Friday, June 24, 2011

My Rise & Shine Testimony

Maybe you've wondered how a small town Indiana girl turned Iowa farmer’s wife became a member of the Rise & Shine Women’s Retreat Leadership team. Well, here’s the answer.

A good friend of mine, Jill, felt the Lord leading her to start a women's conference. She had felt this prompting for about 2 ½ years, but wasn't sure how she could ever pull something like this off. She kept praying about it, until it came to a point that she knew that it was definitely His idea and not hers. She shared the idea with her husband and a few close friends.

Long story short, Jill and her friend/mentor, Leanne, decided to take the idea to Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa in 2009. Leanne had just recently started attending OHC. They were thrilled when the church agreed to host the event.

Although Jill and I only live a couple of miles apart, go to the same church and even share a last name (we’re married to cousins), we really only became friends months before Rise & Shine began when we connected at a Bible study. During that same Bible study, the Lord started stirring up thoughts in my mind and heart, especially ones about what my role should be in women’s ministry. One day, I mentioned in the study that I wanted to do something “radical for Christ”. This started a personal conversation between Jill and I, our friendship blossomed from there. Later, when told me about the idea of starting a women’s conference she said, “How’s this for something radical?”

Unbeknownst to Jill, also about 2 ½ years before this, I was at a women’s conference when I felt the Lord speaking to my spirit. It wasn't an audible voice, but I knew Who it was. It was like He said to me, "You're going to be part of something like this someday."

Yet, there I sat, I was pregnant with my first child, a farmer's wife living in rural Iowa…in the middle of “no where“. I thought, "What? ME? How could I ever do something like that?" I have to admit that I questioned the Lord. Did He get the right girl?! Still, joy rose up within me and I remember praying in my mind, right there in the midst of this huge conference, "I don't know how, but I believe that you will make a way, Lord."

I never told anyone about this. I actually filed it to the back of my mind. Every once in a while I would recall what He said, but still didn't see a way. I would say a little prayer about it and shove it back to it's little corner in my mind.

So, even though I know she expected me to be, I wasn't shocked when Jill came to me with this idea. I knew that I was suppose to be part of it, but I didn’t tell Jill. I just told her that I would pray about it...which I did. I was thrilled a few weeks later when she asked me to be part of the Rise & Shine team. Isn't this just the way that the Lord works? He opens doors where there doesn't even seem to be a door!!!

That first year was a real leap of faith for our team. None of us had ever planned a women’s conference before. We didn’t have any funds available when we started (not even to pay the speaker we had booked). We didn’t even know if anyone would sign up to attend . But, we prayed and felt the Lord prompting us on. We chose to step out in faith and obedience. We’re so glad we did! God answered one prayer after another, opened doors and showed us His faithfulness time and time again…and has continued to do so. This year we are planning our third Rise & Shine Women’s Retreat.

So many amazing people have come on board to make Rise & Shine happen each year, people who have such a heart to honor and serve the Lord. We’re just ordinary people who have been blessed to be part of something so extraordinary, something so much bigger than us. To God be the glory! He is so great, and greatly to be praised!

This coming week I again have an opportunity to step out in faith, to do something so beyond me…I’m going to be on the radio! Leanne and I will be sharing about Rise & Shine Women’s Retreat on our guest speaker for 2011’s radio show “Live the Promise with Susie Larson”. The show will air live on Faith 1090 AM on Wednesday, June 29th at 3:00 pm. If you’re interested in listening online, here’s the link:

PLEASE PRAY for me and Leanne as we seek to promote Rise & Shine well and, most importantly, to glorify God with every word that we speak, to give Him praise for the way He has worked through this ministry. We’re so thankful for this great opportunity!

Thank you for your prayers, it means so much to me (us).

In what area is God asking YOU to step out in faith today? God will use you in ways you never thought possible, and will make a way when there seems to be no way, if you choose to trust Him, obey and follow His lead. I find that incredibly exciting!! How about you?!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mama Always Said (Repost)

Have been thinking a lot about my mom.  I didn't get to spend Mother's Day or her birthday, which was last weekend, with her.  So thankful that we remain close at heart...and for cell phones. :) 

I have also been thinking about my own parenting.  As I've thought about the kind of mother I have and the kind of mother I want to be,  this "old" blog post from February 27, 2010 came to mind.  Thought  I'd repost it in honor of my mom and with gratitude for all she has taught me.  Praying that I can remember and teach my own children well. 

As adults it’s easy to “pick apart” our parents. We often focus on the mistakes they made and the things that we want to differently with our children. We tend to forget that like them we are human, and our kids will find fault with our “perfect parenting” too (Ha! As if there is such a thing!).

Today I found myself instead focusing on all the things my mom got right. She’s taught me some things…some that I have applied, and some that I know I fall short of living fully. Still, I hope to pass on much of her wisdom, kindness and compassion to my children.

Thought maybe I’d share some her wisdom with you too. :)

Lesson 1: The golden rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” She taught me this not so much in word, but in action! If someone was in need she was the first one to jump in. She gave of herself without reservation, without laziness, without expectation of receiving anything in return. She often did these things silently, without bringing attention to herself, and out of the abundance of her loving, compassionate heart.

Which leads me to the next things she taught…

Lesson 2: Love others. Mom always has tended to see the best in people. She loved some pretty unlovable people. She remembered many that others forgot. She even said to love that not-so-good-looking, mean, toothless bully at school! She would remind me that even he probably had a mother at home who looks at him through adoring eyes, and more importantly a Heavenly Father who loves him unconditionally. She reminded me that everyone has a soul, and potential as a child of God.

Lesson 3: Hold your tongue. Now, I must admit I have a lot of work to do on this one, but it’s not because my mama didn’t teach me! Mom would be the first NOT to tell you that you don’t have to say everything that you think. :) If it’s not nice, or uplifting, or really needed, maybe you should just keep it to yourself. Speak up when it IS needed, in kindness and love, and because of your reputation people will be more likely to listen. You don't always have to defend yourself, trust the Lord to defend and protect you.

I’ll be honest, there were times when I was growing up when I saw this as a weakness in my mom. I would often think, “Why doesn’t she stand up for herself?” or “Why didn’t she just tell them what she thinks?” Now that I’m a woman myself I see the wisdom in sometimes staying silent. Not that I want to be a doormat, or that I can’t share my opinions when appropriate (believe me I have plenty of them!), but there is something beautiful about a woman with a gentle and quiet, reverent and respectful spirit. God’s Word says so, I Peter 3:4, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” My mom has an unfading beauty that you can not deny!

Lesson 4: Being a mom is the best job in the world. Tears came to my eyes immediately after I typed those words, emotions of gratitude for the mothering that my mom doted upon me, and the love that I have for my own child(ren). I remember my mom saying this to me when I was a teenager, and for the first time realizing the passion behind her words. She meant it!

My mom made sacrifices so that she could be home with me…even as a single mom (she did daycare in our home). She recognized the importance of her role in my life, and I never doubted her love for me. She took pride in and made being a homemaking mama her primary role (even in the midst of “bringing home the bacon” as a single mom). Our home was warm, inviting and a haven for me. Even though money was tight, there was always good food on the table, affection to be distributed and words of encouragement to be shared. I thank God soooo often for the example that she set for me!! (Note: I’m looking forward to her coming up to help me after Baby Beran is born, so that I can gain more wisdom from this child expert!) (Note: when I wrote this in February 2010 I was expecting our second child, Noah, who is now 14 months old)

Lesson 5: Don’t be lazy. That lady is a go-getter, I tell ya! For years, I thought she must be crazy the way she kept her house clean (even in the midst of watching everyone else’s kids!)…and kept herself busy. Like the Energizer bunny, she just kept going and going (hee hee) even when I know she must have been tired. She did her work joyfully, often humming the tune to, “Oh, how I love Jesus” as she went about her work. She gave me a real life model of the virtuous and capable woman described in Proverbs 31.

Hmmmm…come to think of it, all the things my mama taught me above are described in Proverbs 31...

“She is energetic and strong, a hard worker….Her hands are busy…She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy…She is clothed with strength and dignity...When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instruction with kindness…she suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her…a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” Excerpts from Proverbs 31:17-31

I could go on and on and on listing things that my mama has taught me, but I’ll stop here. I’m praying that I can be more like my mom because being more like her would mean being more like Jesus.

My mom was not perfect, God is the only perfect parent, but she sure was good…and still is!!

I LOVE and APPRECIATE you, Mom!!

Tell me, what did your mama always say? What did she teach you without words? I’d love to hear!