Searched All Over…

Image

Lately, I’ve heard many young Christian women, unmarried, wives, and mothers alike, asking a simple but profound question: “WHERE ARE THE TITUS 2 WOMEN IN MY REAL LIFE?” Titus 2:3-5 should more like in-person, real-life training. That’s not to say that the Christian women authors and teachers aren’t fulfilling a significant and important role in the body of Christ. But it’s not the same as Titus 2 style mentoring. Young women don’t always know how to *find* a mentor, and older women often don’t know how to *be* a mentor. Some women seem really good at this, and others go about it somewhat subtly, but I think there are definitely Christian women that are falling through the cracks, on both ends of the spectrum. I have wondered in my mind for a while what I could do to change the situation.

As “younger women” like Titus 2 talks about, how do we go about finding a mentor– an “older woman”?

Here are some places I’ve found them:

  • In my local church
  • From neighbors & friends in community
  • Through books & biblical teachings
  • Over the internet
But I think one thing that can trip us up is if we are only open to learning one particular thing at a particular time.  When I think back about the women I’ve learned from, most of the mentors of my life have not come *at the time that I felt like I needed* to learn that particular thing. Instead, I have looked for women who do anything well… some are lifelong learners and have some interesting topics/subjects to teach me about (for example, one friend is really into psycho-analysis  and so I often volunteer for her projects in class so I can on a superficial level learn what shes learning. And by her conversation and sometimes venting, she explains to me how to apply those things in real life), so I learn things like that from certain friends.  Three different families that I spend time with now and when I was single raised their children thoughtfully & intentionally, and so I learned that from them even though I wasn’t remotely near having children.
Some women I’m watching now have challenging/difficult marriages but persevere through them and I try to learn that even though I’m quite content & delighted in our marriage.   Another woman I’ve learned from lately is really faithful at Bible study and teaching and so I’ve been intentionally spending time to learn that from her.  A different woman I haven’t met personally yet has an immaculate kitchen (despite having 3 busy children) and is also an excellent cook.   I’m learning a lot via text messaging and social media and conversation about food prep & keeping a kitchen tidier than I’d previously thought possible (not that I do that super-well now, but I do it better than I would’ve if I was only paying attention to try to learn one particular topic to learn from her and missed the things she did well).
 
If I purposed to only learn the one or two things I felt like I needed at a particular time in life, I might have missed learning from any of these women.  Instead, I try to focus on what other women do *WELL* and try to learn that, regardless of whether I think that’s the particular thing I “need” at that moment in life.  Look at what things a woman does “excellently” and seek to learn from her.  If we do that, I think regardless of our context (even difficult ones: overseas, with few friends/connections; in a small country church with few friends; in transition with no long-time friends, etc.), we can find a plethora of mentors even if it’s not necessarily in the area where we ourselves are struggling at a particular point.

Consider this the “launching” of a conversation about this issue- I want to hear your thoughts and comments as we talk through this issue of mentoring/teaching/discipling. I’d love for you to leave any questions or concerns about Titus 2-style mentoring, and I’ll do my best to either find resources that speak to your particular concern or question or I’ll touch on it personally in this series. Tell me what has lacked or where you struggle in terms of this kind of woman-teaching-woman discipleship. I can’t wait to hear from you and learn more together about this important role for Christian women!

we-all-need-each-other

 

The pursuit of Titus 2: Who’s been teaching you?

ImageOver the past few weeks I’ve encountered women with a passion and desire spurred in  them to live rightly according to God. There is nothing more beautiful than biblical community, where the knowledge and application of others motivates you to look at God in a different light for your life. These “Chosen” ladies have helped me realize the need for biblical femininity in an age when many think they have ALL the answers and if you’re not doing it their way then you’re all wrong.The movements have set us on a path that makes  the things of GOD lofty and seemingly unattainable. The truth for me may not be yours but there is truth in the infallible truth of God. Titus 2 calls us to the type of ministry we should be engaged in as women and for the most part is where I’ll gain most of my context.

There is a glorious plan for womanhood set forth in. Manhood and womanhood were not an afterthought in God’s design for humanity. From the moment of creation, God made us male and female, equal before God, with different roles and responsibilities. The woman was made to be the man’s ‘helper’, serving God in light of the created order (Gen 1-3, 1 Tim 2:11-15).

Titus 2:3-5 (New International Version) Likewise, 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. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

This spells out what this looks like in the life of a young, married woman with children. She is to love her husband and children, stay pure and self-controlled, manage her home and practice kindness, and be submissive to her husband. This isn’t an exhaustive list, nor does it mean that a married woman shouldn’t do paid work outside the home, as long as this supports, rather than undermines, her commitment to home and family (cf. Prov 31). But it does show where her primary focus lies.

Yet we must be careful not to use Titus 2:3-5 to encourage women to idolize home and family.These particular instructions to women in Titus 2:3-5 are meant to sail on an ocean of general instruction given in the Bible for all of us as Christians: without an awareness of that big ocean of the Bible’s teaching about Jesus and the kingdom of God, the Titus 2 boat can end up bobbing around harmlessly and inoffensively in the backyard swimming pool of suburban materialism, going nowhere.Much teaching on Titus 2:3-5 subtly encourages household idolatry. Singleness becomes a waiting room for marriage, rather than an opportunity to serve Christ with undivided attention (1 Cor 7:32-35), and the family home becomes an end in itself, rather than a place to reach out to others.

Image

But Titus 2:3-5 encourages young women not only to ‘work at home’ but also to be “kind” in 1 Timothy 5:9-10, the word ‘kind’ is linked to many good deeds of godly women—not just bringing up children, but also showing hospitality, serving Christians, and caring for the needy. A godly woman’s home is not only a secure refuge, but also a base for loving, serving and reaching out to others.

This is to serve as just an introduction and not an exhaustive study: a call to serve one another better if you will. I’ll be dealing with the just of the things that pertain to womanhood in the coming series. Welcome back!

Old Faithful

Awesome Blog on the excellency and fulfillment that comes with letting God be your ALL…Ascribing to his FAITHFULNESS!!!

Destiny Collisions

This past weekend was one of the most fulfilling weekends I’ve had in a very long time. They were full of wonderful friends, fantastic adventures, new people, warm conversation, and joyous hope for the future. Saturday morning I attended a beautiful baby shower for my dear friend Santana and her husband. After I left the shower, I was blushing with excitement. It was a beautiful afternoon with perfect, sunny weather. I wanted to be romanced, so I turned to the One who loves me most. I decided to see a movie and spend time driving around talking to Jesus. I ended up driving to a department store and meandered inside for a bit.

I’m a simple girl, but for some reason I found myself drawn to the jewelry section. This is usually unlike me. However, I began to glance at the rings and admire their shining magnificence. As my eyes…

View original post 791 more words

Who are you listening to? The Value of Wise Counsel

There are some things my husband and I are not good at and some things we’ve learned by messing up so many things. But one thing we’ve (in my opinion) done well over the last 7 years of been together 2 of which have been marriage is that we regularly seek wise counsel.

Of course we read Scripture, and seek to line up our lives with what we find there, and we don’t just fly off and talk to large swathes of people before talking things through together just the two of us.

But we have found it extremely valuable to proactively pursue the advice and counsel of godly people God has put in our lives.

Image

SEEK!

We actively ask for the input of people we respect and love that are farther down life’s roads than we are. If we’re talking about parenting issues, we listen to people whose parenting we’ve watched and admired. If we’re talking about life decisions, we talk to people who are wise and who live thoughtfully and intentionally. Sometimes we’ll read an article, listen to a sermon online, or talk to similar-aged peers about it. We’ve just gained so much by seeking out the godly counsel of wise believers, that it’s become a regularly-walked path in our lives.

We don’t just have these conversations if we happen to be around them… we intentionally choose to ask for input, and deliberately seek it out from friends we respect.

WISE

One thing to consider is where you’re getting your advice… sometimes a group of young moms can end up talking circles around something, whereas a mom with a couple decades of experience can put that same issue in perspective quite easily. Sometimes we miss big Truths because we’re getting input and advice from people who are just as clueless as we ourselves are. So, I’d encourage you, in your decisions, to seek out people who have proven themselves wise… not over weeks or months, but over years and decades. Don’t just seek a stamp of approval for what you want to do… talk with godly friends before decisions are made, and go into these conversations with an open mind!

Ask– what is the likely “fruit” of following the advice of the person(s) I’m listening to? Remember that old saying, “consider the source”… a bunch of moms on an internet message board may or may not have good advice, but if you carefully watch two or three moms in real life, and you see their children in living color, you can much more easily discern the value of the advice they’re dishing out, for good or for ill.

Be discerning as to where your advice/decision-making process is coming from. Are you simply “following your gut”? Are your priorities coming from Scripture? Is your advice coming out of culture? Is it coming from wise, godly counselors? Think carefully about what is influencing the decisions you make.

COUNSEL

Reaching out to, and implementing the advice of wise counselors has been a significant part of our married life… some of our very best friends are people who have proven themselves to be wise advisors. Sometimes life gets messy, or you’re so deep in the midst of a problem that you can’t see your way out. It is such a gift to have trusted people to whom you can turn when things get murky, and that’s a benefit of the Body of Christ. We can turn to people within the Body and learn from one another!

AND AFTER YOU SEEK WISE COUNSEL…

Pray, talk things over with your spouse, parents, or trusted friends, and see what God would have you do. At the end of the day, counsel is just counsel. No one else can make a decision for you or live your life for you… so, once you’ve sought out wise counselors, and they’ve offered you insight, prayers, and advice, you still have to walk forward, ultimately, with prayer and in faith.

I don’t want to overstate the importance of godly friends and counselors, and yet, I think it’s extremely beneficial and biblical to have a number of wise, experienced, advice-givers in life.

Image

The Bible has a lot to say about counsel. I’ll close by sharing some verses:

  • The fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” ~Proverbs 12:15
  • “Who is this who darkens counsel without knowledge?” ~Job 38:2~ (This if from God, talking to Job. It is a serious thing when counsel is offered without knowledge to back it up… and yet, it happens all the time– we must be discerning to the advice we heed!)
  • “Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, being a man of understanding…”~1 Chronicles 27
  • Listen to advice, and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” ~Proverbs 19:20
  • “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…” ~Psalm 1:1
  • I bless the LORD Who gives me counsel…” ~Psalm 16:7
  • “In an abundance of counselors there is safety.” ~Proverbs 11:14
  • “The sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” ~Proverbs 27:9
  • His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor…” ~Isaiah 9:6

© 2012 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved

Hi! My name is Kelli…

My name is Kelli Oldham and I’m single and content.

A format typically used for AA meetings, this seemingly simple statement is usually following a hard struggle, rough battle, yet a victorious finish. I know all too well, that struggle, battle and victorious finish. Let me take you back…

Like many other people, in particular women, I had this plan for my life. I would be finished with my undergrad degree by age 22, Masters degree by 25, married by 27 and finished having children by 30. Again, that was my plan. Unfortunately, like so many of us, I never consulted God about any of my plans. They were just that, MY plans…not His.

Have you ever seen the movie “27 dresses”? Well, that was me. By my early 30s, I was still not married, however, I had a not-so-small portion of my closet dedicated to bridesmaids dresses. Big weddings, small weddings, weddings near, weddings far, American, Indian, you name it, I was in it. And my wedding service was not limited to bridesmaid or maid of honor duties, oh no…I’ve been a hostess, pseudo wedding coordinator, financier, we-need-a-garter-can-someone-go-get-one chick, listening ear, shoulder to cry on and oh yeah, an announcer. The one role that I have not played is bride.

When I rolled through my late 20s, it didn’t really bother me too much. However, at the top of my 30s, I began to see wedding invites for the crew that was 10 years my junior. I found myself not only planning the first baby shower, but now the second. Yet, not a suitable suitor for myself in sight!

Ok, by this time, the triplets of jealousy, anger and envy had crash landed in my heart…soon to be followed by their close cousins of loneliness and depression. Before I knew it, one day, I looked in the mirror and I saw a woman who was 33, had never been married, nor had children and was absolutely miserable. I was broken, hurt, angry and worn out. This just couldn’t be what God had planned for my life.

Could it be?

Was it a possibility?

Did He understand my pain?

No, it could not be.

No, it was not a possibility.

Yes, He understood my pain, but it was not His will for me to suffer. He loved me, His daughter-blood bought, blood washed child of His.

It was as if a dark room had been illuminated with a 100-watt bulb. I got it. I’m His, He’s my Daddy and His thoughts and plans for my life were formed before I was even a product of my parent’s marital relations. I was chosen. I was part of a royal priesthood and a holy nation. I was a peculiar chick. And I was bound and determined to fight my way out of this dark place. And never make a return visit.

How did I get out?

1) I read.
I dug into the Word of God. I replaced tv viewing time with reading time. I would read Old Testament stories. I would read New Testament accounts. I would poetic prose found in the Psalms and Proverbs. I read the Word. I placed the Word of God up against my life as a mirror. Whenever I didn’t see in me what I saw in the Word, I confessed it over my life. Lived it. Breathed it. Believed it. Until I saw what He intended for me to look like in that area.

2) I served.
I looked up volunteer organizations that needed volunteers. I had too much free time on my hands to sit, sulk and sink. I narrowed it down to a couple organizations and served at least once a week providing meals for terminally-ill individuals. Holiday service also was a part of my service. It truly far better to give than to receive.

3) I was candid.
I took an honest look at myself. There were areas in my life that needed some assistance. Areas of weakness that were leading to the same sins over and over again. And I was tired of tripping over the same stuff! So I identified areas of weakness and corresponding triggers and eliminated them. No movie channels at home (ain’t nothing but booty going on after 10pm). No love flicks at the theater (action movies only). Strictly gospel music!!! LOL!

Because God is no respecter of person, that which He did for me…He can sho nuff do for you. Get out. Get free. Be single and content.

My name is Kelli, what’s your name?

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved

Angry with the Potter?…Embrace the Woman in YOU!!!

In several places in the Bible, we are reminded that God is the Potter and we are like clay in His hands. Romans 9 is one of those places– it speaks of God’s sovereignty as the Creator and how He crafts certain “pots” (that would be us) for honorable use and some for common use.

Growing up, I struggled so much with how I was made… competitive, outspoken, opinionated, and strong-willed. In my mind, I was built more for the debate team than for home-ec., more for basketball than tutus in ballet, sneakers than stilettos. Built more to be the leader than to follow. Built more for greatness & achievement (I thought) in advancing sports medicine than for quietly serving my family in the home. When I was in college, this all came to a head, and I found myself asking God, “WHY DID YOU MAKE ME THIS WAY?!?!?!?!? Why didn’t you make me a man? Why do you tell me to ‘keep a quiet heart’, and to ‘submit’?”

Essentially, I was asking precisely the same question that Paul wrote about in Romans 9:20:

…Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’

Recently, I watched a documentary about the beginnings of feminism. I was struck by Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s strong hatred for the weakness of her own gender. She could never please her father, whose valued son had died in a tragic accident, because she was not a man. She had all the “strength” a man was supposed to have, and yet, she was rejected by him for possessing the same strength he had wished for in a son. This lack of acceptance by her own father drove her to extreme lengths to seek approval as a woman from the nation, because she had not received affirmation as a woman from her father.

So many of us find ourselves in this position… particularly after decades of feminist dogma being drilled into our heads. Whether we express it this way or not, there is an underlying feeling that feminism is strong, and femininity is weak. Essentially, we as a generation of young women, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, have often wished ourselves to be men. And since we can’t do that, we’ll at least try to be seen as the SAME as men, to be treated as the SAME as man, and to do the SAME things that men do. We don’t know why we’re women… we don’t know how to BE women (no one taught us– it wasn’t politically correct, and half of our mothers hadn’t been taught by their mothers!!!)… we don’t know what a woman is supposed to be… and often, we mistake that lack of knowledge for a lack of need to be a woman.
But we forget: there is a Potter. He intentionally crafted each of us for HIS own purposes. And we don’t get to pick that purpose. He gives us a choice, to some degree, of whether or not to submit to His design and purpose. And I fear that many of us, as Christian women, are bucking His design and trying to decide that He was wrong in how He made us.

We try to “Christianize” the teachings of feminism, saying to the men around us, “anything you can do, I can do better”… we just try to cloak it in spiritual-sounding language. We try to do everything we see the women of the world doing: managing a business, managing our husbands, managing our wombs, all the while aiming to never being seen as subject to or weaker than anyone else.

But if we want to ever be content in our own “skin”, we need to know what we were built for. Why did the Potter make us? What are His basic purposes for women? We can look to the Bible, and we can look to biology for clear, though perhaps not politically correct, answers.

(1) TO BE A HELPER & COMPANION & WIFE TO MAN (this was the purpose of the very first woman… she was created because it was not good for man to be alone, see 1 Cor. 11:9)
(2) TO BE A MOTHER (he built it into our very bodies!)
(3) TO TEACH OTHER WOMEN HOW TO DO THESE THINGS (Titus 2:3-5)

It will do us no good to argue with the Creator. We are not the same as men. He didn’t create us to be so.

Whether or not it’s “p.c.”, we would all do well to remember why women were created– to be a helper and wife, to be a mother, and to ultimately glorify God in our femininity. Instead of bucking against the design of the Potter and raising our fists to the heavens, asking God for an accounting of why He made us as He did, I believe we need to instead look at our design, and develop a love and appreciation for the wisdom and sovereignty of the Potter. It is our privilege to be useful to such a wise and perfect Potter. It should be our delight to submit to His plans for our lives… even if at first they rage against the message we’ve received from the culture.

Let us cast off the worldly philosophies that fill our heads with all kinds of lies about who we are, and who we ought to be, as women. Instead, let’s look to the Potter, and embrace HIS purposes for our lives… laying down our lives to be used by Him as submissive and honorable wives, as faithful and biblical mothers, and as an encourager and teacher of the women who come behind us on the path of faith. Rather than striving to fulfill our own flawed perceptions of why we were made, let us glorify God THROUGH His design for our lives.

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.