Down But Not Out by Kenika (Ladies On Life)

Photo Courtesy of Cameron Nunez Photography

I went over to a couple friend of mine’s house to hang out.  After visiting and catching up, we ended up playing a board game.  It was a game that I had never played before and it asked questions on a variety of subjects that I was not at all familiar with.  On their insistence that it was fun, we played.  This was not an ordinary game where you have players that give their best effort and whoever performs the best wins, on this game not only did you have to perform well, but you had an opportunity to bet against the success or failure of those you’re playing with.

As we began the game, it was apparent that with question after question I had no idea what most answers were. But you couldn’t just say, “I don’t know”, you HAD to guess which proved to yield some funny and wacky answers from me because I clearly had no clue.  After laughing at and even mocking me, my competitors began betting against me on every turn, sure that I would give a wrong answer, and they would gain points.  However, somewhere in the middle of the game, something began to happen. In this game if others bet against you and you get it wrong, they get points, but if they bet against you and you get the question right, you get all of their points.  The more they bet against me, the more questions I got right.

I started out playing a game that I was totally unfamiliar with and felt inadequate at, with two people who were not only smarter than me when it came to the subject matter, but had played the game before.  From the beginning it looked like I was sure to fail so much so that others stacked all the odds against me, literally.  But when it was all said and done, much to their shock, I won the whole game.

Even though it was only a game and all in fun, I saw such a parallel to life.  How many times does it look to your friends, family, the enemy, or even you that you are down?  It may appear that you’ve completely lost and you may even cry out to God to help or to save you before it’s too late, but please hold on.  God is setting up a supernatural move in your life.  No matter how bad it gets or how low you feel, you may be down at the moment, but you are not out.  How you start is not the most important thing, it is how you finish.

As others are betting against you, counting you out, or disregarding your abilities, God is in your corner and putting others in a position where they will be forced to turn their criticism of you into praise.

 

Consumers and Contributers by Sonya (Ladies On Life)

Photo Credit: www.dreamstime.com

I have been thinking about what it means to be a consumer and what it means to be a contributor in our spiritual walk.  Being a consumer in my opinion is being able to obtain information and learn more about God’s word through bible study or classes or church service.  As we are being discipled we are being consumers learning how to grow in our faith.  Consuming is great because you learn and understand more as pastors or other bible study leaders are teaching you.  On the other hand, if that is all you are doing by just listening to God’s word and just using it for yourself then it defeats the point of what God has called us to do.  “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” James 1:22 (KJV).  Hearing the word of God alone is not beneficial to you and others if we don’t use it.  We are to be doers of the word and to go out and act on what we have been taught.

 

Therefore you move yourself from being a consumer to being a contributor.  We would be selfish if we were to keep everything we knew and learned about to ourselves.  God has created us to be the hands, feet, and eyes of the Church and to go out and serve one another.  “Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it” 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT).  Contribute your talents and gifts and reach those that do not know and need to hear about God.  It is like a ripple effect; once you touch someone’s life they are more apt to want to touch someone else’s life.

 

What does this look like? I know for our family, we have been discipled and taught through our church and the different classes and bible studies and our kids through children’s programs.  We have been greatly blessed consuming God’s word through these programs.  But now we are challenging our small group and family to reach out and serve in these next few months by contributing our time and talents.  We have planned several outreaches to serve food in low-income communities, bring gifts to families that can’t afford it during Christmas, helping kids that are disabled, and serving our local food pantries.  These are just a few ways on how you can get involved.  We want to teach not only our children but also those around us not to be consumers but to contribute and give to others that truly need it.  Showing God’s love through your actions can be the biggest testimony of whom God is.

 

This holiday season, I challenge you to give your time and talents to those in need.  If it means taking the time out to help a neighbor or saying “hello” to a stranger, it will be well worth it.  Pray God will give you opportunities to be a contributor of your faith and not just a consumer. You will be so greatly blessed by putting your focus on others that you will forget about your own needs and realize what truly is important this season.

 

Heart Looking by Bombi (Ladies On Life)

 

photo credit: dreamstime.com

 

There is a popular show that judges singing talent purely on a person’s voice. The judges do not even look at the person until they have heard their voice alone and want to hear more from them, and then they take their first look.

As a believer, I hope to take that same approach with people I meet, only instead of hearing a voice, I want to see the heart.

In the Old Testament, when the prophet Samuel was looking for the next king (1 Samuel 16), he came to the house of Jesse and thought that each of his seven strapping sons could surely be the next king. However God was searching for His man, unlikely to the naked eye.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Now I know that the Word says that it is God that looks at the heart. He alone knows exactly what is happening in the heart of men and women. But I believe we can take that same attitude or approach regarding discernment of the people who we interact with. We might not get it right all the time, God’s own prophet kept getting it wrong, 7 times in a row. But if we take a step back and think of the actions that are showing the heart of someone, we may become better judges of character. So the old saying says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, this is wise, and even Biblical in this example. Sisters, I want to challenge you, the next time you meet someone and are tempted to make a snap judgment based on their outward appearance, or better yet, tempted to stick with that snap judgment, take a moment to seek God’s wisdom. Ask God for “heart goggles”. I believe He will honor your prayer.

 

I Got All My Sisters With Me

It’s hard to believe that is has been five years since I got the call from Trish asking me to be a member of the Ladies on Life team. I told her “yes” right away and then after we laughed at my quick response, I told her I would pray about it, you know, just for due process sake. It was not a difficult decision to make at all because I trusted Trish as a friend, and I was so humbled by the opportunity to be a part of something that would extend beyond me. It was right in line with what I knew I was made to do, and judging by the many trials I was facing and had already overcome, I knew I had plenty to write about.

Once she made the call to assemble the team, we were off and running, writing two articles a month on any topic of our choosing. Everything was going great and the excitement was truly palpable. As the years scurried along and we began to receive feedback from ladies all over the country, I think each member of the team while elated, began to feel the intensity of writing something that could possibly help free another lady. Personally, I started to write from a place much deeper than when I started out. So much so, that there were many nights sitting at my laptop that tears streamed down my face as I typed each word. Something incredible started to happen. God was ministering to ME as my desire increased to minister to others.

Those moments have greatly added to my life and I would have been satisfied with them alone, but there is more to this story. Not only was I gifted with a chance to express myself through the ministry of writing, but I also gained new sisters in the L.O.L. team. The reason I say “sisters” instead of “friends” is for a particular reason. When I think of friends I think of people who, as the Bible would say, tend to love you at all times. They are your friends because you have something in common and it just works. However when I think of a sister or family, I think of people that were chosen connections for you before there ever was a “you”. It is a bond that is much stronger in the sense that you choose your friends, and at any point you can un-choose them, but with family, there is no undoing that tie. That is what the Ladies On Life team has been to me, family. My sisters. We have been through thick and thin and have gotten so close over five years even though our connection was chosen for us. We are all so different but we have been able to agree on one thing, women need love, encouragement, and a place to unwind, grow and learn in Christ.

I thank God for Ladies On Life and the members of this team. As we celebrate 5 years, I look forward to the many more to come, and knowing that I get to do this alongside my sisters, helps make for one amazing journey.