Last month I attended a women’s conference with my Mother, held at my parent’s church, that was life changing for me. Under the theme “Empower Me: Women Working on Perceptions, Potential and Pursuits”, this conference touched on everything from business and legacy planning, to self-image, social circles, sex and marriage. The two-day event exposed the snares that many women face in life, trying to juggle it all, and offered a course for success. Session after session forced me to think introspectively about the role that I personally play in my family’s physical, financial, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. Yes, my husband and I are “one”, and we are certainly a team – but I was forced to examine my personal stake in things. To approach my role as Wife and Mother with new vigor. To propel the best parts of myself to the forefront of my life.
I left this conference truly feeling “empowered”, and I’d like to share with you some of the highlights that I walked away with.
And yes, believe it or not, I also left this conference with a sex toy (and so did my mom – yikes!). I will tell you more about it later on in this post. For those of you who are shocked and appalled, please let me assure you that the “sex in marriage” session that I attended was biblically sound, and conducted in a decent, yet realistic and fun fashion. If you want to know more about it, read on, and if not, read on anyway because I have more to share about the conference beyond the sex toys. They were just a tiny part of an awesome experience, and I pray that what I learned will bless you as well.
So What Does It Take?
Many of us walk around wondering, “What is God’s purpose for my life, and how do I fulfill it?” The simple, one-word answer to that question is: surrender.
This whole walk is about surrender. And what I mean by that is it’s not about telling God what we want, and expecting Him to simply pave the way. Rather, it’s about seeking God and finding out what His will is for our lives, and then surrendering to that will. The work you end up doing will be no less than fulfilling and rewarding, because it was designed and purposed just for you. When we follow His way, we will see His promises manifested in our lives. When we insist on doing things our own way, we can end up lost.
Our perceptions in life can often hold us back. But when you work on changing your perceptions, you can begin to look at situations in the right light. And when I say the right light, I mean through a biblical lens. When we seek God and understand how God works (through prayer, relationship and study), we stop worrying about how we feel and what we see, and we start trusting and walking in faith.
For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
When you value your work over people, you limit your opportunities. Every interaction is an opportunity to have an impact on the people around you or the circumstance you find yourself in – it’s also an opportunity to be impacted yourself (hopefully in a positive way).
God calls us to honor Him in everything that we do. This includes our interactions with others. Since many of us spend most of our waking hours at work or performing some function of business to earn a living, it’s important that we realize the importance of these interactions. God works through people. He works through you for other people. And He uses other people to reach you.
You’ve probably heard the cliché, “Your attitude determines your altitude!” If you go to work every day, zipping in and out without an attitude to inspire and influence, just simply going through the motions on the hamster wheel, then you are severely limiting your opportunities to have an impact, or be impacted.
Do you have a Legacy Succession Plan?
Using the terminology ‘legacy succession plan’ sound so formal, but it’s really a simple and important concept. What contributions are you making to the present that will have a lasting impact on the future? Who are your successors? Or in other words, who are the people who you are influencing – your children, your students, your family members, individuals within your community, etc. What is the “good stuff”, the best part of you that you will leave behind when you are gone? There is a best part of everyone, God says so! If we were made in His image, that means that we have at least a smidgen of His awesomeness in us, right?
So think about it, what do you have to offer the next generation, and are you tapping into it or letting it go stale? I based the theme of my blog on the commission of Christians to be the salt and light of the earth. I view my little tidbits of information as my contribution (or my dash of) salt and I pray that others can see God’s light through it all.
In my very first post, Why Did We Stop Dreaming? , I re-capped some great pearls of wisdom from the business guru and self-made billionaire Sir. Peter Daniels. Right now as I’m writing this post, another great point that he made comes to mind. He cautioned us to consider that we will one day stand before the Lord, and to ask ourselves how will we account for what we did with the opportunities available to us. Did we make the most of the lives we were blessed with? What did we do with our time and influence? I think he raises an interesting point worth pondering.
Legacies are in fact so much more than what we leave after we pass away. Your legacy starts now, because the truth is, wherever you go you are leaving a footprint. We experience legacy impact moments on a daily basis. There were four key legacy impact areas discussed during this session. Your emotional, intellectual, financial and spiritual legacy is your “right now” legacy:
Emotional – what’s the best part of your emotions that you can leave as a legacy? How do you react to problems? How do you treat others? Do you have a peaceful disposition? Do you hold everything in and then explode? The best way to leave the best part of us as an emotional legacy is by modeling. When you are calm in the middle of one of life’s storms, people will want to know how you are able to remain so calm during turmoil. That’s your open door to tell them about God.
I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)
Intellectual – Are you investing in your brain? Are you a lifelong learner? Share what you know. Teach someone how to do what you are doing.
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13)
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Financial – Are you a tither? A saver? Are you a wise spender? Are you teaching your children how to make smart and responsible financial decisions?
But remember the LORD your God, because he is the one who gives you the ability to produce wealth, in order to confirm his covenant that he promised by an oath to your ancestors, as is the case today. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
Spiritual – Do you have a disciplined prayer and bible study life? Do you have a home church that you are active in? Are you leading by example? Do you operate in the Fruits of the Spirit: kindness (what you say); self-control (what you don’t say); showing love (what you do); patience (what you don’t do)? God left us the best legacy, and that’s Jesus Christ!
The Best Me
We sometimes forget our value. But if you don’t understand or remember your value, no one else will. The speaker of this session used the example of a painting. What gives the painting its value is the artist that created it. Well, we were created by God, so that should give you a good picture of our immeasurable worth. Priceless.
Masterpiece paintings are typically separated from the external atmosphere, and preserved by some sort of encasement. The Mona Lisa, for example, is displayed in a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure behind bulletproof glass. It is illuminated by a 20 watt LED lamp, which was installed and specially designed for this painting. The lamp has a Colour Rendering Index up to 98, and minimizes infrared and ultraviolet radiation which could otherwise degrade the painting.
If all of this was done to preserve and protect a painting, why don’t we take measures to preserve and protect ourselves from the harsh elements of our environment – and I mean our social and spiritual environments.
It is my responsibility to define and create the environment that best supports the best me. The people I spend time with, the places I go, the information and images I allow to permeate my psyche. Therefore, I must be intentional in creating an environment that is nurturing and conducive of the assignments that God has for me.
Also, it’s important to stop comparing ourselves to others. Focusing on what others are doing – and even worse, plotting and planning against others – is a distraction against the creative mind and it silences God’s voice in your ear.
If you’ve read this far, you most likely wanted to hear about these sex toys I mentioned in the headline. I initially was mortified to attend a “sex in marriage” workshop with my mother, and I initially refused to. While she sat in the auditorium awaiting the session to begin, I actually got up and walked out, and was planning on abandoning her and going to the “single ladies” session that was happening simultaneously. However, I felt a strong pull to go back and join my mom – we did sign up for this together after all, and I felt compelled to stick it out and hang in there, despite how utterly embarrassing the following hour might prove to be.
The session was for married and/or visibly engaged women (you had to have a ring on it!), and its purpose was to empower “holy” women in the bedroom by offering the information rarely discussed but necessary for husband and wife satisfaction.
Coming on the heels of just having read Shannon Ethridge’s The Fantasy Fallacy and The Sexually Confident Wife, the biggest take away for me was not so much the sexually explicit details, but mainly it was the realization that my Mother and I have much more in common than I thought. As we discussed and explored marriage together, under such a “grown and sexy” backdrop, there was an unspoken shift in our relationship – from your typical parent/child dialectic, to just two ordinary wives…friends.
The speaker talked about various sexual taboos that Christians grapple with, and as a parting gift, she passed out a few “sexual aids” to help us add some spice into the bedroom. These weren’t forced on anyone, but rather, she placed a big grab bag at the front of the room that contained gift wrapped items of various shapes and sizes. All interested parties had to actually get up out of their seats to go and get one. At first my mom and I sat back and watched all the women excitedly running up to the bag to retrieve their “gift”. Before long, we ran up there as well. When I opened mine, it was a bottle of massage oil. My mom’s was bathtub dice (one die had a body part listed, the other had an action word like “kiss”, the game is supposed to be played in the bathtub I guess??). The funny part of the story is that we both started cracking up at her toy, knowing full and well that it would never get used (at least I hope not, I just can’t even wrap my mind around concepts like that!). So we swapped, with my mother stating “you’re young, you’ll get more use out of that!” 🙂
I give this particular church a lot of credit for tackling such a tough subject – one that is often avoided, and thus a stumbling block for many Christians. The subject of sex in marriage was delivered with sound biblical foundation, yet in a very realistic and fun fashion.
All in all, I learned two valuable lessons that day. The first was that I could actually be more than a daughter to my mother, but also friend. The second was that Christian wives can be crazy, sexy and cool!
Peace and Blessings,
photo credit: Huffington Post via Google Images
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