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Archive for the ‘Women’s Spectrum’ Category

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

I wrote out the check to the hospital, all the while trembling with anxiety and frustration. The bill hadn’t taken all our money, but it certainly made life a bit more uncomfortable. My husband and I rewrote our summer plans, cut corners on our budget, and found ourselves saying, “no,” on a more regular basis.

There was no way around the truth, though. I had needed to be in the hospital. The consequences were just a hard pill to swallow.

“God, we were doing so well. You promised you’d provide for us; but then stuff like this happens,” I wrote in my prayer journal. Quickly, God reminded me that He had, in fact, provided. The bill was paid, and all our needs remained met. We weren’t homeless or hungry, and our marriage wasn’t in danger. God had faithfully provided. Just because I didn’t like His method of providing didn’t mean He’d upheld His promise any less.

How many times do we miss a chance to experience the fullness of God’s goodness simply because He’s taking us out of our comfort zone? What would our lives be like if, instead of focusing on how much we dislike the ways He provides for us, we broadened our hearts to see that He’s teaching us to depend on Him?

After all, don’t we believe He is enough?

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

I shrieked when I saw it. The temperature was bearable! For the last week, Indiana had been seeing temperatures which would make even Alaskans cringe. I was getting tired of feeling as if I was having an asthma attack just because I stepped outside to get to my car. But finally. My phone boasted the truth:

It was warm enough to snow.

When I stepped out my front door, I was met with a wintery wind. Still, I celebrated the relative warmth. I then promptly turned around to get my hat and gloves. Sure, it was warm. It wasn’t that warm.

I can sometimes treat my spiritual growth the same way I treat the weather. I see some type of breakthrough in a sin cycle and I want to act as if that simple crack in the rock means the mountain of sin is no longer there. I celebrate the shift in action for a day, maybe a week, before I’m met with sin’s blustery reality.

Yes, because of Christ, I saw victory in my ungodly habits, but I’m still a sinner.

I have a choice. I can either stand in the “wintery winds” of my sinfulness and eventually die of hopelessness. Or, I can turn around and look at my Savior and allow Him to give me what I need to be prepared for what lies before me spiritually.

Just like the weather warming up, our sanctification is a process. Allow God to be a part of that process. He is not shocked when the winds of life take our breath away.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

As we enter the new year, predictors of doom abound. We can’t deny that society is less accepting of Christian values than it has been in the past. We find ourselves wondering what will happen next.

Some of our questions are similar to those asked by Daniel millennia ago. What was God doing? What would happen to God’s chosen people?

The reassurance the Lord gave Daniel in the midst of disturbing prophecies is something we can use today. “The people who know their God will stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32—ESV).

So our first step to overcoming whatever comes against us in this new year is to invest in knowing our God. We need to develop a strategy to understand Him better.. Dig into His Word. Pray fervently. See the many dimensions of who He is, from humble suffering Servant to conquering King astride His white horse.

Our next step is to stand firm. We can do this when we know who our God is. We can plant our feet firmly on the foundation of His truth.

The third step is to take action. We do not need to be intimidated by whatever the enemy of our souls tries to use to discourage us. Instead, we need to be proactive, seeking ways to demolish his strongholds in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Those three steps will help us be overcomers in the new year. Maybe God bless you as you seek to know your God.

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

Adoption is a beautiful thing. I just found out that friends of mine finally brought their little girl home… after over two years worth of praying, loving and pursuing. Two years. She’s home. She’s actually home

I have other friends who are still in the midst of the battle. They’ve agonized over the paperwork between governments, the fundraisers, the frustrated prayers and longing for their son. It never seems to end.  

As the joyous tears fell freely this morning in joint celebration that my friends had been given their daughter, I became just as quickly frustrated that my other friends were being kept from their son. I was happy for one and heartbroken for the other. I wanted to fly to Texas and kiss the little girl’s cheek and I want to fly to Africa and give the government a piece of my mind and single-handedly take my friends’ son back to America with me. 

As I wrestled over the friction in my heart this week, I was struck with the beauty of it. In a very small nutshell, I was being shown the heart of my Father God. He is overjoyed to have His children within His family present, but His heart breaks over the ones He doesn’t share that identity with just yet. 

Just like my friends pursuing their son in Africa, I was reminded of one simple Truth: My God doesn’t give up easily. No matter the cost, no matter the distance, our God will pursue each child with utter abandon until His Family is complete. 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

After five-year-old Frances Slocum was kidnapped in Pennsylvania in 1778, her family spend 59 years looking for her. They finally found her living among the Miami tribe in Indiana. They wanted her to come back with them to live in “civilization.” She had become accustomed to her current life, and she refused to leave it.

She knew she wouldn’t belong any more.

As believers, we find ourselves having to choose where we belong. Are we citizens of earth or citizens of heaven? When Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven, He presented us with an entirely different mindset from what this world accepts. Citizens of heaven care about the good of their own country, and don’t get involved in the politics and customs of the earthly country they are living in. They invest in furthering the interests of their own country.

What does it mean to you when you pray, “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? What would that actually look like? What are we willing to do to make that happen? We are called to live in a way that gives a taste of heaven on earth.

We need to understand that it is how we handle suffering that furthers the kingdom of God most. . Pray for God to keep changing your perspective so you can live the lifestyle and mindset of the kingdom of heaven.

It’s where you belong!

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~ 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. 

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

I grew up with a number of friends who hated their fathers. Even more so, these teenagers would tell me story after story of why they should never trust their fathers. Whether the stories were reality or falsehood; their concept of “father” was not a pleasing one. It certainly wasn’t a picture our God of the Bible would have desired anyone to paint in their minds. To these friends, “Father” meant villain, torturer, captor, and mom-beater. I understood why they didn’t like it when I referred to God Almighty as Father.

But Romans 8:15 says that that we “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!'” Since I grew up in church, I’ve heard that scripture countless times. I remember being a curious 8-year-old hearing the Greek word Abba and getting a sense of unabashed excitement that even the Greeks had an endearing word for Daddy.

I love calling my father Daddy. When all I really wanted from my Dad was love and affirmation, I’d call him Papa. The fact that God was giving us the right to that same intimacy with Him blew my young heart away.

Recently, I ran across the Romans passage again and decided to look at the cross-references my Bible provided. The first Scripture provided was Mark 14:36, which quotes Jesus pleading in Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” A very humbling truth hit me square between the eyes seeing those passages side by side.

Yahweh God is asking me to approach Him with the same adoration with which I approach my earthly Daddy. But not only that, He’s asking for me to approach Him with the same trust, confidence, intimacy and transparency Jesus conveyed that heart-wrenching night in Gethsemane.

How many times have I taken that invitation from God and belittled it? How
many times have I unknowingly portraying God as both villain and master when truly He is most assuredly my greatest Confidante and zealous Abba? Oh, may my life purpose be one of searching the heart of God to know the gift of calling Him Abba!

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Written by Viki Rife

My life’s goal was clarified for me this past weekend. I had the chance to host a reunion of my father’s surviving siblings. They came to Indiana from Minnesota, Kentucky and California. Each was accompanied by one of their children, who stayed close by to help them out of their chairs, bring walkers, and help them remember to take their pills.

We had been planning the reunion for months, but it looked like our plans would be thwarted by the sudden death of Dad’s sister’s husband. Aunt Betty declared that she would still come. Her courage amazed me! Yet I realized that in His wisdom, God had provided her with an opportunity to spend a weekend surrounded by her own family.

We laughed and cried over memories of Uncle Paul. He was head librarian at a large public library; he also put a carpeted bathtub in the children’s department and would take his turn in it to read during his breaks. Long after his retirement, he still avidly attended Christian clowning conventions to learn new evangelism techniques. He knew everyone and everyone knew him.

Compared to him, Aunt Betty was in the shadows. Just an ordinary wife and mom, rejoicing in his recognition and never receiving any of her own. Yet she was his rock, a wise, stable woman who served others quietly but passionately.

Throughout the reunion weekend, Aunt Betty brought an amazing sense of peace and joy to the gathering. Her heart of gratitude moved me as I saw her appreciate the little things around her. She was as attentive to the needs of others as ever. It hit me that she has been one of the great inspirers of my life, not because she was great in the sight of humans, but because it was so evident that she was one of God’s faithful daughters.

As we said goodbye, I told her, “You’ve always been an inspiration to me.” She looked at me for a moment before replying, “Well, you know, sometimes you wonder if your little life makes any difference.”

It was then that it hit me what I really want to do with my life. I’d rather have a “little life” like hers than all the honors that could possibly be given. I’d rather quietly reflect the radiance of God to those around me than anything else that could be offered. Because in the end, the least shall be the greatest.

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The memory haunts me to this day.

My best friend and her sister were spending the night with their grandparents, and their Grandpa had gone to his room early because he wasn’t feeling well. When the girls were ready for bed, they went to say goodnight to him. He was looking at one of his guns, and barked at them to leave. Surprised, they backed out, and as they closed the door, they heard a shot. They opened the door and became the first witnesses of their grandfather’s gruesome death.

What haunts me most is that I only know what I overheard the adults whispering. My friends never talked about it, and I felt compelled to wait for them to bring it up. It was a hush-hush thing, an elephant in the room of our relationship. I had no idea how to minister to them, and I’m pretty sure the adults around me weren’t sure, either. Everyone chose silence.

How do we as Christians respond to a person contemplating suicide? How do we respond to the family that remains after a suicide?

These thoughts are on my mind especially today, World Suicide Prevention Day. The recent death of Robin Williams has once again brought concerns about suicide to the forefront. We’re left wondering, “Couldn’t someone have done something?”

In our upcoming GraceTouch e-newsletter, a mother who lost her son to suicide shares her story and her involvement in working with suicide prevention and postvention. She also offers guidelines for a Christian response to suicide.

The e-newsletter goes out September 15—if you are not a subscriber, you can sign up on our home page www.wgusa.org (scroll down to the green rectangle).

~Viki Rife

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Why does Women of Grace USA exist? Recently I was challenged to re-think my response to that question after reading a comment about the fact that the word missionary is no longer in our name. A concern was expressed that missions will disappear and we will become just a women’s ministry. Are we abandoning missions for the sake of women’s ministry?

The absence of “missionary” from our name does not mean that “missions” is absent from Women of Grace USA. As one of our board members said, “Removing [missions] from our name has in no way removed it from our hearts.” For example, browse through the current issue of Women’s Spectrum and you will find articles about four Featured Missionaries, an article by a missionary/church planter (Beth Bryant), and a story about 19th-20th century missionary Amy Carmichael. Women are encouraged to contribute to special projects suggested by the Featured Missionaries. Opportunities for involvement in missions include women’s GO teams, and Honor Her Scholarships to help Grace College women go on short-term mission trips.

In the list of our Core Values, Mission is third, right behind God’s Word and Prayer. We chose Mission instead of Missions because we believe that “Women [should] be personally and cooperatively involved in fulfilling the Great Commission.” Some years ago, veteran missionary Tom Julien stated that “Missions [is] an expression of the mission of the church [the Body of Christ].” As a support and resource ministry for women in the local church, our vision is to see individual women intentionally living “on mission to share God’s love next door and around the world” – the slogan we adopted a number of years ago.

In a recent post on this blog, I referenced an article on another woman’s blog which cited several examples of women who are actively engaged in God’s mission in their own communities. While the article was about changes in women’s ministry, these women were reaching out and building relationships with spiritually needy women “next door”— in the same way that missionary women find ways to build relationships with spiritually needy women “around the world” so they can share the gospel of Christ with them. I believe both groups of women are missionaries. Is one more in need of prayer support than the other?

What do you believe is the true definition of a missionary?

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