Anxiety, Bible, Church, Depression, family, Friends, friendship, god, happiness, insecurity, jesus, Life, Love, Uncategorized

Unwanted

Have you ever felt unloved? Unwanted? Part of the out crowd, never to be invited in.

If you have, you’re not alone. I have felt that feeling so many times that I’m still surprised at myself that I’ve allowed myself to feel hurt, disillusioned, and disappointed yet again. I mean…for cryin’ out loud…didn’t I see it coming?

I even get it. I see many of their points of view. Sometimes life is easier not including someone. But…does that make it right?

It’s always most surprising when it’s in the Church, though. Isn’t it? When you’re not invited to the thing; when you’re edged out; when someone has arrived only to leave you behind; when there’s a circle and there is no entry point.

It’s surprising because that’s our safe place. Right? The sanctuary…a place of refuge.

When you think of church, you think of a place you’re eager to get to. One might picture free-falling back into a 3-foot-deep floor made of pillows and all of their stress floating away like a feather on the wind as they finally make it to their refuge.

Unfortunately, in this case, the Church is full of fallible people just like you and just like me; and that often means our sanctuary can – at times – feel like a battleground at worst and a floor of eggshells not to be broken at the least.

People often get caught up in themselves, their own hurts, their own misconceptions, and even their own agendas – no matter how well meaning – even in church.

They often forget that we are commanded to love. We’re even told that all other commandments hinge upon the Greatest Commandment and it’s second…

Yet, how easily we slip into our Church roles and forget the main objective He assigned us.

We rush to our greeter station only to ignore the elderly woman on the back row. We exclude the mediocre but it’s okay because we were sure to praise their strengths before the aforementioned exclusion. We disregard this commandment because clearly that person doesn’t want me to love them as hateful as they behave. And the excuses go on and on.

I’m not saying it’s an easy assignment. We all know people that are hard to love. But…we’re not given allowances for whom or how we are to love.

There’s two things we must remember here:

1. We can’t change others, only how we respond to them. And…though we may be hurt it’s best that we remain humble and keep our eyes on Christ because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. “All” includes you and I both. It’s also a reminder that while someone may seem perfect on Facebook they are just as imperfect as you and I, they are just as sinful. We should show them the grace that our Heavenly Father undeservingly shows us day after day or we are no better than those we cast judgment upon.

2. People, nor the Church, are our refuge. God is.

You see we’ve forgotten that the church isn’t our refuge, He is. We don’t need the group’s acceptance. We need His love, mercy, and grace… which all are accompanied by His acceptance. We don’t need to be a part of the in-crowd here because He desires that we attain being a part of His crowd up there.

God is the ultimate inclusive friend. He doesn’t care who you are, where you come from, what you’ve done. Every time you run to His word, and seek solace within it, He provides. He is the fountain that never runs dry – a fountain of friendship, love, and guidance. He has everything you’re looking for in the people around you… and it’s just waiting for you, He is just waiting for you.

Find your refuge in Christ, today, and become all you’re meant to be when you’ve laid all distractions aside

Advertisements
Bible, bible verse, Friends, friendship, girls, god, happiness, jesus, Life, Love, millennials, prayer, single, Uncategorized, Valentine’s Day, women

9 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE SINGLE

Today’s guest post comes from Tosin of My Beautiful Ugly.

Find the original post here!

9 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE SINGLE

More and more I’m realizing how much I love my single years. I wish I didn’t waste 3 years of it on “randoms” as Heather Lindsey calls them. Unfortunately, the church and the world both wrongfully place a taboo on those that are single. I fell for the pressure to be married by a certain age and now not having that pressure is really relaxing. I’m back on my grind and focused on what is most important: Me!!!

9thingstodowhensingle

travelWell for starters, it’s cheaper to travel as a single than a family of 4. And now is the best time to explore the world. When I was younger my goal was to visit each country in the world. That, of course, was before I understood how much money it took to travel. So you may not be able to visit every country but try to travel to a continent you’ve never been before. Asia is at the top of my list! Even if you don’t have the funds or ability to travel outside of your country find places within your state that you’ve never visited and explore! There’s always something to do. Traveling is a great way to open up your mind to new things and meet new people.

findyourselfYou would be surprised how many married women I’ve spoken to who said they didn’t know who they were when they got married. That is such a dangerous place to be because they now have no identity outside of their husband. Even though marriage makes you one you still need to be an individual. If you don’t know who you are you shouldn’t even be considering marriage or even a relationship. You need to have a strong understand of self. Know who you are, what you like and what you dislike. Being strong in who you are also helps you know what you will and will not accept in a relationship. There’s a saying that says if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.

findhobbyIs there something that you’ve always wanted to try? Now is the time! Over the summer I realized that I enjoy golf! Crazy right? Who would’ve known. Now is the time to try new things. It’s all a part of finding yourself. Now when my future kids drive me crazy at least I know I can head to the golf course for some “me time”. Lol! Find something that is just for you. Something that you enjoy. All of this helps you have an identity outside of your spouse.

diveintoministryMarried people always love to tell single folks that “God will bring your spouse when you’re focused on His work”. While this may or may not be true, that’s no reason to focus on ministry. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard singles say “But I’m in ministry, why isn’t my husband finding me”. I know I’ve been guilty of saying that too. That is definitely the wrong motivation for ministry. Dive into ministry because you have the time and the desire to please God–not because you are hoping for a return on your investment. Even Paul said the best time to serve God is when you’re single. Take advantage of this time.

giveThe Bible says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. There’s a good feeling that comes from giving. As singles, we should have a bit more time and resources that giving should be a primary focus for us. And I’m not just talking about money. Give of your time. Give of your knowledge. Give of yourself. Bless those around you anyway you can and God in turn will take care of you.

growrelationshipwithgodThis is a big one. One thing I know is that when my husband finds me I want him to find me in Christ. I want him to see that my relationship with God is my number one priority and that if he wants me he needs to follow suit. The only way to be in Christ is to develop a strong relationship with Him. Stay in your word. Pray without ceasing. Surround yourself with like-minded believers. Worship always. Make God your priority and #1 desire. If we ran after God the way we ran after marriage, we probably wouldn’t even want marriage anymore. LOL! Seriously, God is just that good. If a relationship with him is not your priority right now it’s time to change that.

getridofdebtOkay, so God and I have already had a talk about my husband being a finance guru because I’m really terrible with money. No really, I’m terrible. I know what to do and I’ve helped many friends with their budget but when it comes to my own finances I just can’t get it together. I’ll get there in Jesus name :). Bringing debt into marriage is not a healthy start. Unfortunately money is one of the top reasons for divorce. Yes, many of us have college loans that we couldn’t avoid but what about those credit card debts that accumulated because you just needed the latest designer bag? Get rid of those. Pay those off as quickly as possible. I’d say outside of student loans (which I see more as an investment), try the best you can not to start your marriage with debt.

learnhowtomaintainhomeLadies, please do yourself a favor and learn how to take care of the home. Please!!! I know so many woman who don’t know how to cook and clean and they think it’s okay because that’s not what their man is looking for. Yes, granted many men these days say that they aren’t looking for that–they prefer the career woman over the home maker. But don’t be fooled, at the core of every man is still the desire to be taken care of. Get on youtube. Learn from your mother or other women around you. Keep your room clean (I’m talking to myself now lol). Create a clean lifestyle that you will bring into your home. It’s important.

surroundwithmarriedYou need married men and women in your life. If you’re only hanging out with singles who is going to teach you about marriage? Surround yourself with newlyweds and women who have been married for many years. They have wisdom that you can glean from. One thing I will say is that while it’s important to surround yourself with married men (they can see things in your potential spouse that a woman might not see), it is imperative to also befriend his wife. Just use wisdom and protect yourself. Bottom Line: Make sure you have both singles and married individuals in your circle of influence.

Well that’s my list! What do you think I should add? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
9thingstodowhensingle

Bible, Life, Love, Marriage, Uncategorized, Valentine’s Day, women

The Jump from Friend Zone to Love – Her side of the story

Today’s guest blogger is Jennifer Love from Intentional Traditions. I chose this post because it reminds me so much of the way David and I became one – we were friends for many months before he decided to fly from Hawaii to Georgia.

Find the original post here!

The day of our first date was an uncomfortable one. I had spent the afternoon making small talk, finding it hard to make eye contact. I had scratched at the peeling edge of the café table and sweated, shifting around in my chair and anxiously sipping my coffee. There were words dying to be said but they just couldn’t pass through my head to my lips. I had stalled all day at telling my best friend that I think I had agreed to a date that night with one of our “friends” and I wasn’t sure how she was going to take it.

For some reason this seemed almost as nerve-wracking as the actual first date. We had always been a group of buddies and secretly I had thought that was an okay status to change between he and I but didn’t want to admit to it yet. To me, it almost seemed long overdue, and at the same time impossible. To her, was this crazy or obvious or weird? For some reason, I just could not say it.

Finally, when coffee mugs were dry and it was time to leave after hours of lingering, I blurted out, “I think Donnie asked me out for tonight. Like on a date.” She smiled and was encouraging. She could see how this was good. She knew the deep friendship that was there and didn’t find this announcement earth-shaking. She laughed that this had taken me all day to say. I had been silly.

 

The Stakes Were High

So, from there I got to move on to my second concern. There was a weight to this decision to let him take me out to dinner because: we were both pretty serious people; it was nearing the end of my senior year of college; we had known each other for almost 4 years; and we weren’t the type to date people we didn’t respect enough to at least consider marrying. This could potentially be a step out of the friend zone with no return, other than to mess things up with a really good friend. That’s a scary step.

I wasn’t even really sure what I had agree to. We always hung out as part of the same crowd and often shared dinner together. He had called and left a goofy, macho message about meat and potatoes and eating on February 14 to which I said I had plans with my girl friends to go out and laughed it off.

When he called the next day with the same question I assumed he needed more than a ride down to the cafeteria. It’s really strange how awkward and nervous you could morph to feel around some you had pranked, tripped, picked on, argued with and flirted with in front of others for years. Suddenly I had no idea what to wear for someone I had sat beside at lunch a hundred times and who had seen me in sweaty, grubby clothes doing service work.

Starting to Fall

He did pick me up, for a change, in his little brown pick-up truck and drove about 3 minutes away from campus to a local restaurant I had only been to a few times for special birthday parties with friends. The ceiling of the restaurant was painted black but dotted with tiny lights to mirror the night sky. He was being gentlemanly and sweet but it didn’t seem to hard to receive.

Any tension quickly dissipated as we fell into our old habit of cutting right to intense, honest, challenging conversation. For two hours we relived childhood memories, detailed dreams for our individual futures, poured out convictions, beliefs and expectations for life after graduation. It was easy. It was comfortable. Much of our dreams were very similar. But we already knew that.

I remember leaning back in my chair thinking, This is how conversation should be with a guy. Easy, comfortable, understood. I felt respected, admired and encouraged in who I was and my ideals. And I knew in many ways I was an odd one. He made me feel like that was a great attribute.

 

I do not remember at all what we ate. But long after the plates had been cleared by the waiter, we were still sitting there talking and unhurried to move on. He then pulled out a deck of cards, which embarrassed me slightly but I agreed to see his magic trick.

Without disclosing a magician’s secrets, it was one of those decks that looked normal when you spanned it one way but blank when you spanned them the other. What had looked typical really wasn’t, like the underlying potential in our friendship.

Maybe I hadn’t noticed what had been there all along, huh? Slick.

Maybe I should consider him since we know each other so well and see where it goes?

Ironically, that speedbump I expected from “friends” to “dating” seemed to be easily passed. Like miraculously. We walked out of that restaurant moving into the future we had spent the evening expressing that we wanted, not knowing that each other would play the main character from then on out.

Every moment of every year since then may not have been perfectly easy, but the foundation of our friendship – knowing his good (but intense) heart, trusting his passionate (but stubborn) decisions, appreciating his spontaneous (but sometimes careless) will, and now even more, his desire to chase the Lord despite any costs – that foundation made all the difference in riding out any tough spots. We knew what was at the core of each other and trust in that could not be given up on. Any opportunity that has come up since then we’ve said, Yep, let’s do it. Together. And our life has been incredibly blessed. And interesting.

Fifteen years have quickly passed by and I’m so glad I made the brave choice to date my “friend”.

Here’s to February 15, 2001! Thanks for asking me twice.

So, now I am the one meeting with college students and helping them navigate similar relationships. I have to answer that question of, “Why should your husband be your friend first?”

I am so thankful that we had such a firm foundation of friendship heading into marriage. We had seen each other work hard and mess up. We had seen each other’s leadership and ability to serve. We had even seen each other’s character through other relationships and their long track record of following the Lord.

In an age when it seems easy to quit early or trade up, we had looked through the window of the soul into what is most important and what will remain. That is what you want marriage based upon.

Honestly, much of grown-up life can be mundane. Paying bills, making lists, doing yard and house work, grocery shopping. Why not choose to be with someone who knows and loves you for who you are, who can make you laugh, and can make those potentially mundane moments enjoyable?

That level of friendship and love is what I want to have to model and pass down to my kids. What I’d love to hear (someday) from my boys is, “I want to marry my best friend, like my dad did.”

 

What’s your story?

You can read here His Side of the Story… and what we plan to teach our boys about friendship and dating.

animation, Bible, bible verse, Birthday, Book, Church, college, family, Friends, friendship, gifts, girls, Giveaway, god, Graduation, Holiday, jesus, Life, Love, Ministry, Mother’s Day, review, teenagers, Uncategorized, verse, women

Book Review & Giveaway: The Study Bible for Women

IMG-4173

Stop stressing out looking at the Macy’s catalogue and don’t even consider getting another vacuum this year. This may be the VERY gift you’re looking for this year for Mother’s Day – whether it’s to give or receive. Yes, I was given this book to review; and yes, that’s what I’m doing. BUT! You guys know I’m always honest. If I disagree with the doctrine, if I just plain think it’s cheap,…whatever! I’m 100% honest with you guys, and I’m honestly telling you I’m keeping the one they sent me. Sorry. You’ll have to get your own from the giveaway below or from the store or HINT LIKE A CRAZY PERSON that you want it for Mother’s Day. (Hint: You don’t actually have to be a mother to celebrate Mother’s Day. There’s all kinds of ways around this)

IMG-4163

Tell me, GO AHEAD, tell me that you’ve seen a more beautiful Bible. I won’t believe you. It’ll have to be hand-painted by an angel from Heaven, descending from on high simply to place in your hands the one Bible above all others. This thing, while not stitched together by Gabriel, is GORGEOUS! I mean… are you looking at these pictures?! Granted, I’m not the best photographer but this Bible is inspiring in artistry and beauty. The colors are soothing and feminine while not choking you like a department store perfume….a perfume of which would NOT be as good a gift for Mother’s Day as THIS BIBLE!

9781433644207.front01

Okay…my melodramatics and quirky sense of humor aside, I really do dig this Bible. First off, I love that it’s hardback. I beat the TAR out of a Bible, y’all. True story. Eventually, the leather starts flaking off everywhere. It’s like Bible dandruff in Church and it’s embarrassing. This thing is sturdy; and, I don’t know about you, but if there’s something I need to be sturdy in my life it’s the Word. Just sayin’.

IMG-4173

Now, for those of you who prefer a specific translation. I get it. I do. This Bible is translated in Christian Standard Bible (CSB). This is a modern English Bible translation from Holman Bible Publishers and is considered Protestant. The first of this translation was published back in “99, I believe, and that was the New Testament. It’s been received very well, over the years, as a great “everyday” translation. I would agree with that. While I prefer to study in New King James, sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with an easy read of the Bible.

IMG-4179-Facetune-16-04-2018-18-39-34

Another great thing about this Bible is that new Christians and young Christians find it to be a great Bible translation to be introduced to. So, if you’re looking to gift a Bible to a new Christian, this may be the one you should take a look at. Additionally, this would make an outstanding graduation gift to any young woman.

IMG-4180

IMG-4168-Facetune-16-04-2018-18-41-06

What sets this Bible apart, though, has actually little to do with the translation and more to do with the way this Bible is put together. Hear me out:

I’m this strange kind of hybrid… Christian… human thing… that likes to read her physical Bible, read a Bible app, and read and study in several translations. I also like to have commentary, reference back to the Talmud, Hebrew translation, and all that your mind can conceive at my fingertips. So, one of the most cool things about this Bible is the extensive commentary notes, doctrinal notes, maps, charts, and timelines that are right there on the page they relate to. In other words: if I want to know where else a specific verse is mirrored, it’ll most likely be right there at the bottom of that page I’m on. Further, if I can’t wrap my mind around where all of the “ites” are located, I can start picturing it in my mind with the help of a provided map.

IMG-4175-Facetune-16-04-2018-18-39-02

This Bible also has things like word studies, answers to hard questions, character profiles (I especially love this), “Written on My Heart” applications, book introductions (which are especially helpful to keep you between the navigational beacons or help a new Christian), presentation pages, a concordance that includes ALL the women of the Bible, and more!

IMG-4172

Look, I know it sounds like I’m trying to sell you on this. I am. But, not for the reason you may think. If you’ll recall: I’m not monetized. One of the reasons for that is because God was very clear when He showed me that I would begin stressing about helping my family with money and would get distracted from simply sharing His word. There are lots of bloggers out there that can balance both. Right now, I’m not one of them. Another reason however is so that you always know that when I’m excited about something – I’M REALLY, GENUINELY, EXCITED ABOUT IT!

IMG-4171-Facetune-16-04-2018-18-38-32

Can you imagine what would happen in this world we live in if every woman…. let’s say 12 and older…. was given this Bible as a gift? Women are world-changers. Look at Ruth: because she was selfless she gave birth to the lineage of King David. Look at Esther: she saved God’s people by being courageous. When King Josiah had questions, who did he go to? Huldah, that’s who! I could go on and on. With a Bible in the hands of every woman on this planet, lives would be saved and nations would turn their eyes toward God. How do I know this?

It’s like Maria said in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the neck any way she wants.”

We need good women, women after God, turning the necks around us to see God! I hope you’ll consider this Bible, this year. I hope you’ll consider it for yourself, for a friend, a family member, your daughter, or maybe you just want to gift a complete stranger a life-changing book. If so, there are several places you can purchase this book and you can find out more here: CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE OR LEARN MORE. (Hint: Look at all of the links because some are a little less than others!)

If you’re getting this as a gift, go ahead and buy it now. If you want to try and win a copy for yourself, click below!

studybible

Anxiety, Bible, Depression, family, Friends, friendship, Holiday, Love

Are you at the wrong party?

I’m Southern. So, it’s safe to say I know a good bit about playing host. After all, the term “Southern Hospitality” didn’t spring out of nowhere. It’s still alive and well, here, I assure you; and, it’s a serious affair. It can make or break relationships. The lack of it can sever ties and hurt immeasurably, while the honesty and beauty of supplying it can restore hearts. God, Himself, is referred to as the “Lord of hosts,” 261 times just in the Old Testament as a matter of fact. Now, it doesn’t actually mean the Lord of all “persons who receives or entertains other people as guests” here but I’m kind of using a play on words. Regardless, He is supposed to be the model of all that we strive to be. But, we’ll circle back around to that.

Fact: Some people may not want you in their lives. I know. It stinks. It hurts. That’s okay, though. And…you know what? It may very well be you and not them. You may be the reason they don’t want to play host to you. Yes, I said it.

You may be the reason they don’t want to play host to you. Yes, I said it.

You may be too real, too sweet, too honest, not rich enough, not in the “in” crowd. They may see you as not as spiritual as they certainly are. They may not want you close because they see your past. You may not be able to do anything for them. Now, if you’ve gained some perspective from my pointing out the very things that God would actually find pleasing…Because see God appreciates your kindness, your lack of gossip, your honesty, your lack of desire to have money other than to pour it back into the world. He sees to your very heart and doesn’t care if you regularly say the Christian catchphrases that He finds hollow because they’re spoken by a generation who regurgitates what they’ve heard, not the truth that they’ve learned. He sees your past but only pays attention to the new creation you are now.

He sees your past and sees TESTIMONY.

And…God doesn’t need you to do anything for Him or anyone else. He wants to do for you because He loves you, and so that maybe you’ll feel that love so much that you’ll voluntarily want to share Him with others spilling out upon the world like salt and light. So, remember this:

“And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.‭‭” Matthew‬ ‭10:14

This holds true for everyone. Yes, even your family – whether in Christ or by blood. Christ never stuck around where He was not welcome, even His hometown. He moved on to be useful elsewhere. Yes, I know you just want to be accepted there. You want their love. But consider this: you may be the person called to reach out to another that has absolutely no one, let alone even someone to not appreciate them. While you are rejected, you may be the cornerstone to a new construction. While you see yourself as the outcast, God is positioning you to be the den mother or father to a new pack.

Did you ever wonder how wolf packs are started? After all, they can’t just continue as they are – they’d die out. (I know it feels like I’m digressing but run with me here.)

“The social structure of the wolf pack changes from year to year. Wolves in the pack move up and down in the ‘pecking order’ or hierarchy. A wolf lower down in the pecking order may challenge an alpha wolf… If the alpha wolf loses this challenge, it will likely go off on its own… and start a new pack. Wolves very low in the pecking order (that are constantly picked on by the other pack members) may also leave the pack. They become lone wolves until they either form their own pack or on rare occasions join an existing wolf pack.”¹

So… if you feel neglected or cast aside, dust your feet off and recognize that you have a calling now to start your own pack or move on to another. You have a talent or knowledge needed elsewhere. You may become a “lone wolf” for a season as you gather tools from the Father; but, you have a pack – either to start or to compliment.

Now, circling back to God being the Lord of hosts…

The Lord of hosts is a mighty leader. He is just that – the Lord of all hosts. There is no greater example. He leads with grace and mercy. He loves through self-sacrifice and unending love. He intervenes and intercedes. He is available, readily so, to hear His people. At the risk of mixing my analogies, if the “pack” your desperately trying so hard to cling to is not exhibiting the very traits that define the ultimate Lord of hosts, what kind of “hosts” are they? To whom are they catering, and what is the point of their “party?”

Maybe it’s time you focused on God’s plan, the Lord of all hosts’ plan. Maybe it’s time you lead a new pack with grace and mercy, being readily available (and desiring to do so) to intervene and intercede for them. Maybe that love you’re desiring to share with the unwelcoming pack is meant to be given endlessly to those who truly need you and want you in their lives.

Rest your battered heart, and listen to God’s calling…

1. Scholastic