The Chat on a Plaid Couch.

Late last night, or some would say early this morning,  I cuddled in a blanket, put on a stolen hoodie, and cozied up on a plaid couch and discussed idols with a few friends. No I’m not talking about American Idols, or our teen idols. I’m talking about the things we worship, those things that hold us back from being the best version of ourselves. The stuff that takes up so much of our time that it puts God at arms length.

Thinking on this subject I didn’t know what mine was. Everyone has one. But when asked by my best friend I immediately said fear. fear? How can fear be an idol? No one is particularly fond of fear, I don’t want to live in fear. But often times I do. It’s what holds me back, even if it isn’t something I enjoy, I still worship it.

scared

Exactly Zooey Deschanel, I think everyone can say they have lived in fear at some point in their life and fear makes you do stupid things.  Whether it’s fear of the unknown, fear of what others will think, fear of being an outcast, fear of failing, or fear of not being enough. Fear can be paralyzing.

Fear is the only power Satan has over us. He whispers in our ear our insecurities showering us in our doubts till we believe that thinking negative thoughts about ourselves is the norm. Satan tells us that the negative events in our past are not only what define us but somehow the bad things that happen to us are all our fault. In Satan’s grasp we are afraid to change because our insecurities have become our security blankets.  We lock ourselves in our cages every night, just to be let out by grace in the morning.  When did prison become so comfortable?

It’s in those cages of fear where I look to God and realize I have put him an arms length.  We have to decided if we want to live in fear or in faith, it’s almost impossible to live with both.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Romans 8:15 says “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”

1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

When your eyes are on God, there can be no fear because his love is perfect, and perfect love drives out fear. With the forces of God on your side Satan has no power over you, your insecurities are gone with the wind. Be strong knowing that God will not forsake you. He gave you the holy spirit that will act as the armor towards your enemies.

Even if that enemy is yourself.

I know what it’s like to live in paralyzing fear, and I am no way a master at getting rid of it but if there is one thing I learned from the chat on the plaid couch its that fear doesn’t define me. I am not a list of my insecurities, and I am much much more than my doubts. Jesus has defined me by my talents. The opinions of others are empty words when my eyes are fixed on God. Fear is a cage, but I have the key.

How do we live a fearless life?

Prayer. When  you feel locked in by fear pray, pray, pray, the words of God always drown out the whispers of Satan.

Talk to someone. Someone you trust, even professional help if you need to. Keeping to yourself only gives you one opinion. Yours. People see you from the outside, and sometimes all we need is to step outside ourselves in order to perceive a solution.

Fear. It cannot hold you. Insecurities cannot define you. Satan, has no power over you.

Remember that next time you find yourself reach for prison which God has already freed you from your punishment.

You can go tell the devil:

scared 2

God will be right there to back you up.

 

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What I learned at Women of Faith

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Women of Faith hit Philadelphia this weekend, and I couldn’t have been more blessed by the timing of this conference.  School had just started back up for me, and I was feeling empty. Physically, mentally and mostly spiritually.  I can make excuses all I want but to be honest, I wasn’t putting time into my relationship with Christ. I have been solely focused on my job, my schoolwork, reconnecting with old friends, and it was causing me to slip into old habits.

My mother works for this company so let’s just say I know the ropes, I have gone to these conferences several times before, I hear about them at the dinner table, and on the phone when I’m at school. I’ve seen the ins and outs of this, so going into it this conference almost felt routine to me. But it wasn’t. My mom traveled to me to see Women of Faith, it was in my city. A city have I claimed my home now since I fell in love last January. I had never been to this event, never been with this group of people (My roommate and her family, as well as a close friend). This was different and I couldn’t have been more excited.

Here are a Few things I learned from this weekend:

1. I need to make peace with my thighs. Anita Renfroe, a fabulous comedian sang a hilarious song about making peace with the most hated part of a women’s body. It’s so true, we have to stop pointing out what we don’t like about ourselves. So in honor of this event I bought a pair of pants.

2. Make the next right step. If you want to make the next change in your life, you just have to ask God to help you make the next right step. Sometimes we make things entirely too complicated because we are so focused on the end result we are seeking and we miss steps 1-99. Each step in the right direction makes a huge difference.

3. Shame doesn’t define you. Since I have been being honest  I will say this. I let my past haunt me. I carry my shame around with me because its all I know. Sheila Walsh spoke on shame and how it can paralyze you. She said that we are “happy to help others out of their dungeons just to go back and lock ourselves in ours”. It is so true. God doesn’t look at you and see shame. He sees the person you are becoming, the person he made you to be. Let the past be.

4. Forgiveness. Matthew West shared a gut wrenching story about the power of God’s forgiveness during his concert. It tore me apart because if this woman could forgive the man that killed her daughter how can I hold a grudge against a friend from years ago who betrayed me? God, is the jury and the judge, and he has called us to forgive, even our worst enemy. It is hard. But by the looks of it, it’s completely rewarding.

5. Don’t go to God because you want what you think He can give you. In the mist of bad circumstances, don’t lose hope in the goodness of God. He didn’t promise constant ease and happiness. Don’t lose hope when you pray for something and it doesn’t happen.  That doesn’t mean God isn’t working, as long as you are on this earth his work in your life will not end.

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(I’m just going to leave this here)

6.Run, if your massage therapist leads you to a yurt. (Ask Lisa Harper).

7. The Devil on his best day can’t take you out on your worst day. YOU ARE STILL HERE. Armor up. This is a spiritual battlefield. God is your shield. Miracles are possible because everything is possible with God.

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8.  Be beautiful and intelligent, and quickly get off that donkey. There’s a story in 1st Samuel 25 about a woman who listened for the word of the Lord, Abigail, and responded. I highly suggest reading the entire story (let’s just say its a good one.) We have to be swift in our responses to the opportunities God gives us. But before we do that, we have to be intelligent and listen for those opportunities. And her swiftness off that Donkey got her the man.

9. Be Silly. Let loose, stop worrying about what people think.

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10. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. That really encompasses it all doesn’t it? There is no shame in love. There is no condemnation in love. The devil cannot be in love. There is not hurt in love. There is forgiveness in love. There is peace in love. There is hope in love. God is love.

After this conference, I had the pleasure of visiting a youth group from the Week of Hope camp I was involved with this summer. It was a blessing to go to their church and surprise them. Love on them, and truly see how God can bring His people together.

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What a blessing to know such amazing individuals!

This weekend was truly a whirlwind, and I am going into this semester Revived, and ready for the highs and lows that come ahead. I feel firmly planted in the plan God has for me, and rejuvenated in the Spirit. God is good. God is so good.

To check out what Women of Faith is about click here

 

#PFSMS: You are Poetry

God's living property.

I found this quote on Pinterest, via my mom so thanks mom! It has really encouraged me this week as I struggled with self confidence upon starting a new semester. I have struggled with confidence issues since I was in middle school.  I think if we are all honest, there are things we are not fond of about ourselves. I can off the top of my head think of at least five things  I would change about myself if given an easy solution.

The things I would change are temporal. They are based on set of expectations place upon me by the media, by my culture. Expectations no one can meet considering even models are photoshopped these days. These insecurities can hold people captive, and lead to self loathing. Women especially in this society are programed to think that failure to reach these narrow standards of beauty, will make them undesirable. Their skin must be perfect, their hair the right style, their clothes from a certain brand and a certain size.  And even if we are that size there is always that 10 pounds we want to lose right ladies?

This quote from Pam Carbungco shows you what God sees when he looks at us. Beautiful, living poetry. Let’s break that down shall we?

beau·ti·ful

adjective \ˈbyü-ti-fəl\

 :  having qualities of beauty:  exciting aesthetic  pleasure
:  generally pleasing : excellent: of a very high standard
  • po·et·ry

    noun \ˈpō-ə-trē, -i-trē also ˈp(-)i-trē\

    : something that is very beautiful or graceful

    :  writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm

    You are God’s poetry, his concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged specifically to form you. You have meaning. You are of very high standard. You are excellent.  You are pleasing to the senses and mind.

    Just the way you are.

    No changes required. With God their is no size associated with your beauty, no makeup needed. He sees the darkest parts of your soul, even the stuff you cannot see and still calls you beautiful.

    In Song of Solomon 4:7 God says that “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”

    He says “She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her” in Proverbs 3:15

     And Let us not forget  “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) We are made in the image of him. If we believe God to be the God of the universe, why would we want to change how he created us? You look the way you are at this time because God created you to be this way. Just like when you look back at middle school photos and cringe, he created you in his image their as well. (Though circa 2007, my fashion choices were not so pleasant. ) You are beautiful because God is beautiful.

    You are God’s poetry. His work of art. Live your life as such. And don’t apologize to society for being different than it’s standards. When I look to God, there is nothing I would change about myself. He fills in the cracks where I am lacking and makes me whole.

    So when you approach Monday feeling down on your self. Think of the most beautiful poem you read. Imagine how inconceivably more beautiful God’s poetry is. And I am his poetry.

    In the words of Beyonce “I woke up like this… FLAWLESS”.

Strengthen me Sunday

I find Sundays extremely invigorating because  its a better Monday than Mondays are. Most people think Monday starts the week but in fact that’s Sundays job. People hate Mondays, but love Sundays. Its refreshing start, a cuddle day, a “Im going to finally start that novel” kind of day. Sundays are for brunches with the girlfriends, BBQ’s, and catching up on cleaning. Sunday is my favorite day of the week.

 

So Let’s start the week off right! I am going to post a “Strengthen me Sunday” post every week to start the week off on a positive note. So when Monday comes, it isn’t quite as dreadful.

 

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I have been sitting on this verse for awhile now.  Writing it down over and over again, reading around it in the bible trying to fully grasp it. It seems so simple. The Lord stood with me and he strengthened me. What does it mean to strengthened by God? How does he strengthened me? When will I know that I have been strengthened?

strength·en

verb \ˈstreŋ(k)-thən, ˈstren(t)-\

: to make (someone or something) stronger, more forceful, more effective, etc.

Seems self explanatory right?  But what kind of strength is God referring to.

strength

noun \ˈstreŋ(k)th, ˈstren(t)th\

: the quality or state of being physically strong

: the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force

: the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way

Let’s reread this verse.  The Lord stood by me, and made me more resistant to being moved or broken by force. He stood by me and made me physically strong. He stood by me and made me more able to deal with problems in a determined or effective way.

He did that just by standing by me.

stand

 verb \ˈstand\\

: to be in an upright position with all of your weight on your feet

 :to maintain one’s position <stand firm>

:  to hold a course at sea

:  to be in a position to gain or lose because of an action taken or a commitment made <stands to make quite a profit>

:  to tolerate without flinching :  bear courageously

:  to exhibit courage, strength, or calm especially in the face of adversity
The Lord stands by me. He tolerates without flinching, he can hold a course at sea, he puts himself in a position to gain or lose because of my actions. He exhibits courage, strength and calm especially in the face of adversity.
Now, this verse seems a to be a bit more than its looks.
The verses around it our extremely interesting as well:

16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

        -2 Timothy 4:16-18

The lord will stand by you even when no one else will. He will stand by you and rescue you from evil. He will rescue you so you can  tell the world the message of his love. God will strengthen you so you can share that strength with others who have yet to accept it.

The Lord stands by you, he strengthens you, he will do that till your last day. But do people know that about you? Do people know that the God of the universe will stand by them to? He stands by you and strengthens you, so you can tell the world. Are you willing to do that?

So tomorrow, when you’re late in the morning, or you burnt your toast, and it starts to turn into a real Monday. Whisper to yourself, “but the Lord stood by me and strengthen me.”  Write it down and put it by your desk so when things get rough you’ll remember. He is standing by you right now.  Tell someone about that strength. Pray for God to stand by someone who is in need of strength. The Lord gave you strength, use it.