In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First!.”
Yesterday, January 13, 2015 was one of the hardest days in my life. It was the day I attended my father’s funeral. You see, I am a big daddy’s girl, will be until I take my last breath. I was with him when he took his last breath and man was that hard too. BUT yesterday was finality. The last time we would ever see his physical body again.
This morning began with me sleeping in later than usual. I had spent the night with my daughters family because I lived out of town. I had slept with my grand children, who had to get up early for school. When their dad came in to wake them I could barely open my eyes. I fell back asleep and awoke 3 hours later.
As I reflected on my day there were 3 things I realized about my first day after the funeral:
1. Exhaustion had set in. The days following my fathers death had been both mentally and physically draining. We had to prepare for the upcoming funeral, for visitors who would visit the home and for phone calls to notify friends and family of my fathers death.
Many people had stopped by to tell us how sorry they were, to drop off food, and to ask about the funeral arrangements. Sometimes their visits would continue until late in the night.
As siblings we wanted to be close. It was hard for me to leave and go to my daughters home. I had lost my dad, I did not want to loose one of them. Sounds kinda crazy, I know, but I just wanted to be close to them.
I did not know how exhausted I was until I found myself waking up to so late this morning. By mid-day felt as if I had not slept in 3 days, however, I could not nap. I had no strength or energy to do anything.
2. I wanted to be alone. Just 3 days prior I wanted to be with my family all the time. Now all I wanted was to be alone. Alone I could keep myself busy. Busy doing laundry. Busy cleaning house. Busy on the computer. Just busy. No thinking. Just busy.
3. I was sick of eating. The smell of food was nauseating to me. You see, I realized that in my daze over the last few days, I ate all day long. I did not mean to eat. I did not want to eat. But eat I did. Every day, sometimes, twice a day, people would show up to our house with food. My mom wanted all the kids to eat together. I ate when I was bored. I ate when I was tired. I ate when I was hungry. I ate late and I ate bad food. Today I was just sick of food.
What I realized most today, the first day after the funeral, was that I miss my dad. The last 3 days had been a blur. The last three days have been busy. Today has been a day of missing my dad. It will get better each day. I know he is in heaven worshiping Jesus. I know I will see him again. But today, my first day after the funeral…..I miss him the most.
This time of year is one of the slowest for churches, the holiday’s.
Slow in attendance, small groups, serving, tithing…
Those that don’t believe in Christ don’t know any better, but those that do believe certainly should.
Think about it, we wouldn’t have these holiday’s to celebrate if not for God The Creator and His Son The Savior.
But, we’ve turned Thanksgiving into primarily being about a turkey, sitting around the table with ‘the family’, and football games. How much time on that day do we actually spend thanking God?
What better time, than a designated ‘thanks giving day’ to thank HIM for all that HE’S done?
“Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~Ephesians 5:20
We’ve turned Christmas into a gift giving/receiving, reindeer flying, house lighting extravaganza.
What better time, than the designated day to celebrate the birth of the One that would sacrifice Himself for you and for me? There would have been no sacrifice without first a birth.
“She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus [He Saves], because he will save his people from their sins.” ~Matthew 1:21
“Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city.” ~Luke 2:11
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” ~1John 2:2
“After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and died.” ~John 19:30
“Why are you looking among the dead for the living one? He’s not here. He has been brought back to life! Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee. He said, ‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinful people, be crucified, and come back to life on the third day.’” ~Luke 24:5-7
I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy these holiday’s, hanging with our families, eating the traditional goodies, and so on…I do!
I’m saying, we’ve made this time of year all about US and not about HIM.
I’m asking you (and me) to do an honest and hard self-evaluation and ask ourselves, “Self, is God my priority EVERY day?”
There are churches that don’t hold service if Christmas day falls on their scheduled worship time.
CHRISTmas!?! That makes no sense to me. That’s not being done so you can sit at home and spend the day thanking Christ for all He’s done, all He’s doing, and all He’s going to do. No, it’s done so you can have the day off to spend with your families. That to me makes me think that Christ isn’t a priority for the leaders of that church.
See, when we accept Christ, we don’t do it to worship Him when it’s convenient for us. Is that what you’re doing? Imagine if Christ only took care of us when it was convenient for Him. What if God only answered our prayers when it was convenient for Him? What if The Holy Spirit only guided or convicted us when it was convenient for Him?
We want and expect so much from our loving, compassionate, and devoted God, but give Him so little in return. He swore to never leave us nor forsake us. Yet, forsaking Him is a normalcy in our lives…even on holiday’s.
I love spending time with my church family. I love gathering together and singing and hearing a sermon about His Word. I love taking that measly little hour or so and having my primary focus on Him. I just don’t think it’s too much to ask…and I don’t understand why churches slack this time of year. We’re all busy with one thing, or a hundred. It’s a good thing God isn’t too busy for us…ever.
When we say, feel and acknowledge that we’re sinners and believe that Christ was born, lived, died and resurrected for us, our lives are to be for Him, about Him, not us.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~Galatians 2:20
I hope that your holiday’s are full of love, laughter, family and food. But mostly, I hope that your holiday’s are full of thanking, praising and worshiping Jesus. A good way to do that is to remain steady in your church, your studies, your bible reading, your fellowshipping.
The holiday’s come and go…every year. God doesn’t.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” ~1 Corinthians 3:16
It was mentioned the other night that I’m a ‘tough love, tell it like it is, honest sister’. Which, first off-wasn’t the first time I’d heard that, and second-I don’t deny.
My sisters and brothers joke..wait, “joke”…about how if they want the ‘petting’ or to hear what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear, they won’t come to me. But, if they want the truth and sometimes a good kick in the rear, I’m your girl.
Not that there’s not love and hugs involved. I’m all about love. I love to love on people. I love to encourage others. I love to motivate and inspire and challenge others. But, I think truth is truth and right is right and wrong is wrong. (note: not that I don’t screw that up!)
As a Christian, that truth, right and wrong should stem from what God tells us in His Word, not what we form as opinions or the world sees as acceptable.
Often these things get confused because people are only hearing or seeing what they want to hear or see.
Often the importance of truth is dismissed because it’s inconvenient or unsettling.
Often the importance of what’s right and wrong according to God is avoided because it’s against OUR desires and control.
When it comes to truth and morals according to God’s Word, there are no “different interpretations”. It’s clear. We are the ones that choose to read it the way we see fit with whatever is going on.
I think of Jesus as a ‘tough love when necessary’ guy.
Here’s only 3 examples that jump to my head…
1. Jesus calls Peter to walk to Him on the water…Peter did…lost focus and started to fall in. Jesus didn’t say, “It’s ok! No worries, buddy, I gotcha! Woo, how freaky was that, huh?! Walking on water and stuff!” No, He said, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”
2. Jesus told His friends, “You (Peter) will deny Me three times.” Don’t dismiss the weight of that! Think about it. You’re sitting around your best friends and not only tell them that one of them is going to totally ‘stab you in the back’, but point the guy out that will!
A ‘softy’ could have said, “Gosh, I hope this goes according to plan. Y’all make sure you stay focused and have my back. If by chance one of you don’t, I totally understand. There’s a lot of pressure right now, I get it.” (“Oh, and by the way….if one of you is the one that brings the dudes that are going to kill me, TO me, well….”)
3. And how about when He goes into the temple and has a good ole tantrum, flipping tables and chairs because they’re gambling and selling?
Now, I know when I’m angry and having a tantrum, I don’t speak calmly…so, my visual is Jesus using his ‘angry voice’, “This place isn’t for the crap you’re doing! My house is for prayer!” (paraphrased, I haven’t found the word ‘crap’ in the bible..which makes me sad, it’s one of my favorite words.)
Not, “Gosh, y’all…you should really probably not be doing this stuff here. Dad is going to be so mad!”
I think a lot of times things are sugar-coated, when a good ole honesty-kick is necessary. And, I think it takes some discernment and/or wisdom to determine when to say, what. Sometimes that person coming to you just needs a hug. So, shut up and hug them. Sometimes they need the truth in a gentle way, and sometimes they need it in a table flippin’-chair turnin’ kind of way. But, however it’s needed…the truth is needed in this confused world.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (Colossians 3:9)
You know those times in life where you wonder, “how am I going to get through this day…or this week?” Where the only goal you have in mind of is to be able to say, “I don’t know how I GOT through this day…or this week.”
As women, we tend to put so much on our plates. When our plates are full, we just keep stacking higher and higher…because, we can handle it, right? We certainly think we can. And then the breaking point hits. The ‘food’ on our plates topples over, causing the tears and feelings of failure and being overwhelmed, and more of a mess to clean up.
Imagine how much less chaotic our lives would be if we limited the ‘food’ on our plates. After all, there are plenty of other plates that could use some extra!
Galatians 6:2 tells us to ‘share each others burdens’. I think often we think of this verse with emotions in mind. Sadness, grief, troubles, etc.. I think it also refers to our plates. An over-stacked plate can be a burden. Can I get an amen?!
My first thought when all of this was coming to me was, “when we see an over-stacked plate in a restaurant (you know, the literal kind), we think ‘glutton’.” But, if we’re honest, that’s not even the case these days, is it? An over-stacked is ‘normal’.
But, it’s not meant to be normal. We’ve normalized the abnormal.
I see two ways out of this overloaded plate…
1. Give some ‘food’ to Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus is willing to lessen your plate. You just have to go to Him. Maybe you can’t get things off of your plate immediately. He can also ‘yoke up’ with you and help you out. That’s just how awesome He is!
2. Offer some of that ‘food’ to a fellow brother or sister. God doesn’t want us hoarding the ‘food’! He wants us to share. We each have a unique purpose, which means my plate is no more important than your plate.
I think the overconfident human part of us tends to forget that Christ took all of our burdens on all by Himself. Because, He could. He’s God. He can handle it. We’re not Christ. (That shouldn’t be a newsflash, but I think sometimes it is.) We’re just weak flesh with a mixture of overconfidence and insecurities. (Funny how that makes sense, right?) We can’t do it all on our own.
This is a lesson I continually work on in my life. Being a very independent woman, add a dash of OCD, and a touch of control in there, and I have a plate that has the ability to topple.
But, you know what? I was born imperfect, I’ll die imperfect. What matters is the time between the two. I am a work in progress! I’m a work in progress because I strive to be like Jesus and know I’ll never…ever…accomplish such a task. I’m a work in progress because I know what God’s Word says and still fail to live it. I’m a work in progress because I know I can’t handle it all on my own, even when I want to, or think I can. I’m a work in progress because Jesus is perfect and I’m not, and He loves me, and I love Him, and He loves YOU, too!
Thank You, Jesus!
Our new Women’s ministry, Droplets To Ripples, officially launched today. What a whirlwind of a day it has been too. One of those “it will go down in the history books kinda of days.” But tonight as I reflect on our day I am more convinced than ever that we are doing what God wants us to do simply because of the day we had. Satan does not care about us when we are focused on things of this world or ourselves. He becomes a little bit worried and anxious, however, when we decide to do something for Christ that can change the world for Him.
You see, we believe that women today are presented with massive amounts of negativity. They have bouts of low and high self-esteem and struggle with their own worthiness. Women feel under valued at home, work and in relationships.
The three droplets, me, Kelly Bivins and Stacie Lewis have the same struggles other women have. Because we know your struggles we can understand how you feel, where you are coming from. The difference is simply that God has challenged us to focus on the positives in life and use God’s words to encourage, challenge and motivate you to keep going, not to give up and encourage you to succeed in life. This is our new journey….focusing on you and working on us at the same time. We hope you will join us on this journey. We hope you will share your own struggles and successes with us to encourage others and that you will bring your friends and family with you on this journey.
Here is a little information about who we are and how we started. Be sure to check out our website, http://www.dropletstoripples, still under minor construction. We hope you will follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Our goal is to post something for YOU at least 3 times a day. Check often for encouragement and if you do not need it then share it with someone else who does.
Droplets To Ripples began in 2014 when the founder, JoAnne Fowler, decided to form a ministry that focused on motivating, challenging and encouraging women with Gods Words. This was not the beginning of ministering to women for her, but the beginning of making a full time commitment to it.
As she began to share her women’s ministry idea’s with other ladies in her church, Kelly Bivins and Stacie Lewis expressed that they too had been feeling drawn to give more of their time to ministering to women as well. Both Kelly and Stacie, were not new to JoAnne or to ministry. As associate pastor wives for many years, she knew their hearts and their passions first hand. With that, Droplets To Ripples was born.
All three ladies have both writing and speaking experience and decided to put all their skills to work. You can click on the photo’s to the right to learn more about each speaker and their readily available topics for speaking engagements. The ministry, however, is not just about speaking but reaching women right where they are, when they are available. You will find them in a variety of social media streams such as Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress. Be sure to join in the conversations in whatever venue you participate in.
We are excited about what God has in store for us and you. Join us on this journey and lets make a difference for women for Christ sake.