May 30, 2016

Be still? No thank you. - Verse of the Week

Be still and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10

Be Still.

These two little words have pestered challenged me over and over. And as I sit on my couch sipping my hot cup of tea {:because it is winter here:} they have done it again.

This verse has defined my life. Some people choose a life verse, but this one God just handed me on a silver platter...which I tried to send back to the kitchen with a polite "no thank you". It didn't work. Well, if you can't change it you might as well embrace it, right?

I have wrote about this verse numerous times and even shared how this is not the verse that makes the most sense for a girl who finds it almost impossible to be still {:the girl who never stops twitching or fiddling? - yeah, that's me:}, yet when did this whole walking with God thing ever really make sense?

I was ending my quiet time this morning and remembered a Instagram post I saw from Lysa Terkeurst.


As my quiet time was ending, I decided to write my own version of this. As I did, I was reminded that though the word "be" is a verb, we rarely think of it as an action verb. Mostly, because it is not technically and grammatically speaking.  But it is an active verb.

The art of being isn't as passive as I have allowed it to be, especially when it comes to this verse. To be is a choice of being. What I mean is this: If I am going to be still I must stop the anxious thoughts that come to my mind so easily. I must actively choose to be still when the negative self talk rises. I stand firm in my choice to be still and trust when questions arise in my heart about what the season ahead holds. You see, this act of being isn't so easy. It is not something that will just happen as you absentmindedly walk through life. It is a choice.

But your being is attached to something else. It is not enough just to actively 'be'. You must attach it to what you know. And what you know can be found in the Word of Truth {:you know, that Bible that has been collecting dust on your nightstand?:} What I know is that he is good. What I know is that he is sovereign. What I know is that He has plans to proper me and not harm me. What I know is that His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. What I know is that He who began a good work in me will bring it to a glorious completion.

I guess my question to myself and to you as well would be: Do we really know if our be doesn't align with what we confess to know?

Be still and know that HE IS.

What things in your life do you need to actively choose to be still and apply what you know to?


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May 18, 2016

Miss Independent - The Single Girl Diaries



"You're greatest hurdle, when you get married, will be your independence." 

"Come again," I thought as I sat across from a married couple I fiercely admired with my then boyfriend, whom I was fully expecting to marry. 

Wait what? "My independence is a bad thing?"I thought. "I thought a man would want an independent woman, not a needy, clingy woman."

Fast forward a few years to my time here in Australia and one of my trainers {:whom I love dearly:} dropped another independent bomb..."You need to drop a bit of your independence if you ever want to get married." 

I am seeing the pattern here...thanks, God. I got the message. I don't love the message...but I got it.

It turns out Kelly Clarkson lied to me and Ne-Yo's sweet serenade isn't really all that helpful - even if they are both quite fun to sing along to.

So what is the problem with an independent woman? 

On it's own, nothing. In a marriage, everything.

DISCLAIMER: I am not married, obviously, so this is just from a single girl's perspective who is seeking out wisdom from the rockstar married women in her life. 

The fact that I am independent is good in the world's eye, but the problem is I don't care what the world says. I care what God says. And what He says is that we were created for community. {:Remember that whole it's not good for man to be alone bit in Genesis?:} We were not created to live our lives as an island - separated and cut off from other people. We were created to live our lives intertwined with others. 

Jesus describes himself as the vine in John 15 and us as the branches. Have you ever seen the branches on a vine? They are crossing over each other, wrapped around each other, and knotted up with each other. That's what community is - it's lives intertwined and it's messy, but it's certainly not independent.

If that is true with other people around us, then how much more is this true about the person we are to become one with? You cannot live on an island and become one with another. You have to make a choice to throw independence out of the window. You have to choose to need each other, you have to choose to be dependent on each other...it's called vulnerability, and it is not very comfortable. It is, however, necessary.

So why am I talking about marriage in a singleness post? Because why wait until we find our tall drink of Man Mocha before we starting putting into place some of the practices that are necessary in marriage? Why not start now? 

Make a move to become less independent {:no this is not an excuse to stop paying your bills and being a responsible, functioning, and highly classy lady in society:}. Allow yourself to be dependent and vulnerable with the people closest to you in your world. 

First, realize how much you need them - emotionally, spiritually, an physically. Then, tell them! Let them into your world. Refuse to be the Miss Independent in the songs that we love to serenade our steering wheel to. There is a reason she is still independent and probably single, and in Jesus name that is not your portion.

Who is up for getting their dependency on? Put on some red lipstick while you do it....it usually makes it easier.
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May 16, 2016

The Most Helpfully Unhelpful Post You May Ever Read - Verse of the Week



This may be one of the most quoted scriptures among believers. Yet, to me, it is one of the most frustrating ones.

 Substance and evidence are both visual things. Yet, faith is invisible. Well, that makes no sense to me.

So does that mean that faith is the tangible outworking of the hope that we have in Christ? And if so, what does that evidence look like? Does it look like buying a wedding dress when you haven't had a date in five years? Does it look like buying a building for the business you haven't yet started? Or maybe it looks like buying baby furniture when the doctors are telling you you'll never have a biological child on your own? These could all be considered evidence {:some far more crazy than others:} of something not yet realized, but I have a hunch it goes deeper than a sign or a faith "steak in the ground" if you will.

To help me simplify this verse and make it less uncomfortable, I use to compare it to earning a diploma. We work our way through high school with a certainty that if we do the work and make the grades that we will receive that diploma in the end. We never see the diploma on those nights we are studying our behinds off. It is not hanging on the school hallway wall as a reminder of what you are working for. We simply work with 100% confidence that we will receive it if we do our end of the bargan. 

I have since come to the conclusion that, that is far too simplified to actually be true. Sure, it made me feel more comfortable because I could wrap my head around it. But, isn't that the point? If faith could be quantified down to a three step process or a spiritual equation of 2 parts works + 3 hours of prayer/ x a 21 day Daniel Fast, then it wouldn't really be faith would it?

 If faith was explainable then we wouldn't really need it, right? If you can put a formula around it, I would argue that it is not really faith.

Faith is the simply inexplainable. It is the "I know that I know that I know" feeling in your gut of who God is. It the assurance of "if you don't come through in this circumstance or situation I know that I know you are still God and just because you didn't isn't because you are not able." Faith is that "silent verse" in your own personal cry out to God that takes you from "why me Lord" to "what are you trying to teach me, Lord." It is the moment the unexplainable happens in you and it changes the way you see the situation. Faith is evidence of the unseen, but it starts with the invisible and the inconceivable. 

Faith isn't a five step improvement plan to help you seek a perspective. Faith isn't something that can be theologically boiled down to three components. It is the unexplainable evidence that an inconceivable God lives within you and is changing you and realigning you to live, perceive, and move in a new way...that is the evidence. 

Faith is your billboard to others that He is in you and you know that you know that you know.

Helpfully unhelpful? I hope so. Faith isn't something you muster up, rather it is an overflow of the "I know that I know that I know."
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May 12, 2016

When Worship Includes Burpees and Kettle Bells


What do you think of when you read the word "worship"?

Do you think of modesty clothes and Jesus freaks? Do you think of tambourines and flags? Or maybe you think of cool music and awesome lights or a feeling you get inside when they play "that song". 

I think it is funny how many of us have allowed the world to define this word for us within our own worlds. "Worship" is what we do on a Sunday morning before the pastor gets up to deliver a message. And, worship is what we do when we sit down in the morning with our cup of joe in our favorite mug as we read through our devotions...while thinking about what is for diner tonight or what we need to get done once we get to work. 
Since when is worship an event that we tick off on our calendar? 
May I pose that worship is a posture, a way of life, if you will?
I realize that if I am body, mind, and spirit that everything I do to develop myself in any of these three areas can be done as worship.
My burpees and kettle bell swings are just as much of an act of worship as my prayer and Bible reading in the morning. 
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. - Romans 12:1 {:MSG:}
When God awoke my spirit to this revelation, it changed my mentality towards working out. I now see this as my worship and I no longer complete my workouts mindless of what I am doing. What I am doing goes much deeper than a sumo squat or box jump - it is actually giving glory back to my God by saying: "God thank you for this body you gave me and sent Jesus to die for. I am swinging this kettle bell and running on this treadmill because I want to worship you by stewarding the most precious gift you have given me - my body." 
When you get this revelation it makes giving up on a routine or a diet plan a lot harder, because you aren't just giving up an hour in a gym. You are passing up an opportunity of worship. 
People change their bodies all the time. But I don't just want to change my body to achieve a number on a scale or to fit into my "skinny" jeans. I want to do all those things, don't get me wrong. Goals are good, but above it all I want to be a worshiper in my every day ordinary life.  I want to take every opportunity to worship my God, even when it requires burpees and kettle bells. 
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  - Galatians 6:9
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May 10, 2016

The Fight to be Enslaved - Part II


Each time I sit down to write this little mini blog series on The Fight to be Enslaved, I somehow see Brittney Spears holding a yellow python as she sings out "I'm a slave to you - get it get it, get it get it." Anyone else? No? Okay, moving on.

In yesterday's post I shared on the idea of being a slave and how we can only be a slave to one thing, or person. I shared some ideas of what you may find yourself a slave to in each of the areas the Bible mentions we are to protect and grow: our body, mind, and soul. Today, I want to make this post a bit more practical. What do we do once we have identified the "beast" we are a slave to?


We are wired to have a slave mentality.

No, really. We are hard wired, from creation, to have a slave mentality. The problem with that mentality is that it is misplaced. We are created to be a slave to Christ and the work of bringing Kingdom Come. Yet, we displace this desire to be bound and tied to something and allow ourselves to become slaves to the enemies plans that are set out to see the Kingdom work on this earth cease. The enemy cannot win the victory. He knows this. But he will try to win the battles by displacing what God meant for good, for evil. 

Starve the beast.

I am about to go to that spiritual place, but like I said in last week's post, I make no apologies for it. There is a war going on for you right now. The scary part is, there is an enemy that often believes in your potential more than you believe in your potential. He knows that if he can keep you a slave to the scale, keep you a slave to perfectionism, or keep you a slave to salacious gossip he can keep you from fully becoming a slave you were meant to become one to - Jesus. Then, the work you were created to do will be hindered because you are to embarrassed about the way you look to lead  in the influence God has given you, too embarrassed to step out on that business adventure you feel called to because you might fail, and too stuck in your judgment of other people that you cannot love him. STARVE THE BEAST! You have identified the enemies "hot" button in your life, now take of those stilettos and beat the hell out of him. For every beast you have find a scripture that negates the lie the enemy is trying to believe and say it out loud over and over again so you can hear it and so he can be reminded that he has already been defeated. 

Fight to be Enslaved.

There is free, and then there is "free indeed"{:John 8:36:}. Slaves who are free are always looking over their shoulders to see when that old master might come back to capture them. Slaves who are "free indeed" are now tied to a new master and therefore secure in freedom. You will never fully be out of slavery until you find and dedicate yourself to a new master. How do you do that? Memorize scripture, read the word, pray your stiletto loving heart out, rely on the Holy Spirit and his strength {:not your own:} and fake it 'til you make it. 

Is it a deal? Are you ready to starve the beast and become enslaved to the One you were created to be enslaved to?
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May 9, 2016

The Fight to be Enslaved - Verse of the Week



I have had the day off today and found myself as I usually do, absently minded scrolling through Pinterest. A I was scrolling, I stumbled on this gem - Clare Smith's blog {:all about health: body, mind & soul:} and it was love at first click. I could have spent hours going through articles, but I got stopped by the one titled "Stop Feeding the Beast". In the article was this week's verse of the week:

"For a man is slave to whatever has mastered him." - 2 Peter 2:19

 Now, let me start off by saying a lot of what I am writing has been inspired by her post and many of these thoughts are not my own, but her.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post...

This scripture captivated me because it got me thinking about my new favorite book - Deuteronomy, remember. II started thinking about how the Israelites were taken out of slavery, but became replaced actual enslavement with enslaved mindsets. In turn, they had to wander around 40 years in the desert so God could get the slavery mentality out of them. After all, you cannot inherit a promise with your old mindset {:that's a word for somebody - I'm sure of it.:}.

So this thought of  slaves got me questioning how this slavery mindset relates to us. Though we may not be shackled or forced to do excruciating labor under dire circumstances, we are often slaves to habits and mindsets which effect our body, mind and soul.

Some of these enslaved mindsets could be as followed...

Body

   A slave to sugar

   A slave to the scale

   A slave to toxic habits - overeating, smoking, drinking, sex

Mind

   A slave to comparison

   A slave to negative thoughts

   A slave to perfectionism



Soul

   A slave to our spouses/best friends love and acceptance

   A slave to anger

   A slave to gossip



As I pondered on this post and the idea of slavery, I realized, a slave can only have one master. Paul, multiple times in his letters in the New Testament, described himself as a slave. Now, looking back on his life we can see that is clearly true. Had he not been a slave to Christ he would not have endured the beatings, the criticism, the insurmountable odds stacked against him. Had he been a slave to people pleasing he would have not spread Christianity throughout much of the European and Asian world. Had he been a slave to fear he would not have penned many of his great epistles from a jail cell. Had he been a slave to his past {:he was well known for murdering Christians:} he would have never done any of what we know him for. But, he didn't. He abandon the things that once enslaved him and fought to be a slave of Christ.

What are you a slave to?

The first part of freedom and fighting to be enslaved to the ONE who is the only one worth being a slave to, is identifying what or who is taking His place. Tomorrow, we will dive more into how we do it - how we fight to become enslaved, but to the right thing - Jesus Christ.
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May 4, 2016

The Case for Dating Someone's Potential - The Single Girl Diaries


I have heard it said that you shouldn't date someone with potential. Rather, you should date someone already walking in their potential. To that statement I say yes....and no.

Yes, to the fact that you cannot date someone with the mentality that you can "fix" them. Been there, tried to do that. Failed...and only realized that I was the one who needed fixing. You don't date someone hoping and believing that they will one day be the man you would love to be married to when they are showing absolutely no signs of progression in that way.

And then to that first statement, I also say No. No because I also believe that you do partially date someone's potential. When you date, you date them for who they are now and with the idea of where they are going.

Let me explain.

When I chose to go out with a guy, I am saying yes to the guy in front of me. Sure, he has some rough edges. Sure, he has some work to do, but I can say yes to him today because I see the work he is putting in to become the man of God he and God desire for him to be tomorrow. Therefore, I am saying yes to helping draw that out of him - not by force and "you should" or "don't do that" comments, but by respecting, honoring and being his personal cheerleader.

We can't date a twenty-five year old Christian male and expect him to have the character, actions, and mindsets of the men we admire within the Body of Christ who are fifty-five. Those fifty-five year old men didn't look like themselves at twenty-five! It is a process. God is a God of process.

So while we don't date guys because we think we can fix them and we DO date date guys based on their potential. Guys who are actively pursuing their potential by being in church, surrounding themselves with the right friends, staying connected to Church and the Word, and pursing Christ more than he pursues you.

So why not, why not say yes to the guy that has untapped potential. Who knows you could be the cheerleader that shines that piece of coal until it shines like a diamond.
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May 2, 2016

Uncommon - Verse of the Week


One of the girls I live with is South African, and to give you a visual reference she looks similar to Disney's Rapunzel. 
"You're so American!" 
She tells me this all the time - whether it be because of what I am wearing, a quirk that I have, or a story that I have told her. To her, I lived what the American movies portrayed as the "common" American life - I grew up in a small town, I was a cheerleader in high school and dated a football player, I did pageants for years, and I was a teacher. To most of you reading this, this isn't anything out of the ordinary. For her so much of what I just described was uncommon and out of the normal - because it wasn't the culture she grew up in.
Uncommon:: out of the ordinary; unusual
As a Christian I have always struggled with the whole idea of being common. You know, this idea of being in the world, but not of the world. We are meant to stand out, but blend in. We are meant to create change, but we are meant to be peaceful. 
When you become a Christian, in essence, you choose a new culture. You choose Kingdom culture over family culture, national culture, or world culture. You are meant to be different. We are meant to be uncommon. Yet, we don't want to be one of the super "spiro" people who are "so heavenly minded they are no earthly good," right?
Since becoming a Christian, this has always been one of my internal struggles - a struggle of what Kingdom culture looks like inside this world. 

Friday, I decided I am done toeing the line. I am done being politically correct. And, I am done worrying about offending people. I am done not praying for people's healing with them because I don't know how they will receive it. I am done not inviting someone to church because it might make them uncomfortable. I am done not being vocal about what I believe when it might cause offense. I am just done. 
There are a few radicals {:in the bad sense of the word:} that take an idea like this and run with it as an excuse to Bible bash people. Sadly, most of us take it the other way {:not pointing a finger anywhere except myself:}. We use it as an excuse to cower behind a rock about our Christianity and in turn choose world culture as our dominate culture and Kingdom Culture as secondary and only when it doesn't bump up against the rules of our first culture.
Kingdom culture is the culture I am choosing, and I am going to need Holy Spirit to do it. I am choosing to speak up when it is easier to be silent. I am choosing to pray for injustice when it seems a prayer isn't enough. I am choosing to step out in faith and pray for healing and then step back and watch the possibility of a miracle unfold. 
If there was a physical person attacking my friends or family you better be sure that this girl would go "backwoods West Virginia hood rat" on them. Now, I have just decided that the same goes for my friends and family in the spiritual world. 
What culture do you live in?
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