March 30, 2016

On the Rainy Days {:Character or Charisma:} - The Single Girl Diaries

Over the holidays, while I was back in West Virginia, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my friends. Most of these friends are married and are arriving at restaurants as party of two, three, four, and even six {:talk about being late to the game - this kid {{jokes}}:}

Sometimes we went out, but most of the time we stayed in which meant I got to spend time with them in their homes. I got to see them and their husbands interact in life together - the day-to-day, mundane, nothing-special type of days. The days where weekend plans need to be discussed, bath time and bed time stories are a priority, and discussions of budgeting are the norm.

I sat with one friend and simply observed all of these mundane things happenings. I sat in another friends home as she cradled her newborn baby - who apparently thought sleep was a bad idea. I listened to her talk about navigating and adapting to the change in season and what it brought for her marriage and life in general. Then, my heart broke over the story I heard of another couple, a couple I had met once. They were told they couldn't get pregnant on their own and decided to adopt. After months of being on the waiting list they finally had a baby. They planned for the baby, decorated the nursery, and they even brought the sweet, newborn baby home for 7 days. But then tragedy struck. The birth mother changed her mind and decided she wasn't going to go through with the adoption. She had the legal right to do this, but it left this poor couple broken hearted.  They were left with a nursery and no baby.

As I thought about all three of these girls, I couldn't help but pose the question to myself: What really matters on the rainy days? - Who do I want standing by my side when the kids need a bath, the kitchen is a disaster, and an unexpected bill comes in the mail? Who do I want by my side when I haven't slept for weeks and motherhood isn't all I thought it was cracked up to be? And who do I want by my side when the storms of life rage and the only thing my heart and mouth can utter is "why?"

The only thing I came up with is this...

I want a guy of character and not just charisma.

Charisma is who a person appears to be - to the crowd. Character is who the person actually is - and those closest can testify to it. 

As I thought about all these real life scenarios, I realized that sometimes as girls, caught up in the love affair of love, we trade our desire of a man with character for a man with charisma. 

A charismatic man is one who is the life of the party, everyones favorite, 'the guy' that makes all the ladies swoon with his baby blues and gentlemanly ways. A man with character is the unsung hero - the man that is always there, always committed and faithful with what he has been entrusted, reliable, and integrous. 

Maybe it is just me, but as I think about the storms of life, I don't believe I will give a rip about how much style he has, if he won best looking in high school, or if everyone is drawn to him at a party. What I will care about is his character - Is he committed to Jesus, me, and our children? Does he use wisdom when making decisions? Is he a man of integrity? Can I trust him? Will he speak the truth over my life and our families lives when the truth isn't lining up with our current circumstance?

A man with charisma may make my Instagram feed look good, but a man of character will make my marriage look more than good - it will actually be good - because of who he is.

Charisma may be what attracts us, but a man's character will keep us when the rainy days come.

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March 28, 2016

Puzzle Piece Promise

I am sure by now you are recognizing a theme with my verses - many of them seem to be from Deuteronomy. Guilty. Deuteronomy is like my not so dirty secret these days.

I love how a book of the Bible that has gone "underneath my radar" so to speak for years, all the sudden has me unable to get enough. I could spend an hour on each chapter unpacking it and sitting in awe as God reveals how applicable it is to my season. That's the cool thing about the Bible. When you read it, it has this way of speaking to your season. It's simply stunning and nothing short of divine.

This week's verse got me thinking about a puzzle. I use to love the thought of putting a puzzle together, until I opened the box and saw how many pieces there were and just how tiny they were, as well.

See, when you select a puzzle, you always select it based on the entirety of what the completion will look like, right? That beautiful picture on the front of the box. No one ever picks up one of those microscopic pieces from the box individually and says "I must work on putting this puzzle together because this 2cm piece is just exquisite!"

The verse in Deuteronomy reminds me of this idea.

Has God ever shown you a promise he has for you out in the future? You see the promise and sign up - giving God your "all in" sign only for him to hand you a box with a million puzzle pieces, aka work!

God is great at showing us these beautiful pictures of promise He has for our lives but we want the picture on the front of our promise puzzle without the tedious and sometimes exhausting work it takes of getting that puzzle promise put together.

The promise God has for Israel, the promise land, was their big picture on the front of the puzzle box. But the process of overtaking tribes, tearing down cities, and rebuilding a city was all the puzzle pieces - the work to achieve the promise for Israel.

Just like God told his people over and over, through Moses, in Deuteronomy he says the same thing for us. The promise is secure. He is able to give it to us, but are we willing to see the big picture even when we are handed a bunch of 2cm puzzle pieces? Are we faithful with the little pieces in understanding how they build toward the promise completion? As we are faithful, little by little, we will see the beautiful picture of our promise puzzle unfold.

What promise puzzle pieces has God given into your hands? Are you stewarding them well?
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March 23, 2016

The "If...Then" Mentality - The Single Girl Diaries

You could easily be disillusioned and think someone who has a weekly blog post titled "The Single Girl Diaries" never deals with the deep pit of loneliness that can come from singleness.  I hope I have been open and honest enough with all of you that you know, I am not that girl. And in all honesty sometimes I write these post through tears, heartache, and longing - today is that day.

I will be fine {:don't worry Mama:}. I know "this too shall pass." But, for right now it is here and it is how I am feeling. So, I want to write to the girl who is feeling the same loneliness that has decided to come visit me today.

On days like today, the thoughts and doubts that accompany this season seem to flood in with all the power of a tsunami. "Jesus, all the housemates that are younger than me are enjoying this 'wanderlust' season of living in Australia and pursuing Jesus, with their man candy by their side. Then there is me, 2, 4, 7 years older than all of them...doing it all alone. Yippee - NOT" "God, will I ever get married." "I feel like I have held out hope for so long and claimed it as 'my year' over and over again, yet here I am...still the writer of The Single Girl Diaries."

Then, in allowing myself to think on these things and really wrestle with God on the issue, the devil sees his opportunity and comes in with vengeance. He starts planting those "if...then" statements in my mind and heart.

 "If you looked more like that girl, you would have been married 5 years ago."
"If you weren't so sassy, independent, and strong willed - if you were more gracefully and classy...then you would attract someone."
"If you lost 20 pounds, then he would notice you."

If, if, if - then, then, then.

Am I the only one with these thoughts? I know I am not. What I also know is that the enemy is a liar and loves to kick a girl when she's down one stiletto heel is broken. It is in these moments we have a choice. We can either give in and believe the lies or we can get up and put on our red lipstick and stilettos {:figuratively, or literally speaking - totally up to you:}

Don't let anyone tell you your feelings of loneliness and longing are not justified. They are okay, and we serve a God big enough to handle your fears and your 'what ifs'. Loneliness and longing leave you with a black pit feeling in your soul, but you can chose to fill the pit with the "if...thens" or you can choose to fill it with the Holy Spirit who is our comforter, our peace, and our helper.

Plus, do you really want a guy who likes you for your weight, or likes you better when you pretend to be something you're not? No way. Plus, wouldn't it be way more of a tragedy if you missed out on your guy because you weren't true to yourself rather than the tragedy of not getting the guy because you weren't fill in the blank  enough?

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March 22, 2016

Cross = _________

"When I see that cross, I see freedom.
When I see that grave, I'll see Jesus.
And from death to life, I will sing your praise
In the wonder of your grace."

{: lyrics from Grace to Grace by Hillsong Worship:}

My church is known for it's Easter 'Cross Equals Love' campaign. Signs, like the one below, are posted in towns and cities literally across the globe. All in the hopes and prayers that it will spark something, something that they haven't felt in awhile and it will lead them to a local church this Sunday to encounter the love of God.

Yesterday in chapel, our Vice Principal shared a message titled "Cross = _______". 
He was talking about this "gift" we are sharing {:the gift being the Gospel:}, and asked us the question: "Is it a regift? Or, is it one of those gifts we cannot wait to share? 
You see, Cross Equals Love is a powerful statement, but what does that heart symbolize in your own life? How has the Gospel become more than your parent's faith or your mentor's testimony of God's goodness? What fills in the blank for you personally? 

The word that fills in the blank, is they tangible way God's love is/was made real to you. It is that moment or season that changed everything. It is when the Gospel went from words in an old book, to your personal, triumphant story. It become your redemption, your victory, your moment when you realized the rock at the bottom was actually Jesus. 

For me, Jesus filled in the blank through freedom - freedom from my sin, freedom from my past, freedom from my people pleasing obsession, freedom from my insecurities, freedom from defeat. But most of all, freedom from myself. And now the Gospel I carry and 'gift' to people, is one of freedom, because it is my story. It is my testimony. It is the way Jesus expressed His love in a personal way to me. 
Don't let this Sunday and Easter weekend pass with all the pomp and circumstance that holidays can entail, between eating 6 different Easter meals with families, without taking a few moments to reflect on the gift of the Gospel, you are giving to people. 

This weekend the Gospel will be presented amongst dazzling lights,  stunning dances, beautiful music, and poetic words but the potential is always the same. This 'gift' of the Gospel we present has the potential to change peoples eternity. It has the potential to erase the words the world has spoken over them and the opportunity for them to fill in the blank with words like: protection, courage, hope, forgiveness, fresh start. 

Some people may not step foot into a church building this weekend, but you are guaranteed to see tons of people over these next five days. You have a 'gift' to give. You presenting your story, your gift of how Jesus became your personal God, might cause someone to unwrap their own gift for the first time. Make sure you aren't just regifting someone else's Jesus encounter. 

What does the cross equal for you?
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March 21, 2016

Learning the Lyrics - Verse of the Day

November 20, 2015 - a day we had been anticipating for four years. The day we gave our listening ears a break from T. Swift's 1989 album in order to learn the new lyrics of Adele's much anticipated 25 album. 

For some of us the album was love at first listen. For others of us it took us awhile to warm up to the songs we didn't know. But, once we knew every line and every lyric we, like the rest of the world, were singing Adele's sweet praises.

I've been thinking on this week's verse for awhile now. I have been thinking about new songs and new lyrics. I realized that I rarely ever love a song at first listen. It often isn't until I have learned the lyrics that it becomes a fave. 

It's like when a new song is introduced at church - it is a bit awkward because your eyes are mostly glued to the screen to see and learn the new lyrics - not that the song can't still be powerful, it's just usually more powerful when we are less worried about learning the lyrics and more worried about living and breathing the lyrics. Letting them drop into our very being, if you will.

For me, this week's verse is about the song, the truth, I was given to sing when I accepted Jesus. It was in that moment, on the front row of my country church, that moment of salvation, that Jesus gave me the gift of a new album for my collection. An album that was full of truths about Him, and about myself. An album that was filled with promises and declarations of hope. The album was a free gift with the 'download' of salvation, but it wasn't until recently that I realized I had never really bothered to learn the lyrics. 

See the album that plays in my mind so often has tracks like:

1) You'll Never Be Good Enough
2) Don't Let them See the Real You
3) You're Dreams are Unrealistic
4) Girls Like 'That' Don't Have Past Like Yours
5) He'll Never Love You
6) She Can Do It Better
7) Isn't it Time to Give Up

But the album he gave me is filled with tracks like:

1) You are More Than Enough
2) The Real You is Made in my Perfect Image 
3) Nothing is Impossible with Me
4) All Things Work Together for Your Good
5) You are All Together Lovely, My Darling
6) You are My Chosen One
7) For Everything Under the Sun there is a Time

I think we have played the tracks of His album some and when we do it's a sweet sound. Yet, we go back to the old soundtrack of our lives because it is easier to sing to. We already know all of the words - the words of self-defeat, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. But there is a better album out - better than T. Swift, better than Adele, and it is sung by Jesus. 

Isn't it time we put the old soundtrack away and allowed this verse, this week, to wash over us and remind us that we were made to sing a new song. When we sing the song He gave us, about us, it praises Him because we start allowing ourselves to actually represent the image we were made to create - rather than hide it.

Anyone else up for the challenge? I'm praying for you lovely. {:And for all my Living Room Ladies - do not forget the step you took forward that snowy night in January, as you held your sisters hand, signifying you stepping out of the old song and into the new. I pray for you ladies all the time and I love you dearly!:}
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March 18, 2016

'I Said Yes' by Emily Maynard - Book Review

{:Purchase Here:}

I am a pretty massive fan of the Bachelor/Bachelorette. As in, I get mad when I watch the show with friends and they find it appropriate to talk about non-Bachelor related topics while the show is on. Should I be embarrassed about both of these thing? Probably, but truth is truth.

I recently had the opportunity to partner with Book Look Bloggers {:who provided me with a free copy of this book:} to read the former Bachelorette, Emily Maynard's, new book I Said Yes. As I sat down to read this book I knew very little of what this book was about and had little expectations of what the next 220 pages would hold. The book, in essence, was her life's story, including her childhood, stint on reality television {:both times:}, and how she found real love with her now husband, Tyler. It was about the yeses she said when she should have said no and the best yes she made when she made Jesus more than her Savior, but Lord of her life.

I am already a fan of Emily Maynard's, so when I sat down with this book, I already wanted to like it. And like it I did. I would have finished the entire book in one sitting if my iPad had not died 40 pages from the end.

What I loved most about the book is an inside look into the real woman who is actually behind the southern drawl; stylish, put together exterior; and beautiful blond locks that give every woman instant hair envy. It struck me deeply how easy it is to envy another person's life when you only see the highlight reels on television and social media. Reading the struggles Emily went through of losing her first love; being a single, teen, mom; managing being torn apart in the media during the Bachelor and Bachelorette; dealing publicly with relationship issues that are, for normal people, private; and her own journey of discovering her personal Jesus only gave me more of a reason to fall in love with the real Emily, not just the TV Emily.

Bachelor fans will love the inside scoop she gives on what happens behind the scenes of the show - from how contestants are interviewed before appearing on the Bachelor to how some moments actually play out with the help of producers' encouragement. They will also love reliving moments from the Bachelor and Bachelorette as Emily provides an inside look at what was actually going through her head and heart in those moments.

This book is not one that will leave you with earth shattering revelation or leave you with an immeasurable take away. But, I don't think it is meant to. It is simply a story of an everyday, ordinary girl who was searching for something, of what she wasn't completely sure, and ended up saying yes to a lot of the wrong things {:mainly men:} until she discovered the only yes that could truly satisfy the deepest parts of her soul - and that is a beautiful thing.

The last chapter had me reading with watery eyes and a heart so stirred that I could not wait to open my Bible.
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March 17, 2016

Operation 30 - Recovering From a Binge Day

Some days you just loose it...Sunday I lost it.

Have you ever done really good following your healthy lifestyle plan and then you make one bad decision and it's like you have an out of body experience? You turn into the human garbage disposal. You don't even want those stale Oreos your roommate or husband left in the pantry, but you end up eating the entire last row and a half in less than 5 minutes.

Yea, I had one of those days on Sunday.

I was having a bit of a sweet tooth moment after Sunday night church. I went the the grocery store and got myself some peanut butter ice cream that was on sale. I sat myself down on the couch with every intention of just satisfying my sweet tooth with a few spoonfuls of this goodness. Well, those couple of spoonfuls  turned into the entire carton of ice cream...and an entire wrap, and peanut butter oatmeal cookies, and half of whatever was left in the pantry{:shelves included:}!!! It's like I lost all sense of reason.

Everyone on the road to becoming a healthier version of themselves has had one of those days, I assure you. The problem is that most of the time after one of those days {:or in my case, nights:} we do one of two things:

1) Go into starvation mode the next day causing us to binge again a day or two later


2) Give up

Next time you have one of those eat everything but the kitchen sink days, remember it was just a day. You messed up one day in your healthy lifestyle plan, not the entire plan. Everyone goes astray, but what separates those who make lifelong changes compared to those who get caught in the vicious cycle of binge eating is what they do the day after.

If you overate last night...

  • Do drink lots of water today
  • Do Not skip breakfast
  • Do eat a bit lighter and cut back on calories, but not to the point of starvation 
  • Do make sure you get in a gym sesh 
  • Do skip on any sugary foods the next few days
  • Do Not allow your mind to defeat had a bad night, not a bad week.
So if you went astray a bit on your journey to a healthier you, no worries. Play a little T. Swift on blast and just "shake it off." Some of those extra calories will even come off as you dance around too. Hey, it's a win - win.

You got this, Boo!

What do you do to combat a splurge day?

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March 15, 2016

How I Pray

Some things come naturally to me…like forgetting where I place stuff, locking my keys in my car, or forgetting to put deodorant on before I leave the house because I always leave it until last to make sure I do not have any of those awful deodorant stains on my black shirt.

Other things do not come so easily for me. One of those things is prayer.

Making the Bible part of my daily life has been relatively easy for me. I love opening up the pages and gaining new insights and revelations from it. Prayer, however, has been one of the things I have struggled with, but I just never really told anyone for fear that someone may think I am somehow “less spiritual.” {: I know. I know.  How dumb is that? But, I would also be willing to bet at least one of you reading this has done something similar. No not you of course, the next sassy lady that will pop on to this page, obviously!:}

It was a constant internal struggle for me. How could I really have relationship with the One I was falling in love with through the Word, but struggled to communicate with?

How much like a normal relationship does that sound like, though? If there is a relationship there are probably communication issues at one time or another, right? So have some grace and listen to what I did to work out those kinks in my relationship with Jesus.

I started using a prayer clock for months and months until I actually enjoyed engaging in conversation with Jesus and it just became natural to talk to him about any and everything. It goes like this…

Pray for 20 Minutes:

2 minutes of Praise
2 minutes asking Forgiveness {:take time to be specific of the ways you have messed up and ask for forgiveness and help:}
2 minutes of Praying for Salvation {:for loved ones or in general:}
2 minutes of Intercession {:praying for needs of others or yourself:}
2 minutes praying for Friends and Family
2 minutes praying for the Church {:capital ‘C’:} and Your Leaders {:pastors, bosses, parents, etc.:}
2 minutes of Listening {:you are silent and wait on Jesus to speak:}
2 minutes of Worship {:sing, dance, draw, do whatever you do to worship:}
2 minutes of Scripture {:read or recite scripture – out loud if possible – to align yourself with the Word of God:}
2 minutes of Thanksgiving

When I started, 20 minutes seemed like a really long time to pray. And for the first week, it was. But after months of committing to this prayer clock, it didn’t seem long enough. I needed more than 2 minutes to listen for my Dad’s voice. I needed more than 2 minutes to Praise. I simply needed more time because like in any real relationship – once you open the flood gates it is hard to close them again. Now He probably wishes I would spend a few more of those minutes silent...

Does this help, at all? Do you do something similar or have a totally different approach?

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March 14, 2016

Girls in the Wild - Verse of the Week

Are you well? I hope so. I am just coming off of an intense week and a half of being up at 5am almost every morning and serving my tooshy off at a women's conference held at my church.

Exhausted? Yes. Brain-fogged? Yes. Overwhelmed with thankfulness at what I get to be a part of and sit under? Yes. Excited for this week's verse of the week? You bet here it is:

Many of you have probably heard the story of Ruth before. If not here is a quick recap:

Naomi is a widow with two sons who are married to Ruth and Orpha. Her two sons die and leave her daughters-in-law widows as well. They are traveling back to their home town where they have heard God is blessing the people with an abundance of food.Here is where we pick up the story.

When you have heard of this story, you have probably heard about how Ruth's obedience led her to the man God had for her. Or, how Ruth's dedication to people (Naomi) led her into God's provision for her life (Boaz).

All awesome points, but I want to go in a different direction with it- SISTERHOOD {:I mean I just came off of a week and a half at a women's conference can you expect anything less?:}

Some of you are probably tempted to stop reading right now thinking....I may be a girl but I don't even really like them! Trust me I have been there and you probably have said some of the things I have said: "guys are just chill, no drama," OR "Girls can be so mean and the guys could care less if I match, my nails are painted, or my roots need colored!" Yes?

Well here is a crazy idea....God created women to be in connection and relationship with other women. Crazy idea huh? But here is the kicker: if it wasn't true why would the enemy try so hard to keep Gods women at odds with each other?

We live in a wild might even say we are "Girls in the Wild." Life can be crazy wild sometimes as it throws us loops, turns, and downhill drops faster than your favorite roller coaster. 

You can bet your fanny pack {:and you should because there are some things that should NEVER come back in style:}, life was pretty wild for Naomi and Ruth in this story. Poor Naomi had lost both her sons and her husband and Ruth had lost her husband. But in the midst of hardship and circumstances that were just plain sucky Ruth recognized that she needed Naomi more than ever. They needed each other. They needed SISTERHOOD.

I wonder what our worlds would look like if we chose to encourage the women in our worlds rather than criticize them. What if we reached out a hand of hope and help instead of just taking pity on them? What if each woman in your world realized her potential and started encouraging others to do the same instead of looking at one another as competition? 

I honestly don't know exactly what would happen, but I know that God is waiting for it to happen and will release something amazing on the Earth through his UNITED daughters when it does.

"If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind it will be a force such as the world has never known."
~Matthew Arnold~

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March 9, 2016

Mr. Personality or Mr. Popularity

In last week's post about difficulties of dating within the Church I shared with you that one of my courses this semester in school is Marriage and Family. I am loving this course and the absolute wisdom our instructors are pouring out. It is like finding gold without even having to dig for it...they are just freely handing it over.

Each week, after the lecture, I have a smaller class with only about 16 of us in it where we talk through, debate, mull over the topic of the class that week to gain a better understanding of it and and where our convictions lie.

We were on the subject of dating the other week and my instructor turned to one of the married couples in our class and she said "as a married woman, what are your thoughts."

My classmate leaned forward in her chair and said "I think girls are more interested in dating and marrying Mr. Popularity than they are Mr. Personality."

She went on to explain how her husband, who was sitting right next to her, was hardly what she was looking for. She had absolutely no idea why she said yes to him on a date but somehow she did. On that date she realized that for all this time in her search for Mr. Right she had been more concerned with catching the eye of the popular guy that she forgot that just being herself would catch the eye of the right guy.

That statement resounded with me and challenged me. Am I looking for Mr. Popularity or Mr. Personality. Would I rather him be noticed by everyone and loved by everyone even if it means I have to live in a constant state of questioning myself - Am I good enough for him? Am I living up to the expectations of what it looks like to dat Mr. Popular? Or, would I rather find Mr. Personality who things click with, are easy with, and I am fully myself with.

ORRRR can you have Mr. Popularity and Mr. Personality all at once? I don't know the answer to this. I almost feel a bit Carrie Bradshaw-esqu as I peck away on my keyboard with my single girl wonderings. So maybe rather than bring you what I think is the answer, I'll just throw the question out to you...

Can you have Mr. Popularity and Mr. Personality? Or are we missing some of the greatest guys because we are hyper focused on Mr. Popular?

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March 8, 2016

Shopping for Labels

I was at a dinner the other night hosted by my church and while I was there listening to a speaker speak on something completely different I heard 'the God drop'. You know that moment that there is a spiritual thud in your Spirit and you just know in your knower that it was God. Well, that happened and I thought I would share.

There is something about us, that we love to label people. Even ourselves. Some of these labels aren't bad and we actually enjoy them: wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, intellectual, creative, talented, blogger etc.

Other labels we aren't so fond of: single, in debt, lazy, average, addict, overweight. You get the picture. I am sure we all have a combination of labels that we enjoy and others we despise.

I felt like God told me that so many of the things we see as "labels" God sees as:

1) A season
2) Something we can change if we choose
3) Completely untrue

A Season - 

Take the single girl for example. She labels herself as that, but God doesn't see that as part of her identity. He simply sees that as the season she is in. The season He is using to groom her in and teach her things she needs to know for the next season. 

Maybe your label goes so far as labeling you as an addict. God knows that, that too is a season. If you choose to break that addiction. And you can break that addiction because if you tap into the power of God the battle has already been won. {:John 16:33:}

Possibly you find yourself in a season of debt and you feel the weight of that label. But, God doesn't label you as that looming amount on your credit card statement. He sees this as a season too. {:But part of that is your choice too, sista. Get yo' self some self-control.:}  You can start making responsible finical decisions to get yourself on the other side of this season.

Something We Can Change...If we Choose -

Other labels we have are labels that we choose to allow to define us: lazy, overweight, judgmental. If these labels are true the good news is you can do something about it and God wants to help you. Don't try to go at this alone. He wants to be a part of shattering these labels in your life so He ultimately receives the glory. And WHEN you do don't forget to share your story because other girlfriends need to hear it.

Completely Untrue - 

Then there are other labels that are absolutely 100% untrue. You are not average. You are not "just" another student, mother, banker. But breaking the labels starts in our mind and thoughts. So get a revelation of what God thinks about you.

We are so eager to accept the label that are placed upon us when the only labels we should be accepting are the ones He gives us:

Daughter {:2 Corinthians 6:18:}

Heiresses {:Romans 8:17:}

Called with a purpose {:1 Peter 2:21:}

Set Free {:Galatians 5:1:}

What label have you allowed to shape and form your life? The only label you were made to wear was the label that designates you as the daughter of a King.

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March 7, 2016

When my Heart is Overwhelmed - Verse of the Week

Being overwhelmed is a feeling that can come along with almost any emotion. Just think of the girl graduating college, planning her wedding, having her first baby, studying for her bar exam, or moving away from home for the first time. All of these things are so exciting but also have their moments of leaving you feeling overwhelmed. 

Unfortunately, most of us are all too familiar with the feeling of being overwhelmed with worry, heartache, and just life in general.

This verse is so powerful it literally brings tears to my eyes when I look at it. It definitely does not need any further explanation,but I thought I would share some things God deposited in my spirit as I was meditating on this scripture.

If you’re being lead to a rock that is higher …

…You must LOOK UP.

When you are climbing a mountain it’s important to look up.When your focus is up, your heart is set towards God and not on the situation that has left you feeling overwhelmed.

…You will gain a new outlook

The higher you get the further you can see, but you also aren’t able to see the small details you were able to see when you were closer to the ground. These small details of life are what often lead us to feeling overwhelmed. Our mind gets wrapped up in the small things and makes them catastrophic size issues. When you are on higher ground you can see further and you aren’t able to get distracted by the small details that ensnare us.

…You are able to quiet your spirit.

I’ve been on top of a few mountains and despite my incredible fear of heights there is something remarkably peaceful about being there. When you’re up on that mountain you are forced to leave it all behind because everything that is down below is no longer within your reach. We so often want to fix our overwhelming situations ourselves and then pray about it after when we have failed miserably.  Quiet your spirit, and ask God for grace and strength first and then respond to His guidance.

God is our rock. Let every overwhelming situation be an opportunity to lead you closer to Him. Amen?

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March 3, 2016

My Health Slogan

Just Do It.
Think Different.
I'm Love It.
Eat Fresh.
Maybe She's Born with It.
A slogan - it is easy to say and impossible to forget. The greatest advertising companies know the power of a great tag line or slogan. It sparks something in people. I bet without even using the source of all knowledge, Google, you could rattle off what company uses each of the tag lines from above.
I recently read an article about how the greatest athletes in the world often have a slogan or a tag line for their own life. This slogan keeps them motivated and prevents them from stopping even though everything in them is screaming to. It's the short phrase they repeat when they are ready to give up. 
Kerri Walsh {:beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist:} - "Breath, Believe, and Battle"
Deena Kastor {:Olympic marathon runner:} - "Define yourself"
Russel Wilson {:Seattle Seahawks QB:} - "Why not me?"
I have recently enlisted my own tag line for my health and fitness goals. It came from one of my trainers at school. When he said it, it was one of those moments I remember thinking "I am totally owning that."

This slogan could apply in any area of your life and I often do apply it to other areas of my own. However, I find I use it the most when my alarm goes off at 5:30 in the morning after a sleepless night because there is no air conditioning and it has been a mere 100 degrees all night - yet it is gym time. Decide when you're strong, who you're going to be when you're weak, Or when my body is screaming at me that it just doesn't want to run any further or any longer. Decide when you're strong who you are going to be when you are weak. When I decide that even though everyone else is going out for ice cream at 11pm and even though it is my most favorite food in the history of ever, I am only going for the company.  Decide when you're strong who you're going to be when you're weak.

Eating well and going to the gym are beginning to be things I enjoy, but I don't enjoy them everyday - especially when my alarm goes off at 5:30 am and when my friends are eating ice cream. But, I have decided who I want to be and that includes the way I take care of my body. Sometimes I have to remind myself of just that. One day, the person I am on my strongest day will merely be my future self's weakest. Now, that's something worth fighting for.

Here are a few other slogans I love and you may want to adopt...

"I can and I will."
"I am stronger than my mind allows me to believe."
"Your legs are not giving out. Your head is giving up."
"Today's choices are tomorrow's body."
"Skipping a workout means skipping an opportunity to improve yourself."

What's that one phrase you always repeat in your own head to motivate you and keep you going?

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March 2, 2016

Why is it so Damn Hard?

Yes, I am a Christian. And yes, I put damn in the title of this post. Now, let us all collectively pull our religious panties out of a bunch and move on to the ice cream and sprinkles of this message {because meat and potatoes are for the dudes - although, I do love a good steak...but I digress:}

I just got home from a class on marriage and family. This week's topic - dating. I didn't know whether to swing from the rafters in excitement or hide under my chair in awkwardness.

Wait a second? Why does talking about dating make me potentially feel awkward? One of my friends in classed must have shared my emotions on this topic when he asked our instructor, "Why is it so much harder to date in church circles? There is so much pressure."

And all the single ladies catching the bouquet at your Christian girlfriends wedding said a collective and emphatic....AMEN!

He is absolutely right, though. Guys in the world simply ask a girl out on a date - no big deal. In the church world, the poor guys never ask anyone out because the church puts so much pressure on the idea of dating. I mean if they are going to ask that other cute girl out on the worship team they should already be able to see themselves marrying her, right?

Wait, what? Why?

It's like the question of the chicken or the egg. Do you have to be friends first and then date or can you date and then become friends? Who knows, who cares. Christians will never agree on this but I think there is something to be said of the fact that a person is very different in the role of friend than he/she would/will be in the role of girlfriend/boyfriend. So even though you may know them as a friend that only tells you half of the story and how do you ever find out the other side of the story if you never go out?

I think the bigger overarching and foundational motto for dating is to just do it without regret. As you date, remember you are dating someone else's husband. Until, he has your ring on his finger, he is still possibly someone else's husband and you are handling borrowed property -be careful. If you date this way you won't have the awkwardness that can never be bridged as opposed to doing things that leave you both with regret and unable to even meet each others gaze now that things are donezo.

Dear Church,

As a single girl making a request, may I ask you to please stop doing this to the single guys. Finding a good Christian guy is already harder than trying to find a single sparkle in a sand bucket. Let's stop scaring the living daylights out of the guys that they are somehow not in tune with the Holy Spirit if they ask a girl out and things do not go further than the first date, okay?

God is not a God of complications. God is a God over order and clarity and believe it or not...simplicity.

So let me be super simplistic in what I say here...

Guys, step up. Girls, settle down.

Sister Singleness, guys should be man enough to step up and ask you out. But if they do, lets do them a favor and not start practicing our signature with their last name attached to it...or planning our wedding on our secret Pinterest board, okay?

 A date can actually be just that - a date. If it progresses, awesome. If it doesn't, who care you got a free meal {:at least I hope you did:}.  

One more thing sugar dumpling, let us be the ones who stop this culture of making dating impossible in the church. We have grown up in this pressurized, over stimulated church dating culture where we have kissed dating goodbye, said hello again to dating, and have sat in a corner until 'the list' guy comes riding in on his guitar and swoops our Christian heart up - but our kids don't have to!

It is time we take the pressure off...marriage is serious, date 1 does not have to be. Let's not be the people who gossip about the two people we saw together having a coffee after church on only adds to this pressured environment. 

Dating is suppose to be fun. So, open up. Explore possibilities. Have fun. And stop making it so damn difficult! {:I live in Aussie Town now and that's not a bad word here so...'when in Rome':} It's just coffee...not marriage.

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March 1, 2016

How I Read My Bible

"We are the Bibles the world is reading.
We are the creeds the world is needing.
We are the sermons the world is heading"
~ Billy Graham 

As I read this quote a bit of tension arises in my Spirit. At first read, I am filled with passion and excitement, but then my heart sinks a bit when I realize the Christian responsibility that arises in that statement. Is my life worth reading? Is my creed worth needing? Is my life's sermon worth heading?
The simple answer to all of these is a resounding no. But the answer is also a resounding yes. No I am not worth reading, needing, or heading, but the Jesus within me is. It's like what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 - imitate me as I imitate Christ.

How can we ever imitate Christ if we are not seeking who he is through His word. 
Last week, I wrote about why I read the Bible. This week I thought I would get a bit more practical on how I read the Bible - my course of action if you will.
I have read the Bible a lot of different ways. I have done the one year Bible {:the Message Remix Pause is my favorite:}. I have done countless plans on my YouVersion Bible App. I have done the flick and pick. And I have just followed along with a message series in church. I have done it all, but recently one of the pastors at Hillsong shared how he reads his Bible and I decided to adopt his method. And since we are girlfriends I just have to share it with you because I think it is my absolute favorite way yet.
Sunday - Psalms/Proverbs
I love starting off my weeks with these books of wisdom and poetry. 

Monday - The Law {:Genesis; Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy:}
Before you give up on my plan already because of some of the less than mind blowing content in Leviticus and Numbers, recognize that there is also A TON of pure gold in the books of the law. After all, this would have been Jesus' Bible when he walked the earth and I mean if it was good enough for him...
Tuesday - Old Testament History {:Joshua; Judges; Ruth; 1&2 Samuel; 1&2 Kings; 1&2 Chronicles; Ezra; Nehemiah; Esther:}

Wednesday - The Prophets {:Isaiah; Jeremiah; Lamentations; Ezekiel; Daniel; Hosea; Joel; Amos; Obadiah; Jonah; Micah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi:}
Thursday - Gospels & Acts {:Matthew; Mark; Luke; John; Acts:}

Friday - The Letters and Revelation {:Romans; 1&2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1&2 Thessalonians; 1&2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; James; 1&2 Peter; 1,2&3 John; Jude; Revelation:}

Saturday - The Books of Poetry {:Job; Ecclesiastes; Song of Songs:}

I know it is terribly tempting to skip Tuesday and Wednesday's content because it is the Old Testament and some may say less exciting. But, you will never fully be able to understand the breadth, beauty, and context of the New Testament if you do not read the Old Testament with it. 
Some days I read several chapters within each particular section. Other days, I may only read a portion of scripture from one of the books. And some days I don't read any more than one scripture but that scripture is what I will think on during my quiet time- think what it meant to the people the author was writing it to, think what it means to me, think if there is anything God wants to speak to me about this particular verse. 
How you read your Bible is actually pretty important, but if your Bible lives on a bookshelf somewhere, forget everything I just said and just start reading. John is a great place to start. 

If you are like me and already love reading the Bible and are looking for a new and fresh way to read it, I highly recommend this way. It's great because you are getting a small snapshot of the full Bible in one week instead of staying in one book all month - although there is definitely a time for that as well.
This isn't some mind blowing posts, but I just thought I would share because that's what girlfriends do right. How do you read your Bible?
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