A Time for Juggling

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven (Eccl 3:1).

When my husband and I prayed on New Year’s Day 2010, we had no idea that this year would be as busy and as full of change as it has been.

We decided to ask God one last time that we would conceive our second child; if God continued to close my womb, we would take that as a sign and pursue adoption. I was pregnant two weeks later.

We prayed that God would make it clear if I were to host the first Ruth’s Company Conference at the Rochester Radisson. He did, and we had an awesome time in June, being inspired by great teaching and the company of almost 100 like-minded women.

We prayed that God would show us if we were to buy a house. We closed on a lovely home on August 1st. And moved in a week later.

We prayed that God would make it abundantly clear if we were to leave the church where we had been attending and fairly active and seek another. We’ll be going to a New Comers’ class at our new church this Fall.

We prayed that God would lead us to the right preschool for our precious first son. We found one that seems hand-crafted for our Isaac; he starts this month!

We prayed that God would show us if we should try to sell or continue to rent out our home in New Hampshire. He made it clear that we were to rent it and then we sustained two stress-filled months with no renters. God finally filled our home with new, great tenants.

When conventional wisdom says one should have no more than two major changes in one year, we Doyleys embraced six changes or events, each of which came with major financial, emotional or physical stress.

Marvin and I took turns losing sleep and worrying about one or more of these events. At times our lives felt like we were on a fast roller-coaster ride, hanging on with one hand and juggling with the other. Marvin carried a larger portion of the financial burden, plus responsibilities at work, and I carried our second son, with the hormonal ups and downs, exhaustion and relentless nausea. And we had some petty arguments as stress and sleeplessness got the better of us.

At one point we asked the Lord, “Are all of these things from you? Did we run ahead of you in any of these decisions? Are we on track?”

And we felt at peace about it all. We felt that He called us to do all of these things and that He would see us through. We also felt sure that this season of busyness would soon end. After this hectic pace would come a time of rest. Human beings weren’t created to sustain a treadmill pace for very long. Our bodies can’t handle it; our emotions can’t handle it; our children can’t handle it and our marriages can’t handle it. There is a time to work and a time to rest, and we are looking forward to a boring 2011!

There is one scripture in particular that sustained me this year, and continues to sustain me as I look forward to delivering this beautiful baby and then caring for him along side our energetic preschooler:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)

If you were to ask me at any point of this year how I felt, deep down inside, my response would be “Weak.” Often it was physical weakness. I know some of you have five, six, seven children and could keep going. But for me, being pregnant while caring for our son has been the second hardest thing in my life (the first hardest was giving birth to Isaac!). I’ve been told that I look good pregnant. Well, that’s ironic, because I certainly don’t feel good! And scores of times I asked God to be strong where I was weak.

We asked God to sustain us through His grace and He has. Now as the storm is waning, our marriage is stronger than ever: our love for each other tested and proven. And our love for the Lord has skyrocketed. He has proven Himself faithful, and loving and strong time and time again and we sit and look around at all that He has done, stunned and grateful.

Pressing in the Promise

God has given us many “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4), and these promises serve to keep us secure, hopeful, grounded and moving forward in our Christian walk. Without the promises of God’s Word, we would be very unstable, and tossed around with every trial that comes our way. When recession hits, we will fear poverty. With every physical aliment, we will fear disease. When the storms rage against our marriages, we will fear divorce. When we hit 40 and we’re still single, we will fear a lifetime of loneliness. But Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” The hope we have in God keeps us anchored, and though the storms of life rage, we refuse to panic or live in fear. Instead, we cling onto the promise that God gives us for our circumstance and we let this become an anchor for our souls. When the storm is pounding, we drop anchor, confess the promises of God and trust Him that we will not be shipwrecked, capsized or killed.

If we lose our job, we will confess Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” And we hold onto that until provision and a better job comes.

If we long for a mate and yet the years are rolling by, we declare to our souls and to the principalities and powers Psalm 37:4: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” We confess it and declare it until we receive our heart’s desire.

If the devil is trying to discourage us about the future, we look him in the eye and say with confidence, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11).

Whatever we are facing, God’s Word has something to say about it. God will whisper one of His promises into our ear, and we will stand on it and press into it until we see its fulfillment.

That’s why Pressing into the Promise is the theme of our first conference. As women, we all face situations that would shipwreck our faith. We all weather storms and we all need an anchor. We need strength to hold fast to what God says and refuse what the devil or our circumstances or our own souls are saying. So come join us on June 25th-26th and get strengthened, edified and reminded of the precious promises God has for YOU.

But God

My past reads like a script for a Lifetime movie. My parents died when I was little and my siblings and I were raised by my aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, the summer before fourth grade I was molested by my uncle’s nephew. Then, as a young adult, a boyfriend’s mother told him I wasn’t good enough for him because I came from a “broken home.” Finally, I contemplated suicide in my twenties. Throughout my life there always seemed to be someone to remind me I had little value, and the expectation was that I would be an unwed mother.

The effects of these incidents in my life and psyche were lasting and far reaching. The trauma produced fear, shame, guilt, depression, anger and low self esteem. I perceived I was unlovable, and my life had no value. I really never expected to see adult hood; my existence was day to day. I prayed that I would go to sleep and never wake up. Life was very painful.

But God. I love those words! God had other plans for me. You see, He made sure the summer before sixth grade I attended Vacation Bible School. It was there I heard “Jesus loves you.” I didn’t understand how He could love me when people didn’t seem to be able to find any value in me, but I held on to the fact that He did. Then at fourteen I accept Christ as my Savior.

At seventeen He allowed a beautiful little girl to want to be my goddaughter. It was this relationship that kept me from taking my life in my twenties. I had taught her about the love of God and knew if I took my life she would doubt His love and faithfulness. I couldn’t do that to her. My failure couldn’t be seen as His.

And so my search for wholeness began. I had never equated the abuse or the other incidents with how I was feeling. All those years I never dealt with the sadness, anger and other feelings that kept trying to make their way to the surface, and I treated that part of my life as if it were separate from my walk of faith. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me understand and deal with these issues, and to knock down the walls I had built to protect me. I stayed in the Word; I listen to Christian television and radio. When I left the house I always had my CD player locked and loaded with praise and worship music. And I read books on abuse (like Joyce Meyers’ book “Beauty for Ashes,” which was very helpful). These books helped me to understand the turmoil within and to realize that I needed counseling. The main thing I took way from Joyce Meyers’ book was her transparency and how freely she shared her past. I could almost feel her freedom. I wanted to be able to speak freely about my past, without fear of condemnation and judgment from people.

I wish I could say life became easier right away, but it didn’t. My wounds were very deep and required a lot of care and work. My healing was a process. First I had to want to be made whole, which I did. I had to believe God’s word is true and stand on his word no matter how I felt. I had to stay in His word. And I gave the Lord full access to every area of my life, as darkness can only be dispelled by the light of Jesus. For a long time I let fear rule my life. But He has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2Tim 1:7). He was with me every step of my journey to wholeness. He promised never to leave me nor forsake me (Deut 31:6).

I had to forgive my abusers and repent of any offense I was holding. You see, partial forgiveness is unforgiveness. I found in scripture how God defined me and I confessed those words over and over until they became a part of me. Sometime I made those confessions in front of a mirror; I needed to connect God’s description of me with my face reflecting back in that mirror. I have learned if I hide His word in my heart I won’t sin against Him. The Word of God is the weapon I use to fight against any attack the enemy throws at me. Jesus used this strategy in the wilderness with great success (Luke 4:1-13).

Throughout my story God was always there. He continues to be there. He is faithful. The things that happened to me as a child happened because of bad decisions by people. God did not cause any of this to happen. What He did was make these ashes beautiful (Isaiah 61:3). He has used and is using my experiences to perfect me. I am more compassionate, open, caring, understanding, loving, and willing to step out of my comfort zone to comfort someone else in their distress because of my experience (Gen 50:20). I have learned to cast my cares on Him, as I know He cares for me.

I have learned with every experience, good or bad, there is a lesson to be learned and shared. As God pours into me, I pour into others. We overcome by our testimony, and when we become transparent others overcome too.

Before the Lord formed me in my mother’s womb He declared my destiny over me. Satan’s intent was to steal my destiny, kill any dream the Lord placed in my heart, and destroy my identity in Christ. Don’t allow the enemy any wiggle room. The day you accepted Christ as your Savior you became a new creation. Stop allowing the voices of your past to define you. Take the time to discover the new creation you have become. And declare it over your own life. Found out who Father God says you are. You will be pleasantly surprised that the words stupid, dumb, worthless, unlovable, and ugly are not a part of His description. What he does say is, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps139:14). You are born of God and the evil one can’t touch you (1 John 5:18). You are chosen by God and dearly loved (Col3:12, 1Thess 1:4). Chosen by God, Isn’t that the coolest? The list goes on and on.

Today I embrace the love of Christ. He has full access into every area of my life; that is the only way healing can happen. Throughout my life in Christ, my greatest desire has been to be saved, to become the woman he created me to be and to live a life pleasing to the Lord. I am still a work in progress. My past shaped me, but it no longer defines me. I am defined by my Father, God.

The Changing Seasons of Our Lives

Something very special happens this time of year. The geese come home. When you live in the North, sometime around October you watch longs V’s of geese flying SOUTH with great precision. You usually hear them honking overhead and then look up and low and behold, that amazing V. Well, this time of year the same thing happens, but now they are coming BACK. It’s early spring and these fair weather friends have left their Florida retreat to fly back home, filling our northern skies. This year it is particularly special because my 20 month old loves birds. He hears the honking, looks up and great delight fills his eyes. I love watching him watch the birds.

The V is one of many early signs of spring: it is lighter longer; the warm days out number the cold ones; the ground is mushy, and I even saw some crocuses poking their heads up in my neighbor’s yard. And there are people – everywhere! Entire families convene at the playground, kids ride bikes up and down the street, and, of course, the ubiquitous joggers, joggers galore. It’s as if we’ve all been hibernating like the squirrels, only coming out for food, and now we flood out of our confining homes, spilling into the streets and smiling. Everyone is friendly again.

There are always ample signs when seasons change – both in the natural and the spiritual. Just as God provides many indicators that spring or summer or winter or fall is coming, so too does He provide confirmation after confirmation when a season in our life is ending and a new one is afoot. We begin to get an inkling that something is shifting. We feel uncomfortable, confined, closed in and sense that it’s time to spread our wings. Perhaps it’s time for a move, or a career change or that hard phone call. Just like the natural world, our lives are comprised of seasons. There are times to stay put, rest, pray, fast, pull in, baton down the hatches, decrease, lay low, stay close. And then God begins to breath. The leaves start to rustle; we feel the wind in our face. The air shifts and blows in from another direction and we sense deep in our sprit that things are about to change. It’s time to get to work, press in, take a risk, walk on the water.

Especially with big changes, God gives us many, many signs. He knows our nature. We may be bored, but at the end of the day, we’re leery of change. The status quo seems safe and comfortable because we know it. But the truth is, if we stay there, we’ll rot. We need change to stay fresh and to grow. Growth only comes with change.

My husband and I experienced this in a very profound way about a year and a half ago, when we heard the Lord whispering that it was time to move. I had lived in New Hampshire for 23 years, making deep, wonderful friendships. My husband and I married there. We had our first child there. And then the wind began to shift. A job offer. A yearning for a more urban life. A sense that it was time to “leave and cleave.” A conviction that only in leaving would there be the kind of growth God now demanded of us. And ultimately, the tearing as we said goodbye to amazing friends and ventured out onto the water.

Not all changes are this dramatic – and some are more dramatic. But the bigger the change, the more confirmation He brings.

If you are sensing that God may be bringing you into a new season, don’t fret. You won’t miss it. He will give you sign after sign. Just pray that He will give you eyes to see and a heart that understand what the Spirit it saying to you. In the end, it will take faith to step out and go with the change He is bringing. But you must take that step. Don’t risk stagnation. He’ll hold your hand every step of the way and you will come to know a facet of His goodness that you would have never known had you stayed in your comfortable world of status quo.

Who is Ruth’s Company

It’s easy to be Orpah. She took the road more traveled, the sure bet. She made the more reasonable choice. I don’t mean to beat up on her; I’ve been her! But the times when, by God’s grace, I’ve chosen the higher way of Ruth, the fight has been more intense but the blessings beyond compare.

If you recall from the book of Ruth, Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, left Bethlehem during a time of famine to find food; and they wound up in Moab. Unfortunately, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi alone with her two sons and their Moabite wives. Then the two sons also died! Poor Naomi outlived her husband and her sons, a tragedy no woman wants to experience.

And she decides to return to her homeland; at least Bethlehem is familiar and perhaps she would find some solace there. Her daughters-in-law start the journey with her, but then she stops them and encourages them to go back home: “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband” (Ruth 1:8-9).

These Moabite women were still young and attractive. Surely they could find second husbands to take care of them and give them children. If they went to Bethlehem, what chances would they have of finding men who would marry foreign women? If they returned to Bethlehem, they would certainly remain single for the rest of their lives.

At first they both protest; they love their mother-in-law; she is all they have! But Naomi prevails upon them. And Orpah chooses Moab. Bethlehem looks bleak. She loves Naomi, but her desire to be married and comfortable is greater than her affection for her mother-in-law, and she sees no way her desires could be fulfilled in a foreign land.

But Ruth clings to her. In choosing Naomi, Ruth risks life-long singleness (which in those days meant life-long poverty), but she gains Naomi’s love and the God whom Naomi served. She chooses Yahwey above her desires. She puts Him first and trusts him with her life.

And look what the Lord did! Yes, she had to work the fields for a season (which probably felt like an eternity!), but her reward was Boaz – a far greater man than she would have found in Moab. In Boaz, she found a Godly, wealthy man who adored her and gave her children that would effect GENERATIONS.

The way of Orpah is popular, reasonable, easier. I’m sure she got her husband. But any blessing she enjoyed paled in comparison to that of Ruth.

God’s ways are often initially harder, but they are always higher.

Do you want to be part of Ruth’s Company? That is, the company of women who refuse second best? For single women this means waiting for God’s best in a husband. For any woman it means pressing into God’s best in our finances, our families, our callings. It means refusing to settle in any area of our lives.

That’s what this website is all about: encouraging women (including myself!) to take the high way of holiness and receive the incomparable rewards that God bestows along the way.