WFMW: Saying Yes For His Girls

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Jennifer for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

At desks, sinks, and fields, on this floor of wood and this one of dirt, in kitchens where water pours right down from faucets, and in mud huts where water is fetched in buckets by walking miles one way each day, I know we are seen, these girls of Yours.

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Where children laugh and where tears stream down, where husbands and wives keep trying and where marriages dissolve in pain and hope lost, You smile, and cry, too.  You nurture these hearts and You bend and wipe tears.

Pain is not something that makes you not stay.

There are the flushed, pink cheeks, robust from plenty food.  And there are the sallow, sunken frames, eyes pleading for sustenance, mercy.

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You show us these children, those girls of Yours who lift up hands–those who know You and those who don’t — and we remember how much we need You to show us how to love all these girls well–how we need You to even give us eyes to see, to give us hearts to feel, before we love, before we believe.

We are all Your girls.

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And You take this girl’s hands in Yours as You reach, reminding her sweet:  here, here is the food I bring.

You were lost until you were found.  You thought and lived like you were forgotten until I reminded you that you are not.  You wondered if anyone saw you, knew you, cared about the depths of your heart — the heart you didn’t even know was there until I showed it to you.

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Remember you are the one whose life I claimed.

With My life you live.

These are my girls, for My girls to gather up.

Gather them, My dears.  I am Yours.  I have gathered you.  Don’t stop now.

Until they are all gathered I wait, I stay.

Kristen’s brave, inspiring words in Rhinestone Jesus got me thinking about my trip to Ethiopia–and how my yes to God to jump on that plane with my husband, seven years ago, leaving behind our (then) 5, 3, and 1 year old for 21 days forever changed my heart. Our yes to that trip, years ago, prompted my husband and I, living in the midst of crazy-busy-success-driven Silicon Valley, California, to start a non-profit as the means for us to love the people God is calling us to love, in the way He’s made us to do it. Last week it was official: Gather Ministries got accredited as a 501(c)(3).

What is your yes? Who are you made to love? How are you made to love them?

Kristen reminds me, in Rhinestone Jesus,

I believe we are all called to do something, just not everything. Focusing on our one thing and doing it well to His glory is both liberating and life changing.

Saying yes to what Jesus is calling us to do is the freedom we will never know unless we trust Him more than ourselves. Come on, sister, let’s say yes to Him. What happens next, after the yes, may not be easy, but we don’t want to miss all that good He has that we will otherwise never know.

As sisters, let’s root for each other. Let’s join Kristen in encouraging each other to listen for and respond to God’s invitation to say yes.

Jennifer square new blue backgroundJennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ.

You can find her writing at her blog, You Are My Girls, and also with her husband about the redemptive mess of marriage at their blog, Holy Entanglement.

WFMW: Saying YES is Always More Than You Bargained For

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Jennifer for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

When I said “Yes!” to my younger daughter’s life, refusing to discuss termination with my doctor, I had no idea what that would mean. All indications were, despite the doctor’s fears, that our daughter was just fine. Later we realized that she does, indeed, have medical and neurodevelopmental issues, and she is a struggling learner too. All of this information has come to us little by little, although we realized at birth that she was a bit different.

I had no idea that saying yes to my daughter’s life would mean an entirely different life for our family—other than the changes that come with adding another family member to our household. I had no idea that, nine years later, therapy sessions and evaluations, behavioral therapy sessions, specialist appointments, and weekly immunoglobulin infusions would be “normal” for us.

Saying yes to our daughter’s life also meant that my dreams for my writing changed. God’s plans were entirely different from my own. He has gradually opened up an entire speaking and writing ministry to families of children with special needs. He’s very serious about 2 Corinthians 1:4. He never wastes a single hard thing in our lives.

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But saying yes also brought other changes to our lives that I didn’t expect. I never dreamed that I would rejoice over my child making eye contact for longer than a few seconds at a time. I never imagined that we would all get excited about our daughter wearing a different type of clothing or trying a different type of food. I didn’t expect to smell everything I come into contact with, trying to imitate her behavior and experience the world similar to the way she does. I never dreamed I would sit next to her almost every day for years, watching her persevere at the learning that comes so hard to her, watching her struggle, and then finally hearing her read a few words fluently.

I never dreamed that I could be so in love with a child whose future is so uncertain. I never imagined that God would give me an even clearer picture of His love for me in all my struggles and imperfections through this child He blessed me with.

I didn’t expect to grow even closer to God as I dropped to my knees over and over again, asking for wisdom to raise this child, asking for help to pay for the things she needs, asking for favor with therapy facilities, specialists, and insurance companies. I didn’t expect to be so comforted in the good times and bad, knowing that He’s walking alongside me.

I didn’t expect to see His miracles in my family’s life, over and over again. I didn’t expect my daughter’s struggles to cause both of my daughters to develop character traits and a dependence on God that will serve them well for the rest of their lives—and I can’t wait to see how He uses all of this to bless others.

And while I wonder about the future and what God might do between now and then, He makes sure that we’re filled with joy, even during the hard times. My precious daughter adds so much love and laughter to our lives. Like this morning, while we were doing her math lesson, I asked her to write the numbers 35 to 100, counting by fives. She looked at me and said, “To 100? Doesn’t that seem a little extreme?” After I insisted she could do it, she proceeded to count by fives to 110. So there.

Saying YES to God is a scary but exhilarating thing to do. No matter what your YES is or where it leads you, you can be sure it will be more than you bargained for!

 

Bio:

2013 headshot (1)Jennifer Janes lives in Arkansas with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys reading, writing, speaking, drinking iced tea, crocheting, using blue ink when she writes longhand, and spending time with friends and family. She writes about faith, family, and parenting and homeschooling a child with special needs on her blog, Jennifer A. Janes.

WFMW: The Secret to a Greater Yes

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Arabah for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I’m jealous of people with super-sized God dreams and extra large yeses.

There, I said it.

I wish I could believe God for huge things and then go jump off an airplane at 10,000 feet on a rescue mission.  Or something. But truth is, I’m a woman with trust issues.

That’s pertinent information because when I tell you I’ve lived an international, nomadic life for over a decade, that I’ve eaten pig snouts and given birth in three different countries, that I’ve adopted a child from a hard place, and moved more times than I can count, it sure isn’t because I’m the adventurous type.

{Trust me. I didn’t find out about the pig nose until after the fact, if you know what I mean.}

I look back over my life and don’t see any big choices, no jumps or leaps of faith… just small little yeses every day. Over time, this is where they’ve led.

Yes is like a seed. It grows over time. But I’ve learned a little secret. Our yes is only as big as our trust. So if I want a greater yes…and I do… I need to strengthen my trust muscles.

In John 6:28-29, some people told Jesus they wanted to do God’s works too. So they asked Jesus what they should do. I imagine they were asking for all of us, because it is a desire God’s people have, to do God’s works.

Jesus answered them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe.”

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In other words, the work of believing God is the greatest yes of all. It prompts and enables all the other yeses.

It doesn’t take someone special to do big things, it just takes faith in a big God. To me, that is really great news!

We see this in Abraham. Isaiah 51:2 tells us to ponder his story, to realize that when God called Abram, he was a measly, solitary one. He wasn’t the Abraham we generally think of: wealthy, blessed, full of life and God’s favor, rich in faith, intimate with God. He was none of those things. Yet it was through faith that Abram became Abraham, the father of nations.

It could be our story too.

God is always issuing the invitation to trust, to move out of ordinary into the realm of yes.

It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe it means we stop viewing our lives as boring and mundane and instead believe everything we do is significant. (I Corinthians 10:31)

Maybe it means speaking to the person in line at the grocery.

Maybe it means writing a letter or paying it forward or just hushing that inner voice of condemnation over our failures based on the truth of God’s word.

We can’t follow the traditions of others or the culture around us. We can’t do things the way we’ve always done. Saying yes means we trust God… then step out and do things differently. We think and move in new patterns.

A life of trust is one small yes after the other, minute after minute, day after day. The result is a legacy we can be proud of.

No 10,000 feet plunges required.

Unless, of course, that’s what’s on your invite.

So, what is your yes going to be today?

 

Bio:

Arabah Joy is wife to Jackson and mom to four frog-loving, scooter-toting kids. She and her family live on the 26th floor of a high rise somewhere in Asia. She is author of several books, including the just released book, Trust Without Borders, a part memoir, part spiritual guide to living a life of trust. She loves connecting with readers on her blog at www.arabahjoy.com.

WFMW: Sometimes Yes Doesn’t Make Sense

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Christy for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Sometimes saying “yes” doesn’t make sense.

At 26 years old, I was blessed beyond measure as I walked down the aisle to say “I do” to my high school crush. It had taken almost 10 years after graduation and the Lord orchestrating a lot of events for us to reconnect, but in June 2004, we began on an exciting journey of life and ministry together. We were blessed shortly after with two beautiful children, but then got the scary news no one wants to hear at the beginning of another pregnancy: “Your husband has a cancerous eye tumor.”

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In the midst of radiation, treatment, and checkups in the months that followed, life began looking a lot more precious to us, and the Lord began to prick our hearts for orphaned children. Although we were not able to step forward into an adoption journey ourselves at that point due to health reasons, He brought families into our lives that were in the midst of the adoption process, and we were able to support and encourage them.

Three years later, everything seemed to be healing up nicely for my husband, and his checkups had been consistently good. The Lord made it clear to us that it was finally time for our family to answer our own “yes” to His call to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia. All of our paperwork went smoothly and God kept providing the funds we needed.   Before we knew it, we were on a waitlist, counting down referral numbers and days until we would receive “the” call that would change our family forever.

Just seven months later, in February 2013, our family did change forever… but not in the way any of us had been expecting. My dear husband suddenly went home to be with Jesus. As I tried to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts in the months following his death, and face a new life as a now single mom to my three wonderful children, I was left with so many unanswered questions. I even hid the adoption binder that held all of our important paperwork, as it hurt too much to see it. Not only was I grieving the loss of my husband, but I was also grieving the loss of a child I’d never met but had prayed for and already viewed as our own.

Why did You clearly move us to say “yes” to the adoption process when you knew all of this was ahead, Lord? I prayed in hurt and frustration. Why did You provide everything and keep moving us forward, only to allow us to hit this dead end?

It has only been over time that I’ve been able to see a little more of the bigger picture. Sometimes our “yes” answers may seem like they just lead to a dead end. Maybe they will result in heartache and unanswered questions. But our “yes” is never about us. It’s about acknowledging that our God is greater than us and is writing a much bigger story than the little events of our daily lives.   When we are able to say “yes” to the little things, it strengthens us to say “yes” to the bigger things, less afraid of the outcome. We don’t have to know all of the answers, because we can trust that He does… and that’s enough for us.

I may never know the reason why God wanted us to say “yes” to something that seems now like an unfulfilled dream. I don’t know if I will ever see this desire of my heart come to fruition.   But I can honestly say that it’s ok, because I’ve seen that He just wants my heart to be His, not dependent on circumstances or results. And with my heart held in His hands, I am safe and secure, no matter what life tries to throw my way.

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Christy Davis is a mom of three and blogs at What Hope Looks Like From Here, a blog she prays can bring continual hope and encouragement to women.  You can also find here here on Twitter.

WFMW: Saying Yes

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I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Mary for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I was sitting in my office, eavesdropping on my friends on the couches outside my door. It wasn’t the bad kind of eavesdropping. I mean, my door was open; they knew I was there.

I heard them discussing Praise Parkway, our church’s children’s worship service. Though they had some great kids serving every Sunday morning, the program needed an adult’s oversight and guidance. And they didn’t know anyone who was interested.

I’d recently accepted that there was no way for me to be involved in our worship arts ministry. Even if I’d gotten up the nerve to audition for the praise band, I wouldn’t be able to make the time commitment. Not now, at least.

But now my friends were talking about a team of volunteers who put together a worship service every Sunday. They needed help – and the commitment fit into my schedule.

So I hollered out my door, “I could do it!”

I didn’t really know what I was signing up for, but something compelled me that afternoon – and I said yes.

I said yes to working with older kids to serve younger kids. Every single Sunday morning.

I don’t know why. I don’t really like kids. (I know. That sounds awful. But it’s true and relevant to this story!) And I certainly never desired to work with middle school kids. Middle school kids! Nobody likes those guys! But that’s who I volunteered to serve with. (Every single Sunday morning.)

When I spontaneously said yes to that ministry, I thought I was going to be serving the elementary kids. But it turned out that wasn’t the ministry God was calling me to.

Nope. He was calling me to lead and serve the team of middle school students who work in Praise Parkway. The quirky ones, the occasionally awkward ones, the hyper ones and the ones who are most certainly middle school students. (You know, those kids I didn’t want to hang out with?)

And I love them.

I love serving with them.

I love praying with them.

I love listening to them talk to each other.

I love talking to them about the latest YA novel we’ve all read.

And I really love it when they talk to me about their lives.

If I’d taken time to think about it that day in my office, I probably wouldn’t have said yes. I mean, I didn’t have time for another “thing.” I was having trouble juggling two jobs, and I already served in two other areas at church. I was overwhelmed and conflicted about what was more important in just about every area of my life. (All I knew was that cooking dinner was nowhere near the most important – and yet those people at my house kept expecting me to do it anyway!)

I didn’t really have it together. I wasn’t sure what my future looked like. And I really had no interest in middle school kids. But I said yes anyway.

It has changed my life and has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. (And now I have an excuse for all those YA books I love to read, right?)

 

Mary Carver is a writer, church planter, wife and mom. She’s also a recovering perfectionist who loves Jesus, her family and books, watches too much TV, and believes M&Ms are a love language. Mary writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life at www.givinguponperfect.com.