Women on Mission Blog

Who? Me?

How has God called and gifted you to contribute in the body of Christ? For me, it has been as a writer and sometimes reluctant speaker. Often those who serve in a communications calling like mine struggle with the divide between self-promotion and God’s clear directives toward humility.

One of my best lessons in humility came when I was given the opportunity to write for a well-loved women’s monthly devotional publication. I had visions of the acclaim and admiration my work could receive—until my editor indicated the writers were never acknowledged by name.

I soon recognized God was giving me an opportunity to humbly serve Him “incognito.” My unrecognized devotional writing would allow me to learn a sweet lesson in decreasing for His increase and to experience the presence of His affirmation alone.

Choosing Unconditional Love

If something is unconditional, it is absolute. There are no restrictions. We can count on it. God’s love is unconditional. He is always there for us no matter how badly we mess up. Isn’t that reassuring? As Christians, we are called to show that same unconditional love to others.

When I became a parent, I gained a greater understanding of what that meant. I can be thrown up on, ignored, and lied to by 1 of my 2 sons and still love him just as much the next day. My sons’ choices may sometimes hurt deeply, but I never stop caring for them.

Over the years, I have learned to love others unconditionally as well. An old friend may fail to call for a long time, but when she does, I am just as happy to talk to her. My husband and I may have different opinions about our finances, but we work it out and remember that our relationship is far more important than any amount of money.

Remembering daily God’s unconditional love for us helps us give that same love to others. No one is perfect. We will be disappointed by those in our lives. We must choose unconditional love.

Praying for Those We Don’t Want to Pray For

Not long ago, my son came home from school and told me that a little girl in his class called him a cuss word at lunch. We talked about how to show her kindness even when she said mean things. I also told him to tell me if it happened again and I would talk to his teacher. What really amazed him, however, was when I prayed for the little girl. We later found out that she has a parent in prison and has been going through a difficult time.

Prayer is important, even when it is for someone we don’t get along with or agree with. It asks God to intervene in the person’s life or in a situation and often changes our attitude toward the person.

Who in your life do you need to pray for today? A boss who is hard to work for? A neighbor who stirs up trouble? A co-worker who doesn’t do his or her fair share of the work? A friend who has gossiped about you? A politician whose political views you do not agree with?

Start praying today and see how God changes lives, situations, and your heart. By the way, the little girl hasn’t called my son a bad name again!

Losing Your First Love to Good Things

I’m guilty. While it may not appear that way to the world, I know it in my heart. You can go to church, pray, tithe, and even serve and still be guilty of losing your First Love, of placing Jesus second in your life.

When it happens to me, it doesn’t happen overnight or with conspicuous things like sinful relationships, drugs, or alcohol. It happens with good things.

The first time I noticed it was in college. I went to a Christian college, was dating a Christian guy, and was a good student—all good things but things that took God’s place in my life. God brought it to my attention, and I had to reprioritize. I had to make sure I was spending time with Him each day and listening to His will for my life.

The second time I noticed it was as a young mother. I was taking good care of my 2 precious boys, but I wasn’t giving God quality time in my life.

What good things in your life may be causing you to lose your First Love? Work? Travel? Family? Reevaluate your life today and make sure Jesus is still in first place. 

Bonding Together

Our church is a collection of people from various backgrounds. Several people have no biblical background or come from a different belief system. Others have attended traditional churches but are willing to help grow a young church. What is amazing about this small group is the older women.

Our women have bonded and gracefully share love and acceptance with everyone else. Newcomers are quickly adopted into the group. Each new woman is embraced (literally and figuratively) and taken under the wings of the group.

These women are neighbors who desire to reach out and love even more neighbors.

Sick beds are visited, funerals attended, meals offered, and outings embraced. The women thrive on helping others’ projects like collecting food, sharing hobbies, hosting baby showers, and knitting and crocheting for nursing home residents.

Christian fellowship causes these women to rely on and support each other. They adore having a missions project and the chance to work together. Common life experiences and age group cement them together and provide understanding, compassion, and support.

Connecting with the World around You

I was blessed to be part of a volunteer team that ministered at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. I enjoyed the international setting and the nations coming together in one place.

The Olympic missions experience taught me much about families.

Regardless of ethnicity, religion, income level, and country of origin, people desire some of the same things for their families. They seek

  • love
  • food and water
  • truth
  • kindness
  • security
  • relationships
  • things to do together

Believe it or not, the 2 things I did most as a volunteer along the River Thames were take photos of visitors and paint faces of young excited travelers. Visiting and connecting while helping with such simple tasks was a fantastic experience. I met many global neighbors I could love and help.

Missions engagement requires a willingness to connect—through everyday life activities—and build relationships with others. Proximity is a main ingredient for missions. Who is physically close to you? At work? At play? At home?

Look around. Whom can you connect with today?

Helping and Loving the Youngest of These

I’m in the nana stage. And I love all it entails—hugs, kisses, messes, playtimes, sleepovers, exhaustion, and joy. I understand how fleeting childhood is and how quickly little ones grow up. God is using this life season to allow me to sprinkle patience, wisdom, experience, and much love into the lives of my grandbabies.

I adore children of all ages. My heart breaks and I am filled with compassion when I consider the terrible news one hears about things that happen to children. I am called to pray and plead for the babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who face unthinkable challenges like hunger, homelessness, loss of parents, abuse, neglect, and poverty. These little ones are my neighbors. I must help and love them.

The Lord blesses me with a compassion that causes my heart to ache. I must allow that compassion to lead me to find ways to put hands, feet, and heart to work to help the little ones. Compassion needs to spur me to do something to love and help children, no matter how small.

Angie Quantrell is a happy neighbor in a growing, active group that loves to attack missions projects with great gusto.

 

Is That What You Said, God?

I was speaking to a group of women in a Haitian church in Canada. Since I am one of the dwindling number of Americans who only speak one language, I needed a translator. A beautiful young Haitian woman home from college on summer vacation was mine. She was not a professional translator but seemed to understand what I was saying. However, there were a number of times that weekend when the women giggled when I thought I was being serious or looked concerned when I thought I was being funny.

In my work as a hospital chaplain, my most dreaded visits are those with patients on a ventilator. Somewhat sedated with a huge tube down their throats and out their mouths, they try to tell me something. How often I plead with God on those visits, “Help me understand so I can minister to their needs. Let me not offer an ice chip when they need to hear about Living Water.”

And there are times when I’m listening to God that I similarly plead, “Help me understand, God, so I can obey!”

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com

Hear My Heart, Oh God

A friend recently texted me, “I thought about you today. I guess you will always be in my heart.” I answered her, “That was music to my ears. So I guess since I’m in your heart and you’re in my ears, we’re biologically related!” Of course, that was meant to be ludicrous, but it did make me think. How connected are my ears and my heart? When my heart is seeking God’s answer, but my ears are deceiving so that I disobey, can God still bless me? Or can He still bless others through me?

I have learned the answer to those questions is “Yes!” Thankfully God’s blessings don’t depend on my understanding. However, I have also learned through the times I mistakenly “obey” God’s will, the route is longer, the terrain is rougher, and the outcome may be less effective. Because God knows our human frailty, He offers grace when our hearts are right.

The most important lesson I’ve learned through unintentional disobedience is God will never give up on me. He will always speak to me again, maybe just a tad louder.

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com.

I Can’t Hear You, God

I’ll be the first to admit I often block out God to take care of distractions. Shouldn’t that read, “block out distractions to listen to God”? It should. But honesty won’t allow me to make that claim often.

When I intercede for others, I can stay on track. I can easily block out distractions when I’m the speaker. But when I’m the listener, I’m overrun with incidental thoughts. They jump up and down for attention. I can’t keep them quiet or still.

So how do I practice crowd control with my thoughts? I distinguish between prayer chats and prayer conversations. I chat with God often during the day about everything from needing that parking place to blessing that person in the ambulance whizzing by. But serious conversations demand time, silence, and solitude.

Often I take a pen and paper into prayertime with me. When an incidental thought interferes, I quickly jot it down. It’s gone, and later in the day, I can tend to those interruptions.

I practice centering prayer—repeating a short phrase that focuses my mind on God (e.g., “Jesus, hear my prayer”).

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