Monday, February 27, 2017

Refreshingly Simple

So I decided to write a post tonight. I haven't posted in a while. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. I got sick last week...

Anyway, I went to get some juice from the refrigerator to enjoy while I wrote, and noticed the grape juice said "refreshingly simple," which perfectly describes what is on my heart to write about tonight. How perfect.

Now I'm drinking my refreshingly simple grape juice, thinking about how the same should be said about our faith in Christ. I read on Friday the part of Mark where Jesus talks about how you won't enter Heaven unless you have childlike faith. That means simple, trusting faith. The kind that children have in the tooth fairy and Santa and Mommy and Daddy.
(The kind Emery has that I will feed her every day and she won't ever go hungry.)

I feel like we get worked up and worry about things that don't matter, therefore wasting our time and thoughts when they could be used in better ways. At least I do.
In our girls' Bible study tonight at church, we talked about how Satan tries to fill our minds with lies and cause us to overthink.
We talked about how as women, we often have FOMO ("fear of missing out") and social media makes it worse.
We talked about how we sometimes think we have to be 'important' for God to use us ('Instagram famous,' popular, etc).
We learned about how God uses simple, ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
We read the story of Jael, a woman in the book of Judges, who killed Sisera to deliver Israel from the troops of King Jabin. She was not famous. If they'd had Instagram back then, she would not have been one to get many followers or likes. She wasn't living in a big city, working a cool job. She just lived in a tent in the middle of nowhere and God used her to help His people.

Thinking about my weekend, it was refreshingly simple. I've been going and going, spreading myself way too thin and trying to be everywhere for everyone. Lately, I feel like I've been convicted with the importance of resting and finding peace in the Lord.
This weekend I got to have meals with my mom and sister, see my students in a play at school and relax by the pool (yes, in February) with Drew, catch up with friends, and take naps. I haven't been able to do things like that lately.

What I'm left with before I go to bed tonight and start another week is this:

--Don't let Satan cause you to overthink and steal the joy of childlike faith. Don't be naive, and don't be gullible, but also, don't let your mind complicate things that God intended to be simple.
--Rest in the Lord. Don't overwork yourself. If something is not adding value to your life and is not necessary, cut it out. Life is too short to stress so much.
--Don't give in to FOMO! Know you are created with a purpose and always strive to be better and have cool adventures, but you don't ALWAYS have to be moving and adventure-ing.
--Don't ever think that God can't use you; He can use you in amazing ways - and wants to. If you just keep an eye out and pray for opportunities, He will present them to you, whether they are serving others, leading people to Him, etc. That's what we were CREATED FOR!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Stop Getting Offended!

...That's what I keep telling myself. I feel like I FEEL more lately... like I get ruffled by the slightest comment someone makes, even if they don't mean it in a rude way (sometimes they probably do :)).

TO REMAIN UNRUFFLED (one of our vocab words this week in ninth grade English), I use this little chart from a book we went through in a Bible study I was in a couple years ago.
(The curriculum is L.I.F.E. - Living In Freedom Every day. It's a program from the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama.)

"Six Ways to Stay Unoffended by Studying the Life of Jesus"

1. Take the lowest seat.
Consider everyone more important than yourself. Put the needs of others before your own. Strive to please God, not yourself or others. Be the servant, and don't expect anyone to pay attention to you.
(Obv this doesn't mean NEVER take time for yourself or do something that makes YOU happy because if you don't, you get burnt out from serving and neglecting yourself isn't good either!)

2. Always remain grateful.
It changes our attitude, by keeping us aware of God's provision and blessing.

3. Give others their freedom.
Don't try to control others (I HIGHLIGHTED THIS IN BRIGHT YELLOW BECAUSE I ADMIT, I HAVE AN ISSUE WITH THIS. BIG TIME!!!). People need freedom to make their own decisions. Sometimes they make good ones; sometimes they make bad ones. Either way, it is their decision.

4. Make decisions that promote life in others.
When someone offends you, it may seem natural to ignore that person or pay back wrong, but Jesus says there is a better way. Choose to speak and do things that reveal the Tree of Life. How they respond is up to them.

5. Trust God to bring justice when an offense comes. 
Vengeance belongs to the Lord. None of us really wants true justice or what we really deserve - we'd rather have grace!

6. Dedicate time to the Lord.
Find refreshing in prayer, Bible study, and fellowship. 
God's presence brings change!!!
(I feel like the more time I spend with the Lord - in prayer and in His word, the less offended I become by other people because I see things in a more supernatural way and realize that EVERYONE will fail me except Christ. Human nature says we WILL fail each other sometimes. Then it's not as personal to me.)

Monday, February 6, 2017

* Waiting - One More Thing You Shouldn't Worry About *

Looking back through my old blog posts from Februaries past, looking for inspiration to write new posts... I really like to write about love in February because I feel like Valentine's Day has been commercialized to the point that we forget what real, true love should be like. 

Anyway, I saw this post I wrote in 2015 and feel led to share it today, adding some "insight" two years later. A lot has changed in two years - I have grown in my faith and as a person. Looking at this post now, I still agree 100% and can add some things:

At our church, the youth are doing "True Love Waits" in Sunday school right now. Sometimes when you hear "true love waits" you think of holy-roller Baptists who are firm in their decision to save themselves for marriage and wear rings to show it, am I right?!?! And I would never knock that (I heard someone the other day bashing Jessica Simpson for saving herself before her first marriage and it made me very angry), but there's so much MORE to waiting for your future marriage than just holding off physically. I think that's what we've been missing sometimes. 

"True Love Waits" can mean a lot of things:
- Trusting God and finding fulfillment in Him rather than constantly searching for the person you'll end up with / praying for God to send them to you
- Keeping your thoughts and actions pure IN ALL ASPECTS of life, knowing that all impurity starts in your mind and that what you do today could affect your relationships down the road. 
- Serving in some capacity while you are a single person and pouring the love you have into some sort of mission or project that will further the Christian mission - this will help you put your time and energy into something meaningful and worthwhile
- Surrounding yourself with other Christ followers who can build you up and encourage you in your faith - this will also fill the 'void' you think you have without a significant other
- Trusting God in knowing that HE created your heart, so HE knows who will hold it best, and knowing that you don't have to worry at all if you are focused on Him; He will send the one who deserves it in His perfect time

I wish someone had told me all this in high school! I never participated in any True Love Waits programs, or even in my youth group at all. I did the right thing because it was the right thing and I was scared to do the wrong thing. I think with adolescents it's important for them to know WHY God gives us rules (to protect us and save us for the best that He can give us), otherwise they are just rules and following Christ is just going through the motions instead of living in freedom.

When we obey because we love Christ, it feels a lot better than obeying because our parents or youth leaders told us to. 

February 9, 2015

Who Deserves Your Heart?

I was thinking...

Isn't it funny how we sometimes try to control our own destiny, seeking out what we think is best for us? Especially when it comes to relationships...
"I deserve ________(insert some sort of quality/standard/relationship goal here)________!!!"

We try to navigate our way through the messiness of 'love,' learning lessons the hard way, getting hurt, riding the emotional rollercoaster that dating can be. And that's fine! It's part of life for most people. Some get it right the first time; some go through a lot to get to the right person.
But it's important to ask yourself something - something that might alleviate some of the troubles of dating:

 If God created me and knows my heart better than I know it myself 
(hello, HE CREATED my heart!), 
shouldn't I trust Him to ultimately lead me to the person that He knows is best for me?   

That takes a lot of pressure off me. 

All I have to do is focus on God and keeping my heart pure, and He will take care of the rest.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Love / Dating - Run as Fast as You Can!

This is something I wrote in February of 2014, inspired after seeing a quote and spending time focusing on the Lord and not trying to find a relationship. I wanted to repost it today to kick off February! <3 

Love/Dating - Run as Fast as You Can! #repost

I saw this e-card on a girl's Instagram and immediately thought,
"This is the best dating advice I've ever seen!"
Someone worthy of your time and [[possibly sharing your life]] will seek God just as diligently and earnestly as you do. If you're seeking God with all your might, you don't need to worry about finding the right person. He/she will be led by Christ to you.
This person will not take your focus off of Christ and His plan for your life. In fact, the right person will foster your growth in the Lord. You will grow in Christ together and help each other, not hinder each other.
If this isn't the case in your relationship, you are wasting your time!
Don't stay with someone who doesn't bring out the best in you most of the time.
Don't stay with someone who doesn't have your spiritual health in his/her best interest.
Don't stay with someone who isn't avidly seeking God like you are.
Do NOT stay with the guy that pressures you to be physical.
RUN from that guy. He does not respect you or have your best interest in mind AT ALL.
If the relationship is God-centered, then it will be healthy.
Until that is the case,
run as fast as you can towards God, and if someone keeps up, introduce yourself!!