Dangerous, yet… Brave

“To love someone -fiercely- to believe in something with your whole heart, to ((celebrate)) a f.l.e.e.t.i.n.g moment in time, to FULLY engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.” – Dr. Brene Brown  *accents added

One of our team members recently posted about the heart, and of course iblogt is a common topic that is discussed among our community of WNY women. That deceitful yet beautiful heart of ours. My heart recently has been allowing myself to grieve a relationship the Lord tried to protect me from years ago. And at this stage of it all it has led me on such a heart warming (if you will) path of learning how beautiful taking risks are. I made a wrong choice, for a long time, I had given my heart away (poured my energy into, spent the most time at, and cared deeply for) a relationship that was damaging to my walk with Christ, but I learned what engaging fully entails. I felt high highs, and lived through the low lows. I watched God save me from the pits when I had originally thought He only saved us once at salvation and that was it. Boy was I wrong, He continually saves me from my daily mishaps.

At church today the spirit spoke to me, depending greatly on the genuineness of the relationship, a woman giving her heart away can both be the most dangerous and brave thing she has ever done. Oh, how I have felt both of those. To be vulnerable with my WNY women and truly lived life with them, sharing my hidden anxieties so they can both pray for me and walk with me through (and hopefully out of them) has been a game changer for my life. We encourage you this week to think about if you are walking through your low lows with anyone, or celebrating your high highs the way they should. If you find yourself in a season where you are not, make sure you are reaching out, taking risks in trusting trust-worthy people and check out our girls weekend coming up in February.

Dr. Brene Brown continues to write, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen…Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

wnyLifeTogether Team Member
Kerri

Life Together Devotionals

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” -John 1:14
 

As you read the above portion of scripture, I recommend that you read it slowly and hang on every word. This is perhaps one of the most weighty verses I can think of. “And the Word became flesh…”

The Word of God that was in the beginning walked on this planet as a human. The Word had skin. The Word had air in His lungs. The Word sat, stood, walked and worked for a living. He ate bread because He was hungry. He slept because He was tired. He had a childhood full of childhood experiences, and grew into adulthood in very much the same way as you and I.
 
Prior to the coming of Jesus, how could one comprehend God? An invisible, eternal being with no beginning and no end. It sounds so abstract, so difficult to wrap one’s mind around, let alone one’s arms. And that is the beauty of the Gospel. Jesus, fully God, entered our world as a human, giving a face to the Father.The God who spoke to Moses through a burning bush had to remind Mary Magdalene not to cling to Him after His resurrection because He could be grasped. He allowed Thomas to touch His wounds, not to prove that He isn’t a ghost, but to prove that He is a man.
Pondering the humanity of Jesus has caused my affection for Him to grow and grow. I encourage you over this Christmas season to ponder what His coming means, and to look forward with expectancy to His coming again!
 
WNYLifeTogether Team Member
Kate

Oh My Soul, Wait on the Lord

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Check out the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel.

She was married to this guy, Elkanah, who had another wife named Peninnah. He loved Hannah but kept Peninnah around because she could have children and Hannah couldn’t. Drama, drama, drama.  So the other wife (Peninnah) bullied Hannah all the time because she couldn’t have kids. “This went on year after year”.  Hannah wouldn’t eat and would just weep all the time.

One day Hannah went to the temple to pray.  She was crying and praying so desperately that she looked drunk. The priest, Eli, yelled at her for being drunk but then she explained her situation. He said, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked on Him’. Then she went on her way, ate something, and “her face was no longer downcast.”  Eventually she soon gets pregnant and then gives birth to a baby boy, Samuel.  In her thankfulness, she dedicates Samuel to the Lord and sends him to live with the Priest to be his apprentice.  Hannah then ends up having five more children.

So we see from this that Hannah goes to God and leaves changed.  She invited God into her waiting.

God has been proved ever faithful throughout all the ages of time.  What are we doing in our situations?  Are we running to the Lord?  Or are we putting more trust in what our friend says?

We need to go to the Lord.  People will say the wrong things, people will give you wrong advice, people will fail you.  You will fail your friends.  But God won’t.  A key component of doing true, beautiful, healthy life together is encouraging your friends to go to God first instead of coming to you.   That’s what being a true friend looks like.  It’s walking beside them leading them to the One who has the answers.  Let us be people who run to the Lord with our thoughts and worries.  Let us also be people who encourage and answer our friends from the perspective of the Lord.

We all are waiting for something.  Our healing, our money, our better circumstance, our future life, etc.  He is not too busy to meet with us and encourage our hearts.  He is not bothered by us.  He is there in His kindness, and love.  He is our Priest telling our hearts to be at peace.  Let’s do life together and lead each other into conversation with Jesus.  Let’s invite Him into our waiting.

wnyLife Together Team Member,
Heather

Jesus, I bring before you this situation and I ask that you would come and meet me in the waiting.  In the place that can be confusing, hurtful, bitter…Lord, would you meet me in this place.  How do you see me?  What do you think about me?  Bring peace to my soul.  Wash over me with your love and strengthen me as I wait.  

“To Those Who Wait”-Bethany Dillon

The Three Faces of Heart

ImageHave you read Proverbs 4:23? It says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”As a Christian, I’ve heard that verse and read it myself probably more times than I can count. The familiarity I have with that verse though has never diminished its value to me. Every time I hear it, I’m reminded of its importance as well as God’s intention for telling us this. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but when God speaks it’s always with a purpose in mind. He doesn’t talk just for the sake of talking, so when he does speak, I hold those words close to my heart.

Usually when I hear this proverb about protecting the heart, it’s within the context of romantic relationships. Therefore, I’ve always associated this verse with the spiritual and emotional side of life. However, a couple years ago I read the book Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge. In one of the chapters she highlights this verse and dissects it just a little bit further. As a result, my eyes were opened to a bigger revelation.

Damage done to our emotional heart can suck the life right out of us and leave us temporarily unfruitful, but have you ever thought of it in the physical sense too? Until reading this book I can say that I honestly never had.  I feel a bit silly admitting that because now I see that it’s really quite obvious – Our physical heart is literally our wellspring of life!

“Physically, the heart is at the center of your circulatory system. It pumps oxygenated blood throughout your body. If there is trouble inside your heart, your entire body is in danger of losing its life-giving flow of blood. Spiritually, your heart is the place where the Holy Spirit dwells when you invite Him into your life (Ephesians 6:16-17). You receive salvation not just through head knowledge of God, but through belief in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9-10). Emotionally, your heart leaps for joy when you find delight in something or someone. It also aches when you experience disappointment with or loss of something or someone special.

The heart is literally and figuratively the core of all you are and all you experience in life, so when God says to guard it above all else, He is saying, ‘Protect the source of your life-the physical, spiritual, and emotional source of your well-being.'” (Ethridge, 87, emphasis added)

This is the lesson I’ve been working on lately; learning how to protect my heart in every sense of the word.

WNYLifeTogether Team Member,
Kelly

Life Together Devotionals

When I want to fall in love with Jesus all over again, there is a verse I turn to:

“He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isa. 42:2-3 ESV

This verse from Isaiah provides details into the first coming of Jesus to the earth, gentle and like a lamb. But it is that part about a bruised reed that I want to call attention to.

I have learned an important lesson this year. Probably one of the most important so far in my twenty-something years, and though there are many more to learn, I have a deep feeling that at the end of my life lessons, this one will remain in the top 10. It is the lesson of brokenness. Of coming to the Lord like a small child, asking for His help even in the mundane tasks of daily living. “Please Lord, will You help me? I ask you, Jesus, as your child, please help me.”

My language is not deep; it is not profound or rich. It is small and truthful and needy. The older and “stronger” I become, the more I realize I am incapable of functioning (well) without Jesus. I guess His kingdom is backwards like that. To go up, you have to first go down.

I am bruised and broken. And I remind the Lord of this frequently, meditating on His word, speaking it back to Him. “Jesus, I am weak. You said you would not break a bruised reed, and I love that about You. Give me Your strength, Lord.”

And He hears me.

wnyLifeTogether Team Member,
Kate

And so it begins…

After chatting on for thirty-five minutes about the possibility of calling it quits with her significant other my friend asked, “Be honest, do you think I am crazy?” “Crazy?!” I asked, “Crazy! Ha, I think we’re both just really twenty-five” How often have you had a conversation with someone and been so thankful that they felt the same way you did. You were so grateful that they were honest about how hard something was to go through, vulnerable enough to share their struggle with you. But also did so in not an overbearing way, like someone with flashing lights over them screaming for attention. You were just thankful, that sitting across from you at that kitchen counter, local bar, coffee table, or work desk, that someone finally got it, someone was finally honest, and you could really enjoy their company now.

That’s what this blog community is intended to create. We all live such different lives, bizarre schedules, and limited gas budgets and frankly life can be lonely at times…frustrating at the least, but we are a group of women who also know life can be fun. Life can be spontaneous, and there can be true freedom in our souls from the man who loved us from the beginning. Our bridegroom, our friend, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Normally I wouldn’t label myself as a dreamer, someone who grabs a vision and holds tight but the other day I was in a thrift and the woman in front of me was struggling to get the clothes off the hanger and taking a significant amount of time to do so. And you know that feeling where you shouldn’t be mad, but you are any way… the thought I usually have came back to me: What if our culture was truly upside like the Kingdom and we actually rejoiced when we were able to help someone. Like as excited we get to celebrate our friend’s birthday and we make plans, buy presents, celebrate—our culture actually celebrated helping others. We would almost fight each other to have the most exciting story like “Yeah but then I saw this guy on the side of the road and I was able to give him a ride and pay for the flat tire!” Now, yes… that sounds like something a dreamer would say. But it is somewhat possible. That we would at least start being more intentional about being present within others’ struggles as we encounter more of our own.

The basic premise is, very, very unfortunately some of our family members will have cancer, and some of us will have a car that will break down— isn’t that just life? I fear that those things sometimes are not the hardest parts of life, but it is going through those moments alone, or without any real community to cry with you, or take you out dancing to forget about it for that night.

There is not one woman I know, any age included, who doesn’t want to be doing life in community. And yes this particular group believes Jesus is our hope in the world, because frankly… He’s awesome. But our main purpose is to do life together, to have fun and get through the not so fun parts together. We hope you join us on this journey, whatever it may look like. We are hoping to have almost pretty frequent guest blog posts from Western New York women and have an intentional Girls’ Weekend on February 21st and 22nd. Please invite your friends and follow our page.

Thanks for reading and sharing in our journey,
wnyLifeTogether Team Member,
Kerri