Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Do You Need a Mentor?

Sometimes we need to make ourselves available and become a mentor.  I hoped to encourage each of us to do so in this post.  I also mentioned having felt inadequate, as I'm sure most of have felt at one time or another; however, without a doubt, when we are willing to mentor someone else, we end up with the largest portion of blessing.  It happens all the time! 

For me, even more of a struggle than mentoring is being mentored.  At any age or any stage of life, we can all benefit from the wisdom and experience of someone else further down the road...or someone who has already been through a phase you are facing.  When my son was first diagnosed - and certainly when we began our journey through grief - how wonderful it would have been to know someone that had already been down that dark and unknown path.  Someone who could understand and empathize.  Someone who could offer advice - or could simply hold my hand.  Yes, I had a wonderful support system but I did not know, at that time, another grieving mom.

Your phase might be a new mom or a mom of three under the age of four.  Perhaps you are nearing the empty nest stage of life or even being widowed.  No matter your age or how long you have been a Christian, life is always moving forward and always has its share of challenges.  Having someone you can trust and confide in...having somewhere you can share your heart or simply share a story...all of these are of great value and a tremendous blessing.

Being mentored means making yourself vulnerable - and I think that is the challenge for most.  Of course, this puts us at risk or being hurt.  But I think the potential reward far outways the risk.  To minimize the risk, pray carefully about who might mentor you.  Ask God to open doors or to point you to someone specific that you could ask to mentor you.  Your mentor does not need to be the wisest, or even the godliest, Christian you know.  Sometimes the perfect mentor simply needs to be willing to listen and pray alongside you. Let God lead you to the right one.

Some mentor relationships might be as simple as chats over coffee and may only last a short season.  Others may develop into a life-long friendship that you could never have expected.  Either way, take advantage of relationships where you can be mentored.....stretched, encouraged, supported and molded more into the image of Christ.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Without Excuse

Five Minute Friday and the prompt is EXCUSE.  How much could be written about excuses...the seemingly good ones, the sad and lame ones and all the in-between that comes with excuses...but this just a five-minute post.  So, these are my condensed thoughts:

GO - Why is it the excuses I offer - whether to myself, those I disappoint or even to the savior - so often seem to be a re-worded repeat of the last excuse?  Sometimes I am genuinely wanting to be forgiven and, yes, other times my excuse is more of an appeal for understanding or sympathy.  Whichever it is, so often, my excuses seem to be for the same offensive...or type of offensives. (Sigh.)  I think that is often true for most of us.  We all have those things which easily beset us  - trip us up, cause us to fall, to sin and which hurt others, our testimony and our fellowship with Christ.  Sometimes confessing hurts or is hard.  Sometimes it just seems pointless - so we offer excuses.

However, we are without excuse.  I know Romans 1:20 talks about being without excuse - and it is the first verse I thought of when I read today's prompt - but I do not want to take that verse completely out of context.  The we who without excuse I am referring to.....that's the Christian - those who are born-again and have the gift of the Holy Spirit.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  I Cor. 15:57

We have all we need to live victoriously!!  We don't have to live entangled by sin, under the weight of shame and regret, or defeated by an enemy that God has overcome.

STOP - If you are a child of God, live a life of victory today....and be sure to thank God for the victory!  We don't need more excuses - and that's a pretty nice way to head into Thanksgiving week!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Bookends of Silent

I began discussing relationships - and mentoring ones, in particular - on Tuesday and had planned to finish that post today.  I thought I would skip the Five Minute Friday.  But why would I do that?  I really enjoy FMF - the way the prompts make me think and I enjoy the community and how the other bloggers interpret the prompt.  So, today is FMF and Tuesday will be "the rest of the story....."  Today's prompt is:  silent.

When our children were little, we would make the trip one state south to visit my parents as often as we could....usually every few months.  Somehow it became a routine, after the long road-trip home we would order pizza.  It doesn't sound like a big deal but for my little people, it was a treat!  When the doorbell would ring with our delivery, the squeals of delight from our children would make you think we had not fed them for weeks.

One such evening as I was answering the door - with much less enthusiasm and even less energy - the older gentleman, aka delivery boy, greeted me with a huge smile.  He said, "Ah, I remember when my house with filled with those sounds of life!  Enjoy every minute while you can!"  And, just like that, he was gone....but his words have stayed with me.

Fast forward 15-18 years and the sounds of life around my home are much quieter.  But there are still the voices of the ones I love and the simple sounds of every day creating a steady rhythm of routine that I cherish.  The sounds of life - whether clamorous or subdued - make each house unique and home.  However, I truly do enjoy the bookends of each day - and the silent times of morning and night.

Each morning, before the sounds of the day begin - even before the Keurig begins to warm - the house is silent.  Natural light has not yet started to peek through the blinds but the morning begins.  It is such a special time of day for me.  My soul thrives on morning and I soak in and enjoy as much of this part of the day as I possibly can.  And then again each evening, the sounds begin to wind down until it is bedtime and the house is silent. After noise all day long, I love the absence of sound at bedtime.  It makes for perfect sleep.  The silent times - the bookends of my day - are how my body and soul thrive.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Should You Be a Mentor?

Community and relationships.  Our Christian walk is dependent upon and, in many ways, seen in our relationships.  Of course, there are many kinds of relationships and we need not only multiple relationships but a variety of types.  I don't think this is extremely difficult for women but there is always wisdom in looking at the friendships, bonds, and associations that we have.  It gives us cause to be thankful and, as well, to ask the Lord's wisdom wherever we might be lacking.

We all have one very close friend.  A kindred spirit or a "bosom friend," as Anne would say about Diana.

 "A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life."   Anne 

When you have been blessed with that friend, you need to thank the Lord often.  Sometimes these friends last a lifetime.  But I have also found that such friend may only be in your life for a season.  That was a hard lesson for me to learn.  Instead of mourning the loss of that type of relationship, I am learning to appreciate and savor the lasting impact it had on my life.

There is also that circle of friends that we simply connect well with - whether for fellowship or for ministry and serving as well.  These relationships are mutually encouraging and strengthening.  Paul found this type of bond with Aquila and Priscilla.  As Christians, these relationships are often with other believers but they do not have to be.  They might be in your neighborhood, at work or in other associations. The Bible has much to say about living alongside - and in harmony with - even those with whom we might not completely agree.  These relationships have a place in our life.  They can be strengthening - and a blessing.

My primary focus of this post - and Friday's as well - is mentoring-type relationships...being a mentor and being the one mentored.  Both are needed in our lives, however, I will confess that for a long type of steered away from both.  I think the Bible challenges us to not only seek out mentors but to also make ourselves available to be a mentor.

Being a mentor.  

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness.......that they may teach the young women...."  Titus 2:3-4

All of us have others coming behind us.  Some in age.  But perhaps simply in their Christian walk.  All of us are in different seasons.  All of us have our own life experiences and we have the responsibility to share how God has led us - the good that has come from our faith - and to allow our experience to be a help, a challenge and an encouragement to others.  It's easy to think we don't have anything to share or that we don't have to personality to be a mentor (or a host of other excuses) but we need to all, at least, be willing.  Willing to allow someone into your life.  Being a mentor does not mean having all the answers.  It does not require you to be the woman with the most wisdom.  It simply means you have been through life (a little or a lot!) and you are willing to come alongside another and share however God leads.

If you have someone in your life like that already, thank the Lord for the opportunity to invest in someone else's life.  Ask for His wisdom to be a mentor that is not only helpful to the other person but also is a benefit to you.  If you don't have that type of relationship, make yourself available and open to it and see who God might lead your way.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Blessing of Needs

Another Friday - already.  It has been a beautiful autumn week.  Maybe it is Thanksgiving season or simply the beautiful trees, but it often seems easier to see God's goodness - in all aspects of our lives - this time of year!  I hope your days have been blessed.  We are, indeed, blessed and interestingly the prompt for today's Five Minute Friday is NEED.  As always, all of the thoughts on "need" can be found here.

GO - I love missions and I have a real heart for missionaries.  I love to read missionary prayer letters and updates.  I love to read how God is working not only in the lives of the missionaries but how the gospel is changing lives, families, whole villages all around the world.  As well, in these letters, there is never a shortage of needs.

Whether a missionary just beginning on deputation or a veteran missionary with many years of service on the field.....whether serving in a metropolitan city or in a remote village of South America....no matter who or where, there is always need.

Financial needs, of course.  The exchange rate can affect support monthly.  But also the need for more laborers.  "The laborers are few" has never been truer than today.  There is the need for supplies - materials in native languages, building supplies and even the need simply for Bibles.  There is the need for encouragement and friendship.  The mission field can be very lonely and, yes, missionaries are all as human as the rest of us.

I often wish there was a way to do more...to meet more of the need or even to supply it all.  Wave a magic wand or some such.  Of course, I know that God can supply and meet every need.  Abundantly even.  But without any need where would be cause for faith?  For deeper dependence on Him?

God supplied the Israelites just enough manna for each day.  Each morning, the children had to gather again what God had given.  God filled the widow's cruse of oil each day to meet the need for her, her son and for Elijah.  The oil would be used but graciously given again each morning.  God did not fail or forget.

STOP - and my take away.....

Deuteronomy 31:6:  Be strong and of a good courage......the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Even if there were a way to give enough, send enough, or do enough to meet all of the missionary needs, would that be best?  Their needs keep them humbly praying, teach them to trust deeper and help grow their faith in the Christ who never fails.  And our needs can do the same for us as well.