Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Basking in Scripture

Every once in a while, I get the opportunity to teach at a women's event. This weekend, I'm one of the speakers at a women's retreat for the Baptist Convention of New York! It's always a terrifying privilege to be asked to present the Word of God to a group of ladies. The weight of the situation is undeniable. I have a chance to be a part of the spiritual lives of women who will go back to their lives changed. I can't control the change that takes place in their hearts, but I can certainly be faithful to the Word and pray that it changes them for the better. Scripture always changes us, in one way or another. An encounter with Scripture can't be a neutral experience. We draw closer to our Creator or we harden our hearts to Him.

As I'm preparing to teach, I'm spending a lot of time in one passage. I've read it, re-read it, and I've written it by hand in two translations so far. It's just so... good. It's so good to have the chance to bask in the truth of God's Word. It's so good to be forced to listen, ears leaning in to whatever God is saying.

I know that I'll only be able to relay a few of the lessons that I have gleaned from this passage. There's only so much time, after all. I ask Him to show me which truths are the most helpful to the ladies God brings this weekend. But here, in the time I have spent listening to God's Word, hanging onto each syllable, I'm changed.

That's how I want to teach, as someone changed. I know that I need it. I'm not where I hope to be in a year. Next year, I won't be where I hope to be a year after that. That's what I want for the women who come to the retreat this weekend. I want them to be changed, and I want them to go back to their normal lives armed with the truth that changed them. That's my prayer for them, and that's my prayer for myself.

Lord, never let me cling to my own ways and my own thoughts more tightly than I cling to Yours. Change me by Your Word, and change those around me through Your Word at work within me.

Please pray for me and for the women of great faith in our Great God who will teach the other sessions and workshops. It is an awesome privilege to be counted among them! Pray especially for Cathy, the amazing woman who is organizing and running point for the whole retreat.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Watch Us Run

My little family just made a huge change. We lived in Upstate New York for six years where God blessed us and the church that my husband served immensely. We lived in a very rural area, but I had more friends than I have ever had before. We were loved and cared for, and I finally got to live in a house of my own after spending my entire life in church-owned properties.

But about six months ago, we began to sense that God was moving us. He used many different ways to communicate His will to us, but it came down to one thing: God's Spirit was moving us to a new place to do new work.

Although it was a time of mourning in many ways, we were also excited about what lay ahead. We looked at the different ways that God is working across this country, and we were excited to join Him in that work... somewhere. We considered church planting, but it seemed too hard and too lonely. If we were going to leave a church that we loved as much as we loved our church in Upstate New York, we really thought that we needed to go to a well-established, healthy church.

God wasn't as interested in our logical plans as we were, so He never opened a door to an established church. Instead, He threw open the doors to plant a church in a city of 40,000 people, clear on the other side of the state. The town's only church in our denomination recently closed, leaving an empty building and a parsonage. My husband has been charged with the monumental task of planting a new church. I've been called to help him fulfill that task.

We aren't running away from anything. We are striving toward Christ. We are chasing after His will and His glory. We are racing to make Him known wherever we can. We are pressing on to know His strength in the midst of our weaknesses.

That's where we are right now: weakness.

My husband (with a seminary education and years of pastoral experience) just started working as a cable salesman. My daughters went from attending a school where they knew everyone to a school where they know no one. I went from a church full of family and friends to having no church at all.

I'm not complaining. I'm not trying to make you feel sorry for me. There are missionaries right now who are risking their lives to serve refugees. Please pray for them. There are pastors in other countries who are serving prison sentences while their families struggle to survive on the outside. Please pray for them. There are godly people who are dying from painful diseases that they have begged God to remove, but He hasn't yet. Please pray for them. Meanwhile, we have taken a step from one life of privilege to another life of privilege.

We aren't in the midst of suffering. We're just weak, and that's okay. Weakness is a beautiful thing, but that doesn't make it an easy thing. So while you're praying for those who are suffering and struggling, I would ask that you say a prayer for us, the Attaway family, as well. Pray that God opens doors to conversations with the people around us. Pray that we find a community of believers that we can edify and who can edify us. Pray that God tells our dogs "peace, be still" as they struggle to adapt without the benefit of understanding what's going on. Pray that my daughters adjust to their new school and make new friends. Pray that our house sells quickly, so we can quickly move forward to adopt our precious son who is currently in China. Pray that our hearts grow into Christ's as we seek to serve Him and know Him. Pray that God's strength will completely overwhelm our weaknesses.

Keep checking back in to this blog. There's quite a race set before us, and we'd love for you to watch us run.

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2