Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

18 hours out

Now that there is a little distance between #TGCW14 and me, all of 18 hours, I can get a bit of perspective on the big picture of what took place in me.  Yes, the pool was wonderful and the lazy river a whole lot of fun.  Yes it was heartening to see and hear 4000 women (over 50% of whom were under the age of 40!) coming together to hear meaty teaching and worshiping wholeheartedly. Yes, it was great to spend that time with my daughter and see her strengthened and inspired. But those are small bits compared to what happened in my heart and mind this weekend.

I realized as Sarah and I were processing the conference together in the car yesterday that this conference certainly inspires me personally in my walk of faith.  And I needed that, for I realized I was feeling a bit weary in that walk.  But it was more than that. It inspires me in my walk of ministry, as a wife, as a mother, as a Children’s director and now as a leader of a women’s discipleship team.  No other conference comes close to equipping me and motivating me to be better in ministry than this one. I have the assurance too that this is no short term mountaintop experience either, as the food from #TGCW12 lasted for 2 years, spurring me on to think and to act on what I learned.  I am incredibly excited to put into action what I soaked up this weekend. Here’s what that might look like, though I realize that by putting it in writing some of you local friends might actually hold me accountable to doing it…..

First of all the men and women who taught in the plenary sessions on the book of Nehemiah move me to get better at Bible study and teaching.  I co-taught a study on Nehemiah a year ago and though I was encouraged as I listened to these talks this weekend to hear many of the same points we made, I was also humbled by the way they put the teaching into the context of the whole of Scripture and redemptive history.  Wow.  Talk about making sense of the text!  By doing this, they were able to bring the text alive in a way I can only dream of right now, but that I want to work on developing in my own teaching. I know this is going to take some hard work, and I pray that God will provide the strength to do it.  Don Carson’s workshop on Biblical theology was a good start, but only scratched the surface of what I need to learn.  Why is it that the more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know?

Second, we need to be working to raise up younger women to teach.  I’m not sure how this fits into our discipleship goals, but we must be developing the teaching skills of the younger women so that when those of us doing the teaching in our church now wear out (and I don’t plan on that happening any time soon!), there is a new generation to take on the mantel.  Now that I have seen such excellent exposition by and for women, I am challenged to do this intentionally and thoroughly.  No wimpy women’s studies at ECC. This doesn’t mean that everyone will have to do hours of homework. I just don’t want us to settle for the easy answer as teachers.  Even if the study is one that requires minimal preparation by the students, the teacher needs to be prepared to teach in a robust and serious manner. I don’t want us all to go away with some sound bite of encouragement from a study, though I do want us to be encouraged. I want us to grow in our love for God and for the Gospel so that it oozes out of every pore of our bodies, all over our families, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

The amazing thing about this weekend is that diabetes has indeed been in the background as all this has been happening. Part of that is because I have been eating pretty well, and that helps.  But there have been excursions into both high and low ranges, but I have been so focused on other things that diabetes has been secondary.  I know there will still be challenges in dealing with diabetes as I move ahead, and that the lows and highs that will inevitably come will slow me down. But this too is from God’s hand, and  I must handle it with His grace and strength, rather than with my own reaction of frustration and anger. This is another lesson I heard loud and clear this weekend. God may not change our circumstances, but He will provide His grace and His relief in them.  Nehemiah is a great example of that!

My mind is blank now. I need to go eat some breakfast and get on the road so that Sarah and I can have a bit more adventure before landing back at home.  I’m on my way down from the mountaintop of  #TGCW14 but it is an experience that I pray will shape the way I do ministry from now on. I feel like I have been taught and inspired by some of the best and that now I have the responsibility to be a good steward of that experience.  May God enable me to do that, and may HE get all the glory for whatever I am able to do.

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Bring out the Book!

Saturday at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference was intense and exhausting. It ended with the most wonderful concert by the Gettys, full of beautiful music and theologically rich lyrics, which allowed me to worship the God whom I had been learning to love more and more all day long.  I cried as Kristyn sang the prayer-song she wrote for their daughter, and which I have been singing/praying for my daughter all this year as she struggled through her most difficult year of work ever. I laughed with the joy of the instrumental Irish dances.  And I sang the words of The Power of the Cross with renewed vigor after John Piper’s incredible exposition of Nehemiah 9-10 which had ended with the glorious good news of the Gospel.

What  a day. Paige Brown taught Nehemiah 5-6 using lines from the hymn Amazing Grace as her outline – no, really, she did! “T’was grace that taught my heart to fear” brought us to an understanding of the fear of God that is relational, motivational and resignational (yes, she made up a new word). Nehemiah cared only about what God thought.  He feared God more than he feared anything or anyone else.  Oh for that to be true of me! “And grace my fears relieved….” The fear of God drives out all other fears – fear of position, social standing, self-protection, self-promotion.  God may not change our circumstances that lead to fear, but He will always relieve us.  Note to self: diabetes isn’t going to go away, barring a miracle. But God is there to relieve my anxiety, my obsessional worry, my perfectionistic drive.  What an incredible comfort.

Nancy Guthrie was up next.  Will we ever forget the cries of “Bring out the Book!” from the audience?  The people in Nehemiah 7-8 came out to listen to a Book being read – THE Book. Not Ezra’s ideas, or Nehemiah’s construction plans.  They came to hear a book being read out loud and were cut to the heart by it. But this was not the time to mourn. That time would come but now was the time to celebrate the Feast of Booths, and celebrate they did!  They learned, as I did, that saying yes to God’s commands brings greater joy than anything that draws us away from obedience.  The joy of the Lord is that we would hear, understand and obey His Word. This joy will satisfy like no other.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go through every talk from yesterday.  But these two started off the day with rich and deep and comforting and challenging words that I pray will continue to shape my walk with the Lord.  In the afternoon workshops, I was tutored in Biblical Theology by Donald Carson (yeah, it was great!), inspired by the lives of Christian women from long ago whose words about the Word in their lives make me want to be so saturated with God’s Word that I ooze it out like they did. I got great help for our fledgling women’s discipleship planning that really simplifies my thinking and gives me great hope that we can indeed begin to encourage and build up the  women in our congregation through one on one discipleship.  And then John Piper came to the podium last night and just blew me away with his passion and depth and insight.  Quite a day.

This morning it all comes to a close.  A panel discussion and one more talk from Donald Carson, and then we head for home.  I hate leaving this mountaintop (so to speak) and returning to the real world.  But on the other hand, how will I ever be able to live out what I have learned?  As I was last time, I am inspired to be a better teacher of the Word by the the examples I have heard here.  But more than that, I have been encouraged to live out what I know.  There’s a deep level of peace that has settled in me from this weekend’s teachings and experiences, a peace that I have not felt in a long time.  I can go back to my responsibilities with a renewed sense of God’s leading and presence, and a hope that even though it might be challenging at times, that He is strong enough, and wise enough, and loving enough to bring me through those difficulties. And I want to be a better student and teacher of the Book so that I can share all of this with others effectively. This only scratches the surface of what I am thinking and feeling right now, but it’s a start.  And I have to pack and load the car, so that will have to do for today.  A blessed Lord’s Day awaits!

 

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Second time here

I will warn my readers that this post, as well as possibly the next few, will have little to do with diabetes, and much more to do with spiritual ramblings. I am at my second Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Orlando.  It was a long drive down (with none of the usual blood sugar spikes while driving! Good news!), but already I have forgotten all of it.  We have heard 4 talks and worshiped once with Keith and Kristyn Getty.  Everything that led up to this has paled by comparison.

Before I came, I was realizing that I have been letting diabetes rule too much of my life.  I know I have to think about it and deal with it 24/7. But I don’t want it to become the filter through which I live life.  And I have been.  I have been letting it determine how much I do, or what plans I make or how much I look forward to things.  It colors the good times with darker colors than I want it to.  My prayer on the way down here was that God would replace this view of things with His view of my life.  And it is beginning to happen.  It helps that my bg has been pretty cooperative since we left Cincinnati, though there have been the usual ups and downs.  I want the ups and downs to be in the background of my life, NOT the foreground.  And this weekend, with so many great speakers and opportunities, I have the time to work at making diabetes slide into that less dominating position.

Even before the conference began, the day was lovely. We had a really huge and long-lasting thunderstorm from the time we arrived yesterday afternoon until late into the evening, which kept us inside.  This morning dawned sunny and warm and we headed to the pool and lazy river.  I swam some laps, and we floated lazily on inner tubes for about 3 rounds of the lazy river.  A little sun, then in to prepare for the conference.  The first three talks reminded me of why I came.  While the focus of the panel discussions was on complementarianism, I found myself drawn to think more about how God has called me into ministry, both with children and now with the women of our church.  I do not feel limited in the least by considering myself a complementarian and in fact, I was reminded how freeing it is to live in the way that (I and others here) believe God designed us to live.  I was also reminded of how beautiful it is to hear God’s Word taught and spoken of so lovingly and with such passion and insight and intellectual vigor.  I want to be able to teach like that.  I am humbled and at the same time challenged to be a diligent student and teacher.  And I agree with our speakers: How cool is it that at a Women’s conference, we are hearing exposition on the book of Nehemiah.  As one of the panel discussion members put it, this is a conference for women, but not all about women. I am grateful that we are not being fed pablum, but solid meat, from God’s Word.

I needed this. I need to be re-kindled, re-juvenated, re-focused and re-vived.  I can feel it beginning and I am sure that there is more and better to come.  For now, it’s back to the bookstore…….

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