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

 

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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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