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Don’t Let The Wind Sway You

Yesterday I was in a meeting with my assistant, catching up on life and working through many details, adding to our lists of things-to-do. As we were talking, we both expressed at different times that we felt there were not enough hours in the day for us to meet our commitments without burning out. After our meeting, as I was driving home, I started to think about how the stresses in our lives had become things we were focusing and fixated on. Checking off the to-do lists, meeting commitments and working 27 hours in a 24-hour day seemed to trump time with the Lord.

Matthew 14:22-32 says, “22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. 23 After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. Later that night, He was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.27 But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.’28 ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’29 ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’31 

Here we see that Peter asks to walk to Jesus on the water and yet, after walking towards him he begins to sink. Why did Peter begin to sink? Peter was so fixated on Jesus at first that he was able to walk towards Jesus on the water. Then, the Bible says that, “When he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink.”

Sometimes I feel like Peter in the midst of the craziness of life.

I have every intention each day to wake up and be completely fixated on the Lord but sometimes my to-do lists become distractions and my focus is transferred to something else other than Jesus. When Peter lost focus of Jesus he began to sink. Peter started doubting and lost faith. Sometimes in life, we get so focused on the things around us that we don’t even realize we are sinking and sometimes we forget that Jesus can help us through everything and that we need to have faith so we can focus on Him for guidance.

Matthew 14: 30-31 goes on to say, “30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”

Immediately after Peter began sinking Jesus reached out his hand and saved him. Whenever Jesus finds us sinking, He will reach out to us. It is our decision if we reach back. If I go about my crazy days and focus on the distractions I will sink. Spending time with Jesus and placing my faith in Him should be the number one priority of each day. Something I love about our Savior is that if ever there is a time we are sinking, He will reach out and save us.

One of my favorite worship songs, Hold Onto Me, by Elevation Church Worship says:

“Hold on to me, I am weak without you. I can’t breathe without you. But I can make it through when you hold onto me. When my life is broken. Still your arms are open. Your love can make me new.”

Despite the stresses in our lives, holding onto Jesus and focusing on Him before anything else will help us get through our to-do lists and busy schedules. We can’t do anything on our own but we can do everything with Jesus.

Where in your life have to chosen to direct your attention? Is it constantly on Jesus or are you distracted with other things? Maybe it’s time to reach back to Jesus and place your faith in Him so He can save you from sinking. Our Savior will always have open arms and will always accept you back. Continue holding onto to Jesus and remember that He should forever be your number one focus.

-Abigail Trent

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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

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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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How to Find Comfort in an Uncomfortable World

If you are living anywhere besides under a rock, you undoubtedly know that this world is feeling anything but comfort right now. It’s as if there is a re-opened wound of hurt and hate that is gushing out into the streets. There is chaos all around, but I’m not naïve enough to think that all of the world’s problems are the ones we see in the news. There are real things that you are going through that I will never hear about from this side of Heaven.  There are real struggles that are keeping you from feeling comforted by any means. If you feel unsettled, confused, unsure, even afraid of your current situation of your life and the world, crack open a Bible with me to Isaiah 40 because the Lord has something for you to hear.

Isaiah 40:1-2 (ESV) reads:

Comfort, comfort my people,

Says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

And cry to her

that her warfare is ended,

that her iniquity is pardoned,

that she has received from the

LORD’s hand

double for all her sins.

I’m gonna let you in on something really cool here.  You are Jerusalem. It doesn’t matter what your name, age, ethnicity, race, political stance, or financial status is.

Your warfare ends with Jesus.

Your iniquity is pardoned.

But let’s go back to that first line. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” The Lord of Heaven and Creator of the universe is speaking comfort over you.  Where are you looking for your comfort? In all the chaos where or who are you running to? Jesus is the one who gives true comfort and peace and He is not sitting in Heaven withholding it to watch you squirm. That is NOT a picture of our God. He is gracious and loving, giving of all things when we ask. So let the Bible be your stronghold, your firm foundation so that when things feel out of control, you have the Word of GOD to remind you that the Lord is good and He comforts us with His love.

Let’s look back at Isaiah for a moment, though, because somehow it gets better.

Verses 3-5 say,

A voice cries:

“In the wilderness prepare the

way of the LORD;

make straight in the desert a

highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,

And every mountain and hill

be made low;

the uneven ground shall become

level,

and the rough places a plain.

and the glory of the LORD shall

be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it

together,

for the mouth of the LORD has

spoken.”

I typed out these verses exactly how they appear in my Bible and I know that they look like some kind of poem or lyrical phrase but these words are truth. The Lord is going to come to us and look at how badly He wants to. He will literally lift up every valley and He will literally bring down every mountain and hill to make the ground level so that His glory can be revealed. I don’t know about you, but that comforts me.

We have a God that can do all of these things, and yet He is so relational and loving that He cares about how we feel. You can look at Isaiah 40 as see what the Lord is capable of doing and yet He will take your burdens away and pardon your sins! He will make the ground flat in your life so that the walk is easier and HE can get the glory.

My prayer is that you would go to Jesus for comfort. Don’t ignore the brokenness that is filling our country; that’s not the solution. This is possibly the worst time for Christ followers to back down and hide from the issues we’re seeing unfold. This world needs the same comfort that we have in our Lord and it’s our job to let them know where it is. Fill yourself so that you can fill others, because when you know the truth of the Gospel, how can you be anything but comforted?

-Taylor Hughes

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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

 

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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.