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To The Person Who Has Bigger Dreams Than The Typical Life

Six months ago I moved from Philadelphia to Dallas. Through this process, I have never needed more faith and I’ve never been happier. Needless to say, it has been crazy, exciting, and terrifying the past six months. Since moving, every hour is jam packed, every day is different, and every week brings a new adventure. I know that I am sitting in the Lord’s will and I feel that I am truly starting to tap into the purpose God has for me.

You see ever since I was a little girl I wanted to do something big with my life. I desired to be married and be a wife but I want something beyond that as well. I want to leave a legacy and want my life to count. I’m not satisfied with what is normal. I have huge dreams and am sold out to God’s calling on my life.

Can you relate? If so keep reading because I want to share a few pieces of advice.

  1. Find Then Follow Your Vision – You may be in a season right now where you are searching for your purpose. Don’t take this season for granted. God has not forgotten you, rather you have been set apart. For a few years, I waited as my dreams and passions developed because I also knew that I wasn’t ready to know how they were going to be mapped out. Everyone has a vision for their life. If you were born into this life, God has a vision for you. The key is you need to seek it. Be active in seeking it. Many ignore the vision or settle. We are called to greatness therefore we need to strive for it.

2 Chronicles 16:9a says, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Devote yourself to seeking the Lords vision for your life. Once your call is revealed follow that dream no matter the circumstances

  1. Be Teachable – It’s almost laughable at how many mistakes I have made. When our team gets together we have conversations like, “Member the time when Katie…” then someone else will say, “Oh my goodness I remember when Katie did…” Even though I have been corrected, made mistakes, and have not always made the right call, I have made it a point to be teachable. We can look back and laugh about some of the crazy stories over the years because I have since learned from them.

REMEMBER: While it is awesome to have huge dreams and a major vision, please know, you do not                   know everything. Eat some humble pie, admit when you are wrong, and seek Godly counsel. I have been           blessed where I am constantly being poured into from people who will shoot straight with me. Because of           that I am able to mentor and pour into others. Unfortunately, you can end up being the biggest drawback           to your dreams. If you make a mistake, don’t let insecurity keep you from pressing on. It’s okay!! In fact,           correction is a GOOD THING because it is through that we learn.

Proverbs 12:1 tells us straight up, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

  1. Be Expectant –Faith is seriously one of my FAVORITE things to talk about!! It’s a major game changer. It will happen in the Lord’s timing so until then stand bold, stand firm, and do not waver. I have a list of things I am praying for and am expectant about. Think of an expectant mother. She is expectant because she can feel the baby and knows that the baby will eventually be born. Today, be expectant that God will give birth to your prayers!

Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” You need to be expectant by having faith in your prayers! If you aren’t going to expect what you pray about, why pray at all?

My challenge for you today is be hard core about all the desires, passions, and dreams for your life. Seek what the Lord wants, be teachable, and be expectant. Never settle, but rather, be buck wild about it. Doing this will be the best decision you make. I am living proof of it.

-Katie Dewan

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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

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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God’s Design for Marriage

I rose early this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee, and walked into our in-home office. My mind was too busy to focus, so I picked up my husband’s Bible that has served him well for many years. When I opened it, there was a small piece of paper folded neatly inside. Intrigued, I opened it and read it. I was almost brought to tears when I read the words that were written so long ago. It was a list of qualities he was praying for in his wife. I read quickly wondering what his mind was thinking more than 11 years ago before we were married.

The list written is as follows:

  1. Good family, especially relationship with father – (check)
  2. Tall – (I’m 5’6not necessarily tall)
  3. Pretty – (I know he thinks I am pretty, he tells me 100 times a day)
  4. Loves God – (check, without a doubt)
  5. People person – (I smiled when I read this one as I have never met a stranger)
  6. Humble – (when I met Jesus I was so messed up! My life back then really helped this one.)
  7. Able to pray, prays for me – (double check)
  8. Close relationship with God – (yesssss)
  9. Can complement my gifts and ministry – (why I was attracted to him in the first place)
  10. Loves kids (I loved this one to as we have 4 kids, 2 biological and 2 adopted)

I paused and continued to read, but as I read the last desire, I stopped. 11: Can live without me, totally in love with God. Loves God more than me and has a servant’s heart…With that, the list ended. I sat for a moment and absorbed the sweet, thoughtful list Eddie had been praying more than 11 years ago. The “can live without me”desire really caught me off guard. Now, everyone who knows me knows that I was born a leader. I have a strong personality, and after I realized who I was in the Lord, I have been driven to do anything I can for His name.

While being a strong man himself, Eddie has fanned the flame of my dreams since day one of our relationship. I always looked at him in awe as I would drop another dream bomb on him and his response was, “You can do it. I support you.” It hit me this morning that exactly who I am is exactly who he was hoping for. He isn’t intimidated by my strength. He wanted it. He isn’t challenged by it. He encourages it. My husband and I are one unit (Gen. 2:24); operating as one unit drawing from our strengths and helping each other in our weaknesses.

We are a team; we always have been.

I was married to an abusive man before I married Eddie. My previous, first husband would recite the verse, “husbands submit to your wives” and then abuse me. I was completely turned off by the word submit, because of the abusive way it had been used against me. However, in that first marriage, I found the Lord. I began a true relationship with Him. God ransomed me from myself—literally, as I was suicidal—and through His word, began to heal me. He eventually released me from that first marriage, and because of His faithfulness, I knew I wanted to follow His design for marriage.

Autumn Miles

 

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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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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.

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Joy in His Timing: It’s Worth the Wait

Today, I am in a season of waiting—a season that God has put me in as I wait to be healed. I have been waiting for almost three years. Though this seems to be a long time, I am thankful for it.

So you may be wondering,” What is this girl dealing with?”

In the summer of 2012, I was given the opportunity to go to Zacapa, Guatemala. When I found out that I had been selected to be on the team, I was overjoyed—and that is an understatement. The day came for us to leave, and little did I know that in the next 48 hours I would face sickness, death, and the scariest moments of my life. We finally reached our mission base, and an hour in I began to have a breathing attack—this is an attack that is similar to asthma but caused by my vocal chords. I was rushed to a local public hospital. There, I was not allowed to have a translator, was held down by Guatemalan doctors as they shouted words in Spanish and much more that would leave anyone traumatized and asking many questions. Upon returning to the states, it was found that I had broken and fractured ribs, as well as ripped muscle and cartilage. To this day, the doctors are still not sure why I have pain in my ribs, which leaves me still looking for medical answers.

During my waiting, I have often questioned:

Why God has not healed me yet?

 Why he allowed me to go through such a traumatizing event?

Yet, I have come to the conclusion that it is not my place to ask.

Instead of looking at this event with such a “poor me” outlook, I must look at all that God  has done, and is still doing through this event and my injuries. During the accident, God did not leave me; he kept me alive and protected me. He has drawn me closer to him through this, and is continuing to draw me closer to him daily, as I rely on his strength to continue through life.

The fact is, I have seen God work in my life more in these past three years than ever before. Now do not get me wrong, it is a struggle to get out of bed, get dressed, and go on with my daily duties. There have been days (and weeks) that I have not gotten out of bed, times that I have been angry and sad; but,  looking back on these almost three years, I have had to rely and have chosen to rely more on God then I ever thought was possible.

I have learned to find joy in God’s timing. Psalm 27:14 states, Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (English Standard Version). In whatever you are waiting for in your life today, be patient and joyful in the Lord’s perfect timing.

–Chloe S.

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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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Lessons of a Manger Mom

Christmas is my favorite holiday, by far. My family comes from all over and we pack into my house like sardines. We play endless amounts of board games. We eat until we can’t fit any more food. Our Christmas even includes a Wii bowling tournament with brackets AND a trophy. My fondest memories come from this holiday.

However, the thing that I remember most is growing up and acting out the nativity story with my siblings. Every year, as we were splitting up the “parts” that we would play, I would stake my dominance as the eldest sibling and make sure that I got to play the part of Mary.

I have always been fascinated by the nativity story, as I’m sure many people are, but there was just something about Mary that captivated me. This captivity is easily understood, when you think about the surreal nature of the story:

A young girl gets a visit from an angel who tells her that she is going to give birth to a son, the Son of God to be exact. She’s not married, but she is engaged. She lived in a time period where she could be stoned for being pregnant out of wedlock. In all of this, she accepts what she has been told and praises the Lord.

Now, I have to admit, at 5 years old, I can’t say that this plot line was the reason for my fascination with Mary. Regardless, my fascination with her has taught me a lot. That’s the thing that I love about Scripture– you can learn something new from that same passage that your Bible almost falls open to because the binding is worn. It is living and active and still, years later, I’m learning things about God through Mary’s story.

This year, what struck me the most is Mary’s willingness. I know that in Luke 1, her first words, after the angel spoke to her, were, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you have said about me come true” so the willingness is obvious, but it seems that her willingness says something about God’s character.

I have been learning about God’s faithfulness this year, and I think that Mary’s response to God says a lot about how faithful He truly is. Mary was referred to as the “favored one” by Gabriel; so clearly, she walked closely with the Lord. She trusted Him to be faithful to carry her through what He had promised her– even when, in her culture, what was being asked of her meant death.

The same God that was faithful to carry out the birth of His Son in her is the same God today. He is still just as faithful and you are favored in His sight as His beloved Child!

So, this Christmas, whether your holidays are filled with joy and family, or that’s not your reality this year, know that God is just as faithful now as when He asked Mary to give birth to His Son. Know that you are His beloved and favored child!

-Becky Schwarz

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Listen the First Time

Growing up, I heard the phrase “listen the first time” quite a bit. As a stubborn child, my parents were often frustrated that I didn’t do things the first time I was asked. I can vividly remember seeing how long I could get away with staying where I was while my mom repeatedly called me from the kitchen. I mean, who wants to miss Powerpuff Girls to go help set the table? My desperation for a few more seconds of Mojo Jojo defeat came to a halt when my dad stepped in; that’s when I knew it was serious. The asking of my help quickly turned into a demand for my help that always ended with “listen the first time.” I could have saved myself from plenty of time-outs if I could have learned to listen to my parents sooner rather than later. And I could have saved myself from more serious consequences if I had learned to listen to my Heavenly Father the first time, too.

 

As a freshman in college, I have finally learned the lesson. This past summer, I foolishly decided to do what I thought was best for me. Ignoring the advice from wise people, I was dating a guy that had I idolized for 2 years, sneaking around, and trying to make my college plans for myself without asking God for direction. I ignored my Father when he was calling for me. He was calling me repeatedly, over and over, to come to Him and listen to what He had to say. And I ignored it. I thought I had it figured out- I loved my boyfriend, he loved me, and I was going to go to the perfect school no matter what it took. When really, I was just playing my childish game of seeing how long I could do what I wanted to do until someone intervened.

 

While at my church’s camp at the end of the summer, God intervened. I was walking to my cabin when I heard the Lord demand my attention. He clearly told me, “Your life is about to flip over. It’s going to be okay, but you need to be ready.” That week I finally saw the sin and disobedience that I had been living in. I knew that as soon as I got home, things were not going to be the same. I had to do the two things I told God I wouldn’t do- break up with my boyfriend, and apply to a school across the country. I had sat around all summer acting like the little girl ignoring the calls of her mother, desperate to stay where she was. Let me tell you, excuses don’t work with our Almighty God. “But, God, I love him” and “But, God, that school is too far and too big and too expensive” did not work – believe me, I tried. There was no ignoring the voice of the Lord, and within one weekend I did both of the things He was telling me to do.

 

God takes disobedience pretty seriously. My consequences were much bigger than a time-out when I didn’t listen the first time. The hopes and dreams I had for myself vanished and I had no other choice than to trust the Lord. But can I just say…when you give in to God, you do NOT lose. Out of a broken spirit, I gave into God and He has blessed me more than I ever thought was possible.

 

Proverbs 16: 2-9

 

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own

eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.

Commit your work to the LORD,

and your plans will be established.

The LORD has made everything for its purpose,

even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an

abomination to the LORD;

Be assured, he will not go unpunished.

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,

and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.

When a man’s ways please the LORD,

he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Better is a little with righteousness

than great revenues with injustice.

The heart of a man plans his way,

But the LORD establishes his steps.”

 

 

 

Are you ignoring your Father? Is He trying to tell you something? Don’t let your stubbornness keep you from hearing God’s pleading voice. He wants you to listen so that He can show you all that He has for you.

 

Listen the first time.

 

– Taylor Hughes