Sunday, December 31, 2006

Week 1: A New Beginning, A New Revelation for the Women to Women Mentoring Program

Week 1: A New Beginning, A New Revelation for the Women to Women Mentoring Program
It was just like in the wagon train movies of the 1800's, the daughter cries sweet goodbyes to her family as her radiant new husband lifts her onto the wagon traveling out west to begin their lives together - leaving the old and pressing on to a new adventure! That was sort of the beginning of my married life, only 5 days wed we scrambled onto a U-Haul jam packed with wedding gifts and 23 years worth of memories and a Siamese Cat named Austin; heading South, from the wet lush green mountains of Oregon to the hot dry landscape of Texas. We embarked on the greatest adventure of our lives, together with the Lord, the pair of us naively headed towards a new life. My husband was paving his way in the world of men, eager to take on the responsibility of caring for a new wife. I, unknowingly at the time, was running from my careful life of rules and order in hopes of uncovering this woman within that I deeply desired to discover.
I grew up in a wonderful church that taught the Bible, but somewhere along the way I had taken all that head knowledge but hadn't a clue how to relate to a very distant God.. I pulled out all the rules and characteristics of God that fit the way I percieved life and created my own image of god. This god that I worshiped was restricted, rigid, expected perfection, was kind yet always down on me because I could never get it just right.. My god was a god of love since he died on the cross for my sins, but he was distant and hard to get close to. Are you getting my picture of God? What is your image of God? What does God think about you each day? The answer to those two questions may just be the most important questions in the entire universe. "What you think about God shapes your whole relationship with him. In addition, what you believe God thinks about you determines how close we will grow towards him." (Ingram, God As He Longs For You To See Him, page 20) Unknowing, my false image of God shaped so much of the woman I had become. I concluded that if I could never please god then why worship him? I had my "fire insurance" so my waste my time trying to please a god that would never be satisfied with me.
But then, with our new life in Texas forming, a new and true image of God began to take shape. The Lord started to reveal Himself to me through prayer times, many trials, Bible studies, friends, my husband, becoming a mother, & great books that taught me about the very nature of God - truths only found in the Bible. The past 4 years I have spent searching and discovering a magnificent God who is the embodiment of perfection, who loves me the same regardless of my actions, whose ways are not my ways and whose deepest desire is to mold me into the image of Christ. The road has not been painless, most of my lessons were forged through great trials, but the rewards have been intimate and everlasting. The more I study the Word of God to discover the multifaceted God I server, the more in awe I stand before Him and the more I fall in love with Him and await the day when I can finally see His face and bow before Him in reverence. I will never conclude my aspirations of knowing God completely, for each trial reveals new truths and experiences. My new longing is for other women to develop a Biblical image of God, because if we have an image of God that is true our perspective on this life shifts from one of self to one of upward focus.
I would like to encourage you to seek out this God you serve, challenge yourself to get into the Word of God and meditate on the life of Jesus, and the God of the Old Testament. Do not be discouraged by trials that will come your way, but be encouraged because it is through these trials that the Lord desires to reveal himself to you; one verse that I meditate on often during trials is James 1:2-3, "Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." You are being equipped with endurance and experience that will help you along your Christian journey. Please e-mail or call me with your prayer requests, I would love to pray and encourage you!
I will close with a verse hidden deep in the Old Testament - meditate on this verse and ask the Lord to disclose himself deeply and intimately to you over the next 6 months. Please ponder the two questions that started me on a journey to discovering God, "What is your image of God" and "What do you think God sees when he looks at you." Picture the delight the Lord has when you desire to know Him more and seek Him out regularly. Please know that I am praying for you; anticipating the exciting new truths that will be discovered.
The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.?
Zephaniah 3:17

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Memories 2006

This Christmas season was crazy at the Williams; one week before Christmas, Drew and I headed to the Northwest to visit family, friends, and a new baby! Minus a husband, who had to stay home and work, I embarked on a journey ... alone. A sense of dread crept into my thoughts weeks before I left as I worried about parenting alone for a whole week and taking the dreaded 4 hours long plane ride ... with a 2 year old. Bagged with a fully charged DVD player, Elmo videos, Benedryl, Thomas trains, candy canes, & infamous "puppy" -- I headed out on my faith flight. Our trip went smoothly, so smooth that only the hand of the Lord could have orchestrated it all. The Lord's promise to shelter me from the storm became very real as I arrived just hours after a major storm blackened Washington State .
You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall
Isaiah 25:4
My faith journey to the NW made me long for Oregon pine trees, clean crisp air, snowy mountains, & coffee shop on every corner. I miss it! At that moment, as I was driving along I-5 towards the mountains -- Drew peacefully sleeping in back -- a still small voice reminded me of how simple the personhood of God is; often I try to add busyness and confusion to my perception of God which takes me away from the wonder and joy I find just abiding in His presence. This voyage, relieved holiday stress, allowing time for relaxing and enjoy the solitude of "God's country," as my father in-law enjoys saying. Watching the snow topped mountains of Rainer & Hood I thought on the verses in Mark 10:13-15 ? And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom God kingdom God like a child will not enter it at all." of belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the of
Oh, how I love to complicate God, put Him in a box, and form my little world around that iconic image! Thank you Lord for your Holy Spirit which brings me back to your simple truth - "I am the Way the Truth and the Life." When I read through the gospel's of Matthew, Mark & John I always find You, simple, in love with the "lost sheep" of the world, proclaiming truth & love to the most unlovely of people. Then, there is the cross, where you died for all the sins of the world, what indescribable love you have for mankind. I long for those who do not believe to seek after You for they will find a priceless, matchless, father who weeps tears for the missing and broken - - the Creator longs for the free will of His Creation to seek and find rest in His "righteous right hand."
There was one mishap on my trip - I arrived in Seattle 24 hours after a storm wiped out most of the power. The city was dark, people (including us) were waiting in line for hours just to get a McDonald's cheeseburger, Washingtonians were cranky and going through early caffeine withdrawals; Starbucks was without power, fights broke out in parking lots, gasoline was scarce, people couldn't get the essence of 4 way stops, traffic was at a standstill, and Christmas shopping took a backseat to the basic needs of people ? food, clothing, & warm shelter. We had flown into this mess "Why" I asked God? "For a joy filled adventure!" I did find great joy in the frigid temperature and breathtaking beauty. Drew and I loved every minute of the brisk air, hospitable friends and family, and joy filled 7 days in the Northwest.
I also love this adventure called LIFE, filled with trials and storms and peace and comfort, directing us back to the real purpose - - a life of service to the One who created us. I pray the New Year of 2007 brings with it focused intent, service to others, and intimacy with our Creator.
Melissa