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Seeking God While The Rest Of The Women Are Seeking Men

People know me as a go getter. I have a business mindset, I’m driven, confident, and have finally found a sense of belonging when it comes to my social status and most importantly my relationship with God. People have said that college will be the best and most terrifying years of your life, and they were right. I have experienced highs and lows but through it all, I’ve had the privilege to see what God can do in someone’s life no matter the circumstance.

Over the years, I have had my doubts and insecurities, one of the most difficult obstacles I’ve had to overcome is being 20 and never having a boyfriend. Having always been told it was because I was “too intimidating,” gets a little old when you’ve heard it for 20 years. In the back of my mind I began to think that maybe it is me and maybe it’s something that needs to change. My grandmother tells me to this day I need to “dumb myself down so the man can feel like a man”. I have since then taken these excuses as more of a complement. I know that the reason I’m “too intimidating” is because God made me that way. Don’t get me wrong, I have my flaws and need to be guided at times but I don’t find my identity in men, material things, or success, if there’s one thing that college has taught me it’s that if you don’t find your success in God then you will not find success at all.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Reading this verse allows me to see that regardless of how many times I see my friends get boyfriends, or I get called “one of the guys”, become too stressed over whatever my day entails, or feel unworthy of someone to intimately love, I have the blessing and the wonderful opportunity to look to God. Expanding and deepening my relationship with Him has allowed me to feel a sense of belonging, love, and security. I have the ability to cast my burdens to God and ask of him amazing things. He is the creator, beginning and the end, there is nothing He cannot do and I have the astounding opportunity to be in relations with The Creator. I could not ask for anything more.

College has taught me many things:

  1. Don’t pull an all-nighter, it will never be as beneficial as you think.
  2. Don’t avoid your workouts, they may not be fun, but once you’re done you’ll be thankful you did it.
  3. Smile at everyone your walk past.
  4. Don’t sit on your cell phone all day, engage with those who are with you physically.
  5. Find friends who love you, encourage you, and help you grow in your faith.
  6. Challenge yourself and what you believe.

And most importantly…

7.    Ask great things of God, He is capable of so much more than you could ever imagine and don’t be afraid to trust Him and the wonderful things He can do in your life.  -Morgan Buhrow, intern

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God’s Plan > My Plan

 Great things never came out of comfort zones. 

This is a quote that I have heard repeatedly within the last couple years, and for some reason, it has really stuck with me. I have been crawling my way out of my many comfort zones for the last several years and to be honest, it is downright scary sometimes. There is a passage within the book of Isaiah that I have always clung to and it is in chapter 41:10-13.

            “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

            I have clung to this passage for several years because of the peace that it has brought when worry, doubt, anxiety, and fear have consumed me in various circumstances. I have recently graduated college, but I can recall my sophomore year so clearly. Having already changed my major twice by the fall semester, I was beginning to feel the pressure of getting my life together. People always tell you college is the best years of your life, but at that point I was beginning to wonder what the heck I was doing. So as I sat in my education major classes and felt absolutely no passion for the work I was doing, I knew I needed to change my major (yet again). I felt like I was going through a quarter life crisis–people have those right? I began combing the degree completion plans to see if anything really fit me. I dreaded to tell my parents because after all, they were paying for me to get a degree in something. I didnt want them to think I was wasting their hard earned dollars. I began to pray, and pray, and pray. I begged for answers because I honestly just wanted to know the direction the Lord wanted me to go.

            It was uncomfortable. The not knowing what I was doing and the struggle of wondering whether I should stick it out haunted me. Throughout the process of praying and waiting on the Lord for the next step, I realized that the only reason I truly wanted to teach was because I thought there was security in it. I thought that at least when I would graduate I would know exactly what job I was looking for. Crawling out of this comfort zone was difficult. I had to let go of my idea of job security and embrace the Lords right hand in this season of my life and allow him to show me the path He wanted for me, not the one I was trying to force.

            From a young age, I had loved art. I enjoyed arts and crafts at camp and I liked doodling and drawing. While I never took many art classes in school I took one in high my senior year and loved it. I never considered a degree in the arts because I did not think one could make a decent living out of it. Looking back now, I see how foolish I was to put God in a box. I stepped out of the comfort zone of the major I felt was correct and into the unknown major of Graphic Design. My family was a little skeptical at first, especially since this was my third major. I cant say I blamed them, but I felt the Lords presence over the whole circumstance. It was scary to step into a brand new degree plan and start all over. It was scary to step into something that I felt no real security in. That being said, it was comforting to know I had stepped into something that I felt the Lords hand all over. Just as the Lord says in end of that passage, Do not fear; I will help you He helped me in the same way.

            That was two years ago. I had never used a Mac computer, and didnt even know how to turn it on in my first class. I had no idea about photography, or hand lettering, or what the Adobe programs were. All I knew was that the Lord had put me in this degree program and wanted me there. Now as a recent college graduate with a degree in Graphic Design and job that uses those skills I am grateful. I am grateful for the Lords provision. I am grateful for his prodding to step out of a comfort zone and into the unknown because it didnt just change my degree path, it change my life.

 

-Molly Hitch

 

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Getting Serious About Scripture

I have yet to read an article or hear a sermon on the unimportance of the Bible. No one is saying, “Actually, reading your Bible isn’t necessary!!” Why? Because we all know that it is important. The Bible is our sustenance, our source of comfort, the foundation for our values and beliefs as Christians. It’s the very place where we learn about Jesus; who he is, what he’s done. If we want to follow Jesus, reading the words of Jesus is a sure way to do it. Knowing all of this, why don’t we do it more? Why don’t I do it more?

I’m preaching to myself, here. People expect me to have it together already. I’m a pastor’s kid, an intern for a women’s ministry, I went to a Christian school, and I sing on Sunday mornings. But I can admit that I do not have it together. Not even close. There are people in my life that I am ashamedly guilty of envying because of how strong their faith is. I see the posts of people’s seemingly perfect lives- lovely Instagram pictures with Bible verses and stories of the Lord moving attached to each one- and I sit and wish that my faith were as strong as theirs. Meanwhile, I don’t make reading my Bible a priority, and I don’t run to the Lord when I’m in a crisis. I can admit this publicly because I want to change this behavior pattern that I have had for too long.

I want to get serious about chasing after the Lord. I know that God has so much more joy and hope and freedom for me, and it can be found within the pages of His word. I know this because it is perfect (Psalm 18:30), it’s true (Psalm 33:4), and it’s forever (Isaiah 40:8). These three qualities can only be used together to describe the Lord and His word, and I want to know both of them a lot better. So if you can relate to any of this, join me. I have a plan. I’m going to start in Matthew and read all the way through the New Testament. And by reading 3-4 chapters a day, I’ve found I can get it done by the end of 2015. So join me in making the Bible a priority and seeking the Lord on a daily basis. Join me in attacking the root of jealousy and getting real with Jesus and others around me.

 

-Taylor Hughes

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Are You Willing To Fight?

Are you willing to fight? I recently came across the hostage story of Kayla Muellar and could not help but think what I would do in that situation.

It also reminded me of how incredibly lucky we are to have freedom and how freedom, much like grace, isn’t free. It comes with a price. Also, it makes me think about our son whose job is to protect and serve our country. I think about how I’ve always ended our correspondence with the words KEEP PUSHING.  See, we decided that in our family we are going to fight; we are going to keep pushing no matter what because when we feel as though we cannot go on anymore, we know that we have a father in heaven that will take over. We know that no matter what GOD WINS and all that is required of us is to GO and KEEP PUSHING. Keep trying and to never give up.   As I was reading the story of Kayla Muellar and came across a letter she wrote her family, I saw how Kayla never gave up. Daily, she would look forward to the day she would be reunited with her family.   It kept her going knowing that her family would try and keep pushing through. It also mentioned how Kayla would try her hardest to be kind and spark conversation with those that held her captive. This reminded me of Philippians 1:12-14:

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,  so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,  and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.”

Although Kayla never actually made it home, I am confident that God used her to impact those around her. I am sure we will never hear the stories of love and kindness she showed or even forgiveness she may have given but I guarantee you someone’s life was change because of her situation.

I am also encouraged to be stronger and love deeper by her story and as I sit and visualize what I might do in that situation, I have to say that she has ignited a flame within me because of her sacrifice; reminding me yet again that Jesus did not die in vain, Grace came with a price. Freedom does as well. It’s time for Christians to stand up even if it means risking it all, to love as Jesus did. Justly. We can no longer sit back and allow evil to prevail especially when the victory is already ours. ARISE brothers and sisters, equip yourself as Ephesians 6:10-18 says:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

-Laurie Graham

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The Idol of Co-dependency

“Do not worship any other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” (Exodus 34:4 NLT)

We have been best friends for 10 years and we have been through a whole lot together. Broken families, failed classes and moving to Virginia together, the only other place we have ever lived. In my eyes she could do no wrong; but the lord is Jealous for us! All of us! So 10 years into our friendship a bomb dropped and we let each other down. We broke each other’s hearts because we held each other so high only to come crashing down.

This generation has made codependency in a friendship a good thing, I wish this were something that only the world practiced, but this has infiltrated the church. It parades itself as a best friendship. Although friendship is something the Lord wants us to have, it is not something that we are to idolize, nor are we to idolize our friends. This generation however has exalted a best friendship to basically marriage status. With videos telling us “you’re my best friend; if I am dying you are dying too, there’s no choice”. We need to direct our eyes to the Lord, He is the only one we can totally lean on and give it all to. He is the only one that can guide us.

At first glance, one may wonder, “What is the big deal? We are best friends,” codependency, however, is such a bad thing because it takes our eyes off the Lord and puts our dependency on something else where it doesn’t belong. Best friends are great and they can be a great resource that the Lord has blessed us with, but we have to make sure that we are never looking to them more than we are looking to God.

As we read in Exodus, the Lord is jealous for us. He wants to hear about our day and our struggles and bring all our worries to Him.

So no matter how much we think we can depend on a friend or significant other, they will fail us; and believing that they never will is a lie.

The truth, however, is that a boyfriend, best friend or even husband cannot fill that void. That place where we are all empty is meant for Jesus. He is the only one who can fill us and will never let us run dry. His mercies are new every morning and He is the only one that sees us this way.

-Jennie E.

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The Good Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:11-16 says, “For thus says the Lord GOD: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.  And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD. I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away.”

The Lord our God is our Shepherd. He is our protector and our guardian. In all our trials, he is there watching over us. He will seek us out and save us from our sins and comfort us in our defeated moments. We are never alone; he is always by our side. Throughout your life, remember you can always call to your Shepherd. He will hear your cry and come to your rescue. It is so reassuring to know that we will always have Christ to save us from ourselves. I find comfort in knowing that no matter the deep hole I find myself in, I will always have my Shepherd there to pull me out, comfort me, and guide me home. Ezekiel 34:16 says, “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away.” He will always be our good Shepherd, He will always be our protector, He will always, no matter how far we’ve been driven away, bring us back to where we’re supposed to be with Him.

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God Will Be Your Strength

Are you fully aware that your body is completely and utterly breakable? So many things that keep you breathing and alive depend on your body and sometimes it can fail. Maybe this is a little known fact, but there is an enzyme that your pancreas produces in order to break down your food to fuel your body so it can do the things it’s supposed to do. But what happens when that enzyme just suddenly disappears? What happens when you’re given a diagnoses that forces you to come to terms that your body has failed you?! “My flesh and my heart may fail….”

There are many things that fail you like friendships or even your body, but the One who formed your body; the One who breathed you to exist never will. I have had to come to terms the past few years with my shortcomings, being diabetic is one, but the steadiness of my Father’s faithfulness has kept me in His perfect peace. He has had to carry me through bouts of depression after being diagnosed and the frustration living with this illness had brought me but he always seems to bring me back to this verse: “My flesh and my heart may fail…” but He doesn’t stop there, the hope is coming…”but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”(Psalm 73:21) I don’t have to waste my thoughts on wishing away this failure, I can rest in knowing that even though I feel like I’m not good enough He is my strength.

I still may not understand the why of this situation but I can stand in His strength and rest. My body may fail me but my God never will. Sister, I don’t know what you’re going through or what you’re facing but just know that no matter what, lean on Christ; He’s all the strength you’ll ever need.

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Updates from our 2015 Conference in Columbus, OH

April 18, 2015 The Blush Network held our first conference of the season in Columbus Ohio. For many of our interns this would be their first experience with our conferences outside of Liberty and there was so much anticipation. Some of our team flew in early so we could do final marketing with the local shelters and community assistance groups. As the team got in and set up for Saturday we had no real idea what to expect. Would the room be filled with women from the local churches, would any of the women from the organizations show up at the meeting spots we told them about for us to pick them up and bring them to the conference? What would God do within our own staff?

Saturday Afternoon, as the volunteers started bringing in car after car full of women we thought we knew what type of night to expect. Only to find out within the hour that God had something else in mind. After the women got there our team was informed that they all had an early curfew that would literally cut a significant portion of the women out of the 2nd half of the night. The lead staff gathered together to pray and make adjustments to the schedule while Autumn spoke her first session.  We decided to condense the schedule and push back the dinner break as late as possible. It would have been easy to be frustrated at the loss of “our” plan/schedule, but God’s plan is always better. God used the condensed time to transform the lives of the women that were there. At the end of the evening as we offered a time for confession and submission of their lives to Jesus, almost every woman in the audience stood up. Woman after woman offered their pasts filled with pain, addiction & deep wounds over to Christ. It was a beautiful night. 

The next morning, as always, our team gathered together to share stories of where we had seen God move. Stories of deep discussions during their car rides home with the women, hugs exchanged after common pasts and ultimate healing were found. Stories of seats that had been prayed over by our team for the women that would fill them, only to find out that those same women gave their lives to Christ that night. Stories like the one below from one of our staffers.

Lisa’s Story:

“Katie & I met a woman, her husband and their daughter at the food pantry the day before the conference. We had a small conversation with her that day about coming but she was a little hesitant to come without her husband. We had several women at the pantry that said they would be there the next day for us to pick them up. When our volunteer showed up the only two people there was the mom and her 3 year old daughter (named Chloe).  When she came into the church she was nervous to leave her daughter in our child care but bravely left her there with two of our staffers and came into the conference. 

When we broke for dinner and to return all of the women with a curfew this woman wanted to stay. As I stood in the lobby talking with one of our other speakers I watched the mom chase her daughter from one end of the lobby to the other. You could see she was nervous about her daughter getting into something she wasn’t supposed to or breaking something. I excused myself from the conversation I was in and went over and asked the mom if she would like to let her daughter go back into the play area. She accepted and I went with her into the play room.

As I began to play with her daughter at the toys, and little Chloe ran from toy to toy you could see her mom was still nervous that something would be broken. She shared with me that she hadn’t been to church since she was about 6 and that the conference had been an really great time. She was excited to hear more and couldn’t wait to start up again.

Getting to sit with her during our “break” I asked my husband Chad to come in to play with her daughter so she could relax. She was so afraid her daughter was going to break something that she couldn’t finish a sentence. Chad came in and immediately her daughter was fixated on his watch. Within seconds she was wearing his watch and within minutes Chloe was “making tea” for him in the little play kitchen. Her mom just stared in amazement as she told me that her daughter was very shy, especially with men so for her to be so open with my husband was hard for her to believe.

As she relaxed she was able to tell me that her and her husband had just moved out of the homeless shelter that most of the other women came from just a few months prior. She was so proud to tell me about their home, even though she had no stove or refridgerator, she had a little camping stove that she could make simple meals on. She thanked me for the tea we had served at dinner as that was the first thing besides water she had had in months. I excused myself and went to find our event team to see if we had any left. They brought back almost two full gallons. I was able to go into our green room to our snack area and grab some fruit, granola bars and some other non-perishable items to give to her. 

I came back in the room to Chad & our team member, also named Chloe, enjoying their “tea party” and the mom laughing in conversation. She shared with me about her son and proudly showed me his picture. She told me about her husbands job that he had just got. She was so grateful to be a part of the night with us and for me it was a chance to be out from back stage to have a real conversation with someone attending the conference. It was a rare and beautiful moment for me.

I don’t know if she gave her life to Christ that night but I do know that we were a part of her seeing the church a little less intimidating and a lot more welcoming to her. And for me that is the start of a seed planted that neither one of us will forget.”

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Victims Become Conquerors

When victims find their voice, they release healing to others who are still being held hostage by sins that where committed against them.

There is power in your testimony. There is a release that occurs when we share how God has come into our lives & healed the darkest & deepest pains.

We can release healing when we share the love of God with others; victims become conquerors when they find their voice.

We, as women, need to rise up and empower each other.

Empowerment means to give power of authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means.

Through the death & resurrection of Christ, God has given us the power and authority over those things that have hurt us.

In order for us to go from victim to conqueror we must be courageous.  We need to dig deep inside of ourselves and find that courage we once had to get past the sin that was committed against us.   When I was a child & I was being molested it took courage for me to look others in the face as if I wasn’t carrying around this huge burden of guilt, shame & fear. It was then that courage was built into my DNA.

In Deuteronomy 31:6 Moses is speaking to the children of Israel, he is worried that once he leaves they will leave God.  He gathers them together to give them words of encouragement / words of empowerment.

“Be strong & Courageous. Don’t tremble! Don’t be afraid of them. The Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He won’t abandon you or leave you” [Deuteronomy. 31:6]

When God raises up those He wants to carry on his work (you & me) He ensures their success.  How do you know you have been called?  You did not fall victim to your circumstances, therefore you have been raised up to carry on His work.

While the children of Israel had the power of God fighting for them, they had no reason to fear all the power against them.  They found their strength in God. They were no longer victims but became conquerors.

We must trust God that He will give us everything we need to be courageous.  We must encourage and support each other to not give up, to fight the good fight for our freedom and to break the chains and bondages of our past.

1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters STAND FIRM. Let nothing move you.”

Courage is something every Christian possesses. For we have no reason to be fearful for we have an everlasting God and we will live with Him for eternity.  We must however, ask God to equip us so that we can be ready for anything that comes our way.

I believe one of the most courageous things we can do as Christians is to look into the eyes of those who have offended us, hurt us and or committed sins against us with the love of Christ.  This does not mean we are approving of what they did or that they get a “get out of jail free card” this simply means that we are looking at them from a conquerors perspective and not a victim perspective.  Know that our God is bigger than any hurt or sin. Knowing that God is for us & longs to give us everything we need.

We can be bold and free when we are in the presence of God and therefore have the courage and confidence to look the past in the face and conquer it with the love of Christ, allowing us to empower each other.

-Laurie

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Humble Beginnings

We are not defined by our

  • Beginnings
  • Past
  • What others think of us
  • What we think of ourselves

We can, however, influence our course in life by thinking negatively about our worth.

I want to cancel the negativity of this type of thinking and focus on our worth in Jesus Christ.

When Philip told Nathanael, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” in John 1:45, Nathanael responded “Nazareth!”  “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Nathanael judged Jesus because of his birthplace in Nazareth. The area of Nazareth was never mentioned in the Messianic prophecies; therefore, it is possible that Nathanael was not merely showing contempt, but was instead looking to what he believed.

Humble beginnings do not limit us to a humble life. 

Beauty, wealth, knowledge and power are idolized these days as being true indicators of success or worth. That is not what God rewards. God rewards those who have a heart for Him.

 John 14:15 says, “If you love me, obeymy commandments.   

Notable Humble Beginnings:

Acts 4:13-14 – “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say.”

Here, Peter and John had just been used by God to miraculously cure a man who had been crippled since birth in Acts 3:1-8. They were dragged before the Jewish religious leaders for interrogation, and Peter answered that it was “by the name of Jesus Christ that the man had been healed. The high priest and other Jewish leaders were astonished that what they perceived as “unlearned and ignorant men” (vs. 13) could do such a miracle. The Jewish priests, scribes, and elders suffered from elitism, believing that only a limited number of people in high positions could be used by the Lord. That elitism continues in the thinking of many religious people to the present day. But God confounded that prejudice. He chose to use those that the snobbish might consider just ordinary, everyday people, such as Peter and John, to do great things for Him.

Acts 22:12-13 – “A man named Ananias lived there. He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus. He came and stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And that very moment I could see him!”

Here the apostle Paul was recounting the incident where a man named Ananias was singled out by God and sent to Paul to heal his blindness. And that he did! Ananias was not a great preacher, a church leader, or anything else. He was a devout, respected disciple of the Lord. After the events in Acts we do not hear anymore about Ananias, but a humble, simple man through the Lord was able to cure blindness in a future apostle. This is the case of an apostle being cured by a disciple. We expect the apostles and other “spiritual giants” to do the remarkable ministry, while the other followers of the Lord remain humbly on the sidelines. That has never been in Gods plans. God uses many humble, common, even ignorant people – to do his work. Moses was tending sheep in the desert before leading Israel out of Egypt. Daniel came from slavery in Babylon to become the assistant to the King of Babylon. The Apostles Peter and John had previously been fisherman.

There are several stories in the Bible of people doing amazing things with very little status or reputation. Let’s consider why this is:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthywhen God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world;things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

Our worth comes from Jesus Christ alone.

-Vince