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Wrestling with the Lord // The past year

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Are you angry or wrestling with the Lord? Why?

Have you ever just been angry?  And I don’t mean like a normal mad – a combination of hurt, frustrated, and just confused to the point where you feel like you don’t know how to resolve something?  Ya see, normally … normally, I take out all of my frustrations via writing.  But for over a YEAR, I have not been able to do so. 

I have fought and wrestled with the Lord as to why I could not write and what was going on in my heart that I needed to change.  I had a lot of unresolved forgiveness that I was working to let go of.  If you know me, it’s incredibly hard for me to let go of something without working it out, talking it out.  I need to understand things.

Without going into too much detail, I was angry over a situation that occurred so much so that I eventually was just angry with God and started simply not going to church at all.

I started with being angry at others … but I let it grow into something that it wasn’t. Something that it shouldn’t have been in my heart. I was resentful and incredibly hurt. And then I got so angry with God that I allowed myself to push him away in the process.

I truly and honestly believe that God needed to just “Shut me up” while my heart was so hard towards others.  While my initial anger was justified, I should not have allowed that to turn that into a resentment towards God and towards others. (Not justifying the situation – I am no longer bitter and angry about it).

This verse has been constantly running through my head, because I have always promised myself that I would never become a hypocrite and do or say things that I expected others not to do.

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”(Matthew 7:5 NIV).

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While this may seem out of place (it’s not, I write what I need to then edit), ministry always has been priority in my life.  While I’m not in a season of my life where I’m not constantly “doing” ministry (3-4) days a week, sometimes I have to remember that no matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing … I’m doing ministry. Whether I’m doing it well or doing it poorly, I’m speaking into people about what I believe Jesus says about them and about myself.  And if I choose not to do that well, they may not hear it from anyone else.

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 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV) 

I know this post was all over the place, but I’m still even now processing the emotions of this.

See ya soon!

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Explain this to me…

This post has been a long time coming.  (And I mean years.)

The last year has been a year of Jesus really working on my heart when it comes to loving people regardless of who they are. First, let me give you some background, though.

After getting engaged last June, I started trying to figure out who would be in my bridal party.  In the process of picking my bridesmaids, I almost didn’t pick one of my best friends and cousin who I run this blog with.  Why?  Because I was worried about what other people would think about Ryan being a “bridesmaid” (a title he’s okay with) and not a “groomsman.”

Can I gently explain something to you?  It doesn’t matter how feel about Ryan being transgender.  It doesn’t matter how you feel about it.

Here’s what matters:

  • We’re not to judge anyone else.

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3 ESV)

  • That we treat everyone in the LGBTQ community with love and respect.  Because, guess what, church?  They’re not getting it.  I see it all the time.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)

  • Realize that although someone may identify as LGBTQ, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily acting on it.  (Do I have to say that?)
  • Stop ostracizing them!
  • If someone tells you they’re LGBTQ, don’t tell them they’re wrong.  (Seriously?) Understand that there’s a difference between an educated, biblical discussion about the matter and a rude, ignorant one that’s going to ruin your relationship with them.

So, if anyone has a problem with one of my bridesmaids wearing pants… that’s your issue, not mine.  Because Ryan will be in my wedding party along with the rest of my bridesmaids.  

Disclaimer  By no means am I supporting or affirming same sex marriage or relationships.  However, I have heard enough stories on my own (and my circle isn’t that big!) of the church flat out rejecting people that have admitted they were LGBTQ. ***

So, why is this post titled, explain this to me?

As someone whose heart breaks for those who many churches leave behind and just tend to forget and overlook (not all churches, please do not think I’m saying all churches here).  The churches that do exceedingly well here, please keep doing what you’re doing!  You’re doing amazing work fulfilling the Great Commission.  While the church as a whole has made strides when it comes to helping others in need and becoming more diversified.  Why can we not allow our brothers and sisters who identify as LGBTQ to serve and be a part of the body of believers? It still amazes me and irritates me.

Check out these previous posts!

Take Me to Church … Literally

Yeah, I Wanna Get Married Young (Original Post)

Dating Someone Who Doesn’t Love Jesus

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Here’s My Thing About the Drug Epidemic.

 

DrugEpidemic

So recently, I shared a post on Facebook that was simply a picture that started quite a discussion about how we view the responsibility of those utilizing drugs.  I wrote this post way back in August and I think it shares, pretty accurately, my heart for what I believe about the drug epidemic.

“I was recently asked to write a post for an English class about what one thing would “Make America Great Again.” And I ended up turning the post in late, because honestly, looking at this country there are just so many things that need to change.  But aside from the obvious (people turning back to Jesus), as this was obviously more of a policy post, what could be done?  So I wanted to share my post with you, because I think what I wrote about is pretty important.  I edited a few little things but for the most part this is exactly what my post looked like.

“There are so many things going on in the United States right now that greatly affect the nation as a whole.   So what one major thing should be changed in the United States to “Make America Great Again?” Health Care and Pharmaceuticals. Heard about the drug epidemic? Know someone personally that’s addicted? These are not “junkies.”  A lot of them are still kids.  And the worst dealers of all are those writing prescriptions for pain medicines.  Most of the time, it starts there.  Heroin addiction starts with prescription medicine more often than it starts with marijuana, as we were told it would when we were in middle school.  ‘Nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin (including those in treatment) reported misusing prescription opioids first’ (NIDA, 2017).  This epidemic and the attitude towards it need to change.   If those still struggling with addiction do not get help, they could face the same fate as their friends.  

If the pharmaceutical industry were more heavily regulated, I truly do not believe that the heroin epidemic would have ever started.  Doctors need to stop prescribing opioids, benzodiazepines, and amphetamines without keeping careful control of how often and why their patients take them.  If they suspect that their patient has become dependent on one of these medicines, they need to stop prescribing it to them.  We are supposed to be able to trust doctors to provide for our health, not to work against it.”

Works Cited 

NIDA. (2017, July 1). Heroin. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin on 2017, July 28. “

Now, I’m going to add a bit more onto what I originally wrote.  While those kids (aka young adults) are not junkies, they do make choices along the way that lead them to eventually have to face the consequences of their actions.  It falls on both the doctors and those using when it gets to the point of using any kind of drug without a legitimate medical reason to do so.

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You are enough.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:4-6 NIV).  

I want you to do me a favor.  Stop allowing those voices that tell you that you’re not enough to creep in.  Give yourself some grace.  Remember, Jesus thought you were worth it.  You are so, so worth grace and forgiveness.  Forgive yourself.   

Whatever burden you are carrying right now, drop it.  I don’t know what it is.  But He does.  And that’s what matters.  Put it in His hands and leave it there.  Walk away and never look back.  I wish you could see what Jesus sees when He sees you.   

And, while we’re at it, look around.  Forgive everyone around you, too.  They don’t deserve it.  But guess what, it doesn’t matter.  When Jesus’ hands were nailed to a tree for you, neither did you. You never will deserve it.  If you could earn it, there wouldn’t have been a reason for Jesus to come.  It wouldn’t have been sacrificial love.  It wouldn’t have been forgiveness. You were an imperfect person while He was the perfect Son of God who CHOSE to come to earth and die for your sin.  

You’re hurting. You’re broken.  But your story isn’t over.  You just must flip the page.  Here’s the thing, you must make a conscious choice every day to flip the page.  You can’t be stagnant.  You must move on.  Life goes on.  And if you’re not actively seeking His kingdom, time is going to pass you by and you’re going to regret the time that you waste.   

Moral of the story: you are a child of God.  Therefore, focus on giving both yourself and others grace and forgiveness.  Because God is going to use you in ways that you can’t even imagine.   YouAreEnough

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Set High Standards

Disclaimer This was not written in the recent past. 

My mind has been on relationships a lot lately, particularly Christian relationships.  For a multitude of reasons.  And when I say relationships, I’m particularly talking about romantic relationships.

SetHigherStandards

If someone you are romantically interested in cannot put effort into prioritizing your relationship, they are not worth your time.

Please, hear me when I say that. I beg you.

You probably know what they are doing daily if you’re dating or “talking” to someone and if they can’t manage to talk to you on the phone on a semi regular basis or put the effort in to see you, why are you with them?  No one has so very little time that they cannot pick up the phone for 5 minutes to talk to someone that they like.  Moreso, if they want to be “with you,” they’re going to want to be with you hanging out.

If you know for a fact that they have plenty of time but are making it seem like they’re incredibly busy, stop talking to them (romantically). Stop giving them the time of day, because you are worth so much more than that and someone, someday will value you and put effort into a relationship with you.  Just because they refuse to do so right now doesn’t mean that you must settle for that kind of behavior.

Nope.  You can gracefully tell them that you deserve to be a priority and you can still be friends with that person if you’re both civil human beings.  But that doesn’t mean you should accept that in a romantic relationship.  Got it? Good. Because I feel like a broken record right now.

It’s perfectly okay to have high standards, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Gosh, I can’t even say how many times I’ve heard “You expect too damn much.” No, I don’t.  I don’t date for fun.  So I’m not looking for someone to just hang out with when I think about dating.  I’m considering whether they’d actually be someone I could see myself with.  Yeah, I know that’s a lot.  It’s a hell of a lot. But that’s living with intention.

It doesn’t mean we’re gonna get married.  It means we have similar values, interests, and most importantly, beliefs.  It means we can both be ourselves around each other. And preferably he’s not a giant stick in the mud.

High standards are a good thing.  Especially in Christian relationships.  You should be holding one another to high standards, especially once you are already dating.  Before you are dating, you should be looking for character traits that are indicative of strong character and a desire to honor and glorify God in everything.

You have to know that you are worth so much more than to not be valued.  So I’ll leave you with this — for a Christian relationship to succeed and flourish, Jesus must be your first focus.  Jesus must be the person you would like to date or are dating’s first focus. You can’t be one another’s primary focus.

“Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on Him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe, and he is the fortress where I feel secure”  (Psalm 62:5-6 CEV).

You cannot get your peace from another human being or anything else in this world.  I promise you that.  Peace only comes from Jesus.

 

 

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Know Who You Belong To

KnowWhoYouBelongTo

As I was thinking about this, I was thinking it would be mainly for single Christian girls.  But no matter what stage of life you’re in or if you’re a guy, I think we all need this reminder – and often.  Or maybe it’s just me.  

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT). 

While this passage is discussing avoiding sexual sin – scratch that, fleeing from it – in order to honor God with our bodies, there is a deeper message behind Paul’s words here.  Our bodies and our lives are not our own.  God literally purchased us at a price – the death of Jesus on the cross.  God created us to be first in relationship with Him.  And in order to restore that relationship, He allowed His Son to be sacrificed on the cross for the sins of all humanity.     

The past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me.  And in the process of that, I managed to be incredibly angry with God, question what God was doing in my life, and where He was in the midst of my struggle.  But through all of that, the main thing that I realized was that I am a child of the King of Kings.  And that is all that matters in the end.   

I know that no matter what I’m going through or how bad of a day I have, my God allowed His one and only Son to die a horrific death on the cross so that I could live a joy-filled life while I’m on earth and have life eternally with Him.  So I will continue to surrender this life to God, no matter how crazy y’all think I am in the process.  And I just want to encourage you to seriously consider where you find your worth, because if you find that worth anywhere but in Jesus, whatever that is will let you down at some point.  

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No Answer IS An Answer

“Sometimes looking for answers only leads to more questions. And sometimes you’re betting off not knowing.”-Gossip Girl, “The Fugitives” (5.23)

There are a lot of things in life that happen and we’ll never know why. A family member passes away; someone close to us commits suicide; someone stops being our friend.

But why? Why do we never get these answers? Why do we never receive the closure we’re looking for?

What I’ve come to find is that some questions are better left unanswered. The best thing we can do is move on. Yes, it is easier said than done, but you’ll find that when done, a huge weight will be lifted off of your shoulders. It’s hard to tell yourself that you’ll never know the answer to this question, but the best way to look at it is that God doesn’t want us to know this answer. We’re not meant to know this answer. It’s not that we’re deserving of it. It’s just that God is protecting us. This answer could hurt us if we knew or cause us many sleepless nights or stress that just isn’t worth it.

Not getting a text back from someone who you thought was your friend is your sign that you’re not meant to be friends. You may want to know why, but God doesn’t want you to. You can’t change the situation, so it’s best just to move on.

But if you’re still not convinced, think about this: Is this answer you so desperately want to know one that you’ll be able to handle? Is this something you really want to know? Despite your desperate pleas to know, is answering this question going to stop your sleepless nights and anxiety and questioning, or will it just lead to more questions you’ll never know the answers to?

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Live Every Day As If It’s Your Last

I haven’t been writing much lately because there’s just so much going on in this crazy brain that to boil it down to a single 300-600 word blog post is near impossible.  I’m just going to start off telling you a little about what’s on my brain today and we’ll go from there.   When I started writing this, I had no idea where it was going … enjoy. 🙂  

LiveEveryDayAsIfItsYourLast

So, the title of this post is “Live Each Day as if it’s Your Last.” Take this one with a grain of salt.  (Please, Lord, don’t let anyone do anything ridiculous as a result of this post.)  I’m not telling you to go jump off a bridge because you could die today anyways.  Now that we have that straightened out, we can continue with the rest of the post.  Knowing that you need to prepare to live tomorrow while you also could die today, what would you do?   Would you love those around you more?  Would you go for some crazy adventure that you wouldn’t otherwise?  Every day can be an adventure.   I’m not talking expensive adventures.  Life can be simple and adventurous at the same time.  Would you help someone you’d never met?  

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34 ESV). 

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1 ESV).  

 

These verses, as well as others that specifically address this topic, put into practice clearly address the need for Christians to focus on living each day independent of one another rather than living for the next day.  I’m kinda in love with Garth Brooks, so I’ll just be over here singing “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”   But, seriously, why would you live for a day that is not guaranteed?  Get what you need to get done today done if today’s the last day that God gives you. Whatever (within responsible means) that looks like for you.   

(Hopefully) this mindset will encourage you to spend a little less time on your phone and computer.  Yes, I know that affects how much you spend how much time you spend here.  I’m worried about you.  

High school and college students, stop losing sleep to study and do homework.  Your health is more important than your grades.  It’s not often that people tell you that, because everyone wants you to do so well that they just assume that all-nighters are a part of college.  They’re not. They don’t have to be.  Stop it.  Go to bed.  You’re not going to remember what you’re studying anyway.  Better that you get a solid 8 (or 10, for me) hours of sleep.   

Sidenote: did I just admit that I sleep 10 hours every night on the internet?  

Don’t stress so much about what you have to do for tomorrow that you lose sleep tonight or joy today.   

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When Bad Things Happen to Good People

I’m sure at least once in your life, you’ve heard someone say, “If there is a God, why does He let this really bad things happen?”

Or maybe someone firmly believes in God and still questions these things. Maybe you’re one of those people.

A lot of people questioned their beliefs in God after the terrorist attack on our nation September 11, 2001. A lot of people watched September 11 unravel in horror. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that day. They may have lost their faith after praying for their loved ones to come home, but never did. A lot of people started questioning how God could let something so horrendous happen.

We ask ourselves, “how could a person take a gun into an elementary school and shoot little kids and teachers?”, or “what kind of person drives a car into a crowd of protesters, killing three people?”

I recently asked myself why bad things happen to good people after the recent loss of one of my school district’s middle school teachers. I was heartbroken. She was an amazing woman with a smile always on her face. Why did this have to happen to her?

There are a few answers that I strongly believe.

  1. It’s not God doing evil. God is not the one who crashed the planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville on September 11. God did not shoot up Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. God did not bomb a marathon in Boston, nor did He shoot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Imperfect people did. 
  2. Satan. It’s no surprise that Satan strives to turn our hearts away from God. I wholeheartedly believe that when we don’t let God speak to us, we let Satan in. And he isn’t telling us to go to church and read our Bibles. He’s telling us to do evil. All of the events I named above are evil acts. They are not acts of God, but acts of Satan.
  3. Free will. God did not create evil. He created the potential for evil. Because we are imperfect people, we sin — a lot. We do horrible things that God doesn’t approve of. Because of our imperfection, we have free will. We are free to do what we please. Sometimes what we do has great consequence depending on the sin. However, God did not create evil. He created the potential for evil right from the start with Adam and Eve and the poisonous tree. God is always testing us, like He did Adam and Eve. They both were tempted by Satan (SIN) and ate the poisonous fruit, allowing evil to occur. Had they not eaten the poisonous fruit, we would all be perfect people, but God knew that they would sin with the potential for evil.

Are you confused yet?

God is a pretty wise guy. God is wise enough to foresee that we need some pain in our lives for reasons we cannot see; He sees it necessary for eventual good.

Long story short, bad things happen because of choice. God does not sit in the sky with a wand and say, “Hey, I’m going to have this bad thing happen today.” Bad things happen to everyone, good and bad. Bad things happen to good people because all people, good and bad, are imperfect sinners. No matter how nice a person is, they are still a sinner. No matter how much they go to church on Sundays and read their Bible, they are still a sinner. We are all sinners and that is why bad things happen to good people.

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Don’t Let Your Enemies Become Friends

“Satan will do all he possibly can do to remind you of past sin… He will tell you the Lord is disapppointed in you… never believe a word of this” (Stanley, 2008).

 

Let’s get one thing straight: Satan is NOT your friend. He never was, he isn’t now, and he never will be, under any circumstance. Satan is no friend of ours. He’s no man. He’s just a little boy who has nothing better to do with himself than to mess with our lives. He’s not even worth the capitalization of his name.

Satan is, well….Satan. He wants to hurt us in any way possible. His goal is to put us through every battle, every hardship, every tiff, every anxiety filled moment that he can. He wants to tear down every dream, everything we’ve worked for. His mission is to be the jealous ex-girlfriend watching her ex-boyfriend from the sidelines get very close with someone. He just can’t stand it. So what does he do? He intervenes. He’s determined to get in the middle of your relationship with someone special. Not because he wants the other person. But because he wants you.

He wants you.

But there’s someone better with a better life plan for you that you can run to. I hope I don’t have to say who that is.

Satan is like spam mail. You have to keep deleting those useless emails out of all the good emails you have. And once you click on one bad email, your whole computer is infected with this virus and it’s not working the right way, like it should.

Under no circumstance should we ever find ourselves making a bargain with Satan. Even on those lonely nights when you’re emotionally drained and have nowhere to turn and you feel like you can’t hear God talking to you, you should never listen to the devil sitting there on your shoulder, telling you to give up everything and turn against God. Because Satan will sit there and plea with you that he has a better life for you than God ever could. But it just can’t add up.

Satan is like a stranger in a van, offering you candy. Don’t let him tempt you. One piece of temptation is enough to tear down everything.

Because Satan is your enemy. And the enemy is not your friend.