Personal

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?

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.

 

 

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.

 

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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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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When Rejection Resurfaces

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Last week, someone I used to really like and care for said something hurtful to me and feelings of rejection resurfaced. What is it about me that people can’t love and appreciate? That was the first thought that crossed my mind.

I’m realizing the more people reject me, I need more of Jesus in my life.

Rejection hurts. No matter which end you fall on, it hurts terribly.  I know in my heart God loves me. He sees my weaknesses as strengths and works through my faults and flaws. However, others can’t and most won’t. This is the reality of life. You’re only good for someone until they no longer need you. Whatever else we have to offer, it doesn’t matter.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, but these are feelings I live with daily. Even when God is good, I don’t feel good enough. This hurts to admit, but it’s the truth. Rejection has followed me around for the past several years and no matter who’s the source of it, it hurts worse as I get older.

I want to be the kind of woman who knows her worth in Christ and walks in that identity. I want to stand firm on who God says I am and not let other people’s treatment towards me bring me down. This is an area I’ve continued to struggle with for five years and it hasn’t gotten easier. Sadly, I don’t think it will.

I am hopeful though. I know God is here with me and will guide my heart with the truth of His Word. He always does. He reminds me I’m loved, valued, cherished, and accepted exactly as I am.

Today, if feelings of rejection resurface, rest in this truth.

How do you handle rejection?

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Show Us How To Increase Our Faith

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“Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive. The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” – Luke 17:4-5

Days like today I wonder how I can sit with doubt or question God’s hand in current situations. Each time I ask for a sign, He provides. Loud and clear. He has yet to fail me in this area, but I still waiver in faith.

In this morning’s reading, the disciples knew they needed more faith. Why? Because they were conflicted in the area of forgiveness. And right now, so am I.

The past month or so has been a whirlwind. My life is changing and so is my heart. But I still have issues in trusting and believing. In February, I was deceived and lied to by someone I thought would be a long-time friend.  Not soon after, I was confronted with an area of my past I thought had been long gone and buried. These things prevent me from trusting the Lord completely because in the back of my mind, I’m wondering when the ball will drop and trust will be broken again.

Forgiving others for repeated hurt is hard but it’s the only way faith can work. When people are genuinely sorry for the way they’ve hurt us, scripture tells us we must forgive them. 

I want to walk in the freedom of forgiveness and obey scripture. I spent a lot of time being bitter, resentful, and angry between 2014-2015. Thankfully, God has worked in my heart and life to correct me in this area.

As we learn to forgive our faith in God increases.  If there’s a person in your life who needs your forgiveness, obey scripture and forgive them. This doesn’t mean what they’ve done to you didn’t happen or you’re forced to forget. Forgiveness isn’t about them, it’s about you. 

Lord, show us how to increase our faith. 

Has your faith been weakened lately because of unforgiveness?

What Being Single At 32 Will Teach You

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Honestly, I didn’t think I’d still be single. I thought I’d be married with children by now.  God must have other plans.

This the reality I live with – God has a different plan for my life than I thought I wanted. 

I’ll be frank. I hate being single. It’s bothered me more in the past year than any other time in my life. Most of the time, I just write it off as I’m just lonely and need someone in my life who can fill a void. But the truth is, I don’t hate being single because I’m lonely. I hate it because there’s a part of me who believes I’m going to die alone.

As a woman who believes in the Lord, standing firm in my own convictions and realizing, settling would go against God’s will and best for me in this area.  Men say they want a woman who loves the Lord with her whole heart and follows Him closely, yet, at the end of the day, most settle. I’ve met married people unhappy in their marriages so they flirt their way through other people hoping they will erase the ache. I’ve met single people afraid of commitment so they settle for dead end relationships.

One of the most difficult things for me is knowing what I want, that God has it covered, to going my own way, doing this dating thing my way, and hope for the best. But it doesn’t work that way. I know what obedience in this area feels like and it’s the way I feel now.

I know God wouldn’t have led me to the people He has over the years without their lessons. Lessons about what I truly need and want in my relationships and never settling for less than I know I deserve.

Love is blind, but with God as my guide, He makes those things clear. 

Being single at 32 is not the love story I envisioned for my life. I saw things differently, very differently, but it’s just proof I know nothing. When I asked God into my life back in 2011, I also allowed Him into my heart. And though my heart is messy, He’s always protected me. Though there were times it didn’t feel like protection, looking back, I know He knew what I needed better than I ever did.

The brutal reality is, I could be single for another year, 10 years, or God could choose to leave me single. The unknowing is the difficult part of it too but there’s also beauty in watching God’s plan for my life unfold before me. 

God’s fingerprints are all over this area in my life and though it’s difficult at times to trust, surrendering this area of my life to Him completely is freeing. I don’t have to search for the man God has designed and prepared for me. He will bring him into my life when He knows I’m ready and without my help.

If you’re single like me, surrender this area of your life to God completely and leave it there. Trust His plan over yours and your heart with Him over your lusts and wants.

Singleness isn’t punishment, it’s preparation. God is preparing the love of my life the way He’s preparing me.

I trust Him. 

 Will you?

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Forgiveness Will Set You Free

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For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Do you have a hard time with forgiveness?

I do and it’s difficult to admit. This morning’s reading made me realize how I waver back and forth between forgiveness and holding grudges. I’m hurt. I’ve made peace with most people from my past who have hurt me but there’s still one person I’m having a difficult time forgiving.

Having your heart broken feels like the most unforgivable sin.

I can look back and see how God had my best interest at heart when the relationship ended, but I keep revisiting the relationship over and over again. Mostly, the parts which still hurt. Maybe I haven’t given myself time to grieve the relationship in its entirety.  We’re allowed to grieve, but not forever. Eventually we must let go and move on. It takes time and though time doesn’t heal all wounds, God is ready for us to hand over our hurts.

 For us, forgiveness is a choice. For God, forgiveness is required.

Today, take a moment to examine the condition of your past and present relationships.  God deals with those who hurt us. The person who  hurt you is in His hands.

Forgiveness sets us free. 

Who do you need to forgive today?

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He Calls You Beautiful

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My self-esteem took a nose dive last week. I’m not sure why or how, but it happened.  I felt unattractive, disregarded, ugly. Even typing that makes me cringe. Yesterday while at work, four people complimented me and said I looked “Beautiful” and it made me aware of how something so simple can mean so much.

Maybe you struggle with self-esteem issues like I do. I was teased a lot for how I looked all throughout my childhood. As an adult, dealing with self-esteem is different. It’s a whole new level of insecurity that rears its ugly head the moment you don’t feel “good enough“. I wish I could wave a magic wand over my insecurities, but the truth is, I live with them, inside them,  they’re at the core of everything I find wrong in my life.

 You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

I wish I could live in this truth of God’s Word daily. 

I can’t point blame at any one for my insecurities but me. I’ve dealt with rejection by people who told me I was beautiful but believing I’m beautiful has to come from within. If I could look inward and see myself the way God sees me, it would solve everything. I’ve prayed for the past year to be a more confident woman and not compare myself to other women.

It’s still my wish and prayer.

Being called beautiful delights my heart. People see things in us we don’t see in ourselves.

Ladies, when others’ tell you you’re beautiful, believe them.

Everyday God calls you beautiful, believe Him.

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How Looking Back Helps Us Heal

I made a decision early this year to not drag any parts of my past into 2016 and I’ve done pretty well with holding to this commitment. What happens though when your past shows up unexpected?

Before when this would happen all those old feelings I had forgotten and buried would resurface stronger than ever. This would set me back for a few days, sometimes months. Yes, it was this bad. I don’t even like typing it, but this truth has set me free.

The truth is, sometimes confronting our past helps us heal. 

We can’t move on from our past if we don’t confront it, all of it. I would seek it on my own terms, and in my own destructive ways. I made myself a victim for almost two years. Until I decided one day I wanted to be stronger.

For the first time in two years I feel at peace. I’ve made peace with my past and I’m at peace with myself because I know God intervened before it was too late. At the time, it felt like a different intervention, it felt like punishment. In hindsight, I know it was God’s way of saying, “This isn’t right for you.” And I believe this now, today, wholeheartedly.

I’m thankful God cared enough about me to pull me out of anything outside His will. Because He cares that much. Believe me when I tell you, He sees, knows, and cares above our understanding.

Without warning, we will sometimes have to confront those hurtful places, not to further wound us, but to remind us how far we’ve come and that we’ve survived. 

God is in the details, every detail. This is what gets me through the difficult and awkward moments He confronts me with. It’s not to hurt me, but to remind me of what I’ve been through and I’m still here even when there were moments I didn’t want to be.

I’ve survived.

And friend, you will too.