Friday, June 29, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Climbing Mountains


LIFE LESSONS: Climbing Mountains

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1-2
 

My hubby’s family decided to build a church in memory of his father, Rev. Glenn Spaulding. After years of serving in missions, he was deeply moved by the needs in Haiti. He oftened spoke about their need for places of worship. Listening to his heart spurred us to serve.

 Plans were made and all was ready. A month before the journey, civil unrest was so severe that travel was not safe. The trip was cancelled. But God rerouted us.


An urgent need was discovered in Guatemala. Like Haiti, there had been serious uprisings in the mountains. Our denomination had established an orphanage for children who were roaming the hills. Their parents had been murdered by rebels. A dormitory was desperately needed. I boarded the plane excited about what the Lord had in store. My life was changed forever.


After arriving in Guatemala City, we were directed to a holding spot to wait for our bus. The bus was BIG! Too big to be traveling these very narrow roads. We traveled for hours, climbing higher. We were warned about the dangers of traveling these mountains: gun-toting rebels, no room to pass another vehicle, and curves too sharp to see around the bend. The Bible calls these “perils of every kind”. Looking out the window brought instant anxiety. Only a few feet of berm separated the bus from the cliff’s edge. There were no side rails! It was straight down, girly!

 
We were only a few thousand feet above the valley. The guys were laughing. Great timing! To me this was serious business. No time for folly! Only time for prayer. I quietly cried to the Lord, “HELP ME!” He quietly spoke, “FEAR NOT!”

Peace stilled my heart. Finally, our driver told us we were near our destination, Hogar Del Nino, Home of the Child. Then he said, “Listen.”

A hush fell over the crowded bus. Singing! We heard singing as we rounded the bend. Then, we saw hundreds of children lining the dirt road. Ragged, dirty, shoelessly awaiting our arrival. Tears rolled down my cheeks. The children were smiling, singing and welcoming us to their new home. Getting off the bus, I looked at these children, imagining their journey through the mountains. Heartache, pain, and suffering. Thirst and hunger. Loneliness and fear. Yet, they arrived with a song! They had found a safe place. Arms of love embraced them. Grace was found.

This is a familiar journey to me. Just like these precious children, I have traveled dangerous roads, climbed rocky mountains. I’ve faced trials along the way but my Savior came to my rescue. Facing perils of every kind, I’ve claimed God’s promise in Romans 8: 37, “We are more than conquerors.”

Just as He took care of these children on their journey, He has cared for me! And I know He will care for you. As we walk, run, slip, and fall along the road of life, let’s keep a song in our hearts and on our lips! Let’s reach out a hand to help each other up.
 
In Ps: 121, God promises that when our journey is in the mountains, He is there to help us. He won’t let us fall. He watches and protects us and He knows where we are!

This is my favorite poem. As you read it, take time to reflect on your journey. Thank God for the mountains you have climbed, for lessons learned. Look for His grace in your current situation. And SING!

“For every hill I had to climb
For every stone that bruised my feet
For all the dust and dirt and grime
For blinding storms and burning heat
My heart sings but a joyful song
These were the things that made me strong.”
Anon.

______________________________________________

It's a pleasure to introduce you to Toni. Our paths have crossed in many arenas over the years, most of which were ministry opportunities. I know for a fact that she cares deeply about others and loves to serve God.

Toni has been married to Dave for 43 years and a pastor's wife for 32 years. They have two married children, Dawn and Jonathon, and four grandchildren.

Toni has been the owner/operator of Curves in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, for the past 12 years. Curves has been an amazing ministry opportunity, allowing her to reach out to women in need. She also serves as Director of Women’s Ministry at Mount Vernon First Church of the Nazarene.

She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!
Thank you Toni! We look forward to hearing more from you this summer! ~~Cindy

Thursday, June 28, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Leap of Faith


LIFE LESSON: Leap of Faith
by Cheryl Simpson

 “Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord-
that YOU alone are the Most High over all the earth.”
Psalm 83:18NIV

Do you remember the Indiana Jones movies? I have enjoyed watching and re-watching them through the years. The first of the series was “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” You may remember Indiana Jones was in pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant. His thought was if he had the ark, he would possess endless power.


Another movie was “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” My favorite scene was when He had to take a leap of faith across a deep chasm. There was no way to cross, there was no walkway. With his heart in his chest, he stepped out in faith even though he couldn’t see where he was walking. He had to do it to save the life of his father. He had to do it and it had to be immediately!


There was also another scene in the movie in which Indy had to follow the name of God-Jehovah by spelling out the letters to His name as he walked. With each step his father would cry out to him, “Follow the name of God Jehovah.”


I recently came across a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” This is the same as with Indy, he took the first step even though there was nowhere to walk. Surrendering the unknown is a huge part in the faith walk. When I surrender the past and the unknown tomorrows, I have faith that Jehovah-God will take care of the need.


When my children were young teens, a terrible tragedy occurred in my neighborhood that took the lives of twin girls that lived next door, a husband and wife that were close neighbors, and also my daughter’s very best friend…one accident, five deaths.


This event shook me to my foundation so much so that I could not pray “Thy will be done” because I was fearful that God would take my children as well. However, God wondrously blessed me with wise counsel. A dear friend reminded me that placing our children in the hands of the Lord was the safest thing we can do.

Victory came... All became surrendered.

How is your faith walk this day? Are you taking a leap of faith even though you don’t see what is ahead? Are you spelling out the name of God with each step of your day?


Dear Father,
Examine my heart, I pray, as I ask you to show me any area in my life that that may not be totally surrendered to you. All that I am and all that I call mine, I give to you and surrender to your Lordship. Help me daily to walk by faith, not by sight. In the name of Jesus, Amen

Will you take the leap of faith?


______________________________________________________


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!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Surrender


LIFE LESSON: Surrender
by Deronda Bryant

How do you start your day? Do you decide before your feet hit the floor you are angry? Are you bitter? Do you lack compassion for others? Are you afraid? Maybe you feel you deserve to have the feelings inside of you.

The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalm 51:17 NLT)”

God is waiting for us to surrender our pain to Him. Not some of it, He wants it all. We think we need to hold on to ‘pieces’ of our pain. Why do we think that?

Years ago my family struggled financially. I thought I could pray and God would deliver. We would be fine. The problem was, after I prayed – I walked around with worry inside. One night I went into my bedroom, took the stack of bills, piled them on the bed and prayed,

“God, I give the bills to you. I am finished with worrying. I surrender. I cannot do this. We need your help.”

 A short time later my husband got a job offer. He still holds that same job to this day; a job that came from God.

At one time I could not be around people with children. I was angry and bitter. I felt God was not listening to the cries of a family member who deeply wanted a child, but could not have one of her own. I took offense to comments made about children with disabilities. I took them to heart because of having grandchildren with autism. God taught me I cannot live my life in anger. I fell on my knees before Him, He saw my broken spirit. I surrendered! Now He could use me. Now He could heal me. I was not ready to let it go before. Oh, but when I did, He took all my pain. He has a plan for our life. His plan is that we not feel defeated.

Let your pain go. Surrender it to Him. He is waiting with open arms. The peace and joy you feel is indescribable.

“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul (Psalm 138:3 NLT).”


“Anxiety in the heart…causes depression. But a good word makes it glad (Prov. 12:25 NLT).”


Surrender your pain to God. He knows your heart. He is waiting for you to give it all to Him. Trust Him. He will deliver you. This I know!

____________________________________________

Deronda grew up as a pastor's daughter. She loves God with all her heart. Her desire is to teach love, compassion, and mercy to the hurting.

Deronda and hubby Rick of 35 years live in Massillon, Ohio. They have two daughters; both married and work as RN's. They also have 3 grandsons, two of which have autism. Deronda is in a new stage of life, excited to see where God is taking her. She is writing a book about autism.

She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Comparison Trap


Caught in a trap
Yet unaware of the grip
That holds them captive.
-Margaret Slabach

LIFE LESSON: Comparison Trap
by Margaret Slabach
We stood in amusement and amazement at what we saw. Her leg was caught in the trap. She was obviously trying to escape, dragging the trap along with her. Inevitably, the trap was the end of her. She died.

God spoke to me through that poor little mouse’s dilemma … about the deadly comparison trap.

*****
Not again! The allure of the bait is so strong, like that of a siren song to a sailor. But the bait bids me to partake of its delicacies.

If I give in, it will be the birth of death…
     death of who I am
     death of my purpose
     death of fulfillment
     death of satisfaction
     death of accomplishment
     death of my reliance upon God
and misery because I cannot keep up the facade any longer.

Oh how I want to give in! But I am not sure why. What good can possibly come of it?
     resentment?
     gossip?
     jealousy?
     hopelessness?
     bitterness?
     despair?

COMPARISON BRINGS NOTHING BUT DEATH!
It’s a slam against my beloved Father who created me. It says I don’t trust Him and what He has done within me. It calls His character into question, saying He really doesn’t know what He is doing with my life. It puts me in a position of superiority, as though I am wiser than God. How ludicrous!

I know better than that, and yet… the carefully laid trap of comparison relentlessly lures me. I cannot, I must not, give in. I will take IT captive! I will choose to trust God.

*****
Oh Father God,
You so lovingly created and designed me for your purpose, a plan designed perfectly for me. Help me to embrace the true me and not chase after another’s design. Help me to stay focused on You and Your promises to me. Forgive me for times I have coveted the gifting of other women. I choose to let go of fear that my gifts aren’t good enough, that I won’t measure up. Even worse: that I will fail. I need your help, Lord. Set me free.
"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life (Ps. 143:8NIV)."
Amen.

I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go. 
Isaiah 48:17 NIV

I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.  
Psalm 32:8 NIV

 
Thoughts to ponder and journal:

 Are you willing to be freed from the comparison trap?
 Will you allow God to lead you?
 Why? Why not?
 List your fears?
 What steps must you take to be free?

_________________________________________

Margaret and her husband Jim are celebrating 40 years of marriage. They have 3 children and 8 multicultural grandchildren. She is the Office Manager at High Mill Church in Canton, Ohio.
Besides being grandma, she loves photography, reading, studying, and writing. She has unoffically published Trickles from the Soul, a compilation of her poetry and photography. Margaret's Blog

Monday, June 25, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: God Fixes Things


LIFE LESSONS: God Fixes Things
by Kathleen Benis

“The Lord himself will go before you.
He will be with you,
He will not leave you or forsake you;
do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8NKJV

My son will soon be a Daddy of a son. Wow! It truly is unbelievable!

Nathan was diagnosed bipolar at the age of sixteen. I was a desperate Mom. His doctor told me, “You don't get this Mrs. Benis, your boy is the worst case I have seen.”

When I heard him say those words, something rose up inside of me. I stood to my feet, looked him in the eyes and said, "I know I have two choices. One is, I will get a new doctor and the other is, I can take this to “Higher Courts”!

I took my son's hand, and left the doctor's office. I knew I had a problem so big that only God could fix it.

Early in this experience, my relationship with Jesus became real and alive. Major transitions took place in my soul. I fought negative influences. When fear gripped my heart and stole my strength, I sought godly alternatives to feed my spirit. Prayer and Bible study calmed my anxious thoughts. God gave me wisdom for the right course of action to take. He guided me to a Christian doctor. A doctor who prays over his patients. A doctor who found the right balance of medication to help my boy.

Mothers have a special relationship with their children. Sometimes that's especially so for mothers and sons. Mothers who pray for their children provide a banner of love like no other. It's certain that Nathan and I will never forget the special answers to prayer we've received.

Bipolar. It's such an unpredictable illness. Families feel so alone as they struggle through the starts and stops of life. In those alone times I remember teachings like “Learn to Soar with Eagles”, a Joyce Meyer study. In the word of God an eagle is used as an example. It provides a wonderful analogy of character traits. Developing these traits will help us enter into God's rest.

When an eagle feels a storm coming, he waits for the wind current to lift him to a higher place. I have learned to be content to wait for the wind of the Holy Spirit to lift me higher. Then I feel free to soar without limitations.

“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31NKJ

Father, give us wisdom to understand you,
Diligence to seek you,
and patience to wait for you.
Through the power and spirit of our Lord,
we ask that you protect and preserve
our children in your grace.
Amen

Realign your heart, your mind, your thoughts
with the God who fixes things.
Worship, pray, sing this song of surrender and trust.
Lord God, "You Are My Hiding Place"
(Selah)

_________________________________________
Always thankful for our Woven Leader Kathleen Benis. You can tell from her writing, she is an Irish powerhouse of Jesus-ness!
Love you, my sweet sister...always, Her Cindyness

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!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

WOVEN GOES TO NEW YORK CITY


Oh the things we'll do! Oh the places we'll go! Oh the things we will see! Oh the God-experiences that await us!

TODAY a team of our Newark Naz Woven leaders are on our way to Manhatten. My, oh my, do we need your prayers! (For starters, please pray for our road trip in the church van!) 

This is what our trip looks like:
We are departing 7am from Newark. Yes, we will be in that church van. All. Day. Long. Ohmyachingneck! :)

SUNDAY morning we will rise early, get ready for our day (picture 6 women in one hotel room with one bathroom, then pray!), and arrive at The Lambs Church of the Nazarene in lower Manhatten. Click on the link and you will see Woven on their homepage! Yay!

And the fun begins!
Before church, we will be prepping for a Woven Women's Luncheon. "Church" at the Lambs happens on two levels. The main floor hosts a Chinese Church. The second floor hosts a bilingual (Hispanic-American) church. On a normal Sunday, Pastors Gabriel and Jeanette Salguero lead this service. He preaches and she interprets.

Our Woven Team will work with Dustee Hullinger, as we bring these three cultures together for the first time in an event for women. God and Woven will be moving mountains to build a bridge of relationships among these women. Many do not speak English, so there will be a Chinese interpretor and a Hispanic interpretor. To make it even more interesting, we will include another population group to this potpourri of women: HIV/AIDS patients who live across the street in The Rivington House, an AIDS hospice. THIS IS A GROUND-BREAKING EVENT! for both Woven and The Lambs.

I will lead these women in a Woven session and our Woven Team will lead the discussion groups at the tables. Please pray for them as they will certainly be cross-culturally challenged!

MONDAY, we return to The Lambs to team up with Dustee through Gifted Hands ministry. We will be her servants by day, doing various tasks that will help move her work with more efficiency. We will be her ministers by night, as we participate in the Gifted Hands program at The Rivington House, a residential treatment facility for persons living with HIV/AIDS.

TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY we will experience the sights and sounds of NYC! This will be a first for three of our ladies. Then we pile back into the church van for the long drive home on Thursday.

WILL YOU PLEASE PRAY?
  • Pray for our Woven Team: Cheryl Simpson, Karen LeMasters, Kim Miller, Jenn Cuevas and daughter Megan, and myself (Cindy Stiverson).
  • Pray for Dustee Hullinger, for the women that we will minister to at The Lambs Church and for Gifted Hands at The Rivington House.
  • Pray for God to truly move through us and through these women. Pray He will raise up a leader to begin a Woven group at The Lambs.
  • Pray for our safety, for total unity of spirit among us.
  • And yes, pray for that church van to function properly and get us there...and back...safely!


"...being confident of this,
that he who began a good work in [us]
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 1:6NIV



Friday, June 22, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: The Little Stuff

LIFE LESSON: The Little Stuff
by Kim Miller

Sometimes there are things we feel we need to do…but really don’t want to! This was one of those things for me: a graduation party. I rehearsed a list of reasons not to go:  I really don’t know the graduate…I haven’t kept in contact with her mom…I am busy…I have another party to attend…I really just want to stay home. Let’s just face it!  I can be selfish with my time. However, I am really trying to listen to the Holy Spirit. When He nudges me, I want to respond. This was one of those “nudges”. 

You know how moms are at parties! They introduce us to someone and expect us to remember this person we knew when we were only four years old. This poor young graduate had not seen me for fourteen years! I really felt sorry for her, as she tried to wrack her brain to remember. Then her mom reminded her about things I had given her and the two months that I babysat her after work.
Suddenly, I was wracking my brain for a memory!  I had totally forgotten about those two months that I had cared for her.  At the time, it seemed insignificant.  Fourteen years later, I was stunned to learn what a great blessing my family had been to them. She said God had placed me in her life to help in her time of need. They were so very appreciative of me coming to her graduation party. Wow!  I had no idea!
So often we take for granted the little stuff. We have no idea how God uses us to help and encourage others in the everyday of life. Why do we always focus on the big things? We think that if we’re not the preacher/teacher or involved in some huge ministry or project, we are not effectively serving our Lord…that we’re not making a difference.
Thank goodness for those in ministry who can pull off the big stuff!  BUT, praise God for those of us God uses to accomplish what we consider to be the “little stuff”:  watching someone’s child, going to a graduation party, just hugging, listening, talking with someone.  What we consider little, God considers HUGE.
 …So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't (Rom 12:3-4-6 MSG).”
 
God,
Help me to focus on the little ways I can serve You by serving others. I want to be an encourager. Keep my heart humble. Help me to remember that my life is a living sacrifice to You. I pray that I will be faithful to every nudging of the Holy Spirit as You lead me on the adventures of everyday life with everyday people who have everyday needs. Help me to help others as we walk through the “stuff” that life is made of!
In Jesus Name, Amen.
I pray you will worship Him today with your whole self.
I pray that where He leads, you will go. Be totally His!

 ________________________________________________
I am so proud to introduce Kim Miller to you today. She makes me smile just saying her name. Kim is a vivacious woman of God. It's so wonderful to have her on my Woven leadership team at Newarknaz. We are still unwrapping her many gifts. Love you Kim! ~Cindy

Kim and her best friend Mike have been married for 30 years. They have been blessed with two sons, Zac (married to the amazing Jackie) and Jake. They also have two rambunctious dogs, Jo and Dixie. Kim has been an administrative professional for 30 years. She enjoys encouraging and spending time with women of all ages.

She is a Woven Woman: a woman of virtue!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: The Dahlia


LIFE LESSONS: The Dahlia
by Stefanie Libertore

Though I don’t consider myself much of a gardener, I enjoy planting and maintaining our flower beds. Truth be told, I don’t have indoor plants because I can’t be trusted to keep them alive! Let’s just say the greens have a better chance of survival outside where they don’t have to rely on me to quench their thirst!

Last spring I planted a very small dahlia bush – six inches small, to be exact. I watered it every evening during the hot summer months. In spite of my best efforts, the dahlia wasn’t growing. It appeared weak and limp. My husband took one look and diagnosed it “a goner”. I thought he might be right, but I wasn’t giving up on it quite so easily. We were somewhat like this story Jesus shared in Luke 13:6-9:


"A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.”

The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
Every wise gardener desires to yield a harvest. God is no different. Nurturing the life of that dahlia became a lesson of God’s love, care and faithfulness over me: His tender shoot. In spite of character flaws and a sometimes wilting faith, He cultivates the fruits of patience and perseverance in my heart. But first I must be willing to trust Him. 

Are you experiencing a season of drought?
~He is able to quench your thirst.
Do you feel like giving up as you endure a season of waiting?
~He can sustain your weary soul.
Do you feel anxious under the Pruner’s shears?
~His watchful eye is ever upon you.

We have a Gardener that never gives up on us. He is committed to cultivating a harvest of righteousness with the tiniest seeds of faith. To build strong roots that flourish in times of plenty and in times of drought: 
  • Get plenty of Son-shine (time with The Gardener)
  • Water your faith with the Word of God
  • Fertilize your thoughts with God’s promises  

And my dahlia?

By mid-summer, the fragile dahlia began to look strong, hearty and even appeared a bit taller. I bent down and examined it up close and the first few buds were forming! With a little time, and a lot of TLC, my dahlia proudly stood over three-and-a-half feet tall. It produced dozens of beautiful, fragrant flowers! 

I later learned that dahlias symbolize “a commitment and bond that lasts forever.” How precious of the Gardener to use a fragile dahlia to declare His everlasting commitment to me. No matter what shape I’m in...His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me!

"One Thing Remains" by Jesus Culture
__________________________________

Once again, I am praising God for this beautiful woman. Stef, you are amazing!
Stefanie Libertore has been joyfully married to Tony since 2003. They are blessed with two wacky, fun children, Isabella and Luke. Stefanie serves as Client Services Director at PregnancySupport Centerin Canton, OH. She is currently working on her first book for women, a Biblical journey of forgiveness, healing and restoration from one’s sexual past.
She is a Woven Woman: a woman of virtue!

Thanks Stefanie for sharing your heart with us today.  Love and prayers to all~Cindy

Previous Post by Stef:
LIFE LESSSONS: Seeking Shelter

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Toil In the Soil


LIFE LESSON: Toil In the Soil
by Cindy Stiverson

I remember terror gripping my heart when mother announced she was going to work in our family garden. It was time to run and hide…or face the likelihood of being drafted to help. I hated the heat, dirt, and sweat. It seemed she always chose the hottest time of day and muggiest day of the week to ask for my help. She referred to my weeding method as “plopping yourself down on your butt right in the middle of the garden!”

As I envision my mother in her garden, I remember her contentment. It didn’t seem like work to her. She knew the tomatoes and sweet corn would not taste nearly as good without the toil in the soil. Working alongside my mother, I learned to appreciate the process. I learned that reaping a harvest is a great accomplishment. 

That‘s what Matthew is describing in this passage: hard work produces a bountiful harvest. But the problem: finding enough workers. 

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (Matt 9:35-38NIV)."
When my mom called me to the garden, it was a lesson in communion and commission. The Greek word for communion means "fellowship, participating, and sharing." She was teaching me, asking me to share, participate in her love of gardening. She was also commissioning me to grow up, to go and produce my own harvest.    

When Jesus calls us to be His followers, He is asking us to commune with Him. Prayer, journaling, reading God's word, and worship are ways in which we fellowship with Him. These are teaching moments in which He shares His love and concern for us and for others.

Then He commissions us to go beyond just learning about His love. To grow, we have to go and do what Jesus did. He gives us Holy Spirit authority and power to produce a harvest of love: the salvation of souls from an eternal life of death and damnation to an eternal life of love and glory.

My perspective of gardening has changed over the years. I look forward to spring when I can toil in the soil like my mother did. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty: planting, weeding, and watering. As I mature, it’s not just the harvest that motivates me. I enjoy the process, the communion and commission of following in my mother’s footsteps.

It’s the same with my spiritual life. As I mature spiritually, I just want to dig in and toil in the soil of life. The Lord of the Harvest multiplies my efforts. Together, we heal and transform hearts, reaping a harvest of love. I want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. There is no better life than this!

We are surrounded by people who are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd...Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field."
He might send YOU!

This song, "I Wanna Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets, really captures the heart of my message today. Please listen, and use this to commune with God and to renew your commitment to the commission of Christ. I'm praying for you, that your light will truly shine for Jesus!



_______________________________________

Cindy Stiverson

I am your hostess and founder of Woven. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.
Loving God with all my heart, soul, strength; and loving and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life.

 
Read other recent posts by Cindy:
~LIFE LESSONS: The Nitty Gritty
~LIFE LESSONS: Simplify
~50 Days of Holy! The Great Adventure
~50 Days of Holy: The Counselor

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: The Puzzle

LIFE LESSONS: The Puzzle
by Margaret Slabach

Do you feel stuck?

Maybe you have what seems to be a dead-end job or you deal with nasty co-workers. You may have a great job but feel unsatisfied. Perhaps you are a stay-at-home mom...or wish you were.  Do you live in a beautiful home or is it an 800 sq. ft. box?

Regardless of our place and position in life, we often wish for something different. Unless you've made some really bad choices, God has you exactly where He wants you. Yet, so often rather than learning from our mistakes and enjoying life, we chaff at our designated spot. The grass always seems to look greener on the other side of the fence.

I pray the following word picture will bring a God-perspective to your current situation and encourage you in this season of life...

*****
God, our Father, slowly opens the large puzzle box. With tender hands He quickly overturns the lid so the finished picture is not revealed. So many pieces, uniquely designed for His puzzle, spread across the heavenly table.

He handles each piece, seeing the color, the shape of each He so lovingly created. He picks up one piece with brilliant colors splashed across it, wondering if it will handle the central spot, the out-in-front place He desires. His hand caresses another with sharp corners and shadowed with grays. Will the assigned place be accepted?

On and on He goes, touching, handling, praying over each piece-- each piece so thoughtfully designed to complete His puzzle. He knows that some will rebel against the perfect spot chosen for them. He knows some will try to choose their own spot, trying to wedge in where they are not intended. He knows some will doubt His choice, but will, out of love, surrender to His desired place.

He knows that the pieces have such a limited view of the finished picture, seeing only what immediately surrounds them. He knows they don’t realize the profound impact that each will have when dovetailed with its neighbors.

But He knows that each carefully designed piece, with its special colors and shape, will bring richness to His creation, His puzzle, when it fits into His chosen spot.

He awaits the day when it is finished. Then He can show off what only He could have designed: A Divine Masterpiece!

*****
Thoughts to Ponder:

• Will you accept the shape and place the Father has designed for you?
• What is holding you back from acceptance?
• Will you trust that God has chosen your spot in life, even if you disagree or don't understand?
Read the following scriptures and see what God says to you about your unique place and purpose.
       (Isaiah 43:21, 1 Cor. 12:12, 1 Cor. 12:18, 1 Cor. 1:27, John 15:16 & 19, Eph. 1:4) 

READ MORE ON THIS SUBJECT:
50 Days of Holy: Beyond Blending by Cindy Stiverson
50 Days of Holy: Unwrap Your Gifts by Cindy Stiverson
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I have the privilege of introducing another great lady to you today. Margaret Slabach is multi-talented, and yet so humble. God is using her in many ways to build His kingdom. It's a blessing to share this friendship with you. Don't you just love the imagery God has given her...and she has given us? Thanks Margaret! You are a wonderful servant.
Love and Hugs
~Cindy


Margaret and her husband Jim are celebrating 40 years of marriage. They have 3 children and 8 multicultural grandchildren. She is the Office Manager at High Mill Church in Canton, Ohio.

Besides being grandma, she loves photography, reading, studying, and writing. She has unoffically published Trickles from the Soul, a compilation of her poetry and photography. Margaret's Blog

Monday, June 18, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Glow!

LIFE LESSONS: Glow!
by Cheryl Simpson

Answer the question, please.

At age 61, is one considered late middle-age or early old-age? Whatever the answer, when I look into the mirror, the result is the same.

I recently had a follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon for some work that had to be done. While I was there, he spent time talking with me about how I could have a “more youthful glow”. What did he suggest? You guessed it! Botox and a $6,000 face lift.

Coincidently, the same week I had an appointment with my dermatologist who warned me against the dangers of too much sun exposure. She suggested her personal favorite sunscreen “Aveeno Positively Radiant.” She said this would aid in the attempts to have younger looking skin. With these two doctors looking at my face, I’ve been considering, “What makes me Glow?”

I know my husband's glow is due to our granddaughters…and deer hunting!

The glow in my son’s face is because of his wife and daughters…and deer hunting!

If you want to see my daughter’s face glow, talk to her about her girls and her latest athletic accomplishments!

But my glow? It comes from a deep peace in my heart from the Lord. He puts a song in my heart and a kick in my step. I must be on guard, however. I know that there can be a robber of “The Glow!” For me, the thief is being overcommitted. Often I look at my calendar and think, "Why did I schedule so much?"

Family priorities and ministry responsibilities all have unexpected details attached. I am so thankful my Heavenly Father keeps me sane. He keeps me even keel although I know He is yearning for more of me…to Be, not Do! I praise Him for the song that He continually gives me: an unending song of glory for the God of my Glow!

“You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:4-16

Father, Thank you for the desire you have put in my heart to be your light. In my busy schedule let me be always mindful of your presence and your provision. Let me be walking with you, always thanking you, and praising you that You Are the Great I AM. No matter my age, I want to always Glow for you! Amen and Amen.



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I am so thankful for this Woven Woman! She truly does GLOW! Appreciate how she loves people and especially our Woven Women at Newark Naz. ~Loving You! Cindy


 

                                                
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!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Be Mine


LIFE LESSON: Be Mine
by Toni Spaulding

While reading Isaiah 43, I was blessed to hear the word of the Lord speaking to my heart. It begins with these strong statements (paraphrased),
"Thus says the Lord, I have created you and formed you. Have No Fear! I have rescued and redeemed you."

After really thinking about these words, a wonderful peace came over me. This is not just some ordinary person making a few glib statements to try and lift my spirits. This is my Father speaking His truth to me! I am so important to God that He knows my name. He claims me as His own. I love the words that follow, “You are Mine”.

I remember as a little girl getting so excited about Valentine’s Day. At school we would plan two weeks ahead for the big day. The preparation was half the fun! We would make a Valentine box to receive cards and make sure we had a valentine card to give everyone.

Finally, on Valentine’s Day, we started with prayer and the party began. Once we placed our beautiful box on our desk, it was a free for all! Going around the room, we put our cards in each other’s boxes. Who would get the prettiest, the funniest? And of course, the most important card of all was “the love card”! You know the one. It says “Be Mine”.

At the end of the party, we sat down to eat our treats and the fun began. Fast and furious, we looked at each card until that “Ah-ha” moment when that special card was found. Holding your breath, you slowly turned the card over to see who signed it.Like most girls, I wanted to read those words, “Be Mine”. It meant that you were special to someone, someone you really liked and thought was soooo cute. (Girl, you know what I mean!)

On Valentine’s Day, 1955, “that boy” in my second grade class was Michael. But when I looked at my card, it was signed… “Billy!” OH NO! I hated Billy! Though I received many wonderful cards, the only card I really wanted was the “Be Mine” card: from Michael…NOT Billy!

Recalling that disappointing moment, I remember other times when my heart cried out for someone to say “Be Mine”. Every time ended with sorrow and disappointment. I discovered my true love forty years ago, when I finally cried out to God. In response, I heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, saying “Be Mine.”

As I continue to listen for His gentle voice, I am blessed beyond my hopes and dreams. I marvel at His deep, abiding love. He does not disappoint or bring me sorrow. The Lord has also blessed me with a wonderful partner who, after 44 years, still says, “Be Mine”. I always respond with a yes to him, and also to the Holy Spirit’s voice as He continually seeks my commitment to those same words, “Be Mine”.

In Jeremiah 31:3, the Lord says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love and have drawn you to myself with loving kindness.”

Will you join me as I surrender once again to this love that satisfies the desires of our heart? I pray this verse:
  • Will bring you gladness not sorrow.
  • Will give you confidence in knowing you are God’s girl
  • Will encourage you to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s love-cry, “You are Mine”

    Thank you Toni, for providing this perfect opportunity to share one of my fave songs. What a great way to finish our week...and prepare to worship Him Sunday. He truly does love us! May we sing this endless chorus as we worship God around the world and around the clock.
    He Loves YOU!  (and I do too) ~ Cindy

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It's a pleasure again to introduce you to Toni. Our paths have crossed in many arenas over the years, most of which were ministry opportunities. I know for a fact that she cares deeply about others and loves to serve God. Thank you Toni! ~~Cindy

Toni has been married to Dave for 43 years and a pastor's wife for 32 years. They have two married children, Dawn and Jonathon, and four grandchildren.

Toni has been the owner/operator of Curves in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, for the past 12 years. Curves has been an amazing ministry opportunity, allowing her to reach out to women in need. She also serves as Director of Women’s Ministry at Mount Vernon First Church of the Nazarene.

She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!
 
Another Recent Post by Toni:
LIFE LESSON: Bling!

Friday, June 15, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: I Hear Your Heart

LIFE LESSON: I Hear Your Heart
by Nicole Bromley
MY DAUGHTER NICOLE &  JUDE
My 3 year old son is sick. Sore throat. Fever. Runny nose. Tonsils swollen so big they look like two sumo wrestlers going at it. He struggles to breathe, sleep, talk, eat. I can barely get him to taste a popsicle…and this kid loves popsicles.

The other night during the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals game (or 11pm-ish for you non-sports people) he woke up, crying for me. I ran to him and his body was so hot it felt like it was covered in liquid magma. Fevering, sad and scared, through his tears he commanded, “Mama, get your blanky and lay wiff me in my bed.”

I did. I scratched his back, held him close, prayed over him, and whispered in his ear how sad I felt that he was hurting. I told him I was sorry he had to go through all this, but that I believed he would heal. He needed rest, so I asked him if he wanted to lay against me. He said yes; I propped up our pillows and snuggled him into my left armpit. His whimpering and crying eventually died down.

Soon it was silent. I thought for sure he was sleeping there on my chest and I determined not to move an inch until morning. Then I felt his head lift up a little. In a sweet, soft voice, he said to me: “I hear your heart.”

I smiled.

It reminded me of our relationship with the Lord. So often, in suffering, we cry and whine and scream to Him and others about our pain; we ask why? or when it will stop? or we simply get angry and demand change; but we think very little about the Lord’s heart in the mess. It isn’t until we quiet ourselves and our spirits and choose to humbly nestle into our Father’s armpit, that we truly hear from Him. Only then, can we hear His true heart. Only then do we begin to feel the truths that His heart beats toward us…truths like:

Cast all your anxiety on Me because I care for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I go before you and will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I am gentle and humble in heart, and in Me you will find rest for your soul. Matthew 11:28-29

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for I will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I am close to you and care about your broken heart. Psalm 34:18

I will help you. Hebrews 13:6

I will help you every step of the way. Proverbs 3:4-5

I am not distant; I hear your cries and count your tears. Psalm 22:24; 56:8: 116:1-2

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18

I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28-30

I will be your hiding place, your shelter, your refuge, your safety. Psalm 46:1; 27:4-

I will be your comforter. Matthew 5:4

I want to comfort you and comfort others through you. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I love you. John 3:16; 3:34

It is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1

I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am for you. Romans 8:31

I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. I am the perfect father. And I am so delighted you are my child. Matthew 7:11; 5:48

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

I am doing something new in you. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Nothing can ever separate us. Romans 8:37-39

My grace will carry you through this. It is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 91:15

I will take care of you and supply all of your needs. Philipians 4:19

I want to give you the power and strength you need right now. I desire to see you soar! Isaiah 40:29-31

…and thats just a few thumps of His heartbeat for you and me.
Dig into His Word today to hear more.

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It's with great joy and pride for this mom to introduce you to my daughter. I praise God for her daily. What a blessing she is to my life. The greatest thing I have ever done is to give birth to this woman (and raise her too, of course! :)
Love you so much Nicole~ thanks for sharing with our Woven Women today! ~MOM (Cindy)
Here's the whole gang...loves of my life!

These are just a few raves about my girl...

Nicole Bromley is an international spokesperson on the issues of sexual abuse, rape and trafficking. She is the author of Hush: Moving from Silence to Healing After Childhood Sexual Abuse and Breathe: Finding Freedom to Thrive in Relationships After Childhood Sexual Abuse and the founder of OneVOICE (www.iamonevoice.org). She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Matthew and sons, Jude and Isaac.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Higher Still


LIFE LESSON: Higher Still
By Kim Dent

Oh Lord, how many times have I raised my eyes to the mountains and asked,
"Where will my help come from? This journey has become more than I can bear.”
I hear you whisper,
"Take my yoke upon you. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Come up higher, my love.”
Even with this tender invitation, I squirm in my flesh. The sin of unbelief taunts me. I do not want to go. Fear chokes me and I have no answer for you. Yet You, oh God, are not alarmed. You are already a step ahead of me, preparing the path so my foot does not slip. Even in my unbelief, You are surefooted and faithful.

Like a dedicated mountain guide, you gently call me again to come with you. I dawdle behind, like a bumbling, stumbling child...still wanting to "do it myself". Do it “my way”.You go before me, removing obstacles that would crush my spirit. You protect me. In ways mysterious and unknown you lead me higher still.

You allow me the opportunity to experience the climb in every facet: exhilaration, peril, hardship, persevering through pain and panic, facing my fears, rejoicing in hope, falling down, lingering in the tent of indecision, resting in your peace, losing my way and returning to you. Taking your hand, I dance in the morning mist and behold moments of breathtaking beauty from the heights. The darkness of the journey now a vague memory.I shout for joy and fall face down! You gaze upon me with twinkling eyes...and call me...higher still.

Oh the richness, passion, adventure of this journey with you, my God! Am I faint from the heights or from the fear? I do not know! I have come too far to leave your side now. I dare not turn back! The mountain can no longer be navigated on my own. I can see from this vantage point that my very life and the lives of my loved ones depend solely upon you, my Guide. I leave my backpack of self sufficiency and hurry, like a frightened child, into your outstretched arms. I have come to the end of myself.  You carry me...higher still.

I am tucked in, close to your heart. I become accustomed to your heartbeat, in tune with your breathing, in step with your Spirit. Your voice is all I hear and I am instructed. You teach me your ways. You speak of my journey...and the journey of others who will travel this way after me. The eyes of my heart are enlightened with every step. We are leaping on the mountain heights!

I move from strength to strength with my King, my Guide. With God's grace, I leave fear and insecurity behind. I have a purpose and a vision to fulfill! My weak and stumbling feet have been transformed somehow during the journey. I stand with strength and confidence that is not my own. I bow low to worship Him.

And I am transported...higher still.

 "I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber...
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Psalm 121:1-3,8 NIV 1984

I pray you will allow Him to take you Higher Still today.
Your Woven Writers are praying for you!
With Love, Cindy

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How does it happen that a total stranger instantaneously becomes a best friend? Four years ago, I discovered a kindred spirit. We are Woven at the heart and joined at the hip! This is my sweet and precious friend Kim...
Kim has been married to her high school sweetheart for 26 years. She and Mark have two beautiful daughters, Kaitlyn and Emily, a rescued mutt named Otis and a pleasantly plump cat named Oscar. A former social worker and real estate agent, Kim now serves full time as Women's Ministry Director at High Mill Church in Canton, OH. Her mission is to inspire women toward courageous authenticity and freedom in Christ. She desires to be a woman who lives and loves like Jesus.

She is a Woven Women: a Woman of Virtue!

Read previous posts by Kim:
~Life Lessons: Songs In the Rain
~50 Days of Holy: Come In Awe
~40 Days of Virtue: Laugh Out Loud