Parenting 101; No Such Thing

So I just wrote an article about praying for your children and today I’m going to tell you that even though it looks like we have this well-oiled family machine going; it’s not always that way. Sometimes blowing it as a parent does mean you are a great parent and doing it right.

packaaged familyFamilies do not come in a neat package. There are no “Leave it to Beaver” sessions in this thing we call life. It’s messy and hard with yelling, sarcasm and a whole lot of disappointment. Guess what? You are doing it and doing it good. I heard a quote from a friend, “If you’re worried about being a bad parent, you’re probably a good one.” This relieved me because I often think about how I just do not measure up as a good mom. I criticize myself all the time on my parenting and more times than not I feel like I am the worst mom that has ever walked this planet. What a relief to know that I am not! I am not the worst mom and I am not the only yeller. Oh heavens, I am so glad that I am not alone in this parenting thing.

It would not be fitting if on this day while I am trying to write this that my children did not press hard against me. We are what Jen Hatmaker calls a “spicy” family. More often than not there is loudness. Lots of loudness. My oldest chooses to get louder with every syllable she speaks. My thirteen-year-old has a very funny personality, however, that is countered by an attitude that can circle the moon three times over and still that doesn’t cover it in entirety. My ten-year-old daughter is going on sixteen with her sass and wit and let’s not forget the easiest child, my son who is nine. He may be the easiest, but the boy knows all the “right” buttons to push to get a rise out of every single person in the family and I swear he thrives on that. nuts in family

You guys, my family is not any closer to being perfect than the family down the road, any of our pastor’s families, or the average family who doesn’t necessarily even have a faith to back their actions.

Parenting is not meant to be perfected. It is meant to guide our children even when they resist the needed guidance. It is loving unconditionally as Christ loved and still loves us. Parenting is more often hard than not and it is the biggest blessing that we are gifted with in this life. How we choose to parent shows our character toward others, but also in how we want to be loved and treated.

Listen, we are all going to fail as a parent. We will make choices that were not right or maybe we will ignore a choice that our child made when we really should have corrected it, but that does not define our entire role as parent. We see other parents that we think have it all down pat and we look up to them while we exaggerate our successes as parent.

Every parent blows it. That doesn’t make us ruin; that makes us ordinary. God made us this way. We are to be molding all those failures into character. Not only ours, but our children’s as well.

Ladies, I will be the first to tell you that I worry that I am not doing this parenting thing right and that I am failing in countless ways that may be seen or unseen, but the fact of all this parenting is…God designed me to be the mom I am to my children. He specifically chose me to be the mother to my four children and any others who may come into our family. I was meant to be this mom; faults and all. I love being a mom even with the hard parts. I love seeing their faces even after they have done something wrong and especially when they have done something right. I love this life.

God, you have provided us with the greatest example of what it means to love unconditionally. Your Word is a light unto our path and I ask that you would continue to use this life given as an example to our children. When we feel that we are not good enough or doing this parenting thing right, remind us that you chose us for this role of a lifetime and we have you to guide us through even the hard parts. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God's Word. Favorite Quote - "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. Favorite Quote – “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

 

Desperate Places

It’s a slow walk. Feet-dragging-in-the-sand kind of walk. Slow. Weary. Hard. At times it feels like I’ve stepped into hole of mud, the kind of mud that sucks your feet deeper the more you struggle to get out. This mud holds on to my feet and I can’t take one more step. I cry out in desperation to get loose and move on, but I can’t go anywhere.

Have you felt like you are drowning with this season of life you are in? Like you are stuck and you can’t see a way out? You are not alone, friend. I am going to speak frank with you today from a place deep within that just cries for more.
I have been walking this new season for nearly six months now. It is a dry place where I don’t feel that I hear God’s voice much at all, but then there are glimpses of His face leading me through this desert. There are snippets where I hear his gentle whisper; all leaving me wanting to see more and hear more, but they are just moments of a clearer picture. This season is a lonely walk and I am left parched most days for more of Him.
Last night I was having a conversation with one of my dear friends who also happens to write for Titus II Woman and she reminded me of an article she had written. She had walked this path not long ago herself and her encouragement meant a great deal to me. Her walk was because of different circumstances and ministry, but we relate well during this season. I went back and read her article “Benched” and I prayed again through the feelings I was struggling with. I said to God, “I just need something. I need to be used again. I need to see you and hear you. I need to have just a glimpse of the path you have for me.” Do you see what I did there? I made this season all about me and what I need. So ashamed of myself, I had to repent.
This isn’t just about me. There are many people who will walk this path after me and I will be able to use the desert walk to encourage other women who will face the same feelings of sunk in mud that I have right now. The fact is that this life isn’t about me at all. I am just a vessel in this life to be used for a great purpose and I may not be able to understand that right now. God often keeps the full picture from us because if He showed it all to us we would never say yes at the start. The things we have to walk through to get to the bigger picture are hard, ugly, gritty, and sticky. Who would willingly go through all that even with an amazing gift at the other end? Not many.
After talking with my friend and sister in Christ, I got on Facebook to check out some messages and there was this quote from Christine Caine (you may have heard of her) and she said, “God’s not calling us to “our next” but rather to “HIS NEW”. Now isn’t the time for makeovers, it’s time for TRANSFORMATION!” This applies to everyone. Those who are walking in the desert, parched for more of God. Those who need to make a big decision on what to do next. Those who are seeking a deeper relationship with Him.
Here’s the bottom line…don’t waste the season of life you are in now because you want the next one to come. God has a purpose in this season and you need to understand it before he will show you the next season. There is goodness in every season, but it is up to us to really see it and live it out.
Isaiah 40:29 says this: isa 40 29to31“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
I am clinging to this promise because I am one who needs His strength and power in this season. You are not alone.
Lord, grant us the strength we need to get through his drought and make it to the other side where you are waiting with greater vision. For those who need to make a life decision, I ask that you will guide them to make the right choice that will bring more glory to your name and hearts to your kingdom. Bless this road we walk, even in the darkest of times. Amen.
Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God's Word. Favorite Quote - "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. Favorite Quote – “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

GOD’S BLESSINGS

As I work on this article I am thinking of all the ups and downs of marriage. The day this article is due is my 38th wedding anniversary. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. It was a very hot and sticky Nebraska day.Glennette

I spent the day at the church, decorating and waiting for things to be delivered like flowers and the cake. I had all sorts of nerves going on. What would my future hold with this man that I love so dearly? Would his mother ever even get to a place where she just “liked” me?

Life is full of ups and downs, joys and sadness, but I have been blessed in so many ways over the last 38 years. Part of the joys that I have in life are the lives of my three children. Then from those three children I have ten and soon be eleven beautiful grandchildren. Part of the sadness was in the loss of loved ones like my dear father in 1998. One of my favorite verses is when God promised in His word; “No one will be able stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5. Now, I know that God was speaking to Joshua here, but all His Word is as much for me as it was for the saints of old.

There have been many times in my life that I really needed to have those words and to feel God’s presence very near to me; being a pastor’s wife, mother, auntie, friend, employee and so many other hats we women wear. I have often needed the comfort and encouragement of God’s Word.

The verse above said that “No one will be able to stand against ME all the days of my life.” That is a huge thing when you are supporting your husband, your children, and your grandchildren. We can stand on His promises because they are yea and amen! We, as mothers, are the nurturers, the supporters, and the warriors in our family’s lives. Don’t ever doubt God’s word. Don’t ever give up.

Then it continues on to say, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” Wow ladies, did you get that? God spoke directly to Moses. Moses was in the presence of God for such an extended time that he glowed. God has promised us that just like He was with Moses, He will be with us as well. Grasp that truth! Believe that truth! Accept that truth! We have God’s empowering presence in our lives to use for whatever battle your day is bringing you or your household.

Then the last part says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” This is the frosting on the cupcake! Friends leave, loved ones leave, but God NEVER leaves! He is always here right by my side. During the last 38 years there have been times of overwhelming need. Times when I cried out to Abba, saying “I need you NOW!” You know what? He has never let me down. He has always been right there for me. Take courage and strength that we are victorious, we are watched over and He is with us!
Lord, help us to stand on the promise that you will be us as you were with Moses and we can have a relationship with where you are always there. Remind us that when life is hard, you are still there walking beside us ready to catch us when we fall or feel that we just can’t take another step. Bless the lives of the women reading this today and take us into the day with great expectation of what you have planned next. Amen.

Glennette2Be blessed today! And Happy Anniversary to me!

 

 

 

 

 

Glennette Christian

Glennette Christian, the mother to three grown children, knows that God has had a constant leading in her life.  He has taken her to many places throughout the United States in ministry and currently has been led to Metlakatla, Alaska with her husband, Michael where they love the land and people.  While also raising her family, Glennette and Mike took in several other children along the way that needed a loving reminder of what it meant to have a caring parent present in their lives.  She is the grandmother to ten beautiful children and loves every minute she gets with them.  Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

Glennette Christian, the mother to three grown children, knows that God has had a constant leading in her life. He has taken her to many places throughout the United States in ministry and currently has been led to Metlakatla, Alaska with her husband, Michael where they love the land and people. While also raising her family, Glennette and Mike took in several other children along the way that needed a loving reminder of what it meant to have a caring parent present in their lives. She is the grandmother to ten beautiful children and loves every minute she gets with them. Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

An Update from the Bench

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven”, Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Almost a year ago I wrote an article entitled “Benched”. As I write today, it’s amazing to look back over the last year and see what God has done.

benched

I was feeling so out of sorts about not being part of a worship team for the first time in my life. We had recently moved and just started attending a new church. My husband had a new ministry position that didn’t really have room for the family ministry we had operated in for all of our married years. It was just a “benched” season. I felt sidelined in my own life.

I decided to trust God’s timing and season that he had me in. Fast forward almost a year. I have been asked to fill the interim worship pastor position at our church and I also work as the children’s ministry assistant doing projects and events that I love.

As I was discussing these future endeavors with my mom she said, “Amanda, God knew you needed that time of rest to prepare you for what he has for you now.” That was such an aha moment for me! Sometimes we get so focused on ourselves we forget that God sees so much further than us and he knows best. If I hadn’t had that “bench time” there’s no way I’d be ready to take on all that God is asking me to do now.

Think of the NFL, NBA or really any sport; sometimes before the biggest game of the season they bench their starting players. Why? So they’re fresh when it really counts. Maybe sometimes God does the same thing to us. If he needs us to be fresh and ready to go, he may take us through a benched season. It’s all in how you choose to view the bench. It can be a restful or resentful time. It’s our choice.

I love the illustration of God’s tapestry. When you are working on tapestry, the underside is full of knots and crazy patterns of mixed colors that seems to make no sense. But, on the top, a beautiful picture is being made. In our lives all we see is the underside of God’s beautiful tapestry. Sometimes it may seem like it’s full of knots and crazy patterns, but it all makes sense on God’s side!

Recently I’ve talked with a few friends that are experiencing a benched season of life. Let me tell you from someone that is being “put back in the game” it’s totally worth it. Even though you don’t understand it, embrace it. Rest. Get some things done that you’ve been putting off. Spend time with those you haven’t made time for. Read, read, read. But most of all stay alert to what God is saying and hang on friend, life comes in seasons and the bench won’t last forever.

Lord, I pray for my friends who feel benched. Oh Lord, may they rest in you and take advantage of the rest you are providing for them. Thank you that you are in control even when life makes no sense and looks like it’s just a bunch of mangled knots. Help us trust you with the seasons of our life. Amen

Amanda Keller

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan. While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in North Dakota. Amanda's passion for leading others in worship shines through along with her love for Jesus, her family and laughter. Their family loves to support Compassion International in whatever way possible. Amanda holds associates degrees in both music performance and office administration from Trinity Bible College. "Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but something you raise." ~Andy Stanley

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan. While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in North Dakota. Amanda’s passion for leading others in worship shines through along with her love for Jesus, her family and laughter. Their family loves to support Compassion International in whatever way possible. Amanda holds associates degrees in both music performance and office administration from Trinity Bible College. “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but something you raise.” ~Andy Stanley

7 Prayers for Our Children

They went back to school. Many mommas are ready for the end of summer vacation and the kids usually are as well. My momma heart was just a tad blue as I rose for the da knowing that I would not be there to see them get on the bus to go to a new school with new teachers and peers. I have ALWAYS been the one to do the school routine, make the lunches, help get clothes ready, and make sure they have brushed teeth and hair. This year it is my husband doing all the routine things with and for them. (He did a great job, by the way.)

When I feel like I am losing control of the things in my life that I once had a good grip on I take out my Bible and ask God to lead me to the right prayer. I start to pray Scripture over the situation and feeling. This day was no different as I sat at my computer at the wee hours of the morning. The house was dark except for the little light at my desk. The rooster crowed from his garden coop and the cool air seeped in the window giving a slight chill as I sat and read. All was quiet and it gave me the perfect peace needed to soak in God’s Word. I want to share this with you in hopes that His Word will heal your heart and bring you peace as well.

prayingforyourchildren-791x1024

1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NIV), “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” So I pray this: Lord, may the love of ____________increase and overflow for those in our family and for everyone else.

Psalm 119:66 (NIV), “Teach me knowledge and good judgement, for I trust your commands.” So I pray this: Lord, may ___________ grow to love your Word. May the heart of ____________ trust your commands. May____________ seek good judgement. Fill ___________ with the knowledge of your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. (Colossians 1:9)

Romans 12:2 (NIV), “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” So I pray this: Lord, may ___________ know your will and understand what is right because of your law. May ____________ not copy the behavior and customs of this world but be transformed into a new person through changes thoughts and through knowing your perfect and pleasing will. (Romans 2:18)

1 Corinthians 1:8 (NIV), “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So I pray this: Lord, may ___________ keep firm in faith, staying pure and blameless, until the end. May the good work you started in____________. carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. May ___________ hold firmly to the world of life, so life’s labor will not be in vain. (Philippians 1:6; 2:6)

 Psalm 1:2-3 (NIV), “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” So I pray this: Lord, may ___________ be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. May ____________ delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. And because of your word planted deep, may whatever ____________ does prosper.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” So I pray this: Lord, may ____________ be a peacemaker who sows in peace and reaps a harvest of righteousness. Lord, may your name be honored because of the life of ______________. I know this is only possible because of you grace.  May love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control flow from the life of ______________because of your spirit within. (James 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:12)

John 15:8 (NIV), “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” So I pray this: Lord, may ______________ produce much fruit so that you may be glorified. May the life of ______________be for your praise and glory, because of hope put in you. (Ephesians 1:14)

prayerforchildren

Ladies, I know that it’s hard to live all the roles that we are gifted in life. Being mom is the biggest role we are given and praying for our children should be priority in our day. With school starting up it is my honor to pray even harder for my children. God blessed us with a beautiful gift in these precious souls. Keep them close ladies and bathes in prayer.

Blessings to your day,

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God's Word. Favorite Quote - "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. Favorite Quote – “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

Gracelynn

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”         I Peter 2:2

I was scheduled to volunteer as nursery attendant this last week during church services. I am not often scheduled in this area; so, I feel a little clumsy in there and I’m never sure of what to expect. This time it was just me and a 10 month old little beauty named Gracelynn.

Like I said, I’m not in the nursery often; so, these little ones see me around the church, but they aren’t used to being left in my care. Gracelynn surprised her parents and me, however, by reaching for me to take her right away. We adults took advantage of this by separating quickly – they headed up to service, and I carried the little one over to choose our fun in the toys that were there.

I learned very quickly that she is in the early stages of talking. She told me some things that I couldn’t quite make out about her “dada,” and I’m pretty sure she told me something else about her “mama”, but poor little Gracelynn grew a little upset because my part of our conversations weren’t what she expected them to be, and she got a bit worked up when a dear friend of mine came down to pay us a visit and took part of my attention off of her. We tried to console her, comfort her, and cuddle with her, but she would have none of that. Finally, my friend retreated back upstairs, and I announced, “Well, Little One, it’s down to just you and I.” I expected her to wail over my words unhappily, but she smiled for a moment and patted my face instead. Gracelynn is a one-on-one kind of girl. She’s got something to say, and she needed my whole attention to say it. She wanted to be listened to, not just heard. I finally understood what she was trying to tell me was that it isn’t easy exercising this new gift that she’d been given, but she had chosen me to exercise it with her and she would appreciate a little respect.

Let me just say, I love her! She has a great spirit in her that I am attached to. We did finally figure out a rhythm of gestures and words which helped us communicate and get along. More importantly, we had a lovely one-on-one time together.

I remember being a parent with babies at home, on my hip, in a sling, in a car seat, in a cart…you catch my drift I believe. I also remember the feeling of exhaustion that I felt, and I know this quite often came from the constant one-on-one time a baby needs and demands. These moments are some of the most joy-filled and also the most tediously frustrating memories I have of my children’s early years. Without these moments of one-on-one, however, my babies would not have grown, learned, and matured into the nearly teen, fully teen, late teen, and leaving teen my four babies are today.

Our Christian life is like this. We are born again through our belief and submission to God into his family. From our infancy we then require one-on-one time with God in prayer, in His Word, in worship, and in discipline. Like babies we want to “be built up until we all reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:12b,13) This takes personal initiative to seek growth, courage to exercise our faith always, and boldness to share it. I pray Gracelynn comes to Christ at a young age and is born again. I believe she has the initiative, courage, and boldness to go out and win and disciple the lost for God like a true Christian warrior.

Gracelynn

God, thank you for the babies, for the precious new lives you are still giving out in a world so torn by evil and all kinds of sin. As in Ephesians 4 we have a subconscious desire in us from birth to no longer be infants, “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” May we all, instead, grow up into Christ, our ultimate and most worthy goal. I take great comfort in the promises You have made throughout your Scripture, but today I remember this promise you made to the Israelites through Isaiah: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.’ Thank you, Abba. Thank you. 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.

Stamp of Approval

For as long as I can remember I have craved the approval of others.  I remember when I was very young, maybe six years old, I asked my Sunday School teacher if I was her favorite student.  As I entered middle school, I began to assimilate with those whom I perceived popular.  Although rarely nice to me, I felt if I could gain their endorsement then all would be right in my life.  I always did everything I was asked or told to do.  As a child, I seldom was in trouble and sought to win over my parents by always being “good”.  At twelve years old, I was molested by my dad and when I told my mom, fearing her disapproval, I wept as I said “I’m sorry” over and over again.

My teenage years brought higher levels of approval to obtain: fashion, boys, academics, sports, home life, church and spiritual life.  I learned that doing certain things would garnish the approval of certain people: writing the best short story earned me awards at writer’s fair, leading a riveting Bible study delivered praise from my youth leader, having certain jeans led to approving comments from popular girls, being great at serving the volleyball brought my coach’s approving smile and even game time.

Each time I earned someone’s approval, I felt my confidence build; my self-worth grow, but it was always short-lived.  So I chased approval harder: going farther and farther to milk admiration wherever I could.  And when I didn’t earn it in one area, it would dash my self-esteem and motivate me to perform elsewhere.   When my mom was upset with me, my boss would remark on my work ethics.  But when my boss had to give even slight corrections, I would strive to get compliments from a friend or guy.  I found myself in compromising situations on occasion because I wanted someone to like me.  Even as an adult, I would carry certain handbags, wear the latest styles, dress my kids a certain way (or try to), be the best cook, or have the best stuff so that people would think I was the best.  When I could not perform in one area of life, I compensated in others.

My tank of motivation has always been fueled by words of admiration.  It’s my primary love language, and I always thought that if I could make everyone happy at the same time, I would be fulfilled.  I take criticisms very personally, and always have.  If someone disapproves of something I’ve done or dislikes something I have, then I feel they do not like, or even love me.  I find myself exhausted trying to meet, and continually failing, certain expectations.

stamp of approvalSeveral years ago, I was at possibly one of the lowest points of my life.  At risk of losing everything, I desperately wanted to be loved and accepted.  I cried out to God and in my prayer, I said “I just want to be loved for who I am, no matter what I do”.  It was in that moment that I heard God’s voice louder than ever before: “I approve of you.” As I crumbled under the weight of what that meant, my heart began to heal from all the years, decades, of brokenness.  The God of all the universe approved of me.  Of me.  The gravity of that began to swallow me: it wasn’t because I had done anything right or avoided wrong.  It is not because of what I’ve done, but because of who He is.  His stamp approval is engraved in the palm of his hands as two nail scars from being hung on the cross for me.

In Galatians 1:10, Paul asks, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ”.  Even Paul struggled with this issue of receiving the approval of man.  I believe many women find themselves in this situation: they want their parents, their children, their friends, husbands, employers, church to approve of them and find it exhausting trying to be all things to all people.  They are perpetuating their low self-value by the inability to meet their perceived expectations.

I want to tell you, friend, that you (and I) cannot make everyone happy at all times.  You may not be the best at everything, and no one else is, either.  You may have shortcomings, and people will like you anyway.  You may over cook your supper.  You may gain weight.  You may not win.  You may not be able to afford THAT handbag.  You may yell at your kids.  You may let laundry pile up or the dust build.  But that is not WHO you are.  And God still approves of you.  Just as you are.  God will give us the strength to fulfill our obligations, but he will also help us let go, as our friend Elsa would suggest.

stamp of approval 2

I’ve come to the realization that it is okay to care what people think, but when I give my best, it’s also okay if they don’t think it’s enough.  We cannot live life seeking man’s approval, we are servants of Christ.  And he approves.

Oh my Lord, thank You for being approving of me. Your love is all I seek. Help us to run after your approval and not the approval of those around us. Guide our steps in the ways You would have us go and open our eyes to see Your glory shine through all we say and do. Amen.

Tiffany Heth

Tiffany is the mother to four amazing children, all God's miracle to their family, and she cherishes every moment given her to be with them. John, Tiffany's husband, and their family make their home in Iowa, where they minister to a congregation of fellow believers. Tiffany is not only a breast-feeding, cloth-diapering mother and a pastor's wife, but she takes great joy in nourishing her family with the wild game that they have been fortunate enough to harvest. "How great is the Father's love for us that we shall be called children of God, for that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

Tiffany is the mother to four amazing children, all God’s miracle to their family, and she cherishes every moment given her to be with them. John, Tiffany’s husband, and their family make their home in Iowa, where they minister to a congregation of fellow believers. Tiffany is not only a breast-feeding, cloth-diapering mother and a pastor’s wife, but she takes great joy in nourishing her family with the wild game that they have been fortunate enough to harvest. “How great is the Father’s love for us that we shall be called children of God, for that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

Younique

I have struggled with eating right since I was a little girl; especially since late middle school, and even recently.  Food was my comfort. I ate just because I wanted to eat things, because I was bored, stressed, etc.  I didn’t realize I really had an issue with these things until I was pregnant with our second daughter.  I started out at about 180 pounds before I got pregnant with our first daughter, Joelle, and went up to 219.  I suppose to me it didn’t seem as “bad” because I was able to lose most of it in a few weeks between nursing and being active as a college student.

Fast forward about a year and a half and I found out that I was pregnant with our second daughter, Chloe, who’s name just happens to mean “to blossom”.  Honestly I wasn’t excited completely to find out at that moment that I was pregnant again.  We had already decided at that point that we really wanted to move. Finding out that I was pregnant made us decide that we needed to move for sure.

We ended up moving in with my parents for about a year.  At the start of my pregnancy with Chloe I weighed about 185 pounds.  I started gaining weight a lot faster than I remembered gaining weight with Joelle and was thinking “oh boy what if we are having twins”.   When we moved in with my parents, my husband found a job right away.  I felt frustrated during this time because I didn’t understand why we couldn’t find a full-time ministry position.   I know now that God kept us in there so our lives in Him could grow and blossom.  He used us to help not only other people’s lives to be poured into, but also helped us get a clearer direction in what He wanted for us – in His timing, not ours.

He showed me that I could lose weight even when I thought it looked impossible.   As I was pregnant with Chloe I would just keep snacking like crazy when everyone wasn’t at home.  I wasn’t eating healthy, I wasn’t as active as I needed to be, and I watched way too much television.  The bigger I got the more I didn’t want to look at myself. unhealthy

I remember being in the hospital after I had Chloe and crying because I had gained so much weight.  Little by little the weight started to come off after I had Chloe but not as fast as I wanted it to.  In June of 2014 I weighed 204 pounds.  I really realized that summer and into fall that something had to majorly change because I had a hard time catching my breath going up and down stairs, it was affecting my marriage, my life with Christ, and more.

I really started praying harder that God would help me get the weight off because I didn’t want to keep gaining and I wanted to be healthier for my husband, our girls, and for those that we minister to.  I started walking at work and at home, going to the park with our kids, walking at church with our walking group, and exercising.  It hasn’t been an easy journey and it certainly is still a battle with eating, but God is helping me to be so much closer to my goal of 145 pounds.  Only about seventeen more pounds to go or so!  God has been using this journey to help me to blossom in my walk with Him and to learn that not everyone loses weight the same way.  It may not come off as quickly as you want, but it can happen.

walking2

Remember ladies, God made each of us unique in His image.  Whether you are struggling with losing weight, comparing your God-given gifts to others, or even just comparing yourselves to others, God is right there with you to guide you and show you who He created you to be.  Isaiah 64:8, “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  Let God mold and shape you into who He wants you to be.  No matter what, you are created unique in Christ!  He is the one who molds and reshapes the imperfections out of our lives to make us more like Him.

Jesus, I pray that if anyone is struggling with losing weight that You will encourage them right now, that You find them beautiful and tell them.  I pray that they will remember You made them for a purpose and each of them are unique in your image.  You knew each of us before we were even born and know the plans that you have for each of our lives!  I pray that each person that reads this will be encouraged!!  Thank you for all that you are doing and going to do in each person’s lives!   In Jesus Name, Amen

Mikayla Winafeld

Mikayla has a heart for student ministries and seeing lives transformed as well as a passion for worship ministry. Mikayla and her family make their home in Ohio. As a couple, Mikayla and Joey, volunteer at their church in student ministries and Mikayla is also a member of the worship team. Her heart shows through in all she does and that is how she is seen; with a huge heart for people. Mikayla is a graduate of Central Bible College with a bachelor’s in Children’s Ministry and a minor in Music. Her favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 and says, “Trust in the Lord with all Your heart, lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Mikayla has a heart for student ministries and seeing lives transformed as well as a passion for worship ministry. Mikayla and her family make their home in Ohio. As a couple, Mikayla and Joey, volunteer at their church in student ministries and Mikayla is also a member of the worship team. Her heart shows through in all she does and that is how she is seen; with a huge heart for people. Mikayla is a graduate of Central Bible College with a bachelor’s in Children’s Ministry and a minor in Music. Her favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 and says, “Trust in the Lord with all Your heart, lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Encouragement for Today

Ladies, every once in a while we get this nudging from God to do something that might not be in our comfort zone, but great things come from obeying the voice of God. I am so blessed to share this clip with you from our writer, Cindy.  30 seconds can change the rest of your day. I pray you are encouraged today. Follow the link below!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_u6btu_Fw_CX1ZaaklvdndOME0/view?usp=sharing

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her local church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her local church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

Who’s in Charge?

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, 8) NIV

Honor, respect, dignity. As I look around our society today these are becoming harder to find. With each day the political arena is heating up hotter and hotter. I’ve watched good people, godly people get sucked into the fighting, name calling and finger pointing. It’s chaos. I find myself asking, is this really how we should be acting? Is God pleased by his people? What is going on and how do we fix it? voting

In my studies of rulers throughout Biblical history, I found that many times God placed his people under authorities that didn’t make sense. Moses should have been killed right after birth. Jesus should have been killed in his toddler years. The Israelites had to plead numerous times before Pharaoh let them out of captivity. Jesus was crucified because of unjust leaders who couldn’t stand up to the pressure of the people. All these things took place along with many more under God’s divine plan. God put those leaders in place for a purpose. Romans 13:1 confirms that God is the one who put them there. Proverbs 21:1 tells us that the king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord, he guides it wherever he pleases.

What would have happened if Pharaoh would have let the people go the first time they asked with no question or opposition? I don’t know, but I do know that the Bible tells us the Lord himself hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Could it be that God wanted to prove himself mighty by being Israel’s only way out? There they were, the Red Sea on one side, Pharaoh’s army coming at them from the other. Stuck. Outnumbered. But God showed himself strong and one of the most talked about miracles takes place. The Red Sea parts and Israel walks across on dry land. Biblical history would have been forever changed without Pharaoh’s opposition.red sea parting

When we read the story of Jesus’ arrest and trial, we see him go willingly. He didn’t try to defend himself, talk about his rights or his opinions, he simply prayed God’s will to be done. Because of his willingness to endure the pain the greatest event in history, the resurrection took place; the hope of all mankind. But Pilate was part of that story. Someone had to make the decision to allow Jesus to be crucified. Without that decision our victory could not have been won.

What I find is that God’s plan for leadership doesn’t always match ours. What I do know is that God is in control. Whatever happens in this election or the next ten doesn’t surprise him. What he does expect us to do is pray and be responsible for our actions. “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” I certainly don’t agree with everything any politician does, says or promises. Many times I don’t agree with anything, but God’s commandment isn’t to find common ground and then love, honor and respect. We are to love those who persecute us, pray for those in authority.

I read a quote from an old veteran stating that he had never seen such disrespect for the office of the President is all his life as he is witnessing now. Sometimes, I think we get so caught up in the emotions of the political process we forget all Biblical commands: Love, Pray, Honor those in authority. It doesn’t say just the ones we like. At the end of it all, we have to remember the President and all politicians are souls. Souls Jesus died for. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus loves all the people we are bashing, name calling and saying bad things about. He died for them too. Instead of attacking and disputing maybe we should put our energies into prayer, love and servanthood.

One final thought. Jesus, being all God, knew from the start who Judas would become. but yet he washed his feet and became like a servant to him anyway. He spent years investing in a man he knew would betray him. He loved him and put him in charge of the money, all the while knowing the end result. It’s time to get back to serving, honoring, loving, and praying. Will the very people we serve, honor and love betray us and cause us harm? Quite possibly, but that’s the example set before us by our Savior. When we stand before the Lord, I can only imagine that political debates, arguments, and judgements will pale in comparison to how we loved, honored, served, and prayed.

Father, thank you that you are the one in control. Help us to love, serve, honor, and pray harder than ever before. When we are tempted to step into the argumentative society that surrounds us; may your joy and love overcome our souls. May we be walking so close to you that when pushed only your love spills out; not hate or distain. Help us oh God.

Amanda Keller

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan. While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in North Dakota. Amanda's passion for leading others in worship shines through along with her love for Jesus, her family and laughter. Their family loves to support Compassion International in whatever way possible. Amanda holds associates degrees in both music performance and office administration from Trinity Bible College. "Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but something you raise." ~Andy Stanley

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan. While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in North Dakota. Amanda’s passion for leading others in worship shines through along with her love for Jesus, her family and laughter. Their family loves to support Compassion International in whatever way possible. Amanda holds associates degrees in both music performance and office administration from Trinity Bible College. “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but something you raise.” ~Andy Stanley