The Betas Have It …

The Betas Have It …

© 2013 Mit Maras

First off, I can’t believe I even have beta readers. Last week, I finished my final read through and slowly began sending the book out to a few for their opinions. The writing world gives them the title of beta readers. I give them the title of trusted souls. The people I chose are a widely diverse group of people. They range in age, gender, race, creed…just about anything you could think of. Some of them have children. Some of them do not. The one common denominator they all possess is the connection they each have with the Lord. They are all mighty women and men of God, whom I trust to give honest feedback. I trust they will look out for the protection of God’s character above and beyond the protection of my own.

I have had the privilege of being a beta reader several times before, but I never imagined I would have my own group of betas reading a book that I wrote. This is all a little surreal for me. Writing books was never a dream of mine. Now, here I am about to submit my first one to be professionally edited. From there it will be illustrated, with the final stop at publication!

Most writers I know get very nervous when the book is sent out to the beta readers. They await feedback from years of pouring their hearts out onto the pages and are seeking the approval they long for. This book has been in the works, quietly, for about a year now. Even those closest to me have just recently learned about its’ existence. As I sent out the manuscript to the betas, I tried to be nervous. I tried to figure out what each person would say when I was deciding on whom to ask for their opinions. No matter what I did, I simply couldn’t get nervous. There was another emotion overtaking me…excitement. I am excited for people to be reading the book. I am excited to include people along my journey whom I trust and value their opinions. They will only make the book better for everyone.

So with a very excited heart, I await the betas opinions as they trickle back in. This coming weekend, the printed manuscript will be sent to be edited. Thank you all for joining me on this journey. The goal….at the end of this process is to provide you and your children a fun way to remember the ten plagues. I pray it blesses you and your family as much as it has mine.

 

Excitedly,

Mit

© 2013 Mit Maras

 

It’s Only a Blanket

It’s Only a Blanket

© 2013 Mit Maras

Nearly every child has one at some time in their young lives. For some, it’s a favorite toy. For others, it may be a favorite pacifier. It’s that one item the child, without it, cannot function. It goes on every trip to the grocery store. It’s an active participant in every night’s bedtime routine. It’s that one comfort that could never get left behind, or the universe might actually quit spinning. For my son, it was a favorite blue blanket.

When he was a baby still learning to crawl, he made his way over to a bag of blankets I was donating to charity. And, like most kids do when they see a nice and neat folded pile of clothes, he proceeded to knock down the stack of blankets and pulled out this blue one. It became an extension of him from that moment on. Only once, when he was attending a daycare, did we ever forget it somewhere. It only took the meltdown from that one time for us to learn the lesson and never ever forget that blanket again. We could forget anything else we owned. But, that blanket was second on the list, only to the child himself.

One road trip to see my husband, out of state, took a serious detour when the cries from the backseat forced me to pull into a local store for thread and a needle. You see, the tags finally fell out of the seams into his hand. The meltdown that followed is impossible to fathom if you haven’t experienced it yourself. There just aren’t words that can describe the scene adequately.

Then, one fateful night in December 2012, the unthinkable happened.  The blanket was left at a local restaurant after dinner. It wasn’t until bedtime that we realized it was missing. My first call was to my Mom in complete disbelief and panic. The next call was immediately to the restaurant asking if it had been turned in to the lost and found. Had another family sat at our same table, the other mother would have certainly noticed the ragged state and immediately known the importance of the blanket and turned it in for safe keeping. The manager looked everywhere and came back with the devastating news that the blanket had not been found.

To help explain the seriousness of the importance of this blanket to you all, my Mom called back up there and offered a $100 reward for anyone who found the blanket. I was even tempted to go dumpster diving for that. LOL. The next day, however, we had to finally accept the reality that the blanket was forever gone.

Breaking the news to my son was very hard for me to do. After just a few tears, he quickly went to sleep with no notice of the absence. He took it much better than I would have ever thought possible. What I didn’t expect was how hard I would take the loss. No one took it harder than I did. The first thing I did after he fell asleep was stalk eBay until I found another exactly like it and immediately ordered it. Then, after bawling my eyes out until 2:30 in the morning, I finally drifted to sleep. Only to wake in the same depressed condition I had fallen asleep in.

I had plans for that blanket. There was a hole in one corner that still needed to be sewn back together. There had been quilting material carefully picked out for a day in the near future when he no longer needed it. It was going to be the centerpiece in the quilt to make and preserve for him until he one day had a child of his own. I literally mourned the blanket like it was a beloved family pet. I felt guilty over not fixing that hole sooner. I felt cheated out of the quilt and heritage I had planned for my child. And I had anger towards the heartless person who tossed something so precious into the garbage along with our left over scraps.

This went on for about two days when the good Lord stepped in. I had complained to God. I had begged God to let someone find it and call. There was plenty of bargaining, groveling, anger, and hurt cast in His direction over our loss. Yet, when He came to me, He came as the gentle-loving, protective Father that He is. He wasn’t angry that I was moping around over a blanket. He was understanding. He cared that it was important to me. He counts the hairs on my head, so of course He is concerned with the things that break my heart.

The gentleness that He spoke to my soul is still overwhelming for me. He knew exactly what to say, in one sentence, to snap me out of my selfish downward spiral. No one else could coax me out of my sadness. He simply reminded me this, “There are parents tonight in Newtown, Connecticut and all they have to hold tonight are the blankets. It’s only a blanket.”

You see, four days earlier, the gunman had entered Sandy Hook school in Newtown and killed all those children in their classrooms. Two days after that is when we lost the blanket. While I was crying and angry about missing out on the opportunity to pass a beloved item on to my son and future grandchild, those parents were mourning the loss of their children. I could picture mothers curled up in empty toddler beds, soaking blankets with their tears. And now, every night, all they would have to hold would be those blankets. I…still had my child to hold. The choice was easy. I couldn’t run down the hall fast enough to crawl in bed with my son and just hold him in my arms. I held him knowing some other mother was only getting to hold a blanket now.

Not once more did I mourn the missed opportunity with the blanket. Sure, I wish we still had it. But there was an immediate release of the anger and hurt. God reminded me, ever so gently, of the real importance. He knew I didn’t need a chewing out. He knew I wasn’t intending on being ungrateful to Him at all. He knew that He…and He alone…could speak to me in one sweet and heartfelt sentence and make me see. After all, “It’s only a blanket.”

© 2013 Mit Maras

Gentle Giants

Gentle Giants

© 2013 Mit Maras

Any lover of Great Dane dogs will tell you their breed nickname of gentle giants is an accurate description. All you have to do is Google information for the dogs, and you will quickly read of their gentle and loving nature despite size. Pictures of the enormous dogs standing protective beside toddlers, half their size, are favorites of mine.

A somewhat secret wish of my husband was always to own one of these magnificent animals. I have gladly admired them from afar…living in someone else’s home. Not mine. Not until now.

Recently, my husband lead a fellow worker to Christ. Somewhere along that man’s search for God, the topic of Great Danes arose. He owned a pair of Great Danes that had just given birth to a dozen puppies. My husband shared with him his lifelong wish of owning one of the magnificent creatures, and that is where this new chapter of our lives began.

Oil field men are a special breed of men themselves. My husband’s biceps and shoulders are larger than some women’s thighs. He doesn’t tower others by any means, but his nickname Moose lends some insight into his size. The other guy, my Moose-of-a-husband, calls…massive! The joy it brings me to picture two rough and tough oil men sitting around talking about Jesus and puppies is simply immeasurable! They, themselves are gentle giants!

All this leading to my current journey….the backseat of a minivan. One very excited six year old sitting beside me, separated by a sleeping 9 week old Great Dane…on my favorite blanket. The two day trip that split up a 19 hour drive is one most normal people would have never made. And that was just to get there. Thank goodness we are not normal. With our trusty GPS guiding our way, back roads of the beautiful New Mexico frontier have become our playground. A new blanket of snow, highlighting an already perfect sculpture of God’s beauty poured out onto Earth, makes a backdrop of heavenly inspiration.

One of the highlights of my journey came at 5:30 this morning, when two gentle giants bonded on the floor of a hotel room. My son, exhausted from all of the excitement, slept through it all. I dozed in and out for about three hours. The times I was awake, I saw one of the gentlest giants of a man lost in pure bonding and love with a baby of a gentle giant breed. As they played in the predawn hours, a soft glow from the bathroom illuminated their playful silhouettes. There was something magical witnessing the eternal bonds of these two gentle giants.

There were no burdens of the world weighing heavy on his mind or his chest. There were no whines and cries from a puppy missing her canine family. There was a bonding of two spirits that’s as pure as the crisp white snow blanketing the ground around us. The simple question their playful banter at 5:30 in the morning left me with was….who….saved who?

 

© 2013 Mit Maras

 

My Word for 2013

My Word for 2013

© Mit Maras 2013

My family doesn’t participate in making any New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, we each pick one word that is going to be our theme word for the entire year. That word represents a goal we each want to work towards obtaining. My husband got the idea from listening to the KLOVE radio station several years ago.

Compassion was my word for 2012. Anyone who knows me personally can tell you that I am the type that has always had more compassion for animals than for people. Two different times in my life I had taken one of those personality tests. Both times my lowest score was in compassion. I don’t think it was possible to score a zero on any section, but I came close both times.

Reflecting back on last year as a whole, I believe a fair report card most likely would result in a C in the compassion department. I grew in leaps and bounds in the area of having compassion for the less fortunate. Weak and lazy were how I had honestly always viewed this group of people. After all, we all have problems to deal with. If I had to deal with mine with no help, then they should suck it up and deal with theirs. That was always my mentality…until this past year. Purposefully taking on several roles shined new light on my negative and unfair views. I was able to help out the less fortunate in our area weekly. The more I got involved and helped, the less judgmental I found myself.

I don’t think I did quite so well with those that are the closest to me. I still hold them to the higher standard that they should just suck it up and do what needs to be done. I pray that knowing what I need to continue to work on will aid to make improvements in this area for years to come.

Choosing a word for 2013 has been, by far, my hardest. There were no less than 5 words that I battled back and forth with for the last several months of 2012. It was several weeks into 2013 that I finally settled on the one thing I wanted to work on more than anything this year. My word for 2013 is…Positive. I tend to side with the pessimists of the world on most topics. Again, anyone who has known me long can testify.

I want to be a more positive and supportive person. I want to look for the positive in all situations life throws at me this coming year. Equally as important, I want to allow nothing but positive to surround myself and my family. There are too many negative attacks on families and relationships in our time, and we do have control over what is allowed into our lives.

Every decision people make in our country is guaranteed two things. The first, is to make one group of people happy. The second, is to have people who disagree and they don’t mind at all voicing their displeasure…to everyone. There is only so much negativity we each can stand, and I had my fill last year. I have accepted the fact that I can’t change people. Nor can I force them to change. But I can and I am changing what I allow into my life, as well as into my family’s life. Of course,  bad things will happen this year. Bad things happen weekly around here these days. It is in the middle of the bad things that I will search for the positive. People who can not bring positive thoughts and actions this year, simply will not be allowed in our lives.

January was a huge adjustment in many ways for our family this year. Our family is struggling to redefine itself in the midst of a new job opportunity for my husband. There were many challenges. There were many victories. I spent my birthday this year trying to keep our house from flooding. Yet, in the middle of knee deep water, I was able to see the significance of all the rain. We live at the bottom of a slowly sloped neighborhood. When it rains heavily, our side yards become small rivers flowing from the back towards the front. Not only do we get our water, but the entire neighborhood’s water drains through our yard. This year’s downpour on my birthday, for me, represented a cleansing. It was a good hard rain that washed all the leaves clean from the backyard. Even when the hard rains ceased, the water continued to flow from the rest of the neighborhood. My lesson in all of this? If we don’t open up the floodgates and let it all out, we will drown in it. It doesn’t matter if it is our own mess. It doesn’t matter if the mess originates from others. What matters is if we choose to do nothing or if we choose to open the gates and let it float right past. Just because landscape dictates that our property gets dumped on by the entire neighborhood, doesn’t mean we have to accept that and let our house flood. We take action. We open up the gates and let their water rush right by our house.

We get rain all the time. I have gotten soaking wet many times trying to keep my house from flooding during downpours. Yet, I have never been able to see the positive lesson…until this year. I was prepared days ahead of time for the storm. I made preemptive strikes preventing my house from flooding. I did not wait to react to the storm. I met it head on with a game plan in place and came out with a positive life lesson. That is how I will live my 2013. I’d say I was off to a great start.

© Mit Maras 2013

Letters to my Son: A Mother’s Promises Regarding Your Future Wife

Letters to my Son: A Mother’s Promises Regarding Your Future Wife

© 2013 Mit Maras

 

Tonight we had a lengthy discussion about last names and why girls change their last names when they get married. Your sweet little six year old mind tries so hard to understand grown up concepts. We then had our first discussion about your future wife. When you have children of your own, you will understand why this is such a bittersweet subject for me. Your Daddy and I have not had full conversations yet about the “dating” topics, like at what age you will be “allowed” to start dating. But I know we both believe with all our souls that God has one extremely remarkable woman for you.

 

You should know that true love does exist. And it is not like anything you will see on television when you are older. It is real. It is not about having multiple girlfriends just ‘test driving’ them like society will try to teach you is the best way to go. God has a woman for you and no other will do. I pray that your Daddy and I raise you to search for her and her alone. She will be worth the wait son. She could be a stranger that walks into the room you are in when you are grown, and God whispers to you “there she is”. Or she could be a lifelong friend that God has decided you are both ready and mature enough to begin His work together as one. Whenever God points her out to you, it will be the greatest love story of all times because it will be your very own.

 

One day you will choose to buy a ring, get down on one knee (or however you decide to do it), and you will ask a woman to be your wife. You will not only change the lives of the two of you that day, but also the lives of many surrounding you. In the midst of all the excitement surrounding your engagement and marriage, there are a few things I’d like for you to realize.

 

I began praying for this woman from the day you were born. It was not an obsessive every single day prayer. But it was a constant and often prayer. I do not think there will be anything harder in my life than to let go and trust you into the hands of God as an adult and to another woman as the leading lady in your life. So since the day you were born and until the day that I die, I will pray strongly for this woman that will one day grace our lives.

 

My biggest prayer is that she and her family know and love God like we do. This world is such a hard place to live in. I pray that she be rooted and grounded in the teachings of Jesus to better help you make the decisions you will one day make as the head of your household. Her outward appearance is of no concern to me, but rather the beauty that her heart will hold and one day share with us all. She will one day bring a smile to your face like no one will have brought before. And when God shows her to us all, there are some truths and promises I want you to rest assured in.

 

Just as a father walks his daughter down the aisle and physically places his daughter’s hand into the hand of the man she will marry, a mother quietly stands by and watches as her son asks for and receives the hand of the woman he has chosen for his wife. What the father does in the physical, the mother quietly stands by and does in the spiritual and emotional. I cannot imagine it an easy task for any woman, and the thoughts, while you are six, are more bitter than sweet. But on your wedding day, you will know without a doubt how long we have all prepared for this journey.

 

From the day God brings her into your life, I promise to embrace her with a warm, heartfelt welcome into our family. I promise to listen for hours as you rave on and on about her. But I will not stop there. I promise to talk with her and get to know who she is as an individual. I will invite her shopping, or for lunches just the two of us to build a relationship with her, getting to know in depth the woman you have chosen.

 

I promise to treat her as her own person and not just an extension of you. Although you and your family will automatically one day become a “packaged deal”, you are all unique individuals with different likes and dislikes and I promise to take the time to get to know them all.

 

I promise to dote over her not only in front of family and friends but in private to God. Nothing is more damaging than for a Mother to talk negative about the woman her son chose to marry. I promise never to speak negatively into or about your lives. I will offer my advice when asked and give any Godly advice during the difficult times. I will also keep my distance and allow the two of you to figure out what God is leading you to do. Sometimes God cannot do what He is trying to do or teach because earthly parents rush in to fix the problems for our children. I promise to pray diligently for God to help me with the balance of speaking wisdom into your lives and stepping back for Him to create His greater works within the two of you.

 

I promise that family traditions that have run smoothly for years and years will be adjusted and compromised to accommodate our growing family. When you two marry, you will have twice the family to share your lives with. Holidays can be stressful and hurtful if families fight to keep “age old traditions” as the most important factor, instead of working together. You and your wife are our most immediate family. The rest of the family will have to understand that our nuclear family comes first. There will be no compromising that.

 

I promise to extend a hand of friendship to her mother and never to make her feel that I am trying to replace the role of mother in your wife’s life, but rather to enhance the role of Godly women praying for and watching over her daughter’s life. I pray fervently that her mother will love you and do the same for you. I welcome you feeling comfortable enough and loving this other mother enough to share the title of “Mom” with her. And I promise to offer the same to her and to your wife.

 

Your wife will one day be the gatekeeper to how much time I get to spend with you and my grandchildren. That is just the way most families work. The women keep the calendars of birthdays and parties and all the happenings that families fiddle through. I promise to be respectful of your family time. I will not place unfair expectations on you regarding your time. I will work with her and give her plenty of notice whenever I possibly can. And though I may be disappointed at times when there are interferences, I promise not to lash out and be angry.

I pray to be one of her most trusted friends. Naturally, there will be bits and pieces of your marriage that I will want to stay out of and have details spared for my account. But in order for her to feel welcomed into our family and to feel like she will be one of my closest friends, I have to treat her that way. I will not get to keep you as my best friend if I treat her any less. I promise to go above and beyond sharing our past lives, your baby photos and as many warm family moments that have always been “ours” so that she feels like she was here all along.

 

The role as the Matriarch of our immediate family will be the most important role of my life. Should you have any siblings, I promise to promote harmony and peace between you all. I will plan, schedule, and rearrange schedules to constantly include you all in our lives. No one can bring families together like Mothers can and yours will break her back keeping you all informed and together. I promise not to sit idly by and watch you and your siblings (again, should you have any) live completely detached lives. When you all have children, I will take pride in my role making sure all of my grandchildren are aware of the local happenings. Mother’s either actively sow peace into their families, or they sit by and passively sow discord. I promise that you, your wife and your children will never feel that you are not wanted, welcomed, or invited to any function I am ever a part of.

 

Our family will not ever experience a change like the one we will all face when you decide to get married. So I want you to know that I have been praying and preparing for  your entire life. I have prayed for God to give me the courage, strength, wisdom, and humility to be the Mother and the Mother in Law that the two of you need me to be. I will make mistakes along the way. We all will. But I promise you now not to be so prideful and unwilling to humble myself and admit when I have made a mistake. But more importantly, I promise to correct my actions and never hold grudges.

 

I promise you all of these things and all I ask in return is that you help me to be this Mother to you and my daughter in law. Families are sick and splitting apart at an alarming rate these days and will no doubt be even worse when you are older. This is the picture I have of our family in those days, and I will not stop praying for God to guide us all. The bloodline you share with your Daddy and me make us relatives, but the love and respect for each other will always make us family. This woman may not share in our bloodline, but she will most certainly be a part of our family, surrounded by our love and respect. She will be as valuable to me as she is to you.

 

The most important promise I make to you is to be the kind of mother as you grow that will make all of these “promises” seem a mute point. I promise to be the kind of mother that walks this out daily, so that promises like these would be every day normal for me. I will not need to make these promises to you later in life. I will be showing you every day.

 

© 2013 Mit Maras

 

If These Walls Could Talk

If These Walls Could Talk

 

© 2013 Mit Maras

 

If these walls could talk

The stories they could tell

Standing protective

Cherished memories well

 

Firm foundation laid

Giving birth to new dreams

Long awaited start

Gripping tight the strong beams

 

Sheetrock, wood, and nails

By themselves prove useless

Together stand strong

Secrets never confessed

 

They say someone’s eyes

Are gateways to the soul

These windows shine through

With every joy and toll

 

The chimney snorts smoke

From a freshly lit fire

Warmth or some romance

Are a full heart’s desire

 

Heavenly angels perched

On the rooftop so stout

Warding off evil

That may be lurking about

 

Hugs, laughter, and tears

Past fond memories shared

An unspoken trust

Safeguarding those who cared

 

If these walls could talk

We know just what they’d say

Tales of family

And love along the way

 

©2013 Mit Maras

Be the Heart

This was a speech I recently gave to our women’s ministry. Several people who read the speech encouraged me to post it. So here it is. It was written to be a speech, so it is not grammatically correct in areas. Please read it as if you were hearing a speech, putting the emphasis where they are inserted. Encourage all your women friends to read and just be uplifted and enlightened!

 

When God started showing me this message, He made it very clear that –my- part in this was to step outside of my comfort zone. Tonight I’m simply going to share with you…my heart.

Thanksgiving. The time of year when we teach our children in this country about how the Indians shared their knowledge with the Pilgrims about hunting and planting. Where we show them pictures of a big feast with laughter and a true friendship formed to help strangers conquer the elements. We talk about the things we are thankful for, such as family and friends. We adorn our houses the day after Halloween with decorations of autumn colors and turkeys scattered throughout. We plan our holiday meals with family and put a lot of careful consideration into what dish we will be cooking for each family. And then we spend hours in the kitchen with loved ones enjoying the presence of one another and pass on the tradition of family memories along with our family recipes. Does anybody recognize that Thanksgiving? That’s what Thanksgiving was like when I was growing up.

Let me try this and see if it sounds more familiar…

Thanksgiving. The time of year where we let the school system teach our children about the Pilgrims and Indians squeezed in between all the language and arithmetic curriculum they are bogged down with daily. Truth is, some of us don’t have the first actual book about Thanksgiving in our homes. We do still talk about the things we are thankful for, but mostly after our children have heard it from somewhere else, and they bring it up to us. It’s definitely not a conversation intentionally started by us during our busy lives. Some of us don’t even bother with the Thanksgiving decorations because, after all, they are only out for a couple of weeks and then it’s Christmas decorating time. IF…If we haven’t already started slowly pulling out the Christmas decorations. Some stores in our society pulled out the Christmas decorations as soon as summer was over. Just this week, my 6 year old son and I went to Wal-Mart to get some Thanksgiving decorations and we had to hunt for them. They were buried behind all the Christmas decorations and even when we found them, it’s only half of an aisle. Then there’s the holiday meals. The ones where some of us don’t even –want- to go because we will be forced to be around people we really would rather not be around. Long gone are the hours spent together in the kitchen making memories and passing on family recipes. Now it’s more of a tornado flying through at the last minute to get things done, with tempers flaring and everyone avoiding each other until it’s time to put on our “happy faces” for all the public to see. Then when we get to the Thanksgiving dinners, there’s a quick prayer over the meal and maybe a minute or two of reflection of a “cookie cutter” list of what we are thankful for before the men go watch football and the women sit down with the sales papers and meticulously plot the route for the onslaught of Black Friday sales they plan to attack. Then…there’s Black Friday. That…is a whole other message for another time.

Sadly, in our country…the MAJORTY of househoulds…look like Thanksgiving #2. We all get so focused on the list of things wrong in our lives, instead of focusing on the blessings we have. I’d like to take a minute and do something. I’m going to list a few words and when it’s something you have experienced this last year, quietly keep that word in mind. Some of you may have only experience one or two. And for some, it may be all five.

First – afflicted (defeated)

Next oppressed (weighted down)

Next helpless

Next is sinful

Next phrase is exposed to hurt and pain

During the event that these words were given, I had all the women raise their hands. After the last phrase was called, nearly every hand in the room was raised. I then had the women open their eyes and look around the room so they could see that they were not alone in their struggles. You are not alone either. The devil gets in our heads and tells us no one will understand or believe us. But you are not alone. We have got to purposefully change things. Just this week I heard Joel Osteen say something I thought was profound. He said, “As long as you are still alive, someone else needs something you have.” (1) That’s our greatest calling isn’t it? The Bible says in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?” If you’re alive today…you have something that someone else needs. We can’t keep focusing on our problems and get so bogged down in our –own- troubles that we forget to do what God calls us to do for others.

“Psalms 68 is an interesting passage. It was intended to be used in worship by Israel as a song of victory and deliverance. It recounts the many difficulties they endured and speaks of them being afflicted, oppressed, helpless, sinful, and exposed to hurt and pain; yet this Psalm recalls that God provided for His people in the tough wilderness wanderings and in the day of bountiful blessing in the Promised Land of Canaan.” (2) Psalms 68:19 (King James Bible) says, “Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” It wasn’t only in the good times that God provided for His people. He provides for His people in the bad times too. The people 1…recognize…and 2….thank. We can’t properly thank Him anymore because we’ve forgotten how to recognize Him. Especially in the bad times.

The Bible also says in Hebrews 13:8 (NIV), “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” So the same God that blessed them in the bad….is the same God that blesses us in the bad. We’ve just got to CHOOSE to recognize it. And then…be thankful.

“Let’s not sit around the family table harping about the election, complaining about our job status, or whining about the injustices from friends. Let’s instead reset out gratitude meters and offer genuine, heartfelt thanks to God. For salvation in Christ. For His daily care. And for friends and family He graciously provides.” (3)

I’d like to challenge you all tonight. I’m sure there isn’t a woman in this country that hasn’t heard the phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Right? We all know that one and most of us can testify personally to its’ truth. We, as women living in this day and time, have a greater influence in our family’s daily lives than in any other time in all of history. We have a voice. We are heard. It wasn’t that long ago that our fellow women had to fight for most of the freedoms we enjoy today. In 1955, in –this- country, in Montgomery, AL…one small African American woman named Rosa Parks, “famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott which was led by Martin Luther King, Jr- which was a monumental turning point in the civil rights movement. Her life exemplified commitment and courage.” (4)

Ladies listen….this one little woman…took a stand. She took a stand by sitting still. Sometimes God wants us to sit still. “Be still and know that I am God.” This one woman sat still on a bus one day and was arrested. And 53 years later, because of Rosa Parks and other brave people like her, Michelle Obama became the first African American First Lady ever. (Republican or Democrat. Like and support her husband or not…let’s not get lost in that tonight. Tonight…let’s recognize the strong woman that –she –is and the journey of women before her) Not only is she this country’s first African American First Lady…but she’s also a very successful lawyer, campaigner against childhood obesity and a Mom to two daughters in the center of the public eye daily. Some of us just pray our kids don’t act up in Wal-Mart. Her kids act up and it’s on the World News in a matter of minutes.

Helen Keller is another influential woman. “She was rendered blind and deaf by a childhood illness yet became the 1st deaf-blind person to earn a college degree, and forever changed our ideas about what disabled people could accomplish.” (4)

“Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic ocean. Although she tragically disappeared in 1937 on what was meant to be a globe-circling flight….she accomplished a much larger mission, dramatically expanding the world’s notions of just how high a woman can soar.” (4) Both literally…and figuratively.

Those are some modern day women that each took individual stands for something and today we benefit from the stands they took. Let’s look at a few Biblical women that did the same thing.

Esther was an orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai and was chosen by King Xerxes to become the Queen of Persia. She went on to confront the King of a plot to massacre all the Jews in the Persian Empire and acknowledged her own Jewish ethnicity. The King not only stopped their massacre but gave the Jews the right to defend themselves against any enemy.

So, here is 1 woman….being –chosen- not asked if she even wants to be Queen, but –chosen like property- yet she was brave enough to speak up and save all of her people.

In 1 Samuel 25, we meet another brave woman named Abigail. And Abigail’s husband, Nabal, has insulted and upset David (little David who took down Goliath with a stone is going to end up being the King). So Nabal has upset David so much so that David and his men are riding out to destroy Nabal and all his house. One of Nabal’s young men tells Abigail what has happened and she immediately snaps into action. She gathers a whole bunch of things like loaves of bread and wine, sheep, raisins and grain. And she prepares it all as an offering to David. She then sends all this out and rides out to meet David before he gets to them. When she gets to him, she falls on her face, and did everything she knew to do to keep her husband and her people alive. (Abigail is a whole other teaching for another day of the things she did right and the things she did wrong….but the fact is….she –did- it). She knew David was mad and coming to kill. Yet she bravely stepped up and went and confronted him herself.

And lastly, let’s look at Luke 8 for the last woman.

Luke 8:43-48

New International Version (NIV)

43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her,“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

 

Now this woman had been ill for 12 long years. Most of us are sick for a week and we can barely function. Yet this woman had been ill for 12 years. But she knew what she wanted. And she knew what she needed.  She fought her way through a crowd of people and she –knew- that all she had to do was touch the fringe of His garment and she would be healed. No physician had been able to cure her or help her. But the second she touched His robe, she was instantly cured. The more I read and studied this woman preparing for this, the more I just fell in love with her courage….and her wisdom.  See, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  And Jesus healed the man sitting beside the pool. But for this woman…Jesus didn’t intentionally go –into- this miracle knowingly. He didn’t speak and she was healed. He didn’t lay hands on her and she was healed. Most of those people then….and most of us today…..wait….We wait for Jesus to touch us. She didn’t wait to be touched by the King….she reached out and touched the King of Kings. And when she touched him physically….she touched HIM…spiritually. Because –he- felt –her-. Jesus said in verse 46 (AMP), ”Someone did touch me; for I perceived that [healing] power has gone forth from me.” We wait for Jesus to do the miracle. When Jesus IS the miracle.

Esther boldly confronted a King and saved all of the Jews in Persia. Abigail boldly confronted a future king and saved her family. The woman with the bleeding disorder, humbly touched the King of Kings and was told “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go into peace.” All 3 ordinary women, like you and me, all took a stand.

So I leave you tonight with this challenge. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” When you all leave here tonight…you all have someone that needs something you have. You all have an opportunity to influence a household, or a work place, or a church. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Now a lot of us are not just over joyed about that statement. So I’d like to point out what God revealed to me during this process. The Bible goes on to say in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The church was Jesus’ heart. He loved the church so much that He died for it. You see, God calls the men to be the “head of the household”. And since they are supposed to love the wives like Christ loved the church. The church was what Jesus’ heart was for. So, let the men be the head….it’s time for us to start –being- the heart. And teach those around you how to be the heart. Encourage those around you to be the heart.  “As the woman goes, so goes her household.” Be the heart of your household. Be the heart at your job. Be the heart at your church. Look at how all those women INDIVIDUALLY changed a society. Can you imagine what all of us could do if we all became like minded? Someone needs what you have. This Thanksgiving, be the heart.

 

Works Cited

1. Osteen, Joel. Life Lessons. OWN, Houston.

2. Shorb, Ann. A Light For My Path. CCES Online. [Online] http://ccesonline.com/devotionals/uncategorized/thanksgiving/.

3. Darling, Daniel. Reset Your Gratitude Meter-Thanksgiving Devotional. [Online] November 9, 2012. http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/thanksgiving-devotionals/reset-your-gratitude-meter-thanksgiving-devo-nov-2.html.

4. 125 Women Who Changed Our World. [Online] http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/inspirational-people/women-who-changed-our-world#slide-4.