Holly Furtick

Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 5

Today is the last of this 5 part blog series.  We have been discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman. Over the past four weeks, we have learned that an uncomplicated woman is complex, not complicatedpoised, not perfect, calm in the midst of chaos,and in a high stress situation but she is not a high drama woman.  Today I want to give you the 5th and final characteristic, I’m in a fight but I am fortified.

Before we get into this point, I want to make sure I clarify that an uncomplicated woman is not unemotional.  Experiencing emotions is one of the most beautiful characteristics of womanhood.  We love deeply, we hurt deeply, we feel deeply.  So while an uncomplicated woman is emotional, she is not controlled by her emotions.  She knows when to have a conversation and who to have it with.  A woman who is constantly controlled by her emotions eventually cannot be trusted.

That being said, we are all in a fight.  The battles may come and go, the enemy may shift his strategy, but we are always fighting.  Fighting for our marriages to stay strong, fighting to raise godly children, fighting for our health, fighting for our own spiritual growth.

A woman who is in a fight must be fortified.  She must be ready for the fight.  When I think of the word, fortified, I don’t think of military strategy.  I think of breast milk.  Sorry to any male readers out there.  Fortified breast milk is breast milk that has had formula added to it in order to increase the amount of calories your baby receives.  Have you fortified yourself with the Word of God?

Look again at Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water
 that sends out its roots by the stream.
 It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
 It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

If you want to be that oak tree and not that orchid (see part 1), you have to have roots that go deep and wide.  Did you notice how Jeremiah said the tree sent out its roots?  I have to be honest here.  Some days, I am more concerned with spreading my branches than I am about spreading my roots.

I did a little research on roots.  Did you know that in most cases, a tree’s branches can only be as wide as its roots are underground?  And in some instances a tree’s roots can extend 10x the length of its branches.  I can only be as strong as my roots are underneath me.  When the fight comes, when the storm comes, if I am fortified, I will still be standing.  Focus on your roots, not your branches! When you focus on the parts of you that no one sees, the parts of you that every sees will bear so much fruit!

When you are fortified, you are better under pressure because you get to prove how wide and how deep your roots are in Christ.  I must learn to fortify myself with the Word of God.  I cannot depend on the my pastor or my husband or my friends to strengthen me, they can encourage me but they cannot strengthen me.  I have to strengthen myself consistently.  I cannot stop growing.  To stop growing is to start dying.

So to put some practical feet to this, here are 5 ways you can fortify your faith…

  1. I keep my perspective straight.  Yes, my children have a stomach bug and they are puking everywhere, but they are not terminally ill.  We will get over this.
  2. I remain grateful.  Psalm 103, Praise the Lord oh my soul and forget not all His benefits! When I start to feel my mood spiral out of control, I stop and focus on the things I am grateful for.
  3. I regard others as more important than myself.  Philippians 2:3.  I will respond like Jesus, even if the other person is not.
  4. I make my requests to God.  A woman who is uncomplicated is most effective when she keeps her request before God.  This does not mean I do not seek counsel from the wise people in my life who know me.  I simply make my requests to God first.  Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  If I would just bring my request to God – think of the peace it could bring to my life!
  5. I play my part.  I am wife to Steven Furtick, mom to Elijah, Graham and Abbey, pastor’s wife of Elevation Church.  I cannot go around comparing my children to yours, my husband to yours, my calling to yours.  I will embrace the season I am in right now and I will enjoy it.

I hope this series has been helpful for you.  My goal in writing these posts was not to overwhelm you or make you feel bad about all the times you have been that complicated woman.  I want to encourage you that awareness is the first step to change.  Sometimes just realizing that I am being complicated in the moment helps me to not repeat my mistake the next time.

My prayer is that we would be a generation of strong, godly women.  That we would grow to become pillars of strength for our children, our friends, our husbands.  That we would be examples of faith that works when the storms come.  Oaks of righteousness.

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Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 4

In this 5 part blog series, we are discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman. Over the past three weeks, we have learned that an uncomplicated woman is complex, not complicatedpoised, not perfect, and calm in the midst of chaos. Today I want to give you the 4th characteristic, I may be in a high stress situation, but I am not a high drama woman.  

Last week we talked about knowing yourself and your family so that you can avoid chaotic situations.  But what about situations that are unavoidable but still stressful?  Part of becoming an uncomplicated woman is learning how to identify when a high stress situation is coming your way so that you can be prepared for it.  Moving, a death in the family, caring for a chronically ill family member, caring for a special needs child, being pregnant or having a new baby, are all super high stress situations that we may face.

Can I handle these situations?  Or will I cry and complain to everyone in my life about them. I have a friend who has a child with special needs and a child with a severe illness.  She never complains.  She never even talks about her kids issues unless you ask her about them.  She is such a beautiful picture of a strength and dignity to me.

What about a stressful day?  Can I rise to the challenge of motherhood (a task that I prayed for to begin with!)?  Can I laugh at a tough day?  Can I throw a birthday party or have people over for dinner without making my family miserable all day long as I prepare for guests?  I am cringing as I write this because I have done this so many times.

I may be overloaded, but I am not going to let myself become overwhelmed. Here’s what I try and do (obviously not right every time) when I find myself in a high stress situation…

  1. Anticipate a high stress situation.  Ex: We are having a dinner party and invited 2 families over.
  2. Mentally prepare myself… “I am going to straighten the house but it is going to get messy.  The kids are going to mess up the play room.  My floors are going to get dirty.  This is ok.  We will have a good time.”
  3. I have the freak out moments in my head.  I just don’t let them come out of my mouth, or in my attitude.
  4. I ask for help.  Whether it is getting my kids to help clean up before company comes over, or asking a friend to help me throw a baby shower instead of doing it all by myself.
I want to be like that Proverbs 31 woman, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (31:25)
Next week is the last point and it is my favorite… I am in a fight but I am fortified.

 

 

 

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Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 3

In this blog we are discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Over the past two weeks, we have learned that an uncomplicated woman is complex, not complicated, and poised, not perfect.  Today I want to give you the 3rd characteristic, I am calm in the midst of chaos.

An uncomplicated woman knows that when chaos arrives, she can either add to the chaos and prolong it or she can remain calm and keep the situation from blowing out of proportion. I have a goal to become calm when I see my husband or children getting upset. I am still working on this and certainly do not get it right every time (or very often for that matter).  But I know that I have the power to deescalate a situation and I am trying to learn how to put this power into practice.

How do I bring calm to a chaotic situation?  Well, first is there a way I can avoid it altogether? I have know myself and my children and what my family can handle.  I must learn how to think ahead and think through situations realistically so that possibly, I can avoid a chaotic situation.  This means I understand and accept what stage of life I am in.  If I have young (napping age) children, I am not going to attend a birthday lunch that starts at 1pm.  If I am an 8 hours of sleep a night kind of woman, I know that I cannot stay up past midnight if I want to be effective at my job the next day.  Learning how to subvert chaos means saying learning how no to something that sounds like fun but will have me in a heap that evening or the next day.

But when I do find myself in a chaotic situation, I have to keep my head.  I have to rise above and coach myself…

This situation is really not that bad.
I will not feel like this forever.
I can handle this.
I am a strong woman.
I am bigger than this.
I do not have to win this argument.

And most importantly, I am not alone!  Isaiah 43:2 says

When you pass through the waters, 
I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers,
 they will not sweep over you.
 When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; 
the flames will not set you ablaze.

I can be calm in the midst of chaos because I know that no matter how difficult my situation may seem, I am promised that I do not have to handle it alone.

Next week, part 4… I may be in a high stress situation but I am not a high drama woman!

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Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 2

In this blog we are discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Last week we said, I am complex, not complicated.  Today I want to give you the 2nd characteristic, I am poised, not perfect.

We all know that drama works great in movies and books, but in real life, it simply exhausts the people around you.  A poised woman learns how to push past her emotions in the heat of the moment.  And she knows when and where it is appropriate to release them.  It is not that a poised woman doesn’t have emotions, she is simply in control of them.  When a complicated situation occurs, a poised woman goes first to God, then to the appropriate people.

A good question to ask yourself is, can I deal with a little tiff without telling everyone in my life?  I do not want my spouse or my friends to dread picking up the phone when they see my name on their caller id.  I do not want the people in my life (my boss, my husband, my coworkers, my friends) to be afraid to give me bad news or ask me to change something in my life.

I love this verse, Proverbs 31:11-12, Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  I want my husband, my children, my friends to trust me.  I want to enrich the lives of everyone around me, not drain them.

This is not to say that I don’t have bad days, or difficult seasons, but I am like that tree in Jeremiah 17:8, “It does not fear when heat comes; 
its leaves are always green.
 It has no worries in a year of drought 
and never fails to bear fruit.”  It is not that heat and drought and storms don’t happen to the tree, they just don’t have any long term effects on the tree’s ability to bear fruit.

Poise is not perfection, it’s strength under pressure.  I want to be like that tree that is poised to stand up under what ever pressure may come my way.  Becoming an uncomplicated woman means learning to be poised in the midst of an emotional situation.

Next week I will give you part 3- I am calm in the midst of chaos.

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Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman (pt1)

This past Thursday all the female staff and spouses of Elevation gathered together.  We had a wonderful time.  We laughed together, learned together and served together.

I shared a message about Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman that has been stirring in my heart for a few months.  In a culture that puts so much emphasis on social media, appearances, and keeping up with each other, how can we fight the temptation to be needy and dramatic?

We all know a complicated woman.  You know, she is unpredictable and inconsistent.  Being in her  life means you have to have special knowledge of all her difficult ways.  But even then, you can never be sure of how she will react.  The only thing you can be sure of is that she will have a dramatic reaction.

But what about the times when I am complicated?  How does this affect those around me?  How can we become pillars of strength for the people in our lives?

Over the next few weeks I want to give you 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Here is the first one…

I am complex, not complicated.

A complex woman has many depths.  One guy put it this way, “A complex person is like an iPod.  That is to say that they are consistent, straightforward, and user friendly while also being rather sophisticated… They are understanding, forgiving, in short, mature.”

A complex woman is like an oak tree.  A complicated woman is like an orchid.  Both are beautiful plants.  An oak tree is a picture of strength and beauty.  An orchid is a picture of fragility and beauty.  An orchid must be coddled.  It cannot be too hot or too cold.  It cannot have too much water.  Its leaves do not like to get wet. An orchid needs constant special attention.

Look at what Jeremiah 17:7-8 has to say about a tree (oak I like to think :))

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

I want my husband, my coworkers, my friends to consider me a strong woman – she can handle business, she’s not always freaking out.  She runs deep.  She has experienced some difficult situations but she seems to handle them with such grace.

Are you complex or complicated?  How do I make those closest to me feel when they see my name on their caller id?  Or maybe the better questions is, in what area of my life do I complicate things?  Because I can turn complicated really quick.

The good news is that sometimes the first step to change is simply being aware of myself.  Knowing that I complicated a situation will help me not do the same next time.

Next week I’ll share point 2: I am poised but not perfect.

*Thanks to Pastor Kevin Gerald – he preached a message several months ago that originally inspired my thoughts about this.

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For all the people pleasers out there…

Are you a people pleaser?  I am.  We all are to some extent, and of course, we all go through seasons where we seem to get stuck in a rut of caring too much of what others think about us.

Look at these verses in Psalm 34

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

When my focus is on seeking the Lord, He delivers me of my fear of letting others down.  My face does not have to be covered in shame because I can be confident that I am following His commands for my life.

I am not saying we shouldn’t seek the advice of the godly authorities the Lord has put in our lives.  But I am saying we should seek the Lord first in every situation.  If I go around wondering if this will hurt that person’s feelings, or if this person will be happy with me, I am putting the cart before the horse.

Here’s another way of looking at it, I can only seek to please God but I can try to bless others.  And when I seek God, will show me how I can bless others.

I want all those in my life to be happy.  And I want them to be happy with me.  But not to the detriment of me not being able to obey the calling God has placed on my life because I am running around trying to keep everyone happy.

Matthew 6:33 pretty much sums it up

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Spend your energy pleasing God and let him take care of the way others feel about you.

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No Substitute

The past few weeks my husband has been on a small break.  I have gotten to travel with him on family vacation and ministry trips. We had the best time.  While we were gone from Elevation, we were still in church, attending a conference and watching church online.  But there is no substitute for being a part of my own church.

I think so many people fall into the trap of thinking that attending one church this week, another church the next, then watching online one weekend and suddenly they find themselves in a place of loneliness, disconnectedness, and feeling like their life has little meaning.

When I finally was back in my seat, at my campus, last week after being away for several weeks I was filled with joy.  There is no substitute for this.  There is no substitute for being planted in a place where I give, serve, worship, and have community with people.

I am not saying everyone should go to my church.  But where is your church?  If you are feeling like something is missing in your life, maybe it is the fact that you are not planted where you and your family can put down roots with other believers.

Hebrews 10:25 says,  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

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Too tired to finish

Do you know the story of Gideon?  In Judges 6-8 we find Gideon, an Israelite, called by God to defeat the Midianites with only 300 men (you should go and read the story if you don’t know it).  In chapter 6, Gideon accepts the call (after asking God many questions), in chapter 7, Gideon and his men have a huge victory but they have to finish the job and defeat all of the Midianites.  I love verse 4 in chapter 8…

Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it.

Have you ever been exhausted while obeying God?  Just because you are winning a victory does not mean you won’t get tired.

Maybe you are fighting for your marriage or a relationship.  Maybe you are finishing up a big project.  Maybe you are serving in a church.

Don’t give up.  Keep up the pursuit.   Remember, the Lord is on your side.    The One who gave you the faith to start will give you the grace to finish.

If you need an extra boost of encouragement  today, listen to this sermon from my husband.  It is one of my favorites and it always encourages me.  Don’t Stop on 6!

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How to kill a friendship

Friendships are such a difficult thing to navigate in life, but such an essential part of life.

I read that the average friendship has a lifespan of 5 years.  That is kind of sad but yet comforting at the same time.  Friendships ebb and flow.  Jobs change, people move, kid’s schools, teams and hobbies change.  When a friendship ends, it does not mean there is something wrong with me.  It is just a natural part of life.  There are, however, a few things you can do to fast forward the ending of a friendship.

1.  Jealousy. Jealousy will kill a friendship faster than anything. If you cannot celebrate the successes of your friend, they will eventually stop sharing those wins with you. Proverbs 27:4 says, “Anger is cruel and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.”

2. Judgement. If you never come to a place where you accept others even though you disagree on something, you cannot cultivate that friendship. Is my friend too strict because she doesn’t let her children play with certain games or read certain books? No, just different. Just because my beliefs are different from yours does not mean I am right and you are wrong.

3.  Comparison. Anyone who is constantly comparing is a drain to be around. It doesn’t matter if you are comparing careers, possessions or children.  Check out this line from Dillon Burroughs, “The problem with comparison is that you always feel either better than someone else or worthless compared to someone else.”  Constant comparison will suck the life out of a friendship.

4.  Lack of Confrontation. No friendship can move forward if it does not push past a conflict. No, we do not have to always speak the truth in love, but there are times when we must confront a situation (not talk about it to everyone else), talk through it and move on.  Conflict can either destroy or, if handled correctly, can deepen a relationship.

A few more thoughts on friendship…

Remember, friendships need to be cultivated, but if a particular friendship is like caring for an orchid… try as you might, the petals are falling off, it may be time to let it go.  On the other hand, if you have an friendship that is like an oak tree, one that is steady and has weathered many storms, you should fight for that one.

Loneliness is something everyone experiences.  But we all must be reminded sometimes that it takes a friend to be a friend.  What kind of friend are you?  If you feel so lonely, when was the last time you invited a friend to lunch?  When was the last time you sent a note of encouragement, or bought your someone a gift just because?

And don’t forget, God wants to bless us with friendships but Jesus is the true friend.  Sometimes I think I mistake loneliness in my life for lack of closeness with Jesus.  When I am full in my relationship with Jesus, I feel more fulfilled in every area of my life, especially my friendships because they become more about what I can give, not necessarily what I am receiving.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:25

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Nothing but the truth

Ephesians 4:15 says Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

I think that Ephesians 4:15 is so often misquoted.  I get tired of Christians running around correcting each other proclaiming that they are just “speaking the truth in love.” Does a true friend speak the truth in love?  Yes.  But a true friend also knows that just because something is true, it does not always have to be spoken.

For instance, if my friend has on an outfit that does not look the best on her, am I to tell her?  Of course not.  That would only embarrass her.  If my friend is complaining about her husband, am I to call her out in a loving way and tell her she shouldn’t do that?

What about my husband?  If he is watching too much tv or eating unhealthy foods, do I need to tell him in a loving way?  What if he is losing his temper with our kids, do I need to confront him?

Sometimes, love doesn’t need to speak.  Sometimes love remembers I lose my temper, I watch too much tv, and I complain too.  Sometimes love just prays.

My husband often jokes and calls me the Holly Spirit.  This is funny, but I have to constantly remind myself that I am not the Holy Spirit.  God did not put me on earth to point out the faults of those around me.  I have plenty of faults of my own to deal with.  And when I see something that someone in my life is doing wrong, sometimes the best thing I can do is pray and trust the Holy Spirit (who lives inside of them too!) to correct them.  Check out this verse from the Amplified Version…

John 14:26  But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.

He causes us to recall what we have been taught!  And he doesn’t need my help.  This weekend, I thought it was so funny when my husband said we need to remind ourselves that we are not the associate pastor to the Holy Spirit.

I do not always do this right.  But I can tell you that the times where I have seen a fault in my friend, or my husband, and I have taken it to the Lord, I have seen the Lord convict his or her heart.  One time, I decided that rather than nag my husband about something I wanted my him to change, I would pray for him.  Several weeks later he came to me and asked me if there was anything I saw in his life that I needed to change.  It was then that I spoke the truth in love.  There have been other times where I prayed about something and I saw the Lord do a work in a friend and I did even play a part in their change.

I need to remember that true change takes place when the Holy Spirit speaks, not me.

 

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