Apr 29, 2013

Listen and Respond [Guest Post by Amy]

Welcome guest blogger Amy from Life Through a Lens; she's a young woman with an inspiring story. 

We are not called to save the world. To end the poverty cycle. To make sure that every
child has a family and is loved. Luckily, God didn’t ask me or any of us for that matter to
coordinate an action plan to “save” the world.

All that he asks of you and me is to love Him with our whole self & to love our

When we decide to truly follow these commandments, we find out that it is anything but
easy & usually pretty messy. But it is rewarding. To watch the love of Jesus transform
a soul is amazing, to watch or hear about the power of the Holy Spirit healing is
breathtaking, and to feel your heart finally filled to the brim is rewarding.

To love Jesus usually results in him asking you to step out of your comfort zone. It will
change you and most likely will change the lives of the people around you.

Around a year ago God asked me to step out of my comfort zone; more appropriately
he asked me to step out of my comfortable life.

I was reading the book Kisses from Katie when God started working on and changing
my heart. Katie is an amazing woman who went to Uganda when she was nineteen, fell
in love with the people, and then returned to live there. She has now adopted thirteen
girls, created a ministry, and transformed communities.

I felt him changing my heart towards missions, and started questioning the dreams I had
made for my future life. These dreams were centered around comfort and me. Slowly
and gently I felt him changing the desires of my heart. He was replacing my dreams with
the plans that he has for me. Plans that are better than anything I could’ve ever dreamt

I felt such a draw towards the selfless life of serving others every single day and felt
an intense desire for Africa. Somehow I began to know that Africa was where I was to
belong someday. I don’t know how I knew this; it just felt right.

And then I heard it. He asked me clearer than anything I’ve heard from Him before.
“Will you follow me to Africa and feed my sheep there? No matter how hard it is, will you
follow me?”

I answered with blind faith’s answer, “Yes. I will follow you & feed and care for your

Today, in this moment, I know that it is all for my good. You see, I wasn’t aware before
of all that the core of my soul desires. But He knew, and created a life for me where
those cravings will be fulfilled every single day.

I crave to love people that have never felt love. I desire to teach a child to help them
break the cycle of poverty, if only in their family. I want so badly to care for the orphans
and give them a real family.

And to know that He cares so much about me to place those desires in me and then
give me a life where they will be fulfilled amazes me. I know that right now is not the
time for me to go and create a life somewhere in Africa. I am sure that I will know
without a doubt when it is time.

I am amazed every day that he works to woo our hearts. He cares so much about every
single one of us. He created the universe, but he still cares so much about you. You,
the little minuscule speck on planet Earth. It is amazing.

And here you see again how much he cares for us as individuals. He knows that
because of the work he has done in my heart, I crave so deeply to know the people of
Africa, and to set foot on this land to see everything. And so he opened a door for me to
go on a three week trip to Swaziland, Africa this June.

Here is all to say: listen. Listen and Respond. Respond to the calls that he puts on your
heart. Whether it is something small or if he is asking you to move across the world.
I promise you that they are for your good, and good of the people around you. And
though no one may understand, keep going.

Listen and Respond.

Apr 24, 2013

Learning to Love as Christ Loves

Hey beautiful ladies! I'm Mikaela, one of the contributors of Blogs by Christian Women. 

Today I would like to share with you all something that has been on my heart for almost a full semester. And I'm going to be brutally honest. I know all of us face something similar to this in some shape or form so I'm going to share my heart with you :) 

Abba has been teaching me patience, kindness when I really don't want to be kind, and unconditional love for those people in my life who are not so lovable. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16

We are called to love others because Christ first loved us - and showed the greatest love of all by taking our punishment on His shoulders so we could live eternally with God. 

Okay, so we can all admit that we have at least one person in our lives we don't particularly get along with. 

That one person for me was someone who I had to spend a lot of time with this semester. 

My clothes would be borrowed/taken without my permission, sometimes I would find hair on my toothbrush, urine left in the toilet, or just simply have to live around her mood swings.

We were just different people - we came with different likes, dislikes, baggage, backgrounds, and routines. And there's nothing wrong with that - I just found myself having to try harder to make friends and be patient. 

I knew that God had a plan - He always does. 

Of course it's hard to deal with people that are different than us, especially when it seems like we can't have some space to cool down from them, and sometimes I still don't understand all that she does nor why she does it. But as I've gotten to know her I've realized that she's stressed, burdened, and has stressors in her life just like I do. She just handles them differently.  

God doesn't always call us to easy things, but He puts us in situations that will build our character and faith in Him. 

I failed several times in trusting the Lord in this situation. I vented, got angry, or stayed quiet when I should have spoken to her (out of love). Abba taught me patience, unconditional love, and most of all He gave me peace. 

The beautiful thing to me is that Christ's love is completely based on the fact that we are His. It has nothing to do with our backgrounds, past sins, strengths and weaknesses, or what we find to be pleasant and desirable. There is nothing we can do to separate us from His love! 

So just as Christ loves and died for me and for all those "difficult" people in my life I must also love and learn to see them through His eyes. Our problems arise when we cannot see through our differences with another person. Just because they're different from us doesn't necessarily give us grounds enough to despise them. 

A good way to change our feelings about someone is to step outside ourselves and learn about them. Ask questions! Get to know who they are so you can understand why they act a certain way. 

And if this person still isn't making sense to you it's okay to keep your distance. Christ doesn't call us all to be best friends and spend every waking moment together - He calls us to love our brothers and sisters in His name. I noticed that by keeping my focus on Abba, even though I didn't understand anything that she did, I was able to love and to open up around her. 

Isn't God incredible!! This is just such an amazing testimony of Abba's power to me :) 

None of us are perfect, and every day we will find struggles that invade our emotions, thoughts, and comfort zones. It's at that point that we must choose to push it aside, defeat it, and continue keeping our focus on Christ - or - allow it to consume us until it goes away. 

I hope my struggles this semester will be an encouragement to you as much as it is to me! It wasn't easy and I messed up a lot, but I learned a lot about the grace of God as He forced me to love someone who was very different from myself. 

Apr 21, 2013

The Single Journey [Guest Post by Rebecca]

Rebecca from Caravan Sonnet is a 30-something, PhD student who has some thoughtful words on being a single Christian women. 

Hi y’all! My name is Rebecca and I blog over at Caravan Sonnet. I am so delighted to be here today to share a little bit about a subject near and dear to my heart: the topic of singleness. I am a thirty-something single gal who loves Jesus so as I write this I am not only sharing information but also part of my heart. To be honest this is a topic that my shy little heart always thought that I would avoid on my blog. But as I started blogging I realized that there were many people who like myself, were single and while longed to be married were enjoying life but that "got it" with how difficult the single journey life can be.

For seven years I had one of my dream jobs: being a high school teacher. I LOVED it. I have so many cherished memories. The last two years I taught a class called "Noble Beauty" where 12th grade girls and I got to explore life as a Christian woman. D.E.L.I.G.H.T.F.U.L. One afternoon though everything changed in my thought process about my ability to have an impact. Shortly after a particularly long day of feeling that all of my hard work was a waste and we could have all stayed home (*smiles*) I made my way to the bathroom to gather a few precious moments to myself before I had to report for after school duty. As I was standing there pacing in the back area trying to gather strength and "the face" for afternoon duty I was startled to realize that a conversation that was taking place in another section of the restroom was about me. "I agree honey, bless her heart, she is a wonderful person" {I smiled...thank you kind mom!} "And she is very pretty and funny {aww... this mom is the best!} "But..." {my head snapped up- there's a but?} you don't really want to have her life do you? I mean do you really want to be an old maid and have no prospects of a man and end up all alone?" There was more but their voices drifted as they left the restroom and I stood there with my mouth open. I was shell shocked... this mother had just praised me a week before for my effort as a teacher and told me that I was a wonderful role model for her daughter. Apparently I was also an old maid.

Despite being a woman who is madly in love with her Savior I have found that the American church often does not know how to handle the singles who are in their churches that are over the age of twenty-five. In my experience it is the rare church that knows how to lovingly involve singles into the community. To address the need that while we long to be married and would love to meet a spouse we also want to feel completely apart of a church even if they don't offer a singles group.

Several years ago I learned that a co-worker of mine's wife was actively involved in the women's ministry at the church that I was attending. Having moved recently and not knowing many people, I was eager to find fellowship with other sisters on this journey. My theory then and as always been that everyone has something that they are dealing with and while we might not be able to understand it we can support and encourage one another on our journeys. One day at lunch I eagerly asked my co-worker if I could have his wife's contact information because I wanted to get involved in the women's ministry. I explained I would love to talk with her since I didn't know anyone else in the women's ministry. He got a strange look on his face, which might have deterred a wiser woman, but I naively kept pushing ahead in my quest to find good fellowship. His look on his face had grown more withdrawn and into a look of a parent scolding a young child and as I stopped to take a breath he interrupted with: "I have heard that xyz church has a very active singles ministry - you should look into that church." I was dumbfounded. I reminded him (from a previous conversation) that while xyz church did have an active singles ministry I was eager to get involved in our church several months ago. He looked at me and I will never forget what he said: "This is a family church. I just don't think this is the church for you. You need to find a church that has more people like you." I remember being mortified and making some excuse of why I needed to leave the room and made my way to a restroom where I promptly burst into tears. The thing that I felt in that moment was what a lot of singles experience: feeling completely alone and not whole because we are an "I" instead of an "us".

In many Christian singles books that are available we are told to live fully, use our single years with gladness, and to immerse ourselves into something greater than ourselves. On one hand I have a slightly difficult time with the fact that many of these Christian authors met and married their spouses before the age of 22 and are telling us how to live - but that is a discussion for another day. On the other hand, I would agree to an extent. In the context of throwing ourselves into our relationship with the Lord -a definite yes. Throwing ourselves into the latest cause for the sake of throwing our selves into a cause is not what I see scripture telling us to do. This is an unfortunate lie that many single Christians unfortunately come away feeling heartbroken and tired. I have even seen some good friends who have walked away from the church completely because they are burned out.

How do we as singles navigate the single journey with our hearts longing for our other half? How do we live fully while we long for a future day? I guess this blogger is going to explore the topic. *smiles*

Apr 15, 2013

Designing for God [Guest post by Michaela]

Introducing Michaela from Michaela Noelle Designs. She's talented girl about to graduate from college as an interior design major! We appreciate her words on how she combines her passion with her love for Jesus.

"For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."
Colossians 1:16

We create because God first created us. I've always known deep down that I was born to serve people through design. In June I will graduate with my bachelor's degree in interior design and I couldn't be more thrilled to do what I love for the rest of my life. In an industry that is so easily seen as vain, superficial and materialistic, I have to constantly check myself and be sure I don't fall down the ever so slippery slope. How can I serve the Lord, and others, through interior design and styling? This is the question I have pondered many times, and continue to search for new ways to do so on a daily basis. The answer, in a nutshell, is Jesus. If our focus is on him, our attitude, our heart and our homes are impacted. Jesus changes everything.

top two images via

As we strive to create a beautiful home, similarly we need to pray for a beautiful heart. If the joy of the Lord is in our heart, it will permeate throughout every room in our home. I truly believe that.

In serving others, we are serving the Lord, so using our homes as a place to do just that is one of my favorite ways to glorify God through my passion for interior design. Hosting friends for lunch, dinner, or bible study is a fun way to cultivate community in your home. Keeping a well dressed home is respectful to guests and those who live with you. Creating a space you love to come home to will fill you with joy and give you the confidence to host others in your home! It's also really fun to decorate here and there :) It doesn't have to be costly either, gals! Adding some new colorful throw pillows, painting, and hanging curtains will give you the biggest bang for your buck and really make a wonderful impact.
couch / rug / gold pillow / stripe pillow / curtains / side table / lamp / print

One of my favorite books, Interior Wisdom, walks us through how to love your home and live for Christ. I just love this quote from Leah Richardson's book, "Help me to focus all my creative efforts on pleasing you, for I desire my home and my heart to be a place of beauty, a living sanctuary."

Thank you so much for having me, girls! What fun to share my heart and passion. For more interior design inspiration, visit me anytime!

Apr 12, 2013

Real Women [Guest Post by Regina]

Introducing another wonderful guest blogger, Regina from Black as I Wanna Be, a wife, mother and teacher. She has a great post about the definition of who real women are supposed to be in today's world and in God's eyes. Hope you enjoy reading along with us!

wom•an (ˈwʊm ən) 

n., pl. wom•en (ˈwɪm ɪn)
adj. n.1. an adult female person, as distinguished from a girl or a man.
2. a wife.
3. a female lover or sweetheart.
4. a female servant or attendant.
5. women collectively; womankind.
6. the nature, characteristics, or feelings often attributed to women; womanliness.

Sure, this is the definition from the dictionary as to what women are. Who we are. What we are about. When I got the opportunity to blog about 'real women' I was sure that I had an idea of what I would say and then realized I had too much to say and then doubted whether I ought to be saying anything at all. I think that I am real and know that I am a woman so I decided to try and write about real women.

Quickly, I determined that I would need to divide my clarification of real women into two categories. The way the world defines us and the way that the Word defines.

Unsure of the strength of my 'real woman radar', I googled images of "Real Women" and after two pages, I stopped looking. It was discouraging because I didn't see myself or my friends there. Real women apparently drink beer (not light beer, don't get it twisted), they must show their pride by standing boldly in their underwear, certainly not claiming any shame in their half naked game. I tried to have some more gumption about seeing what was out there, so I went back and took another gander and found out that we are relegated to such simple seeming characteristics. Real women work. Real women have curves. Real women do math. Real women watch/love football or hockey (tough, aggressive sports). Real women drink liquor and/or beer - there isn't one t-shirt, so you'd have to buy two. Real women lift weights and run. Real women scrap (book, I think). Real women drive stick shifts.

Some of these are true of me - well hardly any curves, though I'd like to claim them, running is out and math only when I need to make sure that there is money to spend, okay, okay, most of these do not describe me. I'm not suffering from a full on identity crisis, but does that mean that I not a real woman? I mean, if these are the messages and images that I am to look to clarify my realness, then I do not qualify. And then I'm out of the real woman's club. Even though this list is not exclusive and does no justice for the complexities of womanhood, I temporarily found myself considering justifying why I don't meet so many of these descriptions or explaining myself and then decided to search the internet a little more.

These 10 characteristics of real women caught my attention and then I had to check and of course see how a real black woman is described. I kept thinking that I really must be from another planet. These are characteristics of a good person and really not horrible things but they are missing an element of what being a REAL woman is to me. Here is even a list of 50 things real women don't do. Cheeky, but there are many that I agree with. (#50 is my favorite!)

Realness takes a lot of courage. We must be real. Really real. And it takes strength and honesty to be our real selves without allowing all of the world and our pasts and our inner selves to take us over and pull us away.

Here, read about this woman as described to a young son considering his choice for a wife (advice from his mother).
"A good woman is hard to find, 
and worth far more than diamonds. 
Her husband trusts her without reserve, 
and never has reason to regret it. 
Never spiteful, she treats him generously 
all her life long. 
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, 
and enjoys knitting and sewing. 
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places 
and brings back exotic surprises. 
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast 
for her family and organizing her day. 
She looks over a field and buys it, 
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. 
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, 
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. 
She senses the worth of her work, 
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. 
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, 
diligent in homemaking. 
She’s quick to assist anyone in need, 
reaches out to help the poor. 
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; 
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. 
She makes her own clothing, 
and dresses in colorful linens and silks. 
Her husband is greatly respected 
when he deliberates with the city fathers. 
She designs gowns and sells them, 
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. 
Her clothes are well-made and elegant, 
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. 
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, 
and she always says it kindly. 
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, 
and keeps them all busy and productive. 
Her children respect and bless her; 
her husband joins in with words of praise: 
“Many women have done wonderful things, 
but you’ve outclassed them all!” 
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. 
The woman to be admired and praised 
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. 
Give her everything she deserves! 
Festoon her life with praises!" 
-Proverbs 31: 10 - 31 (The Message)

Read it again if you need to. Though it does not say so explicitly, it is my belief that this type of woman would struggle with being real but finds success in it by having relationships, knowing the needs of others and living in her priorities with a godly motivation even when things did not go as she planned. You doubt? I believe she is a great model of realness because she had a husband, a child, employees/a business and was known about the town. She was around people and people don't always do as you plan or hope - maybe that's just me, but when those altercations to her plans arose, I'll bet she tackled them with faith and being her real self before God and others to bring about an example all women should be honored (and challenged) to imitate.

Busy, hardworking, balanced, focused, charming, respected and loving among other things. She is not worried about what she looks like to anyone but her God, her husband and her family. She is modestly dressed, not idle and is willing to fight to keep her eyes on the prize.

I try to image the challenges to her staying focused on this lifestyle, her choices and then the society/world of the times and how it tried to pull her away from being this type of woman. I mean, even though we are in different times, I believe the struggles are similar at their core. Competition between women for status, men, acceptance. Body images, homes, how many servants and are the right servants, money, reputation...the things that pull us so far away from our belief and what God sees in us. Not what we think, like, are good at or even what we do, but who we are to be.

I think she is a formidable example, one that I may be able to emulate in pieces and parts, but want to imitate wholly. She is willing, faithful and eager to serve God. The Proverbs 31 woman has a heart to please those she loves and does not spend much time getting caught up in the latest trends, city gossip or "shoulds" that people attempt to place on her. Am I a real woman?

The confusion comes when I allow my expectations, the trends in magazines and on commercials, what I see other women wearing/having or honestly, my insecurities. I confuse me. Things that I allow to confuse me? Coach. Gap. Dining out. TV.Books/Movies with happy, cheeky misunderstandings that always get resolved in the end, with everyone being happy. Spas. Girls Weekends. Trips. Dreams. Goals. In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with these things but they do not make me a real woman.

Look. I enjoy reading, a glass of red wine (Juan Gil, Spanish red is my newest favorite), spending time in small groups or one on one, blogging, singing, being silly sometimes, seeing the fruits of my hard work and learning new things. I like being able to challenge the status quo, asking difficult questions of myself and of other women as we study the Bible with them. I appreciate quiet and organized and somewhat predictable. I am grateful for times when I see me in my kids and it is good, godly. I think that I want what most women want from my husband and believe those desires and wishes to be reasonable and way inside of outlandish - don't know if I could've written that five years ago. Writing these things, they are real for me and a part of me. What makes me real though?

Real women are crazed. Not crazy. Crazed. Told we can or should try to have it all. I've watched the movie "I Don't Know How She Does It" many times trying to find myself in it or even validate myself in thinking that this is the best standard to measure myself up to. Real women make mistakes from the things that they say and the clothes that they wear to how they manage money or who they date or share their opinions with. Real women are in real relationships with real men with real problems. Real women also talk about their real lives. Real women cry and get hurt and cause hurt and get lost and every woman has a heart. Real women wonder if they are noticed. Want to feel special. Want to be recognized in one way or another. Real women want to know that when you look at them, you see them and love them anyway. Real women are complex and capable. When I read all of that (and you know I haven't even covered half of it) I can see why we scare men.

There is comfort for real women. God sees us in our real skin. We do not need to drink beer or do math or drive stick shift or dress a certain way or work a certain job to be considered a woman of worth. He values us, He loves us and because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are His.

The Bible talks about life being real and challenging. Look at 1 Peter 1:3-10, emphasis on verse 6, tough times are a coming and they will be up close and in your face and really real. Be willing to talk about it. Not with every single person that wants to be in the know and not every single detail of every single instance - use discretion ladies, but be real. Real with God, He already knows what is going on and wants you to come to Him with it. He wants you to surrender it to Him in prayer and live for Him. When we buy and believe all of the worldly fodder around us it drowns out His voice and Satan triumphs in knocking us off course. Encouraging us to pick up and hold onto things that are not real or lasting in exchange for a relationship with our Father.
Listen to and read the lyrics to this song by Mandisa, Grammy nominated artist, What if we were really real?

We must be real, it is how we will be free.

Apr 9, 2013

God’s Love for Women

I have been reading and researching information on women in the Bible, their roles, and how they were viewed during biblical times. I find those with more of an agnostic spiritual view and background will commonly take small pieces of scripture and turn it around to make it sound like God was looking to be-little women. When in actuality it was quite the opposite.

In biblical times women were treated unfairly and were considered second class. But this was not how God intended women to be treated. This was how man CHOSE to treat women (there is a big difference). Instead of looking too deeply into how men treated women...we need to instead focus on how Jesus did. Then we can truly realize how God sees women. One story that especially captures my attention was John 8: 1-12 where a woman was to be stoned for committing adultery.

I envision the story looking something like this: (my interpretation)

Jesus appears in the temple courts to do a teaching. I envision everyone who comes to listen filing in like you would for a movie...quickly...quietly... the atmosphere is welcoming...there is an eagerness to get started and hear the message of the day. Moments later the sound of shuffling feet and loud voices disrupts the stillness of the moment. A group of Pharisees bring forward a woman who they claim has been caught committing adultery. The men grab the woman and bully her out in front of the gathered crowd. She cowers in shame and guilt. Her eyes are cast downward as she hunches over ...awaiting her punishment...one that could very well end her life. Through the mob Jesus steps forth...the crowd starts to quiet... “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law of Moses commanded to stone such women. Now what do you say?” The crowd continues to shout out to Him, challenging His next move. Some in the crowd start to pick up stones, clenching them in their fists angrily, ready to hurl them at the frightened woman. Without hesitation Jesus crouches next to her and begins writing something in the dirt. I envision Him stooping down next to where she is hunched over...He positions Himself as if to shield her with His own body. He does not stand above her and look down at her...instead He does something no King or man for that matter, would dare do during this time...He crouches down and kneels in the dirt... next to her, next to a woman, and one who is being accused of adultery. I envision every pair of eyes in the crowd intently watching his every move. Then Jesus stands and with an assertive but calming voice, He says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.”.... he called out and challenged the men standing around him...he challenged the authority of the Pharisees...in defense of a woman! Again, Jesus crouches down alongside the woman...the men standing a few feet away lower their rock to their sides, some drop them to the ground. The crowd starts to dissipate and soon Jesus is left alone with the her. She looks up at Him with a tear and dust streaked face. He helps her rise to her feet and standing before him, eye to eye, Jesus says, “go now and sin no more.” I envision Jesus looking the woman square in the eyes with tender love and sincerity. His voice is kind and soft; He may even have reached up and wiped away some tears or tucked her fallen hair behind her ears.

In this specific story we see Jesus setting an example for men. We see Him take the sin of a woman and put it on equal playing field with man. In this specific scenario gender means little, neither male or female, man or woman is higher than the other in His eyes. Jesus also shows us that despite our brokenness we have the ability to receive forgiveness and move on to be better than we were before. No matter where we have come from, what we have done, or what we hope to be…we can rest in his forgiveness and mercy. Most of all we see God’s love for women expressed through the heart of Jesus.

In the book God and Boobs by Angie Shuller Wyatt explains a little bit about why the son of God was a male, why the Messiah had to be a male:

When we understand Jesus’ agenda for women, then one thing becomes really clear. Jesus had to be a man. Culturally, only a man could tell a woman to step up to the plate. A woman’s voice would have been squashed before she started. She probably would have been stoned to death at the first hint of protest. My theology professor at Southern Methodist University, Dr. Joe Stabile, referred to Jesus, the man, as 'one of the first feminists in history.' He said, 'Jesus did for women what Abraham Lincoln did for slavery. A person of the stronger majority creates change for the weaker-minority.' Jesus demonstrates a compassionate masculinity. He doesn’t prove His masculinity by exerting power over women, asking us to take a back seat or hide our feminine nature. Jesus honors, respects and loves us.” 

Throughout the Bible, Jesus shows an unwavering love and admiration for women. He lifts them up and asks them to walk alongside of him. Will you take the next step?

Apr 7, 2013

Refreshing Words [Guest Post by Tiffany]

Introducing Tiffany from The Dwelling Tree, a stay-at-home mom and wife. Tiffany has graciously offered to be our first guest blogger on Blogs by Chrisitan Women. I hope you enjoy her words on being a refreshing woman as much as we have!

I am often amazed at what comes out of my mouth. I will be the first to admit that I complain too much and respond too quick. I often forget the importance of the words I choose when speaking to people. I will sometimes find myself griping to a friend over how difficult my day has been or muttering under my breath my frustration at my child's temper tantrums. I very often use my words to complain or grumble rather than have meaningful conversations that are filled with thanksgiving and joy! Sadly, sometimes these conversations can take up an entire coffee date. Oh how I walk away from those times wishing I had been more intentional with my friend.

Have you ever known someone in your life whose words were like medicine to your soul? I have been lucky to know some people like that.

While Paul was in prison he wrote a letter to his friend. He talks about how his friend had given him great joy and encouragement, because his friend refreshed the hearts of others.

"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints." ~ Philemon 1:6-7

I love how Paul uses the word refreshed. It reminds me of a room that is all stinky, and then someone opens up the windows and doors, lights a candle or two, and all at once the room is fresh. There have been many times when my heart was stinky, and a friend refreshed my soul by reminding me of Christ. Often, when my friends just simply share their faith, meaning, share with me how they are trusting God with their lives- I am refreshed in my soul. I am able to remember the good things God has done for me and be grateful. I am encouraged to turn my life back towards trusting God again. Being in that position gives me great joy and encouragement.

I am finding it more important these days to be a woman who refreshes the hearts of my friends. This means using my words as medicine for their souls and pausing long enough for the Spirit to speak through me. What I say does truly matter. As I reflect on using my words to build others up, I am able to engage in conversation that helps encourage people rather than bring them down. Ladies, we have such power to use our words for great things. We can choose to refrain from gossip, speak of the good God is doing rather than gripe about our long days, and praise each other rather than use our words to hurt one another. I am being strengthened and reminded by God's word that His will for me is to delight in refreshing the hearts of my friends. Using my words to admire others, admonish them, encourage them, and remind them of God's deep ocean of grace does as much for my soul as it does for them.
As bloggers, we can also be reminded that our words matter and they reflect our maker and heavenly Father. Let's use them to bring laughter, refreshment, and joy to a hurting and often very serious world!

Apr 4, 2013

Find Rest

 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. -  Psalm 62:1 (NIV)

Have you prayed as much as you have talked?
Have you sat in silence as much as you have not?
Have you thanked the Lord as much as you have questioned?
Have you let your soul rest in God’s good Message?

That’s as poetic as I get. But, my mediocre poetry is not the point here. I wrote this in a time of solitude, a time of rest. Read the poem again and answer the questions. Do you answer no to the majority? I wish I could say I answered yes to all. Our lives are filled with overflowing schedules full of work, school, family and running errands. I often feel overwhelmed with the never ending to do lists. It’s difficult to find a couple moments of silence. I encourage you to read God’s Word, pray or just sit in silence. We need to spend that time in solitude. It's important to set aside that time just for God. No multitasking or distractions.

"My solitary times fortify me to listen more clearly and to love better when I am in the presence of others. We are meant to commune together, which means to empathize, to relate to, to be close with. When I take time to perceive the world as it is—and myself as I am—I have more empathy and gratitude for those I encounter daily, be they friends or strangers. I spend time alone to cultivate my own joy and well-being, for the sake of becoming something worth sharing with others." - Julie Pointer (Kinfolk Magazine)

Maybe you’re the person that loves to be around people all the time. The solitary times will make those social times even more enjoyable because you will be renewed. I challenge you to go somewhere alone and clear you mind of everything, yes everything. Focus on the scenery outside or just repeat a word (like Yahweh or Peace) over and over in your head until everything else melts away.

It’s hard! But, it’s one of the best ways to hear from God. He will speak to you in the silence, in the times of rest. Spend time in rest and trust in God’s Word. Many Psalms end with the word Selah. It means to pause.

Yahweh, help me to find those times of solitude so I may draw closer to You. I thank You for all you provide. Let me see the beauty of your creation and show me Your Love in unimaginable ways. Give me strength in the busy times and rest in the quiet times. Selah. Amen.

Listen to Audrey Assads song Restless: