PAST: Every woman [and man, too!] has a story written with the multicolored pens of her experiences, relationships, perceptions, joys, pain, disappointments, dreams, choices, failures, and successes.
UNIQUENESS: NO ONE HAS A STORY EXACTLY LIKE YOURS. Your story is unique–distinct from mine or your sister’s, mother’s, daughter’s, best friend’s, pastor’s or favorite author’s.
POWER: There is power in each of our stories and we maximize that power when we partner with God. Your story is power-packed, too. Really.
FUTURE: Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom expresses it well. In her book,The Hiding Place, she wrote, “Today I know that memories are the key not to be past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”
GOD: I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands. . . Psalm 31:14-16
YOUR TURN: When did a lesson you learned from a difficult experience contribute to a ministry/service opportunity for you?
MORE: (Click on this sentence to read the short stories of two other intentional women.)
For more about finding the potential power in your life story by reading The Intentional Woman.
The adventure of living intentionally can start where you are today. You don’t have to wait until after you finish school, or when you get more money, or after you get married, or when your children all get in school, or after you lose weight. . . or whatever you’re waiting for.
Ask yourself 3 powerful questions:
1. What is good about my life today?
2. What concerns me about my life right now?
3. What is lacking in my life right now?
Now you have a snapshot of your life at the moment. Talk to God about your responses. And together determine what one small step you can take to move forward intentionally today.
YOUR TURN: Go ahead. Take just a few moments and try this. If not right now, then perhaps during your morning walk, ride to work, lunch break, or your journaling time or your prayer time.
Then share your next small step with me. I’d love to hear.
Sometimes growing-up is a little (or a lot!) messy. Picture learning to eat with a spoon for the first time–or learning to ride a bike or drive a car. Or run the marathon. Involves a process, frustrating though it can be. Yet it reaps rewards.Like you don’t have to wait for someone else to feed you anymore!!
Perhaps you like to do something once, do it well, and move on the next goal.However, when you accept the fact that you won’t be able to have your entire life mission and implementation strategy (or your mental to-do list) completed flawlessly and “on time every time” you can actually experience a sense of relief. Ahhhh.
Living according to God’s design for you is an important key to glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Still it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a step-by-step process. God invites you to enjoy your journey with Him.
So, may you and I have a little patience with our (uniquely individual) messy process today.
When has your grown-up life reminded you of your “untidy” toddler days?
God doesn’t expect you to make the spiritual or moral decisions for other people. Neither does God expect you to give up your own gifts, talents, personality, and heart passion just to please another.
You are personally responsible for who you are and what you decide before God.
Accepting responsibility for your own choices, listening to what God has to say about you, and living out your own purpose allows those around you to discover God’s design for them. This freedom is one of the most significant gifts you can give those closest to you; the ones you influence daily. Then you and those you love can relax and enjoy serving God intentionally.
This is God’s plan. And it works.
How have you discovered this in your own life? I’d love to hear.
~ This photo of the seagull in flight reminds me of “living free.”
I left a piece of my heart in the Middle East–Egypt, Jordan, Jerusalem, the West Bank. I used to travel there regularly working with local teachers, children and talented staff in schools, churches, businesses and homes.
Now as I listen to the news, my heart aches. I wonder: Do you really understand what’s happening there? It’s confusing. Not black and white. I don’t get it all, either. Yet, I know it’s difficult times for many.
What About the Children?
The other day I got the following letter from my Jordanian friend, Isam Ghattas, founder/president of Manara International in Amman. I worked with his wife, Nihad, and snapped the above photo of the children when I visited one of her preschools. I asked Isam for permission to share part of his message. I hope you can take a few moments to read and then pray.
LETTER FROM JORDAN
Greetings in our Lord’s holy name.
So much has been going on in North Africa and the Middle East and throughout the world. Though we do not fully understand, we’re confident that God is working out His purposes. And He intends for us to work with Him.
EGYPT: My friend, Howard Norrish, told me that in one large evangelical church in Egypt (probably) the largest in the Arab World) a few weeks before the current events, God spoke to the leaders in several unique ways. God seemed to say, “I’m going to do a new thing in the Arab World. Prepare yourselves in prayer and be ready for new opportunities.” Since then, the revolution has spread beyond Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt to envelope Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
JORDAN: Our country, Jordan, has watched closely. King Abdullah heard God’s wake-up call, replacing his prime minister and cabinet and announcing that “Reform is our unwavering will.” As regimes fall throughout the Mediterranean, Jordan remains a friendly neighbor, friend to the West and refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution.
IRAQ: I was in Baghdad last November 1 when al-Qaeda-connected gunmen took 120 hostages at Our Lady of Salvation Church and slaughtered 41 Christians, as well as 12 police officers and 5 bystanders, wounding 78 others. The media called it the “deadliest attack ever recorded against Iraq’s Christians.” We learned later that they attacked the wrong church. They meant to attack the church of a pastor friend of mine, a block away.
As a result of the violence, many Iraqi families are fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West. They leave out of fear for their families, carrying nothing except the clothes on their backs. In 2007, this church in Iraq had 1,000 members. Only about 250 remain. Yet, God continues to use this pastor and congregation to comfort and share the truth.
TRUE STORY: “A woman came to me with her husband and asked, ‘You are a father? You have children?’
“You are a father of your church also.”
“Okay,” responded the pastor.
“I need your help.” I thought she might ask for blankets or food. Then she continued, “I have three children, but the terrorists came into my home and killed them all. What is this Allah? When I leave your office I will believe or not believe that there is a God. You can help me. You have children. You can feel my feelings–what it would be like if you lost your children.”
My Lord, what should I tell her? I prayed silently. Immediately, God gave me an idea.
“Okay, you don’t believe in Allah. You question if he is a true god. You wonder how can they could come and kill in the name of Allah? You lost your children, but you did not make this choice. I will introduce you to someone who lost his son willingly.”
“What?! Why he lost his Son willingly?”
I told her the story of God the Father and Jesus His Son. She started to cry.
Finally she spoke, “You know what? You cannot understand me. Only God can understand my feelings because he lost his Son.” She trusted Christ as her Savior that day in my office.
PLEASE PRAY: Be encouraged, dear friends. In spite of terrible circumstances in the Middle East and all our weaknesses, God does use us and does manifest himself through us to His lost children.
Please continue to pray for the region as the face of the Middle East changes daily. Doors are opening to opportunities for spiritual growth and the planting of the Word. Please pray that the Lord will protect Jordan,so that stability and security will remain intact. We at Manara are thankful that we have been able to sendseeds to the north of Iraq (Kurdistan) for planting. We’ll send food, clothes and literature soon.
We lift you up in prayer and give thanks for you. May His blessings and grace surround you today and always.
Joan Responds: I wish you could hold a Middle Eastern child in your arms like I have. (See the photo)
I know this blog post is longer than I usually write. Yet, with all that’s currently happening in the countries where Jesus walked, I couldn’t keep silent any longer. There are caring people of every belief in this part of the world. They love their children.
They want to work. They want answers. Although the Christian population in this land where the disciples gave their lives for the growth of Christianity 2,000 years ago dwindles, the remaining Christians want us to know what’s taking place. They long for our understanding and support. They hurt when it isn’t there.
Tonight I keep hearing the tune of Tony Bennett singing “I left my heart in San Francisco”, yet I’m replacing the words with “I left my heart in the Middle East.”
Will you pray? If you’d like to help Isam, Nihad and Manara Ministries reach grieving mothers like the one in this story, send me a message. I’ll connect you to them. Thank you for “listening.”
(Yes, I took all these photos myself during my visits.)
“To love life is to love time. Time is the stuff life is made of.” This quote from Benjamin Franklin intrigues me. Imagine living in harmony with time. Agreeing not to compete against time.
Pause for a moment and visualize becoming friends with time. NOW THIS MAKES ME SMILE!
Perhaps God allows finite human beings (that’s you & me!) to live within the boundaries of time to protect us from anxiety overload and burnout. So how about “just for today” we shift our concept of time as a slave-driver/tyrant to that of a friend. Just thinking about that causes me to breathe deeper.
How about you?
I’m swimming in a pool of “friendship” right now which is a nice departure from my normally-isolated writer days–tucked away in my office. I just spent a wonderful face-to-face week with my long-distance friend Sue from Minnesota. While Sue was here in Arizona, Laurie Wallin, my new social-networking friend, asked me to join her for Friendship Week on her Facebook page. Also, via email I’ve scheduled several friend-lunch dates. As a result, I’m reflecting on the multi-faceted God-gift calledfriendship.
INTROVERTS AND EXTROVERTS DO FRIENDSHIP
I believe introverts and extroverts approach friendship a little differently. It may be natural for us to believe that because we want a specific thing in our life or relationships that our friends must need the same.However through the years I noticed that’s not necessarily the case.
If you’re an extrovert, you probably enjoy group activities and team projects. You gain energy by being with other people and may easily share your current problem or success. When you’re forced to be alone for any length of time, it drains you. If you’re an introvert (as I am) you are probably refreshed by reflection, by being alone, or by enjoying one-on-one time. This doesn’t mean you wish to withdraw from society. It just takes you a little more energy to learn the skills to do what doesn’t come naturally.
WHO ARE YOU?
To help you determine your introvert/extravert tendencies, here’s a simple graph from a book I coauthored with Carol Travilla, titled The Intentional Woman. In the box below, choose the words or phrases that best describe what you prefer to do. Then mentally place an X on the line between the words extrovertand introvert at the point where you believe you register on the continuum between the two extremes.
I am recharged by:
Working with a team
Focusing on what is happening around me
Knowing what others are doing
I am recharged by:
Working alone or one-on-one
Focusing on what is happening withinme
Knowing the idea/motivation behind the action
No matter where you “land” on the continuum, you are cool! There’s absolutely nothing “wrong” with being an extrovert or an introvert. Life Coach Laurie Wallin (Living Power Life Coaching) wrote on her Facebook page during “Friendship Week” that knowing this allows her to give grace to herself and her friends in their relationships.
FREEDOM IN FRIENDSHIP
The relief-producing reality is your friend may not want or need what you want and you may not want or need want she wants. For example:
Some of us need to stop thinking and do,
while others need to stop doing and think.
Some need to stop asking and give, though
others need to cease giving and ask.
Some of us need to stop crying and smile,
yet others need to stop smiling and cry.
Some need to stop confronting and give in,
while others need to quit compromising and confront.
Some of us need to stop waiting and run,
Though others need to stop running and wait.
Some need to practice discipline and organize, yet others need to cease
structuring themselves into a box and relax.
How do you feel about all this? Sometimes “friendship” still baffles me. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.