Discovering the Joys of Standing Strong

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Vulnerability. Just thinking about it makes me uncomfortable. The idea of sharing the intimate details of my life with someone else – someone not already in the inner circle of the family who already knows my sins and struggles - makes me squirm. Pride has a lot to do with it. Like many of us, I’ll put on the mask of “everything’s fine!” while secretly yearning for the nerve to reach out to someone to vent about whatever is bothering me.

I’ve learned that you’ve got to be intentional about relationships, so that when the going gets tough, you have friends to reach out to for wise counsel, a shoulder to cry on, a receptive ear. God in His wisdom created us for relationships, after all.

It was the need for a relationship that compelled me to reach out to a good friend last summer. We had all been a bit isolated, thanks to COVID, and I knew that it was time to be intentional about getting back into the groove of Bible study and fellowship. (And I think I was driving my husband crazy by staying home all the time!)

Registration for the next year of the Standing Strong Women’s Mentoring Program was about to open up, and I was eager for my friend’s perspective on her experience with the program the year before. She of course encouraged me to sign up, validating what in my heart of hearts I already knew God wanted me to do. Afterward, she sent me a devotional that really helped seal the deal. Here’s a snippet:

“I’ve found a big defeater in my life is following up statements about what I want or need to do with the words, ‘But I …’. [For example:] I need to talk about this issue with my friend … BUT I don’t like confrontation.”

Or in my case: I’d love to develop close relationships with God-fearing women, BUT I don’t like being vulnerable. I’d love to learn more about and grow closer to Jesus, BUT I don’t know that I’ll have the time. I’d love to enjoy fellowship and retreats BUT I don’t think my family could survive without me. Talk about pride!

The devotional goes on to say, “If I catch myself saying ‘But I …,’ I need to see this as a trigger to redirect my discouraged heart with a ‘But God’ truth: ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (Psalm 73:26).”

It’s easy to come up with excuses as to why we just can’t make the commitment, but God has created us for relationships. He has designed us to walk not in isolation, but in fellowship. God tells us to “Be on your guard; to stand firm in the faith; to be courageous, and to be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13).” We can’t – and shouldn’t - do that alone. 

I put my fear of vulnerability aside and signed up for the Standing Strong Women’s Mentoring Program. It’s hard to believe, but I’m already over halfway through the year-long program. I have made lasting friendships and learned more about who God is and who He has made me be as a woman, wife, and mother. I have grown more comfortable with sharing prayer requests and praying for others – even out loud! I have learned that to be vulnerable is to allow Christ’s power to shine through my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). I am learning what it means to stand strong – not by myself, but with other women walking alongside me. Women who want the best for me and who will pray for me at the drop of a hat.  

Registration will open on September 12 for next year’s Standing Strong mentoring program. I encourage you to pray about signing up. Don’t let fear of any kind stand in your way. Talk it over with your friends and family. Reach out to women who have gone through the program before. (Feel free to get in touch with me. I’d be happy to chat.) In fact, many program participants will be on hand at Standing Strong informational meetings scheduled for September 26 and October 3. Stay tuned for more details.

We all have our “But I’s,” but God in His faithfulness has wonderful plans for us, “plans to prosper [us] and not to harm [us], plans to give [us] hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).” The Standing Strong Women’s Mentoring Program may just be the next step in His plan for you.

Jennifer Dennard

Posted by Jennifer Dennard with
in Prayer

An Answered Prayer…

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Ps. 27:7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud: be gracious to me and answer me!

Hello There! I just wanted to share a little challenge with you that the Lord laid on my heart to give to you all.

For the past 15 years, my husband and I had been living in a beautiful town near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with our four kiddos. I was that full time working mama and running on fumes, you know the one who goes to work, grocery shop, pay bills, feed/walk the dog, participate in all the church activities, meet up with friends, date your husband every now and then, you know living a tornado whirlwind.  So about two years ago, just after our fifth baby was born, I had reached my last fume and, I “secretly” started praying that I could quit my job and stay home with our fifth baby. He was great, and such a little surprise, but I could not play this “Super MOMMY” role anymore. The day my husband got the letter and brought it home, he said, “What have you been praying?” and I just simply said,“ That I could stay home with my babies.” He said, “Well, you got it, but it will have to be in Georgia.” So my prayers were answered, BUT that meant I had to move away from everything I knew. I knew then that the Lord had been faithful, funny, and what I thought was unfair. I had just had our fifth baby, and now no one to run to when times got hard.

So now, here I am in a new town of Acworth, Georgia, and had “no one.” I knew no one and had to take fives kiddos everywhere I went, and that in itself is a job. We moved from everyone, everything, my job, my family, my church, my friends, my normal routine. So who did I have now? Of course, my husband and kids, but you know, ladies, we “need” our sisters in Christ. 

The Lord had to strip me of everyone and everything I knew to depend on Him solely. Have you ever had your family, church, friends ever taken from you? So now, I ask,” Who are you truly depending on?” Yourself, husband, social media, or Jesus? I see now why the Lord allowed me to go through this season of my life to share how the Lord helped me get through this as well. Here are just a few things that I did to really strengthen my daily walk with the Lord.

  • First, find a “prayer room” mine literally was the shower - not to get too personal, but when you cry out to the Lord and tears are just flowing, it saves on the “tissue” shortage right now. 
  • Next, read daily from the Word, find a study or book, or even read a proverb a day.
  • Next, find a good church that will challenge you to be more like Him, and that reaches the lost, and lastly, claim a verse every week and meditate on it. Hide God’s Word in your heart that I might not sin against God. (Ps. 119:11)

When you have nothing, or so you think, Jesus is right there with open arms. Always! He loves you so much and wants to hear from you. 

Don’t let Satan entice you with the “shiny apples” of this world, don’t let him think you’re not worthy because you are, and He loves you!! Jesus died for you and wants you to know how much he cares for you. Cast all your cares upon Him for HE cares for you. Once you ask him to take ownership of your life, it is a peace that passes all understanding.

Ps. 18:2 Jesus is our rock and our salvation

Psalms 144:1-2 Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle: his is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues people under me. 

So, I know when times get hard, and you think you can’t make it, just turn to Him first, Seek ye first, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Remember, you need sisters in Christ too; why not join us on Friday, Sept 18th @ 7 pm for a women’s worship night “Count it all Joy” you can make reservations at this link, register today, don’t allow another day to go by without the support you need.

Kristy Perkins

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