Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don't Settle for Just Admiring 
the Strong Women of the Bible!

From our dear sister Trish ...  This was our 10th year to attend the North Carolinians for Home Education Convention in Winston-Salem. I really can't believe it, it seems like just yesterday that we went for the first time, wandering aimlessly around, amazed that this many people actually home school.

NCHE Graduation 2011
Jim, being a public school teacher and I a private school teacher until our first child was born when I came home to stay with her. That year, we decided to attend just to see what it was about... you know how educators just "like to be informed", know what's out there. I knew I wanted more individual teaching for my children than even what I could do in my private classroom of 19 children with not one "average" in the bunch. We came home that first year saying maybe we could home school... so many others are.

Mark Fox
The next year, as I recall, Jim really caught a vision for our family through the encouraging workshops. Each year we have made it there for at least part of the weekend and have gained encouragement, vision, determination, rest, and restoration. I remember one year, a new home schooling friend coming up to me between sessions and exclaiming, "There are normal people here! I really expected everyone to look like they crawled out from under a rock. I assumed you were the only normal family who did this, Trish!" I'm confident she found people there who are more "normal," whatever that means, than I, which must have been encouraging to her. Over the years we have become more comfortable there. We know our way around the workshops and book fair, get to see familiar faces and catch up on old and grow new friendships, but we don't feel any more sure of what we are doing than when we began. We still go every year with the prayer that God will give us just what we need for this year. We still ask Him to show us just what each child needs, to reveal to us His plan for our family, give us encouragement and strengthen our vision for our family education. It was at the home school conference, while Jim was in youth ministry, that we were introduced to the idea of family integrated worship that later led us to Antioch. We love the conference and the time of renewal it affords.

Rachael Carman
I can't imagine really picking any one favorite workshop, but one of mine this year was "Don't settle for Just Admiring the Strong Women of the Bible!" by Rachael Carman.

The Carman’s have been home schooling since 1996 & I remember hearing Rachael's testimony years ago of how she had plans for her life... that did not involve home schooling. It was fun to hear her story of how God led them into home schooling and where they are today. Their second son graduated this year. She is just one of many Godly women whom I have gleaned beautiful teachings from. I was encouraged and challenged with this workshop and I hope you are too through some of it's highlights.

She began with the history of women who have influence our society in the 50's and brought us through each decade right up to 2011. I won't spend much focus on that, but it is incredible to look at the evolution of these influences... June Cleaver to Murphy Brown to Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey. Our children may not be watching these role models of the world, but these are the women who are shaping the values in a world that we are preparing them for and sending them into. The Virgin Mary did make the list of Strong Women of all time, that's encouraging! I believe her lists came from Time Magazine.

Principles of a Strong Woman of the world:

1. Define success on your own terms
2. Be values based
3. Acknowledge your own power
4. Trust your instincts & believe in yourself - if it feels right, it usually is
5. Recognize YOUR strengths
6. Nurture your Midas Touch
7. Realize your time & energy are valuable resources
8. Invest in your personal self
9. Build a support network
10.Always leave time for serendipity

Not ALL bad, she talked about each one.

On to the good stuff. She listed some strong women of the Bible... Esther, Jocabed, Sheprah & Puah, Rahab, Hannah, Ruth, Deborah, Jael, Mary mother of Jesus, Mary sister of Martha, Martha, Lois, Eunice, and Lydia.

I most loved her list of Strong but unnamed women of the Bible ... I pray I'll be a strong unnamed woman long after my death!

Noah's wife.
Her husband preached for 100 years with Zero converts! Can you imagine what the families of her son's daughters were saying?... “ Come on home honey, we'll take care of you and not even mention your crazy father in law again. We love you and want you just to come on back, you don't have to live with that!” Noah's wife must have had something these girls admired. She must have mentored them and given them a beautiful example of standing by their man.

David's mom.
Imagine the example of worship she must have been to the man who grew up to write the Psalms.

The Shunnamite
. Turns down the offer of Elisha's getting her connections of favor with the king, she is content. Elisha instead asks God's blessing of a son. Later in the story, when the boy dies, she takes him to Elisha for restoration.

Daniel's Mom
. Must have been a woman of prayer. Her son, taken from her as a slave at a young age into a land where he will stand strong.

Naaman's servant girl.
As a young girl in a strange land missing family she had every reason to hate her master who was responsible for attacks on her people. Instead, she had concern for him & confidence in God, suggesting Naaman go to Elisha for healing.

Hemorrhaging woman
. Pushed through the demanding crowds, not even asking Jesus’ attention, just knowing all she needed was a touch.

Woman at the Well.
Willing to be emptied of her junk in order to be filled with living water.

Widow w/the mite.
Gave all she had

Rachael listed women missionaries who we would all recognize and admire... you may have a favorite come to mind.

My little side note ...The thing that drew my attention in all these Strong Women of God is that they all had something in common... pain & hardship. 
Not one of them was made strong through a life of ease. 

So, how do we become a strong woman of God?

1. Build on a foundation of Truth!
2. Pray, Pray, Pray!!
-He is all in all , all the time
3. Don't delay, take action today
-It's hard to do this when wringing your hands
4. Choose to be Joyful
5. Be willing to be used by God
-Are you willing to BE that woman you are asking Him to make you into?
This one hit home for me, I've been asking Him for some things over the years. The pain
of that work has brought good reward, but the path is not one I would have chosen!
-What are you willing to sacrifice?
-How far will you really go?
6. Fear God more than (wo)man
7. Acknowledge the Enemy
8. Depend on God's strength ALONE
9. Rest in the Sovereignty of God
10. Mentor the next generation
-recognize strength in young ladies and encourage it
-stand strong

She left us with the question... 

are you willing to stand strong for God?
What in your life goes against society?

She used the illustration of someone coming to our door tomorrow and telling us we could no longer home school our children. What would you do? This is applicable to far more than home schooling. Praise God for the strength He gives us to walk the road He sets before us!

Lord, make us strong women who honor You, honor our husbands & stand strong for our children!!

I Peter 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

I know there are other great conferences! I would love to hear what some of you enjoy about NCHEC or others.

Loving Him for His great love for me,
Tricia Ashley

For more information about North Carolina homeschooling http://nche.com/
For a blog about family integrated churches here is a link to Mark Fox's blog http://jmarkfox.wordpress.com/
For more information on family integrated churches http://www.ncfic.org/

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