Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

 In the mornings, after devotions, the ladies in my family are reading a book called - One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right where you are, by Ann Voskamp.

We are only about 5 chapters into it, but so far, it is amazing! I have been so challenged by what we have read already. It is much to deep for me to try to explain here, so just get the book and read it. :) The title of the book comes from a list the author was challenged to make; one thousand things you are thankful for. Which brings me to the reason for this post. I have started my own list, in an effort to learn the language of thankfulness. Don't worry, I am not going to put one thousand things here for you to read, I haven't even made it half way to that number. But I want to challenge all of you to at least ponder all the blessings of everyday life that we often overlook. The things that we take for granted, but would miss terribly if God had not given them to us. And maybe, just maybe, you might want to start a list of your own. :)

 Ann's list was very specific. She included all the "little things", the simple pleasures in life, as well as the big ones.

 So, here is the beginnings of my list. It's not in order,or anything so organized as that. I just wrote as the thoughts came to me.

 Bare feet on soft grass
The smell of homemade bread baking
 Blue; the color of my cool, inviting bedroom
 Laughter ringing through the house
 Long, quiet conversations with the love of my life, Jesus.
 Dad's strong, work-worn hands
 Love; so amazing, so divine
 Wearing flip-flops with my toes painted 
 Long, personal conversations with my best friends
 Sunny, yellow daffodils 
 Blue sky with no clouds in sight
 Long, rich brown hair
 Mom's ever-ready advice
 Little sisters who love you no matter what
 Big, dark brown eyes
 Doing chores and singing my heart out
 Music filling my soul

 Well, that's all I'll share for now. I hope this has encouraged you to learn that language of  Eucharisteo, life filling gratitude.  Start your list today. Believe me, it will make you smile! :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"This Life Is Not About Finding The Perfect Guy And Getting Married."

Hello everyone,
 I heard this testimony a couple weeks ago, and it so challenged me that I asked if I could put it up on my blog. This is such a good reminder for all of us single ladies who are striving to honor the Lord during this season of our lives. I was challenged and encouraged to not compromise, no matter what comes my way. I hope it encourages you too.
"I grew up in a Christian home & was saved at an early age. My family has always had conservative views on dress, media and guy/girl relationships. Early on I took hold of those same views for myself. I was very reserved in my interactions with young men and dressed modestly.

At age 18, I began a courtship that ended 10 months later. The hurt and disappointment from that relationship caused me to head down a different path…one that in my pride, I thought I would never take. Here are four things that changed in my thinking…

1) Modesty no longer mattered as much – I look back now and regret how I must have caused the men around me to stumble.

Ladies, I want to challenge you with something – Is it really worth it? Do we really want the men in our life to have to fight to keep their eyes up on our faces? Do we really want them to have to struggle in church to keep their mind on Christ and off of our bodies? Please take some time to examine your own heat & wardrobe. Make sure you are honoring both God & man with your clothing.

2) Flirting no longer seemed off limits - I was no longer guarded in my interactions with guys in person or on-line. Facebook chats with young men became more and more frequent. Emails got more and more personal. Texts and phone calls were no longer just for coordinating church functions and informational purposes. Also, my body language changed…and it spoke plenty.

Please hear this – flirting is like playing with fire. It’s not worth it. You will get burned. Also, if you have a Facebook, I would encourage you to give your parents your password. It helps hold you accountable. If you can, don’t even have guy “friends” on it! My family has a rule. Until you are 18, you cannot have any peers of the opposite gender as “friends” on your Facebook. Except for family members, of course. Even now, I stay offline to all of the young men on my Facebook. Please take the time to examine your interactions with young men in real life & online.

3) Guys being my best friends no longer seemed like a bad idea. All of the young men that I became close friends with are no longer my friends. We became too familiar and ended up in confusing, undefined relationships.

Let me say something radical – In almost every case, guys and girls cannot be “just close friends” and remain there. It either ends in marriage or an ended friendship. The latter is usually very awkward & painful. Please believe me when I say this. When I was younger, I did not believe those who said this to me. But they were right. You don’t have to learn the hard way. Please, take time to set safe boundaries for yourself.

4) I believed that my previous boundaries and reservations might be the reason for me still being single.

But listen to this, girls – if a young man does not respect your boundaries and pressures you to compromise any of them, he is not the kind of young man you want to associate with. If you were to marry such a man, he would only continue to disrespect you and pressure you to lower your standards in other areas of your life.

All of these compromises in my life led to a lot of confusion, heartache and trouble. Several unwise flirtations and another broken relationship later – I woke up. I finally understood that the way I had been living was not God’s best for me. The way I was treating guys did not honor God, me or the young men. I finally saw the need to truly be under my parents protection. I had believed the lie that my earthly parents could ruin my chance at marriage, and in doing so, I believed that my parents had more power over my life than God.

Let me say that again – If you believe that your parents can ruin your chance at marriage, then you are believing that they are more powerful than God.

Let that sink in… Do you REALLY believe that they have more power than GOD?! Can any person thwart God’s plan for your life?! NO! But, believe me, it’s not worth it to lower your standards. In His mercy He protected me from losing more of myself than I did. Praise God! I give Him all the glory, because if it wasn’t for Him, I would still be deep in darkness. I am so grateful that He has brought me full circle.

Imagine this with me…

There is a nation. This nation belongs to God. Its boundaries are clearly defined and they follow God’s word. This nation also has an enemy. This enemy wants to come in, take over and destroy this nation from the inside out. So, the enemy sends its people to sneak in and settle. Their orders are to build homes, plant gardens, multiply and spread out. At first the citizens of this land are resistant to the enemy, but because they don’t push them out immediately, they become comfortable with them being there.

So gradually, the enemy spreads out and occupies more and more land, as well as influences the citizens with its pagan ways. Slowly, but surely, the once Godly nation loses its identity…it no longer looks different from the rest of the world. It loses its influence for good. The people are miserable and enslaved to sin. You see, the boundaries were not there to trap or enslave the citizens! They were there to protect the citizens and their identity as God’s people. The boundaries gave them the freedom to thrive and grow without threat or distraction, but they slowly gave it away.

Now, close your eyes and put yourself in the story…

Jesus has saved you, chosen you for His own. You belong to God. God has clearly spelled out your boundaries in His word. But, You have an enemy, Satan. This enemy wants to take over and destroy your life. So, he tempts you with little compromises. An immodest top, a chat with a guy that you like, an opportunity to flirt, a bad movie. At first you feel a little guilty. But, because you don’t resist, you become comfortable with your sin. Gradually, those things no longer bother you. And things that used to seem terrible to you are no longer a big deal.

Slowly, but surely, you blend in with the rest of the world. You no longer look set apart. You lose your identity and influence for good. You are miserable and enslaved to your sin and the world. Flirting with the world and tempting it to come in and possess land is dangerous business! You see, the boundaries were there to protect you. They were there to give you the freedom to thrive and grow in the Lord without distraction…but slowly, you gave it away. And what for? Was it worth it?

Ponder your for a moment….now, open your eyes. What did you see? Do you think these stories are what God really desires for us?

Now, please, do not let these stories discourage you! I for one am living proof that there is hope. If you have given over territory to the enemy, it is not too late to take it back. Sit down with your parents and discus what safe boundaries are for you.

And if this story does not describe you yet, please don’t let it ever! Set clear boundaries NOW! Do not allow the enemy to occupy any of your territory. Once your boundaries are determined, use the safety and freedom that they provide to grow and thrive in your walk with God.

Matthew 6:33 says, “See first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

This life is not about finding the perfect guy and getting married.

It’s about seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness!

It’s about being set-apart and it’s about reflecting Christ in ALL areas of our life!"