Gifted with All The Feels

By Jami Robertson

The 2017-2019 ministry focus of American Baptist Women’s Ministries is “Feel/Siente.” Information about the theme, based on Luke 8:43-49, Acts 17:27-28 (NLT), and 1 Samuel 2:1-11 (The Voice), may be found at www.abwministries.org/theme. This post is part of a series of “Herstories” from American Baptist women around this theme.

Oh my friends, I am the queen of the feels. I am constantly processing, sensing, feeling everything. When I walk into a room, I can feel other people’s happiness or confusion, or sadness, or any of the hundreds of emotions God gave us all the ability to experience. Sometimes it is hard to tell my own feelings from another person’s. I’m sure I am not the only person on the planet that does this, so if you are like me, I feel your pain! It’s exhausting. However, I believe it is a God-given gift and I’m finally getting the chance to see that gifting being put to work. And Lord, I am so thankful for it!

Do you know how you feel like there is something in you that can be put into practice, but you don’t know what, how, or where to even start? I was there. It felt like I was at that point for an eternity in my Christian walk: just permanently stuck, wondering how I fit into God’s grand design in this tiny parcel of time. Then one day, well, I needed a job. Okay, for a lot of days I needed a job. We had moved to Indiana and I seriously started to think there was something wrong with me because nobody wanted to hire me. I’m old-school and dress up for interviews, brush my hair, teeth, and so forth. I almost always speak in logical sentences. I even checked my pits: nope. I didn’t forget deodorant!

Somewhere along the line, Scotty (my husband) had found out the local school district had a few job openings in the special education department. As my negative-prone self said, “There is no way! I cannot do that. I went to school for merchandising. I don’t see the correlation.” And honestly, there isn’t one. But surprises are always in store for us, sisters!

I remember going to that interview thinking, “I have no idea at all what I’m doing here. Seriously. Why am I here?!” Do I have experience? Nope. Do I have a desire? Hmmm, nope. I had a desire to support my kids, but that was about it. So, I took the job I was offered, even though I was scared, and even though I didn’t think I really wanted to. However, I have this other blessing God gave me—tenacity. If I say I’m going to do something, then it will get done. Even if I feel like calling it quits, I stick with it if others are depending on me.

Back to my overwhelming sensing of emotions. After working in special education for two-and-a-half school years, I felt like I had a good handle on things. I even liked my job. Then I was moved from the school I was in to the high school. That’s when I really discover that I love my job. That pesky “I sense everything” comes in really handy with non-verbal autistic kids, or any autistic kid, really.

This past school year my life was forever changed by one of my students. I never really noticed my gifting until a student “told” me about it. That’s a pretty powerful message, especially if you receive it from a non-verbal autistic student. It’s amazing that there are times in which you can just look at each other and get the message. Almost every day I come home from work and think, “God, your creations are good. I get it. I feel it. We are all different, but we all feel. We all sense. We all love. We all get to experience this life and world in different ways. And we all have gifting.”

Some people’s gifting might not be obvious to society’s standards, but it is there. I dare you to look for it, to experience it, to feel it in the most unexpected ways and in unpredictable places.

“Dear Friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4: 11-12, NIV.

“…With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposes in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:8c-10. NIV.

Jami Robertson is a member of the national young adult women’s ministries advisory team of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

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Fear and Faith

By Virginia Holmstrom

The 2017-2019 ministry focus of American Baptist Women’s Ministries is “Feel/Siente.” Information about the theme, based on Luke 8:43-49, Acts 17:27-28 (NLT), and 1 Samuel 2:1-11 (The Voice), may be found at www.abwministries.org/theme. This post is part of a series of “Herstories” from American Baptist women around this theme.

Photo by Kaustav Das Modak. Used by permission, creativecommons.org.

Scripture:  “The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them.”    Exodus 14:19 (NRSV)

Sometimes fear overrides faith. We feel abandoned at the moment of peril. Where is God when we most need a protector and savior?

The Hebrew families fleeing Pharoah’s army felt the terror of impending disaster when they stopped short at banks of the Red Sea. The escape route abruptly ended.  There was no way forward! The Egyptian army bore toward them from behind. The deep waters in front of them prevented their desperate escape to freedom. Even God had disappeared. The assurance of God’s presence that had remained a step ahead of them in the form of a cloud pillar was no longer in front of them. Pressed between the sea’s edge and the approaching Egyptian army, trembling mothers clutched their children in their arms, the shelter of their embrace no longer a safe zone.

When we feel the dread that God has abandoned us during our most vulnerable moments of peril, we can identify with the Hebrew families, exhausted from their running, hearts pounding, hemmed in between death by weapons and death by drowning. Where is God?

The question haunts me today as I read the news of the persecuted Rohingya minority in Myanmar; a half million persons fleeing toward the border to the west, hemmed in between a brutal army pushing them out and a country unwilling to receive them.  Where is God in this?

Our faith is tested when the “pillar of cloud” symbolizing God’s presence shifts from our forward view.  God’s presence is not always in front of us, God’s escape route not always visible.  Let us choose faith that God’s salvation is bigger than the fears  of chaos and tyranny.  After feeling the panic of the Hebrew families stopped in their tracks by the Red Sea, I feel utter relief when I read the words of their victory song in the next chapter of their story.  “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously . . . . In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries; In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.”

Choose faith over fear.  For the final line of the song goes like this:  “The Lord will reign forever and ever.”  (Exodus 15:18)

Virginia Holmstrom is executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

 

Praying out of Our Deepest Feelings

By Sandra Hasenauer

The 2017-2019 ministry focus of American Baptist Women’s Ministries is “Feel/Siente.” Information about the theme, based on Luke 8:43-49, Acts 17:27-28 (NLT), and 1 Samuel 2:1-11 (The Voice), may be found at www.abwministries.org/theme. This post is part of a series of “Herstories” from American Baptist women around this theme.

“Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God.'” (1 Samuel 2:1, NRSV)

“Then Hannah prayed out of her deepest feelings.

Hannah: My heart rejoices in the Eternal One;
        my strength grows strong in the Eternal.” (1 Samuel 2:1, The Voice)

When the story of Hannah was selected for the two year theme “Feel/Siente,” I wondered about The Voice paraphrase Bible, which reads, “Then Hannah prayed out of her deepest feelings.” I had not seen that particular interpretation of that sentence before, so I dug into my Strong’s Concordance. Strong’s is an excellent tool for doing word studies–a way of seeing the many ways the word in question is translated in its appearances throughout scripture, as well as seeing original roots and such. This can often help us gain a deeper understanding of what’s happening in any particular Bible verse. What I found was that The Voice, in its paraphrase, was most likely looking ahead a few words from Hannah praying, to Hannah saying that her heart “rejoices in the Eternal one.”

So, then I went to The Message, another paraphrase. “Hannah prayed: I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air. I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation,” (1 Samuel 2:1, MSG).

“Huh,” I thought. I realized that our common image of prayer is a fairly calm one. When one searches for images of the term “prayer,” the vast majority of what shows up from the Christian context are people sitting calmly, peaceful expressions on their faces, with their hands folded neatly in front of them. When we read of Hannah praying in most translations or paraphrases, we may get an image in our mind’s eye of Hannah standing or sitting still, perhaps with her head bowed and hands clasped, but undoubtedly with a small, circumspect smile on her face. Instead, as The Voice and The Message try to impress on us, Hannah is beside herself! The idea of someone praying out of her deepest feelings, “bursting,” “walking on air,” “laughing,” and “dancing,” is a very different image of prayer than we may usually have. Now I picture her twirling around, arms in the air, shouting and laughing–and that’s prayer.

On the flip side, “praying out of my deepest feelings” also reminds me of those times in my life in which I was praying while “ugly crying,” over personal hurts, deep losses, times when I just couldn’t see a way through. Even the phrase “praying out of my deepest feelings” seems tame compared to what that felt like. There have certainly times when I was cry-praying with no words–just an unspoken plea to God for healing, peace, understanding.

This two-year theme “Feel/Siente” will encourage all of us, I think, to explore more thoroughly what prayer is in our lives. Does it really come out of our hearts? Does it truly reach our deepest pains and release our greatest joys? Do we feel like dancing and shouting? Are we “bursting with God-news” or really praying out of our deepest feelings?

Sandra Hasenauer is associate executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.