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’ve learned from being Single

 

Well, I’m single and pretty much have always been so I think it’s best to say that I am a professional single person. I spend my friday nights (Like tonight) watching Netflix with my pumpkin spice chai, and a big blanket just like every other single girl. NO, I do not have a cat, or seven. Yes, I’ve heard the cliches, like this one:

single ladies

 

And I get it, please don’t mention it again.

It angers me. I’ve gone out with all my friends and their boyfriends and felt the awkwardness that most of the time I created myself being the third, fifth, seventh or even ninth wheel. (I mean seriously vehicles cannot function like that its a good analogy).  So, mostly this post is to say…if you’re single..I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!!!!

But it’s also because Im angry that single ladies get a bad wrap in today’s society, and I think it’s time we put an end to it! I mean if we had our way we wouldn’t be single right ladies? But right now we have to own up to our good name and stop being defined by our relationship status! It’s okay to be single. It really is.

Here are some things I learned from being a professional single person:

1. And this is the most important rule. Pants are overrated.  Being single means friday nights, coming home and spending the whole weekend without pants if you want to.  Wearing an oversized t-shirt is my favorite form of pajamas, single people have it made when it comes to nightwear.

pants

 

 

Also, this is pretty nice too:

boobs.

 

2. Time. it’s all yours. Seriously, you get to schedule your time, and choose when and where you go and who you their with. With a significant other their schedule gets involved and the word COMPROMISE gets involved.

3.  Independence. Being single has allowed me to fend for myself and learn how to stand my ground in the world. I’ve never had a man to depend on, so I know even in the rough times in the future I can be alone and depend on myself.

4. In all honesty, Loneliness sucks. I’ve spent many nights alone in my apartment in my own loneliness wishing I had someone to share my life with. That loneliness has forced me to go out and make new friends, take myself out to dinner, go on coffee dates with myself, even shop by myself. All of these little outings revealed to me that I am never truly alone.

5. YOU DONT NEED A MAN TO MAKE YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL. I think that is general misconception. I am beautiful and single. Two separate things. Just because you are single doesn’t mean that you aren’t attractive. It’s corny and no single lady wants to hear this but, the right man will come and tell you you’re beautiful but until then keep showing off your beauty to the world so he may see it when he comes along.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL because GOD MAKES BEAUTIFUL THINGS!beautiful things

 

 

6. Men get lost. A wise women once said “My man is lost and won’t ask for directions.” Patience sucks but if God put the desire in your heart to love someone in that way, you best believe he will fill it. It just might not be on your timing because let’s face it, men never ask for directions. I’d rather have a relationship on God’s timing than my own, he is preparing me for a man. And he is preparing that man for me. I don’t want a man God has only half prepared for me, I want nothing but the best.

7. I don’t like cats.  Not all single ladies are destine to be CAT LADIES.  I would much prefer to be a “dog lady”.

8. Being single means never having to do this:

single 2

8.  Jealousy sucks. Yes, when I go out with my friends I can get jealous from time to time especially if I’m the third wheel. Their cute, the kind of cute that single girls vomit over. They only say it’s gross to deflect from the fact that secretly, or not so secretly, they want all of it. Even the twinkling noses, or saying “no you hang up” for 10 minutes straight. We all want to win the “cutest couple award”.

9.  Being single allows you to decided what kind of man you’ll change your relationship status for. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what kind of person I want to share my life with solely by seeing other couples interact and seeing the reasons relationships fall apart.

10. EVERY NIGHT IS GIRLS NIGHT! I mean unless it’s not. But, every night COULD be a girls night.

11. There are so many cute boys to look at. Nows the time, Ladies, take advantage of the sights!

 

And finally.

12.Sometimes you have to take action. Let’s face it, if you’re tired of being single, sometimes only you are the one that can change that. Go meet new people, if you thing one is too cute for words, tell him. Who knows what a compliment could do.  Just maybe don’t act  like this:

 

So I hope this help those single ladies out there tonight. Even though sometimes it may feel like you are not going to turn out like this:

flashing

(I mean, unless you choose that lifestyle).

Let’s go out there ladies, and be single, and ready to mingle!

(My goal is before I get a boyfriend to master this dance, it may not be a realistic goal).

 

 

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.

 

What I Learned this Summer.

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I just moved into a new apartment far from home and with the lack of a roomie (for now) I have had a lot of time to reflect on the summer I just had. Not going to lie but I thought this summer was going to be the summer from hell. In fact, as I left the city three months ago I was trudging to the car. Sure, I was happy to see my family but I knew that my little town wasn’t where I belonged and I had no idea how this summer could be good.

For the first few weeks, I was correct. It was hell. I couldn’t find a job, I had few friends around, I caught myself several times just staring at the wall. I was falling into a downward spiral that left me uninspired. Then I got a farm job that required early mornings and a boss that was less than sweet (though the raspberries were).  I was miserable, even worse, I was choosing to be miserable.

But, then I looked at my life and decided the best way to handle hell is to climb out of it.  As soon as I did I saw the blessings all around me. I met two hilarious boys running a summer camp , and a lovely gal who spends her life serving those in need; they made this summer one of the best I’ve had. I taught myself new skills, stopped using shampoo in my hair, led worship again, painted and even started this blog.

I learned a lot of things this summer included but not limited to:

1. Look for the best in all circumstances. sure, I had to work at on a “ghetto farm” as my sister called it every morning. But so did my sister, and it gave me time with her that I wouldn’t take back for the world.

2. You don’t need money to be happy. This summer I didn’t spend much money. I didn’t buy clothes, or go to a million concerts, and I was content. There are so many free things to do in this world that can make you happy.

3. Pray. Pray. Pray. I watched a friend of mine pray one night at the camp after program. He prayed and prayed for a camper silently by himself. He came over to me after they had left excited and told me that he was praying for her to be moved and as soon as he looked up she went over to talk to her youth pastor.  God knows the desires of our hearts and he can fill those desires all on his own but wants to use us. My pastor once said “before God does something, you have to do something” That moment got me back on the prayer wagon, I want to be used.

4.  STOP WORRYING my pastor said in one of his sermons “Why are you lying awake worrying about something God can literally speak away?” That makes so much sense.  I have that quote taped by my bed. Let’s just say I sleep a lot more at night now.

5. Get a little dirty. Now I know this sounds gross but showering less isn’t a bad thing. Live a little. The natural oils your body produces is really good for your skin, hair, and well-being. If you wash it away everyday it cannot work its magic. My skin is clearer and my hair is softer now that I don’t scrub it every night.  (Thought I still recommend showering regularly.)

6. Take Risks. If you don’t take the risks God has put on your heart, all you’re left with is regret.

7. Say NO. Martha taught me this. You aren’t meant to do it all. You don’t have to. Do what you can. Do what you want. No is a full sentence. It doesn’t need an excuse.

8. Take a look at yourself from time to time. Look in the mirror and see the person you are becoming. If you don’t see a perfect person then God’s not done transforming you yet. A friend taught me that.

9. Stay up late. Now sleep is important, but hey, you won’t remember the nights you went to bed on time. My late nights included the princess bride, thigh clapping (don’t ask), bedtime stories told by a Russian, duct-taping people to chairs (and watching them struggle out), late night walks, bonfires, late night drives, and midnight Walmart runs. Those are the moments I’ll remember. Not to mention, I saw Sara Bareilles. Now that was a late night.

10.Be in Passionate Pursuit.  God isn’t a relationship you foster when it’s convenient. You must be in constant pursuit of him, or you won’t have a relationship at all. At the beginning of the summer I was on my fourth month without church, without reading my bible, without living my faith. I thought I was fine, I still believed it all didn’t I? Then I met people who were passionately following his call in their life. I witnessed their joy, and their freedom.  That was missing in my life. Passionately run to him. He so worth it. I’ve seen such a change in my life when I turned my focus back to him.

And Lastly,

11. Love people deeply. I volunteered with children who lived in rough home lives this summer and I watched them love on each other. I watched them create their own little families, saw how they supported eachother. I witnessed my friend treat them as her own children. It made me fall in love.   I fell in love with a little baby called President and spent time with people who needed love. Love doesn’t expect anything in return. Give love to people you’ll never see again. Give all  the love that you have. Tell people you love them, even if they already know it. You can’t run out of love, you can only give more.

Some summer huh? I’m so glad that I had this time in my little town or I would still be stuck where I was. God sure knows what he’s doing.

Many thanks to my family and my new friends Trent, Chris and Martha. Thanks for the summer of my life.

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