Blushgirl1

Don’t Let The Wind Sway You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Abigail Trent

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Each Punch, Each Stride, Each Step

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

BE ENCOURAGED — Read these Scriptures:

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

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

DIG DEEPER — Life Evaluating Questions: 

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

 

-Heather Carey

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I shall not be rendered ineffective!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Vickee

Millenials

What’s Different About Millennials?

It was a colorful fall day in Virginia. After my daily workout with my best friend, we parted ways and made plans to meet back up for dinner. Usually, we did everything together, but today I had my end of semester meeting with my financial advisor. After sitting in the waiting room with my zip-up hoodie and Nike sneakers, I was called into his cubicle. After hearing about the debt I had accumulated thus far, I knew there had to be a better way. It was after that meeting that I devised a strategy to get ahead. One year later I found myself working at a prestigious company with a team that was heavily involved in planning Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. With this alternative method I was able to get my bachelors with experience rather than debt under my belt. Unfortunately for today’s generation, you cannot pay for college with just a part time job, and no white collar position is guaranteed post-graduation.

I am a Millennial. Despite our bad rep, I am proud to hold this title. There is more to us than Snapchat, Justin Bieber, and Netflix and Chill. Millennials are the most diverse generation in U.S history. Millennials were born between the late 1980’s and 1990’s. We are engaged, focused on the future, and tolerant. Furthermore, we are the generation of entrepreneurs, we find pleasure in the journey, and we are the first generation to have personal media. Generation X focused on a work/life balance while Millennials have work/life integration. A Millennial self-brands weekly, daily, and hourly. Our mentality is different compared to generations before us as we emerge from adolescents to adults.

The traditional road map of life is:

1) Graduate college

2) Become financially independent

3) Get married

4) Have a baby

In 1960, 75% of people hit this complete roadmap by the age of 30, when in 2010, only 10% of people had completed it. For our generation, our 20’s have become a transition period. It is no secret that generations before us are critical. Can I be bold enough to say that we have aspects we need to work on as a whole? We have bigger issues than whether we should use the filter X-Pro II or Valencia.

Here are a few of them:

1) We compare.

Although social media has brought a sense of community, we also use it to compare ourselves to others. We compare each other’s lives and this causes considerable anxiety. Whether it comes to success in money or our bodies, we need to learn to be content and work hard on our own journey regardless of what others are doing.

2) Few of us plan for the future.

We all know that one guy who is 25 and his parents are still depositing his rent, food, and cell phone bill into his bank account each month. As a whole, our generation needs to budget and learn what it means to save. Many of us are privileged because generations before us paved the way. However, we need to follow their example and do the hard thing rather than make constant impulse buys.

3) We feel entitled.

No, not all of us are entitled. But I have seen far too many students graduate and assume they are starting out with a six-figure salary in a management position. We need to put in the hard work and earn it. We should never want to be known as a generation that is lazy. Achieving a goal when the road is hard is the most rewarding thing our generation could ever do.

Despite our shortcomings, Millennials should be immensely proud of the notable qualities we possess.

1) We can hear the hard thing.

We don’t need fluff, but rather we are attracted to boldness. As painful as it may be, we want to hear the truth. We can immediately spot when someone is being fake. Each of us is searching for authenticity, and that is something to be valued.

2) Millennials know how to follow their passion.

The 2014 Millennial Impact Report did a study which surveyed 1500 millennials. The findings showed that the main factor in determining whether or not they remained at their company was having their passions used and fulfilled. Our generation is driven by a group of people who must find a role where their values and dreams come to life.

Here is the question we really need to ask: Are we factoring God into our generation? 

What we need to remember, above anything else, is God and His Word are the ultimate authority. Because we are searching for authenticity, we can always turn to the Scriptures. In all of the examples above, whether budgeting, working hard, or following our passion, the Bible is extremely relevant. God’s word can be utilized to guide us in every single one of these areas.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” -Timothy 3:16-17

We are living in a different time. Often, lines are blurred and our generation comes to situations or decisions that aren’t black and white. This is when we have to set our feet on the solid rock and stand on what God’s Word says. When our generation is searching for discernment, His Word will be the cornerstone we need to ground ourselves in truth.

 “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.” –Psalms 37:23-24 

-Katie D.

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God’s Plan > My Plan

 Great things never came out of comfort zones. 

This is a quote that I have heard repeatedly within the last couple years, and for some reason, it has really stuck with me. I have been crawling my way out of my many comfort zones for the last several years and to be honest, it is downright scary sometimes. There is a passage within the book of Isaiah that I have always clung to and it is in chapter 41:10-13.

            “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

            I have clung to this passage for several years because of the peace that it has brought when worry, doubt, anxiety, and fear have consumed me in various circumstances. I have recently graduated college, but I can recall my sophomore year so clearly. Having already changed my major twice by the fall semester, I was beginning to feel the pressure of getting my life together. People always tell you college is the best years of your life, but at that point I was beginning to wonder what the heck I was doing. So as I sat in my education major classes and felt absolutely no passion for the work I was doing, I knew I needed to change my major (yet again). I felt like I was going through a quarter life crisis–people have those right? I began combing the degree completion plans to see if anything really fit me. I dreaded to tell my parents because after all, they were paying for me to get a degree in something. I didnt want them to think I was wasting their hard earned dollars. I began to pray, and pray, and pray. I begged for answers because I honestly just wanted to know the direction the Lord wanted me to go.

            It was uncomfortable. The not knowing what I was doing and the struggle of wondering whether I should stick it out haunted me. Throughout the process of praying and waiting on the Lord for the next step, I realized that the only reason I truly wanted to teach was because I thought there was security in it. I thought that at least when I would graduate I would know exactly what job I was looking for. Crawling out of this comfort zone was difficult. I had to let go of my idea of job security and embrace the Lords right hand in this season of my life and allow him to show me the path He wanted for me, not the one I was trying to force.

            From a young age, I had loved art. I enjoyed arts and crafts at camp and I liked doodling and drawing. While I never took many art classes in school I took one in high my senior year and loved it. I never considered a degree in the arts because I did not think one could make a decent living out of it. Looking back now, I see how foolish I was to put God in a box. I stepped out of the comfort zone of the major I felt was correct and into the unknown major of Graphic Design. My family was a little skeptical at first, especially since this was my third major. I cant say I blamed them, but I felt the Lords presence over the whole circumstance. It was scary to step into a brand new degree plan and start all over. It was scary to step into something that I felt no real security in. That being said, it was comforting to know I had stepped into something that I felt the Lords hand all over. Just as the Lord says in end of that passage, Do not fear; I will help you He helped me in the same way.

            That was two years ago. I had never used a Mac computer, and didnt even know how to turn it on in my first class. I had no idea about photography, or hand lettering, or what the Adobe programs were. All I knew was that the Lord had put me in this degree program and wanted me there. Now as a recent college graduate with a degree in Graphic Design and job that uses those skills I am grateful. I am grateful for the Lords provision. I am grateful for his prodding to step out of a comfort zone and into the unknown because it didnt just change my degree path, it change my life.

 

-Molly Hitch

 

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Getting Serious About Scripture

I have yet to read an article or hear a sermon on the unimportance of the Bible. No one is saying, “Actually, reading your Bible isn’t necessary!!” Why? Because we all know that it is important. The Bible is our sustenance, our source of comfort, the foundation for our values and beliefs as Christians. It’s the very place where we learn about Jesus; who he is, what he’s done. If we want to follow Jesus, reading the words of Jesus is a sure way to do it. Knowing all of this, why don’t we do it more? Why don’t I do it more?

I’m preaching to myself, here. People expect me to have it together already. I’m a pastor’s kid, an intern for a women’s ministry, I went to a Christian school, and I sing on Sunday mornings. But I can admit that I do not have it together. Not even close. There are people in my life that I am ashamedly guilty of envying because of how strong their faith is. I see the posts of people’s seemingly perfect lives- lovely Instagram pictures with Bible verses and stories of the Lord moving attached to each one- and I sit and wish that my faith were as strong as theirs. Meanwhile, I don’t make reading my Bible a priority, and I don’t run to the Lord when I’m in a crisis. I can admit this publicly because I want to change this behavior pattern that I have had for too long.

I want to get serious about chasing after the Lord. I know that God has so much more joy and hope and freedom for me, and it can be found within the pages of His word. I know this because it is perfect (Psalm 18:30), it’s true (Psalm 33:4), and it’s forever (Isaiah 40:8). These three qualities can only be used together to describe the Lord and His word, and I want to know both of them a lot better. So if you can relate to any of this, join me. I have a plan. I’m going to start in Matthew and read all the way through the New Testament. And by reading 3-4 chapters a day, I’ve found I can get it done by the end of 2015. So join me in making the Bible a priority and seeking the Lord on a daily basis. Join me in attacking the root of jealousy and getting real with Jesus and others around me.

 

-Taylor Hughes

mountaintopgirl

How to Find Comfort in an Uncomfortable World

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

Isaiah 40:1-2 (ESV) reads:

Comfort, comfort my people,

Says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

And cry to her

that her warfare is ended,

that her iniquity is pardoned,

that she has received from the

LORD’s hand

double for all her sins.

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

Your warfare ends with Jesus.

Your iniquity is pardoned.

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

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

Verses 3-5 say,

A voice cries:

“In the wilderness prepare the

way of the LORD;

make straight in the desert a

highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,

And every mountain and hill

be made low;

the uneven ground shall become

level,

and the rough places a plain.

and the glory of the LORD shall

be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it

together,

for the mouth of the LORD has

spoken.”

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

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

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

-Taylor Hughes

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God Will Be Your Strength

Are you fully aware that your body is completely and utterly breakable? So many things that keep you breathing and alive depend on your body and sometimes it can fail. Maybe this is a little known fact, but there is an enzyme that your pancreas produces in order to break down your food to fuel your body so it can do the things it’s supposed to do. But what happens when that enzyme just suddenly disappears? What happens when you’re given a diagnoses that forces you to come to terms that your body has failed you?! “My flesh and my heart may fail….”

There are many things that fail you like friendships or even your body, but the One who formed your body; the One who breathed you to exist never will. I have had to come to terms the past few years with my shortcomings, being diabetic is one, but the steadiness of my Father’s faithfulness has kept me in His perfect peace. He has had to carry me through bouts of depression after being diagnosed and the frustration living with this illness had brought me but he always seems to bring me back to this verse: “My flesh and my heart may fail…” but He doesn’t stop there, the hope is coming…”but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”(Psalm 73:21) I don’t have to waste my thoughts on wishing away this failure, I can rest in knowing that even though I feel like I’m not good enough He is my strength.

I still may not understand the why of this situation but I can stand in His strength and rest. My body may fail me but my God never will. Sister, I don’t know what you’re going through or what you’re facing but just know that no matter what, lean on Christ; He’s all the strength you’ll ever need.

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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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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