7.30.2013

I Want To Be Bold

I pray for boldness. I want to be bold for the Kingdom of God. I want to do the things that Jesus did for the glory of the LORD.

Yet so many times He provides opportunities for me to bold and I shrink back. I tell Him it's too hard. I can't do it. I'm scared.

How big is our God? How much do we really trust Him?

Last week I had several opportunities to be bold. By His grace I was able to rise up and accept those opportunities. Because I knew He was with me I wasn't really afraid at all. I knew what He wanted to do He would. I decided to obey and let Him work as He willed.

You know what? It wasn't bad at all. Some people were receptive and some people weren't. Either way, I did what I was supposed to do. Since then I've contemplated how many times the Lord has asked me to do something but because of my preconceived notions in thinking that I'd mess up or look stupid or not do a good enough job I didn't rise up to the occasion and missed out on the way He would bless me and others through my obedience.

Are we just asking God for the things we believe we can do? Are we just accepting the "easy" things while neglecting to take up our crosses and follow Him wherever He leads us? Hmmm. Doesn't He tell us we can do all things through Christ because HE gives us strength?

Lord, give us boldness to follow You. Help us to accept every opportunity You want us to and trust You to do what You will in each situation. Forgive us for how we have failed you in the past. Thank You for Your grace.
                                Amen.

“I have commanded you, ‘Be strong and courageous! Don’t tremble or be terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’" - Joshua 1:9

7.27.2013

A Work In Progress...

I really strive to be like my Heavenly Father. I seek to be holy and pleasing to Him and I know this is something I cannot do apart from Him. That being said... sometimes I still try.

This week I struggled with selfishness and pride. I got around to Friday and was ashamed that I spent so much time trying to get people to see the real me and not the real One who saved me this week. I wanted to fit in and look good to others. I had to get on my knees and ask forgiveness from the Lord.

See, we aren't here to live for earthly, temporary pleasures. While it is God's earth that He created and He wants us to enjoy our lives here, He also wants us to worship Him with our lives here and enjoy Him while enjoying creation. Can you see that it is all about Him?!

I wish I could be perfect this side of Heaven, but the fact is I never will be. I'm a work in progress. God is shaping me to be more like Him. His Spirit is convicting me when I fall short of that. His love and grace are embracing me despite my failures.

What I'm constantly reminded of is sin kills. It kills our joy in Christ, our peace in Him, and our love for Him. Which is why we must rebuke it when we see it in our lives and ask forgiveness. It's why we must steer ourselves away from anything that distracts us from our Savior no matter how painful it is. Why? Because He will never leave us or forsake us here. We're not left to struggle alone, but are helped by His awesome and mighty hand. Because while we won't be perfect this side of Heaven, on the other side will be our Lord and with Him we will be completely filled and satisfied. Count the cost, friend.

"Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up."       Hebrews 12:1 GW

7.19.2013

His Unique Path For You

I'm constantly focused on other people's walks with the Lord.

I want to be more faithful like Mrs. A.
I want to be more trusting like Mrs. L.
I want to be more loving like Mrs. B.

In and of themselves it's not too bad to want to be more like our Savior (which is ultimately what I see these people exemplifying). It's when I begin to think something's wrong with me and my walk with the Lord that I have a problem.

I was listening to the radio yesterday when Randi Lynn said, "Each faith journey is unique to the path God has for you."

Boom! Um, yeah, I've been thinking that because my trials don't look like so-and-so's that I must be the worst Jesus follower ever and He probably thinks I'm lame. That simple sentence was such an encouragement to my worn little heart because it reminded me that 1. God loves me. 2. He has a plan for me. 3. My trials won't necessarily look like everybody else's and that's okay. 4. His plan is for my good and His glory. 5. It's a daily process living out His plan for me, so stop expecting it to be overnight.

We have got to stop comparing ourselves to everyone around us and realize our identities as image bearers of the one true God and let that define us. Is it gonna be easy? No. Will it take work? Duh. Will we want to stop? Probably. Will it be worth it? YES.

So here's my encouragement to you today:
1. God loves you.
2. He has a plan for you.
3. Your trials won't necessarily look like mine and mine may not look like yours and that's okay.
4. His plan is for your good and His glory.
5. It's a daily process living out His plan for you, so stop expecting it to be overnight.

Rest in trust in Him today, child. We are safe in His arms.

7.18.2013

In The Midst Of Struggles...

If your week has been a little like mine then yours has probably been rough. I'm being reminded constantly that as your faith matures in Christ and as we continue to walk this road it doesn't get easier it gets harder.

That being said, we must remind ourselves it is worth it. Because it is.

I wanted to offer a little encouragement to you today in one of my favorite praise songs to sing out to the Lord in trials, Praise You In This Storm. I hope it helps you to praise through your struggles today.



"10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
                                                                   - Hebrews 12:10-11

7.15.2013

Acceptance - Monday Reflections

We walked down the sidewalk and up to the door where we were met by 8 teenagers.

Being the extrovert (most of the time) I of course gave them a warm smile and a hello. What did I get back? Silence and directions to their youth room.

Okay cool, I thought, maybe they're just shy right now. No biggie.

Up the stairs we went to the youth room where we again were met by some teenagers and more than a few awkward stares. Again, no biggie.

We found a seat, sat down and waited for the service to begin. It was us and four or five other churches all gathered together to hear the Word of God.

They asked where everyone was from, I told them where we attended church and more stares followed.

Normally, this would have bothered me, but not too much anymore. My acceptance doesn't come from how many girls and guys love me or even like me. It doesn't come from how welcomed or unwelcomed I feel. Though it has taken years to see that and still I have days where the struggles to understand that come, He helps me keep fighting.

Acceptance should be found in who we are, and who are we? Children of God! Made in His image. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Chosen. Precious. His. More than that, acceptance should be found in who HE is because who He is never changes. As long as we believe that and know that, we will readily follow Him wherever He goes because we know He can be trusted regardless.

We left feeling a little weird about how many stares we got but when my head hit the pillow and I was getting ready to sleep, there were no worries about it (though there were some others... oh letting go and letting God is hard sometimes, friends.). Who knows, maybe they were feeling inadequate, maybe they're still wrestling through their identity in Christ, or maybe they didn't even know that's how they came across. I choose to let grace work because grace through Jesus has covered my life.

That being said, brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to be welcoming and share His love with all people regardless of race, age, or whatever. When people see you do they see Christ? Hmmm. Let's think and pray on that today, mmk?

Lord, teach us to be accepting of others and lead them to Your heart. Thank You for accepting us and being the One who gives us worth and value.
                                                                         Amen. <3

--
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7.13.2013

Clear Winter Nights - Book Review

Who says Trevin Wax can't write a fiction book?

Clear Winter Nights* is proof that he can.

Just as the cover says, this book is a journey into truth, doubt, and what comes after. I had originally set out not to underline in this book (trying to break a habit of over underlining in books past... haha!), but at page 50 I broke that and ended up underlining many important truths in this book.

Clear Winter Nights is a story about a young man named Chris who has been challenged in many areas in his life and is now questioning his faith. He takes a weekend trip that benefits him probably more than he knows at the present time.

I was very blessed by this book. It will definitely be one that I keep on my bookshelf and re-read. If you have a friend who doesn't particularly like reading theology in it's usual form (which I admit can be tough to grasp and at times dry) I would highly recommend getting this book for them. Lots of truth written in a very easy to understand way.

It took me a day to read this book. It's really that good. The story is gripping, the truths revealed are beautiful, and the journey you go along personally as you read this book will be wonderful (don't mistake "wonderful" as easy. It's not easy).

I would love to give Trevin a hug! Who knows, maybe he'll read this and accept my virtual hug. :) As a sister in Christ who's had some questions herself, this book put many, many things to rest and that's why it's such a treasure.

God will move you while you read this if you're open to Him. Let me know if you do, would love to hear your story! Your story matters and how you live it matters even more. Pick up a copy of Clear Winter Nights to make sure it's a story that will be worth telling long after you've gone.

*Note: This book was given to me for free for the purpose of reviewing by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Company. It is an advanced reader's copy and is set to release on September 17th, 2013.

7.12.2013

Rejoicing, Praying, And Thanking...

"Rejoice always!
Pray constantly.
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Always. Constantly. Everything?

Yes. This is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. Do we succeed in this? Probably not. Do we strive to do this every day? Hmmm. Only you can answer that one for yourself.

Rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks is so, so easy when life is going well and you're just filled to the brim with happy emotions.

But what about when the emotions are overwhelming and very few are really "happy"?
What about when your daughter loses all movement below her waist and fights brain cancer only to eventually lose her life months later?
Or the 22 year old guy who has cancer and will undergo chemo for 5 days straight?

God's Word stays the same. He stays the same. We are to rejoice. We are to pray. We are to give thanks. Always, constantly, and in everything.

Want to know how real your relationship with Christ is? How sturdy it really is? Watch yourself carefully when something isn't going well. Do you continue to thank? Rejoice? Pray?

Ouch. I'm convicted too.

Jon Bloom wrote a beautiful piece today on endurance and doing things when you just don't "feel" like doing them. Read it here.

My prayer is that we will thank the Father constantly, rejoicing in Him always, because He is good. Not mainly because our circumstances are good (though we can thank Him for that grace too), but because even though circumstances are ever changing, He is not. Oh, this is good news!

Thank You, Lord.

7.10.2013

Through The Noise

All eight of us sat around a table at Cracker Barrel. We laughed at the jokes made, enjoyed a good meal, and began to pray for our friend who wasn't able to come after being in a serious car accident that will leave her with a long road of recovery and healing (but praise be to God that she's alive!).

It was loud in Cracker Barrel. I could barely hear anybody as we joined together to lift up this friend and others.

I was reminded that sometimes (most of the time?) life is noisy. We're tempted to stop just because there's noise, but can't the Father hear us just the same through the noise? Is it not we who suffer from not being able to quiet ourselves to hear from Him?

I have a confession to make. I really don't like being quiet. It scares me. In the quiet I have to fight harder (or so it seems) to keep my focus on Him than when I'm just going through my day. Questions arise, pain surfaces, doubts creep in, and I just don't like dealing with those things! I want to be joyful all the time, but I don't think I appreciate true joy as much as I do when I'm fighting the fight; when I'm going through the fire. Just because it's a fight doesn't mean I should stop being quiet before Him. It's after we push through the noise that the still, small Voice comes.

Just because it was noisy, didn't mean we stopped praying. We kept on.

How bad do we want to hear His voice?

Seriously. How bad?

Because if we really and truly want to hear from Him and follow Him and love Him then we will do whatever it takes.

Challenge: spend a few moments each day this week being silent before Him. Grab your Bible and your journal because those come in handy when we're seeking His voice and go to the park or your backyard or Starbucks (if you can focus there) and listen for Him to speak. Push through the noise, no matter how hard it is. Write down the ways He's speaking to you. Let's share them sometime soon, okay?


Love y'all!

7.08.2013

What To Do When You're Doubting... (Monday Reflections)

These are just some personal reflections and things the Lord has revealed to me when I was going through some doubts. After a good friend told me her granddaughter was going through some tough times I thought I'd share a few things that have helped me along in the process.

Things to remember:
God loves you. Seriously. Pray that over yourself, remind yourself daily, hourly, by the minute because that one thing that will never change.

Doubts happen to everybody. When we stop thinking we're alone and the first to have this happen is when we're one step closer to coming out on top.

You are in a covenant relationship with the Lord. This means that you aren't going to judge His love for you based on feelings, circumstances, etc. but will remember His Word and believe it as TRUTH because it is. Decide that you are going to be faithful despite ______ (fill in the blank) because He is faithful to you.

Things to do:
Make a decision. This goes along with what I said in the last point and that is you must decide to either walk with the Lord or not to. Sometimes when we're doubting it's quite tempting to give up. DON'T. Question: Has God been faithful both to you and others before? Answer: Yes. I don't need to know you to the answer to that one. Are you breathing? That's grace. Did you eat today? That's grace. Did His Son die for you? GRACE!

Now, this doesn't go to say that you don't need to educate yourself a little. If you're curious about the start of Christianity, where it originated from, how it got to where it is today, physical proof, etc. then go to a pastor, youth minister, or trusted friend and get them to help you find some credible books that will help you out.

Most importantly, trust in the Lord. Even when you can't "feel" Him (am I the only one who thinks we've made emotions our idol?) He is with you and He will walk with you through all your messes.

God bless you, friends!

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30 NIV

7.05.2013

Summer Fiction Series - Part 3

Well, it's Friday and it here's the final part of Chrissy's Story. You can catch up on all of them here. Hope you've enjoyed it! God bless you guys! <3



Chrissy got up this morning and bowed. She had found a new appreciation for His willingness to love her, take care of her, see her through.

She had been reassured by her pastor friend that she was not the first to undergo doubt- that even Billy Graham had had them, but that he had made his choice, and so she would have to do likewise.

Chrissy had made her choice. She chose to believe. All the fingerprints He had left on her life, all the times His love had embraced her, all the times His Word was spoken just perfectly to her at just the right time. She chose to ditch the pride, the unbelief, the arrogance, and chose to return to her First Love.

She began to get educated on how to flee the darts and arrows the Enemy would throw, and how to conquer her thoughts when they started to veer to dark places.

It was not an easy fight for Chrissy. It still isn't. She daily has to deny her flesh, lead her heart, take up her cross, and believe Him. This trial has led her closer to her Beloved and has taught her the importance of listening to Him first, and always.

Tonight she snuggles tightly in her covers. She smiles, thanking the Lord for this bed He allows her to borrow and sleep in. Amazed by how He has blessed her and thankful for His constant pursuit of her through her whole life, she recites Psalm 4:8 before drifting off to dream land...

"I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety."

And safety has always been found in His arms because the Enemy can never snatch you away from Him. 

Are you like Chrissy and going through some doubts of your own? Have you talked to God about it? A mentor? Your family? I would encourage you to talk it out and not be afraid of judgement. We have all been there, and those who haven't may go there sometime in the future (I pray and come out faithful still). The important thing is not to hide from God or the people who can help you walk through this. He loves you so much, friend! I pray you find rest in Him today. 

7.04.2013

What The Fourth Of July Looks Like To Me (and what it means)

The fourth of July looks like freedom that was bought by many men and women laying down their lives over and over again.

The fourth of July looks like eating BBQ, corn on the cob, and watching fireworks.



The fourth of July looks like many different races celebrating together this beautiful country we live in and remembering that we are Americans and can be proud of that.



The fourth of July looks like wearing something that is red, white, and blue because it's what your family has always done and is something you're proud to do as you've gotten older.

What does the fourth of July mean to me? A lot.

It means being thankful to be free. It means remembering those who have lost their lives and those who continue to sign up knowing that that may happen to them too.

It means praying for the countries that are not yet free; where many people cannot worship the same God I do and not end up in prison.

I am so very thankful that the Lord placed me in this beautiful Country! I hope you enjoy this day and take some time to thank and pray for our service men and women.

God bless America and may God bless you! Happy Fourth!

What does the Fourth of July look like at your house? What does it mean to you personally? Leave a comment! 

As a bonus for the girls, here's a picture of my patriotic nails and what I used to do them (and yes, I'm aware silver is not the same as white, but it looked better. ;) ) Have fun!




Wet N' Wild - I Red A Good Book
L.A. Colors - Sparkling Diamonds
Art Deco by L.A. Colors - Teal Glitter (for the stripe)
Sally Hanson - Celeb City

7.03.2013

NIV Leadership Bible - Review

I normally save my reviews for Fridays, but since Friday will be the last installment of this year's Summer Fiction series (want to catch up? Click here.) I decided to go ahead and post this one.

The Lord has been teaching me a lot about leadership. I had been praying a little about before I agreed to review this Bible. Then, like a week ago as I was contemplating what leadership looks like, how Jesus lived and what He said a leader should be, etc. (think servant), I realized that, hopefully, this Bible was gonna be a great tool to help along in this season.

I was definitely not let down.

The NIV Leadership Bible is filled with great stuff to help you be a better leader for the Kingdom. The Bible is filled with Insights that help you to understand more about leadership in different passages as well as Character Profiles which tell you about many Bible characters and how they lived lives of leadership for the Lord. My personal favorite has been going through the 52 week Home Pages/Daily Study provided in this Bible. I love that there are Scriptures to memorize for the week as you go along to study different topics like courage, influence, or conflict management.

Great for all ages! The print is very easy to read and the Bible is well made for those who may like to take it with them to work or school.

All in all I rate this product 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone who is in need of a little guidance and direction on being the leader God wants you to be.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this Book in exchange for a review.

7.01.2013

To The Ladies - Monday Reflections

Many of you know my struggle with food and my body image. (For those of you that don't, you can read a little about it here.)

Well, a week ago I decided to lay it down at the Lord's feet... again. Do you ever feel like life just consists of letting go of the same things over and over? Yeah, me too. Anyway, this time it was done before everybody in church at the altar. It wasn't done to be seen by others, but just because that was when the Spirit moved me and said, "Daughter, go lay it down." So I did.

I had been reading 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 that morning in devo time and it says,

" Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple."

In context, Paul is addressing divisions in the body of Christ and telling the Church that we are one and not to beat up on each other, but to love and serve one another. But for me personally that verse meant realizing that my body is His holy dwelling place. My body is His and starving it or overeating are both wrong ways to treat His temple. It also meant believing that I am holy because He has made me holy and because of that, constantly comparing myself to others is wrong.

You know Instragram is a fun place, but at times I can get sucked in looking at pics of friends and start thinking, "Wow. I'm doing nothing with my life." Where's my value? Where does it come from? It sho don't come from other people, y'all. But let's be real, that's how we measure it sometimes don't we? "Well so and so did ______ and ______. I'm so jealous. I wish I was her." No. God made you, you! Don't wish away who He's made you to be. Embrace who you are in Him!

So today's Monday reflection is to think on where you've been finding value and why. Take some time to look at how you're treating the temple He's given you. Take some time to lay down your constant longing to be skinnier, prettier (lady, you are fearfully and wonderfully made!), more accomplished, or whatever. Take those things to the Lord, lay them down, and choose to rest in Him. You may find you have to let go of some things. I've had to stop mindlessly eating and going to check on what my friends are doing everyday. It's too tempting to look at someone and think they have it all together when we're all just messed up people in need of the Savior Jesus.

You are loved, child. Dearly. We can't ever fully comprehend His love for us but let's bask in it every day He gives us. Aight? Love y'all!