What do I know about forgiveness?
Enough to know that it isn’t easy. Enough to know that it is a process. And enough to know what it is not.
I was raised to know the importance of forgiveness. It was an easier principle to put into practice as long as I was in the loving home of my childhood. However, as an adult, I have had more reasons to forgive and more years to face its challenges. When it comes to forgiveness, I’ve lived it, accepted it, given it, and messed it up.
It has been decades ago, but I will never forget the feeling I had when I first realized forgiveness would be a constant presence in my life. I’ll never forget where I was sitting. The way the air felt. The feeling that the bottom had just dropped out of my world. The knowledge that things would never be the same.
My husband--the love of my life, the man I saved myself for, the only man I had ever known in the Biblical sense--had just told me that he had “known” another woman. Not just any woman. A close friend.
He cried. He was SO sorry. He begged my forgiveness.
God did a healing in our marriage.
I did not believe in divorce. However, I did believe in forgiveness. He promised it would never happen again. He told me if I really had forgiven him, I would not talk about it or bring it up.
Then a few years later, it happened once again. Again, he begged my forgiveness. By then, we had a precious baby girl and pastored a large church. Again, he begged me to tell no one.
We went to six months of marriage counseling which resulted in his promise that it would never happen again--and a promise from me that if it did, I would leave. We stayed together and had another precious baby girl.
God did another healing in our marriage.
Two years later, he confessed to me that he had been involved in three additional affairs over the period of one year. Once again, he begged my forgiveness and wanted to stay together and work it out.
Something inside me broke. I was done. Done covering up. Done having my heart torn to shreds. The divorce was difficult with years of drama and pain.
So you may ask, what do I know about forgiveness?
We cannot balance the scales. Forgiveness means the scales are forever out of balance. It means that one person is always going to owe a debt. It’s only when we forgive the debt that we can heal.
Several years ago, after we had both remarried and re-established our lives, a deep healing came. As we sat visiting on the front porch after he had visited our daughters, I shared with him that although the intellectual decision to forgive him had been made years ago, only recently had I felt that I had emotionally forgiven him. I told him he did not owe me anything and I wanted him to know that I released him to be happy and free in his life. He in turn asked my forgiveness. This time there was such a feeling of peace. I am so grateful the Lord allowed us to have this conversation, because he tragically died two months later.
What do I know about forgiveness?
I know that forgiveness allows you to put the pain and hurt behind you, release it, and move beyond the hurt and heal. With all we have been forgiven in our own lives, how can we not offer forgiveness, love, and mercy to those around us?
If one word could depict a life, Julie Davenport’s would be “redemption.” As a child in the Perkin household, Julie’s character was forged within a legacy of faith, godliness, and ministry. So when she married a charismatic young pastor on the fast-track to prominence, life was everything she’d dreamed it would be . . . on the outside. But inside, alone and hidden from view, Julie endured abuse, betrayal, and infidelities that spiraled to include miscarriage, cancer, divorce, mental illness, and eventually suicide. With a BA in Art Education from Southwest MO State University, Julie served as a parent educator with the Independence MO School District for many years. She is now an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. Today, through speaking engagements and two daughters continuing the legacy of ministry, God is using Julie’s life-story to validate His immeasurable grace and prove His power to redeem what Satan tried so hard to destroy.
Refresh Ministry Women is pleased to announce the formation of the Refresh Writing Team. You know these women. They are ministers, pastors' wives, and missionaries, just like you. They are women with a heart to share wisdom, insight, encouragement, or whatever the Lord lays on their heart.
Why do we need our own writing team at Refresh? Our mission statement includes these words, "We all need a place that is real and honest....” You can count on us to speak truth and life into your journey." Who better to speak real truth about ministry life than these women who bring a vast array of experience, knowledge, passion, and faith to the table? We believe they have something to share with you. Our mission statement also says, "There are no cookie cutter ministry wives. We celebrate our diversity and uniqueness...." These women are in different stages of life, come from various backgrounds, and have unique stories. Oh, what stories and wisdom they will share with us!
Although no two of us are alike, we share common bonds: belief and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and involvement in ministry. We all need each other. We are a community made stronger by each individual contributing her talent, whether in word or deed, to the whole. We appreciate these busy ladies who are volunteering their time and talent to make a connection and build relationship with us.
New articles by writing team members will be published on the Refresh website at least twice a month beginning in February. As you read what they have to say, please welcome and encourage them by starting a conversation and commenting on what they've written. Let them know how their words blessed you.
Have you ever had a secret that took everything within you to keep from spilling the beans? Of course you have. I love being the bearer of good news: an engagement, a pregnancy, a birth, or a new job—to name a few. Something wonderful is happening at Refresh and I’m about to explode with anticipation!
First, a little background information. For about four years, now, Refresh Ministry Women has maintained our own website at FreshenItUp.org. While some of the writing has come from within our district, most of it has been borrowed from other sites. It’s been our desire to utilize the writing skills and talents of women within the Southern Missouri District to create our own team of writers.
Here it is--drumroll, please! I’m excited to announce to you our own writing team, led by Lisa Harris. Lisa joined me in the office of Refresh Ministry Women prior to its inception. Following a dream and seeking the heart of Jesus, Refresh Ministry Women was created to be a touchpoint for our women in ministry (credentialed women and wives of credential holders). Lisa brings to the table a lifetime of administrative skills, experience as a pastor’s wife, an appreciation for quality resources, and a shared love for our ministry women.
In the next blog, Lisa will introduce each of the members of the Writing Team. Be sure to catch that post (which will arrive in your email box on January 21) to see who has joined the team. Their pictures and bios will be featured. We couldn’t be any more excited for you to meet them!
So, share the secret—it’s lots of fun to share—and join us twice a month for the latest blog at FreshenItUp.org. Their writing is a free resource to you.
May you know His purpose and serve with anticipation!
My husband, Don, and I have been in ministry, together, for more than 35 years. We have four daughters, four sons-in-law, and four grandsons who keep our lives full of joy and laughter. Having pastored the same congregation for more than 25 years, we now minister in a place where we enjoy serving our district ministers and their spouses. Traveling is a shared interest between us, especially as we connect with various churches and church leaders across our state and around the world. Encouraging ministry wives in their unique role and their walk with Jesus is one of my passions. After serving Jesus most of my life, I am still amazed at the grace and goodness of God and I pray that I never get over it. For fun, I love to read and sleuth décor ideas on Pinterest. I enjoy drinking iced tea (no coffee for me), especially with a friend, and taking car rides in the country.
Our daily lives are made up of conversations. Some take place within the context of work. Some happen between friends. Others take place around politics and current events. Still others happen within the family.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul admonishes the Church to “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6, ESV) Oftentimes, part of being gracious is knowing good questions to ask in order to move conversations forward or effective transitions to use in order to steer them in a different, perhaps more positive, direction.
For the married minister or minister’s wife, one of our most intimate relationships, where valuable conversations are critical, is that between us and our husbands. On her website gracecoversme.com, Christine Hoover expresses, "My husband is my primary partner in life and our communication draws the lines that keep us healthy and humming in marriage, family, and ministry.” I tend to agree. In her blog post on this very topic, Christine goes on to address four key conversations we can consider to support and encourage our husbands. They cover practical issues like schedules, expressing personal needs, our role as helpmate, and reframing situations to focus on God’s faithfulness in life and ministry.
Friends, be strengthened this week in mind and spirit as you invest time in some great conversations with your beloved. Are there some other themes you feel are worth talking about? Feel free to add your own ideas for heart-to-heart dialogues in the comments section below.
Within the greater community of the Assemblies of God, there exist fellow female ministers who desire to encourage other women like themselves. This month we'd like to share a video series entitled "Off Script with Debbie", produced by the Northwest Ministry Network. Episode 4, for example, is about communication in marriage, delivered in a fun format that resembles a talk show. Feel free to explore the entire series here. Also, be on the lookout for a recently completed season two which will be released in the fall of 2018!
Alignment. It’s a word that has stuck in my head this year. I even found a way to create a text widget and put that word in bubble letters on the home page of my phone. What kind of images come to mind when you hear it? Cars? Margins on a page? For me, it brings to mind things matching up, namely priorities and actions.
I recently read an article by Christine Hoover that touched on this very idea. In it, she writes about juggling family, work, and ministry, and expresses how it’s "so helpful to know our God-given priorities, because our priorities help us sift and sort fairly quickly.”
That seems to be the starting point. What are my priorities? Do I know them? Have I written them down? Sometimes, that's the hardest part - slowing down long enough and quieting our spirit to get out a pen and paper and simply make a list, writing down our thoughts about what is most important to us.
For some of us, the list-making task is easy enough, but it can tend toward having the “to-dos” or the schedule lined out before evaluating what drives that list. This is where alignment comes into play. If I prioritize an ordered home, for example, I should probably include a task that involves decluttering or a daily routine that reduces the intake of excess stuff. How good would that feel to have our daily tasks, even mundane ones, supporting our priorities? On the flip side, maybe it's a matter of looking at that to-do list and determining what tasks we could consider eliminating. Dare I suggest cutting out some items? If I take a hard look at my own life, I see some things that don't even make it to a list but that I kind of end up doing by default. Ouch. Lord, please fix my default mode. When I'm not working on a task, I want my default mode to line up with my priorities, too.
Let's align our lives with our priorities as we, together, 'consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.' (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)
Would you consider sharing how you align your priorities with your tasks in the comments below? Each one of us will view this topic from our own unique perspective. We'd love to hear your thoughts! If you're in need of some practical tips to get you jumpstarted, feel free to check out Christine's article.
Read full referenced article written by Christine Hoover at her website gracecoversme.com. This article was written by Kelly Godzwa for Refresh Ministry Women.
Discipline...sometimes I cringe when I hear that word. In some ways it comes across negative to me: hard work, restriction, sacrifice, failure. But deep down I know discipline is good for me, especially if I'm the one imposing it upon myself. I'm just not good at it.
This is one definition of discipline from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
1a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
c : self-control
Basically, we're talking about creating habits in our life. It seems that it's easy to create bad habits. Ever try to stop yourself from eating ice cream when you're sad? But good habits can be hard to create; it takes time, self-control, and determination. Remember hearing it takes 21-days to create a habit? Well, now they say that's a myth. Science now says it takes anywhere between 18 days and 8.5 months. Can it get any harder!
In her Propelwomen.org article, Building a Better Life Through the Power of Discipline, Hannah Brencher says,
It’s said that discipline leads to freedom, and I fully believe that now. When you learn to take care of yourself and order your tasks, your mind gets freed up. You're able to love people better and experience more peace.
Is it true that taking control of yourself, disciplining yourself in things you know are good for you, in things that you want for yourself, can make you happier? God's Word says yes!
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
I also know from personal experience that when I succeed in creating a good habit in my life or breaking a bad habit, it brings an overall good feeling of well-being, accomplishment, and happiness. For example, several years ago I took on the Whole 30 challenge. It was hard, but in the end I found out what was causing me to feel unwell...dairy...and I kicked a years-long habit of using Sweet 'n Low. Just that one thing alone, taking artificial sweetener out of my life, has made me feel like I accomplished a good thing and I am living a healthier life.
So, if disciplining myself is such a good thing, why is it so hard? I think it's hard for me because I'm weak and selfish - most of the time. I'm busy, distracted, and tired. When do I have time to add 'habit-making' to my agenda, let alone finding the energy to implement it? I don't think it's as hard as I make it out to be. Those excuses just might be my mechanism to justify not putting forth the effort.
But there are ways to make this habit-making or goal-making easier. Hannah Brencher suggests steps to start adding good and better habits to our lives:
I was recently having coffee with a girl about setting monthly goals. We were talking about how we love setting goals for the month and she told me that, for some unknown reason, she wasn’t nailing any of her goals. When she elaborated, I pointed out that her goals were really extreme. These goals were asking her to completely stop living one way and make a hard left turn in in the opposite direction.
So, what's keeping you from creating some good habits in your life? You know you've thought about it. Whether it's drinking more water, quitting artificial sweetener, reading the Bible in a year, or you name it, adding a good habit or deleting a bad habit in your life is good for you. And God's Word tells us we all have the power.
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
Read full article written by Hannah Brencher for Propelwomen.org here. This article written by Lisa Harris for Refresh Ministry Women.
Adoption is a very exciting thing! On June 15, 2018 our lives will forever be changed. We will become an official on- paper family. The course of a 9-year-old boy’s life will forever be changed. That is something to celebrate!
But a couple years ago, a mother made a decision that forever altered her life. She signed away the rights to her son, her flesh and blood, in the hopes that he could have a better life. She knew that someone else could provide the things that she could not. In those moments, a piece of her died. And that is something that I mourn over. I sure did not plan on feeling this way.
Throughout this adoption experience, God has been teaching me what His command to love really looks like. It is really easy to love the people who are kind to you. It’s not hard to show you care when someone is treating people that you care about correctly. Having compassion on the woman who gave away her child, my child, is not something I thought I could do. But I am doing it.
Jesus said in John 15:12, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” He didn’t say “this is my suggestion.” He commands us to love. And he doesn’t just stop at love. He says to love them as He loves us. Jesus laid down his life for me.
"As I continue to walk out compassionate love, it gets easier with each step."
Would I lay down my life for my son’s birth mom? As time goes on, I find myself thinking about her, praying for her, and wondering how she is doing. Does she know that God loves her? As I continue to walk out compassionate love, it gets easier with each step. Jesus saved me just like He one day will hopefully save her. His love is the same for her as it is for me. Humble our hearts Jesus, if we ever think of ourselves as better than others.
Yes, on June 15, you better believe we will be celebrating! We will have some kind of party and enjoy the day that God has divinely brought together. Every year we will celebrate the day we became a family. But on that day, I will also be remembering and praying for someone who is hurting, because in my situation, that’s what loving like Jesus looks like. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you plan. I did not plan to have such a love for this woman, but with God in control, things always turn out better.
Matthew 22:37-38 “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Who is Jesus calling you to compassionately love?
(All scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation.)
The Southern Missouri District recognizes and supports churches in the crucial and viable ministry to foster and adoptive parents. The following organizations may be of help in the development of this type of ministry:
Things certainly don't turn out the way you plan.
God knew what he was doing when he brought Kris into our lives. He planned everything out right down to the very last detail. He laughed as we bought cribs and strollers. He waited patiently as we begged him for a baby. And I know that He must have smiled the day that we moved all of our son's stuff into our house for good.
Our licensing worker actually laughed at us the other day when we came to a foster care training and dropped him off in the babysitting room. She asked how things were going, and when we said they were going great, she said "Age range zero to one? Hah!"
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (The Message)
Yes, things certainly don't turn out the way you plan...they turn out better!
The Southern Missouri District recognizes and supports churches in the crucial and viable ministry to foster and adoptive parents. The following organizations may be of help in the development of this type of ministry:
Easter is a very special, very busy time for a family in ministry. It is one of two primary event seasons for the church. Do you find yourself overwhelmed in preparation? Are you wondering where the meaning of Jesus' death and the joy of His resurrection have gone as you struggle to just get through the coming Easter weekend? Take a breath, sit down, quiet your mind, and give yourself 10 minutes to read how Jesus instructs us to get ready for Easter. You'll be glad you did!
Unlike the glittering surroundings of Christmas leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, Easter brings a more solemn time of remembering His death and resurrection. So if you’re looking for ways to genuinely prepare your heart for this coming holiday, why not look back at how Jesus readied Himself for the Cross?
Because no one accomplished it better than He did, as you look more closely at how He prepared Himself for Easter, may your heart be enriched, strengthened, and ready to rejoice in His victory.
Below are 10 ways to prepare your heart for Easter like Jesus did.
1. Know What Scripture Says
Jesus’ knowledge of Scripture readied Him for the upcoming events in His life. Luke 18:31 states how, “Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.’”
Even if you’ve read of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection numerous times, commit to re-reading the passages in Scripture, asking God to make it anew in your heart.
2. Follow God’s Leading
Mark 10:32 describes the processional to Jerusalem as Jesus leading the way, accompanied by astonished disciples and a crowd of followers afraid of what was going to take place there.
In following Jesus’ journey to the cross, it’s clear He was set on following God’s leading. Romans 8:14 states that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Ask God to lead you during this time, too, believing, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him” (Psalm 37:23).
3. Clean House
When Jesus reached Jerusalem, He did some Spring Cleaning. Scripture states, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there” (Matthew 21:12). Jesus took time to clean out His temple by taking the opportunity to rid it of all that was not honoring to God.
Because now your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), you, too, can take an opportunity to clean your house of things that are not pleasing to God. You can ask Him to direct you in discarding stuff and behaviors that distract you away from serving Him.
4. Be Approachable
After Jesus cleaned-up the temple, instead of withdrawing, Matthew 21:14 describes how “the blind and lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them.”
It’s easy in today’s culture with cell phones, sunglasses, garage door openers, and tinted windows to not be accessible to those around you. In all the busyness of life, it can feel like no time is convenient for others to approach you.
Still is there a neighbor or someone at church who has been trying to connect with you, but you’re not ever available?...Look for ways to be approachable and meet real needs in the lives of those around you, whether it’s through conversation, prayer, or meeting a practical need.
5. Encourage Spiritual Growth In Others
As Jesus did in the days leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection, He made the most of teachable moments, like encouraging His disciples’ faith through practical demonstrations...In the midst of Easter activities, be willing to encourage individuals to grow in their relationship with God.
6. Be Open to Conversation
In the days leading up to His death, Jesus spent time teaching. Matthew 21:23 states He “entered the temple courts, and, while He was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him.” Of course they came to question His authority but still Jesus did not let it hinder Him from interacting with them.
Like Jesus encountered, it can be uncomfortable to enter into dialogue and discuss your faith, especially nowadays with all the differences in personal beliefs and biblical interpretations.
As the authority of Jesus was challenged, so today is the authority of God’s Word questioned as the basis of truth. Even so you can trust God to work through your words to draw individuals closer to Him.
7. Make Time for Fellowship
The evening before being arrested, Jesus shared a Passover meal with those closest to Him. During this last supper with His disciples, He taught them how to remember Him through drinking of the cup and breaking of the bread (Luke 22:7-22)...Whether in your home, at church, or through a community event, be open to sharing a meal, taking communion, and singing with those around you.
8. Devote Yourself to Prayer
After dinner and hymn singing, Jesus headed out to pray. Spending time in prayer was a priority for Jesus. Luke 22:39 states “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives.” Despite all that was conspiring and happening around Him, Jesus did not let the surrounding activities keep Him from spending time in prayer.
If life’s busyness and distractions have been keeping you from spending time in prayer, look to Christ’s example of making it a priority, especially during this season and in times of your greatest needs.
9. Submit to God’s Will
Scripture reveals how during His time of prayer, Jesus agonized with what God was asking Him to do. Luke 22:44 states “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
Is there something God has been asking you to do but you’ve been hoping He’ll change His mind or give you another option? Follow Jesus’ example to trust God’s will for your life more than your own feelings.
10. Choose Obedience
For many individuals, the days leading up to Easter is a time of giving up things. Yet when looking at Scripture, there is something even more pleasing to God than sacrifice as stated in 1 Samuel 15:22, “To obey is better than sacrifice.”
After His time of prayer and submission to God’s will, Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)...Jesus’ life wasn’t taken from Him, He gave it up as stated, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16).
Make a commitment to choose obedience. By doing so, along with knowing Scripture, following God’s leading, cleaning house, being approachable, encouraging spiritual growth, open to conversation, making time for fellowship, devoting yourself to prayer, and submitting to God’s will, you are preparing your heart for Easter.
Just one question this week:
How are you preparing for Easter personally, not for the church, not for your family, but for you personally?
This post was written by Lynette Kittle for iBelieve.com. Lynette is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
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