Friday, March 30, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: Love Is Patient

March 22, 1997
"Love is patient and kind."

When my husband and I met and began unwrapping our pasts, we discovered we had quite the opposite love history.

Mark grew up in a pastor's home.  He had dated several girls. A couple were long-term and he was almost engaged, but never married.  He was waiting for "the right woman" to come along: the woman God had intended for him. He said he knew after just a few dates if "this was the one". If she wasn't, there was no point in going any further. In fact, as he turned forty, he pretty much decided God's woman was not going to arrive. He began settling into the lifestyle of a bachelor. He passed the time with golf, and more golf, softball, racquetball, cars, and more cars. You get the picture: a bachelor to the core! 

I was raised in an alcoholic home, searching for a safe house. I began dating a boy from a good Christian home when I was just a freshman in high school. We were engaged my senior year and married six months after my graduation. Four years later, my daughter was born. We divorced when she was sixteen months old. Two years later, I remarried and eleven years later, I was a widow. Now thirty-six, I poured myself into college and Nicole's high school activities. No longer interested in men, no longer believing there was such a thing as "the right man", I tended my wounded heart by fully surrendering to a love relationship with Christ.

The "right man" met the "right woman" at Mt. Vernon First Church of the Nazarene. He saw me at the altar one Sunday morning and asked a friend to ask a friend to find out more about me. I was resistant to any and all pursuers. He did not pursue. Our mutual friends continued to negotiate this meeting behind the scenes. After months of their prompting, God began to pry open my heart just enough that I was willing to meet this mystery bachelor. Yes, I know, it was amazing that we had been going to the same church and still had not met. In fact, I would not have known him if he walked past me on the street.

He. Did not. Pursue me.
He was the perfect gentleman.
He. Was. Patient.


Is it any wonder that when I read these three words, my Mark is the person who comes to mind?
He waited. For me.
He took the straight path. I took the crooked one.

In every other relationship, I felt like I was walking on eggshells, waiting for the next explosion. But not this one. He was the first man in my life that knew how to control anger; in fact, he rarely gets angry. He is rock solid. Unwavering. Patient and kind.

But the one thing that really makes this relationship work? The love we have for the Lord Jesus Christ. It was His patience that brought each of us to this Love surrender. Loving Him fully, prepared us to love each other. Patiently.

~If you are still waiting, may God grant you the patience to persevere and the power to remain pure.
~If you have chosen the crooked path, may God renew your strength each day and make your paths straight. I pray He would cleanse your inner being and heal your heart.
~I pray that regardless of your situation, Jesus Christ would become your First Love, the Lover of your Soul. You will recognize Him in this: His "love is patient and kind."

Mark and I celebrated our 15th anniversary on March 22. The song below speaks of the road that led me to Mark. It also describes the journey that opened my heart to this incredible love relationship that is available with Jesus Christ. I pray God will "bless your broken road"!

"Bless The Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts (youtube)

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true


Now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

40 Days of Virtue:The Lunacy of Love

Joan of Arc's Death, by Herman Stilke
"If I gave everything I have to the poor
and even sacrificed my body,
I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others,
I would have gained nothing."
I Corinthians 13:3NLT

Giving. Sacrificing. Dying. For the sake of love. Or not.
At face value, it may seem absurd to think that you would do these three things for any other reason. But, think again!
This "sacrifice of the body" is translated in other versions as being burned at the stake. It brings to mind the early martyrs of the church. It also paints a picture, like the one shown here, of the young heroine of the Hundred Years' War in France in the early 1400's.
Joan of Arc had divine visions at the age of twelve, calling her to lead her homeland to freedom. By sixteen, this peasant girl moved in her perceived call of God. Weaving her way through hostile territory, she gained entrance to the French Royal Court and landed a private conference with Charles VII. Charles was inspired by her testimony and determination to carry it forth. Yet, it was Joan's motivation that became frontline in this battle.

Was she a saint or a sorceress? The future of their country was at stake. The Royal Court was smart enough to know they needed God's favor to win this war. So, they did a background check! Joan was found to be irreproachable. They joined forces with this teenager who they deemed a "good Christian", who demonstrated "the virtues of humility, honesty and simplicity." Joan's reward for her military success? At the age of 19, she was burned at the stake. Her executioner said he "feared his own damnation" for having carried out this death sentence.

Motivated by God. To the point of death. Sound familiar?
Two thousand years after the life and death of Jesus Christ, people still question the mission and the motives of the Messiah.  If we think about it, it is a bit absurd, isn't it?
  • Why would God send His son to earth? Expect him to live in human conditions?
  • Why would God allow His son to die a martyr's death, even a criminal death?
  • Why would Jesus succomb to this, without trial or defense?
  • Why would his accusers not see that this was the Son of God? Not recognize him as their Messiah?
The answer is repetitive throughout scripture. The reason is love.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)."
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (I John 3:16)."
God. Loves. Us. Enough to watch His Son suffer and die a criminal death.
Yet, He did not die without judge or jury or justice. He is seated at the right hand of God in the heavens. He has become  the eternal and righteous Judge, who will determine the final resting place of all mankind.

The determination will be based on our motivations. Our love.

Is it possible to do good things for the wrong reasons? Absolutely.
  • I can give generously to others to elevate myself, to make myself look good in the eyes of others, to feel good about myself.  not love!
  • I can take my own life for the sake of love, but it's really an act of revenge, or of self-pity, of self-loathing, or of self-edification.  not love!
  • I can risk my life for the sake of saving lives, but it's usually for political gain.  not love!
  • I can love someone for the sake of my own need to be loved, which is really just an act of self-love.  not love!
Today is as good a day as any to question our motives. To begin to truly love!

"Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had..." READ MORE of Philippians chapter 2

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: The Law of Love

"If I had the gift of prophecy,
and if I understood all of God’s secret plans
and possessed all knowledge,
and if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be nothing."
~I Corinthians 1:2

As we draw closer to Holy Week, our thoughts are drawn to the plight of Jesus. He was and is The One, the long-awaited Messiah. He was the fulfillment of prophecy and He was prophetic. He understood all of God's secret plans. In fact, He was God's secret plan. He possessed all knowledge. He had faith that could move mountains. He had all of these gifts and abilities. But it was His love that changed lives. It was His love that got Him in trouble. It was His love that led Him to the cross.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, we see hecklers in every crowd: the Pharisees. It was their religious position, or disposition, to protect and enforce the law of the Jews. They were religious to a fault. They were legalistic to a fault. They imposed so many rules and regulations that the people became slaves of the law. They tried to impose these laws upon The One who came to fulfill the law. 

Jesus refuted the laborious laws of the self-righteous. He condemned legalistic religiosity. His message was compassion, healing, resurrection, justice, mercy...LOVE. His message was more than a message. It was a public demonstration of a new order, a new Kingdom, a new covenant between God and His people. This covenant is a covenant of Love.  

The ultimate absurdity is that the religious leaders nailed Jesus to the cross. It demonstrated their spiritual blindness. It demonstrated their lack of love for God and His word, their lack of love for one another for the sake of their devotion to laws and religions of man.

I love the preaching of Peter on the Day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2:
"Men of Israel, listen to this:  Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs...and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him on the cross. But God raised him from the dead...Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart... (vvs. 22-24,36-37)."
Then they asked Peter, "What shall we do?"  He instructed them to repent.

We must repent too.
  • for leaning on our knowledge of scripture rather than allowing it to change us at a heart level
  • for believing in our own self-righteousness rather than seeking God's righteousness
  • for making this Covenant of Love into a rulebook for others to follow
  • for imposing judgment on those who do not know Christ
  • for not obeying the Commands of Jesus:
    • "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
    • "Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39)."

Lord, forgive us for our tendency to cast judgment, to overlook our own faults and criticize others. We are truly sorry, for we, like the Pharisees, can easily fall into the habit of reading Your Word just to grow in knowledge, to display our knowledge before others rather than hiding it in our hearts and applying it to our lives. We, too, have nailed you to the cross because of our sins. Thank you for your selfless act of forgiveness, Lord. May we truly live out this Love Command. Fill us anew with Your love and give us a burning passion to love others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: The Language of Love

Ground Zero Cross

Though we have put the Proverbs 31 woman to rest, her legacy of love lives on. I Corinthians 13 describes the uniqueness of a life well lived for Christ, which is a life of love*.

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels,
but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."

~I Corinthians 13:1

Have you tried to communicate with someone of another language? It's not an easy thing to do! Words are not enough. You use your body to try to express what you want to say. Your hands, facial expressions. You may even draw a picture. You do anything to bridge the gap.

Limited to the English language, I know this frustration. In November, 2011, God sent me to New York City to minister to victims of the World Trade Center disaster. I was given an assignment I would never have imagined: to train volunteers to counsel, pray, and share Christ with lives uprooted by this horrific event. In the two weeks, over 2,000 hurting hearts came through our doors looking for hope, in need of healing. People from more countries than I can list. Some knew English. Some knew some English. Some knew no English.  Language was a barrier. Like a great hurdler, love leaped over!

One man shared his grief over the loss of more than 70 friends, co-workers, family; and the distress as to "Why not me?" We were there to share a greater plan of salvation. The numbers saved in the The Lambs Church of the Nazarene on Times Square did not equal the lives that were lost in the World Trade Center. But my guess-timate is that hundreds, perhaps 1,000 accepted the love and life of Jesus Christ in our makeshift counseling center.

I remember a man from China, so excited to be introduced to Jesus Christ. He could not wait to go home to invite his wife and children to know Him also. I remember a family of six from Kenya, standing in a circle, hand in hand, repeating the prayer of salvation together. Their voices rang like a beautiful chorus of worship through that room!

This is what I remember most: when words were not enough, prayer bridged the love and the language gap. When I did not have the words to say, when I could not speak their language, I stopped and prayed. God broke through. Tears of surrender filled their eyes. They gave their hearts to Jesus.

At Easter, my husband and I were there to organize a second outreach. People I met at Christmas returned with joy. Several said that when we prayed, they felt it in their hearts.  Words could not communicate God's love. Prayer did.  Prayer is the language of love.

This first verse of chapter thirteen speaks a language of its own. I hear the sound of clanging symbols. It's just noise...annoying to our ears! We are bombarded with words, words, words. Words have almost become meaningless, resounding gongs. Our ears are word-worn!

As a lover of words, a writer and word-crafter, I choose my words carefully. As a woman of God, we must all be careful with our words. If you want to speak the language of love, here are some things to consider:
  • Do you say you are going to do something, then don't? Your words are clanging symbols!
  • Do you complain and speak negatively of the church, of your life, of others? Resounding gong!
  • Do you tell people you are going to pray for them, then don't? Empty promises!
  • Don't say you will pray if you know you cannot commit to it. If they don't get the results of prayer, they will think prayer doesn't work.
  • Pray for them in person.
  • Write a note that can be read and re-read; words that penetrate the heart instead of overloading the ears.
  • Think before you speak. Make sure the words about to spill from your mouth will reflect the love of Christ.
*"Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us...(Ephesians 5:1-2)."

Monday, March 26, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: Praise Her!

Missing My Mother
"Her children stand and bless her... 
a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise."
Proverbs 31:28, 30-31

"She had the nicest personality of any resident I have ever taken care of since I've been a caregiver."
She was a great lady.”

“She was independent to the very end.”

These were words spoken by my mother's caregivers after her passing. It amazes me that these people who had known her only a few short months spoke so profoundly into her life and mine. 
I felt like I was blind, but suddenly I could see!  I saw how much she meant to me, how much she did for me, how much she taught me, and how much of the good in me was modeled by her. I saw her strength. Her commitment. Her perseverance. Her sacrifice. Her unspoken love.

She was a virtuous woman, as described in Proverbs 31 of the Bible.

These final verses of Proverbs 31 serve as an epitaph at the end of the poem. It's as though this woman's life has come to an end, and this is the legacy she has left behind:
  • Children and grandchildren who celebrate her worth, who see her value in having shaped their lives and pointed them toward God.
  • Deeds that flowed from her devotion to God, and left a mark on the hearts of the many lives she touched in her community, in her world.
  • A lifetime of living love, not just speaking it.
As we come to the end of our journey with this woman, I think of the devotions that have been penned from these verses by our Woven Women. Many have reflected on the legacy of their mothers and grandmothers, godly women who have paved a pathway of living a life of love.

For me, these verses provided a way to publicly praise my mom before friends and family at her funeral. As I gave tribute to my mother, I asked everyone to stand and together we applauded my mother for the great things she had done and for the legacy she had left behind!

I regret that I did not praise her enough before her passing. I did not honor her in the way that I would have liked to. My eyes, my mind, my heart, were covered with a veil of my wants, my rights, my unmet needs. She may not have been the mother I would have chose, but she was the mother God chose for me. It seemed I was so consumed with what was lacking in her, that I could not see what was lacking in me. "Mother, forgive me! Abba Father, God, forgive me!"

  • Are you wearing a veil over your heart today?
  • Do you see the good in others? Or are you too focused on their faults?
  • What is filtering your view, your perspective of others?
  • What is preventing the light of God's love to shine in all it's glory through you?
"But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:16-17)"
  • Will you turn to the Lord today and ask Him to identify the veil that covers your heart, your spiritual eyes?
  • Allow Him to heal whatever wounds are there, so that you can walk in the freedom He offers through His Holy Spirit.
  • Take this time apart with Him to pray, read scripture, journal, and listen for God to speak into your heart and life.
    "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (IJohn 3:1NIV)"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: A True Beauty

A True Beauty
Woven Leader Kathleen Benis
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."
Proverbs 31:30(NLT)

How can it be? Beauty does not last?

Each day I look in the mirror, I see one more wrinkle. One more line. My spanks cami is no longer lifting and smoothing. How these models charm you into believing if you do this and wear that, your beauty will last. I thought beauty and charm made women come alive! I was deceived.

Then I met Jesus. He introduced me to the issue of my heart. Just as I love to be pursued so does He. God longs for you to love and pursue Him. He says, 

“Seek me with all of your heart”(Jeremiah 29:13).
As I seek Him, He unveils my beauty. He fuels my search for meaning, for wholeness. I begin to see the essential life-impacting role He has for me. My priorities shift.

Jesus opens my eyes to see myself and others through the heart. An internal beauty that captivates. This beauty brings life to others. It encourages. It inspires. As we allow Jesus to unveil our inner beauty, it unveils beauty in others too.

This season of Lent allows us to dwell on Jesus. His reason for dying was to overcome death; to bring us life. The beautiful thing about having a relationship with Jesus is that you are joining with Him in this life-bringing process. Life to those God-vacancies we need to deal with. He may be asking us to serve when we want to be served. To sacrifice when we feel exhausted and have no more to give. To put our wants and dreams on hold for the sake of others. It's in these times that we see a little more of our selfishness die and a little more of Jesus taking root in our heart, allowing His beauty to shine through: the most charming beauty of all!

Take a few moments right now to allow God to search your heart and show you how beautiful you already are...and the ways in which He wants to purify and beautify you more: from the inside out! 

Pray the prayer of Psalm 139:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life (verses 23-24)


Kathleen's husband Larry has given her 31years of happiness and now a beautiful home in Newark, Ohio, near their son Nathan and daughter-in-"love" Michelle.

Kathleen loves the Lord and loves sharing insights from God's Word. She loves to help others walk through the hard times, celebrate the good times and give hope in the messy-ness of life.

She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!


Friday, March 23, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: Aging With Grace

Cheryl attending the Miss America pageant
and looking like Miss America!!
"Aging With Grace"
Woven Leader
Cheryl Simpson

“Charm is deceptive
and beauty does not last,
 but a woman who fears the Lord
will be greatly praised.”
When Did It Happen? Was it sometime in my 50's?
When did I suddenly stop and see the signs?
     Increased lines...they call them wrinkles and I can testify that no amount of expensive creams will erase them!
     The more frequent visits to my hair hide the grey.
     The double chin and droopy eye lids...need I say more?
     The aches in the joints…they call it arthritis.

Aging! Isn’t it glorious?
In the mid 1990’s, my daughter and I would dress up and travel all the way to Mansfield, Ohio to watch the Miss Ohio pageant. We looked forward to this for several years. I was so taken up with this display of glamour.  One year I even attended the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City! I did have a good reason to go. Our neighbor girl was representing  Ohio in the pageant and we wanted to support her.
One evening, as I walked with a friend from my hotel to the Atlanta Convention Center, we encountered a homeless man. He was sitting on the street watching those who were more fortunate stroll past. My reaction to him still haunts me today. I turned away from him. More than that, I walked across the street to avoid connecting with him even in a small way. I completely ignored him. 

How charming of me. How beautiful? Knowing that our God has called us to be imitators of Christ, how Christlike was that? A heart change happened to me that night. I pictured our Lord hanging his head! My heart was broken.

W.W.J.D? (What would Jesus Do?) "Jesus came to set the captives free. Jesus came to deliver the alcoholic, to make the embittered joyful, to forgive those who are shamed, to rebuild marriages, and He came to embrace orphans (Max Lucado)"….and yet, I turned and walked away.

How much would a stop, a smile and a “Do you know that someone loves you very much” cost me? As I reflect on that night, that poor man, and my reaction to him, a familiar chorus rings through my soul, “Oh to Be Like Thee”:

“O to be Like thee,
Blessed Redeemer, Pure as thou art,
Come in thy sweetness, Come in thy fullness
Stamp thine own image, Deep in my heart."
Our standard is not beauty. It is Holiness!  Listen as you read these words of wisdom from our Heavenly Father:
”The world is passing away and the lust of it but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17)."

Renowned blind and deaf author Helen Keller once said, “Because I have been given so much, how can I think about what I don’t have!” Now doesn’t this put me to shame? I think I will quit complaining about my wrinkles.
“Be joyful always: Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1Thessalonians 45:16) .”
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.” I Thess. 5:23
Cheryl is the grateful wife of 36 years to Ken. They have two children and five granddaughters. Previously a public school teacher, she now spends much of her week doing pastoral care for her church, Newark Church of the Nazarene.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: What Is Her Secret?

"What Is Her Secret?"
Woven Leader Candy Link

“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all."
Proverbs 31:29

As I pour over the words of Proverbs 31, I feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to live up to this lady. I have such a desire to be this virtuous woman but often feel I fall short. This virtuous woman of noble character "surpasses us all"!

"Are you kidding me?" Reading over this passage the first few times, I remember thinking exactly that! I pictured her like some sort of goddess floating through life, happily meeting the needs of her husband, children, and everyone else! Never lacking for talent or skill. Always patient, understanding and giving of her time. Thinking of others, caring for her home, all the while immaculately dressed in fine clothing.  On top of that, she is the picture perfect vision of strength and dignity.

"How does she do it?" What about when the stuff of life happens…illness, an unexpected expense, unkind words, the loss of a loved one, a broken heart, unbearable pain? How does she stack up then? Does this virtuous woman ever feel overwhelmed, exhausted, defeated?

"What is her secret?"  I believe I actually DO know her secret! I probably knew all along but was too intimidated to see it. It's really quite simple. She puts the Lord first in her life. She trusts Him. She knows He walks alongside her. He will never leave her. When life’s pain is too much, God wraps His loving arms around her and encourages her, even inspires her, to keep going.

Proverbs 31 is evidence of how highly God views women---and godly wives in particular. This virtuous woman in some way represents all of us; she is a compilation of the gifts and graces of godly women. Our verse today begins by pointing out, “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world”.  Yes, ladies, we ARE virtuous and capable women!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again:
Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(PHP 4:4-6)

Need a facelift? Try This:
  • Journal a list of women in your life that you admire.
  • Next to their names note the verses or qualities in Proverbs 31 that describe them.
  • Now add your name to the list and do the same thing.
  • Read the scripture below aloud several the top of your voice! Celebrate Christ living in YOU! Give Him praise, honor, and glory!

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (PHP 4:13)

Candy has been married to her high school sweetheart for 40 years and counting. They have two beautiful daughters, six precious grandchildren and a sweet puppy named Sammy. God has blessed them immensely.

She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: She Serves!

Kelly with her beloved Grandma Murphy, who is the focus of today's devotional.

"She Serves!"

Woven Leader Kelly Tenney
Kelly also serves on our Woven Women of Worship Team!

"Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise."
~Proverbs 31:28

I spent a lot of my childhood at my Grandma Murphy's house. Spending time with her was special and comforting. You could always count on yummy food, a super comfy bed, and lots of company. People were drawn to my grandma, her home, her food, her heart. My friends and church family often told me I was lucky to have her as a grandma. People were captivated by her giving spirit and her love for others.

When I read this passage I think of how my mom and her siblings have the utmost respect for their mother. They speak of her with love and affirmation. They would do anything for her, no questions asked. My grandfather? He is absolutely crazy about his wife. When he talks about my grandma his words are lavished with adoration and love for her. He does nothing but sing her praise!

Grandma Murphy spent her life serving her family...and like this woman spoken of in Proverbs 31:28, her family adores her. When I envision the woman spoken of in this passage, I see my grandma's heart of love for those around her.
"She wakes up before her family to prepare them breakfast, she is quick to assist anyone in need, she helps the poor" ... SHE SERVES! (from Proverbs 31)
These characteristics are so rare these days. Most of us are more concerned about our own needs. I often wonder,
"How did this woman become a person everyone loves and adores?" and, "How does a person gain such respect from everyone she comes in contact with?"
The answer seems obvious. It's easy to sing the praises of someone who
     · freely gives praise
     · is quick to comfort
     · celebrates the success of others
     · eagerly shares the love of God.
     · sets an example of praising and loving

Respect is not awarded to those who demand it. Respect is the natural response to a person who spends their days serving others.

I'm guessing she started loving and serving and was determined never to stop! Service to her was not an action but a lifestyle, and she was not selective in serving. It poured from her thoughts, her words, her heart.

How can you become a woman who is respected and praised? Ask God to give you a heart of humility; to enable you to serve with genuine concern. Wasn't Christ the perfect example of selfless serving? The same man who hung on a cross, washed the feet of others, and loved even his accusers and betrayers, speaks these words of advice to us,

"The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matt. 23:11-13NLT)."
Thank you, Jesus, for being the perfect example of serving all people. Please fill our hearts with the desire and ability to serve with the same love and respect that you demonstrated when you humbled yourself as a man and joined us here on earth. Thank you for modeling the perfect example of selfless service. And, thank you for dying on the cross and resurrecting us to new and eternal life through Your name, Amen.

Kelly is a stay at home mom of two. She runs a small business from her home and keeps busy serving at The Firehouse, a campus of Newark Church of the Nazarene. She enjoys flip flops, coffee, and leading worship with her husband.

She is a Woven Woman: A Woman of Virtue!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: Leaving a Legacy

Leaving A Legacy
Woven Worship Leader
Melissa Anderson

"Her children will arise and call her blessed:
her husband also, as he praises her."
Proverbs 31:28

It was a typical crazy day in our home. When the alarm went off at 5:30am, I hit the floor with both feet running. Four loads of laundry, a loaded dishwasher, a vacuumed floor, breakfast and six phone calls later, I loaded my children into our Durango and headed out for a full day of errands.

As a singer/worship leader, I always have the latest music playing in the car. Most days I am ushered into the presence of God, even while driving. At times I will find myself worshiping to the extent of hands raised in praise as we travel about, running errands and tending to our daily tasks. (No worries! I keep one hand on the wheel!)
This particular day, as I pulled into the car wash and turned off the ignition, my daughter Amelia (age 3 at the time) chimed up from her car seat behind me in protest.
“MOMMY!!!!!!!! Turn the music back on. I am WORSHIPPING!”
I kind of giggled to myself and turned the radio back on. As the words “You tore the veil…You made a way” flooded the car, I looked in the rear view mirror to see my daughter's sweet angelic face, eyes closed and arms raised high. She was basking in the sheer glory of our Creator with all her childlike might. Whew! What a sight!

As daughters, mothers, wives, grandmothers, it's easy to get lost in the busy-ness of our day-to- day responsibilities. Sometimes, we even feel unimportant, like we've lost our  identity. Our lives are entirely wrapped up in the daily to-do's of caring for family. That's exactly how I was feeling when I drove into the car wash that day. But when I looked in the rear view mirror at the blessed face of my precious daughter, I realized just how very IMPORTANT my current vocation is.
Have you looked in the mirror lately? We often see a clearer reflection of ourselves in the faces, attitudes, and actions of our children. Little eyes are watching. Little ears are listening. Little mouths are repeating what those little ears hear us say.
On that ordinary day that is now so memorable, my daughter wasn’t acting on one of the many things I have told her to do. She was literally experiencing and living out what she witnessed me doing in the day-to-day routines of life. How exciting! And...How frightening! Both at the same time.

If we think about it, this is true for everyone we come in contact with. Our husbands, extended family, friends, acquaintances, even the clerks at the grocery store are influenced by the ways in which we practice our faith...and especially when we think no one is watching!

Take some time to reflect on your mirror of life. Pray, journal, seek God's guidance on these questions:
  • How is your daily life shaping your children or those around you?
  • What personal habits and practices are rubbing off on the ones you encounter daily?
  • What kind of legacy will you leave behind?
  • Are you imitating Jesus in how you live, what you say and do, and in the way that you treat others?

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that (Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message)."

Melissa set aside her career in social work to fully devote herself to her family. She seeks God diligently as she strives to balance family and ministry, knowing that raising Godly children in a fallen world is the most demanding and rewarding vocation there is.

She is wife to Rod and mommy to Amelia and Theo. You will often find her singing her heart out to the Lord on a Sunday morning at Newark Naz.
She is a Woven Woman: A Woman of Virtue and leads our Woven Women of Worship! Love!

Monday, March 19, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: Generations of Love

"Generations of Love"
Woven Leader Lynn Haney

She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
Proverbs 31:27

This passage causes me to reflect on the past, to think about how I became a keeper of the house. It's not hard to figure out. I have been blessed with generations of the most wonderful women; women who taught by example what it is to be a wife, mother, and grandmother. They were living examples of what it is to be a woman who loves God.

It may sound strange but the love for my husband and children began to grow in my heart long before I ever knew them. As a little girl, my Grandmother told me the most amazing stories from her life. As she wove each memory, she was planting deep in my heart and mind the love of family and the desire to be a wife and mother. Oh, what a godly woman she was! Oh what amazing stories she told!

My grandmother's stories are as fresh in my mind today as they were the day she told them. Her family migrated to America from Ireland. They were quite poor. She openly shared about her third grade education, dropping out of school to become a nanny and housekeeper for a family near her home. At nineteen, she married my wonderful grandfather. They had fifteen children! My grandpa passed away young, leaving her with ten still to raise.  The youngest was only six months old.

I don't ever remember my grandmother complaining. She trusted that God would walk with her as she struggled to provide for her family. She always told me what a blessing each of her children was. She thanked God daily for placing each one in her care. Four of her sons followed in their father's footsteps and went into ministry. This made her so very proud! She showed me that a godly woman loves the job and tasks placed upon them as a wife, mother, and grandmother. I love to close my eyes and remember...I can hear her now, as I did then. She is in the kitchen, cooking and singing “Amazing Grace”. Oh what a joyous sound!

I have witnessed my grandmother's legacy by watching my mother. Life was not so good in our home. My father was an alcoholic, but mom did an awesome job making our home happy. She gave us everything she had, and she had lots of love. I remember as a teenager, my mom was still wearing the same clothes she had been wearing my entire life. Yet, she, like her mother, never complained. I can remember walking to the store for groceries. I thought I was so grown up when I was big enough to carry the bag of potatoes. She was never too busy for her children. She taught us to love God. We prayed. We learned that God answers and always provides what we need.

Now I am a wife, mother, and grandmother!
I thank God for His many blessings. He placed three wonderful boys in my arms and asked me to raise them as godly men. For twenty-six years, I have been asking him to guide me on this amazing journey of love.

Being a godly wife and mom is more than just keeping a clean house, cooking, taking kids to all their activities, and all the while working to help keep the house going. You have to know when to let all those things go.
  • Take time to just be a friend.
  • Pray with your kids.
  • Let them see you worship.
  • Let them see you cry out for help when you feel you are losing control.
  • Let them see that God needs to come first in our lives.
My grandmother died when I was only thirteen years old. She did not have the joy of seeing me become the wife or mother she had taught me to be. I like to think if she were still with us, she would be smiling and filled with pride as I try to fill her shoes, to walk in her footsteps.

As for my mom, I am lucky that she is still a huge part of my daily life. I guess I do not say one thing often enough, “Thank you, Mom!”

Lynn is a wife, mother, grandmother, and caretaker extraordinaire! She is a woman who is up for every challenge in her life and in the lives of others. She is a caterer and wedding planner. She loves the Lord and loves people. Lynn is a woman committed to prayer, to the church, her family, and to her friends. She is a Woven Woman: a woman of virtue!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: How Nice Are You?

“When she speaks, her words are wise,
she gives instruction with kindness.”
Proverbs 31:26 

"How Nice Are You?"
Woven Leader Cheryl Simpson

She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.
She knows when to speak and when to be quiet.
Her words are ALWAYS kindly spoken.

It's obvious that this particular woman thinks before she speaks. Her words are few. She lives by the motto that “less is best.” How we admire such a godly woman!

A familiar life verse in Micah 6:8 instructs us on how we are to live. “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” It sounds like our Lord wants us to delight in being kind to others, and our words are especially important in all these aspects of living a life that pleases Him.

James , the brother of Jesus, writes a great deal about our tongue. He shares these pearls of wisdom with us:

"Everyone should be quick to listen, and slow to speak (James 1:19)."
"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless (James 1:26)."
"All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:7)."
Wow! He certainly doesn't mince any words himself as he instructs us. Are you feeling convicted? challenged? encouraged? As women who love the Lord and choose to serve Him, we must be so careful to choose our words wisely. I am examining my own heart as I write this:
  • Am I slow to speak?
  • Do I ALWAYS speak in kindness?
  • Am I actively "taming my tongue"?
  • Do I share things that should be kept confidential? Can others trust my tongue?
  • Do I use my tongue for revenge or to hurt others?
  • How well am I listening, without an add-on? (I once heard it said and find it to be true, that we can’t learn when our mouth is moving!)
I love these words to a familiar hymn. Perhaps they will challenge and inspire your heart today.
“I Want to be Like Jesus"
"I have one deep, supreme desire- 
That I may be like Jesus. 
To this I fervently aspire- 
That I may be like Jesus. 
I want my heart his throne to be,
so that a watching world may see 
His likeness shining forth in me 
I want to be like Jesus.”

A Prayer from Scripture:
"May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blamess at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The who calls you is faithful and he will do it." ~I Thessalonians 5:23 

Cheryl is the grateful wife of 36 years to Ken. They have two children and five granddaughters. Previously a public school teacher, she now spends much of her week doing pastoral care for her church, Newark Church of the Nazarene.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!