I’ve noticed something happens when the mirror reveals the first intruder. There, standing in all her glory, upright upon the head, is a strand of hair proudly displaying itself in a different color. Okay, I suppose every woman might not enter into an inward struggle with the appearance of the first grey strand; but I predict more do than don’t. That first sighting seems to create the opportunity for women of any age to pause and ponder: where did this come from?
Without a doubt, I know it was my thought when that little grey traitor exposed itself in the center of my head. I was in my late thirties when the grey began its invasion. I was in my early forties when I began supporting the industry of hair dye. Clairol and I began a steady relationship; upon which, I became very dependent.
I believe the Lord began to disclose this dependency while on vacation last December with family in Florida. Having given up coloring my own hair many years ago, the timing of this vacation would cause me to miss my regularly scheduled hair appointment: leaving almost six-weeks between root touch ups. It seemed to me as though the Florida air made my hair grow at an incredibly rapid rate, as every morning I'd wake to longer roots of grey. Clairol came through for me once again upon discovery of a coloring pencil for hair! Thank you, Clairol! This allowed me to conceal what I didn’t want anyone to know was there.
Then, 2020 hit and there was another intruder: COVID. Life shut down and I was back to using Clairol Medium Golden Brown hair dye to cover up those grey hairs once again. I was confronted by truth one morning as I stood at the mirror and realized the grey was beginning to take over. It was becoming difficult to hide what was beneath the boxed hair color, and the thought of living out the remainder of my days as a grey-haired woman began to challenge me. I’m not ready to be grey, I thought and throughout that day more thoughts came...
Are you afraid of being grey? If so, why?
Do you fear what people will think? What they might say?
Do you fear growing old?
Do you fear how grey hair will change in your appearance?
Are you afraid people will say, ‘Wow! Did you see Kolleen? She looks SO old with grey hair!’
On and on the voice whispered until I finally gave my answer—YES! Yes to all of it! I did not want to surrender to the possibility of what a head full of grey hair would do--to me! Even though I know women who have allowed their hair to change gradually and naturally and look fabulous—I feared what others would think rather than appreciating that the Lord says, “Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life” (Proverbs 16:31, NLT). I was comfortable in my brown hair.
Because I am someone who has always cared way too much about what other people think, I began to take polls. Should Kolleen allow her hair to go naturally grey or continue to color? Whew! So many differing opinions, but many pollsters offered great advice. Debi’s advice was good when she said, “don’t call it grey, call it silver and you should embrace it.” Numerous friends shared their personal stories of how they learned to embrace the change and it sold me! I would do it!
But just when I thought I had settled this, my inner voice taunted me with doubt, so one morning the Lord and I had a chat about it. It didn't take long for me to see that this struggle went deeper than the color of my hair. This had to do with me becoming a more authentic me. The me that refuses to hide behind a box of hair color because she’s afraid people are going to say she looks old.
Now, listen, I am not trying to imply that God is opposed to hair color. I would never do that. If you color your hair, please do not think I am insinuating you must stop. I do believe, however, God opposes any obsession we have that hinders us from accepting how he designed us to age. Should we take care of ourselves? Absolutely. But, did you know that the beauty industry has a value of $532 billion dollars? We are spending boatloads of money for surgeries and procedures that help prevent the signs of aging—why? What is driving us to do this? I know what was driving me--fear! The Word of God reminds us, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety” (Proverbs 29:25, NLT).
Peter gives us insight into what God wants us to care about, "Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God" (1 Peter 3:3-4, NLT). Fear was driving me to care more about the outward than I did about the inner. I don't want to do that anymore.
And so, there you have it. I am going to step out of my comfort zone and join those who have paved the way before me by embracing their silver. I was tested in my ability to accept the challenge when someone recently said, “You look more like a grandma now with grey hair.” After a pause and a deep breath I replied, “That’s great, because I am a grandma!”
Here's to 2021 and the year of embracing and activ8ing the new me. You can choose to do this, too, when you choose to #beYOU--Authentic. -Kolleen
Happy New Year from the Activ8Her team!
[Dictionary.com defines persistent this way, lasting or enduring tenaciously: persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement, etc.; persevering. Can you think of time when you lasted longer than you thought you might? Many would report they have persisted through years of opposition, obstacles and discouragement in their marriages to remain faithful to the vows they made to one another. Perhaps you persisted through the hardship of poverty and now your children reap the benefit of a college degree. You may be someone who made it through the drug addiction, and depression because of your persistence to overcome.
Every follower of Jesus understands opposition, obstacles, and discouragement are attached to faith, and it will take persistence as each one is confronted.
Nehemiah understood opposition, obstacles, and discouragement extremely well; he also had incredible insight and understanding on how to endure in spite of them. He had been given divine direction – he had a wall to build. It was going to be difficult. It was going to bring division. It was going to cause opposition to rise up in an effort to thwart God’s plan for Jerusalem but he persisted and eventually the wall was completed. How did he do it? He put a plan in place.
Step one of his plan: Prayer. God was able to give Nehemiah clear vision and focus during every attempt of the enemy to stop the process of reconstruction. When the news came to Nehemiah about the condition of the wall – he prayed. “Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying [constantly] before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:10, AMP). He prayed. He fasted. He interceded for his people, and then he waited until the Lord gave him the go ahead to proceed. It was during this time that the Lord helped him to identify the problem.
When the king saw the gloom in his face the king asked him, ‘What do you request?’ So he again, prayed to the God of heaven (Nehemiah 2:4, AMP). He wasn’t impetuous or impulsive with his thoughts or concerns (of which I’m sure he had many). Instead, before he spoke – he prayed. This allowed him to remain respectful, honor the authority of the king, and gain favor to go and begin rebuilding the wall.
When Sanballet and Tobiah heard the news of the building project they began to mock those doing the work. “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that? That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it” (Nehemiah 4:1-3, NLT). Again, Nehemiah prayed. He told God they were being mocked. He asked God to pour the scoffing they were dishing out back onto their own heads. He asked God to put them into captivity. He asked God to see their guilt. He asked God to remember their sins. He didn’t entertain them with snarky comebacks. He asked God to take care of them.
When plans were made to fight against Jerusalem and throw the builders into confusion Nehemiah said, “we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves” (Nehemiah 4:9). They prayed and then they took the necessary action.
He prayed, “Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all I have done for this people” (Nehemiah 5:19, AMP).
He prayed, “But now, [O God,] strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9, AMP).
When betrayed by the prophet Shemaiah who had been hired by the enemy, He prayed, “Remember, O My God, Tobiah and Sanballat in regard to these actions of theirs, and also [remember] the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me” (Nehemiah 6:14, AMP). Spiritual abuse is no small thing.
What could not be done in 87 years was complete in 52 days by Nehemiah and the team God placed around him. “When all our enemies heard about it, and all the [Gentile] nations around us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16, AMP).
There is a work God has for you to accomplish – do you know what it is? Don’t accept the lies from anyone who would like to see you fail. When something feels like a hardship—we can't always abandon ship! Be persistent in your effort to complete the good work He has asked you to build. Will you face opposition? Yes. Will you need to climb over some obstacles? Yes. Will you endure discouraging moments? Yes. Do you pray to the same God Nehemiah prayed to? Yes.
Well then, God wants to hear from you! It's time to #Activ8Her persistence in prayer. You can begin with this: But now, Oh, Lord, strengthen my hands to finish the work You have asked of me.
Intention is a funny thing. Setting goals is easy, but if you’re anything like me, it’s the completion of the goal that gives us trouble. We can become resolved in our plan to work on our health, build the strength of our marriage, or take the steps necessary to grow in our faith or leadership abilities. We might set a goal to get out of debt, or change habits that no longer fit the lifestyle God has for us, but it is never long before we face some type of opposition to our plan of intention.
Good intentions are often met with great opposition. Just look at Jesus – He had the best of intentions (Hey, I’m offering to be the way of salvation) but was met with severe opposition throughout His entire three-year-ministry. Before He departed, He promised His followers’ they too, would experience opposition; it would be part of life (John 16:33). How we handle our encounters with opposition determines how well we understand the role persistence plays in our God-given identity. To grow as leaders and individuals, in the way God intends, we must resist the urge to quit when opposition threatens to stand in our way.
Nehemiah offers us his example as someone who persisted through numerous encounters with opposition when God sent him to Jerusalem to rebuild a wall. Nehemiah was a captive in Persia, and cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, when he received word of the devastation his homeland of Jerusalem was in. The city wall was broken, the gates to the wall had been burned, and those who survived the Persian invasion, remaining in Jerusalem, found themselves in great distress and trouble (Nehemiah 1). Why did this news cause so much stress to Nehemiah? After all, he held a prominent position within the king’s cabinet; he was a high-ranking official. Most likely, he had never been to Jerusalem as Susa was over 700 miles. This would have taken several months of travel. Nehemiah was broken at the news because he understood the significant message a ruined wall sent to the nations. He knew the suffering was great and the reflection on God was poor. It was believed the adequacy of a nation’s wall was a sign of the strength of their God. A weak wall was perceived as a weak God. And Nehemiah knew His God was not weak.
Life was difficult for the Jewish people who had first been granted permission to return to Jerusalem under the rule of Cyrus of Persia. The difficulty was due, in a large part, to the condition of the wall. This is a good reminder for us that when life becomes difficult, we might want to do a wall check. God doesn’t oppose walls. In fact, He was the One to send Nehemiah back to Jerusalem to rebuild a wall. But, the enemy designs walls, too. He likes us to use mortar made from misunderstandings, and misaligned viewpoints to construct walls around the wounds of our heart. He’d like us to build a wall designed to keep people away, and yes, push God out, as well.
God wants to help us design a wall of protection. When we build a God-ordained wall—according to His standard for construction—we become equipped to keep the enemy out of the territory God has given us. A God-built wall sets a guard at the gate, and refuses to allow the enemy access.
How does your life reflect the strength of the God you serve to those outside your wall? When life becomes a struggle research the condition of your wall. Is it God-built or enemy-built? Is God the One placing the bricks along your wall of protection, or has the enemy snuck in and put up walls of pride? Fear? Doubt? Division? Unbelief?
Persistent wall checks help keep us in check. God created you to #BU-Persistent.
Naomi had experienced famine before; it had been a few years since the great famine in the land of Bethlehem had forced her family from their homeland to the country of Moab. When her husband unexpectedly passed away, leaving her a widow in a foreign land, the heartbreak had been great. Thankfully, she still had her two sons to provide support for her, and their wives. That changed ten years later when death took not one, but both of her boys from her. Naomi found herself isolated—more than she’d ever been. She was now a widow—lonely, abandoned and helpless—without her sons in a foreign land with no inheritance rights.
Famine is a significant force; it creates extreme scarcity or shortage, and produces panic and desperation. This time, Naomi discovered a new type of famine had been thrust upon her when she lost her sons: an emotional famine. The same fear, hunger and desperation famine had created in the natural had also been generated within the emotional. So, when rumor had it that her homeland had become fruitful again, Naomi and her daughters-in-law, packed what they could and began the journey leading them back to Bethlehem. At the insistence of Naomi, Orpah would decide to stay in Moab. Ruth, however, would dig her heels in and remain by Naomi’s side.
It’s not hard for me to imagine what the journey back to Naomi’s hometown may have been like for two women full of grief and sorrow. Some say the trip from Moab to Bethlehem would have taken between 7-10 days, require they cross the river Jordan, as well as climb 2000 plus feet in elevation. I envision a great deal of emotion was present as these two women walked. To make the emotional journey a bit more intense, they weren’t just grieving the loss of the men in their lives. Naomi also believed her suffering was because the Lord’s hand has gone against her. Can you imagine the famine her heart carried?
The once pleasant, lovely, and delightful Naomi had endured too much to remain the same. She simply could not keep the identity her name’s definition brought to her. The suffering she had endured took her to a place she’d never been, and she became someone she’d never known. She couldn’t recognize who she was anymore, so it wasn’t a surprise when they entered the town to hear, “Is that Naomi?” and she replied, “Do not call me Naomi (sweetness); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has caused me great grief and bitterness. I left full [with a husband and two sons], but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has afflicted me” (Ruth 1:20-21, AMP)?
Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce you to Mara. The woman you once knew as delightful Naomi has become Mara—the bitter one. The woman who left full, and has now returned to you empty.
Empty of joy.
Empty of desire.
Empty of hope.
Naomi wasn’t the first woman to endure heartbreak. She won’t be the last to sense her identity has changed through the unbearable pain associated with grief. Occasionally, life feels unfair and unjust.
Why God Why?
When God When?
We won’t always find the answers to the why or the when. So, it will be here, in this place of darkness, when courageous faith will be what holds us tightly to God through the dark side of His providence.
When we suffer a loss, and our first form of defense is to blame and accuse God, we must remember we live in a fallen world. We are falling apart. We suffer because of sin. God is not afflicting anyone for amusement. We can choose to allow bitterness to take up residence in our heart when people don’t respond as we’d hoped. We can choose to resent life for turning out differently than we’d imagined. Or we can trust God even when we’re feeling our way through a dark season.
It will also take courageous faith to focus on others in spite of our own circumstances. Love shows itself active when we push hard against the weight of depression, and its desire to blind us from the needs of others. Galatians 5:6 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision carries any weight—the only thing that matters is faith working through love”(NET). Naomi allowed her faith to work through love when—in the midst of her own suffering—she began to seek what was best for Ruth. When the two widows arrived back in Bethlehem, it was during the beginning of the barley harvest. We are given a glimpse of God’s providential care when we read… “ She happened to stop at the plot of land belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech”(Ruth 2:3, emphasis mine).
I don’t believe in “just happens.” God is always working behind the scenes to fulfill His plan to bring good out of every situation. As a member of Naomi’s deceased husband’s family, Boaz would have the opportunity to be a kinsmen-redeemer to Ruth and Naomi. According to the Law of Moses, a kinsman-redeemer was someone who stepped in, on behalf of a deceased relative, and accepted responsibility for his family. Jesus is an example of our Kinsman-Redeemer, as He redeemed us and rescued us from our adversary.
After a day of gleaning in the fields and returning home with a boatload of grain Naomi asked Ruth, “‘Where did you gather all this grain today? Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!’ So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, ‘The man I worked with today is named Boaz’” (Ruth 2:19, NLT). I imagine this was a light bulb moment for Naomi when she continued, “‘May the Lord bless him! He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers’” (vs.20).
Naomi proceeded to coach Ruth on the ways of her people, and the role of a kinsman-redeemer, and this set the course for Ruth to become the wife of Boaz, and the mother of Obed. After all her suffering, Naomi became a grandmother to a little boy whom she loved as her own son. And Obed would be the grandfather of King David, and in the lineage of Jesus (Ruth 4). Naomi was delightful once again.
Things might have been different for each of these women if Naomi had refused to see beyond her own bitterness. Sometimes it’s hard to look past our own pain, disappointment, and heartbreak. But God doesn’t want us to sit on the sidelines forever. He still has a plan to use us even though we feel too broken for others to see. This is another opportunity for courageous faith to step in and help us choose to rejoice in the Lord, and what He is doing in the midst of our pain. Even though we’d rather hide forever behind the identity of who we think we’ve become. Even though moments are surrender moments.
Even “though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet and makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility]” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, AMP).
Perhaps you find yourself, like Naomi, stuck in a season of grief. You have lost too much and you don’t believe you will ever find healing. We’d ask you to turn your attention to the needs of others, even though you don’t feel like it. Help someone even though it hurts. You might be a Ruth and able to help a Naomi in your life. Stick close to her. She may try to make you leave her alone, but don’t. Be an encourager to her and help her find her way through this dark season. Whichever woman you relate to, remember this, God is with you. He is faithfully by your side as you #Activ8Her heroic faith.
Perhaps one of the most difficult conversations we’ve had at Activ8Her was on the topic of submission. Because of its misuse, especially within the church, it is a word that opens the door to heated debates and full-blown arguments. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss it, however, as we seek understanding of what God has to say on the matter. After all, the whole essence of the Christian life is based upon submission. We can’t live in the fullness of God’s divine destiny without practicing the principle of submission.
Chrissy and I recently sat down with Pastor Amy Carter from Abundant Life Christian Center in East Syracuse, NY, and were blessed (and challenged) by her insight as she discussed Ten Things Submission Is Not. We hope you, too, are encouraged by her wisdom. Ready to dig into a hard topic? Here we go!
Number One: Submission does not mean you are a doormat – but it might require you to wash some feet. Biblical submission never requires you to be abused, or mistreated and walked over. Because submission flows from a heart of choice, you may need to follow the example of Jesus and wash some feet. Remember how Jesus washed the feet of His betrayer when He washed the disciples feet? He didn’t skip over Judas—even though He knew what Judas was about to do.
Number Two: Submission does not require you to be abused, and you should flee abusive relationships, however, it might require you to serve in hard places. In Genesis 16, we are invited into the lives of Abraham, Sarai and Hagar and become witnesses to the dysfunction a lack of submission to God’s plan can create. When Sarai could wait no longer for God to provide the promised child, she took matters into her own hands and gave her servant, Hagar to her husband. After conceiving, Hagar allowed pride into her heart and she began to gloat to her master. As you can imagine, this did not go over well, and Sarai repays Hager’s contempt with her own. After fleeing the scene Hagar ends up in the desert, and is told by the Angel of the Lord to go back and submit to her master, Sarai. It’s here that Hagar recognizes God as, “The God Who SEES Me” (Genesis 16:13). She had a revelation in this moment of Who God was, and who she was in Him, and all of the promises He had for her. When relationships become hard how are you most likely to respond? Is it your desire to flee or remain steadfast? We can really mess up when we take matters into our own hands. God shines bright in our hard places. He knows where you are because He sees you.
Number Three: Submission is not a personality trait – it is a choice. You choose to submit; it is not forced upon another. Because submission is an attitude of the heart, it becomes a lifestyle choice, regardless of the circumstances in your life. As a single woman, Pastor Amy shared that she is intentional with the practice of submission to individuals God has placed in her life. When she doesn’t agree, she said she will intentionally practice the muscle of submission, because of the protection found through the act of Biblical submission. We can choose submission because we know God can be trusted.
Number Four: Submission is not the same as obedience; submission comes from the heart. I can obey someone by doing what I’m told, but my heart attitude may not be there. A perfect example is the cartoon of Dennis the Menace sitting in the corner enduring a moment of discipline. The caption read, “I may be sitting down but inside I am standing up.” There may be moments when you’re going to need to act out of obedience before your heart lines up in submission, and that’s okay. Be faithful to act upon God’s Word, and watch God show up in your heart. He can soften your heart, and the heart of others as you honor Him, and others, through an act of obedience.
Number Five: Submission does not remove your ability to think or reason for yourself. God never intended for anyone to be a robot. It is imperative for you to read and study the Word of God so you are able to discern if someone’s actions line up with His truth. Be careful to never allow the Word of God to be used to abuse you. As broken people, we must learn to rightly divide the truth based
Number Six: Submission does not remove personal responsibility for your actions or decisions. We must be very discerning when someone comes to us using the phrase, “God told me to tell you.” God will use others to help us along our journey, but we should never allow someone to become the voice of God for us. We’re still going to be held accountable for our actions and the decisions we make.
Number Seven: Submission is not the same as agreement; in fact, it only operates when you are NOT in agreement. Solomon asked the question, “How can two walk together lest they agree?” The answer to that question is submission. If you’re in agreement with someone, it’s easy to submit. The difficulty comes when you’re not in agreement, but because of your position at work, or at the Lord’s request, you agree to submit your will, your idea, your plan, your desire, even when you might not agree. Just don't forget number six: it does not remove personal responsibility.
Number Eight: Submission never calls for you to compromise your integrity, or violate God’s Word. God doesn’t call us to submit to sinful activities. When you don’t agree with someone who might be leading you to compromise your integrity or violate God’s Word, you respectfully decline. We submit to God’s Word first and foremost.
Number Nine: Submission does not create bondage. God desires freedom for the believer, and true submission offers this freedom. Throughout the years, the term submission has been abused, causing a great pushback. However, God set an order for submission that would bring protection to His children. He never intended for submission to bring bondage. His way always brings freedom to those in bondage.
Number Ten: Submission is not submitting only to those you find worthy; whoever you are called to submit to will never be worthy. There will be those God asks you to submit your will to that you might not necessarily want to be best friends with. You might not believe they have earned the right to your submitted heart. This is when we God is truly the only One worthy of our submission.
Keep in mind that everything God is asking us to do is based upon what Christ has already done, and we are in Christ. Jesus honored God by submitting to His plan. “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 NKJV).
Submission is serving. Whom will you serve today?
When God prepared to bring the Israelites into the land He had for them He presented them with His instruction list of “do’s and don’ts.” There were stipulations they would need to follow once they defeated the seven nations as God had planned. Maybe, if you’re like me, you might have wondered why God makes these lists that seem so stringent in the first place. But after reading a few verses in Deuteronomy, He explains Himself when He says, “For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be a people for His own possession [that is, His very special treasure]” (Deuteronomy 7:6 AMP).
God’s chosen people are a treasure to Him. As a child of God, you are a treasure to Him, and as such, He has set you apart to be holy.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a treasure is, an asset that brings praise or renown, something of great worth or value, or a person esteemed as rare or precious. Isn’t it remarkable that God views His children as an asset to Him for the purpose of bringing Him praise and renown? You were designed to live esteemed by God as a rare and precious treasure, and bring Him glory in every aspect of your life. In the story of Job, God bragged about the asset Job was to him in a chat with Satan. “…there is none like him (Job) on the earth…” (Job 1:8) He said. God knew Job would be an asset and bring Him glory even though he would endure immense suffering.
Jesus was a Treasure to God; He was, after all, His One and Only Son. As an Asset to God, He is our greatest example of suffering for the sake of others and honoring God through the act of submission. There was that moment in the Garden when Jesus asked, “My Father, if it is possible [that is, consistent with Your will], let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39, AMP, emphasis mine). In this moment of anguish, we see that Jesus went to the cross, not out of obedience, but out of submission to His Father’s will. He laid aside His personal desire to abort the plan, and submitted all of His personal power and authority to God for the greater good.
That’s not always an easy task, is it? To trust God cares for His treasure when it hurts. When I am swallowed up in suffering, my instinct is to surrender to the fear and pain of the situation rather than set aside personal agendas, and submit to God the Father. However, everything God is asking us to do is based upon what Christ has already done—and we are in Christ. Jesus honored God by submitting to His plan, and “He did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free” (Matthew 20:28 NIRV). The very foundation of honor is submission.
Unfortunately, because of rampant abuse in the world and the church, submission has become one of the most difficult words we encounter within the Scriptures. Because of its abuse throughout generations, we often view submission through a personal filter that results in a strong pushback – especially in women. It’s difficult to see clearly through scars and barriers. However, regardless of our past experiences, or what we’ve been taught, if we unpack the meaning of submission—as defined by God—we discover we become an “asset able to bring praise and renown (fame)” to the One who owns the treasure every time we honor God through acts of submission.
We are not implying that anyone stay in abusive relationships. Don’t listen to that lie. God never intends for anyone to remain where harm could come to him or her. There is a vast difference between abuse and being uncomfortable. But, God probably will ask us to remain in the workplace with the nasty boss–for a season. He’s going to request that you be kind to people who haven’t been kind to you. He’s going to ask us to do hard things. Jesus wasn’t rerouted by His mistreatment or lack of honor because His confidence was in who God was, and He knew who He was. Jesus knew people were broken, and He wasn’t moved by their brokenness. Let’s not be moved by people’s brokenness.
Jesus was never controlled by His circumstances. Isn’t that amazing? How freeing would it be for you today if you were never again controlled by your circumstance? Discovering your identity in who God says you are, and putting all of your confidence in who God says He is, would bring that freedom to each one of us. We’d all have a clearer understanding of honor and submission. This would prevent us from allowing the broken to sideline us out of fear. It would also keep us from changing God’s Word to fit our brokenness, rather than allowing God’s Word to heal us in our brokenness.
God’s intent for submission has always been for the greater good, and our safety. He’s never going to ask us to submit to anything to harm us. We are to “commit our works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him], and our plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance]” (Proverbs 16:3, AMP). Paul wrote that “the mind of the flesh [with its sinful pursuits] is actively hostile to God. It does not submit itself to God’s law, since it cannot” (Romans 8:7, AMP).
It’s our hope to #Activ8Her transformational thinking with this simple truth: Belief determines behavior. It’s time to listen to what God says about you. Believe you are an asset to God, and as such, live to bring Him praise, honor, and fame. If God says we are an asset to Him (something of great worth and value) yet, we refuse to accept this as truth, how will we activate behavior that brings Him the glory He deserves?
Make Him famous! Submit to His good plan for your life because you are His treasure. If you have suffered any type of abuse, it is our prayer at Activ8Her that you would allow God to activate healing to your soul. He loves you so much.
Confession of Faith: Because I am an asset to God, I know His will is to protect me, guard me, keep me safe, He’s not going to ask me to do submit to something to cause me harm. It might hurt my pride, and it might be hard, but I need to stop being afraid of hard things.
Activ8ing Her for Him,
*Watch for the next installment: Ten Things Submission is Not coming next!
In the early 2000s, we were introduced to the first makeover shows on television. A Makeover Story, Extreme Makeover, The Swan, and What Not to Wear, were a few of the forerunners who paved the way for us to witness the progressive transformation of their contestants. Then, as if physical transformation weren’t enough, we watched as Ty Pennington and his team rolled into towns across the country, ready to restore hope to families in need of a home renovation through Extreme Makeover Home Addition.
Obviously, we appreciate a good transformation story. Remember The Biggest Loser? This show was one of our favorites. The transformation of the contestants was incredible. But I was disappointed to discover old habits die hard, as the majority of winners have regained the weight they lost while on the show. I also read the winner of The Swan, Lorrie Arias, received over $300,000.00 in plastic surgery, but in 2017 told HuffPost Entertainment “she is depressed, bipolar, agoraphobic and believes she continues to suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. She has regained the weight she lost in 1995 and refuses to leave her home, save for trips to see her therapist every few months.”
Yes, transformation stories inspire us. But perhaps there’s more to the story of lasting transformation. These shows may make us want to change, but they can’t make us willing to do the work to maintain the change. This is when God steps into the stories of men and women in a dramatic fashion and gives the nudge needed for the transformation. The Apostle Paul was a man who understood this well. Born Saul, he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and had his life radically transformed by the encounter. The man who breathed threats of murder against the disciples of Jesus—was transformed when he became one (Acts 9:1).
Because we never hear that he returned to his old habits, I find his advice trustworthy. This man who found redemption through Jesus Christ, understood the key to a successful transformation. How did he find lasting change? He shares with us in his letter to the Romans, “I give all my thanks to God, for his mighty power has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So if left to myself, the flesh is aligned with the law of sin, but now my renewed mind is fixed on and submitted to God’s righteous principles”(Romans 7:25, TPT emphasis mine).
And again he offers, “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”(Romans 12:2, NIV, emphasis mine). Paul understood transformation came through the renewing of your mind. From the Greek anakainōsis, renew is translated “renovation, and complete change for the better” (Strong’s G342). Instead of renovating homes, and bodies, Paul endeavored to renovate minds.
When we renovate, according to Merriam-Webster we, “restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding).” Paul knew it was impossible to think like you’ve always thought, and expect your life to change. When he spoke of transformation, he was talking about the same type of transformation a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly. Maybe he related well to the term metamorphoō. Following his encounter with Jesus, he said he spent three years in Arabia (Galatians 1:17). Many believe this was his time in the “cocoon” as God readjusted his thinking – intellectually and theologically. His murderous mindset needed to be renovated for the life God had planned for him. His days of squeezing to the mold of religious law had come to an end, as God renewed his mind and transformed him from Saul to Paul.
Brian Welch reminds me of a modern day Paul. A guitarist for the hard-rock group Korn, he left the group (and a 23-million-dollar record deal) God stepped into his story after “walking one day, just doing my Rock & Roll thing making millions of bucks, you know success and everything, addicted to drugs and then the next day I had a revelation of Christ and I was like, everything changes right now!” Choosing to no longer allow himself to be squeezed into a mold of addiction, he’d spend eight-years in his “cocoon” as God renovated his mind and radically transformed his life.
I know what it’s like in the cocoon. I spent time there. It was a hard season of loss and loneliness when God began to prune everything from my life He no longer had a purpose for. Friendships were cut away. Dreams I had been holding tightly to—for years—began to slip away. He even took my car! Those dark days were spent pouring my tears out upon God’s Word as He began the renovation work within me.
God’s cocoon isn’t without discomfort; change is difficult.
The cocoon can feel pressing.
There’s isolation in the cocoon.
The cocoon stretches you.
But the cocoon also awakens you to new life.
It’s the place where God does a transformational work, as we discover our soul’s deepest longing has been for its Creator all along. Many of us have been seeking a renovation, and we thought we’d find it in….
the new home
the weight loss
the new wardrobe
the new job title
But it hasn’t come.
Paul says we can be like him, and find real-life-changing-transformation when we stop allowing the era we live in squeeze us into a mold; and renew our mind. The means we no longer conform to the media (social or news), Hollywood, Cosmopolitan, Maybelline or popular opinion. The only mold Paul wants us to squeeze into is the one that reminds us that we “…have acquired new creation life which is continually being renewed into the likeness of the One who created you…” (Galatians 3:10, TPT).
With his renovated mind Paul became our example of what God will do with a transformed life. God is the Master Designer, and He has a transformation planned for you that goes far beyond what any television producer could offer. Rather than swinging hammers at an inconvenient wall in your house, God knows every wall He wants to tear down around your heart. He also knows which wrinkles can be pressed out with His peace. Every area of change begins in our mind because belief determines behavior.
The #Activ8Her’s transformation begins when she decides to diligently seek Him! She spends time, every day, in God’s Word, and has given Him permission to renew her mind. And then she “keeps every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIRV).
Let the renovation begin! #BU-Transformed!
Activ8ing Her for Him,
This article is a bit different than what you’d usually find on our Activ8Her website. We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Cindy’s Change: Spare Change to Bring Change. We can’t think of a better way to do this than by introducing you to our friend, Cindy, the inspiration for Activ8Her to help activate and empower single moms.
On December 20th of 2018, Chrissy and I said goodbye to our treasured friend, Cindy Shipley Blaske. Her passing came as a surprise to us. We had been asking God to spare her life and allow her to remain with her family – with us. We were hoping God would show off a bit and work a miracle. While we trust that God knows what He’s doing, and believe He works everything together for good, it was painful to have her leave.
This article is dedicated to our friend, and the dreams of three girlfriends who chased after God together for the past 15 years. We will always treasure digging into the Word of God together. We sought out God’s plans and purposes, for each other individually, as well as for one another.
During one of my last visits with Cindy she made me promise I would not say she "lost her battle with cancer." She said it made it sound like she gave up. I gave her my word I wouldn’t say it, because I didn’t believe she ever gave up. She was a fighter. To prove it we decided we’d write a little about her and tell you just what a fighter she was.
Cindy was a strong, faithful woman of God who fought for everything she had. As a single mom, we watched her fight hard for her twins. During every age of testing Cindy stood, ready to go to war when destruction came close to her children. She was always ready to seek wise counsel, and insight into how to handle various matters with her children. She was humble and never pretended to have the answer. She never allowed pride to convince her there was no need to listen to the counsel of others. She also never allowed fear to keep her from doing the hard work of discipline and following through.
She fought financially. Cindy was the most frugal person we knew, and one of the easiest to please. Her heart was to make certain her kids had everything they needed - even if it meant she would go without. She often worked more than one job to support her family. This included her ability to sacrifice if it meant she could help another single mom in a tough situation.
Cindy fought for her faith. Even during times of wandering in the wilderness, Cindy always fought to come back to the streams of refreshing. She loved Jesus. Our times together at Bible Study are memories we will cherish. Our chats were full of conversation over the Word, and the life that could be found within the pages of Scripture. As moms, there were conversations during every stage of parenting: tweens, teens, dating, marriages, and then the joys of grandparenting. The highs and lows of each, mingled with personal growth and setbacks, challenges and victories, heartbreak and heart-filled joy, we always came away refreshed.
Cindy did some of her best fighting in prayer. She fought for her friends in prayer. We would never be able to count the prayers we asked her to pray on our behalf. We knew she would do more than just say, “I’ll pray for you.” We knew she’d be faithful to follow through. She was an intercessor, for sure.
Cindy was rare in that, as a single mom, she refused to consider the thought of finding a husband until she'd raised her kids. She never wanted to be torn between her children and a husband. Her desire was to give her best to her children until she dropped them from the nest. Then, and only then, would she be ready for the Lord to bring her a husband. She waited a long time for him. Through tears of loneliness and temptation, we prayed together for the man God trusted with her heart. Cindy was radiant with joy when the day came for her marry this man.
So, when she asked me not to say, "She lost her battle with cancer," I promised her I would say, "She had victory over death because she knew Jesus.” A few days before she left this earth she looked at me and said, "We're going to save the world, Kolleen. You and I" Yes, my friend, we're going to save the world.
The saving begins today; perhaps it includes you. First, if you don't know Jesus, you're missing out. Our friend Cindy fought cancer, and won because Jesus was Lord of her life. She lived her life for His glory. Right now, we are confident that she is with Jesus. We know she heard the words, “well done” when she arrived.
Next, Cindy’s desire was to serve with Chrissy and I within the Activ8Her Ministry. She talked often on the role God might have her serve. Her passing reminds us that our thoughts are not God’s, and sometimes He allows plans to take a different turn. Yet, here’s what we know: Cindy’s heart for reaching the single moms didn’t leave when she did —she’s passed it on to us. It is with great honor, and love for our friend, that we will begin Cindy’s Change: Spare Change to Bring Change.
While we don’t have every detail of the ministry formed—yet—one dream is a diaper bus. We’d be thrilled to drive into communities to meet the needs of the single mom in her time of need.
Today we open the door to giving, on behalf of Cindy, to Cindy’s Change: Spare Change to Bring Change. If you would like to donate through a tax-deductible one-time, or monthly gift, towards Cindy’s Change – please let us know by choosing In Memory of Cindy. You can designate your donation for Cindy’s Change: Spare Change to Bring Change here. Thank you.
As the month of December descends upon us, it can be easy to turn our focus to the holiday frenzy of:
Decorations – should they go up before Thanksgiving or after?
Shopping – online or in the store?
Plans – what are the plans this year? Who will we visit? How do we split up our time?
Baking – how much baking will we do? What, and whom, are we baking for?
Traditions – do we adhere to the old ones or are we going to be flexible with new?
Finances – how do you shop wisely and not go into debt? Where are the best deals? Do I care about the best deals?
Gifts – who is on the list? Should they be on the list? What do they need? What do they want?
Years ago, after reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I realized one of my top love languages is gifts. Anyone with this love language can tell you—it is hard to control during the Christmas season! I enjoy everything about gifts. The thought and search that goes into finding just the right one, the purchase, and then hiding it from sight, the wrapping, and then the anticipation for the moment the gift will be released and received. Joy! Complete joy!
I read a study recently that explored the gift exchange. The study found that recipients respond better to wrapped or concealed gifts, and rate them higher than gifts just in a bag. There is joy and anticipation for both the giver and the receiver when hiding the identity of the gift until just the right moment. After I read the study my thoughts turned to the birth of Jesus. I began to wonder about the anticipation God held in His heart as time drew closer to the moment when the Angel would announce to the shepherds,
“Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David” (Luke 2:11, NLT)!
What a Gift He gave to all of mankind that night. And guess what? God wrapped His Gift, too. The Angel said the sign to identify Jesus to the shepherds would be the, “Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12, AMP). They would know they’d found Jesus when they found the One wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. That’s like going to the airport to pick up someone you’ve never met, and being told to look for the person wrapped in a blue coat waiting at the JetBlue terminal. There is an identifying element to them. How will I recognize them? By what they are wrapped in.
God gave His very best Gift when He wrapped up His Son, Jesus, that night and placed Him in a manger. How will the world recognize a Jesus follower? By what they are wrapped in. Those around us will recognize Jesus through the wrapping of compassion, patience, and hope. But, that’s not all. Jesus said: We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14) and that everyone would know we were His disciples if we had unselfish love for one another (John 13:35). Salt makes people thirsty, Light helps people see in the darkness, and love softens the hard heart. I can become so wrapped up in selfishness, that when I view life through my corrupted filter it makes it nearly impossible for anyone to see Jesus through me. Why?
Perhaps because He’s hard to see when:
We choose to wrap up in sarcasm rather than grace after the sting of an unkind word.
We allow anxiety in tough circumstances to force peace far from us; worry to steal hope.
We nurture a heart of bitterness instead of gratitude.
We wrap ourselves in depression, and forget the joy of the Lord is our strength.
We wrap up in callousness rather than compassion.
There’s no salt, light or love to be found when we become wrapped up in our own pain. Pain hinders our ability to hear God and receive what He has to say on the issues we face. As painful as our circumstance may be, we can fear moving out from the pain holding us hostage. While remaining the same incites discomfort, the pain of change can also be terrifying. It’s easy to dread the unknown. Sometimes there’s security in our habits—even bad ones. Once we become stuck in a cycle of pain we must force ourselves to allow God to show us the way out.
Chrissy experienced the truth of this one morning when she went for a walk in the woods searching for greens and berries to use in a basket for the Holiday season. Upon the discovery of the perfect bush, she began to reach in, and cut the best berries. Once she had what she needed and began to move to leave, she realized she had gotten herself caught up in the middle of the bush. Surrounded by thorns, she felt the pain of each one as she tried to remove herself from the bush as they pressed into her. But she also realized she could not stay there. She had to endure the pain the thorns would cause her as she moved to become free of the bush.
She achieved freedom with a few scratches, and for those who are suffering the pain of illness, there will be discomfort as you allow for healing. For those accustomed to being wrapped in the chains of anger, fear, jealousy, hate and hopelessness, it’s going to be a battle to find freedom. Those thorns press in hard. But, the best news is that Jesus overcame every fleshly thorn, so we could wrap up in the berries within the bush of “love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22, AMP).
One of the most recognized slogans in advertising is, When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best, created by Hallmark. God cared enough to send His Very Best – His Son. Now He is releasing the gift of a New Year to us, but before we can receive what He has waiting in 2019, we must release what is behind us in 2018.
Let’s care enough to send our very best into this New Year by Activ8ingHer courage. It’s time to unwrap from every thought, attitude, and mindset that hinders you from receiving the very best of Jesus. Unwrap from the thorns of shame and sorrow so others recognize the Gift of Jesus living inside of you, and be the very best version of who God intended for you to be.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Kolleen (and Chrissy)
Enjoy this continuation from our blog, #BU-Secure.
Psalm 91:1 invites us to find security and rest as we dwell in the shelter of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty. In part one of our series on, #BU-Secure, we discussed one definition of the word secure is ease of mind. The word dwell is from the Hebrew, yashab and it means to remain, abide, sit, or to be set. The word shelter is defined as a hiding place, secret place or covering. The word, shadow translates to, shade of protection.
Another definition of secure is: Assured in opinion or expectation. Matthew Henry writes in his commentary: “If Jehovah be our God, our refuge, and our fortress, what can we desire which we may not be sure to find in him? He is neither fickle nor false, neither weak nor mortal; he is God and not man, and therefore there is no danger of being disappointed in him. We know whom we have trusted.”
Talk about security! I’ve been disappointed in people, and by people. I’ve been disappointed in purchases I’ve made when I’ve sought to find security in possessions. I’ve been disappointed in myself when I believed I was the only one I could trust. What, or who, has caused you disappointment? Maybe it’s time to release them from your grip, and allow God to meet your desires. This is how we learn to trust that God is for us and not against us. It is also where we learn to dwell in the shade of His protection.
If my desire is for more money, power, food, friends, popularity, more of anything but Him—then He is not my dwelling place. My desire must be met in Him, and Him alone. We need to be assured in our opinion that God cannot fail us when circumstances around us become stormy. This is dwelling in the secret place of the Most High.
Jesus was able to live during His time on earth in holy serenity, with peace, and security of mind., even when He was confronted, challenged, ridiculed or condemned, He knew his purpose, and where to dwell for security. When Jesus experienced sorrow, or pain, He left the group and went alone to pray – He went into a place of intimacy with His Father.
Merriam-Webster offers another definition of secure as having no doubt. Matthew Henry goes on to say, “It is the privilege and comfort of those that do so that they abide under the shadow of the Almighty; he shelters them, and comes between them and every thing that would annoy them, whether storm or sunshine. They shall not only have an admittance, but a residence, under God's protection; he will be their rest and refuge for ever.”
Anyone can purchase a ticket to an event and spend a few hours having a great time. We enjoy traveling to visit our kids who live out of state, but when we begin our travel home, there’s anticipation for our arrival. We become excited to return to the place we reside. When you take up residence somewhere, you spend your time there, you look forward to being there, and all of your belongings are there. You lock your doors to keep danger out, which provides a sense of security.
God has planned for His children to take up residence under the shadow of the Almighty; He is our covering and He wants to be the place we run to in our quest for security. Rather than turning to food, porn, or alcohol, even good things like work, or people. We must be careful that we don’t run to our friends for security instead of God. The safest place for us is under His shade of protection.
The author of Psalm 91 continued, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!” Regardless of what others say, regardless of our circumstance – what do you say of the Lord? Who is He to you? Who do you CHOOSE Him to be to you? Who do you know Him as? Where we put our confidence is important. I will say of the Lord He is My Healer, My safe place, My Helper, My Way-maker, My Provider, My Friend, My Guide, My All-in-All, My Comfort, My _____________?
God is always looking for progress over perfection. No one needs to feel—if you’ve walked out from under the shelter of protection—that you can’t go back.
You can always return home.
Remember, your new #Activ8tion plan is:
A. Acknowledge the fear.
B. Read your Bible.
C. Call a friend for prayer.
D. Dwell in the shelter of the Most High.