Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The New Church Lady

Photo Source - Joslyn Blair

Updated February 6, 2014

Beautiful friends,

I wanted to thank you all for your extraordinary amounts of support and kindness with the post.

He gets every ounce of glory and honor and credit. 

I wrote this post with the same heart. Just as I've written here for the last six years.

For some reason, this post resonated with you...

I am amazed by Him. And by each of you. 

Thank you for sharing His words with the women in your life.

I am incredibly humbled and grateful.

I wrote this post with my normal readership in mind. 

I had no idea so many new people would read and comment.

I want to try and bring understanding where I can.

I am overwhelmed at the thought of our heavenly Father speaking to the hearts of His daughters through any words found on these pages. 

Thank you for your love, support and encouragement friends. 

I wanted to ask that you read the entire post before you comment.  I would also like to ask you to please be kind when you leave a comment. This is an incredibly loving, supportive and Christ centered community of women. You will catch that if you visit here and read for very long. 

These posts are pieces of my personal testimony. They are experiences that I have lived through. And have helped shape and mold me. Like so many of you, I too am grateful that God allowed me to go through the years of really hard things. Compassion was born in my heart because of those experiences. Especially for the broken hearted and for those who fear that God does not love them, or
worse, that He is angry with them.

This particular testimony is a good 22 or so years old. But there is still life on it.
Because this. This condemning and shaming and excluding and judging is still going on today.

Please remember that 22 years ago there was not a place for single mothers in the church.

You were either married or single. There was no divorce care. Grief recovery. Single mothers unite or whatever. There were two categories. Married and single.

Additionally, single mothers wore the scarlet letter on their chest. It was a rare thing.

Unwed 18 year old teen mamas didn't exist.

It was downright scandalous. Especially in the heart of the bible belt.

This post is not about every church in America. This is about my personal experience at that time in my life and how because of the way I was treated, coupled with years of heartache, I walked away for nearly a decade. I didn't walk away from my faith. I didn't have any faith at all at that point. I walked away from the church who misrepresented God's heart for me.

And this is still happening today.

No one can argue with that.

I agree with those of you who commented that you do not attend church for people- or to have people meet your needs. You go to church each Sunday to commune with God.

Me too.

But when you are broken down and beat up and heartbroken and lovesick and can't keep the lights on and when you are wondering if there really is a God because your life has been so painful it feels like there isn't one and if there is- He certainly doesn't love you. When it hurts to breathe and you do not know how on earth you are going to get yourself out of the mess you are in or how you are going to make ends meet or how you going to make it until need someone to lead you in love and kindness right into the arms of a loving heavenly father.

Thankfully, we belong to an incredible church here and I'm not sure I have ever witnessed the love of the Father, amazing worship, the truth of the word and beautiful community in one place before.

It has been a healing balm to my soul- even all of these years later.

God demonstrates His love for His people through His people.

And if people are intentionally hurting the already broken hearted- sometimes, they cannot find Him.

They need to be led to Christ in love.

Not shamed and condemned and shouted down with scriptures.

They should want what we have and we should offer it in a way in which they can receive it.

I love God's word.

And I spend a lot of time encouraging other women with the truth and love and hope and goodness and mercy and grace that is found within it.

It is living and breathing. It brings life.

It will transform us.

It will draw us closer to Him.

But someone has to present it in love and gentleness. Otherwise it may fall on deaf ears.

I understand fully that there are amazing women who have gone before us and loved God's people and demonstrated the scriptures with such salt and light and fragrance that people would do anything to know the Jesus they love so much.

I am thankful for those women.

For those of you who mentioned that women do not need another "list" of what they should do or be, etc. I understand that. This is not a "to do" list.

That part of the post is simply referencing the character of Christ and may come as a surprise to some who commented but yes, it is actually biblical!

Yes. God loves us no matter what. He does.

This is not a list to try and earn God's love and to try and get into His good graces...these are traits that I have seen shifting in the hearts of women who want to be known for following Jesus.

They demonstrate the scriptures with the character of Christ.

I want what they have.

I want to love like that. I want to forgive like that. I want to place a high value on God's people and take off a mountain of expectations and just simply love them.

These traits are not about me. They are traits that I hope to aspire to.

They are the ways in which I long to love His people....

*************************The original post follows************************

We had a group discussion with some church friends recently and this question was presented..

Do you all feel that Christians are known more for what they stand against or what they stand for?

Everyone agreed that for the most part- Christians are known for what they stand against.

As someone who has lived well over half of her life scared to death of Christians and especially the infamous "church lady" -  I remember vividly what it was like to be unchurched and unsaved and un- everything.

Like it was yesterday.

I wanted nothing to do with Christianity and the church and their Jesus.

And I had a long list of reasons but they made it abundantly clear that there was a series of events I 
had to go through before He would ever be mine.

It seemed as though I was living in the land of "you have sinned and you are going to burn in hell" - where I belonged mind you, and all of the church ladies were living life high on the hog by way of the front row and never having sex before their wedding night.

I can remember pulling into church parking lots again and again and sitting there bawling my eyes out as I watched married couple after married couple walk inside the holy doors of we have it all together -sorry about your luck.

I never had the courage to actually go inside.

Then finally, I can remember it taking everything I had to walk in those dreaded doors one Sunday morning with my baby girl in my arms. I was an unwed single mama raising a baby on about $6.00 an hour and no support of any kind. I left the trailer that morning and looked at the gift that I didn't deserve and told her we were going to give this Jesus a try. I cried the entire way there and wondered if I looked nice enough, good enough, clean enough, churchy-enough.

I wondered if all of the perfect people would be able to see me past the missing wedding ring and the beautiful baby girl on my hip.

I wondered if they would embrace me. Accept me. Allow me in- in spite of my circumstances and in spite of my mistakes.

I'm sorry to share that I walked into a sea of judgement and condemnation during that season of my life. 

And unfortunately it caused me to leave the church for nearly a decade.

Because when you are struggling with the lie that is "there is no way that a holy God could love a girl like me." And you are hanging on by a thread because life has just been too much....

Every moment counts.

The way you are received and welcomed or not.

The way the caregivers receive your child with kindness or not.

The way a seat is made available for you or not.

The way you are looked down upon, questioned or interrogated by church members or hopefully not.

The way someone took the time to speak with you or not.

The way you are shamed and condemned or accepted and loved.

All of those things and so much more are some of the reasons that people will give church and ultimately Jesus another chance.

But one of the biggest reasons I walked away was this.  I didn't want what they had.

They made it loud and clear to me what they were against.

But they failed to demonstrate what they were for.

I didn't want to be judgmental and critical and look down my nose at folks.

I didn't want to spend my time pointing out other peoples sin and making them feel worse than and less than the thousand ways they already felt like a failure.

I've spent lots of time and lots of years with unsaved folks. 

I've spent lots of time over the years listening to the hearts of the brokenhearted and the downcast and the overlooked and the shamed and those who have been cast aside by society.

And I've listened.

And learned so much.

Mainly I've learned what I want to stand for.

I believe that God is raising up a new "church lady" in this generation.

The following words are beautiful truths that I have seen shifting in the hearts of women who want to be known for following Jesus.

She will truly have His heart and His eyes to see sons and daughters when she looks at His people.

She will be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.

She will refuse to judge and condemn and do her best to love people back to wholeness.

She will be a fountain of mercy and grace and one who will breathe life back into dry bones.

She will know that it is the love of God that breaks every yoke.

She will be a living epistle of love and humility and will demonstrate the scriptures with kindness and gentleness and compassion.  

She will give credit where credit is due.

She will point others to Him. She will give Him all the glory. All of the honor. All of the credit.

She will understand fully- the truth that is this. If it were not for the grace of God- there go I.

She will reach to the back row and encourage and minister to the hearts of the women who can't get past the grief and sorrow of their own life. 

She will look past circumstances and situations and appearances that look different than her own to see daughters of the living God who have yet to discover their worth.

The new church lady is looking for opportunities to be a blessing- instead of looking for her own opportunities.

The new church lady knows that the only way up is down. She knows that "humility isn't thinking less of yourself but it is thinking of yourself less."

Graciousness is her hallmark. 

Gratitude is her beauty treatment.

She is a woman of her word.

She is a worshipper. In spirit and in truth.

She is a prayer warrior and holds trust from others as sacred

She is supportive of others and is not an opportunist.

She understands that to become the Proverbs 31 woman- you can't skip chapters 1-30.

She is fully aware of her own shortcomings and seeks Him daily for His love and guidance.

She recognizes hopelessness and worthlessness in others and speaks life.

She is an excellent listener. She listens with her head and her heart. She hears what is not being said.

She is a lifter. An encourager. A hope giver. 

She forgives- fully. 

She knows that the same grace that was made available to her- is also available to everyone else.

She does not gossip. She does not constantly brag or boast. She speaks blessing.

She sees the best. Believes the best. Hopes the best.

She places a high value on God's people.

She invests in the greatest investment in the world.

His people.

She is known for what she stands for.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, good fruit, impartial and sincere.  ~ James 3:17

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Edit Your Life ~ January 2014 Edition

Gracious I love the first day of a new year.

I am all about new beginnings. Fresh starts. Clean slates. A chance to start new.

One of the ways that I have already prepared for the start of a new year was using one little word in a very big way.


This word is our new best friend.

Less is more. Let it go. Simplify. Pare down.

I prefer the word editing the best since I am a stylist at heart!

I have already started the process of true editing a couple of months ago.

Things, papers, books, magazines, pictures, cards, toys, emails as well as unsubscribing to loads of things that just create clutter and noise in my life.

When things go missing, it creates a morning of chaos like you wouldn't believe around here and I start the day out feeling like a failure.

I am editing and organizing with great purpose and intention to create a calm and happy space for each one of us this year. One room at a time.

Here is one category to start with today! 


Clutter and tchotchkes makes me break out into hives.

Now please hear me, as a mother of six children, there is always clutter….

But it drives me to the brink and I am constantly fighting my way through it and trying to organize the best system for our family.

Sometimes, out of exhaustion, "my system", is to pile every single thing in the corner and go through those piles later, so that the rest of our space is clean and organized.

The kids artwork, school papers, mail, bills, magazines, all of these things within a family of eight people can be overwhelming.

So here is what I have found in my own search for helping to bring order to the house...

There are so many incredible and really beautiful options for organizing the home office that it will actually be something you look forward to doing.

Basically…I'm not sure how I am going to choose using a very small budget from all of the beautiful options below.

You may actually need to belt out a couple of verses from the song  Jesus take the wheel  while looking at their websites. :) 

The good news for those of us on a tight budget is that you can also find some really beautiful and functional things at discount supply stores and even Goodwill! 

I have found many a fine object at Goodwill and they even have .99 cent day.

I am not even kidding.

You can get yourself a filing system for under 1.00. Especially during this time of the year when everybody and their Mama is clearing the clutter. And then you can paint it gold and be the envy of all of your neighbors.

Throw stuff away. Give stuff away or donate it.

We have to be willing to let go of some of the old to make room for the new! 

If you do not love it, get rid of it.

Clutter blocks creativity.

And the world needs your creativity beautiful friends.

Here's to the start of editing your life to make room for every good and perfect gift that God has for you this year.