(Warning Signs) ~ Lonely Women in Ministry ~`

I did NOT write this article.  And it’s a TOUGH article.  Yet NEEDFUL.

I AM a woman in ministry.  I have struggled with loneliness.  AND, sadly to say, I have seen women that operate like this.  So Sisters, for the healing, for the sake of the truth, and the salvation of your heart and those around you ~ please read Junior DeSouza’s article posted below.  It’s excellent.  So are the rest of his leadership articles.  The link is provided.

By Junior DeSouza ~ http://www.juniordesouza.com/leadershipministry.htm

Blessings,

Debra

Lonely Women in Ministry

An Exquisite Creature & A Subculture of Loneliness 

The female gender is an exquisite creation. Women are divinely enriched with captivating beauty, emotional versatility, radar-like intuition, and managerial talent. While us guys are grunting, hitting, colliding, shooting, and doing just about everything primitive under the sun (and somehow getting paid for it), the gals perfect every circumstance with delicacy and genius. The soothing balm of a mother’s words, the heartwarming smile of a playful little girl, the romantic strokes of a maiden, the time-tested discernment of a grandmother…could we imagine life without feminine polish?
Yet we find ourselves in a sub-Eden situation, where forbidden fruits, sinful choices, gender confusion, and devilish snakes have produced a subculture of lonely women. This subculture has encouraged extreme feminism, whereby men are less than relevant and destitution is traded for domination. It has empowered pornography, whereby women convert their loneliness into raw cash and social power. It has driven millions of women into exhausting marketplace careers, where loneliness is exchanged for the rewards of vocational success.


Finally, this subculture is surfacing in Christian ministry. While the women of Babylon often look to the aforementioned as their flotation device, the women of Zion are looking more and more to ministry. However, if anesthetizing loneliness is ministry’s major motive, problems and tragedies are imminent.

Two Kinds of Loneliness
        Loneliness happens in two main circles, the social (outer circle) and the relational (inner circle). Social loneliness is the feeling or fact of being unconnected to a social niche. A social niche is a mini-community in which mutual interests and activities are shared, like sports, extra-curricular activities at school, volunteer work, book clubs, movie watchers, dancing classes, exercise groups, health clubs, local church fellowships, or simply a handful of individuals with great social chemistry. A niche acts as an ecosystem, whereby essential life-giving interactions sustain all involved. Niches define our social life and enjoyment, our “outer circle”.


Relational loneliness is the feeling or fact of being nonintimate with key individuals. In general, this means three persons: familial (family), fraternal (a close friend), and romantic (a romantic partner). These three types of intimate relationships comprise our “inner circle”, those with whom we share souls and daily life. In these we lose a part of ourselves, only to gain a part of another.
Humans gravitate to drastic behaviors if one or both of these lonelinesses persist. The horrors at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and LA Fitness were all rooted here. You and I personally might not resort to murder, but in all honesty, how many of our reckless, extreme behaviors came from being lonely? It is not enough to be social but not relational (the social butterfly with no intimate relationships), or relational but not social (the social caterpillar with one to three very deep relationships). There must be an outer circle and inner circle, social animation and relational intimacy. Without both, loneliness will linger and affect us in some way.

Providential loneliness There is a season of loneliness that is providential (God-orchestrated). Elijah had one at Cherith (1Ki 17:1-6), as did Jeremiah (Jer 15:17), Jesus (Lk 4:1), and Paul (Gal 1:16,17). In fact, anyone who goes the distance with the Lord will also have lonely seasons. In these times the Holy Spirit is weaning us from our codependence on people, an emotional detox, freeing us from excessive trust in man, attaching our soul at the deepest levels to the Father alone.
Providential loneliness is only for a time though. Elijah was not at Cherith long, Jesus was in the desert forty days, Paul was in the Arabian desert less than three years (he went to Damascus the remaining time). It is not God’s will for a Christian to be lonely for many years still going. This is not the testimony of Scripture. Rather, it is an indication that personal and interpersonal problems exist.

 

We need to be clear about this. Providential loneliness is brutal yet brief, harvesting better and more wholesome relationships in the next season. Perpetual social and relational loneliness betray character sins needing illumination, sanctification, and transformation. Let us resist using God’s name and work to keep our defense mechanisms intact. For many Christian women, that primary mechanism is ministry.

Ministry, A Powerful Narcotic
        Loneliness amidst public service is an oxymoron that aches to the bone. Yet, those of us in leadership know far too well that ministry is a most potent narcotic, capable, for a brief moment, to stop the emotional bleeding caused by loneliness. Tasting the powers of the coming age, joy unspeakable and full of glory, spiritual authority and power, social influence, public admiration…on and on goes the list of ministerial opiates.

Flavoring the bait even more, we are in a time when droves of men are unsubscribing to their leadership call. Like Jonah, they are fugitives of Heaven. This leaves chasmic vacancies in churches and ministries for any semi-talented person to seize. Though it is 100% legitimate, necessary, and biblical for women to be in public ministry, such leadership vacuums are enticing many deeply wounded women to exploit the moment. Many of them are highly unprepared and barely surviving.
A good number of these sisters are genuinely designed and destined for ministerial leadership. That is undeniable. Deborahs, Esthers, Priscillas, and Phoebes are everywhere. However, their unpreparedness and melancholy emotional state put them and their followers in serious danger. As we cheer these alpha girls on in their ministerial exploits, we are indirectly contributing to their eventual implosion! How? By failing to address the overwhelming loneliness that drives them and their ministry.
We have all witnessed high-profile Christian women failing and falling in recent decades. The relational failures, ethical indiscretions, financial extremes, doctrinal weirdness, and questionable choices have left us saddened and confused. We are all capable of such stumbles and falls, are we not? Yes, you and I both. That is why we need to slow down, back up, and analyze the present scene. And, form wise initiatives to protect, prepare, and preserve every daughter of Zion.

 

Loneliness-driven Ministry
         I spoke at her church for a few days. Soon after I left her email came. She was a Bible teacher for some twenty years, at her home church and abroad. Marriage had been a revolving door for her, each one accompanied by extramarital affairs. She poured out her grief in the email, confessing her unbearable loneliness and lack of inspiration for ministry. She was on the verge, at risk, borderline. Just enough pressure and temptation would tip her into sinful choices again and recycle her darkness even deeper. She is simply one of an entire subculture of lonely women in ministry. Their stories are all so similar, and so are the signs.
Angry undercurrents One of the most common side-effects of loneliness-driven ministry is anger. If we listen carefully and long enough, we can hear angry undercurrents in her teaching, preaching, and approach. At times she might spiritualize it as “righteous indignation” or “holy boldness”, but time and God almost always reveal a deeper frustration with loneliness and failed relationships.

        There is such a thing as righteous anger (Eze 3:14, Jer 15:17, Jn 2:14-17). However, there is a misunderstanding when this alleged anger is excessively recurrent and hesitates to give way to the more tender fruits of the Spirit. Ongoing seething, irritability, hostility, aggression, bitterness, and cynicism is a sign of a problem, not a sign of being spiritual or prophetic, even if it is dressed in such rhetoric. A pig in a tuxedo is still a pig.
Hypersensitivity The lonely have an emotional sunburn, making them overly sensitive, touchy, petty, and hasty judges. Because of the empty void for close companionship, coupled with memorable experiences with rejection, the lonely overreact to the slightest hints that history might be repeating itself–even if the words or actions of others are innocent. In this way they themselves often sabotage the very connections they crave.
Authoritarianism and control Authoritarian themes often run through loneliness-driven ministry. Pet scriptures pertaining to authority are obsessively quoted, preached, prayed, pushed, and guilted on followers. And why? Harping on authoritarianism scares and forces people into staying close, compliant, and controlled–remedying loneliness for a time. Every, and I do mean every, authoritarian leader I have ever known was lonely. Certainly more issues existed, but loneliness was in the top three every time. Alpha girls need to question if they are misusing authority to compensate for non-intimacy.
Difficulty in dealing with men, especially certain types Difficulty in relating with men is a sign many lonely women notice themselves. More specifically, this difficulty often surfaces when dealing with men who resemble previous rejectors, abusers, attachments, or, strong men in ministry who might challenge her personal fortifications. Cross-gender interaction is often a telling one.
Social indiscretions The pairing usually goes like this: lonely woman, sexually dissatisfied and overworked man, and you know the rest. The equation does not always equal a full-blown affair or sexual impropriety, but the preliminary indiscretions are often there. Though both persons are fully responsible, this writing is about lonely women in ministry, so I will have to focus there for now.
A perpetually lonely sister in ministry might convey indiscreet behavior in talk, glance, dress, body language, innuendo, or behavior (one, some, or all of these). Though any one of us can stumble into such folly, these subtle or obvious cues persist season after season in the lonely female leader. The longer the loneliness lingers unaddressed and unresolved, the more likely the social indiscretions will intensify into sexual ones. We’d be terrified at how much this happens. No one would have guessed what the Bible teacher/speaker who emailed me was doing in private.
Attracting other lonely women Leaders reproduce after their kind. We attract and reproduce what we are, not what we say. Our social environment reads our subconscious cues and clues, and whatever we convey determines who comes to us. All this happens at an instinctual, subconscious level. That is why we continually draw the same types of people and spirits into our life, until we look inside by the Holy Spirit and sanctify our deepest self (1Th 5:23, Jas 4:8). Then we will convey new cues and clues to our environment and draw new elements into our life.
Lonely sisters in ministry reproduce after their kind. Their ministries and churches are often filled with other lonely women, much more so than the typical church demographic. In my experience, such fellowships are riddled with drama and pettiness. On the other hand, whole and fulfilled women reproduce after their kind, and they successfully challenge the lonely around them to ascend and transform. Not only this, they draw wholesome men into their world, and successfully partner with them in life and ministry.
Performing in ministry Loneliness-driven ministry often depreciates into a performance. For loneliness to be medicated, the people cannot become displeased with the leader. This would defeat the whole purpose of “loneliness-driven ministry”. What remains is a mixture of gifting and performing to keep people close by. Whether it’s showmanship, stylism, hype, watering down, appeasement, or excessive technology, true ministry becomes compromised by the deeper emotional goal.
Financial extremes Finally, the ministering lonely pull to financial extremes–excessive saving or excessive spending. You’ve heard the saying, All men want is sex, and all women want is money. Of course this is not true all the time, but it is true enough to diagnose gender inclinations.

        Many females logic something like this, Men will fail me, people will fail me, but money is something I can count on. I can’t control people, but I can control money. When people fail, money is seen as a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. The result is financial extremes, excessive saving or excessive spending. In a ministry context, this means greater and greater Christianized luxuries and technologies, or, a paralyzing fear of taking necessary financial risks for ministry development. Either way, the most important financial priority–Christ’s kingdom and people’s needs–are marginalized or bypassed altogether.

Overseers, Observe and Care
        Detecting loneliness-driven ministry is the jurisdiction of ministerial leaders, overseers, pastors, or anyone superintending other leaders. When our spiritual daughters, sisters, mothers, and colaborers show the signs, we need to care enough and be strong enough to mercifully address it. We need to be observant enough to recognize it in the first place. We cannot ensure that every lonely alpha girl will chew and digest the wisdom of such intervention, but we can have a blameless conscience by being sensitive superintendents. Proverbs 27:23: Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.
I tremble for the archleaders that are more preoccupied with money, popularity, and keeping their machine running than the personal development of those in their sphere. May we be sobered by this truth: superintendents who could have, but did not, intervene in the lonely female leaders around them, when those sisters stumble or fall, the superintendents will also be responsible and have a reckoning with God. There is a serious word from the Spirit to us in Proverbs 24:11,12: Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

Time For A Time-Out?
       To the beloved daughters of Zion, sisters in Christ, and colaborers in the Lord’s vineyard…if you are steeped in loneliness-driven ministry, could it be time for a time-out? Consider taking a season off. Solve and dissolve your loneliness by going back to the basics. Develop a great social life and intimate relationships with a few. I’ve had to do it before, many others have done it, and it spared us a very embarrassing day of reckoning down the road. And your ministry will come back more pure and powerful than ever.                     

        Many ministering females are praying night after night for a best friend, or a husband, or a more enjoyable social life. Could it be that God would answer these prayers immediately if they pressed pause on ministry and play on social life and relationships? Could it be that a season of biblical counseling and interpersonal development would be the bridge into the desires of your heart? It might be time for a ministry time-out. I leave you Proverbs 22:3: A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”

                                                                                      Joseph Fort Newton (1880-1950)
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Ransomed Heart Ministries

by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Just found their website and rediscovered authors that I TOTALLY LOVE! because they LOVE JESUS SO MUCH, because HE LOVES US SO MUCH!!!!  I have never loved an author as much as I do their (they are a husband/wife team) work~  I am going to post their “Mission Statement” from their website below, because honestly – it just rocks.  Check them out – get a book, get “Wild At Heart” (for men and their wives), get “Captivating” by Stasi too… and then the rest… it’ll rock your life, your faith, and FREE YOUR HEART.  ALL MY LOVE and His, ~Deb

Mission Statement on http://ransomedheart.com/mission_statement.aspx

We agree with A.W. Tozer,

“That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of
God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him,
our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie
buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an
intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for
what it is.”

In other words, if you want to know what a person (or an organization) really
believes, their creeds may not tell you nearly as much as how they live. Or
perhaps, how they pray.

The core of what we believe, live in, and teach may be best captured in our
daily prayer…


My dear Lord Jesus I come to you now to be restored in you, to be renewed in
you, to receive your love and your life, and all the grace and mercy I so
desperately need this day. I honor you as my Sovereign, and I surrender every
aspect of my life totally and completely to you. I give you my spirit, soul and
body, my heart, mind, and will. I cover my self with your blood—my spirit, soul,
and body, my heart, mind and will. I ask your Holy Spirit to restore me in you,
renew me in you, and to lead me in this time of prayer. In all that I now pray,
I stand in total agreement with your Spirit, and with my intercessors and
allies, by your Spirit alone.

[Now, if you are a husband, you’ll want to
include your wife in this time of prayer. If you are a parent, you’ll want to
include your children. If this doesn’t apply to you, jump to the paragraph after
this one.]

In all that I now pray, I include (my wife and/or children,
by name). Acting as their head, I bring them under your authority and covering,
as I come under your authority and covering. I cover (wife and/or children, by
name)with your blood – their spirit, soul and body, their heart, mind and will.
I ask your Spirit to restore them in you, renew them in you, and apply to them
all that I now pray on their behalf, acting as their head.

Dear God, holy
and victorious Trinity, you alone are worthy of all my worship, my heart’s
devotion, all my praise, all my trust and all the glory of my life. I love you,
I worship you, I trust you. I give myself over to you in my heart’s search for
life. You alone are Life, and you have become my life. I renounce all other
gods, all idols, and I give you the place in my heart and in my life that you
truly deserve. I confess here and now that this is all about you, God, and not
about me. You are the Hero of this story, and I belong to you. Forgive me for my
every sin. Search me and know me and reveal to me where you are working in my
life, and grant to me the grace of your healing and deliverance, and a deep and
true repentance.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and choosing
me before you made the world. You are my true Father—my Creator, my Redeemer, my
Sustainer, and the true end of all things, including my life. I love you, I
trust you, I worship you. I give myself over to you to be one with you in all
things, as Jesus is one with you. Thank you for proving your love by sending
Jesus. I receive him and all his life and all his work, which you ordained for
me. Thank you for including me in Christ, for forgiving me my sins, for granting
me his righteousness, for making me complete in him. Thank you for making me
alive with Christ, raising me with him, seating me with him at your right hand,
establishing me in his authority, and anointing me with your Holy Spirit, your
love and your favor. I receive it all with thanks and give it total claim to my
life—my spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I bring the life and
the work of Jesus over (wife and/or children, by name) and over my home, my
household, my vehicles, finances, all my kingdom and domain.

Jesus, thank
you for coming to ransom me with your own life. I love you, I worship you, I
trust you. I give myself over to you, to be one with you in all things. And I
receive all the work and all of the triumph of your cross, death, blood and
sacrifice for me, through which I am atoned for, I am ransomed and transferred
to your kingdom, my sin nature is removed, my heart is circumcised unto God, and
every claim made against me is disarmed this day. I now take my place in your
cross and death,through which I have died with you to sin, to my flesh, to the
world,and to the evil one. I take up the cross and crucify my flesh with all its
pride, arrogance, unbelief, and idolatry (and anything else you are currently
struggling with). I put off the old man. I ask you to apply to me the fullness
of your cross, death, blood and sacrifice. I receive it with thanks and give it
total claim to my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind and will.

Jesus,
I also sincerely receive you as my life, my holiness and strength, and I receive
all the work and triumph of your resurrection, through which you have conquered
sin and death and judgment. Death has no mastery over you, nor does any foul
thing. And I have been raised with you to a new life, to live your life – dead
to sin and alive to God. I now take my place in your resurrection and in your
life, through which I am saved by your life. I reign in life through your life.
I receive your life – your humility, love and forgiveness, your integrity in all
things, your wisdom, discernment and cunning, your strength, your joy, your
union with the Father. Apply to me the fullness of your resurrection. I receive
it with thanks and give it total claim to my spirit, soul and body, my heart,
mind and will.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive you as my authority, rule,
and dominion, my everlasting victory against Satan and his kingdom, and my
ability to bring your Kingdom at all times and in every way. I receive all the
work and triumph of your ascension, through which you have judged Satan and cast
him down, you have disarmed his kingdom. All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to you, Jesus. All authority in heaven and on earth has been
given to you, and you are worthy to receive all glory and honor, power and
dominion, now and forevermore. And I have been given fullness in you, in your
authority. I now take my place in your ascension, and in your throne, through
which I have been raised with you to the right hand of the Father and
established in your authority. I now bring the kingdom of God, and the
authority, rule and dominion of Jesus Christ over my life today, over my home,
my household, my vehicles and finances, over all my kingdom and domain.

I now bring the authority, rule and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the fullness of the work of Christ, against Satan, against his kingdom,
against every foul and unclean spirit come against me. (At this point you might
want to name the spirits that you know have been attacking you). I bring the
full work of Jesus Christ against every foul power and black art, against every
human being and their warfare. I bind it all from me in the authority of the
Lord Jesus Christ and in his Name.

Holy Spirit, thank you for coming. I
love you, I worship you, I trust you. I sincerely receive you and all the work
and victory in Pentecost, through which you have come, you have clothed me with
power from on high, sealed me in Christ. You have become my union with the
Father and the Son, become the Spirit of truth in me, the life of God in me, my
Counselor, Comforter, Strength, and Guide. I honor you as my Sovereign, and I
yield every dimension of my spirit, soul and body, my heart, mind and will to
you and you alone, to be filled with you, to walk in step with you in all
things. Fill me afresh. Restore my union with the Father and the Son. Lead me in
all truth, anoint me for all of my life and walk and calling, and lead me deeper
into Jesus today. I receive you with thanks, and I give you total claim to my
life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for granting to me every spiritual
blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. I claim the riches in Christ Jesus
over my life today, my home, my kingdom and domain. I bring the blood of Christ
over my spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind and will. I put on the full armor
of God – the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel,
helmet of salvation. I take up the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit, and
I choose to wield these weapons at all times in the power of God. I choose to
pray at all times in the Spirit.

Thank you for your angels. I summon them
in the authority of Jesus Christ and command them to destroy the kingdom of
darkness throughout my kingdom and domain, destroy all that is raised against
me, and to establish your Kingdom throughout my kingdom and domain. I ask you to
send forth your Spirit to raise up prayer and intercession for me this day. I
now call forth the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout my home, my
family, my kingdom and my domain, in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ,
with all glory and honor and thanks to him.


For those needing/desiring a few more thoughts…

  • We believe the Bible to be the inspired, only, infallible, inerrant,
    authoritative Word of God.
  • We believe in the One True God, The Sovereign, eternal Creator of all that
    exists, both seen and unseen. God is eternally existent in three persons, yet
    one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in
    His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through
    His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand
    of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
  • We believe God created mankind in His image. Adam and Eve, the first human
    beings, chose to rebel against God and go their own way. As a result, all of
    mankind became separated from God; the image of God in man was distorted;
    mankind became subject to the power of the devil; and the sinful nature was
    passed on to all their progeny. Because of original sin, unregenerate human
    beings are incapable of pleasing or commending themselves to God. The only
    remedy for mankind’s pitiful predicament is redemption through faith in Jesus
    Christ.
  • We believe that when a person exercises saving faith in Christ he passes,
    immediately, out of spiritual death into spiritual life and from the old
    creation into the new, a new nature and a new heart imparted; being justified
    freely by grace, he is accepted before the Father as Christ, His Son, is
    accepted and loved as Christ is loved–having his place and portion linked to
    Christ and one with Christ – forever.
  • We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling
    the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
  • We believe in the resurrection of, both, the saved and the lost–they who
    are saved unto the resurrection of life and they who are lost unto the
    resurrection of damnation.
  • We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

An Extravagant Gift of . . . Potatoes

from the True Woman network ~ link here.  http://www.truewoman.com/?id=1783 – written and posted by Paula Hendricks on 8-19-11.


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Posted on 08.19.11 by Paula Hendricks

I will never forget what I witnessed and participated in last  week. Every year at our staff revival week, leadership chooses a project for us  to raise money for. This year, they decided to collect funds to meet the needs  of those in our ministry. The needs were numerous . . . someone needed a  $10,000 medical device; others didn’t even have enough money for groceries;  several would have to leave the ministry if they weren’t able to raise more  monthly support, etc.

You’ve probably read that verse in Acts 2:45 that says, “And they were selling  their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any  had need.” But have you seen it in action? I have!

Last week, the Life Action family—most of whom raise financial support—gave $133,000  in cash to meet each other’s needs . . . and that does not include the material items given that could double  that amount, including motorcycles, cars, and homes. Here are just a few specific  “giving” stories from the week:

  • One family gave the major portion of savings  they had set aside to someday own their own home and have a real vacation. They  gave over $19,000.
  • Another couple (with young children) was led to  try to sell their home in hopes they can find an elderly  couple or widow with whom they could help take care of, live with, and bless.
  • One single woman gave $10,000. She had been saving the money to bless her future husband, but was excited  about learning to trust and depend on Jesus for her needs more fully.
  • Another single woman was led to go to the home  of a family to offer child care and provide the money  necessary for the couple to have a cup of coffee together every week . . .  something the wife had just finished praying for!

But the most impactful gift, in my opinion? A wife and mom  of a large family with little income stood apologetically before us, offering  her all—a garden harvest of treasured potatoes—the  crop her family usually enjoyed and depended on all winter long.

Maybe to you this all sounds strange, crazy . . . wasteful. Why would anyone  give their savings and possessions—especially during such uncertain economic  times—leaving themselves with almost nothing?

I think it has a whole lot to do with this:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,  that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his  poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

In light of the offering that was collected, our executive director, Byron  Paulus, encouraged us to prepare for the greatest ministry season ever:

“What if there is a direct connection between what  we give materially and what the Lord gives in return by way of true riches . .  . of His mercy, grace, and love? Luke  16:11 makes it clear that if we are faithful with money, He will entrust to  us true riches. If this is what Scripture teaches (and it is), then we had  better . . . get ready for the greatest ministry season ever!”

(Bring it on, Lord!)

PS: Giving money isn’t the only way to give . . . the  Sullivan family (on staff with Life Action) adopted Andrei from a Russian  orphanage years ago. Last month, The New York  Yankees reunited Andrei with a boyhood friend from Baby House 10. Their  story will bring tears to your eyes!

 Topics

Love this post – link follows… “No, not broken. It just isn’t time yet…”

http://loveinwaiting.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/no-not-broken-it-just-isnt-time-yet/ and I read her article, wonderful article… and then thought – okay, well I AM broken ~ but healing.   ***gentle smile***  And yet – it IS still about timing – whether the Lord is doing repair work, or He has other plans all together, or work to do in between.  Thanks “Love In Waiting” for your heart, and this article’s truth.

~Deb

Surprised

I came to help, to serve, to comfort, to do well and work hard, I know He sent me… and was surprised. 

Surprised to find I am the one in need.

Surprised.

Caught off guard – finding that as I give;  you give back, generously, with more comfort and tender care than I know how to take in.

Surprised.

Shocked really, by the mingling of our pain, the hidden places that need healing, the similarities in our lives, His comfort poured out over us together.

Surprised.

To be receiving instead of only giving. I’ve been so long the giver.  I think my “receiver” is broken.

Surprised.

By the love of God, His glory on families, faithful ones, and aging; His grace poured into broken lives.  And  how well you have and do honor Him with yours.

Surprised.

By His Presence, in you.

Answers to a Single Moma’s Prayers

Care giving – we all do this, children, mothering, families, aging relatives, on the job, friendships, body of Christ community.  He has built this into me.

I used to take care of the grandmothers of my family (my own and my ex’s), including my ex’s own mother during her surgeries and illnesses, while  homeschooling my children – around his military career.  A talent God doesn’t want hidden I guess.  People say it takes a “special” person to “do elder care”, or to “home school.”  I think I just love home, family and the life-giving heart of home, the center of our lives is Christ, but this is where hearts and lives are built, prepared, launched, comforted.  (So “they” think I’m “special?” Really Lord? I’m not so sure about that).  It’s a choice, I think, to have the patience and love, so necessary in taking care of people – every day people, special needs, sick, whole, or not ~ elders, youth, or children, mine or others.  I think of my own grandmother, and mother-in-law – I used to be their “care-giver”.  Help of the heart and hands, something I offered out of love.  I find myself still reeling at times after the rejection the divorce has caused, the breach in a relationship that was nearly 30 years long and now not communicating at all, to respect “boundaries”.  This “talent” if you will, this gift of “care-giving” has become a (strange to me) way to begin again – to have value, perhaps even to earn a living, perhaps to get “continued training” in “elder care” – a field desperately in need of Godly, loving care givers.  Which is really ~ so strange to my heart ~ after such an unwanted and painful divorce.  Unusual really how the painful past caused the current “position” to be so very bittersweet.  Is this “beauty from ashes”?

After all, as a single mom with single mom Christian women-in-ministry friends urging me on, to grow, take care of “me”, get stable – there I was, back in corporate America (longing for home and wondering when I would EVER get back to whatever “normal” is, should be, or was), missing my flexible schedule, serving in my church and in our community, and substitute teaching in our local school’s classes (I love the teens, I can relate best with them).   Yet I know I’m “called” to NATIONS, to youth… so “corporate America?” again.  **Sigh**  Thankful though, for the fancy new job, WITH benefits that I desperately needed, in an elegant, recently remodeled new office, wonderful boss, great interviews (plural) who encouraged me and built up my confidence so much.  So much hope for new beginnings, a more liberal budget, a new place to live, and new adventure in training for a wonderful new opportunity to be an office manager, a company I could grow with and a boy moving forward in high school.  Can I juggle all of this (more blogging that caused!) I charged in with a can-do (former military spouse) attitude, that actually really seemed to overwhelm the manager I was to assist, bless her heart! (life lessons learned, more on that one later).

Fast forward two months (was it only that) and “Dream Job” gone – very sick asthmatic son not getting better, but rather worse ~ needing a full-time Moma.  Choices, choices – his best friend’s Mom offering to step in and do “the Mom part” or do I go back to “hands on parenting” myself?  Then letting go of the “new house” we had planned on taking, and “stuck” (really Lord?) in a lower-income apartment, trying to budget better and care for a very sick teen son ~ whose absences have also caused failing grades.  Where in the world do we go from here? and how to hold on to hope and a positive, victorious attitude in the midst of so much resistance to the “rebuilding process” of our lives.  What kind of “position” can I have now, Lord, that is close to home and will allow me to care for this special kid, to get him better and still pay at least the basic bills?

The answer involved hearing “Wait.”  Okay Lord, I’m waiting… and you see these bills piling up, right?  The bank has been very patient, but that “red” hole in my bank account is growing alarmingly deeper.  WAIT.  And “trust Me.”  Ouch.  What other choice do I have?  I remember what happened to cause me to lose my trust, in men, in people, in the Body of Christ, and sorry Lord ~ but even in You.  I too remember the promises You gave about restoring my ability to “trust” and to TRUST YOU.  I realize, I can wait in panic, or peace.  I choose peace, and rest – and work on my own apartment, trying to restore order after several months of running in and out.

After all of that waiting, an unexpected “offer” came through a friend of a friend, a dear friend that knew our need and knew of another of her friends’ in need – and put us together, in a way that is only God, and an amazingly specific answer to those heart-felt cries.

Weirdly enough, I’m enjoying being a homemaker again; however, doing “home” for someone else’s family, outside of my own family has seemed VERY odd, very strange indeed… and yes, painful and peaceful at the same time.  This must have been what you meant when you spoke, Lord, about the widow’s “oil” and use what you have in your hands (not my typing skills?). :-)

As I tend to “my lady’s” housekeeping, be her companion, keep her company, read out loud to one another and pray together, as we cook together, as I learn what she likes and doesn’t like for her meals (I remember the YUK of my kids, somehow this time it’s a LOT more humbling, at my age, to hear from an elder who didn’t like how or what I prepared for THAT particular dish or meal, picking at her food, and shoving it off to the side of the plate, to give to her little (very overweight) dog after the dishes are cleared).  So I got out the cookbooks, recipes and magazines  – and after a few more weeks of meal prep, after a few weeks of reading and letting her choose, I have a measure of success.  {Was I prideful about cooking or being a homemaker Lord, and You thought I needed a new lesson in humility?  Ouch!}

Learning about “my lady”, her life, who she has been and who she is now, as she struggles with memory loss that at times greatly impairs daily life, discovering her eating habits, seeking understanding about her medical and lung care, in cooperation with the PTs, visiting nurses, and her family physician (who also happens to be ours), so I can know how to best care for this precious woman of God.   (How protective I’ve gotten over her, with my Lion Hearted self, in seeking what works best for her skin care needs, as elder skin tears so easily).

God is so good to me ~ I DO get time to rest (okay, most days!) When I’m done with household duties and taking care of “my lady”.  When she’s napping, I too can rest, pray, or be creative on a favorite dessert of hers and my son’s, bake again, contemplate learning to quilt (one of her best past-times, as I see piles and piles of exquisite fabric art called quilts she has created for her family, in her past quilting) and so we talk.  You Lord have provided perspective that I desperately needed, in one of THE most stress-filled periods of my own life.  In meeting someone else’s overwhelming needs, it’s brought ours into balance…and you’ve given me the gift of having more time to pray (that was not happening in corporate America)… AND amazingly enough I can even take my youngest son, a teen that doesn’t need to be staying home alone in small town America during the summer, WITH me.  Oh yes, AND our pup too.  Where else could one have an offer like that?  I think I would volunteer for this, even on my back-aching, super tired days.

“My lady’s” home is on 160 acres…her dear family lives on property near-by, this is their inheritance, a family business and all this land, with exceptional views of the sunrise, sunset, clouds, horizon, pastures and highways, rolling hills full of trees, and criss-crossed fencing.  We live in an area that is farm land, people raise beef cattle here, lots of dirt roads & wide open country.   Delicious rolling, multi-green hills, red barns, cows mooing, donkeys guarding their “herds” – oh the donkeys are SO funny.

And the laughs over that one lone(ly?) donkey that has gotten loose from its owner, walks up and down the gravel road longing to get in the nearby pastures with the rest of the donkey families around, and has decided the bird bath in “my lady’s” yard is its own personal water trough.  I think the birds are a bit frustrated when he drinks it all up, so we keep it filled when it’s not been raining enough.

My bosses, her sons, and their families are and have been extremely gracious to me and my son, offering not only pay, but community, fellowship, laughter and help, in ways that I had forgotten I needed, vehicle repairs, financial counsel & wisdom, groceries as I cook “family style” and we share meals, and so on – in “trade” for my help, our help.   An enveloping almost, of us, into them.  There is no way to describe my grateful heart at their kindess; and yet it brings with it such a strange sense of panic, a de ja vue even ~ tentatively joining in with their gregarious, joyful large family – after losing one of my own, my ex’s I should say.  Divorce causes such strange, deep emotions and wounds, at so many levels.  This is like peeling that onion, one layer of pain coming off at a time.  And so I partcipate, then pull back and watch, and get overwhelmed often.  I will need my “Jesus alone with Father” time quite often, still, I think to process all these new and wonderful people, blessings, changes.  We are healing, and it seems to be a long process.

Their youngest son, is a youth sponsor to my (youngest) son… how good is God, how detailed He is over our lives.  So during “boring” times, my son can go work with his youth sponsor at the family shop, play video games at “his and his wife’s” home…the goodness of God is indescribable and Cordell has  another male friend to bond with and laugh with, to connect with around Christ.  God given, continued building in relationship with a precious young Christian man, newly building his own home and family, who has a heart for teens, for youth.  Kids like mine.  Tender mercies indeed.

Forgive me – but “rabbit trail” ~ Funny story about that stray male donkey, the one that got loose.  Our pup Tia chased him (poor thing) and tried to herd him (donkeys are for protecting the herd against coyotes and wolves, so she doesn’t yet understand how he sees her as a threat) – she’s part Australian Shepherd, only eight months old and we currently live in an apartment, so her herding instincts, which we haven’t seen until now, are coming out full force.)  She is THE fastest running dog I’ve seen, outside the sheepdog trials I watched as a kid, at the county fairs my grandpa took me too.  I AM impressed at how she LOVES speed, LOVES to run, ears flying, feathered tail like a flag waving in straight wind.  Tia trying to herd the donkey ~ now THAT was a LAUGH OUT LOUD moment, Tia chasing the donkey back down the driveway, off the property – it was running, kicking and braying the whole way – until they reached a stand-off at the end of the road…and he REFUSED to allow her to run him any further.  Odd, joy filled moments!  Strange, indeed.

Reminds me of summers visiting my grandparent’s dairy farm in Northern Missouri… strange, all the memories that have come floating back these past weeks of this new “position.”  Visiting my maternal grandparents during summers was a priviledge I begged for – I loved their farming life and they let me “help”.  Help with the milking at 5am and 5pm (well mostly the gathering the cows in for the milking and feeding calves), haying, summer time local fairs, blue ribbons, the ferris wheel, being a long, blond haired, painfully shy teen, loving the local ice cream place and “Aunt” Edna’s freezes – YUM.  Horse back rides – hanging on for dear life, my long hair flying, going with Grandpa as he took cattle to auction and saying goodbye to my favorite baby calves :-( and helping my grandmother in her garden:  harvesting and canning and putting up “gel” as my grandma called it.  Fresh-from-the-cow milk in the mornings and cream too (wondered why I came home every summer nearly 10 lbs heavier, oh my goodness), long walks as a teen in rolling green pastures, by the ponds, watching my uncles frog hunt (gross), wondering about God and life and my future…peaceful times, healing times, seeking / questioning times.

Back to life today:  I’m not sure about what to call this “elder care” position.  Seems to be more of a “calling”, a ministry, of hands and heart, serving His body – like Mary pouring out her “wages”, her alabaster oil, on the actual Body of Christ.  What a privilege it is to take care of HIS dear ones.  Peter’s call was to “take care of My sheep, feed My sheep, tend My lambs.”  Yes, Lord.  I know folks don’t understand why I’m not out seeking a career and security in corporate America (I don’t think it’s really there, to be honest), and I heard Holy Spirit say, “DON’T focus on your career right now, focus on raising this last one home, pouring into HIM.”  My pastor confirmed that in a special way, without us having to have talked it out… ~ and, since I did pray before accepting this new “assignment” from the Lord, and “offer” from the family, I have an assurance He is in this.  ~ Understanding the committment I was making to this “new to me”, precious family to assist in caring for THEIR very much loved, widowed Mom at such a vulnerable time of her life caused me to nearly waver.  I walk in wonder daily at what He is doing in each of us involved.  What a level of trust ~ taking care of somebody else’s beloved mother.  Help Lord! Help me do this with my whole heart, Lord or better yet – Your heart, and gentle, loving kindnesses.

Their family history is incredible; as she shares, I feel a bit of an interloper.  When she opens all of her painstakingly put together memory albums ~ sharing newspaper clippings, photos, articles, hand written stories, hand-made quilts, family photos, I realize what a Godly heritage they’ve had, for nearly four generations (perhaps longer).  What unexpected pain it has brought to my own heart, in reminding me of what I do not have, and cannot change or give my children.  Is this You really Lord, this bit of “caregiving for them” that seems to be bringing up such torturous grief?  Wow.  I’m not really sure I understand Your ways, after all.  I sense mercy in the midst of the mess, though.  She is such a thankful woman; they’ve certainly had their share of suffering, tragic loss, and unexpected deaths.  I make a conscious choice to not live in regret, nothing I can change about the past; but learn to “start from here” and be thankful for forward, for my role in developing Godly heritage for my own children and grandchildren, as I pray over them all daily.

Her grateful heart is mending mine.  I love to hear her prayers, prayers built on nearly 80 years of being a Christian.  She will be 91 later this year.  “My lady” is an amazing, pure hearted, blessed, grateful woman that never complains, witty, sharp-minded, and full of ornery humor.  And she NEVER tires of sharing how good God has been to her.  That may be THE reason for this placement, huh, Lord?  To learn to be THAT thankful, to find my laugh again ~ in spite of tragedy, of mind-numbing loss.

Oh and the new pup Tia, well, SHE loves to run on the farm, chasing the donkeys – especially the stray one that comes in the yard.  She daily tries to figure out how to get under the fence, and IN the pasture with the cattle, her longing is to be “herding” and “shepherd.”  I think I can relate.  She is black and white, part Australian Shepherd and part King Charles Spaniel – such a pretty girl.  Another restoration moment.   I “lost” our pup, my son’s dog that his sister gave him when he was six (“a boy needs a dog, and you live in the country” – he named her himself, as he did this one).  When the divorce first happened, I couldn’t find a place that I could afford – and that would allow us to have her, so his Dad took her and this little boy’s dog suddenly lived across state lines.  That same girl dog is getting old now, but she seemed to still remember me during a summer-time visit / switch.  I loved her, and missed her so much then, the same dog that used to sit at my feet daily, and wait for her “masters” to get home.

God restores in such unusual ways – this girl pup came through a local friend, that knew of a family that needed a home for their last puppy from an unexpected “free puppy litter”.  I had been praying for this, for another dog, but just the right size as a present for my youngest still-at-home son.  She was born right before Christmas, we got her at about 5-6 weeks old.  The family delivered her to us, SURPRISE ~ and she was so tiny.  Tia is loyal, protective, and growing into the most beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, energetic companion.  What a gift she’s been, and she loves me too – she sits at my feet, wherever I’m at…she wants to be there.  I didn’t realize how much I missed a canine companion.  And on the property, the pup doesn’t chase the birds because there are bigger things to discover!

The birds are beautiful, causing “my lady” to sing hymns she remembers from her past church attendance, as she is an avid bird watcher.  “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” is one of her favorites…”and I know He watches me…” she sings and smiles.  She has bird baths that we keep filled, seed feeders, hummingbird feeders, several trees and flower beds which are perfect for nesting.  What a beautiful setting.  Such a wonderful surprise at this time in our lives, in my life, after so much heart-break, weariness, and current Mom stress over a son with such serious needs – physically, emotionally, medically, academically; such tender care of God over us all.

In fact, we’ve had wonderful impromptu times for spending the night (after getting to know the family and “my lady” better), when the next day isn’t as demanding – enjoying her company, slowing things down to her speed, watching TV together, enjoying a late night snack or eating dessert first before the meal (shhh – don’t tell).  Waking up in time for coffee on the porch, watching the hummingbirds feed, and watching the sunrise, the fog lifting over the rolling green hills, hearing the soft lowing of the local cattle.

I – think – I – can – breathe – again.

I forgot how much I missed this kind of life, so far away from city noises, traffic, rush hour, high stress / high finance / perfect business dress kinds of jobs, the competitiveness in and around corporate positions (although I’ve had some wonderful bosses)… thank you Jesus.  Is this just temporary?  Can I have this again?  Okay, don’t let me “go there.”  Help me to just be thankful, day by day.

This family, this current calling, is also a God-provided answer to this single Moma’s heart cry/prayer ~ a way for me to do SOMETHING locally, try to finish getting out of debt a little tiny piece at a time, tend to my son’s medical and physical needs, (he still needs our prayers.)  And evidently we were an answer to theirs.  Father is good like that, isn’t He?

As for this youngest son, the CT scan of his sinus’ revealed some blockage on both the right & left sides, but the right side is much more significant.  After this second round of antibiotics, his doctor will do another CT scan.  If the “blockage” isn’t gone (because perhaps the signficantly large BUMP that showed up could be more swelling from infection, or mucus collected from so many ongoing infections), then she’ll recommend us to an ENT  (Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist)… for opinion.  Worse case scenario, would be surgery to remove a cyst or polyp (sp?) (or two) – in one or both passages.  Of course, praying and of course, we’d like anything that needs to be healed, to be healed – and not have to go into nasal surgery…  :-)  Of course, my boy would say – “no surgeries on my face, okay Mom?…if we don’t have too, okay?”  Okay dearest.  I get that.  Everything else but.  Will do.  You heard that right Jesus?  So we ask the Saints at church for continued prayers, for continued healing (of all kinds, not just sinus).  Do I have a teen in a bit of denial?  He’s had to lay down to much of his own dreams to begin to heal (basketball for one)…  Redirect him Lord, direct him, into Your plans for his future.  Give him healing AND hope.

Amazing His touch.  His Mending. I just get the sense from Father this is a time of re-establishing walls of protection around us… a time of mending broken things, broken hearts, broken down boundaries, broken places of protection…. Rebuilding… US, while we’re caring for another of His own. His heart for widows and orphans seems so evident in this current “assignment.” ~ for her, for us. Thank you Lord, SO much.

When this stage of life is done, whenever that will be – for me as a single mother, for the widow I care for – as I watch her prepare for her homegoing, and we pray for her sons, who have relied on her and will miss her terribly… as I see her get lost in past memories, but struggle with remembering a present moment ~ I realize the gift of our lives, still. Again.

Life won’t always be this hard, challenging, painful, will it, Lord?  Or maybe so – on THIS earth – after all, it’s not really our home.  I think there will be a THEN moment, a “then” we can now move forward, singing with HIS victory, amazed really At HIS  Grace”…even here and now.

(Have you seen the movie Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce?… we re-watched it recently…)   This movie is one of my all time favorites.  It really speaks to my heart, the victory at the end, and the struggle he went through to really stand for his beliefs, his convictions that came from God.  It wasn’t easy, it took his life at the end, and his whole life in the process.  And changed lives.

A strong reminder to me of doing what is in my heart, of taking time for the important, keeping my priorities straight, and standing firm – even in the face of well meaning friends that didn’t hear what Father told me.  Making sure I’m true to what Father has placed in MY heart, for HIS purposes and plans, for my lady, her family, for my own family who is all spread out now – the older ones that I miss, that live out of state, grandkids I see once a year, and can’t get to because of high gas prices and a single Mom’s budget – so I pray, write, send packages, and cry…and this last one home to help fly.  HIS priorities.

I know this season is a reminder, too, of being Loved, and loving with HIS heart, again.

Hugs,

~Deb