Holly Furtick

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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The smallest bit

I came across this quote from the book, My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers the other day.

Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already.

I believe there is so much truth to this.  God cannot take me from A to C if I do not do B.  Sometimes, when you are feeling like you don’t know what step to take next, you have to go back and see if you took the last step you were told to take.

Did God ask you to forgive someone?
Did you feel impressed the last time you were at church to give?  To serve? To join a small group?
Maybe God told you to take a break from social media, or tv?
Maybe you have a certain friend that you know is not good for you?

This isn’t a post about discerning God’s voice.  But sometimes He just impresses something on your heart and keeps bringing it back to your mind.  And sometimes there are obvious commands in the scripture that we just simply do not obey.

Like being kind.
Honoring your parents.
Respecting your husband.
Refraining from griping and complaining.

God is a God who rewards obedience above all else.  In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul disobeyed God and it cost him everything.  God commanded him to attack the Amalekites and destroy everything including the animals.  Saul did everything except he saved their king and a few animals.  When Samuel, the prophet, asked Saul what he was doing, Saul proclaimed that he was making a sacrifice to the Lord.  Look at what Samuel said back,

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

God takes complete obedience very seriously.  And he rewards obedience very greatly.  Stop searching for the mysteries of God and obey the last thing he told you to do.  Then watch as He reveals more of Himself to you.

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Nip it.

I have been thinking a lot about fear lately.  It is such an odd thing because it has such a broad range.  Fear can be something so silly or something very serious.  You can be afraid of clowns or afraid of death.  You can have a small fear that lurks in the back of your mind, or a fear so large it is paralyzing.

There are, of course, fears that can help you.  Like if you are afraid of your children getting hit by a car, you are going to teach them to look both ways.  There are also fears that are realistic and fears that are completely irrational.  And then sometimes, I think the enemy tries to make me afraid of things that actually might be good for me.

Take for instance something I am ashamed of (I hope I can be honest here), I sometimes yell at my kids.  Loud.  Now the enemy wants me to feel ashamed.  He wants to whisper to me, “you’re a terrible mom,” and “what would people think if they heard you yell like that?”  He wants me to internalize everything and never talk about it to anyone.  He wants me to think about it over and over again.

Sometimes when I am faced with an irrational fear that is based in shame like,” what if people really knew what you are like?”  I just face it.  I find someone and confess.  I just say to another mom friend, “I really struggle with yelling at my kids sometimes.”  I let it out there.  And then, usually, I find my friend say, “Oh, I struggle with the same thing too.”  Now the the chatterbox has no more power.  ”What if people found out?”  Well they just did AND I found out I am not alone in this struggle.

I actually told my mom the other day how awful I felt because I had fussed so much at my kids last Saturday while I was taking them to their activities.  I remember saying to her, “I guess I just discounted all the things I did for them today.”  She said just the right thing, “No you didn’t.  They won’t even remember you fussing at them.  They will remember that you always took them to their activities.  That’s all.”

Not all fear is so easily overcome.  But boy can you nip the fear of shame by simply being honest with someone.  You may find out that the thing in your mind that you built up to be such a big deal really isn’t a big deal at all.

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

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A bosom friend

Today we are more connected than ever, thanks to the internet and social media, but it seems we are lonelier than ever.  As women, I think we have this longing for a deep female friendship, something that is engrained in us even in early childhood. We become an adult, get married, have children and become so busy with life that we feel like our relationships are suffering.  We suddenly look around and find we still don’t have BFF that we can give a heart necklace to like we did in 7th grade (remember the heart broken in half and we each wore a half?).  We wonder if there is something wrong with us.  How could we be so busy and yet so lonely?

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables put it best…

“Marilla,” she demanded presently, “do you think that I
shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?”

“A–a what kind of friend?”

“A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really
kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.  I’ve
dreamed of meeting her all my life.  I never really supposed
I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true
all at once that perhaps this one will, too.  Do you think
it’s possible?”

The reality is very few people go through life with a true BFF- a friend that they can laugh with, pray with, cry with, celebrate with, share their deepest darkest secrets with.  God did create us to be relational.  He created us to need each other and to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2).  But perhaps he didn’t mean for it to be wrapped up all in one person.

When I look around at the relationships God has given me I see that He has given me friends that I do ministry with, some friends that are similar positions of ministry that I can talk with, friends that I text when something is funny, and often different friends that I text when I need prayer.  I have friends who’s kids are the same ages as my kids, and friends that I would want to go on vacation with.  Don’t read into this too much.  I do not have this over abundance of relationships, and each one has struggles of its own.  But when I open my eyes, I see that the Lord has blessed me with a handful of people who do the work of one “bosom friend.”

The enemy wants to whisper lies to me that I am lonely.  That no one really understands me.  That I don’t even have one friend who can bear all my burdens and celebrate all my blessings with.  This is simply not true.  We need to stop and reevaluate…

  • The reason we don’t have that one, true kindred spirit friend in the flesh is because that spot should be reserved for Jesus alone. He is the One I can cast my cares on.  He is the One who will never leave me nor forsake me.  Perhaps, if you have been feeling lonely, the starting place is making Jesus your best friend.
  • Or maybe it is time you look around at the relationships you have been blessed with and the different roles people play in your life.  Thank God for providing you with people who can bless you in different ways.  Realize that maybe you are not as lonely as you think.
  • You may need to hear this gentle reminder that it takes a friend to be a friend and the phone works both ways.   Maybe there is a relationship out there in need of you more than you are in need of it.

As we become more and more socially connected, we must remember to stay connected to the only One who can truly relieve our loneliness.  And we must realize that maybe we have all the relationships we need, we simply need to open our eyes and cultivate them.

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