Ever wonder how The Connection got started? Ever wonder where The Connection is going? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I’m Mandy Hood. I’m one of the founding members of TC and am currently… More
“I am willing to do whatever you want. I will go wherever you want. I want to serve you.”
Mandy’s prayer gave me chills as I read the possible blog post she sent my way to review. You see this was also my prayer after God was prompting me to make some changes in my life.
Over a year ago. Sunday morning service started with worship as usual, but instead of going right into the message they paused, and gave this direction:
“One way we worship God is by talking with Him, let’s be silent and talk to Him.”
They played quiet instrumentals and asked us all to bow our heads and speak our hearts to God. I know I was praying in the spirit, because I’m not sure where this came from.
“God I don’t know what Your plans are for me, but I just want to be in Your will. I want to serve You, wherever You call me..I want to serve You”
The sermon that followed edified it even more. They read from Luke about the cost of following Jesus.
“To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:59-60
You see in this scripture they were on a road heading to Jerusalem. If the man’s father was truly dead, he would have been in mourning. Not on the side of the road. This man was asking to go live with his father until he died. Who knows how many years that would be and THEN follow Jesus.
The sermon went on to convict me. Our pastor asked, “What is stopping you from following God’s call? When your children are grown? When you have this much in savings? When you finish college? What is stopping you from following Jesus?”
Now he wasn’t telling us to leave our children behind, or stop being responsible with our finances, or quit school. God has a great way of meeting us right where we are. Following Jesus means to be in tune with His will for you and to make Him first in your life. Whether that means going on missions or serving in the nursery on Sundays.
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” Psalms 143:8
Then, following the sermon in the hallway TT, a Connection board member stopped me. She asked me to consider taking a position on the Board of Directors. Knowing these board members, I knew what kind of commitment this would be.
Remember the prayer!
Remember that sermon!
So what was my response?
Sometimes I wonder.
Why did God choose me?
Of all the women in our area, why me to serve Him by beginning a women’s ministry that is one-of-a-kind?
I’m not qualified. I’m not experienced. I am the least of these.
I often think of scripture that talks about God’s glory and power being able to shine through when He uses those ill equipped. Well, in that case, who better to pick than me!
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” II Corinthians 12:9
But, I know that there’s another reason God is using me.
Ten or so years ago, I distinctly remember being on my knees in my living room. I don’t remember what prompted me, but I remember saying “I am willing to do whatever you want. I will go wherever you want. I want to serve you.”
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
At the time, I didn’t realize the changes; but they say hindsight is 20/20. Little by little, He gave me the desires of my heart. To serve women. To build them up. To provide resources. To provide opportunities to come together and love, laugh and learn.
Because I offered. Because I was willing. Wonderful things are happening through The Connection. And I know there’s much more in store.
Tonight, my seven year old daughter made a choice that she shouldn’t have. She had been warned that if she made this particular choice, she would have her Kindle taken away. This upset her a lot because she loves to listen to “Adventures in Odyssey” to fall asleep. She cried the entire way home. After we got home, I got down on one knee with her and we talked about it. I asked her what I should do in this situation.
She looked at me, with tears filling her eyes, and told me that I should take her Kindle even though she didn’t want me to. She then burst into tears.
I had a choice here. I could take the Kindle and follow through with the consequence I had put forward earlier. Or I could show mercy.
I thought about it.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
Ask and it will be given to you.
For several months leading to the opportunity to be a mentee with the “Together” program, I prayed that God would lead me to a woman who would continue guiding me in my walk with Christ since moving to York, PA from Waynesboro, PA.
Seek and you will find.
In January 2018, I attended the finance workshop with The Connection where I first heard about the mentoring program “Together”. Tammy Williford announced that if anyone was interested in hearing more details to seek her afterwards. I decided at that moment I’d pass up asking about the details as I figured how could I be part of this at a distance. But as we know… it’s not always what we decide but what God decides, and that day he had bigger plans in mind than just answering my prayer. Before I left the finance workshop the Spirit moved in me to think: What do I have to lose by asking about the mentoring program?
So, I sought out Tammy to ask details of how I could be a mentee. She was very helpful in discussing how I could be part of this even with me being at a distance. Then as we were talking about who I could possibly be paired up with a thought came to her mind…Betsy.
So, before I continue telling you about our six-month journey I must reveal some crucial information to you because God certainly had his hands in this mentor/mentee relationship from the beginning.
How can we start on the path of transformation?
Invite Jesus in to be a part of this.
He knows just how we need to be transformed in whatever ways we desire. If we don’t know those desires, ask Him to reveal them to you. He is walking along side of you, rooting for you, picking you up and healing you from it all.
Surrender to His will.
Let go of your plans, allow Him to spill out of you. Intentionally saturate yourself with His truths — seek and you will find.
Walk in obedience with Him.
Surrender to him every day, hour, minute, second of your lifes. Being obedient to His will for your lives. When you’re living in the will of Jesus, He has a way of making things unfold in ways that work for you.
THIS ONE IS HUGE FOR ME! Do not compare.
Worry about yourself. It’s you and Him. Everyone’s journey looks different.
Turn down the voices in your head.
God’s voice should drown out that negative voice and His should be the loudest.
Focus on your progress not your perfection.
Practice makes PROGRESS. God doesn’t want your perfection, He wants your heart. He wants your sincerest effort and He wants you to keep growing and walking closer with Him.
Transformation: Mind. Body. Soul. Part 1
This is a story about my transformation. I apply it to three areas in my life.
They all work and flow together with God in the center. When I was trying to describe my transformation into words, the first thing that came to me — cliché I know — was Christ.
God changed me.
Only God can change unchangeable people.
About 7-8 years ago, I gave my life to Christ. For the first time I felt love. I felt His mercies and His direction. Choosing to follow Him and surrender my life in its entirety to His truths, will and teachings. In doing this, God has and continues to work in and through my life every day.
I have been delivered from the lies that the enemy has been manipulating me to believe my whole life.
What words describe how God has got me to this point in my journey? I thought…
I have a secret. I’m afraid of the bathroom. No, I’m not afraid of a creepy crawlies that could be under my toilet seat…. but that IS rather terrifying…I must say.
Nope…I’m afraid of the shower….is there a scientific name for that?? Hold on! Let me Google that.
WOW… thanks Google…glad you could give me a label.
You see, a few months ago I took a step. Yep…that’s all I did. I took a step out of a shower, not my shower, I was away from home…and my life was altered so quickly.
In a split second stepping out of a shower the towel under my foot slid rolling my ankle…dislocating it and fracturing my leg and ankle in 3 serious breaks. SNAP! That quick. I just took a step. I’ll spare you the details that followed…but they are rather interesting … including a house full of ladies in their pjs and two very confused medics.
Anyway, God has used the last 3 months to teach me ALOT! I’m still journaling. I’m still listening, and I’m still processing. But this Fear… the specific fear of showering, well that needed to be dealt with. I’m a shower every day kinda gal. It wakes me up, I enjoy the quiet time of a shower, the hot water, it’s a recipe for a great start to my day.
I was managing just fine with showers at my home, being very cautious. Then I went on a family vacation. To a lovely cabin nestled in the woods on a lake. Unfortunately the shower at the cabin was an exact replica of the shower from a few months ago. I knew I had fear brewing about showering but this brought it to a whole new level. It caused me to replay that tragic step. The split second and how quickly my circumstances changed. So it was an easy decision to skip my shower the first day. But after two days of suntan lotion and bug spray this needed to happen. I’m still very unstable standing without my air cast on, but I did it. I showered. Painfully. I showered. I was shaking and close to tears. I was gripped with fear. I know some may think this sounds ridiculous. Actually I felt ridiculous, but it was real, and it was crippling me. Just like when my four year old wakes scared of the spider in his dreams. His fear was real, kind of crazy for me to understand because I didn’t dream it, but I know he is scared.
Later I sit to read a devotion that I had been reading on spiritual warfare. We know that God warns us..
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
This specific day in the devo was talking about how the enemy will send his spirits to wreak havoc on you, to separate you from God. Using a “Spirit of Fear” being one tactic.
Excerpt from Spiritual Warfare by LeClaire on YouVersion Bible app.
“As an adult, after I had suffered many traumatic events, fear dominated my life. Fear’s false feelings were no longer just feelings. I had a legion of fear spirits that impacted every area of my life and manifested in diverse ways.
Fear is your nemesis. It is a master weapon in the enemy’s hand that defies God’s promises in your life. Fear comes to stop you from advancing in God. But you can be free from its stronghold in your mind. You can take authority over fear when it tries to rise up against your soul.”
I had never looked at it this way. I thought of fear a something that was rising up inside of me, an emotion or feeling. I know that the enemy can take a seed that is in our emotions and use that against us. It was time to call it out. This was an attack.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
This wasn’t from God!
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18
God is love, we know love because of him…this was a tactic to separate me from the freedom found in Christ alone. I began to speak these verse out loud, and praise God for these last few months. I can feel him refining me, and I thank Him for that.
God has taught me about the spirit of fear and how the enemy can use the simplest things to wedge that gap, and separate me from the peace found with God.
Actually God is teaching me a lot through these last few months of trials. I’m still listening, still processing, still learning, still healing. Everything from being humble, being still, being patience… not just with others but with myself, about the value of a good shower but most of all about how I am Loved, I am embraced, I’m never alone, yet the value of alone time, and about the ever present, unlimited power of God living in and around me.
In conclusion you will be happy to know, God is giving me victory in Him…one shower at a time!
Mary Bender and her husband Norman live in Greencastle, PA. They have three energetic boys, and one adorable little girl. Mary counts herself as being truly blessed to be saved by Christ, who equips her to be a stay at home mom to her four “littles.” In addition to being a wife and mother, Mary uses her God-given gifts to serve in women’s ministry at her church, LCBC, and as a life group leader. Mary also uses her passion for women’s ministry for serving on the board of directors for “The Connection.” It is Mary’s desire to serve and encourage women to have genuine faith while building a home and raising her children.
I had gone off the grid.
I had to. The signs of a crash was coming. First everything started to slow down, no systems were running at full speed, but I’m not talking about my Macbook . . . I’m talking about me.
Life had gotten way too busy. Too many programs were running all at the same time, and I started to feel like the spinning wheel of death that freezes everything on my computer when I try to operate too many things at once.
Everything needed to come to a halt.
For months I had been nonstop. On a mission, doing good things that the Lord sent me out to do, but I had come back exhausted from my journey.
I needed to enter into a season of rest but my mind and emotions did not agree. “There’s too much to do, you can’t stop now”, were the words that constantly guilted me.
All I could see were deadlines, serious needs that needed to be met, and my “to do list” only grew more with each new day. I felt like so much was riding on continuing at my same pace, and that my future success was at stake.
But the more I tried to press on, the more depleted I felt, and the more depleted I felt, the more defeated I began to feel. My emerging feelings of defeat weren’t based off any real failure or fact, it was solely based off being depleted of much needed rest.
I knew I was in a desperate place as I cried out for help, when the Lord heard my cry and brought to me these sweet words, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
In the sixth chapter of the book of Mark, Jesus had sent out the twelve disciples on a mission. They went out and preached to the people. They drove out demons by the power given to them by Jesus, and they anointed many sick people with oil and healed them of their infirmities.
When the disciples returned and told Jesus all they had done, people still continued to come to them. Knowing exactly what his disciples needed, Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Jesus knew they needed rest after their long journey of ministering to his people. He knew they needed replenishment because they hadn’t even had a chance to eat. He knew exactly what they needed, and so they went away in a boat with Jesus to a solitary place.
But what happens next might surprise you.
When they arrived at their destination many of the people had seen where they were going and got there ahead of them. Instead of turning them away Jesus had compassion on them, and does one of his most famous miracles . . . he miraculously feeds not only his disciples but also five thousand men by supernaturally multiplying five loaves and two fish.
I can’t help but find the placement of this miracle so interesting. In one verse Jesus calls his disciples to come away with him to rest, and then only a few short verses later he is performing this magnificent miracle.
Maybe Jesus was trying to teach them that when we go away with him and get some rest, that is when he will do some of his greatest miracles in our lives.
Those miracles won’t be done out of our own strength or abilities. They won’t be done by anything that we will do or complete. They will solely be done by the power of our great and loving God when we go to Him and rest.
Right now I’m in a season of needing rest and a miracle. Maybe you are too.
If you are like me you may be feeling like you don’t have enough energy to do anything to help this miracle occur. All the best within you is already spent, and you have nothing left to make something amazing happen.
Perhaps like the disciples, Jesus is calling us too, to come to Him and rest. To trust Him for the miraculous. To believe that He already knows what we need and that He is faithful to not only meet those needs . . . but exceed them.
For me that means I need to embrace this season of rest. To stay off the grid as long as necessary, and to turn my “to do list” into a “not to do list”.
I do believe rest is a powerful weapon, given to us by God, and I pray we all enter into the power that only occurs when we rest in Him.
Diane Swan is a Credentialed Assemblies of God Minister, Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: Facebook – Pinterest – Twitter – Website
Dear Child of God,
God welcomes us with loving arms ‒ unbiased and ready to love on His children. Eager to show His mercies and grace in our lives. Saturating us with the love we deserve and were created from and died for.
Being human, I often find myself looking for this love outside of the realms of God. I sometimes get this expectation and entitlement that others will or should love me like this. I look for this in my husband, my kids and my friends.
Why can’t they just love me?
Why can’t I always feel that they love me?
If they really love me, I should always feel that they love me.
Because I don’t feel it all the time, they must not love me enough.
Why can’t they give me all that I need to fill me and sustain me? Serving me outward expressions of the inward love they feel for me. I want to hear from them 24/7 that I am good enough, I am mother enough, I am wife enough, I am friend enough. Enough.
Sounds like I’m a pretty needy women right? (insert eye roll emoji)
Have you ever felt this way?
I have to be reminded that the people in my life circle are sinners in need of the love of Jesus just like myself and will not be enough to fill me. They’re only humans. We were not made to FULLY look to others to self-sustain ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If that were the case, we wouldn’t feel the need for a relationship with God. We are told in the Bible to seek what we are thirsty for in Christ.
“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
The tribe of people in my life are wonderful, loving, encourages to me. This is not a dig at them for not giving my needy self-enough. They are incredible and I am well-loved and cherished and I know that.
What I am saying is, when I have that incredibleness in my life, why do I sometime feel broken and unloved and not enough?
I have to shift my focus on the real issue here.
The issue is that the enemy knows my insecurities and pounces at the chance to use them to cripple me. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I notice this more as I am drawing closer to Christ in my relationship with Him and being obedient to the calling and responsibility He has gifted me in life.
But why still do I fall into the enemies trap and choose to allow the lies of the enemy to break me down and steal my joy?
Why do I keep the door open for the enemy to come in my heart and allow feelings of discontentment and unworthiness enter into my mind?
Why do I stumble and allow him to have full reign over my body, mind and spirit and have me convinced that I am not enough?
As we are maturing as Christian women and walking closer with God, the enemy will pull out all his tricks to make you lose sight of your lighted path.
But be encouraged! Christ knew this before you were even born. He has called it out in His big book of truth!
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.” 2 Timothy 3:12 & 14
Stand firm on the truths of God and stomp out the lies of the enemy. Tell him who you are. Make him run with his tail between his legs and have him so annoyed that he doesn’t stand a chance with this God girl!
I am enough.
Who am I? I am a daughter of the King ‒ an heir to the kingdom of the most high. A woman who will not be shaken by this world. I am a warrior princess, a deliverer of God’s word, and a vessel of his love.
I am a wife who deeply loves, respects and uplifts her husband.
I am a mother who is training up her children to have a natural, instinctual relationship with Christ.
I am a friend whom her tribe can rely on and seek wisdom and encouragement from….and to always be up for a good laugh and a cup of coffee.
I also acknowledge that I am broken, in need of my Savior daily. Honestly, I don’t always hit the mark and get it right because I am human. I am one big ‘ol hot mess of imperfect progress.
But what I can get right is spotting the lies of the enemy and slamming the door in his face because those lies have no place in my world! Buh-bye!
I don’t know about you, but knowing that I don’t need to fully rely on my feelings of being
enough brings me this overabundance of joy and peace. Now when I am feeling that I’m not enough, I quickly become aware that this is an attack ‒ a tactic of the enemy to belittle me and rob me of the joy and love for myself and others.
The Bible tells us in Romans 8:39 that “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You are loved. You are so loved! He is right there with you, in the midst of your storms and you are enough for Christ. He created you in His own image and knows exactly what He’s doing. Invite Him in to your world to walk in front of you, behind you and by the hand with you.
A woman who is enough
Heather and her husband live in Smithsburg MD. They attend Lifehouse church and are active at the local YMCA. Heather is a photographer, coffee lover and fitness momma with 3 babies. She is thankful to be a stay at home Mom and is passionate about women’s ministry and the opportunities and gifts God has placed in her life and on her heart.
When first discovering who God was, I remember hearing someone say, “God spoke to me.”
This got me wondering if God would ever speak to me?
What will God sound like? If I did hear him, would I be scared? Would I freak out?
Not much longer after questioning this, I heard,“I’ve got plans for you.”
Plans for me? Continue reading “Schemes”