Saturday, February 27, 2010

LIWD :: day 10 :: Become a Princess

When you picture the perfect man for you, what is your prince like?  Do you see a man devoted to God?  A man of character -- teachable, loyal, faithful, gentle, and kind?  What kind of woman do you think this godly man desires to marry -- a shallow woman or a woman full of charm who knows how to dress and capture other men's attention?  Is this the one he imagines he will one day spend the rest of his life with -- the mother of his heirs?  No way!!

To marry a prince, you must first become a princess.  To marry into royalty, you must be appropriately prepared.  Even Diana, the Princess of Wales, had to go through a period of  "waiting and preparing" before marrying Prince Charles.  She had to learn how to properly act, dress, and speak so she would honor the royal family.  Is it any wonder that a heavenly princess must prepare inwardly for the call to which she will give her life?  As you set your attention on developing godly character, Christ will change you into the beautiful princess He created you to be. 

To marry a prince, you must first become a princess.

I know I've been guilty of expecting perfection of others when (clearly) I am far from ideal. I do believe you should have high standards...especially when it comes to who you date and marry. But it's important you keep these standards or qualifications in check. Are you asking more of your potential life mate than you yourself are willing or able to give? Rather than sitting around waiting for God to drop Mr Right onto your front doorstep, why not take this time to expand your mind and your faith? Would you want someone who has done nothing with their life but sit around and wait for your arrival? What would you talk about? Would you be destined to spend the rest of your lives together just sitting around?

Take this time of singleness and use it as the gift from God that it is meant to be. Delve into bible studies. Join a club or two. Read. Volunteer in your community. Become a person you would admire...and, when (if) God deems it time, your godsend will admire you too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

LIWD :: day 9 :: Susanna Wesley / A Life Worthy of Eternity

Susanna Wesley

Susanna (Annesley) Wesley was born on January 20,1669, in London, England and is most know for being the mother of the famous Wesley boys, John and Charles.  Susanna was the youngest of 25 children.  Her father was a minister and often let Susanna take part in theeological discussions with his minister friends.

At the age of 19,  Susanna married 26-year-old Samuel Wesley.  He was a newly ordained Anglican priest who was named rector of the Epworth parish.  During the absence of her husband, Susanna began a Bible study within her home.  Neighbors, family, and friends soon heard of the Bible studies and the crowd soon grew to over 200 hungry souls.

Susanna regularly spent an hour in prayer and Bible reading every day.  This practice was built into the lives of her children and bore fruit in their powerful preaching and passionate prayers.

Susanna passed away on July 25, 1742.

A Life Worthy of Eternity

This life is nothing in comparison of eternity;
so very inconsiderable, and withal so wretched,
that it is not worthwhile to be, if we were to die as the beasts.
What mortal would sustain the pains, the wants, disappointments,
the cares, and thousands of calamities we must often suffer here?  But
when we consider this as a probationary state...and that if we wisely
behave ourselves here, if we purify our souls from all corrupt
and inordinate affections, if we can, by the divine assistance, recover
the image of God (moral goodness), which we lost in Adam, and
attain to a heavenly temper and disposition of mind, full of the
love of God, etc., then we justly think that this life is an effect
of the inconceivable goodness of God towards us...

I have such a vast inexpressible desire of your salvation, and such dreadful apprehensions of your failing in a work of so great importance; and do moreover know by experience how hard a thing it is to be a Christian, that I cannot for fear, I cannot but most earnestly press you and conjure you, over and over again, to give the most earnest heed to what you have already learned, lest at any time you let slip the remembrance of your final happiness, or forget what you have to do in order to attain it.

"...if we can, by the divine assistance, recover the image of God... then we justly think that this life is an effect of the inconceivable goodness of God towards us..."

Susanna Wesleys devotion is to be admired. In a time when women were not preachers or leaders in the community or in the church, she stepped up. She took a great step in faith and began to feed the souls of those around her. How often do I shut my mouth or tuck away my faith because it may be unpopular? I long to shout His praises from the mountain tops, but fear and pride often get in my way. What if they judge me? What if they shun me? What if I sound stupid? What if they ask a question I can't answer?

This is something I've been working on for awhile. It's a slow progression. To be able to speak of my faith freely and not worry what the consequences might be. I know that this is Gods desire. He wants me (and you!) to spread His word! Share the good news! While it may be difficult for me to speak up when it comes to personal matters or when I'm confronted, it could be a vital step in someones salvation. What an honor that is! I pray God will give me the strength to overcome my fears and shout out His praises.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

LIWD :: day 8 :: His Script

God providentially directed Ruth to the field of Boaz. you find this divine encounter in the second chapter of Ruth, verse 3: "...and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz...."  The verb happened in Hebrew means "chanced upon."  This leaves no room for manipulation.  She had a chance and her chance transported her into the center of God's will and right to Boaz's field....

If Jesus wants you married, He will orchestrate the encounter.  You have nothing to fear except getting in His way and trying to "write the script" rather than following His.  Jesus does have your best interest at heart.  He desires to bless you by giving you the best.  Sometimes what you perceive as the best is nothing more than a generic version.  consider His wisdom and love in comparison to your own wisdom and self-love.  In whom are you going to trust -- all Wisdom and Everlasting Love or little ol' finite you?  ever since the Garden of Eden, women have often felt they could and should know as much as God.  Much pain in our world has resulted from dependence on our wisdom rather than on our Father's.

You have nothing to fear except getting in His way and trying to "write the script" rather than following His.

Todays devotional reminded me of conversations I had with 2 different friends.  Often during our LIW study (and in several conversations outside of, beforehand), my good friend and spiritual mentor, Desiree, would ask 'if you knew God was bringing you your perfect mate in 4 months (or however long), would you be able to wait?'.  This thought provoked me.  Of course!  I could circle a date on my calendar and count down the days until that season of my life begins!  Wonderful!  Why then...can I not trust in Gods timing?  If I am meant to be married than God will bring us together when we are both ready. 

That brings me to the 2nd friend...Michael and I discuss relationships quite often, and yesterday we broached the subject of the possibility that marriage may not be in Gods plans for one or both of us.  Hard pill to swallow.  I think that I could come to terms with not ever being married...maybe.  But the idea that I might not ever be a mom is devastating to me.  There is nothing I've wanted more...for as long as I can remember.  I've been babysitting since the moment I was allowed...for my younger sister when I was 11 and for other peoples kids when I was 12.  Part of the reason I chose the field I'm in was because of the flexibility I'll have to be at home with my kids and still work.  And since I don't want to have kids out of wedlock...I'm going to need a husband.  All I can do is pray God gives me the patience to wait on His timing and brings me my godsend or that He takes away this great desire I have.  Either way, I have to trust in His will.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LIWD :: day 7 :: Adjust Your Vision

It is doubtful that there could ever be a better time to serve Jesus than this "moment" of singleness. Rather than wasting precious moments fantasizing about an earthly lover, take advantage of your free hours each day to serve the Lord of Heaven. If you are frustrated and distracted, rather than fruitfully serving Jesus, then ask Him right now to adjust your vision.

...Don't worry about that certain guy you have had your eye on for a while. If he is God's best for you, he will be there when you return....

Is there an opportunity of service that you have avoided because you can't give up your "post on the castle wall" looking for your knight in shining armor?...As you get older, you assumer more obligations and responsibilities that demand your time and attention. Such distractions will make serving Jesus even more difficult. Have you given Jesus full reign over your time?

Limitless ministry opportunities exist for the Lady of Diligence. These ministries are available right this moment. The do not demand a Bible college education. The only requirement is a single woman who desires to use her time wisely in ministry.

Is there an opportunity you have avoided because you can't give up your "post on the castle wall" looking for your knight in shining armor?

This is a prayer I use often. I have lazy days. I have days where facebook dominates my time...or tv...or reading...or cross-stitching...or whatever. Days where, come night fall, I can't really say what I did all day, and I wonder, 'where did the time go?'. These are the days I need to call on Gods guidance. I need His will to overpower my laziness. Not an easy task to do...but then again, He is the almighty.

I was recently talking to an old friend. I hadn't seen her in a couple of months and we were catching up. I was telling her of my financial woes, how great my current boyfriend is and why I haven't gotten a second job. The reasons are many...time and transportation being at the top of that list...but when I said 'plus I only get to see him 2 or 3 days a week as it is'...she stopped me mid-sentence. 'You've changed so much!' she declared. When I asked what she meant, she said that never had she ever seen me bend my work ethic for a guy. Wow. Is that really what I'm doing? I don't believe it is, but it made me stop and think. This is not how I want to be perceived. I love my boyfriend and I believe God brought him to me, but I don't want to compromise myself for our relationship.

After a lot of inward reflection and a lot of prayer, I've come to a resolution in my heart over this. Only God knows the path He's leading me on. I've resolved to listen more adherently to Him.

God, adjust my vision. Align it with Yours. I pray I can forsake my will for Yours in even the smallest circumstances. Please, Lord, take from me my pride and my laziness. Make me into the princess you've destined me to be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LIWD :: day 6 :: Life on Hold

Some singles see the lack of a mate as God denying them something for a more "noble purpose" -- a cross to bear!  Our selfish nature tends to focus on what we do not have rather than on what we do have -- free time -- that can be used for others and ourselves.  Is your life on hold until you have someone to hold?

...Have you experienced...a crushing emotional blow?... Psalm 34.18 says, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." [A] brokenhearted woman had put her life on hold after her husband divorced her.  Such a response in understandable, but...this now single woman decided to take her broken heart, her empty arms, and her loneliness and give them to Jesus.  In exchange, Jesus taught her how to resist feeling sorry for herself and how to stop living in the arena of bitterness.  After she made the choice of recklessly abandoning herself to Jesus as Lord, she was free to serve Him.  This once brokenhearted single woman has been transformed into a fearless servant of the Lord....

Have you also put your life on hold?  Do you have an excuse for not serving Jesus?

Is your life on hold until you have someone to hold?

While God may very well be keeping me single for a purpose, I am certain that purpose is not to laze around my house. He may never intend for me to be married, if I don't use this time for a higher purpose I am ignoring His will. I may often forget that the world does not revolve around me, falling into a tailspin of self-pity when things don't go my way. The world is so much bigger than just me. I am such an insignificant part, or at least I am when I'm not doing His will.

While I may not always know exactly where God wants me...or why...I do know He doesn't want me neglecting the needs of others. What gifts do you have? Are you using them to honor God? To spread the good news? You're wasting them if you're not. It's so easy to fall off of Gods path. To take the easy way out. To take a day off from doing His will. But how great is the feeling of fulfilling His will? How accomplished do you feel when you help to bring someone to Christ?

Don't sit around waiting for when (if) God brings you a mate. Take this time to grow in Christ, discover your gifts and use them to spread His love. Putting your life on hold won't make you an ideal mate for anyone else.

Monday, February 22, 2010

LIWD :: day 5 :: Mother Teresa / My True Community

Mother Teresa

She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in Skopje, Yugoslavia (now Macedonia).  In 1928 she decided to become a nun and went to Dublin, Ireland, to join the Sisters of Loreto.  From there she went to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling, India.

In 1929 she began to teach geography at St. Mary's High School for Girls in Calcutta.  In those days the streets of Calcutta were crowded with beggars, lepers, and the homeless.  Unwanted infants were regularly abandoned on the streets or in garbage bins.  In 1946, Mother Teresa felt the need  to abandon her teaching position to care for the needy in the slums of Calcutta.

Initially focusing her efforts on poor children in the streets, Mother Teresa taught them how to read and how to care for themselves.  Many former students of St. Mary's eventually joined her order.  Each girl who joined was required to devote her life to serving the poor without accepting any material reward in return.

My True Community

Keep giving Jesus to your people not by words, but by your example, by your love being in love with Jesus, by radiating His holiness and spreading His fragrance of love everywhere you go.  Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength.  Be happy and at peace.  Accept whatever He gives -- and give whatever He takes with a big smile.  You belong to Him.

My true community is the poor -- their security is my security, their health is my health.  My home is among the poor, and not only the poor, but the poorest of them: the people no one will go near because they are filthy and suffering from contagious diseases, full of germs and vermin -- infested; the people who can't go to church because they can't go out naked; the people who can no longer eat because they haven't the strength; the people who lie down in the street, knowing they are going to die, while others look away and pass them by; the people no longer cry because their tears have run dry!

The Lord wants me exactly where I am -- He will provide the answers.

Accept whatever He gives -- and give whatever He takes with a big smile.  You belong to Him.

What an amazing woman Mother Teresa was!  To put others before herself at all costs.  I can't imagine.  I often avoid the eyes of the homeless...why should I give away my hard earned money?  There are organizations set up to help them, are they even trying?  Are they even really homeless?  Imagine if the rolls were reversed.  Imagine how blessed you would feel to have someone provide you with a hot meal when you haven't eaten for days.  A cold drink when you've been out in the hot sun for hours with nothing.  Shelter from the rain. 

When you see someone less fortunate than yourself, how do you respond?  Do you turn the other way?  Are you thankful you aren't in their position?  Do you feel superior to them?  Or do you lend a helping hand?  Do you love them the way Jesus loves you?  Or do you deem them unworthy of your time?  I long to love as Jesus loves.  It's hard.  It requires effort and an open heart.  I pray God will grant me that sovereign heart and that I can make a difference too.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

LIWD :: day 4 :: Tightly Bound

Ruth came to the God of Israel after years of living in darkness, but He gladly received her service even though she was a Moabite foreigner.  She bound herself to the service of the Lord, interweaving her service with Him like the braiding of a heavy rope.  Isaiah 56.5-7 refers to a foreigner binding himself (or herself) to the Lord and His willingly receiving their "diligent" service: "And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve Him...these I will bring to My holy mountain...".

Are you tightly bound to the Lord, serving Him diligently, or has your relationship and service been unraveling over the years as you continue to be single and not married?  Has resentment and self-pity unraveled what used to be a tightly woven labor for the Lord?  You must be sensitive to the things and situations that distract you from redeeming your free time.  "Whatever might blur the vision God had given [Elisabeth Elliot] of His work, whatever could distract or decieve or tempt others to seek anything but the Lord Jesus Himself she tried to eliminate."

Are you tightly bound to the Lord, serving Him diligently...?

I would love to say that I always diligently serve the Lord. That I never feel resentment for what I may feel is wrong in my life. But that would be lying. I try to serve the Lord, my God with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. I desire to do as such, but sometimes I stray. Sometimes the world gets to me. Sometimes satan sneaks his way in. That's why I am so thankful for the awesome support team I have in my life. I have these amazing friends who don't let me pity myself when things don't go my way. Friends who remind me of how sovereign of a God He truly is. Friends who radiate His light when I feel as though I'm in the dark.

The best I can do, is keep Him close to me. By reading my bible daily, praying constantly, surrounding myself with other believers and allowing myself to be vulnerable to Him completely, I can bound myself to the Lord. I just need to remember that Gods plan may not always line up with my own plans, but His are better. I may not understand where He's going with this, but that's okay...He does. Trust in Him and He will lead you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

LIWD :: day 3 :: His Blueprints

Another costly aspect of Ruth's choice was the time frame in Israels's history.  It was the age of the judges, a period of time described as "do your own thing"; "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21.25b).  Ruth chose not only to break her family cycle, but also to challenge the lifestyle that many in Israel embraced.  She wanted God's will, not hers; His blueprints, not her elementary scribbling; God's assignment, not her foolish plans. 

Whenever a single woman decides to abandon herself completely to Jesus, as Ruth,did, she will find herself out of step with society and, sometimes, even her frineds.  A single woman today needs the boldness to challenge and break the cycle of the "American way" that exalts a relationship with a man as an answer to life.  This "American way" blurs the reality of the ultimate answer to life found in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.  A modern-day Ruth wrote: "My deep satisfaction from my commitment to Jesus is constantly challenged by other believers.  They treat me like some kind of Neanderthal, definitely out of step with the today's woman."

His blueprints, not her elementary scribbling; God's assignment not her foolish plans

This is something I've struggled with for years. I used to believe there was a time and place for everything...including religion. I thought my religion, my faith, God, belonged at church. He belonged at my wednesday night hi-ba (high school born-againers) group in high school. He belonged in the presence of other believers. He did not belong at school. He did not belong at work. He did not belong when I was out with my non-christian friends. He did not belong in my relationships.

I have since been awakened to how seriously flawed my thinking was. He's not a 'sometimes' god. He's an 'always' God. He's there even if you don't think you want Him to be, and believe me, you want Him there. He is the only one who can deliver you. He's the only one who knows you inside out. He's the only one who can complete you. Letting Him into every aspect of your life will only augment those areas. He created it all, He knows how to get the best out it. He wants whats best for us, if only we'll allow Him in.
Doing Jesus' will may not always be the easiest or most popular road, but where it leads you will be well-worth it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

LIWD :: day 2 :: Journey Away From Rituals

Ruth moved from a false religion into the only true and eternal relationship. Too many women have been involved in a form of religious worship, but have never had a vital, growing relationship with Jesus...Has your faith been a lifeless ritual rather than a vital love relationship with Jesus? Why not spend some of your free hours as a single woman beginning a journey away from rituals into a deep relationship with Jesus Christ?

One single woman expressed this vital relationship with Jesus in the following way: "I desired that my relationship with the Lord be an adventure. One where I would find out what pleased Him and then do it, devoting as much energy to Jesus as I would in a relationship with a boyfriend. I am falling more in love with Jesus every day." Do you know more about pleasing a boyfriend than you do about pleasing the Lord Jesus?

Has your faith been a lifeless ritual rather than a vital love relationship with Jesus?

Todays devotional sure hit hard! How much more time do I spend on making my earthly relationships work than on perfecting my relationship with the one and only true King? Before this study, it never even occured to me that I might be placing more importance on a boyfriend than I did on my Lord and Savior.

Way too often we just go through life...going through the motions, without much regard to how or why we're doing it. It's just what we do. We get up. We shower. We eat breakfast. We go to work. We come home. Maybe we workout. Maybe we meet up with a friend. Maybe we watch some tv. Maybe we clean the house. Maybe we blog. Maybe we spend some time with God. We eat dinner. We go to sleep. And it starts all over again.

Are you just going through the motions? Are you taking the little things for granted? I know I've been guilty of that...probably more often than not. When was the last time you thanked God for the roof over your head? For the shoes on your feet? For the job you hate so much but pays the bills? For the food in your fridge? For your healthy body? For the air you breathe? For your free will? Hard to remember, isn't it?

I've been a believer for as long as I can remember. I accepted Jesus as my savior at a young age. I really can't remember ever not being a christian. What I wasn't, was a follower of Christ. I believed He is the son of God. I believed He died to wash away my sins. I believed everything I believe now. But I didn't allow Him in my life. He was reserved for sundays and for when I was with my church friends. He didn't belong at school, or work, or when I was out, or even when I was at home. That has since changed. I want Him in EVERY aspect of my life. He cared enough to make me, to die for me, I can care enough to let Him in. That's not to say, I don't struggle. I often find myself going astray. It's work. But it's work I'm willing to do. Are you?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LIWD :: day 1 :: Fulfillment

Have you assumed that your ultimate fulfillment would be found in marriage? Have you privately entertained the notion that the only satisfied women are married women? Have you been expecting your career to satisfy you until you are married? If you have answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you have a prospect of disillusionment looming in the future. "...A woman becomes a woman when she becomes what God wants her to be." (Kenneth G Smith, Learning to Be a Woman) This priceless truth can help keep your perspective clear in relation to true fulfillment in life. Too many Christian women think that the inner longings of their heart relate only to love, marriage, and motherhood. Chapman one remarked, "I feel very strongly that marriage is not a higher calling than the single state. Happy indeed are those people, married or single, who have discovered that happiness is not found in marriage but in a right relationship with God." Fulfillment for a Christian woman begins with the Lordship of Christ in every area of her life.

Fulfillment for a Christian woman begins with the Lordship of Christ in every area of her life.

Like any young girl, I often dreamt of the day my prince charming would come sweep me off my feet. We'd have a flawless white wedding, have a brood of beautiful children and live happily ever after. As I grew older, I never really let go of those 'goals'. I wanted, make that still want, that perfect guy, perfect wedding and perfect family...but my ideals of what that means has greatly changed. The perfect guy isn't flawless, he is the one God chose for me. The perfect wedding doesn't need to go off without a hitch, simply pledging my love, in front of God and all my friends and families, to my God-send is all I want. The perfect family isn't of the stepford variety, but a family that loves eachother unconditionally and lives for our Savior.

I've grown to know that I don't need those things to be happy. Jesus is my heavenly prince and He can fulfill my heart and my soul in ways that no earthly man ever can. That's not to say I don't yearn for these things. I pray that it is in Gods plan for me to be a wife and mother someday...hopefully sooner rather than later, but I resolve to be patient and wait for His timing.

I struggle daily with becoming who God wants me to be. It's so easy to just lay back and let life pass you by. Bettering yourself, building a strong relationship with God, takes time, commitment, faith and work. I long to be the woman God intends for me to be. I long to radiate Gods light in all of my daily interactions. But, man, it's hard! I struggle with so many things over and over again. All I can do is ask for His forgiveness, pray, read my bible and try again.

While it's difficult to consider the possibility that it just may not be in Gods plan for me to ever be married, it's a pill I have to swallow. I am content in my singleness. I know that God is there for me no matter what. I know that in return for my faithfulness He will have great rewards for me in the next life. I will continue my journey with Him, no matter how difficult, and choose to follow wherever He leads me.

LIW :: 40-day Devotional

In additon to fasting for lent and abstaining from social networking, I will also be doing a 40-day devotional. The devotional comes from the expanded edition of Lady in Waiting. I recently finished the book with an awesome group of women and we wanted to the devotional in the back of the book together. It's a 40-day devotional though and it's a bit of a stretch to extend our bible study for another 40 weeks. So instead, I thought, maybe we could do it individually and email back and forth about it. Then Desiree came up with the idea that I blog about it and everyone else can chime in on the comment portion or on our Lady in Waiting group facebook page (I'd post a link, but that would require me to go on facebook thus breaking my social networking fast in less than 24 maybe Des or Amy would be so kind to do that in the comments...hint,hint). The timing worked out that lent, which is also forty days (so long as you don't count sundays) fell right around the time I was planning on starting the devotional.

I will be blogging everyday alongside the devotional...they're short so I will include them in 1st half of each blog post so if you don't have the book, you can follow along easily...with the exclusion of Sundays. Please chime in on the comments!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jesus over facebook

Over the last few weeks, I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out what to give up for lent this year. I usually fast one day a week - this year it'll be sundays because I don't work on sundays and my job is very physical. I want to give up something that will be really difficult.

Last year I gave up chocolate. I missed it, but I found I just ended up replacing it with other sweets. The year before I gave up meat. Now that was hard! I could never be a vegetarian. I considered doing that again this year, but I don't think I can afford forty days worth of balanced, meatless nutrition. I considered alcohol, but I honestly don't drink that much or that often anymore so it really wouldn't be much of a sacrifice. Caffeine was a thought, but I often go weeks at a time without simply because there isn't any in the house.

So I thought, what is something I use frequently that would really be trying for me to give up? Thats when it hit me! Facebook! I am a facebook-aholic. I check my page and my feed at least a dozen times throughout the day. Now this would be something requiring some real effort and will power. I don't want it to be a repeat of last year...replacing it with something similar rather than turning those cravings to God. So I will be void of twitter, myspace, youtube and googlebuzz as well.

How much better will my prayer life be, how much stronger will my relationship with God become, if I take all the time I usually spend on these social networking sites and instead use it to grow in Him?