When We’re Honest

When other people are honest about their struggles, I let out a sigh of relief because I’m reminded I’m not alone. Someone out there understands and the world feels right again. When people are honest, the weight of everything we’re carrying, lightens.

We’re not all as put together as we make it seem. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will make it appear so, but the truth is, our behind the scenes life matters more than what’s highlighted to our friends and followers.

I’m an honest person but I’m not as open as I used to be. It’s taken a lot of time for me to be able to trust again and allow myself to be vulnerable. When you put your feelings out there, you don’t know how the person or persons on the other end will react, so you remain silent. This sums up most of my life for the past year. Until recently, all I’ve done is communicate how I feel. I’ve been honest about everything and though it’s often draining, it’s also liberating.

Being honest sets us free.

Last night, I had another honest/hard conversation. I was waiting for the person to reject and push me away, but instead they said something I’ve been needing to hear, “Let’s work on that. As a team.” I’m a strong minded, willed, and guarded person. This often, almost always, gets in the way of what God tries to do in my relationships with other people. I recognize this and I’m trying to be better. When they said this, those walls I’ve been building started to come down brick by brick. This is what happens when honesty is met with understanding and compassion.

Being honest sometimes will cause conflict, but can also bring healing in areas we’re too afraid to confront. Honesty is the best policy, all the time, in every area of life.

Do you have problems with honesty? Start being honest about them.

Don’t End Up Friendless

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

The more God leads me to verses about friendship, I’m reminded how true friendship is rare.

I have several acquaintances, but I can only name 2-3 true friends in my own life. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want any more acquaintances, I want true and lasting friendship. We should all want this and it’s our responsibility to take the issue of friendships, relationships, and community seriously.

No one wants to die alone but I believe some of us will because we don’t know how to cultivate and sustain healthy relationships. 

When the whole world decides to walk out, we should have at least one person who remains. This the person we know we can count on through anything. They’re the first person we think to call on in an emergency or crisis. But even if there is no emergency or crisis, they’re the first person we think of when we need someone.

Who is this person in your life?

Who has always been there for you when others weren’t?

Who in your life are you currently taking for granted? 

These are hard questions, but they need to be asked. It is better we have one or a few friends we can count on than many. We could be surrounded by plenty of people and still feel alone. I know I’ve gotten to this point a few times in my life but I’ve gotten better. I don’t talk about everything with anyone, but I’m getting better with opening up. Friendships take work and I’m more interested in the quality of my friendships than how many people I have around me.

Not everyone can be trusted and their actions will speak louder than their words ever do. But there are people out there who will be there for you, who will comfort you, protect you, correct you, and love you. Surround yourself with those kind of people.

Make acquaintances, but keep true friends close. Someone with a lot of “so-called” friends may end up friendless. Don’t let this be you. 

How many true friendships do you have in your life?

Will You Lay Your Life Down For Your Friends?

I’ve been asking this question to myself a lot lately. With the recent changes in my life and relationships with others, I’m reminded daily how important being surrounded by the right people matters. Having the people I do in my life is important for my growth, not only spiritually, but personally. I take my relationships with others seriously, but I won’t lie and say I don’t fall short in some areas.

God reminded me this morning that in order for my relationships to thrive, I have to lay down my pride. 

I’m very vocal about my wants, needs, and desires. I make those things known and I make them clear. However, in doing this, my words have often wounded instead of lift up and encourage. The truth is, it’s not always about me and I need to be careful with the hearts God has entrusted me.   Though I’ve been hurt a lot in my past, the hurt spills into places it shouldn’t. The people in my life right now are answered prayers and it would be stupid to take them for granted.

Last night, I had a difficult conversation with someone and though those things needed to be said, it was mostly selfish on my part. There are things people in our life can’t give us. Not because they can’t, but because those things take time. Instead of being patient with the process, I want to rush ahead. I need to lay my needs, wants, and desires down and focus on the fact God has placed someone in my life who sees and knows everything about me and accepts me, all of me. They are patient with me and aren’t going to throw in the towel.

Our relationships can’t grow when we give up on each other.

I know I’ve given up on people. Most people in my life will tell me it was long over due and maybe it was. While most of it was selfish and a reaction out of feelings, it was time. I look at how people who have only known me for a month treat me compared to how someone who has known me longer than a year treated me. There were a lot of inconsistencies and it was time to walk. I don’t regret it and I want to do right in my future relationships.

God wants us to love and value others above ourselves. 

It will be uncomfortable at times and you’ll try to convince yourself why your actions are right. But, God wants us to lay our lives down for each other. It will mean patience and humility, and above all, love. In every area of our life, Jesus must be greater. Our friendships with others is no different.

Anything God asks of us should point back to love. Everything, all the time. It’s time we get out of our own way and let Jesus have HIS way in our lives and hearts.

Are you willing?

 

You Deserve To Be Treated Well

I came to a pretty sad reality about myself recently. I’m still adjusting to this reality, but it’s restructured my life in very specific ways. Mostly with how I see myself as a person, a woman, and importantly, how I’ve allowed myself to be treated for most of my adult life.

Imagine going your entire life thinking when other people hurt you, this behavior is normal. You tolerate it again and again with the hope this time will be different. You put up with actions and behaviors most confident and secure people wouldn’t. You ignore the warnings, red flags, and inconsistencies. We become naive to truth. You tell yourself it’s what any person who loves and follows Jesus would do because He loves the broken and we should too.  But just because someone is broken it doesn’t give them the right to repeatedly hurt you or any other person in their life.

The bottom line is this: You deserve to be treated well. Any person or persons who rejects you, any part of you, and what you have to offer, doesn’t deserve you and you don’t need them in your life.

I’ve said this before many times, but I’m experiencing them in a different way. I’m learning when people genuinely care about and love you, they won’t find excuses for why they continually hurt you. There is no excuse. Deep down I know all the times I’ve been hurt, the person on the other end didn’t mean to. I know when I hurt other people, I don’t mean to. But I don’t make excuses for it and don’t purposefully find reasons to ignore and avoid them in any manner. I confront the problem, I confront them, and leave the rest to God.

Any relationship/friendship lost when truth is spoken is not a real relationship/friendship.

In the past three weeks, I’ve met new people, made new experiences, and cultivated healthy relationships with them. I can tell them my convictions, areas where I refuse to compromise, allowed them in places of vulnerability without fear of judgement or misunderstanding. I’m able to tell them point blank I’m a woman of God, I take my relationship with Him seriously, and I will not compromise any area for any reason for any one. I’ve laid everything out and basically said, “Take it or leave it. Because this isn’t changing, for anyone.” Their response? Total acceptance, respect, and love.

We deserve this kind of acceptance. Anything less than this doesn’t deserve our time or attention.

I’m not saying this is easy or that I’m perfect. I’m not a perfect follower of Jesus. When I struggle, I recognize the root of my struggles and then I move forward in dealing with it. We need people who can look at our weaknesses and struggles, see past them and walk with us despite their own weaknesses and struggles because we all have them.

We deserve people in our life who we can be authentic with and vise versa. I don’t wear masks in life. What you see is what you get. Being fake has no business or place in a life meant to be lived by faith. Anything less than this doesn’t deserve our time and attention. 

I enjoy being around other people but I know often it can get messy. It’s time for us to stop allowing ourselves to be doormats for others, staying in one sided relationships out of love. Love is unconditional, it may not always be reciprocated, but it was never meant to be abused. Real love never fails, and when it does it’s not real love. We deserve to have people in our life who love us in the way of Jesus. It was His way that set the standard. We will always fall short of this standard but it’s our responsibility to do our very best to right our wrongs, repent of any wrongdoing, and ask for forgiveness.

None of this is easy. We all have baggage and pasts that are difficult to move on from. But when God places people in our life to help us in those areas, it’s our responsibility to nurture those relationships. They’re rare and few, and should never be taken for granted.

It is my hope and prayer for you and for myself, we will begin to see ourselves in the image of Christ. That we will love ourselves enough to walk away from any person or persons who doesn’t see our value or worth.

You deserve to be treated well.  Any one who doesn’t recognize this, doesn’t deserve your time or attention.

 

 

Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher [Book Review]

 

9781601428400Rooted by Banning Liebscher is another great read for 2016.  Every book I’ve picked up this year has been timely and Rooted was no different. Banning discusses how God develops us through the process of Intimacy, Serving, and Community. The biggest take away I got from Rooted is when God develops us, it takes time. Until we are fully developed through His process,  we cannot fully live out our purpose.

All of Banning’s words resonated with me, but the section on serving really struck a cord. God put us here to love and serve others. To lay our life down for our friends and those close to us. I have reflected on the past month of my life and realize the people who need my love most are the people I see and interact with daily. It goes beyond that but it starts there.

Rooted will both challenge and convict you. It will make you see life through a different pair of lens you’re used to as a follower of Christ. You will rethink areas of life, namely, your relationship with Christ and how it affects your relationships with other people and importantly, yourself.

What kind of legacy do you want to have? You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit that lasts for eternity, just like David, just like Christ. 

Banning encourages us to remain rooted in the Source; Jesus. I highly recommend this book.

How rooted are you?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

3 Characteristics of Successful Friendships

The more I think about my life at almost 33, I’m reminded daily how important friendships are.  I’m also reminded how difficult they are.  I don’t know what it is about adult friendships, but it seems the older I get, it becomes harder to maintain them. My inner circle has gotten smaller over the past few years, but there are some consistent characteristics about these people and why we’re able to make our friendships work.

They’re reliable. When I text or call, they text and call back. They always respond.

They always follow through with commitments. If they say they’ll be there, they’re there. No questions asked. No excuses.

They value our time together. They’re never late or ever in a hurry. Oh, and as a bonus, they almost never use or check their phone while we’re together.

I’m in a place in life where I want to be around people who genuinely like being around me. Honestly, I’m not always the best person to be around. I’ve struggled more lately than I have in a while. Sometimes we say and do things we don’t necessarily mean and stuff happens that could have been prevented had we been more self-controlled. I know this now but I also know despite my failings, God has still proven Himself faithful.

God doesn’t stop working because I’m a bad friend.

This is an area I’m trying to constantly improve as I move forward with my life. I’ve had some amazing things happen in a few short months and I’ve had some difficult things happen too. But when it’s all said and done and the chips have fallen, I want to know the right people are in my life. People who will challenge me, strengthen me, encourage me, and be there no matter what. On the same hand, I want to be this kind of friend too.  I believe what we are willing to sow into our friendships/relationships and in life, we reap those things. If we sow good things, we’ll reap good things.

Successful friendships don’t happen over night. They’re cultivated over time with a lot of patience, and the will power to keep going, to make things work, even when the directions of our life change.

Ask God for the grace and humility to be a better friend and for Him to bring those kind of friends into your life.

Do you have successful friendships? If not, what in your life needs to change?

 

 

A Message For All Women

I don’t know where you are in life at the moment, but wherever it is, you are where you’re supposed to be. If you believe in the Lord like I do, trust He has your best interest in mind. No matter the circumstances, believe He is faithful.  I know this part is very difficult. Us women want to be loved, valued, cherished, and accepted for who we are. My message to you is continue being the woman God has created you to be.

Throughout your life, men will come and go.  Not every one who stays is the “One.” This part will be difficult to accept, but God knows us better than any one ever will and He has designed someone specifically for not only us, but our hearts.

We must guard our purity with our life. Not only sexual purity, but mental, emotional, and spiritual too. If any of these areas are compromised by our relationships or anything else in our life, they need to go. No person or thing is worth the risk of living an impure life. I know this sounds self-righteous, but from my own experience, this is the only way to live.

As we get older, our perspective changes. We see things from a different pair of lens. Lens of growth, wisdom, and above all, love. All those times you thought God was being too hard on you or worse, punishing you, you’ll see what He was doing all along … loving you. He is the only One who loves from a pure and genuine heart. When we walk in His love it changes how we see things.

We need more confident hearts. Confidence in ourselves and in the Lord. I know from experience, I’m not as confident as I want to be. I’m insecure and feel unattractive. I would love for a man to look me in the eyes and say, “Julie, you’re beautiful” and mean it. But I need to start seeing myself the way God sees me. Accepted, valued, and loved despite my stretch marks and flaws.

There is a man out there, a Godly man for you. One who seeks the Lord in everything. He knows how to treat a woman and doesn’t take advantage of her heart or emotions. He helps protect her purity and would never put her in a situation where she will need to question his motives or actions. He can be trusted. Many men will claim to be this man.  They’ll say with their lips “I believe in the Lord” but say differently with their actions.  Pay attention. Actions never lie.

God is the author of our lives. He has written every page and He knows the beginning to end.

This part may be difficult to accept because we like to be in control, but I beg you, surrender everything to God and Him alone and you won’t regret it. The best plan for our life is the one we couldn’t write ourselves.

You deserve nothing but God’s best for you and only He knows what this is. It may look one way one day and another the next but believe His fingerprints are in everything. 

Never let any person take the place of God in your life. Put God first in everything and move out of the way. When you put Him first, everything else will fall into place.

I’ve made a commitment to follow the Lord in everything. Admittedly, this isn’t easy. I haven’t made the best choices this year but I’m going to walk the next half of 2016 more confident and hopeful.

I hope you will too.

 

NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback [Bible Review]

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Normally, I’m not a fan of the NKJV version of Scripture, but this Bible came in handy to study with. The NKJV Study Bible is a great study Bible for adults who want to dig deeper into scripture.

My favorite feature are the verse by verse notes at the bottom of each section of reading. I have found this feature extremely valuable and highly recommended for any one who wants to deepen their understanding of scripture. The other feature I found helpful were the cross references and the articles highlighting key doctrines/principles in the Bible.

This is a very compact Bible and perfect to carry with you to work or for group study.

I highly recommend this Bible if you’re a fan of the NKJV translation.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

We Are Better Together

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Adam and Eve.

David and Jonathan.

Elijah and Elisha.

Ruth and Naomi.

What do all these stories have in common? Each of them could not accomplish God’s work without each other.

Jesus sent His disciples two by two and from the beginning God knew we couldn’t function without people walking along side with us, helping us, encouraging us, and doing the work He has called each of us to do. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5) but He will also bring people in our life who will help us too.

We should have people who will pour into us and spend time with us.

We should have people who will battle with us.

We should have people who will walk along side with us and have confidence in us when we want to give up.

From the beginning of creation, God knew we needed other people. 

I’m thankful for the people in my life who encourage me forward, who are there for me when I need to talk/vent, but I need more. I need someone in my life who will partner with me in doing the work God has sent me here to do and they’re willing to ride it out. Having these kind of people in our life is so important to furthering God’s kingdom here on earth.

Who is this person in your life?  

This is what I’m asking myself today and I’m praying daily God will bring that person/people into my life.

We are better together. We are not equipped to do this life alone. 

Do you have people in your life who are helping you do God’s work?

Spend time today reflecting on this question, I know I will be.

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Are You a Genuine Friend?

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“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about the friendships in my life. I’ve strengthened some and let some go. The circle I keep has gotten smaller and fewer as I’ve gotten older. I make acquaintances easily, but maintaining and strengthening existing friendships in this season of life is a little difficult for me. I have friends I can go see a movie with but having people in my life who will walk side by side with me through the messiness of life is a little more challenging.

There are people I talk to and who speak life into me but over the past year I’ve built walls around my heart and I’m very guarded in specific areas. I’m not as vulnerable as I used to be. I think when you’ve been hurt a lot you train yourself not to get too close to other people in fear of being hurt or worse rejected.  Genuine friendships matter to me, especially in this area but they’re rare.

Genuine friends spend time with you.

Genuine friends are there to catch us when we fall.

Genuine friends are the ones there for us when the whole world walks out. 

Genuine friends accept and love us as we are. 

Genuine friends pray for you and with you.

Genuine friends are transparent with you. 

Genuine friends are the ones who stick closer than a brother.

Genuine friends inspire, encourage, and challenge you to be the best version of yourself.

I’m sure there are other characteristics of genuine friendships, but these stick out most to me. As I think through my friendships, I know what kind of friendships I want and the kind of friend I need to be.  Our friendships and relationships with others matter, especially as followers of Jesus.  They should draw us closer to Christ and His image not away from it.

This week take an inventory of your relationships and pray over them. 

Are you a genuine friend?

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Ask, Seek, Knock

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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

I love when God shows up and finds ways to get my attention. Matthew 7:7 has been a verse that has shown itself a few times this week and it’s only Tuesday. There are plans on my heart and I know only the Lord’s plans will ultimately prevail.  To know the direction He wants me to move in, I have to ask and seek Him in everything.

God will make His way known if the desires of my heart are in His will.

Time and time again, especially lately, He has proven Himself faithful. I’ve been attentive but I get impatient in the waiting.  When I sit at His feet daily, He reminds me to trust Him in this time of waiting and preparation.

God’s ways will always be higher than ours and He wants us to ask and seek Him daily before making big decisions. 

Ask.

Seek.

Knock.

What a timely reminder.

Lord, you know the desires of my heart. Help me to ask and seek You in everything. Don’t let me move unless You tell me to first. In Jesus name, amen.

Are you asking and seeking the Lord daily before making big decisions? 

#heartcheck

The Missing Link

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The more time I’ve spent in the Word and with the Lord over the past few weeks, I’m realizing the missing link to almost everything in our life.

The Holy Spirit.

It’s missing from our relationships, friendships, Churches, everything. I’ve had individual and collective experiences with the Spirit and I can’t and will not deny its power in my life. The experience is supernatural and powerful.

Most people talk of the Spirit and being filled with it, but to live by it, to obey it, and watch it work naturally in our life is nothing short of incredible. I get speechless and emotional thinking about it.

We talk about it,  but do we really understand how the Holy Spirit works?

I do.

Over the past month I’ve seen the Spirit’s work evident in my life. I don’t say this to brag, but to make y’all aware. The Holy Spirit is real and will work in our life when we’re open to its movement.

The Holy Spirit enables us to do the work God has called us to do and we cannot do anything in our life apart from it.

Almost everything I tried doing on my own last year fell apart. I won’t negate those few moments when I knew God was present, but those experiences never lasted and I realize looking back they weren’t meant to. I tried doing things in my own power and strength whether they were Godly or not, but apart from the Spirit, they weren’t fruitful.

When we act on our own wants and desires the Spirit won’t move. But with the Spirit’s leading and help, we can change the world. 

There have been many times lately the Spirit has told me things to do and I’ve been hesitant, but I know if I walk away from the Spirit’s direction, I will regret it. Many things will call for attention and they can be distracting. They will distract us from God’s best for us but with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

In order to do everything God wants from us, we have to make the Spirit known in everything.

Is the Spirit missing in your life? Ask God to help make it known. 

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