Letters From Judy

About once a month, I get a hand written letter from a beautiful lady named Judy. 

About five or six months ago, she visited our house church because her college aged son attends it. During our house church she shared so much wisdom during our discussion time and I thought to myself, "I wish I had more time to talk with her." You see, we don't have many women in the 50's + age range at our church and sometimes I really feel that ache to have an older woman invest in me. When I was a kid, my mom participated in a program called "Apples of Gold." It was a group full of older women mentoring younger women. They rotated houses each week and each older mentor taught on a topic that they were particularly gifted in. They broke bread together and prayed together. Did life together. I was way too young to be in the group at the time, but since hitting my twenties I've longed for this kind of group or mentor in my life.

About a week later after I met Judy, I got a written letter of pure encouragement from her in snail mail from Texas! The letter was five pages long! It was full of Scripture and wisdom and compassion. She takes an interest in my marriage, my son, my church, my trials, and my victories. Mostly she is focused on encouraging my relationship with Christ. The first letter came at a time when I was in a postpartum funk and everything about life was particularly hard. God has perfect timing. God sees us in our need. It probably took some courage on her part to write to me. It also too time out of her precious schedule. And it touched me greatly that she noticed me and saw my need. Instead of focusing on all the logistics (She lives a full day away by car!) she focused on the way that God did give her to reach out to me, which was a handwritten letter.

We have been writing letters ever since. Can I encourage you that there is no one perfect way to discipleship? It can look like two women meeting for a coffee. Or it can be a college gal coming over to meet you while your baby naps. Or it can be in handwritten seven page letters to a sister in Christ on the other side of the country or even the world. Let's not put God in a box. 

I will leave you with one excerpt from Judy's last letter. 

I see the earlier part of this month you (and Titus) experienced a snowy day in Dayton. Sounds like you had a delightful day. Did you know that the word “Snow” has a negative connotation associated with it? It can mean to defeat, overwhelm and close off. But it also means “to cover.” It is the frozen precipitation of rain that falls as soft white flakes. This juxtaposition of what snow is and can be, potentially turning into inclement weather, as well as a beautiful display of the grace and mercy falls down in the form of white flakes can only be the works of God. On that day, through the eyes of Titus, God gave you a reminder that you (and your family) are blanketed with His presence and love at all times.
— Judy

Titus 2 Women

We love the name Titus. This is why we named our first and only child Titus. We love that Titus was a man of God and we want our son to be a man of God. Paul calls Titus a "true child in common faith" in the letter he wrote in the New Testament. Paul had several of these "children" in the faith. In his letter to Titus, Paul encourages the older teaching the younger, being an example for those who come in this journey after us. 

My original Titus 2 woman! My mom!

My original Titus 2 woman! My mom!

There have been several women in my life that fit this description, especially in this past year. They've pulled me under their wing, or aside in the church parking lot, or let me have a good cry in their driveway, They've told me I'm doing a good job, hugged me, oohed and ahhed at pictures of Titus, and commandeered extra Bible Study Fellowship lessons for me while I was on the waiting list. They've been loving me, challenging me, encouraging me, discipling me. 

These women and these moments all look different. They are not the traditional one on one discipleship relationships that we think about when we hear this passage of the Bible. They are not so scheduled. They pass through my life in graceful glimpses or awkward spasms, but I know they are purposeful moments placed in my path by the Father.

I would like to use this space to highlight these women and the moments God used them in my life. They've given me courage to dig deeper in my faith and challenged me to be a Titus 2 woman for someone else. I hope by sharing these moments, you are challenged to become one as well. Trust me. There is a a gal pal who needs YOU. She needs you to pull her aside after spin class, to grab coffee with her, to get that text from you. She needs your wisdom, your courage, the message God has uniquely given you to share with her. She needs God and you can show Him to her. How can you reach her today?



Postpartum Parking Lots

She stopped me in the parking lot. Dressed in a black shift dress, she had just been to a funeral for a beloved saint of our church, someone full of light that would be gravely missed. "I wanted to stop you because I'm leaving on a jet plane, like I'm on my way to the airport right now." Moving out of state. Funeral. No time but the present to say, in the words of John Mayer, what you need to say.

"I just wanted to tell you that everything you are posting on Instagram is super encouraging and I see that God is doing something. You may not realize that you have a ministry and many will be blessed by it. Our church has a new generation of young believers and they need to see what God is doing in your life. All the books you are reading and the work you are doing, it is messy stuff. It's not cute. (I mean the pictures of Titus are cute). But It is miserable sometimes. He is building you a platform. He wants to take you down deep, cut you down and rebuild your roots, because when he raises you he wants you to be powerful. He doesn't want feathers in leadership. Because the wind just blows harder the higher you go."

Two days before this encounter, I told the gals in my house church I was dealing with perhaps the saddest and loneliest time of my life. The theme lately had been that God was taking every possible way for me to be filled so He could fill me with himself. I was incredibly sad, feeling left out. I felt myself running the old hamster wheel again. Trapped by doing things over and over again that left me feeling empty, but that I know He was calling me to.

Hunkering down during another ear infection and strep throat in November 2015.

Hunkering down during another ear infection and strep throat in November 2015.

She said messy. I pictured the mountains of dirty kleenex overflowing in my car doors, my zitted face and falling down hair bun, masking the unwashed, not cut for a year hair. I pictured making double doses of food for my house church and coming upstairs to finding my dog had chewed up all the dirty diapers and strewn them all over the hallway. Miserable. I pictured my child screaming in the middle of the night, unable to be comforted and sleepily, anxiously giving him another dose of antibiotics that I wasn't sure would help him or not , or possibly even make him feel worse. I pictured Tim leaving for a PhD class having just returned from a full day of work. I pictured leaving meetings and get togethers early because my son needed me, because Tim had homework, because it isn't about me anymore. I picture single and newly married women at a bridal shower getting a glazed look in their eyes when I started talking about Titus. I pictured the plummeting numbers on the scale and asking myself if I had remembered to eat that day. Messy and miserable. I pictured my heart, clearly knowing God had called me to each thing that is draining everything from me. Marriage. Motherhood. Teaching and loving littles at church. House church shepherding. Writing.

And I pictured Jesus. I saw him loving the messed up and miserable. He has never been cute. He poured himself out. Completely emptied. He loved children. He was alone, but never really. The Father was with him.  He often prayed by himself to focus on the will of his Father. He asked that the Lord would take the cup from him but bravely went forward to die the most messy, miserable death of all.

I don't know where this post finds you, but if you are in the messy, miserable, emotional postpartum ride like I was, or whether you are going through something entirely different. Can I meet you in the parking lot of your life and pray with you? I prayed this prayer that day. Can I pray it with you?

Lord, I would rather you take this cup from me. I know you are entrusting me with something big that you are preparing for me. I weep thinking what more crosses you want me to bear, but I smile with thinking how it might bring you glory. Help me to see your work in the messy, small, lonely, everyday empty places and how you are using it to build your kingdom.