Orphan

All posts in the Orphan category

A Love Story Worth Telling

Published October 11, 2013 by joypatton

I recently read a story about gospel artist Bryan Popin and how he and his wife met.

Bryan&SusanPopin-30 CROPPED AND EDITED copyPrior to the release of his latest album “You Can Make It,” gospel artist Bryan Popin experienced many difficult moments through which he learned to persevere.  Perhaps none was more life-changing than when performing at a conference just outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana. After playing his first song, he scanned the audience and his eyes were instantly drawn to a girl named Susan.

“She just glowed,” Popin says. “I was stunned. Watching her worship with her hands lifted to God was about the coolest thing I’d ever seen—at least to a 16-year old boy that was in ministry.”Immediately following service, Popin proclaimed to his mother that this was the girl he was going to marry. 

Two years later, he returned to that church in Indiana, but Susan wasn’t there. Instead, her father informed Popin that she was now living in Los Angeles. Another two years later, Popin visited a different church in the Fort Wayne area and amazingly saw Susan’s parents again. This time, the 20-year old musician took decisive action. He asked the father for her phone number.

 “I called her the very next morning,” Popin says. “In fact for four days, she didn’t even call me back. So then I started sending her flowers every day. By the seventh day, she called me and asked me to please stop sending flowers because she wasn’t in a good place. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, but at least I’d gotten Susan to talk to me.”

Popin then poured out his heart. He told her how he had missed his opportunity four years earlier and how desperately he wanted the chance to pursue a relationship with her. But then Susan had something important to say.

 “Eight months earlier, Susan had gotten married and was now pregnant,” Popin explains. “When her husband found out, he closed their joint bank account and left her. She was moving home to Indiana to be back with her family.”

Over the next several months, Popin consistently traveled to Indiana to visit Susan. “When I finally got to hold the newly-born Isabella Grace in my arms and look into her big beautiful brown eyes, I fell deeply in love for a second time,” Popin says.

 About 18 months later, Popin married Susan and they have been together ever since.  Popin and his wife Susan now have four beautiful children.

 “I wasn’t planning on getting married and having an immediate family, but I loved Susan and fell in love with Isabella,” Popin says. “She has totally changed my world. She showed me what true love was. When you’re a dad with a little girl, it’s pure, innocent love. But as much as I love my four children and my wife, even more than that, God loves us. It’s just mind-boggling.”

I loved this story, and thought it was such a beautiful picture of God’s persistent, pursuing love for us.  There’s part of us that says, “I wish someone would love me that way.”  Whether you are a teenager, a single woman or a married woman with an imperfect husband (I think that covers everyone), the heart of a woman wants to be pursued and valued and chosen.  You may look at their story and want what they have, but the good news is that you already have it.

Jesus has chosen you.  He saw you across time and picked you to be his.  He is sending you flowers every day all around you to let you know he wants a relationship with you.  The problem is that many of us feel like Susan probably did when Bryan called her in L.A.  We feel like we have messed things up and that no one could possibly choose to love us again.  We believe we are damaged goods because we are “not in a good place.”

This is me.  I reject the good news of God’s everlasting love because I know that I don’t deserve it.  I reject his love, not because of who he is, but because of who I am.  I put him off and tell myself we will get back together when I’m in a better place.  Do you see how the story would have changed if Susan would have done this?  Do you see all the love she would have missed had she refused to let Bryan in?

Jesus is standing there telling you that he loves you with arms full of flowers even in your “bad place.”  Often we act like the gospel story begins with “Because we were such great sinners and made such a big mess, God sent His Son into the world.”  I hear this version preached from the pulpit very often.  And while it is true, it is not the beginning of the story.  The story really begins with “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Don’t leave the love out of the gospel.  Don’t forget that you have already been loved, chosen and pursued by God.  Do not reject his advances toward you and his voice that gently calls you to love him.  Instead return his call and receive his love.  You don’t have to be in a “good place” to be in a relationship with him.  “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16)

Popin’s album “You Can Make It” will be released October 22 through a partnership with eOne Music and will be the first national debut for this piano player who is dedicated to bringing his listeners closer to the heart of God. Check it out here: http://bryanpopin.com/

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Sacred Service

Published August 29, 2013 by joypatton

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I stood at the back of the room dressed in a tuxedo shirt and bow tie with black pants. The emotions caught me by surprise. As I looked around the room, I saw familiar faces. I looked at the person on stage. I used to be that person, the one standing on the stage in the front of the room giving the keynote address. I wanted to be that person again. But today I was standing in the back of the room wearing an apron and cleaning up dirty dishes. It was a painful reminder that I was not where I used to be.

To me, it felt like a giant demotion. Being there as part of the catering staff felt like a declaration of my failure. I guess the book thing didn’t work for her, so now the poor thing has to wait tables. The voice of the accuser haunted my ears. “See, you tried too hard, you went too fast, you pushed too hard and you ruined it. Now you will never have it because you messed it up. Everyone else knew you weren’t ready, that you were too young, but you didn’t listen. You kept pushing anyway.” All of his words confirmed to me that I was an Orphan, unworthy and abandoned…unloved.

But I kept serving and smiling. I texted my husband to ask him to pray. He knew what it felt like. He had friends show up at concerts where he was working security and not the green room. He reminded me that we were doing what we had to so that we could provide for our family. I hated that. I hated doing this to provide and not the things I loved doing, that I was gifted to do, that I was called to do. And then I became the Accuser. If God wanted to, he could have made it so. He could have made our efforts successful. But he didn’t. The proof was as plain as day… he must not love us after all.

And in my desperate prayer for help, I heard his voice. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. It makes no difference to me whether you are standing on a platform in the front of the room or standing with the catering staff in the back of the room. It’s all service. All of it is serving me and my purposes for my glory. I don’t care where you are standing; I care about your heart.”  I asked him to forgive me for putting him in the wrong.

He is lovingly teaching me what it means to serve. I’m learning to be content serving in the back. I’m finding joy in serving others and helping others’ dreams come true. God, in his amazing grace, has even given me friends to serve alongside. Last weekend some friends who were in Bible studies with me years ago came and worked at my catering job too. What fun it was to serve together again! So we weren’t planning a women’s retreat or doing a weekly women’s Bible study. But it was still sacred because we were doing what Jesus did when he took up the basin and the towel.

Recently I was filling out another job application, and it asked where I saw myself in five years. I used to be able to answer this question easily because I was very goal-oriented. However now I’m in a place I never planned to be, and my goals are completely worthless when matched against God’s sovereign plan.  I’ve learned that I am and will always be a follower of Jesus. And Jesus had no career goals or plans. He simply did whatever the Father asked him to do; he went wherever the Father asked him to go; he said whatever the Father asked him to say. And everything was overshadowed by two words: loving and serving.  By his example, Jesus made all service sacred.

I don’t know where my “career” is going, but I do know that wherever the Father asks me to go, I will be loving and serving others, hopefully just like Jesus did.   I serve at the pleasure of the King, and I will go wherever he asks me to go…to a tiny back room to make jewelry, to a marketing firm as a PR assistant, to my family at home or standing in the back of the room in a tuxedo shirt and apron.  Some day I may even stand on a platform again delivering a keynote address, but it will still be about loving and serving people, and it will be no greater or more significant or more important than where I am serving and loving today.  It’s all loving and serving people. It’s all pleasing to the Lord when my heart is the heart of a Princess.  Just like Jesus, I serve at the pleasure of the King.

 

The Princess and the Dress

Published April 25, 2013 by joypatton

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My friend called me with an urgent prayer request. “I have to go shopping with my daughter for a prom dress, and I just might kill her in the process.” It was that time of year and her oldest daughter’s first prom. Everyone knows the most important part of the evening is the dress. Her daughter had gone into Ice Queen mode, doing all the necessary research to find the perfect dress. Her friends said “The White Room” was the only place to go, and so mother and daughter headed to the store. “Maybe you should come as a buffer,” my friend said to me. Because I love to shop with other people’s money, I was very disappointed I couldn’t go. The trip was successful though without me. They found the perfect dress, one that her daughter LOVED. My friend worried that the dress might not be a good fit for her daughter’s body. But it was so beautiful and her heart was set on this dress. In Ice Queen shopping mode, no daughter listens to what her mother has to say anyway. Because the Orphan side of my friend wanted to please her daughter, she pushed aside her concerns and said yes. Even though the shop didn’t have her size in stock, they signed on the dotted line and ordered the dress. The seamstress assured them that with a few simple alterations, the dress would be perfect. The shop even noted which dress she bought so that they wouldn’t sell the same dress to anyone else at her school.

The week of the prom, I received another urgent call from my friend. She needed me to take her youngest daughter to rehearsal so that she could go pick up the dress from The White Room. The problem was that the seamstress was sick and none of the alterations had been made to the dress three days before prom. But my friend was sure that her mother, an experienced seamstress who had arrived in town the night before, could make the necessary alterations and everything would be fine once they had the dress.

Later that night I received an urgent text from my friend’s precious daughter. “Got the dress back from the alterations lady today, and it does not fit to the point that it is unwearable. Will you pray that I would trust Jesus in this? I’m so sad and feeling a lot of shame.” She was trying so hard to be a Princess about it all and trust Jesus. She also courageously acknowledged her feelings. But while the rest of her family attended her sister’s play, she stayed at home wrestling with the Orphan side of her. “You shouldn’t have been such an Ice Queen at the store. What an awful, ungrateful daughter you are! You should have listened to your mom and not your friends. What a fool! Now they have to buy another dress in less than 48 hours. That’s impossible! You should just stay home. You don’t really deserve to go anyway. You will never find a dress to fit your gross body.” And yet the Princess side of her battled back and she prayed and cried out to Jesus. He began to speak His truth to her. “I’m not surprised by this turn of events. You are beautiful just the way I made you. I have a husband for you some day that will love your body exactly the way it is. I love you, and I have made a provision for you. You can trust me.”

The next morning I called my friend. “What do you mean it’s unwearable? What’s the plan?” She told me that when Meme, her mom, looked at the alterations the seamstress was going to do, there was no way it was going to work with that dress. It had no back and simply wouldn’t look right. My friend asked if I could go shopping with her and her mom while her daughter was in school. This time I got to go because my morning was free. We agreed to meet at the mall and “pre-shop” for her daughter. Then she would get her from school and show her the things we picked out. So the Princess trusted that her grandmother, her mom and her mom’s friend would find the perfect dress for her. Three old ladies shopping for prom dresses made quite the team. We each brought something unique to the table. Meme knew what could realistically be altered. Her mom knew what styles and colors had already been rejected, no strapless, no white. I was the fashionista. The store clerks looked at us funny as we tried on dresses. But we were pleasantly surprised at the options we found and were sure that one would work for the Princess, who received many text message pictures from us.

She went to get her daughter, and I went to pick up my preschool daughter. We met back at the mall, and she tried on all our finds. Three generations of women united in a singular mission. I smiled at my daughter Faith and said that some day we would be shopping for her prom dress. I don’t think it meant as much to her as it did to me. Mission accomplished: we found a dress that she truly loved and looked beautiful in. A dress that fit her body perfectly.

The next day the vigorous beauty regimen for the prom kept my friend and her daughter occupied.  And yet even adorned in her new dress, the Princess doubted her worth.  She was ashamed that her foolishness had caused such turmoil.  Even a full-length ball gown and perfectly curled hair could not give her a Princess heart.  Her Princess heart came from repentance, from taking her feelings to Jesus, from receiving his lavish gifts.  The Orphan heart cannot accept these gifts, and the Ice Queen heart demands them in her pride. The Princess knows she is not worthy of such arraignments, yet she receives the love of the Father.   The Father sent all of us a beautiful gift by sending three other Princesses to shop for a dress.  All we do is accept the gifts He lavishes and live like His Princesses.

Greater in 2013

Published January 22, 2013 by joypatton

Toward the end of 2012, I was asking God all sorts of questions about where we had been.  I thought that I had listened to him.  I thought that I had been following him.  But at the end of the year, nothing looked the way I thought it should.  Is this really going to be worth it?  Have I missed You?  Did I take a wrong turn?  Have I ruined it?  Maybe I should have… I was so discouraged and began to believe that everything I had been doing was foolish and that nothing was going to change.  One dark day I consider stopping everything, including taking down this blog.

In late November I signed up for Melissa Taylor’s online Bible study of Greater by Steven Furtick.  In this book, God gave me sign posts to show where I had been.  He reminded me that I was not on a fool’s errand, but that everything that had happened had been intentional. The book used the story of Elisha to illustrate John 14:12 where Jesus that that anyone who has faith in me will do even greater things.  I wanted to share some of those signposts…mainly so that I won’t forget.

Burning the plows – Elisha was doing life behind a bunch of cows when Elijah chose him to be his apprentice.  Before Elisha left, he used his plows to build an alter on which he sacrificed the cows who had been pulling the plow.  Furtick talks about how this made it impossible for Elisha to go back to the former, lesser life he had been used to.

For the last six years I had been serving in women’s ministry at our church.  But this year I have stepped back.  I’m not teaching a study; I’m not leading a ministry.  This is a very strange place for me and doesn’t make sense for someone who feels called to minister to women and is trying to publish a Bible study for women.  As I have stepped back, I realized that far too much of my identity was wrapped up in what I was doing as a women’s Bible study teacher.  I have also felt a lot of freedom to just go where He asks me to go, to love and serve the women that he has put in front of me.  It has made me much more dependent on his plan than trying to forge my own.

Digging Ditches – An enemy army was pressing in on Israel and the king goes to Elisha for advice.  Elisha tells them to dig ditches because it is going to rain.  Even though there had been a famine in the land and no rain for a very long time, the army did what they were told.  Digging ditches didn’t seem like a good battle plan, but it was exactly the plan they needed.  The next day it rained and the battle was won.

Last year I had to dig some ditches.  I took a break from teaching a women’s Bible study at church.  I realized that I didn’t have time to write when I was teaching.  So I took a year off to write a Bible study of the book of Galatians.  God was asking me to write instead of speak.  It didn’t make sense on paper at all.  But by faith, I did what God was asking me to do.  In that year, I finished the book, took a pilot group and two other groups through the study and offered it online last fall.  None of that was possible without a finished book.  I dug the ditches, and God sent the rain…another signpost.

A Little Oil – Furtick recounts the story of the widow who had nothing left but a little oil.  God used that little bit of oil to save her family from starvation.  But the widow had to use what she already had in her house.

Last year finding the time to write a book was an overwhelming task with four children ranging from middle school down to preschool.  But God reminded me that I had all the time I needed.  Instead of using my kid-free time for grocery shopping and house keeping, I used the time to write.  I could take kids to the grocery store and pick up the house when they were home, but I needed my kid-free time to write without being interrupted.  I also realized that I could get my book to people in an electronic form without a big publishing deal or spending money on self-publishing.  God could use the material in any form.   It didn’t have to look the way I thought it should.  Last year I started using what I had in my house to do what God was calling me to do…another signpost for me.

Wasted Faith – The Shunammite women was miraculously blessed with a son.  When Elisha told her she was to have a son, she said, “No, my lord, do not mislead your servant!”  It’s a strange response to good news.  Years later when her young son dies, she falls at the feet of Elisha and says, “Did I ask for a son?  Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”  Elisha comes to her house and raises the son from the dead.

I have felt like that this year.  I thought we were going in a certain direction in women’s ministry and now I’m nowhere.  I remember telling a friend this summer that every dream I had was dead.  I was going to put my book on the shelf and go crawl in a hole and never teach again.  I felt like God had raised my hopes in meetings with publishers and agents only to have every door closed.  Not only were doors closed, but difficult things were happening for me personally.  A close friendship fell apart, I was not parenting my teenage well, and I felt rejected and misunderstood in other relationships.  This made for a difficult year with counseling sessions, many sobbing tears and gut-wrenching introspection.

Furtick said, “The faith of all the saints through the ages is not enough to eliminate the reality of suffering.  Because suffering is not a detour on the road to greater.  It’s a landmark.  Discouragement is often a marker, not of being on the wrong path but of being on the right one.”  This reminded me that all the closed doors, the death of dreams, the tears and the pain were part of the plan, not a detour from the plan.

Trust Fund Baby – Furtick argues that God doesn’t waste our faith.  We may not see the outcome we hoped for in a situation, but that doesn’t mean that believing for a job, for healing, for reconciliation is wasted.  It means that God is storing it up in a “trust fund.”  He’s teaching me how to trust him more.

Saving Captain Awesomesauce –  Naman came to Elisha to be healed of leprosy.  Elisha told him to go wash in the river Jordan seven times.  Naman didn’t want to humiliate himself by washing in that dirty river.  He wanted to go back home where the rivers were much cleaner.  But his servant said to him, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?”  Furtick says, “Pride is the most difficult part of the lesser life to leave behind.  It’s the most intrinsic to us.  We have a curious habit of posturing ourselves higher than the people around us.”

Guilty as charged.  This past year has been very humbling as I have had to take a hard look at my own pride and see my own sin.  I look back and see how my Orphan and Ice Queen patterns tripped me up once again.  Furtick talked about the importance of immediate obedience in learning humility.  God reminded me of small obedient steps I had made.  This fall I offered my study online, even though I was doubtful about whether or not it would work.  I saw God bless it and multiply it in ways I could not foresee.  I also signed up and started attending a study on Ezkiel, one of my favorite books of the Bible, but I had to drop out because God told me he wanted me to study John instead.  I hate backing out of things, but I had to obey.

Furtick also recommends keeping yourself small through your daily interactions with people around you.  This one is really hard for me and I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like in my life.  Jesus was so secure in his identity as the Son of God that taking the lowest position in the room took nothing from him.  His status, his value, his identity remained secure.  As a Princess, I long for that kind of security.

Where did it fall? – In this chapter he talks about the story of Elisha making an ax head float in the river.  A young prophet lost it and cried out to Elisha for help.  Elisha asked the simple question, “Where did it fall?”  Furtick talks about losing your edge and going back to the place you lost it.  He reminded me that when I get to that place, it’s not up to me to fix it or try harder.  I simply cry out to God and ask for help.  With God’s help, I traced the seed of some of the struggles of this year back to a meeting where I did not honor my heart.  I was not in a good place going into the meeting and in the process hurt those around me.  People missed me because I missed myself.  I was not careful with my heart.  God has been teaching me this year how to honor my heart and how to be true.

Open My Eyes – Elisha stands with a young prophet on the wall of the city looking out at an approaching army.  The army was much greater than the army of the Israelites and the young man was afraid.  Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes and the young man saw chariots of fire from God’s army that far outnumbered the enemy.  Furtick challenges us to open our eyes and see who is sitting at our table.  Sometimes we let people in who hold us back from the greater things God is calling us to.

My circle of friends has been small this year and that is strange for me.  I haven’t been in a community group or a small group study.  I really don’t like it, but I know this is exactly where he has me.  My close friends have been there with me and have not let me put my book on the shelf or crawl in a hole and never come out.  They have kept me going when I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.  My friend prayed the perfect prayer for me last night.  She asked that God would open my eyes and that I would see the places and the people that I am teaching.  When I get discouraged, my eyes are closed to all the things that God has done this past year.  My husband especially won’t let me lie to myself and deny that any progress has been made on this journey.  This book was full of sign posts for me that I’m right where I need to be.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I would highly recommend this book.  I’m sneaking it into my husband’s reading pile tonight!

ONLINE Bible study for the New Year

Published January 6, 2013 by joypatton

Last fall over 40 women attended From Ice Queen to Princess ONLINE.  We had a great time getting to know each other and sharing what God was teaching us.  So we are going to try this great experiment again!  We start next Sunday, January 13 and will end March 17.  That’s 10 weeks to becoming God’s Princess for only $10!

The book From Ice Queen to Princess is a Bible study based on the book of Galatians.  As we study the book chapter by chapter, we look at how three different “characters,” the Ice Queen, the Orphan and the Princess, relate to God.  As modern women, we often understand how God’s Princess is supposed to act and think.  However we get stuck in old behavior patterns, like the Ice Queen who works to be perfect or the Orphan who works to please other people, that hinder our relationship with God.  As I studied the book of Galatians, I saw both extremes in Paul’s audience.  He offers the transforming power of the gospel to show us how to become a Princess, a beloved daughter of the King.

Here’s how it works:  I will send an email each Sunday with a PDF file of the chapter attached.  You can read it on your computer, print it out or download it into an eReader.  Then each day of the week I post one discussion question from the chapter on a closed group Facebook page.  Only the women currently going through the study will see what is posted.  Each Wednesday I post a brief video on YouTube, and just for fun you can follow me on my Pinterest page or Twitter.

I learned a lot from doing it last fall.  This time I’m going to load all of the files onto the Facebook page so that you can read ahead or catch up as needed.  I also want to have some extra incentive for doing the “Royal Fun” section of each chapter.  In “Royal Fun,” I challenge you to go through the right side of your brain and be creative.  Most importantly I learned that I want to be more purposeful in praying for each woman in the study.  I am planning to drop you a Facebook message or email throughout the study, just to touch base and let you know I’m praying for you.

I’ve been praying for months that God would begin to call the women he has for this 2013 study.   I’ve been studying the Gospel of John and Jesus repeatedly talks about how he can only do the work that the Father has given him to do.  As His Princess, I can only reach the women he gives me to reach.  I know women out there desire a different life, a transformed life, but have no idea how to get there.  I’ve seen the power of His Word in my life as He has changed me from an Ice Queen into a Princess.  If the idea of this book has peaked your interest or if you know you need to get into God’s Word in the New Year, will you consider joining us in this ONLINE study of From Ice Queen to Princess?

If you have more questions, feel free to contact me at joy@joypatton.com.  For a video introduction to the study, click here.

Below are some comments from women who went through the study last fall:

“One of my favorite things about the  IQ2P study is the interaction with Joy and the way we were able to engage in conversation about the chapters. Talking with others about scripture and realizing that ‘I’m not the only one’ was amazing. I enjoyed the illustrations that were used in each chapter, and often found myself re-watching the videos from previous weeks. I appreciated what God showed me through this study, and am thankful for the honesty and real-life stories in the material!!” – Kathleen Murphy

“Even when I didn’t have the time to read the chapters, I got a lot out of the Facebook postings.  Even if I didn’t answer, I enjoyed the discussion.” – Karin Siccardi

“The King not only adorns me with my crown, but he picks it up and puts it back on my head whenever it falls off, I take it off and somebody tries to steal it. He keeps adorning me with it to remind me who I am…because of whose I am. I am so grateful because I desparately need HIS reminding of how HE sees me.  So grateful for this study of the Word that blesses so many woman and reminds them they were MADE to be a daughter of the KING of KINGs….a princess!” – Michele Hazelip

Glorious Impossible 2012

Published December 10, 2012 by joypatton

I write about this every year because it is such a good reminder to me of God’s faithfulness to me.  The “Glorious Impossible” comes from a worship song by Carl Cartee we sing at church during the season.  It causes me reflect on all the “impossible” things that God made possible for His glory in the Christmas story.  How impossible it was for a virgin to get pregnant!  How impossible it was that Joseph decided to marry her anyway.  How impossible that Elizabeth, who was past childbearing years, would get pregnant.  How God moved a couple from Nazareth to Bethlehem to birth a child in the city of David from the “house of Bread.”  How impossible for shepherds to see a choir of angels singing or  for Mary to have an angel speak to her or for Joseph to have an angel in a dream… twice!  How impossible is it to get a man or woman to act in obedience based on a dream?  How impossible to find three kings willing to travel and bring gifts based on what they saw in the stars!  How impossible to move this couple from Bethlehem to Egypt to again fulfill a promise!  How impossible for God to become man and yet remain fully God!

So that brings me to think about this past year and the “impossible” things God has done.  This year there is one event that was full of impossibilites.  At the beginning of the year one of my goals (yes, I’m a nerd and and I write them down) was to attend She Speaks! presented by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  But finding the money to go simply seemed impossible.  My sweet husband knew what I wanted for my birthday before he asked me.  He had worked behind the scenes with my friends to put together the money to go.  However when I went to register a few days after my birthday, the conference was full.  By faith, I put my name on a waiting list.  LeAnn and her team at Proverbs 31 were so great about keeping me updated on where I was in the list.  I kept praying and praying that God had a spot for me.

In the mean time, my two friends were getting a small group of women together to go through From Ice Queen to Princess over the summer.  Each woman paid $10 to participate in the study.  When I got home after the first night, I received an email that my number was up and a spot was available for me if I wanted it.  That night I went to register.  As I was getting ready to pay for it, I chuckled at God’s timing.  The money from my birthday hadn’t quite been enough to cover all the costs, but because of the money from the small group study, I had enough to go.

When I went to register for the breakout sessions, the writer and speaker peer critiques were full.  But there was an option to put your name on a waiting list, so I did.  Sure enough…a couple weeks later I was told there was a spot in a writer’s group for me.  I printed out the copies of what I needed to bring with me and left for the conference.  While I was sitting in the first session, I heard them say that if you wanted a spot in a speaker group, there might be some openings and to ask at the registration desk.  So I did.

Sure enough…There was a spot in a group.  But it would mean giving up my spot in the writer’s group, and I had nothing prepared for the speaker’s group.  I called Andrew for some advice, and he said that he could tell that I wanted to do the speaker’s group.  So I took the opening and between sessions wrote an outline for a 5-minute talk of my testimony to deliver to my peer critique group after the last session.  That night it went really well, and I knew that I was in the right spot.  I loved meeting the women in my group.

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The next morning at breakfast I sat with some of the girls from my group.  They had heard me say I wrote a book and asked me if I was meeting with any publishers while I was at the conference.  “Oh, no,” I said.  “I signed up too late and I’m sure there aren’t any spots open.  Besides no one wants to hear about this book anyway.  It’s already been turned down by several publishers.”  I was immediately convicted about my Orphan mentality and felt like I should go ask if there were any spots open.  After all, you never know unless you ask.

After the session, I found the woman who made the appointments with publishers and asked if there were any appointments available.  “Who do you want to meet with?” she asked.  “Oh, I’ll take whatever you got.”  Sure enough…she had an appointment open with a publisher I hadn’t yet talked to.  I chuckled at God as I walked down the stairs.  He had all these appointments planned for me all along.  He just hadn’t let me in on it.  He was asking me to trust him with every step on this journey.

I wish I could say that the meeting with the publisher led to a book deal and that the Proverbs 31 ministries representative was so impressed with my speaking that they invited me to be on their team.  In any movie or novel, that would make a really great end to the story, but the publisher rejected my proposal like everyone else and Proverbs 31 never called.

But I got something even better out of that weekend.  I felt like God put together that speaking group just for me, and they ministered such healing to my soul through their kind comments and encouraging words.   I remembered how much I loved speaking.  But the highlight of the whole weekend was spending some quiet time in my empty hotel room with the Lord on Sunday morning.  He gave guidance I had been looking for and affirmation for where I had been.  He also told me that I do have a partner in what I’m doing…God.  And for right now, he wants to be the only partner.  He reminded me that weekend that even if I never write another blog or publish a book or speak ever again, that my identity in Him is secure.  I have been set apart and called by grace, and nothing will ever change that.

When I looked at all the doors that seemed impossible to open on this trip, I’m  amazed at all that He made possible.  This trip reminded me that He is big enough to orchestrate even the smallest details.  I remembered that He saw me, He cared about me, and He loved me so much that he made a way for me to go to the conference.  But the even bigger glorious impossible is that he has made a way for a sinner, unrighteous, unholy person like me who gets it wrong, messes it up and hurts other people to be in relationship with Him, the Creator of all who is righteous, holy, perfect, loving and sovereign.  He sent His Son to earth in an impossible set of circumstances to live a perfect life and die on the cross, so that I didn’t have to.

He doesn’t need me or any talent I have to offer to accomplish His perfect plan.  And yet He continues to invite me to join him in his work.  How impossible it seems to take a loud, selfish, bossy, arrogant person like me and use her in women’s ministry!  How impossible it is to take someone who has been rejected and disqualified and make her feel accepted and qualified!  God delights in making the impossible possible.  When he does, he alone gets the glory.  Glory to God in highest!

So what was your Glorious Impossible in 2012?  What’s the Glorious Impossible you are trusting him for in 2013?

Video of Glorious Impossible by Carl Cartee

If you want to see what my Glorious Impossible was for 2011, click here.

Free Advice Friday: What’s the Biblical definition of self-love?

Published December 7, 2012 by joypatton

This question came via text this week.  Often the basis of this question is the teaching on the passage that we must love others as we love ourselves.  I have heard it taught that you can’t love other people until you love yourself.  I think that we have to able to receive love before we can give love.  But when I ask myself what Biblical self-love looks like, I have a hard time finding examples, especially when I look to the life of Jesus.

I don’t think there is such a thing as Biblical self-love.  The Bible doesn’t directly talk about loving ourselves as something we ought to do.  I’ve been studying John and particularly how Jesus related to the Father as a model for how a Princess relates to the King.  We never see Jesus trying to love himself more.  Rather we know that he loved the Father and that the Father loved him.  His one desire was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).  He sought the glory of the Father, more than glory for himself (John 5:41).  We also know that he entrusted himself completely to the will of the Father (I Peter 2:23).

Jesus didn’t model self-love, but he did model self-care.  He withdrew and took time for himself, but I believe it was because the Father told him to.  Everything he did was submitted to the Father.  The people he healed and the teachings he taught came directly from the Father, not from himself.  (John 7:18)  He didn’t heal every person, cast out every demon or raise every person from the dead.  How did he know where to go?  How did he know when it was time to minister to others and when it was time to withdraw?  The Father told him.  Jesus modeled a beautiful submission to the Father and what it looks like to abide in Him.  When he died on the cross, it was not self-love or self-glorification (Ice Queen) nor was it self-loathing or self-hatred (Orphan).  Rather Jesus obeyed the Father to the point of death on the cross because he loved the Father and trusted him completely.

Likewise for us, the Princess loves the King and desires to please him.  The Princess loves what the King loves, and the King loves her.  But it’s not that the Princess tries to love herself, to protect herself or take care of herself.  Rather she trusts that the Father loves her, that he protects her, that he takes care of her.  In a practical sense, I trust the Father to give me time to refresh.  I trust the Father to give me strength when the list for the day is overwhelming.  I trust the Father to help me know what boundaries to set with others.  I do this because I know that my time, my heart, my emotions are worthy of protection because the Father has made me worthy of love.  I can trust the Father even in the midst of suffering when my world is falling apart because I know that discipline leads to righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

Maybe the struggle is not in loving yourself, but believing that you are already loved.  John says, “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).  He is the one who shows us what it feels like to be loved and how to love other people.  We must “come to know and to believe the love that God has for us” (I John 4:16).  Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child challenges us to “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.”

So my dear Princesses, the love you have for yourself does not come from yourself or your own desires.  Rather you can love, accept, value and cherish yourself because the King Father first accepted, loved, valued and cherished you.

If you have a question for Free Advice Friday, you can email me at joy@joypatton.com.

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