Today I am featuring a woman who is a spiritual mentor to us at HHH in many ways. We have read through Naomi's bible study on Proverbs 31, she serves on the Synod's WELS Women's Ministry Committee, speaks at women's retreats, sings, several of us have played music with her in worship, she is a Pastor's wife, and she is a mother to one of our own writers can you guess who? (pssst - it's Jes!)
Naomi, how would you describe your unique calling as a woman?
Although, you may be asking about what my calling is, I find that my whole life is God's unique calling for me to serve Him: my family, friends, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses; every opportunity is from His hand and uniquely mine! The whole package is part of His plan and I love living it for His glory! That attitude also makes it easier to accept my shortcomings and weaknesses because I can be comfortable with who God made me (even as I strive to address the areas where I want to grow!). It also motivates me to be confident and assertive with the Gospel message and "make the most of every opportunity."
Many years ago I read the Ephesians passage about the devil's schemes ("Take your stand against the devil's schemes") and realized that in my life his greatest (most successful) "scheme" was convincing me that other people limited what I could do. It was clear to me that I needed to see and be convinced of what God wanted me to do - and then just do it. It freed me in a new way to see the callings before me as a woman, rather than seeing the limitations. Identifying Satan's persistant schemes in my life made it easier to see when the attacks came - and easier to follow God's calling.
Wow - what a great reminder! We should be alert and remember the power we have over Satan through Christ.What bible passage is your personal favorite?
Each stage of life has brought different favorites and for several years I was faithful about picking a new verse (or mission statement) on New Year's Eve for the upcoming year. However, there is a verse tucked away in Colossians that has spoken to me quite powerfully because it reminds me of what my purpose is and more importantly, whose energy I labor with...
"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:28-29.
What a unique passage! I haven't heard that one quoted often but it definitely should be.
Who is your strongest Christian mentor?
Pastor Don Patterson. He loved me enough to help me see how I could grow and what areas God might want to address in my life. It takes a LOT of love (and guts) to share that with someone in a way that encourages them to grow rather than make them feel criticized. Many of my other friends will lovingly encourage me, but they aren't very specific about what I can change. I can count on Don to call it honestly and I trust his Christian love as a brother.
How did you get started glorifying God through music? writing?
The music "experience" was profound. I attended a women's retreat and a woman singer came in after the banquet and said, "Well, you've been good girls all day, let's turn the lights down and have some real fun." I was so terribly offended! As I listened to her sing, I thought, "I can sing as well as she can!" I could not endure her sleazy attitude and comments and went upstairs to my room. I threw myself on the bed and cried. As I prayed, I basically accused God, "Why would you give me this voice and not let me sing? Why can she sing (and dishonor you) when I want to sing and honor you?" His gentle response came as a whisper in my mind, "Who said you couldn't?" I went home after that retreat and organized a music ministry that fit my gifts and family. God has continued to open doors and put people in my (unique) path to sing for His glory!
The writing came out of speaking engagements because people wanted to review or share the material I spoke on. That just happened rather naturally, I really hardly remember when. I do remember that when I was in my early 20s I thought it would be so cool to be a speaker or author but I also remember learning that I had a few things to learn before I started teaching other women. I do hope to publish my Proverbs 31 study.
Is there anything specific from Titus 2:3-5, our blog’s inspiration, that you can comment on to encourage women?
Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
I guess it strikes me that it doesn't say, "encourage" them. Our job is NOT just to "smile at y'all" and say general words of encouragement. Our job description from the Word of God is that we teach and train younger women. It is a little difficult at times to find opportunities to do that, but again, that's the scheme (as I see it). Satan wants me to believe that if I don't have a formal mentoring program or young women's bible study to teach, then I can't do this. Malarkey. If I am in the Word of God then I will see the opportunities that are before me and embrace them (rather than whine because I don't have more). That's why you all are an encouragement to ME because you are growing in the Word and it makes you approachable to teach.
Thank you Naomi! We are always learning. What do you feel is a threat to a woman’s faithfulness in her home?
I think we struggle to find value in what we do at home and feel good about it. We can easily flop between the two extremes of guilt and discontentment. We rarely see the true spiritual impact we are having on our children because the day to day things seem to be so prevalent. Being alert (and finding fulfillment) only come from being in the Word of God. We all need to arm ourselves against attacks on our callings as wives and mothers. When your children are grown it is so much easier to understand how important that time was and we no longer face that daily battle of juggling those responsibilities. I see God's wisdom in having older women teach younger women about loving their children and husbands because we know how quickly the time really passes and we can see its importance/impact more clearly.
Is there a moment that you saw God's hand so clearly guiding or providing for you that you would like to share?
I remember when my husband was in school I went through a time when I just wasn't making time for the Word. It's not like I was backsliding or losing my faith, but I know where I'm at spiritually, and at that time I wasn't very strong - I was very distracted. God chose to bless us overwhelmingly by providing us with a lake house to live in free of rent and utlilities. It was so touching because He chose to bless me even when I wasn't actively seeking Him like I should (or want to!). It affirmed His faithful commitment to me and assured me that He doesn't just bless me when I'm "good." He blesses me because of His goodness. That was really humbling.
With a spiritual perspective it is also easy to see the many little things God does to guide and bless us. It also takes patience to wait on Him but I've found there are incredible blessings when you just wait on Him rather than try to force things or create your own agenda. Help your children to see those little things and talk about God's hand in our lives. If you talk and pray about (appropriate) life situations with your children it positions you to teach them.
What’s next for you in ministry?
I'm honestly not sure. I've learned that when I plan a specific ministry agenda I can get too attached to it and be discouraged if it doesn't go the way I want it to (and I get hurt too easily). I also lose my perspective and sensitivity to God's calling and opportunities. So, I usually embrace shorter term goals with a broad vision of the future. I've offered my fair share of "ideas" to God, convinced that I've calculated every detail and solved every problem. Needless to say, He graciously laughs and does what is best. But there is always work to do in the Kingdom.
I've certainly wondered at times if I should have pursued one goal in life and concentrate on it, like a music ministry or writing. But I haven't, and I can't regret anything about my life. I have an amazing family, incredible friends, opportunities that are humbling and compelling. For me, it is best to continue to seek Him and wholeheartedly embrace what He gives me as I "struggle with all his energy which so powerfully works in me."
Thank you, Naomi, for your straight talk - we are challenged and inspired by it. Your advice to seek God's purpose for us in every day moments is wonderful. Your strengths and talents give glory to God and by faith your weaknesses do too. Thank you for your example and for pointing us to Jesus - our everything.