Military, Ministry, and Me
When I was a young girl I was assertive, opinionated, loud, bold, generous, and stubborn. I was assertive in getting things done the way I wanted them done. I was opinionated and shared my opinions about everything with just about everyone. I was loud because I liked noise, whether it was singing, talking, cheering, or even whispering. I was bold for no reason at all and was not afraid to stand alone. I was generous with my time as long as I got something out of it, and it looked like I was being a good person. I was stubborn even to the point of painful and embarrassing consequences. Ask my mother, father, and brothers if I’m still all those things and they will probably say, “YES!” However, I believe I have come a long way from my youthfully ignorant, unashamed risk-taking, and blindly ambitious self. As a middle-30s woman, I identify as a Christian, wife, mother, Soldier, and minister. I have been a Christian over 30 years, a wife of 15 happy years, and a mother to a 13 year old young man. I am also a Soldier who is studying to be a chaplain and a minister to those in my community. As a young girl I felt called into ministry, but I did not know how that would work out with all my wonderful qualities! Or the fact that I grew up in a small, independent, Baptist church. Over the past 30 years God has taught me to trust him and follow him. He has called me to be assertive, opinionated, loud, bold, generous, and stubborn for him and his Word.
At the ripe age of 30 I joined the military (US Army) and trained to be a Religious Affairs Specialist (56M). I worked with the unit chaplain to provide religious support to Soldiers and their families. Being a Soldier in the Unit Ministry Team was fulfilling that calling I heard as a young girl. As a 56M I was able to travel all over Hawaii, Germany, Belgium, England, Israel and many other states and countries – all as an obedience to God’s calling on my life. I joke that “I was suffering for Jesus” in those faraway places. I was able to coordinate many single Soldier and married Soldier training events that all had a focus on being a better human being, a better Soldier, a better communicator, and or a better Christian. I was able to minister casually and informally, as well as directly and officially. The time spent serving Soldiers and their families as a 56M was beneficial, educational, emotional, and spiritual. I served on active duty for over 5 years before recognizing God’s call on me to the chaplaincy. God used multiple people to encourage me in my faith walk and to show me that God could use me to be a spiritual leader, a religious leader. Someone I did not think God called women to be…
I did not feel called to be a pastor of a church. (I also grew up with the teaching that women could not fill that role.) And to clarify, I do not presently feel called to be a senior pastor either! I feel I am called to be a chaplain. A ministry I can provide to Soldiers and their families, and others in my church and local community. God worked on my heart. He also worked on my husband’s, mother’s, father’s, and brothers’ hearts in the area of me (a woman) in ministry, full-time ministry no less! They fully support my calling and ministry opportunities. I have now been able to serve women, children, and the elderly through Bible study, music, and creative activities. I have been able to serve Soldiers and their families (although very restricted due to COVID) through prayer, calls, texts, counseling, and virtual chapel services. Women in ministry no longer seem taboo or “sinful” or out of God’s will. Through experience, prayer, and mentorship I have come to recognize myself as a vessel for God’s use in full-time ministry. God is faithful to call and to equip all those in ministry.
I have come to see, acknowledge, and treasure the women God used to fulfill his ministry on earth. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s revealed Word shows women in ministry action. I was not taught to ignore these women. Please do not misunderstand my previous church leaders or my own story. Women were not the subject of many sermons. Pastors and church leaders just did not highlight, emphasize, or teach the things that women did for God or in Jesus’ ministry. The women that are mentioned in the Bible typically have an active role in the account. A woman is either saying or doing something intentional. She is not a bystander. Not a passive actor. But an Active Intentional Minister (AIM). I have AIMed my own ministry arrows at God’s target for me – Soldiers, their families, and presently some teen girls in the youth group. As I have submitted to God in ministry the target has grown. It was first only for Soldiers and their families. It now includes the teenagers in the youth ministry. God is faithful to provide opportunities for those he calls to serve him.
I am half-way done with my Master of Divinity program at Liberty University. Because of life circumstances, I am finishing my degree online and I am loving it. The freedom of the online program helps me with my family schedule, US Army Reserve training, and ministry. I homeschool my 8th grader and tend my little garden and care for my goats and chickens. With online schooling I am able to get ahead with assignments and be engaged with Soldiers when completing Battle Assembly. The ministry opportunities afforded to me because of online education have strengthened my connections with people and with God. Throughout this season of training, education, and growth I have come to love the time spent in God’s Word.
In the mornings before the sun is up and the busyness begins I talk to God and read his Word. A passage that encourages me in this season of military and ministry is Acts 16, the account of Lydia, a seller of purple. She was a woman of Thyatira who ran a business. Lydia was a woman who knew her trade and her town. She was seeking God and was kind to God’s people. Her name probably meant “bending”, which also refers to “bending a bow” (Is. 66 & Jer. 46). When Lydia bent her ear to the words of the gospel, preached by Paul, her heart was transformed. She already practiced a life of worship to God and now she was a “real” follower of God. Lydia opened her heart and home to others. She ministered to those who came to her home, even Paul and Silas when they left jail. The more I have read about Lydia and the early church, the more I have grown to love her. Lydia’s account includes a simple and beautiful desire for God, acceptance of his message, and obedience to a call. I see myself in Lydia. No doubt she was assertive and bold. She was also generous. I can imagine that she had opinions and shared them, about business, about womanhood, about God and God’s people. Maybe she was loud and or stubborn, but I will not put those characteristics on her. Certainly, a woman of God, a woman of the New Testament was and is not loud or stubborn! Indeed, Lydia is a woman to be admired for her bent ear and generous heart, her obedience to God and bold business, and her hospitality and assertive decisions in life. May I continue to strive to be like Christ, and like Lydia, in my own life in the military and ministry. In the military and in ministry I desire to be bent toward God, just like Lydia. May I aim to be all those wonderfully unique traits for God’s glory.
Servant, leader, leading like Jesus with boots on the ground.
I hope it’s okay that I address you in this way. In this moment I picture having this conversation with you in a coffee shop.
That long awaited conversation. One from someone who held judgment and should have stood beside you in your struggles. One who’s heart aches of the weight you carried your entire life.
I do not speak to lighten the weight of the first sin. But to say “ Mother I weep with you.” A lot has been said of you, placed on your shoulders, manipulated in your name. Last night as I sat with my sisters discussing you in our study, so much more of the story was revealed. So much truth spoken to my heart from scripture I had read countless times.
Let’s start with the fact that you dear sister walked with God. You had a moment so many of us long for. That face to face. That supernatural presence that can not be duplicated. And it was ripped away, in one moment. You mother who never knew pain, hate, anger. Who scripture tells us the deceit you are often blamed for, was not something that was placed in you when God sealed you and your helpmate away in the garden. That the totality of what was done was not revealed until Adam too ate the apple.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
Genesis 3:7 NIV
No one speak of how your first reply to the serpent was “God said not to.”
Eve, I am sorry that we use your sin against you, as we cling daily to our own as if it doesn’t break Gods heart just as much. I am sorry that we forgot the part that even after, God provided and loved you no less.
I reread your testimony. The strength…my God! To pick yourself up and experience an entirely new existence. To bear a child with no one there as you endured the pain. To watch your husband struggle to provide. One moment mother. But yet all
you endured. To then lose a child at the hand of the other. To lose two gifts from God in one moment. Ones you had praised him for not long before.
So here we are. Dear Eve…you may have shown us the first sin, but you also showed us so many more first. Courage, strength, resilience, devotion to name a few. Thank you for carrying so much weight for your daughters.
We have all been there, maybe it’s something you are overjoyed in doing. Others dread it, but know it’s necessary.
The great purge. We see it with the approach of the new year, or the good ol’ “Spring Cleaning” events that all households endure. We vow to make it all sparkle and make room for what’s necessary. Decluttering what’s been collecting dust, motivation to start new again. That feeling of joy we get when the task is complete and an even bigger pat on the back of our old becoming someone else’s new.
Somehow it’s just become a normal thing. We never question the clutter until it becomes oppressive. We keep collecting, purchasing, receiving, and adding until we realize we once again need to make room for the new.
So what does this all have to do with our spiritual health? What if I said to you, that the focus we put in the physical things of this world, is a priority we need to make of the things dwelling in ourselves.
Mark 2:22, NIV: "And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.
The wine will burst the skins...the things we refuse to be rid of, to purge, that are not of God will burst the spirit. Has it set in yet?
Let me ask you with some examples. The relationship that ended suddenly and painfully, the words left unspoken. The feeling of being wronged that you refuse to address. The person or situation that you can’t think of without pain. The identity you refuse to pick up from fear. The ideology you hold onto that is nowhere to be found in scripture, but it continues because “that’s just how it is.”
Are we there yet? Have I stirred something within you? This is not a space where I bring judgment. This is a space I ask you to partner with God. To purge what breaks His heart.
To shake the rotten fruit and dead things that are weighing down the new wine skin given when you became His.
What’s collecting dust in your spirit that you refuse to release? Is there something you stored and collected an abundance of to avoid the calling set upon you? What thoughts have become so oppressive that it feels like there is too much weight to hold it all?
Now let’s just address this very last thing, the most important. Do you trust the garbage man, the people at Goodwill, and the friend who you passed the clutter more easily than God? Why not release the old wine to the one who designed you? You realize this new wine is the purest most delicious thing you will ever consume.
Why not let that anthem be “Fill me up Lord, overflow this wine skin with the well that is you!It’s time to purge. To know Jesus will take that pain no matter how long you have let it fester or how deep you think you’ve buried it. To trust God with the things you are gripping so tight it’s beginning to die.
To let Him renew your mind and unlock chains. To restore a hope that you thought lost. To get to a place where even if pieces of the puzzle are missing, you know that HE stands beside you, and that is enough. Start labeling those spiritual storage bins, and let God clean them out.
~Your sister dancing in the vineyards with arms wide open.
*This post was originally created for Saturated Women of Columbia
Like many who do this blogging thing, I had found myself starting out strong and overly passionate to what I was going to commit and provide.
It happens, we coming flying out the gate, hopes and expectations. Stars in our eyes. This. Is.My.Moment!!
And life happens, and you only get one like, no shares. Disappointment sets in. We get rattled. "Okay Lord, why am I pouring myself into this?" It's for sure not for the random spam entry forms, or the beating myself up because I misspelled something after I hit publish.
Through it all, you still realize the calling. Most of all that God is giving you a voice. And if that voice means you encouraged, or gave hope to one person that day, it was worth it.
It was worth the vulnerability, and transparency.
"But we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession. that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."~ 1 Peter 2:9
I've been blessed to be called into many areas of ministry. Be it the friend, the listener, a wife, mother, student, teacher. Recently it has been writer, pastor, counselor, Changing as I grower deeper with God. Moments of running, and pursing things not meant for me.
There is beauty in the changing and growing. Seeing God work in your life, and give you change in passion and voice.
When I started this blog life was different. So where my passions. Though still there, I have a spark that will not go unheard. So that is where we shift.
As I've walked through cancer, watching my boys grow, learning to live post military life, God has been calling me to something deeper. A ministry that was planted in my heart when I was discipled 10 years ago in a worn Army chapel located in Northern Italy. When someone handed me the keys that began to break chains on who I was in Christ. That freedom of knowing all that God could and would call me to be at any given moment.
So here we are. The place where I share what's given me that freedom. Those truths that I am called when He calls me daughter. That as a women in The Kingdom we have a voice, we are given missions, the "all authority" applies to you as well. So lets honor God together by stepping into being His daughters. Lets dive in the hard places, read His word, and share the heart of discipleship. Where we are, when we feel that tug on our hearts despite what the world says. So lets go, pick up that crown and get ready to make the best kind of trouble.
The Fight of Faith….
Lord when I’m weary
“When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. In this way Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites.” Exodus 17:12-13
I want y'all to take a minute, picture the heavy moments of life, the earth shattering moments, the “Lord I’m not going to make it” moments.
Now picture the messengers, the prayer warriors, the life givers, the hope bringers.
Now let me give you a truth, God will put you in, allow situations that are too much, that you will feel weary. But He will never forsake you, not even in those moments.
This beautiful scripture in Exodus is a prime example.If go back in the book of Exodus, this was just one of the many tasks and anointings Moses was given in his relationship with God.
And if we are honest this was probably one of less heavy ones. But God! At the moment of weariness, at the moment of “ God why?!?” He sent help, he sent load bearers, someone to help take up this cross. God didn’t take the assignment away, He sent others to come alongside Moses.
Get. A. Village. Get you some prayer warriors, get you some truth tellers.
All of this are such blessings. I have and am walking through seasons in life where I could not have made it to the other side of the Kingdom mission without my arm lifters.
The ones who bring meals, take kids to school, are on their knees pleading to God on my behalf.
At this point you maybe asking “Denise, where do I start on building this village?”
I can’t give you a perfect formula, but I can give you some insight.
The obvious would be to pray about it. Take some time and right names of people you connect with even on the smallest level.
I also always make it a point to challenge myself to be around those who are nothing like me. We each have something to offer in how God has designed us. Be like minded in Christ, Yes...but our world views are all salted a little differently, and it makes for beautiful flavoring of friendship.
Finally, I seek those that have something I admire. Not in a way that it turns into coveting, but maybe I admire the way she prayers, bakes, or how she has an amazing knack for self care. We are bounded together by learning from on another.
We are reminded over and over again in scripture of communities coming together, surrounding the weakening, providing for one another.
Can I just leave you one more sweet truth? I worry less and surrender to God more when I serve others even in my own pain and trials.
Fight together. Fight in the name of the Kingdom, take up arms and Fight for your sister.
~In God's love, fighting with the village strength of a warrior,
***This work was originally written for a journal of stories for the Saturated Women’s Conference in Columbia, SC
What if I told you that the power Christ gave you, also came with the ability to speak life or death into any situation. I'm not talking nonsense here.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, before the glam and daily preparation, what do you see? What do you say to yourself? If you're anything like the average person, you immediately start to pick yourself apart. Start formulating a plan to live up to that image of yourself you've created. Not of God, but of your own thoughts.
What if you stopped, took a breath, and asked God to show you His view point? I can gaurante without a doubt you would be blown away.
If you want to look at it from another stand point, the world is constantly telling you, who to be and how to be. It’s exhausting.
An heir, beautiful, wonderfully made, gifted, loved, Made in His image. These are all things scripture says about you.
Open your eyes, speak this life over yourself, better still over the ones you love.
We have a chance every day when we open our eyes to view ourselves as beloved.
Most importantly, show me in scripture where it tells us Jesus directs us to tear ourselves down. John never stood in a mirror and counted every dislike about himself. He was busy following Jesus.
Life is fun with a little flare.
But this world will pull you apart till you have nothing nice to say. Imagine the damage it’s doing to your spirit.
Speak Life. Take a breath and let God show you how beautifully you are made.
Before we dive in, if you don’t already know, I’ve changed posting to a once a week thing. If life has taught me anything, this last year, it’s that change is okay. And sometimes, just maybe your best laid plans weren’t well...the best.
I’ve mentioned before that we aren’t just focusing on physical fitness on Monday’s but spiritual as well.
I think the first step to understanding how we all measure up in being more spiritual than others is simply this. We don’t.
My journey looks absolutely nothing like any of the amazing women that are part of my village. And that’s exactly how God wants it. It’s easy for us to migrate to those who we have things in common with, who have the same needs, tax brackets, and experiences.
But where is the ability to grow? And most importantly was Jesus the center?
Those you surround yourself with are such an important part of the spiritual journey. Those real raw, loving, honest uplifting relationships.
These are what I like to call, the stretching of spiritual fitness. It’s great for the spirit, sets the pace, and is needed to help avoid injuries.
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.””
Now let’s talk about the pulse of it all. The thing that will bring you life and will reward you with the most gains.
Your time with God. This comes as a three pack
We read scripture because it’s Gods manuscript and love letter to us. There is no unanswered question in the Bible, nothing you are dealing with in life can be out done by Gods word. There’s a flavor for every occasion y’all!
We pray because that’s our conversation with God. Letting Him know your burdens, you joys. Give Him a chance to have your undivided attention. Speak to God. He covets that relationship with you.
We worship. I mean, take 2 minutes and write down all He’s done in your life. Tell me it doesn’t deserve some praise. I don’t know about you, but I love shouting what Jesus did for me on a daily. Raise them hands, dance around, make a joyful noise. He’s worthy above all things. Give God your time. You will never be disappointed.
Finally. Let’s talk about that Jesus diet. Just like I know my love of cupcakes isn’t going to get me a six pack of abs. I know watching/listening/reading things of this world,on unfiltered, borrowed time. Will leave me heavy, and never full.
I refuse to use this moment to convict anyone. That’s between you and God. I wrestle with these things daily. The world is full of earthly distractions. I fall into traps constantly.
But im also seeing the unhealthy, unchrist like person I become with a lack of my vitamin J! The carbs of life...the fat calf.
So here’s a few tips I’m happy to share:
~Download a few Christian podcast and sermons. Play them while you’re cooking, riding in the car. I also use the Dwell app. It’s great, it reads scripture to you with a ton of plans. You get to pick music that goes with it, and even different voices. I start in the morning when I first wake up, and again as I lay my head down to rest at night.
~Have a few bible studies to dig into. Right now I have three. Acts by She/He reads Truth. Your Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. Hebrews A Better Blend by Leah Adams.
~So when it comes to TV and movies, I’ve really try and ask myself is this something I want my kids watching?
You know what we’ve discovered? The cable part of our TV hardly ever comes on. We watch a lot of DVD’s from our collection or the library. Most shows we check the ratings or look up Christian based reviews. And we aren’t missing out on a thing.
What you feed your mind and heart, is what you feed the soul. Be careful what you let seep in.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
At this point you’re wondering why I never got to the warfare part...you are already in the battle brothers and sisters.
This is just a plan the strength you when it seems to much.
See that village will pray will you, intercede on your behalf. Sit with you when the cross is heavy.
That time spent praying, reading scripture, and worshipping, keeps you guarded. Keeps the truth of God and who you are in Him at the forefront. So when the enemy comes to trip you up, you have that shined up armor.
Filtering what goes into your mind, ears, and heart? That lessen the foot hold, and weakness the stumbling blocks the enemy puts before you.
So here’s your fitness plan. Use it wisely.
Sparkle in Shine in the name of Jesus!
"Love so undeniable I can hardly speak...as you call me still" -Good Father, Stephen Curtis Chapman
This song is a few years old, but I go back to it over and over.
"Oh these hands are tired, Oh this hart is tired, but I'll keep on, I'll keep on". -I'll Keep on, NF
Mr. Glitter calls this my weary soul song. My point here, there is a song to worship in every moment. Every frame of mind you may find yourself in.
I think often, we view worship as just singing and raising hands, a time of Joy, and honoring God. And that most definitely is exactly what it should be.
But there are times in between that as well. I can heal my spirit quick with a time of worship with my Father.
Sometimes when I have no words to say, I let the lyrics of worship, speak to my heart.
Ya'll there have been so many times I've been in that place. Not even the words of my God, my refuge of His word works.
Do you wonder if that is possibly why the book of Psalms was the one with the most verses? (Side note, in my research to write this I learned that though Psalms has the most verses, Jeremiah is the longest) David just there writing songs, and pouring it all out to God. Worshiping in that raw honesty. Is there anything more beautiful?!
"For the director of music. A psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" Psalms 19:1
At the depths of his despair. what some would call a fall from grace...David is singing, praying, worshiping the Lord.
No wonder we turn here over and over again, in our moments of despair. We gain inspiration, comfort, an understanding of the relationship God craves with us. Worship, relationship.
So lets stop thinking of worship in terms of Sunday morning before the sermon. Yes it is communion with God, it is a time to honor Him. But what better way to heal our spirit then to do so at our lowest, at our highest, when we are feeling the furthest away from God. Worship in EVERY moment.
Hello loves! It's been a journey since we last sat and chatted. If for some reason we don't know one another on instagram or Facebook, then you've missed the big news. The book is done!!!
A 60 page devotional for those of you struggling in any stage of your faith walk.
I'm going to go ahead and shameless plug here, before we get to the marrow of this journey.
When I tell you guys this was Jesus in every step....
I'm still sitting here in awe at His faithfulness. I started walking this over two years ago. I would pick it up and set it right back down. Hype myself up, get an outline or work on a chapter. Then it would sit, and sit. A friend would ask. I'd piddle around some more.
God kept working. He sent messengers. Encouragers. Sisters in arms. And still I kept waiting.
God kept sending reminders. I kept running. I know that things I experienced in these two years of God pursuing me in this, was just adding depth, and glory to His name.
And with a swiftness it all came together. A friend posted about this amazing God filled little coffee shop. One of my bestfriends, who happens to also be an amazing editor, and then another long distance sister in Christ, basically said "GET IT DONE."
So I packed my Mom bag full of stuff, stepped into this anointed space. And let my heart for God spill out into my computer keys.
God new I would need my editor Morgan. God knew I would need my author mentor and eventual publish Nicole. God knew I needed Lighthouse coffee. God knew I needed to experience Him in those two years, like I had never before.
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
My point in this. Let God use you. That little spark of hope. It maybe taking pictures or starting a small bible study in your home. God has a reason for that spark. Let it be your burning bush. And your guide post.
It’s the same thing every year. The week after Christmas and we start seeing all these ads and self declarations. In the New Year I’m going to————- . You get it. We all do it. I’m guilt of it.
About 2 years ago I decided I wasn’t going to make resolutions anymore. Why did I have to wait a whole year to make the changes I wanted to see in my life. Start that running routine , read those books, start those bible plans, eat more salad! Why? Why wait? Why set ourselves up for failure. I mean if we are really breaking it down, American culture sets ya up for failure. Those cuties with the cookies start appearing two weeks into January, then a few weeks later good ol’ St. Valentine is being celebrated. Those gym commercials stop flowing, and those running shoes are back in the closet. And let’s not forget, I should be mid Exoudus, but we never seem to make it beyond the flood.
So what stopped me from making failed promises to myself? I realized that I didn’t have to wait on the world to tell me how to be the best version of me. I had a God who puts dreams and aspirations on my heart. Who has nothing but the best in store for me. Who will love me even when I don’t finish the race/plan/diet. He is faithful. He is the same.
It that’s just it. When God places things on your heart, He will make away. And darling, please don’t underestimate Him. These plans where written before you where born. Even if you lay it down for a time, God will lead you back. There is nothing stopping you but you. He will provide every need, He has already anticipated every notion of “ I can’t, I won’t” , that you’ve already thought of. Go head tell God what you aren’t going to do. Let me know how that works out.
New Year. Same God.
Know that whatever it is in your heart to accomplish, you don’t need a new year, or the world to tell you how to succeed in the task. Our God is delighting in the joy of His children being fruitful in His works. No matter how small you think it is. He’s got your back. Today, tomorrow, Always.