A Chat with Mary

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Hello! I'm Mary. I'll take a lowfat mocha latte. Chocolate at all times!

God has taught me so much in the last 30 years. I don't come from the same background as my other friends. I was Catholic, lived a very sinful life and only by the grace of God do I live in HIS grace daily. There are women like me who need to know they are forgiven and can be of such service to God as He changes their lives.

My husband and I have 5 children between us, 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. After our love for the Lord, these precious souls are the most important to us. We pray for God’s guiding hand to be on their lives and for Him never to leave them or forsake them. As a parent you have tough days but as a grandparent everyday is special!

 

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We have been restoring a house for the last 8 years and when my husband retired 5 years ago the daily work began in earnest. Every wall, ceiling, door, floor, window, trim, lighting and small details need fixing. It is easier to build a new house than fix an old one! My husband switched the kitchen and the dining room, repaired and replaced 553 foot of soffit at the rate of one hour per foot, laid 1700 square feet of hardware, rebuilt a 6 foot high retaining wall and on and on with jobs of like size. There are no typical days just long ones. We are able to listen to Christian radio while we work to be spiritually filled. There are some moments where you can’t hear the radio over the saw, drill, air hammer, etc. but we get the gist of the message!

I am a morning person and enjoy the peace and beauty of the early day. I love a cup of coffee and gazing at the Lord’s creation while I read God’s Word. I have started a prayer journal again during my quiet time with God. Writing down prayers is a wonderful way to see God’s promises and hand working over time in the lives of those I am privileged to pray for. My bible study group has let me teach them books of the bible over the last 8 or 9 years. I mentor and teach a Moms with Tots group. What a joy and a blessing to see these younger women who have embraced the Word of God for most of their life hunger for more of God’s teaching. A special group of women watch their children during the study time so they can concentrate on hearing God speak to their hearts. The week after confirmation I chat with the 8th grade girls about serving the Lord in church and how expansive the opportunities for women’s service are. I am allowed to sing in the choir and use our house to host a choir party amidst all the dust. Advent by Candlelight is an event I coordinate and write for.

I work at Miller Park during the baseball season. When the Brewers are in town I leave for work around 4:30 pm and return around 12:30 am unless it is a day game and then it is morning till early evening. Sometimes those schedules are back to back which means I don’t get a lot of sleep. I have 2 cats who also are sleep inhibitors!

When I am in my car I listen to Christian music such as the Getty’s CD’s or Christian radio. Listening to talk radio makes me want to fix everything and only God can fix everything!

 

“You are a woman of many hats, for sure! How would you describe your unique role as a woman?”

Fulfilling! I am so glad God created me to be a helper. Single or married God is always providing for me. As a married woman what a gift to live under my husband’s umbrella and know God uses him to protect me. I can lead where God calls me to and sit back and enjoy being led when God wants me to. There is quietness and joy in living God’s calling for me.

 

“What is your favorite bible passage?”

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Over and over again in Scripture God commands us to be strong and courageous. He gives us His strength and His courage to stand firm in proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ. I need His strength and conviction to do what is right in His eyes in every circumstance He leads me through. Acts 4:29 asks God to enable us to speak His word with boldness and Joshua 1:9 is a reminder that God is with us wherever we go and speak with this boldness.

 

“Who is your strongest Christian mentor?”

My husband! He loves Jesus. His faith is the most important thing to him. He is a quiet, strong man.  He grew up on a farm and has a remarkable work ethic. He does plumbing, electrical, carpentry, fixes cars and can figure out most things by reading and doing. He has an extraordinary capacity for forgiveness. When we travel we read and study books of the bible like Ezekiel using the People’s Bible.

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My other mentors are:

My mother – she had 9 children in 11 years and a very BUSY life. As I have grown up (just in the last 10 years!) my mother and I talk almost every day about little things and big things. It wasn’t always so as I am pretty hard-headed. We are so close and thankfully God has given us time to be so. I am so glad to have these years with my mom.

Quilters – a group of women who have experienced many hardships including the earthly loss of a child, grandchild, spouse. They impart their wisdom gained through trials and they radiate the love of Jesus Christ. They are also a lot of fun! We (mostly they) make quilts for babies, disaster victims, and children’s ministries. Their service is a reflection of Galatians 6:10.

Bible Study – a group of women I have known for more than 15 years. We have lived through our children’s growing years, weddings, grandchildren, illness and death of loved ones. We have studied God’s word together, prayed for each other and our faith has strengthened and deepened. The joy, generosity, and love of these Christian sisters are a blessing of the Holy Spirit.

Women in Christ – a group of women serving the church in whatever capacity they are asked to. There is so much to be learned from women who have served the Lord and the church for many more years than I have lived!

My mother in law – from the first moment I met her she showed me love. She loved unconditionally. She loved Jesus and it showed. We would make applesauce together and over the stove I learned from her a Godly women’s role in the home. She was a mother and a friend to me.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss – Nancy’s ministry is Revive Our Hearts. She speaks to women about their role in God’s word. Biblical, encouraging, and uplifting, she is a strong, gentle presence teaching women to love Jesus.

 

“Any advice to share with men that may be reading today?”

Study the Word of God faithfully. Be the leader God has called you to be. Read the bible with your wife daily. Pray for her. Pray for your children.

Be a positive witness for the saving power of Jesus Christ. Encourage your wife in your words and actions. Hold your wife in high esteem and praise her to all who will listen. Guide her gently in her faith so her light shines.

 

“Is there anything specific from Titus 2:3-5, our blog's mission, that you'd like to comment on?”

This is probably the passage I quote most to women. You are responsible to mentor any woman who is even 1 day younger than you is my thought on the matter! Women are always watching other women. Think what a wonderful gift it is to other women to see you living out this passage in your life. Speak well of your husband to everyone. If you have issues with your husband take it to the Lord and no one else. The exception to this is abuse – then seek the wisdom of your Pastor and/or Christian counselor. Live a joyful life even if your day-to-day life is anything but joyful. Smile! Be kind to others in all your dealings, speak with wisdom on your tongue so when tough times comes to others and they will, you will be someone they can seek out for God’s word and His comfort. Use whatever gifts you have to minister to others daily. Prayer, hospitality, cards of encouragement, a devotional, chocolate, are all gifts to reach others for Christ.

 

“What do you feel is a threat to a woman's faithfulness in her home?”

The culture and all forms of media in American today send the message that women at home are not important or necessary. You are only worth something if you are working out of the home and bringing in an income for you to spend on yourself. Live for yourself is the message. The most important job today is being a Godly woman! If you are a wife and mother this is your most important work. It is life changing for those around you to live a biblical model of womanhood. I wish I had learned this early in my life and followed it. A long time ago I was a SVP for a mid-size bank. Through a series of events God showed me that my ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. By the grace of God, I left my job and stayed home with our youngest two children, then ages 4 and 8. It took a long time for my role to change from my way to THY way. What a journey! I learned I have the best job in the world. My husband is wiser than I will ever hope to be. My children do need me to teach them about Jesus. Children do need daily interaction and affirmation. They grow so fast and your time at home with them will soon come to an end. Make the most of every opportunity to impart God’s truths to them. I love my children as adults but I wish I could go back and hold them and look them in the eye as little ones and tell them again and again how much they are loved by Jesus and by me!

 

“Can you share an event in your life that was difficult that God strengthened you through?”

The death of my father was a hard life lesson for me. I did not know where he stood in his personal relationship with his Lord and Savior. I talked with him about Jesus during his lifetime and prayed for him. The day before he died he would wake up in a start with the most awful look of horror on his face. My sister-in-law Pam suggested we read the bible to him. We did and his look of horror changed to peace. Through the years since his death the Holy Spirit has led me to trust His redeeming work and rely on His power to change hearts and not my own. We are responsible to pray and tell others about Jesus.  2 Corinthians 4:7 reminds us that it is God’s power by which men are saved and not us. What a freeing joy to know we are not in control of another’s’ spiritual destiny.

 

“Is there a moment that you saw God's hand so clearly guiding you that you would like to share?”

30 years ago I attended a bible study taught by a woman and I thought I would like to do that. Never mind that I didn’t know the bible, lived selfishly, or had any idea of the amount of studying it takes to teach. God patiently worked on my hard heart and head and led me to His quiet place to teach me His word. God’s word is the clearest evidence of Him providing for me. Jesus never gave up on me even when I turned my back to Him. I teach today by His grace.

One day I was writing a note to my aunt for Easter. I had decided to send her an email about Jesus and just sign a card. Quick and easy and no work required on my part. I signed my name and decided to have a Dove chocolate before I sealed the card. I eat a lot of chocolate. You know how Dove chocolates have those wonderful sayings on the inside of the wrapper? The message said:

“Write a real letter, not just an email.”

I sat for many minutes in Holy fear before saying in more Holy fear – Yes Lord! Chocolate hasn’t spoken to me in this way before or since.

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God has also saved my physical life more times than I am aware of. One event stands out though. As I passed an alley way on the way to work I felt a physical presence stop my movement and pull me back. A millisecond later a garbage truck sailed by with a blast of wind. Spared by God. Do you have moments like this? Spared by God to live for Him. Make every day count for Jesus. People are dying to know Jesus before they leave this earth and sadly they don’t even know it. Share the love of Jesus today. Time is short!

“Yes! Thank you for that encouragement, Mary. What's next for you?”

Last winter my husband and I were on an extended vacation. There were hours to read and study the bible in peace. I continued with research started 5 years ago on the women in the Bible. Someday soon I hope to finish the research and write a reference guide as God gives me strength.

God has burdened my heart for the homeless. For a number of years blankets and coats have disappeared from my closet and many others have shown up on my doorstep to take to a homeless shelter. I can’t imagine being cold and without the comforts of home. God will reveal how He wants this to continue.

Prison ministry also has a pull on my heart. How God is going to use me in this I am not certain. Perhaps just as a prayer partner.

God blesses me with opportunities at every turn to be faithful to Him. I will follow where He leads me.

"Oh! Thank you for sharing your insight and life with us, Mary. It has truly been great getting to know you through the interview. Your nurturing spirit is mentoring all you come in contact with (I love that you chat with 8th grade teen girls - what an opportunity!) and healing hearts with Christ's message of forgiveness. Christ's grace has compelled your compassion for others - beautiful! 

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A Chat with Abby

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"Today we are featuring a member of my family! Welcome Abby, my sister-in-law! She is one of my greatest spiritual mentors. Abby has guided me to check the motives of my heart when making decisions, has never been too busy to stop and pray with me (even while our toddlers scattered a deck of cards), digs deep into God's Word, and sets an example of a servant's heart by the time she dedicates with her first love - the Lord. She's one prayer warrior I never take for granted!

Abby, I know you well - but please introduce yourself to our readers!"

 

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"My biggest claim to fame is that the Creator calls me a child of His.  Everything else flows from this. I am so grateful to be paired with my grade school sweetheart to be used for God’s purposes on this planet, and I am so humbled that out of HIS love and ours, He has allowed us to raise two children for Him. Other than that, I love being on the move; it makes being still much sweeter.  And if I am outside and on the move; even better.  I love keeping things as natural and simple as God made them.  I think most everything else about me could fit in one of these categories. I think each and every day is absolutely filled with joy, giggles, cries, struggles, triumphs, and so so much grace. My prayer amidst the meal preparations, alphabet learning, projects, activities, exploration, chores, and experiments is that we as a family are following God’s leading and paying attention to his prompting."

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"Ah! My nephew's are so adorable!

Describe your unique role as a woman?"

 

 

Abby1 "I often think about the role God has called for me as the people that He has allowed me to know; the people I have come into contact with, love, and live life with.  There are so many people in the world and God gave me these people.  I see these people as my calling to love on, to really spend time in prayer for them, and to learn from."

 

 

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"What bible passage is your personal favorite?"

Abby1"Tough question. The last passage of the Bible is definitely a fav. Rev 22:20 says,  “He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  I love passages referring to images of the glorified Christ because it is easy for me to picture Christ as the renaissance depicted Him or as He was as a human.  But if John nearly passed out when he saw the glorified Jesus, I sure know I would have and will today.  And this picture often helps my sometimes apathetic self to simply obey and revere Him.  I can’t wait to meet Him."

 

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"Who is your strongest Christian mentor?"

Abby1 "God has used and continues to use so many people to strengthen and grow my love and faith for Him, but I would have to say Kirsten Shed, a friend from church, has challenged me most in my faith by not only the life she lives, but through her genuine love and concern for my relationship with Jesus. It’s hard to say what I may need to hear sometimes but Kirsten would be the first person I called because she would give me the God truth I need to hear, painful or not but delivered with much love and grace."

 

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"Sounds like a priceless friend. Kirsten's sister Katy has done the same thing for me in our friendship. We should interview their mother! lol!

What led your heart to care for internationals that live in the US?"

  Abby1 "I remember waiting for a bus in Minneapolis for one of my first college courses.  I looked around and saw that I was probably in line with at least 20 people from different countries.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing our God is for the way He made us so perfectly different and from then on I knew that in order for God to be glorified it was essential for us, for ME, to not only get to know each other, but to love one another well."

 

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"Is there anything from Titus 2:3-5 that you would like to comment on?

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 at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

 

Abby1

"So many things stick out to me; the assumption that younger woman will be looking for advice and teaching from the older woman because I often see and feel how independence, pride, and jealousy gets in the way of the beautiful community God wants to give us.  The fact that the older woman can expect opposition to get in the way of their opportunity to instruct and mentor sticks out as somewhat comforting to me because sometimes I get so discouraged by opposition, but here God warns us well.  Many other things stick out to me too; that God expects us to get involved in each other’s life on a deep spiritual level.  And that the teaching and training is a PROCESS that the Holy Spirit uses to transform us into HIS woman.  And I LOVE that this passage shows us clearly that we most certainly have the potential to be pure and kind, and subject and self-controlled with Jesus…even when we don’t sleep or have sick children, or have days where we don’t have time to even shower."

 

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"Great reminders there, Abby! But what's a shower? Just kidding... ;)

What do you feel is a threat to a woman’s faithfulness in her home?"

 

 

Abby1"Aw, man..where does one start?  Probably with lack of awareness or fight against the enemy.  Cultural influences that cloud our definition of beauty and worth.  The competition we may feel in parenting or even in cooking or managing our house.  Self-control against how we use our time, overeating, anger against our children, or selfless love to our husband rather than pitting him as the reason for our tiredness or incompleteness, you name it.  Thank God we can ask, seek, and knock to find out what is blocking our view of Jesus.  He will answer when we really want to know. "

 

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"Can you share an event in your life that God strengthened you by?"

Abby1 "Child birth.  Mostly because I know that one of my weaknesses is lack of perseverance.  God talks about this often in His word and it really was a great situation where God showed me the absolute beauty of life and the power of His Son to keep me from quitting.  Since then, I have loved the struggle to show Him I believe in His power to persevere through me."

 

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"Is there a moment that God' s hand so clearly guided or provided for you?"

Abby1 "That would have to be my decision to go to China to do mission work.  I didn’t want to go at first, my parents didn’t want me to go…I really didn’t know anyone that wanted me to go really…until finally I did.  God really changed my heart in a matter of months from I really don’t want to go, to wow, I can’t wait to go.  All I did was pray that He would change my heart to what He wanted and that is what He did."

 

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China will forever be in your heart. How wonderful that God used you to guide your then future brother and sister-in-law (us!) to China too.

What’s next for you?"

 

 

Abby1

"I think it is easy to dream about certain areas I would like to go or be or how I want God to use our family in Milwaukee’s inner city or to area refugees or the poor.  And I am not saying it is bad to dream and pray about these ministries, especially if God is guiding. But for me, I see how thoughts of future ministries can take me away from my current calling at times.  How when I am having a hard day at home my thoughts can wander to if I was helping the poor, or teaching the refugees I would be more useful or how it could be better.  But I can see how God is growing my character and heart to be more like He intends for me and to prepare me for future opportunities, and the biggest realization He has given me is in the value and beauty of being a godly wife and mother.

It is also easy to confuse worth and value with what our culture values.  Education, job, entertainment, and things rather than my heart or integrity.  I see my role to start and end in prayer.  I see my role right now of being a wife, mothering and babysitting as an amazing privilege and crucial ministry for these incredible little people that HE has allowed me to love and take care of."

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"Absolutely precious! Thank you, Abby, for sharing the encouragement to be content in God and content in the roles he has willed us to live in each brief moment of our lives. Your house is often filled with visitors, dinners, and service to others. What's a sweeter smell than a home cooked meal? - the aroma of Christ - and it can't be missed in your presence. Much love Ab!" 

 

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