Friday, October 24, 2014

My Life: ALL SHOOK UP! ~ By @ShelleyHendrix

We chose this theme, "All Shook Up" in 2013 to be our 2014 conference focus. At the time, I believed I had my material chosen as to what I would share and how I would offer encouragement to women about the times their lives became "all shook up."

My husband and I had given up the "American Dream" of home ownership in pursuit of God's will: greater margin, better financial stewardship, and a future worth looking forward to; but it was so hard to do! Approaching my 40th Birthday while selling or giving away almost everything I owned and moving into an apartment felt like such a HUGE (and embarrassing) step backwards.

During that same season, I heard the hard news that my book sales just weren't what any of us had anticipated they would be. Although my latest book has been featured in well-read magazines, received very positive feedback from readers and reviewers alike, the truth is that it just didn't sell well enough to move forward with my publishing house on another book title.

So, not only was my personal world all shook up, so, too, was my career.

By the way, I can't count how many times I've been advised by "marketing" and "PR" gurus to only appear "together," "strong," "successful," etc. I've been told, "Women want to see someone they can try to be like, so you have to at least appear to be 'that' kind of woman or they won't want to follow you."

Sorry to disappoint anyone, but that just isn't the case. (And those who "appear" to fit that bill, don't. No one does.)

With all of this as my reality, I felt like I was in a snow globe with pieces of my life scattered all over the place. I felt alone inside of that place and wanted so badly to be able to sit still and regain my balance- imagining that 2014 might include some opportunities for that. When it seemed like that was about to happen, the snow globe got "all shook up" all over again.

My husband resigned in April of this year from his position of 15 years (and the only job he has had since we met one another and married). While we know that this was absolutely God's timing and had the full support of those who know and love us best (including the staff of the organization he co-founded), we had NO idea what God had for us around the bend.
  • Would we remain in the field we have been in for so long?
  • Did God want us to move forward in full-time ministry?
  • Had God ended that season of our lives to take us into something completely different?
Without going into all the details (and taking up your whole day), I want to share just a few things that have helped Stephen and me remain steady while waiting for the scattered pieces to fall into place. (Truth be told, we're still in the season of waiting and watching.)
  1. We are rich with friendships and are grateful to have had some meaningful times of conversation and prayer with older, wiser, more mature men and women who have helped us both navigate the unknown steps of this current season. 
  2. We have been honest with God, ourselves, and safe friends about the struggles to trust God and take steps forward when walking by faith and not by sight. Allowing ourselves the freedom of sharing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, has given others the freedom to know how to pray for us and how to encourage us in the midst of this challenging season.
  3. We have guarded ourselves from "unsafe" people by choosing to not overshare with those who don't have the skill set to be of any help anyway. Remember: just because someone is "saved," it doesn't mean that they are "safe." Scripture teaches us to be "cautious in friendship" (see Proverbs 12:26) for very good reason!
Notice that all three of these involve relationships. This should be no surprise: we were made from and for relationship after all. If you're in a season of being all shook up, my encouragement and challenge to you is to NOT muster up the strength or put on your big girl pants and deal with it; my encouragement and challenge to you is to identify the mature, safe, wise people in your life and bring them into your circle. Life is too short to make all the mistakes ourselves. Learn from others and experience the protection of their prayers while enjoying the safety and compassion of their friendship.

Seasons don't last forever. What you gain in an All Shook Up season will be treasured by you and by others who will benefit from your wisdom, compassion, grace and experience when their lives get All Shook Up!

************
Join me and Church 4 Chicks along with best-selling author and life coach, Valorie Burton; Rise and Stein Morning Show Hosts, David and Leanna Stein; Stephen Hendrix (my better half by far!); and more at this year's AWAKEN 1-Day Conference. Tickets are available at www.church4chicks.ticketbud.com through OCTOBER 31 only!! Don't delay! Bring a friend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feeling "All Shook Up?" Part 2 by Cheryl Lutz

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." (Psalm 23:2 KJV)

"Many of the places we may be led into will appear to us as dark, deep dangerous and somewhat disagreeable.  But it simply must be remembered that He is there with us in it.  He is very much at work in the situation. It is His energy, effort and strength expended on my behalf that even in this deep, dark place is bound to produce a benefit for me.” (A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller)

FLASHBACK: As the tech wheeled me down the long halls of Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, all I could think about was finally having an answer.   An answer for the plethora of bizarre medical symptoms I had been experiencing for months.  I had four little ones at home ages 1-8 years, and they desperately wanted their mommy back.
She wheeled me into a room; the doctor walked in, closed the door, and began speaking to me as if I were a naughty toddler.

She explained to me that the EEG was completely normal, as well as the other tests. She condescendingly informed me that I did not want to have seizures, because "people who have seizures are not allowed to drive." She likewise explained that I did not want to have Myasthenia Gravis either, because “it is a terrible disease that sometimes leaves ones in wheelchairs.”

Did she honestly believe I was there because I really WANTED to have some terrible illness?!

She then let me know they had ruled out the possibility of there being anything organically wrong with me.  She had also taken the liberty of making an appointment for me with one of their leading psychiatrists.

As she spoke, I felt myself slipping into a black hole.  My world was "ALL SHOOK UP!"
Even after arriving home, all I could see was the blackness of the situation.  I couldn't see how any “benefit” could come from this "deep, dark place."

About an hour later a friend dropped off some food and a sticky note. The sticky note read: "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

After reading that simple verse from God's Word, ...my perspective changed. Jesus knew what was happening; He was with me in the trial, and in the end I would "come forth as gold!”

Friends, our Good Shepherd promises us "green pastures and still waters." But we must follow Him, even when it "appears to us as dark, deep dangerous and somewhat disagreeable."

Fast-forward 15 years:  I now have a diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis and a seizure disorder.  I'm not allowed to drive right now, and the Myasthenia Gravis does affect my daily life.  But thankfully it forces me to "lie down in the green pastures and rest beside the quiet waters."

What about you? Is your life "ALL SHOOK UP!”?

Follow Jesus (our Good Shepherd).  "This deep, dark place is bound to produce a benefit!"

Cheryl Lutz is passionate to teach women how to tear down strongholds and find freedom in Christ. A pastor’s wife for twenty-five years, Cheryl possesses a vibrant love for teaching the Word of God. She is the founder of Securely Held, LLC, where she works as a trained and experienced lay counselor and speaker.
You may contact Cheryl through her blog at:www.securelyheld.com
Twitter: @clutz40
Email: clutz40@gmail.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall, Change and Renewal by Cheryl Laurenza

Luke 10:38-42

I love Fall here in New England! The beautiful blue sky, cool to warm temps, and the foliage...it is the best in the country.  The brilliance of the colors draw "leaf peepers" from all over the country. After a warm Summer and busyness from vacations, and such, it is a slowing down and the transition to a different time and pace. I think we need "Fall" in our spiritual and emotional lives too. We need to be aware of the beauty around us, the changing of lives, and the transitions God wants to bring to us. It seems  we are often too busy in the "Summer" of our lives to slow down and see this. 

How about you? What are you aware of that God is teaching you? Can you see the growth that has come this past Spring and Summer or have you been scattered with many activities? It may be time to take a deep breath, dial it down, and be intentional about where you are and where He is taking you. Reread the scripture and recognize that we all tend to the Martha side of things if we are not being mindful that we need both that side and the "Mary" side to be balanced. 

I'm trying to take my own words to heart and be more intentional about this as well. I'm thankful for the built in reminders this season here in New Hampshire gives me to slow down, enjoy the beauty, and look to my Creator for each step. I desire to sit at His feet and learn from Him, nothing else compares. It's is only after this that I am filled and able to do what I am called to do.

Blessed Fall Sisters


Cheryl Laurenza, LPC, LCMHC
For more information on aloneness in marriage or otherwise, check out Center For Relational Care out of Austin, TX or contact me via email.
calaurenza@comcast.net
www.refugecounselingcenter.org





Friday, October 17, 2014

When Pink becomes Personal by @emilylaney




Photo credit: Storyboard Life (Peter Doyle)


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

October is a beautiful month. We usher in autumn with its crisp air and flavors of cinnamon and pumpkin. Rich reds, oranges, and yellows color the trees with a reminder of the cycle of the seasons. Fall is my favorite season by far. But another color of October has definitely become the color pink. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, as I’m sure all of you are aware. Pink is everywhere, a color of solidarity and awareness for the women who fight this terrible disease. Over the years, I’ve been in support of this pink month, though not an avid participant. But this year, pink became personal.

My friend Angela passed away about two weeks ago from breast cancer. She fought her fight with courage and grace for the past three years. We all prayed for healing, and that healing came when God brought her home. It’s painful, but I’m so grateful that she’s no longer in pain.

Circumstances shook up Angela’s life. She didn’t plan to have breast cancer at the age of 35. She didn’t plan to go through countless treatments, surgeries and hospital stays. She didn’t desire to experience the anxiety of test results and doctor’s visits. She wanted to be married, to have children, to advance in her career. But sometimes, life throws us punches.

Angela never gave up during her fight. I’m sure there were times where it was unbelievably difficult, but her faith didn’t waver. Her courage didn’t falter. She stood tall, confident in the grace of God. One of her favorite verses is the one that’s at the beginning of this post. She lived out that verse as a beautiful example to all those who knew her. She trusted God throughout her whole life, and didn’t falter when things got very difficult. In fact, she seized opportunities to serve others. She poured into the lives of chemo patients by bringing them coffee during their treatments. When she had to stop working because of her treatments, she began volunteering more. She took advantage of opportunities to encourage and share her faith with others. 

Life really does throw some hard punches. The enemy is constantly looking for ways to crush our spirits, deflate our dreams, and rip away our faith. But we can’t let him. Like my friend, we have to take the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 to heart- every single day. When things make absolutely no sense, we have to cling to scripture. We can’t rely on our own understanding, because our understanding is not complete. We only see a small piece of the big picture of our lives. At the conclusion of difficult seasons we may understand a bigger piece of the picture- we may understand why certain difficult things happened. But in some cases, we never fully understand. In fact, my friend Angela mentioned several times that she felt that God wanted her to use her struggles to encourage people to come to Christ, even just one person. I think she left this earth not fully knowing who that person is, but she’s complete now. God’s shown her the full picture, and she’s whole.

Pink has become personal to me, but more than anything else, it reminds me of how personal my God is. He’s so much bigger than cancer, and he’s so much bigger than anything you may be experiencing today. Trust in Him.

If you want to learn more about my friend Angela, check out my blog at www.emilylaney.com

 
Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker.  She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals.  She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia.   She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.

You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog 
www.emilylaney.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Do You Ever Feel a Little Weird? - A Guest Post from Julie-Allyson Ieron

Photo by Amelia Grace Photography
All Rights Reserved
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

Do you ever feel a little weird? As a Christ-follower, I mean. As someone who is doing her best to follow in Christ’s footsteps, to live daily in a way that would honor Him. When I see people glance sideways at me, I detect in their eyes the suggestion that my weirdness quotient may be off the charts. My wardrobe selections. My lifestyle decisions. My language. My music. My reading choices. I can tell that my priorities don’t make one lick of sense to colleagues, acquaintances, even friends.

Feeling enmeshed in that blue funk this afternoon, I clicked through my YouTube favorites and listened (over and over and over) to a song that revolutionized my perspective. It was Charles Billingsley’s video of “Light of that City,” where he paints a picture of the eternal joy set before us. “On that day, we will sing, ‘Holy, Holy!’/On that day, we’ll bow down in the light.” Reflecting on that expectation, my mind locked in on a Scripture I had memorized as a grade-schooler. In this context it made more sense to me than ever before:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. … And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:7-9

Those words helped me regain my focus and passion for just how worthy the goal of our lives is: to glorify Christ and enjoy Him forever. They reminded me that one day, we’ll be rewarded for our faithfulness by turning our eyes upward and seeing our Lord Jesus Christ in His resplendent glory. It will be magnificent. Life-altering. All-encompassing.
Most of all, for me today, it put the weirdness quotient back in its rightful perspective. I don’t live by the same set of rules as the world. It’s no wonder they think I’m wacky. In fact, it’s a backhanded compliment that can help keep me from growing weary in doing the good that I should.




Julie-Allyson Ieron has the creative mind of a writer, the heart of a caregiver, the tenacity of a journalist, the others-centeredness of a businesswoman. She has published 35 books. Her newest are, The GOD Interviews: Questions You Would Ask; Answers God Gives and: Comforting Words for Caregivers … and those they love. 

Listen in as Julie speaks to a live audience on her new book, The GOD Interviews.
Visit us on the web, and see the long list of life-changing Bible study tools included in The Julie-Allyson Ieron Bible Reference Collection powered by WORDsearch 9.0.







This article first appeared at http://womencareforagingparents.blogspot.com.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Power Up! ~ A Guest Post by Author, Deb DeArmond

“I wish I had a picture of my mom, “ the young man said. “You look just like her.”
Sounds nice, yes? Fail. Just five minutes earlier I learned that he was the baby in the family, the last of nine children—and that his mother just celebrated her 83rd birthday.
“She wears her hair just like yours. And I think she even has those same shoes.”
He smiled at me. I smiled back. It kept me from bursting into tears or screaming hysterically or something else inappropriate for the moment. It was a business setting and those types of outbursts are generally frowned on, you know.
Truthfully, I’m certain I am old enough to be his mother. But I’d have been a lot happier to hear she’d been a teen mom, now still very much a youthful, with-it kind of gal. Not someone 83.
So what to do with his observation . . .?
Well for starters, I’m getting my hair cut today and may consider refreshing my highlights. And those shoes gotta go. I’m sure that some senior citizen will consider them quite a find at the Goodwill store.
In all fairness, our conversation did nothing more than remind me, once again, of the obvious facts: the sand in the hourglass is shifting. If someone said to me today, “You’re only as old as you feel,” I’d smack him. Life has been both exhilarating and demanding of late. Exhilaration can be demanding. It can also be a carnival ride: bright and colorful, while moving very fast, and right up until the moment you think you might lose your lunch—it’s fun.
And it all requires energy, which has been in short supply lately.
This morning, I recognized my power pack light was blinking. I’ve failed to plug into the source—His power consistently of late. It hit me yesterday on an airplane as I listened to Natalie Grant on my headphones singing “Your Great Name,” and couldn’t keep the tears from streaming down my face right there in seat 3B.
“All the weak find their strength at the sound of your great name.”
It was a moment. Just ask the lady in 3C.
It’s not that I don’t know how much I need time in His presence, drinking Him in. But of all the things that pull on me, demanding my time and attention – He is the kindest and gentlest of them all. He never pushes His way to the front, knocking my world off its axis to get my attention, but waits with expectancy, believing that this daughter who has been given so much – redemption, new life, and unbelievable favor – will appear and sit at His feet. That He waits while I wade through other stuff is a level of love I do not understand.
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:270-28a.
God’s plan for my life at this time of my life is ambitious to say the least. He set me on a path I never saw coming and I’m running to catch up with it all daily. I love the path. But I love Him more and I have no illusions about whose power is required for the race.
The enemy would like me to believe there’s a prescribed number of minutes each day required for the recharge I need. Not true. It’s a minute by minute presence with God, talking to Him throughout the day and listening intently for the direction of His Spirit that empowers. It’s an embedded awareness of the living Word in everything I touch. It’s also time to simply sit at His feet and recognize the majesty of our great God.
I’ve been trying to live and move and have my being under my own strength, my own power these last few weeks. It’s embarrassingly insufficient for what He’s called me to. Especially since I’m at the age where I’m reminding folks of their 83-year-old mother.
God has no intention of letting me off the hook for what He’s called me to. His word is clear that He never changes His mind about His plans for us: “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn,” Romans 11:29 (NLT). Since that’s the case, I’d better change my mind and my practices to include a constant recharge.
I’m back on track. That young man did me a favor.
But I’m still getting rid of those shoes.

Deb DeArmond’s been married to her high school sweetheart nearly 39 years. She has three incredible sons and daughters-in-law and four perfect grand boys (with two more on the way). But Jesus is her favorite, and the others have learned to live with it.  Deb and her husband Ron live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Connect with Deb at www.DebDeArmond.com


Previously published at mypurposenow.org and www.FaithHappenings.com