Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Same Blog, New Address!


We have moved the TMC Women's Ministry Blog to
Now you'll be able to keep up with all of Women's Ministry news and events as well as follow the blog in one place. Genius, I know.

We've just posted some pictures and updates from Mary's time in Africa so be sure to check it out! And keep praying for her, she's still there!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Are Failures Fatal?

Did you ever want to crawl under a table because you said or did something inconsiderate or unkind?  It happened to me just yesterday.  It was just a stupid little thing, but I knew the minute I did it that it offended a dear brother in Christ and it was so unnecessary.

As soon as I could, I apologized to him, and I'm sure he truly forgives me.  But you know, he'll probably remember that for awhile and it will most likely have somewhat of a chilling impact on our relationship.  

So, why would I do such a thoughtless thing?  That's what sticks in my mind.  After all, I talk about putting others first, displaying the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, loving each other--all those basic Bible truths.  I teach them and truly intend to practice what I teach.  But there I was, displaying anything but the fruit of the Spirit.

Why?  Because I was thinking about me--what I had to do, how my time was limited, where I needed to go.  I was more important to me than anything or anyone else for that moment--and just that quickly, that old selfish  me behaved the way it always does on its own.  

Well, do I just give up and call it quits?  Is there no hope that I'll ever truly be like Jesus?  Is it impossible for me to learn to be under the Spirit's control even when I'm under time or workload pressures?  Should I resign and hang my head in shame?

That wouldn't accomplish anything, would it?  What I can and have done--and will do--is confess again my sinful, selfish heart, ask for forgiveness, then pick up the pieces and go forward.  It's humbling, and I need to be humbled quite frequently, but it's not fatal.  That's because we have a God of grace who specializes in using broken vessels and damaged goods!  

These failures we experience, whether large or small, should be teaching moments for us.  Rather than driving us away from God's purposes for our lives, they should shape us more and more, little by little, into the image of Jesus.   The next time I'm in a similar spot, if I have learned my lesson well, I will handle it more like Jesus and so even this failure will be used for good in my life.

Be encouraged today.  Your failures are not fatal.  Join hands with me as we continue to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary Whelchel

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

He Cheated.

He cheated. Eight years of marriage. Two kids. A house, a boat, a family...and he walked out. What do you say to a friend who was figuratively punched in the face and told she wasn't loved anymore? How does she make sense of her life being turned upside down in a matter of days? Where is God in all of this and how can a divorce be in His plan for her?

Tough questions, right? And it just keeps getting messier. The more she finds out about her husband’s infidelity, the more the betrayal continues to pile up. His words are cruel and untrue. Her boys are crushed and confused. This journey for my dear friend is far from over. There are going to be some super dark days ahead for her and she’s going to have to cling to any hope she can find. She’s going to have to choose to believe God is in all of this when nothing seems to make any sense anymore.

And here is the ironic twist to this devastating story: my sweet friend was beyond faithful to her unfaithful husband. It wasn’t long after they got married that she had her first of many blows – she thought she had married a man who had surrendered his life to Jesus and shared the same values of her faith. But as it turns out, his actions weren't matching up to the words coming from his mouth. So now what? She trusted God’s Word when it says:

“And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband...” (1 Cor. 7:13-14)

She believed God and faithfully prayed for his salvation. She worked hard, really hard, at being a loving and servant-hearted wife. She pursed his interests and hobbies so she could spend more time with him. She encouraged him to lead their family and inspire their boys. She was faithful. He was not. It’s unbelievable enough that he would just walk out on his wife and kids, but for another woman? Disgusting.

I look at my friend with such admiration and awe. She is heartbroken right now and certainly confused. And as she puts it, he chose his flesh over his family. Sure did. And we all know where that’s going to leave him.

But to my girlfriend, and anyone else finding that they have been hit hard by a curve ball – remain faithful to the One who defines faithfulness. He will reward you when you follow through with what you’ve committed to. Big commitments like marriage or small commitments like a promise to your kid. Faithfulness is a virtue that pleases the Lord and He will show His favor to you. And faithfulness comes from simply having faith -- faith that God sees you, knows you, and longs to glorify Himself through you (that's grace), never stops training you for righteousness (that's loving), and is in control when life is out of control (that's sovereign).

"So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, 
the man of faith." (Gal. 3:9)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect 
you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3)

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving 
toward all he has made.” (Psalm 145:13)

“God, who has called you into fellowship with his 
Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Cor. 1:9)

I love you friend,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Effortless Bobby Pin Look

Have you noticed this new hair trend lately? I call it the “Effortless Bobby Pin” look – until I tried it. I found that swooping back just a tiny piece of hair and securing it with one bobby pin isn’t easy! I couldn’t figure out where to put the hair strand and the one bobby pin wouldn’t hold my thick hair. I kept thinking about this mom at my daughter's school who has mastered this look and wondered how she makes it look so effortless!? Wouldn't you know that if you want instructions, you can fine them on Pinterest! And guess what, it's a process!

Why do we try to make difficult things look easy? A friend recently told me that I made having a third baby look easy. She said, “It doesn’t look like you missed a beat!” Oh wow. That couldn’t be more wrong. My beat is so gone that I wonder if I’ll ever get it back. And what an injustice I’m doing if I’m giving any other impression. Again, why do we try to make difficult things look easy?

Do you think it is in our nature to not show our weaknesses? Are we constantly trying to be someone we’re not? Paul talks about human weakness in 2 Cor. 12: “But [Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

There is a section in a book I’m reading entitled “Authentically Me.” Just those two words bring a little freedom to me. The author reminds the reader of three anchors of Scripture that we all need to claim and hold on to:

1) Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

2) 2 Timothy 2:21, "Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work."

3) Ephesians 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."

Boy, if we clung to those truths wouldn't we just ooze authenticity? How could we not if we walked in the confidence that Jesus intends for us to have -- confidence, faith, in Him and who He makes us to be. Like all things Gospel-centered, it is counter-cultural to expose our weaknesses. But if we were more honest and open about our trials, difficulties, and struggles, how much more room in our lives would we have for learning, growing, and encouragement. Sign me up!

And even if the Effortless Bobby Pin is easy for some, it's not easy for all. Such is life. Celebrate each other's strengths and weaknesses for the glory of God. Live an authentic life. Do you.

Rockin' the ponytail!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Cleavage Gap

Rebecca Lutzer recently sent me an article entitled “The Cleavage Gap,” written by Sue Edwards, an Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary.  She was teaching a class on how to work with men in ministry, and these women were bemoaning the provocative way women dress these days, while four of these very women were, as Sue puts it, “showing enough cleavage to distract any man in our midst.” 

Let me include an excerpt from her article:

I don't expect immature believers, and certainly non believers, to dress modestly. But these are leaders, the ones who set the standard for others. I'm trying to get into the heads of these leaders who don't get the cleavage gap. What are they thinking? Maybe...
  • It's impossible to buy stylish clothes today without showing cleavage, so I'm giving in.
  • I've worked hard and long on this body, and, by golly, I'm going to show it off.
  • My husband might secretly be drawn to other women if they show theirs, so I better
  • show mine.
  • I want to be loved and I'll never get a man's attention any other way.
  • It's hot and I want to wear something cool.
  • It's not my fault if men can't handle it. Women have been blamed too long for men's
  • lust. I'll flaunt it just to show them, a similar attitude to feminist's bra burning back in
  • the sixties.
  • I'm too busy to be bothered by this issue. Men need to get over it.

I wonder if these women realize how much their insensitivity hurts our chances of being taken seriously by men. Seems to me when we show cleavage, we back up what men have said and thought about women for centuries. We care more about the power of our sexuality than we do about its effect on our brothers. We aren't thinking about the long term impact of our choices, just about how cute we look today. Or maybe it's too much trouble for busy women to assess the effect of the gap. That's understandable for immature women who don't know better. But not for leaders with far-reaching influence.
Sue goes on to say that whatever the reason that women who truly love Jesus, who would never intentionally cause a man to lust, still dress inappropriately, she has found no solutions.  I share her frustration.  In the past we talked about the issue of dressing modestly at one of our luncheons, I’ve talked to various groups of women about it, I’ve interviewed and videotaped some men in our church and asked how it affects them, I’ve recommended Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, “Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?”  Since it seems to be a message that embarrasses people, or makes them uncomfortable—or resentful or angry—I guess I’ve abandoned my efforts to do more on making women in our church aware of the “cleavage gap” and how it affects men—and what kind of testimony it presents to the world.  After all, I tell myself, I’m not the fashion police of The Moody Church!

It’s a topic that deserves our attention.  If you have any suggestions on how we can communicate the biblical message of dressing modestly to the women in our church in a more effective way, I’m all ears.  Meanwhile, I pass these thoughts on to you for your contemplation.


Monday, April 2, 2012

What I Could Have Missed

My prayer request lately has been the same to those who have asked how they can pray for me: contentment. I’m just days away from the birth of my third baby and it’s all about all I can do to sit around and wait on him! I’m a nester by nature so when you give me a task to the likes of having a baby, I go into in to HYPER-nesting zone. The baby’s room (which he will share with his older brother and sister) has been painted since December. His burp cloths and swaddle blankets are already folded and neatly arranged in his drawer. Stroller, car seat, pack-and-play, swing...check, check, check. Once I finished my to-do list, about 6 weeks ago(!), I went in to major anxiousness mode. I’ve been wishing away the days wanting it to be April 11th in the worst way!

Thankfully, God saw this in my heart and started to do a work in me! I began reading the Women’s Ministry Spring Book Club book, The Resolution of Women by Priscilla Shirer, and sure enough, chapter two was “Contentment.” The resolution the author commits to is this:

“I resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment.”

Although I’ve far from mastering being this type of women, God did give me the opportunity to be present in a moment that will have an eternal impact. One afternoon, while my daughter was finishing an orange Popsicle, God gave me the privilege of leading her to Christ. Even as I type that, my heart bursts with joy! It’s all I can do but pray, pray, pray that this was a true conversion and that her pure heart is truly the home of Jesus Christ now. Before I went on my “contentment quest” in these last few weeks before the baby comes, I would tell people that there are major events coming before the baby’s due date that I didn’t want to miss – Mattie’s 5th b-day and Easter. Little did I know that her spiritual birthday would be something that I could have wished away as well if I hadn’t started praying to be more in the moment with my husband and kids. I can’t tell you how many people have told us to enjoy our time as a family of four because that is all about to change. Something else I read in The Resolution of Women that struck me is this:

“You can always tell people who operate from a position of perceived lack and deficiency. They are stingy with their time. They’re selfish with their resources. They’re tight fisted with their energy...they’re like my two-year-old, unwilling to share with his friends for fear he’ll run out of what he’s got.”

God has given you and me enough, and He always will. And when we choose to recognize this and trust in His continued supply, we’ll be able to engage in life in a way we never have before. We will be surprisingly satisfied.

Of course I know that Mattie’s salvation decision was not dependent on whether or not I was paying attention and present to her. But I do know that God allowed me to be a part of this miracle – something that I could have overlooked if I was too self-obsessed and anxious for the future. The birth of our third baby will be all the more sweet now...he will have an older sister who has accepted Christ as her Savior and can (hopefully!) model what it looks like to be a Christian in our home and beyond.

Look what I could have missed...

Praising God,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Seven Fast

Last week we reflected a bit on the Narrow Road. I was so encouraged by “you are not alone” comments from many of you. I’m glad to know we’re in this together – as the road gets smaller and more difficult, we’ll need each other more than ever. I imagine at some parts along the journey the road will be so tiny that we’ll have to give one another piggyback rides so no one falls off the path! (I promise not to be 9 months pregnant before I jump on anyone’s back!)

I’m in the middle of a fast with some good friends who are even more committed to the Narrow Road then I will ever be. You may have heard of the fast – Seven, by Jen Hatmaker. It started out as “an experimental mutiny against excess” which eventually turned into a book. The idea is that you fast from something, something different for each month, for seven months. Her book guides you and chronicles what she did. I’ve been following along as closely as I can although making adjustments to fit our circumstances and family. Month one was to eat only seven foods...for the entire month. Think chicken, beans, spinach, peanut butter, etc. I did not do this since I’m quite pregnant and I didn’t think it would be safe. However, my family gave up eating out for the month saving over $500! That extra money was used in ways we wouldn’t have been able to give otherwise. It was hard at times – especially since we traveled for 10 days (we packed dinners for the airport, looked weird when catching up with friends at restaurants but not eating, and even had a slip up when the temptation of a Sonic burger just became too much!)

This month is to fast from clothes – this means I’ve been wearing the same seven (or so!) articles of clothes since March 1st. There have been times where I’ve definitely NOT wanted to put on the same white t-shirt and jeans again. Today I’m wearing a dress that has seen better days – since it’s dry clean only (bad choice on my part) it’s a bit sticky and crusty. And I’m totally self-conscience of what I wear to church since I see so many people and I just KNOW they are keeping track of what I’m wearing! I’m also quite aware of how HUGE I am and I desperately want to dress up/attempt to hide this big and bloated belly. But I’m sticking to the fast because I said I would. And admittedly, I am getting something out of it. Here are my top two lessons from month two:

One of my dear friends is doing this with me (or me with her...she introduced me to it.) One of her seven clothing articles is this super cute purple-stripped sweater. I’ve probably seen her in it five times now. And every time I do, I get overjoyed! I know that she is doing this fast for the same reasons as me – to get closer to Jesus. She wants to cut out excess in her own life and live with a more eternal perspective. Her purple sweater represents that to me. It’s an outward reminder of where her heart is. It also tells me I have a friend on the narrow road.

Second lesson – God desires a fast of my heart, not my clothes. This particular fast will end on March 31st (and a new will start on April 1!) and I’ll go about wearing my too-many-clothes-in-my-over-stuffed-closet. But where will my heart be? Isaiah 58:6-7 speaks to the kind of fast the Lord desires from us:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

It’s not about what I give up. It’s about what I do. While on the narrow road, God is asking us to:
loose the chains of injustice
untie the cords of the yoke
set the oppressed free
break every yoke
share your food with the hungry
provide the poor with shelter
clothe the naked
not turn away your own flesh and blood

I don’t think He cares what I’m wearing as long as I’m active in pursing the things above. And as I’ve learned this month, the more I pursue the things above, the less I care what I’m wearing.

If you’re looking for a good challenge in your life, look into this fast for yourself. Grab some friends and do it together. You just never know how much joy you’ll find from a purple-stripped sweater that you do not even own!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Managed Life

After attending a conference this past weekend at our church, I’ve been intrigued by the concept of a managed life. At first glance, it sounds like something you want to attain – a managed life is a woman who has things under control. She is strategic about how she spends her time, she keeps up with her house, her work, her ministry. She serves her husband and she disciples her kids. Her friends love her and strangers admire her. She kind of has it all together...she is the CEO of her Managed Life.

As much as I strive to be this woman at times, I received a bit of freedom this weekend when Dr. Larry Crabb explained exactly why a managed life is not the goal at all. In fact, if we sense that we are living a managed life, we should take caution and do some self-evaluation.

Dr. Crabb charged those of us at the conference to live on the narrow road rather than the managed life. The narrow road, as defined by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, leads to life and only few find it.

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” This road is difficult and according to Dr. Crabb, the further down we get on the narrow road, the less people will be there.

So if this road that we are to travel is (1) narrow, (2) difficult and (3) sparsely populated, then what tools do we need on this journey to survive? I’m not immediately drawn to this way of life and curious if I’m going to be able to handle it! But just when you start to ask these questions, Jesus reminds us that it leads to life! Although a managed life is well structured and sweetly manicured, it does not lead to life. I only see it leading to organized drawers and a lengthy to-do list (because a managed life can’t afford to get behind!)

The difference between the managed life and the narrow road comes down to this: dependence. A woman who lives a managed life is dependent on her schedule and her comfort zone. She doesn’t venture out much of what she can control. Her dependence is in her own ability to master her destiny and the lives she’s responsible for. But it’s the woman who travels the narrow road that is dependent on Jesus. This woman surrenders her desire for control and admits that her efforts are in vain. She is authentic. She is teachable, she is humble, and she’s aware of her inabilities. The woman who travels the narrow road is sometimes misunderstood and not in the popular crowd but she is living the abundant life. She is not deceived by the enticements of the world that only lead to destruction. She laughs at herself when she tries to accomplish a managed life once again but is quick to return to the narrow road – because abundant life will always fulfill her soul.

At times I feel like I’m hunting for the narrow road and find myself on the highway by accident. But, as Dr. Crabb put it, your thirst for God will sustain you on the narrow road. If I’m not thirsting for Jesus and completely dependent on Him to get me through each day, then I know I’ve wondered off and it’s time to get back on the path – no matter how small it is becoming. 

I've got my walking shoes on!