Check, Mate?

 

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Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and my plate. As a teacher, a lot of times people approach me saying, “What are you doing with all your time off this summer?” And I don’t have a clue where to begin. Don’t get me wrong, nowhere in the explanation of things I do is there a complaint, because they’re all choices. BUT there’s a lot that come with them…. last week alone I taught 30 swim lessons. 30 hours in a chlorine tank… my poor hair. I returned two weeks ago from an absolutely fantastic family vacation. –Who knew the state of Oregon had so much to offer??– My best friend is coming home from Sweden and I could not be more pumped! My sweet friends here have a lot going on that I love supporting them in. For example, meeting Shelby at one of several fun locations for our 6am runs every day of the week that we are both in town to join in her preparation for college soccer. I think I’ve just about covered the tip of the iceberg, and I’d say you get the gist of my hectic nature.

But with all of this crazy, it has helped me to appreciate my devotional time that much more. My time alone, with God & my bible, for a break from the world.

When I have time to sit and be honest with myself, I begin to realize that throughout these events, while being so surrounded, I can sometimes find myself feeling quite lonely. Looking up on family vacation, surrounded by my married parents, aunts, and uncles. Seeing couples bringing in their adorable children to swim lessons or working out next to me in the fitness center. Wedding season…. yeah.

I’ve always had conflict reflecting on all of the life I’ve lived through, am still living, and have to live. Part of me loves my busy; With all of the pieces the Lord has provided to give me such a full life. Yet some days, when I haven’t taken the time to refill my cup, I have found a piece of myself feeling empty.

For the longest time I believed that missing piece was a significant other. A person in my life to share all of my days with. I would often find my eyes wondering to left hands when I would meet new people or be in new places, because women or men with a ring on their left hand felt like a whole world away.

Think about it…

“She is my whole world.”

“He completes me.”

“I can’t imagine going through this life without them.”

Doesn’t that seem to fill the missing? Make the bad better? Make even the happy happier?

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I run into people I haven’t seen in a while from time to time and they ask the generic, How are you? Where are you working now? Both of which I can answer… I’ve got plenty of life to talk about over here.

But then, many people ask about relationships.

It always gets interesting when people find out you’re 26 years old, and single.

Facial expressions at this point are a little hard to read. A nice mix of, “Okay, what is wrong with you”, and a little bit of, “That’s sad.”

But almost always I am “comforted” with,

“Oh, I’m sure the right one is about to come along before you know it”,

“God’s preparing an extra special one for you”,

or something encouraging to assure me that the right guy will pop into my life any day now.

I use to cling to this. I use to take their encouragement to heart and believe, “You know, they’re probably right, I’ll find that person.”

But what if I don’t.

What if God’s plan for me is a life that was meant to be lived in singleness; maybe just this chapter, or maybe every chapter. What if throughout the path I have taken, I started to believe that my desires equated my destiny through believing those desires had to come true… maybe even with reference of verses such as Psalm 37:4,

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Clearly, that just told me God couldn’t give me such a strong desire for something that was not meant to be? But then… did God give alcoholics the desire for alcohol? Did he give drug addicts the desire for drugs? Did he give thieves the desire to steal? Murderers the desire to kill? Toward the end of those questions my answers come out a little quicker… No, sin did that, not God.


Desires do not equal Destiny


 

In looking at the desires of our heart, that could be anything! I desire a puppy, I desire a BLT Sandwich, I desire a lawn that doesn’t require mowing. That doesn’t mean God is going to make those things appear in my life today, tomorrow, or ever.  Following verse 4, In Psalm 37:5 we read,

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

This shows how the context of a verse is so valuable. The world we live in is far from perfect. Spiritual warfare is a real thing and worldly desires are plenty. Psalm 37:5 is telling us that when we focus our lives on the pursuit of Christ, the desires of our lives will be met, because our desires will be those of Christ, not our earthly home.

In Matthew 16:24-25 we read, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

I want to pursue Christ in the way that so many of us pursue relationships, a night out, or money. I want to die to my own agenda, my own desires, and the things of the world which I have believed were needs, in order to follow him and see the true fulfillment of my life.

All of us have fleshly desires. This could include alcohol, drugs, sex, gluttony, violence, greed… (context is important here, yet again).  Our world often supports these desires. I couldn’t even begin to count the times I have read, “If it makes you happy, do it.” on social media within the past week even… but you see, when we exist of the world, rather than with a focus on Christ, our desires may sway like the branches of a tree in the wind, and often its one of those skinny branches that’s flying all over the place. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

— Do me a favor y’all? —

Maybe the next time you are enjoying a conversation with a single individual, focus on what they are doing, their passions, their kingdom work. Support them as an individual who is valuable to the church even in their singleness. They may be single for a day, a month, or forever. They may desire a relationship, they may not. But they need you. They need you to be encouraging of what they already are, rather than encouragement of things that “may” come. Although singleness is my challenge/perspective, keep in mind this could be relevant far beyond just singles. We all have a personal battle, and every one of us needs love and support. Be that for others!

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 There’s a chess reference coming your way, so hopefully you’re a chess lover like me, as nerdy as that is.

Singles, or addicts, or people who just really really like cake, if you haven’t already, hand your battle to God. Pray for clarity. Pray that He would help you to pursue Him, rather than what your heart is currently longing for. Pursue serving others, spreading joy, and recognizing all of the opportunities you’re given in this chapter of your life to show as many people as you can the love of Jesus. When it comes to that desire you want, you can not continue to fill your soul with expectations that will crush you when they don’t work out. Sometimes when people, events, or instances pass through they’re meant to show us just how quickly things can change, how fast they can fall in to place, and the reassurance that we shouldn’t dwell when we seem to be in check. There’s clearly a way of recovery, you are NOT in check mate.

A queen can save the king , but so can the bishop (family), knight (friends), rook (coworkers, church family), or pawn (acquaintances, old friends, etc). And even sometimes, the King can save himself!

Surround yourself with people, activities, and things that remind you that your pursuit in life should not be focused fully on a career, a relationship, your next meal or drink… your pursuit should be after Jesus.

You are not alone.

 


Stop continually looking left and right for answers when all you have to do is look up.


 

Each day when I wake up, I make a choice. What am I filling my cup with today? Am I filling it with biblical encouragement, prayerful servanthood, and passion for my pursuit? Or instead, am I allowing others to fill my cup? Resulting in it holding loneliness, inadequacy, or maybe some shame, bitterness, or resentment.

I choose joy. 

With the occasional side of moodiness, because well, life.

But, JOY. That’s what I want, and so should you.

So go fill up your cup and start this beautiful day God has blessed us with.

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I Run For The Son

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Friday morning I ran with my friend Katlyn. We ran at the park, which served up a nice 3 mile loop of hills and valleys. You probably don’t know my friend Katlyn, but she runs marathons. I adore her for that…. {I think the cap for me is a nice 10k.} This morning though, we started off together, at the beginning of the loop. It didn’t take long and Katlyn ran in front of me, but never far enough that I couldn’t see her. Occasionally, I had to push myself to go a little faster so I wouldn’t lose sight of her around a curve or over a hill, but you see, she was setting an example for me. Running is a skill of hers. While I do run, she has ran marathons, and has trained her body to endure any run she throws at it. We both finished the race, but at our own pace….

Man, Pace.

Pace is consistent and continuous speed in walking, running, or moving. You see, I never stopped or ran the other way. I kept moving. And while Katlyn’s pace was not my own, our goal was the same, and we finished the race.

In life, we need people in our lives to help us have vision. We have our own place, our own purpose, and our own pace, but we weren’t meant to go at this life alone. Sometimes, I go out and run on my own. Most days, I finish my run successfully, but every now and then my muscles will cramp, I’ll get tired, I’ll trip, or even just have a mentally bad day, and I’ll stop. I’ll walk or run less than I had intended. Most of the time, afterwards, I’m disappointed with myself or don’t feel as well as I would have if I had finished my run for the day, or if I had that friend spurring me on.

{We were never meant to do life on our own}

 


Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. …1Corinthians 9:24

That prize? It’s not the calories burned marker, the first place medallion, or the bragging rights… There’s a much greater prize at stake here.
When I was younger, I hated running… I’m talking a fiery, burning, passionate dislike for it. Then this past year I had a bit of a mindset change. Before, running was something I Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 8.54.58 AMhad to do. I either had to in order to please a coach for soccer, to be in shape for conditioning tests, or the worst, for weight-loss. In my mind, running had a negative connotation. One day, I decided I was going to stop running for any other reason that I wanted to do it for the Lord. I actually was online one day and I found this shirt that said, “In Jesus Name I Play”. Whew, that was right up my ally. I’m a pretty puny person, If I do say so myself. If I was still playing college soccer or maybeee even church league softball I could probably pull it off, but I’m not really a “player” anymore, in my own mind. I officially had a mission to create a pun relevant to my current life. Finally, I had it….

I Run for the Son.


I was already committed to running an upcoming 5k, so I decided to be a little extra and 2even get a shirt made. But if I have the shirt, I actually have to do it… so I did. Every time I went to run I’d throw on my tank top (Well, not every time, I’m not that good at getting the laundry done), put on my Heart Hustle Jesus jams playlist on spotify, and I’d have my own little worship session as I put one foot in front of the other.

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” …Jeremiah 12:5


 

But she outran me… But shes faster than me… But she’s in better shape than me… All of these were true, but were they relevant? Did these factor into whether I could finish MY race?

 

You see, God has a race for each of us. While Katlyn’s race is beautiful, and I am thankful for her pace, it wasn’t meant to be mine. If I had tried to keep her pace I may have prevented myself from finishing. I even could have caused myself unnecessary pain… but isn’t this what we do so often in life? We want to be like her. We all have a “her”, or two, or five… We compare our looks, what we have, our abilities, our accomplishments, our timeline to those around us. Our sights weren’t meant to be set on those around us though. While we are meant to live in relationships, our sights should be directed on the plan, purpose, and beauty that the Lord has set out individually for us.

 


I will chase after Your commandments because You will expand my understanding. …Psalm119:32


 

To chase: to pursue, to follow, or to devote ones attention to.

I want to be running after God. I want to be so focused on pursuing him, that the life cramps, the puddles on doubt, the shin splints of hatred, and the devils whispers are things that may trip me but never stop me from running. I want to have so much focus on him and his plan, that my plans seem minuscule. I pray the same for you.

 


Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When  times are good, be happy but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. …Ecclesiastes 7:13-22


 

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I think I’m in Love.

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What if we loved people like it was their Birthday,

Every Day?

I feel like every year when my birthday comes around I reach this thought in my head. To me, Birthdays are simply magical. On this one day, every person around you makes you feel special and loved. People give you compliments that you’ve never expected, people you don’t even know send you well wishes, and the really awesome people in your life go out of their way to surprise you and surpass the level of greatness IMG_1379you had them at in your head already.

That doesn’t mean that birthdays don’t also come with their fair share of disappointments. When I was younger, my mother told me that one of my biggest faults was that I would set high expectations, and get disappointed when life didn’t turn out like the beautiful design I had in my head.

Birthdays don’t exempt you from flat tires, bad-day-having unpleasant individuals, forgetful family members, rain, work deadlines, shin splints, etc. Life goes on, despite the fact that you are officially one year older, an in the case of turning 26, you officially can’t be on your parents insurance anymore. What a bummer…

In this world we live in, there is quite a bit of “bad“. You don’t have to look too far to see that violence, bitterness, resentment, anger, and hatred surround us – and man, the devil thrives in that. People have a lot of struggles, and while birthdays and holidays can bring out joy and happiness, sometimes it brings pain. Some people have lost a parent, or two, and that brings them sorrow on these special days. Some are victims of domestic violence, unhealthy relationships, or painful surroundings, so to them, this day cannot offer an escape they may desperately need. no matter how diverse the circumstances, We each have a battle of our own.


 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world“ …JOHN 16:33

 


This brings me to what I believe to be one of the greatest misconceptions we have as Christians… that God wants us to be happy.

While I personally seek happiness – good days filled with positive vibes and success – that isn’t what we are promised by our faith, or should ever EXPECT.

Rather, God offers us peace. Peace &Understanding that this world is not our home, but one day, when we are called home, then will be the truest happiness, shared with Him.


 

We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” …ACTS 14:22

Paul says, “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses” …2 CORINTHIANS 6:4

 


My childhood complaint of, “That’s not fair” had far more validity than I ever knew. But that’s what brings me back to the Joy of Birthdays. When I was younger, I wasn’t the easiest child to understand, even with my outspoken nature. Mom would try everything. If she didn’t bring attention to my special day, I would be disappointed. If she did, I would be embarrassed. I couldn’t simply embrace the love and appreciate it for what it was. My mother love(d/s) me, I have no doubt, but I was simply so hard to love.

I had to grow up, I had to mature, and in turn, learn to be loved, and to love others. The world we live in does not make this an easy feat, but our Bible sure has a lot to offer us on the concept.


 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. …1CORINTHIANS 13:13

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ” …MATTHEW 22:36-40

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. …1CORINTHIANS 1:1-3

 


On May 22nd, 2018, I turned 26 years old. I was surrounded by students restlessly nearing the end of their school years, coworkers keeping up their smiles for the closing IMG_1426days, friends who put on their kindest faces and best hugs, family who showered me with kind words, and of course the mass social media of “Happy Birthday’s!” and “I hope you’re doing wells.” I had an amazing day. My best friends got me flowers, the best rug with all of 1st Corinthians on it, a Taco shirt, the most spot-on coffee cup, and some darling accessories. My mother got me a subscription to God’s Glory Box which has me highly anticipating June 1st and I received a wall full of beautifully loving Birthday cards. My Students, Coworkers, Friends, Family, and even some strangers met all of my Love Language Needs, making it a forever memorable day, and for that I could not be more thankful.

At the end of my day, as I laid in bed still on an emotional high from all the birthday joy, I had to wonder how many people need more days like this. More days where they feel loved and full. I have my fair share of bad days, but I can cure those with a little help from my friends (orimg_1423.jpg Mom), the gym, and/or the right music playlist. But as I look around, day to day, I see some sad faces. Some struggles. Some heartache. Some Joy. Some anxiety. Some wish-fullness. Some doubt. Oh, how the emotions could be listed forever…. I cant help but wonder, What am I doing to help?

When was the last time I sent someone a card in the mail for something other than their birthday or an event?

When was the last time I went out of my way to text someone just to brighten their day?

Throughout the day, do I invest in others by asking them about their day, their week, their life?

How have I loved people lately?


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” …JOHN 13:34-35


Definition of love

1 : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
2 : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
3 : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
4 : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. …1CORINTHIANS13:4-8


I use the word Love daily….

unnamedI love Coffee, I love Orange Lily’s, I love Sushi, Tacos, and Chicken – Not all together of course, I love the colors Navy and Maroon, I love WWJD Bracelets… All that “love“, and those are simple objects, foods, and material things.

I love my Mother, My family, My friends, My Church Family, My students, My Coworkers, My Classmates…

But then, there’s God.

 


But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. …ROMANS 5:8


 

He gave his life, he washed my sins, he watches over me daily, he seeks a relationship with me, he knocks on the door of my heart and waits for my answer, he wants my future despite my past.

I am forever in His love.

I am His beloved.

I have His love above all else.

You have His love above all else.

Are you sharing it with others?

Who are we taking with us to heaven?

Who have we helped reach this eternal joy?

This Eternal Love.

 

Are you living -in- Love?

His Love?


Beloved,
let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

…1JOHN 4:7-8


Even Camo Can’t Hide This

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Last Wednesday I spilled baked beans on my favorite blue and white striped pants. I was having lunch with my department. No one seemed to be paying attention, so I grabbed a paper towel and wet it with my water bottle then proceeded to rub out the pretty brown spot on my left thigh. Thursday I spilled black coffee down my white tank top in the middle of class. Luckily, my students were taking a quiz and I was wearing a button up over the top. I quickly wet a paper towel, blotted out the coffee, and buttoned up my shirt until the white dried without a mark. Friday morning I was getting ready for work and IMG_2217once again spilled black coffee down the front of my white T-shirt. I was at home, so normally my first instinct would’ve been to just change and go on with my day, but instead, this week had clearly trained me to get a wet paper towel and clean the spot, then go along with my day still intact.

I promise I’m not ALWAYS this consistently messy. I mean, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I spilled my lunch on myself, or even my coffee for that matter. I do recall the last time I tried to put makeup on after getting dressed… I have no idea what I was thinking. That white shirt couldn’t be saved by a paper towel and water, but the washing machine did the trick!

Often times in our lives, stains occur. I’m talking literally and figuratively.

I have a bad habit of allowing Satan to bring up my past and get me down. Creeping thoughts of:

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But this week, with the help of my own clumsiness and probably a slight nudge from the Lord, I’m reminded just how stains are cleaned.

215797_492896417399711_1075400613_n-e1526254221914.jpgDon’t get me wrong, growing up my mom had to work pretty hard on some of the literal stains I 163252_175501785805844_4013993_ncreated in order to recover items. I have soccer shirts that will never recuperate from my mud sliding goalie ways. But I have learned that the sooner you work to get the stain out, the better your chances are!

Satan wants us to lose. He wants us to believe we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t worthy, but the Lord has already told us we are. Time and time again, if we seek him and listen, he will remind us.



 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. -Psalm 46:5 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. -2 Timothy 1:7  

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.-Jeremiah 29:11

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” -Isaiah 43:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. -Romans 5:1-5

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. -Joshua 1:5



Jesus washed away every stain and continues to carry us throughout each to come. It is your choice to let your stains be removed, or to allow them to set in and stay where they are.

Trust him.

Seek him.

Let him take away your stains.

The lord is knocking.

Waiting.

Open the door,

And let your stains be cleaned.


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. -Revelation 3:20


 

I’m Surrounded By Idiots

          The time was around 11:45pm, way past my bedtime I might add, and we were on the hunt for Ice Cream. In the car following a Chrysalis gathering at a church in Owensboro, I was with my dear friend Geyna. I had her phone, trying to find a song to play, but first noticed that her phone screen background was of Scar, from the Lion King. It read,

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Ya know, I feel that, but it caught me a little off guard, Geyna probably being one of the nicest people I know and all. At the moment, the “idiots” she was surrounded by were myself and sweet friend Kayla, with Chelsea, Abby, and Austin following behind us. Hah! I, personally, took no offense. Anyone who saw us that night would maybe use some nicer adjectives, including but not limited to sleep-deprived or slap-happy. Our Ice Cream attempts began with DQ – Closed, then Baskin Robins – Closed despite their deceiving internet closing time, finally, settling for McDonald’s – they notified us in the drive through that the ice cream machine was off at 9:30. So, Huddle House it was. Guys, IMG_2159it was beautiful. at shortly after midnight we had officially demolished three milkshakes, a monster sundae cookies, two waffle sundaes, and Chelsea had even drank a coffee cup of syrup as a result of a 86 cent bribe. We were so full, wound up on sugar, yet more than ready for bedtime.

While we may have seemed wild to our poor waiter, we had so much IMG_2250.JPGgood clean fun that night. Beginning with dinner, followed by worship together, and ending with a late night desert. I couldn’t be more thankful for the people in my life with whom I can share times like these. People who love me for who I am, the goofy or the serious. People who bring me joy. People who challenge me to be the best I can be, even sometimes past my bedtime.

This was a good time, with some good people, but times like these, we choose who we are surrounded by. Then there are other times life offers us. Times where our surroundings are more so chosen for us. We encounter individuals daily whom we don’t necessarily choose to interact with. What about our Co-workers? Those we attend school with? Those on our athletic team, club, or small group? How about people you pass in Walmart, those you’re behind in the drive through, or even friends of friends we end up around? People we befriend on Facebook, follow on twitter or Instagram, or add on snapchat? Our world is a very social place, and you can quickly find yourself surrounded by a multitude of diverse people.

What does the bible say about the company we keep?


He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm. -Proverbs 13:20

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” -1 Corinthians 15:33

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.2 Timothy 3-4 


Does this mean that as Christians who desire a walk with the lord we abandon the rest of this world and view ourselves as above others who are not sharing our same walk?


Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
He also told them this parable: Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?Luke 6:37-39
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” -Mark 16:15
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.-1 John 2:9-11

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. –Romans 2:1-5
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Luke 6:41-42

While we are called to stand apart, and surrounding ourselves with those who are going to support us and help us in our walk, we are called to Love. Love our Father, Family, Friends, Neighbors, Strangers… As the second greatest commandment says, Love your neighbor as yourself. While we are different than the world we live in, we must work each day to show this world the love and joy that is to offer through our faith that we have chosen.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.-1 Peter 2:9

{{Insert Matthew West – Do Something Lyrics.. If you’ve never heard it, go give it a listen}}

 

While each day, we may feel like Scar, “Surrounded by Idiots”.

We must be better,

We must love more,

We must try harder,

to be the best version of ourselves while we await the return of our Jesus Christ, setting the goal of taking everyone with us when he does.

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Ugly Nails, Ugly Me.

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For three years of my life, following college, I was obsessed with having my nails done. I found it interesting the other day that as I sat down to dinner with a friend and we discussed this she had never noticed that I always had perfectly manicured nails. You see, my sweet friend Amber could care less what my nails look like, she cares about my soul.

As many women do, I see flaws in my appearance. My nails were an imperfection that could be fixed fairly easily (not inexpensively though). I had come to the stance that having my nails done, gave me a comfort of having my life together a little more. Some of you may think that is insane, others may be able to relate.

This seed of security was set deep inside of me when I was in a relationship shortlyIMG_2881 out of college. My boyfriend at the time was a very active and in-shape individual. He also often pointed out things that he did or did not approve of when other people were around, such as, how leggings might look on an individual, how a girl’s nails were done nicely, or if someone in the movie we were watching was “looking good”. Now, had this individual been dating someone who was confident in their own skin, these comments probably would have flown by with no weight. For me, they were printed in my mind.

For years, I placed my worth in how people reacted to me, what people thought of me, what accomplishments I could achieve, what accolades I acquired. I would sway like a tree in the wind, with the wind being relationships, friendships, soccer, work, social media, culture, etc.

Fast forward two years…

In January, my nails had grown out and it was about time to get them done again, but for once I actually considered just leaving them undone. Out of habit, I went to the nail salon one night after school and got a fill-in. Two days later, one broke. I wasn’t doing anything strenuous like lifting or work outside, I was at home doing simple chores. Well, alright then. I reacted by peeled off the remaining freshly done nails (absolutely not the least painful process ever) and went without for the first time in two years. And then, cold turkey, the nail obsession was done. -Side note, I by no means img_2246-e1522707471750.jpgam bashing those that get their nails done, I’m sure at some point in the future I’ll get them done again. BUT – I was able to stop placing any value of my beauty, in something as simple as my nails.

Nails, Hair Length, Hair Color, Eyebrows, Eyelashes, Arms, Stomach. Thighs, Ankles, Toes…. My goodness the list of things women (and maybe men) pick themselves apart over could go on and on. It’s everywhere – Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Magazines, TV… How to get longer hair fast… the newest diet trend to lose weight… what makeup can slim and accent your face… The world tells us how much our worth is based upon material and physical things. Not even just the world. If we listen to some of the people around us at work, the gym, class, our partners, harsh family members, the list goes on and on. I was hearing all of this and I was missing the game changer.

My worth, is not valued in these things. My worth, is not based on my flesh that the world sees, but rather that which the Lord has blessed me with. My worth comes from the Lord. We are called to live in this world – this world of appearance, self-obsession, and continual pursuit of the next best – but not of this world. I sure was living here, I let it be my home. I was embracing all that the world had to tell me, and I was never enough. NEVER.

nev·er – ˈnevər/ adverb 1. at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever. synonyms: not ever, at no time, not at any time, not once; 2. not at all.

Well, that sounds pretty hopeless.

But then, I found my hope. I found my hope in his words.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. -Psalm 139:13-15

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. –Luke 12:6-7

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. -1 Peter 3:3-4

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. –Song of Songs 4:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. -1 Samuel 16:7

She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand, in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her oaths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. -Proverbs 3:15-18

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Proverbs 31:30

Every single day that I wake up, I have a choice. I can choose to focus on the flaws of my IMG_2698outer appearance, or I can chose every day to fight and be a woman the Lord would be proud of. I use to wake up and before my feet even hit the floor, the devil had defeated me. I still have some days that I don’t even make it to the front door before something goes wrong. I do, however, recognize that I am not fighting this world. I’m not even fighting the negative person at work, the mad parent, the person speaking negatively of me. I am fighting something much more powerful that I cannot even see, and I am choosing to win. I hand that battle over to my father. Each day, I work to be the best I can be, so that when the day comes that I get to stand in front of my Dad in heaven, I can say I did my best to make him proud. I worked with the life he blessed me with, did my best to use the gifts he gave me, to spread his love and his hope each and every day, through my love, my hope, and my beauty that comes from within.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9

 

 

Pullin a Paul.

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Three Christmas’ ago I had a housewarming/Christmas party for some of my closest friends at the time. I had about 9 ladies come over for spaghetti and the best of Christmas games and festivities. In my own creative fashion, I decided to put a spin on dirty Santa, and decided I wanted to “mug” Santa this Christmas. So, I purchased about 12 blank mugs in diverse sizes and colors, then pinterested quotes until I found one I felt would be fitting for each of the beauties that would be in attendance. I painted each quote for 12  unique mugs. As per usual, some ladies had to cancel due to holiday responsibilities, so after all of the Santa mugging I was left with three of the cups I had created. This particular cup, found its home in my cabinet.

I had chosen the quote,

“He offered her the world, She said she had her own.”

for a friend of mine.

My mug said,

You’re allowed 5 emotional minutes in your day, then you gotta be a gangsta.”

Fitting, I know.

Of course, with my obsession for coffee, you’d think that every coffee cup in my home would get regular use…. but you’re underestimating the amount of mugs I hold ownership off. I’m pretty sure I end up getting a new one every holiday, and that is in no way a complaint.

This particular mug reappeared when I moved into my current apartment and found its way to my mug centerpiece and then into my hand this past week. I filled my cup, then wondered over to the fridge, sitting the cup on my stove as I needed two hands to be careful not to drop my carton of creamer, not that I’ve done that before or anything. When I stopped, backed up, and looked at the mug, sitting on the stove burner, I couldn’t help but see an analogy. Bear with me.

I am 25 years old.

I have a bachelors degree in mathematics education.

I graduate in May with a Masters in Teacher Leadership with a Mathematics emphasis.

I am currently teaching high school mathematics for the fourth year at my alma mater.

I attend an amazing church and stay involved in so many beautiful aspects.

I work at our local gym, teaching swim lessons for young kids.

I regularly volunteer time with my family serving at our local Food Pantry.

I have my own apartment in town, with my own vehicle parked outside.

 

All of these things that could be considered accomplishments. All very attainable with time and focus. All filling my schedule to the brim. Still, on a regular basis, the world tells me I haven’t achieved the norm. I haven’t accomplished enough, because I am single.

I am the coffee cup believing I have my own world to live and embrace, but I am sitting upon the burning ways of this world.

Scrolling through a Facebook feed, Instagram timeline, or even walking through church can sometimes be painful. Hearing, “Awe honey, the Lord is preparing the right one for you” or “The right time will come” are all words meant in loving support, but realistically is this something we should believe?

I attended a church gathering around a year ago and had the opportunity to sit and chat with many christian peers I admire and look up to. One individual I was seated with during my meal happened to be an elderly lady who is a clergy. As we sat and enjoyed our meal, she said something that smacked me so hard in the face.

She said,

“Dear, I didn’t meet my husband until I was fifty one years old, and I sure wasn’t searching for him. I knew I alone had to bring one hundred percent to my Lord every single day, and if a man came along wanting to offer the Lord one hundred percent beside me, then that’s up to the good Lord, and together we can offer him two hundred percent.”

WHAT. A. PERSPECTIVE. I don’t even know if I responded to her. I honestly think I just sat there pondering the weight that statement held. How often do we hear people say, “He completes me?” or “They’re my other half.” Don’t get me wrong, I have been one of those people in relationships past.

So, taking those wise words, I decided to dig into my Bible…

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:11-12

 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Mark 12:25

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:32–34

Now, let me be clear, the Bible shares that marriage is a gift, a beautiful one to be cherished, I am not taking away from that! I am simply sharing my discoveries on singleness and the perspectives I feel, personally.

Singleness is something to be cherished. For far to long, I thought singleness was somewhat of a punishment, or a result of past mistakes, and I was in turn missing out on precious time to grow. Time to spend chasing after the relationship our father intended to have with us. A time to bring all of our attention to his kingdom.

Singleness has it’s struggles, the two most common struggles of singles are loneliness and sexual temptation. Our worlds stance on these two can quickly lead singles astray, as it even can those in relationships. Christianity in the culture we live in requires continual pursuit of relationships with friends and family, particularly those who will keep you accountable and desire to join you on your daily quest of a life focused on the Lord. Pressing forward in pursuit of the real prize, we spend our time on this earth chasing after that which would make our father above proud; spreading love and hope. Singleness brings us time to focus it all on on him, our father in heaven, as Paul did.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. -1 Corinthians 7:7

Lastly, Rather than find comfort in the words of hope of an earthly relationship, we singles can find comfort in that while singleness may be a chapter or a story of our lives in this world, It is not a permanent state:

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready. -Revelation 7:17, 19:7


You are already a Bride, be sure to make yourself ready, daily, for our heavenly relationship, above all others.

He offered her the world, She said she had her own.♥