Being a Help Meet

If you are joining me today from Laced With Grace, I want to thank you. Today’s devotional was inspired not only from my marriage experience, but from my sister’s as well. I hope that this does not sound petty, but she is the kind of person that I have always envied. Growing up, she was the Barbie to my Chatty Cathy. She somehow managed to be athletic, beautiful, popular, and valedictorian. And, you guessed it, I was none of those.

We both ended up marrying within a few months of each other, and it quickly become evident that once again she was the winner, and I was not. She was a teacher on Guam, but she gave that up to submit herself to a year of not working at all so that she could focus on her marriage. But me? No way! I was in the middle of helping to open a prestigious restaurant, and I wasn’t giving that up for anything. I had wanted it for as long as I could remember. So what that it conflicted with out wedding plans. I could pull off working sixteen plus hours a day to get a restaurant opened up an hour away from our home even though the restaurant was scheduled to open one month to the day before our wedding. I was a strong woman and there was no one who could tell me otherwise.

While she would talk and look lovingly at her husband, I would make sure that mine knew where his responsibilities were. And the more that my mother and sister would point out the differences, the more I would dig my heels in. I was not going to be that pushover wife, and they couldn’t make me.

But why all the interest today? Well, today is my sister’s thirteen anniversary. Some time ago, I realized that today’s post needed to be about recognizing marriage, and specifically theirs. We have all come a long way in understanding what it is to be a spouse, and a spouse who honors God. But today, I would like to dedicate this post to my sister Kris and her husband Tony. And if you’d like to get to know them a little better, take a look at where God has taken them through their family website.

Categories: Devotions | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Five Minute Friday

As I have started spending more time writing, I have also started spending more time reading other writers that I want to emulate. One of those writers is Lisa-Jo of Each week, she encourages other writers to set a timer and write for just five minutes. Seems like a simple enough task, but it is actually a little daunting. I immediately began wondering if I even had five minutes of material in my head, then if I could curtail it at five minutes. If you asked my husband or sons, the answer would immediately be that there is now ay that I could limit myself; but I’m going to try. :-) This week has been a somewhat dark week, with hope of light at the end of the week. Physically, I’m still struggling. Greg is also struggling with trying to pick up the slack, but I can see that it is wearing on him. He wants so badly to be the perfect husband. To meet all of my needs, the boys needs, and take care of the house along with still working as much as possible. Then you add to theta the wonderful surprise of having my brother, sister-in-love and three children visit for the week, and it can be a little more than even he can bite off. We ended up having a beautiful week, the guys got to go swimming and spend a little time in the kayaks (first time all year), and we had some great time just chatting. And this week, that’s all she wrote. :-)

Categories: Five Minute Friday | Leave a comment

She Speaks 2012

She Speaks Graduate Happy, happy, joy, joy! Do you have something in your life that you look forward to so much that this is the best way to describe it? Something that you enjoy so much that you anticipate it almost year round? For my next-door neighbor, this is scrapbooking. She loves to go up to the mountains with her girlfriends for a long weekend of cutting, cropping and chatting. I have never developed the skill of putting together a scrapbook, but I understand her excitement. For me, that excitement comes with the announcement that it is time to register for this year’s She Speaks conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. In this amazing conference, 600-700 women descend on the Embassy Suites in Concord, NC to learn how to better serve others. It is unlike any other conference that I’ve ever seen. Popular Christian speakers, writers, bloggers, editors and publishers volunteer their time to help other women who have a desire to serve God more fully. They teach us how to keep our hearts open, and our message fresh; how to balance our ministry and our families; and how to be more effective in our calling. I love to call it a combination of a the biggest grown-up slumber party combined with Christian bootcamp. Each year brings the joy of networking with many other Christian women, but it also brings some unique opportunities as well. One of those is the possibility of pitching your book to a publisher. I have seen others do this and thought that I was glad that I was not an author because the concept was terrifying. Once again, I should have been careful with what I thought and said. In the middle of She Speaks 2011, God put it on my heart that by the time that She Speaks 2012 comes around, I needed to have my book ready to pitch. I admit that I felt a bit like Moses when he told God that he couldn’t speak to a big crowd, “Um, God, I don’t have a book. And in case You’ve forgotten, no disrespect meant here, Lord; you’ve completely closed up my mind, and I haven’t even been able to blog for months. What do you mean ‘Have my book ready?’” He assured me that when I got home from the conference, I would know what it was that I was to be writing, and that I should have it ready for the next summer. Throughout the conference, I struggled with distraction as I wondered what it was that I was supposed to be writing. I left the conference, admittedly a bit confused, still not having an idea of what I was supposed to be writing about. On my way home, I prayed about what I was supposed to write, and I asked God why He hadn’t revealed it to me. He assured me again that when I got home, I would know what to write. I tried not to struggle with Him about the semantics that I was 15 minutes from home and still did not have an answer, but I had a peace that He would come through in His timing (read: at the very last second possible). A little while later, He reminded me of something that my mother and I used to do as I was growing up. As I thought about it, He put on my heart that this was what He wanted me to write about. He slowly brought ideas to my mind on how to start compiling it. Even before I reached my driveway, I was feeling overwhelmed with the complexity of the project. I knew that there was no way that I could do justice to what He was asking. Then He helped me to realize that this was the point. He wanted to receive all of the glory by doing something miraculous through me. Over the past eight months, I have been working on this project. I had so much of it put together by November that I was starting to get excited that this could actually happen. But God allowed me to experience a little more humility and trust in Him. The computer that I had been doing all of my work on crashed. I did not worry about it because I am insistent on doing regular backups, even to the point of having my own server at home that also backs up off-site to make sure that nothing is lost. After we got my replacement computer setup, I began to look for my work, and I realized that I had made a fatal error. I had not marked that program for backup, and the files were not stored with my other backups. I had lost every single piece of my work. I tried to convince myself that this must mean that God did not really want me to write this book. In order to make it clear that this was absolutely to be my priority, He allowed me to become sick so that I would be confined to bed. Now I have nowhere else to be, allowing me much time to write as much as He leads. But the butterflies still tried to convince me that it would just be way too scary to actually present to a publisher. But I have committed that no matter how scary it is, I will do what God has told me to do. So, with that in mind, I registered for this year’s She Speaks Conference. I have requested to meet with a publisher, and I need to have at least three chapters along with my concept completely ready before I get there on July 19, 2012. Would you please pray with me for the following: 1) I do not know which publisher(s) I will be assigned to. Please pray that God prepares their hearts for the message that He is wanting delivered, and that whoever is assigning publishers will place me with the one who God wants to receive my proposal. 2) Pray for my peace as I present to them. I am an “okay” writer, and a much worse speaker. Please pray that God gives me the confidence and the words to share His message for this book. 3) Please pray for my health. At this point, I still cannot be out of bed for more than a few minutes without facing severe exhaustion, and I cannot walk more than a few feet. Please pray that I will either develop the strength that I need by then, or that I will be able to obtain the devices that I need in order to function for the weekend. Thank you, dear friends, for you support as I walk down this new road. Blog Sig

Categories: She Speaks | Leave a comment

Discouraged and Depressed

Psalm 43:5, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. How often does David use this same phrase in his writing? I find myself coming back to it over and over again as I feel frustration and discouragement. I remind myself that if David could acknowledge being depressed and agitated, that it is okay for me to do so as well. That being said, it is not okay for me to let these feelings control what I do. David did not say that because he was cast down and disquieted, he would yell at everyone around him. He said that he was cast down and disquieted, so he would put his hope in God and praise Him. I have to admit that there have been many more times in my life when I have chosen the approach of letting everyone in my hearing range know that I was disquieted. A few years ago, I faced a tremendous health challenge. I had injured my back for about the third time in a few years, but this was the worst yet. I had a toddler and a new baby, and I was determined to get rid of my baby fat. So I went to the YMCA to work out. I worked through my routine, paying attention to each setting. But at some point, I got distracted. I sat down at the leg press machine and started pressing without looking at anything around me or on the machine. After the first push, I felt a pop that I knew only too well. I had herniated a disk in my lower back. I got up form the machine and tried to gather my children and head home before I caused too much more damage to myself, but it was too late. For the next two years, I endured repeated physical therapy, acupuncture, tens units, injections, anything that should relieve the pain; but it continually got worse. My reaction was to verbally attack anyone who came near me. My logic was that I was in pain, and I had a right to express it. I was impatient, demanding and irritable. How my husband managed to stay with me, and still love me through that, still amazes me. For two years, I was the epitome of Cruela de Vil. I screamed, I snapped, and I made sure that everyone understood exactly how much I was suffering. I will stop here to clarify that I was truly in an amazing amount of pain. If my foot touched the ground, it would send nerve responses shooting through my body causing me to let out feral screams because of the intensity of the pain. Even on heavy narcotics, I could only be awake for a few hours a day because of the pain. But that still does not justify the way that I treated everyone else around me. Looking back, I am reminded of Nebuchadnezzar when he was turned as an animal for a time. For seven years, he had to walk as an animal in the fields, hair and nails growing long. At the end of seven years, God restored him. In Daniel 4:36a, he tells us, “At the same time my reason returned unto me;” and he spent the remainder of his days worshipping the one true God and telling others about his experience. So often, I feel like I could be described the same way. When my reason returned to me, the one thing that I promised myself, my family and God was that IF I ever faced that kind of challenge again, I would do it with grace and love. I would turn to God for my comfort instead of lashing out at others. This year, He has given me the opportunity to prove my faithfulness in that promise. As I have struggled with the same injury resurfacing as well as some others complicating it, I have chosen to show grace instead of anger, love instead of tantrums. I have been so amazed at the difference that it has made in both my life and the lives of those around me. This time, I am at peace and quiet. I am not depressed or discouraged. I know that I am not on this road alone, and that my Heavenly Father is right here beside me, bearing my pain with me. As such, I don’t need another person carrying the pain. This has also allowed me to ask for help more, something that I have never done in my life. This week, I have had two different opportunities to share the story of my health journey. In both cases, the people listening were amazed that I could laugh and enjoy my life while all of this is happening. I can gratefully say, “My hope is in God, and I will praise Him.” TODAY, I ASK OF YOU:1) What kind of impact would we have on the world today if even just people who claimed to be Christians would choose to praise God instead of allowing themselves to be discouraged and upset? 2) Will YOU choose with me today to be the one who will consciously choose praise over complaining? MY PRAYER FOR YOU: Precious Father, thank you that You provide each of us with Your strength in trials. I pray Your blessing over each one reading with me today. I ask that they will be reminded to choose Your peace over reacting to their pain. I praise You in advance that You have already given us the victory. Thank You that we can walk into trials with the confidence that you are beside us all the way. For it is in Your precious Son’s name that we pray. Amen.

Categories: be still, depression, devotions, discouragement, peace | Leave a comment

Hope Tour 2012

Have you ever had an idea so crazy that it just might work? Sometimes God guides us along a path that is more wonderful than we could have ever imagined. For me, it is writing. For Tracy Ruckman, it is creating a writer’s tour. I am so excited that Hope Tour 2012 is coming through the Charlotte/Concord, NC area. I hope I will see some of you there.
Categories: Devotions | Leave a comment

New Format

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Come one, come all to the unveiling of a new format!

God has been working on me to be more disciplined in my writing. In order to accomplish this, I am actually creating a plan. Shocking, I know, but I am willing to try. I would love ideas from you on topics that you would find inspiring. I’ll also be sharing thoughts as God opens my eyes to them. The schedule is planned to look something like this:

Monday Musings
Tuesday Tips
Wordless Wednesday
Thankful Thursday
Faithful Friday
Weekend Wisdom

Some days the posts will be here, and some days on our family Odyssey. Be sure to check both sites, or subscribe to all of my writing on Facebook at Wendy’s Writings.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Categories: Faithful Friday, Monday Musings, Odyssey, Odyssey of a Lifetime, Thankful Thursday, Tuesday Tips, Weekend Wisdom, Wendys Writings, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment

Coming Down from the Mountaintop

God Appears to Moses in Burning Bush. Painting...Image via WikipediaI arrive home, my mind still swirling somewhere between Thursday night dinner and Sunday morning worship. My thoughts collide as they race from one memory to the next. The entire memory is shrouded by a Holy Cloud. I struggle to breathe. The pressure in my lungs so powerful that I wonder if perhaps there is something more physical going on. I know that I have met the challenge that God gave Moses in the wilderness when He met him at a burning bush and told him to take off his shoes for this ground was holy ground. This weekend, I took off my shoes. I worshiped on Holy Ground.

And then … I came home.

Cleaning toolsImage via WikipediaHome to the ordinary. The every day. The cleaning. The mistakes of my past. The life that I have allowed instead of lived. The juxtaposition was overwhelming. My mind and heart wanted to flee back to the mountaintop, but I knew that I must stay where I was. My senses spiraled as I wondered whether I could survive the assault. Could I look at my life through these newly opened eyes and make the changes that need to be made? How much must I change to go from living an allowed existence to living a confident, fulfilled life?

Moses on Mount Sinai (1545-1555); Gemäldegaler...Image via Wikipedia
A sweet friend stopped by to ask about the weekend. I realized as I spoke with her that I finally understood Moses on the mountaintop. After three days of basking in the PRESENCE OF GOD, he came back with the written word of God, divinely scribed on tablets of stone, only to see those around him going on with life as usual. His senses were assaulted. He was angry. He lashed out in the only way that he could to express his frustration. He broke the tablets that God has just given him. The most precious things that he had received, gone because he was overwhelmed.

I did the same today. My tablets were not written in stone, but in my heart. I lived on the mountaintop for three days and when I descended, my world was still the same old world, and I did not share the grace that I wish I had. I found myself yelling over the television instead of turning it off to speak lovingly to my children across the room. I secluded myself at times that I could have spent with my family. I put too much blame on others for my time management instead of setting firm boundaries on my time and responsibilities. I let my guilt carry me where I promised I would not allow it to manipulate me any more.

But just as Moses was able to ascend to the mountaintop again and receive God’s promises once more, so I was able to go to the throne of mercy and pray for grace and forgiveness. Tomorrow I face another day of living life, but I am preparing myself to live confidently and expectantly. Not letting time slide by as it will, but being intentional. Knowing that my days are numbered, and that while my Savior and God controls my days and life, I am responsible for how the minutes are spent.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Categories: 10 Commandments, Burning bush, Christianity, Genesis, God, God's Presence, Holy Ground, Moses | Leave a comment

She Speaks 2011

I want to start today with just a little overview with questions from one of my fellow She Speaks sisters over at Chatty Kelly. I hope that you will enjoy what I’ve shared, then hop on over and learn about experiences from some of our other sisters at her Meme.
1. What was the best advice you got at She Speaks?

The best advice that I got at She Speaks this year was to let the Spirit lead and guide in all that I do. In and of itself, it would appear that this was common knowledge, but the reality is that the Spirit shows up at She Speaks, and especially in the prayer room, in a way that I have never experienced anywhere else. Thank you Luann Prater for your close fellowship with the Father and your prayer and blessings over the Prayer Room each year.

2. What was the best lesson you learned in a session?

let goImage by her wings via FlickrThis is such a challenge to answer. I learn so much from each session, but the one that is pulling at my heart the most was from the closing session with Micca Campbell. After God working on me all weekend, Micca wrapped up everything God was telling me by teaching that I had to let go of my control and my rights in place of offering forgiveness.

3. What are you going to do with what you learned/what is your next goal?

Image via WikipediaWhat I learned is turning my entire life in a different direction. On my way home, I called my mom to share with her what I had learned, and began to implement my first steps of forgiveness. That first night home, I sat down with my precious husband and asked his forgiveness for not being the helpmeet that God had created me to be for him. As is his custom, he told me that he did not believe that I had stood in his way; but my heart knows that I could have been so much more for him.

The next goal is the hardest of all. I have to humble myself, let go of my rights, and forgive some people who have hurt me more than I imagined it possible to be hurt. It won’t be easy, and I know that it will completely be His strength and His grace that get me through this.

4. Anything else you want to share? (Good, bad or ugly?)

Holy Spirit paintingImage by hickory hardscrabble via FlickrFor weeks leading up to this conference, God has been putting it on my heart that it is time for me to start opening up more about myself. I have been terrified of it, thinking that I did not have the knowledge or the strength to do it. I have talked with friends and told them that I thought this was the one area that God must have completely lost His mind. Now, as I sit at home for the first day back, I realize that the things that terrified me a week ago excite me now; the words that I thought did not exist are flooding me; and the shame that I wanted to hide is now covered in grace. I was trying to do before He filled, plan before He led. Now I need grace to walk the path put in front of me. I will share more of His plans as leads, but what I share now is that God has some big plans, and my plan is simply to follow and not to lead.

Thank you my sweet friends for your prayers, your encouragement and your love. Knowing that my strength is not my own carries me through each moment.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Categories: Christianity, Forgiveness, God, God's grace, grace, Holy Spirit, prayer, Religion and Spirituality, She Speaks | Leave a comment

Learning to Listen

Three days ago I stood in my bedroom preparing to pack for She Speaks. I looked around my room and prayed that I would remember everything that I needed to take. My eyes fell on a book that I had picked up a few weeks ago because I had been hearing all these great things about it. I had set it aside to prepare for the conference, committing to start reading it after I got back home. I suddenly had an impulse to pack the book to bring with me, but I talked myself out of it, telling myself that I needed to focus on “spiritual” things while I was gone.

I arrived at the conference and looked through my schedule. The keynote speaker for Saturday night sounded familiar, but I could not quite place where I had heard her name. When she spoke, I was moved by her passion and humility. This is the kind of woman that I want to emulate. There was nothing of herself there, only her love for others and especially her Savior.

After the session had ended, I saw her in the lobby signing books and actually got to see the book that she had written. I was immediately embarrassed and humbled. The book that I had set aside was “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, and there was the same cover sitting on a table in front of me with Ann Voskamp signing the books.

Because I had several girlfriends in line waiting for her to sign their books, I stayed there and chatted with them a while. I eventually got up the nerve to tell her assistant what I had done, then meekly asked if it was okay if I could still get her autograph. The sweet assistant laughed with me and told me that I was not the first person that had asked her to sign something other than the book, but all I had on me was an iPad, so gracious Ann signed what she had, a napkin. This is the first napkin that I have ever kept, but perhaps it will become a tradition.

Categories: Ann Voskamp, humility, listen, One Thousand Gifts, She Speaks | Leave a comment

From the Mouth of Friends

Mental Health Humor and cartoonsImage by Mental Health Humor via FlickrI’ve been struggling for a few days to post what my heart is telling me. I find that I have so many words and raw emotions that I am not able to whittle down what I really want to say.

Tonight, as I was reading some of my friends’ writings, I came to Debbie’s blog at “Live… from Ninevah” and realized that she had captured everything that I was feeling. While her words are more eloquent and polished than what I have yet to attain, I hope you see the same spirit and are blessed with it.

So, without further ado, from the mouth (or perhaps fingers) of my friend Debbie, here are some confessions.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Categories: emotion, friends, struggle | Leave a comment