She Said Yes

When "Yes" Means Revealing Your Worst {Serena's Story #SheSaidYes}

{Today is week two of our #SheSaidYes series! Meet my incredibly challenging and inspiring friend Serena Woods (see her bio below) and be encouraged to say “yes” to God in your life too!}

Who is the man who fears the Lord? -Psalm 25:12

#SheSaidYes

I never completely understood what it was to fear God until I started to understand His sovereignty. I am convinced that God will do anything He needs to do to get us to see Him. My own story is one that makes people really think about how much control they want to give God. Our control is an illusion, but many people think they have it, so I'll talk about it.

When I was much younger in my journey of faith (I wasn't one who became a Christian as a child), I begged God to use me. I knew that I had nothing to offer Him, but I wanted to be put to work. I spent about a year praying every day that God would remove anything in my life that He didn't put there, and then put me to work. My life started to fall apart. I lost my job, I lost my boyfriend, I lost my home, and I felt distance from my friends. My daughter and I moved back in with my parents and I got a personally degrading job (went from a law firm to a drive through). I knew what was happening and I persisted. After about a year of the same daily prayer, He started questioning me. Questions would pose themselves in my devotions and in the scriptures I would study. My spirit was inundated with the constant question: "Do you have any idea what you're asking me?"

"Yes," I would answer. I thought I did.

"What if you lose your good name? What if I need a good doormat?" His questions pierced my intentions and got straight to the point of my pride.

I trusted Him. I let His questions roll around in my head. I removed all of my conditions, conditions I didn't know I had, and I said "Yes."

All was quiet for a few weeks after. I knew He heard me and I began my phase of waiting.

And then life shifted me again.

I moved back to a place closer to my friends and my church. I got a job as a waitress and put myself through cosmetology school. After school, I got married to the former boyfriend. Life kept me busy. I had two more babies and loved being a good mom.

After I ruined my marriage and my friendships with my affair, I spent a lot of time trying to find answers. I am not someone who lacks morals or disregards the sanctity of marriage. I was loyal and valued my friendships. However, I was damaged and selfish. I was fully capable of doing what I knew was wrong. I was able to justify my decisions in twisted ways. In trying to find answers, my justifications didn't hold up.

In searching for God in my own chaos, I found grace. But, not just grace. I found a God who would let me go my own way for the purpose of burning it out.

I started answering the call to write about my experience as a Christian who failed horribly and was redeemed by grace. The passion came from the fact that God has a purpose, even in the chaos, and He allows things to happen to fulfill His purpose. God didn't make me do evil. Satan didn't make me do evil. I did it all by myself. My passion for this message is that God uses our free will to fulfill His ultimate purpose. By my own free will, I chose to sin. And because of what I have seen, it is by my own free will that I abandon my will for His. I know what it is to choose my own way and because I did, I no longer want my own way. I deserved death and there was a time when I thought that physical death would have been a lighter sentence than living without Him. However, the horror of death in that state was the reality of eternal damnation and I was ripped to shreds in my hopelessness.

When someone is on the brink of death, you try to make them focus on you. You talk to them and tell them to hang on. You talk about things that are in the here and now so that they don't slip away and give up. God was the one kneeling over me, talking relentlessly so that I wouldn't look away from Him and give up. He asked me questions. Questions that are laced throughout scripture. They were there the whole time, but I never knew the implications or the reality until I had to answer them. "Will you die to yourself? Will you let me have your life? If I let you live, will you let me live through you?"

The pardoned don't get to choose their circumstances. Everything God gives you is a gift that you don't deserve. I know that for a fact and I count that assurance as a blessing. I would know nothing about Him, not this part, if I had not fallen.

I have spoken to people on numerous occasions about my story. They walk away asking God to know Him like that. And God always asks them, "Do you really want to?" And they always answer, "I don't know."

God is tender. He'll take you any way He can have you. And He knows that to know Him is to fear Him.

"Who is the man who fears the Lord?"

He is the man who has been wrecked and pardoned.

"What if you lose your good name?" I know for a fact that my message is not about me. Any attention I get is not because of my good name. I've lost my goodness. I show you my worst so that you know how far He'll go to save you. My guilt is great and He still loves me. That's where my wellbeing comes from.

God's covenant is peace (Isaiah 54:10), His judgment seat is marked by the rainbow (Revelation 4:3). God's purpose is salvation. If you want to work for Him, you must know what that means. Jesus brought reconciliation and you can't know His gift without knowing separation. The rainbow came after the destruction. It's the reflection of the multifaceted prism of  the beauty He has rebuilt. Everything He planned set salvation into motion. You would not need Him if you did not fail. Failure is not the end. Our instruction is to provide our life-saving eyewitness account of the necessity of the gift of Jesus. Our self-sufficiancy is the net  in which our feet get tangled.

For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. -Psalm 25:11-15

#SheSaidYesSerena Woods is a published author, freelance writer, and public speaker. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and four daughters. Her book is titled Grace Is For Sinners, and she is the author of the blog at graceisforsinners.com. You can find her on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SerenaWoodsAuthor and Twitter: https://twitter.com/SerenaWoods

 

 

Want to submit a guest post for #SheSaidYes? I would love to have you! Check out my submission guidelines, and prayerfully submit it!

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what are you willing to let go of? {Jennifer's Story #SheSaidYes}

{Today is week two of our #SheSaidYes series! Meet my friend Jennifer Ferguson (see her bio below) and be encouraged to say “yes” to God in your life too!}

I wish I could remember the exact words.

I was sitting downstairs on my couch. It was getting late and I think I had my Bible next to me, my computer on my lap. I had been blogging. Or reading. Whatever I was doing, at the same time, I was wrestling with God about one of my part-time jobs.

You see, in the few days leading up to this, I had drawn this tree. On each branch, I had labeled something that I was actively involved in doing. I had been feeling overwhelmed and needed to heed God’s call to prune. But what to give up? As my eyes had passed over each branch, I knew that there were some branches that no longer had life in them. They were simply dead weight for me. Burdensome. I knew that if I continued to keep them, I would remain in this drowning, gasping-for-air state of life, but I also knew I would be cutting myself off from income as well.

#SheSaidYes

There is a reason why Jesus says this:

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6: 24

Could I surrender the security of having extra cash to the One who is called Provider? Could I lay down a part of my past for which I had spent my entire college career preparing? Could I give up this part of my identity that I had thought I wanted since I was a mere second-grader?

I laid out all from which I was walking away. And in a breath, I turned on my heel. I chose to leave behind my fears of “what my father might say” and “how are we going to pay for this?” I chose to press into the will of my Father instead of giving into the will of myself. I chose to say “yes” to God and “no” to my fears.

And as I gazed into His heart, my fists unclenched, and my spirit open to His desires, I heard:

Soli Deo Gloria.

Those three words are the only exact ones out of the entire conversation that I remember, but the rest of our exchange is played out every Tuesday on my blog. God’s heart was to start a safe, encouraging on-line community for women where there isn’t pressure to be perfect or put together. He asked me to make space for vulnerability and truth and seeking. He asked that it not be about the quality of our words, but about the living out of The Word and all the joy, pain, frustration, and hope that it brings. He asked that it not be about me, but about Him, hence His title for the group, which means, in Latin, To God’s Glory Alone.

I truly believe that had I not surrendered my job as an adjunct professor at a local college, I would have missed out on the fullness of the blessing that Soli Deo Gloria is. Richness, I’ve found, cannot be measured solely in monetary terms, but we knew that already, didn’t we?

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9

He is faithful. We will say “yes” to Him so that we may receive these faithful acts of love from our Father? Will we give infinite weight to that which is truly worthy or will we continue to trust in the things of this world?

Question?

Has God ever asked you to let go of something important to you?

#SheSaidYesJen is passionate about Jesus and helping people to know how to walk intimately with Him.  She has been married for 11 years to her husband, Craig, and they have two daughters, ages 7 and 6. You can find her blogging at Finding Heaven Today, and join her for the Soli Deo Gloria link-up.

 

 

Want to submit a guest post for #SheSaidYes? I would love to have you! Check out my submission guidelines, and prayerfully submit it!

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say "yes" first {Christin's story #SheSaidYes}

{Today is the very first post in our #SheSaidYes series! Meet my friend Christin Slade (see her bio below) and be encouraged to say "yes" to God in your life too!}

#SheSaidYes

She Said "Yes" {Christin's Story}

I'll be the first to admit that sometimes saying "yes" to God can be intimidating and scary. Especially when you don't have all the answers up front.

This is how I felt 6 months ago when God first tapped my husband and I on the shoulder and whispered "world missions" in our ear. Before knowing what that meant, I prepared for the most drastic thing: moving oversees. God has given us a heart for Africa; one I couldn't explain to you if I tried.

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Africa

Have you ever woken up one day and found yourself with a burden for something you didn't have before? Yea, kinda like that.

So as the idea of moving overseas turned over in my head, I began to feel soul-sick at the thought of not wanting to move over to Africa. Do I really love God if I can't drop everything and go? Oh friends, I battled with the "yes". There were so many unanswered questions and so many uncertainties. Bottom line was, I didn't want to move to Africa.

My husband somewhere in there had made the observation that we couldn't go anywhere until our debt was paid off. We both decided that having our debt paid off would be a confirmation from God. My husband said, "We'll need about $50,000." That number goes above our debt number; the extra would have been for travel, etc. He then began to explain how he could labor and toil and have the debt paid off in 3-4 years. I said, "No. The confirmation that it is from God would have to be a miraculous pay off. Something only He could do."

But, over the course of the next few months, our hearts began to shift. We were beginning to see clearly the work God had laid out for us. He gave me peace that, no, moving to Africa wasn't in the cards for us. That wasn't exactly what He had in mind. {Enter major relief here}!

Would I have gone? Absolutely. Would I have been terrified? You bet. But I would have been more terrified of not doing what God asked me to do. I know I would have never rested!

Waiting and Watching

Originally, I thought my calling was to simply give birth to lots of children and raise them up in the Lord. It was an easy, natural process for me. But there was another side of mothering that I couldn’t shake.

It wasn’t long after I had my fifth baby that I began to feel a stirring for something more. And it wasn’t necessarily to have another baby. In fact, I kept making myself think that maybe we should, but I never felt that compelling that I did with the others.

God was moving me to a new season of motherhood.

My husband and I began to explore the possibility of adopting from Africa. When we got that resounding "yes" from God, we began doing research. We weren't immediately driven to apply. It took us a couple of months to research the right agencies {because working with the right agency is a matter of ethics, I found out}.

But clearly, God had not laid an urgency on our hearts to apply right away. We both felt just a waiting in our spirits. So we waited.

At the end of April, life was put on pause as we mourned the death of my husband's father; my father-in-law. It is a long string of events that lead up to that point of passing, but we took a couple of weeks off from regular "life" and simply grieved.

Mid-way through May we received a phone call from my mother-in-law. It seems my father-in-law left us a parting gift---of $50,000!

I was shocked. At that moment, upon hearing this news, two things came to mind immediately: we could pay off our debt and we could fund our adoption.

You remember the number my husband mentioned before, right? $50,000. If that doesn't scream confirmation, I don't know what does!

I considered not sharing specific numbers here. But the truth is, the impact of the glory of God would not be as great without being specific.

She Said "Yes!"

What unfolded throughout these months was God moving after we said "yes". Saying yes often means not having all the answers up front. Saying yes means having courage and having courage doesn't mean you're not afraid; it means you're stepping out to do what God asks, even though you're terrified!

I was terrified of the thought of moving to Africa and being shocked by a culture change I have never known. But when I finally stopped fighting God on it and surrendered, that's when He began to shift our hearts to what He was really trying to say. I was allowing my fears to amplify over God's own voice. I couldn't even hear him clearly because I was consumed by fear.

When we say "Yes" to God, He will move in ways we never imagined! I never imagined we would adopt from Africa, but I am SO excited about the journey He is taking us on.

Question?

Has God ever met your needs in a such a spectacular way, that you knew it could only be Him? Share your experience in the comments below!

Christin is a mere woman who's desire is to glorify Christ, despite her cracks. She is learning the beauty of God's grace and desires to extend it to others.

She writes at Joyful Mothering, helping mothers do the same and raise children who will become warriors for Christ.

You can also find her on Allume and chatting it up on Twitter as @ChristinWrites.

 

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Want to submit a guest post for #SheSaidYes? I would love to have you! Check out my submission guidelines, and prayerfully submit it!

Why Christian Writers Should Keep Writing

During my three-month blogging/writing break, one of the things I struggled most with was a feeling of inadequacy as a writer. Not in my humble ability as a writer, but in what basis I have for actually doing it. My musings here at Surprised By Life are really only that, musings. They're my thoughts on what the Lord is teaching me through His Word—my story if you will—written in blog form. And because of that truth—that every word I write does NOT carry the weight of Scripture, is NOT the breath of God itself, I can't get away from this question:

What right do I have to write about the things of God? And what about you? What right do you have?

why Christian writers should keep writing

  • Who am I that you should trust my words?
  • Why should my opinion count?
  • Who am I that you should believe what I have to say?
  • Why should I be an authority on any subject matter relating to the things of God, when I so often get it wrong in my own life?

I came up with three reasons Christian writers should keep writing, keep telling their stories. Maybe they'll help you too?

1. Jesus has done an undeniable work in your life. 

The Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well (John 4) was radically changed by her time with the Savior.

In a world where Jews and Samaritans didn't mix, the man Jesus saw into her heart and gave her a drink of living water.  With a few words from the One Who changes everything, the Samaritan woman went from hiding her failures to bursting forth into praise and shouting, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:25).  Shedding the weight of her shame she came out of hiding that day. She no longer cared to hide her sin—no, now she was proclaiming it! Giving glory to the One who knew her, loved her, changed her, redeemed her. And in her excitement she ran to tell everyone else.

Can't you just see her? Free from that heavy water jug, free from caring what others thought of her, free to dance. I picture her skipping, jumping, dancing in that freedom into the town...right into it shouting, "Come, see a man!" Like a little girl dancing carelessly in a field of flowers.

The Scriptures tell us that an entire village was changed because one woman, once bound by the weight of sin and humiliation, told her freedom story. God can use us that way too. Our stories are real and they need to be told.

The transformation that has happened in your heart is the story others need to read in order to believe in the God who still saves.

Tell it.

 2. God calls us to go into all the world (Matthew 28:19). 

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that before we can "go into all the world and preach the Gospel," we have to be perfect Christians. If that were the prerequisite, no one would ever go.

But our bumbling attempts at saying "yes" to God, our humble desire to write things that bring glory to Him (and maybe a bit of hope to others?), and our sincere longing to make Him known through our failures and foibles as the God who glorifies Himself through our weaknesses—these things are one small part of how we go into all the world.

If God should grant that my writing (or yours) influence millions around the world, so be it. If God should direct just one precious woman who needs hope to these pages, so be it and glory to God.

But if I never open my mouth? If I, like Moses, tell the Lord that my faltering lips (Exodus 6:30) are unworthy of His message of hope that one woman might never hear.

If God makes a mouth, and transforms a heart so that it longs for Him and His glory alone, He can use them both to give words of life on the pages of a blog (or book, or magazine, or speech, etc).

God wants me to tell my story. He wants you to tell yours. Why?

3. One small purpose for our pain and suffering in this life is so that we can eventually comfort others (1 Corinthians 1:4). 

I don't believe that the end-all of our pain, the reason we suffer, is so that we can comfort others. But it is a small piece of it.

The fact of the matter is that I haven't figured out a God who chooses suffering as a means of knowing Him more deeply, but I do know that comforting others with the comfort I've been given not only aids in their healing, it also aids in mine.

A friend recently asked me why I chose to share my miscarriage story with the world (or, ahem, the few people who read this blog). My answer? Because you asked me to.

The day I announced that our third McGlothlin baby wouldn't be joining us this side of heaven I received hundreds of messages reaching out to comfort and encourage me in my time of need. And boy, did I need. Your stories bolstered me, helped me feel like I wasn't alone, and produced a humbling of my heart as I realized that so many people cared.

But the ones that grabbed me the most, and convinced me to keep writing through the fresh grief, and then later through the healing, were those who emailed to say, "I just had a miscarriage too. You're sharing exactly what's on my heart. I don't know how to do this kind of pain, Brooke, how will I get through?"

And as I've watched my story, God's story of healing through me, bring truth and healing to others, it's made my loss mean something it didn't mean before. I'm not alone.

And neither are you.

So keep writing Christian. Keep telling your story. Submit your words to Him and be reminded of Who made your mouth (Exodus 4:10-12). Go dancing through your town screaming, "Come see a man!"

And trust God for the rest. 

she said "yes"

No, this isn't a new series about crazy fabulous marriage proposals where the bride-to-be says "yes!" (Although that would make a heck of fun series for a wedding magazine or blog...). It's not a spoof on a country song, or a story about a little girl who checked "yes" on the wadded up piece of notebook paper that said, "will you be my girlfriend?"

It's an ongoing story about brave and honest women

who chose to say "yes" to God no matter what the cost.

#SheSaidYes

 I can't wait to share them with you.

These women who will shake the world for Jesus, whose very lives will lead other women to say "yes" to God no matter what. They'll inspire you, challenge you, and make you weep as you feel what their obedience cost them, how it freed them, and how their choice to say "yes" propelled them into God's calling for their lives, paving the way for miracles of the "God on high" kind.

Some stories will be big—where a woman's "yes" cost her everything and left her with nothing but Christ.

Some stories will, by comparison, seem quite small. Everyday choices of the faithful life...every bit as important (if not more) than the big ones.

Want to share your "yes" story?

My hope is that there will be a new #SheSaidYes story gracing these pages each Friday, but I need your help to make it work. If you have a story about saying "yes" to God...one that you feel would encourage other women to do the same, please follow these guidelines for submission:

  • This is a family-friendly, God-honoring website. Please submit a post in keeping with that theme (I reserve the right to turn any post down, for any reason).
  • I encourage you to tackle the hard areas of the Christian faith, but do it in a way that holds the Bible as the ultimate authority.
  • Please keep posts between 500-750 words, in general. (You know what they say about the length of a woman's skirt, right? That's my ultimate guideline for a post).
  • Please use at least one, and not more than three photos in your post. I like big photos on my blog. The maximum size (which I like to use) is 800...please size the photos before you send me your post.
  • Please include a brief bio and thumbnail photo of yourself at the end of your post. Feel free to include links to your own site within reason.
  • Because most of the time our stories don't happen to just us, please take care in the way you write about your loved ones involved in the story. If in doubt, ask them for permission before sharing.
  • If you are chosen to be a guest-poster, please post about it at your website (where applicable) to send your traffic here that day. But don’t post the article word-for-word at your site. This kills SEO (search engine optimization) and hurts us both. In fact, I'd even love for you to use an entirely different title if you can, and not include any of the text from your post on your own site. In other words, get creative! (I know you can do it! You're writers!)
  • Send your HTML-ready posts to brooke@brookemcglothlin.com with "She Said Yes" in the subject line. I will only reply to you if I decide to use your post (because friends...email is eating me alive!). Your email will include the date your post will go live.

I'm praying for a mighty wave of God to hit us through our stories my friends. And I'm praying that God will use them to open our hearts and minds to the beauty of saying "yes" to Him, no matter what the cost.

We'll officially start next week! Here's a smallish button for your blog if you'd like to have one.

#SheSaidYes