Growth and Grace (Part 1)


Hello, precious mamas! Yes, it's been a while. Much has changed since I last wrote to you. The pandemic continued throwing a wrench in the gears of our lives; I've lost a beloved aunt and mamaw; our youngest graduated, moved out, and got engaged; and I became more involved in ministry. We've been wedding planning, coaching/parenting our young adult children, working, grieving, and so much more. However, you have been on my heart throughout the process, and I am learning the skills I need to be better on the tech side of things. I hope to revive this blog to be a blessing to you, dear mama. 

As I am learning how to navigate building this blog to be better over the course of the next several weeks/months, I'm reposting my monthly Women's Ministry blogs from our church website. I've added a tab at the top, "Women's Ministry Blog," where you can go to find more of what I've been writing over the past couple of years. Look for the Women's Ministry graphic as you scroll through the blog posts, and check out our Pastor's blog and Health & Wellness Ministry blog posts while you're there as well! 

I'll repost one of the Women's Ministry posts here every few days, in the hope it's an inspiration to you. While these posts aren't directed specifically about motherhood, I believe their message will ring true with you as a woman and as a mother. I hope what follows is a blessing to you. I'm also adding a tab at the top for my Facebook page, where I microblog and share encouragement. I've also added a tab (click "more" at the top of the page) for my free coaching group on Facebook, Intentional Growth and Wellness.

I so look forward to engaging with you. 
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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. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

What is this transformation that is possible by the “renewing of your mind?”

Let’s look at another translation: 

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2 (MSG).

Transformation is a metamorphosis, a thorough or dramatic change. God’s transformation “brings the best out of you.” 

But how do we go about the day-to-day implementation of this practice? If we look back at the previous verse, we learn the answer. "So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” (v. 1, MSG). This is how we offer ourselves as a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is.your true and proper worship” (v. 1 NIV).

When first reading this, it can sound like a tall order, to take each moment of your everyday life and try to live it in a way that is “holy and pleasing to God.”

Enter grace.

Prevenient grace that comes before we’re even aware of our need. Justifying grace in times of forgiveness. Sanctifying grace to help us grow into the image of Christ.

Transformation is about growth and grace. We need to give ourselves the same grace God freely gives, so we can be resilient when the path of growth gets a little rocky. When we encounter an obstacle, we can choose to continue to grow by viewing it as a stepping stone, instead of a stumbling block. We can choose to give ourselves grace in accepting that obstacles will come, and allowing ourselves time and space to reframe them into opportunities to learn and grow. 

God doesn’t call us to be perfect. He calls us to grow more toward a reflection of his image, and he has gifted each of us to be unique in that reflection. We are to embrace “what God does for you” (v. 1 MSG, emphasis added). What unique gifts, skills, and experiences has he given you? By focusing on what God has uniquely given each of us, we have something to look forward to and focus on, rather than looking to see what everyone else is doing, thereby becoming too well-adjusted to the culture surrounding us, “dragging you down” (v. 2 MSG).

We also need to give ourselves grace for the season we’re in. Our day-to-day lives can look starkly different depending on what season of womanhood we’re in. A teenage girl just trying to figure out what she wants her future to look like has a day-to-day life quite different from a sleep-deprived mom of young children. And that mom lives a day-to-day life quite different from a woman who has entered a later season of life. What matters is that we take small, and consistent, steps toward growth, no matter what season we’re in.

Too often, we compare ourselves to others, which can lead to a spiral of negative thoughts. However, when we embrace what God has done for us, and live into this with our everyday lives, we will find ourselves transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Having a growth mindset involves understanding ourselves, how we are created, what season we’re in, and living into how these combine to paint your current picture. It’s about pursuing the things God has placed in our hearts, but in a way that honors the season we’re in. Once we start to understand more about how God has uniquely created us, we can challenge ourselves to grow. 

The teen girl may wish to challenge herself to ignore comparison, set her mind that she is a beautifully unique reflection of Christ, and trust that what she has to offer the world will unfold as she continues to explore her gifts and future.

The young mom’s successful day may simply be that the kids were loved and fed, giving herself grace for the mountains of laundry and dishes she left behind so she could focus on what is more important. Maybe her growth challenge for the day could be a 5 minute devotion for moms, and to continue giving herself grace to focus on the important work of nurturing her children.

The woman in a later season of life may consider a growth challenge to grow closer in relationship with God by exploring her gifts and how she uniquely reflects God’s image. Perhaps she might also explore how she is equipped to turn that into fulfilling service, whether that be within her vocation or as a volunteer.

A growth mindset transforms our minds to allow us to grow more into the unique image of Christ for which we have been gifted and equipped. Having this to look forward to and focus on, while giving ourselves grace for the process, can be transformational for not only our spiritual health, but our mental and emotional health as well.

What small step can you commit to today that will help you grow more into the image of Christ that you have been uniquely created for? 

Long’s Chapel and the Women2Women team are committed to your growth. If you need help or guidance along the way, please see our contact information below.

-Laura Greer

Women2Women is a ministry that encourages women to cultivate an intimate relationship with Christ, while also exploring how God has uniquely created, gifted, and called each of us. We connect with women where they are in life’s journey, providing opportunities for spiritual growth, health and wellness, intergenerational fellowship, friendship, and mentoring. Events and retreats are targeted to the needs of women so we can grow deeper in our faith, develop our gifts and abilities, and establish long-lasting friendships. 

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