Monday, Monday, So Good to Me

As much as I love weekends, Monday morning brings with it the hope of getting back on course and the chore of doing so! Monday means returning to the routines of the coming week. If we work outside the home, we organize our time around the work schedule, family, children, home or aspirations. If we choose to stay in the home, our pace is set according to what we hope to accomplish there. No matter our particular life, Monday lays before us choices for the week ahead. What choices have you made today? Have you thought ahead or are you just waiting for your life to happen? In Titus 2, Paul lays out the results of choices that women of God can make, and the specific reasons for doing so.  Ever since the words were penned to Titus, women have a guide for living each day in God’s way.

Let’s take a look. Paul says to teach older woman to be reverent and respectful in their choice of words and behavior.

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. Titus 2:3

The outcome of reverence, a word which implies love and respect for God, is a willing desire to teach younger woman. The list of choices here is to be loving to husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, kind, and respectful of the role God has assigned husbands as the head of the household.

Then they can urge 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  Titus 2:4-5

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When I was in my twenties, the Lord called my husband to start a school in California. We were 1500 miles from home, far away from family and friends. During that time my wise heavenly Father began my preparation for what I was to become. He arranged several mentors to walk with me on this journey, various men and women who loved the Lord. Each encouraged me to live out my unique life for God’s purpose.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, one of those mentors was a seventy-five year-old man named Mr. Haynes. He had a first name, Irv, but I could not bring myself to call him that because I respected him so much. During our twelve years of friendship, Mr. Haynes taught me how to garden, how to build furniture, how to appreciate classical music, how to enjoy poetry, how to respect my husband and understand him. He also taught me the names of every native and imported plant in California, among many more valuable skills.

Mr. Haynes had been a Christian minister, and then life moved him on to being a human resource director at a very large company in Los Angeles. I met him after his retirement, at our back fence, as a neighbor. He knew the name and uses of an exotic fruit bush growing on our adjoining properties. He also possessed a keen understanding of what humans need to improve and develop. I guess I needed help, because I became his project.

Mr. Haynes understood my faith, and yet he saw the immaturity and lack of skill in putting my faith into action. I had head knowledge and no practicality in putting what I said into action. Through the years he patiently helped me learn. Looking back, I now see that he was instilling this attitude in me: You are what you are becoming.

Here’s what I learned in a nutshell. If you want to become a gardener, be one now. If you want to become knowledgeable, study your topic thoroughly. If you want to become loved and respected by others, be loving and respectful to others. Not rocket science, but I was a wannabe and a lost little soul without direction. He helped me see myself and my future more clearly by teaching me how to focus on it now.

How about you? Can you imagine yourself in thirty to forty years? What will you be doing? Who will you have become? What will family, friends and peers be able to say about you? Will you be living out your life’s purpose?

These are tough questions to answer because they lie in the future. The truth is, only God knows the answers to what your life will be and how you will live out your purpose. However, God’s Word gives a glimpse of where to focus. Through faith, we can pursue a life worthy of the gospel, confident of the results. A great place to start is found in Proverbs. Here we see the outcome of a believing woman’s life, a life lived God’s way.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:25-26

Would you like to be this woman? Take a whirl in Titus 2 and Proverbs 31. God has work for us to do and attitudes to instill as we are becoming more like Christ. A skeptic might read and ask, why are we encouraged to be reverent, loving, pure and kind? Look for the answer in Titus. To give glory to God; so that others around us will not malign the Word of God, but see our lives as an open book. Our character is a witness to the truth of God’s love for us in Christ. It’s our high calling as God’s girls.

Whether you are a younger or older woman, can your choices this Monday and every day be more focused on becoming a Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 woman? With God’s help, and with his encouragement to live out our lives for him, the answer is yes. Yes, we can confidently set our hearts on “being what we are becoming”, women of faith and women of purpose, reverent, loving and respectful.

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Mentor Monday // A Chat with Marilyn E

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Today we are honored to share an interview with Marilyn Ewart. A mother of five amazing kids while her husband was on the road a lot for work and is soon celebrating 50 years of marriage. She is never a victim or complains! She once was the Lutheran Women's Missionary Society President, and loves to pray and give. She's a peace maker and so careful with her words. Her own daughter-in-law recommended her as a mentor - how awesome is that? 

"Tell us more about yourself, what is a regular day like for you?"

IMG_3172As a “retired” RN, there still is not a regular day. And that’s a blessing. I work occasionally for a home health agency, working when I want to and say “no” when I don’t. Retirement is great! I like to read, sew, and garden.

Our five children and seventeen grandchildren live in South Dakota, Nebraska, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona so we travel a lot! At least we are all in the same country now! A son spent twelve years as a missionary in Siberia and a daughter had a one year call to the Czech Republic.

 

 

"How would you describe your unique role as a woman?"

As a mother, grandmother, and nurse I have been able to use God given gifts of nurturing and encouragement. The last seventeen years that I worked as an RN,

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got to work in an alternative high school with teens who were pregnant or parenting. Some came from wonderful Christian homes; it was a blessing to support and encourage them and their families. Most came from homes where there were few if any boundaries or guidelines. It was amazing to see them respond to unconditional caring, the same unconditional love that our Heavenly Father gives us.

One student came in with a huge attitude and the piercings and tattoos to go along with it. She was also very sick with her pregnancy so I saw her almost daily.Gradually the walls around her came down. Sitting at my desk one day she told me that she knew her parents loved her but didn’t think they cared. When I asked her why, she said that they didn’t care where she went, how late she was out, who she was with, what she did. When I asked if she wanted boundaries, she said “yeah” with emphasis on the second syllable!

I wish all parents could have heard her and know that when toddlers and teens rebel against the boundaries, perhaps they want, not to knock them down, but to make sure those boundaries are there to keep them safe. Once in a quiet voice she called me mom, obviously wanting a mom who set limits with unconditional love. What an amazing picture of God’s unconditional love for us. He still loves us sinners even when we rebel against him.

So many women and girls in our lives need nurturing. In doing that it seems that we get more than we give. We can never out give God. I pray that God would use me to (along with their parents) show my grandchildren the way they should go - with unconditional love.

"What bible passage is your favorite?"

I have not been able to settle on one favorite. It seems to change according to what is going on in my life.

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Ps 121:1

Imagine that! The Creator of all is my help!

Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12: 11, 12

Every phrase is such encouragement in the way I should live to his glory

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Is 12:2

I love it when we sing Psalm 31! What more do I need when he has become my salvation?

I could go on…

"Who is your strongest Christian mentor?"

There can’t be just one! My parents were such a blessing! In 1944 when I was the third of three and not yet two, my dad accepted a call as principal of East Fork Apache Lutheran High School. As a child growing up in that mission I didn’t think about how hard that life was for my parents. In those days it was isolated and there were few (maybe no) amenities. Yet they served the Lord where he called them. Being typical German Lutherans, I don’t remember them, especially my dad, talking with us much or lecturing us on Scripture, but they taught us every day in how they lived their lives with honesty and integrity and quiet faith.

There were many other mentors. I think especially of the people I served with on the LWMS board of directors from 1999 to 2003. It was such an amazing thing to serve with pastors and women who had no egos, who just wanted what was best for the organization and its mission to support missions and missionaries. I learned so much from them. The five Bible studies during the three day meetings were a special blessing that kept us grounded.

"Any advice to encourage a husband in his faith and role in marriage?"

Don’t let the world tell you that you are not important as a husband and father. You are a huge influence and have a great impact on your family. You are a God-given blessing to them.

"Is there anything specific from Titus 2:3-5, our blog’s mission, that you can comment on to encourage women?"

One of my favorite things to do is to lead a women’s Bible study. Perhaps it’s selfish in that I learn so much myself, both in the preparation and from them. It is an amazing blessing to gather around the Word with small groups of women, young and old, married and single. What an encouragement to one another in our walk with Jesus!

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

The influence of the world is certainly a threat. In a time when husbands and fathers are ridiculed in the media, when it’s OK to complain about and put down husbands, it can be difficult to be the wife who honors and respects her husband.

"How can we be alert against it?"

The answer always is to be in the Word. Also support and encourage your sisters in Christ to show honor and respect for their husbands, even behind their backs!

"What are some of the challenges and rewards of being the president of Lutheran Women's Missionary Society?"

The challenge certainly was the time it took. I was working full time and the four years on the LWMS board also seemed like another (joyful) full time position.

The joys – beyond measure: working with the board, the exhilarating conventions, contact with the world and home mission administrators, contact with the missionaries, the WOW Retreats...

I could go on! It’s a great way that women can serve their Lord using their talents in so many ways.

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"How can we specifically pray for you and LWMS?"

For the organization, pray that the focus always stays on missions, for wisdom for the leadership, and especially that God would use our efforts to reach those who don’t yet know Jesus.

"What event sticks out strongly in your memory from LWMS that you would like to share?"

There were two things I never saw coming.

The WOW retreats showed me so vividly how much Christian women need support and encouragement from one another. That’s true not only here but in other countries. One of the WOW Retreats was in Antigua. Lutheran women from St. Lucia and Granada and a few from the US traveled to Antigua for a time of fellowship, Bible study and a mission presentation. They were as excited and as we were. Some had never been outside their community and were thrilled to meet sisters in Christ. Their enthusiasm and joy were an inspiration! It was such a great blessing from God that I got to do that.

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Secondly, in 2003, my last year as president, Missionary Paul Nitz from Malawi proposed a project for LWMS to provide encouragement to the women of Malawi by way of five one day conferences throughout the country. All my life I harbored this desire to be a nurse in Africa, but accepted the fact that my Lord had other ways for me to serve. And now this project was funded and I was asked to participate!! I could hardly absorb it! How could God do this for me?! What an amazing experience! We reached well over 1,000 women who traveled hours on foot and on flatbeds to attend. I learned so much from them! They had so little and yet had so much joy in the Lord. It was humbling to see how materialistic we are and how much I am influenced by that in our culture.

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

Several things come to mind. What an amazing God we have who always uses difficult circumstances to grow and strengthen us!

I attended East Fork Apache Lutheran High School through ninth grade. For several reasons, my parents felt it was in my best interest to attend the high school in New Ulm, Minnesota which at the time shared the campus with the college. I had aunts and uncles and cousins nearby but I was very timid, shy, and insecure and found it devastating to leave home. Phone calls were not done in those days, and I only got home for Christmas. It was a terribly difficult time for me and yet the Lord used that time to “grow” me to put my trust in him, not just my parents, and find comfort in knowing he was with me.

I’m the third of seven children. The first three of us were born within three years. There were further gaps with the rest of the siblings. In fact, my youngest sister was born the year I graduated from high school. I was always especially close to my older sister. We knew things about each other that no one else knew! My younger siblings have such different memories from those of us who were older. In 1997 at the age of 58 she was killed by a drunk driver. How devastating! I still miss her so very much and thank God that I will see her again.

"Is there a moment that you saw God's hand so clearly guiding or providing for you?"

This is not a moment but through the years. My husband traveled for his sales career beginning before we had children. Sometimes weeks it was one night, sometimes four. My good and gracious God guided me as a not quite single mom. I’m not sure I always handled it well, but my adult kids are doing well in spite of me. God is good!

Also as president of LWMS; what an awesome time that he provided all that I needed. He truly does equip you for whatever he calls you to do. Don’t ever doubt that for one minute! I wasn’t “qualified” to do that. In fact, I decided not to do it twice but then found I was not at peace with that decision. He totally equipped me and gave me the most wonderful and amazing experience. I still can’t believe I got to do that!

When my son and his family were in Russia, they wanted so much for me to go for the birth of their first child. My husband was not able to go, but I couldn’t not go. As it turned out, I went five times, each time they had a baby. The travel was difficult – 30- 36 hours of travel with a 12 hour time change. But it was such a blessing to be part of the birth and in later trips spend time with the children. On one trip home I was held in immigration in Moscow for a couple of hours because of a problem with my passport. I felt vulnerable as I didn’t know the language and didn’t understand what was happening. At the same time I knew my Good Shepherd was with me and he knew the language! And he got me home!

"What’s next for you?"

I continue to serve LWMS in my circuit and congregation.

We recently sold our church property and are temporarily worshipping at a Holiday Inn while we arrange a restart. I pray that I get to do things to serve our God in new ways during this transition. I also ask him to give me opportunities to form relationships with people who do not yet know him.

Perhaps even more, I ask him to help me reach several young adults, who are my god-children with reminders of the promise I made in their behalf at their baptism. Oh how I pray that the Holy Spirit would use the Word they once heard and whatever circumstances to turn them back to him.

We look forward to celebrating our 5oth anniversary in June with all of our children and grandchildren here along with some siblings and some of their children.

Thanks and praise and honor and glory to our God who gave us Jesus and then continues to bless us day after day!

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