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Each Punch, Each Stride, Each Step

So, I’ve been solidly single for ten years.

Oh, sure, I’ve dated a few guys and been on a few dates here and there, but I am still solidly single. Such a prolonged single season has really rocked my faith in God and my sense of worth so that I’ve had to practice self-control.

Self-control is one of those concepts that I know is a fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, etc., etc. and SELF-CONTROL.  But, I always thought of self-control as being more of a theory than a practical virtue to be practiced and maintained until I needed self-control in my singleness desperately.  At some point in my late 20s, I realized my thoughts were being controlled by fear and disbelief instead of faith.  My sense of worth was crippled because I thought I was less than because I wasn’t married, so that negative thought pattern determined my belief about myself.  Here’s the thing:  God doesn’t say that everyone is going to be married at 21, so it takes self-control to not surrender to disbelief, doubting that God has a plan during the period of waiting.  And He does have a plan.

Self-control is mandatory if we are going to live lives that are pleasing to our God.  Paul said in I Corinthians 9:24-27 that everyone who competes in athletic and spiritual competitions exercises SELF-CONTROL in ALL THINGS.  The athletes he referenced were Greeks who trained their mind and bodyfor ten months to concentrate on winning their unique competition.  He compares our individual, God-given destiny to running a race or boxing with aim, so that each punch, each stride, each step of your life is focused at a the target of God’s purpose.  Paul disciplined his body so that he would not be disqualified because he relented to immorality, sensuality, anger, jealousy, strife, etc.   I’ve almost been prey to letting the same “deeds of the flesh” disqualify ME from my God-ordained destiny, until I realized that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free” so I didn’t have to clothe myself daily in my old sins, habits, and thought patterns – I was and am free because of Jesus.

Sexual sin, lust, and negativity may be what our culture permits and even encourages in singleness, but we cannot live effective lives for the glory of God if we let our bodily passions and minds run the show.

Keep your mind strong in the power of GodPractice self-control. He has set a race before you that only you, in whatever relational season of life, can run with boldness and courage.

 

QUITE YOUR SOUL — Worship Song:  “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan and Melissa Helser.

“I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.”

BE ENCOURAGED — Read these Scriptures:

I Corinthians 9:24-27–“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Galtians 5:1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

DIG DEEPER — Life Evaluating Questions: 

  1. Evaluate your mind. Do you control your thoughts or do they control you?  What thought patterns have you allowed to dictate your worth?
  2. Identify areas in your life over which you need to control yourself. Pray over these weaknesses, allowing God to strengthen you in His power and truth
  3. Pray over yourself and for your God-given, unique purpose. What does God want YOU to accomplish with your talents and gifts for the kingdom of God, regardless of your relationship season?

 

-Heather Carey

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I shall not be rendered ineffective!

I won’t be ineffective; I can’t and I won’t be rendered ineffective… 

I don’t want to miss out on blessings or God given opportunities because I was “too lazy” to exercise my faith, trust, and boldness spiritual muscles, only to be labeled a lazy Christian because I CHOSE ‘Easy Rd.’. I don’t have to be strapped down and held back by labels or tags against me.

The ONLY name I wish to possess is: DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH KING!!

But – I know I am only human; I will stumble so I just pray His grace will abound.

“But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen, repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place…” (Rev. 2:4-5, HCSB) “So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16, HCSB)

In case you’re in shock too, these verses ARE IN THE BIBLE so please so kindly lift your lip off the ground and listen up: I’ve read these and heard these verses before and I would think, “WOW Lord! How stinking harsh. I’m totally confused: didn’t you say you would fulfill your purpose in me (Psalm 138:8, HCSB)? Didn’t you say you had all these great plans for me to do even greater things in your name Lord (John 14:12, ESV)? So what’s with all the harsh antics?” I know sometimes I lean more on the idea of being inactive because of “dry spells” or “self-induced inactivity comas” because of complacency. How can I fight against that and make my wandering heart stay steady and attuned to God, His heart, and plans for me?

Dry spells in my faith are the most painful. See, this thing called complacency isn’t a place or a word that should be in the life of believers – EVER; but sometimes it happens. To be completely vulnerable and honest, I ALLOW it to happen. I know I shouldn’t grow stagnant or still and I shouldn’t allow these dry spells to creep up on me. I’ve heard a new term recently by my pastor (shout out to Community Church of Chesapeake, VA) that could most likely label me well when a dry spell ensues; his word was – ‘staytheist’. Weird isn’t it?! It’s like he fused “stay” and “atheist” together; it is strange but I promise it fits in what I am going to say, so keep in step my friend. A ‘staytheist’ is someone who stays where they are in their faith for fear of what’s next, the unknown, or afraid of possible steps needed to take to walk through necessary doors into a God sized opportunity. To me, a ‘staytheist’ is a doubter, disbeliever, and person gripped and crippled by fear.

I can be a stayeist who doubts, disbelieves, and fears the unknown future or what’s next to see my own God sized doors of opportunity. When this fear, disbelief, and doubt occur, I induce a dry spell; but what gets me out – what breaks up and humbles me, is HIS GRACE! The scales of disbelief fall, my heart of doubt breaks, and my once fear-filled voice returns in gusto, full of life while my self-induced chains of bondage to my spot of staytheism, becomes a place of upheaved rubble in the presence of the Almighty. The very person who could have calmed me and soothed me into peace; I had distance myself. Somehow, I expected that by my very human claim to stay put, would satisfy my momentary state of doubt, disbelief  and fear and could be a match for the tidal wave of unfailing love, grace, and mercy that I needed from my Abba! Through my running, I am still pursued by a mighty warrior – yes, He disciplines me accordingly– but lovingly sets me back on the path of the calling He fashioned for me. It is through His perfect love that all my doubts, disbeliefs, and fears are driven out and put to shame (1 John 4:18, HCSB).

So to all my Complacent Christians or Staytheists out there: Arise sons and daughters! Drop those hole-filled shoes! Cease your striving and turn to grace; allow it to shower you with the love for which you’re desperately searching, feel the acceptance you’ve always wanted, and embrace HIS GRACE. For if we wish to be effective vessels for the Kingdom, we must always thirst for His righteousness (Matthew 5:6, ESV), pursue the things of His heart (Philippians 4:8-9, HCSB), and be steadfast as to be worthy of our callings (Colossians 1:10, HCSB) and worthy of carrying the Gospel (Philippians 1:27, HCSB). It is by His grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV) and by Him and His grace, my dear friends, we are sustained (Isaiah 46:4, NIV). His grace clears the stains of our sin, doubt, shame, disbelief, and fear, to tattoo – inscribe on us a high calling; His grace shows us our purpose (Ephesians 2:10, HCSB) and keeps us on our journey. The peace of walking in His grace is obtained by a life fully surrendered to Christ through the receiving of salvation by His atoning blood on the Cross. By entering into this relationship with our Abba Father, we have everything we need to live.

Complacent living and staytheism can seep in, but even if, His grace abounds all the more!

-Vickee

SURRENDERING

There’s beauty in the SURRENDER…

There is beauty in the surrender; becoming a whole new person in Christ is an experience you will never forget. You sense it from your initial conversion and sometimes you have the privilege of witnessing it in your everyday life, via the always-occurring sanctification process. When Holy Spirit takes over every area of your life and changes you – something beautiful and mesmerizing takes place. You can’t take your eyes off what’s happening, nor turn your gaze away from the One who is changing you. This gaze and transformation process isn’t something someone can witness from the outside, it’s only felt in the quiet recesses of your heart and soul; and unless someone has spiritual eyes, they wouldn’t know what was happening.

There is something enchanting about this Christian faith because we see the impossible happen time and time again. But the mystery and the mesmerizing fashion in which the impossible takes place can seem to be marked by a road of pain, hard spots, and suffering. How do I know?! I’m walking that road every single day. Most days I can find joy in it, but other times, I’m just shy of a cheerful spirit and I sit in silence, counting the hours to my new morning, so I can hit that infamous and invisible “DO OVER” button.

Matthew 16:24-25 (HCSB) says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.”

I don’t think I have lived a hard life but I have experienced a certain level of heartache, disappointment, and I have committed some sins but because of His resurrection, I can enjoy this life He has given me. But if I want to walk in the life He has chosen for me with Him, I HAVE TO deny myself – my comfort, my plans, my desires – and pick up my cross to follow Him; no turning back, no retreat.

He promises when we walk with Him, we would have a life – a life in abundance.[1] Yet He never promised that the abundant life to gain, would be trouble free. In fact, He says, “…you will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world!”[2] Well, that’s a little more comforting to know right? I might be struggling but He’s already given me victory, I just have to get there. In obedience to Him and His Word, I have thrown those things that “easily entangle me”[3] to the wayside by His strength, I have dodged a temptation or two thanks to Holy Spirit prompting me to flee, and I have experienced the joy of forgiveness in Him healing me from my past mistakes. How?

I surrendered everything to Him.

I ceased my striving to be “perfect” to “save myself” and rested in the simple fact:

 Jesus was the perfect spotless Lamb.

He was beaten, ridiculed, and tormented to the point of death, but when His blood was shed on the Cross on Golgatha’s Hill, He was the sacrifice that I – that you – needed to be restored in a right relationship with my – your – Creator God. So when I confessed with my mouth that Jesus was Lord believing He was raised from the dead[4], that I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and asked for forgiveness of my sins: He washed me brand new, sealed me with Holy Spirit, and nos identifies me as His child[5]. So as He died, my sins died, but as He was raised to life, so I was raised to walk in the newness of life[6] given to me by the Son of God – the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:9b-11, ESV)

So I surrendered my life initially and received salvation and now, He continues to renew and transform me to look more like Him, but this process – the sanctification process, is only known and experienced as I surrender. As I yield to Him being Lord of my life, I give Him the access He deserves and needs to keep removing my heart of stone, replacing it with one of flesh,and continue to give me His Spirit to follow His will, His way.[7] As I continue to walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit with whom I’m sealed, I can fully proclaim, “my goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings”[8] because in that, I have the privilege to see and experience Him “revealing the path of life to me”[9] and know “in His presence is abundant joy and in His right hand the eternal pleasures.”[10] I will walk in the life He had for me all along, and when I pick up my Cross, in full surrender, I will find joy in this life; and all it took was SURRENDER!

There’s beauty in surrender because it is there you find unexplainable joy… in Christ!

-Vickee

[1] John 10:10b, HCSB [2] John 16:33, HCSB

[3] Hebrews 12:1, HCSB[4] Romans 10:9, HCSB

[5] Ephesians 1:13, Amplified [6] Romans 6:4, HCSB

[7] Ezekiel 36:26-27, HCSB [8] Philippians 3:10, HCSB

[9] Psalm 16:11, HCSB [10] Psalm 16:11, HCSB

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Giving God Control

What’s Love Got to Do:

Everything.

I never realized how warped my view of God’s love was until last week. I thought I was over that “stage.” That stage of learning that God’s love is always good, trustworthy, perfect, patient, kind and not insisting on its own way. I thought I’d been challenged in understanding that God’s love was different than my love, or the love of ex-boyfriends, parents, step-dads, and friends. No matter how good or bad, it is not God’s love.

Being able to image Christ’s love is a privilege; it’s an honor. But we can hardly fathom God’s love completely, let alone show it perfectly, which can make things complicated for some of us.

I’m currently reading through William P. Young’s The Shack (such a good read for anyone who has dealt with grief that has challenged their perspective … of anything, but especially of God. And with all of the tragedy happening lately, I’m sure it’s not a stretch for many of us). But, in light of this, one quote has really stuck out to me – “Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions.”

In other words, what we believe deep down helps us to form what we think to be true about a given situation. And while emotions can be a beautiful gift, adding color and depth to life, they can also make things dark and bleak very quickly.

I’ve been reminded recently how easy it is to believe one thing to be true … because I want it to be true. Because all of my experiences have told me that it must be true the way that I see it.

I saw things, I saw people, and I saw God one way, and I wouldn’t let God show me otherwise.

I have had times of being mad at God for not stepping in and saving me from making choices I regret. I’ve been mad that He didn’t step in before Eve took a bite of that apple and handed it to Adam. I’ve been mad that He has loved His Creation enough to give it, to give us, the very independence we ask for. I was mad because surely I would never have asked for such a thing…

Can you say arrogance? Don’t worry; I’ll say it for you (talking about myself of course).

I stepped into the role of judge. I judged The Judge. That’s a pretty horrific realization. But we are pretty fickle and fragile as humans. We can be so lost in our own perception of reality or so sure of our own judgments and it only takes the briefest moment, the quickest sight, or one word to alter our perception for much longer than the circumstance itself – as does stepping away from the Truth itself.

If we are not careful to be on guard, what we hear and see can manifest itself in our heart and mind.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

My heart has not always been watched over very well; sometimes we can’t help what happens to us, but for me, I know I have not watched over my own very well, either. My view of love has been distorted because of the love I’ve seen and the love I’ve chosen.

People always leave, so God must too, right? Can’t trust people, must be a reflection of God!

WRONG. So, so, wrong, dear sister! Just because we believe something firmly doesn’t make it true.

“Be willing to re-examine what you believe. The more you live in the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don’t want to trust them more than Me.” – The Shack

God is so gracious to us, He even gives us an example of this in Acts 10. In verses 10-16, Peter, a Jew, followed the Law of Moses and did not eat any animal that was “unclean.” Then the Lord gave Peter a vision:

And Peter became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.”

Peter was so adamant about what he believed that he would not even hear from THE LORD. The Lord had to call him out on this not once, not twice, but THREE times!

We’re human. We are not immune to having deep rooted, passionate beliefs, but let us lean in and listen when He’s talking. He is a gracious God; He may even repeat it a fourth time for you.

And about those things that we could not control that may have happened to us – the good news? God is in the business of restoring and redeeming what sin destroys. But for the freedom we do have – let’s protect the hearts He’s given us and let our Jesus shape our world; don’t let the world shape our Jesus.

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My Perfect Father Through Trials

Have you ever believed Satan’s lies?

Haven’t we all? The lie that I have believed for the longest time is that I wasn’t good enough. Most people say they didn’t feel good enough to be in a certain group, or good enough for a boy—but that’s never been my struggle. The person that I don’t feel good enough for is my father. Up until a few years ago my father was a part of my life, but still didn’t act as a father should, according to the Bible. He stopped picking my brother’s and I up to hang out, the phone calls and text messages stopped, the child support stopped. It honestly felt like his love for us had stopped. He seemed to live in a fantasy that he didn’t need to work and that everything would just fall into his lap. His priorities consisted of his music, (guitar and singing karaoke), beer and whatever woman he was dating at the time. To this day, he doesn’t provide for his children financially, spiritually, or emotionally.

I started believing that I wasn’t good enough for him and that I wasn’t worth his time, energy or money. I hated seeing my mother emotionally, physically and spiritually drained all of the time because the amount of stress that she had on her plate. She is a single mother providing and protecting her family all by herself. Seeing this broke me. Seeing my brothers grow up without a father figure broke me. Not having a proper example of how a man should treat his children confused me. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. But through this hardship, the Lord has been so faithful to me by providing my family and me with the comfort, strength and peace to get through.

Christ has helped me overcome many trials and tribulations, but the one that stands out to me the most is my parents divorce. I was young when the divorce took place, but it has greatly affected me up to this day. Christ has shown me his peace and comfort throughout these hard times. He has constantly reminded me that when I’m at my weakest, he is at his strongest and when I am at my lowest, he is at his highest. This truth sustains me through my lowest points. God gives us all that we need daily, and my brothers and I just have to remember that even though we don’t have a good earthly father, we have a perfect Heavenly Father.

-Intern

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All the Single Ladies

As little girls, we dream of our wedding day and what it will one day look like. When we get older, we begin to dream bigger and pin date night ideas, engagement photos, and wedding décor ideas on Pinterest–even when we’re still single! It is a fun and exciting moment to imagine for yourself, but can also get in the way of what the Lord is trying to teach you while you are single.

The constant desire for a relationship gets in the way of allowing the Lord to move in this unique season of your life.

We get so distracted and discouraged when we see all of our friends on social media posting about new dating relationships, engagements, wedding pictures, and even new additions to their families. Instead of being excited for our friends and their new phase of life, we get discouraged about our singleness—WHY?! Don’t get me wrong, I am in the same boat as the rest of you single ladies, as I too get discouraged and feel out of loop: not good enough, pretty enough, etc.  We begin to believe the enemy’s lies, and doubt ourselves and the plan God has for our lives.

Singleness is a time to work on you as an individual, and LEARN, LEARN, LEARN! It is a time for you to work on your spiritual walk with the Lord, and make it stronger and more intimate. In this season, you can learn patience, complete trust in the Lord, and acquire godly wisdom.

I am 23, have only dated once–my freshman year in high school–and am still single! My relationship with the Lord has become stronger, more in-depth, and more intimate than ever before.  He has been using this time to teach me to be more reliant on Him, to not waste valuable time worrying about “what ifs”, to be patient and to grow my faith in the Lord and His timing, as well as the person. He has taught me that this time of singleness is not a time to waste, but to be used, as He has opened so many doors.

He has used this time to grow and stretch me. He took me out of my comfort zone to teach me to become vulnerable in sharing my testimony with others, to encourage them with overcoming past hurts and trials. He has given me a new confidence and a new perspective because I looked to God during this time of singleness, rather than taking matters into my own hands and heart’s desires.

You’ve been told: “trust God’s timing.” While you may have understood this to be a cliché to describe the most miserable waiting game of your life, think of it this way: “Why would you rush God’s perfect preparation?

We always think that we are ready for a relationship, but, in reality, we probably are not. The Lord may be teaching and growing our future husband in their spiritual walk, and is waiting until he becomes the godly man He has desired to give us. The same goes for us, the Lord may be working in us still in becoming godly women for our future husbands, and, therefore, we are still single.

A few wise words I have received during my time of singleness have been:

“A man can never complete or fulfill you, he can only complement you.”

“Don’t you want to pursue God as much as you pursue a relationship?”

“If we don’t work on having an intimate relationship with God while we are single, how is that going to change when we are in a relationship?”

We get distracted with the desire to be in relationship and lose focus on the most important relationship of them all, the one with God that can fulfill and complete us. Our time of singleness is a time to be used by God in a unique way, and we should be encouraged by this.

Remember you are not the only one who struggles with singleness. Use this time to encourage one another, form new friendships, accountability partners, and a time to seek The Lord like never before. Allow God to use you during this time, as He will make you stronger and give you a new perspective as He continues to teach you!

“A woman’s heart must be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him to find her.” — Maya Angelou

–Natalie M.

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The Cracked Door to My Guarded Heart

The concept of “guarding my heart” has always been a little lost on me. I never really understood where the line was from or what that really meant, so I didn’t. I decided that the best way to be loved by someone else was to open up the deepest parts of my heart to them. This decision was then followed by a string of awful high school relationships, and then a few bad college relationships. Somewhere along the line, I decided to shut everyone out. I had decided I was going to finally guard my heart, and for me, that meant building walls to keep everyone around me out. I was broken, desperate, and searched for anything that would offer temporary fulfillment. When it was all over, I finally, really and truly met my Jesus.

Except, I only let myself meet a Savior who forgave my sins and offered endless streams of mercy and grace. I didn’t let Him really love the deepest parts of me. I was broken and hurt, and had no idea how to let someone in, especially a God who wanted to know the innermost parts of my heart. It was too dangerous, too risky. I mean, how could I fully trust what I couldn’t see?

Everyone around me just seemed to “get it.” They all LOVED their Jesus, and I started to think I was broken, because I couldn’t feel what I thought I needed to. I spent countless hours in my closet crying out to God, because I wanted the “more.” I wanted to know what I was missing. I wanted to fall in love with Jesus. But I just couldn’t seem to.

Then, in the most unexpected way, I came face-to-face with all of my baggage. I finally heard God say, “Just crack the door, my daughter.” I took it step by step. I need to move the dresser I had shoved in front of the door, unlock it, turn the knob, and then slowly but surely open the door to my heart that I had closed so long ago. And His perfect, still, overwhelming love came rushing in. His love that whispers, “You are enough. You are beautiful. You are worthy,” flooded my life in the most intimate way, and I was changed forever.

My God that says,

“Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm, For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; It’s flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow from it,” Song of Solomon 8:6-7.

While I was trying to guard every piece of myself, I was being violently loved by my God, who never ceases His pursuit for my heart. While I was building walls and blocking everyone out, He was there, gently knocking. When I finally cracked the door His love came rushing in, and nothing in me could deny that He was good and trustworthy.

Sweet reader, you only have to crack the door. His perfect love casts out all fear. My prayer for you today is that you have the courage to crack the door, and that you will really know that His banner over you is beautiful, pure, perfect love.

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A Day in the Life of Junior High Me

I was thirteen, in seventh grade, and felt a sense that I just didn’t belong. My hair was breaking off. I had just hit puberty, and had acne like CRAZY! My self-esteem was so low it was sickening. I hated myself. I hated the way I looked, and I was taking it out on everyone; especially the ones who loved me, my parents.

No one wanted to be my friend. A boyfriend? Ha! Please! Forget about that.

I just wanted someone, other than my parents. to love me, but no one did. WHY?!

In March of 2003, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t getting along with my parents. I couldn’t find peace at home or school. So, one night after a big argument with my mom and dad, I went to my room and closed the door, hoping to never have to open it again. In one of the corners of my room laid a picture that had fallen, and its broken glass. I picked up the longest piece and put it to my wrist. I wanted to bleed out. I wanted  to feel the pain, because I was sure it didn’t feel as bad as what I was going through. At the time, I was wearing a gold cross around my neck that had been given to me by my mother.

Moments before I made the first cut, the necklace fell from my neck, in front of me onto the carpet. I remember, at first, staring at it, and then beginning to weep. That’s when I knew I needed Christ.

Once aware of this, I went to my mother, asking to go to church. We were invited to a church by a friend of my mother.  Soon, we were going to church every Sunday, and I got involved with the youth ministry. During one of our youth plays, an invitation was given, and I presented an outpour to God telling him that with Him is where I wanted to be. With that, I gave my life to Christ.

Since accepting Christ, I would be lying if I said that life has been a cakewalk. Dealing with our sin nature is never an easy task, but my journey towards spiritual growth has been awesome.

I must admit that I have slowed a lot of my own progress because I wanted to do my own thing, or got myself distracted over someone or something that had no relevance in my life.

One of the things that I love about God, though, is that He never makes you start over, but simply presses play from where you left off.

I dedicate this blog to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for bringing me so far. As I fight back tears writing this, I know that you’re not done with me, and have so much more in store for years to come.

—Day M.

Faith Funky Edit

Faith: A Five Letter Adventure

In July of this year, I left my full-time corporate job to work full-time for our ministry. I remember my very last day at the office. I came home emotionally exhausted from the stress of that week. I fell into a deep sleep, waking up later that night with a migraine. Although I was incredibly excited for this new chapter of my life, I was extremely stressed wondering if the transition would turn out okay.

It is now December, and six months have gone by. It is unbelievable to reflect on how God has moved in this season of my life. I have been able to travel all over the country with our conferences, and from my exciting excursions with Autumn Miles. God has revealed so much to me about who He is and what He has for me in the future. The over-arching theme: faith.

Faith is something that sounds so simple, yet is a daily battle for many Christians.  I wanted to share three truths about faith that I go back to constantly.

1. The most important thing about faith is that it is a process.

Faith comes before true blessing. If we knew the outcome of situations, faith wouldn’t be needed! We need to place our faith first, so that we can watch God fulfill what He has promised to us. Hebrews 11:1 explains this clearly when it says, ” Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

2. Secondly, take a look at whom God uses in Scripture.

God takes the most unlikely people and does some thing truly remarkable with their lives. He doesn’t choose the wealthiest or the most famous. Instead, He chooses the ones who came from small beginnings. Sarah, Abraham, Mary, Joseph and David— just to name a few! We can look at these circumstances where God has worked, and can trust the same faithful God is moving in our lives.  When struggling, take a day to go through all of the promises God has made us throughout Scripture. Pray and declare them back to the Lord. What He says, will happen!

“a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,” Titus 1:2

3. Recently, my pastor said something that really stuck with me:

 “We need to be thankful that we do not answer our own prayers.”

I started to think about all of the instances in my life in which I wanted things that mean nothing to me now. Jobs, relationships, or opportunities that I thought would be “it” for me, are, thankfully, not what He had in mind. The Lord has been faithful to me; therefore, I can have faith in the fact that His way is best, always.

No matter your circumstance, have faith. Nothing will satisfy like the will of the Lord.

“Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your Faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:21

 –Katie

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Why, God? Trust in Tragedy

Your best friend just found out she has cancer and has a year left to live.

You broke up with your boyfriend because you found out he was cheating on you.

You see news about ISIS and watch innocent children die.

Your parents are fighting and might get a divorce.

You hear about how abortion has wiped out a whole generation.

There is worry about Ebola spreading.

You are barely scraping by with finances and just found out that you got laid off.

You see tsunamis and earthquakes demolish whole countries and flatten towns.

You hear about shootings in schools.

You are struggling with keeping your grades up.

Other people make fun of you and you start to question if you are worthy of love.

There’s sickness, death, abuse, broken relationships, infidelity, crime, sorrows, regrets, injuries, discontentment and heartache.

How can a loving God let all of this happen?

There is no simple answer to this question. It’s hard for us to understand sometimes why God lets certain things happen. One thing we must not forget is that this world is NOT our home. Jesus is coming to restore the brokenness and there will be a day when there are no more tears or pain—only joy! God’s plan is perfect and He is always good. It is our job to TRUST  IN HIM alone—even when our circumstances get tough because He is orchestrating every detail of our lives for His glory. He, alone, can see the big picture.

Andy Rau, author and blogger for Biblegateway.com explains it perfectly:

“So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will – and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.”

So, we can decide whether to turn bitter or turn to the God of peace for comfort and courage. Our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for His children!

Psalm 46:1-3:

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.”

–Karinna J.