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Girl Time

~ Written by Cassie Harris

I’ve been a tomboy almost all my life. I vaguely remember big bows, fake heels and flowery dresses, but that stage didn’t last very long. I’m a woman who would define herself as more comfortable with the salty dogs rather than tea-sipping women.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized femininity addresses a much broader spectrum than those two extremes. You can enjoy hunting and still like make-up. You can be tough and still need a shoulder to cry on. You can be a woman and still stand on your own. You don’t have to sacrifice being a woman in order to be somebody worth respecting.

To some, it is ridiculous to point out such a concept. Of course all those things can encompass being a woman. However, needing each other, learning it’s okay to need one-on-one time with a girlfriend, can still blow our minds. If you’re anything like me, you try to hide the fact that coffee with a girlfriend is feeding your soul almost more than alone time in the woods ever could.

If that’s you, I have a challenge for you. Accept that “girl time” as a gift from your loving Father who knows your soul’s needs more than you do. Be okay with needing a knowing glance when you admit to a struggle with your spouse or your self-worth. Don’t deny God the privilege of answering your heart’s needs through another woman.

Sometimes, it’s the otherwise unnecessary gifts like time with a girlfriend that remind us God sees our smallest needs. If He can answer the small things our hearts desire, we have proof that He can answer the big desires as well.

 

~ Written by Cassie Harris 

I wouldn’t move there. There’s no way I could raise my kids in a community like that.

It was the only thought going through my head as my friends talked about their plans. After they were married, they wanted to move to a town known for its danger. In their minds, they felt called by God, which was enough incentive for them.

I was struck with what my hesitation to follow God said about my spiritual growth. In America, safety has become an idol. Most of us don’t want to move an inch if we think our livelihoods, family or financial status are at risk. The reality is, risk is biblical. Not taking a risk when God calls us to a task is, in essence, telling God we understand the future better than He does.

So how about you? What risk have you been hesitating to take simply because you can’t get your mind wrapped around the bigger picture? What haven’t you done because God’s command to trust Him doesn’t feel safe enough? 

Truly, when God asks us to step out of our comfort zones, our 5-year-plans and our safety, the blessing is bigger than the risk.

~ Written by Cindy Shuler

It was almost 3:00. My students were loaded and ready to head home after a long day at school. My phone rang. It was my son, so I answered it. He had just finished getting fitted for his Prom tux and needed to make a down payment. He knows what time it is and he calls me about this? I was irritated, impatient and rather short with him. Justifiable, considering the circumstances, right?

I pulled out of the parking lot and this conversation began in my heart.

God asked, “You didn’t handle that well, did you?” 

“No, but he knew better than to call me as school was getting out.” 

“The evidence of My Spirit in you is love, patience and kindness.” 

“Yeah, but…..okay. You’re right. I’m sorry. I want my responses to reflect You, regardless of the circumstances. I’ll try harder.”

I continued to wrestle with this question throughout my bus route. How can I change my heart? Though I try as hard as I know how, I can’t do it. My best efforts at behavior modification eventually fail. In my own strength, I’m powerless to change. In John 15:4-5, Jesus tells us to abide in Him because apart from Him we can do nothing. I know, too, that the old has gone and the new has come. Still, way too often my attitudes and actions fail to prove I believe this truth. 

As I continue to reflect on these truths, my loving Father calls me to be still before Him; allowing Him to work these deep changes in my heart. It’s through meditating on His word and engaging in conversation with Him that I learn to abide. He has given me His Spirit to teach me, convict me and produce fruit in me. My responsibility is to abide and obey. 

So the next time my son calls at 3:00, will I respond differently? I pray that will be the case. However, I do know this: It is to the Father’s glory that we bear much fruit. As we choose to abide in Jesus, His Spirit will produce fruit in us. The Father will continue His pruning work and we will bear more fruit for His glory.

  
~Written by Viki Rife

You really have to understand people to be a Little League coach. During a Skype conversation with my grandson last weekend, I asked him, “What position are you playing in softball this year?” He answered with a forlorn face, “Outfield, but I’d rather be at second base.”

I’m pretty sure I know why his coach put him in the outfield, based on a game I watched when we were visiting them. My grandson begged to be at first base, and the coach let him. The first time an opposing player hit the ball, my grandson started cheering.

As soon as the other player arrived at the base, my grandson, who is extremely extroverted, started a conversation with this boy he didn’t even know. In no time at all, they were standing there swapping stories like old friends, both with their backs to home plate. Pretty soon another player hit a ball, which went right past first base as each coach shouted to get his player’s attention. It was pretty obvious my grandson’s heart wasn’t really in the game.

Sometimes I think I do the same thing. My Coach gives me a chance to play a key position, but I get distracted doing what I want to do. The opportunity to contribute to the team passes me by. I could have noticed that someone was grieving. I could have seen that chance to take food to a family. I didn’t drop the ball–I never even reached for it. If I don’t want to play outfield, I need to learn to keep my eye on the ball

~ Written By Cassie Harris

I don’t think I’ve seen God’s redemption amidst hyphens, semicolons and question marks before. Don’t get me wrong, I love editing and I love my job. However, in my mind, my red pen isn’t a frequently used messianic symbol.

Recently, I spent three days with the Women of Grace USA’s editorial team working on the upcoming Spectrum Magazine. As we worked meticulously to edit the articles, our task often made me laugh. It’s rare to find a group of people who care about quirky things such as ‘parenthetical statements’ just as much as I do. A poorly placed parenthetical statement can make or break the quality of the article’s message.

No one cares about parenthetical statements, but the women I spent my time with understood the importance of perfecting them. In some ways, God’s love and redemption for us is like an editor’s red pen.

God takes His time to erase the little sins in our lives, even when we don’t think they matter. Though we may believe the ‘little things’ won’t distract the world from seeing Christ in us, God is passionate about seeing those discrepancies and taking the time to erase them. His passion is to make us more like His Son. 

In God’s eyes, it doesn’t matter if we don’t understand the need for the change. God knows the message He wants our lives to convey. He’s passionate about ‘editing out’ the little things because He takes joy in using His imperfect people. 

  ~Written by Viki Rife

I am in no way a farm girl, but one of the most courageous things I ever did was a desperate attempt to save a calf’s life. The calf had become listless, and my husband, just home from hernia surgery, called the vet. The doctor’s solution? Take a long tube with a bulb on one end and a bag on the other, fill the bag with a liquid mix, then open the calf’s mouth, push the bulb down the cow’s throat into its stomach and squeeze the bag. As if that wasn’t enough, he warned me several times to make sure the bulb didn’t go into the calf’s lungs, or I would drown it.

The calf was half-grown, so attempting to wrestle him into position was challenging. Then came the agony of forcing down his throat something that made him gag and fight. Then I had to listen for the sounds that would show it had reached the right place. I would then get a four-hour break before I had to go back to the barn and do it all over again.

I’ll leave it to you to imagine what an adventure that was! The crazy thing was, all this could have been prevented. After moving into a home in the country with a barn, we had bought calves hoping to save money on meat. Calves usually go from milk to ground corn to regular corn. We had assumed that because they seemed to be eating the whole kernel corn, they were ready for it. But they were not yet mature enough to chew the corn well enough for their stomach to digest it. They were eating, but they were not being nourished.

Sometimes, I find myself doing the same thing when I’m mentoring. I feel like I’m offering them wholesome food, but they may not have the ability to chew and digest the spiritual food. I push them along, expecting them to “get it,” and feel disappointed when they don’t. How much better to let the Spirit guide us to give those we are mentoring the right food for their maturity level! It can prevent major trauma to them—and to us!

~ Written by Viki Rife

The sign at the checkout said, “Stop hunger at home.” It went on to tell how many in my county don’t get enough to eat. Hunger is a terrible thing. 

But even worse is when a person no longer knows she’s hungry. It’s heartbreaking to see someone who has sunk so far into anorexia she is starving to death and doesn’t even know it. But I find myself being even more distressed by the spiritual anorexia around me. 

There are people in the world who would give anything for access to the truth about God, and we sometimes forget that we even need it. I think this concern is one of the reasons I enjoy the Women’s Leadership Studies classes so much. I know how they have met a hunger in my life, and I see them making a difference for other women, as well. I love sharing “aha” moments with other women, and finding common ground for discussion, as we dig into the truth about how God relates to us. 

After a recent class, one of the participants shared that she had struggled in school and had been hesitant to register for the class. Then she commented, 

“I absolutely loved studying the scripture with the group. I love learning and discussing issues. I have such a passion for teaching and leading women. I believe this is the first step that will propel me to discover more opportunities for learning and growing.” 

As we gather to share our knowledge, it may be awakening hunger in those around us. Let’s make it our goal to “stop spiritual starvation at home.” 

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