daughters promise OF
Godly femininity p. 34
Throwing in the
Towel p. 44
Sleep: Godâ€™s Gift p. 64
in this issue JANUARY&FEBRUARY2014
Contact Us A Word from Rae Mission Statement Guest Contributors
5 6 7 8
The Art of Gracious Conversation More Than Conquerors
Pearl of Promise My Alabaster Heart Godly Femininity
31 32 342
21 44 53
New Beginnings Quotes Throwing in the Towel De-Cluttering for the New Year
Door of Hope Coffee Shop: Wilmington, OH
Sleep: Godâ€™s Gift
pondering with Tina
life through Carmonyâ€™s lens3
the team recommends
open oÂˇpen [oh-puh n]
vb.â€“ to move from a shut or closed position so as to admit passage.
Stay Connected! WWW.DAUGHTERSOF-PROMISE.ORG HOORAY! THE NEW DOP WEBSITE IS UP! VISIT US ONLINE TODAY!
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and Issuu. 5
a word from rae
Wow. I’m sure I’m not the only one
January 1, 2014 was no different than December 31, 2013—both days I desperately need Jesus, and both days, life is life, with challenges and heartaches and victories and decisions. There was no magic switch when the clock struck midnight. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, I need Jesus to do what is right, to be a lady, to make wise choices, and to not freak out when challenges come.
saying, “Where did 2013 go?!” At the cusp of this New Year, the days ahead are white canvas, waiting to be filled. It’s invigorating, but I confess that I long ago abandoned the practice of “New Year’s resolutions”. It’s a nice concept, but I find myself using them as an excuse to forsake the daily disciplines that, all strung together, make the year a “success”. This year, this 2013 was a year of intense bright promising year of stretching. Yet it was a 2014, I want to make every dynamic time of growth, little moment matter. I and change was the don’t want to miss catalyst. God has been anything gazing teaching me a lot longingly at the future, about flexibility and or wistfully at the past. helping me to deal Maybe you want to join with some deep-rooted me? Let’s not shackle fears. It has been an ourselves to lofty amazing journey. resolutions that span Dreams I’ve held for 365 intangible days, but years have been fulfilled, instead focus on the Frigid but fun Thanksgiving trip and I wake up each day tangibility of this moment, to Lake Erie with my family eagerly anticipating the right here, right now. Let’s and my man! adventures God has waiting! pack it with laughter and lace it with grace. And when the hard days As a testimony to His faithfulness and come [because they certainly will, and for some my own desires for the days ahead, I share this of you, are already here], let’s not cling to lists verse with you and hope it is a blessing. or our own tenacious resolve, but instead fling Be blessed, sisters! our souls on Jesus and let Him do the holding. Let’s promise ourselves that we won’t forget that
“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence 6 that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Ps. 91:2-7
//DOP MISSION STATEMENT//
meet this issue’s
Lorida Burkholder | PA GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER, Ad Lib Photography
Lorida was born in PA but spent 15 years of her life as a missionary kid first in Grenada and then also in Thailand. In Thailand, she taught school to the missionary kids and also helped teach English to Thai kids. She loved getting to know the Thai kids and they were excellent teachers of the Thai language! Now that she has been living in the states again, Lorida has a job as a graphic designer where she gets to design all kinds of pretty things all day long! As a side job she does professional photography—lots of photography! It is definitely her passion. She especially loves getting to know people through her work, and helping them capture a snippet of life that they can cherish for the years to come! She loves capturing the beauty of God's creation—especially the beauty of children and their innocence. To see more of Ad Lib Photography, visit Lorida’s Facebook page by clicking the link below.
Ad Lib Photography
Delia Bear |OH GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER
Delia is a wife and mother of two busy, beautiful children. She loves being a stay at home mom. In her spare (or not so spare!) time, she enjoys photography and crafting, and has recently opened her own Etsy shop. Click the link below to visit it and peruse her products!
Background photo: Ad Lib Photography
gracious By Emily Sitzler | Photos by Ad Lib Photography 11
o most, art would be something one T creates, something found in a museum, or even a piece of music which causes our hearts to sing along. Modern technology coupling with a myriad of distractions often quickly dismisses conversation as nearly unnecessary, much less an art. Webster’s dictionary defines conversation as the following: “Oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas.” Will you join me as I share with you my continual learning of the art of conversation? Currently, Christmas busyness surrounds me, and just as quickly as it comes, it too, shall flee. Over the next few days and weeks, we will find ourselves gathering with friends and family feasting on the foods called nostalgia and savoring the moments that seem to pass more quickly than the last. As we are mercifully
approaching a new year, we begin to declare this year as past. We ponder our hopes, our dreams, and quickly plan for the year that will seem more fleeting than the present. In the midst of the season, we are given countless opportunities to bless others to make their days seem brighter. Churches, ministries, and charitable organizations provide abundant resources to bless someone through a gift, a meal, a financial contribution, etc. All of these are wonderful and truly necessary, but the most meaningful gift we can give a person is time, a listening ear. 1 John 3:16-17 states, “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?”
“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” 1 John 3:16-17
In the midst of the season, we are given countless opportunities to bless others to make their days seem brighter. An open heart necessitates an open ear, an ear that is bent towards the needs of those around us. What the world considers the least, our precious Jesus deems as valuable. Remember, He first announced His birth to the lowly shepherds in the fields, the outcasts, the unlovely. You may be thinking. “What does this have to do with the art of conversation?” A true artist sees something beautiful when others may only see rubbish. An artist of good conversation, first humbly seeks to converse with the least of these, the poor, the outcasts. After all, is not this the example Jesus continually sets for us? I am finding myself under conviction as I pen these words. Ask someone for their name, if they are from here (wherever here may be for you), and remember those details. When you see them again, call them by name, and create a new conversation. A genuine heart reflects the love of God to a person.
We certainly see Jesus conversing with the poor, but throughout the New Testament, He continually cultivates relationships with His disciples through time and face to face conversation. One of my favorite verses on the subject is 2 John 12, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” The Greek word for joy in this context is chara, it means gladness or reason for gladness. Pleroo is Greek for complete; it means to fulfill, to provide fully, to give true meaning. Therefore, face to face conversation can give a true meaning of gladness. Social media, video messaging, and phone calls are tremendous assets in our culture, but nothing is as wonderful as sharing a face to face conversation.
Websterâ€™s refers to part of conversation as an exchange of sentiments and observations. Noticing the likes and interests of a person, remembering them, and bringing them up later are essentials in growing from an acquaintance to a friend. If you find yourself having long distance friendships, relationships, or maybe business, be intentional to create space where distractions are minimal to focus more fully on the conversation with the person on the other end of the line. Becoming an artist of good conversation is more like inspiring another person on their canvas of life. Speaking words of life and grace to a friend will leave them feeling as though they tasted a bit of the goodness of God. The true art of good conversation stems directly from time spent with the Master Artist, the Architect of love and grace, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. Pray for those with whom you converse whether it is the clerk at the counter, your dearest friend, or your family member. Also, take time to cultivate daily conversation with Jesus. Listen to His voice; He is alive. He is speaking for all who tune their hearts to listen. Jesus left the throne of heaven to be born in a lowly manger. He perfectly walked among imperfect men, leaving for us an example. He suffered, bled, and died on the cross. Three days later, He rose again. Jesus split the veil of the temple from top to bottom, making direct access for all to come boldly before His throne. You and I have a continual right of entry to the presence of Jesus. I want that, long for that, desperately need that access.
Oh God, we thank You that You came, that You are coming again. Thank You for first coming to those the world would consider as lowly, for that is what we are without You. Teach us to speak with words of grace and life, that each time we encounter a person they may be more aware of Your Person and presence. We long to reflect You, Jesus, through our words. Will teach us the true art of conversation? Our hearts desire to leave others with a taste of You and Your goodness. Thank you for tearing the veil, for giving us, broken people, direct access to Your throne. You are the ultimate Artist of our lives; please help us to make the stories of others a bit more beautiful when we leave. For that, God, is what you do as You touch our lives with Your pen and with Your brush. We offer our lives to You, most lovely Artist, and ask that You help us to be artists of good conversation. We give you not only the canvas of our lives, but the brushes as well. In Jesusâ€™ Name, Amen.
Emily Sitzler has been featured numerous times in Dughters of Promise, her words and passion for Jesus spilling over into writing as a form of ministry. Emily holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Christian Studies, both from Bryan College. She currently works full-time as assistant administrator at Full Circle Medical Center for Women (a crisis-pregnancy ministry) in Athens, TN, and desires to see young people maintain purity in every aspect of their lives. In her spare time Emily enjoys crafts, cream with a side of coffee, hanging out with friends, and especially running.
The true art of good conversation stems directly from time spent with the Master Artist, the Architect of love and grace, the Author and Perfecter of our faith,
â€œThough I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.â€? 2 John 12
Pondering with Tina
By Tina Newson Photos by Delia Bear
gave me a card with a picture of a 50's dancer complete with pony tail and bobby socks on the outside. On the inside the words read- "Tina is so tough her poodle skirt has a bulldog on it." The sentiment brought a smile to my face and a question to my heart. My friend only seen the smile, I know she loves me so it was easy to laugh together at the image on the card. However, the question the card left in my heart lingers. I have carried it with me, pondering from time to time. It's a question of my selfhood: Am I really perceived as tough? What does that mean? I used to think that strong and tough were synonymous. I know I am strong. I've had to be to survive. I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when I was two years old. At times I've been so sick that I have had to struggle for each breath. Fighting for oxygen strengthens you at a core level. Life slows down and simplifies, living in the moment, one breath at a time, living in the now brings a sense of acuity. This is also accompanied by Hypervigilance. The senses are heightened by a state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect threats. Perfumes, smoke, any strong smells become the enemy that has to constantly be monitored. Hypervigilance is accompanied by a state of increased anxiety which can lead to exhaustion. We were not created to stay on high alert for
long periods of time. We were designed for regular Sabbath intervals, times to purposefully rest. The ability to purposefully relax is what makes the difference in being strong verses being tough. I think it comes down to accessibility to myself, my God and others. If I cannot rely on anyone other then myself then I constantly live by the philosophy of pulling myself up by my own boot straps. Becoming self-efficient to the extreme becomes the goal. I have no time or energy to slow down. Rest would lead to feeling and this will bring painâ€”pain caused by struggle, disappointment, hurt, isolation and frustration. All the daily feelings that come on a regular basis that is ultimately caused by living far from The Garden and the intimacy we were created for. The plus side of being tough is protection. Protection from disappointment, vulnerability, and need. If I can remain self-sufficient then surely I will not be hurt.
We were designed for regular Sabbath intervals, times to purposefully
Simon and Garfunkel put it this wayIt is a winter's day In a deep and dark December; I am alone, Gazing from my window to the streets below On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. I am a rock, I am an island.
I've built walls, A fortress deep and mighty, That none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. It's laughter and it's loving I disdain. I am a rock, I am an island. Don't talk of love, But I've heard the words before; It's sleeping in my memory. I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If I never loved I never would have cried. I am a rock, I am an island.
A strong heart leads to life abundantly, knowing the richness of relationship, living without fear of pain and daring to feel emotions. A tough heart knows none of the risks of life but is safely
I have my books And my poetry to protect me; I am shielded in my armor, Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries. Extreme self-sufficiency, isolation, numbness are symptoms of being tough. The behaviors that lead to these feelings are often encouraged. Stoicism is often seen as maturity. Busyness is praised as productivity and isolation is mistaken as self-sufficiency. It is easy for confusion to abound because the behaviors themselves are not the problem. The State of the heart is the core of the matter. Having a strong heart verses a tough heart can look the same on the outside but on the inside there is a world of difference. A strong heart leads to life abundantly, 19
knowing the richness of relationship, living without fear of pain and daring to feel emotions. A tough heart knows none of the risks of life but is safely alone.
One of my favorite songs from the music group Petra reminds me of how I want to live-
Based on Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3:13
Don't let your heart be hardened, don't let your love grow cold May it always stay so childlike, may it never grow too old Don't let your heart be hardened, may you always know the cure Keep it broken before Jesus, keep it thankful, meek, and pure. May it always feel compassion, may it beat as one with God's May it never be contrary, may it never be at odds May it always be forgiving, may it never know conceit May it always be encouraged, may it never know defeat . May your heart be always open, never satisfied with right May your heart be filled with courage and strengthened with all might Let His love rain down upon you
Breaking up your fallow ground Let it loosen all the binding Till only tenderness is found.
EMBRACING new beginnings The beginning is always
today. -Mary Shelley
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19
Renewal is rooted in faith, not in resolutions! They are made for New Year's and forgotten on an average of thirteen days later, say the surveys. Faith is the result of a decision about Christ. I cannot make a new me or a new you, but Christ can make you new and me new, as well, if we decide for Him. -Frank Harrington
By Kristen Martin | Photos by Delia Bear
Conquerers One womanâ€™s journey to freedom from sexual addiction
In all these things we
are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Christian school. It was the best decision they could have made for my older brother, but the worst for me. In my classroom of many students, I was introduced to a clique. I had never experienced this before. I expected everyone to be my friend. This was not the case. I immediately clashed with one of the most popular girls in the class. Her personality matched mine and there was immediate tension. All through my school years I felt like a zero, a nobody, an outcast, an outsider. I started gaining weight, which accelerated these feelings. Now I was the fat weirdo. I soon believed the lie that I was the problem and that there was something wrong with me.
hare my deep secret with a counselor? Only people who have major problems go to counseling. I was petrified, but I needed help. I made the call to schedule an appointment and was on my way to becoming a conqueror! I was born into a conservative Mennonite family. Growing up on a farm with two brothers, I became a tomboy, preferring tractors to dolls and playing outside to being in the house. While attending a public elementary school, life seemed perfect. After second grade my parents felt the need to place my older brother and me in a private
Another thing that had an effect on me was that over this time my mom and I didnâ€™t understand each other. I felt as though I had no one to talk to. When I was given the opportunity to leave the private school and be home schooled in the seventh grade, I took the chance to get away from my place of torment. With homeschooling, mom and I became very close friends. As age fifteen approached, I was excited to join my church youth group. I was still much heavier than everyone else, but I had friends at church who loved me for who I was and not for the way I looked. I thought I had my life pretty much figured out. I thought I would be in the youth group a year and then at sixteen I would start dating, because that is how itâ€™s supposed to happen, right? That didnâ€™t happen for me. The longer it went the sadder and more depressed I 24
became. I was once a bubbly person, was friends with anyone, and loved to meet new people. But now, I was changing. I had been hurt so many times by people and by guys whom I liked and thought would ask me out but didn’t. I was convinced that I was the problem. One day while surfing the web, I was introduced to pornography. At first, I was shocked and horrified, but somehow I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Soon I was logging onto the internet almost daily. Oh, I felt terrible, but it almost made me feel loved, as strange as that sounds. One night I couldn’t live with the guilt anymore and told my parents. They were shocked, naturally, and took steps to block the internet. The pull was strong, and within a few days I had figured out how to get around the block. I was caught in the clutches of this addiction. I started watching pornography again. Then, I discovered masturbation. Now I really had a huge feeling of guilt and shame, but again I just couldn’t seem to stop. Every time I was feeling sad or lonely, I would turn to masturbation or porn. About age seventeen I was introduced to a girl who became my best friend for the rest of my teenage years. Only there was one thing I didn’t know about her: she was a one-friend person, someone who latches onto one friend, drains the life out of the friend, and then moves on. Well, she latched onto me. Both of us were heavy, both were convinced that we were never going to get a boyfriend, and we just fed off each other. We even liked the same guys at the same time, even though we told each other we didn’t.
One day while surfing the web, I was introduced to pornography. My parents took steps to block the internet, but within a few days I had figured out how to get around it…. Before long, I was caught in the clutches of this addiction. Slowly the life began to drain out of me. I was always giving, giving, giving, and never receiving. This was a recipe for me to stay in my pornography and masturbation forever. My parents thought I had it under control. As my personality and the fun-filled side of me began to slide out of my life, I was often depressed and convinced that I would never become anything in this world. My parents began to take notice that I was no longer the fun, carefree girl whose fun personality earned the nickname “Bubbles”. I laughed a lot less and was constantly gossiping and judging people before I ever met them. My parents began to encourage me to wean myself off this girlfriend and try to find other friends, maybe even return to my home church, which I had left to follow my friend to another church. I was furious! After all, this girl was my best friend! She needed me! But after weeks of encouragement and prodding by my
I was very changed, depressed, and afraid of getting hurt again. parents, I began to spend time apart from her. As soon as I was a few steps away, I discovered that my parents were right in what they were saying. I had no life left in me. I was dead. I once again let my parents know where I was in my struggle. We devised a reward program for having good days and weeks. I returned to my home church and started the painful struggle of trying to make new friends. It was very difficult. I was changed, depressed, and afraid of getting hurt again. Therefore, I decided it was better to hold others at arms’ length rather than risk getting hurt. But, in the midst of this heartache, God blessed me with friends from my home church. They accepted me with open arms and I began a long uphill climb to returning to the young woman I once was. I worked hard on my reward program but kept failing. I was so frustrated at myself and this sin and shame that kept hanging around me. I also was ashamed of my body weight which had ballooned to nearly three hundred pounds. In June of 2011 I told my mom that I was tired of trying and failing to fix this. We
needed outside help. I finally gave up trying to keep this secret only in my family and I went to see my pastor’s wife. I was petrified to tell her. I was so sure I was the only girl that had this problem-- I wholeheartedly believed that addiction to pornography and masturbation is something only guys face. Girls aren’t supposed to have this problem. I was sure my pastor’s wife was going to gasp when I told her what was going on. God bless her, she did not react in any way but suggested I seek counseling. Counseling! The very thought made me tremble. I thought, “Only people who have major problems go to counseling! I’ll be classified as a person with a BIG problem. People will judge me before they even get to know me!” But as much as it scared me, I knew I had to do it. I called and made an appointment. I shook the whole time I was on the phone. Telling someone other than my parents was the hardest thing I ever did. I don’t know what I expected my counselor to do: gasp, yell, scream, or sigh in defeat, but she did none of that.
I decided it was better to hold others at arms’ length rather than risk getting hurt. My first appointment was fast approaching and I was scared. I talked to a very dear friend who had been through counseling for suicidal thoughts and she encouraged me as no one else could. She had been there! She knew what it was like. I can still hear her words, “Kristen, it’s not like she is going to laugh at your pain. She is there to HELP you. She is your friend. Don’t be scared of her.” So I went and it was the best hour I had ever experienced. I was still very fearful about all the stuff we were going to uncover, stuff that had been buried long ago. This began a two-year relationship with my counselor and to this day I thank her and the Lord for working through her. She would initiate things I didn’t want to
talk about. Things I had tried hard to forget. Past hurts and pain. We worked through a lot of stuff about my mom. See, by this time I had a really close relationship with my mom and I was clutching her so tight because I didn’t want to go back to the way I felt in school when I had no one. Another issue was my weight. I was so sure I was ugly because of my size. After trying so often and nothing happening, I was convinced that I could not lose weight. In January of 2012 I joined a fitness group. Between my job and going to counseling, attending fitness classes, and working out on my own, I literally had zero time for anything else. But my hard work began to 27
pay off: I started to lose weight! By the time the three-month class was over I had lost thirty pounds! I came in third for most weight loss in the class and felt so liberated! For once I felt good about myself. I gained a confidence I never had before. I felt beautiful! I continued on with another class that was only two months this time and I lost twenty pounds! I felt like a new woman! My sessions with my counselor were going well and I was getting places. One thing was still missing: I lacked a deep relationship with my Savior, the One who had ultimately done all this work in my life. One day in my counseling session I had a vision unlike any other. My counselor asked what I saw. Jesus was sitting in the room with me, and there was a look of love shining from His eyes, so beautiful I cannot describe it. There was no condemnation, only love. His head was tilted slightly and He said just four words: “I love you, child.” My life has not been the same since. This moment was the beginning of a return to intimacy and relationship with Jesus. Freedom continues to take work; because of the years I spent in sexual addiction, breaking the habits is not easy. Still, I can testify to the incredible grace of Jesus. In times of victory and failure, He is always there waiting to pull me into His arms. Jesus has redeemed me in a way I never thought possible. He loves me with an everlasting love. He never leaves me nor forsakes me. I can come to Him daily with anything and transfer the weight from my shoulders to His. I have grown so much in the past few years. They have been really
hard years, years of valleys and deserts, but He has never left me. My choices and failures have created deeper consequences than I ever imagined, but they have also revealed to me the depth of God’s grace. He truly can heal me, from the inside out. It is by His love and mercy that I can stand clean before Him, able to live free of shame and guilt. To a degree, the past will forever be a part of my life. Sometimes when I close my eyes I see things, and there are things I can never “un-see.” It is a constant battle; the smallest thing can tempt me, but I have learned to take action against these temptations before they come. I destroyed all my movies that had inappropriate scenes in them. I stuck them in a huge paper cutter and sliced them in half. When temptations bombard me, I ask God to guard my sight and mind. If my story can help some other girl who thinks she is the only one struggling with this problem, then I want to share. If someone would have told me years ago that girls do struggle with pornography and masturbation, I probably would have sought help long before it turned into a five-year addiction. Friend, if you are reading this and currently involved in sexual sin, please know that you are not alone. Others have walked ahead of you and will gladly walk alongside you as you move, step by step, toward complete freedom in Christ. Please do not wait to seek help, but find someone you can confide in. Victory is possible in Jesus! Today, I am thankful for people God sends who speak wisdom into my life.
redeemed me in a way I never thought possible. He loves me with an everlasting love. He never leaves me nor forsakes me. I can come to Him daily with anything and transfer the weight from my shoulders to
One night around the campfire with my Bible study group, I worked up enough nerve to tell my testimony. Most of the girls knew my story because I had shared it with them. The guys, however, did not. Sharing my testimony was an emotional experience, and as my friends gathered around me to pray, one of the guys encouraged me to stop being a defender of this sin and become a fighter, a warrior! In order to win the victory, I must attack the sin, temptations, and feelings of shame head on, not allowing Satan a foothold in my life. I must denounce him in Jesusâ€™ name and claim the victory Christ has already won. This picture has spurred me on to be an overcomer. Stay strong, fellow warriors! Victory is ours! Satan has no power over us, and the One who overcame death is living inside our hearts, transforming us into His likeness day by day. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us! |
He truly can heal me, from the inside out. It is by His love and mercy that I can stand clean before Him, able to live
free of shame
Kristen lives in Denver PA with her parents, one of her two brothers, a dog named penny and a cat named Lucy. She is currently a secretary at an industrial manufacturing plant. Kristen enjoys spending as much time as possible with her family, and loves camping, reading, playing games, watching movies, cooking, and hanging out with friends. She is excited about the year 2014 and is looking forward to what God has in store for her in the 30 future!
Pearl of Promise
“Because she loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name. She will call on me, and I will answer her; I will be with
her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16 31
By Abigail Weaver // Photos by Abigail Weaver
have an alabaster jar from Egypt.
To me it's a symbol of surrender; Mary Magdalenea forgiven and very loved sinner- breaking her jar of perfume and anointing Jesus, offering her life. I accidentally broke my jar a year ago, as I yanked my suitcase out of the car when I got home. Alabaster breaks into lots of pieces, but they fit perfectly back together. So I
glued, and God spoke to me about the redemption of pain and brokenness. And now the candle inside the jar shines out brighter through the cracks and scars. Yesterday my sister was rearranging the furniture in my room, and the alabaster jar broke again. I was mad; I cried. Yeah, it's just a hunk of rock- but it symbolizes my brokenness
my redemption. symbolizes me.
"Why did You let it break again?" I ask Him, angry. Because I'm going to break you again, baby. And I'm going to cry- even as I allow it to happen. I'm going to cry as I gently, gingerly, piece you back together again. You were cracked and shattered before and My Light streams out of you through those cracks. But I 32
desire more. I want even more cracks, even more Light. Which means even more breaking. And then Holy Spirit starts DJing my Pandora station. "Holiness is Christ in me." "Greater is the One who's in us; stronger is the One who's for us." And I realize that it's the light shining out of the alabaster that makes it so beautiful. And it's Him inside me, shining out, that makes me anything at all. So I say yes. To the breaking. To tears, pain, rejection. To judgment and misunderstanding. To the things the breaking involved last time. I remember the pain; the sacred, holy
breaking. The stripping away of my flesh. And then rejoicing over the redemption-where He beautifully glued me back together. How I know a million more things about who He really is. How I know pain. How He's using my story. How I now have a very real revelation of His love. How I can truly LIVE.
getting in the way, more of His glory. He's good and I trust Him. Even in the coming pain. And I want more of Him, no matter the cost.
This time when I glued my jar back together, it took a long time. And it's not as pretty as before- more jagged edges, more missing pieces. But it's brighter, there's more Light. And that's what I want too. More of His light. More of myself and my identity stripped away. Till only He remains. Less of my flesh
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Want to know more about Abigail? For formal introductions, head over to the “Featured Blogger” page, where more of her lovely work is included.
This time, when I glued my jar back together, it took a long time…there are more jagged edges, more missing pieces. But
it is brighter. There is more Light. 33
by Katelyn Dye Photos by Ad Lib Photography
Women uniquely reflecting the image God in a fallen world.
In the Garden, it all began... That Eden of eternal bliss, sinless perfection, and unscathed beauty was the sacred place where the hand of God fashioned Woman, the crowning glory of His Creation. She embodied Shekinah, the glorious, visible manifestation of the presence of God. It was also Eden that set the stage for battle when the Enemy first declared war on Womanhood. As the former angel Lucifer, the Morning Star exalted among the heavenly hosts, he knew he was cast out from the presence of God forever. Neither was he oblivious to the influence and the power that this woman possessed through the beauty and the glory given to her by God the Creator. To the Enemy who hated anything that God called â€œgoodâ€?, this was disturbing, deeply disturbing. Cunningly, he disguised himself as a serpent and preyed on the Godgiven desires of a woman for beauty and knowledge as part of his scheme to usher in sin, death, and destruction against the creation of the Most High God. Over 6,000 years later, this battle against God-designed femininity still wages as fiercely and subtly as it did that moment in the Garden when Satan challenged Eve to eat of the forbidden tree. Today, we stand on this side of Eden. Living in the reality of a world of brokenness, condemned by sin, and destined for decay and death, we long a place we have never been to but for which we were created.
How do we as young women, redeemed by our Savior and hoping for Heaven, uniquely reflect the image of God while still living in a fallen world?
True Identity Voices clamor for our attention: from every turning of the pages of the Seventeen magazine; every click of the mouse scrolling through pictures of celebrity actresses walking the red carpet; every makeup model advertisement blazoned across the cosmetics aisle in the drugstore; every miracle diet plan popping up on Facebook ads; every hit song playing at the mall and gas station; every college fair informing us that education and career is the ultimate ticket to a fulfilling, prosperous life; and every posed Instagram picture of other girls who always seem prettier and cuter than we ever could be. These are the Voices that we are surrounded by daily, but are they the Voice of Truth that truly defines us as a woman? If we aren’t assured of who we are in Christ, then we will waste our energy trying to figure out who we are rather than how we are to live as His daughters. You are a woman, created in the image of God. “Well, yeah, obviously,” you might respond to such a simple statement. Yet in a society that blatantly blurs the definitions and expressions of sexuality and gender, we need to know without a doubt where we stand on these issues. Satan will do all he can to undermine our view of what it
means to be a woman and to attempt to desensitize us to the God-ordained distinctions of male and female. If he can create confusion over gender and sexuality, then we have given him ground we cannot afford to lose in the battle against femininity. Today, we hear a lot about having selfesteem, believing in ourselves, and how we can fulfill any dreams if we have enough confidence and determination to make them happen. This approach to identity sends a subtle message to young women that distracts from the true focus of who Christ says we are. Outside of Jesus Christ, we are nothing. No amount of selfesteem or chasing dreams will ever earn His attention or make us worthy of His love. Our identity needs to be not only centered around Jesus, but springing forth from Him, realizing that He mercifully exchanges our tattered rags of sin and human efforts for His pure white robes of righteousness. Living out of this identity as ransomed daughters of God, we can be free to fulfill our created purpose of bringing Him glory. [I Corinthians 6:20].
Beauty with Purpose I have seen it in the jeweled saris of the Indian ladies, in the intricately hand-woven skirts of the tribal women of northern Thailand, in the eyes of the young Chinese girl reaching for a pretty hair bow, and the 36
Our identity needs to be not only centered around Jesus, but springing forth from Him, realizing that He mercifully exchanges our tattered rags of sin and human efforts for His pure white robes of
righteousness. flowers blooming unexpectedly from among the trash outside the tumbledown shack in a Cambodian village. Fascinatingly, no matter what culture or background a woman comes from, there will always be something within her that is seeking beauty or desiring to express it. Beauty is at the very heart of femininity, the very essence of what it means to be a woman. Is it any wonder that beauty is under attack when the Enemy knows the power of beauty? As Anabaptist people, our tendency is often to distort beauty into a detriment of womanhood, rather than considering beauty an attribute of it. When beauty is viewed from a healthy, God-given standpoint, we can express it in ways that radiate the beauty of Jesus from the inside out. I love Psalms 45:11, which says, â€œSo 37
Beauty with purpose has an
eternity within it that the Enemy cannot destroy, and a beauty that
attracts the world to something
pure, and noble. shall thy King greatly desire thy beauty; for He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him.” The Lord created us as women with physical beauty, yet He desires us to also cultivate the inner adornment of heart and spirit. What I see in this verse is when beauty is accepted as a gift from our Creator - not intended for our own selfish use or vain glory – the expression of beauty can become an act of worship to our Lord. Physical beauty alone will fade with time and of itself is not truly fulfilling or meaningful. In sharing dorm life this past year with fifteen other young ladies at a missionary training school in Thailand, I observed in them a true beauty that far surpassed that of only a physical sense – it
was a beauty that flowed forth from a heart surrendered to God and poured out for others. They loved on filthy kids in villages who had lice-infested heads, they washed the dusty feet of Indian ladies of the low castes, they slept on hard floors and endured dirt and mosquitoes and tropical heat, they blessed and prayed over girls selling themselves in the bars of the red-light districts—all for the sake of Jesus, the One who loved them first. This is beauty with purpose—a beauty that is rendered from a life that is broken at Jesus’ feet and transformed by Him. Beauty with purpose has eternity within it that the Enemy cannot destroy and a beauty that
she relates to men around her, being friendly and welcoming, but careful to honor them while guarding her own heart. Unlike the lies society would try to tell us about modesty, a woman who is modest in body and in spirit can do great damage to the powers of darkness.
Joyous Servanthood Jackie Pullinger, missionary to the Walled City of Hong Kong, once said of a 50-year old prostitute she led to the Lord, ”It was serving others who healed her.” This woman who had been abused and mistreated in nearly every way imaginable chose to deny herself and pour out her life for the cause of Christ. From this heart of servanthood, she was renewed and gained freedom from the past and joy to offer others. attracts the world to something holy, pure, and noble. Hand-in-hand with beauty is modesty. Modesty is not seeking to hide something shameful but rather, respectfully guarding what is valuable and sacred. Modesty is a sensitive subject for us as women, and I know that there are many different applications of it. Yet I want to encourage each of you to personally seek God about this subject. Ask Him to show you how to not only present yourself in a modest fashion in such a way that honors your authorities, but also to give you wisdom in knowing how to “clothe” yourself with a spirit of modesty. A woman of modest character will also be cautious with how
Learning to serve has been a theme that God has been patiently teaching me this past year. Growing up as the oldest child in a family of only two girls, I never had the responsibilities of caring for younger siblings as did many of my friends. Even as a young adult, I didn’t really have to take responsibility for anyone other than myself. This past year, as I learned how to fill my role a dean of women at the missions training institute, my biggest job responsibility was serving the student body, primarily the young ladies. God taught me so much on how to find joy in putting the needs of others before my own. Even the routine tasks like brewing coffee, cleaning 39
bathrooms, and sweeping up unbelievable amounts of hair from the floor of the girls’ dorm were rewarding when I remembered that in doing these acts of service, I really was serving Christ.
Philippians 2:7 demonstrates the Greatest Example of servanthood that this world has ever known: “But he [Jesus] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” We don’t have to go to a foreign mission to find chances to serve. Our own families, communities, and churches provide many opportunities to lay aside our reputation or right to be recognized and to by love, serve one another.
Respectful Submission Do we inwardly cringe when we hear that S word – submit?? I believe that one of the most effective lies that Satan has used to rob women of their true purpose and to render their impact on the world as ineffective targets submission: “If you submit, you will be helplessly miserable and the men in your life will walk all over you. As a woman, you are more than capable and independent enough to take matters into your own hands, and you know better than any man how to do it!” I can say this because I once embraced this lie in my own life. Only after God in His mercy revealed this stronghold to me, did I come to realize how blinded I was and how much I had hurt myself and those 40
around me by refusing to respect some of my authorities. Learning to respect the men in my life and submit to their authority continues to be a battle for me, yet I can testify that God has revealed to me the joy that does come when I am willing to yield myself to the authority of another. We are not of lesser importance or value than men, but by design, God has gifted us with a role that is different from theirs. The Enemy attacked God’s design for a woman in relation to authority when he tempted Eve, “Yea, hath God said?” He challenged her to doubt the Authority over her and in doing so, also made it appear to Eve as if she knew better than God what was good for her. On the contrary, let’s look at Queen Esther. Which of us as young women would not dream of being part of a story like Esther’s, of Orphan-turned-Queen of an Empire who changes the destiny of history? Throughout the book of Esther, we read verses where Esther obeyed her authorities, from Mordecai to the king’s eunuch Hegai. She gives us a beautiful example of a young woman who lived in submission to her authorities, and in doing so, God was able to use her to save an entire human race from genocide and to preserve the lineage of Christ. Isn’t that an inspiring picture of how God can use a young lady who is fulfilling her role as a woman and yet still making an impact on the world around her?
of His grace
Gracious Gratitude Have you ever met a woman who makes you want to be a better woman yourself just by being in her presence? When I think of women I know who embody Godly femininity, gracious and grateful are two words that describe them. They are women who exude a spirit of rest and contentment while extending kindness and courtesy to all people. Gratitude cannot be overemphasized. From the Garden in Genesis to the Throne Room in Revelation, the theme of thankfulness emerges throughout the Bible. Perhaps you have already started a Gratitude Journal, jotting down things you are thankful for every day. Doing this helps to view the “little things” of life as the gifts they truly are. Learn to specifically thank God for the daily gifts that normally you would take for granted: the crispness of the autumn air, the toothless grin of the baby in front of you at church, the times your mother folds your laundry when she wouldn’t have to; the thrill of starting a brand new journal; the clean water you have to drink when many in the world die from contaminated water sources. A gracious woman will also ensure she voices that gratitude to those around her. Thank your family, co-workers, friends, and the lady who bags your groceries and be prepared to see how just a word of appreciation can be contagious. When we express our thankfulness verbally, it 41
I believe we women need to understand the role of womanhood, embrace our Godgiven femininity, express our Designer – uniqueness, and as ambassadors, radiate the love and beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ to a dark, despairing world. -Narelle Worboys does something to our heart that helps to cultivate a perspective on life that reflects gratitude. Proverbs 11:16, “A gracious woman retaineth honor” is a verse worth underlining and embracing as a motto of feminine excellence. A woman who has freely received God’s grace in her life will become a reservoir of His grace to those around her. She will be held in honor by those who know her for her kindness of speech, courtesy in conduct, and impartiality in relating to others, even those of a lesser social status. In the Garden, it all began… the story is yet unfinished and the battle yet to be fought. Yet as daughters of God, as we seek to
embrace His beautiful design for femininity, we have nothing to fear and a whole world to influence for His honor and glory.|
Katelyn is recently returned to Myerstown, PA, from spending the greater part of the last two years in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, nestled among the mountain ranges of northern Thailand. Upon completing the missionary training and internship program of the Institute for Global Opportunity, she returned to Thailand as dean of women this past year. After spending time living in and traveling to several Asian countries, she realizes that Asia has a way of capturing your heart. Yet no matter what culture she finds herself, God has given her a passion for young women and a desire to see them embrace His design for Godly femininity. Her desire is to be a broken vessel for the Lord to use in way He desires, for His glory. Coffee in every form, Asian motorbike rides, working as a nurse, scarves of many colors, reading, journaling, listening to other people's stories, taking on her role as auntie to an adorable nephew, and sharing laughter are a few of her favorite things. 42
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By Rae Schrock Photos by Ad Lid Photography
when to throw in
the towel A woman’s guide to gracefully saying, “I quit”.
Here’s something to add to your New Year’s resolution list: quit something. Wait, what? This idea naturally makes us a little uncomfortable. Healthy discipline gone overboard and a society bent on material success have combined to feed the lie that only weak losers give up. Smart, successful people don’t. Arrogant declarations like, “Winners never quit and quitters never win,” and “You can be anything you want to be,” absorb into our hearts and the fearful belief burns: quitting makes me a failure. After all, we should be able to accomplish anything if we try hard enough, right? Wrong. Sometimes quitters are simply the ones wise enough to discern that they were not the right one for the job. “Winning” isn’t about “not quitting”, but about doing what is best for all involved—sometimes that means sticking out the rough patch; other times, it means moving on. 45
I am burdened by the number of women I know who have bought into these troubling philosophies. The idea that it is our sole task to do everything single-handedly and that abandoning a project makes us a failure, lowers a crushing pressure to perform, to micro-manage, and to persist even to the harm of ourselves or others. God created us to be wise stewards of His creation and recognizing our limitations is a healthy facet of that stewardship. Women who can graciously say, “I quit” are happier and more restful. Why? Because they understand that they are neither capable enough nor called to be the manager of the universe. Persisting in a doomed project elicits unnecessary pressure, while moving on would bring about a greater good. Here’s an illustration: Last July, some friends and I enthusiastically entered an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. It was a little impetuous considering our
skill level was a tad shaky if not entirely questionable. As we drove to the competition through the sticky July dawn, we joked about whether or not we’d make it past the first round. We surprised everyone by surviving—the first round, then the second, and then the third. But not without some sacrifice. The heat was overwhelming. Temperatures climbed to the upper 90’s and there was only brief cloud cover to give occasional relief. Between games, we collapsed on the stubble next to the water cooler, panting and trying feverishly to replenish. One game faded into the next. I’m sure we all secretly thought of giving up. But really? And look like wimps while everyone else ran complex plays, smiling radiantly in Underarmor jerseys that still smelled Downy soft? Um, I don’t think so. We plowed on. Only one team offered resistance—and they schooled us twice, 10-1. After the second loss we collapsed on the ground 46
We struggle with abandoning a project without finishing it—whether it’s that boring book, a job going nowhere, the plateful of food we are too full to finish, or a dating relationship that persistently raises doubts. We tend to stick with something just
because we have started it.
and watched despondently as our names were slotted for two more games: the championship round. Sure we were excited we had made it so far…but we also collectively groaned. The team we were up to play first? Yup, the same power-house crew who killed us before. We were so exhausted that even walking took titanic volumes of energy. A few of us dangled on the edge of heat-stroke (You think I’m joking). Our team drew into a huddle to discuss the game plan. And then the team leader said it, “Guys, maybe we should forfeit.” Wait…quit now?! After we made it this far?! Nobody said anything for a minute. Then, as we stood there, knees knocking and dripping with sweat, we looked at each other and laughed. It all seemed so ridiculous—running all day in dangerously high temperatures, chasing a Frisbee up and down the field, all for the hope of a $30 gift certificate to Buffalo Wild Wings. We celebrated how far we had come. And quit. Maybe you would’ve made a different decision. Maybe you couldn’t have “admitted defeat” so easily. But that hot July day, the value of winning measured against the cost of health complications
made it a relatively easy decision. I sat under a shade tree and enjoyed watching the play-offs. And didn’t feel a bit of regret. Quitting something isn’t always spelled out this clearly, and neither does it come as easily, but you get the point. Sometimes quitting is necessary [even smart!], whether it’s that boring book, a job going nowhere, the plateful of food we are too full to finish, or a dating relationship that persistently raises doubts. Women find it difficult to abandon unfinished projects. We tend to stick with something just because we have started it. And while this resolve may reflect strength and commitment, it can also be rooted in pride, a rigid standard of perfection, or the fear of appearing a failure. It takes a wise person to recognize the difference between a run-of-the-mill rough patch, and an emotional, mental, or spiritual investment trap. I certainly do not condone bailing out whenever things get tough. On the contrary, I believe women should cultivate inner strength and resolve. Coupled with this should be a healthy awareness of our own abilities, needs, and limitations, an awareness which helps us humbly recognize, “It is best for me and everyone involved if I step back from______”. 47
This is an attitude that no longer proclaims, “I will persist in my agenda no matter what!” but humbly acknowledges when my human insufficiencies no longer render me the best one for the job. I have met many women who don’t know how to say “I quit”. Most of them are exhausted, trying to keep pace with an entourage of obligations that steal precious family time, rest, and energy which could be better directed elsewhere. We all get stuck sometimes. Ladies, can I invite you to give yourself permission to say, “I quit” and start afresh? Let’s examine a few ways to know when to do so.
WHEN THERE IS NO FORWARD PROGRESS. In any relationship, job, project, or ministry, it is important to keep tabs on forward progress. Are your efforts producing positive changes in yourself or the situation? Can you look back and trace a path of growth? Remember that the initial phases of a project are often marked by learner’s stress; this does not warrant a permanent leave of absence! However, if after wholehearted investment, the project stalls or even digresses, then perhaps it is time to evaluate: am I where I should be? Example: Eager to develop your artistic talents, you enthusiastically sign up for a 4month watercolor class and attend 48
Keep tabs on forward progress. Are your efforts producing
positive changes in yourself or the situation? faithfully for three. At the end of this period, your apple still looks like a banana and you are frustrated and beaten down with the whole thing. Do you finish the course or call it quits? Judging by the progress made, I suggest skipping art lessons and taking up a more well-suited hobby.
WHEN CONTINUING WOULD CAUSE HARMFUL CONSEQUENCES. This may seem obvious, but ironically, it is a factor often ignored. Please take it seriously, ladies! When persisting in a pursuit will certainly lead to spiritual, physical, or emotional harm, stop. Take some time to honestly evaluate what is driving you to continue. Sometimes, suffering comes before success—that is one thing. But it is another to persist in activities or relationships that will certainly end in irreversible harm. If there are red flags or concerned advisors, be cautious of a compulsion to keep going. If the ship is sinking, humble yourself enough to climb into a lifeboat. This does not make you a failure, but may actually spare great pain in the end. Example: You have invested several months reaching out to a young woman who is very emotionally needy. She repeatedly demands your time and emotional energy, interrupting family mealtimes, calling late at night and spreading
malicious rumors when you do not help the way she demands. Ask yourself: am I the best-suited to help? Are my friend’s constant demands depleting my energy and emotional strength to the point that I have less to offer my husband and children? I have known women whose obsession with “helping” somebody led to emotional breakdown, sexual abuse, and even federal crime. In your projects, relationships, jobs, and ministry, learn to say “no”, and to draw boundaries. It is far better to quit than to force a finish and reap bitter, damaging consequences.
WHEN THERE IS A PERSISTENT LACK OF SPIRITUAL PEACE AND MOVING ON DOES NOT VIOLATE A SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLE. An unshakeable feeling of spiritual unrest is a sign that we should move on. Sometimes the reasons why are clear. However, other times, all seems well and there are no obvious reasons for the growing sense of unrest. I used to be so confused by this. I thought that a lack of peace meant I had disobeyed God or screwed up His plan for my life. Now I understand that peace is simply the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit. It functions in my life like the pillar of fire did in the Israelites’: as an indication of when and where to move. To help bring clarity, prayerfully decide what steps to take next, consult the Scriptures and trusted spiritual counselors. Your taking 49
leave should never violate scriptural truth or be an excuse to get out of something [that may indeed be terribly difficult] which God has commanded to uphold—such as your marriage, your purity, or your faith. Example: Even though you’re not head over heels for this guy, you have peace to say “yes” to begin dating. You pursue the relationship for a year, and there are no major problems—yet a whisper of hesitation echoes in your heart. The feeling
grows and becomes more pronounced as the passing months fail to knit your two hearts together. What do you do? Seek counsel and the Lord carefully. A breakup may look overwhelming but the promise of peace will sustain you as you remember that moving on from this season does not render it worthless. God brings us to each season for a specific reason. Follow the cloud of His peace, and every season—no matter its length—will serve its sovereign purpose.
WHEN INCREASED EFFORT PRODUCES DIMINISHED RESULTS. This is a helpful criterion to apply to everyday tasks, but it can also guide us in evaluating relationships or large projects. Sometimes commitment to a project shifts to a commitment to the means of achieving the goal. When this happens, our efforts toward fulfilling that goal become watered down and even ineffective. If this happens, it may be time to quit and intentionally return to a more effective focus. Just because we started out on one track does not mean we must follow it all the way to the end, especially if doing so actually thwarts the goal we set out to accomplish.
If the ship is sinking, humble yourself enough to
climb into a lifeboat.
Example: You resolve to remodel your kitchen and in a library raid, find a 300 page book about home improvements. Once you have read all that pertains to your project, you may feel obligated to peruse the rest of the contents, simply because you have already covered 1/3 of them. However, is this really necessary? Some of the information may be helpful, but much of it is probably entirely 50
irrelevant. In this case “finishing what you started” would waste time and be a distraction from the purpose for which you cracked open the book in the first place.
WHEN IT’S NOT WORTH THE COST. Does this sound familiar-- “If I would’ve known how long it would take, I never would have started”? I’ve definitely been there a few times! While any worthwhile project demands hard work, sometimes we just plain miscalculate what it’s going to cost. When this happens, our tendency is to feel that because we have invested so much (time, energy, money, etc.), we must keep going to avoid losing what we have spent. Whether we overestimate our available time to plan the church widow’s banquet; went back to work too soon after the baby was born; or just can’t say “no” to the boyfriend who aggressively pushes physical boundaries, it is imperative that we base our decisions on objective details—not an “I-must-finish-what-I-startedat-any-cost” mentality. A more rational reaction to emotional, physical, or mental investment traps would be to ask ourselves: “Is the value of this project worth the extra time/money/energy it is going to require to finish it?” If not, revise the plan. Don’t forge ahead with an impractical idea just because you started it. Example: You decide to cook a fantastic 5-course holiday meal; every dish inspired by Pinterest. The day of the party, you work feverishly to get every detail just right, just like the color pictures you printed off. About an hour before dinner, you realize you are 2 hours behind schedule and there
is no way you’ll get the meal on the table by the time the guests arrive. You stop and ask yourself: “Is the value of the finished product worth the stress and time required to complete it?” If the goal was to enjoy a relaxing dinner with special friends, then who cares if your dishes aren’t Pinterestperfect? Be willing to change your plan to achieve the real goal.
TAKING INVENTORY. In the demanding arena of life, what is most important to you? When the things that demand eternal emphasis receive instead daily negligence, our whole world tilts off balance. Maybe today, starting right now, we should take inventory. What really matters? What do I need to quit so that I can keep my own heart healthy and pursue the most important things? Am I investing resources in things that keep me from pursuing the kingdom of heaven? I doubt, at the end of my life, that I will have wished I’d spent more time preparing gourmet meals for my guests; redecorating my home in a frantic attempt to do justice to ‘my style’; working longer hours to snag the big promotion at work; or wearing myself out in that one relationship because I couldn’t admit I wasn’t enough to fix it. No, I think I will have wished I had prioritized better; that I had eliminated the clutter in my heart and my life to make room for the things that were really valuable. I will have been content knowing that my guests found warmth and kinship in my home; that my children were loved and celebrated by their mother; that I had spent long evenings pursuing friendships 51
and community instead of a pay raise. I will have wished that I had lived more humbly, and relied on Jesus more. Jethro helped his son-in-law, Moses, to take inventory. Moses was acting alone as judge among the Israelites, and Jethro encouraged him to re-think the plan: ‘What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone…Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy…Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.” (Ex. 18:13-23) Lest we too wear ourselves out, let us admit our need and know that it is okay to humbly say, “I cannot do this anymore.”
WRAPPING IT ALL UP. All the glory of creation came about because the Creator hand-molded it to completion. The glory of our lives is wrapped in the promise that He will finish the work He began in us. The Lord never leaves loose ends; He always finishes what He starts. It is because we bear His image that we also yearn to complete. Yet, we are imperfect. This old earth is broken. Sometimes we make bad decisions or miscalculate our resources. Sometimes life gets messy and we aren’t able to finish what we started. When this happens, give yourself permission to gracefully recognize that a fresh start is needed. In humbling our hearts to do this, we surrender the need to be masters of our world. Learn to say, “I quit”, and add a healthy dimension of balance to your life.|
DE-CLUTTERING For the New Year
By Brittany Shult It’s that time of year where everyone is thinking of their New Year’s resolutions and determining that this will be the year they stick to those high hopes. For some of us, the new year is also a time to de-clutter and organize our homes. Somehow, stuff piles up and we wonder why in the world we have some of the things we have. Where in the world do we begin? What should be kept and what needs to be eliminated? Here are some tips that may will spark some creativity as you tackle the cluttered areas of your home.
When it comes to your closet, look at your clothes and ask yourself some questions. Have I worn this in the last six months or year? Do I still like it? Do I have items that I can accessorize it with easily? If your answer is no, then it needs to go. Box up the rejects and take them to a donation center. Anything that is obviously worn out needs to be trashed.
Scan your cupboards and decide what items or appliances you actually use on a regular basis. If you haven’t used that juicer for a long time, chances are you won’t miss it if you get rid of it. Eliminating even a few items can free up more storage place and create a better working environment.
Eliminate items that simply sit around and collect dust. If something doesn’t go with your décor or is just filling empty space, get rid of it. Just because Great-Aunt Martha gave you that random knickknack doesn’t mean you have to display it.
Be sure to tackle the toy box too. Tell the kids they are allowed to keep a certain number of toys. The rest get
Here are some creative decluttering tips that will make the process somewhat easier and maybe even fun. 1. Take five minutes to focus on one specific thing. Choose something small, perhaps the kitchen counters. Determine what needs to stay and what needs to go. The items that come off either need to be stored elsewhere or eliminated completely. 2. Put together a “maybe” box. There are always some items that you don’t use regularly, but you still hesitate to get rid of. Put those items in the box. Date the box and store it. In six months, go through it again. If you haven’t missed or used an item, you don’t need it! 3. Grab a large trash bag and start filling it. You may fill it with trash or something that can be donated to Goodwill.
thrown away or donated to Goodwill.
4. For every new item you buy, find one item to get rid of. 53
featured blogger Abby
I will reach thousands!
Yesterday I sat on the floor in our laundry room as my Mommy folded clothes, and we talked about life callings and bigger-than-us dreams. And out of nowhere, Jesus pops into our conversation and starts revealing a bunch of lies I've believed about myself. As a Mennonite, I will never go far in life. I will never have a large ministry or a platform to speak from. I can never be well-educated and intelligent. I have nothing to offer the secular or mainstream Christian world. My voice will not be heard. People view me as being in bondage, and therefore do not value my insight. There will always be a ceiling over me and my ministry- limiting what I am called to do. For years, I've been believing the lie that I do not have anything to offer, because of the denomination I was born and raised into. And to be completely honest, I have been trying to escape the Mennonite church and label for the past several months now. Partly because I see a much bigger picture of who the Bride of Christ is and what I feel she
should look like...but partly because of the pain and judgment and lies I've picked up and experienced from the Mennonite church. My prophet-mother gets all excited: "Let's break these lies right now! Wanna break something with your hands to symbolize it?" Yes please, let's make this moment memorable! She ran into the kitchen and came back with plastic forks, so I sat on the rug on our dirty laundry room floor and verbally broke lies and cut plastic forks in half. (The forks were cheap and bendy, so I had to use a scissors.)
And to be completely honest again, there were tears. Because my flesh wants to run away from the hurts and judgments all too common in conservative churches. But God spoke to me that there is a reason He has placed me in the culture in which I was raised. And just because of who I am, I have the same FIRE inside my spiritual DNA that led the original Anabaptists to walk boldly in Holy Spirit power and turn their world upside down. I choose to embrace the Anabaptist heritage I was given-- to let go of the religion, the pain, the judgments-- and to take the fire and the culture of honor I was raised with and burst through the ceiling that I feel has been over the Anabaptist people for centuries. Because Jesus says, "There is no ceiling!"
Then I declared truth. Not the things that I simply want or wish for, but the things that have been burning in my soul for years, the things I hear from Jesus- even when my mind doesn't see how it can happen and my sometimes-religious thought patterns react.
And yeah, my calling and personal journey is not going to be normal or comfortable, and I have no idea what this will look like practically lived out... Honestly, it will probably offend a lot of people. But so did Jesus. And I believe He will show me each day what my life needs to look like...
I will break through the ceiling that has been over the Anabaptist people for centuries!
All I know is that what God is setting up with this generation is unprecedented.
I will have a platform to speak out what God is doing!
Will you join me in crashing through whatever ceiling has been placed over you, or even one you've placed over yourself?
I will preach the Gospel! I will travel the world and bring freedom!
THERE IS NO CEILING!
I will lead a powerful ministry! 55
DOOR OF HOPE By Kathy Yoder
Greetings in the name of Jesus! I'm so blessed to be a part of the family of God & to share in His rich love, grace, mercy, peace, truth & much more! I trust you all have experienced, are experiencing & will keep on experiencing Him in many wonderful ways in your daily life. My name is Kathy Yoder, and I am involved in a vibrant ministry called Door of Hope, located in Wilmington OH. Door of Hope includes a coffee shop ministry, and I am excited to share a bit about this wonderful outreach with you! In August of 2010, I met a dynamic couple, Josh & Terri Schlabach. Terri's brother, Elliot Good, was getting married to my sister on a beautiful & sizzling August afternoon. Little did I know, that this day would shape & wreck me (in a good way), from that point on. We met that day for the first time & were discussing God, missions, God's will for our
lives, as well as other bits & pieces. It was a very invigorating conversation & I was so stoked to meet this couple that, in conversation, I learned that they had started a church plant\coffee shop ministry in the fall of 2006. They were asking me what my goals, dreams & visions were for my present & future, they were really intrigued with me & my heart. I could tell this couple was on fire for the Lord & that they definitely gave Him all & put their all on the altar. Then they asked me a question that was quite unexpected. "Kathy, would you like to move to Wilmington, Ohio & help us out with our ministry? We would love to have you! Just by talking with you now, we've been so blessed by where you're at & Lord willing, look forward to getting to know you better, if you choose to join our team!" Wow! I was so blown away!! This was an amazing offer. I was excited, scared, nervous, humbled & in awe of God's timing. Because I was a fresh '09 graduate from high school, eager to do something crazy for the Lord & had 56
Church plant & coffee-shop ministry in Wilmington, OH
prior to graduation, been asking the Lord what He wanted of me to do in & for His kingdom, I didn't care where I went in the world. I just wanted to go somewhere to serve Him. I spent a lot of time thinking, stressing, [yes, I'm going to openly admit to that], praying, pondering, asking elders, pastors, mentors, parents, friends & family in my life their advice & counsel. A year later, in June of 2011, my parents, twin brother & I visited Wilmington, Ohio. I was so impressed by the Door of Hope congregationâ€™s kindness & warm welcome! They felt like a 60member family. Everyone was comfortable, at peace, joyful & genuine. The worship was so authentic. No flashing lights...no stage....no show. I could most definitely tell that they were not about themselves & all about God! I felt the Spirit move in my heart & life & I was tremendously blessed by being there that whole weekend! I moved to Southwestern Ohio two months later. I was so sad to
leave my friends, family & church family behind...but I knew God was calling me & pulling on my heart strings. Something was special, unique & wonderful about the adventure I was about to embark on with Him by my side. I just knew it! My parents, twin brother & I took our family van with almost all of my belongings & moved me into the apartment above the coffee shop, where my new home was going to be. I moved into the apartment with Liz Miller, my roommate. It was so amazing getting to know her. We had a lot of the same interests & played lots of music together. We would have jam sessions often & we even have a Facebook page. If you're interested in checking it out, it's â€˜Liz & KitKatâ€™. Liz & I have had a lot of adventures, experiences, trials, struggles, victories & losses together. It's brought us so close. She is now my sister, one of my best friends. She was the manager of the coffee shop & did very well with keeping everything organized & in order. She 57
definitely was blessed with the spiritual gift of Administration. I was the Assistant Manager. We made a great team! She is now in Thailand, under Global Tribes Outreach, with team Ultra. It was difficult releasing her from here, but we all know that this is where God wants her & we're accepting that. So, for the past two years, I have been involved in this amazing, intense, beautiful, fun, crazy, painful & awesome ministry at the Door of Hope church plant\coffee shop. At Door of Hope, we serve Better Life Coffee, frozen & hot chocolates, iced & hot lattes as well as herbal tea. The people that usually fill up Door of Hope coffee shop are homeless & needy people, middle\high school kids & lower-class adults. Our goal is to reach the people from the community in showing Christs love through our delicious drinks, as well as supporting an orphanage of precious Burmese boys & girls in Myanmar, Burma. We support them monthly. Once in a while, people from local churches come in for a cup of Joe & a chat. It's refreshing to have fellow believers come in to talk to, since our ministry can be draining. Lately, there have been quite a few of Wilmington College students that have come in & it's very nice to have Wilmington College right across the street from Door of Hope! We've befriended these students & a couple of them have been getting involved with our ministry! I'm here as a VSer. And as of right now, I'm here indefinitely. My "job description" would be coffee house manager. My
duties are to check inventory, buy coffee shop supplies, order DaVinci syrups from our distributor, organize & put the volunteers down to fill the coffee shop schedule every month & record\file receipts online. Since I'm not a "natural manager" or have the gift of Administration, this position definitely isn't easy for me, but I try my best & I am learning a lot & enjoy it. I definitely have help! I'm not alone in this responsibilityâ€”I have a great team to work with! There are about eight young married couples, and their children, who attend Door of Hope. Everyone who attends our church are volunteers at the coffee shop. We all have the same heart for the ministry: reaching out to others, discipleship & servant leadership is our goal. It's a beautiful thing when everyone in the church has the same goal & we're all striving to meet those goals. Terri Schlabach, ministry director, shares a brief history of the Door of Hope ministry. If you would like to learn more about the history of Wilmington Door of Hope, or are interested in sponsoring a child from Myanmar monthly. In the fall of 2006, Wilmington Door of Hope began meeting as a community of believers in our living room. We dreamed of a congregation who lived out their faith and love for Jesus every day of the week. We dreamed of a place where unbelievers could find a safe place to land and a place that encouraged them in their walk towards being like Jesus. Our little group eventually outgrew our tiny living room, then Zeb and Lisa Yoder's house on Sugartree Street, then a storefront on North 58
South Street. In 2008, we purchased an old apartment building on Locust Street. Over the next two years, we gutted and rebuilt it into our own space. For the last summer of reconstruction, we even met in the Doan Street park every Sunday to save our pennies until our building was ready. We finally began meeting for services in the new building in the fall of 2009. The following summer, June 2010, we opened the Door of Hope Coffee Shop. The coffee shop is a joint project to serve our community and also care for orphaned children. Our congregation makes espresso-based specialty drinks, frozen and hot chocolates, and teas for the community here in Wilmington and, in turn, sends any proceeds from these drinks to our group of nearly 100 orphans we've "adopted" in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). We partner with long-time Burmese friends, Jeremiah & Ah Du Miko, to care for and support these orphans and raise them to be healthy citizens and good workers for God's Kingdom. Many members of our Door of Hope congregation have spent weeks or months teaching and working with our children in Myanmar. We pray for peace to come to that war-torn country. We pray for these children to be peacemakers and yet spiritual warriors on this earth. War continues to rage in that nation -- so as we live in the peace and plenty of America, we remember those suffering in Myanmar and work to end that misery. ~ Terri Schlabach ~
For more information about this exciting ministry, or to sponsor a Burmese orphan on a monthly basis ($30/mth, or $60/mth), contact Kathy by any of the following methods: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR snail mail: Door of Hope 495 East Locust Street Wilmington, Ohio 45177
Kathy Yoder is 23 years old and loves music! From childhood, she has expressed her thoughts, feelings & emotions through music & began composing at age 7. Other hobbies include biking, jogging & playing volleyball. She also enjoys reading a good book when she finds the time! Kathy’s heart finds its place among God's people--she loves getting to know their hearts & how God is working in & through them. She loves serving others & making this world a better place, in the name of Jesus. She believes that life is NOT about her, but about The One who gave His life for her. From this springs her passion for others and for God—she doesn’t want to miss one moment in time. Kathy enjoys visiting other cultures and countries and had the privilege of visiting the beautiful country of Myanmar, Burma April-May of 2013. Here, she taught English to the orphans Door of Hope sponsors. She hopes to return to Myanmar one day.
have you heard the news?!
the Daughters of Promise website just went live! Now everything is all in one placeâ€” current and past issues of the magazine, daily inspiration, contact info, and much more!
visit today: www.daughters-of-promise.org 61
dear LIFE THROUGH CARMONY’S LENS
Jaxon Jeffrey Sanchez BORN TO CARMIE AND GERRY SANCHEZ
7 lbs. 4 oz. 20 ½ inches 62
A NEW MOTHER SHARES The whole process of pregnancy and birth is an amazing experience. It was created by God and His fingerprints are evident throughout the whole process…
…From the first time I heard Jaxon’s heartbeat, to holding him in my arms, this has been an exciting and fulfilling journey and one that will only continue as I move through this wonderful season of motherhood. There will be challenges along the way, but God has grace for those moments and even late night feedings and messy diapers become enjoyable as I consider the precious life that depends on me. 63
Sleep that knits up the ravel'd sleave of care, The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast.
-William Shakespeare Sleep. It’s a subject constantly on my mind for sometimes I think I will never feel rested. The reason for my tiredness in encased in one little body: my daughter Elia. From birth, she has not needed much sleep and most of it has been restless. But to be truthful, my sleep problems existed before that. I worked as a teacher and then was a college student, working too many long hours on scholastics. Or I experienced the nightmare of collapsing into bed but being too anxious to sleep. I bought into the cultural scorn of sleep. To be tired
seems admirable in our culture. It has an edge of virtue about it, as though there were so many important, good things to be done that sleep must be selflessly denied in order to meet the demands. Everyone complains about it but often with an inverted sense of importance that turns the complaint into a farce. Sleep is the first expendable item of our emotional income to go. Karen Swallow Prior writes in her article “Want to By Marlene Stoltzfus
Follow God? Go to Sleep”: “Fatigue has become as American as apple pie. In history's most comfortable society, being tired has become the sacrifice du jour, and sleep is treated as a reward rather than a prerequisite for good work.” She’s right. We live in one of the most secure and comfortable cultures in the world and its history, yet lack of sleep has taken on epidemic proportions. The chronically tired lace themselves with sugar and caffeine to suppress the consequences of unhealthy sleep patterns, sometimes only feeding the cycle. And there’s another side to the issue: society’s spiking levels of 64
anxiety and depression which makes the respite of sleep elusive. Sleep is important. It is not an enemy to keep at bay or a waste of time. That last one is especially hard to swallow. I’m going to spend ¼ to ⅓ of my life sleeping? I can think of so many things to do with that time. God created sleep and made us to need it. He creates good things, right? Physiologically, sleep is important for building and renewing the systems (immune, nervous, muscular, and skeletal) of the body. A lot happens while sleeping; you’re not just shutting down so you have enough energy for the next day. It’s an important time for processing and sorting information and building memory. Children more readily show the need of sleep; the younger they are, the more they need to develop and function as they intensively learn about the world around
them. Lack of sleep is associated with all manner of ills: depression, stress, loss of memory, weight gain, lowered attention, compromised immune system, heart disease, and lack of judgment. Emotionally and spiritually, sleep teaches us to let go and give up. Control is a struggle native to being a woman. Sleep forces us to reckon with it, for sleep is a form of release day after day. Accepting sleep makes us bump into our physical limitations. We can’t do it all. We cannot fix it all, talk it all out, read it all, create it all. We can only do what we’re able, which really is pretty small compared to everything else happening in the world. Sleep also makes us accept our mortality. There is vulnerability in leaving consciousness, the world which we know, and entering another form of experience. It’s as if we
experience a little death every day in preparation for the time when we will completely leave this familiarity and enter permanently into a different experience. Death signals the ultimate loss of control and sleep reminds us of it; the Biblical writers used the metaphor of sleep to help us understand death. It is startling to consider the lack of control both take, yet freedom, hope, and rest is found through release. As you move into the new year of 2014, consider the ways in which you may need to approach sleep differently. There are seasons in which we’re called to faithfully continue working, even in exhaustion. But let’s avoid making our lives into a constant series of crises that require loads of adrenaline and stress. Instead, embrace God’s gift of rest.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. -Psalm 127:2, ESV
setting & CARMIE
I love to-do lists. Whether I actually write them down on paper, or just keep a mental checklist, I love to cross off each item and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes. Taking care of a newborn on top of housework keeps me busy and to-do lists help me stay organized. What I have learned about setting goals for the day includes becoming an early riser. Getting up an extra hour earlier gives me that much more time to accomplish what I need to do for the day without feeling pushed. I have also learned to not “live” by the to-do list. Meaning, not thinking I have to accomplish everything that is on the list in one day. Prioritizing is important in this…some tasks are more important than others and If there is a task or two that can be easily put off for a day or two in order to keep from feeling pushed for time (especially if you have a baby!), then do so.
Setting goals should be a normal part of daily life. Without some kind of objective plan, we tend to wander around wasting time and not finishing things on time or at all. Composing a to-do list can be intimidating because it reveals the extent of what we have to accomplish. However, rather than avoiding the process all together, I recommend breaking it down into bite-size chunks. Take inventory of your resources and abilities and set goals that do not overwhelm them. Prioritize tasks and don’t neglect the most important things in favor of something trivial when working toward the goal.
Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. - Seneca
keeping goals BRITTANY When setting New Year's resolutions, don't choose goals that are unattainable for a whole year. Break it down into smaller amounts of time that are more easily accomplished. For example, instead of vowing to exercise more in the coming year, make a goal to exercise a certain amount of times in one month. When you reach the goal for that month, give yourself a reward then start it all over again in the next month. Monthly goals or even weekly goals may be easier to work towards versus a whole year.
When looking at what you want to achieve in the New Year, it’s important to set realistic, measurable goals. You’ve probably experienced the inevitable let-down after grand and glorious dreams…that never materialized. I find that maintaining progress is easier when I think about where I am and where I want to be in a certain area, and then break down the process into manageable baby steps. I’m not going to achieve the specific goal all the time, but I’m more concerned about walking along the pathway of growth. “Excellence is not an act, but a habit,” as Aristotle said.
vb. - to bring the parts or edges together.
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