Jun 29, 2013

By Faith [Guest Post by Kimberly]

Say hi to Kimberly from Girl Made Lovely By Sorrow. A woman, a mother, with a way with inspiring words. 

The Chapter of Hebrews 11 talks of those who, by faith, let God use them to do amazing things.  Faith for me on had been reduced to the size of a mustard seed for certain.  When the bottom fell out and everything I knew came crashing down around me, all I could do was cry out “help me Lord, please”.  And He did.  He helped me breathe through those first days and weeks, get my footing as I turned to Him, searching for answers when I didn't even know what the questions were.  Little by little, He moved, He answered, He comforted, He gave grace, He gave strength.  And as I grew stronger, so did my faith….

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you've never seen. Hebrews 11:11 (VOICE)

Faith is the belief that God says who He says He is, no matter how the situation looks, believing that His promises are true, not just for your sister or your neighbor, but for you. Faith is choosing to believe the dream He placed in your heart over the voice in your head that says….it will never be, you are not good enough..it's our faith that carries us, still us, pushes us and reminds us, He has a plan.
By faith we keep walking, even on the days there are no other travelers on this road with us, believe that redemption is possible and He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him.  By faith we answer His call.  Even when it hurts, even when it's not fair, even when we have to give more than we ever imagined would be asked of us.  It is by faith we are saved, so that none of us can boast of our goodness, but of His alone.  Faith will take you places you never thought you could go and some places you never wanted to.  It will make you laugh, make you cry and make you believe things that just aren't possible….if you didn't have faith. 
It is the belief in the things we cannot see, but by faith, we know He's God and so each and every word is true.  No matter the circumstance, no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice, no matter the amount.  Faith is how we grow, how we mature, how we turn to another and look them in the eye and tell them with great certainty….yes you can…faith that went before us gives us strength, in turn, to run this race..with abandon, with all we have, without fear of falling, without looking back, for the prize set before us, by faith.

Jun 26, 2013

Forgiveness [Guest Post by Nannette]

Welcome Nanette from Hope in the Healing as she writes about forgiveness. She is a pastor's wife, missionary, mother, and a writer along with many other gifts.

If God Forgives Me, Why Can’t I Forgive Myself?

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalms 103:12 (NLT).

Do you know if you get on an airplane and fly east as long as you want to, forever if it were possible; there will never be a time when you will all of a sudden be going west! And you can go west for eternity but there will never be a time you will reach the east!
But if you travel north, you can only go so far until you will eventually be going south. And if you travel south, and pass Antarctica, you’ll be headed up north again and so vice versa.
How far is the east from the west? They never meet! This is why God said He has removed our sins “as far from us as the east is from the west”. This is one of the most beautiful figurative descriptions in scripture of God’s forgiveness. He separates it from us and doesn’t remember it anymore! He forgives AND forgets. We like to bring up our ugly past but God has wiped the slate clean!
When we continually repent about the same sin over and over again I wonder if He is just shaking His head and saying, “My child, I already forgave you of that the first time you asked!”
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25 (NIV).
When our former sins come to our minds we can dwell on them and feel guilty all over again, or we can choose to feast on thoughts of the wonderful God that forgave us and give Him the praise. “…Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT).
God is also not pleased with people who do not forgive themselves because they don’t really WANT to forget their former sins. They enjoy reliving them in their minds, but this is also a sin! A man, or woman, who lusts in their heart, is guilty of the sin of adultery, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 5:28 NIV.
Comparatively, every time we mentally relive our sin, we are committing that same sin over again. This is very dangerous in the life of a child of God. If you have repented of it, ask God to get it out of your mind!!
“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19 (NKJV).
There are also times we don’t feel forgiven when we have honestly repented. That is a lie from the enemy! The Bible says that the devil is the father of lies. He puts toxic thoughts in our minds because he knows our past is forgiven, it is hidden, under the blood. If God has forgiven us, we must forgive ourselves.
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!”  Psalms 32:1 (NLT).
Are you struggling with letting go of something today? Is the enemy whispering past sins in your ear? Remember he is a liar! And everything he is telling you, the opposite is true! Your sins are under the blood and are remembered no more! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Romans 8:1 KJV.
“Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman [caught in the act of adultery], 'Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’” John 8:10-11 NLT.
Are you having trouble reliving your sin? For your sake and your family’s sake, let it go. You are already forgiven and it is time to move on. The more we dwell on things from our past the harder it is to forget them and make a fresh start.
Whatever you have been struggling with, struggle no more friend. Jesus has already paid the price. If you have repented of the sin, He has forgiven and forgotten, as far as the east is from the west. Now that’s pretty far…

Jun 24, 2013

Learning Faith

I am amazed how time flies by. It seems like just last year I was on pins and needles to graduate high school and go to college. Now I'm in my last year and am facing the reality that I will be thrown into the real world very soon. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but Abba has been causing me to reflect on my life and where I am going a lot lately.

Since I was a little girl I always trusted and knew deep down somewhere that He was preparing me for something great and I needed to handle every situation, big or small, as Christ-like as possible so that I would be ready for whatever He asked me to do in the future. And now, He's kick starting me. For those of you who don't know the backstory, my best friend and college sweetheart proposed to me this past April, and we'll be getting married and moving to Austin, Texas next June. Abba had been laying it on our hearts to move wayyyy south and to brave being far away from family and friends. Thankfully, both Stan and I love to travel and it'll be an adventure.
I've been learning a lot lately that having faith is super easy until you're actually faced with a life changing event or decision and you have to choose to follow Christ or stay comfortable. Abba has proved to me time and time again that whenever I take one step, even if it's baby-sized, that I always end up happier and more blessed because I'm stepping in God's will.
Stan and I have had people tell us it's ridiculous to move to a place you've never been with no job, no home, and no knowledge whatsoever of the area. And I understand their concerns for sure! Believe me haha. But I've found such excitement and joy in the Lord when He covers my eyes, leads me somewhere, and then says, "Open!" It's the best feeling to see what Abba had in store all along because it's always beautiful. His promises never fail, and He never leaves His child's side.

Here's something amazing to encourage you. Judah Smith came to speak at my university and he said something amazing that really stuck with me and I hope paints a beautiful and powerful picture of Abba in your heart. When I realized the kind of love God has for me I became stronger and bolder in my faith in Him. Before, I didn't try to strengthen my faith or step out in faith because I thought I had no worth to God. I thought I was too much of a sinner to be worthy of what He had for me.

There are three stories in Luke 15 about God that paint a perfect picture of how He pursues His creation. In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus tells the story of lost sheep. I love this analogy because God compares us to sheep. Little backstory - sheep are the dumbest animal! Despite that, the shepherd in this story leaves the 99 sheep to go find the 1 lost sheep. He doesn't hesitate or think about the fact that the sheep shouldn't have left the 99. This story paints a picture of Jesus.
In Luke 15:8-10, Jesus tells another parable about a woman who loses one of ten coins. She turns over her house trying to find the one coin she has lost, and when she finds it, she calls her friends together and rejoices! She says, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which which I lost!" (Luke 15:9) This story paints a picture of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a parable about a Jewish man who had two sons - the story of the prodigal son as most of us refer to it. The one son decided he was going to do his own thing and took his father's money he had in store for him and partied. When he ran out of money, his friends left him, and he had nothing. He realized what he had done but thought his father would never forgive him. He declared himself no longer a son to his father. He decided to go back to his father's house as an employee instead of a son. When he entered the city his father saw him and ran to him. (Jewish men do not run). And met his son and kissed his face. Meanwhile, the son still tried to push him away and say, no no I know I'm no longer worthy to be your son, I just want to work for you. But his father did not care what the son had planned to say! He had been waiting for his return and ran to him, forgetting all that he had done. This is a beautiful picture of God the Father.

In every one of these stories God pursues His children passionately, He pursues, He does not wait for us to come up with some story of what we're worth to Him. He already knows what we're worth! We're made in His image and that, my friends, is more worthy than anything on this earth we could come up with :) Here is Judah's entire sermon. He explains this so well! I recommend starting at 6:05 (this is when he starts to focus in on the topic - he does throw in a lot of jokes so bare with him haha).

Jun 22, 2013

Marriage: The Calling [Guest Post by Charity]

This is part of a series by Charity from The Word of a Nerd. Read the first post on singleness here and  the previous post on marriage here.

When I first got married I honestly just winged it. When I say winged I mean I did whatever felt natural to me even if it was not conducive to my marriage. I had no example or marriage playbook to follow – or so I thought. My husband and I had completed premarital counseling but there are just some experiences that counseling still cannot prepare you for especially if you do not understand your calling in marriage. One day I finally realized that what I was doing was not working and that I needed some direction on how to be a better wife. I searched for a few books but nothing stood out. I told one of my friends what I was looking for and she recommended that I read a book that she credits to reviving her marriage. 

I was pumped to start reading it – I knew for sure that this book would have all the answers to making things easier for me. I knew this book would teach me how to be a wife. But then she told me the title and all of a sudden I was second guessing everything she had said. The book is called “The Surrendered Wife”. What I didn't understand was the part of the book’s title that said “Surrendered”. What was I supposed to surrender to? Even though I was a little hesitant to read the book I picked up a copy and decided that it couldn't hurt. Within the first 3 pages the author mentions that in order to be a Surrendered Wife faith in a higher power was necessary, immediately I had a revelation. If God brought my marriage together surely he had a plan for keeping it that way. I eventually finished reading the book but not before reading up on biblical expectations for marriage.

In my search for instruction I read so many scriptures about what value it was to be a good wife. In Proverbs 12:4 I read a “worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones”. What? Am I really like cancer to my husband when I am flipping out, nagging, and being bossy? Well how do I fix that? As I continued to read I fell into what I believe is one of the most valuable scriptures to marriage – this passage explains both the man and the woman’s calling for marriage, and can be found Ephesians 5: 21–33. I am not going to write it all out but let’s just see what it says about the calling of a wife.

The Calling: Wives

Ephesians 5: 22 – 24 says wives are called to submit to their husbands as Lord. Your husband is to be the head of your family – and we are to revere him and respect him as a leader. Now wait! Before you click that red X on your browser read me out! Submission is not equal to being a doormat, it does not mean allowing abuse, it does not mean never speaking your mind and it does not mean being weak. It takes a strong woman to answer her calling of submission in marriage. Strength is required to love when you want to be angry, strength is required to keep control of your mouth when you want to spew unkind thoughts, it takes strength to allow someone else to take the lead while you follow, and it takes strength to encourage a man when you may feel discouraged yourself. Submission is strength, and having faith without being in control. Yes we are called to submit to our husbands, but our submission is ultimately to God. When you love God you desire to please him and one way to do that as a wife is to submit to your husband.  

Women are called to: Submit. Respecting, honoring, helping, representing, encouraging, complementing and loving our husbands all fall under submission.

In submission we should be respecting our husband’s thoughts, desires, and faults. We should be representing our husband by speaking well of him to others, your husband should never worry about what you are saying to others about him. Like in Genesis 2:18 God created a woman to be a helper to the man – being a helper doesn't sound as fun but remember women were also created in God’s image. Is God not the greatest helper? So we should be privileged to share in his character. We are called to help by showing God’s compassion, grace, and love – as women we reflect God’s image of help to the world and to our husbands. We can help our husband to see his identity in God, and to see his need for God. In submission love overflows and will become fuel for husbands to answer their callings. Remember we are called to submit but God is the boss, husbands are just his earthly manifestation to lead, guide, love and protect us. Marriage is similar to ballroom dancing – one person must lead, the other one must follow.

The Calling: Husbands

If you are thinking that your husband gets off really easy in this marriage thing you are wrong. While as women we are called to submit, Ephesians 5: 25 – 33 says that husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church (that’s nine whole verses). Remember Christ loved the church sooooo much that he died for us. When you reflect on the Crucifixion of Christ, the most monumental act of sacrifice, suffering and surrendering – submission sounds like a walk in the park. Husbands are to sacrifice for their wives even to the detriment of themselves. Husbands are also called make their wives holy, to cover us with God’s word. They are to minister to us and guide us towards a deeper relationship with God. Husbands are also called to love us like they love themselves – that includes feeding, protecting, and caring for their families.

Men are called to: Love. Sacrificing, guiding, providing, protecting, leading and submitting all fall under a man’s calling to love.

Just because a man leads it does not mean that he does whatever he wants – his decisions should always reflect his concern for his family’s well being. So that means our husbands are to love, live and sacrifice for us like Christ did for the church. When a man answers his calling as a husband God places the responsibility of the marriage on his shoulders – he is to submit to God while leading his wife. If a wife fails, so does a husband; as the husband was called to keep a wife holy and without fault. A husband should take ownership of his failures, he should be considerate of his wife’s feelings, giving up his wants, needs or even his own life for her well being. Men are made to love sacrificially. This love was made in God’s image to reflect his loving relationship to his people. 1 Peter 3:7 reminds men that they must honor their wives and revere them as the weaker sex – and to remember to treat their wives as equal to them. Weaker does not mean less valuable because we were both made in God’s image. The bible then states that men who mistreat their wives will have their prayers hindered. That’s a lot right? It sounds like a lot more responsibility than we originally thought. 

The Calling: Husbands & Wives

Men and women both have to put in effort to make a marriage work – that work is equal yet different.

We are called to: submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)

In submission there is also freedom – the same freedom that comes when we give our problems to God can be found in submitting to one another. If you do not have a husband practicing submission would be highly recommended before you say I do. You will find it easier to submit to a man who has answered to their calling to sacrificial love. We are not called to submit to abuse or any request that would move us away from God. Submission does not call for a consumer love (a love based what you can do for me?) instead it calls for a sacrificial love (a love based on what I can do for you!). Marriage is to serve as an example to the world of Christ’s love for the church. In a marriage the man represents Christ and the woman, well we represent the church. We have to understand how Christ gave joyfully for us so we can give joyfully to our spouse. In a marriage everyone submits, this is our calling!

Jun 19, 2013

Psalm 62 [Guest Post by Lauren]

Lauren from Marked by Grace is an inspiring young woman. Read her words about the Word and find some encouragement.

Have you ever found a piece of scripture that you've never read? You find yourself absorbed in its amazing truth and you feel like you've discovered a treasure. This happened to me when I read Psalm 62. It was almost like He was whispering these words straight into my ear. They were written just for me, from my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Everything.

"He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken."
Psalm 62:2

Are there times in your life where you feel shaken? Life feels rocky and it seems that every step you take is making you stumble and fall beneath your feet. I have great news for you sisters, the Lord is our firm foundation. Through the strongest winds and the roughest seas, He is firm. You can rest on Him and He will carry you through every storm, trial, or crisis. 

"...my hope is from Him.." 
Psalm 62:5 

Five words. Five words in the passage that can be so easily overlooked. Although they may seem insignificant, they practically jumped off the page when I first read them. I find myself saying quite often that my hope is in Him. But this is the first time I've thought of my hope being from Him. How refreshing is that? That even such a small thing like hope, comes directly from Him and is freely given to us. 

"...pour out your heart before Him..."
Psalm 62:8

Our God is such a loving and merciful God. He wants to know me and every part of my messed up heart. So it is my charge to you ladies, pour out your hearts. He doesn't want us to speak our "Christianese" and use words like "thou" and "justification". My mentor told me once to tell Him everything. If you are upset, tell Him. If you are happy, tell Him. He wants to know. Also, drown yourself in His word. How can you know how to listen to His voice if you don't know what it sounds like?

"...that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love." 
Psalm 62:11-12

I love the dictionary's definition of steadfast. "Resolutely and dutifully firm and unwavering."I just got chills. Whether you are married, single, or in a relationship, I can tell you that most of our "significant others" will ever be able to compare to that kind of love. Do they love us? Of course. More than our Savior? No. I'm sure you all have heard the song "Furious" by Jeremy Riddle. (If not, check it out here!) His love for us sweet, deep, wild, and furious. It cannot be tamed and it will never run dry. Because I'm a nerd, I also looked up the word resolute in the dictionary. I was amazed and awestruck by the results. You know what it said? "Firm or determined" Do we see a pattern here? Yeah, so do I. 

Jun 16, 2013

Lists and Two Things [Guest Post by Emily]

Emily from Bump the Cup is an inspiring woman in ministry. She has some important words and reminders to share with us.


I have a love hate relationship with lists. While they can be quite handy when it comes to remembering what I still need to do or buy, they can also loom over me with a mocking sense that I will never accomplish everything on the list.

My first year out of high school I was studying down in Texas. As the year was coming to a close I was faced with the decision of what the next year could hold. So I made a list and on that list I wrote out every possibility even if it seemed far stretching of what I might do the next year. I then calmly prayed through all my options and selected the next step. Or the truth might be that I went back and forth in a such a panic that I'm surprised I didn't end up with an ulcer. I was so desperate not to miss out on what God might have for me. They were all good choices and at the last minute I made my choice and packed my bags.

I tucked the list away in my journal. I had made my choice and set my path.

This last month I backpacked through Europe. Sitting outside of a small chapel on the top of a mountain in northern Italy, I could not help but feel overwhelmed by where God has taken me. In that moment I was reminded of the list I had written so many years ago. It dawned on me while sitting on the top of that mountain that I could now cross everything off of that list.

This list wasn't my bucket list it was simply a list of all my options that I had for the next year. At the time I thought I could only chose one and let all the others go. Yet God answered all of those desires (even the really far stretching ones!). Where I thought I could only have 1 item off of the list, God gave me everything.

It didn't happen in my time frame and I had even forgotten about some of the desires I had written down. But He remembered.

It’s time to dream again.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37: 3-6

2 Things

When I became a Christian there was 2 things that I knew. One that I was called into full-time ministry and two that I was going to be in ministry alongside my husband. Not much detail to those. Seemed pretty vague and simple. The first one I told everyone about openly and the second one I held tightly to my heart. I thought everything would fall into place so naturally and wonderfully that I would not have to worry about a single thing.

So when I suddenly found myself heartbroken and holding a diploma that said that I was a credentialed to be a pastor by the age of 22, I was uncertain of what I was supposed to do. Most of my friends were still enjoying the legality of their drinking and the final years of their undergrad. And here I stood, alone, as a Pastor.

I found myself at a place I had never imagined I would be. The path before me did not light up as I had hoped it would. Mr. Right was nowhere in sight. Instead I found myself in the murky waters of being a single woman in ministry. So this man had not appeared I still had my promise. If you've been a single woman in ministry you've probably realized how quickly you hit that glass ceiling. I was offered jobs to be a children’s pastor….in Iowa. A youth assistant in North Minnesota. Or best yet a worship leader in some Podunk town. “You can play the piano right?” And suddenly I started to question this calling I had felt on my life.

It’s not that I didn't want to be married. Nor did I want to rush into something just because I thought I should be married. If you push too hard as a single female in ministry, you are seen as a feminist. I've been there. In my determination to prove myself I have been emasculating at times to say the least. It’s not that I wanted to crush the men around me but I wanted to able to prove that I did have a calling on my life.

It has been years since I heard that promise from God. Years of trying to make the pieces fit together on my own doing and timing. I have tried to force open doors of ministry and I have also tried to force relationships that were not right because I wanted to make sense of everything.

There has been a quieting in my spirit that has come through surrender. Daily surrendering my idea of how those promises should look and not settling because something looks close enough. This path doesn't look like I thought it would. I never thought I would find myself standing at this place, never thought I would have any reason to write anything like this. But here I am, having walked through a shattered dream still holding the pieces and trusting the author and creator. Trusting that I did hear from Him. That maybe those two things will someday be intertwined but for now it is me on this journey.

He never said it would be easy. This journey I am on has had so many twists and turns but He is preparing me for the ministry that He has called me to. I wasn't there when I was 22. I wanted to be, but I chose to say “Lord, I surrender all.”

SO I walk through the doors that God opens before me. I let go of trying to have my calling fit into the box of what others think it should be and trust His plan and timing.

Jun 15, 2013

Marriage: The Creation [Guest Post by Charity]

This is a part of a series by Charity from The Word of a Nerd. Read the first post on Singleness here.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – on the sixth day he created the animals, he created man and he created woman. More than just creating a man and a woman that day God created a union called marriage. In case you missed it and you believe that Adam and Eve did not have an actual wedding, let’s look at those verses in Genesis chapter 2.

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’” This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
-Genesis 2: 21-24

In verse 22 God brings Eve to Adam, symbolically walking her down the aisle. As her Father he is giving her to Adam in marriage. In verse 23 Adam sees Eve for the first time and is clearly overwhelmed by her existence and possibly her beauty, so he exclaims “at last” and proceeds to say his vows. In verse 24 we see that the wedding is concluded, Adam and Eve are now joined as husband and wife.

So there you have it, the first wedding ordained by God – one man, one woman joined in marriage.

God designed marriage because he declared that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). He saw that Adam was alone, and unlike all his other creations Adam had no counterpart. When God created Eve he decided to take the rib from Adam’s side to show that Eve would be equal to Adam – yet different. Man and Woman are both designed by God in his image, while we are made to be equally valuable we are still equally different. God created man to be the head of a marriage to protect and shield his wife – to care for her. Woman was created to be man’s helper – not just in household duties but to help man reach his potential and understand his purpose. Even though it is said that woman is the weaker of the two sexes our weakness exudes beauty – because a man can value his wife for all the characteristics that God has given exclusively to her (1 Peter 3:7).

God knew that we would have needs so he created spouses to help in fulfilling those needs, but our spouse cannot do everything. Like God is a trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) so are humans, we exist in mind, body, and soul. All three parts of us have needs – our body, sexual needs to be fulfilled by our spouse, our soul needs a soul mate also to be fulfilled by our spouse, but our mind/spirit needs God. Spouses are made to be good for us but not God to us. Even though our spouses compliment us, bring us joy, and make us happy they cannot satisfy our every need. We cannot expect our spouses to satisfy us to the point of wholeness – only God can do that (Psalm 90:14). In order to be whole and have our spiritual needs fulfilled we need to pursue God and have a relationship with him exclusive to marriage.

Marriage is designed to be fun and lasting, it was meant to bring us great joy. In marriage we are called to mutually submit and love one another out of reverence for God (Ephesians 5:21). Mutual submission is needed to bring on a deeper intimacy in marriage that will strengthen the bond. While some marriages do experience pain God’s idea is that the bond between husband and wife would be so strong that nothing but death could break it. We know that in this world people divorce and sever their marital bonds but that was not in God’s plan.

God's plan for marriage is a man and woman, united together in Holy Matrimony – serving him while living and weathering life together until they part ways in death. It is a holy and unbreakable covenant to God and to each other.  A happy marriage begins with two people that are satisfied and complete in God. We should challenge ourselves to live out God’s plan for our marriage – to focus less on the wedding day and more making marriage work.

With God at the center his plan for marriage can still be accomplished in this world.

Jun 13, 2013

Go Anywhere, Do Anything

This August, I'm leaving my cozy Minnesota home to go to the Dominican Republic for eight months. I'll be studying Spanish and the Bible along with participating in local mission work. I'm so excited and in awe of how God has lead me to this decision these past months. Here's how He's been working in me. I pray when you read this you'll be inspired to pursue your passion wholeheartedly.

From an old journal entry:
Lord, you are doing something.
I pray anything. I’ll go anywhere.
I think it may be easy. Oh and I am wrong. I face daily trials, struggles, and strikes from the devil.
The evil one says “you’re too young , you can’t do this, you are insignificant”
You whisper “you are strong, you are mature, you are so precious”
I read in Anything:
“To suffer in this life, to sacrifice for the name of Christ, means your reward will be great in heaven… I’ve lived trying to fix everything hurting in me with counseling and a good latte. And while none of that is bad, it never fully worked… it is supposed to hurt. War isn't supposed to feel easy” (104)
I’ve prayed to You “help me to be strong” while I should pray “I am weak, You are strong.”
I find my strength in You, only You! I can do NOTHING WITHOUT GOD!
I say I’m sacrificing so much. When Jesus sacrificed HIS LIFE FOR US.
Help me to realize my brokenness, my sinfulness.
Help me.
I will seek You.
Always and forever,

This was just the start of a long time searching for what was next for me. I applied for colleges and thought that was what I wanted. Yet, I have this burning desire to be more, do more, see more.

I know it won't be easy. Following God will never be easy. In the Bible, God never calls us to be comfortable. The Bible does say we will face trials (James 1:2, 12, Romans 12:12, Romans 5:3, 2 Cor. 4:16, Psalm 34:19 to name a few).

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. -Hebrews 6:19

God gives us hope.
Hope in his grace.
Hope in the future.
Hope in heaven.

Find out what are your passions, your strengths, your spiritual gifts.
Ask God to use you to further His kingdom.
Be willing to drop everything and go somewhere.
Know that ministry or mission work is not the only option to evangelize.

God could be calling you to go to Africa, He could be calling you to talk to one of your co-workers, or He could be calling you to just draw closer to Him.

You are an inspiring Christian woman blogger already. What's next?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

You can read more about my adventures here.

Jun 11, 2013

Firm in our Faith [Guest Post by April]

Welcome April from Hearts on Guard. She's an army wife and working mother who has great words to share with us.

"Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding."
-Martin Luther
Doubt. Fear. Worry. Reason. 
These all can shake our faith. 
I'm sure we've all been there. Sobbing with grief. Wracked with worry. Fearful of what the future holds for us. Questioning our understanding of God and His promises.
Nurturing our faith is a daily undertaking. You see, the enemy is around us always, seeking to disconnect us from God's word, planting seeds of doubt wherever he can. None are immune to his attempts. Remember even Jesus could not avoid the devil's attacks on his faith, although He is the only one who could ever truly resist.
"Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around 
like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering
are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world."
- Peter 5:8-9

But how can we ensure we are "firm in our faith"?
We may think to ourselves... if only Jesus were here. If only I could touch him, see him, talk to him. If only I could witness God's miracles firsthand. Oh how much easier it would be to have faith.... if only......
But remember, dear friends, that those who saw Jesus -- those who lived with him, traveled with him, served with him and learned from him -- those people all failed to be firm in faith at some point as well.
Luke 8:25 shows the disciples marveling and questioning who Jesus was after he calmed the storm with simple words. They let common sense take over, despite what they were witnessing firsthand.
John 20:1 tells of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb on the third day with her spices to anoint Jesus's body. Yet, had she been firm in faith, she would have believed and trusted all those times when Jesus had foretold of his resurrection. Instead, she let logic and reason -- and perhaps overwhelming grief -- cloud her faith and distract her from what she'd seen and heard from Jesus himself.
And in the Old Testament, how often did the ancient Israelites walk away from God and turn to idolatry? Despite God's saving them and providing for them repeatedly, they were not firm in faith either.

We do not have the benefit of seeing Jesus in the flesh, or witnessing amazing miracles of God such as the parting of the Red Sea. But that is okay. For we are no different than the disciples or the Israelites. We, too, would have wavered in our faith. We, too, would have still questioned and would have still doubted.
Instead of wishing for clearer, tangible signs of His truth to strengthen our faith, let us pray for the Holy Spirit to help us let go and leave everything up to God.

"One of the noblest and most precious virtues of faith is to close one's eyes to this,
ingenuously to desist from exploring the why and the wherefore,
and cheerfully to leave everything to God.
Faith does not insist on knowing the reason for God's actions,
but it still regards God as the greatest goodness and mercy.
Faith holds to that against and beyond all reason, sense, and experience,
when everything appears to be wrath and injustice."
-Martin Luther
I leave you today with this prayer...

Lord, God -- today I pray that you would help us to cast our burdens on you. Help us to remember that our help comes from you, whether we can see it or feel it or not. May the Holy Spirit strengthen our faith and lead us back to your son each day, strengthening our hearts so we may resist the devil's advances. Help us to trust your words and your promise that you will not forsake us. In Jesus's name we pray. Amen.

Jun 8, 2013

Singleness: A Gift [Guest Post by Charity]

Charity from The Word of a Nerd is a photographer, homemaker and wife. This is part of a series on singleness and marriage, look for more posts to follow.

That title may throw you off a bit but I assure you that if you stick with me this will all start to make more sense. There are many milestones that we look forward to as women - whether it is careers, marriage, or children. All of which help us feel as though we have a higher purpose. Sometimes these milestones can cloud our vision so much that we forget to experience the “now”. I can raise my hand on that one as I desire to be a mother and sometimes I catch myself allowing that desire to overtake the “now”. One of the many things we lose sight of when looking ahead is our singleness. Often times because of this oversight we fail to maximize our singleness or to see it as a gift. I say this as a woman married at the peak of my singleness, I can look back and see so many lost opportunities in my singleness because I did not see it as a gift.

Not only is singleness a gift, but it bares gifts – here are some of the gifts singleness brings:

The Gift of Development:

As the bible begins in Genesis it tells the story of how God created the heavens, the earth, and Adam. It later tells of how God did not feel man should be alone therefore he created Eve. One thing many people miss during all this creation is the moment that God shared with Adam and Eve before they ever laid eyes on each other. God was the first person they knew, first person they spoke to, and the first person to ever love them. Seriously, when God made Adam, Eve did not exist (Gen 2:7) – when God made Eve, Adam was unconscious (Gen 2:21). It was in this single moment that they had their first relationship, with God. Singleness allow us to develop relationships with God, family, and friends in different ways then when we are married.

A developed relationship with God enhances who we are as people and it helps us to gain identity. We learn that our identity is not tied to a husband but instead it is tied to God. As Christians before we are any other role in life we are first daughters of the King (John 1:12). In this newly found identity we can then allow God to develop us in ways that we are underdeveloped: we may be self serving, unkind, envious, impatient, angry, or proud. When we find our identity in God and remember that we were made in his image, the Holy Spirit helps us to make the needed change.

Along with developing in who we are in Christ we are also given the chance to develop in our expectations. During singleness we are able to develop and understand our material, emotional, and physical expectations before marriage. In Christianity we have to realize that our expectations are not always in God’s plans.

Through a healthy understanding of our expectations our faith in God grows. Sometimes as women we want so badly to see miracles in our lives but we lack the faith. We have to believe in the things that we do not see (Heb 11:1) and trust that God has a plan for our lives (Jer 29:11). His will is worked out for our good whether it is to be single or married, a mother or not, a housewife or a careered woman. We can rest assured that God will use us where we are called.
The Gift of Discipline:

Singleness is sometimes thought to be one of the most carefree times of our lives. While that is partially true because we have no obligation to a partner – we still have obligations to God. In our Singleness and even in Marriage it is important to remain pure. We are blessed for being pure in our hearts, minds, bodies and souls (Matt 5:8). Purity does not only pertain to ourselves – we must help others remain pure by being mindful of how we dress, speak, and the subtle messages we convey. To remain pure we have to be aware of surrounding influences in the media, friendships and relationships that can either bring us closer or move us further from Christ.

While there is a large amount of freedom in singleness our choices still matter and we should still be accountable. Decisions that we make in our singleness can affect a future marriage. For example the choice to not remain pure in singleness can result in a child or even relationship baggage that can cause negative experiences in your marriage. I am not saying to be single as if you were already marriage to a future husband – but instead in singleness be married to Christ(2 Cor 11:2). Even if you have struggled in remaining pure remember that in Christ you are made anew - you can have a fresh start today. With the Holy Spirit’s help we can be disciplined to make good choices and to show accountability for the mistakes that we make.

The Gift of the Moment:

According to Paul singleness can be maximized by committing our time, energy, and special gifts into serving Christ (1 Cor 7:7). Oh what fun it would be to travel on a whim on mission trips in service to God without feeling sorry for leaving a spouse behind. There are so many opportunities for service in singleness to grow, learn, and experience.

Singleness is not a layover or a time of waiting. It is a season where God cultivates us for future work. Our experiences in singleness help us to be the people God created us to be whether as wives, mothers, doctors, teachers, or missionaries. It’s a season that is no less wonderful than marriage, it’s just different. Neither marriage or singleness are endpoints, instead they are both specks on the large map of our lives and we experience them for a reason.

Until God calls us to enter the covenant of marriage we should remember that we also have a covenant with him. We are to believe that every single moment in our lives is planned and not happenstance. With our focus and faith in God the plan for our life will be better than we could have imagined (Psalm 37:4).

What I will tell you is that marriage is a beautiful union. Its design is purely to teach the world about Christ and his love for us, the church. It’s a Holy union, and the first institution ordained by God. What I won't tell you is that marriage is more important than singleness or vice versa. Both marriage and singleness can be hard – because they both call for us to be committed to God. Marriage has its purpose – and guess what? The purpose of marriage and of singleness is the same. That purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
So maximize your season, trust God and believe in his beautiful plan for your life – see your singleness as “the Gift”.

Jun 6, 2013

What is your favorite Psalm?

photo source
We love to hear what our readers love. Psalms are a great way to hear God speak. It's also a wonderful way to pray, praise, or worship when words are fleeting.
There are a number of authors of the Psalms. Almost half are written by David along with others by Asap, Korah, Solomon, Moses, Herman, Ethan and other anonymous authors. The Psalms are actually divided into 5 books:
Book 1 - Psalms 1-41
Book 2 - Psalms 43-72
Book 3 - Psalms 73-89
Book 4 - Psalms 90-106
Book 5 - Psalms 107-150

So our question is,

Enter your favorite Psalm under the "other" answer

Some information on the Psalms found here.

Jun 4, 2013

Be brave [Guest Post by Chelsea]

Say hi to Chelsea from the girl who loved to write. She's a newlywed and aspiring author. A girl with big dreams has some big words for us. 

"If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it." 
-John Irving

I stumbled upon that quote a few months ago, and it has inspired me daily ever since.  Why?  Because it reminded me of something vital.  It reminded me that going after your dreams is not all rainbows and butterflies—going after your dreams takes courage.

Do you know that some version of “do not fear” appears in the Bible 365 times?  You could definitely call that a theme.  It’s clearly a message that God wanted us to understand.  And I can’t help but think that when I am looking at the vastness of my dreams, worrying about how I will ever even come close to them, that God is looking down at me, saying, “My Daughter.  Do not be afraid.”

God has placed dreams in each of our hearts.  He has created us fearfully and wonderfully and beautifully, and the dreams He has given us are a part of that creations. 

The dreams that the Creator has placed in your heart are an intricate part of who you are.  And God did not create us with dreams so that we could be afraid of them.  He did not create us with dreams so that we would ignore those dreams out of fear.  He created us with dreams and passions and ideas so that we could go after those things and change the world for Him.

Sometimes dreams are much bigger than us, and that can be scary.  There’s no way around that.  But that is no reason to fear.   The Creator of the entire universe is on your side.  He’s the one who created you with those dreams in the first place.  When you look at it that way, doesn’t it just seem silly to waste your time being afraid to go after your dreams?

I think that as Christian women, we have a responsibility to pursue our dreams.  The world is in need of a group of Jesus lovers coming alive and changing the world, and that only happens once we set aside fear and wholeheartedly pursue the dreams that are rooted in our hearts. 

If you don’t pursue your dream, no one else will.  If God has called you towards something, and you refuse because you are afraid, who else is going to be able to accomplish that dream the way you would have?  No one, because you are uniquely made and so are your dreams.

Today, I pray that you choose to come alive.  That if you are living a life without passion, you will rethink that.  Jesus came so that we would have abundant life, and I believe that includes our dreams. 

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

Be brave, my friends.  And go boldly after the dreams you have been gifted with. 



Jun 3, 2013

Devotional Community [#SheReadsTruth]

We want to quickly share with you this devotional community: #SheReadsTruth. These devotionals are specifically for women and are really encouraging and convicting. It's another great place to connect with Christian women and share with each other what God's been revealing to you. We encourage you to read these devotionals through the YouVersion Bible App, through their email subscription, or on their blog.  This is truly a great way to dig deep into the Word. SheReadsTruth just started a devotional of 1 Peter which will be followed by 2 Peter later in June. We're excited to learn more about God and hope you join us!

Do you have a favorite devotional?