flashthoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Women’s Ministry

IN JAILI spent my first day in jail Monday, January 26, 2015. The difference between me and the ladies already inside? I would get to leave at the end of the day and they would not. I was a first-time participant in an event called ReNew Hope through the We Care Program. (Those names are in a different color so you can click on them and learn more about each)

I was nervous, not scared, as I did not know what to expect. I only knew I wanted to be able to go in and encourage these ladies, share the love of Jesus with them and, hopefully, be a small blessing to them. I’m still not sure if that happened or not, but God certainly used them to encourage me, share the love of Jesus with me and bless me beyond measure!

Monday, I told the other ladies on our team, since this was my first year to participate, I didn’t want to talk with anyone “on my own”. I was not even sure if I’d be going back on Tuesday, depending on how Monday went! Needless to say, I went back on Tuesday and again on Thursday. I didn’t go Wednesday because I was going into a different place Wednesday night and wouldn’t have been back in time. More about that later….

LESSON #1

I am so accustomed to using the Bible app on my phone, I didn’t even think to grab an actual Bible on Monday before I left, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to take my phone inside the jail! So, all the other ladies on our team had Bibles and I had nothing 😦 I thought, ‘Oh well, no big deal, I’m gonna be pairing up with someone anyway, so it will work out okay’ and it did. Almost immediately, ladies were talking with us and they were so excited we were there. Some grabbed their own Bibles and they were noticing many of the ladies on our team had lots of notes in their Bibles. They asked, “Is it okay for us to write in our Bibles?” I remember telling more than one lady, “YES! Of course! Write in your Bible. Make yourself all kinds of notes as you’re reading and the Lord is showing you things where you’re reading. Write it down!!” As I was saying this to different ladies over and over, I felt the Lord asking me, “So, why don’t YOU do that anymore?” Yes, I was definitely convicted of not using His actual love letter to me, His Holy Word, the way I once did. I went home Monday night, got my Bible out and put it in a case to carry with me Tuesday. On Tuesday, He reinforced His message to me about His Word when we were allowed to visit with the ladies in what is called the lockdown wedge. One of the ladies there had just received a brand new Bible from the Chaplain and she was holding on to it for dear life. She had it clutched to her chest and had the biggest smile on her face. She was so happy and proud to have a nice Bible. She said she had never had one like it before and she didn’t even want to put it down. That scene touched my heart in a very deep place! Since my experience there, I now carry my love letter with me to church and I am beginning to use it at home, too, as I once did, instead of the app. The app on the phone is nice and I do still use it – but I’m getting back to using my “hands-on” Bible the way I should!

Tuesday we were able to visit with ladies we had not had time to visit with on Monday. I love how God always connects us with exactly who we need to connect with. I was able to share a very, teeny-tiny part of my testimony with one of the ladies. Another volunteer shared her testimony and I felt I needed to share that one small part of mine. I knew God was prompting me to share with her because she was experiencing many of the same things I have experienced in past years.

LESSON #2

Something else I learned on Monday is GOD CHANGED MY NAME! Our team leader was sharing the story of Zaccheus and how God knew he was in the tree and called him by name and told him to come down because He was going to eat with him that day. She told them the wonderful thing is God knows their names, too, and He knows exactly where they are. I was thinking about that Monday night after I got home and God showed me, while He did not change my name from what my parents had given me when I was born, HE most definitely changed it from my nickname back to my given name because I am no longer the person associated with that nickname. I am becoming the person He always intended me to be and that is why HE changed my name. You can read more about the meaning of my name change in my story here.

Wednesday was the day I planned to stay home so I could go into Holman Prison Wednesday night for the service there. For those who don’t know, my husband is an Asst. Chaplain at Holman through the We Care Program. Some of the other wives had chosen Wednesday night as the night to attend service there so, of course, I wanted to go the same night 🙂

OH! I have to add this side note here: One highlight of Wednesday had absolutely nothing to do with ReNew Hope – well, in a round-about way it did, I guess, since it happened at We Care Headquarters – but I was able to see a friend I haven’t seen in a LONG time and it was so wonderful to see her! She has been and still is in the process of fighting breast cancer and all that entails, so say a prayer for her – God knows who she is 😉 She is doing GREAT, by the way, but all prayers are appreciated 🙂

Now – back to the evening service at Holman. What an experience that was! There were TWELVE visitors to get checked in – five in the music group, two that were speaking, wife of one speaker, three wives associated with We Care and the photographer/videographer – and it was very different from how the ladies team had been checking in at the jail! We all signed in on the paper log at 3:46 p.m. By the time the Warden had entered all the information and fingerprinted us all in through the computer, it was 5:02 when we were receiving our visitor passes and the service started at 5:30. The men were already in the chapel waiting for service to begin. As we walked in, several of the men were in prayer. They were praying for the service and for individuals. We went in and sat on the front row as we were asked to do. Sitting there, listening to the men praying also touched a special place in my heart. Hearing one man in particular praying for individuals and calling them by name, well, it brought tears to my eyes. Going through our day-to-day lives, we can find ourselves thinking the men and women in prisons and jails don’t matter. We can almost let ourselves believe they are of no concern to us, they did something wrong and they are where they should be. We couldn’t be more wrong! Father, forgive me, if I ever start to feel that way, and remind me and others these men and women are someone’s sons and daughters, possibly husbands or wives, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They are PEOPLE with feelings and emotions and regrets, just like I have every day and you know what? Jesus died for them the same way He died for me and I need to remember to love them with His love the same way He loves me!

The service was great and the time was over before we knew it and it was time to go home – or at least back to We Care Headquarters for another delicious supper prepared by those wonderful We Care ladies!

Thursday, back at the jail, was very nice. We were able to re-visit ALL the ladies we had seen during the week including the ones in the lockdown wedge. It was such a blessing to speak with them again. By Thursday, I also knew I would definitely be doing this again next year and, in fact, had even begun to think of others that I want to invite to join us!

It was a week of growing in the Lord and listening to Him and allowing Him to change the way I see a lot of things. While I shared two of the biggest lessons He taught me this week, there were many other lessons He taught me, also. Some may not be quite as ‘big’ as others, but certainly just as important. It most definitely made a change for the better in me and I pray I will continue to be teachable.

If you are interested in getting more information about how YOU can be a volunteer next year, be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph of this post or, if you want to ask me any questions about it, please do so. Feel free to leave a comment, if you are interested or have questions. I would love to speak with you about what a rewarding experience it is!

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WIND BLOWN DOG“WOW! This wind is blowing the car everywhere! I am having to keep both hands on the steering wheel to keep it under control.” True statement I made today as I was driving to Auburn. As soon as the thought went through my mind, it made me start thinking about life, in general. How many times do I allow things to ‘blow me everywhere’ and get me off track from where God would have me to be? When I don’t “keep both hands on the steering wheel” – the steering wheel being God – it is not only easy, but inevitable that I will be blown off course by the “winds of life” – the enemy.

Passing the exit for Taylor Road in Montgomery reminded me of all the times I took that exit to go visit my daughter when she was attending AUM (Auburn University in Montgomery). She graduated high school in 2004 and began attending AUM in the fall of that same year. I remember during one of my visits there she said, “It’s nice here. I like it. But one day I am going to be at the “REAL” Auburn. I don’t know how or when, but I’m going to be there.”

Then life happened. She left AUM after one semester due to the cost. While away at AUM, having her first taste of ‘freedom,’ she had let go of God and let life’s winds begin to ‘blow her around.’ She was blown around like a little, limp, rag doll until she finally realized where she had gone wrong. She grabbed hold of God again with both hands and a fierceness she’d never known before. Still, one more really strong wind caught her off guard and blew her around for a very short time. This time, though, she had not completely let go and God held her tight and helped her get steady on her feet again when she called out to Him. She can certainly testify that, when you give God complete control of your life and do your best to do what He has for you to do, He WILL give you the desires of your heart. She will be graduating from the “REAL” Auburn in December of this year (2013)!

Remember I said when she was at AUM talking about being at the “real” Auburn one day? I don’t think I ever told her, but I was thinking to myself, “Dream big, honey. I don’t think that’s ever gonna happen, but dream anyway.” Yes, He recently reminded me of that and showed me that I could learn a lot from her about having faith. Even at a time when she was far from Him, she still believed she would be there one day!

He recently set me on a new path. One I never would have seen myself on, but one that He has already blessed in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Surprising me so many different times on so many different levels that I have quit trying to figure out what might be around the next corner. By setting me on this path, He has also opened up other areas and given me His strength, and His courage, to step up and do what He is asking. Just last Saturday, at a women’s event in our church, I was asked to say the blessing over the lunch – I could have said no and someone else would have done it. That is exactly what I wanted to do, but because of the course of events that led to me being asked, I knew in my heart that God was really the one asking, and I did not want to say no to Him. So, I did it! And I survived! That might not seem like such a huge deal to you but it was a HUGE, GIGANTIC step for me. Then, only two days later,  I was asked to do a short devotional in front of another group of women – a much smaller group, by far, yet still showing that He is wanting to stretch me and grow me even more in Him.

So, today, as I was pondering the wind blowing outside and the winds of life that blow us around, if we allow them to, I was reminded that, as long as I hold on to Him with both hands and keep my eyes on the road He has before me, He will guide me and give me everything I need to make the journey and make it well.

“But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” ~ James 1:6 (NLT)

God never wastes a hurt: I borrowed that line from Celebrate Recovery because it is SO true!

I was born in Pensacola, Florida. I have an older sister and brother and a younger brother. I was also blessed with the most wonderful parents a person could have, too. When I was in the first grade, my parents moved us all to Bay Minette, Alabama. I finished first grade there and continued through third grade. Then, we moved again during the summer and I attended Crossroads School for the fourth grade. During those years I don’t remember being really introverted. I guess I wasn’t what you would call extremely ‘outgoing’ but I had a lot of friends and enjoyed spending time with them.

Then it happened. We made what would turn out to be our last move for many, many years. During the summer before my fifth grade year we moved to a very small town, which wasn’t so bad until school started. That is when everything began to change for me. It’s true the last school I had been in was a small school, also. However, everyone was just as friendly as could be and it was not a problem. This new school was very different though. If you didn’t have one of a few certain last names or if you weren’t there from Day One, you were considered a nobody and you were treated as such by most of the kids. That is when I experienced what Sheri Rose Shepherd calls “Identity Theft”. (If you don’t know anything about Sheri Rose, please go check her out by clicking on her name.) I allowed the things they said about me and the names they called me to define who I was. I realize now, that I was not ‘outgoing’ enough to stand up and defend myself against the verbal attacks, so I chose to withdraw instead. Since we didn’t move any more, I attended that school through the ninth grade, which was as far as it went. In tenth grade, everyone that lived in our area attended high school in Bay Minette. I was happy to be going back to that school. I had loved it when I was there in elementary school. Unfortunately, things weren’t like they were when I attended elementary school. One bright note, though, was that in tenth grade I reconnected with a friend from third grade. She actually remembered me (though I’m not sure I remembered her – lol) and we became very good friends and still are to this day, even though she now lives far away in Virginia. I miss you, Denise!

I guess I should also say that at some point in my junior high years, I asked Jesus into my heart. I can’t remember exactly how old I was or what grade I was in and I don’t remember the exact date; but, I can tell you to this day who was standing beside me because I remember asking her if she wanted to go with me. She was afraid to go; but, I went anyway. Back then the only thing that was talked about was ‘getting saved’, being baptized, becoming a member of the church and then a long list of DON’Ts! You didn’t hear anything about having a RELATIONSHIP with Christ like we do now.

I graduated in 1977 and was sure life would get better once I could be out on my own. Wrong! It’s sad to say, but like so many others, I was still suffering from my identity theft. I had been treated like I didn’t matter and been shown that I wasn’t wanted around for so long, that I believed that as truth. I naturally assumed that I wasn’t wanted anywhere and that no one, other than family, wanted me around.

In November 1980 I met the man that would become my husband. He was in the Air Force and on his way to Japan when we met. He came to visit me in February 1981, asked me to marry him and we were married that same month before he had to go back to Japan. Yes, I did love him and still do; but, I didn’t really have a relationship with the Lord then and I never even thought about asking Him if this is what I was supposed to do. I went to church and called myself a Christian but, as I said before, I had no clue what a relationship with Him was like. Anyway, even though I was ‘in love’, I think the main reason I agreed to marry him so soon is because I was surprised that anyone would even want to marry me. After all, I thought I was “not wanted” for so many years that I think I was truly afraid that no one else would ever ask me and I wanted to be married and have children. That’s what most young women want, right?

So, we were married and he went back to Japan until September. Then he was assigned to a base in Georgia and he came home and we moved to Georgia. We were married for ten years and had a beautiful daughter in the fourth year of our marriage. Many things happened that led to the death of our marriage but I am glad to say that God has brought us back to the place where we can be friends again.

I moved back home to Alabama in July 1990 and my Dad helped me find a house for myself and Jessica (my daughter) and it was just us two for the next fourteen years. Jessica graduated in 2004 and after that she made some not-so-wise choices that eventually led to her moving to Georgia to live with her Dad and Stepmom sometime in 2006. On July 20th of that same year, God FINALLY got through to my heart. If you want to read about that, just go to My Testimony page and it is there. For this posting, I will just tell you that is when I had the most wonderful experience that I can EVER remember. That is the night when I finally understood that God TRULY loved me for ME and that it was okay for me to love me and that He just might have someone else out there that would love me.

In April 2007, He introduced me to Jeffery Champion. We became friends and that is all I was interested in being. One night as we were talking on the phone, Jeff said something that I didn’t react to very well. He said something along the lines of he just might have to “court” me. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I was not interested in that. However, that night as I lay in my bed trying to go to sleep, I was reminded of the prayer I had prayed back on July 20, 2006. I told the Lord, “I’m open to whatever it is You have in store for me.” And I really felt like He was asking me why I had been so quick to reject Jeff. Like He was asking me if I meant what I said to Him in my prayer. So, the next time I spoke to Jeff, I apologized for what I had said and told him I would be open to the idea, if he was truly interested. As you can tell from my name, he was interested – lol. This time it was totally different for me. I truly felt that the Lord had put us together. To this day, I still believe that. However, I also know that the Lord is a gentleman and will NOT override man’s (or woman’s) free will. One month before our first year anniversary, Jeff decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. Instead of celebrating our first anniversary on April 8, 2008, I was served with divorce papers toward the end of that month. I went through all the emotions – anger, sadness, guilt and I even grieved for a time. We didn’t actually go to court for the divorce until over a year later. The day before our court date, I spent the entire day in the prayer room at church and asked God to show me what I needed to do. I pleaded with Him to save my marriage, if it was at all possible. He gave me words from many different scriptures that day and through other means, also. I knew what I was to do. The next day at the courthouse, Jeff and I were given time to talk with each other, alone, to see if we could come to an agreement on our own. I had several things I shared with him that I felt led to share and I also offered to quit my State job, only five years away from retirement, and move to Georgia with him, if he really felt that was where he was supposed to be. But he wanted no part of it – or he wanted no part of me anyway. Once again, I was being rejected. It seemed no matter how hard I tried or what I did, I just wasn’t good enough one more time.

There was one thing a little bit different this time, though. The month after Jeff left, God began showing me that I was not alone. He used many different ways to let me know there are SO many hurting women out there. So many of us that have believed the lie of shyness and “you’re not good enough” from the enemy for many years. This gave me a strength and a courage that I never had before. I began to feel that He was calling me to do something. I had no idea what, but SOMETHING. I felt He was getting me ready for a new direction in some type of ministry – women’s ministry maybe. I’m still not completely sure what He has in mind, but since I began going to Celebrate Recovery, it may be something there. I always joke and say the Lord ‘tricked’ me into going to Celebrate Recovery (CR) because I went with someone else to support them. I thought I didn’t have any reason to be going to CR since I’d never had a problem with drugs or alcohol or anything like that. I did not realize that it was about so much more than that. It’s not just for people who have had or have addictions – it’s for ANYONE that has ever suffered a hurt or hang-up as well.

Just want to insert a little note here – when I was growing up, my family, and everyone else for that matter, called me Kathy. Well, the first job I had in Georgia was in a small office (three people) and there was already a ‘Kathy’ that worked there. They asked would I mind if they called me Kathryn to keep everything straight and I said I didn’t mind at all. Then, the next job I took in Georgia had a similar situation so I continued to go by Kathryn. I never really thought much about this until I was working through the Step Studies with CR. The Lord showed me that the reason I like going by my given name, Kathryn, instead of my nickname, Kathy, is because I associate the nickname with the rejection I received when I was in school. Yes, my family mostly still calls me by my nickname and that doesn’t really bother me so much, but it’s nice to understand why I now prefer to be called by my given name, Kathryn.

God is where I get my strength but He is helping me learn how to do that even better by going through the step studies at Celebrate Recovery. He has surrounded me with people that I know truly care about me. Even though I had a church where I was happy and ‘comfortable’, He wanted me to grow even more. He wanted to ‘stretch’ me and He gave me a new church family at Grace Fellowship. As I look back, I believe that was just the beginning of Him continuing to give me the strength needed for my journey.

Anyway, that’s kind of where I am today – still trying to be available to Him and be sensitive to where He is calling and leading me. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I’m “over it” now because I’m not. I still battle with my automatic assumption that people don’t want me around, though I am working on it and making some progress. I still battle the enemy when he starts telling me his lies such as, “You don’t need to go to that gathering. They don’t want you there. They’ll never even know if you don’t go. They certainly won’t miss you. A blog? What? You really think you have anything worth saying? You’re not a blogger. You don’t write every day. No one cares what you have to say. You don’t even know how to explain or express yourself very well. Why would you even want to try that? A leader? HA! You have never been a leader. What in the world would make you think you could do that? You aren’t good enough.”

But now it is much easier for me to recognize his lies and now I have scriptures and songs stored up to come back with.  One of my favorite verses to come back at the enemy with is: Out of all the people on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen ME to be His treasured possession. ~ Deuteronomy 14:2 (NIV – and I changed the word ‘you’ to ‘me’) and my favorite song to come back with is “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns.

I am learning to count my small victories – every Sunday that I make it to church instead of giving in to the enemy’s lie that no one would miss me if I didn’t go, that is a victory for me and Jesus! Every time that I attend a gathering with the church or even with family, that is a victory for me and Jesus! Every time I go to a Life Group (or small group) meeting, that is a victory for me and Jesus! Every time I attend CR and plow through yet another CR Step Study, that is a victory for me and Jesus! I may get to events or gatherings really early, because I have learned that it is easier for me to be there ahead of the ‘crowd’, but as long as I make it there, that is a victory!

He is doing this for me and I know He can do it for you, too! Do you have anything that you are strugglinig with? Give it to Him and He will show you the way through it. If you’ve never accepted His gift of salvation to you, then why not do it now? You will see that, while life won’t become easy all of a sudden, it is much easier WITH Him than without Him. I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know if my story helped you in any way or just to know that you even read it – lol (oops! Yep, guess the ol’ enemy tried to sneak in there again and make me wonder why I think anyone would even read this anyway!) But, you know what? Even if there isn’t one single person that reads this, it doesn’t matter. It has helped me just to be able to write it and get it out there.

For those of you that did make it through my story, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you have any questions for me or comments, I would love to hear them.

Love y’all!

Are you serious? You really want me to write a story in only six words? Well, okay then. This is how badly I want to win a scholarship for the She Speaks Conference – I’m willing to give it a shot. If you want to learn more about the She Speaks Conference, click the link on the right side of my page. Now, on to my story……..

RAISED ISLAM. FOUND JESUS. LOST FAMILY.

So, if that story makes you curious and you’d like to read more about it, please visit my friend, Ayla’s blog here. Leave her a comment and let her know you read it, then come back here and let me know if you were able to read it without it affecting you at all.

No, I don’t…..or do I? I started hearing about a conference called “She Speaks” some time last year. I was a bit intrigued by it but I assumed it was meant for women speakers. Apparently, I was very wrong in that assumption. From what I read on Lysa TerKeurst’s blog this morning, it is oh so much more! She definitely piqued my interest. It is not only for speakers, but for writers and Women’s Ministry leaders. Please click here and get all the information.

When I am reading blogs posted by others and their pages all look so nice and ‘professional’, I don’t even consider myself to be “one of them”. I don’t write every day but, usually, when I do write something, it is because God has put it on my heart. I know that my blogs aren’t ‘polished’ – I just speak  the only way I know how, from my heart.

However, when I read what Lysa had shared about the She Speaks conference, I felt a stirring. I have been praying and asking God to show me what I need to do, if He is indeed calling me to women’s ministry. I know that I need training but have no clue how to go about getting that training when I have no funds to pay for it.

Then He put this contest in front of me by way of Lysa’s blog. I know the challenge is from Him because, as I was reading it, I was saying all the reasons I could never do it. “My blog isn’t ‘professional-looking’. I don’t know how to ‘link’ back to the things she was saying we needed to link to” and on and on came the excuses. That’s when I realized it was the enemy trying yet again to keep me from pursuing what God has called me to.

I volunteered to work at an Extraordinary Women’s conference last year for the first time ever. It was because of that experience that I began to feel God pulling me in the direction of women’s ministry. I enjoyed it so much that I volunteered at two more conferences that same year and have signed up to work at three of them this year.

Obtaining this scholarship would allow me to pursue some of the training that I feel I need in order to become an effective women’s ministry leader. To be honest, I have never thought of myself as a leader but I am learning that God does not call us for our ability. He calls us for our AVAILability and then HE gives us what we need, to do what He asks us to do.

If I were to win this scholarship, I’m sure that I would be just as ecstatic as my daughter was this morning when she found out that she had been accepted at Auburn University!

Now, off to see if I can figure out how to ‘post a button’ on my blog site 🙂


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