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The Language of “Yes”

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It was a Monday.

Mondays come after hectic Sundays and this one found me trying to finalize a paper for school, convince my children to do their school, and run up and down two flight of stairs — to and from the laundry room — so our drawers weren’t empty and we didn’t have to grace Tuesday in our birthday suits.

My husband and I argued over whose turn it was to shop for groceries and I reminded him that I was maxed out. If he wanted a wife who could handle life, grocery duty would be his every week.

Afternoon came and I swore it was supposed to still be 10 a.m. School buses drove by and knocks on my front door grated my last Monday-nerve. Didn’t the neighbor kids realize our school day was unorthodox? Didn’t they know I lost my mind this first day of the week and that I was armed and dangerous with impatience?

I made plans with friends, weeks in advance, only to cancel. In the middle of all this chaos, I decided to go back to school. Watch out world, I dare you to call me and schedule a meeting. I don’t know how the insanity struck; perhaps I suffered from a neurological glitch as I submitted the application.

That was January.

By the following May, my quiet time was dominated by biblical studies for classes and the self-standard of perfection had me immersed in the online classroom multiple hours a day. I struggled to find a balance between family, ministry, writing, and school. That summer, we headed north to the island where my husband is from and I realized: I’m trying to do this on my own. Every week was the same — a replica of the one before it and a promise of the one after: Go to church Sunday and come home Monday through Saturday. I craved community.

What would it look like to let go? What would it look like to stop planning and take a day at a time?

One week in November, my husband headed out of town with our oldest son. The other three kids and I (crossed our fingers behind our backs) and promised to hold things together on the home front. In a freakish moment of generosity, I also volunteered to cover youth group during his absence. It had been years since I’d worked with teens and I wondered if I could still speak the language. I was unprepared for that Thursday; I absolutely adored those girls and their hunger for God.

I had found community in the faces of 15-year-olds. They seemed to love me, too, and the youth girls really needed a volunteer. Did I really have time? Was it really wise? Church, kids’ school, writing, my school, and now youth?

But I saw a need and I knew I could meet it — however imperfectly. I said “yes.”

It was a new language, and I wanted to learn to speak it fluently. Marian, can you cover Sunday kids’ church? Yes. Can you come early and work the sound booth? Yes. Can you hold my baby? Yes. (Babies scare me, even though I’ve had four. This was a big deal.) Can you meet for coffee this week? Yes. Can you mentor me? Yes.

Some weeks are so chaotic while others flow — a steady current that carries me closer to the pulse of God’s kingdom. There are mornings when a woman comes to mind and I realize I should call her, invite her over, or take time to go see her. Phone calls come in and I lose daylight in 30-minute chunks of chatter. Neighborhood kids come over and my study time runs amuck with living room wrestling matches.

And I could be stressed. But instead, I’ve learned to say “yes.”

I rarely keep a calendar. I try not to plan too far in advance. And this allows me to be open for the spontaneity of God.

I know that’s backwards. Our society, as a whole, is so busy. Our mantra in churches has been “just say ‘no.'” No extras, no commitment, no community dinners, and no interruptions. At some point, I grew tired of guarding my time. When I realized that I don’t serve a God who “accidentally” intersects my life with others, I stopped wanting to stand still. I realized that my self-focus and self-preservation ran the risk of saying “no” to God. Chosen isolation is an affront to the community God desires in His kingdom.

I still have days of rest, I’m just not bothered if they are interrupted by others. I still have early morning quiet time, but I’ve stopped letting God know whether or not I’m available that day.
Said simply, I’ve learned the language of “yes.”

Am I busy? Sure. Absolutely I am. Do I have time for everything? No. Absolutely not. But what I have found is that God desires the citizens of His kingdom to contribute to kingdom function, organization, and expansion. There is a specific role in this kingdom of His that has been carved out and sized just for me. And when I operate within that role, it no longer feels like work. When my life is defined by the purpose for which God created me, it no longer feels overwhelming. When I feel lonely or isolated now, I pray that God shows me who it is I am supposed to loving on. Who can I say “yes” to?

Mark 6:30-36 reads:

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them. People ran there by land from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things.

When it was already late, His disciples approached Him and said, ‘This place is a wilderness, and it is already late! Send them away, so they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.’

‘You give them something to eat,’ He responded.”

Jesus was trying to get His disciples away to rest. They had been working hard throughout the region — traveling, teaching, and healing in His name. They had stories to share and I imagine there were question they wanted to ask Jesus. So many people had been coming and going that there wasn’t even time to eat. “Come away to a remote place and rest,” Jesus said.

And this is where we usually stop. Jesus invites us to rest, therefore we must guard our time as precious. We must hoard our evenings, keep our weekends open, and not schedule anything extra on Sunday.

Except the story doesn’t stop there: The people saw Jesus and His disciples get into the boat and they ran to the next town, arriving ahead of them. Did Jesus consult His calendar? Did He ask them to come back tomorrow? Was He annoyed that they interrupted His very important scheduled rest?

No. He had compassion on them and He fed them — spiritually and physically.

When they arrived as an interruption, He gave them an invitation to stay.

We can learn to say “yes.”

Will there be a season where God asks me to stop reaching into the lives of others? I don’t know. I see a lot about prayer. A lot about routine rest. I read a lot about acknowledging God. But I have yet to find a command regarding the preservation of myself and my time. So, I offer what I have as a drink offering, poured out for family, friends, and strangers. So that if anyone recognizes Jesus in that drink — they might come and be filled. So we might sit together and be satisfied. That our thirst for more might be quenched in a community that reflects Christ.

Let’s be a people that says “yes” to others. Let’s be a people who, if we start to feel dry empty or dry, we’ll fill our bucket from the overflow of God. Let’s engage with that next interruption, say “yes” to the unscheduled conversation, because we are a people who need others and we will reject the temptation to guard and protect our time. For who can touch the life of another while keeping one’s distance?

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Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor's wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for "bad girls" -- helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life ... and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.

1 Comment
  • Thank you for this challenge, Marian! Just this weekend, I felt a strong need to say “No” to a couple things that are taking away time from other callings in my life. I love the idea that by saying “No” to certain things, it will free me to say “Yes” to the kingdom-driven opportunities God brings my way.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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The Language of “Yes”

by Marian Green time to read: 6 min
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