Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Living Beyond Yourself -- Week 1

Warning this is long and more personal the study related though there is a definite tie in!

This study is so timely for me and it struck me when Beth made the comment that God had timed it so that this is the right time you need it to be. How true those words are!

Let me give a little, okat probably a lot of background, but I feel it is necessary. I come from a Christian home, the reality of salvation has always just been for me. I can't point to an exact moment of salvation. I have always known the sacrifice of Christ and accepted it for myself. I don't have a dramatic conversion story. I have never really rebeled against the church, my faith, my family or anything. So I don't have a "come back home" story either. I have always been the 'good church kid'.

That same family, while believers, are not vocal about their faith. And I have never been encouraged to be either. They live and work in certian middle class circles and while not shunning the upper or lower classes, just didn't venture out of their "comfort zone" much.

When I was in college I went through a Religious Education Program from my denomination to get a certificate. It didn't really mean much but would look good on my resume as I started to work with children and or youth. That calling had always kind of been in the back of my mind since I was a kid. So getting the certificate seemed like a logical step. In the program I needed and internship and was having a hard time locating one. The director of the program had contacts and placed me with a newly formed corps (church) with The Salvation Army in town. I was working with the girls character building classes. It was great fun and I learned alot about the Army through the officers (ministers) that were there at the time. One thing led to another and my invlovement grew from leading the girls program, to joining the ladies ministry, to Sunday School and finally to Soldiership (church membership) with my new husband the day after our wedding. My life has been intertwined with The Salvation Army since then. It is my church home and I love it. That in itself has been somewhat of a sticking point with my family. They are just unsure about it, I believe. The Army works with people that aren't like those that my family were used to. I don't think that they believed that I could do anything there. I wasn't sure I could either.

After college my life hasn't exactly followed the path that they expected it should. You know marry, have a husband that works full time in the day at something in an office, teach, have 2 children, go to church on Sundays. My husband hasn't finished college, worked different jobs, none of which have been daytime office jobs. I have 3 children. I quit teaching to stay home. I go to church more often than just Sundays . . . . . .

But back to me, a couple of years after college I was sitting in a youth workers seminar, lamenting the fact that I didn't feel I had an opening to work with the youth that were frequenting our youth groups. I had no common ground, nothing that I could reach out with. I loved these kids, but I just didn't feel I was reaching them. I was like "God why do you have this 'good church kid' here in this place? How can I do ANYTHING here?" Through several instances that day God spoke to my heart and said "but that is YOUR ministry - there will be those that you CAN and WILL reach. There are many out there that have the same questions as you do that you WILL be there for" The few people I talked to about this weren't really sure about it but I KNEW and that was enough for me.

It was also during that time period that I acknowledged another call on my life. That of Salvation Army Officership. I have waited on this or that since then. First for my husband to acknowledge the call - for couples to enter the ministry the both have to acknowlege the call independently. Then one thing or another has held us back. We have started testing for training school on two different occasions but nothing has ever worked out. At those times I have felt the strong hand of God saying "it is not time". Other times I have resisted the call and wavered in my desire, at times even here recently, not wanting to continue. Part of that has been due to the fact that my family isn't again quite sure, not out right resisting, but still unsure. Remember that doesn't fit their plan.

All of this brings me to now. We have been living on faith and prayers pretty much since I came home in the fall, and really literally since my husband lost his job in December. I have let depression set in and not been much good around the house and not a great parent at times either. I haven't been very open about it until just recently when I started realizing exactly what was happening. I have been tring to live up to an image I created that I thought I should be to hold some of the positions I held. A couple of other bloggers I read and friends of mine online have also been opening up with some issues they are working through and that has helped me to see how some issues are working through my life. I have become humbled by their openess and have vowed to be just as open in my life.

Then comes the opportunity to do this study, with you. First of all I am WAY OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE here because I don't 'know' you guys at all, I have only been reading Blair's blog for a short time (that is how I got here) but God said 'this is for you'. So on a bold step of faith I am here. And Beth's comment about it being the right time for you hit me square in the face. I say 'why?" But as I do the homework I am finding out why. From my notes on the "How does Goewant youtoe respond to what he showed you today?" section

Day 1 - It isn't going to be easy. Going to Training. Those who should understnad the most may understand the least and feel threatened, but I must keep going forward.
Day 2 - Seek His will first and follow it for God's glory and not my own pride
Day 3 - Going to Training will be out of my comfort zone and won't be comfortable for my family but it is His will.

Below is list of those participating click on thier name to find their post for this week.

JannaFlipflop Robin
This is a list of the women participating in the
study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be
published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am.
Please feel free to visit each of us and comment.
Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion
as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the
hearing of His word.


GiBee said...

Good for you ... The Spirit prompted nd you listened!

Chaotic Mom said...

I am with you, that this is out of my comfort zone, too. I felt pulled to join this study, but held back because I didn't feel "good enough". Doesn't that sound silly?

I took that leap of faith just to join this group. I didn't even know how to put into words what I'm feeling right now, as the study had started.

Your openess is very touching.

I'M SO THANKFUL this is a 10 week study! I'm going to work on my LBY post throughout the week, too, like you did. I think it will be easier to collect my thoughts that way. Thanks for fishing out how to change the dates, I had no idea! ;)

Pattie said...

Maria, I think it's neat you're doing this!!! God CAN use those of us "good church girls" !!!

Lauren said...

I'm going to keep you in prayer, Maria, God put you in this study to teach you something huge. I'm excited for you, as I am for Moma M and all the other women. Be Blessed! Thanks for letting us know a bit more about who you are.

BooMama said...

It sounds like you are most certainly right where God wants you. I can't wait to see where He takes you (and the rest of us, too).

janice said...

Congrats for moving morward despite the fact that it is out of your comfort zone and that we other members really are stangers to you.

But that is what is great about these new online friendships. God takes stangers and introduces them to each other. And we get to know the larger body of Christ we would otherwise have never met down here on earth.

Hopefully we can pray and encourage each other and we will be a blessing to you.

eph2810 said...

Thank you for sharing a little about you. I am glad that you listened to the prompting of the spirit and are part of this study.

Blair said...

Maria - I am so so so glad you've joined the study! This is going to be good for all of us.

Something you said really hit home with me and it is something we have deeply in common. I too grew up in a Christian home. It was no surprise that I accepted Christ, I didn't go through any "anti-God" rebellion time and was also the "good church kid". My friends parents would only let them go places if I was going because they'd say "she's a good girl." I think in a lot of ways this makes our walk harder than those who have night and day experiences of revelation which led them to the Lord. It can make us feel that we have little to offer because we don't have some shock factor story. It used to bother me when my rebellious sister would skip church and she'd get five phone calls the next week from people at the church asking how she was. I would miss a week sick as a dog and no one would call, "she'll be back, she's a good girl" was the mentality. But I needed to know I mattered too - that's where we can help. Not just focussing on the ones who appear to "need" God the most but on those who are honestly trying to do what's right and encouraging them in their faith.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you really made a lot of sense and I thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about your background.

Many Hugs!!

Carol said...

It's going to be so exciting to see how we all grow through this study, Maria! I'm so excited that you followed His call to get into His word with us!