Monday, July 25, 2016

Ladies! We are Better Together

Happy Monday y'all!

I'm excited to have someone very special today sharing with us about the VITAL role our relationships with other women have in our lives.


Renee Rutledge describes herself as quirky, eclectic, passionate, transparent, an excited follower of the Risen Lord, who has been radically changed by God.

Renee loves to share His hope with the hopeless and thrives on encouraging, teaching, training and inspiring others that "everyone has a greater purpose". 

God called Renee and her husband, Brad, to full-time ministry at Eastridge Community Church in Covington Georgia, where they have served as the leaders of Celerate Recovery for over 15 years. 

Renee is a wife of 31 years, mother to one, and NaNa to three. 

Here's Renee!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Hey ya'll! I'm excited to be with you today! Terri, thank you for the invitation!

About 17 years ago the Lord gave me a heart for women. I did as most mature Christians do, and said, "GOD! ARE YOU CRAZY?!? I DON'T EVEN LIKE WOMEN!!"

Now before you are offended, hear me out.

For years I had no reason to like or trust women, much less, minister to women.

I was a Youth Director in our previous church. I loved my teenagers and they loved me; they were my safe place.

Now, back to the calling into Women's Ministry; well, of course I said, "Yes Lord", but was horrified! And as I journeyed through this "calling," God was gracious and merciful.

I have learned a lot; mostly about myself. I learned that I didn't like or trust women, only because I didn't like or trust myself.

You see, I was the one who couldn't be trusted, passed judgement and was afraid of rejection. 

You see, I was the woman no one liked, because I was the woman I didn't like. Therefore I didn't want anything to do with women. I just hid out in youth group.

When I allowed God to transform my heart, mind and purpose, He changed everything! He gave me freedom. Freedom from the woman I used to be; freedom to become the woman He created me to be.

As God transformed my heart, I desired healthy, strong relationships with other women. I learned that I needed women in my life pouring into me, and I needed to pour into other women. As I did this simple thing; not easy, but simple, God blessed me beyond measure.

I have been mentored by some amazing women over the years! God, through these women, has forever changed my attitude, my marriage, my mothering... He's used women (a species I used to be scared of) to change my life. I've also had the opportunity to mentor many ladies.

God ordained all of these relationships and I am thankful.

But I've also been hurt. As a matter of fact, several years ago I was ready to walk away from women's ministry all together because the hurt was so deep. 

"See God! I told You I didn't have a heart for women!" 

And God gently held my heart in His Victorious Hand and whispered, "Then why is it breaking? You love her, that's why it hurts. And if you walk away now, you will miss out on many more blessings I have in store for you. I am using My daughters in your life and I am using you in My daughters’ lives. Don't run."

And again I said, "Yes Lord."

Ladies, we were designed for connection. Connection with other women. Healthy women.

We all need safe relationships that we can be real with, grow and thrive with, cry and share with and to have fun with; safe relationships with like-minded women.

We need the right people challenging and encouraging us in times of temptation, in weary times, in hard times...

Two are better than one, because they have a good 
return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one 
can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has 
no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, 
they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend 
themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

Ladies! we are better together! We need each other!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, 
just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

I can't imagine what my life would be like if I had not said, "Yes Lord." I would have missed out on so many blessings from women encouraging and building me up, and opportunities for me to do the same for them. 

God wants to use each and every one of you in these very special ways!

Are you like I was? Scared to let ladies in? Scared of being judged or rejected?

But what if?

What if God has an amazing relationship, especially for you, to encourage, challenge, love and accept you? But you miss out because you're scared and won't say, "Yes Lord."

What if God wants desperately to use you to impact someone's life in unbelievable ways? He can't do that unless you say, "Yes Lord."

Have you said, "Yes Lord!"

Or are you hiding out?

Are you running from your calling, whatever that may be?

Or are you being used by God in extraordinary ways, in and through His purpose for you?

Say, "Yes Lord!" Even if you don't understand His calling on your life! Your obedience to His calling will bless your socks off!!

You. Beautiful women, daughters of God, sisters in Christ have truly blessed my socks off and I am thankful! I am thankful I said, "Yes Lord!"

Thank you for letting me share!

Renee


Monday, July 18, 2016

Fear, Dread, Despair

Which is most prevalent with you?

Fear?

Dread?

Or is it Despair?

For me, it was all three braided together and secured with a tight knot.

Fear of my future as I’m aging. Worrying about losing my husband prematurely. Fear of financial woes. Fear of harm to my grown children, grandchildren and other loved ones. Fear of failure, declining health, traveling, flying.

My fears spanned out to cover current world events, prevalent evil and our country’s blatant rejection of God and the Lord Jesus.

My fears led to dread. I dreaded everything. I became apathetic in all my involvements. Exhausted. Burned out. Weeks and months whizzing by at a rate of speed faster than I’ve ever known. 

I dreaded the Fall season because that meant Winter is coming.

Then despair set in. Despair that my life is running out of time, our country is falling apart and I’m getting older and there’s nothing I can do about any of it.

Or so I thought.

That’s what the devil wanted me to think. It’s what he wants you to think. He wants us to be consumed, distracted and powerless.
Beaten down, flat on our back with the tyranny of fear, dread and despair standing over us.

Can you relate at all?

Add to that the condemnation from the devil that comes with being a Christian while still struggling with these things. 

Focusing on and dwelling there, are all outside God’s plans and purposes; again, All, outside God’s plans and purposes.

If satan can keep us beat down and rendered ineffective as salt and light in these dark, evil days, he’s succeeded.

Do you want the enemy to succeed? I don’t!! I don’t want him to have the satisfaction. He’s wrecked enough havoc on me, my family, and all the things that are important to me.

Enough, I say!

Because here’s the truth: Our enemy is the one who is scared. He is the one with a dreaded future that WILL end in despair and defeat!

As believers in Jesus Christ, I pray that our only fear is the reverent fear and worship of Almighty God, Who has given us an endless abundance of grace and peace. AND an amazing future with Him forever!

Grace and peace to you from God our Father 
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:2

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms that we need.

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. Ephesians 1:3

As believers in Jesus Christ, we stand holy and blameless in our Father’s eyes.

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the 
world to be holy and blameless in His sight. Ephesians 1:4

We are NOT seated in this world in a place of fear, dread and despair. It’s not possible because as a believer in Jesus Christ our position is this:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him 
in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6

The braid of fear, dread and despair, spun and intertwined by the devil, is unraveling for me.

The devil shudders at the thought of Christians gaining a godly perspective. He works tirelessly to keep us blinded to the truth. 

Why?

He is afraid…he is despairing of and dreading his future.

If we, as believers in Jesus Christ, open our eyes and see the truth and reality of our position in Him, we also will receive and open all the gifts given to us from God, Who, by the way, is still in control.

We can resist and cast off the devil’s temptations to give in to these plots and schemes of his. We can stand strong and firm in His mighty power, as we put on the full armor of God, which is already ours from Him, so that we can take our stand against the devil’s attacks. You just got to PUT IT ON. 

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, 
but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the 
powers of this dark world and against the spiritual 
forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12

I think we can all agree that we are under attack. You. Me. Our families. The Church in America and worldwide. Our country.

If we take our positions, equipped with God’s armor, eyes open, watching and ready, praying strategically against our enemy, we will never have time for fear, dread or despair.

Will you join me today in taking our place with God, in Christ Jesus, where we’ve been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms where the real fight is?

Pray with me.

Staying the course,

Terri

Monday, July 11, 2016

Need to Detox?

I’d venture to say we’re all familiar with detox diets and cleanses that rid our bodies of toxins.


There are some who claim our bodies can eliminate toxins naturally and that they don’t build up in our organs, needing cleansing from time to time.

Then there are some who stress the importance of detoxifying and cleansing our bodies occasionally.

The market is saturated with various diets and natural solutions to assist with detoxing our bodies.

A lot of folks, me included, are so concerned about our physical health that we neglect another major component and one of our greatest needs. The core of who we are resides in the depth of our hearts where everything flows out of.  

Our physical heart pumps blood to keep us alive and we need to take care of it through diet and exercise. But the part of our heart where the life of our soul and emotions live, is also pumping out stuff. Sometimes vile stuff. Sometimes sweet. It depends on what we’re feeding it.

All our life’s decisions are an extension of what resides in our hearts. A skilled heart surgeon can’t see this part of our heart even while they explore its contents to unclog veins or do damage repair.

Isn’t it weird how our soul can’t be seen with the human eye, yet it is living proof of our existence?

What we feed our soul also has an enormous impact on our well-being. I know all too well of this fact more recently than I’d like to admit.

I began 2016 with a fresh determination to be more intentional in my relationship with Jesus, by digging deeper in His word and meeting with Him every morning. I had a plan, which I shared in a post several months ago. I follow The Planting Place Bible teaching blog at The Planting Place where we’re reading the Bible in three years with a deeper focus on who God is and responding to Him.

Things were going pretty well. I was excited to feed my hunger and thirst for growth and see some progress.

Then I hit a snag. It seemed little at first. One negative thought. I pulled at it and pulled at it, like a real snag on a shirt, and I began to unravel.

It was about something purely selfish. All about me. I stopped the unraveling before it got out of control. Because God’s word is active and alive, His gentle conviction led me to repentance over the situation.

I moved on until something interrupted my quiet time with the Lord one morning and I became highly agitated. Couldn’t they see that I was busy with the Lord, for goodness sakes!? 

I’ll spare you the embarrassing details. No one else had to know or see. But God did. He had to hear the conversations in my head and see the scum in my heart. It was not pretty.

Days and days the scum accumulated, clogging my fellowship with God because I became incredibly frustrated by others’ innocence. I fed my mind and heart full of all the reasons why I was justified to feel as I did.

The more I focused on my irritation the worse things became. Slowly, I realized my quest for spiritual growth and health was all about me. All. About. Me.

One morning I couldn’t stand myself any longer and laid open my self-righteous heart before God.

I needed a heart detox and soul cleansing!

I didn’t like it at first, but I felt incredible when it was over. 

Free and light-hearted.

A lot of gunk had accumulated in my heart over time. I’d allowed apathy and anger to set in. When I began meeting the Lord daily and reading His word (even though it was about me), He turned it around for good. It’s all good!

As an occasional physical detox can do a body good, so will regular heart detoxing cleanse the soul.
How about it? Do you need a heart (soul) detox?

Feel free to share below how God has cleansed and detoxed your heart. It might encourage another who has pulled a snag and is starting to unravel.

I’m sure I’ll be doing more detoxing in the future to cleanse my soul. After all it’s what keeps me on course.

Stay the course with me,

Terri

Monday, July 4, 2016

Dreaming of Escape: Overwhelmed

The struggle was real.

It was to the point that I was daydreaming about an escape: Liquidate my assets (I had nothing), go
somewhere far away, where no one knew me, live in a hut and work at a simple job that kept a thatched roof over my head and food on a table.

No worries. No responsibilities. No more dealing with the drama, problems, and all-consuming struggles.

I was failing anyway, so why try anymore?

I wrote the letter, explaining why I was leaving. I felt he could do a better job than me, raising our kids. It didn’t matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to climb out of the pit. A single mom, weary from trying to do everything in my own strength.

Yes, the struggle was real. But the lies that were badgering me were not. One lie, then two. They were subtle at first. They came at me on a bad day. It snowballed from there.

Isn’t that just like our enemy, the devil? That’s his strategy. You get knocked down by a life event, big or small, and he invades your territory. While you’re down, another lie and then another. Before long you’re convinced that the lies are the truth and the truth is one big lie, until you’re thinking
irrationally.

I signed my farewell letter, then read it over through blurred eyes, thinking of my escape plan.

I imagined what it would be like, thinking through my decision. If I follow through with this, could I ever come back? Would my kids let me back into their life? Would my family forgive me? What would all my church friends think? Would running away really solve anything or cause more grief?

I thought about my two precious little kids. WAIT A MINUTE!

He’s the better parent? But he left. His lifestyle is leading him down dark, scary paths.

               If I’m a failure, then God is a liar.

My thoughts shifted slightly. I had a free-will choice to make. Which direction would I choose?

The Holy Spirit has a magnificent way of revealing truth when we lean in to Him. One truth, then two. Before you know it, He shows up on the scene and dispels the lies, taking back His territory.

Truth: I still had choices but was believing I didn’t.

Still wavering, my memory flooded with the truths that God had already spoken in His word, my Bible, which I’d dated, underlined and highlighted. These truths were where I found strength in the worst times of my life, causing me to soar once before.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; 
you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; 
the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:1-2

Truth: We aren’t promised a life without trouble and sorrow. We ARE promised that Almighty God is with us in them, guiding us with His strong arm, while holding our right hand.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand 
and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Truth: God will never, ever, ever leave us alone in our struggle. He will strengthen, help and uphold us with His very own strong hand. The same hand that holds your right hand.
Imagine holding hands with God!

He will strengthen you. If we lay ourselves in the palm of His hand, He’ll turn your struggles into strengths.

My problems didn’t all go away that day, but the lies did, along with my temporary insanity.

I’m still here, 20+ years later writing about my Rescuer and Prince.

That wasn’t the only time I struggled in life to the point of daydreaming about a grand escape. But I now know of the devil’s schemes and tactics. I know if I lean in to the Holy Spirit and listen, truly listen, I’ll hear the truth.

And the truth always sets me free. The truth rescues me from…myself.

Have you struggled with wanting to run away? Quit? Disappear?

Are you believing the enemy’s lies that will lead you down a destructive path?

I invite you to share in the comments below what you feel comfortable sharing and how you overcame the desire to run away.

Will you stay the course with me?
Terri