Timing Is Everything

Do you ever go through something that wears on you so much that the only choice you have is to trust in God? These past few days I found myself just pleading and praying constantly to Him. I felt so desperate. So insignificant. So helpless. I was holding on to the thread that was my chances of the God of the universe answering my prayers for my brother just as I wanted. I know how rare it is for us to get exactly what we want from Him and exactly how we want it. But, I hoped. All day I felt as if He didn’t hear me. I couldn’t feel His reassurance or his comfort. I continued to hope.

But, when it seemed all was lost and He was nowhere to be found, He dropped something as small as good timing into this situation. Good timing is about as miraculous as any miracle I can think of. Good timing is the difference between two different paths. This amazing gift was an answer to the prayers that I have chanted to Him for several months. He saw the struggle and the hurt, and yet this perfect timing was the way to whisper to His child that he must turn around. For so long I felt alone and defeated, but in a split second the God of the universe says, “Here I am,” and changed a life forever. How beautiful to see God care for someone I love so much. It made me feel His love too.

Imagine life without people praying for you… Would there be outcomes in your life that are different? I think so for my life. If He didn’t take our prayers into account, why would they exist? I truly believe that the prayers for my brother lead him where God wanted him.

I encourage you to pray. Pray for you family, friends, people you think may need it. It is so easy to just pray when the going gets tough. I’m guilty. We all are. But, every moment of every day is the perfect time for the Lord to make Himself and a part of His plan known. It just so happens that Monday, August 24, 2015 around 8:05 P.M. was His perfect time to answer a prayer. Not mine. But, that’s why I’m not God.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

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My Sincere Friendships

A few nights ago recruitment ended. I was in charge of decorating and arranging Pref Night, which is the final night of recruitment. As my sisters and I stood in line at the door watching the last PNMs walk out of our doors, the excitement of the end began to grow. When the door shut, our quiet song turned into a louder chant proclaiming the end of this annual event. Ending up in line this night next to my big and best friend is a small gift from God. We got to share a minuscule, but memorable moment together. Recruitment had ended. We laughed and jumped as the song ended and the house boys bursted out the kitchen door in cheers wearing Bid Day shirts. The celebration was preceded by tears from testimonies and many lasts for the Seniors, which made celebrating all the more bittersweet. 

This moment and many others are small snapshots into the sweetness the Lord has to offer. His friendship is even truer than that between my sisters and I. His comfort greater than that of a hug from my best friend. But, how lucky am I that He gives me a glimpse of Himself through the sacred bonds of sorority sisterhood. Nights like Pref Night will be remembered for the beautiful friendships He has blessed upon me. I will be thankful for the sincerity in these women and the sense of belonging they bring me forever. After all, the only reason we love is because He first loved us. 

Why I Am Just As Bad As Josh Duggar 

I feel bad. I feel bad for the Duggar family. I feel bad for the victims. Most of all, I feel bad for society in general.

Josh Duggar made a mistake several times. He gave into temptation several times. He fell prey to the Enemy several times. He hurt and scarred people several times.

But, you know what? So have I. No, my sins aren’t the same sin. But, I have victims too. I have gossiped and judged. Lusted and envied. I have been repeatedly separated from God as Mr. Duggar has. Sin means separation from God. Molestation and gossiping are both sins. The same thing. Punishable by separation from God forever. The difference is found in consequences. Lying probably doesn’t have as big of consequences as molestation. But, both can be covered by the blood of Christ if one chooses to follow Jesus.

I think this concept of one sin being worse than the other is a figment of the human imagination. When we sin we can’t be more or less separated from God. That philosophically doesn’t make sense.

This is why I feel bad for society. We have made this concept up to feel better about ourselves. Everyone lies, but not everyone murders. So, the liars can say, “Well at least I didn’t murder. I’m not as bad as that guy.” C’mon guys. Does that only sound ridiculous because I’m a Christian?

We can go back to John 8 where the lesson of hypocrisy is found. Funny thing about the Bible is that it still applies to our lives today. If you’re without sin, cast the first stone on Josh Duggar. Unfortunately, (excuse my sass) many people don’t desire to comprehend the basic lesson that Jesus is teaching. They prefer to cast the first stone and live in misunderstanding and pride. This is why I feel bad for society.

Are we so cruel that we would choose to beat down someone who is already punished by living with this sin, remorse, and disappointment forever? Or to remind the victims every day of the trauma they have experienced? Do we not already have enough to be concerned about in our own lives to keep us busy? My sins alone lend me no time to worry about Mr. Duggar’s sins.

Would this be different if Mr. Duggar wasn’t a Christian? I think in some ways, yes. Calling all Christians hypocrites or bigots is the same as calling all Muslims terrorists. It is uneducated and extremely untrue. Even though he and his family handled it responsibly and in probably the best possible way they could have, it’s still not good enough for the judgment throne of society.

Luckily for all of us who have ever made a mistake, cussed, rolled our eyes, cheated, stole, lied, kicked a dog, or sped on the highway, society doesn’t have any say in our eternity. God does. I think Josh Duggar and God have had a lot of discussion about this sin.

So, People Magazine, E! News, TMZ, CNN, U.S. Weekly, Fox News, politicians, celebrities, and all of humanity. Lay off. Report the facts. That’s fine. But, watch what you say unless you are perfect.

Just a quick thought to the Christians… Did the Bible not warn that it’s hard to follow Jesus? Yes, we face hypocrisy while being told WE are the hypocrites. But, we were warned when we chose Jesus. It’s part of it. Don’t forget.

Know that I don’t understand or know what it is like to be victim of the actions of this sin. However, I am so aware that this is something nobody should ever have to experience. How my heart goes out to those girls and their families! I am thankful that victim or perpetrator, God can make everyone new and pure! I pray that this is the case in their lives. Maybe through this horrible experience, God will change lives. I don’t doubt he can.

Lord, thank you for using this family as warriors for your name. Continue to use them for your glory through this hard time. Thank you for the obedience of Josh’s family to your will by taking the appropriate steps when Josh confessed. Thank you for the healing that only you can provide. Please fill the wounds and scars with your comfort. I know you have a hand in this country, God. Please let those in dark see your light. Let the pride, judgment, and lust be destroyed by your love. Open the eyes of our world and humble our hearts. Knock down the walls of pride in this country! May all involved be drawn closer to you. 


Delivered Like Hannah

There are things in life that you are meant to be a part of. Having just ended Scandals, I know I was meant to be a part of it. But, it’s just a silly college competition? Well, yes. It’s a silly and super duper fun college competition. However, this was an answered prayer for me. I asked God for the opportunity to break outside of my comfort zone and make new friends and grow with Him while doing it. That is why I was meant to be in Scandals.

Who would’ve thought that days after God and I had this talk that the gentlemen of Brothers Under Christ would come ask us to partner with them. Who would’ve thought I would get to be a part of it. God. God would’ve thought. And boy am I thankful He did.

So, months later I am not who I once was. I am a better singer (kinda), more outgoing and closer to my Creator than when I started. All from a 12-minute adaptation of The Hunger Games. This feeling, the morning after it’s all over, is what a full heart feels like. The feeling knowing that He heard my cry and He came to my rescue. I feel like Hannah in 1 Samuel–delivered.

“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn (strength) is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.” 1 Samuel 2:1

Limitless

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

John Piper is quoted saying, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” I often find myself thinking those three things are the three that He will give me next. I am expecting that because I take delight in God and so then my top three requests will be fulfilled in no time. This, however, is the basis of the prosperity message. Which, to me, is known as Joel Osteen’s bread and butter. Now, I won’t get into Osteen because I am not fit to throw stones at him because I am not blameless either. But, this message of prosperity is not free from criticism. It is the message that I, as a privileged American in 2015, have come to expect to be reality. Unfortunately, it has led me to unrealistic expectations and putting a limit on a God who is limitless. This is true in my life. I know, KNOW, that my God knows no boundaries and yet I live like He does. Why am I complaining about not getting what I want when I was not there when God created the heavens and the earth? (Job 38:4) What do I know about anything? I try to solve the entire puzzle with just one piece. That is a common problem for a lot of us, I think.

The funny thing is, sometimes He does give me what I want. I don’t know if I’ve been particularly good or close to Him and He rewards me like a parent rewards a well-behaving child or if He sees me longing for answers I don’t feel I have control over. It is random and unexpected, but many times I ask for it. I ask for help and He gives it. I long to see a friend and He makes us cross paths. It is the most amazing little gift to feel Him listening when so often I feel like I’m just talking to the sky. I know one day when I stand before the throne in terror, awe and complete adoration I won’t really care about these petty things. The most brilliant thing on earth will pale in His comparison. And in the pits of trial and temptation to quit, I find a breath that will allow me to press on towards His peace and freedom. I know that one day this will all be over. All the waiting, confusion, angst and nervousness will be vaporized in the presence of my Creator.

Things That Grow My Affections For The Lord

1. Being picked up from the airport after being away from family. Something about this just reminds me of how much I love them and how blessed I am to have them. 

2. Rainy days. Any self-respecting girl would agree with me on this one. 

3. Friends who challenge me and laugh with me. You know who you are. 

4. Quality time with my family. Top Golf, regular golf, Sunday brunch, living room quality time around a sporting event of some sort…

5. His nuggets. If you look, you can find Him anywhere. Sometimes He leaves me hints along the way. Like a verse or a conversation with a friend. 

6. Studying other religions and philosophies. It makes me realize who He is and how much I love and value the Bible. I love that book. 

7. Memories of happy times. My favorite thing is being reminded of a happy memory through a smell or a song. I love to wear a different perfume every year or listen to a song on repeat for a time in my life. In the future, when I smell the perfume or hear the song, my mind travels back to those times. It’s magical. 

8. Sweet tea and iced coffee. Not even joking. There’s just something about your favorite drinks and sometimes I thank God for simple pleasures like these. 

9. Living in Pi Phi. Being surrounded by these girls 24/7 is one of the coolest, most challenging, rewarding, exciting, productive things I’ve ever done. 

10. Coming home. I’m a home-body and there is nothing better than walking through that door and seeing my 3 favorite people and 2 favorite pups. 

These 10 things cause me to regularly stop and thank God. I delight in Him for the experiences and things above. I feel a close, connected bond to Him on a rainy day, laying on the couch, watching basketball with my family. Those things that make me, me, also grow my affections towards Him. I don’t love Him because of these things, but instead it is because I love Him, I see Him in these things. What experiences in your life make you stop and thank God for His glory, plan, goodness and truth? 

One Shade of Red

Satan tells us sin is freedom. Jesus tells us sin brings death.

What Satan wants us to think is freedom is really bondage to filth, shame and destruction. What Jesus says is freedom IS FREEDOM.

Don’t believe Satan. His track record isn’t the best.

Believe Jesus. The One who brings real, true freedom and joy, satisfaction and fulfillment! He created you. He prayed for you. He bled for you. He DIED for you.

Can Satan top that?

The Biggest Lie Ever Told On Earth

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Genesis 3:1-7 NRSV

This is the first human sin. Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden and she and Adam ate the fruit. Everyone knows this, right? Does everyone know that this sin is still being committed today?

Satan and the world are individualistic. They tell us to commit that sin because it will make us happy and that’s what God wants. He won’t send anyone to Hell. You’re still a good person. Everyone is different, so live your life the way you want to. The Bible is too radical to follow everything it says. That’s an unrealistic expectation. But it will feel good. It’s fun.

LIES.

Those things are lies and they are exactly what Satan wants us to believe.

Satan convinced Eve that it’s ok to sin if it makes her happy. If we are happy, God is happy. Right? No, Isaiah 59:2 says that, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Our selfishness separates from God. Sin actually means “separation from God.” I really think this is the number one lie told to us by the enemy, because we continue to believe it.

The Bible is the authoritative word of God with radical commands and controversial truths in today’s world. It doesn’t say that we should each do what feels right for us. No, it says in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” When I hear this verse I think of what Satan did to Eve. He took her captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy by telling her that the fruit will not harm her when it didn’t only harm her, but her husband and all of mankind forever. The world wants us to think that we can sin when it feels right for us…and we can. But, we will pay the consequences of those actions.

My friend, Katie, said something really wise the other night: God doesn’t harm you. You harm yourself when you don’t love Him.

Sinning doesn’t mean we don’t love God, it just means that we have fallen for the lie Satan is telling us. After all, sin never looks ugly. It looks like everything we’ve ever wanted or desired. It looks like cookies in a cookie jar before dinner. Or in Eve’s case, forbidden fruit that will bring knowledge of good and evil.

Maybe it’s time to let go of a habitual sin or re-evaluate the way you live your life for you. Getting God out of the co-pilot’s seat is the way I have made transitions in my own life. When He asks us to give Him our sins, it is not to harm us, but to open our eyes to the amazing gifts He has in store for us.

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5

11 Words More Important to Me Than the Word Feminism

I’ve seen a lot of talk of feminism lately on social media. Now I wouldn’t be lying if I said I didn’t understand this whole feminism tug-of-war going on among women. What is feminism? Is there one set definition that we all agree on? My best friend and I were talking about this the other night. Do feminists want us women to register for the draft or do they just want all women to support each other? It is too confusing for even this accredited university educated young woman to understand (jokes).

For Christmas my other best friend, who happens to be my roommate, got me a Bible study book on the Proverbs 31 woman. It dawned on me that this was one of those teaching moments from the Lord. I am not a woman to be defined as am or am not. I am defined by my relationship with my heavenly Father.

He does not desire for me to identify with worldly things, but Him and bring glory to Him. All women–ALL WOMEN–should aim to become more like the woman laid out in Proverbs 31. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be like her? She is a woman who is valued, virtuous, diligent, decisive, dedicated, caring, prepared, savvy, joyful, active and loved by the Lord and those she is around.

The woman in Proverbs 31 is literally super woman, in my opinion. She has taught me that tending to a household is just as much of a job as any other man’s job. Today women are so focused on being a CEO or a career woman, but who says that holding down a household is not just as hard or prestigious? Call me old-fashioned, but my dreams for life have never included conquering corporate America. I simply want to do what the Lord created women for…something I believe is different from men. I don’t think men and women were created for the same purpose. If they were, why would we need both? (Check out this amazing blog post/sermon on Genesis 1-3 and the purpose of men and women… http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/men-and-women-in-biblical-perspective/)

Yes, I warned you. I am very traditional and I always have been, but I’m not sorry about it either. Not being a feminist does not mean I am submissive or weak. The woman in Proverbs was definitely not those things. But being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t be a Christian, too. It is a very gray word, feminism, with many different tiers.

I know it is a sticky topic. What’s new in the world? But, I have seen this everywhere lately. No, I am not a feminist, but I know why I am not. I encourage you to know your stance and be educated about why you’ve made that decision. Below is the text that I have begun to use as a guide for being a woman. She sounds pretty incredible if you ask me.

PROVERBS 31:10-31

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her          (Valued)
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax                 (Virtuous)
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;          (Diligent)
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;                     (Decisive)
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;                (Dedicated)
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor                    (Caring)
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.                                    (Prepared)
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,                  (Savvy)
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come. 
26 She speaks with wisdom,                       (Joyful)
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.                  (Active)
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”                  (Loved)
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Throw Away The Agenda

I was chatting with God the other day about life, and He revealed to me a thought as I was rambling away to Him about random things in my life. The thought?

After all the experiences in my life, there is not an outcome I would change because I know You know what is best for me. 

The realization washed over me like a tidal wave. It’s so true! Looking back, there is not one result that I ended up not being happy with or still want to change to this day. His plan has satisfied me in every situation. I cannot recall saying, “Lord, had you just done…” or, “That wasn’t for the better,” on the other side of things. In the middle of the storm? Yes, sometimes most times I question where He is taking me. But, I’m human and I’m working on it.

I never realized this because it is something I don’t think about often. I mean, who sits around and consciously thinks about the affect of a trial or a door shutting or opening? It’s only after something like a fleeting moment of joyful conversation do I think about how thankful I am for His plan.

If you ever want to prove God’s omniscience, hand over every aspect of your life to Him and you will be amazed. Granted, it might not be right away, but I promise you will see it. There is a reason you didn’t get the job or you and your significant other broke up. But, there will be a day when you see the works of His hand and I hope you have the same feeling I do…

He and His plan have never disappointed me.