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Practice Ephesians 4:2

Over the last week, I have written and deleted several posts. I had so much on my heart yet I couldn’t find the right words with which to say them. I have been and am frustrated over the political climate in our country.

I am over the moon in love with my niece, nephew, and niece to come. I had the best time

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My nephew’s hand holding his cousin’s head (my niece). 

with my family this past weekend as we all gathered to celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday. Time is literally flying by. I have so much on my heart and mind where they are concerned. Dreams I have for them and the kind of world that I want them to grow up in.

 

I have friends and loved ones who are wrestling with some really hard things right now. Instead of giving up, they are pressing even harder into Jesus and facing the battle head on.

I try to so hard to focus on what others are going through when I am tempted to turn my gaze on to my “problems”. When the enemy reminds me again and again that someone said something that hurt my feelings or “you always have to do things on your own”. Satan is such a bully and loves to hit you when you are vulnerable … especially when you are tired … as I am today.

I can feel so much welling up in me and I am tempted to give in to that feeling. Whatever that feeling is. To become frustrated, angry, hurt and give in to despair but then I read this verse …

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesian 4:2

I was reminded this morning to extend grace upon grace to those who need it and let’s be honest, who doesn’t need it?

When I am tired and people are being extra people-ish … Practice Ephesians 4:2.

When someone has spoken an unkind word … Practice Ephesians 4:2.

When others aren’t pulling their load … Practice Ephesians 4:2.

When someone is treated harshly … Practice Ephesians 4:2.

When someone posts an erroneous FB post … Practice Ephesians 4:2.

When I can’t find any dark chocolate and the vending machine is out of Diet Dr. Pepper … Practice Ephesians 4:2. For the safety of all those involved!

FullSizeRenderThis verse was just a much need reminder that I do not know what anyone else is going through except for me. It is not going to hurt anyone for me to extend grace upon grace because grace upon graces has been extended to me abundantly by the Father and I am the least deserving. While it may be easier to lash out at others it is far more effective to “make allowances for each other’s faults.” And when Satan wants to rear his ugly head with various reminders of ways that I have been affronted by others, I will work to hold those thoughts captive and press into Jesus even more. It takes far more energy thinking about the ways that I am offended and hurt than it does to turn those feelings and people over to the Lord!

So friends, what about you? Do you need a reminder to Practice Ephesians 4:2 today?

I love you all!

 

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Single Life

Truth Is … We Can Handle It

Yesterday, my path crossed on Facebook with another 32-year-old woman who was struggling with the fact that she was single. I sincerely told her that it is better to be holy, whole and alone than dating the wrong person. But like most she struggles seeing friends getting married, coming home to an empty house and not seeing any prospect of change in her near future. I shared with her that some of the ways I combat those feelings is to focus more on getting to know who Christ is & acknowledging that my being single is part of His will for my life at this time. I also find other ways to serve so I am less apt to notice my loneliness. It doesn’t work 100% of the time but it certainly does help me. She asked me what to do about coming home to a lonely house. I told her that now that I have my puppy my house certainly isn’t lonely but I still light a favorite candle and turn some worship music on as soon as I walk in the door. Those two little steps immediately warm up my home so that even I feel invited in. I also make it a point before heading home to either have it on my radar what movie I want to watch or book I want to start reading that night if I don’t have something else pressing that I need to do at home.

I’m not sure how well she received my advice because it doesn’t give her a quick answer of “do this and you’ll be dating someone within a week”. I don’t have those kinds of answers and to be honest, I am glad that I am not privy to that kind of knowledge. The start of my year has been interesting so much so that I have shared with several friends that I would rather be left alone than deal with the guys that I have dealt with! And I meant it. I know that I have turned a corner in my life when I can make a statement like that and feel it with every fiber of my being. I have been spoken to about things and in a manner that no man professing Christ should ever speak to a woman about.

I will be 33 next month and thanks to a friend’s husband, I am now calling it my “Jesus Year”! Ha. But in all seriousness, for me, there is something sacred about this age. I am tired of it all and in the same vein, I am fired up. I want this year to count. I don’t want to waste it wondering what is or isn’t being said by someone that I am interested in. So I humbly request that single men and women, who truly profess Christ and seek to follow after Him, stop these 3 dating practices immediately.

(Disclaimer: I have been guilty of all three of these. So rest assured, this is something I have sought to eliminate from my life and some of these examples are from personal experience while others are borrowed from friends but to protect the individuals I am sharing them in the first person.)

Dishonesty

If you aren’t feeling it … then just be honest about it. Somewhere along the line, we have come to the conclusion that we have to be deceitful in our reasons for breaking up with someone or opting out of continuing to get to know someone.

Ex. I have been told in the past that distance is an issue … it was a 45-minute drive. When in reality they just weren’t attracted to me. My brother and sister-in-law dated for 3 years living 6 hours away from each other. So I’m not going to buy the 45-minute drive excuse.

Would it have been painful to heimage1-4ar that a guy wasn’t attracted me? Yes. But it would hurt much less than the realization of being lied to by someone to whom you had hoped would be different because he “lives for the Lord”. Y’all, we are better than this. You don’t have to be ugly about it but tell the truth.

Guys, from a woman who is seeking to be honest in this area as well … hear me … I would much rather know that you don’t see this going anywhere beyond friendship than you leading me on with talk of future events and projects that you know will never happen. If you sought to get to know a woman because you were attracted to her but realized you would be better off as friends don’t assume she is on the same page … ever. I have so much more respect for a man when he is honest from the beginning than someone who backtracks to cover his behind because he is feeling guilty over leading a woman on.

Ladies, if you know that a guy will never move out of the friend zone then stop taking advantage of a “free meal”. He works hard for his money and deserves to spend his money on someone who is truly interested in him. You may be a great friend but don’t be so prideful as to think you are doing him any favors by spending time with him. Be kind but be honest. Let him make the decision if he wants to continue to take you to dinner or if the next time you meet you’ll be going dutch. It’s fair.

Most of us aren’t dating for the sheer fun of it because it’s not all that fun. We are dating for the potential of marriage. So let’s stop wasting each other’s time when we know it’s not going anywhere.

Ghosting

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. The only ghost that needs to be involved in a Christians dating life is the Holy Ghost. Mmmkay? For those of you who aren’t sure of this term is please see definition #2 …ghostingIn many ways, this all goes back to being honest with each other but it could also apply to that illustrious idea of the “silent treatment”. And just to be clear, both women and men have been known to “ghost” someone. If you are needing space, ask for it. If you aren’t interested, tell them. Don’t disappear. It’s dishonest and petty. It is certainly not the mark image1.PNGof someone who is seeking to live their life with integrity. Now, if you have told them that you are not interested in them and do not wish to pursue things any further yet they continue to contact you then block them. But most people will respect this decision and move on as well. Don’t leave a person wondering as to where they stand with you or what happened in general. Do you remember “the golden rule”? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke 6:31

I have been on the receiving of both ghosting and the silent treatment. It truly is the most mature way of a handling a woman. We feel valued as a human being and cherished by the person we are talking to, I mean were talking to or may still be talking to. I have spoken with guy friends who have been on the receiving end of this as well and they admitted that nothing made a woman more attractive to them when they employed these juvenile tactics into their relationship. I mean they were truly clamoring for more time with that woman. Not. Just stop it.

Ghosting is a cowards way out of a relationship. The silent treatment is a petty way to avoid conflict or to punish your partner (like that is your place, anyway). If there is an issue in your relationship be a grown up a deal with it. Chances are you aren’t dating a mind reader.

The God Card

Please stop blaming God as an excuse for breaking up with someone! There is only one time in which He makes it clear we are not to date someone and that is if they are an unbeliever …

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Other than that … we pretty much have free reign on who we can date in the world of Christianity. So if all of the sudden you have to break up with someone because “God told me to.” Then chances are you didn’t pray about dating them in the first place because if He has a say in it now He probably would have had a say in it from the beginning.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that God gives us a head’s up when someone isn’t right for us but we tend to ignore those signs. So instead of admitting that you were being disobedient by entering into the relationship to begin with you then place the blame on God for breaking up.

Just be honest. It’s not working out. You aren’t interested in them. It has nothing to do with your need to focus on your relationship with Christ or anything else like that. Just tell the truth. You will be better off in the long run for it than doing otherwise.

Friends, let’s be known for telling the truth in love. Let’s be known for living our lives with integrity in such a way that our dating relationships and/or potential interactions with one another mirror Christ more so than the world. Let’s show the next generation how to have healthy relationships without sub-tweeting our relationship woes on social media. Let’s give them something to strive for rather than run from. We can do better. We must do better. Why? Because we are the image bearers of Christ and He deserves no less than our very best. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. But if we resolve to treat each other in the manner in which we desire to be treated then I guarantee you it won’t be so hard. And for those of you who are still scared to be truly honest with those you are dating … the truth is we can handle it and we will respect you for it. Is it hard? Yes. But it is worth it. Let’s be about the hard and holy things of God. Not people who run from challenges and destroy people in our path.

What do you think?

Please comment below.

I love you all.

 

 

Single Life

No Hired Hands

IMG_3710A few weeks ago, I was sorting through some things to throw away when I came across a conversation that I had printed out between myself and a guy I had met on Christian Mingle. This was the last guy I talked to before I quit the site in the early Fall. As I read the conversation, I was flooded with thankfulness that once again the Lord had protected me from what I thought was best. Everything he said seemed so great, however, there were some serious spiritual issues that caused some concerns that he became very defensive of when I received them as red flags. I’m not going to apologize for how the Lord has wired me. He raised me in the home of a pastor for a reason. He gave me the convictions that He has not so I can stand in judgment of others but in order to protect me from myself.

This guy was clearly not the right one for me. My mom calls those kinds of guys “phony guys” while my best friend calls them “counterfeits.” But after my reading of John 10, last month, I am going to start calling them “hired hands.”

I had been reading Rachel Wojnarowski’s The Names of God reading plan for December. On this particular day the reading was on John 10:34-42 and how Jesus is the “Son of God” but my eyes were drawn to the first part of the chapter and the parable of The Good Shepherd and His Sheep. While I have no desire to over spiritualize scripture I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between dating/courtship and the Good Shepherd/sheep.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.” John 10:1-13

Ladies, we want to wait for someone who seeks to model his life after the Good Shepherd, Jesus.

  1. A shepherd enters through the gate.
    • A man who has modeled his life after Christ will value the process of pursuing you God’s way.
    • He’s not going to try to take shortcuts, i.e. sneak over the wall.
    • He will pursue your heart, first, because he knows Who the keeper of your heart is.
  2. The Gatekeeper opens the gate for him.
    • When we surrender our hearts to Christ and allow him to hold it in the palm of His hand then no one will be able to get past the Gatekeeper who shouldn’t be there.
    • The Lord will help us protect our hearts for the one He has for us.
  3. The shepherd calls his own sheep by name, the sheep hear his voice, come to him and he leads them out.
    • You’ll “know when you know.” Your spirits will bear witness in such a way that it could only be of God’s design. And it will be then that this shepherd will join you and the Good Shepherd as a 3rd in the triune to bring God glory.
    • I have often prayed, over the years, that when the one God has for me comes, I will know his voice.
    • There will be a tenderness to my name that lets me know I am safe, secure and I can follow him.
    • He will come prepared to lead my heart.
  4. In the same way that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, the shepherd is willing and ready to lay his down for you.
    • He dies to self and his desires in order to serve and protect the sheep.
    • He learns to love like the Good Shepherd and in return the sheep learns how to love him as well.
  1. hired hand runs at the first sign of danger. He is not invested in the sheep. Theycropped-road-1.jpg aren’t his. His interest is purely selfish … i.e. monetary, sex, temporary fulfillment of loneliness. His sole focus is on what he can gain. Not how he can serve the sheep.  So if the sheep is attacked and devoured it doesn’t matter, so long as he is safe.

Let’s Go Deeper: Are you a hired hand? Are you only in a relationship for what you can gain? Are you shortcutting the system? When things don’t go your way do you pout and punish him until he gives in?

So what is our response to be?

The Lord wants us to wait for the shepherd and stop wasting our time on hired hands.

  1. The Shepherd goes to battle for the sheep each and every time. And the sheep learns and knows that she can trust the Shepherd.

Let’s Go Deeper: Have you truly surrendered your heart and control of your life to the Lord? To the point that you can still serve Him joyfully and with purpose even if marriage isn’t what He has planned for you or you go through seasons of major “date drought”? Is Jesus enough?

  1. In the same way that the shepherd doesn’t jump the fence, you need to have boundaries in place so that any man who meets you knows you are worth the chase.

Let’s Go Deeper: What are your convictions? Write them down. Purpose to live by them. Share them with several friends and/or family members who will unashamedly hold you accountable to them and don’t fight them when they do! Sex is a gift from God that is meant to be shared between a couple that is married to each other, not living together, but someone who has made a covenant before God to love each other till He calls you to heaven. It can be hard to stay true to that Biblical conviction but it can be done even if you have made mistakes in this area before but you have to set clear-cut boundaries! And, friend, if he won’t then he’s not the “leader” you need in your life. Move on. He’s not valuing you over your body and his needs. And in case you aren’t sure … no man of God is ever going to ask you send him a nude picture of yourself.  No Godly girl has time for that. Walk away.

  1. The Gatekeeper will be the one to open the gate to your heart and to his.img_3898

Let’s Go Deeper: This is where I think the idea of “guarding your heart” (Proverbs 4:23) comes into action. It’s hard to know how to guard your heart but we have been given a gift in the Holy Spirit and He is quick to let us know when we should or should not do something. Learn to listen to that voice. Don’t be so quick to open up your soul to every guy out there. Let him discover the inner beauty that the Lord has been cultivating in you over the years a bit at a time. In the past, I have been too quick to share it all that when things didn’t work out with a guy I felt emotionally exposed and I had no one to blame but myself. So instead of giving every guy a piece of my heart here and there I have put a hold on it for “the one” the Lord may or may not have for me. I am still a fairly open book but there are some chapters that are for one pair of eyes only now and that’s ok.  I have learned that when I shut my mouth I am able to pay better attention to the red flags anyway! Funny how that works. 🙂

Friends, I don’t have the answers to dating or courtship and again, I don’t want to over-spiritualize scripture but I don’t think we can ever go wrong with surrendering control of our relationships to the Lord. Daily seeking His wisdom in our interactions with the opposite sex. Allowing Godly friends and family members to hold us accountable in our relationships. But most importantly actively listening to the Holy Spirit and heeding His command.

To my guys out there that are doing things God’s way … thank you! Hang in there. Keep at it. God has a purpose and plan for it, I promise.

And ladies, let’s not forget that while we are meant to be pursued we need to be worthy of the pursuit. So while your shepherd is seeking after God’s own heart be faithfully seeking the Lord’s heart as well as one day you might look up to see the Gatekeeper is unlocking the gate of your heart.

I love you all!

Random Thoughts

Happy New Year!

image1Well, it’s 2017! Can you believe it?! 2016 seemed to fly by. It’s amazing how when you start measuring your years by the little ones in your life how quickly time passes! The general consensus on Facebook seems to be that 2016 was a very hard year for many people. It was a pretty average year for me and I believe it’s because I didn’t eat any black-eyed peas or any other superstitious New Year’s food at the start of 2016. So I continued with that solid decision and am excited to see what 2017 holds for me because I know Who holds 2017 in His hands (and no consumption of gross food is going to change the outcome of His will for me).

For those who know me, then you are aware of the fact that I pick a verse each year to basefullsizerender-15 my life around. In the last few years, I have picked a word and a song to go along with that verse as well. The Lord led me to my verse for 2017 on November 28, 2016, at a Premier Jewelry party of all places! I was at my best friend’s house and looking through the catalog. My attention was captured by the mustard seed necklace. I was instantly transported back to when I was 8 years old and my daddy gave me my first “real” piece of jewelry. It was a gold necklace with a mustard seed encased in the center charm. He had purchased it at the Baptist Bookstore (now Lifeway) and told me that as long as I had faith as small as that mustard seed then there wasn’t anything the Lord couldn’t do through and for me. Needless to say, I bought the necklace and I knew right then that I wanted that verse to be my verse for 2017. It wasn’t until later that I realized Matthew 17:20 was my verse for 2017!

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As I consider that verse, I have a holy tremble in my heart at what #mustardseedfaith could possibly look like this year but I know the Lord is calling me to increase my faith in Him. Above all, I want to be obedient in what exercising that faith will mean and look like. So I worked my New Year’s Resolutions or SOULutions. Because as Ann Voskamp writes, “Sometimes you don’t need New Year’s resolutions — like you need SOULutions — for a new you. I need to purpose in my heart & let prayer and perseverance meet, let there be a plan to purposely aim for, because if there’s nothing to aim for, you’ll get it every time.” I wrote out some SOULutions last year and had forgotten about them. But I was surprised when I met with a friend for coffee last week and he asked me what they were by how many I had actually met. So I decided right then and there to continue with this practice again for 2017.

This year I purpose to …

Embrace silence … by having at least 1 screen free night a week. (That night TBD. I’m thinking Wednesday. I’ll let you know.)

Engage others … look at them, talk to them, make sure they know they matter to me.

Be consistent … be a woman of my word. Yes means yes. No means no.

Believe big … #mustardseedfaith. Expect God to do the unexpected.

Break free … continue to work on breaking free of any strongholds in my life.

Daily die to self.

Do less … set boundaries for myself.

Let Go of negativity … stop carrying the stress of others around.

Learn how He loves.

Live present.

Give unfettered.

Grow gently … this isn’t a race but a process.

And I add a 13th one …

Go obediently … wherever He leads.

Finally, here’s my theme song for 2017. It’s by Christy Nockels and I know I have heard the song multiple times over the last few years but I never “heard” it until two weeks ago. It’s called “Into the Glorious.”

I was made for more
than this world could offer me
My heart to hold true mystery
My voice was made to fall
on holy ears.
My life to collide with majesty.

Out from the ordinary.
Into extraordinary.

This is a heart-cry, from my life.
To say I love You, God, I love You.
So take me deeper, oh.
I can hear You calling.
Inviting me in.
Into the glorious.

I was made me for rest,
in a world thats striving.
To lie down in the fields of green.
To set my feet upon this holy ground.
To build my life on the things unseen.

Out from the ordinary.
Into extraordinary.

This is a heart-cry, from my life.
To say I love You, God, I love You.
So take me deeper, oh.
I can hear You calling.
Inviting me in.
Into the glorious
Into the glorious

Happy New Year!

May the Lord be more real and precious to you than He was last year. May you serve Him with more fervor than ever before.

I love you all!!