to be with.

Now think back on your relationship with Christ.  Do you remember the excitement and awe of becoming His?  Now think about your relationship with Christ today.  Do you love Him more today than when you first began the relationship?  The church of Ephesus in Revelations was doing many great things for the kingdom of God. They were working hard, they knew how to persevere.  They had endured many hardships without giving up.  We also can be like the church of Ephesus; we persevere as we too face difficult circumstances in our lives.  We can be working hard for His kingdom: busy serving ministries in our churches, serving others, leading people to Christ and discipling others to maturity in Christ.  We can get so busy doing good things that we forget that we are not spending time with Jesus.  We push it off for later but sometimes later never comes.  All the while, Jesus is longing for our heart.

  Now more than ever, we need to return to the first love we had for Jesus.  Good things and serving opportunities will always be there.  We just need to remember that those good things and opportunities need to come second to our love relationship with Jesus.  I read a quote from Henry Blackaby that has stuck with me.  He was talking about making a commitment to love God and making it a priority.  Henry Blackaby writes:  “People who struggle to spend time with God don’t have a scheduling problem; they have a love problem.”  Ouch!  I don’t know about you but I do not want to have a love problem. May we have a heart like Paul when he writes in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”. If you find yourself with a love problem in your relationship with God; I encourage you to return and renew your love for Him.

 Lord, I want a heart that loves you not for show, but for real. If I have any area that I am putting before my time with you please make it known to me and show me how to get back to you. I know that time with you is what makes me whole. I know that time with you is what shows me how to love with a real and transparent love. Jesus, I want you close to me. Thank you, Amen.

 Angela Loven

My name is Angela Loven. A few things I am passionate about are: my relationship with Jesus, seeing others growing in their walk with Christ, prayer, and speaking. I also love to cook, garden, read, and knit. I accepted Christ as a young girl at my home church. God began to deepen my relationship with Him while in Jr. High through having to where a brace for scoliosis. It is then that I began to study the Bible and started writing down my thoughts and feelings. I grew up in the country near a small Nebraskan town. Currently, I reside in York, Nebraska. I have been a pastor’s wife for almost 14 years. My life mission statement is to be a passionate, committed, obedient, faith-filled lover of Jesus; to live like Him. I am blessed to be a mother of four children, ages 11, 9, 8, and 4. Two of my favorite words are vulnerable and transparent. I strive to live my life authentically through those two words; believing that what I wrestle with and through can be an encouragement to others.

My name is Angela Loven. A few things I am passionate about are: my relationship with Jesus, seeing others growing in their walk with Christ, prayer, and speaking. I also love to cook, garden, read, and knit. I accepted Christ as a young girl at my home church. God began to deepen my relationship with Him while in Jr. High through having to where a brace for scoliosis. It is then that I began to study the Bible and started writing down my thoughts and feelings. I grew up in the country near a small Nebraskan town. Currently, I reside in York, Nebraska. I have been a pastor’s wife for almost 14 years. My life mission statement is to be a passionate, committed, obedient, faith-filled lover of Jesus; to live like Him. I am blessed to be a mother of four children, ages 11, 9, 8, and 4. Two of my favorite words are vulnerable and transparent. I strive to live my life authentically through those two words; believing that what I wrestle with and through can be an encouragement to others.

 

 

 

Glorious Grace

I’m feeling a lot like Paul when he wrote in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “What a wretched [woman] I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25the word in brackets is mine)

What does this mean?! Well, I will explain. I’m still a sinner! I’m a Christian woman, with a heart for God’s Word, and I do love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, but, sisters, I still have a body that will fall like lead when I am not active and vigilant.

Last summer I wrote to you all about my journey back from obesity to healthy eating and exercise. Should I only tell you of my successes? Should I leave it there on a silver platter like it is a completed novel, or should I confirm for you the truth? Life continues on, and I have found that this is not a battle won. It is a battle I have chosen to take on and give to the LORD to conquer for me. There are days, and I must admit here that there have been months, that I have not.

As my article about my health journey was posted for you, I had already walked the 8.5 miles from the lake to my house with one of my sons. My pastor’s wife joined us to celebrate losing over 150 pounds on her own health journey. Our combined weight loss was just under the weight I had begun my journey weighing in at, and we spent the walk talking about the ups and downs of our journeys and enjoying the day. It was a splendid day for a celebratory walk, but it ended up being one of the only days throughout that entire summer that I concentrated on my health. Ironically, I walked into the most dangerous time of year for myself – VBS season – and I fell back into old habits.

VBS season has always meant long hours working and snacking instead of stopping to make good, healthy meals for myself. It also meant not finding time to get in workouts, and I didn’t sleep as my body needed. I’d lost so much weight in the year before that I allowed myself to be lulled into a sense of perpetual accomplishment and indestructibility that destroyed the discipline I had worked so hard to instill in myself. VBS came and went, and I just went into the next big project, continuing to forget about all that I had rebuilt and why. Then October blew in, and I realized I was not fitting into my jeans the way I had been.

There was a fork in the road, and I had to make a decision. Would I go left? Would I buy bigger pants and put the disappointment behind me as I have done in the past? Or would I go right? Would I wake up, buck up, and get back on the path my health journey had brought me to; a new me?

When we fall back into the sin we have been delivered from, what do we do? Well, I would like to encourage you to study the eighth chapter of Romans. Sisters, walk into His glory. By the grace of God we are given life anew, and the indwelling of the Spirit is given to those who will live according to Him. Paul wrote to the Galatians, chapter 1 verse 5, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” I will not be a slave to food and inactivity; I choose to be able to run the race He has set before me.

Lord Almighty, You are my conqueror. You are my champion. You are my rock. I ask You to bless my sisters in their own struggles with sin. May they turn from their sin when they come to the fork in the road. May we see the challenge and automatically see it conquered; You have already broken the power it had over us in the past. Break those chains. LORD, break our chains! We are free, Halleluiah! We are free from slavery in sin because of You, Lord Jesus, Lamb of God. Thank You! Thank You. Be blessed, I pray, in your holy name. Amen.

Lorinda Freeman

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God.  She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them.  Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God. She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them. Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.