Contentment: Guest Blog by Pam Vaughan

Contentment…that is the word that I believed God had for me in January of 2011.  I now imagine God smiling at me and saying to Himself, “Oh, you will be content, but not at all like you think!”  The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I believed that then, but what I did not know, however, was just how that plan would unfold.

What I did know is that I did not want my life to be defined by the divorce I had been through in 2009-10.  I wanted people to look at me and see my faith.  I prayed that God would still use my life somehow for Him and His glory.

I can now look back at that time in my life and see God’s hand in amazing ways.  That road was the most difficult I have ever traveled.  God carried me every step.  Never could I have walked it alone.  His provision for me strengthened my faith in so many ways as He took me to peace and contentment using His word.

He also gave me provision through family and friends:  loving Christian friends provided a home for me to live in with laughter and a “soft place to land”;  other friends stepped in and did everything from calculating my taxes to fixing my vacuum cleaner; and on Saturdays, different friends would call and ask me to eat dinner or come to a ball game.  Also, my career as an elementary school teacher flourished as I was given the opportunity to teach other teachers.  God also provided a friend to exercise  with me several times a week and give  me wise council.  My dear childhood buddy gave me words from the Bible to strengthen my soul. My family loved and supported me every day.

I later found a place to move into that I called my “place of peace”.   What a Savior!  I could not have asked for more.  But then, God is not at all bound by our imaginations!  The Bible also says in 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

I decided in April of 2011 to come home to North Carolina during my spring break at school.  My mom arranged for she and I  to attend  a monthly meeting of the women’s ministry of my home church, Ridgecrest Baptist in Durham, called “Ladies’ First Tuesday”, to hear a testimony about my friend Joan Francis, who had passed away in 2010, given by her husband Marc and their daughter Rae.  Of course, I wanted to be there.  Joan, Marc and I were longtime friends.  I loved them dearly.

After the meeting, Marc and I connected and decided to catch up on each other’s lives.  I could never have imagined what would come next! Our catching up as friends turned into dating, and dating has now turned into our coming marriage in March of 2012!

Beginning in the spring of 2011, God began to move in the most unexpected ways!  From the opportunity to move back to North Carolina and find a teaching position at a time when hiring freezes were taking effect to returning to my home church and to the family that I love, He has brought amazing blessings to me.

Neither Marc nor I would have said on the day we sat down to catch up that it would lead to our relationship today! Out of pain and sadness in each of our lives, God provided love.  I could not have even imagined that God would bless my life more than He already had in taking care of me and assuring me that He would indeed continue to use me.  My plans were so small compared to His plans!

I hope that my testimony will convey that God has unfailing love in our darkest days and gives grace beyond our understanding for difficult times.  And praise goes to Him that He blesses us beyond measure when we least expect it!

Pam was raised in Durham, NC, where she has now returned to live.  Her parents, Wayne and Adele Alford, live in nearby Hillsborough, NC. She graduated from Gardner-Webb College with a degree in elementary education and is now teaching in Durham Public Schools as a third-grade teacher. She has two young adult children, Jay and Jordan. Pam’s warmth and infectious smile endears her to all who meet her and she’s quick to give God the praise for the blessings in her life.

Beginnings: When a Daughter is Given Marriage (Guest Blog by Mary Wilson)

Mary is devoted Christian who desires to daily walk a life that brings glory to her risen Savior.  She is wife to Jeff and mother of two adult daughters, Emily and Katie.  She currently works full-time as an interior designer. She has spent many years serving in youth ministry as well as women’s ministries in the church fellowships where she has served.  Having a heart for teaching, she has enjoyed the positions she has held. She has participated in several mission trips, three of which that has taken her overseas.  She can be reached thru her blog, elegantbutsimple.wordpress.com. 

My youngest daughter Katie  married last month.  She was the first in our immediate family and the first wedding on either side of our family in 22 years.  We had not experienced the planning, preparation, and detailed work that went with a wedding.  Nor the joy and emotion surrounding the giving and taking of a bride.

For my husband Jeff and I, the prayers through her growing years had been answered.  She married a young man, Tyler, whom we love as our own, and on some days I would tell friends that I love him more than my own children.  He is a Christian, devoted to his faith and heading toward a life in the pastorate.  He is tall, a Texan who stands strong in his beliefs and a man that will care for and love our baby through their married years of life.  All sound reasoning,  in my head. But this season’s passing also started a beginning of a struggle in my own heart.

 In Genesis 2:24 it is written:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  (Genesis 2:24 ESV)

And the two shall become one flesh.   Katie is no longer responsible to the family she grew up in but now will submit to her husband and tend to the affairs of her household.  All the days of preparation really don’t prepare this young bride, nor her family, for the transition that will take place.  In the passing of time, as she comes and goes from her new home and a new routine begins, so does a new life together.  Although still a part of our family, I now had to recognize that my job as her mom was to love and support them, holding them closely to my heart as I lift them in consistent prayer and be there for counsel.  Her new beginning in some respects, however, also marked an ending to an old way of life.

As much as I considered it an ending, I also recognized this is God’s design.  And as a wife and a mother, I know that through the years of raising our girls, my job as a Christian was to model for them what they were to become.  My job, as I had always known it, was ending.  Her job was just beginning.  Tears never really flowed for me as she walked down the aisle to her future, because my heart was at peace.

In this life change, I also recognized there was a beginning for me as well.

In the days before her wedding, I reflected on what scripture teaches concerning the model of the older women teaching and training the younger women.  We read in Titus that:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5 ESV)

As her mother, my job is different now.  As much as I know Katie’s adjustment to married life will be smoother with the loving support of her family, my place in her life has become that of a teacher/trainer.  I never feel that God really calls us to an end.  As one of my loving pastors taught me , “When God closes a door, He always opens a window.” 

What I have learned is that we both are experiencing a beginning.  I do not see her every day.  My role is not a day-to-day responsibility as before, but my encouragement will be more important than ever. As her counsel, teacher and trainer, my job is to point her to her God-given job of supporting and loving the man she has married, encouraging her to be self-controlled, pure, kind and submissive.  She now walks alongside me in this role. I am further along than her, but both of us have the same responsibility.  She has now become closer to me with this new beginning in understanding.  The ending to this story? I have been transformed by God’s peace  to fulfill a new job description, one that only He can do.