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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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Seeking God While The Rest Of The Women Are Seeking Men

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

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

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

College has taught me many things:

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

And most importantly…

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

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The Idol of Co-dependency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jennie E.

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A Husband’s View of Biblical Submission

Husbands, are you loving your wives and never treating them harshly (Colossians 3:19 NLT)?

God has called us as men to love and serve our wives.

 

Are you truly serving your wife and sacrificially giving up your life and needs for her?

Not just loving her for what she can do for you but “loving your wife like Christ loved the church and gave up his life for Her(Ephesians 5:25).”

 

Are you taking her on dates, and making her feel special and loved? Are you stepping in and giving her breaks from all she does? These are some of the real responsibilities of being the husband in a biblical marriage.

 

Are you, as the man, following and submitting to Christ? Are you seeking God for the decisions you make for yourself and your family? Are you praying for your wife and your marriage? Are you praying for God to give you direction for your family?

 

When it comes to decisions in our house, we are a team because we seek God individually and together for the plans and direction he has for our family. I have never expected Autumn to cater to my every whim because that is not what true Biblical submission is. Autumn and I are a team in everything we do.

 

There is so much accountability for a man leading a home and you answer directly to Christ because “the head of every man is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3 NLT).” There is nothing in Scripture that gives the husband the freedom to do and say and demand anything he wants of his wife. The husband has no right to force his wife to do something that would not be honoring to God or against the teachings of Scripture! He cannot wield these Scriptures to make his wife meet his every whim or do something she is uncomfortable with. That is sinful and can be abusive. God never condones the man to abuse his wife- EVER!

 

If I am following God and loving my wife, our family is never out of balance the way God designed it.

 

“…So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33 NLT)

 

We are thankful for the platform to discuss Biblical marriage further.

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Find Rest in Your Advocate

“You’re really limiting yourself.”

“Why don’t you have a job yet?”

“Your sister has a job, how come you won’t get one?”

“You want to be a women’s what?!”

“Why’d your parents get you the car? What do you even use it for?”

“You’ll never get a job.”

“Why did you pick a religious school?”

“You could be doing so much better.”

These are just a few things that I have heard from my extended family over the past three years. Even as I write this I have tears falling because I never have and I never will feel good enough for them as long as they do not know Jesus and His saving grace. It takes mental preparation and a lot of prayer to approach any holiday dinners and I always walk out weary and bruised. This past Easter dinner was no different, but the Lord revealed something so sweet to me…

Let me back up for a moment, I have spent the past few months praying mighty and bold prayers on the behalf of my extended family. They have been heavy on my heart and there has not been a day in the past few weeks that I have not been burdened by their lost souls. I have prayed for them daily and I have asked many close friends to pray for them as well. I say this, not to boast, but to share that I went into Easter dinner believing that I was going to see a drastic change in how they spoke to me and in their attitude towards Jesus. I went in believing that my consistent prayers would be what saved them and not Jesus himself. This was not something I even knew that I was doing until I walked out of Easter dinner more bruised, weary, lost, and confused than I had ever been. There was no drastic change. I was still berated for my choice to go to a Christian college and to pursue women’s ministry. I was criticized for not having a job while I was in school. I was still asked what exactly it was I was doing with my life. I was even told to reconsider an internship opportunity I have this summer because it was in a church. As my family left dinner and we walked to the car, I was already in a full-fledged argument with God in my head.

“God, I prayed for change. I had others pray for change. I want them to know you! Why would you let them keep speaking to me like that?!”

It was if I could hear God say, “Beloved, Do you trust me?”

“God, of course I trust you! I’ve pledged my whole life to serve you! Don’t you see, I want them to trust you?”

“Beloved, do you trust me?”

As we drove home and I was in tears my loving and God-fearing parents offered unconditional love and encouragement. (God sure blessed me when He gave me them; I’d be a hot mess without them.) Despite all the encouragement they offered, my spirit was battling discouragement. I was wrestling with the question “Beloved, do you trust me?”  As I sat that Easter night in my living room I felt like God was finishing the question. “Beloved, do you trust me to be your advocate?”

What a beautiful and joy filled question to hear. I was reminded that I have an advocate. I had just spent the morning in church celebrating His triumph over death and sin in the greatest act of advocacy my soul could ever find! I have spent years chasing after the approval of my family. I have made them my goal. God humbled me that night and ushered in the sweet rest that I needed. My pride was standing in the way of my advocate. I have no words to offer them, no prayer so mighty that it can save them. I have nothing to offer them, but the work Christ is doing in my own life. I have nothing to offer them, but love. Not even my own love, but by Christ loving through me. I could not love them in my own strength. I have nothing to offer them, but the Gospel. I do not need to defend myself to them. They won’t understand. They don’t know Jesus yet.

I’m still praying for them and I will pray for them until they accept Jesus and then I will get to pray with them. Oh what a glorious day that will be! What I pray you will get out of this, my sweet friend, is this: You have an advocate for your soul! You have someone who loves you unconditionally. You have someone whose heart breaks when you face injustice. You have someone who longs to have you home with Him. You have Jesus. While you may be used to the injustices around you, HE is not okay with them. You have an advocate. He will defend you. Trust Him. Pursue Him. Make Him your priority and your goal. Others will see the difference in you and be drawn to Him. Do not let the enemy convince you that it is your job to prove Christ to the world. You need to show the world Christ and He will prove Himself to them. My heart is with you, my friend. Find rest in your advocate.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” -1 John 2:1

 

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Don’t Settle- Waiting for your True Love

Last night I laid in bed wide awake. Yesterday was a crazy day of emotions as I was helping a close friend of mine with her current relationship. This relationship is one that is full of degrading behavior along with a lot of verbal abuse. As I received texts about their current fight and all that had happened, I was greatly heartbroken and after many calls and texts she still didn’t want to end the relationship because they are “in love”.

As I lay in bed last night I thought, if only she knew about true Biblical love. True biblical based love is:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Does not envy
  • Does not boast
  • Not proud
  • Not dishonoring of others
  • Not self-seeking
  • Not easily angered
  • Keeps no record of wrongs

This is taken from 1 Corinthians 3:4-5. The relationship that she is currently in does not fit these characteristics of love; therefore, the relationship that she is in is not a loving relationship. God has painted such a beautiful imagine of what love is by sending Jesus to die for all our sins. 1 John 4:9-10 writes, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (New International Version). God did not send his son because we loved him, he sent his son because he loved us!

If you are currently in a relationship, take a step back and see if your relationship fits the characteristics of love that has been laid out by God. If not, then don’t settle for the mirage of worldly defined loved—but pursue a relationship that is founded on Biblical love—this is what God’s desire for you!

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12 (NIV)

-Blush Intern

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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.