No Happiness

The alarm  sounded at 4 am. I woke up to this feeling of being completely lost. It wasn’t because of a strange dream or prior conversation. I just felt unaware of what I was really doing with my life and emotional well being. I don’t know exactly when I lost my happiness, but it was gone. I didn’t wake up with anticipation of a new day and I wasn’t happy to see my family. Truth be told, I was a little resentful. I had given so much of life to them. I put aside so many dreams and desires to make sure that they all had what they needed and wanted and to make sure I was always available for them. This is a good thing. It is a normal thing. Being mom is precious and I don’t want you to think that I am not grateful for my family – I really am. I am so blessed to have them.

BUT – somewhere I lost my sense of being happy with  my own life. I was tired of making my life revolve around the kids and my husband as I had done for eighteen years. We got married young and I was happy to be able to be home to make dinner and do the laundry. I wanted to make sure that my husband had everything he wanted in a wife (we never really made it clear what he expected in a wife). I was shooting blindly and hoping for a good outcome. Within two months of marriage, we found out we were expecting our first child. She was not planned and I was on birth control. God planned her – I decided on that long ago. You see, I was immediately amerced into the life of wife and motherhood before I could actually figure out what it was that made me undeniably happy and passionate. I absolutely believe that every person has this within them.

This past fall I felt myself slipping away. Maybe I was slipping sooner, but didn’t stop to notice and just trudged through. I realized that I had not really smiled genuinely in more days than I could count. I wanted to smile again and really mean it, but I didn’t know how. I wanted to really discover what I was passionate about other than my family and I wanted to do it. I love running Titus II Woman and I love writing. Encouraging women is a calling and passion, but I needed something that was for my happiness and encouragement and not about anyone else. That sounds selfish, but I wasn’t taking care of myself and I had lost the genuine smile I used to have.

I started out angry. Angry because I didn’t realize this sooner. Angry because I let this happen. Angry because I didn’t know how to fix it. Angry because I resented a life that was truly beautiful.

I moved past that anger and decided to put a plan in place to take back my own happiness. This plan was going to be different for everyone in my house and for me. I was going to focus on me and do things that would make me happy. These things would be minor at first. I got my hair done and colored in a way that I had wanted for a long time and it would be done professionally. This may not mean a lot to some of you  who have already realized how amazing it is to get your hair done regularly by a professional, but I spent more than $100 on my hair that first time. I felt guilty at first and then I took those feelings of guilt and threw it out the window and would not allow myself to feel that because I needed that hair style and color. I needed that time for me.

Other things that I did was bigger than a hair cut and color. I started to make friends more of a priority. New friends and old friends. I had not been the friend that I wanted to be. I wanted to be in touch with those friends that were so close to me growing up and I wanted to nurture new friendships that would bring a brightness to my life. I started to travel to be with friends. I started with a girls weekend with the woman who has known me since sixth grade and shared every secret and detail since then. We took an entire weekend away from everyone except each other. We had the most memorable weekend of fun and it included a tattoo for each of us. (Fun fact: I have 2 tattoos and plan to get at least 2 more.)

The biggest thing that I have done recently to rekindle my genuine happiness is decide to go back to school. There is one profession that I have wanted to do since I was in high school, but because of life and changes that had to be made for the good of my husband’s military career, I could not attend nursing school. Yep, I have been accepted to a nursing program and am so excited to be able to take the next steps to help more lives in a new way. I have always loved medicine and to be able to be that woman to help calm a patient and family in a time that is uncertain for them will bring such joy to my heart. Being a nurse means more that just blood draws and heart rates to me. It means compassion for life and helping people to find health when they may not see a way to do so. It means encouraging with hands and voice and heart. So, I am going to school….again.

I am slowly getting back my smile. I am finding my passion and joy. I am finding out that I am more of a people person than I thought. I am teaching my children that even a mom who gave half her life to her family needs to have a dream and goal in life. I am teaching my girls and other girls that it is okay to be career minded and passionate about something in life that will bring only them a joy that is indescribable to others unless they feel it themselves. I am okay with myself and starting to love myself.

Can I just leave you with this bit of important scripture:

To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
I don’t want you to think that I just woke up and started to make changes one day. I don’t want you to think that this was simple or that I did it on my own. I woke up and started praying because I didn’t know what to do or how to feel. I consulted trusted friends and counselors. I talked to my husband and family about how I was feeling and about making changes so that I could be a better and happier person. I asked God what He wanted from me. I want to please God in all that I do, but I can’t please God if I am not happy in doing what is pleasing. God doesn’t want his children sad or confused. He provides answers for every situation. This has been a journey. Maybe I will write another book about this journey – who knows.
I know that I am not alone in this loss of happiness. Many women who have gone before me have struggled with this sense of being lost within themselves. I am so thrilled that we have each other today to walk through and talk through these areas of life. We need each other to get through this and we need each other for encouragement as we walk these hard paths. I want to be there for you as you are for me.
Lord, so many of us are struggling to find that passionate happiness that we crave so deeply. We have walked for long with the pilot on that we have forgotten how to fly our own life. We put our complete trust in You and only want to co-pilot with You. Give us wisdom and guidance of how You want us to please You, but also have happiness while we please You. Amen.
Blessings friends,
Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as a contributing writer and speaker. She is the wife to David, seventeen years, and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Missouri. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women globally through mentorship, friendship and God’s Word. “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

Cook up something WONDERFUL!

Both my boys will soon be home for summer and I look forward to ramping up my cooking for the next few months. One of my favorite “go-to” chicken dinners is Creamy Chicken Pesto Primavera! Sans pasta – I promise you won’t even miss the pasta!  Not one little bit! I spotted this on the ‘Low-carbing with Friends’ Facebook page and decided to give it a try, and boy are our taste buds glad I did!  You have to try this!

Go ahead and make your grocery list, right now, with these ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup basil pesto (I bought a jar, but you can make your own)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb boneless chicken, cut into strips (I bought tenderloins)

1/4 large bunch of broccoli, including stalks, cut into florets (I used the whole bunch and did not include the stalks)

2 small green zucchini, cut into half moons (I used one large, wished I’d have used two large)

1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1 1/2 inch sticks

1/2 cup of real bacon bits

1 cup of parmesan cheese

16 leaves fresh basil, whole or hand torn

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

NOTE: Have everything prepared and ready to go, because this is done quickly with a very hot pan.  You can do two pans at the same time or in two quick batches, which is how I did it. 

– In bowl, mix together your pesto and whipping cream, set aside.

– Since olive oil burns quickly when it’s added to a hot pan, go ahead and toss your chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.

– Heat a large saute pan over high heat. 

– Sprinkle your chicken around the bottom of the hot pan and let it sear and get nice and golden on one side. Do not crowd the pan.  Drizzle any extra oil from the chicken bowl into the pan.

– Add broccoli and toss together with the chicken.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for about one minute.

– Add zucchini half moons to the pan and toss.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for about one minute.

– Add asparagus to the pan and toss.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for about two minutes.

– Add bacon bits to the pan and cook for about one minute.

– Pour pesto cream sauce into the pan and swirl all the ingredients together.  When the cream sauce begins to noticeably thicken, about one to two minutes, dust the pan with the grated parmesan cheese and toss the ingredients together. 

– Serve topped with fresh basil leaves.

It is fantastic!!!!! And can serve a family of 4 for at least two meals. Sometimes it’s a competition for the last of leftovers!

For the full recipe info click here:

www.djfoodie.com/chicken-green-things

I get to use some produce from my own garden too.  I am also going to try my hand at making a Parsley Pesto . . . I’ll keep you posted!  Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Happy Eating!

Sending you much love and encourage from my kitchen,

Chaundelle Gage

Chaundelle Gage, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is a Writer, Teacher and Encourager. She received her Texas Teaching Certificate in 2009 and her TESOL certificate in 2017. She and her husband have been married since 1992, have 2 boys attending Samford University in Birmingham, AL. She and her husband currently reside in North Texas. Chaundelle enjoys traveling, reading, singing, serving, learning and playing with their two dogs. Her passion is to encourage others in all of their relationships, especially marriage. Her mission work and vacation trips have taken her to Europe, India and the Caribbean. She is most grateful for her relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Psalm 121:1-2: I will lift my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.)

Being Intentional In A New Season

My husband and I officially became emptynesterers in August of 2016 when our youngest left for college.  We have two sons and they are only 18 months apart and have always been just a grade apart in school. Which, yes, means exactly what you are thinking . . . they both left our home within a year of each other. It wasn’t easy on us, but we not only survived, we are learning to embrace this new chapter.  Thankfully, we were and still are in a very good (healthy) place in our marriage and have our priorities in the right order (this takes a lot of hard work), and have a strong relationship with our Lord and Savior. And those two things were very important factors in us making this life transition.

Something very important that we learned (and we are still learning, for we are only 2 years into this process) is we had to be INTENTIONAL about not only our relationship with the Lord and each other, but with friendships.  You see we found when our boys graduated, all of the events they participated in (baseball tournaments, football games, power-lifting meets, choir concerts, theater and orchestra performances, concerts, band competitions, piano recitals, etc), the events that filled our weeknights and weekends, came to a screeching halt . . . and so did our social life, because we were no longer spending week after week in the bleachers, auditoriums and gyms with our baseball parent friends, and theater parent friends and . . . , well, you get the point.  We were suddenly “social loners”. On top of this, we had also made the decision to move to a community where my sister’s family lived, which was 25 minutes north of the school district where our boys attended grades K-12 in school after they graduated. The move brought us to a wonderful community, but we knew only a few families. So the need to be connected became stronger and much more obvious. We knew we had to be intentional so we would have friendships as we grow older and retire one day. Five months into our move we decided to start looking for a new church near our new neighborhood. Within a few weeks, God brought us to our current church home where we were immediately welcomed and felt instantly at home. What a blessing it was to be connected to people again and not just because of a sport or activity our boys were involved in, but because we chose to be intentional.  We have formed several new relationships and have found a place to serve and minister together, arm-in-arm with some wonderful people of God. If a church home is something you are lacking in your life, or if you aren’t tied in closely with your current church, we strongly recommend getting plugged in. But you have to be willing and intentional.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

I will close with I note I posted to social media right before our 2nd son moved out (we were also intentional with our parenting, as tiring and hard as that job is, it is worth doing right, doing INTENTIONALLY):

August 12, 2016

My “soon to be empty-nester” reflections:

Boys,

As I was doing dishes this morning, it dawned on me that there won’t be as many full dishwasher loads around here in a few days, and I won’t be making too many more sandwiches, the laundry will be caught up, our 2nd bathroom will stay clean, the entry way will be free and clear of backpacks and sports equipment, etc, the trash cans won’t be in a constant state of overflow, grocery bills will be a dream, (as well as the water bill) ….the list goes on and on of all those household chores that will barely exist anymore, of all the things I have been looking forward to happening around here…

BUT it will also be a reminder of how much you two will be missed. We just want you boys to know that EVERYTHING your dad and I have done or sacrificed with you and for you, including: the getting up early, staying up late, the driving all night, the moves, the trials, the tears, the heartbreaks, the working multiple jobs, the celebrations, the victories, etc, etc etc. has been MORE than worth it! We would do it 1000 times more, because we love providing for you! God gifted us with AMAZING children, children we’re not sure we deserved. I’m still in awe that I was selected to be your mom. I still don’t comprehend why I was chosen, but I went with it and did the best I knew how, looking to God to guide me. I’m sure made a MILLION mistakes, but I hope I was able to make right on those mistakes.

Now, as we let you BOTH go into this next chapter, we are at Peace with how we have raised you and know that the Lord will continue to care for you far better than we are able. We are always here for you, but God is nearer. I thank the Lord for entrusting us to get you two this far. Our parenting job isn’t over, it’s just a little different. We promise to make the most of this empty-nester chapter God is ushering us into, for we have BIG, BIG plans! We also look forward to supporting you and watching you both continue to develop into the men God intends! Thankful for the baseball and music performances that are still in our future (we just have to drive a bit further).

We let you go, for it is not our place to hold you back anymore.

Go for your dreams, study hard, love, lead and encourage others, and NEVER stop building your relationship with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You are loved beyond measure! And you will be prayed for, that will never cease.

Bursting with more Love than I ever imagined,

Mom

P.S. (I don’t care what anyone says, you CAN experience two emotions at the same time, pure joy/excitement for them and sadness – only because we will miss their daily physical presence in our lives. It’s my definition of bittersweet.)

I want to add that while both our boys attend college 10 hours away, we are blessed to make a few trips each semester to visit them and watch them perform. And yes, there are school holidays and breaks, so we have the blessing of them coming home a few times during the year as well.

May you be encouraged today, no matter the season you find yourself in, to be INTENTIONAL and do it in His name, so His Glory can shine through you.  

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” Colossians 3:23

Much encouragement and love,

Chaundelle Gage

Chaundelle Gage, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is a Writer, Teacher and Encourager. She received her Texas Teaching Certificate in 2009 and her TESOL certificate in 2017. She and her husband have been married since 1992, have 2 boys attending Samford University in Birmingham, AL. She and her husband currently reside in North Texas. Chaundelle enjoys traveling, reading, singing, serving, learning and playing with their two dogs. Her passion is to encourage others in all of their relationships, especially marriage. Her mission work and vacation trips have taken her to Europe, India and the Caribbean. She is most grateful for her relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Psalm 121:1-2: I will lift my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.)

Still Encouraging You: A Message from the President

All things new…

To really get into the deep conversation of it all, we are so busy. You know exactly what I mean. You are busy too. You have families, friends, ministry, jobs, and the list continues. I wish I could tell you that I my every day is completely focused on just Titus II Woman Ministry. Honestly, I wish that were my reality, but it is not.

Here is a little run down of the life of Tara:

Wake up at 4 am. Prepare for classes that start at 5 am. Teach adorable little children English in China from 5 am until 8 am (sometimes longer). Make sure all five kids are up and ready to go. Pray with kids. Take kids to school. Come back home and take care of dogs. Drink cup of coffee and take all my vitamins. Read emails, respond, and write new emails. Work out for one hour (except that has been replaced with packing because we are now moving to Missouri in a week and a half). This puts us around 11 or so in the morning and I now start to write on the book or articles for the ministry or prepare a new speech for another event that I will speak at in the next few months. I am not just preparing for this move, so much of my morning is packing and cleaning. (You have  moved before. You know what’s it is like and with five kids, two dogs, and a husband with a unpredictable work schedule.) We come to 2 pm and it’s time to get ready to go pick kids up from school and get home by 3 so we can start homework and get the older kids to work. Then it’s dinner prep and cooking to sit down for five minutes and eat (sometimes as a complete family) and then clean up time before we head out to the next school event of the ending year.

See! Busy!

This is why you have not seen a lot of “new” articles lately. My whole team is amazing and they all work just as hard as I do at daily life. We are all moms or grandmas or aunts. We all work. We all do life to the full. Titus II is our passion and we love to write and encourage women across the world, but sometimes life happens and we have to slow down to catch up with what is going on with our own surroundings. Not all of us are so good at this…I mean me. I want to do it all. I want to be 100% present in ministry and I want to be at every single even that my kids have. I want to speak at every event presented to me and I want to be able to glide with grace and ease through this season of chaos.

But then the brick wall comes out of nowhere and I run smack into it and face-plant. That hurts. Really! I know it is an imaginary wall, but it hurts just the same as s real one because my body starts to fight back from exhaustion and too much running. I have to realize that I just can’t always do it all.

Titus II isn’t going anywhere. We are still going to be here and we are still going to be writing articles. You just won’t see as many as normal. We are scaling down for the summer and our hopes are to get back to the grind and schedule with new and better encouragement for you this fall when we start another amazing year with this wonderful ministry just for you!

My team and I love you. We want to be part of your lives and we want you to be part of our’s. Please know that we continue to pray for you even during our busy season of life. Please keep the communication coming. We love to hear from you!

Lord, I ask that with this season You provide joy and peace. We may all wish for a summer of relaxation and calm, but we have kids and things to do. Relaxing is not in our vocabulary at the moment. Provide times of rest so that we can do all that is required of us in the busy. Thank You for giving us the blessings that keep us busy and thank You for also giving us the wisdom to rest when needed. Bring us back to Your fullness and joy and refreshed for a new writing season this fall. Amen.

Loving you,

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as a contributing writer and speaker. She is the wife to David, seventeen years, and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in South Dakota. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women globally through mentorship, friendship and God’s Word. “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

Thankful Thursday

Healing Hands…

I have not been feeling well for the last couple of months.  As a mom and woman, I just brushed it off as, “I am fighting a bug”, “it’s been a long winter” or “it’s just the end-of-the-year run down feeling”.  I finally decided to go in to the doctor because I felt so weak and hurt so badly.  I found out that I have not one, but two different Tick Borne diseases: Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.  I am not sure exactly when I got it, but I am very grateful that there was a reason I felt as bad as I did.  I am thankful today that God has gifted doctors and scientists to help us when we need it.  What are you thankful for today?

Shannon Smith

Shannon is a regular contributor to the Titus II Woman Ministry blog. She is the mother to three children and wife to Scott for over sixteen years. Together their family makes their home in Minnesota on a 40-acre farm. They love all things outdoors including hunting and fishing and taking care of their chickens and cow. Shannon’s passion lies in teaching her students, writing and reading. Shannon has her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University.

The Greatest of These – A Mother’s Love

To be honest, if you knew my mom, you probably wouldn’t describe her as one of those overly cheerful, bubbly, doting moms that shower her kids with constant words of love.  You would never accuse her of leaving loving notes on the bathroom mirror, or in my lunch box.  You know the ones, the folded napkin that when unfolded says, “I love you!  You’re the best!  Go get ‘em!”  You see, she grew up during the generation of Fathers, who rarely showed any emotion at all, and actually used words even less.  That was her father.   She told me recently, he did, at least, leave her a handwritten letter shortly before he died, telling her how proud he was of her, and that he was sorry for not telling her more he did love her and wished he had said it more often.  And for her, this was enough.  You see, it wasn’t her fault, that she wasn’t the cheerful, bubbly, doting mom, who constantly showered me, my sister, and brother with loving words.  She came by it naturally.  Yet, even though it wasn’t her style, without knowing it, she taught me the lesson of the Greatest of These.

Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, ended one of the most popular, and most authoritative writings about love, this way, saying, “And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.  While most equate these verses with weddings, marriage, and the love of a man and a woman, I believe they describe a mother’s love perfectly.  The word, charity, speaks of a “Love that gives”.  And I cannot think of a better example of a love that gives than the love, the charity, which a mom gives her children.  When I think of all love that my mom gave me growing up it is overwhelming.  I mean the meals, the clean clothes, and clean sheets, were a given…but after these came the room mother and class parties, the PTA, score keeping at every baseball game, sitting in the stands watching basketball, bundled up at football games, bandaging a skinned knee, mending a broken heart, taking homecoming and prom pictures, and hugging goodbye as I left for college…and did I mention the meals, the clean clothes and the clean sheets?   No one demonstrates charity, a love that gives more than mothers do.

Motherhood has, at times been referred to as, “A thankless job” (even more so for a mother of boys) which brings me to my next point.  When I think back about ALL the love my mom gave, I sometimes, okay, often times feel a sense of guilt for all we put her through.  For what seemed at times, like constant fighting between a two brothers, sister, for the ungrateful attitudes, the temper tantrums, the little white lies, the not so little white lies, the missed curfews, the broken hearts, for the time I asked, “please don’t give me a good-bye kiss when you drop me off at school today”, and for the times I didn’t call to let you know I was okay, it was charity you still displayed.  Why?  Paul said it this way when speaking of Charity, “(It, Charity) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;” 1 Corinthians 13:5.  I simply call it a “Mother’s Love”.

Perhaps the greatest lesson my Mom taught me about Charity is that it is unconditional.  Paul’s said of Charity, that it “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth…” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a).  The one thing I know about a mother’s love, sadly because I tested it more times than I should have, is that a mother’s love, my mother’s love, was there no matter what I had done.  I always knew, above all things, I could go to my mother who would love me and do her best to make whatever mess I had made, better.  She didn’t always approve, and many times she was disappointed, but she always loved.  Without knowing it, her ensample of God’s Love, has made it easier for me at times in my life when I feel unlovable, to understand the Love that God has for me.  That even at my worst, He, like my mom, loves me.

I am happy to say, that because of the lessons that my mom taught me about Charity, I learned, without understanding, what to look for when it came time to “choose” a wife.  I thank God, that He prepared the perfect bride for me, who displays Charity to me daily, and who has continued the lessons modeling them flawlessly to our two boys.

As we near the “Wedding Season”, the invitations will start arriving, requesting the honour of your presence at the marriage of one of your cousins, perhaps your niece or nephew, the child of an old friend, or someone you have to think long and hard to figure out exactly who it is that is getting married, you will no doubt see, read or hear from 1 Corinthians 13.  It’s my hope for all of the moms who may read this, you will be encouraged in remembering the lessons of Charity and think of a “Mother’s Love”.  “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity”

To all the Moms out there this Mother’s Day, from All their Sons, (and Daughters), We Love you more than we have ever showed, and perhaps more than you may ever know.  Thank you for your Charity; your love that gives.

Scott Gage

Scotty Gage works in the Library Technology Industry and is studying for his Real Estate License. He travels the U.S. as well as abroad, for business, mission trips and pleasure. He enjoys sports, music, speaking, teaching, coaching, politics, the occasional game of golf, playing with his dogs and serving alongside his wife at church. He and Chaundelle Gage (Titus II Content Writer) have been married since 1992 and together they have two sons who currently attend Samford University in Birmingham, AL. Scotty is a proud Texan, born and bred. Phil 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Always remember, Your were created for GREATNESS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seasoned With Salt

Potato Chips! Many of us like potato chips. You open a bag, reach in and pull one out, maybe 2, or even a handful. The instant you put one in your mouth, it leads to the next, and if not careful you could end up eating the whole bag before you know it. The amount of salt on the chip is seasoned just enough to make you want more and more. You find yourself wanting water.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13

Salt has multiple purposes/uses. Salt can be used to enhance flavor, preserve/preventing spoiling or going bad, melt hard ice, purifies and softens, prevents infections in a wound. Do you know that if someone applies too much salt, it can be harmful: causing high blood pressure or heart issues, or even deadly?

“What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.” Proverbs 18:21

Our words can be like salt that is seasoned just right. They can preserve the truth of God through our interactions with people around us, add flavor of Christ, add value, melt hard hearts, be soft and pure, and bring healing. On the flip side, adding too much or none at all may cause sour relationships, add coldness in the atmosphere, be harsh or impure, cause pain or infection, or be added to the wrong dish causing it to taste nasty.

How are you doing with the words you speak? Are they preserving/preventing the world from going bad or are they destroying and bringing people down?

Do you use any salt at all to season your words?

Do you shake the salt jar too much, hoping the lid hasn’t fallen off allowing your words to be harmful or maybe even deadly?

Do you use just a dash, speaking too little because you’re fearful you may hurt someone’s feelings?

Do you use just the right amount providing healing, purifying someone, melting the harden heart, adding flavor, preserving the relationship?

The next time you pick up a bag of potato chips, put one in your mouth and ask yourself if your words are seasoned/salted like a chip, drawing people to continue wanting more of your words.

Michelle Casey

Michelle and her family live in York, NE where they are involved many areas of their church such as greeting, children’s church, missions teaching, youth leaders, and Michele just led her first Women’s Bible study. Michelle and Matthew have two daughters and have been married for fifteen years. Their family supports Tiny Hands international and Verse 11. Her favorite verse is from Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

Shedding the Baggage

Hello again, accountability partners! You miiiggghhhttt remember me from two years ago. Here’s a brief excerpt to catch you up if you weren’t an avid follower of this publication at the time:

“I’ve made resolutions for years with varying degrees of effort; both in forming them and in following through. The one thing I’ve never done…ask God for help. That’s right, I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and have never asked God for help with a New Year’s Resolution. Until now. Over the course of 15 years of making my own food choices I’ve amassed 200 pounds of “extra skin.” So, to combat this lifetime of self-indulgence, I’m combining my weight loss efforts with daily Bible devotions. Yes, after 30 years I’m finally going to do it. I’m reading the Bible. This time the lifestyle change I’m choosing to make is to take God as my partner!  “Their god is their appetite. He will take our weak, mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own.” Philippians 3: 19 and 21. Each day I strive to make my body and my mind more like God’s and I ask him to help me along the way. I know I cannot reflect Him well to others if I am busy being embarrassed of my body. I cannot express Him well to others if I do not know His word.”

I want to formally thank those of you prayer warriors who’ve been praying for me or praying in general for those like me. I could truly feel the healing and my journey begin after submitting that. So, the burning question…how’d it go?! I’m thrilled to report that God has blessed me with the shedding of 150 pounds over two years!! Now comes the hard part…

You may be thinking, how was 150 pounds not the hard part?! Am I right? Well, part of my journey was bariatric surgery. I believe God placed the idea and the particular surgeon in my mind and on my heart. Not to say surgery was the easy option, far from it! However, I’ve had incredible success and it’s been life changing and such a life-giving process! It all started at a consignment sale when I complemented a woman when she seemed self-conscious about pulling up her pants repeatedly. I said something along the lines of, “that’s a good problem to have!” She shared part of her weight loss journey with me and was shouting her surgery from the mountain tops! She offered to share her surgeon’s book with me, “Obesity, It’s Not a Character Flaw.” I said I’d look into it. Mostly, it was just to let her off the hook. I really didn’t have the confidence that I was worth that much of her time.

Her words stayed with me, however, and I began to pray more specifically about this option. Could this be the answer to my prayers?! I’d been diligently working on my resolutions at this point, increasing my Bible knowledge, becoming even more prayerful, and sticking to my diet plan. It really wasn’t surprising to me that God would bless my efforts. After all, the month we started tithing we received two checks in the mail totaling $8,000! I’ve understood for some time that a clenched fist is not open to receive and an open hand and heart is open to receive more blessings. I still have a constant control struggle with myself over what’s mine and what’s God’s. Ultimately, I know it’s all God’s. That doesn’t make it easier to give it all to Him. What does make it easier is the spiritual practices I’ve worked to establish to make it more natural to give it all to Him; both my successes and my struggles.

Being almost two years out from surgery, I can no longer coast on my new tool. To lose weight I must stick to my bariatric eating plan and exercise. When people ask me about surgery I often say, “Its been great, but I didn’t have brain surgery.” By this, I mean that it’s still hard. Really hard. I’ve always been an emotional eater, social eater, boredom eater, 4th meal eater, eat-because-it-tastes-good eater…you get the picture. Now, with God as my weight loss coach, I lean on the scripture to renew my mind. Romans 12:1-2 ESV “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I believe God’s will for us is to view ourselves as His perfect creation. Regardless of my size or shape, I am His perfect child. That being said, I have more energy and more confidence to do work to glorify His Kingdom. I am now married (to my aforementioned boyfriend from the previous article), work for my church, coordinate a MOPS ministry and LOVE my life. I’m not sure I would have been able to say any of those things without the renewing of my mind and presenting my body as a living sacrifice. I pray God speaks to you for the renewing of your mind and the shedding of your 150 pounds of baggage, whatever that may look like for you.

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Mack

By the time she turned thirty, Jennifer Mack, had been brought through the darkest and brightest of days, but she knew she needed to see herself as God sees her. She began her walk of self-discovery. She is walking that path and glorifying God with each step she takes. Jennifer is a momma to three boys and desires to see them know and love God with a deep and intimate relationship. Jennifer was born and raised in a small town in north central Missouri, and now makes her home in the bigger city of Columbia, Missouri. Jennifer is a graduate of Central Methodist University with a bachelor of science degree in Criminal Justice and Ethics and a minor in Spanish. While Jennifer spends her days raising her children and volunteering at her home church she constantly reminds herself of God’s promise to her through Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

Thankful Thursday

Cared For

I was driving home one afternoon after a long day at school.  The radio was playing and I was enjoying the sunny weather. All of a sudden a car passes me.  It wasn’t a big deal until another 500 yards down the road when the car slows down to turn. I had to slow way down and thought “was that really important to pass me and make me slow down?”  I wasn’t very happy. I started to go again and two deer jumped out in front of me! I didn’t have to slam on my breaks or anything, just take my foot off of the gas. I then heard that quiet voice in the back of my head say, “Yep, if you hadn’t had to slow down you might have hit those deer.”  God takes care of us and takes the time to direct our paths. Even if we view that direction as an inconvenience to us. We don’t always know why God does what he does, but I do know “That in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).   I am thankful that He takes the time to remind me of  this.

How does God remind you of how he cares for you?

Shannon Smith

Shannon is a regular contributor to the Titus II Woman Ministry blog. She is the mother to three children and wife to Scott for over sixteen years. Together their family makes their home in Minnesota on a 40-acre farm. They love all things outdoors including hunting and fishing and taking care of their chickens and cow. Shannon’s passion lies in teaching her students, writing and reading. Shannon has her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University.

CORINNE’S GARDEN : Harbinger’s of Joy

 

“ Old Fashioned Living recalls that Louisa May Alcott wrote about May Basket Day in New England in her 1880 children’s book Jack and Jill. From Alcott’s story:  “such laughing, whistling, flying about of flowers and friendly feeling—it was almost a pity that May-day did not come oftener.”[1]

My first encounter with May Day was May 1980 working as a Media Aide in an elementary school in Nebraska. I had come from California and May Pole Dances and May Baskets were very foreign to me. Children danced around the May Pole just as Alcott described the time. It was delightful ~ so colorful, such a friendly gathering of children and adults of all ages who had come to enjoy the day. Several times we have opened our  door on May Day to find a delightful May Basket filled with treats and always a note that brings joy to our hearts.

Sometime earlier in February the Sand Hill Cranes arrived on my prairie and once again people from all over the world gathered to observe this amazing migration. Currently numerous flocks of Canadian Geese ,Elegant Snow Geese and a rare group of Pelicans are resting nearby as they migrate to their  winter grounds; Why, just the other day I spotted a “necklace” of little birds sitting on the high wires.  All of these are Harbinger’s of spring (meaning: a person or thing that signals the approach of another) Psalm 104:24 …O Lord, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; The earth is full of Your possessions.”

Lifting My Prayer to my Father ~ Lord these spring days are beautiful and full of variety. The Sounds and events around me are joyful harbingers of the coming spring. Oh Father, Your word is the true harbinger of Your coming…. the true harbinger of joy. Thank You for truth. Help me to abide in You, that I might be overflowing with Joy. Amen

I have been using words like ~ joy, delight, colorful, friendly, celebrate. These are wonderful words that express happy times. “The Lord intendeds for His children to be a people who love, celebrate, and choose life!”[2]  Yet Let us remember God in His word also sent many warning of judgment and destruction. “God is real. He is over everything. He is calling….you and I as believers to communicate hope and change people’s lives”.[3] How do we do this? Sharing  verses such as John 3:16; revealing the changes God has made in your own life; inviting someone to a Bible study; encouraging a needy friend to read the stories of God’s love and provision on this blog.  Oh sweet sister there are many ways that God can use us to make this change. Draw close and ask the Lord to heighten your awareness of these opportunities ~ then don’t miss them!

A May Basket is a gesture of loving kindness ~ Psalm 36:7 Speaks of God’s loving kindness, “How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings”.

Nancy Bjorklund

Nancy visits the Titus II Woman Ministry blog throughout the year with inspiration and poetic writing. She lives in Nebraska with her husband, Bob and they are the partents to four grown children as well grandparents and great-grandparents. She holds both bachelors and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska in education. Her much loved verse comes from Proverbs 3:5 and 6, “trust in the Lord
with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”.

 

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/…/a-forgotten-tradition-may-basket-day

[2] April Motl. retrieved from biblestudytools.com, How to Biblically Celebrate New Life in the Spring

[3] ”. (Jonathan Cahn, The Harbinger, billygraham.org)

%d bloggers like this: