Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Aprons; the Ties that Bind

Following is the manuscript of the message I gave at the mother daughter tea (more or Less).  It was a great event and I am so glad we finally did it.  I've been feeling the urge to organize something like this but have been a little too scared about the work involved well let me just say that so many people stepped in and helped and took over in areas that weren't my strengths that even the putting it on part was fun.  I had teen agers that designed and make invitations, and women that made the take home gifts and people that brought wonderful food it was great!!  Thank you to every one who helped especially Jean, Katie and Beki you guys are the best!!!!  I love our team and I think I would not have been able to do it with out you at least not with out crying (which I did not break down not even once!)

Beki, her sister Bethany and their mom Dian sang together four songs sort of interspersed through out the event.  Some of my girls did two skits, interspersed throughout and they all did a great job.  The music was wonderful and the skits were well acted and used no scripts!  I was dumb and forgot my camera so the only pics I have were some taken by my friend Megan from her phone, you don't really get a sense of how cute the place was; decorated with old aprons, handkerchiefs, and real vintage table clothes and tea pots.  The place was so cute!!

I am so glad that we were finally able to all get together and I mean that.  I love being with other Women especially other Christian women because I feel like that is one of the places I gather a lot of strength.  Most of you know who I am and many of you know me even better then that but I'm guessing there is a lot about me that most of you don't know.  I'm guessing that's true of most of us and I feel like that's a real shame. 
I want to share with you today a passion that is on my heart for ministry between women.  Old women to young women to teens to girls Titus 2:3-4 says, 3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children.  I think what Paul is getting at here is they can train the younger women about life.  I believe whole heartedly that we are missing something so special, missing something that God has put in our hearts and that is the need for women to have fellowship with other women.  Now I have nothing against men in fact there's three that I like A LOT but even my husband who knows me better then any one on earth can not take the place of the need I have to have friendships with other women.  
I don't want to just tell you why I think this is so important I want to show you why and in order to do that I am going to allow you all to get to know me a little better.  I grew up in a loving Christian home surrounded by women.  I am the oldest of three girls, my mom is a strong women, and I have eleven girl cousins (I have a lot of boy cousins too but this is about women) I am very very close to My Grammy, my mom and aunt.   My dad was and is an amazing daddy and most of the people in my family love the Lord but despite all this I began struggling with my faith from a very early age.  I can be a little irrational so you'll have to really try and follow this logic; I was afraid that I didn't believe in God but that he was real there for I would go to Hell.  Now I was young when I first started having these fears younger then eight and for a long time the only thing that gave me peace and hope were the stories of faith and healing that my Mom and Grandma shared with me.  You see when we're young our parent's faith is our faith but if you aren't sharing your spiritual heritage with your children then they are missing something very special and very important Deuteronomy 11:18-19 says 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Proverbs 22:6 says 6 Train [a] a child in the way he should go,  and when he is old he will not turn from it.
If you don't have a spiritual heritage, or rather one your proud of, then it's up to you to begin this for your children and not only that but here we are all sisters the history of this of the church of fellow women in Christ is your heritage as well, history is important it's where we learn from other's mistakes so we don't have to make the same ones, it's were we remember the greatness of the Lord and His past deeds, it's where we begin to learn what is important.  Let's not loose ours because we're too busy to teach it to those coming after us or because we're too busy to listen.
We moved around a lot while I was growing up and it was hard, but now when I look back I can see God moving me down a path and protecting me every single step of the way.  While other teen age girls struggled with having good friends and peer pressure I always knew who I was, no matter where I was God provided me with good friends and with Christian friends.  Even while my parents floated from one church to another I was always in a strong vibrant youth group that was feeding my soul and building relationships.  The most important thing that I learned from moving so much was that home has nothing to do with your zip code and every thing to do with love.  I peter 2:11 1Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  I have a better understanding of that now because I never had time to put down real deep roots in one town but I learned that people every where love the Lord and where love is home is.  
Then I went to college, and not just any college but a small amazing Christian college where student's all around me were studying for the ministry and learning about God and in that place sitting on a bench missing my momma so much I realized that I had lost my faith.  I was ashamed, scared to death and way to shy and lonely to talk to any one about it.  I mean here I am going to bible classes and studying for exams in the life of christ and I wasn't sure who Christ even was.  It was a very dark moment in my life because I had enough sense to know with out God life was pretty much meaningless and even if this life was the best it could ever be it would end some day and then what?  So I studied, I went to class, I slowly began to make friends and you know what happened Christ found me Isn't it great that Christ goes looking for us? Luke says 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?   This time my faith was stronger then I had ever experienced because it was no longer the faith of my parents but my faith.  We all have to transition from our parents beliefs to our own and this is often a messy journey that is longer for some then others but the more people we have around us praying and teaching and listening to our fears and doubts the easier the transition will be but we have to be available and we have to be honest.  I was afraid to talk to other Christians about what was going on, luckily I was at a school where I was learning so much about God and the Bible that it became obvious to me that he was real, but what about those of us who don't go to a Christian college or seminary?  We have to let our young-in-the-faith people know that the Church is a real place with real struggles full of real people who care.  We have to be ok with the fact that sometimes people are going to stumble and struggle with their faith, we have to be willing to teach them the scriptures so that they have that assurance and that heavenly armor that will protect them from the attacks of satan.  That means we need to be constantly growing in our faith as well and sharing our faith and heritage with them. if we want our young people to come back to the Lord we have to be a people they want to come back too.
The other big thing that happened to me in college was I meat a boy.  Not just any boy but a really cute boy with earrings.  (The earrings were an added bonus my way of rebelling with out actually rebelling) and after some ups and downs in our blossoming relationship I fell in love.  Now this seems like a pretty cute story but there was a problem he wanted to be a minister and the last thing I wanted to be was a pastor's wife.  I loved the Lord but the not the Church.  I didn't want to be like the other minister's families I knew.  They seemed over worked unhappy, they never spent time with their wives and their kids were out of control.  How sad is it that the ministry and the beautiful church had destroyed these families?  Even though I was young I was wise enough to know that I could not expect this man to leave God's calling for his life for me that would only lead to bitterness so I had a choice marry Brian and accept his call as mine or part ways.  I think you can all guess what I chose and I am so glad that I did.  I do see a shift in ministry and the way people view their pastors for the good, they are people just like you and while I love the Church she is not the same thing is God.  In my heart in order of importance it goes: God, Brian and the boys, then the church and it would be a good thing if we could all accept that and order our lives that way.  And hopefully by following God's leading we will be able to raise two strong Christian men with your help. But back to when we were first married isn't it funny how God knows us so much better then ourselves?  I didn't want to be a minister's wife but I accepted it as long as we didn't end up in youth ministry because the thing that I really didn't want to do more then anything was work with youth... By the time we left Columbia, a teeny tiny church, I was 100% in love with the church 110% in love with youth and 120% in love with teen girls.  You see God knew where my passion was even before I did, it was like he took my hand and said "trust me Jessie, I know you want to be a therapist and a published author but you are going to love this even more." and when I took his hand and trusted him bam!! I was filled with a joy that I can not describe to you and a burning passion for teen girls that has been changing into a passion for women of all ages. 
So why is fellowship and ministry between women so important?  What does my story have to do with any of that?  I was and am a strange person, I didn't get in trouble when I was in high school, I didn't drink, I got good grades, I never lied to my parents so when I saw that we were going to be working with youth I thought, "great here comes all the drama, and selfishness, youth are lazy, and they make terrible decisions." after I got to know teen age girls I learned that this really wasn't the case at all.  I mean yes some teens are lazy but I know a lot of lazy thirty year olds, and a lot of selfish forty year olds.  As I began spending more and more time with girls I was shocked to discover how neat they were.  How God had designed them so beautiful and curious how intelligent they are and what spiritual depth they are capable of.  There is a ton of pressure on girls today, used to be they were expected to grow up get married and be mothers (worthy aspparations) but now they are expected to grow up get married be mothers but along the way get top grades in all subjects be good at sports still maintain all their femininity, go to college and work full time jobs and to do it all organicly!  That is a lot of pressure and I'm not saying any of those things are bad but I am saying we need to make sure we are teaching them what is really important Matthew 16 26 says What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Are we Giving them permission to be who God designed them to be not what the world wants them to be.  Some of them will go on to be ceos and doctors and teachers but some will be called to stay at home with children, while others work in missions we need to be interested in what God wants for their lives not what the world wants.  We have this idea that teens are only interested in the newest brightest thing.  That they want what is hip, and technologically advanced.  Maybe we think what do I have to offer these girls?  Well let me tell you that all of this stuff is not what girls are looking for!  If it was I would not be connecting at all, I am not hip I know only slightly more about computers then my Grandma and am terrible at wearing make up and picking out clothes.  I don't care for chick flicks, I love sci-fi, and the fifties.  Sometimes I dress up in my pearls just to make cookies Mrs. Cleaver style, because that's how I roll.  If I pretended to be some one I wasn't the girls would see right through me instead I come to them just as God called me; a quirky talky person that more then occassionaly yells at her kids.  They're not looking for cool their looking for genuine, aren't we all looking for genuine?  The reason that face book and the internet are so huge isn't because people are looking for a way to stay disconnected it's because we're looking for a way to connect.  So many people are coming from broken homes now that I really believe we're looking for family, it's our job to show the girls and all the women that surround us that we are their family, that church is our family.   No matter how awesome the internet becomes and no matter how many hand hold devices we have Jesus Christ and fellowship with other Christians is the only thing that is going to fill that void.  We need each other and each other's support.
Listen if your listening to this and thinking "yea right the church has messed up and done this or that to me..." well I'm really sorry but it's time to get over it.  I don't want to minimize any pain you may have encountered because of fellow Christians but the Church is full of broken hurting people who often loose sight of God and get caught up in different forms of selfishness.  I ask you openly in what family does that not happen?  There is a Jars of clay song that goes "Lay your weapons down, Lay your weapons down there are no enemies in front of you."  As long as the church has people it will do dumb things but we are not enemies we are family.  We need to come to it with lots of grace seeking the Lord and making darn sure we aren't the ones doing the hurting.  Instead of constantly focusing on The bride of Christ's flaws lets begin to focus on her beauty.  Church is not this building and it is not Sunday morning it is all of us together.  That's what is so awesome about the way God designed us.  He designed us to need other people to need other Christians.  So let's be there for each other.  There are women here who need some one to talk to with out the fear of her issue making it's rounds on the gossip chain "I'm just telling you this so you can pray about so and so..." let's not be that person ok.  Instead let's be a place where a person who is in pain can come and seek out comfort and help and we can be sensitive to their needs. Every one looks so beautiful and happy out there but I know their is pain because I've been there.  After Hunter was born I had a lot of post partum depression.  My family had moved we had moved and here I was in the middle of winter with a baby and all I could do was cry.  I felt horrible and guilty I'm a Christian mom who quit working to stay home with her new little family and I was miserable.  I would come to church and smile and laugh and nod my head when people said things like "enjoy it they grow so fast." but I wasn't enjoying it, all I really wanted was eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Now part of it was hormones, and part of it was being stuck inside in the winter but a huge part of it was being totally isolated, not having other people to talk to about it.  My depression lifted when I started getting to know other women right here in the church.  I look out and see women who saved me, I see women who God brought into my life to fill the void left by my mom and sisters leaving and not just women who stepped in for me but for my children as well. Prov says
2710 Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, 
       and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you— 
       better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

and 18 There is a friend that is closer than a brother
A couple of generations ago a lot more women stayed home and people weren't as busy (at least thats how it seems) kids weren't involved in every single sport ever invented.  We had women groups in the church in charge of organizing and taking care of peoples needs, we spent real time together in each other's homes and with each other's children.  We're so busy now that seems impossible but we need each other more then ever.  It's time for us to reconnect as women to embrace what makes us unique and to begin opening up to those around us.  Let's share our stories of faith, our struggles our joys.  Let's be real with each other with the younger people coming behind us so they learn that faith is a journey and sometimes a struggle but always worth it.   Let's open our arms and invite each other in, "They will know we are christians by our love" well let's tie on some aprons and get to the work of love.

1 comment:

Stephen & Denise said...

Awesome Jess. I wish I could have been there. You are so talented and God has given you so many gifts. Continue to allow hime to use you and your gifts. I was touched by this. Great Job. I Love you. MOM