I Am Invisible

I Am Invisible

Recently as I strolled through the aisles of the grocery store I almost collided with another shopper who apparently didn’t see me. Though this may be a moment to dream that the reason she didn’t see me was because I was so skinny, that truly was just a longing. She was engaged in a conversation on her smartphone while multi-tasking on her shopping trip and I was as invisible to her as the air she breathed.

Do you feel like that at times? Invisible? Not just to the inattentive shopper, but also to your family, your friends…even God? It is easy to fall into the trap of “nobody cares, nobody loves me and I’m going to eat worms” mentality. We begin the pity party and figure that surely we’re invisible to those around me, even God. Our feelings may start that way because of sin in our lives, or decisions we’ve made. If we are married, we may feel our husband has no idea the issues we’re dealing with. If we’re a Mom, we may be so busy in taking care of our little ones that we think we’re seen only as a cook, maid and chauffeur and not a nurturing Mother. Or maybe we’re single and through our journey of singleness we feel nobody really understands what it’s like to be alone.

Going to the book of Psalms is always a good place to find the encouraging words we need in times like these. Psalm 121 is one of those Psalms. Here is the entire chapter….with italicized notes pointing out how much we are cared for by God.

“I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
…the Lord protects us, the One who made the heavens and earth watches so our feet won’t slip, and he never sleeps….He watches us while we sleep…

Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.
The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
…as our Protector, He is also our shelter, and He never leaves our side…

The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
…even when life is rough, we can trust that God sees and protects us from harm, He protects our lives and nothing takes Him by surprise

The Lord will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.
…His promise of protection is forever and ever…

Feeling invisible now? I pray that you aren’t and that when you do, you’ll find comfort in looking to the hills where your help comes from. It comes from the Lord.

This is a recap of Week Five from the Angela Thomas’ Bible study, Brave.  The women of NAOBC recently completed this study and recaps from each of the six weeks will be posted.

I Am Trembling Inside

I Am Trembling Inside

News of late in our country may have you completely defenseless and feeling as though the world is out of control. In the last month, we’ve seen women worshipping in their church be gunned down by a random shooter. We’ve seen the Supreme Court of the United States mandate the acceptance of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. For the Christian, we think the world must be ending and it’s time to do the Chicken Little dance and lose all sight of God on His throne.

How do we deal with this trembling and uncertainty in our lives? One of the verses that sum up what Jesus taught during His ministry on earth is John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” What comforting words! He has overcome the world. That’s every part of the world – from the random shooter to the Supreme Court. He told us we would have trouble – and we do. But, He quickly reminded us in His Word to take heart.

We so often view life as though God has crawled off His throne when He is in control even in those times when we think He is silent. He’s promised never to leave us or abandon us, and even when we think He’s silent and not at work, we need to remember what He did for us. If God were going to abandon us, would He have sent His Son to die for us? God will never leave us and we can trust in His Sovereign Plan. When God is silent, we can remember that His Sovereignty is always on our side.

Paul spoke about this in Romans on how we should respond:
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He promised.” – Romans 4:20-21

Most days we can allow trembling to take over and consume us with worry and doubt. Let’s turn our trembling into trusting and set our eyes on the One who will never leave us without a Comforter.

This is a recap of Week Four from the Angela Thomas’ Bible study, Brave.  The women of NAOBC recently completed this study and recaps from each of the six weeks will be posted.

I Am Undisciplined

You get up at 5am, determined to grab that bag and head to the gym. But, the snooze alarm is much more attractive than the elliptical and you hit it and justify why skipping another day won’t matter.

You are packing everyone’s lunches for tomorrow at 11pm. After the day you’ve had, the energy to pack a lunch is almost too much. As you place the lunches in the fridge, you see that chocolate pie staring you in the face. Now that’s the way to end a horrible, no good, very bad day. One piece of pie can’t hurt.

You awake to a full day of activity – car pool to school, volunteering at church, working a full day on the job – and you realize you need to have some quiet time with the Lord but where will that fit? If I get to the gym at 6am, I can’t get up any earlier for a proper quiet time. I’m way too tired in the evening to focus on reading Scripture. Surely praying with the kids each night counts. I’ll spend time with the Lord on the weekends.

Any of these scenarios sound familiar? We all struggle with being undisciplined. It takes many shapes and forms, but it can be summarized the same – we can’t be disciplined in any area of our lives on our own. There are always good intentions, but too many times our flesh wins out over the Holy Spirit in our lives. You aren’t alone. And there was a man in Scripture who struggled with the same thing – Paul.

Romans 7:15 says, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.” That just about sums up our lives in one sentence. Paul learned some lessons in the passage surrounding this verse. First, he learned that knowledge isn’t the answer. “Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life.” (Romans 7:9) Paul felt fine as long as he didn’t understand what the law demanded. When he learned the truth, he knew he was doomed.

Secondly, self-determination doesn’t succeed. We see in verse 15 that Paul found himself sinning in ways that he didn’t even find attractive. The third lesson he learned was becoming a Christian doesn’t stamp out all sin and temptation from a person’s life. Paul understood that becoming a new being takes a moment of faith, but being sanctified into a follower of Christ is a lifelong process. In Paul’s writings he often referred to the Christian life as a marathon, a race for the prize. We have to daily submit to God’s Will and rely on His Holy Spirit in our lives to give us the strength to be disciplined.

Though we’ll never be perfectly disciplined this side of Heaven, we can still work on asking God daily for the power not to succumb to our flesh, but live in obedience to Him.

This is a recap of Week Three from the Angela Thomas’ Bible study, Brave.  The women of NAOBC recently completed this study and recaps from each of the six weeks will be posted. 

I Am Suffering a Thorn

Do you ever wonder why roses have thorns? Why such a beautiful flower would be covered by sharp, prickly surprises on their stem? Scientists believe that thorns on roses have a distinct purpose. These flowers are very aromatic and even sweet to the taste. Creatures of all sizes are attracted to these plants because of their aroma and tasty sweetness. Thorns reside on a rose’s stem to protect it from eventual destruction. Interesting that something so painful could bring protection.

In the New Testament, Paul spoke of his own thorn in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, “So that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” Paul’s thorn kept him humble to keep him from glorifying himself instead of God. Most theologians believe this thorn was vision impairment. Paul pleaded with the Lord to take it away, but instead the Lord provided something better – His Grace. With God’s Grace, Paul’s weakness made him stronger as He depended on the power of Christ living in him. His thorn may not have been for protection, but Paul recognized why, after pleading for it to be taken away, it remained.

You may wonder, “Do I suffer from a thorn?” You may not have a physical ailment, but you may suffer from a thorn that keeps you dependent on Christ and is ever-present. It might be the tragic loss of a loved one causing you daily suffering. It could be a financial strain due to reasons beyond your control. Whatever it may be, you may have prayed for God to remove it, and, yet, it still remains. To clarify, though, what a thorn isn’t – the consequence of sin. If you are suffering due to the consequences of sin in your life, that isn’t a thorn.   You must confess your sin and pray for God’s forgiving mercy and grace as He walks you through your repentance to restoration.

Living daily with a thorn can keep us from being brave. But, we must remember that God’s Grace is sufficient. No matter the thorn, His Strength is perfect and through our sufferings, He will be glorified. Paul said it this way in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

In all circumstances. Be content. That includes when you are celebrating on the mountaintop or walking through the valley. That contentment can come even when you are suffering from a thorn. Let God’s Grace sustain you and His Strength empower you to live for His Glory as a testimony to how He has chosen to work in your life.

This is a recap of Week Two from the Angela Thomas’ Bible study, Brave.  The women of NAOBC recently completed this study and recaps from each of the six weeks will be posted. 

I Laughed, I Cried, It Moved Me!

Our 9th & O March 2015 “JOY From the Inside Out” Women’s Conference is now in the history books, but the nearly 200 women in attendance didn’t go home downhearted, nor empty-handed.  We left equipped to apply and recognize the Source of daily JOY in our lives.  From the mouth of that little green Veggie Tales arm-less wonder Larry the Cucumber to Bob the Tomato: “I laughed, I cried, it moved me!”  That was our conference in a nutshell. There were some light, funny moments, times of deep emotional reflection, and thought provoking spiritual challenges as our very own 9th & O members Rose Booth and Jessica Joslin (with the authority of God’s Word) encouraged and challenged us to experience and to live Joy in our everyday Christian journeys – even in the midst of the daily struggles we have juggling homemaking, parenting, working and interacting with others.

Here are a few of the Facebook comments some of our ladies posted about Rose and Jessica following our two weekend sessions.  (I took the liberty of highlighting and underlining two of the main take-away points):

“Rose is bringing it tonight @ NAOBC’s women’s conference.”

“I’m still echoing in my heart the many “nuggets” from Gods Word and your personal life examples shared at the conference. We truly ARE a blessed church!!!”

“Excellent first night of our Women’s Conference! Rose Booth was amazing. Love my church!”

“It was a great night and I can’t wait for tomorrow!”

“Great job, Rose! God was glorified!”

“…of course she was totally awesome! Such a testimony that the Lord is the source of our joy!”

“Rose has a wonderful gift of speaking and her study on Nehemiah was so appropriate for our conference.”

“Rock star!!!!!!”

“Clearly the better Joslin has taken the stage today (NAOBC women’s conference)! Jessica is killing it! And apparently loves Target.”

“What a way to start the day. Jessica Joslin thanks for keeping it real! Your reminders of ourselves and the importance of fighting for our JOY is a great lesson. Thanks for all the planning and thought you put in to sharing with us. So special…made my day. I was thinking we should do this talk on JOY at least a couple times a week, and then she gasps at the thought! LOL”

“Thank you, Jessica. What you said was very soul searching.”

“Such a great morning at the Women’s Conference at church! Jessica Joslin absolutely knocked it out of the park! So blessed to have this time with the women of Ninth and O!”

If you were unable to attend the Women’s Conference this year, perhaps some of the above comments will entice you to listen to the two audio sessions that will soon be posted.  Check out NAOBC.org for info.  It was such a treat that I want to listen to it again, and ingest parts that I may have missed the first time around. Praying for each of you a joyous life in Christ.you a joyous life in Christ.

-Karen Sizemore

Karen Oldham Sizemore was a PK for 21 years, was born again as a teen, was a multi-move military wife for 24 years, has lived the civilian life since 1994, and is now a senior citizen.  (You can do the math.) She is the mother of 2 grown sons, has been a member of NAOBC for 12 years, and has loved directing children’s choirs for 40+ years.  Karen is also a soon-to-be grandma for the first time!

I Am Worn Out

It’s Daylight Savings Time again and we’re walking through life like zombies from losing just one hour of sleep. Many of us have good intentions to go to bed earlier on Saturday night to prepare, but most of us do not. We are tired. We are worn out. But, if we were to admit it, the time change isn’t really what is wearing us out. Life is.

There are so many things that we struggle with daily that make us feel worn out. Our schedules are busy, filling more hours in a day than we are supposed to be awake. Carpooling kids to school, practices, and parties, keeping a planner so that when little Jimmy is at soccer practice, we can go pick up Susie from ballet. Many of us are worn out from the suffering and grieving we may have experienced. Loss of loved ones takes an emotional toil, which translates to a physical toll on our bodies. As women, we have to keep going no matter how worn out we feel, but doing that and keeping a smile on our face at the same time becomes more difficult.

That’s when our attitudes change. We become cynical and negative about anything in life. Nothing seems like it’s going our way and we wonder if anyone truly understands our plight.   Even more important, does God understand? And does He realize I’m so worn out I can’t think to utter a word in prayer? Have I described you yet?

Psalm 103:13-14 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.” As fragile as we are, God’s care is eternal. We often focus on God as the Judge and Lawgiver and ignore His compassion and concern for us. He knows our human condition. God’s compassion isn’t a justification for sin, but we need to remember that He deals with us compassionately.

Weariness can cause us to turn to everyone and everything but God. We might turn to food, especially chocolate, because that certainly will boost our weary souls. Sometimes we turn to shopping. Retail therapy is the cure for all that ails you, right? Not really. In our weary moments, we tend to gravitate toward the temporal – food, shopping – and forget to turn to our Source of Strength.

Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

Even the strongest people get tired sometimes, yet God’s power and strength never diminish. He is never too tired to help us or listen to our cries. Some translations say “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” What is that hope? It is grasping hold to the promise of strength from God that will help us rise above life’s distractions and difficulties. Just like the eagle soars to great heights, we can soar above our circumstances, with our wings powered by God’s strength. In those moments when you feel worn out, renew your strength. Go to the One who has all the strength you need. He is sweeter than chocolate.

This is a recap from Week One from the Angela Thomas’ Bible study, Brave.  The women of NAOBC recently completed this study and recaps from each of the six weeks will be posted. 

JOY

I have always loved that word.  It just sounds – well – joyous!  I have been blessed by knowing for many years two exceptional women that seem to exude joy in their everyday lives – my cousin Jamie, and a friend from college days, Donna.  They are both Christians, and joy just seems to ooze from their very pores most of the time.  They are a joy to be around. When they enter my space, they are like a fresh breath of air.  Yep, they have some “not the greatest” days, sad and bad days, but there still is that essence of joy when I am around them.

I read a little note on Facebook a couple of months ago that caught my attention.  Rose Booth (who by the way is one of those joy-filled, infectious friends) mentioned that she and our Worship Pastor’s wife, Jessica Joslin were preparing, and would be speaking at our Women’s Conference this March on Joy, From the Inside Out. Ooooh thought I, that sounds cool…love that word JOY.  I thought of the word acronym (one of the first big words that I learned as a child, and by the way, learned it at church, not school!).  I googled the definition:

ac·ro·nym
akrəˌnim/
noun: acronym
         an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a
word
                   (e.g., Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself Last)
(Well, yes, I edited the e.g. part.  Google gave a different example.)

If you have not been to one of our Women’s Conferences in the past, then you must sign up to attend one of the classiest, feminine gal events that 9th and O offers each year for our ladies.  It will be a feast for the eyes and ears.  It will be a time for spiritual renewal and refreshment with other women, and we can be assured of a new purpose for having JOY bubbling from our lives as we return to our homes, families, and work. Hope to see you there – March 20-21. I can’t wait!

-Karen Sizemore

Karen Oldham Sizemore was a PK for 21 years, was born again as a teen, was a multi-move military wife for 24 years, has lived the civilian life since 1994, and is now a senior citizen.  (You can do the math.) She is the mother of 2 grown sons, has been a member of NAOBC for 12 years, and has loved directing children’s choirs for 40+ years.  Karen is also a soon-to-be grandma for the first time!

Nomadic Nesting

It’s natural. a desire to “nest” or set up your home. reality: we’ve never lived in one place more than two years since we’ve been married. We’re nomads. It’s part of the calling. go where we are sent. so, whether that’s across town or across the globe, we move a lot. (Two countries, four states, eight homes in seven years). For a woman with a desire to nest this can be exhausting! Coming home with a new baby to a new apartment really challenged these two colliding conundrums. as I fought with the Lord and within myself over this for a few days, Father finally helped me rest in “tents”:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,  if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3 is a beautiful reminder that this current “home” I am in is not my permanent one. It’s just a tent! Tents are meant to move on a moments notice. and, though I do want to feel “settled in”, my comfort should not come from a constructed, concrete block (aka our apartment), but from the ROCK.

So how do I reconcile these two colliding conundrums? In a practical sense, I’m taking the idea of a tent a bit further, I can make cloth items (decorate with pillow cases and curtains) that are easy to take to the next place that will provide some consistency for my family and sanity for myself. (And, sewing provides me an outlet to create which I love). Most importantly though, first, I have to check my heart. Is my heart ready to move wherever He sends me when He sends me? Where is my treasure stored? What am i groaning for?!

The gospel stands above and beyond all the most practical, family-friendly, or cost-effective philosophies of mothering. The good news of Jesus Christ is superior to our to-do list and metaphorical mother-of-the-year trophies.  This is because the greatest problem a mother has is not a lack of creativity, accomplishment, or skill, but her inability to love God and love others the way Jesus loves her.” Gloria Furman.

– Andi G.

Andi is a wife and mother of three living overseas in Southeast Asia.  She met her husband, Adam, while serving overseas after college.  Then, after being married for one week, moved to Louisville and started attending Ninth and O, becoming members in May 2008.  Adam and Andi served in the Singles’ Ministry before returning back to Southeast Asia in 2012 and still proudly call NAOBC their home church.

The Gospel According to Enriched Flour

It’s that time of year when high-caloric recipes are flowing through my Pinterest feed and I get in that baking spirit.  Although I play a career woman on a daily basis, there is a secret side of me that would enjoy meal planning and being able to have the time to cook and bake for more than just me on a regular basis.  With work and school, many times, Cheerio is more than a greeting, but a dinner menu item.

There are so many flour options these days – whole wheat flour, gluten-free flour, all-purpose flour, enriched flour.  During my devotion this morning, I read this verse:  “That by Him you were enriched in everything–in all speech and all knowledge.”(I Corinthians 1:5)  The word “enriched” stuck out to me.  I’ve been enriched.  Hmm, what does that mean?  To help me understand I go to the process of enriching flour to understand the context.

The purpose of enriching flour is to replenish the flour with the nutrients it lost from its unrefined flour state.  Clearly this process isn’t flawless and there isn’t a way to make it completely as nutritional as the pure, unrefined state.  But it is an attempt to restore what’s been lost.  Read that line one more time.  It is an attempt to restore what’s been lost.  And then the light bulb came on.

The sin in the garden ruined our pure state and we became flawed…missing our valuable “nutrients,” if you will.  Jesus came to restore what’s been lost.  Like enriched flour, we won’t be perfect and sinless like Jesus until we are in Heaven, but as I Corinthians says, “By Him we are enriched in everything.”

My life is still sinful.  Yet, Jesus’ righteousness enriches me.  Until that day when I “rise” to meet Him, may I cling to His enrichment every single day.

-Rose Booth
This post originally appeared on Ruminations and Reflections on December 2, 2013

Rose has been a part of NAOBC since before she was born.  She serves as the co-leader of the Women’s Ministry alongside Jaylynn Cook, Bible study leader for women during Deeper Life and is a BFG teacher.  Rose is a Director for QuinStreet, a technology marketing company and is currently pursuing her MBA at Campbellsville University.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, crafting and spending time with friends.  

Talking to My Children About Prayer

I’ve struggled over the last few years about how to teach my children about prayer.  Prayer is definitely something I want them to be familiar with.  I want them to be able to talk to God all through the day about whatever.  I want them to be able to see God answer their prayers and be wowed by His power.  The struggle comes, however, in how to explain that God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we expect, or even hope.  How do I teach them to have faith that God can do anything and yet explain that He doesn’t always intervene?

I always try to include my children in things I am praying about so they can wait and watch with me to see what God does. They have prayed with me about sick people getting well, about a friend doing well on an important test, and they prayed and prayed with me about Adoption #3 and that God would bring us a baby soon.  Some of those prayers were met with immediate, and what we humans would see as positive, answers.  Some of them we had to wait for a long time for an answer, and some of those prayers were met with silence or even with a “no.”  Because I have a strong faith in God, I am able to process the silence or the “no” with the thought that God has a better plan.  However, I wonder if my kids can grasp those things.

At times I want to give them somewhat of a “warning” before they pray about something.  “Now, remember guys, God doesn’t always give us what we ask.”  And then I question myself, “Why can’t I just let them pray in faith?  Why do I feel like I need to protect them from God?”  In a sense this shows my lack of faith in God and His promises.  So what should I do?  The best thing to do is remind myself what God says about prayer and teach these truths to them…with no “warnings” attached!

The Bible has a lot to say about prayer.  Here are a few things I will teach my kids.

  • We are instructed in God’s Word to pray.  We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray constantly.”  James tells us in chapter 5, verses 13-18 that we should pray when someone is sick or suffering.  He tells us we should confess our sins to each other and to pray for one another, and gives us Elijah as an example.  We are told “the intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.”
  • Jesus prayed and taught others how to pray.  Jesus prayed throughout His time on earth.  Luke 5:15 tell us that Jesus often went away to pray.  In Matthew 6 Jesus is teaching the people how to pray and gives instructions on how to pray (what we know as The Lord’s Prayer).  In John 17 Jesus is praying to the Father about Himself, about His disciples, and about all believers.  We also see an example of Him crying out to God in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-41).
  • We know God gives good gifts and works for our good.  James 1:22 says, “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.”  Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God.”  We also know God can give us more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21).
  • In the end we must say, “Your will be done.”  Again, when it is all said and done, we must follow Jesus’ example in the garden and pray that His will be done (Matthew 26:42).  We must trust that God is in control, and whether the answer is “yes,” “no,” or “wait,” we have to trust it was His will and His will for us is good!   All throughout the Bible we see that God is faithful and good (Lamentations 3:22-26), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), loving (1 John 4:16) and sovereign (1 Timothy 6:15).  We must trust His plan for us.

So the next time my oldest son tells me he is praying that God will bring us a baby girl (as he did earlier in the week), I will encourage him to pray without giving a “warning,” and I will wait with him to see the will of God for our family.  I will teach him what the Bible says about prayer and about faith.  I will teach him Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.”  And I will joyfully tell all three of my kids that they were answers to prayer!  Three very good gifts from God!

-Christy Davis

Christy is a wife (minister’s wife), mother (home school mom and adoptive mom), and most importantly a follower of Christ.  She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and three kids, Hannah, Benjamin, and Malachi.  Christy loves to talk about and write about her experiences with adoption and things God teaches her daily about living a godly life as a wife and mother.  Daniel and Christy called 9th and O their church home for about 4 years (2002-2006), and they are so thankful for the ministry of that church.