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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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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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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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To Be Pursued

Being pursued is a wonderful feeling. As girls, we normally want to be pursued by the opposite sex. We do anything and everything to get that certain boy to chase after us. We wear certain clothes or do our hair a certain way. We flirt, and we go certain places just to be noticed and hopefully pursued by whoever that boy is. All the while, there is One who is pursuing you without you doing anything at all. He is infatuated with you, and He pursues you every day and in every little way He can think of. He throws constant reminders of His love for you in your path, and often they go unnoticed. Still He pursues when His selfless acts are unacknowledged.

He paints a beautiful sunrise to peek through your curtains and wake you up in the morning. Not to mention, He also answered your prayer for a good night’s rest. He lets you witness an answered prayer in someone else’s life, just to reassure you that His promises are exactly that – promises. He floods a church service with a worship song that reminds you of His power and strength, just to reassure you that He is greater than anything you face today. He gives you friends to laugh with and a boyfriend who surprises you with flowers and coffee the night before your big exam. He prompts your sweet grandma to text you a Bible verse that automatically makes your “bad” day a perfect day. He reminds you of the simple word “joy” and the acronym which reads “Jesus, Others, You”, and all at once, you remember where true joy comes from.

When you take the time to notice His love, you will realize just how amazing it is. He pursues you and I with great intention. It is not an accident that He pursues you; He WANTS you to know you are loved and important to Him. HIS pursuit is the most beautiful pursuit of all.

Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

-Morgan

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On Behalf of the Expectant

“God, why has this happened to me again?”

I pushed open my front door and slammed myself onto one of the steps directly inside my foyer.  I used those steps as one of my holy of holies, a sacred place in my home where I cried out to God in agony, fear, and pain.  Tonight, He heard a cry that was always on repeat in my battered, bruised soul – the cry of my broken heart.  I had been rejected by yet another guy and was raw with anguish.

I sat on those steps, my entire body taut with emotion and, in between sobs, I cried out for a word from Him.  “Lord,” I said.  “ You have to speak to me.  Right now.  You must encourage my heart.”

My Charles Stanley Study Bible fell open to a page where Stanley explains his Life Principle 14.  This is what my burning, swollen eyes saw:  GOD ACTS ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHO WAIT FOR HIM.  New sobs racked my frame as I bent over, my head in my hands and my Bible on the step.

God spoke to me that night in April as clearly as you can read this blog.  He told me that He was working on my behalf in my singleness.  But the way that His actions on my behalf will come to pass will not be what I expect.

I was bullied as a child, so I retreated into books.  I read voraciously.  I especially loved to read of strong young women who were swept up in the arms of equally strong young men who just could NOT stay away from the young women’s beauty.  I longed for that day to come in my life and I dreamed that the day would be awash with blushes and soft blues as the breeze blew tendrils of my dark hair away from my face and my eyes met his.

But that may not be what it looks like.  I’ve had my mental pictures, my expectations, of what that one day will look like.

Expectations.   Our humanity can rise or fall under the weight of our human expectation.  We have expectations for EVERYTHING – how we think we’re supposed to look and act or how certain life circumstances will occur.  The key to disappointment in that sentence is “we think”.  Our thoughts and expectations are so soiled by our carnality that we CANNOT trust their accuracy.  And, if you’ve been a disciple of Christ for any length of time, you know that God does not operate according to our human expectation – He operates in His own time and manner.

Our soul was infused at creation by God with expectation.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “11 He has made everything [a]appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, [b]yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”  He set eternity in all of our hearts when He created humanity in the Garden of Eden, yet He makes everything appropriate in its time.  God clearly communicates this principle in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways  My ways,” declares the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Many people make the mistake of confusing God’s promise and His timing for the promise.  Many people are waiting on God to fulfill longings and desires that were placed in them by a loving Creator who WILL fulfill the desire in HIS way and in HIS time.  You could be waiting for a job, a spouse, a child, a healing, or deliverance, but don’t get God’s promise confused with your expectation.

Abraham was promised by God that a nation would come from him, then waited 25 years for God to fulfill it.  David was anointed king of Israel by Samuel while still a teenager, then waited fifteen years for God to bring about his anointing.  Joseph dreamed of his future greatness while still a teenager, then waited fourteen years until those dreams came true.  One of the characteristics of God’s workings with us is waiting.  If you don’t understand this principle, you’ll get disillusioned and discouraged.  Don’t let your expectation of timing cloud God’s timetable.  Wait for Him.

These men probably did not “expect” their respective promises to unfold the way God chose.  Joseph was enslaved, falsely accused of rape, imprisoned, then promoted.  He probably did NOT expect that to be the pathway to greatness.  David was hunted by Saul, lived in caves, and often fought violent battles before becoming king.  The psalms he wrote during this time tell us that he did not expect nor enjoy such hardship, but He trusted God’s heart.  Abraham waited and waited and waited and waited, until he and Sarah were way past childbearing age, before God’s promise was fulfilled through the birth of Isaac.

Jeremiah understood the frailty of man’s expectations vs. God’s way when he said, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.”  Solomon understood it when he wrote in Proverbs 20:24:  “Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, How then can man understand his way?”

Our expectation is to be in God and God alone and in His ways and His time.  We do not know what is beneficial for our souls, but the God of the universe, who created us with eternity in our hearts, does.  Trust Him with ALL of your expectations for EVERYTHING and watch the way He works.

-Heather C

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Waiting on God, or Is He Waiting on You?

A faith-based blog post about soul mates recently spread like wildfire across the web. While I agree with and applaud the majority of the author’s subject matter, I was somewhat troubled by the underlying tone that God is somehow aloof in a major life choice such as choosing a spouse. This riled in my soul a deep sense of anxiety as to whether I was “doing things right.” Did that mean I had to go out and force myself to meet people? Is it completely up to me to create opportunities and tackle the dating world alone? If God doesn’t have a specific plan for my spouse, then what—or whom—am I waiting for?

Naturally, this conversation inevitably led me to ask the broader question of: How much am I waiting on God, and how much is God waiting on ME? Fundamentally…this question touches on the ever-controversial topic of predestination vs. free will. (You just read that and want to stop reading. Please don’t.) This is the question I want to address. In regards to relationships, in regards to careers, and in regards to any life event, big or small.

First, we must get a bit existential (I tend to do that). Though the number of dimensions that exist is hotly debated among scientists, many would agree on the existence of at least ten. I don’t claim to understand the nature of string theory, but it doesn’t take a theoretical physicist to acknowledge that there are more dimensions in the universe than the human being can wrap its mind around. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that God created and operates within dimensions and realms far beyond our comprehension.

I want you to imagine that you are observing creatures that exist in only two dimensions (length and width).  Perhaps you can envision each of these creatures as a simple piece of paper (we’ll pretend that its thickness does not exist). You, a three-dimensional creature, have chosen two of these paper creatures and placed in front of them a three-dimensional object to see how they interact with an item beyond their understanding. The first creature slices itself through the unknown object and reports with confidence that the object is a beautifully curved and perfect circle.  The second creature cuts through the same object, declaring that it’s surely a rectangle due to its straight lines and sharp right angles.  The two creatures begin to argue fervently as to whether the object is a circle or a rectangle—two shapes that couldn’t be more different.

You, the conductor of this experiment, can only sit and grin slyly as you glance at the cylinder placed before them, wishing there was some way to explain that the object is, in fact, both a circle and a rectangle…yet so much more than either shape could ever be on its own.

If only the two-dimensional creatures could understand the stability, power, and beauty of a three dimensional object that is simultaneously a circle and rectangle.  Cylinders create the columns that fortify some of the most resilient buildings in history. They construct a central component of the engine, a symbol of power and progression. A cylinder forms the basic shape of a vase as it displays a delicate arrangement of lilies.  Of course, these images and functions will never be grasped by the two-dimensional beings, and they are left to simply trust in your superior wisdom (as a higher dimensional creature, that such an object is possible) and in the goodness of your character (that you wouldn’t intentionally lead them astray).

Surely free will and God’s will can also work together, and when it does it fortifies the resilience of our character like the columns of old, it progresses our paths like the powerful engine, and it nurtures a natural beauty in our lives like the elegant vase. But, much like the two-dimensional creatures, we are still left to simply trust in the superior wisdom and goodness of character of the incredible, loving, and intellectual being we call “God”. A Lord who is weaving His will and our choices to work for our benefit.

As we contemplate the way God—the ultimate dimensional being—works in our limited human lives, I believe He looks at us in much the same way as we viewed the two-dimensional creatures when they argued bitterly over the nature of the mystery object. We agonize and exhaust ourselves attempting to understand how He interacts with our reality.  At times we’re frustrated with Him because we feel like we’ve waited patiently to no avail for something. Other times we’re frustrated with ourselves for allowing opportunities to pass us by. To whom do we really owe our frustration? I like to imagine He chuckles lovingly at each of us when we are in this sorry state and thinks, “My sweet child, if you only knew how substantial My ways are.”

Though the Bible does give evidence to both free will and His sovereignty being essential to a life of faith, His Word makes two things abundantly clear regarding how to navigate our circumstances and life choices. Time and again, He simply states, “Don’t worry about it,” and, “Just keep talking to me”:

“Be still and know that I am God.” Ps 46:10
“Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself…” Ps 37:7 AMP
“Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life” Matt 6:25 AMP
“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thess 5:17
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:12-13
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Eph 4:6

Do you find yourself today in the midst of confusion? Be still, my brothers and sisters. Calm your nervous hearts. And whatever may come, don’t ever stop talking to Him. Watch as your desires become more and more like His. At times He will speak clearly. Other times it will seem He’s given you space to make your own educated choice (Your brain is a gift, after all. Use it.). Rest easy in knowing that in both your decisions and His divine appointments—HE IS GOOD. He is good. And His love endures all seasons and paths. You will find a more than willing guide in “Him Who, by the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams].” (Eph 3:20 AMP) 

When we give our lives to Christ, there begins a POWER at work WITHIN US that is able to carry out His purpose superabundantly, far above what we dare to ask or think. It’s incredible. We small-minded humans can only hope to experience our Creator in glimpses that will simultaneously bewilder, humble, and comfort us. To the One who masterfully weaves the realms and realities of this Universe together as he interacts with our lives, painting his artfully meticulous strokes through dimensions beyond our wildest imaginings, I have to think that our lives must be some of the most breathtakingly stunning, multi-dimensional works of art that ever existed.

-Heather N

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Cultivate and Keep

I was speaking on Monday night with a page full of notes.  I was feeling the Lord work and could feel the heavy presence of His Spirit swelling in the room.  There came to a point in my message where I felt the Spirit prompt me with a point nowhere on my notes and a point that I felt like He really wanted me to convey.  I obeyed.  Our God knows the exact spiritual state of any room and He knows the exact message the room needs to hear.  I knew then I wanted to share that point with you today.

Genesis 2:5-8

5 Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 6 But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became living. 8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He formed.

15 Then the Lord took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to CULTIVATE AND KEEP IT.

I want to share with you that the very creation and organizational structure of the mind of God was present when you were formed.  The same thoughts that went into creating Adam were present when your being was being formed in heaven.  The creation of Adam was the solution to an issue on earth (who was going to cultivate the shrubs and the plants in the garden of Eden).  You were a solution to an issue here on earth as well.

Let’s look deeper.

  1. God never leaves a problem without a solution – God is a good steward of His creation.  If there is a need that He sees, He fixes it, and will in fact create the perfect being to answer and attack the problem–hence the beauty of Adam cultivating with his intelligence the very garden that God had created.  God needed someone to take care of His creation and He decided to use Adam to do so.  In God’s perfect plan there is never a check without a balance or an ebb without a flow, otherwise His plans would be flawed.  He creates us to answer specific needs He has from His seat on the throne so He can bring us to Himself.
  2. God is intentional on the order of the creation – In verse 6 we see that God caused a mist to water the earth and the whole surface of the ground THEN directly after, He created Adam. The dew may have not even been wet and, while the shrubs were taking seed, God was creating their keeper. You are not just made FOR a purpose, you are made WITH purpose.  Right now, there is a cause that God needs you to champion.  The shrubs are taking root in your own sphere of influence and God needs you to recognize the need be available to help them grow.
  3. Cultivate it – In verse 15, God placed Adam into the garden to cultivate it.  God created the garden and it was Adam’s job to cultivate it. Cultivation is a decision that has to be made by the one in charge of the creation.  Cultivation is a word that represents patience, awareness, and determination to see the seed grown.  The creation without the cultivator will die.  The cultivator is vital in the kindgom of God because when a seed is cultivated well, harvest comes.  When looking at our callings it is vital that we have the heart of cultivation.  We need to be longsuffering, especially when what we are cultivating is long away from bearing fruit.  God clearly tells us that the fruit will come as long as we cultivate the seed.  That was Adam’s job, and because of His diligence we can enjoy the herbs, spices, and animals we enjoy today.  Even my dog Daisy was a result of Adam stewarding the animals in the Garden.
  4. Keep it – The last thing Adam is asked to do is to keep the garden.  Keeping, protecting, and watching all work together.  We live in such a culture today that it is easy to abandon something that God has asked us to do because it is too hard or too scary.  Maybe Satan gets in our heads and tells us to give up and we listen and lose sight of the importance of keeping the call.  I can go into so many examples. Take virginity: we get tired of keeping purity because having sex seems like it won’t be that harmful. Cut to 10 years later with emotional scars that affect a marriage.  Maybe it’s singleness that God has asked us to “keep” for a time and you get sick of waiting, so you marry a guy even when you know it’s wrong because you aren’t committed to keeping God’s will for your life.  Maybe it’s a calling to be an author or a speaker and no one wants to hire you, so you give up.  What if you give up the week before you get your first booking?

Our culture tells us YOLO and that you were made to do what you want.  God’s word speaks directly against that.  You life and the decisions you make ARE OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE to the Most High, because He created you in a specific order to cultivate and keep something.

What are you doing today with the genius, perfectly placed, intentional, sovereign plan that God has laid out for your life?  He created it, you must cultivate and keep it.

-Autumn

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FATHER TIME

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established” Proverbs 16:3

I couldn’t be more qualified to speak on Blush’s topic today – keeping GOD first despite the limitations and time constraints of our schedules.  This season of my life has been chaotic, hectic, busy, and non-stop! Every hour of the day is scheduled and arranged for work, ministry/servanthood, and having a social life!

I work two other part-time jobs and nanny aside from working with Blush. This work schedule doesn’t include my blog or my efforts to establish my identity as a stylist/image consultant. Nor does that consist of my work with my church in several different areas or my call to be a strong, positive influence to the young women with whom I do life. And I  have to maintain some type of social life to relieve myself from work and keep healthy relationships with my family! (whew)

Now, looking at all that on paper is a little bit scary, but, thank goodness that it’s an outline of my life, not the actualities of my day-by-day (boy am I thankful that I don’t have a husband or kids yet; my dog is enough). Regardless of the appointments on my calendar and the weariness I often feel daily, I can’t forget the one person that brings me hope, strength, and comfort in the midst of it all — JESUS!

Time with GOD is my first action item of my day; I’ve instituted this practice to help me stay balanced and strong. I’m NOT just checking Him off my “to do” list — I know that prioritizing time with Him will allow me to give Him my full attention BEFORE my day starts and will stabilize me.  I know that He will keep me centered and anchored throughout the day.

GOD’s Word is meant to be our source. His Word is capable of enabling us to succeed, not by our own strength and merit, but by His might and what He’s already accomplished on our behalf.  His Holy Spirit, alive in my heart, wakes me up in the morning with a smile on my face and pep in my step! I carry the revelation that I’ve already won and gained the victory, no matter what I face, before I’ve even stepped out of the bed!

I’ve learned that wholeheartedly accepting GOD’s love gives me the ability to align myself with Him first thing in the morning. Now, we’re all different.  Your life may not look at all like mine because you may have a more demanding or less demanding schedule, but, whatever your life looks like, you’ve got to insert Jesus! He’s got to be present.

You cannot not expect the abundant living mentioned in John 10:10(b) without having Him with you throughout your day. GOD cannot make your load light without your permission. He can’t bless. He can’t enlighten you or direct you. You’ve got to open up the door for Him to come in and rule your agenda.

PRAYER:

GOD, You are Ruler! Take my life and do what you please. Make my crooked straight. Bring light to what is dark or deep. Show me how to be a better steward of time and direct my steps into better management of the duties you’ve placed in my hand. Lord, I will keep You first and I will honor You. In Jesus name…

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES to consider this week as you strive to align yourself to His agenda and put GOD first in your life:

Proverbs 3 (vs 6 specifically)

John 15:5

Galatians 6:8

Ephesians 5: 15

-Myles

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Waiting On God’s Best

If you spend almost 15 years in corporate America, success happens all the time.  I have failed numerous times, made countless mistakes, and yet God has always shown me favor and I have climbed the “ladder of success” steadily for some time.  Even amid the success that God has given me, I have been discouraged many times and felt like God wasn’t working on my side.

I would put myself out there hoping to walk through open doors only to have doors continue to slam closed.  So, I would settle. Settle for where I was at that moment, settle for what seemed comfortable and what I knew.  I would come home every day frustrated and angry at God and the people around me.

I would often ask, “Why are there so many people in this world getting ahead while I sit stagnant? Why do I pursue opportunities and pray, but it seems like God is a million miles away?”

A few weeks ago, I was seeking God’s wisdom in prayer, but I’m not sure I was ready or even completely open to hearing what He was telling me. His desire was and is for me to have patience and wait on Him.  As sinners, we develop some serious tunnel vision when we have a goal or a plan in mind.  When our plan is not brilliantly executed in our timing, we fall apart.  We ask: “Where is God?”, “Why me?”, “Why does He love others more and want them to succeed?  Why doesn’t He feel the same toward me? Why am I settling?” I am so guilty of thinking this way, but this is not a way to live. I am so fortunate to have great friends and family in my life that constantly point me to Jesus and the Cross. I constantly replace the doubts and fears I keep believing with the TRUTH and sustaining POWER of Christ.

In James 1: 2-8, God reminds us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

We live in a broken world, but we should never settle. For some of you girls, settling might be the craving for that guy who pays attention to you when so many others haven’t.  For others, settling might take the form of that boyfriend who treats you like dirt, but in the same breath tells you he loves you.  Please let me say as your brother in Christ — never settle for less than God’s best.  Make sure that you are grounded in your spiritual walk.  Let’s quit wasting so much of ourselves, our time, and our affections on our daily actions while giving so little attention to seeking out the true will of God.

Stop making finding a boyfriend or a spouse your job.  If all of your energy is spent praying for a date, scouring dating websites, and/or getting set up on blind dates, are you really waiting on God’s best or are you settling for a temporary scratch to your lonely itch? 

You were never created to settle.  You were designed by a Creator who cared so deeply for you that He thought about each of your freckles, each of your eyelashes, and each one of those hairs on your precious head.  Don’t let your insecurities and fears cause you to settle for less than His best.

-Chad

Worth Waiting for

Worth the Wait

I lived a moment that has been frozen in my mind these past twelve years – a moment when I woke up to the reality of my life that my sinful decisions had selected for me.  Basketball was playing on the TV that spring day and I stared at the screen blindly as the mate I had chosen sat a few feet from me. We exchanged words and he grabbed my forearm and squeezed it. That squeeze changed my life.  That squeeze sent a signal to my brain that the life I was living was not normal.  That squeeze was the catalyst for the life I am living now because it was the first moment I had wished I was single.

I have heard countless young women pour out their hearts to me in tears about their singleness.  I have listened with a heart of deep compassion as they have asked me why God hasn’t brought them their mate. My heart is paralyzed in some conversations as I pray while they are talking for the Holy Spirit to guide my words. The delay in the intense desire from a woman to be a helper and mother is overwhelming at times. 

I have also listened to young women who are miserable because they have married a man because of the intense desire to be married.  Young women, like myself, that have manipulated their life to appease their own desire.  When their marriage doesn’t work, they come to me broken, begging for advice, crying, and asking me what to do.  I sit, with the same compassion I feel toward single women, asking the Lord what words I can offer while they are speaking.  I think about the words I would have needed in my situation all those years ago and I make an attempt at the seemingly impossible task of helping.

I won’t speak about the struggles of singleness.  However, I will speak to the issue of pacifying the desire of singleness without waiting for what God wants.

Sweet girls.  Some of you today are dating/engaged to men with whom you have no business being in a relationship.  I know, because I was you.  I remember the prompting in my spirit to “RUN” from my relationship, but I ignored it and stayed with someone who God didn’t want for me. That was sin.  My decision to trump God in my marriage only caused pain, not just to me, but to hundreds of people.  My decision to marry a man that God clearly didn’t want me to marry because I was afraid no one else would take me was disobedience.  I have lived with the consequences of trumping God when I should have submitted to His will.

Here’s the deal.  Our God doesn’t suggest we wait, He commands that we wait with verses like:

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”

God is not being mean by making us wait; the wait is an act of love.  Don’t believe that waiting is mean.  If I had waited to get married and broke off my toxic relationship like God desired, I would have saved myself the pain of telling my children that their mother was married before their father.  I would have saved my parents the heart- wrenching pain that accompanied seeing their 21-year-old daughter suffer through a divorce.  I would not be a divorce statistic, which haunts me to this day.

Therefore, I have learned to wait.  Pain is a hard but wise teacher.  I challenge you, sweet girl, to examine your relationship and pray for God’s clear direction.  If He says to move on — do it.  Take it from me, the pacifying of your own emotion only leads to destruction.

-Autumn