On the Precipice

Written by Nadia Wilder

“Let’s say I felt suspended, waiting.  

Between all these parts of the world and none of them.  

We feel this way sometimes in adolescence, too, surely most of us can call it up.  

But then there’s the burning impatience for the next thing to take shape, 

for whatever it is we are about to become and be to announce itself.  

This was different: there was, I suppose, no next thing.”  

~ Sue Miller, While I Was Gone 

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It began the year I turned forty, or perhaps a little before.   I could feel the weight of it looming for some time, as if the turn of another decade were ushering forth some ambiguous significance.  Or  perhaps even scarier, I worried as if it were not ushering anything at all.  I wouldn’t have been able to identify this sensation, not with words anyway, until I read the excerpt above in a book.

Those words…they could’ve been my own.  If only I’d had the ability to label what I felt was undefinable.

As I creep closer and closer to midlife [formally defined as the period of life between 45-55], I’m becoming more and more aware of how little forethought is given to this particular season in life.  How, in the culture in which I was raised anyway, we give much thought to everything up until this point.  We play house as children, concocting dreams about growing up, going to college, having a career, falling in love, getting married, buying a house, having a family…and not necessarily in that order. And, many of us do those things.

And then we’re still.  Settled.

And yet, we begin to long for any unsettledness.  We pray to God to simply, “unsettle me.”

Asking God, “What now?” “What next?”

It’s not enough.  It’s never enough.  This insatiable craving for more, even when we have it all, we want more, bigger, better, nicer – homes, furniture, clothes, cars … Everything.  More.  Always.

We see it all of the time in our culture. We even have a name for it, we call it a “midlife crisis”.  Men leave their wives, women leave their lives, all for this pseudo-pursuit of something more, some undefinable, unattainable “more.”  


Could it be that we are not content with material comfort because God never intended for us to live in contented spiritual complacency?

“They say, ‘Peace.’ But there isn’t any peace. They are like people who build a weak wall. They try to cover up the weakness by painting the wall white. Tell those who do this that their wall is going to fall. Heavy rains will come. I will send hailstones crashing down. Powerful winds will blow.  The wall will fall down. Then people will ask them, ‘Now where is the paint you covered it with?’” – Ezekiel 13:10

In the context of this scripture “they” are the false prophets of Ezekiel’s day, but in the context of our current contemporary Christian culture, aren’t they also the world?  Isn’t it the world, in general, that beckons to us as false prophets do, with empty promises of prosperity, of chasing after these things, these worldly ambitions? On our screens and devices, we’re marketed and sold lie after lie after lie to woo us onto the path of pursuing.  Pursuing what?  Security.  Happiness.  Contentment.  Peace.

They say to us, “Peace.”  But there isn’t any peace.

And why?

Because there is only one source of peace.

Jesus told His disciples, us, and the world in the gospel of John, “Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give you to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.”

And how, then, does the world give?  With whitewashed walls we construct all around our whitewashed lives.

That verse in Ezekiel was my life.  I lived it.  It’s how I spent most of my twenties, chasing the world, throwing up weak walls here and there.  It was a lovely facade until the heavy rains fell, and those hailstones came crashing down. Onlookers could have only wondered what had become of that whitewash.

And here I sit, on the precipice of midlife in the midst of a reconstructed life, and a reconstructed marriage.  Part of me is still trying to adapt to the “stillness” following so many years of chaos.  Part of me is yearning for an ”unstillness” of a different kind. I am setting into a new season and I’m quietly praying for more of an unsettling in my heart.

 

And He’s always calling.  If only we will quiet our lives enough to hear Him.  And I don’t mean our “quiet time.”  No, not some paltry twenty or thirty minute increments of devotion that I’d grown accustomed to having in the mornings or sometimes in the evenings as I was falling asleep.  I’m referring to “a quiet life.”

A quiet life.  This is not really something I ever considered was my calling.  There isn’t much of anything that’s quiet about me.  But maybe this is the quiet that Paul was talking about in his letter to the Thessalonians:

“Brothers and sisters, we are asking you to love one another more and more. And do everything you can to live a quiet life. You should mind your own business. And work with your hands, just as we told you to” (1 Thess 4:10-11). 

I’ve read this verse before, certainly.  Skimmed it, perhaps.  Ignored it altogether.  But today, it’s pressing in, pressing onto me.  Heavy.  This is it, maybe.  The verse for this season of life.  The prescription for the precipice. And perhaps there, just there over the edge of it, is His peace.

And why?  Because it’s here in the quiet places of life, we can sense His calling – out of the shallow end of the pool and into the deep; to go deeper; to have our faith made stronger…  to find the only “something more” we were ever meant to pursue.

 

nadiaHello! I’m so glad you’re here. This is where I tell you a little about me so let’s pretend we’re having coffee… or skinny vanilla lattes as the case would more likely be…
I am a born-and-raised Birmingham girl who grew up in a log cabin in rural Shelby County. I came to faith in Christ during my teenage years, but it would be a couple more decades before I learned what it meant to abide. In fact, I’m now the mother of two teenagers and I’m still learning.
I’ve been married to Chris (off and on) for eighteen years. We reconciled after five years of divorce and have now been remarried for five years. We have two fantastic, hilarious kids: Chloe (14, going on Beyoncé) and Parker (almost 13). We live in Birmingham with our dog (Cookie), cat (Hazel), bearded dragon (Oscar), and one nameless boa snake that I lovingly refer to as Mr. Slithers.
I’m a digital marketing consultant by day and a lifelong photographer and writer. All throughout scripture we see God calling people to use what’s in their hands and all my life, I’ve had a camera in one hand and a journal (or keyboard) in the other. In addition to photography and writing, I love traveling, the beach, really frothy coffee, and if I could only eat one thing the rest of my life it would be chips and salsa. With Jesus, there is always more. There is a river of life that never runs dry and I can’t wait to wade into those waters with you!

 

The Daughter’s Prayer

Written by Jody Lybrand
person holding white tablet computer beside teacup and saucer of blueberries

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I am a Daughter of The King.

Nothing that happens to me today is by chance.

My days are ordained by Him.

Whatever I face today, I face with

His Strength, Courage, and Protection.

Anything that opposes me opposes Him.

He is my Defender.

I am never alone, He will not abandon me.

His Mercy, Grace, Peace and Love sustains me.

His Spirit is in me..

His Word guides me.

His Wisdom is mine.

His Joy is my strength.

His promise is to work everything for my good

and

Bring me triumphantly into His presence.

Amen

Jodi Davis Lybrand is a life long resident of Shelby County Alabama. She is married, has Jodiraised two wonderful sons, has a beautiful daughter in law and 3 of the most adorable grandchildren ever! Her favorites include playing with those awesome grandchildren, enjoying nature with long walks and sunsets, visiting with friends-old and new, painting and working through her bucket list! A Bible teacher for 30 years, teaching pre- school through senior citizen age (before she was one!), she jests that she can teach you a Bible lesson in sixty seconds or sixty minutes. Most of all, she loves encouraging people through the truths found in God’s word.

Two Are Better Than One

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They say if you want a job done, do it yourself.   What if there is a better way to get the job done, meet goals and finish well?  I’ve learned it’s about working smart and that means working together.   God showed me that it is so much better to empower others to their destiny and gifts than to try to do everything myself. It takes a team to make a dream!  What an amazing beautiful realization!

While coordinating and directing women’s conferences a few years ago, I realized I needed a team in order to get more done.   I would gather several teams of volunteers together who would help to oversee each aspect of the conference and I would oversee the leaders of those teams.  All the teams worked together to form one harmonious grand finale…the conference.   What a joy it was to see women helping women as they used their gifts and talents to cheer one another on.  Each piece and part fit cohesively as many different personalities came together to accomplish something wonderful!

Ecclesiastes 4:9 •
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.”

We’re better together when we double our efforts and work in loving harmony to accomplish MORE!

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Whether you are working, have a career, in full-time ministry,  a stay at home mom, or a volunteer, you are going to find yourself either leading or working on a team at some point. Here are few tips for working together to accomplish a big goal.  Enjoy!

  • Delegate tasks that are not your strengths
  • Pray together
  • Talk about a Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work
  • Manage expectations and be flexible
  • Celebrate often
  • Make room for the new; reach for the next level
  • Let others shine; develop people to MORE
  • Think the best
  • Don’t keep going over what went wrong, fix it and move on
  • Resolve conflicts quickly; be willing to let offenses go
  • Be self-aware
  • Know when to back down
  • Listen more, talk less
  • Be relevant and adaptable, but keep the main thing, the main thing
  • Know your capacity and stay in your lane

 

Keep your eyes on God and the goal and He’ll get you there.  Be encouraged, and when opposition comes against you, when others misunderstand you, when someone doesn’t get your “personality,” when deadlines are tight and it seems you won’t make it, simply love others, keep your faith and press on toward the goal!

IMG_3891Jackie Tinkler is the Co-Founder and Ministry Development Director of Something More and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She has been ministering to women for 20 years as a Women’s Ministry Director, Counselor and Producer. She is co-writing a Women’s Small Group Study, Something Beautiful, and when not leading women to freedom can be found worshipping at her home church, Church of the Highlands, home styling for friends, on the hiking trail with her husband, Jim and their chocolate lab, Nelson, talking with their adult daughter Lauren or sitting in the balcony at the Alabama Theatre.

Stay Strong

Written by Jackie Tinkler

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Are you finding it hard to stay encouraged in a situation where you are enduring a difficult relationship, job, or circumstance?    Have you had enough?  Do you imagine making a scene, telling them off, quitting that job or storming out because somewhere in the mix of the reality, you are experiencing inconvenience or unfair treatment?  We feel we have a right to feel the way we do and a right to say so.

In today’s culture, to be meek is a sign of “weakness.”  But…did you know that the word Jesus used when he said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5) actually means “strength under control?”  The meek, being teachable and gentle, WILL inherit the earth when all is placed right.  We can learn from Jesus’ example of gentle, firm endurance: His ability to stay in control, yet be completely humble and patient in dealing with difficulty, even though He was the powerful son of God.

In my early days of ministry, I remember holding my tongue about a situation that I KNEW was unfair toward me. I held back for five years! I tried to walk in love, I tried to act like I was fine, until one day I decided I had had enough. I know, this is not going to be good. I thought “God, how long do I have to be ‘nice’ and endure this?” Thinking it was a good idea,  I marched into my director’s office, told her what I thought about the situation, which in my mind had gone on long enough, and held nothing back. I think I ranted for at least 30 minutes! She just sat there with her jaw to the floor and didn’t know what to say. When I was done, I felt relieved,  like, “There, now that’s better.” But, I heard God say, “Okay, are you proud of yourself now?” Days later, I received a good talking to, not about the grievance, but the angry and frustrated way I handled it.  I wasn’t very meek, I’m afraid, so I totally blew it!   Don’t misunderstand.  It sure felt good to say it, but it was not the way God wanted me to take care of it. Thank God for His grace and that he doesn’t hold it against me!

It is always best to put on the life-giving love of Christ and gently forbear grievances.  It’s not easy, but doable, because we walk with Him.  Is there someone or something trying your patience?  Ask God to strengthen you with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and the humility needed to walk that thing out well. Ask Him for a meekness that says,  “I’m strength under control.”

Father God, you know how I want to make things right in my own way.  I ask you to help me to humble myself under the mighty hand of God and in due time you will exalt me.  I ask that I am able to put on the meekness of Christ, counting others better than myself and sacrificing my need to be right for the peace and love of Christ to grow in my relationships and personal circumstances.

IMG_3891Jackie Tinkler is the Co-Founder and Ministry Development Director of Something More and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She has been ministering to women for 20 years as a Women’s Ministry Director, Counselor and Producer. She is co-writing a Women’s Small Group Study Something Beautiful and when not leading women to freedom can be found worshipping at her home church, Church of the Highlands, home styling for friends, on the hiking trail with her husband, Jim and their chocolate lab, Nelson, talking with their adult daughter Lauren or sitting in the balcony at the Alabama Theatre.

Make a plan and Get Your Time and Money Back!

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The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Time is elusive. We are either wasting it, taking too much of it, or not taking enough of it.

One thing I seem to hear on repeat is I wish I had enough time to eat at home. Eating at home will not only improve the health of our bodies, it can also improve the health of our pocket books. In August of 2015, I calculated that our family spent over $600 in one month on eating out, including lunches for my husband and me.  Since then, we have become more aware of where we eat.

For the last three years, these are things we have incorporated into our life that have become part of the routine.

  1. We select one day a week we will eat a meal out. Currently attending a small group on Wednesday nights, we know this will be the night we eat away from home. Chik Fil-A is the go-to for Wednesday night dinner.
  2. Every Friday,  I take 15 minutes of my morning and plan the menu for the upcoming week and make a grocery list. I also utilize the grocery store pickup that is now available. I schedule it for Saturday morning before our day gets going. The person who created this option needs a BIG HUG!
  3. Keep things simple. There is only one Julia Childs. We do not all have to aspire to make her or the Barefoot Contessa meals every night. It will also help keep your sanity. Sometimes dinner is a bowl of cereal or a good grilled cheese sandwich.
  4. Invest in a crock pot and a pressure cooker. These two kitchen appliances have become my life-line. The fact that I can put a 5-pound pork shoulder in my Instant Pot and it is ready within 90 minutes still blows my mind. An added benefit of using these appliances is you will almost always have left overs for lunch the next day.
  5. Don’t stress. There will be some nights when you have the meat thawed out, but you cannot muster enough energy to make a burger. It is OK. Go through that fast food drive -thru.

We implemented the above in the beginning to help cut down on our food expenses. I found the added benefits were teaching our boys lessons in cooking, spending time with my husband while we cooked together, and the chance to sit as a family sharing a meal, something that unfortunately seems to be a lost art.  This time at the dinner table has given us the opportunity to have important chats over a plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes that would otherwise not have happened.

What are ways you save time and money?

 

Nicole Collier grew up in Montgomery, AL. She now lives in Helena, AL with her husband, Matthew, and 2 boys, Ethan, 10, and Russell, 6. She is a lover of all things creative, including photography and music. Nicole and her family are involved with The Just People Project non-profit ministry serving the homeless throughout the city of Birmingham. Her life verse is Romans 8:28, God will use your story to turn it around, bringing Him the glory through it all.

You can find Nicole now as a contributor on The Something More Ministries Blog.

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Three Ways to Make Memories, not Madness

Written by Rachel Gunn

white flowers and leaves decor

Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

If you’re like me, you might be wondering how your children will remember their childhoods. I mean, with no baby books, pregnancy journals or personal hashtags,  how will our children even know they existed before college?

I never order school pictures because we can have them done professionally. But professional photographers are pricey so we get those about every four years. We usually end up with a semi-posed picture that goes out on our Christmas cards each year.

How do we underachieving moms preserve memories for our precious little ones then?  I have discovered three ways to do just that, and they are all easy and stress-free!

Oh, the Places You Will Go!

Purchase one of these books and find a good spot to hide it. Write a note explaining that you are creating a memory book to be given to your child at graduation and ask them (who is them?)to write a note to your child anywhere in the book. Then, store the book and note in a Manila envelope. At the end of each school year, leave the book for your child’s teacher. Have them email you when they’re done. Grab the book and stash it away until next year. When they graduate, you can break out that book for a sweet little gift full of memories!

20 Questions

This one takes a little prep work, but it is totally worth it in the end. Grab a scrapbook in whatever size you prefer. I chose 8×8. This requires some formatting for your 20 questions, so keep that in mind when choosing your size. Create (or copy) a list of 20 questions that your child can answer. The questions will stay the same year after year, so put a little thought into writing (or finding) some good ones. Print a copy for each year you want to ask the questions. For example, I started when my daughter was 4 and plan to keep it going until she is 20, so I printed 16 copies. I used a nice cream colored cardstock for my questions.

Now, go ahead and load all the blank question sheets into the left side of the scrapbook in sheet protectors. On, or around your kid’s birthday each year, pull out the book and ask the questions. Record the answers and slide the paper right back into place. Boom! Done!

If you really want to get fancy, you can print a picture of your child for that year and insert it into the opposite sheet cover. I did this exactly one time for one child.

Book of Gifts

This might be the easiest one, and somehow the most precious. I read about this in an article several years ago. Grab a large, sturdy notebook. I chose one that was rather nice and decorative since it will be used and maybe a little abused over many years. You can use one notebook for all your kids or one for each. I use one for each because I want them to each have their own when I’m gone. I may not be an overachiever, but I think ahead!

This is so simple it almost seems too good to be true. Basically, for every holiday that your kids would give you a gift, you have them create a “gift” in the book. They can draw a picture (or scribble), write a letter or poem, or create whatever is on their heart.  The sooner you start, the better!  I didn’t start until my oldest was around seven, and I still have pages of memories! I love how this idea emphasizes heartfelt gifts over store-bought. I never want my children to feel like they have to spend money on me, and this book is a great way to instill that! And imagine, over the years, all the wonderful pages where their love has been poured out.  All you have to do is keep up with the book and hand it to them during holiday seasons!

There you have it, moms!  These are three ways to create memories that won’t tax your time and creative energy. In Psalm 90:12, Moses asks God to “teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.” If crafting and creating are not your strengths, don’t stress over it! Set in place one or more of these simple ideas and move on. Spend your time doing the things that God gifted you to do!

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